Yet another KLR succumbed to the Latin fever

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by igorshen, Nov 19, 2009.

  1. igorshen

    igorshen gypsy soul

    Sep 11, 2008
    Well, the photo came out completely unexpected. I didn't even see her showing V when I took the pic. Could it be that she watches too much rap videos? She was a real poser and loved being photographed. When I was trying to take a pic of her mother, she kept on jumping into the photo. I liked her mom's pic too, just kids are cuter...

    I liked her mom's relaxed attitude. I had to cut the bottom part of the picture cuz little princes wanted to be in it

    I don't even remember that ditch. Must be that the superior KLR suspension absorbed the impact :wink:

    But seriously, the beauty of a KLR is that it cannot go 70 MPH, so this would not happen to me :rofl

    I was considering KTM too but I heard about too many maintenance problems. You, on the other hand, do not seem to have any. Wanna sell your bike ?

    Good luck buddy and stay safe...

    Hey Michael,

    I'm so glad that there is some useful info in my RR for people traveling around Latin America. That was my primary objective anyways.

    I hope you got on a good boat. Those islands are so amazingly beautiful, but it can be a nightmare if you are with a bad captain.

    Good luck

    Thanks Gaston, not only did you help me a few times with local contacts, but also provided deeper insights into things that I came across.

    I thought you were nuts to drag this thing from Huachaco to Lima, let alone to put on a plane and drag all the way to Miami. You can still see fishermen work with these "boats" in Puerto Eten.

    I met some people on the road and some people here on the net. Hopefully one day we get to meet in person and may be do some riding together, especially now that you're KLR-ized :evil


    Hey Michael,

    I love Canmore. I spent quite a few xmases there. I'm jealous of you living there.

    Whenever people ask me if and why I'm traveling alone, I tell them "if I had a wife and kids, I couldn't travel." Well, you prove me wrong. How neat!

    To be honest, I do not do anything special. I have a text file which I try (but never do) to update daily. Then when I have enough material, I cut and paste it into the edit window for a new post. Then I put a cursor in between lines where I want to insert a pic, click on "insert image" icon and a new window opens prompting me for a link to the image. I use picasa and that's where I get the link. I'm not sure how you get the link from smugmug.

    Hope this helps. Good luck to you and your family on this trip!

    PS San Cristobal is an amazing place, I'm jealous again :1drink
  2. evermore

    evermore Been here awhile

    Jun 14, 2010
    San Francisco, CA
    by the way, what's your plan work wise when you're back in the states? back to 9 to 5 engineering?

    I was laid off three months ago, giving me the chance to do this trip now. I do not plan to go back to engineering (I studied mechanical engineering and materials science) when I get home...
  3. Meatn'taters

    Meatn'taters Not any more Supporter

    Sep 16, 2009
    Sonoma County, CA
    Thank you Igor - been following your journey since the beginning, and have been inspired by your courage, sense of adventure, photo skills, writing skills - the whole deal. All of it has been outstanding from my chair - loved every post. Thank you, but most of all, good luck to you whatever or wherever you choose to channel your energy. Good people that Igorshen is.
  4. SgtMarty

    SgtMarty Retired, baby!

    Apr 7, 2006
    Nice stuff, Igor. I've really enjoyed your photos and stories.
  5. Kent11

    Kent11 Adventurer

    Aug 15, 2009
    Nacogdoches, Texas

    So you put about 55k on the KLR (and it was loaded). I am wondering what was the total mileage on the bike when you sold it. (inquiring mind KLR owner...)
  6. tobeknown

    tobeknown Adventurer

    Jun 24, 2009
    Huntington Beach, CA
    I have followed your reports and photos from the beginning. Like most have said, inspiring and well done. I have some huge obstacles to conquer in order to follow my dreams of riding my KLR around the world. But its reports like yours that encourage my dreams. I have also shared your story with many adventure riders to lend encouragement. I hope when you return to S. Calif, that at some point you would be interested in getting together (I'm in Costa Mesa, CA) and sharing your experiences, dinner and drinks on me! :beer
  7. davidbrundage

    davidbrundage Been here awhile

    Mar 18, 2008
    costa mesa, ca
    igor! are you back in the states yet? my friend swears he saw you at REI in costa mesa the other night. i'm not sure where home is for you, but if you're in the area, i'd love to meet for some food and war stories; once youve settled in of course, i'm sure you're probably sick of talking about south america right now, haha
  8. igorshen

    igorshen gypsy soul

    Sep 11, 2008
    Hey fellow ex-engineer,

    I see from you report that you're about to cross Darien. Good luck with the boat ride. If you get on a decent boat, you'll have a blast.

    I have no intentions of going back to work either. I think by the time you get done with the trip, you'll meet a lot of people like us. Once you get a taste of freedom, things just don't look the same any more. I wouldn't dare to call my career a successful one, but I've met people who actually had good careers and they have no intentions of going back to the old line of work. I think I mentioned some of these people in my report, but there were more such examples. It is not easy to leave the comfort of "stable" job, insurance and all other securities we got used to. But once we cross to the other side (or get pushed over :wink: ) there is a whole new world of opportunities awaiting. Sometimes I wonder how I could have "wasted" all those years in school and at work.


    Glad to hear that you guys enjoyed the RR. Marty, in preparation for this trip, among others, I read your RR and learned quite a bit from it - thanks!

    Hey Kent,

    I actually bought that puppy with grand total of 95 miles on it. So when I sold it, it had total of about 55k miles. I rode it for about 20k miles in the US and another 35k miles on this trip.

    Oil consumption became a problem, especially at higher RPMs. But I feel that if I were to change piston rings, that bike would go for another 40-50 k miles easily. At one point, I was considering putting a new chain and just going south again, but I refrained, hehe.


    Hey there,

    I know that for most people it is very difficult to escape daily duties and commitments. I was a slave for many years myself. Sometimes, it is difficult to let go of careers, pension plans, stock options, etc. I just hope you get to ride your dream one day.

    As for food and drinks, how can I say no! Dave is also near there. So may be we can all get together if timing works out. I'll send you a PM with my email.


    Hey Dave,

    Must have been some other Frankenstein character at REI. I was doing the touristy thing in Iquitos (they have ridiculously cheap tickets from Lima to Amazon - $50 one way). I stayed in a jungle lodge for a few days fishing for piranas, playing with monkeys, sloths, macaws, different snakes, etc. I'm back to the frigid Lima and I'm flying back tonight.

    I'll send you an email when I get back behind the orange curtain. We can get together and catch up.

  9. bouldergeek

    bouldergeek Filthy, poor KLR dweeb

    Jun 30, 2008
    Palmer Station, Antarctica
    Wow, what a good RR and welcome back to El Norte! :clap

    It was such a pleasure to cross paths with you on your way. The only KLR driving I get these days is to the air conditioned office and back home. My KLR seems so shiny and clean, now, I can't believe that it was mud-bogged and peed on for six months.

    Que te vaya bien, amigo.
  10. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

    May 25, 2009
    Cincinnati, Ohio and Surprise,Arizona
    Congratulations on your safe trip.I plan to head south the first of November.Your ride report has been very helpful.
    If I recall,now that your trip is over,you were going to write a book on chains.Good luck with that.
  11. evermore

    evermore Been here awhile

    Jun 14, 2010
    San Francisco, CA
    I just arrived in Cartagena. My five day sail was uneventful, I would chalk up the Melody as a basic, crowded, but safe option for crossing. I'll work on posts once the photos are uploaded.

    I must honestly say I'm not there yet. I'm definitely worried about money at some point... and supporting the "habit", so to speak.
  12. igorshen

    igorshen gypsy soul

    Sep 11, 2008
    Hey Mike,

    So good to see you "around." I hope you got out and enjoyed this summer in the Rockies.

    I wish we were heading in the same direction and could ride a little longer in Mexico. But that night in a wine bar was ok too :freaky

    Hope to run into you again some day!


    Hehe, back to chains, huh? I might need help writing that treatise :wink:

    I need to post my "back to civilization" report first though. I promised to make a map with my favorite places.

    Well, uneventful is good in my book. I hope you got to enjoy the beautiful islands a bit. You can enjoy comforts now in Cartagena, another amazing place.

    Yeah, i hear you. I have similar worries. I just hope I can reduce my "habits."

    Cheers and ride safe

  13. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

    Mar 9, 2007
    Igor, can you give me some advice about chains? :rofl:rofl:rofl
  14. WOXOF

    WOXOF Just wander'n

    Mar 2, 2008
    Ada, MI
    you guys are cruel
  15. GastonUSAChile

    GastonUSAChile Been here awhile

    May 28, 2008

    Igor can give you the best advice. Here you have mine because I also suffer with it everyday, everynight. Never again a chain driven bike in my life. It sucks when the chain is getting to the limits of lifespan. I would buy definetly a new one and replace it by a knowledge technician. Happens that, in doing yourself for some reason affect the whell alignment ending with a weard uneven tire. (My opinion). Oiling?, keep the chain oiled as you can (600 miles at least). even less on dirt roads. To me those oil based leave a mess on the rim and everywhere else. I use the Blue can, sticky type, to me less mess and longer life.

    For some unknown reason, whenever I see another bike hanging with a beautiful chain , not oiled, but clean and shiny, mine is oiled and messy itself. Who have the answer? donooo!!!

  16. piratehood

    piratehood Trail rider, dual sport

    Feb 24, 2008
    Menifee CA
    Been following your trip since day 1 , awesome pics and write up , glad you had a safe journey , thanks for taking us along , good luck in whatever path you take in your next journey......... PH
  17. Eso Teric

    Eso Teric Been here awhile

    Jun 14, 2009
    N.E. VIC
    Thankyou Igor for that fantastic journey.

    I for one will miss your awesome pics and your witty, informative and alround excellent writing :) if you ever come to Oz let me know, would love to hear your stories and you'll have a free place to stay (with come and go as you please status because i know you hate being tied to any one place).
    There are quite a few ADV riders in this area, all of which would be very chuffed to ride with you :) your a bit of a celebrity LOL, bet you didn't figure on that heh heh.

    Whatever you end up doing, good luck and be happy :)
  18. igorshen

    igorshen gypsy soul

    Sep 11, 2008
    Hey, I've been slacking since I came back. It's no fun taking care of 10 months worth of pilled up bills and obligations. Riding the worst roads in SA, being chased by armed bandits (not that I had such an experience :D ), being cheated and hassled on streets of Cusco and dodging robbers in favelas of Rio are kindergarten type of nuisances compared to these guys (everybody from mom and pop shops to IRS wants a piece of me). I need to make that final post before I am completely swallowed. Thanks for your best wishes.


    Hey Eso,

    Thanks for your kinds words. As a matter of fact, I may go down under relatively soon. I have a cousin in Brisbane who is an avid motorcycle rider too. I'll be in Thailand by the end of this month. Then I'll start making plans for the next trip, which may well be OZ :freaky

    Thanks for the invitation and I hope to come down and meet you and the rest of the guys (I'll probably lose my "celebrity" status but it's ok :lol3 )

    If you ever go to Thailand, let me know, I'll probably get a few extra bikes for my visiting friends.

  19. igorshen

    igorshen gypsy soul

    Sep 11, 2008

    My trophy panniers

    While at times challenging, this trip was a wonderful experience and it really opened my eyes. It completely changed media-influenced ideas I had about peoples and cultures of the Latin world. I expected to have to dodge guerrillas in Colombia, to see people leaning against walls chewing coca leaves in Peru and Bolivia, to be mistreated by Chavez's police and to be robbed at least once in Salvador, Brazil. Instead I found friendly, smiling people everywhere I went. They were all more than happy to chat or to offer help to a traveler in trouble (sometimes for a fee, but most times out of goodness of their hearts).

    People often ask me what was my favorite country or place. It's a very difficult question to answer. I ate great food, drank amazing juices, saw beautiful mountains, canyons, beaches, lakes, islands, etc. But if I had to single out one aspect of this trip, that would be the people. I was really impressed with the kindness of these people. While people in the US are quite friendly, it is not so easy to find police officers or other government officials who are able to smile at work. In Europe, it's almost culturally unacceptable to smile at a stranger. Not so in the Latin world! People love to smile at complete strangers. This was definitely the favorite part for me. I also spent a lot of time observing how people interact among themselves and they all smiled, even when things were not looking so rosy. Way to go Latin world!


    I also felt very everywhere I went. I might have been just very, very lucky, but except for a few minor things missing and a few scams that I fell for, I didn't have any bad experiences. Often times I'd leave my bag with camera and lenses tied to the back with just straps while I go to a store or even a restaurant (checking the bike every now and then). Most times my helmet was just hanging off the mirror. Locals were warning me about it, but nobody ever messed with it.

    As for the things missing, once I parked bike overnight in Chile and someone took a wristwatch that I had wrapped around the handlebar. The only other thing that was missing from the bike was a luggage mesh when I parked the bike in downtown Manaus while walking around at night. On another occasion, kids took a wristwatch off my backpack that I hung on the wall while changing a tire in Sucre. These are cheap things and in grand scheme of things the loss amounts to nothing. In my opinion, $20-30 is not worth my constant worry and guard.

    As for the important belongings, I was more careful. Had I lost the camera, it would have hurt more, but still, it wouldn't have meant the end of the world. Had my passport, title, credit cards, traveler's checks or cash been stolen, it would have been a bigger headache. I always kept those items on me, very close to my body. There was virtually no way for someone to get my documents and/or cash without pointing a gun into my face. Some people feel safer to leave their valuables at the hotel, in the room or in the panniers. I guess it's a matter of personal preference.

    Because I carry all important documents/money on me, I try to be acutely aware of my surroundings. If things look suspicious, I leave the area. If suspicious characters get within 10-20 m of me, I cross the street or head for an area with more people around. Most importantly, I make an eye contact with all the people who are looking at me. It is very easy to spot the one person looking at me in a crowd of hundreds of people. That's the person I have to watch out for. I got this advice from a friend who had lived in Cape Town for many, many years without being robbed one single time.

    As for safety on the road, riding is dangerous and I had my share of close calls. The danger is probably more due to the inherent dangers of riding a motorcycle in general, rather than riding it in South America. Still, rules of the road are slightly different, there are animals on the road, unmarked obstacles and sometimes aggressive/careless/homicidal drivers. So it pays off to be extra defensive. On the other hand, I feel that many local drivers are extra courteous to us (foreign riders). I had many drivers give me the right of way even when I didn't have it, slowed down for me to make sure I was safe, etc.

    I had only two cops start a conversation in the direction of asking for money, but they gave up before actually mentioning the money. Many of the riders who rode near Lima had been asked for money. I rode in and out of Lima on 5-6 different occasions and even when they stopped me, they just wanted to see my papers. I was either very, very lucky, or there was something repulsive about me and my KLR. May be the cops just felt sorry for me riding that beat up, never-washed bike. Once again, in grand scheme of things, even for people who were asked for money and who paid some bribe it was a miniscule amount compared to other expenses.

    Below is the list of most memorable things from this trip. It is obviously my personal taste and it is not necessarily an unreserved recommendation for others.

    Map of the route with favorite places/roads is here.

    Favorite stays:
    Camping outside Palenque ruins, Mexico
    Guesthouse in Suchitoto, El Salvador
    Wild camping in Grand Sabana, Venezuela
    Hostal Mama Hilda in Chugchilan, Ecuador
    Beach-front Cabana in Las Tunas, Ecuador
    Hospedaje in Puerto Eten, Peru
    Wild camping in Paracas National Reserve, Peru
    Camping in Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
    Hostal Bellavista in Valparaiso, Chile
    Tabuleiro Hostel, Brazil
    Alter do Chao, Brazil
    Hostal Amazonas, Manaus, Brazil
    Wild camping by Rio Maranon
    Los Pinos Lodge in Caraz, Peru​

    Favorite drinks:
    Lulu (Naranjilla) juice, Colombia and Ecuador
    Passion Fruit juice, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Brazil
    Canolazo in Quito, Ecuador
    Wine in Argentina and Chile
    Acai in Brazil ​

    Favorite eats:
    Tacos El Pastor in San Cristobal de las Casas
    Quesadillla con adobo near the Guatemalan border, Mexico
    Empanadas by the ferry in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela
    Stuffed potatoes in Grand Sabana, Venezuela
    Cebiches in Lima, Peru
    Churrillana in Santiago, Chile
    Parillada in Buenos Aires
    Churrascarias in Brazil ​

    Favorite roads:
    Road to Gonzaga Bay, Baja, Mexico (rough dirt)
    Coastal ride between Cabo San Lucas and La Paz, Baja, Mexico
    Espinazo del Diablo from Mazatlan to Durango, Mexico
    Mountain road between Veracruz and Oaxaca, Mexico
    Mountain road between Oaxaca and Puerto Escondido, Mexico
    Jungle road between San Cristobal and Palenque, Mexico
    Grand Sabana road, Venezuela
    Road between Bogota and Medellin
    Road to Manizales, Colombia
    Quilotoa loop road, Ecuador
    Road from Quito to Oriente, Ecuador
    All roads going deep into and over the Cordillera Blanca, Peru
    The road along and into Cordillera Real, Bolivia
    BR-101 between Santos and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    BR-319 from Manaus to Humaita
    Dirt road from Chachapoyas to Celendin, Peru​

    Favorite sights:
    View of Guanajuato from El Pipila
    View from atop the pass between Veracruz and Oaxaca, Mexico
    View of volcanoes surrounding lake Atitlan, Guatemala
    View of lake Peten Itza, Guatemala
    View of crater lake in Cero Verde, El Savador
    San Blas islands, Panama
    View from the crest above Caracas, Venezuela
    Cordillera Blanca, Peru
    Cordillera Real, Bolivia
    Salar de Uyuni at sunset, Bolivia
    Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    Pao do Asucar, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    Poco Azul, Chapada Diamantina, Brazil
    Sunset over Amazon​

    Favorite towns:
    San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
    Guanajuato, Mexico
    San Cristobal De Las Casas, Mexico
    Antigua, Guatemala
    Granada, Nicaragua
    Cartagena, Colombia
    Medellin, Colombia
    Lima, Peru
    Cusco, Peru
    Valparaiso/Vina del Mar, Chile
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    Salvador, Brazil
    Caraz, Peru​

    I will miss:
    Venezuelan gas prices
    Riding without any regard for traffic rules
    Tropical fruits and juices
    Fresh air of Andean highlands
    Comfortable posadas in out-of-the-way places
    Argentinian beef
    Cheap and good wine of Chile and Argentina
    Friendly and outgoing Brazilians​

    I will NOT miss:
    Incessant hoking by taxi drivers
    Loud, distorted music coming out of broken-down boom boxes
    Sleeping in hostels and dirty hotels above bars
    Being sprayed by the toilet discharge from the bus in front
    Relentless street vendors and hawkers offering me everything imaginable
    People stepping right in front of me and blocking my way
    Being choked by dust on dirt roads ​

    I wished I had brought on the trip with me:
    Tiny photo printer to give something to people I take pictures of/with
    Better quality gear (rain gear, backpack, boots, etc)
    Non-vista computer (vista has a problem with many wireless networks)
    Warmer sleeping bag
    External camera flash (may be)
    Good waterproof rain gear
    High windshield
    Ultra-heavy duty rear tube​

    Places I wish I had visited:
    Ruta Austral, Chile
    Lake District, Argentina
    Brazilian NE coast​

    Number of:
    Miles ridden ....................................................................about 35 k
    Flat tires...........................................................................4 (from the same nail)
    Tires changed...................................................................3F/5R
    Chains changed................................................................3
    Mechanical break-downs.................................................3
    Falls..................................................................................many at walking speed
    Close calls........................................................................6 (3 serious ones)
    Stomach problems...........................................................5 (1 really bad)
    Days ridden in rain...........................................................9
    Border crossings...............................................................21
    Ferry rides........................................................................24
    Encounters with cops asking for money...........................0
    Dollars spent ….................................................................average $1200-1300 per month​

    Thank you all for the virtual company and advices/help. Best wishes to all current and future riders ! :1drink


  20. LumpyOne

    LumpyOne Been here awhile

    Nov 3, 2009
    I have been with you from the start and already miss the posts, pictures and your humor on a weekly basis. I am starting from the begining and going to re-read the entire report trying to pay closer attention to the pictures and locations to write down notes for a future ride. We wish you well on your future adventures and RR's! Thailand sure sounds like fun!:D