Mini-Motorcycle Diaries, from a male perspective. Keep ’em coming, Tom!
Walking down the beach at dusk in Peninsula de Valdez, a bundle lay motionless in the sand. Curious, I walked up to it and found a little penguin with eyes closed. I thought it was dead, but it opened its eyes and gazed at me calmly. It didn’t look injured or afraid. I got the strong impression it was waiting for something. This little creature that lived its whole life in a colony amongst its own kind, lay all alone, waiting for death. In the next couple of days, we saw two more penguins like this one, tired, alone, chest raised to the setting sun, waiting. For your last moments of this life, at least it’s a beautiful place to go.
A few happy pictures of penguins in Tierra del Fuego and mainland Patagonia.
My brain felt like it was going to implode on the long haul from Ushuaia to Peninsula de Valdéz. The monotonous, desolate and curveless nearly two thousand kilometers of empty tundra on Ruta 3 caused near hallucinations and frequent attacks of fatigue cured only by naps along the highway and blaring ‘high quality’ pop through tinny sounding headphones. I couldn’t hear the music through the noise of the wind, so I made up words for songs, singing like a crazed maniac into the amphitheater of my helmet. “This is ground control to major Tom! Nuh nuh nuh nuuuuh nuuh nuh. This is ground control to major Tom! Dah duh deeh nuh nuh take your pills and nuh nuuuuh, tin can above the wooorld” (Thanks for keeping me awake, David Bowie).
Other times, I’d look down a long stretch of road seeking signs of life, and would see a section of the road just in front start stretching itself out in front of my eyes like I was in some kind of trippy vortex, getting further and further away while the land directly next to me rushed by, expanding infinitely into the distance. A strange trick of the landscape, or was this road actually expanding, gaining speed, like the expansion of the Universe itself? Sometimes I’d see glimmering mirages in the distance, dancing waves of fog, or clouds at the horizon that looked to be bending with the curve of the Earth.
The mind numbing ride was broken every now and then by totally unexpected wildlife in this desert like landscape. Detours took us down sandy tracks to “Loberías” and the coast, where blubbery beach bodies lay strewn along the pebbles by the hundreds.
When animals weren’t around to gawk at (or to gawk at you), we frolicked in pebble dunes, played in the sand, and generally tried to keep our bikes upright.
Finally arriving at a national reserve on the Peninsula de Valdez near Puerto Madryn, it was time to take a few days off to relax and do some bike maintenance.
As much as I loved Australia, it was time to say goodbye for a while. It was an incredible 6 months that will be in my heart for a long, long time, and I hope to return one day. A turn of events has found me home in Seattle for a brief two weeks, coming up with a new last minute 2014-oh-my-god-I’m-turning-30-adventure.
On January 1st, 2014, I’ll be landing in Santiago, Chile, where I’ll buy a motorcycle and ride to Patagonia and wherever else the wind blows me.
This isn’t exactly the Mongolia to Europe overland trip I had in the works for this June, but life is unpredictable and if you don’t have cat-like reflexes, you’ll land on your face. When life throws you a curve ball… You go buy a motorcycle in a foreign country. Right??
Maybe this trip will show people that you don’t need to spend a year planning and agonizing over the details of an adventure motorcycle ride, at least in a continent that doesn’t require Carnets. No shipping your passport off or dealing with expensive paperwork beforehand, no need to save zillions of dollars, and no need to bring your fancy BMW12,000,000. Just peruse Horizons Unlimited for a bit, buy your ticket, get a cheap bike, and off you go.
And if you don’t believe me… Well, just watch this site and maybe I’ll prove myself right. Or wrong. Either way, it’ll be an adventure, and TravelBug loves a good adventure. And what better way to survive life’s curve balls than touring South America on a 125cc mini motorbike?
Wish me luck, world.
Here’s a packing list that I’m sure is missing a few things:
Latin America Motorcycle Packing List