From Italy helping children around the world on motorcycle

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by romafras, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. romafras

    romafras world traveler

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    Thank you FAR. How is Venezuela for a visit right now??? I know its a fantastic country. Any advises ?
    Cheers.
  2. far

    far ADVreader

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Los Andes,Venezuela
    Its a huge country and you can found great places to go mostly natural, there are a lot of beaches to go, cold mountains in the andes, huge savannas and the best is "la gran sabana" Canaima National Park this link could show you better Canaima
    http://youtu.be/xbsQWq8nSUg

    The security in the big cities is really bad especially at the wrong places in the night is even worse.
  3. romafras

    romafras world traveler

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    Arrived in San Jose Costa Rica to pick up my bike at 4.30 AM. I knew i had a busy day full of bureaucracy ahead of me to release my motorcycle from the almacen fiscal where I left it in March. With a good Costa Rican cup of coffee in my hand I seat on the street and i regroup my energy for the day. At 6.00AM i arrive in front of the custom office but the office does not open until 8.00AM. When finally at 9.00 I am able to speak with someone the customs official start saying that I will not able to pick up my bike without paying a huge fine of $1,000 because I should have terminated my temporary permit of transit back in March. This is a wake up call for me. It reminds me that for the next month or so I am not in Canada nor in Italy and my mind-set has to change right away. Having some experience in this kind of matters I keep calm and starting to explain that at the custom depot, where I left my bike back in the month of March, I was told that by storing the bike with them I did not need to terminate my permit because it was done automatically by their software system. No chance. The custom official did not want to hear any of that and started calling her superior. I knew I just had to stay calm and I apology for the inconvenience. Of course inside of me I was mad and I really wanted to jump across the desk and bite her hear off. In any case to make a long story short, I was able to release my baby only at 3.00 PM. Of course i did not have to pay any fine whatsoever. My good friend Andres from the Almacen Fiscales ” El Coco” gave me a great hand.

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    The following day I bring my motorcycle for a full tune up and plan my route to reach Panama. I decide not to cross into Panama from the main border crossing of Paso Canoas but to take the northern, smaller entry of Rio Sereno.

    The road is stunning. I reach 10,000 feet of altitude and the temperature is freezing. What will it be when i will be riding at 15,000 feet in Bolivia and Peru’ I ask myself ? I definitely misjudge my clothing equipment once again.

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    The mood is high and in just one day I had the chance to remind myself that I am not doing just a sunday ride but something a bit more complicated. I am very exited and ready. Let the adventure continue. The kids of ” Virgen de Fatima” are waiting.

    BTW.

    The very first day of my departure a great article on the ” Corriere di Arezzo” written by Francesca Muzzi, was telling our story. I will not translate the all thing as we know the intent of our trip around the world. The funny part of the article described Matteo as being a slim man with a long beard while myself as a bit “chubby”. The article says that if we were to be put together we could be identified as Santa Claus bringing gifts to the children around the world.

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    We certainly hope that the next article will not describe us as being like Laurel and Hardy………..

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  4. romafras

    romafras world traveler

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    This next post could be written about all countries we have been so far. Prior entering Colombia, the comments we would receive from people was that we were crazy to do it. According to them traveling through Colombia is far too dangerous. We can’t deny that we had a certain discomfort before packing up our motorcycle and start crossing what we now know of being a great beautiful country. Many times, in our travels, we had people talking poorly about countries without a real knowledge about them. Such common ” wrong” perception is true for many countries we crossed until now. For example, according to people in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan was supposed to be dangerous and unfriendly to foreign people. It turned out to be one of our favorite. For this very reason is the least we can do to put the story straight. Other than some difficulties in eastern Siberia, we were always welcome in an incredible positive way from anyone we encounter in our travels with our motorcycles. This is particularly true for Colombia. After a few kilometers, we felt safe and welcome at the same time. Of course you still have to take some precautions when traveling in this country but this is true anywhere in the world. Our advice is to visit Colombia. it is a beautiful and generous country. We would like to thank our new Colombian friends Andres, Edwin,Fernando for being so hospitable to us. They accompanied us from Bogotᒠto Girardot showing us a beautiful road that was later taking us to another stretch oft road called ” La Ligna”. This is a dangerous mountain road that reaches 11,000 feet in altitude that has to be crossed in order to get to Cali. Thanks again FRIENDS. What a ride !!!!!

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  5. romafras

    romafras world traveler

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    Hola Amigos

    First of all a little description on the Colombian guerrilla. FARC. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army. Source from Wikipedia.

    The FARC is considered a terrorist organization by the Government of Colombia. The FARC–EP claim to be a peasant army with a political platform of agrarianism and anti imperialist inspired by Bolivianism.

    The FARC say they represent the poor people of rural Colombia against:

    the economic depredations of the ruling bourgeoisie.
    the political influence of the U.S. in the internal affairs of Colombia
    neo-imperialism
    the monopolization of natural resources by multinational corporations and
    the repressive violence from Colombian state and paramilitary forces against the civilian population.
    The operations of the FARC–EP are funded by kidnap to ransom, gold mining, and the production and distribution of illegal drugs.

    The strength of the FARC–EP forces is indeterminate; in 2007, the FARC said they were an armed force of 18,000 men and women; in 2010, the Colombian military calculated that FARC forces consisted of approximately 18,000 members, 50 per cent of which were armed guerrilla combatants; and, in 2011, the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, said that FARC–EP forces comprised fewer than 8,000 members. According to an inform from Human Rights Watch, approximately 20-30% of the recruits are minors, most of them are forced to join the FARC. From 1999 to 2008 the guerrilla armies of the FARC and of the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (National Liberation Army of Colombia) controlled approximately 30–35 per cent of the national territory of Colombia. The greatest concentrations of FARC guerrilla forces are in the south-eastern regions of Colombia’s 500,000 square kilometers (190,000 sq mi) of jungle, and in the plains at the base of the Andean mountain chain.

    In 1964, the FARC–EP were established as the military wing of the Colombian Communist Party (Partido Comunista Colombiano, PCC), after the Colombian military attacked rural Communist enclaves in the aftermath of The Violence(La Violencia, ca. 1948–58). The FARC are a violent non-state actor (VNSA) whose formal recognition as legitimate belligerent forces is disputed. As such, the FARC has been classified as a terrorist organization by the governments of Colombia, the United States, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, and the European Union; whereas the governments of Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, and Nicaragua do not classify the FARC as a terrorist organization. In 2008,Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez recognized the FARC-EP as a proper army. President Chávez also asked the Colombian government and their allies to recognize the FARC as a belligerent force, arguing that such political recognition would oblige the FARC to forgo kidnapping and terrorism as methods of civil war and to abide by the Geneva Convention. Juan Manuel Santos, the current President of Colombia, has followed a middle path by recognizing in 2011 that there is an “armed conflict” in Colombia although his predecessor, Alvaro Uribe, strongly disagreed. In 2012 FARC announced they would no longer participate in kidnappings for ransom and released the last 10 soldiers and police officers they kept as prisoners but it has kept silent about the status of hundreds of civilians still reported as hostages.

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    Now our story

    After our long day riding of yesterday, where Matteo puncture his rear tire on a remote gravel road, we leave toward the city of Pasto early in the morning. Pasto to the Ecuadorian border is about 200 KM so we are not in a rush. Our plan is to enter Ecuador in the evening and stay for the night at the first little Ecuadorian town. We couldn’t be more wrong about our plans.

    When we reach Pasto we are blocked and surrounded by at least 200 “Campesinos” that are protesting against the national Colombian government. They are among thousands in all colombia that are part of the “National Paro”. The Paro is known as the total blockage of all main roads through Colombia. They do this to bring the government to a negotiation table and to defend what they think are their rights. In this PARO the campesinos (farmers), are asking the government to decrease substantially the price of gasoline and defend the products they are producing by stopping importation from different countries such as Ecuador where everything is drastically cheaper.Of douse we did not know about this national scale PARO. We later find out that most of the time they can be extremely dangerous as the days go by and no negotiation is found between the “Campesinos” leaders and the national government.

    This first blockage is easily passed after a charming negotiation done by both of us with a local “leader”. We only had to stay with them for about half an hour and listen to their arguments. This was their request and we sure did it. After that we were allowed to pass and move forward.

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    As we were not informed about this national protest, we thought that our road was free until the border with Ecuador. On the other hand we encounter at least four more blocks which we easily pass without any particular problems. All is fine until the blockage of Tangua. Tangua is a small village 60 KM from the border. This blockage from the start seems to be harder than any other one we passed before. I harm myself with courage and decide to go talk to a leader and explain our situation. No chance. he actually advise me to go back a kilometer or so because staying there could turn out very dangerous for us. We totally got that when Matteo took a photo of me talking to the leader when all of a sudden, about 50 persons started yelling at me and raise their wooden pole to me menacing to bit me up. One particular protester even took out a machete and pointed it at me. I will never forget his face. I was terrified.

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    In a calm rush way, we backtrack about 3 kilometers and start knocking on houses to see if they would kindly help us to stay for the night. We were blocked. Could not go back nor forward. We find a beautiful family that agrees to allow us to stay in their garage. This garage will be home for us for the following 3 days. The garage was very cold at night and it stunk of cheap gasoline. We were constantly hearing the radio to see when we would have been able to continue our journey. The news was not very positive and we felt hostages of a situation that we could not control. We decided to call The Italian Embassy and let them know our location. We were stuck in what we now know to be a strong FARC region. Even the family that hosted us was a supporter of the guerrilla. According to them the guerrilla does more for them that the Colombian government.

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    During the third day, we received the information from a moto-taxi that there was a break of half an hour from the blockage. In a hurry we packed our belongings and started to travel toward Tunga where three days earlier we were stopped. We travel at a slow speed because the street were full of stones, broken glass, and debris. We still were very afraid about the situation we were in.

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    Just before reaching San Juan, a small group of people, advise us not to proceed further because the street were closed again and according to him there was another blockage ahead with many angry people. For sure they would have not let us pass. On top of it they would have burned our motorcycles he says. What to do next is &#8220;simple&#8221;. As many times before one of us goes to the people and try to plead our case, while the other watches our belongings. Being Matteo&#8217;s turn he starts walking in search of the local leader. He tell me that his main worry is that the campesinos will cut his beard off. He arrives on a bridge, where about 500 people were listening to a speech given by a delegate from the government. He patiently waits when all of a sudden the leader of the local campesinos starts explaining to the people our situation of being semi-hostages of the PARO. To Matteo&#8217;s disbelief the crowd starts yelling to the leader that they approve our passage to the border. Wow incredible. A woman on a little smokey bike escorted us safely to the border with Ecuador where even the border patrol are surprised to see us arrive. They state that no one has passed the border to Ecuador in the last three days. It really felt like in the movie &#8220;Midnight Express&#8221;. A unique experience, like unique was the ending of our Colombian adventure.

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  6. romafras

    romafras world traveler

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    We leave behind a beautiful country such as Colombia. According to the news, the situation in Colombia has not improve. Actually it has worsen since our “Midnight Express” escape. Our opinion about the country has not changed a bit. We still feel very strong about Colombia. Truly an amazing country. Now in Ecuador, as usual, we choose to travel along secondary roads but because of the Colombian “PARO” our days are running short as the kilometers ahead of us to reach Argentina are still many. It is a shame not to be able to spend more time in what seems to be a magical country. The people are courteous and generous. Riding across the country we discovered amazing valleys surrounded by impressive mountains. Little colonial villages and much more. Ecuador is truly a country to be discovered. The best we can do is to share a short video and some photographs with a promise to come back to this great country.

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  7. CourtRand

    CourtRand Been here awhile

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    Location:
    Quito, Ecuador
    Nice pictures. It looks like you had a good ride in Ecuador. We hope to see you back one day...

    HAVE A GREAT RIDE!
  8. romafras

    romafras world traveler

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    We sure will. Thank you very much for your beautiful hospitality.:clap
  9. TonyD

    TonyD One life, live it.

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    glen cove ny
    ciao ragazzi, persone come voi mi fanno sentire orgoglioso di essere italiano,anche se voi adesso siete cittadini del mondo e ve lo siete meritato,, e se passate da new york non vi dimenticate ke avete un amico dove poter stare e forse organizziamo qualche viaggio ... la fortuna aiuta gli audaci..ciao e in bocca al lupo
  10. romafras

    romafras world traveler

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    Grazie 1000. Ci possono togliere tutto in Italia, ma hai ragione tu. L'orgoglio rimane. Cheers.
  11. Sfcootz

    Sfcootz banjoboy is my daddy

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    I started reading this last night and came straight back to it this morning. It seems to me that Matteo's beard is a lucky charm on your voyage. :clap

    Thank you for the amazing photos of everyday life, of the people you meet, of your amazing voyage. Best of luck on your journey, I will be following closely from now on.

    Hurray for amici dei bambini!
  12. Antonio1tw

    Antonio1tw n00b

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    Taiwan, R.O.C.
    This trip is so great , when you have more followers coming to adventure. Tks for keep us wake in dream
  13. RoninMoto

    RoninMoto Wanderer

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    In the mountains?
    I agree.. a good voyage needs a good beard :deal

    I learned the same thing on my trip :D
  14. romafras

    romafras world traveler

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    Hi Noha. Are you going through the island of Sakhalin like I advised you ?
  15. RoninMoto

    RoninMoto Wanderer

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    In the mountains?
    Yup. I did Sakhalin and now I'm in Japan trying to get to south east Asia. It was great.
  16. romafras

    romafras world traveler

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    Great. I noticed you have over 83000 kilometers on your bike. Any major issues with it ?
  17. romafras

    romafras world traveler

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    Thank you for your kind words. Comments are always welcome.
    Cheers.
  18. RoninMoto

    RoninMoto Wanderer

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    In the mountains?
    I list all the issues on the first page of my report. I update when I have new problems. I have about 89,000 now.
  19. romafras

    romafras world traveler

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    As usual the bureaucracy to enter Peru&#8217; was somewhat complicated. Maybe due to the border we chose, but it literally took us two hours to get our permit to enter the country. The first little village after the border of &#8220;La Balsa&#8221; is called San Ignacio, but because we have a late start we are forced to drive the 50 KM in the dark in an extremely muddy road. A real challenge. The muddy roads will be with us for the majority of our ride through the Amazonian part of Peru&#8217;. We did not expect to ride in the amazon. The path we took had 100% humidity, rice fields, tropical fruits, and major red rivers. It really felt riding in the jungle once again.

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    This region is also important for the production of the Coca plant. The territory is therefore governed by the &#8220;Narco trafficantes&#8221;. The production of the plant is legal in Peru&#8217; but the government does not pay this crop as much as the dealers. It is easy to understand that the coca grower are more likely to deal with the &#8220;Narcos&#8221; because they pay way more for their product. It was told to us, that nowadays the region, is much more calm that it was a few years back. We also encountered a few blocks from the campesinos, but we were allowed to continue our trip after answering a few questions of why we were traveling through this part of Peru&#8217;. This would have not happened a few years ago. They simply would have not allowed us to pass through.

    Following the course of &#8220;Rio Huallaga&#8221; until Tingo Maria we end our journey through what is called the Amazonian Peru&#8217; and start climbing toward the central highlands. The Andean scenery is drastically different: The vegetation is looking much drier, the air starts to be cool and the sky seems to be closer. When we meet the fist Alpaca, we realize that we are finally in the Andean Peru&#8221;.

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    We reach Cerro de Pasco, the highest city in the world ( 14,550 feet ), at around 4.00 PM. We both feel the altitude by feeling a little dizzy and sort of &#8220;drunk&#8221;. Cerro de Pasco is a little city with the majority of the inhabitants being miners. It is not that interesting, therefore we decide to eat and go to rest because Peru&#8217; is a big country and we still have many kilometers to ride.


    Cerro de Pasco. Peru'. The highest cityt in the world.


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  20. Sfcootz

    Sfcootz banjoboy is my daddy

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    How did the bikes perform at such high elevation?