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Posts Tagged ‘ south america ’

September 23rd, 2011 - The bees, trees, and a dead cow

When I find a road that is not on the map, my first reaction is to always roll on the throttle and ride straight for it. This time I found a road that was not charted, was reasonably short, and from the GPS Topo maps, it seemed to be passing through some beautiful landscape. Little did I know that this 50km section would prove to be one of the most isolated, hottest, and sandiest roads in entire Argentina. Read the rest of the story…

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September 1st, 2011 - Cafayate, Argentina

We finally woke up early, took hot shower at the fire station, and headed out due south for Cafayate. We went five blocks and I was hungry already so we stopped for one last salami and bread in Salta. We only had 250km to go and it was early in the day so I wasn’t too concerned about the time. At one of our stops, there was an all familiar shrine built for someone who had died in a car accident. In most of South America, when people die on the road, their families build a little shrine for them on that spot. Read the rest of the story…

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August 27th, 2011 - Salta, The Beautiful

We left Dragones and all its glories behind and headed west again towards Salta, the Capital of Salta province. The first thing I did was to find an empty jug and fill it up with extra gas just in case. The next was finding a shoe store to fix Lourdes’s boots, but we never managed to find any; they were either closed or the locals sent us on a wild goose chase. In northern Salta, we had to turn south at a junction that split the road in three. One went to Bolivia, one to Chile and the one we took went south for the wine country, a 2000km Read the rest of the story…

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When I was just a handful of years old, my uncle had an old Canon SLR camera which he babied throughout his life. He wasn’t a professional photographer, nor did he have a clue when it came to capturing stills. Nine out of ten photos were out of focus and badly framed, but no one knew any better. His camera was pretty much the only camera in the family, so my entire childhood turned out blurry and out of frame. Oh and if we ever touched that old dinosaur. Our only chance to examine the fine equipment was when he went to work. Read the rest of the story…

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March 4th, 2011 - Ciudad del Este, Paraguay

Some people can’t travel alone. They have to have at least one other person with them so they can even begin to consider making any plans. Well, that’s not me. Ray Charles played piano, Hannibal Lector ate people, my gig is meeting people. Traveling with another person or group has its advantages (unknown to me), but in reality it kills a good trip. When you travel with others, you automatically have a company, so you’re less likely to initiate any interaction with others. Traveling alone doesn’t mean being alone. Read the rest of the story…

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February 21st, 2011 - The Beautiful Paraguay

All the struggles, ups and downs, and self mutilations finally found me in an emergency room. High fevers and not being able to breathe didn’t leave me much choice, but to listen to Robert and see a doctor. Robert generously put all the medications on his company account as if it was for himself, and I started medicating with colorful pills and drops.

The doctor urged me not to get out of the bed, but the prospect of staying still was too much to even consider. So we loaded up and headed out to the countryside to have a look at the beautiful Salto Cristal water fall, joined by Leti, her mom and grandma. The climate was tropical and very hot, but equally beautiful. Lush vines and green trees obscured the path down to the fall, and we trekked down for a good 45 minutes to get to the bottom. The route was almost 90 degrees down with class 5 scrambling, so we had to leave Roberts’s 8 months pregnant wife Sandra, and grandma at the base camp.

I’ve seen a lot of waterfalls, but Salto Cristal stands out because of its secluded location, and climate. The water was cold and it was a welcoming relief to my fever. We spent a few hours swimming, and laying in the sun before leaving the heaven. Now that I look at the pictures, I look whiter than Casper himself, and all the weight I lost concerns the hell out of me. So the next step was to fatten up.

The next day I made some Persian Kababs for the family, and although I couldn’t taste anything myself due to being sick, I devoured as much as I could to get some needed fat back. I visited the fascinating sugar factory with Robert, and we did some riding around Tebicuary. This town is very clean, with almost no garbage anywhere. The people are laid back, friendly, and always ready for a good fun. As most of South America, Dirt rallies are very popular in Paraguay and we had a chance to go and see the first race of the season. Although it rained a lot before the race, people pushed through the flooded roads on bicycle, motorcycle and small cars not to miss the race.

With Subarus and Mitsubishis being the predominant race cars, these amazing drivers cut through hard corners, and mud with unbelievable speeds and managed to keep their wheel on the ground. It was an exciting race and the locals did everything in their power to make it more fun, whether throwing their shirts on the track to have the tire mark as a trophy, or by jumping after the cars.

My stay at Robert’s house was a great experience and I got to know him and his beautiful family. He’s an amazing guy, with high hopes for his country. He welcomed me to his home and showed me nothing but good times. Paraguay is not a tourist destination by any means, and for no good reason. It is safe, beautiful, relatively cheap, and quiet. It’s a perfect getaway. Don’t miss out on this country, you’ll love it.

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February 12th, 2011 - No Man Knows My History

Is it the struggle towards the goals, which makes mankind happy? Or is the goal the struggle to stay conscious in the midst of ghastly twinges? What is the value of having goals for our own sake? After 30 years of living on this green and blue ball, I know one thing… they all vanish… It is merely a question of time.

All I remember is the screech of the car tires behind me trying to avoid collision, and the sound of metal scraping on the wet asphalt in the Paraguayan tropics. Just moments before the slide, I tried to pull over to the shoulder to wipe off my visor, and that’s when I went flying to the middle of the road.

When I left Argentina for the beautiful Uruguay, I was happy with no worry in the world. The bike was fixed, the hospitality of the locals was top notch, and the weather was glorious if just a little hot. But my mind quickly tuned into the ever-changing state of this expedition, and with that came the thoughts, and agonizingly hurtful memories of my recent relationship. Explaining the causes and details is not something I’m willing to do, but the outcome was devastating nevertheless for both of us. And with every mile, this pain became more tangible to the point that it was unbearable to carry on. Somewhere in northern Uruguay, I got sick. I started to vomit few times a day and eating became a chore. I tried to force-feed myself, but I couldn’t hold anything down, and the burning fever skyrocketed to compound my misery in the already hot weather. But my deteriorating physical condition was no match for the despondent mental state I was in.

I rode day after day with no real destination as my compass pointed north towards Paraguay and Bolivia.  The perpetual fights and indecisions went on with Cynthia via emails and phone calls, and I hoped against hope just to have something to cling on to. I met amazing people on the road and they all showed me nothing but the greatest care and love, but I failed time after time to even take out my camera to snap a photo of them to remember them by.

For two thousand miles I hallucinated. So when I found out that I washed my passport inside my riding jacket in the washing machine for two cycles, I wasn’t one bit surprised. My only identity and my ticket out of this land now looked like a watercolor painting of a shity story as my stamps resembled the famous painting; “Persistence of Time” only more incoherent. My importation papers for the bike looked like a wet clump of toilet paper, and I didn’t even notice that until I reached the border of Paraguay.

I spent hours at the border going from one office to another to beg the apathetic officials for mercy, and at last I succeeded. This was a true test of my Spanish limit and, I was exhausted when I received my entry stamp and stepped foot in Paraguay.

I rode towards Asunción, with nothing on my mind but Cynthia, and I lost my focus on the road and my surrounding. For the first time in my life I hit the ground while riding a motorcycle. I spent years perfecting the art of alertness in traffic, but I succumbed to what I knew too well. I let my guard down, and I simply didn’t think of what any idiot would already know. I pulled into a muddy shoulder after heavy tropical rains at speed, and the rest is history.

I have to get my focus back, and this country is going to be the place to do it. Paraguay is beautiful, but also is one of the poorest countries in South America with a real grip of poverty, and malnutrition chocking its population. Countless skinny and dirty innocent little faces made me realize once again that nothing in the world is ever worth fighting for than standing up for those who can’t. I’m here to stay and I’m here to do what I set out to do. I tried to take a trip, but the trip took me.

We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.- John Steinbeck

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