So where does the name "Latitude Fifty Four" come from?
The final destination for this motorcycle adventure was the city of Ushuaia located in Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina.
The latitude of this city is 54° 47' South.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Day 102 to Day 105

***Hey everyone! I'm on a roll now! There's more postings below too, if you haven't checked the site lately***
February 13th,2006: Flew from Tocumen, Panama to Quito, Ecuador
February 14th, 2006: Quito, Ecuador
February 15th, 2006: Quito, Ecuador
February 16th, 2006: Quito, Ecuador

On the 13th we finalized the plans to begin the South American section of our trip. We brought our bikes to the Girag Cargo Airline terminal in Tocumen, where we got some snazzy official badges that allowed us into the terminal area. We just had to show them off to the camera, especially since the last two days we showed up we skipped the security checkpoint by mistake so we never got the official badges. After the paperwork was completed we had to disconnect the battery, and then
drain the gas out of the tanks. When that was finished the bikes were loaded onto a skid whereby we waved them a sad goodbye and hoped like mad that we'd see them again in Quito, Ecuador. In the cargo area they had a brand new, plastic wrapped Maserati, so we felt a bit better knowing that the car would be more likely to go missing before two worn Kawi's. Another great highlight of the day was when the "snack truck" showed up. A man drives around the city with the rear gate of his minivan open, whistles a very distinctive whistle to alert everyone of his arrival, and you then you can pick what you want from the trunk. We bought two large orange juices out of McDonald's-orange-drink-style coolers, which turned out to be pretty darn tasty and sure were welcome in the sweltering heat. When we were finished at the cargo terminal, Nestor, the operations manager from Girag drove us to the Tocumen International Airport. It was very nice of him to drive us there, and we were very pleased with all the service we received at Girag. He even helped us bring our baggage into the terminal! Once at the airport we arranged the tickets for our own flight to Quito, Ecuador. We flew Copa Air, which is a division of Continental. The flight only took a few hours and we arrived in Quito, shortly after 9:30. The next day it was Valentine's Day, which they have in Ecuador as well. First thing that morning we headed straight to the Aduanas area of the airport to pick up our motorcycles. What a commotion that turned out to be! We spent a greater part of the day just trying to figure out where the offices were! The next day we went back again, this time to more seriously inquire about where our motorcycles were. After the ordeal the previous day, we smartened up and enlisted the help of an aduanas agent, his boss, and a lady that worked in the aduanas area where our bikes were apparently being held captive. Another full day of getting photocopies, running across town, and arguing with customs officials still got us nowhere. We were now up to 75 papers and photocopies thereof, and still no bikes, but we did get one little slip of paper with some cryptic numbers on it in return. Finally on the 16th, we asked the guy who's secretary was giving us hassle about what papers were actually required, joked a bit about eating Mickey Mouse, and shmoozed him into getting things into order a bit quicker. He was the key to the whole process, being higher up in the foodchain. What took 2 days of arguing previously was now done in 15 minutes over the lunchbreak of the secretary, who ended up in a cat fight with the other ladies in the office for not having things done properly. 86 photocopies later we finally had the papers we needed, and the last step was now picking up the bikes in the airport's storage units. The guy working at the storage unit said "What??!! You did all of this without an agent?!" "Yeah, and it only took 3 days!! Sheesh!"

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