Showing posts from May, 2010

End of the Ride

I suppose everybody is wondering what is going on.  The engine is full of iron filings from the trashed cam follower, so the best option is to ship it home.  I was planning to return in June anyway, and I am pretty far away.  I spent a bit of time spinning my wheels, getting nowhere.  Chilean Spanish is very difficult to understand for me, and they don't understand my limited Spanish either.  I was trying to find a shipping agent, but that was not working  out.  Finally I tried the obvious, contact the local airline.  Turns out that their web site even says they ship motorcycles, duh. They charge by the kilo, they don't care how many pieces there are, but they don't want anything to be heavier than 170 Kilos, which is why the engine is out.  My manual says that the bike weighs 150 kg, so it would have been close, but with the engine out it should be no problem.  It had to come out anyway, so I have a head start on that chore.  The local bike shop donated the crate, whi


Well I have determined what the problem is.  You are looking at the underside of the valve cover, in the middle is one good cam roller follower on the right, on the left is one that no longer rolls.  The overall effect are intake valves that do not open as far as they should, causing power loss.  I am sure it is just a coincidence, but it seems that every time I enter a new country they have a national holiday.  Chile was celebrating Glorias Navales on friday, and everything was cerrado (closed). There is a good bike shop here, but of course they were cerrado as well.  Saturday morning they were open, and there was another KTM in there.  A good sign.  They tried to get hold of the KTM dealer in Chile, but he is cerrado till lunes (monday).  So Calama will be my home for a few days while I arrange to have parts shipped. Glorias Navales celebrates a naval battle where Chile got their butt kicked by Peru, however that loss inspired Chile to win the war.  Calama belonged to Bo

It just gets better and effin better;

So there was no way I was going to stay in San Pedro, who's sole purpose in this universe is to separate stupid but rich tourists from their money.   The bike was running, albeit at moped velocities.  The next town is Calamas, 100 km of desert away.  So I load up and head out of San Pedro.  Before leaving, I checked the fuel and I could see nothing wrong with it, no water, no dirt.   About 20 km out I came across a big parking area beside the road, looked like a good place to do a carb overhaul, and I was getting tired of crawling along at 23 kmh, so I pulled in and pulled off the carb.  I could see nothing obviously wrong, so I put it together again.  No joy, everything still the same.  Then I got about 100 meters farther down the road when my rear tire decided to go flat. Good thing I was carrying a spare tube, so out with the bad and in with the good. It took me most of the day to get to Calamas.  It was definitely the right thing to do, as Calamas is a great place to stay

More Misadventures

Well I made it to Chile, just.  I am stuck in a tourist trap, San Pedro, about 170 km into Chile.  This is where the Chilean customs and immigration is, 170 km from the Argentina border.  To get here I had to cross over a 4,400 meter pass (14,400 feet).  Snow at the top, and a bike that would not go faster than 21 kmh up hill, and it was up hill most of the way.  I think I got bad gas, but I don't know for sure. I will have to find out tomorrow, as it was getting dark when I got here.  (It is not the altitude, if some of you moto techies were thinking that, as the KTM has managed this altitude before.) There was nothing but rocks and sand and snow, between the border and here, and hardly any traffic.  I did not want to stop so long as the bike was running, as I was not sure it would start again.  As it turned out, I found that it will start and run up to about 4000 RPM when I finally stopped at the aduana and migracion to get my documents in order to be in Chile. Meanwhile her

Out of the mud, but still no decent internet connection

This will be a post without pictures.  I was stuck in Lomitas till this AM but now I am in sunny Juyjuy Argentina  and if all goes well, Chile tomorrow. It was sunny and warm when I left Uruguay, as it turned out there was a bridge, so no boat crossing.  That night I stopped in Fontana, a tiny town in Argentina´s Formosa province.  The land is flat, marshy and covered with low bushes and mosquitos.  It looks as if it was once farmland, but not anymore.  Fontana looks like it is heading for ghost town status, empty buildings some of them falling down.  I asked where the hotel was, and a kind person led me there.  There is no sign on it to indicate it is a hotel.  This turned out to be typical for this area.  I got a nice room but very basic. The next morning it was pissing down rain, but I figured what the heck, I will just keep riding until I am out of it.  It only took about 20 km to realize I had made a big mistake. My Jacket and gloves work good in light rain, but this downpour was

Email update from Argentina

In case any one was wondering, I am fine and in Las Lomitas Argentina waiting for the rain to stop. This is a *very* small (and wet) town, but I have a dry place to stay, more later;


Asuncion is another post apocalyptic South American city.  It is evident that at one time there was a lot more prosperity here than there seems to be now.  The town is dominated by tall buildings that I am guessing were built in the 1970's that now look worse for wear.  I am seeing a lot of homeless children sleeping in the streets.  I also see the most expensive cars I have seen in South America, lots of new Mercedes and the latest in SUVs.  According to wikipedia, Paraguay has a developing economy, but that to me, is a very misleading statement.  Asuncion, like most other large South American cities will be celebrating its 500th birthday in about 27 years.  The land is more populated than either the US or Canada, and in many ways more civilized.  Asuncion and the other large cities in South America are more over developed than underdeveloped.  There is a lesson here, but I am not sure what it is, but I can't help but feeling that we Norte Americanos are travelling down a

One Day in Paraguay

As I reluctantly leave Brazil for Paraguay, according to my guidebook, the most corrupt nation this side of Africa, it is foggy, but looks to be a warm sunny day.  Yesterday and today I am riding through more forest and less field.  There is always something to look at and photograph.  The forest is, according to my guidebook, 'sub tropical', hardwood, with the odd banana tree, there is a lumber industry here, and I see the first wooden houses since leaving the US. Portuguese still has its challenges, which little door would you choose? Plan Alta, where I stayed overnight in a 20 Real Hotel (~12 bux) is only about 170 km from the Paraguay border at Foz du Iguacu.  I was a bit nervous about Paraguay, given its reputation.  The border is a large river, Rio Paraguay natch, which flows into the Rio Plata and the ocean.   I have to check out of Brazil, get my exit stamp on my passport and hand over my temporary import certificate for the moto.  This is all pretty much up to me,

Rio Grande do Sul

It rained all day today, but I was warm and dry thanks to my rain gear.  It is very beautiful open country here, but the rain makes it hard to take any pictures.  I got lucky with this one, I had just pulled off during a brief respite from the rain when these gauchos appeared on the hill above the road.   This cat below I saw in downtown Cruz Alta, where I am overnighting, so he might be a 'farmacia gaucho', or not, apparently to be a gaucho in South America is not as romantic as being a cowboy in AB, according to wikipedia, gauchos are considered by many South Americans to be a troublesome pain in the.., which come to think of it, could also apply to cowboys back home. Guachos are famous for consuming mate, a collection of herbs that may consist of coca leaves among others, ground up and put in a pot with hot water, like tea, except that mate pot is filled to the top with the green stuff.  The mixture is consumed through a metal straw that has a filter thingy at the bottom

No speekee portugee

 This is my view heading north in the morning, the sun will be in my eyes until I cross the equator again.  Surprisingly, it is not at all disorienting to have the sun on the wrong side of the sky.  It heads up that way every summer in Edmonton, that must be why I don't find it strange.   The border crossing at Acegua was great.  here I am getting my oficial welcome from the Brazilian Police, so far the only Brazilians I met who speak English.  They were pretty chuffed about me being from Canada, the head guy on (on the left) wanted to take my picture with his camera, "Make sure  to get the license plate,",  I was worried it was going to end  up in all the Brazilian Post Offices, but no, he wanted it for himself.  So I handed over my camera to the oficial police photographer designate and got a pic of me as well.  There are no barriers or anything looking like a border in Acegua, so I actually drove into Brazil had breakfast and coffee before I found out I was in Braz

Election night in Melo

Another Sunday election, this time in Melo, Uruguay, about 70 km from the Brazilian 'frontera'.  There were other elections as well, Maldonado was having one too.   They don't shut down the road through town here, but judging by the excitement, elections are an important sport, the level of excitement and activity outside my window is about the same as an Oilers playoff game in Edmonton, flags on vehicles, horn honking, everybody doing loops down the main drag on their unmuffled motos.  I think they are local elections (intendente, whatever that is). This part of Uruguay is cow country, and Melo is a typical cow town.  Here cowboys are gauchos, they look the same, drive pick up trucks and drink Mate. A young guy stops to admire El KTM in Maldonado tells me his girlfriend is from Calgary, bet she's a cowgirl too.   Uruguay is also 'big sky country' south. Rolling hills, cows, high clouds, and dusty little towns, hard to believe that just a few hours away I w

Uruguay blows me away

If you are 'a man (or woman) of wealth and taste' do not go to Uruguay, because if you do you will never want to leave.  If I had to describe the Uruguay I have seen so far with only one word, it would be 'manicured'.  The cities and towns look like what would be wealthy suburbs in North America, and the countryside looks like a well groomed park. I am on the east coast, which is a major resort area for the rest of Latin America and Europe.  Apparently the only Canadians who frequent Uruguay are Quebecois.  "Non, je ne parle mucho Francais either, gracias very much."  As it is the beginning of what passes for winter in a place where palm trees grow outside, the resorts are pretty quiet, which is nice for me, as I pretty much have the place to myself. Atlantida looks like it fell out of a "Leave it to Beaver" episode, the architecture appears to have involved actual Architects, who seem to nearly outnumber Lawyers and Doctors.  The house style i

Go North Old Man

This morning I woke up to rain and about 10 degrees C.  It really is fall in every sense here.  My bags were packed, all I had to do was swing by the Embajada de Paraguay, pick up my visa and passport and find the ferry to Uruguay. The previous night Marcello from Informoto interviewed me for his  revista, an Argentine moto mag. I had sent them an email after I picked up the magazine at a newstand. Marcello's English is better than my Spanish which was good for both of us.  I asked him to send me a copy when if the interview is printed.   Fun. No problems with the ferry, other than finding it.  Did I mention that Buenos Aires is huge?  Trying to find anything is a chore despite well marked streets laid out in a grid pattern, it's the diagonals that get me.  Fortunately for lost Gringos, a much larger proportion of people in BA speak English than most other places I have been except maybe Colombia.   The ferry ride is about one hour and takes me to Colonia.  This was the