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Old 10-11-2012, 02:42 PM   #46
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Wonderful Trip

Just finished reading your whole blog about your adventure. (Had a few hours free time) Sounded amazing. I am sure I'll be one of those old retired travellers you wrote of one day.
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:28 PM   #47
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Excellent ride report mate ! So nice to have family and friends coming in while in Columbia / Peru . Fantastic pictures and words . Thank you
-zie egret.
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Old 10-27-2012, 01:07 PM   #48
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Many thanks

Thanks for the nice comments.
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Old 10-27-2012, 01:17 PM   #49
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The last bits of Bolivia

If I said the word 'sand', what types of thoughts does that elicit in you? Thinking about the beach already, aren't you. Sipping a Corona, listening to the waves crash in, drunk on oxygen filling your lungs, sitting there with your girl, both of your toes buried deep in the warm sand. Normally when I think of sand, that's what I think of too.

But in southwest Bolivia, sand takes on a different meaning. It became an obstacle by which a motorbike wheel must be navigated through. It was to be done with no Corona, alone, and while unable to breathe in a frigidity that only 13,000 feet above sea level provides. Bolivia, you have such a beauty and a harshness with nothing in between. I don't know how else to describe you.

Southwest Bolivia has a national park called the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve. It certainly looks beautiful from the pictures I've seen. Flamingos inhabiting it's lagoons, natural rock sculptures and picturesque mountains making up the landscape. I've heard it's impressive. That said, I've also heard that the road that goes through it is very sandy. This was such a shame, as I have no experience riding motorbikes through sand. I'd tried to find other people that may be riding through the area, but with no luck. If I was going to do it, I'd have to do it alone.

The road through the national park reaches altitudes up around 15,000 feet. This seemed a bad place to learn to ride in sand, so I decided against it. This decision was tough, but was justified by me, to myself, as my reason to come back. Doing it alone would be too dangerous. I'm not superman, and dropping this heavy bike on my leg could be a real disaster. I made the decision against it, and that was final. But as I sit here three months later and write this, I regret this decision wholeheartedly.

Leaving Uyuni, there were two gravel roads out of town. They were just a stone's throw from one of Uyuni's three gas stations. I stood there staring at them from the gas pump while a guy at the station filled up my tank and spare gas can. It truly was a crossroads. One went to Chile by means of the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve, the other to the southern Bolivian town of Tupiza. Both paths trailed off into the distance much further than than the eye could see. I wanted to see the national reserve, but instead I took what I thought would be the safe route.

The road through the national reserve to Chile was sandy, I had a lot of good information about that road. But, I really had no idea what condition the road to Tupiza was in. My determination that it would be easier and safer was based on looking at a map. This route was denoted on the map as being the same quality as the nicely paved road that I took from Potosi into Uyuni. Boy was the map wrong. This route turned out to have patches of sand strewn throughout it, the longest and muddiest river crossing of the entire trip, and endless miles of washboard bumps in the road, the vibration of which can literally knock your vision out of whack!

The road started out easy enough though, an occasional small sandy patch here and there. The endless washboard surface was really the only tough thing to deal with.


But about an hour or so after the crossroads, I ran into a sandy patch that took me down. I must have been asleep at the handlebars, because it was marked with red flags that didn't catch my attention.

These red flags should have been a red flag


I had the helmet camera operating on the time lapse feature at the time snapping a shot every couple seconds. So, I can't forget about this fall.

Here's a shot of my head on it's way to the ground.


We were both just vertical a minute ago.


Falling over in the middle of nowhere really gets the adrenaline pumping. But even with all the adrenaline going, I didn't have the strength to pick up the bike by myself at this altitude. It's absolutely amazing the way the high altitudes zap your strength. Fortunately, there were three road workers sitting on the side of the road. They came over to help me pick it up.



Funny how help shows up when you need it...even when you're in the middle of nowhere. Things work out, they always do...you really start to believe it after taking a trip like this.

So we got the machine upright.


Thanks for the help buddy


The bike started back up, so off I went. There were more sandy patches that were far longer and far worse than this one, but I'd learned my lesson from the fall. I was on high alert from that point on, spotting the sandy sections well in advance of hitting them, and taking great caution to pass through. There was an inordinate amount of cursing going on in the helmet, as this road couldn't have been much worse than the road through the national reserve that I had wanted so badly to take. When I approached a river crossing that was certainly the deepest, muddiest river crossing of the trip, I nearly blew my lid. I didn't stop to find the best place to cross or even to turn on the camera. Just picked a line, gunned the throttle, and powered though with anger. Now that I'm sitting at home writing this, it's easy to say that I should have turned back to Uyuni, spent the night, and taken the road to Chile the next day. But at the time I was squirreling the bike through that muddy river bed, backtracking didn't seem like the right thing to do. Life on the road was wearing me out, and I wanted to go home.

So I rode on and on, admiring the Bolivian countryside


And on and on


Just me and my shadow


Parts of the countryside here had quite a unique look. Sometimes I was pretty sure a teradactyl was going to swoop down, grab me with its talons, and eat me for dinner.


It was well into the night before I arrived in Tupiza. The lingering sunset I saw while riding on this road was one of the most interesting I've seen in all my life. There were horizontal layers of white, green and purple. I really should have stopped for pictures with the good camera, but I didn't. The washboard surface continued to be relentless, even as darkness fell around me. As I got closer to the city of Tupiza, I also had dogs chasing me again. I never saw any of them in the darkness, but I could hear them barking at my ankles as I rode along.

There's a few days on this trip I'll never forget. This particular day tested me, and will always be burned vividly into my memory.

Derby City screwed with this post 10-27-2012 at 04:45 PM
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Old 11-02-2012, 05:19 PM   #50
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Your photos and descriptions of the sandy road excellently portray why we ride overland moto trips--for the challenge, the experience, and the beauty. Well done!
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Old 01-07-2013, 03:06 PM   #51
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Peru revisited

Because I recently broke down and purchased some video editing software, we're going to head north to Peru. Of all the countries visited, I really thought Peru was just perfect for motorcycles. Here's a peek at the various landscapes of Peru.

Here's a link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snSevCH4KwA
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:21 PM   #52
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Bolivia into Argentina

My arrival in Tupiza, Bolivia occurred later in the evening. Entering the city involved crossing one of two one-lane bridges spanning over a small river. I of course picked the bridge that was blocked by protesters at 10:00PM. A Toyota Land Cruiser I followed onto the bridge was the first to get stopped and plead his case for crossing. Being one of the longest days of riding on the trip, I just parked the bike on the side of the bridge thinking I'd rest my weary body shooting the shit with the protesters for awhile. I pulled off the helmet, and greeted the protesters the the utmost respect hoping they might let me through after I rested there awhile.

Turned out they had no intent to slow me down at all. An older gentlemen with no teeth approached me, and told me to wait just a couple minutes until they made their stand against the guy in the Land Cruiser. Once the guy in the Land Cruiser backed off the bridge and drove away, the protesters lifted the rope and let me pass. I was actually a little upset that I didn't get a long break.

Found a nice little hotel in the darkness. The girl working the hotel desk gave me a key to a gated parking lot across the street from the hotel where I could park the bike. She told me not to let the guard dog get out. That made me a little nervous going in there in the first place, but the guard dog turned out to be a little puppy that was far more afraid of me than I of it.

The next morning I ate a hearty breakfast at one of several restaurants in town. I sat at a table next to some French tourists. For some reason, Bolivia attracts French tourists. I think I saw more French tourists in Bolivia than anywhere else on the trip.

After breakfast, I packed up, took my chances with the guard dog once again, and pressed on toward Argentina.

Final miles in Bolivia




Before long, I arrived at the Bolivia/Argentina border. It was hard to believe this would be the final border crossing of the trip. Turned out to be one of the more time consuming crossings of the entire trip due to some confusion with Argentinian customs employees. No shenanigans though.

So long Bolivia. Your ridiculously high altitude will not be missed. I'm an oxygen lover.


Hello Argentina


First sign with kilometerage to Buenos Aires. Just 1,219 miles to go!


My planned destination for the day was the city of Salta, Argentina, but the mileage was absolutely impossible to make in one day. That last rough day on the road in Bolivia must have made me stupid while planning my route the night before. The Argentinian road was smooth and straight though, allowing me to cover a considerable distance.

The day was a bit chilly for riding, and things really started getting cold as the sun descended. Just before dusk, I stopped on the side of the road to add a layer of clothing. While looking back in the direction I had just traversed, I saw a sign telling me I was standing on the Tropic of Capricorn. Figured an accidental stop at the Tropic of Capricorn was worth getting the camera out for a picture.


I pressed on in the cold looking for any hotel I could find. The first small city I drove through reminded me of Gatlainburg, Tennessee. I must have checked 8 different hotels, but they were all booked up, or just too expensive. The next small city I stopped at was more along the lines of Aspen, Colorado. I didn't even bother to ask for prices at the hotels, I could tell they were too expensive just driving by. Eventually, I stumbled into a roadside hotel that was nice, and while expensive, didn't break the bank. I was also really excited that it had a bidet. So excited that I even took a picture.



Turned out that bidet's are really common in Argentina, but for that one bathroom photographing moment in time, it was really a novel experience.
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Old 05-12-2013, 07:59 PM   #53
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More Argentina

I'd better finish the account of this trip, the memories are starting to fade. So where was I anyway???? Oh, I remember now, freezing my arse off in Argentina. Due to my lack of picture taking for the last segment of the trip, I'll interspurse random photos taken throughout the trip. Too much reading is boring...I know.

The bidet in the hotel on my first night's stay in Argentina gave me the feeling I'd re-entered an entirely developed country. When I woke in the morning, daylight revealed the hotel was completely exposed with no walls guarding the facility or the parking lot. We don't live behind walls in the United States, but much of the world does. It's counterintuitive, but I find the absence of walls provide me with the greatest sense of confidence and security. There were 11 countries visited on this trip. Some border crossings were a seamless transition demarcated only by a stamp in the passport. Others allowed entry into a different world. The transition from Bolivia to Argentina provided passage into a country resembling my own more than any other country visited on this trip. Although I'd continue to ride in winter for the rest of this journey, the harshness of Bolivia was behind me. Now I was enjoying the convenience of nice cafes and wifi in almost any Argentinian gas station I stopped at.

Out of place photo #1: Guatemalan chicken bus. I'd put these things up against a US military tank


During the course of the trip, typically we'd stop in bigger cities and find a hotel. Argentina's rampant inflation was making things rather expensive in every major city I visited, so rather than staying in the city, I found hotels in between the big cities. Staying in hotels off the side of the highway in small, rural towns ended up being a fun change of pace. Lots of good conversations with random people in these situations.

Out of place photo #2: Nicaraguan funeral procession. A black casket is hoisted high at the front of the crowd.


Meeting the people of Argentina was a great experience. They had an energy unlike any other on this trip. The best I'm able to describe Argentinians is like the character Poppie on the old sitcom Seinfeld. Any given issue would set off Poppie until he got to a point where he'd pee his pants. Once the pressure was relieved, he'd come back to a reasonable temperament. In my opinion, a lot of Argentinians are like this, and it seems to manifest itself in a distrust of governments, and a desire to go on strike at any given moment. That said, they probably had more pride in their country than any other group I'd seen. Take the passion of Tango, and apply it to all facets of life...this is the composition of an Argentinian.

Out of place photo #3: Best warning I've ever seen on a pack of smokes. Bogota, Colombia.
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Old 09-29-2013, 09:37 AM   #54
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Almost to Buenos Aires

The pace of most of the trip usually was to stop in a city for 2 nights or so before packing up and moving on. I had planned to travel for 5 months in total, but by the time I crossed into Argentina, the 5 month mark had already been passed. Having gone well over the allotted time for traveling, low on travel budget money, and exhausted from 5+ months on the road, I was making miles day after day in Argentina with just one extended stopover in Cordoba.

Paula, whom I met back in Colombia, was from Cordoba, Argentina. She told me to stop by should my travels take me through Cordoba, so I dropped in to say hello. I visited with Paula, her mother, and her sister. They fixed me lunch and taught me all the nuances of sipping mate (pronounced maaaatay, it's the national beverage of Argentina). A tea-like drink, Argentinians take their mate very seriously. Google "mate etiquette" sometime if you want a crash course in how to drink the stuff.

We tried several times to get a decent picture, but the lighting was terrible. Paula kept insisting we get another picture, and by picture #3, mom and sister had about enough. I was enjoying the company and had just been fed lunch, so smiling was about the only thing I felt like doing. Here's pic #3:


Paula's father was also kind enough to spend his Sunday afternoon driving us around the city to show me the sights. Beyond the city limits, he took us to a real nice lake west of Cordoba that locals use for weekend retreats. I don't think he'd met many, if any, Americans in his time, and he didn't know any English. My communication with dad was possible mostly through Paula's translation. He was ready to have a serious discussion about politics, but lucky for me it never happened due to the communication barrier.

Unrelated photo: Cutting the grass in Salento, Colombia


From Cordoba, it was southward to Pilar, another small town between big cities. In Pilar I found the most luxurious of small roadside hotels. A bus stop adjacent to the hotel was the only logical explanation for such a nice facility in a small, rural town. Nevertheless, it was clean, cheap and the heater in the room not only kept me warm and comfortable, it dried my sink-washed clothing rather quickly.

That evening, I trekked across the street to a sausage shop with hopes of finding a beer. Successfully cleaning your clothes in a hotel sink always calls for celebration, so a beer was in order. Argentina has an unparalleled love for meat, and small meat stores are in abundance. It was in this little store where a very memorable experience occurred.

On my way to the cooler, I passed this guy who was sweeping the floor in the shop.


Meet Edgardo. He said something to me as I passed him in the store, but since I didn't understand his Spanish, I gave no response. It was when I was fumbling trough speaking with the cashier to purchase the beer when they both realized I was a foreigner and not just some snobby guy ignoring the guy sweeping the shop. I told them I was from the US, and the conversation went on from there. Mostly in my broken Spanish, but Edgardo also called his wife to the store for translation assistance. She had taken some English classes, and helped with the communication. I went in for a quick beer, spent two or three hours in the store talking about anything and everything, and walked out with a few new friends.

Unrelated photo: Somewhere in Peru, dogs lining up to chase me down the road
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Old 03-07-2014, 08:30 PM   #55
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Arriving in Buenos Aires

Long before we ever left on this journey, I would sit at home now and then letting my imagination run wild with all kinds of what-if scenarios. Sitting on the couch dreaming up how to get to Argentina on a motorcycle seemed like an immense undertaking back before we were crossing borders. The thought of stepping out and completely exposing yourself to the unknown can make you feel equally as frightened as elated.

All through the planning process, there had been a goal, a final destination, and that was the city of Buenos Aires. Pulling into town was a day I dreamed of. Somewhere in my elaborate thoughts were ticker tape parades, photo shoots, shaking hands with people on the street, kissing babies, and fine cigars and wine to celebrate the accomplishment. It's easy to dream this stuff up while sitting on your couch at home, but reality tells a different story.

Unrelated photo: Rufio liked making major adjustments to the camera settings before snapping a picture. Luckily he captured the sun apocalypse in Zacatecas, Mexico...


The ride into Buenos Aires was a rainy and cold one, but my thoughts that day weren't concerned with the weather at all. These were the last miles of what turned out to be a 6 month journey, and my mind was busy contemplating the ride. It took awhile to adjust to life on the road in otherworldly places, but for the past few months, life on the road in otherworldly places had become my norm. Waking up every day to something completely new is a lively experience. Going home to something else was certainly on my mind.

Unrelated photo: Machu Picchu, it's as cool as it looks.


As I arrived in Buenos Aires, traffic through the city was intense. A whole lot of people live in Buenos Aires, and they drive like nuts. I began looking for a hotel downtown, but everything I found was either too expensive, full, or didn't have parking for the bike. I got the bright idea to drive to the outskirts of town to find a hotel which turned out to be a big mistake. Buenos Aires is absolutely massive. I kept moving south instead of backtracking north, rode for hours through tolls and cold rain, and still never got out of town.

At some point, I turned around and headed back to the downtown area. Night had fallen, and I decided to spring for a pricey room in the city. As I arrived back in the downtown area, I accidentally took the wrong exit ramp on the highway toward the bad end of town. As luck would have it, this was the point when after 14,500 miles my trusted steed finally decided to break down. As the bike began to sputter, I thought it had run out of gas. I was able to coast it into a gas station before my machine finally died. Further inspection revealed my problems clearly were electrical. When the lights don't work, putting more gas in the tank won't fix the problem. Besides, I could hear gas swishing around in the tank...more than enough fuel to get me to a hotel.

Unrelated photo: The road....somewhere in Ecuador


I couldn't believe it, just a few short miles from warm, dry hotels in the city, and I was stuck. I was exhausted, soaked from riding in the rain, and a bit out of sorts as I realized my options were quite limited. As I toiled with the bike trying to make something work, a couple guys standing around chatting took an interest in my work on the bike. They were a couple truck drivers fresh off their shift at the nearby shipping dock. Had they not been hanging around at that gas station the night my bike broke down, I probably wouldn't have gotten out of there.

When it was clear the bike was going nowhere, one of the guys offered to call a buddy with a tow truck. The tow truck driver, who happened to be violently ill, seemed very reluctant to pick me up at all. It took a very high agreed-upon tow price (by Argentina standards) before he would give me and the bike a lift into town. As luck would have it, the tow truck driver's wife knew some English and accompanied her husband for the ride. She used her English-speaking abilities to tell me how with money from my tow, she'd be able to take her children to some Disney-on-Ice show they so badly wanted to see. I nodded and smiled as she told me this, but inside I was just relieved that I wouldn't be risking my life sleeping at the gas station. For what wasn't more than a $40 buck tow, they probably saved my life.

Unrelated photo: Bike maintenance in Colombia with a Poker beer.


When I was searching for hotels earlier in the day, I came across one called Axel Hotels. For some reason I remembered the name, and remembered that it had vacancies. When I was asking about rates and room availability earlier in the day, I found it odd that all the guys working there had their shirts only half buttoned. But, I'd always heard that Buenos Aires had a "European flair" so I didn't think anything of it. After the bike was secured for the night in a garage a couple blocks away, I set out to find the Axel Hotel because I knew it had a vacancy.

My internet searches have revealed that Axel Hotels no longer operate the Buenos Aires location, but fortunately photos are still available on Google. Here it is, The Axel Hotel, Buenos Aires


They still had vacancies, so I booked a room. I dragged my ass upstairs embarrassed of my coal miner appearance in such an exceptionally clean hotel. It wasn't until I got to my room and read some of the hotel literature describing it as "hetero-friendly" that I realized what type of hotel I was in. While showering under their phallic shower head (photo below) never left me feeling so dirty, I'll have to admit I've never slept on softer sheets.


With the chaos of the day behind me, I spent some time standing on the balcony of my hotel room listening to the rain, the sound of the city, and absorbing where on earth I was. What a journey it had been, but I made it...I was in Buenos Aires!!!

Derby City screwed with this post 03-09-2014 at 11:02 AM
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Old 06-14-2014, 07:54 PM   #56
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In Buenos Aires

When your bike isn't working, Buenos Aires is a fine place to be. There's a little shop in town known worldwide to overland travelers, and they can fix you up when you're feeling down. Dakar Motos is the brainchild of a couple who decided to live a life doing what they loved. Set in the northwest suburbs of town they run a bike shop, storage area, and hostel catering specifically to overland adventurers traveling the world. And, regardless of which of the other 6 continents you're headed to next, they have all the contacts you'll need at the Buenos Aires airport to arrange transportation for your vehicle. The day after my bike called it quits, calling Dakar Motos was the first order of business. Within a couple hours, they had a van pick up me and the bike, and hauled us both to the shop.

The van driver was quite the stereotypical Argentinian. Chain smoking and sipping mate the whole way, he'd periodically try conversing with me. I did my best to understand any word that was coming out of his mouth, but couldn't decipher much. Actually, I should give myself more credit. Considering every other word out of his mouth was "che," I officially understood half of everything he said. "Che" is a pseudo-slang word that resides in Buenos Aires. Usually it means "hey" or "hey you," but this particular driver used the word as a way of verbally expressing any thought, feeling or fact. He could work the word into speech as a noun, adjective, adverb and verb...and all in the same sentence. I was so enamored by his repetitive use of "che" that I'd lose sight everything else he said.

He'd throw a couple sentences at me, I'd give him a blank look, then we'd drive in silence for 10 minutes. During the periods of silence, I could see him racking his brain, arranging words in patterns so perfect that anyone with a sense of hearing would understand his poetic creation. When he was certain he'd come up with a perfect arrangement, he'd "che" me, I'd proceed with the blank stare, and 10 minutes of silence ensued. It was an hour before we arrived at Dakar Motos.

Dakar Motos proprietor and head mechanic, Javier, had my bike fixed about ten minutes after we unloaded it from the van. Turns out that checking fuses when you have an electrical problem is a great place to start troubleshooting. Under normal circumstances, I can figure that kind of stuff out...but standing in a gas station beside the shipping docks in Buenos Aires at 10 PM ain't normal circumstances for me. Javier decided to laugh at me rather than charge me for the repair. Little did he know that anything but handing over cash is my preferred method of payment. I thanked him for his services.

Buenos Aires made me feel at home. Here's the Kentucky Pizzeria.


Argentinians have passion. I think I've mentioned it before, but it can't be stressed enough...they're passionate bunch. The history of the country is amazing. In any given 50 year period, Argentina will have two decades of leftist extremist government rule, followed by two decades of rightist extremist rule, a decade of prosperity and a revolution. The cycle then repeats itself. Don't quote me on the historical facts I'm presenting here, but you get the point. Crazy ideologies with a constant threat of revolution in the air is a perfect recipe for passion in the same way tolerance and respect are a recipe for boring peace and stability. I'd go back in a second if I could.

During my visit in Buenos Aires, public transit workers were passionate about not working. Subway workers were on strike bringing the entire subterraneo (a little Spanish for you) system to a halt. This limited my ability to tour the city in a manner that suited my budget...which at the time was in the no money left stage. I still got out for quite a bit of walking to tour the city. And, I also had the company of fellow overland travelers staying at Dakar Motos.

I wasn't diligent in taking photos in Buenos Aires but I assure you it's as vivid in my memory as the days, nearly two years ago now, that I was strolling through town. Did manage to photograph the graveyard where Eva Peron (Evita) is buried though.

Cry for me Argentina. I have to go back to work now.




Aunt Bee is buried a couple rows down from Evita...who knew?






Dedicating so many resources to decorating resting places of the dead doesn't make much sense to me, but I haven't seen the Egyptian pyramids yet either. Maybe someday my mind will be changed. Until then, throw my ashes in the Ohio River and donate whatever I've got left to cancer research. I'm of the opinion that resources should be used to benefit the living.





And that was Buenos Aires. Of course I sampled some fine Argentinian steaks and wine before leaving town...I have a way of finding a little extra money in the travel budget for that kind of stuff. But, the days of traveling had come to an end. Not too long after seeing Evita's grave, travel arrangements would be finalized, and I'd board a plane headed for the States.
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Old 08-23-2014, 08:38 AM   #57
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Sending a bike home

Two stops per country were required at each border crossing. Stop one was the immigration office. They keep track of people moving across the border. The country exited would check you out, and the country entered would check you in. Stop two was the customs office. They kept track of stuff moving across the border, and served to check the bike in or out. The bike and I were allotted a specific amount of time we could stay in each country before we were required to leave...and since the bike couldn't check itself out, the responsibility fell on me to make it exit each country.

I really don't know what selling the bike legally in Argentina would have entailed, but I've heard selling IL-legally was lucrative. Import taxes make these things expensive and difficult to acquire for residents of most South American countries. Since I am a model citizen, even in countries where I am not a citizen, I opted to live between the lines, be the square that I really am, and fork over mucho dinero to transport my two-wheeled metal heap back to the USA. Shipping either by air or container are the only two options I am aware of. I'm reasonably sure UPS doesn't have a less expensive ground transportation alternative from Argentina to the USA. Since my little bike didn't need its own shipping container, going by air was the only logical option for getting it home.

The folks at Dakar Motos made the shipping process really easy. Successfully shipping the bike was merely a matter of following their written instructions. At the Buenos Aires airport, first order of business was weighing the bike. Here it is on the scale.



I'm not real accurate with my English to Metric conversions, but when I was picking this thing up off the ground in Bolivia my best guess would have been 10,000 kilograms. The scale said 239.0 kg's. Never trust a Moretti scale.



Reducing the height and width of the bike on the pallet reduces the cost of shipping, so I made a fair effort to cut down the size. The folks back at Dakar Motos were impressed with how little I paid the shipper, so I'll consider my efforts a success.





Selfie #853: 'Holy shit! I'm really going home now'


All packed up and ready for the plane.


The next day I too was on a plane to Cincinnati.
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Old 08-23-2014, 08:46 AM   #58
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Lessons Learned

I've been telling people this trip was worth half a college education and I believe that to be true. It certainly cost as much. Here are a few things I learned.

1) Calling yourself an American is not limited to residents of the United States. From Alaska down to the southern tip of Argentina, people proclaim themselves Americans with just as much gusto as we do in the States. I'd never been privy to this unifying tie we all have. Exceptions are Canadians who want nothing to do with the United States, and Mexicans who have an identity all their own.

2) After you've crossed about 5 or 6 borders, you'll never be afraid to cross another.

3) After you've been in the same spot for 3 days, day 4 feels like you're home.

4) Using bright colors to paint the exterior of your home in Mexico is as competitive as having the best manicured lawn in affluent United States' suburbs.

5) Attitude is everything, especially at border crossings, and when you're getting shaken down by the cops.

6) Nicaragua in the dry season is about the hottest damn place on earth. I think the fact that my Nicaraguan born language instructor didn't know the SPANISH word for "snow" reinforces this assertion.

7) Once you've realized for yourself that the world is not such a dangerous place, you'll really get sick of talking to people who believe everything they hear from their favorite news station.

8) The Kawasaki KLR 650 is a good bike to ride to South America.

9) Societies don't break ties with the past rapidly. Spain began colonizing the Americas (South of the USA) around 1500. Today, people living there still speak Spanish, are Catholic, and generally know how well Spain's soccer teams are doing.

10) There are rich people and poor people in every country you'll visit...even in ones you may think are entirely poor. It's the concentration of reasonably well off people in between that determine how dangerous the place will be.

11) Doesn't matter what you hear on the news, doesn't matter what your mom told you, doesn't matter what you heard at church, doesn't matter what your government told you, doesn't matter what you've conjured up in your own mind about what goes on beyond the area where you live your life....people around the world are about the same. Most folks are just trying to raise their kids and make ends meet. That's it....that's what life is for almost everyone. No matter how many people I tell this to, it will always be my dirty little secret. If you're to have any chance of realizing this for yourself, you will have to travel the world.


I arrived home in August 2012, nearly two years ago to this day. The trip truly was a once in a lifetime experience, and it made me appreciate everything I am able to do in life, a lot of which is determined by mere luck. Learning lesson number 11 in the list above has certainly enabled me to walk through life in a more peaceful and less fearful state. I just hope there are many, many more years to come.

This concludes the blog. Thanks again for following along. Hope you enjoyed the stories.

No post is complete without pics. Here are a few from a trip to Colorado in 2013....

Me and the heap made it to the top of Pike's Peak


Pike's Peak Panorama


Mudslide on the Million Dollar Highway


The only rain storm that didn't get me


Beautiful flora of Colorado






The Road


Tough trek to the top of Cinnamon Pass in the rain





The road I'm always looking for

Derby City screwed with this post 08-29-2014 at 08:43 PM
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Old 08-24-2014, 06:28 PM   #59
ElReyDelSofa
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Peter,

Have really enjoyed following along vicariously on your trip. I have the same dream and a daughter who will graduate high school in 3 years.

I really enjoyed your trip, but most of all I enjoyed your final post on reflections on the trip. You have hit the nail on the head. Well written, well said. Thanks, simply thanks. Hope that you have an easy integration back into whatever "normal" you have waiting for you. And if ever in Utah, look me up would like to buy you a beer and hear some more about your trip. Thanks again

Suerte,

Martín
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Old 08-27-2014, 06:49 PM   #60
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Originally Posted by ElReyDelSofa View Post
Peter,

Have really enjoyed following along vicariously on your trip. I have the same dream and a daughter who will graduate high school in 3 years.

I really enjoyed your trip, but most of all I enjoyed your final post on reflections on the trip. You have hit the nail on the head. Well written, well said. Thanks, simply thanks. Hope that you have an easy integration back into whatever "normal" you have waiting for you. And if ever in Utah, look me up would like to buy you a beer and hear some more about your trip. Thanks again

Suerte,

Martín

Thanks Martin, it's good to know someone appreciates my dry sense of humor. Maybe I can introduce you to the other four someday.

My new normal is about the same as my old normal. I was re-chained to a cube two weeks after setting foot back on US soil, and have been working ever since. I'll take what I've got...In the grand scheme of things it's not so bad, and it will enable me to embark on more adventures in the future...but unfortunately the next BIG adventure isn't going to happen anytime soon.
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