Chile, Argentina, Peru. Stories from the road.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Ramish, Mar 8, 2017.

  1. Ramish

    Ramish n00b

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    I am not a good story teller, nor a good writer for that matter. I sometimes write about our adventures because Alex insists on me writing about them. I wish he would, he has a far better sense of humor and a funny way of seeing everything. I am more of a realist type I guess. I used to love writing when I was a teenager. But that is a pretty long time ago.

    Talking about once upon a time, in a castle looking more like a one room apartment, when we were just a bit younger and in love with the world, we used to day dream about leaving everything behind and ride our motorcycle from sunrise to sunset.

    Of course, day to day life is not always a 100% accurate fairytale, and that did not really happen. It was mostly a long time plan for two young Romanian guys with big dreams, big responsibilities at home and less then more money.
    So we made a new romantic plan. And it was not bad at all.

    In 2014 we were pushing the bikes, sweating through the dunes of Erg Chebbi, cleaning carburetors in the middle of the night at Sidi Ifni, on the Pacific Cost and conquering snow covered Toubkal in the High Atlas. I will never forget Morroco, we had the best time riding, walking, climbing, sharing adventures with friends.
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    In 2015 we took a two weeks vacation to the Peloponnese Peninsula. Mountains by the sea. The perfect southern place to be when it still too cold for camping in Eastern Europe. We could be all day long in the mountains and go down by evening just to sleep in an olive tree meadow or by the beautiful blue sea.
    We found the nicest people here and the most surprisingly beautiful places.
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    2015 was the year for another big adventure we had plan since returning from Morocco. Kirghizstan and Tajikistan. We checked the maps. So few roads. Both covered with mountains, both rough and unknown. It was such an exciting thought. We will be riding there. It was perfect for us.
    3 weeks before leaving I broke my kneecap, cried for few days about it, or every time I remembered and encouraged Alex to go on and live the dream, with the promise we will see these amazing places together the next year. And it was indeed a great adventure for him. He felt in love with those places, he made awesome new friends there. He met Sambor and spent some days in his great company. He crossed furious rivers and snowy mountains on the back of our RD03 Africa Twin. He rode the Bartang Valley, the Wakhan Corridor and the Pamir Highway.
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    In 2016 we finally relived all these adventures together, after a spring break of off-roading in the Albania mountains with heavy rain, many river crossings, narrow forest paths and snowy mountain crossings with big bikes, girls passengers and a lot of fun moments.
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    I definitely felt in love with Kirghizstan and Tajikistan. They are so pure, so sincere and simple. Nature is so rough, life is so hard. When it’s hot its very hot, when it’s cold is really cold. When it rains there is flooding, there are serious landslides, people get to be even more isolated then they are. When it does not rain crops dry, there is no water for day to day necessities. Despite all this, and in spite of all the stories you hear about those places, people are good. They share everything with you, they are happy to meet you. You don’t sense envy or bitterness. I felt immediately like home.
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    But vacation always ends a bit too soon, and we have to return to work and responsibilities. And then we start dreaming again. The dream was there actually, all this time. At least since 2013. But, from January 2018 it somehow became December 2016. We were excited to hit the road so soon, again.
    We really have to thank our friend Laci, who made us take the sudden decision. And also thank Sambor, who took our bike in this long journey overseas and made sure it got there safe and well, so we can enjoy a month of sweet warm delight, inside and outside, in the middle of the European winter.
    We are so grateful.
    The last 6 weeks before our trip for hectic. I wanted to have everything perfect and ready before leaving. I had plan to have my motorcycle license exam and have kneecap hardware removal surgery in the same week. Which I did. The hardware was bothering me a lot, especially while riding as a passenger, and the doctor told me I need 6 weeks to get back to normal after surgery. So, there you go, I had it all figured out. By the end of the week I was back home and had them both marked as checked.

    And then it was work. Alex and had his hands busy with the Africa Twin CRF1000L and wanted to have the new accessories ready just before Christmas. This meant long, long hours for the Heavy Duties team in the workshop, planning and designing, then testing. After work, I helped with photos and whatever else I could. Many times, we used to get home after 22:00, exhausted, but happy to know that we are one step closer to our trip.

    Night time was our time to make tracks and check out all the places we would like to see. We did not want to go unprepared. South America was a bike deal for us. Pretty far and expensive. We wanted to make sure we did not miss anything, which of course proved to be impossible.
    I really wanted to go south. I could not imagine going to Chile and not going to Patagonia to see the glaciers and the glacier valleys. This could probably be as close as I'll ever get to Antarctica.
    We had only a small problem. A bit more than 6.000 km in 10 days, which we did not want to do only on asphalt, a constant run of more than 600 km/day in an area not really that interesting. If you wonder why the rush, well, because January is also the right time to be at the rally we really love, and that is, if you have not guessed by now, Dakar. We had to be in Salta on the 11th or somewhere around.
    We could not miss it.

    So, one day before leaving Cluj (that is Transilvania, land of Dracula, Romania) we had the tracks ready, but not for just a month, as we will find later. South of Chile to Argentina and north of Peru, of course back to Valparaiso, Chile. We had the highest volcanoes, mountain passes, many border crossings back and forth and the desert, all marked as a must see. Every photo we saw on the internet made us want to go there. We had literally no chance of doing everything, but we had high hopes.

    On the 30th we were on the road. Cluj, Bucharest, Rome, Santiago de Chile. 7h drive, 24 something hours, 3 flights, 14.000km later, on the 1st of January we landed in Chile. Why such a long trip? Well, we got to visit friends, see Rome and get to Chile for 500 euro round trip/person. It was a great deal.

    Stepping on the South American continent was surreal. Imagine, we are these two, pretty much young, guys from Romania (which was a communist country 26 years ago, that you could not get out of) that could only dream about getting so far from home. And it was really happening. And it was so easy. It was amazing.
    Our parents were terrorized by the thought of our vacation. So far from home, in a place so insecure, so wild Funny, this is exactly what West Europeans think about Romania.

    Santiago on the 1st January, like all cities around the world, was empty and big. I don’t know what else I could say about a city. I am a fan of wilderness. We had to spend a day here, because we naturally thought nobody was working on the first day of the year. We could not find any place to buy food, but we found a small fruit shop after walking for a while carrying our heavy backpacks. We sat on a bench, wearing a t-shirt, enjoying the sun and some bananas, thinking about the snowy winter at home.
    We were already relaxed.
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    #1
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  2. Critic

    Critic More or less!

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    I'm in for sure! Your writing has a certain honesty to it. I can feel your sprit and joy in the words, as I read them!

    Although I love the Santiago portrait above, I hope we see idenitifing images or portraits with your story.
    #2
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  3. joe a

    joe a No Map

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    Oh Yes !!!!!!!!
    #3
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  4. Suncoaster

    Suncoaster Been here awhile

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    Where the girls are green and the grass is pretty.
    "when we were just a bit younger and in love with the world"

    More !
    #4
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  5. Ramish

    Ramish n00b

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    Valparaiso was a different world. I have never seen a city like this before. So different, crazy, somehow fresh but old in the same time, packed with tourists and locals but missing that too crowded feeling.
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    It felt like a city from a sci-fi future. It looked like it was all reconstructed after a big disaster, using whatever people could find around. Old and very beautiful building in ruins, covered with sheets of metal scrap from containers, wood and dirt. All this covered in chaotic and very unique colorful artwork.
    People selling all sorts of useless stuff and traditional empanadas on the streets. All kind of strong smells. This was the world we stepped in, once we stepped out of the bus terminal in the city center.
    We had two hours of walking to the Hostel. It was perfect. Not easy, with the big backpacks, but we had plenty of time to mingle within the city. We were fascinated.
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    Our hostel was located in the old city, in a charming historical neighborhood, up the hill. As colored as all the other buildings around, inside and outside. Minutes after we checked in, we left for another walk, up the hill to see where all the smoke that was blocking the sun came from.
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    The day we arrived, 200 houses made from scrap and wood burned in the city of Valparaiso. The wind was very strong and the fire swallowed everything in the way. I manage to convince Alex, to let go of his idea of going wherever the fire was coming from and we kept walking on the narrow streets just uphill from our hostel. A chaos of inflammable materials, electric wires all around above our heads, houses on top of houses, all looking crooked and not very stable, hot days with strong winds on a romantic colored background. I am still in love with these places.
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    A big part of the city is uphill with steep slopes or many stairs to climb on, but this offers an awesome view. The harbor looks impressive with big ships, huge cranes and hundreds of containers, in the foreground the old funicular carriages, also known as elevators, constructed in the late 19th century that are still used for transportation, both by locals and tourists.
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    We went on and visit a cemetery from the 1800s, site of the marble graves of non-Catholic foreigners, where we met the friendliest cemetery keeper, not that we’ve ever met another, which gave us a tour.
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    In the end, we had spent two days walking around the memorable, unforgettable, UNESCO World Heritage Valparaiso and by the third day we were drinking our last cup of coffee, on the wobbly hostel terrace, looking over the city.[​IMG]
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    We were now, about to meet Sambor, get our bike out of customs, then out of storage, get our luggage on, and in few hours, be on our way to the mountains.

    At the Servicio National de Aduanas we met some very interesting fellow bikers from all over the world, some traveling like us, for a month, and some traveling for years. We had a couple of hours to share our stories from the world, get some positive energy, if we needed more, and get even more excited about getting on our own road.
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    Later, we would be all very eager to get packed, dressed in many protective layers and start our adventure.
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    #5
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  6. CanuckCharlie

    CanuckCharlie Been here awhile

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    Holy epic photos! :clap
    #6
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  7. chudzikb

    chudzikb Been here awhile

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    Well done!
    #7
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  8. Critic

    Critic More or less!

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    Well done in deed! Great discriptions with photo's telling the story with thousands of words. I am ready for the next chapter! That said, I would buy the book.
    #8
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  9. flei

    flei cycletherapist

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    incredible photos! thanks for posting this.
    #9
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  10. dgeezer

    dgeezer Time's fun when you are having flies. Kermit

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    Nice pics and rhetoric. Thanks for reminding me .
    We were in Valparaiso in January 1999. I thought the whole city
    would slide off the hill if someone just stomped their feet.
    It looked so precarious.
    And who the hell is the guy Higgins or O'higgins.
    Many streets and other things named after this Irishman there.
    (maybe it was Santiago)
    It was laughable. We kept asking ..who is this guy? haha
    #10
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  11. Dessert Storm

    Dessert Storm Dances With Drunks

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    Superb words and photos :clap More, please!
    #11
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  12. Ramish

    Ramish n00b

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    Thank you very much everyone for you extreme kind words :D I will try to do my best to continue the story as soon as possible, as the adventure begins out of the city, and the photos get probably way better given the amazing landscape of Chile, Argentina and Peru.
    In the begging I could not find enough time to make a map of our route, but now I have one to post here, drawn by hand :p
    I will try to post our track with each post. Please feel free to ask for the tracks if you find yourself in need of adventure.
    Most are accessible, although there is a lot of offroad, other are not quite accessible and those are the places where the good stories unfold.

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    Hey dgeezer! I don't know who this guy Higgins or O'higgins is, but I saw a ton of Pedro de Valdivia variations on the theme, from cities to streets, buildings and you can't imagine what not.
    #12
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  13. danger_nurse

    danger_nurse N00basaurus?

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    Incredible photography.. Can't wait to follow along on this one :)
    #13
  14. BIG OIL

    BIG OIL Loooozer

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    Great Lakes
    :clap:clap:clapI have a feeling this will be a memorable Ride Report:clap:clap:clap Following:super:super:super
    #14
  15. Johnnydarock

    Johnnydarock Been here awhile

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    Looking forward to reading this thread. Lot's of pictures please.
    #15
  16. young1

    young1 Long timer

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    I am in!

    Kiwi Mike
    #16
  17. acidman1968

    acidman1968 Been here awhile

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    Utah, Great Basin / Intermountain West
    Definitely gotta follow this one - I lived in Chile for about two years back in '87 - '89, some of it in Santiago, but the majority up in the north - Chanaral, Arica, Chuquicamata, and Antofagasta. Loved it, and ever since then I've wanted to ride my bike in that country!
    #17
  18. LoneWolf-IT

    LoneWolf-IT fantasy traveller

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    Rome Italy
    :clapgreat trip and awesome photos, I lived in Argentina in the north area, the Andes have a very beautiful road and awesome view. I would like to come there with my bike.
    #18
  19. edhaeuser

    edhaeuser Adventurer

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    Wisconsin
    Nice story so far, I'm in! Good Luck!
    #19