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North to South America on a Honda 250

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Joris van O, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

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    great to hear, hope you're moving along and enjoying your ride.
    Joris van O likes this.
  2. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Another quick update guys! Currently in Puerto Natales and hopefully I'll reach Ushuaia in two days time. With all the Corona shit going on right know I've no idea how the rest of the month (or the trip) is going to pan out.

    On a personal note.. Today I received news that my grandmother is hospitalized and the situation is not looking good. At this point I'm not sure what to do now. I'm two days away of completing my goal of riding to Ushuaia, borders are closing left and right and more flights are being canceled by the minute. And all I want to be right now is back home with my family.

    But.. Back to Colombia for now.

    My parents asked their guide if I could join their group for a day. No problem he said. So I showed up early morning at their hotel and hopped on a old bus for a leisure day out.
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    First stop was a view point over the canyon near San Agustin.
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    Just down the road was a little house with an old lady working. After our guide Marc asked for permission the whole group kinda invaded her house and her garden. Asking her about all the herbs, fruits and plants she had, and how she was living. But she was so proud and happy to answer all the questions and show us how she lived. After tasting some raw coca leaves, I can assure you they taste horrible.
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    Another bit further down the road, down in canyon, was what was known as the narrowest part of the Rio Magdalena. I didn't measure it but it's supposed to be 2 meters (6ft) wide and 60 meters (180ft) deep at this 'Estrecho'. Quite impressive!
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    You ever seen how unrefined whole cane sugar (locally known as Panela) is produced? Well neither had I, until I visited this little factory situated in the hills around San Agustin. The factory is supplied by local farmers. For every load they deliver they get paid, so, more loads means more income. First they drop the cane sugar off via trucks or by horse.
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    The sugar cane goes through a press which separates the juice. Once the juices are separated the leftovers are used for firing up the steam oven or are later burned elsewhere.
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    Done with the process outside we moved inside the factory to see how the cane sugar juice is processed. It goes through several baths in which steam is pumped (hence the steam oven outside). This steam boils the substance to get rid of the water it contains. Eventually you end up with a big bath full of sticky mess.
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    The sticky stuff gets poured into molds and if you let it sit for a while you get a solid chunk of unrefined cane sugar.
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    More rivers, more views
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    A fruit market in San Jose de Isnos. We went to grab lunch in a little restaurant there and there was a beautiful waitress (who reminded me of the girl I met in Mexico) serving us. I think we tipped her well. If only I knew some more Spanish.
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    The last stop of the day was another viewpoint, this time with a swing (only if you have a death wish), a concrete walkway (good thing my mom doesn't like heights) to fool around on and some flowers.
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    Alright one more stop then, the Salto El MortiƱo waterfall. You can say what you want about these organized group trips, but I thoroughly enjoyed my day with this group. And having a guide that knows the language, the culture and the area is such a great addition. I really wouldn't mind going on one of these trips. You'll definitely see a lot of a country, things you would otherwise never see and learn a lot in the process too. Well, and I got to spend another day with my family which you really can't beat.
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    After another wonderful dinner it was time to say goodbye again, this time we knew it would be long before we would see each other again. Never easy! Their bus left early next morning and I slowly packed my stuff and got on the road to the next hurdle, the Trampolin de la muerte.
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    DC950, Cal, jowul and 21 others like this.
  3. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    WOW!!!
    Joris van O likes this.
  4. Astrid - Woerden

    Astrid - Woerden n00b

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    It is sooooo lovely to see you and your parents reunited after such a long time.
    I can just imagine how your mum must have felt to see you again. Ofcourse your dad too but still......:-)
    Joris van O likes this.
  5. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Things just got even more interesting..

    I rode 600km today from Puerto Natales to Rio Grande in Tierra del Fuego. The good news is that if all goes well tomorrow I will reach Ushuaia and fulfill my dream of riding the length of the Americas.

    The bad news, Argentina just announced that it closed all its borders to foreigners for at least 15 days. You are allowed to leave but cannot enter. Which means that I can leave to Chile, but cannot enter mainland Argentina after leaving Tierra del Fuego.

    Options are:
    1.Sit this one out in Tierra del Fuego (not really an option).
    2. Get back into Chile and maybe just maybe get into mainland Argentina.
    3. Get back into Chile and hang around in Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales waiting for the Argentine border to open.
    4. And this might be the only viable option, get back into Chile and take the ferry from Puerto Natales to Puerto Yungay and from there follow the Carretera Austral back north.


    The situation is changing by the hour, so what seems like a good idea today might not work out tomorrow. We'll see how it goes, I'm happy that I made it this far. And whatever happens next, there'll be a solution somewhere.
    DC950, velobuff, Animo and 21 others like this.
  6. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

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    best of luck whatever you decide

    hang in there
    simmons1 and Joris van O like this.
  7. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    So close and yet so far...tough call.
    Amazing ride!
    Joris van O likes this.
  8. Old Codger

    Old Codger Been here awhile Supporter

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    Hang in there try to finish your dream! Your journey and pictures have been epic, so glad I got to go along, good luck with whatever you decide..:clap
    Joris van O likes this.
  9. X-wing fighter

    X-wing fighter Do or Do not, There is no try!!!!!! Supporter

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    You're a long way from Dawson city and d2d. I hope you find your way. My trip this summer is way less complicated than what you have done in the past year, but border closure is something I feel like I at least need to be prepared for.

    Good luck to you.
    Joris van O and donned like this.
  10. njmotophoto

    njmotophoto Adventurer

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    I have so enjoyed your stories and photographs. It has been epic; a book in the making. You don't ask for advice but I'll give some anyway. Make way for an international airport (along with a storage locker for your bike) and go back to your family, if it is still possible to do that. I don't think you'd regret it. You are young. You can finish this later. Thank you for the stories and inspiration. But perhaps go home now.

    Edit: Oh...maybe get the girl in Mexico. You may not regret that, either. Or you may. But life is short.
  11. nails1

    nails1 Been here awhile

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    Yeah. Too many women and too little time. I hate it when that happens.
  12. twowings

    twowings Comfortably Numb... Supporter

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    This guy has met so many beautiful women in just this one ADV thread, how could he choose?? :ricky
  13. nails1

    nails1 Been here awhile

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    I suppose one is left to wonder, "What if?" .......

    JORIS! GO BACK TO MEXICO! GO BACK NOW!!!!
    Joris van O and X-wing fighter like this.
  14. olderigetfasteriam

    olderigetfasteriam Long timer

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    Too many women.... epic. Thanks for the report!
    Joris van O and X-wing fighter like this.
  15. Drybones

    Drybones Fish bones are on my truck seat cover, too

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    Hey, olderigetfasteriam, the older I get the faster I get old!
  16. SlowFlight

    SlowFlight n00b

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    Joris, Congratulations on achieving your goal of Ushuaia. So sorry to hear that your grandmother passed, praying for comfort for you and your family during this time of loss and separation. Gods speed and safe travels as you continue your journey.
  17. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

    Joined:
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    I have it on good authority from the man himself!

    UPDATE TONIGHT!!! :photog
  18. olderigetfasteriam

    olderigetfasteriam Long timer

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    Looking forward to it!
    Joris van O likes this.
  19. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Alright.. I'll skip ahead a bit and get you guys up to date with the developments in the last few days. There are more pictures but I'll post them up later when I get them from my camera. It's just a quicky to get y'alls up to date! I'll resume normal posts later too, something to read while the world is in self-quarantine.

    I think the last update came from the Moto hostel in Rio Grande. I made some pasta (as Ive been doing for the last week or so) and paired it with a cheap bottle of wine.
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    With some other bikers from Argentina, Germany and Switzerland we watched the news unfold. Argentina announced that all border would be closed for foreigners that night. Pfoe.. Luckily we are already in Tierra del Fuego. But this will definitely put a hold on my plans of riding up to Brazil.
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    In the morning I packed my stuff, thanked everyone and set off to ride the last 200km to Ushuaia. But before I rode off I checked my phone. There were rumours on different FB groups that Chile might close their borders that night. Crap.. That meant I had to get my ass over to Ushuaia and back up across the Chilean border on the same day (16 March).
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    After seeing mostly flat grassy plains for the last few days I was very surprised to find beautiful forests and mountains at the end of the world.
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    I was really lucking out with the weather in Patagonia. In two weeks I might have had two days with rain. Going over the Paso Garibaldi I had to get out the rain gear though, cooled off fast too!
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    Down from the pass the sun came out again making those last kilometers very special.
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    And then.. Rounding a corner.. There they were, the famous Ushuaia towers. I couldn't believe it, I actually made it. I pulled over, turned off the ignition and sat there on my bike. I must have sat there for five minutes. Not moving, just contemplating the whole thing. It was such a surreal experience to stand there after riding for more than ten months, covering close to 60.000km. I couldn't help but cry, especially in the light of all the things that happened in the last week, I was very emotional. But with all these thoughts running through my mind I also couldn't help but feel an enormous sense of accomplishment. With tears running across my cheeks I was laughing like a maniac. What a crazy ride it had been. I did it, I fucking did it! Shipping a bike across an ocean, riding it all the way north, blowing up an engine, getting back on the road, riding with my brother, surviving central America and then south America, all the way down to the other end of the world just before a pandemic virus shuts down our lives. And while doing all this I had the honor of meeting so many incredible inspiring and wonderful people, learning so many things about these countries and cultures and visiting so many stunning places that I could've only dreamed of seeing. Oh man.. What a ride.
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    I calmed down a bit and found a place to get lunch and some Wi-Fi to get up to date with the news. Good news was that Chile would shut their borders a day later, so I had an extra day to get back. Bad news, I had a list of missed phone calls from my mom. At the tourist information the Wi-Fi was good enough for a call and my mom confirmed that my grandma had passed away that morning. For the second time that day I had tears running down my cheeks.
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    This was not how I imagined to reach the end of the road, in an emotional roller-coaster. There was nothing I could do back home and there was no time to linger around in Ushuaia. So I straightened my back and walk around to at least see something. I wanted to ride to the national park at the end of the road but this was closed due to Covid-19. So Ushuaia was my end of the road then. I got a patch and a sticker at one of the shops and just when I was ready to leave bumped into Dec and Lauri on their yellow BMW. How remarkable that we met at Dust 2 Dawson in Dawson city all those months ago and still arrived on the same day in Ushuaia. I sure was glad to see them.
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    I would have loved to spend so time in the beautiful area around Ushuaia, but it wasn't to be. Time to ride the 200km back to the Moto hostel in Rio Grande. The owner Miguel had already printed the photo that he took of me that morning when I left.
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    The German girl and Swiss guy were still there and in the morning we decided to stick together for the ride to Punta Arenas. We left Argentina and entered Chile without issues.
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    But after we stopped for a break in Cerro Sombrero the Husqvarna did not want to start. Oh, it's probably just a code Rico said. So he disconnected the ECU and we should be good to go. Only it wasn't, the battery was dead. We pondered our options, tried putting my battery in (which didn't fit) and eventually decided that we should get it to a mechanic (and I again found a leaking water bottle in my topcase). By this time it was already late in the day, so we first found a hostel. I towed the Husky up the hill to dump his luggage and then to the mechanic out of town.
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    After charging the battery for a while the bike fired right up, and some measurements soon taught us it wasn't charging.
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    Rico rode back to the hostel and we called it a day. Can't do much other than some research using the free wifi in town. The hostel owner let us use the restaurant kitchen.
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    Cloudy morning in Cerro Sombrero. We still didn't have a solid plan and with the wind and rain picking up we moved from the hostel back to the supermarket where we could sit warm and dry. Around 1 o'clock the rain and wind let down a bit and with no other options we decided that Rico would try and make it as far as his battery would last and I would tow him the rest of the way to Punta Arenas. Well, he made it to the ferry and then he made it almost into Punta Arenas. Leonie and I caught up with him 20km short of the city and I towed the stricken Husky the rest of the way to our hostel.
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    Unfortunately because the border with Argentina is closed, the ferries to northern Chile not taking passengers and with Torres del Paine National Park also of limits each and every backpacker and traveler fled to Punta Arenas to fly out. That means all the hostels and campsites were full. So another short tow to a hostel that had three beds left. We spent one night there and then decided to get an Airbnb for a few days to wait out the situation.
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    It is still pretty quiet here in Punta Arenas, no crazy lockdowns or mandatory quarantines as in the countries around us. We could even go out for a beer!
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    One day in the hostel, another tow to the Airbnb and that's where we are now. Like I said, all is quiet here. No curfew or lockdown, museums and parks are closed but we can still go out for groceries or walk around. We'll manage.
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    However.. Since I've sort of fulfilled my dream of riding the length of the Americas I'm gonna call it a day and (try to) fly home. I would have loved to ride up through Argentina and into Brazil, but with the current state of affairs it's seems highly unlikely that will be possible. Although I imagined the end to be different, for me it doesn't make sense to wait here for two weeks and probably a lot longer for the borders to open again. I did what I set out to do and anything more would have been a bonus.

    Getting home could prove a bigger challenge than this whole trip.

    I'm sure gonna miss this little machine. What a trooper..
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  20. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    314
    Location:
    Netherlands
    I'm following your advice, well.. flying back to Europe that is. Although Mexico wouldn't be a bad option. Self quarantine in a quaint little beach town doesn't sound to hard.

    Haha, there are so many what if's in life.. You would go nuts thinking to much about it. Sometimes it's better to just pick a path and stick to it.

    I actually had a deep philosophical conversation with someone about this two weeks ago. But that's all to come in future updates.

    Thanks Slowflight, much appreciated! And thanks to all that are following along and that I cannot thank in person! For all the support and motivation, for sticking with me through my ramblings.