The Long Way Home.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Where's Harold?, Apr 5, 2021.

  1. Where's Harold?

    Where's Harold? Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Prologue

    Where do I even begin? It all started in 2013 fresh off my trip through Europe. The simple act of traveling to a new place full of different foods and people always struck me with awe but I wanted to go on an adventure not vacation.

    Slowly I began to hear of people who traveled to every country by land and sea travel only and it hit me; this is what I was looking for. To travel by land and be forced to not only see the land as it changed before my eyes but to also fend for myself. I would put myself through a test, a rite of passage if you will that would turn me from a boy to a man. I would go on an excursion around the world and after some research, I stumbled upon a man who was able to do it with around $30,000 and so began my 5 year plan to save up the money and set out on my adventure.

    Five years later, I had saved a sizable sum, paid off all my student loans, and had plotted as much of my route as I possibly could. The rest would be figured out as we went along. As the day drew closer I began to have panic attacks about what I was getting myself into. Was it worth it? Am I crazy? Only time would tell and after a great send off from my friends and family I was set to embark on this vision quest of my making to see if I could make it back in one piece.

    After 2 weeks of trying to figure out my traveling situation, I finally found a winner. I would buy a used red and black Zongshen 200GY motorcycle which would allow me to travel for much cheaper and I could hit the road whenever I pleased as opposed to being at the mercy of public transportation.

    When I met up with the seller, he told me to take it for a spin but I opted for just revving the engine, seeing as how I was harboring an embarrassing secret: I didn't know how to ride a motorcycle.

    After a bit of running around I was all set and ready to go. These past two weeks were great but the real adventure hasn’t even begun. Will I make it? Will I die? I guess we’ll find out, but what I do know is that after all the planning and saving I have done over the past five years, it was now time to see what I was made of and see what the road had in store for me.

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    Just a boy embarking on an adventure with his trusty steed!


    -Harold Serrano


    Instagram: whereisharold
    Facebook: wheresharold360
    #1
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  2. MusicRider

    MusicRider Adventurer

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    Hey there Harold. When are you taking off?
    #2
  3. Where's Harold?

    Where's Harold? Adventurer

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    In a day or two...
    #3
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  4. TheNetworker

    TheNetworker Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    Location:
    Germany, Lower Saxony
    I m in - let`s see where the roads may lead you......
    #4
  5. Where's Harold?

    Where's Harold? Adventurer

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    DAY 1


    C5889B4E-E665-4198-A4ED-DB9B37FB2AC8.jpeg After two weeks in Chile it was finally time for me to go. I just finished buying my motorcycle and now it was time to pack before I head off. It’s crazy, after finally buying my motorcycle I was scared. All my planning and saving up has led up to this point and now that I’m here the unknown is what scares me. My friend Melissa has made my stay in Chile amazing, she has also been my safety net while I get my bearings.

    Now that I'm alone; it's real.

    My first stop was Mendoza, Argentina where I'd be staying with my first Couchsurfing host of the trip; Juan Pablo. Now for those of you who don’t know Couchsurfing is an app used to travel where you can find people almost anywhere in the world offering a place to stay for free. Since I don't know anyone in these countries it’ll help me meet new people fast and allow me to get in with the locals even faster.

    The ride started out a bit jarring as I began to encounter a bit of technical difficulties getting out of the city. I was having trouble working the clutch so each time the engine would turn off I would tell cars beeping that my bike was having problems when in reality the problem was the driver.

    The views as I drove away from Santiago were amazing as the city and its skyscrapers slowly turned into mountains as I made my way up the Andes. The ride was beginning without a hitch. That is until the sun went down and I realized how ill-prepared I was for this trip.

    The temperature began to drop rapidly as the cool breeze soon turned into an unbearable cold that pierced my bones. My clothes were not the best choice but then again how could I have known I was arriving in Chile during the beginning of their winter. I had no other choice but to keep driving as I screamed to get my mind off of how cold it was. Arriving at toll booths became a dragged out process since my gloves did little to stop my hands from going numb. As the cold got worse there were times that I wanted to just turn around and go back to Santiago.

    "What am I thinking?!"

    "This is crazy."

    "Just go back home, forget this trip”

    These thoughts ran through my head the entire drive and at multiple times I considered the idea of going back to the certainty of home. I wanted so much to forget this trip all together but there was a faint voice in the back of my mind telling me to keep on moving forward. As I pushed forward, I gave myself the option of turning back only once I began to cry or if I could no longer physically move forward. That seemed like a reasonable compromise.

    The GPS said 6 hours and yet I don't know where the time went because I left at 5 pm yet when I arrived it was 2am. Time flies when you're suffering and now it was time to find my host's house. After a bit of searching I found it but there was no answer. Instead of ringing his bell all night I went to find a hostel instead. The Chill Inn hostel was the only place I could find and I was in luck; they had one bed! Not an ideal way to begin my trip but at least I made it over the Andes Mountains in one piece.

    I have no idea what the road will have in store for me but today was interesting to say the least. I've got a few hours before check-out, then I'm off to the town of San Luis to stay with my next Couchsurfing host, Maria. Hopefully I have better luck with this one.


    Current Location: Mendoza, Argentina

    Harold Serrano
    Instagram: whereisharold
    #5
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  6. Where's Harold?

    Where's Harold? Adventurer

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    DAY 2

    I wouldn't say I had the best sleep ever but it wasn't the worst either. I was checked out by 8 am and went to explore around Mendoza to find a place I could exchange money. Before long it was noon and I was off to Paula's place in San Luis, an easy 4 hour drive. I was almost stranded on the side of the road when I was low on gas but luckily I made it to a gas station in time. My only problem when I arrived was that my extra helmet got lost somewhere along the way.

    Paula's place was easy to find and once I arrived we hit the ground running. We set up my room, unpacked and made it to her school to see a presentation by her students on the Day of Patriotism which happens to be today. She did not disappoint in showing me around San Luis as we hit a theatre to see a performance from some of her friends. The premise was a dance marathon where couples began to show their toxic and abusive sides, it was dark, funny, and extremely vulgar. By the time we left with the theatre company to eat my stomach was hurting from all the laughing. For the rest of the night we talked about traveling and food as we drank bottles of wine to celebrate two accomplishments: their performance and my second successful drive.

    20180526_070651.jpg Maria and I


    Day 3

    May 26th

    In the morning Paula took me to the Potrero de los Funes, a huge park where they also happen to have an F1 racetrack. After running a lap of our own on the track, we ended up at the other side where a huge beautiful lake disconnected me from everything going on even if only for a little while. It was a good place to relax with a cup filled with yerba mate; a caffeinated tea that people are obsessed over in this country. For every 5 people you see at least 3 of them have a thermos and yerba mate ready to have at a moment’s notice.

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    During the festivities of the Day of Patriotism, many eat a traditional dish called Locro. It is a thick stew made up of corn, beans, and/or potatoes. The whole day consisted of us just driving around and eating food. At the end of the day as a send off before I left in the morning I was invited to an authentic Argentine (BBQ).

    When we arrived I did not see a single bowl of rice or pasta, not even potatoes. All I saw was mouth watering blood sausage, chorizo, steak, baby beef, and a cheese called provoleta. This was an amazing meal which we washed down with wine. Now I myself am not a wine kind of guy (I'm more a beer drinker) but I was taking advantage and developing a palette for it. As the night went on we began to talk about the idea of Argentines in America and what I thought about them.

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    I told them how one of my best friends is from Argentina and how she sometimes comes off as really nationalistic/thinking they're better than the rest of Latin America. To this remark Victoria's husband agreed to a point and made clear to say why.

    "Others may have one machine that does one job, but here we have to put two machines together to make the one machine that you have"

    In other words, they are better because they have done more with less than others who have more. I was able to see that their understanding of the world but based solely on their experiences in their own country never seeing the struggle and resourcefulness of their fellow latinos.

    We lost track of time and the fact that I had a long drive ahead of me tomorrow so I rushed to say goodbye to Victoria and her husband before Paula and I went home. Next Stop Buenos Aires!


    Current Location: San Luis, Argentina
    Instagram: whereisharold
    #6
  7. danisOTR

    danisOTR Living Life on the Road Supporter

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    Listened to your story on Adventure Rider Radio. Fantastic story. Glad you are posting here.

    A man with no real plan or real experience accomplishes what others who have both a plan and experience only dream about doing.
    #7
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  8. Where's Harold?

    Where's Harold? Adventurer

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    Thank you, Brother! As I put the finishing touches on my book, I wanted to test the waters and slowly begin to share my story here with all of you seasoned travelers.
    #8
  9. Where's Harold?

    Where's Harold? Adventurer

    Joined:
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    DAY 4

    Current Location: Paula Guzman; San Luis, Argentina
    Destination: Pablo Galli; Buenos Aires, Argentina



    I left at 7am and arrived at 10 pm. How would you say this might happen? How did a 9 hour drive turn into a 15 hours? Let's start from the beginning.
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    Early bird gets the worm!!!!!


    I left Paula's bright and early, but since starting my trip I realized one thing. I made the mistake of beginning my trip in Chile during the winter which extends to Argentina, Uruguay, and the southern parts of Brazil. So each morning drive started out the same, cold temperatures combined with high speeds made for a high windchill. Numb hands and fogged visors were also synonymous, but the amazing thing is that when the sun finally does come up it's enough to make the ride turn blissful.

    The roads of Argentina are long and straight once you climb over the Andes Mountains, with flat plains as far as the eye can see and not much else to go by. There were gas stations every 150 miles which means I have to tank up before the next one if not I’ll be stranded. I began to make good headway in getting to Buenos Aires but if anything bad is bound to happen it will, thus here was when the first turd hit the fan.

    I stopped between gas stations to answer nature's call and when I hopped back on the bike the strangest thing happened. My bike's back tire was completely flat, but how? In the process of stressing over what to do now in the middle of nowhere, there was a blessing in disguise. There was a tire shop literally on the other side of the highway but only one problem; the guy who changes the bike tires just left. Rather than wait I decided to change the tire myself and use this as a teachable moment. In no time I was back in business andI learned a new skill for the road.

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    Changed my first tire!!!!!!!!

    After fixing the tire I was back to playing the tank up game at each station, when google began to sabotage my trip. Google sent me down a road that is closed during this time of the year because the highway gets overrun by a lake. So as I got back on track I hit my second rut in the road, a popped chain. Luckily as I began to fix it, some kid on a motorcycle came up to give me a hand. Now I didn't know this at the time but I had a toolbox attached to my bike which the guy pointed out. My happiness at this discovery was quickly followed by disappointment as the toolbox was empty, so him stopping was a godsend because with his tools we were able to get me back on the road and hopefully without another hitch.

    As the sun began to set the temperature began to drop again and fast. With three hours to go before I arrived in Buenos Aires I gave it all I had and was able to make it to my host Pablo's house; cold and hungry, but alive and well.

    Now when I arrived I did not expect my host to open the door with a full face of makeup. This is not enough to turn me away from his hospitality but I was intrigued. As we spoke he told me what he does for a living and invited me to his show tonight to show me what it was all about. He hosts weddings, birthdays, and this gay/lesbian bar in Buenos Aires called "KM Zero” as a drag queen. His persona Malena Concha was hilarious, from the burlesque antics to the comedy she had me dying on the floor. The show's finale had Malena slowly undressing and popping the balloon breasts to reveal Pablo and the beginning of the club festivities. The club blew up as everyone began dancing with strippers on the bar. Instead of bottle girls they had bottle boys who were friends with Pablo. At the bar I tried to buy a girl a drink, but she quickly laughed and reminded me of what kind of bar we were at. As soon as she walked away I was quickly bought a drink by some guy and after informing him of my sexual preference he called me a tease and stormed off.
    Screen Shot 2021-01-06 at 8.27.58 AM.png Screen Shot 2021-01-06 at 8.28.36 AM.png Pablo's Drag Routine.

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    KM ZERO

    We left there at about 5 am, and as soon as we got outside a couple cracked a beer bottle over the head of a man who was harassing them for kissing. I guess we left at the right time; just before the angry drunks started showing up. Pablo and I began talking about how I was a bit taken back by his makeup but how I didn’t expect to have a good time. Most straight men I know wouldn't go to a drag show let alone a gay bar as shown by some of my male friends back home texting me to never go there again, but I had a great time (10 out of 10). Tomorrow I see my friend Melissa again since she's going to be in town with her father.
    #9
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  10. SteveTheLocal

    SteveTheLocal Been here awhile Supporter

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    Different strokes different folks. Good for you! Everyone is nothing but human and deserves respect. Keep an open mind and keep on enjoying yourself regardless. Do stay safe however.
    Really enjoying your report. Thanks for writing it up..
    #10
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  11. Where's Harold?

    Where's Harold? Adventurer

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    Thanks, man. It's a little hard updating on the road but I will be updating you guys when I can.

    UNTIL THEN KEEP ON RIDING!
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  12. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Been here awhile

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    Wait, I'm a bit confused. I checked out the IG and this stuff was from a bit of earlier. Is this a delayed RR?

    Interesting stuff so far!
    #12
  13. Where's Harold?

    Where's Harold? Adventurer

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    Thanks ! Yeah, I am posting an old trip that I recently started to share with people. I am glad you are enjoying the ride!
    #13
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  14. Where's Harold?

    Where's Harold? Adventurer

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    Day 5

    Melissa and Joey showed me a great time. Seeing familiar faces in an unknown place is always a good thing. We began our day in La Boca, a neighborhood of Buenos Aires that was full of steakhouses, tango dancers, vendors, and colorful homes. There we had some wine, and chorípan (a sandwich consisting of bread and grilled sausage), which began the start of a food frenzy.

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    Melissa


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    We hit Recoleta where we managed to stumble upon the famous San Telmo street fair, which happens every week. The small kiosks offered handmade trinkets made by traveling artists as musicians played in the square. There we were hit with the same aromas and sounds as in La Boca. We walked past restaurants; each with a fire pit bigger than the next with slabs of meat just smoking all day. We finally agreed on The Bocadero; it did not disappoint. We were fed baby beef, pork chest, chorizo, french fries and grilled vegetables. Of course the meal was accompanied by beer and wine.


    We began to talk about life, and how this was the perfect time to take a trip like this. But, Melissa’s dad, Joey Urbay could tell I was a bit stressed out. He asked if I was okay, and I began to talk. I realized that in the span of just four days I had ridden over 25-hours. He could obviously see the pressure I was putting on myself to make it to every country I could. My goal since starting this trip was to visit every country by means of land travel only. But, since starting this trip I hadn’t had a chance to really breathe or relax. With all this information at his disposal, Mr. Urbay put it perfectly.

    "If you're going to be stressed out, why even travel?
    For that you can go home and at least get paid to
    be stressed. Going to every country won't mean a
    damn thing if you didn't enjoy yourself,” he said.

    He was right. With all this traveling and moving the past few days, I didn't have a chance to stop and think about how I felt, both physically and mentally. It would be better to have an amazing trip through Latin America than to spread myself thin trying to race across the globe. Thus my new goal was born; to make it home in one piece while enjoying every second of the trip.



    DAY 6 to DAY 8

    Current Location: Pablo Galli; Buenos Aires, Argentina

    Destination: Augusto Raska; Buenos Aires, Argentina

    These three days consisted of tours and some museums. The famous Recoleta cemetery was my first stop, the place where many notable people from Argentine history were buried. From the famous Eva Perón to the founder of the Argentine Navy, the cemetery is full of many interesting graves. My favorite one was the grave of the groundskeeper, who apparently saved up all his money to afford a plot in the cemetery, and once he did there was just one more thing missing…him, so he killed himself. During the tour, I noticed a familiar face, the actress who plays Melisandre from Game of Thrones. I played it cool, though; only talking to her when I got some cobwebs out of her hair.

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    Melisandre

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    The next day, I decided to go on a walking tour of Buenos Aires. This is one of the best ways to learn about the history of a city, and most of them are free. During the tour I met Ashley, a New Zealander who'd been traveling for 10 months, putting me to shame. She was a great guide, showing me the best spots to eat and drink. After a few drinks and some drawing (the bar was having a drawing night), Ashley took me to a Mundolingo meet up where people who speak different languages can mingle and meet one another. I never knew about this but it is one of the best ways to not only meet new people, but to also improve your language skills.
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    The Pink House (Argentina's White House)

    After a few days with my host Pablo, it was time to go to my next host: Augusto Raska's house, still in Buenos Aires. From the minute I arrived, Augusto was already feeding and trying to get me ready (shining my boots and ironing some clothes for me). He and his friends were taking me out tonight, and they did not disappoint. We drank and ate to my heart’s desire in a club that had food trucks inside. I danced with a beer in one hand and a burger in the other. I was finally taking it slow and enjoying myself. I ended up heading home alone since Augusto got lucky, but I had the apartment to myself; in my opinion, I was the winner!
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    Pablo and I


    On my last day in Buenos Aires, I went to the Carlos Gardel museum and the Eva Perón museum. These two people are important aspects of Buenos Aires. Carlos Gardel was known as one of the best singers to ever come out of Argentina. Eva was once the first lady, who during her time helped those in need by establishing programs, foundations, and shelters to help women and children.

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    Attached Files:

    #14
  15. Where's Harold?

    Where's Harold? Adventurer

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    DAY 9

    Current Location- Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Destination- Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay


    Once I woke up, I began to pack to take the 8-hour ride to Colonia del Sacramento, a small town in Uruguay. As the day slowly inched towards noon, I was reminded of how the temperature drops dramatically once the sun sets. So, in keeping with the stress-free mentality I decided to take the ferry. It was my reward to myself for making it this far, and you can't beat a 1-hour boat ride. It was a great decision because I ended up meeting Edgar Pineda, a black belt in Sipalkido who also happened to train military units in jungle survival and skydiving through South and Central America. As I told him about my trip, he became mesmerized, even going as far as inviting me to his home once I got to Paraguay. Oh, and get this, he was going to throw me out of an airplane. With a parachute, of course.
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    After we arrived in Uruguay, I said my goodbyes, unpacked my bike from the boat, and was off to my next host, Mariano’s house. I was really glad I took the ferry because the 15-minute ride I took after was rough. Mariano was quick to help warm me up, already ordering pizza and offering me a beer. We watched Netflix all night as we laughed and smoked. He was so welcoming that I felt I had known him for a while. He worked in the office of tourism, and said he'd show me what to see and do in this small town.
    C5A33412-714D-4CDE-A2BD-9FED1093C848.jpeg Mariano and I


    DAY 10

    I explored everything Colonia del Sacramento had to offer in less than three hours. I didn't take into account how small the town really was. Besides the old military fort and some nice views of the ocean, there really was no reason for me to stay any longer. The rest of my day consisted of me sitting by the beach just watching the sun go down as I rolled up a few joints and kicked back. I was headed back to Mariano's when I saw three motorcycles with Colombian license plates. I was going to keep on driving, but how often do you see Colombians so far away from Colombia, and on motorcycles?

    I asked what they were doing out here, to which they replied that they were traveling around South America together. They were originally 11, but now there were only 7 people left (William, Daniel P (Daniel P.), Daniel A, Sebastian P, and Andres; the other two Diego & Sebastian T (Gordo) were still in Buenos Aires). What a small world it was! Their project was called “A Dream through South America.” After informing them that I too was on a similar journey, except that I was alone, we decided to go out to eat together. At Las Tres Gracias, I had some of the best pizza since starting the trip. Their host, Pablo, made sure we didn't leave hungry by stuffing us with breadsticks, soda, beer, and some shots.

    It was than that I thought I might end up traveling with these guys for a bit. Whatever chance allowed. After a great day like this, I also thought I'd head out to Montevideo a day earlier. It's the chance encounters I had on this trip that made me feel like I was on the right path.

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    Sebastian P., Daniel A., Pablo Cuneo, Willy, Daniel P., and Andrew
    #15
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  16. Where's Harold?

    Where's Harold? Adventurer

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    I am sorry for the delays in my post guys, I am currently working on a memoir of my travels and have been swamped with work to do.
    #16
  17. danisOTR

    danisOTR Living Life on the Road Supporter

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    Good that you did this when you did. Hopefully more travels to follow. Too many of us have waited until retirement to travel as you have at a very young age.
    #17
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  18. Where's Harold?

    Where's Harold? Adventurer

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    It means a lot to hear those words of encouragement and yes, many more to come once land borders are more lax.
    #18
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  19. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Great travails, friends, drinks and doobies!
    Thanks
    #19
  20. advrockrider

    advrockrider Long timer

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    So can you fill in some details, when you started and finished, or are you still traveling? Just trying to figure out the order of events. The report is awesome and I love that you were couch surfing and meeting locals. It always amazes me when someone that's never ridden or worked on a bike just jumps in the deep end and goes for it, good for you!
    #20