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Old 01-03-2009, 04:17 PM   #1
H-Jay OP
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Patagonia-Bound

We are already in Mexico and I now have time to start a trip report. I’m also going to try and keep this and a blog going. That is Chris on the right.



But first, starting from the beginning, what’s the plan? The plan is for two guys to head south right after Christmas, 2008 on a three month, or so, ride through Latin America. We will travel through Mexico, Central America and fly over the Darien Gap in to South America. In South America, we will continue south to Ushuaia, Argentina. From there we will turn north and go the 1900 miles up the east coast to Buenos Aires, Argentina. In Buenos Aires, I will take a little non-moto vacation with my wife, before flying the motorcycles and us home in time for an early spring in Michigan. All in, the trip should be about 15,000 miles. Along the way, we plan to visit the great sights, such as, Peru’s Machu Picchu ruins, the Bolivian Salt Flats and Argentina’s Lakes District. We will also travel some legendary roads like the Carretera Austral (Southern Highway) in Chile and the famous Ruta 40 through Argentina’s Patagonia region where BMW filmed their 2004 GS New Model Introduction publicity shots.

My friend Chris and I have identical 2007 R1200GSAs. It wasn’t planned for us to look like twins rolling down the highway. We had mutual friends but didn’t even know each other when we separately purchased our motorcycles from John Horner at BMW Motorcycles of Southeast Michigan. For my preferences, the GS Adventure comes almost complete for these types of journeys. It’s a little heavy (subtle sarcasm) and tall but makes a decent compromise between on and off road handling for long distance traveling. I may have wished for a thumper after having to pick the pig up in Bolivia, but for now its great for knocking down miles. The Adventure and standard GS come with adequate off road protection. The exception is the need to add a little more protection to the headlight, radiator and cylinder heads. The latter got more protection from Adventure Design’s well thought out Engine Guard Extension bars. Additional lights, front and rear, were added to help others see us.







Packing was another time consuming logistical challenge. The strategy is to get everything in two lockable side cases and a tank bag. The rear top case will stay mostly empty so that the tank bag can get locked up during restaurant stops in sketchy areas. Here is the obigatory stuff spread out photo.



Before we left town we had a bit of a fun displaying our motos during a open house Christmas party hosted by John Horner at BMW Motorcycles of Southeast Michigan. I was amazed by the interest and the number of people that already knew about the trip.







We got out of Michigan on the Saturday after Christmas. We could not have asked for a better after Christmas present ….50 degree weather. The snow was still piled high on the side of the road but we had a clear path out of Michigan. After getting a nice send off from my family I cautiously rode an hour in thick fog to meet up with Chris. The big surprise for me was finding that 3 of our friends got up early Saturday and drove 40 miles to give Chris and I a send off.

We had 2 hard days riding to beat the bad weather. End of day 2 has us in Covington LA somewhere between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. We had been riding the last 4-5 hours in the rain and as dark ascended the rain picked up. Wanting to be around to see South America we decide it’s probably time to stop for the night. The next day we headed off to Houston. I have family to visit and dragged Chris along.

More later...

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2007 BMW R1200GSA
1968 Norton Fastback
1969 Triumph Bonnie

South America Blog

Patagonia Bound Ride Report
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=420453

Alaska Ride Report http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=250239
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Old 01-03-2009, 04:27 PM   #2
theturtleshead
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Location: Medellin Colombia ain,t nowhere better
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Darien

The best way to pass the Darien is the Copa flight from Panama city to Medellin then head down through the Zona Cafetera to Mikes place in Cali.
Feel free to get in touch as you get closer to Colombia.
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Old 01-03-2009, 04:31 PM   #3
pinkman
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Have a fantastic trip! I'm toying with the idea of working my way down to Panama and will be reading your blog with great interest. Thanks for posting your adventure and I wish you the best of luck.
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Old 01-03-2009, 04:39 PM   #4
Roboter
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That by far is the coolest plate Ive ever seen. I actually tried getting it for my KTM back when I lived in Michigan.
I've been to that shop many times. I liked them way more than the guys in Sterling heights.


You are about to embark on a big trip! Take care! It will change your life.

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Old 01-03-2009, 05:43 PM   #5
GB
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Best wishes for a safe journey, and looking forward to reading about your great adventure

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Old 01-03-2009, 06:16 PM   #6
Kodanja
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Subscribed! Looking forward to this one! Don't spare any details and don't go through Mexico too quickly.....I'm planning at trip to Mexico this Spring and want to hear all about it. Be safe.
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Old 01-03-2009, 06:30 PM   #7
hvilla
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I'm already jealous!! Have a great trip...looking forward to going along with you guys!! Keep the pictures comin'!!!

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Old 01-03-2009, 08:12 PM   #8
H-Jay OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roboter
That by far is the coolest plate Ive ever seen. I actually tried getting it for my KTM back when I lived in Michigan.
I've been to that shop many times. I liked them way more than the guys in Sterling heights.


You are about to embark on a big trip! Take care! It will change your life.

Roboter
Thanks all. I'll get the report caught up soon. We did slow down and spent the day in Oaxaca.

Roboter, Yeah I like the plate. I also have a lot of time for John Horner. He is a rider and participates in a lot of our club activities. He is also very fair minded dealer. He and his entire team are easy to work with.
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2007 BMW R1200GSA
1968 Norton Fastback
1969 Triumph Bonnie

South America Blog

Patagonia Bound Ride Report
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=420453

Alaska Ride Report http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=250239
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Old 01-03-2009, 08:19 PM   #9
schismatic
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sounds like an incredible journey. i grew up in michigan... now is the perfect time to go for a little ride down south!
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Old 01-03-2009, 09:20 PM   #10
Lion BR
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Looking forward to your report.

Lion.
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Old 01-03-2009, 11:34 PM   #11
Squishy
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All the best on your travels.
A beautiful part of the world i haven't yet visited, hope to soon.
Keep the camera busy.
Look forward to your rr.

Cheers!!
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Old 01-03-2009, 11:44 PM   #12
sandgroper
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Best wishes in you travels, i look forewarn in seeing the pictures
ed
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Old 01-04-2009, 09:33 AM   #13
CoolBenge
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Locked in. Envious as I can be.

Tim
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Old 01-04-2009, 10:40 AM   #14
motorradrudi
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Good luck to you, and have a lot of fun!

Best greatings
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Old 01-04-2009, 06:42 PM   #15
H-Jay OP
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Crossing the Border and on to Tampico



Wednesday morning we crossed in to Mexico at Brownsville ...and officially started our Latin Trip. I was surprised by Brownsville and Matamors. I had expectations of two little sleezy towns full of dark alleys and questionable characters lurching at every intersection. What a surprise, both towns were relatively clean with thriving downtowns. Maybe we just missed the bad sections but across from our Hotel in Brownsville a new Lowes store was going up. Given the economy, that will probable be the last one build for a while. I thought Michigan had gone overboard building retail stores. Texas is just a big mess around Houston, with the same retail store clusters repeating every 5 to 10 miles. Anyway… back to the topic.





We didn’t bother with any of the online immigration registration or insurance before leaving home. It turned out to be unnecessary in Brownsville. We got our insurance from an office near the hotel. I got seven days of limited liability with a stated motorcycle value of $17k for a little over $50 USD. The lady at the office said she had been in the business a long time and they never had a claim for a stolen motorcycle so I was OK to pass up the comprehensive coverage.

Thursday morning we arrived at the boarder at around 8:00 AM to no lines. The worrying about crossing the boarder was far more severe than the actual event. Everyone was courteous and were more than willing to explain things. The process at immigrations was straight forward. We filled out the visa application and showed our passports to get our bodies in to the country. On advice from this site and others people we left the timing and destination vague…up to 7 days touring to Southern Mexico’s, maybe Chiapas State. I guess that gives you a more desirable tourist visa rather than the transmigration visa. Then we went to the next connecting office to import the motorcycles. We showed our titles, registrations and the all important credit card. They put $400 on the card and sent us across the hall for copies. After that we got a bunch of official looking documents and a little green laminated pass. The irony of getting a green card didn’t escape me. The official at the guard house took the green laminated pass and we were through. Total time in an out of the crossing was about 45 minutes all in the same building.



I did have one little problem that was my own doing. I had a color copy of my title in case I loss the original. I mistakenly gave the copy to the immigration officer. She immediately handed it back and said – not original need original. I thought it was the original and politely took exception. As I grabbed Chris’s title to show her what a Michigan title looks like, I realized mine did not look like …the original… so extra points for her.

Our next stop was an ATM for some Pesos and a convenient store for water on the way out of town. We discovered the first weakness of Garmin’s World Map and AAA paper maps.They showed 180 as the route to Tampico. Actually its 101 from Brownsville. Route 180 branches off 101 about 100 miles down the road. It also shows as a toll road but it is not. My Lonely Planet pdf had the route correct but of course I didn’t consult it till after the fact.





On the road we adjusted to using the one and a half lane highway. We quickly learned that staying closer to the ½ lane than the center of the full lane and to regularly check your rearview mirror. Those big shinny F150 pickup truck…or as some of them are labeled “Lobos” and Texas Edition Silverados have little patients getting around a moto.






A brief stop for some Tacos and a drink.



Back on the road with some perfect riding conditions..far site better'en Michigan in December... as we motor on to Tampico.

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H-Jay

2007 BMW R1200GSA
1968 Norton Fastback
1969 Triumph Bonnie

South America Blog

Patagonia Bound Ride Report
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=420453

Alaska Ride Report http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=250239
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