Across Americas - Discovering the New World on a motorcycle

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by AnjinSan, Jul 19, 2012.

  1. Dracula

    Dracula Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

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    Dear Alex,

    Thanks so much for sharing this great trip with beautiful updates and the personal touch you gave it with impressions from places seen and experiences you had. As someone once told me "You will never be the same" - in a good way, meaning you will never see the world as you did before this trip and you are now a much better person with all the experience from the trip.
    If your plans are to start your return to Romania now, here's to a safe and easy return home and hope you will post more updates when you can on how the return trip to Bucharest went!
    I hope to maybe meet you one day on my own world tour, stopping where once was my home, city of Bucharest.

    Kindest regards,

    Vic
  2. TOTim

    TOTim Been here awhile

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    Congratulations
    It's great to read your report as you have the ability to put any situation into a positive light.
  3. Hewby

    Hewby Been here awhile

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    Congratulations! Wow. I am still in the rain of Bolivia. But looking forward to finally making it to where you have got to. Very happy for you :)
  4. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    First days in Bolivia: 10 – 12 January 2013

    After the short step forward from the storyline with the 3rd of February post, it is time to get back to the “present” time of our story and that “present” means the border between Peru and Bolivia.
    As I was riding towards the Bolivian border I remembered something the guide at Machu Picchu told me: the Incas had 3 main laws:
    -not to lie
    -not to steal
    -not to be lazy
    [​IMG]
    The leaders would make sure that, at least, the 3rd law would be obeyed so they tried to keep the Quechua people busy all the time. Why? Simple reason: Inca believed that if people are busy working they won’t have time to plot against their leaders or rebel. It’s ironic how sometimes the ancient wisdom gets lost with the years. Long time after the Inca empire, Peru and Bolivia (old Inca territories) had only a few years of peace and tranquility since gaining their independence from the Spanish. I was reading somewhere that during 200 years after Bolivia gained it`s independence there have been more than 200 government overthrows, riots, military insurrection and other types of armed rebellions. Peru had a little bit more peace but not by much. That makes you wonder…
    But let`s get into Bolivia. The border crossing goes smooth and fast. The border we cross it`s not so used, they had the “barrier” on most of the time.
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    The Bolivian authorities are very friendly and try to give us all sorts of recommendations. We are almost surprised that we are talking to them for more than 20 minutes and they don`t ask us THE question, a question we got used to hear in Peru and that started almost every conversation we`ve had with a Peruvian: “How much does the motorcycle costs?”. They seem to care a lot about this aspect here. I don`t feel at ease when I am asked how much my motorcycle is worth. I cannot understand in which way knowing how much I payed for Gunnar, in another country, from another continent, will help these guys. We almost leave the border when… the guardian cannot hold it anymore and pops the question: “Buuuut, how much does the motorcycle cost?”. Uh, so we will get that question here to. Hmm we need to find a way to avoid a direct answer to this. But until then, welcome to Bolivia!
    [​IMG]
    We spent the first Bolivian night in Copacabana. Not the one by the ocean, where Portuguese is spoken but Copacabana by Lake Titicaca, where luckily for us Spanish is spoken (we need to get tarted on our Portuguese lessons).
    [​IMG]
    There is a holiday feeling about it. Many foreign tourists,
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    but even more locals.
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    We try to sit aside and watch the crowd assaulting the cruise boats and all the other “attractions” by the lake.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]Then we decide to go check out the market, where you can find everything…
    [​IMG]
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    We say “goodbye” to Copacabana the next day and head to La Paz, not being the only ones waking up early.
    [​IMG]
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    As we are still on an island we have to get to a ferry, time for another interesting experience.
    [​IMG]
    Before getting on one of the wood boats Andreea goes and asks one of the guys how much is a crossing for one motorcycle and two passengers. She is told it`s 10 bolivianos. That`s fine. Let`s do it.
    [​IMG]
    As we were crossing the lake I watch patiently the two locals spitting sunflower seeds and throwing all sorts of garbage in the lake. Being in a foreign country and a meager tourist, for sure it was not my place to say anything so I just stood there and observed. But I could not help thinking how illogical their gesture was. We saw the same attitude in the Danube Delta, when a local guide we hired for a boat ride, casually threw the beer bottle he just finished (during his working hours) in the Danube. Leaving ethics and other ecology-related arguments aside…. their actions are nonsense from a pure economic point of view as well. The main source of income for this touristy places is… well the land mark that is the attraction for the tourists. So tourists come to these places for the Danube Delta, or Titicaca Lake or the mountains and so on. Simple logic or even selfishness should tell them that they should take good care of the “landmarks” that bring the tourists (and money) to their area. So why on Earth would you work on cutting the branch from underneath your feet by throwing trash everywhere? And then, one day, they end up asking themselves why the tourists aren`t coming anymore to visit their wonderful natural wonders. Hmmm, I should stop watching these two men spitting sunflower seeds in their “golden geese”. Titicaca is an extremely beautiful place. Still.
    [​IMG]
    Oh well, so here we are on the other side, same gentleman that kept spitting sunflower seeds in the lake the whole “trip”, comes to me asking for 20 bolivianos. “How does that work, it was 10 on the other side and now it`s 20?” Damn inflation… “Here`s 10, that was the deal and I wish you good luck with everything”!
    I am walking to my motorcycle that was already off the boat and the man keeps following me, desperately asking for 20 bolivianos. I explain to him once more, in Spanish, that he was the the very one telling Andreea that the crossing is 10 and there is absolutely no reason for the price to double now. For a few moments he cannot find an argument about the doubling of the price but then he quickly recovers: “OK, then give me 15!” Now I am shut, trying to figure out his reasoning.
    “No, it will not be 15 neither, it will be 10, like you’ve said on the other side. And really now, good bye, have a nice day” And without waiting for another “bargain” I leave. Andreea is depressed by this “approach” of the men at the crossing and lake Titicaca seems to follow her mood as it gets darker and rainy. It was not about the extra 5 or 10 bolivianos. It was about the general approach they had to foreign people and the way they thought appropriate to "milk" them. And I still think that the only appropiate way to deal with that is trying to outplay their "game" and doing it with a smile and without taking it personal.

    [​IMG]
    Until now, we were running on gasoline from Peru in our tank (90 octanes – European measurement standard). But the tank was getting empty so it was time to go to our first Bolivian gas station. I must admit that I didn`t do my homework regarding this aspect. But I knew that foreigners have to pay more for gas than the locals. So here I am at the first gas station. Silly me, asking them for premium gas. The lady looks at me compassionately. “We only have one type of gas”. “Very well, what`s the octane number?” She is shrugging her shoulders, as if trying to tell me “If I`m telling you we only have one type of gas, why are you asking me more questions? You will anyway have to get this one since there is nothing else”.
    [​IMG]
    I agree to her unspoken reasoning so I ask her to fill up the tank (praying for that gas to have at least 87 octanes on European standard measurement). Just when I thought that octane number would be my main worry, here come another one. I would have to worry for not being a Bolivian. Of course I am not, I from another place, far far away. But I want to think that I am a nice guy, so could you please help my by giving me some gas so I can be on my way, visiting your wonderful country?. “Well, then I cannot sell you any gas.” “How come?” “There is a different (higher) price for you and I would have to give you a different receipt.” “Aaaaah, Ok… so lets do that?” “I don`t have that type of receipt.” “Oh, really…. and if I am running out of gas?” There goes another useless question from my side. I am looking at the sign displaying the international price, asking myself what is the real reason that stops me from filling up my tank, is it the lack of ”special receipt” or the lack of willingness to do the extra effort to fill the dreaded thing?
    [​IMG]
    And I feel bad about it, I feel like asking a favor or for pity, and that is not OK. Fortunately we still have enough gas to take us closer to La Paz where we manage to find another gas station, get some gas seasoned with some kind of unfriendly looks, for 3 times the normal price. Get my 2 receipts. One for supporting the gas station and the other for supporting the state. But no problem, the bright side of things is that we can move on. Life is good, even if this time we had to pay triple for that.
    [​IMG]
    But rules are meant to be obeyed. I know that they have this rules in an attempt to stop trafficking of Bolivian subsidized gasoline to neighboring countries. But I think it would be easy to recognize that this measure should not be applied to tourists, especially when they just want to buy 15 liters of gas for their motorcycle. In Ecuador and Venezuela gas is subsidized but somehow they managed to avoid annoying the visitors with such laws. Anyway, these are just random thoughts while I store my receipts away. We are not here to judge, it is better to just enjoy the places we see and people we meet.
    Now our tank is full and we are ready to head towards the capital of Bolivia. Did I say “we were ready”? No, we were not. I don`t know if it was because of the rain, the mud or both, but it seemed to us like we were crossing into a chaotic world, and traffic didn`t seem to obey any rules. Cars coming in and out of the main road without signals, without looking left or right and apparently we are always the ones that did not had the right of passage, as everybody else seemed to just ignore our presence and continued on their path counting on us to stop and give way, even if we were on the main road. And don’t even get me started on the round-abouts [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Unfinished buildings shine in the mud puddles. Extravagant (wannabe) houses next to humble abodes barely rising out from rubble and garbage.
    [​IMG]
    We know we are not doing the right thing, for sure there are nice places in La Paz but we decide not to stop here even before reaching the city center. We need a break from “civilization” and “urban”. We follow the road to Oruro and leave the capital city as fast as we can. We regret not spending at least one day here. But we didn`t have anything booked, didn`t know anything about hotels or other details (safe neighborhoods and so on) and we just got “soften up” by the size of the city and the crazy traffic. So one last picture from the steets and of we go towards Oruro.
    [​IMG]
    Bolivia is a pretty large country. But the geographic location and lack of funds makes the number of paved roads quite low. Actually, there is a list on the internet. And you can count on your fingers the paved roads listed there. This can be a good thing as many of the amazing places in Bolivia remain like that exactly because the only way to get there is on a dirt road. But, we try to stay on the main paved roads. And still get to discover a lot of beautiful places.
    [​IMG]
    We enjoy Bolivia. We want to enjoy Bolivia. But in order to fully appreciate it, we have to get used very fast to some different approaches and communications patterns. Let`s see if we can adapt.

    <small>View Larger Map</small>
  5. Dracula

    Dracula Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

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    Since you cant say how hard you worked for it, I would just tell them how many months / years it took to pay it. It's funny to see the world through simplicity of inexperienced eyes.
    In Fairbanks I met some Colombians telling me no way I would be able to travel safely on THAT MOTORCYCLE (my '07 R1200GS) to their country implying it was too nice to be safe (for bike and myself)

    I enjoy your travel story allot, I think you were a little biased because of the ferry crossing/price gauging, but hey I would have been too and that makes it real.
  6. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Well, our bike doesn't look that good in fact. It is usually dirty (my fault) and it is a VStrom which is an ugly duck in the first place :) But hey, we really like it that way :)

    As for the "standard" question... I have to say that we never felt threatened or anything like that. I think it is more of a cultural thing in Peru in Bolivia... people just want to know how much things costs. Even the policeman who stopped us after Machu Picchu asked the same question. As for the answer... I was saying at the beginning a small number (having the same reasoning like you mentioned, not to make the bike too atractive), but then one guy just told meh, yeah? if it costs only 3000 US$ I will buy it from you. Hmm that made us reconsider and Andreea came up with other idea: we should tell them that we are just married for 1 year and the moto was a wedding present. The first part is true but the second one is a lie of course, But in this way we didn't gave up any number and most of the time the guy who was asking became very sensitive and supportive of the idea. So here you go, problem solved :)

    As for Bolivia, to be honest, we took it as it came. The ferry crossing event was in retrospective more funny than upsetting. The gasoline issue though (and we kept having them) was kind of an anyoance and I am afraid I will rant about it in the next episodes also. But I am trying to be honest and depict our state of minds at the time of the story. :) Anyway, in the end, I have to say that Bolivia was a tremendous nice experience. And I am very happy that we took the decision not to skip it. It is just that next time I would visit it with a bicycle and just camping :) But that's another story :p
  7. jesperd

    jesperd Adventurer

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    Alex,

    Fantastic ride report! Thanks a lot for sharing your journey with us. We'll be in the Bucharest area (at least somewhere along the Carpathians) end of May. It could be cool to finally meet. We'd love to hear more of your adventure.

    Jesper
  8. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    [​IMG]

    This morning we woke up and there was a lot of fresh snow on the mountains surrounding the city. Ha, and it's supposed to be summer here. We decided to take a "vacation from the vacation" for 10 days and that means no internet, e-mail or phone until February 17.

    See you on the other side :)
  9. jbcaddy

    jbcaddy Long timer

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    We will be here waiting patiently for your next postings. Happy vacation from the vacation :clap
  10. Hernando

    Hernando Adventurer

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    Congrats you two on achieving your travel goals and arriving safely:clap Thanks again for sharing your adventures.
  11. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

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    So glad to see you made it amigos. Love the report and happy to see that even when the road ends the adventure doesn't - that's the spirit I liked about you guys!

    p.s. When they ask me how much it costs, I laugh, say "mas de cinco dollares", and quickly ask them a question to change the subject. I like your story better though!
  12. eSTes1300

    eSTes1300 Adventurer

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    Can you summarize the bike's performance. How many Km did you start and finish with? What modifications? Problems along the way? Average fuel consumption? Great report and I like your spirit. Thank you.
  13. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Hi guys,

    we are back on the radar, after 10 days of complete rupture with all technology :) It was interesting but now we are starting to plan our way back home.

    So our journey is quite far of being over... as we have more than 5000 kilometers to go and a little under 1 month until our embarkation point for Europe.
    Also, in this month we have to sort out the way we are going to send our motorcycle back to Europe. I figure from Montevideo or from Buenos Aires. But we haven't found yet a solid deal...

    eSTes1300: very valid points. I will try to make a summary about all of them but I would like to get home first, so we have a clear overall picture :)

    @Blake: haha, your answer is good as well. But be aware, some of them might be ready to "pay" that amount to get your bike :p Eh, just good old fun on the road :) I wish you safe travels!
  14. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    As I've noticed quite a lot of mistakes in my report I got a little bit horrified and promised myself a "re-read" and a proper cleaning up once we will get home. In order for this to function properly I need to have access in a centralized place to all the "text and lyrics".


    So from this post onwards I intend to post here the first 2-3 pictures from the story and then provide a link to Micadu website for the rest. I figure it shouldn't be more difficult to read, and you can most definitely go on with the comments here, on this thread, as it is more easy read by everybody than on our website :)






    Here we go...


    Still trying to get out of Bolivia with the stories. But somehow we are delayed again. This time with a good reason: Salar de Uyuni!

    [​IMG]


    Salar de Uyuni: 12-14 of January
    We had plans to take a detour, starting from La Paz, into the Amazon basin on the (in)famous Death Road. But since we couldn&#8217;t find the inter strength to stop in the capital, we find ourselves now on our way to the next &#8220;landmark&#8221; that we would like to see: Salar de Uyuni. But to get there we first need to head towards Potosi. [​IMG]
    Then, using a newly asphalted highway (just finished in december 2012), we make our way through beautiful landscape.
    [​IMG]
    We have around 200 kilometers to go and we are really enjoying ourselves. This is what motorcycles are made for!
    [​IMG]
    Open roads, bright colors, blue skyes! Uhuuu!


    The continuation of the story, on micadu, right here!
  15. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    [​IMG]


    One day in Argentina: 15-16 January 2013
    Leaving Uyuni is not that easy as we have to sneak through the line of cars waiting for their turn at the only gas station in the area. We didn’t manage to figure out if the line was that long because there was no gas at the pump or because the whole village wanted to fuel up at the same hour of the morning.
    [​IMG]
    We don’t have to join them in line as we have our spare gas canister that will take us out of here, to the next, hopefully uncrowded, gas station. We are heading back the same way we got to Uyuni just that this time it seems drowned in a summer day’s laziness. We get to a small village where we were supposed to find gas. Hmmm… Some other times maybe. Now everyone is enjoying their siesta….
    [​IMG]


    Read the rest on micadu, right here.
  16. Oldone

    Oldone One day at a time!

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    Wow! Those falls are absolutely amazing and it's now entered into my bucket list. Those photos are great and gives a person the idea of what it's really like there. It's something that I've thought about doing for many years but at times others say that "it's too commercialized, etc." I just want to see the water going over and that's about all! Thanks for taking the time to do this for the rest of us.

    Gary "Oldone" :gerg

    Grampa’s Lake Superior Ride
    Grampa’s National Monument Ride
  17. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Hi Gary,
    the falls are a little bit over commercialized but so are a lot of other beautiful places in the work. If you want to see them, I would say, try and go for it. I believe that anyone can go and pick the things and activities he likes to do and make the most of a place.

    Cheers from Rio Grande, Tierra del Fuego
  18. GuateRider

    GuateRider Long timer

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    It only seems like a few weeks ago that we met that night on the campground in Tok, Alaska ...and now you are at the other end of the continent .
    Glad to see that you made it all the way down and that you keep on smiling :clap:clap:clap
  19. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Current state: "not the best day for science"

    - high winds in Tierra del Fuego make motorcycle travel unsafe
    - Andreea has a cold
    - from all the shipping agents contacted in order to sort out the shipping of Gunnar back to Europe, only one replied and with a prohibitive price. That won't work... :(

    Hopping tomorrow will be a better day!

    [​IMG]
  20. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Yeah you are perfectly right! I feel that it passed so little time since that night in Tok :) Makes me want to get back to that place. But unfortunately we will have to go back home soon.

    How's Guatemala? Figured out where are you going next?

    Saludos!