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Old 04-22-2012, 07:05 AM   #451
mightymatt43 OP
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Day 49-55 in South America: Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt

Day 49 - 55 in South America: Puerto Natales, Chile to Puerto Montt, Chile



After spending a few days in Puerto Natales the time finally came for us to board the Navimag Evangelistas. The ferry officially runs from Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt every Tuesday through Friday, though passengers and vehicles board on Monday evening. After checking in with Navimag across the street from the boat, we heard a safety briefing and then waited by the hack with three other bikers until the other 150 passengers had boarded. When we were cleared, we rode up and into the storage bay:



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Pretty empty when we boarded:


We then carried all the gear we wanted for the voyage up some seriously narrow and steep passages until we came to our cabin just outside of the cafeteria. We opted to spend a bit more money on a cabin with only four bunks, though the other two were unoccupied so we essentially had our own room. There were much more expensive cabins on board:

- some like ours but with windows
- some with a desk, couch, two bunks and a private bath in the room
- the rest of the passengers stayed in long corridors with 40-50 bunks lining the walls

I was pleasantly surprised to find that my 6’5” body fit nicely in the enclosed bunks. Our nautical home for the week:


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By the time we were settled in our cabin it was already getting late so we said goodbye to Puerto Natales and had a calm first night of sleep.


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At 8:30 the next morning, a loud speaker announced that breakfast was being served. The Evangelistas serves three meals a day in a large cafeteria - a major bonus for us. Over the past month and a half, our eating schedule has been anything but normal so getting three meals every day was amazing. We were already up before the loudspeaker sounded, however, because we wanted to see the sun rise on our first day at sea. We were not dissapointed.



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The narrowest passage of the trip:


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(Map below taken from Navimag website)
The Evangelistas sails through the Chilean fjords - an achingly beautiful and remote part of the world that we would have never had the chance to see otherwise.


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This ferry itself is very community based - passengers are encouraged to get to know each other and hang out while on board. Most of the travelers on our trip were college-aged backpackers or recently graduated twenty-somethings which could be the reason why we felt transported back in time to our college years. All of a sudden, we were back in the dorms. Kind of fun, really...

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Unfortunately, Kristen picked up a pretty nasty cold from me (riding through the snowy weather could have played a part) so she wasn’t feeling very well for most of the trip. However, the views were pretty stunning when the weather allowed:


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For about 15 hours of the trip there is an open ocean crossing, which tends to be quite a bit rougher than the calm fjords. In the hours coming up to the crossing, the crew of the ferry continuously encouraged passengers to take sea sickness pills and even sold them to people that didn’t have medication. We took some Dramamine that we brought that immediately knocked Kristen out - I believe that she may have slept through almost the entire crossing. The meds made me feel pretty crazy - I don’t know if it was the motion from the boat or the pills but I have never felt so dizzy in my life. I stayed awake through most of the daytime crossing and went up on the top deck with one other guy to take some pictures of the crashing waves against the hull.


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I can also gloat a little and report that we saw four whale spouts several hundred yards off the ferry. Not all that exciting but at least it was something...

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Other than going on a movie-watching spree, eating, filling Kristen with medication, playing a bit of ukelele, and sleeping it was a very relaxed couple of days. We had some pretty nasty weather for a good part of the journey but did manage to see a shipwreck:


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Just when we were starting to feel a little antsy, we woke up on the morning of day 5 to find ourselves pulling up to Puerto Montt.


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After the ferry docked, we packed up all of our stuff and headed down to the cargo hold. We were a bit surprised to find it packed with a herd of sheep that were running free. No wonder it smelled like poo...


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During the week on the ferry, we learned that Troy (theadventurebegins.tv and ADVRider), one of the bikers on board, was actually a Texan who had ridden down to Chile from Austin. Small world! The other couple, Andrew and Cathy (southamerica2up.wordpress.com), were from
South Africa and were also riding a BMW R1200GS. It turns out that they had been having a bit of trouble with their bike and were trying to figure out a way to get some parts shipped to them from back home. Ready for some serendipity? Their main problem was a failed fuel pump controller - due to some advice given to me prior to our leaving, I just happened to be carrying a spare. I love it.

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The four of us decided to ride together off of the ferry and a short way to Puerto Varas to grab a coffee and find out if my spare would work for Andrew and Cathy’s bike.


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Troy leading us through Puerto Montt:


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Andrew and Cathy:


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Once in Puerto Varas, we parted ways with Troy and found an internet cafe. Andrew was able to Skype a friend back home who let him know that our part would work. Awesome. With that out of the way, we went and had a fun lunch where Kristen found a kindred spirit in Cathy - she hasn’t met many other wives who enjoy traveling the world by motorcycle.


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Cheers.


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Puerto Varas seemed like a pretty nice town, so we decided to stay at a nice place with a great view of the lake. With BigBoi tucked in safely we crashed into bed while both feeling a bit motion sick for the first time. Who knew there was such a thing as being land-sick...?


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Up next: Back to Santiago.
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Old 04-22-2012, 07:14 AM   #452
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Matt -- Ha! Just as you need to find your sea legs at the start of a long voyage, some have trouble finding their land legs after long deployments. I remember a long passage across the storm-tossed Atlantic. When I first stepped on the quay back stateside I actually stumbled and fell because my world was no longer moving!

Magnificent RR, as always!

Pete
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Old 04-22-2012, 09:58 AM   #453
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boondox View Post
Matt -- Ha! Just as you need to find your sea legs at the start of a long voyage, some have trouble finding their land legs after long deployments. I remember a long passage across the storm-tossed Atlantic. When I first stepped on the quay back stateside I actually stumbled and fell because my world was no longer moving!

Magnificent RR, as always!

Pete
Kristie and Matt.....Magnificent RR and photos...Front page travel mag quality...Good Job guys...and thanks for always chiming in..I know it takes time.!

That's right Pete...! Matt and Kristie.....likewise during a 5 day inclement weather passage to Bermuda in our sailboat,... upon arrival at the docks Sharon had to visit the clinic in St.Georges as she couldn't get her foothold on Terra Firma anymore! The Capt'n n' Kids were fine, but taking an arrival shower ashore was like we were at still at sea...our minds were swimming!

Cheers...
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Old 04-22-2012, 10:19 AM   #454
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What a great way to escape those nasty winter conditions. The fjords looked eerily like our inside passage here in BC.
Ride on safely and keep filming, folks. Great stuff.
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Old 04-22-2012, 11:06 AM   #455
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Great report !!

Love the Photos and videos . thanks for sharing Guys. my wife and i hope to someday also travel by sidecar!
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Old 04-22-2012, 12:23 PM   #456
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mightymatt43 View Post

...We took some Dramamine that we brought that immediately knocked Kristen out - I believe that she may have slept through almost the entire crossing. The meds made me feel pretty crazy - I don’t know if it was the motion from the boat or the pills but I have never felt so dizzy in my life.
Excellent ride report. Kristen's photography skills really add to the enjoyment of reading your report.

Dramamine has pretty strong side effects for many people. My wife took the "Less Drowsy" variety the last time we were on a ship. And the first night at dinner, she laid her head down on the dining table and fell asleep. I had to carry her back to our room.

Marc
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Old 04-23-2012, 01:15 PM   #457
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Hi,

Don't know if you got the update but I just learned that there is now a ferry between Panama and Colombia!!!!

Your return trip has officially got a lot cheaper!!

Ferry between Panama and Colombia officially start May 10, 2012 and you can read about it here!
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Old 04-23-2012, 01:38 PM   #458
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Originally Posted by AtomicFlyer View Post
Dramamine has pretty strong side effects for many people. My wife took the "Less Drowsy" variety the last time we were on a ship. And the first night at dinner, she laid her head down on the dining table and fell asleep. I had to carry her back to our room.

Marc
Man if I had a beer for everytime I had to carry my wife back to the room...


Loving the RR and the pics. Inspired me to take my camera on my ride Sunday. Not SA, but it was still good to get out and kill some pixels.
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Old 04-23-2012, 01:59 PM   #459
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OUTSTANDING!
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Old 04-24-2012, 06:10 PM   #460
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What did the dealer do?

Prior the ferry ride north you wrote something about big bo being in the dealer's hands. What did they do for you....is it safe to say your ferry trip was post dealer...and the bike with the leak has been repaired? Hope so!
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Old 04-24-2012, 07:30 PM   #461
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Replies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boondox View Post
Matt -- Ha! Just as you need to find your sea legs at the start of a long voyage, some have trouble finding their land legs after long deployments. I remember a long passage across the storm-tossed Atlantic. When I first stepped on the quay back stateside I actually stumbled and fell because my world was no longer moving!

Magnificent RR, as always!

Pete
What a weird thing - I honestly didn't feel sick until I got off the ship, and even then it was several hours later. I haven't spent much time on boats in the ocean... it was an experience.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Abenteuerfahrer View Post
Kristie and Matt.....Magnificent RR and photos...Front page travel mag quality...Good Job guys...and thanks for always chiming in..I know it takes time.!

That's right Pete...! Matt and Kristie.....likewise during a 5 day inclement weather passage to Bermuda in our sailboat,... upon arrival at the docks Sharon had to visit the clinic in St.Georges as she couldn't get her foothold on Terra Firma anymore! The Capt'n n' Kids were fine, but taking an arrival shower ashore was like we were at still at sea...our minds were swimming!

Cheers...
As always - thanks for your encouragement, sir...
I don't know if I'm cut out for a long stretches at sea, especially on a sailboat. Maybe it just takes some time to get used to it. I will say that I've spent a bit of time flipping through racing sailboat magazines and that looks pretty freaking fun!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Toadride View Post
What a great way to escape those nasty winter conditions. The fjords looked eerily like our inside passage here in BC.
Ride on safely and keep filming, folks. Great stuff.
That's funny you say that - the guy who came up with me on the top deck when the weather was bad was from BC and said the exact same thing. He said it really felt like home.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aholecop View Post
Love the Photos and videos . thanks for sharing Guys. my wife and i hope to someday also travel by sidecar!
Do it! It's a totally different animal than 2 wheels but so much fun...

Quote:
Originally Posted by AtomicFlyer View Post
Excellent ride report. Kristen's photography skills really add to the enjoyment of reading your report.

Dramamine has pretty strong side effects for many people. My wife took the "Less Drowsy" variety the last time we were on a ship. And the first night at dinner, she laid her head down on the dining table and fell asleep. I had to carry her back to our room.

Marc
Thanks!
My mom has some pretty serious inner ear problems and was the one who convinced us to take that medication. It is some strong stuff. My wife was just like yours - out. I just felt drunk... definitely can't take it and expect to do much but relax.


Quote:
Originally Posted by WhicheverAnyWayCan View Post
Hi,

Don't know if you got the update but I just learned that there is now a ferry between Panama and Colombia!!!!

Your return trip has officially got a lot cheaper!!

Ferry between Panama and Colombia officially start May 10, 2012 and you can read about it here!
That's crazy that you just posted that - someone at the hostel we're staying at just told us the same thing this morning at breakfast. I kind of didn't believe it. I wonder if it will last??

Quote:
Originally Posted by oktulsa17 View Post
Man if I had a beer for everytime I had to carry my wife back to the room...

Loving the RR and the pics. Inspired me to take my camera on my ride Sunday. Not SA, but it was still good to get out and kill some pixels.
Haha...
Glad that you spent some time behind the lens. What kind of gear are you using?


Quote:
Originally Posted by woodly1069 View Post
OUTSTANDING!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Whosoever View Post
Prior the ferry ride north you wrote something about big bo being in the dealer's hands. What did they do for you....is it safe to say your ferry trip was post dealer...and the bike with the leak has been repaired? Hope so!
All shall be revealed in our next post!
We're a little behind but I don't really like to post every day. I feel like each post needs to be pretty substantial so I usually let it pile up a bit. After our next post, though, we'll be caught up to the present.
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:15 PM   #462
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Day 56 - 66 in South America: Puerto Varas to Santiago

Day 56 - 66 in South America: Puerto Varas, Chile to Santiago, Chile



One of the really enjoyable bonuses to travelling like vagabonds is the chance to really experience a location. With getting the bike serviced by a BMW mechanic as our only pressing matter, we decided to kick our feet up and spend a bit of time in Puerto Varas. I won’t say that we found it especially wonderful, but it was a comfortable place to watch the world go by for a few days. As if we hadn't done enough of that on the ferry...



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Like she always does, Kristen was able to track down an artisans market. It's an amazing talent of hers:


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The catch phrase for the restaurant below was “Keep Walking” which seemed pretty odd for a restaurant on the square that probably relied on foot traffic for business. It was strangely empty...


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We did quite a bit of walking around town, eating and photography but I also allotted an afternoon of some maintenance issues that needed to be addressed with the bike.

The rear brake had turned to absolute mush and I noticed a severe problem in braking power after we got off the ferry. It turns out that our oil leak had sprayed so much fluid over the bike that even the rear wheel and rotor had become compromised.


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I took everything apart, tracked down a hardware store to buy wire brushes and sandpaper, and went to work. The top pad is untouched, the bottom has been scrubbed...


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...and here shows a brand new pad on top and the scrubbed pad below. I was hoping to save my extra set (mainly because they’re $150/pair!) until we could get our leak figured out, but I have no desire to put us in danger...


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With the scrubbing finished, I did my best to clean up all the parts and the rear wheel. I then took the bike apart a bit to get to the air filter...


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Surprisingly not as horrible I was expecting. After the amount of gravel and dirt roads we have been riding, I was anticipating much worse.


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After cleaning up things a bit more, zip tying rags in a few strategic places to catch some of the rogue oil, and getting BigBoi back together, it seemed like it was time to hit the road again.

(One of the rags to catch rogue oil after a day of riding:)


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Due to the recommendation of the hostel owner, we headed up Highway 5 to Pucon the next day. I have to say that it was pretty odd to ride up such a smooth, windless road after spending so much time in Patagonia. Kind of boring, really...

Once we left the highway to head East to Pucon the ride became quite a bit more pleasant. The town was pretty and harmless. We did the usual: coffee and cake, Kristen somehow found another market and we walked the streets until dark.


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The next day we headed further North to a town called Los Angeles, which actually turned out to be pretty sizeable. Big enough to have us riding in circles around the downtown trying to find a place to stay. It was here that we decided to splurge and stay at the nicest hotel we’ve been to while in South America.

BigBoi got his own underground lair.


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I decided to “splurge” further and treat myself to something familiar. It turned out to be one of the more awkward exchanges of our travels...


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All I wanted was a Big Mac. It’s gross, I know. But I just wanted a Big Mac and Los Angeles was big enough for a McDonalds. We walked in and I said, “Me gustaria un Big Mac, papas fritas y una Coca Cola”. Pretty basic stuff. The girl taking my order just stared like I was making farting noises with my mouth rather than speaking. I repeated my sentence again and still, nothing. Another guy finally came to her rescue and told me, “I speak a little English. How can I help you?” This is how the following conversation played out:

Me to Man: I would like a Big Mac.
Man to Girl at Register: Un Big Mac.
Me to Man: And Fries.
Man to Girl at Register: Y papas fritas.
Me to Girl at Register: Y una Coca Cola.

Man to Girl at Register: Y una Coca Cola.
Girl at Register: Oh.

Either way, we finally got our burger and my stomach regretted it later. Probably because of what we did next at the mall...


Why would I not just stick to empanadas...?
Let’s just say our bodies were not happy with our food choices.

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The next day we left our soft sheets, indoor pool, private bathroom and BigBoi’s secret playground for the town of Talca. Again, the ride was uneventful on the highway though we did get amazingly lost in Talca when we finally arrived. We spent the rest of the day doing what we do best: coffee, walking the streets and playing with the local canines.


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The next morning, we woke up and rode straight into the heart of Santiago.


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I can honestly say that for such a big city it really is not too bad to ride the bike around. Thanks to our GPS (which is hardly ever accurate) we were able to find a nice hostel in the Bellavista district, drop our gear off and then rush the bike to the local BMW dealership.


WB Motors. I had read some really bad reviews of this place on the internet but decided to give them a chance anyway...
When we arrived, I’m fairly certain that every single one of their employees came out to greet us. We were eventually pointed towards Claudio (who I believe is the manager) so that we could explain the issues we were having in English.

After a pretty thorough inspection of the bike, Claudio dropped the bad news. The doorway to the service garage was clearly made with the width of a normal motorcycle in mind.


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“But,” he said “You guys are in a foreign country and I want to help you.” So, even though they had never worked on a bike with a sidecar before (which admittedly makes it a bit more difficult), even though they were going to have create a portable work station outside, and even though we had a pretty strict time schedule for when the work needed to be finished, he decided that they would take us on. Sweet!

After Kristen drooled over this triple black GS (how cool is it that she is into motorcycles) we hopped in a cab and headed back to the hostel with hopes of a bike sans oil leak in our near future.


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We dropped the bike off last Thursday afternoon and we were told it would be ready by Monday afternoon. So for the past several days, we’ve just been kicking it in Santiago... pictures have been taken, of course.

I’ve eaten an unnatural amount of churros - I’m certain that the guy knows me at this point...


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We visited the Plano de Ubicacion la Vega Central which was a bit like Reading Terminal in Philadelphia on steroids. Intense.


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We’ve admired the stunning amount of street art in the Bellavista district:


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There are a ton of scooters and mini-bikes on the street around here. I don't know what this is but I want it:


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We have done a crazy amount of walking with no real purpose in mind and have stumbled upon some of the beauty that Santiago has to offer:


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Over the past few days, I have learned that a meal called cazuela is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten:


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We went to a concert (also a rally but the music was awesome):


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Met this llama:


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And rested our heads at Hostel del Barrio:

Not a great area (we've been asked for drugs twice and have seen a pretty gnarly fight but the owner is a hell of a guy).

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That brings us back to today.
We woke this morning and headed over to WB Motors to see how BigBoi was doing. It turns out that he has been severally spoiled. Not only was his 12,000 mile service completed (we’re at 13,500 miles though, whoops), but the oil leak is no more and the entire rig was washed clean. Spoiled.


Details on the Oil Leak:
Claudio wasn't there today and Paulo only speaks a bit of English. Claudio is supposed to email me with more details but this is what I got from Paulo. The leak was coming from where I suspected but apparently there is a washer that is supposed to seal that long bolt that runs into the engine case. The washer was not there. It could have broken or maybe it was misplaced, I'm not sure. Either way, the bolt was vibrated loose by the sidecar mount so I will need to find a long term solution to that problem.

The bike was test ridden by one of the mechanics there and he was very adamant about telling me that it scared the crap out of him.

Overall, I am very impressed by WB Motors. They really went out of their way to help us out. The only thing they screwed up on was that they didn't replace my brake pads like I wanted when they cleaned everything up. They told me that it wasn't necessary, but after riding back to the hostel, it's clear the pads have been corrupted by the oil. I will be replacing them myself first thing.

So what now?
That's a bit complicated. Kristen's best friend is getting married this weekend in Texas, so we'll be flying back to San Antonio tomorrow and leaving the bike in a storage unit owned by a friend of Gaston from SAXplorer. We also have decided to be back in Texas to be with Kristen's parents for the year anniversary of Ryan's death. It's only right that we are together on that day. Also, my little sister is getting married in about a month, so we're just going to be leaving the bike down here while we take care of stuff in Texas for 4 our 5 weeks.

WE WILL BE BACK to continue our travels soon and I'll be checking in on ADVRider quite a bit, I'm sure.

We'll be back!
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:59 PM   #463
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Safe travels home! I, for one, will be standing by.
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:21 PM   #464
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Safe travels and great ride report. God I love that spirit....but I love my three kids more so I will just live vicariously through your ride report.....lol. Thanks again! It's been a pleasure to read.
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Old 04-24-2012, 10:48 PM   #465
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Great report guys. I have recommended it to several people. Can't wait to see more. I'm a fellow Texan, if I run into you, beers on me.

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