Touring Ted

2 wheels & no sense. My Motorcycle travel blog.

Archive for the 'South America' Category

09.07.2008

After Angel falls, it was a few days ride to the Colombian border. The roads were very good and once again took us through beatiful landscapes, jungle and twisty moutain passes. Our only downer was the Venezuelian checkpoints. They were mostly very hostile with the military police demanding to see all our papers and checking everything. To me it just seemed an excuse to bully about rich weterners about or just out of total boredom (probably the latter). Saying that, we were never asked for a bribe or physically threatened so onwards we pressed.

A few LONG days later we made it to the Colombian border. Venezuela gave us our final sour taste by demanding an “Exit fee”, AKA bribe before they would stamp our exit visas and let us leave the country. I dont want people to think I didnt enjoy Venezuela but it has the potential to be so much better if they would just chill out a little.

Within 15 minutes we were happy and smiling again. Its a fantastic feeling to get through a border and see all the wlcome signs.. I always let off a “Woooo Hoooo” everytime I see the first sign..

It was fantastic to be in Colombia. The difference was like black and white with relation the the officials. The guards had big smiles and welcomed us in. They offered us drinks and gave us directions to the customs office (unusually it wasnt at the border and a couple of miles in the city near an airport). We had to go to customs to declare our bikes and obtain our tempory import visas for the bikes which WOULD be checked at guard points on the roads. A bit of a pain but necessery.

So off we went into the madness and jumble of the city following signs to the airport. On arrival at the airport the gateman told us that the customs was infact not at the airport but in the town AHHHHHH !!  Luckily, and in true Colombian hospitality style , a random bloke in a car insisted that he show us the way :)

After all the faffing about with the usual customs photocopying and form filling Sean and myself decided to head for Bogota and home leaving Criste to head north to the coast. This is after we were grabbed by a local guy on a bike who insisted we come to his small B&B for free drinks and even offered to put us up for free. We were all quite eager to press on so unfortunatley had to decline his invitation but it all made us feel very welcome in what is such a wonderful and unfairly critisised country.

I really really really wish that I hadnt lost the pictures of the ride south to Bogota because it was simply stunning. Riding the Colombian andes at over 10,000 feet in the mist of the jungle moutains was one of the most memerable rides of my life. The people are verging on indiginous and their lives are very basic. What I didnt really plan on was the cold at 10,000 feet. We were bloody freezing and glad when the altitude dropped as quickly as it rose.

A few days earlier I had received an invite from a fellow scouse biker (Mick) who has an apartment in Bogota. Mick spends 10 months of the year in Colombia and 2 in the UK, working when he feels like it.  He kindly invited myself and Sean to come and stay with him while we sorted out out shipping and flights back to the UK. It was really nice to roll into Bogota knowing a friendly face and some local knowledge was on the horizon.

Over the next few days, Mick made us feel like Royalty and even he even bought my bike off me to replace his well used and abused KLR. I was a little sad about leaving my bike behind but it saved me the huge hassel and cost of shipping it home.. At least she will be used in South America for many years to come !

After I booked my flights I made sure I made the most out of Bogota with the little money I had left. We went clubbing in downtown, enjoyed the fantastic resturants and basically chilled out with some locals…. Bogota is not what I imagined it at all. Big expensive shopping malls, classy resturants and nice museams. Thorwn into the mix is samba, dancing and friendly happy faces…. I loved Colombia and my biggest regret is not having enough time to explore it properly.

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Writing this blog has been fun and I hope its helped to inspire a few people to just getting out there and doing it. If I can do it, ANYONE can….  You will meet so many wondrous, kind and selfless people that it will totally shake your own perspectives on western life. You will meet many other travellers, with and without motorcycle, who will happily share your experiences with you (and your beer). I can almost guarantee that you will make friendships on the road that will last a lifetime.

What I learned about travelling is that you really cant plan anything and I’m glad that I didn’t really plan much at all. You have to remain very elastic as nothing ever really goes how you plan it. In my opinion, I had much more fun that way too.

Its pretty sad writing the last post on this South American blog and thats probably why I’ve waited 6 weeks after getting home to do it.  But ALAS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!,  the trials and tribulations of touring Ted will continue…

I’ve just started planning my next trip. At the moment im still undecided but I think its more than likely going to be a huge long trip to South Africa. First crossing western and eastern Europe and down the side of Africa (not sure which one yet)… Its going to probably be 2 years off with my current dire financial situation but hold onto your hats, knowing me its going to be more adventure packed than this one was :)

Until then….. Chau !


Im sorry that its been so long since my last post but i’ve been crazy busy and actually back home and working in the UK.

Be it at that… ill write of my final weeks in South America. In true Ted style, i lost my memory card with 90% of my Colombia photos on so ill just do my best..

From my last post, I was travelling through Venezuela with the Americans Sean and Christi. Myself and Sean had been playing with the Idea of taking a microlight to the world famous Angel falls. What many people dont know is that you cant simply driver or ride to the falls. They are in the middle of the bloody rainforest’s and even the closest town is somewhere you have to fly to.

So myself and Sean (Christi opted out so she could scrub her knickers), decided to head to the airport and charter a flight and day trip to the falls. We rode to the small airfield of Ciuidad Bolivar, fought our way though the hoards of people selling flights and agreed a price with the most reputable (ok the cheapest) operator there.

We paid our money in cash (A friggin pain in Venezuela where the cash machines don’t work) and agreed to be picked up the next day from our hostel in town..

We spent the night getting pretty dam drunk and listening to the Beatles on my MP3 player, completely forgetting that we had to take a microlight over the jungle in the early hours.

As promised the van picked us up and took us to the airport. We were immediately loaded into a little plane and away on our 1 hour flight to Caniema (the closest Jungle settlement to the falls)

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We touched down after a choppy and pretty frightening flight. It probably only felt so bad because we were hungover and trying not the throw up !!

 WOW, what a beautiful place. Caniema (spelled wrong), was just stunning. A huge lake surrounded by waterfalls and lake side shacks. Its probably only here for tourists but it doesnt take away from its beauty. If this place wasn’t only accessible by light plane, im sure there would be a Mcdonalds and Hilton hotel here !

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After hanging about for a few hours visiting the smaller falls, it was time to take a second plane and do our “flyby” through the deep jungle and past the face of Angel falls.  We were so excited and for good reason. The fly out into the Jungle is just phenomenal. Countless miles of beautiful open rain-forest, mountains, rivers and wildlife. We were jaw dropped for the whole flight and though life couldn’t get better until the pilot (crazy old dude who had watched too many Battle of Britain films) took us over the falls. We took photos and the pilot banked, rolled and dived his way over the rainforest trying to get us a good shot. I barely held onto my lunch when my memory card filled up.

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 These photos REALLY don’t do Angel falls justice. They are 1 kilometre high and the water is barely a mist when it reaches the bottom. A life time experience !

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Its been over 2 weeks my last post but I have been rather busy and theres not really internet going around in the Amazon :)

Since my last post I have continued up the coast of Brazil with the Americans and Canadians enjoying the beach towns, white sands and warm waters. Eventually we headed in land for the city of Belem where we had planned to take a 5 day cruise up the River Amazon to the Amazonian city of Manaus and the gateway into Venezuela.  As usual the ride was beautiful with lots of Jungle, sweeping roads and complimented as usual with huge pot holes that could swallow a man and crazy trucks trying to kill you,  but were all more than used to that by now.

We pulled into Belem and found the Hotel that was recommended to us by local biker, Alex, who we were recommended to contact by other travellers. Alex was pretty busy while we were there so he had us adopted by a local motorcycle club who were more than hospitable. One guy in-particular called Alfredo took us to meet his club, out to dinner, the beach and made sure we had everything we needed while we were there… A great experience of friendly Brazilians once again.

After 4 days we managed to buy passage onto a ferry boat to Manaus, pick up our Visa for Venezuela and have our Brazilian visas extended. For the boat we paid a shifty looking broker our cash and waited all day at the quayside for the chance to load our bikes onto the boat. Now THAT was an experience. We were ushered to the side of the ferry as two guys pull out a plank of wood about 1 foot long and soaking wet from the rain (it rained all day – typical ). We took turns to wobble our bikes over this thin plank to the deck, trying to ignore the water 10 feet below us and hoping the wheels wouldn’t slip or the plank break.. Alas, we survived !!!

Not much to say about the voyage really apart from that it was a cramped ferry with most people sleeping in hammocks. Meals three times a day of rice, beans and chewy beef… Blllllleeerch !!! We passed the time playing cards, drinking too much and looking out the banks of the river and at the river people who paddle their way up and down the water to their little shacks, selling things to the boats and catching donations of food and clothes.

It was in Manaus that we split from Peter and Carol as they were heading to the North coast !

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The trip from Manaus took us north and to the Venezuelan border. This 2 day ride took us ove the equator and also through an Indigenous Indian reserve. We were warned not to stop in the Indian reserve as the locals think it funny to shoot people who pass through. While we were riding, we came passed a wierd Colombian guy who was riding to Brazil on a bright yellow scooter. The poor guy had stopped and broken the key off in his ignition and was stranded on the road in the reserve. I stopped when he waved to me and he was pretty nervous. All attempts to free the broken part of the key failed so we hailed a passing truck and loaded him into it with his scooter and onto the next town… My good dead for the day :)

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Venezuela

We arrived at the border of Venezuela at about 3pm. We were pretty nervous about leaving Brasil as we accidentally illegally imported our bikes into Brasil at Iguzu. If the brazilians checked our paperwork, we were liable for big fines and all other kinds of trouble. Possibly even a free meal at the jail !! Luckily, the just stamped our passports and waved us goodbye so all good there. The Venezuelan border was pretty straight forward but by far the most organised and official I have seen yet. There’s no chance of getting in and out of Venezuela without them knowing about it.

Our first stop was the border town of Santa Elena where the lonely planet told us we would find “A funky, friendly hippy town”, as usual it was complete bull and the place was a mining town with expensive hotels, dirty traffic laden streets and nowhere decent to stay. We ended up in a five star hotel paying 100 pounds a night and waited to get of there.

Another stress was that our cash cards wont work in ANY cash machines here and we are dam lucky to have Brazilian money left over to change with the street hawkers. Thank god that fuel is only 3p a litre. YES, THREE PENCE A LITRE for good fuel… :)

We left Santa Elena the next day and met up a fantastic couple on the road. Orlando and his girlfriend/wife instantly adopted us, took us to a hotel, paid for our fuel and insisted we come with them to their house in the north to stay. Our second day here and already we have friends.

They took us to big biker rally in their city where we were instant celebrity’s, introduced us to all their club and even put us up on there family farm in the country as all the hotels were booked out for the rally. What brilliant people. They wouldn’t let us pay for anything and treated us like old friends..

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We are now in a city called Bolivar and today we are searching for a plane to fly us to Angel falls in the rain forrest and then high tailing it to Colombia as I have to back home in 3 weeks.. AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH !! Hopefully ill post again before then…

 Hold onto your hats !! 


Since my last post from the Penunsular of Florianapolis, iv had some greats highs and a couple of lows.. As usual though, im still having a great time.

Myself, Sean and Cristi left Florianapolis and headed North with Peter and Carol form Canada. Sean has a friend (an old student exhange buddy) who now lives in Sau Paulo with her husband. He arranged that we go and visit them for a couple of days while we check out the city. Peter and Carol (the beach lovers they are) decided to skip Sau Paulo and go their own way for a few days up the caost but we arranged to meet up a few days later. So in true Brazilian style hospitality, Seans contacts (Patchi and Eduardo) put us up in their beautiful modern high class apartment building on the outskirts of Sau Paulo. They took us too dinner and gave us advice on how to visit the city safely. We took a bus into the city and met up with Patchis sister and were pleasanly surprised by how nice the city was when she gave us the tour. You only really hear bad things about Sau Paulo but if you know where to go, its really beautiful and full of culture.

Time was ticking on and after 2 nights we headed north to meet up with Peter and Carol at the beautiful town of Parati. Very touristic but still fabulous. Lots of little local stalls and people making street art near a lovely litle harbour. We serviced our bikes at the hostel there and made plans for the infamously dangerous Rio de janiero.

We left parati nice and early so we could get into Rio de Janiero before dusk. We wanted to find somewhere nice to stay away from the city centre an close to the beaches. We got there nice and early and headed to the beach front town of Iperena which is right next to Copacabana beach but less touristy. We had a great time in Rio. Many people avoid it due to fear of violence, muggings and extreme poverty. Although this goes on, you really have to go looking for it. Rio is one of my favourite cities in the world and im so glad I didnt miss it. The safest way to do it is to take organsised tours arranged by the hostels. We took a day trip to see the famous Christo, the Carnaval sites and sugar loaf moutain. It was truly fabulous. People are so friendly and fun loving (like all Brasilians) One night we even went clubbing in one of the favelas (the famous slums) where I had one of the best nights EVER !! Everyday dancing Samba, full of energy smiles and life. A far cry from drugged up scallys getting pissed on crap beer back in Liverpool….

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So, if you ever get the chance to come to Rio, DO IT !!!!! 

We are now heading further up the east coast along the beach towns and coast.

Its in one of these stops where I managed to get myself electricuted in swimming pool. This is  how it happened…….. It had been a hard long day and I was having trouble with my bike. It kept cutting out and stalling like it was being starved of fuel. I stripped the carb at the side of the road and still couldnt find the problem. Its really difficult working on a bike in tropical heat with a limited tool kit in a petrol station, belive me. The bike still wouldnt run so we made a decision to hobble back to the nearest town and find a good workshop. I took my bike to the mechanic and explained the problem in sign language and Spanish (he only speaks portuguese). He knew exactly what the problem was with the bike and I was up and running again within the hour. Brilliant mechanic and a really great guy :).

So after a few hours of messing about in the heat, we hit the road and 4 hours later and in the dark we roll into Vitoria and find ourselves a pricey hotel. I was really tired and pissed off after a bad day so went down to the pool with Sean. I walked over to the pool and leant on a big brass street lamp thing next to the pool. 2 seconds later, i was in the pool with this metal 240v light on top of me being electricuted and unable to move underwater for about 10 seconds…I thought this was it, the end of Ted…And what a way to go !!!!

Thankfully the light shorted out and I dragged myself out of the pool bleeding badly from deep electric shock lacerations on my foot. Sean and a local guy bandaged me up as the hotel staff giggled like it was an everyday event !! If this happened in the Westen world, id be a millionaire with compensation. Here, I was lucky not to get billed for a new lamp ! Thats just life on the road in South America though and im still keeping the reaper on his toes for now  :)

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So now im riding though tropical coutryside and rain forest on the way to the Amazon boat in Belem. Were riding sweeping moutain roads though beautiful landscapes where people sell fruit on the side of the road and overturned trucks are a regular occurance. The heat is almost unbearable. You want to keep riding just to get air over your skin so you dont boil alive in your riding gear. The one thing that I still cant get over is the size of Brasil. Its bloody enormous. There are so many beautuful places to see, you need 2 life times !! We have been riding for 2 weeks and are still only half way up to the north… Time to open throttle I think !

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So, until the next time.. ill try and keep myself alive for a few more posts !!   :)


 

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 We left Argentina on the 26th of March after my birthday drinking session at the cabin. A short ride to the border and a dramatic language change hit us. We speak no Portuguese making immigration more difficult and is now the reason that I have an illegal motorcycle in Brasil (more on this later).

So we spend 2 days riding east from Igazu falls to the coast of Brazil. The landscape of Brazil is stunning. Lush forests and greenary everywhere. The twisty and turning moutain roads are a wonderful contrast from Argentina. The only distraction is the slow moving ancient trucks which you have to overtake with extreme caution.

I didnt really know what to expect of Brazil but our first night stop was a great one. We pulled into a town called Plato Blanco which is probably the nicest place iv been to in a long time. Lovely green plazas, modern shops and almost western choice in the supermarkets. Brazil seems to be the most modern out of all of South America, including Chile and the people are really nice too.

The next day of riding was a long one. We wanted to make it all the way to the east coast island of Florianopolis where the surfing beaches were hiding. We underestimated how long it would take and after 8 hours the sun went down leaving us riding unlit, twisty moutain roads with potholes and ridges. This was a nightmare for me as I only have a tinted helmet visor meaning I had to ride with it up (imagine driving your car with your head hanging out the window). I mistake I dont want to make again as its bloody dangerous and nerveracking.

We were relieved to make it to Florianopolis at 8pm. We didnt know what to do so just headed to the south of the island and the surf beaches… Of course, we couldnt find a hotel and decided to head to a supermarket to ask in there…

Miraculously there was a local guy on an XT600E parked outside who directed us to a Pousada (accomodation) which was on the beach front and only 10 quid each a night for a whole apartment :) I love the way these things happen. One moment your wandering around aimlessly expecting to sleep in a bus stop and 2 minutes later you are in a lovely apartment by the beach and have a local friend who invited us to a BBQ at his house the next day and introduced us to some English speaking locals.

The last few days we have been chilling in this beach front apartment. Surfing and drinking the local coctails (Caiparinas). Very beautiful, very relaxing and its going to very hard to leave.

We were joined in the apartment by Canadian couple Peter and Carol who we have been communicating by email with. We were all chatting over dinner and they told us that they were given a tempory import for their motorcycle at the border. Without this document, you are pretty much smuggling a vehicle ilelgally into the country. OH SHIT !!!! We dont have one (the guy at immigration told us we didnt need one.. he was wrong)

We havnt decided what we are going to do yet. Maybe just try and smuggle it out again and hope the cops dont stop us !! We potentially could be thrown in jail (although unlikely)

Lets hope I get to make another post !! heh heh

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Sean, Criste and myself arrived in Puerto Iguazu on Thursday 20th March. Puerto Iguazu is right on the three corners border of Brazil and Paraguay and the base for exploring Iguazu national park and of course the magnificent waterfalls of Iguazu. The ride upto Puerto iguazu was very beautiful. Sweeping twisty roads through tropical landscapes. I hope the roads stay like this all the way north.

So we found ourselves a nice private cabin in a small park. Its a little cramped but very nice with bathroom, kitchen and set in a beautiful tropical garden. The usual routine of drinking, cooking and checking out the local bars didnt take long to get going but hey, im on holiday. The town is very touristic as you would expect with lots of backpackers but it has kept its small town local feel which I love.

Of course, we didn’t come here just to drink and laze around. We set off on Saturday for the 20km ride to the national park.

The national park is truely beautiful. A tropcial environment with lots of wildlife such as butterflies, alligators, codies (small racoon things) and lots of birds and insects. We walked around on the trails and then came up to the falls. WOW is all I can say. The waterfalls are truly the most magnificent thing I have ever seen and makes my trip to South America worth it alone. All I can say is just to look at the photographs and try and imagine the noise of water, mist, heat and tropical birds.

We spent about 6 hours walking around them and trying to take photos from all the best vantage points. Most of the time we just stood in silence in total awe of what we were looking at.

The sky darkened and huge tropical rain clouds came out of nowhere. We quickly made way back to the carparks and our bikes just as the heavens opened. We were drenched through for the 15 minute ride back to the cabin but red wine, a good meal and great memories kept us smiling as the rain disappeared just as quickly as it appeared. That night We decided to go into town for some caiparina cocktails to finish off the night…

All in all, a brilliant day. 

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19.03.2008

Iv pretty much done no travelling since came back to Buenos Aires in early February. I met up a few times with some Argentian guys that I met in Ushuaia, seen a few shows, been shopping, repairing the bike and more often than not, drinking, eating and general chlling out with the other travellers that come through Dakar Motos. Its nice to take a time out from constantly riding and packing/unpacking everyday. 

I have mostly been staying at Dakar Motos again as its a great friendly atmosphere with new people coming through almost daily. It was there that I met Sean from Kansas. He has been stuck in Bsas for over 2 months while his bikes gearbox was being repaired.

It was Jorges ( from La postas) birthday in Azul so I rode down with Sean on the back of my bike as his was still in pieces (riding bitch as he says).  I knew there would be a great gathering and it was with over 30 other bikers making the pilgrimage to see him.. It was a brilliant party and broke up my Buenos Aires boredom a little !!

Half the reason I was in Buenos Aires for so long was because I was waiting for Bolivia to dry out. I did pretty much no research about the climate there and It seems that for pretty much most of March its flooded… The basic mud and gravel roads with heavy rainfall doesnt make good riding !!

Losing my passport and bumming about in Bsas for so long has left me behind schedule and I only really have 2-3 months max to complete my trip. For this reason I cant wait for Bolivia to dry out so iv changed my plan and decided to ride north through Brazil and pass through Venezuala into Colombia then into Equador…

This worked out pretty well as Sean from Kansas and Criste from California were seperatly planning the same trip so we all decided to ride together through Brazil to Clombia.

We set off on Monday for the 4 days ride to Puerto Iguaza which is on the border of Brazil and the base for visiting the magnificent waterfalls of Iguazu. We arrived here yesterday (20th March) and are going to stay here for a few days to go sightseeing, do some washing and waiting for them to get their visas for Brazil (US citizens need one).

The landscape is already changing dramatically from Argentina. Instead of boring flat pampa, its turning green, lush and very tropical. The very South America that i have been waiting for. Its really hot and sticky and finding locusts and ants in your hotel room is becoming just a normal thing…

So hold onto your hats for my journey through Brazil……

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Author: Ted Magnum
13.02.2008

Sorry I havnt posted for so long but I dont really like posting unless I have something interesting to say.

From my last post, I was on the way back to Buenos Aires for a new passport after losing mine down in souther Argentina. So, on my way north and only 200 miles outside of Buenos Aires, I return to “La Posta del viajero en Moto”. This is the hostel and biker refuge run by Jorge.

In true fashion of “la posta”, Jorge put on an Asado for me, some other travellers and his family and friends. It was during this grand feast that I got talking to Claudio (Jorges brother in law) and explained my loss. He insisted on taking all the particulars of where I might have lost them and what I had lost… I thought nothing more of this as the meat and beer kept flowing and the party continued…

So, the next day as im recovering from my hangover, Claudio comes in and tells me that hes tracked down my bag !! I Coudnt believe it. He had spent hours and hours phoning round numerous police stations and government departments trying to see if it had been handed in. MIRACULOUSLY, someone had found the bag and handed it in to a police station. The camera, translator, cashcard and 350 quid in cash were absent but my passport and other documents seem to there.

Claudio arranged to have his friend down south recover the bag and post it to La posta.

so all of last week i chilled out at la posta, drinking beer, reading books and getting a tan while my bag was put into the Argentinian mail system. I only had so long I could wait as I had an apartment booked and paid for in Buenos Aires centro.

When it still didnt show, i had to leave for buenos Aires and arrange for Jorge to forward it to Dakar Motos in Buenos Aires…

I am now in the apartment in Buenos Aires and just been informed that my bag has arrived at La posta and is being sent today to dakar motos… I “should” have my stuff back in a few days… Until then, its fingers crossed !!

The next few weeks ill just be hanging around in the city repairing my bike and planning the next stage of the trip so dont expect posts for a while…. Thats unless something else happens, which me being me . is highly likely :)

Chau for now !!


I knew there would be crappy days on this trip to even out the great days. Thats just the balance of life in general… Now i´v been having such a great time that I was due some real crappy luck and bad times. The balance has now been restored. Ill stop talking crap now and fill you on on my last week of misery.

So….,  I left Ushuaia and headed back to Rio Grande where I stayed at the fantastic Hospedaje Argentina with Graciela again. I love it there, so chilled and so many great travellers passing though. After a couple of nights i decided it was time to move on and make my way up the dreaded Routa 40 and the west coast of Chile. The first few days of travelling were good fun, stopping off in Punta Arenas, Puerto Natalas and mucho touristic El Calafate to see the huge glacier which is one of the only moving glaciers in the world…Brilliant !! From El Calafate it was north and to the Routa 40. To those unfamiliar with the routa 40, its a long, barron and dreadful “road” which runs up the west coast of Argentina. Its completly unsurfaced and covered with deep gravel, pebbles, stones and occasioal patches of sand. Along with the strong patagonial wings, its not a nice experience. You have to pick your way through the paths that the trucks leave and prey you arnt blown into a wall of gravel which would probably send you into a crash and tumble…

I battled this road for 220 miles and 6 hours to the next and only petrol station half way up to the next major town… It was empty !! AHHHH. The attendant told me I would have to wait 3 days for fuel. As this depressing news was sinking in, I reached down for my bumbag to look at my map, BUT… !!!!, IT WASNT THERE !! A sense of dread filled my body. My bum bag was gone and everything inside it. This included my Passport, my cash card, 300 pounds in cash, my camera, my V5, my tempory import for the bike, my drivng licence, my spare keys, my map and my notebook with all my contact details that I needed for South America. FUUUUUCK !!

I will tell no lie that I just wanted to cry and nearly did.. I was stuck in the middle of nowhere with an empty tank in an petrol station with no fuel for the next 3 days and my bag with all my essentials lying somewhere on a 220 mile stretch of horrible dirt road…

In terrible Spanish, I tried explaining my prediciment to the owner and he eventually took pity on me and managed to hand pump enough fuel out of the ground to get me back the way I had came. A glimmer of hope at least ! I gave him 60 pesos out of the 100 I had left and turned around looking to the heavens for help.

I rode and and battled the same stretch of 40 over again for another 5 hours and still no sign of my bag. It was a slim chance of me ever finding it in the dirt anyway, especially as you need to keep all your concentration on not crashing..

It was starting to get dark, I was knackered, depressed and running low on fuel again. Just as I thought my life couldnt get worse, a gust of wind blew me into a patch of gravel and I crashed. I was thrown from the bike into the dirt and the bike was burried and the pannier ripped off AGAIN. To add salt to the wound, my petrol can that I had filled up with fuel to get me to the next petrol station had ripped open in the crash and left a nice damp patch in the sand… I have never been so pissed off and angry in my whole life. I would of sold my soul to be back home with a nice cuppa in front of the telly. I checked the bike and thank god, it was still running.. I strapped the pannier to the bike with a ratchet strap and collected by things from off the road.

I looked at my watch and it was 10.30 pm. By that time I was just so fed up and tired, I pulled up on the side of the track, pulled out my sleeping bag and slept in a bush.  I barely got a wink of sleep worrying about what I was going to do. Would I have enough fuel to get me to the petrol station ?, would the petrol station even have fuel ?, would my  credit card let me get cash out ?, would I be able to get back to Buenos Aires for a new passport ?? AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

The next morning I packed up my things and made my way down another dirt track to a small town where hopefully there was fuel and thankfully there was !! YAY !! I filled up and rode 180 miles down another crappy road at 40 mph to get me to something which resembled civilization. I pulled up in San Julian on the RTA 3. The same town I stayed at on the way south 6 weeks ago. My credit card gave me a wedge of pesos, i ate for the first time in 30 hours and I finally sighed a breath of relief. I wasnt out of the crap yet but at least I knew I had fuel and cash…

I reported my things lost to the police and made a plan to get back to Buenos Aires, where I can get a new passport, documents and repair my bike.. For the last 5 days I have ridden 6 hours a day to get north. Im now 300 miles away from Buenos aires, Dakar Motos and friendly faces !!!

Im knackerd, smelly , pissed off and skint but as long as there is sunshine and cold beer, ill be cracking on !!

P.S. Sorry there are no pictures. My camera is either burried in gravel or being used by a local farmer to take sexy pictures of his cows !! :)


21.01.2008

Well everyones been bugging me for a new post so here it is.. As a few of heard, I´ve just got back from Antarctica. I didnt plan to go Antarctica at all, it kind of just happened.

I was still in Ushuaia after new years and a couple of the other guys had been there for Xmas and were showing off their pictures. I had a quick look at their photos and was amazed and decided that it was a once in a lifetime oppurtinity and to hell with the cost. Fellow Brit Mick and Irishan Arthur were also still at the campsite and wanted to go so we made a decision to go nto town and try and pick up a “cheaper” last minute deal. The trips to Antarctica usually go for about 4000-10,000 pounds. WOW ! No way I could afford that so some serious shopping would have to be done.
After about 2-3 days of shopping around we found the last 3 places on a 90 bed ship called the MS Andrea. A Liberian registerd and Croatian/Philipino crewed ship. It was 2200 pounds for a 9 day return cruise. 2 days to cross the infamous Drake Passage, 5 days of landings and 2 days back.

Now, I know your all saying “TWO THOUSAND QUID FOR 9 DAYS” and you´d be right, its bloody expensive but worth every penny. We had luxurious cabins, 3 multi-course waiter served fabulous meals a day and a team of scientists, deck hands and wildlife experets to guide us around the highly controlled and sensitive continent and its islands. The first two days were crossing the Drake Passage and the Beagle channel. One of the roughest and most dangerous stretches of water in the world. 15 metre swells and waves play with the ship and throw you about the ship like its its a funfair. There were actually seatbelts on your bed to stop you being thrown out in your sleep. The last time I was strapped into a bed, i had to pay more than 2000 quid ;)….

As you can imagine, the first night I was pretty sea sick along with most of the other passengers. Its also pretty worrying when your woken up at 3am with the sound of ice crashing into the hull as the ship carves through the summer pack ice. SO, the second day and when we walk out onto deck our jaws dropped. Huge icebergs were floating literally feet away as the Captain and Ice master pick their way between snow capped Volcanic islands and icebergs bigger than a footballers mansion in Cheshire. Birds that you only see on TV circle the ship and the odd pengy pops in and out of the water while you keep your eye out for Whales. One day we were very lucky to be greated by a family of Humpback Whales. They followed the ship, playing and rolling while spraying water out of their blowholes… A once in a life time wildlife experience !! Its hard not to stay out on deck all day looking at the scenery but the icey cold wind keeps you in the bar as much as it can.

While we were sailing between landing points we were given briefings, slideshows and drills about going out into the islands and the continent. Its a highly controlled environment due to sensitive geology and of course the wildlife must not be disturbed. Our excellent guides made sure we knew where we could and could not go whilst giving us history lessons and talks about the penguins, Elehants seals etc. Did you know how many differnt kinds of penguins there are ??? No, either did I but there are frig loads. (They all smell like fish shit though. A sickening smell when your surrounded by thousands of the little blighters).

So we were taken out on inflatable boats to the various different islands 3 times a day for 5 days. We visited so many pengion and seal colonys that I lost track and we also visited the British base, Port Lockroy where I sent a few postcards home !!! I cant give justice to what I saw in words so just look at the pictures !!

As in life, all good things come to an end and before I knew it we were sailing back to Ushuaia all still in awe of our experiences… We arrived back in harbour late in the evening and us non derepid passengers and the crew hit the town for a big party and piss up lasting until 6.30am… I rode out of Ushuaia the same morning with only 45 mins sleep back to Rio Grande ready to cross the border back into Chile and Northward bound……

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