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Old 08-14-2013, 04:30 AM   #46
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Colors and Towns

Every Little Town you pass through has its specialty. Ita is all about molasses and molasses donuts. Yummy.





Everybody sells the same thing. It´s weird economics but microenterprise is king here and sometimes you´ll see 10 strawberry stands in a row in Aregua - especially during the strawberry festival in August.





Aregua is also known for pottery. Luque focuses on silver wire filigree jewelry and Itaugua on brightly colored lace decoration and clothing. Some towns I pass through are all about fruit and gourds.





Others, really fresh meat.





The colors grab your attention and you just want to stop and buy everything. Make sure you bring a tinted visor or sunglasses since the sky is often cloudless and a piercing blue.





Within about three hours of sunrise or sunset on a day like this, the sun drills holes in your skull. It´s beautiful and I don´t see many days like this in Pittsburgh, but a bit dangerous.

The people are colorful too. This is Tío Dionisio.





Really nice family. Warm and inviting people.
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Old 08-14-2013, 04:43 AM   #47
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Stolen Motorcycles

My father-in-law had his bike stolen a couple of times. Bikejacking. The thieves often work in pairs in the dark. Saturday night, cousin David (in green) told us about his stolen moto experience of a few years ago. Late one night, two guys on one bike pulled up next to him. The second guy jumped off, brandishing a pistol, and demanded the bike. David stepped off and backed away, his laptop safe in his backpack and not on his quickly departing bike.

He got it back a few months later, much the worse for wear.





I was downtown in the dark with my wife last week and a man approached us at a red light asking for money. I ran the light. Moving targets are safer.
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Old 08-14-2013, 05:46 PM   #48
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honest thanks for the pics- have enjoyed them very much



I threw a fried egg on my burger a couple days ago to the utter dismay of my sons and claimed it was now "complete"
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Old 08-15-2013, 04:06 AM   #49
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You´re welcome.

I think I´m going to start requesting at restaurants that they complete their menus with the new offering of fried eggs and ham on their burgers.
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Old 08-15-2013, 04:54 AM   #50
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One More Try

With confidence growing and time getting short, I knew that I had to try that run from Nueva Italia to Carapeguá. Unpaved roads were calling my name. Last Sunday was another beautiful but cold day so, after a ridiculously long four hour church service and the 45 minute bus ride to and fro, I headed off just before 3 pm. Two and a half hours of sun left in the day - should be enough.

I gassed up and aired up and headed off, unprepared just like the last time. But at least it wasn´t going to rain.

On the way to Nueva Italia:





and then, after Nueva Italia, the pavement ended and the empedrado began. I wondered how long it would take for the rock road to end and the deep sand to take over.





For the next 10 km, the road was mostly like this:





with scenes like these.

















Then, after 10 km, there was evidence of new construction but a dirt and sand road for a while. They built a couple of new bridges to replace the old ones.











It continued like that for a while. The rock road was intermittent, with some construction evident. 50 kph or 30 mph was a comfortable speed and it was going quite well. Here are some more images of the trip.











There were far more motorcycles than cars and the bikes were faster. I was definitely not alone, since I didn´t see even one Japanese bike.














Then, after 33 km (21 miles) of rocks and sand and motorcycle, the pavement picked up again. That little bike and I had done it!





You have to watch, though. The paved road turns and you follow the sand to figure out when.





I had to continue out Route 1, of course. The sun hadn´t set and I was still too warm - suffering is part of a good life, right? So I turned right when I hit the main road and kept on going past the sunset.





all the way out to km marker 125 past Quindy. I didn´t have any extra clothing and the sunset meant that the temperature was dropping fast so I turned and headed for home. I stopped in Quindy on the street for a quick asadito de pollo and headed off to the next town. I had 110 km or about 70 miles to go. I found a big egg carton in the garbage to put in front of my jacket to help with the wind and continued on. This time, the cold in the darkness was particularly unpleasant since I had no visuals to distract me so I stayed behind the slow moving trucks and stopped whenever I felt like it. Often.

I stopped at the Frutería Paraguarí again and had another café con leche. Quite good, but the foam wasn´t brown and it wasn´t as fabulous as the last time. Then I drank some hot water, hit the bathroom and headed for home. 50 km more and I was home. 230 km total and another successful ride. No mechanical failures yet after 2100 km on this new bike.

Just before bed, my wife´s dad told me that I had a flatted. A slow leak on the rear tire. Thanks be to God that it wasn´t on the road. I might have to think about carrying tools and a spare tube next time. Maybe even extra clothing.
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:07 PM   #51
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Mechanicals

I forgot to mention earlier that both headlight filaments burned out before 1500 km. Low beam flickered and died on a night ride with my wife to an orchestral event downtown and then high beam disappeared somewhere in the middle of my long ride in the rain. I used my flashers on the way home.

Turn signals and flashers are audible here. It´s light - high pitched beep - light - embarassing noise - light - people start looking at you - light - OK! I´ll turn it off already! Fortunately, with earplugs at 80 kph, you can´t hear them.

The replacement bulbs cost - get this - ONE DOLLAR! No wonder they burn out and illuminate nothing. 25 of these bulbs for the same price as one for my Concours.

I woke up the morning after the ride to Carapeguá and had to fix the flat. I gathered the tools from wife´s father and began to work. First was the lower chain cover, then the brake brace and brake pedal rod, and then the wheel. I expected the tire to be harder to remove but with one modified screwdriver and another regular one, it came right off with minimal fuss.





A tiny piece of wire had worked itself through the tire into the tube.

So it was off to the local moto supply shop on the bicycle. I figured I´d buy two tubes - it was time to gather tools and have a spare tube. Everything went back together just as easily - don´t forget the cotter pin on the brake brace - and I was off. Bicycle pumps are nice to have. So are tool kits - I carry one now thanks to the extras that my father-in-law has.
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:08 PM   #52
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I saw a Harley V-Rod in black today. Two-up with matching black Harley leathers. Must be foreigners.
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Old 08-17-2013, 05:04 AM   #53
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Four on a Bike

I finally got a good pic of a family of four on the bike!





Recognize the family? The bike? It had to happen some time.

Yesterday we were visiting grandma in Nueva Italia almost a mile from the bus route on a rocky road. I arrived on the bike and the rest of the family by bus and foot. Grandma´s 96 and it was quite possibly our last visit with her so we spent a lot of time there and left a bit late. Somebody suggested taking the family by motorcycle to the main road for the bus.

Why not? My wife and I situated the family in the traditional fashion, laughing quite hard, and set off. Wife´s Mom and sister were on another bike piloted by another family member.

I thought it would be harder and scarier than it was.

I was, unfortunately, totally fine with the whole thing.
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Old 08-20-2013, 11:44 AM   #54
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Yo NO Soy tu Mototaxista!

My wife's goal in buying this bike was that I be her mototaxista. I had other plans. I had done the necessary scouting and I wanted to show her more of her country by bike so we found a day with good weather and set off. It was to be a shorter version of my rain ride to Pirebebuy.

It had to start off badly. Riding through San Lorenzo heading for Route 1 at 50 kph, I changed lanes from behind a bus into this hole. The tire was added later that day and the pic was taken 5 days later - it's still not filled.





A crash was about inevitable unless I did something so I used all my mountain bike leaping skills and pulled hard up and forward on the bars. My wife said later that she saw and felt nothing in the road and thought maybe something was wrong with the bike when I got off the seat. Dumb Luck? Amazing Skill? Blind Stupidity? I like to think it was the skill, but I doubt it.

After a long detour off Route 1 around a large group of protestors, it started getting better, but not before some blind idiot moron decided to do a U-turn from the opposite direction into our lane. It's common to see this, but they usually stop half-way to let you continue. This time the minivan just kept moving. And moving. I started braking from 70 kph but these cable operated drums drop speed even worse with 350 pounds aboard.

I moved farther and farther right until I was well onto the shoulder. We passed with maybe a couple of feet to spare - the car still moving. In my mind I saw us sideswiped , across the hood, and onto the ground. Not good. Why does this happen when my wife is aboard? Or do I just not notice it when I'm solo?

Anyway, we continued on to Yaguaron to climb the cerro. We already know that the bike couldn't do it cuz I posted photos earlier. Here's the hill.





But what do we do with our gear? I'd prefer to leave it, but do I trust the three people who will pass the bike? Seriously, there was nobody around. But then I saw my buddy from the last visit who offered to be my guide. He saw me on the bike and threw up his arms in greeting. We talked, I found out his name was Joel (that's hotel without the t), and he offered to watch our stuff while up top.





Really nice kid. He is actually a tour guide of the cerro on the weekends and holidays. I paid him well. For Paraguay. It was a good climb:





for a good view of the town of Yaguaron.





and the surrounding countryside.








That's not some photoshop effect either. It's a fuzzy sweater that I used to stabilize the camera. Accidentally pretty cool. The pink flower tree in the next pic is called Lapacho. Wife wants to plant one in our yard.





Jesus tags, why can't I?





Then we stopped at the Frutería Paraguari for their fabulous cafe con leche and a really good Milanesa a la Napolitana. She brings extra spice to my life, hence the appropriately placed bottle of picante.





We then went on to the cerro in Paraguari. I think I was here once with my Dad in 1997 to visit my sister. Yup. Just checked the album. Hi Dad! Hi Amy! And congratulations to Amy and Ghiath on their first anniversary of marriage!





The road to Pirebebuy winds between these two cerros and continues toward Route 2. These are taken from the cerro. The butterflies were another fortunate accident.








We continued on and the road closed in around us for a while





and then we found a scenic overlook. I almost missed the sign. 'Bienvenido' is the proper spelling - one of my favorites is 'serbesa' on a hand-painted sign advertising cerveza. It took my wife a minute to figure out that it was advertising beer. Uproarious laughter ensued.





From these lawn chairs, one can sit and observe a really nice vista on a clear day.








A few km later toward Pirebebuy, we passed a sign for the locale where wife celebrated her high school graduation with her classmates. I noticed that it didn't give a distance - that concerned me.





After 6.5 km of sycamore lined dirt roads (that went from poor to horrible)





and sugar cane laden trucks with political stickers supporting the president-elect,





we arrived at one of the few places where swimming is actually safe. It's really popular in the summer but it's winter now. I'd like to visit with more time and more family.











It was around this time, well out of cell phone range of course, that I told wife that there was no way that we could return home before going to her aunt's house. Her mother and sister were home with the kids and we would have to contact them and tell them to take the kids on another wonderful bus trip without their parents. We would meet them when they got off the bus. Lucky for us we got to skip another bus trip.

The exit was a different road. It was worse than the road in. Far worse. Deep sand everywhere elicited the first ever "Please don't kill me" plea from my passenger even though we were only moving about 8 mph.

Then it was another 6 km to the nearest town and a cell phone tower. But only after another group of protesters were cleared from the road.





On the way home, we were running toward the afternoon sun with no dark visor or sunglasses. Dumb, right? Route 2 from Ypacarai to San Lorenzo is four lanes wide with intermittent New Jersey barriers separating the two sides and the road surface they use acts like a mirror. And the stop lights are placed about 4 meters above the right shoulder of the road. Yeah, I was in the left lane, sun in my eyes, mirrored road surface, 75 kph, wife on the back, and I didn't see the light until way too late. I couldn't stop in time so I ran it. There was no road to the right and there was no cross-traffic, so it wasn't a close encounter of any kind, but once again, not good

Anyway, we got to her aunt's house on time. The only emergency, outside the two near crashes and running a red light, was that our older son announced that he had to poo upon descending from the bus. We weren't there. Lucky for us. Finding a bathroom isn't always easy. Gracias, Linda.

Ha gracias, che rembireko.
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Old 08-20-2013, 01:09 PM   #55
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muy bien !

this story hits a little closer to home than you may imagine

let's just say that the German Diaspora involves Paraguay

carry on dude !
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Old 08-21-2013, 06:44 PM   #56
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The German Diaspora

Speaking of the German diaspora, my wife's sister married a German Mennonite born and bred in Paraguay. Some of his formative years were spent in a Mennonite colony in the Paraguayan Chaco. It was there, in 2006, on a visit to Filadelfia, that my love affair with the Kenton GL 150 began.





The red Kenton and the little blue Honda were my brother-in-law's cousin's bikes that we used while we stayed in his house in the Chaco. That bike had the proper knobbies and driving lights so NOTHING could stop it.

We stayed in this house. You can see the two square access 'chimneys' to the giant water tank under the front yard. It doesn't rain much in the Chaco so when it does, they let the first of the rain clean off the roof and then take all the water and dump it in the tank. You can see the large single downspout at the corner of the house. The water pump then sends the water to the tank above the roof for water pressure.





I took off on the bike after a quick tour of the town with my brother-in-law. No license, no helmet, no protective gear, and no training. Ignorance is bliss. I wanted to get used to riding it and then take my wife for a tour so I did some scouting - that's what I always tell her - "I can take you on some great adventures, but I gotta scout first."

The flora and fauna were spectacular:

















I even passed through the gates of a cooperative, waving to everyone as if I belonged, and kept on going out to the pasture where I found this huge slab of fresh beef. I turned off the bike (no kill switch but you can turn off the lights), got off, and just looked at these cattle for a while until a man in a car drove up. I smiled and greeted him with a thumbs-up. "Sprechen Sie Deutsch?" he asked. "No," I replied, "Hablo español e inglés." That didn't help our communication, apparently, but I got the message that I wasn't supposed to be there. So I got a personal escort out the gate, waving and smiling as I left.








The next picture was a serious prize. The fox and the crazy thorny tree.








After soloing most of the adventures, I went back for wife. Check out the driving lights.





She got a picture of me driving past this palo borracho. It's a huge hollow tree that apparently holds water. The name means 'drunken stick.'





We went to Loma Plata, saw the sunset,





and went out to dinner at Restaurante El Rincon. On the way back, of course, the sun had set, the temperature dropped drastically, and the dust made visibility even worse. It was a great day. I didn't even crash and I don't think I got within 10 m of any other vehicle for 90% of the ride.

Thanks for the reminder of the German connection. It may be that this experience is what led to my moto license in 2008 and this adventure in 2013.

Danke Cristian y Sindy.

I'd love to hit the Chaco on my next Kenton purchase in Paraguay.
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Old 08-24-2013, 06:17 AM   #57
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15 de Agosto

It started in 2003. I arrived here in early July on a year-long leave of absence and began to teach at Asunción Christian Academy. I heard that the presidential inauguration of Nicanor Duarte Frutos was happening so I got up early and headed downtown on a bus. After his inspiring speech about ridding Paraguay of corruption and providing economic opportunities for everyone, I stuck around for the concert behind the presidential palace that night.

Nicanor came out from his big new house around 8 pm, ascended the stage, and gave what was apparently an inspiring speech. I understood none of it but the crowd cheered and laughed and really loved it.

Guaraní. It's one of two national languages here. The street vendors speak it. The military and police communicate in Guaraní. The Paraguayan national soccer team uses it. And, most importantly, if I'm not around, most older adults and everyone the towns outside Asunción drop into Guaraní.

Anyway, I had been here in 2003 and 2008 and I was happy to attend the latest presidential inauguration. Here's Horacio Cartes' inauguration speech if you speak Spanish. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQ8NXfEEEJ4

We arrived in time to witness a group of protesters accost a senator. He responded with shouts of "For the last 50 years, Stroessneristas like you have held back the country with your stupid isolationist policies and constant corruption." I think they were members of different arms of the same party.





It was pretty heated, but he entered the building so we headed off to the street called Paraguayo Independiente where all the dignitaries were to pass on their way from the Presidential Palace to the Cathedral Nuestra Señora de Asunción.


My wife greeted her favorite Senator,





while Paravision reported:






and police and military watched over us.







I think he's checking me out.

We were all awaiting the new president who arrived with horses behind and before.







That's his daughter sitting with him.

You can get really close to important people here. In 2008, at the inauguration of Lugo, I was within 10 feet of Presidents Chavez of Venezuela, Morales of Bolivia, Kirchner of Argentina, da Silva of Brasil, and Correa of Ecuador. in 2003, Fidel Castro was here and I saw him with my own eyes as he gave a 4 hour speech on the history of the proletariat.

Anyway, they were heading to the national cathedral for the obligatory Catholic mass after the inauguration in which they called upon la Virgen de Asunción and la Virgen de Caacupe to guide the new president.





After everybody left the cathedral, we passed a couple of hot dog shops






in search of another fabulous hamburger.





On our way to see the palace, we saw a collection of motorcycles that the national police were using. My favorite was a group of Ducati Multistrada 1200s.






We also found out that 'Chavez lives' in the form of the communist youth of Paraguay. This is an ANDE truck - the national electricity company.





Finally we arrived at the palace:





Behind the palace along the river, they've recently moved huge quantities of dirt and sand to develop the riverfront - the Costanera de Asunción. Several naval ships were anchored there.







Later that night, I returned to the palace and the concert that was held on the Costanera. It was televised and had all the traditional songs, famous bands, and Paraguayan bottle dancers.





All in all it was a great day. Not as many socialist presidents as in times past and more security, but I hope to get down here in 2018 for the next one.

I'll close with an image of the Palace at night. The Special Forces guy directing traffic actually started a conversation with me later. Kinda cool.


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Old 08-24-2013, 07:25 AM   #58
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Hum, you got me confused there. I thought that the toilet can was an universal thing. Portugal and Spain do it, as do at least most of Europe I think. Just take away the whole plastic bag and place a new one inside.

Subscribed, I like your storytelling. :) Also, love the pic with the four of you on the bike, you look like a really happy family. And your wife is very very very pretty, congrats.

Looking forward to more updates.
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Old 08-26-2013, 03:11 AM   #59
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Smarter Every Day

Yes! Now we know more about toilet paper! Thanks for chiming in - I'll probably never get to Portugal or Spain.
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Old 08-26-2013, 03:21 AM   #60
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Usps

The only reason that my father-in-law has a job is that the national postal service in Parguay is nothing like the USPS.





We can rest assured that the bills we pay through the United States Postal Service will arrive almost without fail, but stuff disappears all the time in the Paraguayan mail. That's where 'Cobradores' or Bill Collectors like my father-in-law come in. He works for a couple of companies and drives all around the city to collect bill payments in cash or check.

The thing is, though, that there are no penalties for late payment so he often has to go back time and again to collect. Tough job.
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