MPW | BLOG
I uploaded then deleted another rant about leaving the bike in Punta Arenas.
Best I start shutting up about that stuff.
I will say that I was that smelly guy on the bus that we all can’t stand. My apologies to the fellow passengers… Cest la vie.
Otherwise the trip was pleasant enough for a continuous 36 hour experience. Three meals a day, a front window and lots of dignity. Route 3 is long and flat and boring. Two sunrises.
One nice moment was when the conductor asked for passports the young man beside me noticed it said Canada. We did not exchange any words but when our first meal of steak arrived with plastic cutlery he offered me his asados meat cutting knife. A formidable 5 inch blade he must keep on him with a holster. Then in the middle of the night he was dropped off at some lonely crossroad by himself, pitch black, still well south in Argentina. As he was leaving he startled me with a warm and heartfelt double handed handshake. I guess traveling from so far away sparked his imaginations and he wanted to silently thank me for making the effort to visit his country. It was very sweet.
Found a nice hostel and am getting ready to sort out visiting some of Uruguay on foot.
The simple truth is that I have learned so much about world travel only in the last few weeks of my journey. Yes, I did very well on my own for many months and I am proud of that… yet the leaning curve has been logarithmic.
As the continent tapers to a wedge more and more riders who make this same pilgramicdge to Ushuaia start to converge and there is naturally more contact with other motorcyclists.
Amazing choices of other riders reveal to me a wealth of ‘what can be’. The principal lessons have to do with saving money and how much more ‘off road’ the joys of overland travel can take you.
The final push to Ushuaia began with the ferry ride to Porvenir. It was on that boat that I met both a pod of dolphins and Martin Bruker, a German born serious world traveler. A very interesting man, 3 years deep into his journey he has already traveled on his BMW X-Challenge 650 extensively in Cambodia, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania. Now beginning his northbound journey from Fin del Mundo the the north Mexican border with the U.S. Missing a finger and blind in one eye he has taken himself to the most remote areas of the world. More so with his one good eye takes exceptional photographs. Images of his motorcycle being handled into the smallest canoes in the the deepest mud of Cambodia to be dropped off in even more remote regions to push so deep into the wild that it boggles my mind. Animals and landscapes… so beautiful. Calm and confident. A very driven spirit for sure.
We three riders made the km’s into the national park to place our bikes by the famous sign signifying the end of the road. Our timing was excellent because by the time we finished the photo’s three busses of tourist arrived to crowd around the same sign. What we did not realize was that in the eyes of these people we riders were worthy land marks to take photo’s of. I must have posed in front of my bike with over 20 people, arm in arm, all wanting to be captured with these motorcyclist.
It was funny but did help deepen the sense of accomplishment.
I remained in Ushuaia for 2 days after which the return to Puenta Arenas began. It was a beautiful ride through the epic landscapes of the southern Andes and open pampas. Dodging rainstorms the offroad portion to the northern ferry was fantastic. My riding skills continue to improve and I found that I was able to relax and enjoy the broader picture. Weaving through the winding gravel roads surrounded by llamas and cattle. The low setting sun casting yellow and orange highlights to the land. At one point a tractor trailer had slid off the road and was waiting for another truck to offload it’s content. Carlos and I chatted with the two men in the calm evening. Winds were minimal and the whole thing was peaceful. Finally a paved road appeared and I blasted forward on my own for a while. I knew that this was the last motorcycle portion of my journey and I wanted to revel in it.
The shape of the storm clouds off int he distance, all back lit by the setting sun was so gorgeous that I found myself weeping. Such simple gifts, delivered to me in my complex life, it’s arch felt deeply within me, I was moved to tears.
Finally the ferry docks appeared and we waited to board… but there was a problem.
The Argentine/Chile boarder did have a gas station but the attendant smiled and waved his hands slowly to inform us that there was no gas to sell. This was of course a problem. With what fuel was left in both our motorcycles plus what was carried in the plastic gas bottles, there was still not enough to get us to Punta Arenas. We needed to find more benzine…
Well, by the time Carlos’ bike sputtered to a stop it was pitch black night with temperature of 3 C. Not to bad for me but his Columbian/Panamanian blood was getting hypothermic. For all his strengths, deep cold was a new challenge for his constitution. I had added my extra fuel while waiting for the ferry so I simply helped him add his fuel and we pushed off. The few cars and trucks that passed us did not stop to help and it was clear that if we ran out of fuel we may have to pitch tents by the road and wait till morning for more traffic to hitch a ride into town.
My fuel light came on with 90 km left to reach the city. I knew that the reserve should give me around 60 km before empty. We discussed that we had a chance, though slim, if we ignored the 110 km/h limit and reduced our speeds to between 50-60 km/r in high gear. So, slowly we spent the next hour and half limping home on fumes.
In the end I managed over 90 km’s and rolled into the gas station well after midnight.
After a meal the sleep was deep and sound.
Then as far as selling the bike went I’ll simply say that the deal is done and I will write more on the long bus ride to Buenos Aires.
Austral penguins and me.
Ok, I can’t deny that I felt terrible all night about selling the bike.
I could not sleep.
Just sick with a feeling of loss.
I know the numbers make a lot of sense, especially considering the $2200 savings in not shipping the motorcycle back to Toronto from Buenos Aires. To include those savings it almost makes back the entire cost of the bike and accessories.
Yet I can’t help but feel like it is an admission of failure.
The truth being that I have hung my ass out so far that I have simple run out of money and this feels like the only choice I have.
I lose at least another 10 days of riding and frankly I don’t want it to end this way. On a bus ( or plane if it’s cheap enough) to BA. Ugh. Also if I had known about this ‘free zone’ I would have had time to do Bolivia, which I skipped because of my previous schedule notions.
I left Toronto with barely enough money, spent a little too much on accommodations overall and unexpected expenses… boom, the line is crossed.
Fuck I hate being grown up!
I suppose this is all exacerbated by the fact that my riding partner partied a little hard last night and we could not take the 9am ferry to the island of Tierra del Fuego as he sleeps it off.
We will take the 3pm.
I don’t mind that so much, but… more time to think shitty thoughts.
I want to get back on my baby, who never let me down and forgave my mistakes with grace. What a great motorcycle. This feels like the death of a pet.
I will relish these last 8 days of riding to Ushuaia and returning to Puenta Arenas.
The greatest discovery of this journey is the notion that no matter how ones day begins one never knows how it will end. Also I can not stress enough how 3/4 of the journey was merely there to teach me about the last 1/4. The lessons I’ve learned by traveling with others have been profound. To choose three and half months of solitude was important… if only to discover the joy of fellowship.
Carlos appeared in Santiago to help me solve my uncertainties about the last push to Tierra del Fuego. Also to have met french female solo rider Cecilia, who purchased a 100 cc Honda motorbike in Columbia and road all the way to Ushuaia… amazing life energy.
Chinese travelers Frankie and Tony, whom I have met in Punta Arenas have taught me another lesson… frugality. They were all selling their bikes here.
With that in mind I have discovered that I am in one of only two “free zones” in South America where it is legal to sell my motorcycle. I watched both of their bikes sell in one day and it dawned on me that perhaps it is a choice I should consider.
The truth is that although I have fallen in love with “Angelina”, my BMW F-650-GS on this trip I know for real off road riding it is not the right bike. I should like to acquire the ‘Dakar’ version with the higher suspension and beefier off road capability. Also I realized that the 45 litre panniers are too large, both are 1/4 empty all the time. What one needs for overland travel takes up much less space. Also to be honest I am running out of money and this way I return with plenty of cash to carry me over until I get momentum in music production again.
Well, my bike sold in one day… deposit in pocket. Even with the understanding that I am continuing on for another week. In good faith and desire for my machine they committed to the purchase with cash.
After I did the numbers I calculated that to sell here, the cost of the bike over four months works out to $12.00 a day. Not bad for a rental!
I will continue on the Ushuaia and the Fin Del Mundo. Have a good cry. Party my ass off. Sober up and return to Chile and the free zone of Punta Arenas.
The only mild down side is the some 36 hours of bus ride I will endure to return to Buenos Aires.
Yet, my gal is arriving for 8 days herself to see me and that beautiful city. A chance to be romantic in one of the greatest towns in the world. Nice.
I will not deny that to cut short my original plans of riding back up the Atlantic coast makes me a bit sad. Also preparing to lose this fantastic spirit of independence that motorcycling allows will be tough at first. Yet, it is not like I have not been to that part of the world already on a trip 5 years ago with a girlfriend. So… small loss.
As a rational person I only play with the poetry of these notions but I feel that I was led here to learn and make these choices.
I feel very moved by all this.
One never knows how the day will end.