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Old 04-15-2014, 09:06 AM   #1786
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Back to the land of Internet connectivity! You'll have to bear with us for a while, need to catch up on some motorcycle races and some TV shows before the next blog entry!

Originally Posted by Balanda View Post
Great video and sound track Gene, it must be fun putting it together. I see Neda takes a nice line through right handers
All those track days are paying off for her!

Yes, the videos are fun to make, but very time-consuming since I'm doing it on a tiny NetBook. A 4-minute video takes a bit over an hour to render at 1080p!

Originally Posted by Nelliott View Post
Gene, your website is not working.
We've been having many problems with our web hosting service, it's eaten up a lot of my time fixing their mistakes and working around the downtime.

Originally Posted by theshnizzle View Post
Nedra is on the 2012 f650gs SE, correct? I read earlier about your collecting stamps from all the BMW dealerships you have had to have the bikes fared mechanically on your trip?
Hey Lorie! Good to hear from you! Hopefully I've caught you before you've left. Neda does indeed have the 2012 F650GS SE. The problems we've been experiencing have mostly been on my R1200GS, but it's an older bike and has been enjoyed for many miles so I'm trying to be understanding. The 650 has actually been doing quite well, other than excessive sprocket wear at 30,000kms and a noisy cam chain tensioner. I think you're also looking at the same model for your trip? Let us know if you have any questions about it.

Originally Posted by nameless View Post
was just reading this post, and look who i found... :)
Haha! We're famous!
Gene · · R1200GS
Ride Reports: Ride The World! · Indian Himalayas · Iceland · Europe · New Zealand
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:53 AM   #1787
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Location: Kamloops, BC
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Gene and Neda,
Rear sprocket recommendation: Ironman

Green with envy....
Ged Schwartz
Kamloops , BC

Baja '05 , Baja 06/07 , Baja 08/09 , BC Alpine Single Track

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Old 04-17-2014, 12:00 PM   #1788
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Darn, I managed to catch up. Now I have to wait for updates like everyone else. Haha

Really enjoying this
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Old 04-17-2014, 12:41 PM   #1789
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North again. Our aimless wanderings are revealing a distinct aversion to the southern hemisphere...

From a rainy morning's start in La Plata, we are going to descend from the foothills of the Central Andes (Cordillera Central) down through the valley of the Magdalena River through the city of Neiva and finally end up in the desert outpost town of Villavieja.

Our ride to Neiva follows the Magdalena River

Across the river we see the foothills of the Andes in the distance, lush green velour carpeting the mountainsides like an EcoElvis has gone crazy decorating the landscape.

Neda is trying her best to ignore the mud on her moto

Neda likes things clean. Clean clothing. Clean motorcycle. It's just a personal pet peeve with her. So when we rode through yesterday's mud bog, it was really bugging her to be carrying all this excess weight. So as we approached the city of Neiva, I spotted a gas station where a truck was being washed. Our bikes and luggage got the royal treatment as they were power-hosed and detailed while we had a snack break.

So clean and sparkly! Neda is happy once again! I forgot how good (um, less ugly) the R12GS looks without luggage...

Villavieja is on the outskirts of the Tatacoa desert. It's one of the most distinctive areas of a country that is dominated by the colour green. We booked into a hostel that was not as comfortable for the pricetag. The actual town was not that interesting as well, so after one night, we decided to ride out into the desert itself (only 15 minutes away) and rough it.

Riding out to Tatacoa: grass becomes less green, air becomes much warmer

I've really begun paying attention to the elevations of where we are and where we ride through. You'd think being this far south in the northern hemisphere everything would be muy caliente, but the effects of riding up and down the Andes have us alternately shivering in the clouds and boiling in the valley. The Tatacoa Desert is at 500m (1600 feet) above sea level and it is hot, hot, hot!

One of the first sights that greet us. Astounding!

Neda is loving both the colours and the heat!

Riding around, trying to find a place to stay

There are several farms doubling as hostels as we ride into the Tatacoa. We find one that's gotten good reviews and booked a few nights to explore and live the desert life.

Our hostel is a goat farm called Noches de Saturno (Nights of Saturn)

We rented a little rustic cabin sheltered by a hot tin roof

Our first day we didn't do much exploring, just caught up on a little light reading on the porch of our cabin and really savored the dry desert heat after all the cold and rain we'd been experiencing lately. The desert is wedged between two mountain ranges which rob it of most of the rainfall passing through. Or so we've been told. Because this is one of the area's two rainy seasons, we listened to the smattering sounds of a thunderstorm hurling huge drops of rain on our tin roof in the darkness (no electricity) of our first night there.

Under the mosquito net, hiding from desert bitey-bugs

In the morning, we awake with the rising sun and peer outside. The water on the ground is quickly evaporating and if we had woken up any later, the only evidence that it had ever rained would be the memory of the sound of rain pattering in the darkness just a few hours ago. A sweaty, little stroll outside in the increasing heat quickly evaporates that memory as well...

Goats being herded through the desert

Young goat herder on horseback

Aloe vera therapy. No, we didn't get sunburnt, Neda has really itchy mosquito bites

These parrots kept us entertained for a good long time! :)

In the evening, we headed out to the Tatacoa Observatory, which is less than 10 minutes walk away from our farm. On the way, a scooter passed us and these girls stopped in front of us. They had recognized us from the farm because they were using its swimming pool during the day, so they pulled over and chatted with us. It turns out all they really wanted was a picture of us (of me, I suspect).

We've been getting many, many requests for pictures, so what I'm going to do is also ask that they take one with our cameras as well from now on! :)

Tatacoan Celebrities

Tatacoa Observatory

This observatory is situated in the desert because of the clear sightlines around the horizon, almost 170 degrees of skyline! In the non-rainy season, the skies are free of clouds and the dry desert air gives amazing clarity to the constellations and other heavenly bodies.

Did I mention we were here during rainy season?

This is actually our second time visiting the observatory. Last night it was too cloudy to see anything so we postponed our trip till tonight...

So tonight, we paid our admission fee and were slightly disappointed because:

We didn't actually get to go inside the observatory (in the background)
They wheeled out these smaller telescopes on the roof of the adjoining building...

Our astronomer/guide gave us a seminar on astronomy and the constellations of the night sky. In Spanish. Great.

The telescopes weren't bad though, through the lens you could get great captures
with an iPhone or other point+shoot camera

Saturn! The capture didn't quite get the rings but we did eventually get to see them. Very cool!

I've got quite an interest in astronomy from ever since I was a little kid, so with my limited Spanish vocabulary, I could piece together what our guide was telling our group by certain words that were the same in English. However, doing this kind of hurt my brain, so at one point I gave up pseudo-translating and just stared up into the sky in wonder.

Every once in a while, Neda would translate an interesting fact I did not know like:

- Subaru is the name of a 6-star configuration in the Taurus constellation. The car company Subaru's has these 6 stars in it's logo. Neat!
- The Southern Cross constellation was pointed out to us for the first time. You can actually see it anywhere south of the Tropic of Capricorn at any hour of the night very easily.

This is when my concentration just snapped...

All this time my focus was pretty good, trying to glean any additional information I could from our guide's Spanish seminar.

And then he brought out his laser pointer, shooting it up in he sky like a green lightsaber, slashing away at the stars...

All of a sudden his Spanish words sounded like the excited natterings of a Jawa who's just captured a droid wandering in the middle of the desert. I was so focused on the green beam slashing back and forth across the sky that my ears were instantly filled with John Williams' regal trumpets and the sharp electric hum of lightsabers cutting through the air.

I wanted that lightsaber.

In my mind, the guide and I were locked in mortal Jedi combat, his green weapon inches from my face as I tried to wrest the deadly sword from his clutches. The beam danced back and forth in front of my eyes and I could hear Princess Leia's voice inquire out of the darkness, "Gene, are you okay? You look kinda spaced out and bored..."

Perhaps it was time to leave and explore the rest of Tatooine the next day.
Gene · · R1200GS
Ride Reports: Ride The World! · Indian Himalayas · Iceland · Europe · New Zealand
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Old 04-17-2014, 01:58 PM   #1790
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RideReports - mostly Europe
The Grossglockner HighAlpine Street / Austria RideReport // 2009
How Nightmarion became an ADVRider a RR from Slovenia, Croatia and Italy 2009
Sardinia, the Italian beauty in fall 2009
A country a day keeps the boredom away, Ride Report / Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Austria, Germany Aug 2010
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Old 04-17-2014, 02:39 PM   #1791
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Still great ride reports! As I see, you didn`t make it not very far south the last 6 weeks. I´m back from Chile since last weekend and when I read your reports, I would fly down there right tomorrow again. If you ever make it to Cusco, try the "Norton Rat`s Bar" at the corner of the plaza, which serves the largest Pisco Sour drinks. And yes, guinea pig in Peru is worth a try, yum!

Wish you a safe ride!
Why waiting for retirement while you might not make it there?
Fahren hält Leib und Seele zusammen!
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Old 04-17-2014, 02:43 PM   #1792
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Perfect update as always Gene!
Happy Easter you two!
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Old 04-17-2014, 03:10 PM   #1793
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This is the perfect Ride Report.
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Old 04-17-2014, 05:16 PM   #1794
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Great update, Gene you cracked me up with the Star Wars.

May the force be with you !
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Old 04-18-2014, 12:41 AM   #1795
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Finally the force is with you!

Catch you now after a week of reading of your report. All the photographs and the stories are awful.excellent and so on with a lot of praising words

Keep the wheels rolling.
Best regards

Never Ride Faster Than Your Guard Angel Can Fly!
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Old 04-19-2014, 03:14 PM   #1796
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Colombia is dominated by the colour green. From the green carpeted mountains of the Caribbean coast to the rain-forests and jungles of the interior, you can't entirely escape from the colour of lush nature and fertility. That is, until you venture into the Tatacoa Desert.

Welcome to the Tatacoa Desert!

Today we're exploring Red. Or what the fancypants called Ochre. The Martian-like landscape of dry, cracked red soil is concentrated in the area of the desert called El Cusco, which is hard to miss because it's right at the entrance to the park and it's one of the first things you see. It's right across from our farm, so one evening, we hired a guide who worked at the farm to show us around.

Nacho (short for Iganacio), our desert guide

Maybe he was pulling our leg, but Nacho had never heard of the Mexican food "Nachos" before. In Latin America, they're called tortillas.

High atop the Laberintos (Labyrinthe) de Cusco

They say the Tatacoa Desert was a result of a lake that dried out. Within the shapes of the labyrinth, you can make out the areas where water once flowed to sculpt these weird stone shapes that we were walking around and on top of.

Desert is host to a lot of wildlife. This cactus bears fruit to feed thirsty motorcycle travelers

The inside is juicy and tart and full of black seeds

After Neda is done, there will be none left for the rest of the wildlife in Tatacoa

Nacho explained all the different species of trees, plants and cactus as we walked past them. We had a bit of a laugh because everything he pointed out had "medicinal" properties. It sounded like you'd never need to go to the doctor if you just ate everything in the desert every day!

Colours are so rich and vivid, very different from anything we've seen in Colombia

A lot of it reminded us of the red rocks we had seen in Utah

Every morning, the goats in the area are let out to feed.
They've learned to find their way home by themselves when it gets dark

Goats are ravenous creatures and will eat anything. It was quite a selling feature of the Tatacoa Desert to see these goats eating the leaves of these trees, because the branches are so thorny. Over time, the goats have learned to eat around the thorns to get to the juicy leaves.

How do goats eat these leaves? Very carefully!

You can picture where the water once carved through the area

Proof that I was there too... :)

Easy to map a way out of the maze when you're standing above it!

American Kestral (Sparrow Hawk) watches us warily out of the corner of his eye

Descent into the Labyrinth

Last look around before it got too dark

Nacho points out more interesting, nature-y things to Neda. I just take pictures.

Hiking around the desert was a very nice change of scenery from all the cities and towns that we've been in, and the hot and dry days were welcome after enduring the rains around the Andes mountains. Tomorrow we're going to shift away from Red and explore the Gray of the Tatacoa. With our motorcycles!
Gene · · R1200GS
Ride Reports: Ride The World! · Indian Himalayas · Iceland · Europe · New Zealand
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Old 04-19-2014, 03:39 PM   #1797
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Excellent update. That looks to be quite the place!
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Old 04-19-2014, 03:54 PM   #1798
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Continued great report ! Love this post. Happy Easter !
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Old 04-19-2014, 04:37 PM   #1799
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This is, by far, the most refreshing thread I've ever seen.

How I look clear-minded
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Old 04-19-2014, 07:50 PM   #1800
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Originally Posted by xyz View Post
This is, by far, the most refreshing thread I've ever seen.

Absolutely !!
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