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Thread: The Wife takes on Chlamydia. A South American Retrospective

  1. #17
    Meeting old friends in Curitiba

    The twisty mountain road from Sao Paulo to Curitiba provided more experiences of riding in the rain. Not so good, especially because I left late and rode into the dark. I however had a destination and old friends to look forward to meeting again. Martin and his wife from Switzerland still live in Curitiba. I met them on my last trip through the Americas in 2000/2001. It was super fun to catch up!

    The word "retrospective" does appear in the thread title and so far there haven't been too many pictures or feelings from the Millennium trip. A lot of this is because several 2001 pictures were ruined in a Chilean photo development lab.


    Here's a chance to check if anyone is into audience participation on this forum. The 2 following pictures include me: One is taken in Istanbul in 1999 prior to my trans-Africa trip (that led to the Americas leg of my RTW) and the other is from Curitiba in 2015.

    Clearly I'm now less skinny and more ruggedly handsome... Are there any other similarities and differences between these 2 pictures?

    A couple of other 2015 Curitiba memories...

    Martin really is into his flying and owns several aeroplanes. This one is being restored. It comes from Germany via Argentina. It is said to have belonged to a certain Mr Adolf H's personal pilot and is 1930s/40s vintage. The plane is a 2 seater and apparently small enough to take off in a (wide) city street.

    Another German connection aircraft from the former DDR = East Germany

    Martin on his Ural outfit, the factory for which was originally in Berlin before being dismantled and shipped east.

    Wow, an entire post without any ladies visible, except possibly a wife or 2? Also no STD references

  2. #18
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    Feb 2009
    Chorley, Lancashire
    Great photos Chris!

  3. #19
    Foz do Iguassu and Paraguay

    Here’s a first. The ride from Curitiba to Foz do Iguassu didn’t involve rain. But it included a snapped chain. I had a spare link but couldn’t get the effin link retainer on with the tools I had. There was a work platoon cutting the grass verges where I had rolled to a stop. Despite my 3 words of Portuguese and the guys speaking no English, but having an ax to use as a hammer, they knew exactly what I was trying to achieve and I was on my way pretty quickly. One fella was definitely a biker. The chain guard was rather mangled, but clearly had done its job.

    Joelton owns a super hostel in Foz that welcomes bikers too: La Manga Rosa. Many asados, super craft beer and caipiroskas made the time fly. Here’s Einstein the dog helping me replace the chain guard

    Walter, Joelton and Moritz. I rode with Moritz through Mongolia in 2012. He film the infamous “How not to cross a river” video. It was great to catch up

    Moritz’s website is at 1World2Go | father and son travel the world on motorcycle

    The 2cv belongs to Walter. It’s not just any 2cv. It’s a 2 plus 2. A motor in the front driving the front wheels and another in the back driving the rear wheels!! He’s based in Coronel Oviedo in Paraguay and runs tours. S�damerika Abenteuerreisen und Backpacker Hostel in Paraguay (Bolivien, Brasilien, Argentinien und Chile)

    Impressive from any angle

    And from any distance

    An iguana at Iguassu. See what I did there!

    Don’t let anyone tell you that Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, just over the border from Foz, is the source of cheap tyres or tubes for bikes. All you can really get is cheap Chinese made plastic tat. Eventually managed to get a couple of tyres, but the supply of tubes was close to zero, that I had to reuse my old patched tubes again. Replaced front wheel bearings too.

    I dropped in on Walter. Little did I realise how long, hot, boring and straight the roads between Coronel Oviedo and Salta in NW Argentina would be.

    This pub, somewhere in flat, hot Paraguay caught my eye ;-) The heat was compounded with my heated grips turning themselves on and the only way to turn them off was to cut the power feed with with a borrowed pair of scissors from a tyre puncture repairer man on the side of the road. He told me he had once fixed a German BMW traveller's puncture...

    My impression of Paraguay was of friendly people who don’t see many European or North American visitors and where every public building has a guard sporting a pump action shotgun at the door.

  4. #20
    The 2nd leg: Through Paraguay, across northern Argentina to Salta and fun on Ruta 40 northbound to Bolivia

    The red line maps my progress through Paraguay, across northern Argentina to Salta, then a fun ride along the Ruta 40 northbound to Uyuni in Bolivia. I didn’t ride the NW part of Argentina on my last trip in ‘00/01.

    Didn’t take many pictures along the highway from the river border with Paraguay via Formosa. It was a long, hot and straight transit stretch. Many many hours. Luckily some petrol stations had free wifi and (expensive) icecream.

    I remember camping at a gas station near a big junction on my first night in Argentina. The local kids turned up in their cars or on scooters at about mighnight and one chap proceeded to play his car radio (tasteless) music really loudy. I wandered across to politely ask him to turn it down. He complied. Just as I was crawling back into my tent, the volume went up again…

    Said music playing youth (and his sidekicks) of the town of Ingeniero Juarez on highway 81 now have a much better appreciation of estuary English and a greater understanding of the English for different parts the human anatomy and what can be achieved with a tyre lever. They left and I got some sleep.

    A preview of happier times to come on the famous Ruta Cuarenta.

  5. #21
    Salta to Cachi and the start of the best bit of the Ruta 40 heading north

    I really was glad to reach Salta, but sometimes a couple of very long slab liaison days need to be gotten out of the way to reach the good stuff. I did take some pictures in Salta, but seem to have put them somewhere safe... It was a fun city with a good vibe. A little bit off the main gringo tourist route. This added to the charm. I changed money on the "Blue" (=black) market

    The Ruta Cuarenta is now paved all the way from Cafayate to Rio Gallegos, about 3500km. I'll be whingeing in a future post about how boring that made it. However the northern 1500km to the Bolivian border is still superbly dirt. And great "out there" scenery. And as I didn't ride this bit in 00/01 made it even more special.

    At first the road was still paved

    Interesting scenery

    Yes it is

    Cachi is a pretty little village. A French GS tour was in town. I only spoke with one of the guides who seemed quite pleasant, but couldn't chat much as he had to get back to his customers. They must have been pretty needy. Or maybe it was because I wasn't wearing a shiny riding t-suit? 2 broken GSs on the backup truck

    GSs have been said to benefit from having a truck following them.... I wouldn't like to comment, other than to say that on my Millennium trip, a truck would have been helpful

    On FB this picture got a lot of likes. Dunno why. Moobs?

    About 80 clicks out of Cachi on the way north up the gravel Rta 40 I got a rear (slow) puncture. Luckily near a little village a couple of km off the trail. Pumped it up and headed there. The tyre wallah did a good job. I hate fixing punctures

    Passing traffic

    Is that a scrambler, Mister?

    Not many signs (of anything) up here

    A sidetrack I would love to have explored. But having only passed about 5 vehicles all day, I didn't fancy my chances of getting myself out of trouble on my own.

  6. #22
    A few more impression of Route 40 towards the border with Bolivia

    Forgot this picture of Cachi from the previous post. Muy bonito!

    Abra El Acay Pass. 16.000 feet above sea level

    And the machine says so too

    Breathtaking views! That’s the track I'm going to ride next

    Bridge over ravine just beyond La Poma

    I’m sure a geographer can explain the rock formations


    I wild camped over there for the night. My cheap Brazilian camping stove turned out to be utter sh!te

    Let’s go left then

    Fuel stop where the R40 crosses the main paved linking northern Chile (San Pedro de Atacama) with northern Argentina (Jujuy).

    Stickers, the new caveman’s rock paintings?

    Everyone who does a vehicle trip around South America these days seems to have stickers and loves leaving their mark. I (only v v briefly) felt guilt for not having any of my own to swap/stick somewhere. Then I got over it. I did however take to adding stickers to the bike in order to hide the Chlamydiac symptoms it was displaying. Beware though of jet washes!!

    Shouldn't really take the p!ss out of people with personal stickers. I've got my name stuck to my crash helmet and on the bike a la Dakar racer. How embarrassing is it to have A positive as a blood type when your profession is school teacher. Why not B- (....must try harder)!

    Pretty good view

    Really useful street sign… Just as well that I had my gps!

    The border to Bolivia. I had just ridden the most fun 1500 or so km of the Rt 40. I tried riding the other 3500 or so too, but a closed pass from Chile to Argentina later in the trip thwarted my attempt. But as I did a lot of it in 2000/01, I have actually ridden all the rt 40. Maybe I should have stickers made?

  7. #23
    Argentina border to Uyuni the first time

    Welcome to Bolivia. Much more, for me, the “real” South America. Unfortunately progress isn’t just coming, but it has arrived. Hence super smooth paved roads.

    But not always. This link between Turpiza and Uyuni town will be paved soon. A lot of construction on this stretch. When chasing the 2016 Dakar I rode the other way: Uyuni to Turpiza. There had been a lot of rain and “fun” in different ways

    One careful owner. Never been off road. A little lay down… Note the importance to take a picture before picking bike up! Unsurprisingly, with a back tyre sporting a less bold profile and the new shock which I was about to need, the bike rode much better and allowed confidence at speed

    Muy rapido necessito. Don’t bottle it Mr Bright!

    In 2001 this momument hadn’t been built. Locals eating ice cream.

    Virtually the same location 2001:

    Locals in traditional dress and young backpackpackers, the principle visitors to Bolivia. The iPhone generation. I also frequented eateries that had passable wifi. No wifi, no custom. Guilty. In 2001 internet cafes were the norm. Some were still in Uyuni, but doing no business

    Bolivians seem incredibly positive about the Dakar race. Here a beer advert.

    Mum and kids

    Edwina Scissor Hands

    Railway workers statue 2015

    Same statue 15 years earlier:

    Train cemetery, just outside Uyuni

    In 2001 they were shooting the first BMW 1150gs Adventure brochure. Here in Uyuni. My face ended up in brochure too!! More on this in a later post:

    The 2001 story is at Chapter 22 The Big Trip

  8. #24
    Revisiting an old favourite

    The Salar de Uyuni is always worth another visit. I was there on my RTW trip in 2001. Now there’s even a Dakar monument in the middle (ish) of it. The salt pan itself was used one year as part of the racetrack, but by the end of that Stage there were a multitude of DNFs. Water, salt and electrics really don’t mix too well.

    A pretty sight. The world’s flags at the “original” salt hotel on the Salar. There appear to be about 10 hotels with the name Salt hotel around and about now. Quite a few nowhere near the Salar.

    In 2001: the only, same as pictured above, Salt hotel:

    A lot of hyperbole gets used these days, including rubbish words like extreme, hardcore and adventure, when actually most thing that people do are incredibly average. The Salar is definitely awe inspiring, mind-blowing. Just wow!

    The obligatory self-indulgent picture of myself. Wooly hat and shades make me look better. The sun may be shining, but it ain’t too warm at 3650 meters above sea level!

    1990s helmet paint jobs weren’t that good were they! Surprised I wasn’t riding the bike wearing a purple shellsuit!!

    Camping with a like minded soul. I found that meeting other (motor) bikers wasn’t easy. Contrary to my last trip (without the benefit of the internet and forums like this one to arrange meetups) I seemed to run into many more m/c riders. But I did bump into Raymon from Spain cycling around South America on his pushbike. The biggest of respects to all these pedal cyclists. I just have to park my (fat) arse on a m/c saddle, press the go button, twist the throttle and I get to where I’m going easily. These guys have to move themselves and their luggage every inch of the way.

    Isla del Pescada where we camped, in 2001:

    A favourite picture of mine

    Because I like it so much, here’s another. We camped next to the island, more precisely in the wind-shadow of the island as it was blowing a howling gale!

    ˇBuenas dias!

    Where will the road lead today?

    Contemplating breakfast. Raymon was carrying on and I was going to return to Uyuni town to collect supplies and extra fuel before following in his tracks. I aimed to catch him up pretty quickly. I never did…

    Raymon heads southwest. The island dog looks after him longingly. Maybe he fed him better than me

    Always a good idea to get a thorough wash down… High pressure hoses aren’t good for stickers!!

  9. #25
    History repeats itself: Another shocking tale…

    After returning to Uyuni town, stocking up on food and (expensive, over-priced) fuel (Gringos get charged twice what the locals pay) and spending the night I head off across the Salar with the intention of riding the Lagunas route south-westwards towards Chile and San Pedro de Atacama. I don’t get that far.

    After coming off the super smooth Salar, about 12km before the hamlet of San Juan, after 80 or so seriously bone-jarring washboard track I slow down to stop to admire the view (actually I’m knackered and need a breather). There’s smoke coming out from under the seat!

    I was about to jump off the bike and run as I was expecting flames. Having a 27 litre Molotov cocktail explode next to my bollocks didn’t seem such a good idea. Conveniently there were no flames and I dismounted in a more relaxed fashion, but did back away a little distance to consider my predicament.

    The stock Kawasaki shock that I had rebuilt in Brasil had well and truly expired!

    I have form when it comes to blowing shockers. Here’s a pic from early 2001 of my Beemer shock lashed together with a tyre-lever and webbing near Gobernador Gregores in the Argentinian Patagonia:

    What to do? Try to retrace my route or limp on to the next town on the map. The last 2 places I had ridden though were virtual ghost towns… I rode on towards San Juan. I think I even saw Raymon’s bicycle tracks in the sand. They were definitely from a pushbike and and pogo-ing along at marginally faster than walking pace I had plenty of opportunity to look closely at the dirt and sand just in front of my front tyre.

    As the shock was shagged the bike wouldn’t sit on its stand properly: so, lean it against a wall. I found a guest house and asked the owner if she knew anyone with a truck. Her husband beckons me to follow him.

    We agreed (an admittedly generous) price, but he did have the only truck in the village and was willing to set off virtually immediately back to Uyuni town, about 200km away

    Despite having no personal or professional connection to the South American road haulage business, I’ve probably spent more time than most people in the back of trucks in the lands south of the Panama Canal.

    Here’s a pic from ’01 when hitchhiking with a new shock back to my bricked up Beemer:

    Truckin’ with the man and his wife… Making it into a shopping trip? Fine by me.

    …and their very cute puppy.

  10. #26
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    Oct 2006
    Adventure before dementia .....
    Great ride and pics .... that's my reading sorted

  11. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by yamonda1 View Post
    Great ride and pics .... that's my reading sorted
    Many thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated.

  12. #28
    Extracting myself from a pickle: With the help pf good people

    Having gotten the KLR back to Uyuni town I now had to make a plan. 15 years previously I sourced a new shocker for my BMW from Germany. My parents who live in Germany ordered it from the Dutch Ohlins dealer (cheaper), drove there to pick it up and posted it to a friend in England who was flying to Puntas Arenas in Chile in order to go trekking in Torres del Paine. Wifi didn’t really exist in those days, so I had written a draft on the library computer in Goberdador Gregores, saved it onto a USB stick, hitchhiked for 3 days and emailed it from an internet café in Puerto Natales. The email to my English friend went something like: There’s a shock absorber already on its way from Germany to your address in England. Can you please bring it to Chile? PS. I don’t have a Plan B.

    This time with wifi/ skype and cell phones, things can be much easier. The hotel in Uyuni had strong wifi, not the usual for Uyuni, nor Bolivia. I fired off some messages to the Horizonsunlimited Communities in Bolivia asking for a delivery address as my previous experience of parts shipping with DH-Hell to South America wasn’t so good, to put it mildly: Chapter 17 The Big Trip I also posted my predicament on the HU Facebook group and a chap suggested a tour company in Arequipa might have one kicking around.

    I used the Skype app on my cell phone in order to call Arequipa He said, yes he had a new shock I could have, but it was for a Gen 2 bike. Then I got an email reply from Robin of the La Paz HU Community. The paraphrased email chat went something like this (remember: he’s neither met, nor ever heard of me previously…)

    Robin: Yes, you can use my address for a delivery, but I’m just at the airport and will be away for a week.
    Me: Where are you flying to?
    Robin: Miami, USA
    Me: How do you feel about me having a shock absorber delivered to your hotel in Miami and bringing it to Bolivia for me?
    Robin: Sure, no problem
    Me: Thank you very very much!!

    (Robin had also offered me the shock off his bike –different make and model, so not compatible- Also his mate Oscar had offered to lend me the shock off his Gen 2 KLR)

    Modern communications technology is great when good people use it!

    I had a shocker sent from Texas to Miami and despite Thanksgiving, Black Friday and the weekend coming up, it made its Monday afternoon plane-ride from Florida to Bolivia.

    While waiting, I took various buses to Potosi to do some tourism and Samaipata to visit an old friend. Here’s a picture to start. That’s dynamite with a fuse in my mouth!

    More tourist pictures to follow.

  13. #29
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    kildare ireland
    Great stuff , keep it coming

  14. #30

  15. #31
    You’re either on the bus, or off the bus (Borrowing a line from Tom Wolf’s “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”)

    While waiting for the shocker to wing its way from the US, I stayed busy. It was time to see how the other half lived. In my younger days I had been a bus tourist/ backpacker, until the bus I was in Namibia in 1992 was overtaken by a German on a Honda XL500 with alli boxes. Buses ain’t bad, in fact for just vegetating from place to place, they’re perfectly fine. On a bike I enjoy the journey, not just the destination. I travelled to Potosi, then Sucre, then Samaipata before heading for La Paz to collect the shock. Then another bus back to Uyuni where I had parked the bike in Mr Hotelman’s furniture storeroom.

    Potosi was one of the principle reasons for the Spanish to invade/colonise South America. The Cerro Rico mountain that overlooks Potosi generated substantial amounts of silver. Today the mountain is a half or third of its previous size and mining still goes on. Following 100s year old ways of working. A popular tourist/backpacker activity is to take a tour into the mines to see what goes on. Everyone takes gifts for the miners: dynamite, fuses, weedkiller (propellant), cigarettes, alcohol, coca leaves

    How about this as a Tinder profile picture? Do you think I’d get many right swipes?

    The blue face scarf I bought on the tour Or this as a Tinder picture? Says a 1000 words, no?

    The miners work bloody hard!


    Ditto ditto

    I took this picture the last time I was in Potosi 15 years ago. There’s a good chance this miner is dead today as the life expectancy down the mine is 17 years. Go down the mine at 14 ish, dead by 30ish. Asbestos hangs off the tunnel roofs… industrial accidents… Work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week in these conditions.

    Checking the ore quality. With a lump hammer

    Refining the ore. Some nasty chemicals involved

    18th century type factory?

    Health and Safety has arrived in Bolivia. What use it is, I don’t know

    Welcome to The National Mint of Bolivia

    The shoe shine business a bit slow today?

    In 2001 the portrait photo business a bit quiet too:

    Knitting, waiting for the bus with Cerro Rico in the background

  16. #32
    Heel kicking, bus riding, bench sleeping, good people meeting. Sucre, Samaipata and La Paz

    Sucre was a fun town to visit. Here there’s some sort of protest. The campesinos (peasants) are often striking. As part of their civil unrest, roads get closed. I never encountered anything like that in Bolivia. In Colombia I did though

    Whitewashed government building

    Mika is an old biking buddy who has been around the world and in some pretty unusual places, including most recently into and out of China with his own bike, all without a guide He now resides in the beautiful town of Samaipata.

    The bus dropped me off at 4am, so I slept on a park bench in the main plaza for a couple of hours. At 6.30am I was welcomed by the lovely purr of a less than silenced DR650 motor

    Shortly there’ll be a Bolivia HU meeting that he is helping to organise. The ride there is well worth it and the destination is awesome:

    Back in La Paz I got to meet Robin, the shock mule, and Oscar. Both top blokes.

    The offending article… Looks shiney, doesn’t it? Worked well until it started self-dismantling itself after 3 months. The only thing worse than a Progressive shock is the Progressive customer service department handling of a warranty claim. Progressive and “Customer Service” in the same sentence is an oxymoron, but more of that later

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