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  #76  
Old 15 Jan 2010
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awesome, as usual, S.V.

I can't wait to get your new book. Thanks for taking the time to post up the photos and write up. Always love your stories. You make it seem easy for the everyman to.
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  #77  
Old 25 Jan 2010
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awesome, as usual, S.V.
Always love your stories. You make it seem easy for the everyman to.
Thanks amigo. These journeys are not as difficult as they seem at first--just take it one day at a time and don't be in a hurry. The adventure begins when things stop going as planned.
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  #78  
Old 17 Feb 2010
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Tanzania!

With its sharp rise in socioeconomic status from Malawi, eastern Tanzanian countryside became a worthy distraction bursting alive in vivid natural colors and wild animal life. From a half-mile away, women were easily visible, reflecting sunlight off soft cotton fabrics of brilliant ruby reds and dandelion yellows coming into focus from distant blurs across the canvas of African savanna earth-tones.




















With dozens of major game parks throughout Africa, all prohibit motorcycles except Mikumi, the only one with a highway passing through.



In a scene out of Star Wars, silhouetted against the pale blue glow of an early sunrise sky, towering, long-necked giraffes paused to consider the intruder. Once violating their safety zone, a half dozen magnificent spotted beasts casually stepped across the meadow into graceful slow-motion strides, vanishing into forests of Camel Thorn Trees.



Animals accustomed to the rolling thunder of speeding diesel rigs panic at the sight of any slowing vehicle. Even when cutting the engine to coast in silence, herds of grazing gazelles with sweptback corkscrew horns immediately bolted in methodic sprints for the security of faraway tree-lines.



With hairless pink butts thrust high in the air, roving families of arrogant baboons sauntered fearlessly back and forth across the road. Roguish creatures known for unpredictable behavior, they are a force to reckon with. Sinister dog-like faces baring sharp curved fangs confirmed warnings that close-up encounters could go either way.


Curious, black and white striped zebras grazed in nearby fields but always at safe distances, warily eying a two-legged trespasser on a shiny rumbling machine. After spooked into short dusty gallops, they stopped to return my gawking amazement.



Every hundred yards, more wildlife scenes commanded a halt, yielding either to trumpeting bull elephants trampling highway shoulder grasslands or wondering at the groan and growling from within quivering underbrush.



Back in the cities.


Nearing the eastern coast, traditional Islamic garb replaced Western pants and button down shirts for all but Africa’s most noble tribesmen.



Evidence of past invading cultures contrasts with traditional Masai, erect in royal postures clutching trademark long-handle herding sticks. Tall and thin with beanpole legs sprouting from beneath baggy Roman-style tunics, these princely, jungle warriors now contend with tourism and twenty-first century technology while battling to survive government relocation plans.

















Between pressing cellular telephones against gaping, pierced earlobes and controlling vast herds of cattle, they hold an eye to maximize any circumstance.



All my suspicions are confirmed—this mighty landmass is more a separate universe than just another continent. With a day left before Christmas, a mesmerizing plunge into Africa continues in an evolving alternate saga a million years old.
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  #79  
Old 21 Feb 2010
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Glen,

Great job on One More Day. The book is a great read and your posts on this site are a great complement to the limited space of a book. I spend most of my time on here just reading since I've not created my opportunity for a global or even continental ride yet.

I have a good friend with a 650 Dakar and I also find that it is a great bike. I'm still a KLR guy though.

Keep up the great work and stay safe down in Mexico. I hope to head down there again soon, my previous trip was confined to Baja. I must say, after three weeks on the road, all I wanted was more. I absolutely love the Mexican People and culture. Your repeated observations of the worlds poorest people being the most open and giving mirror my own. I spent many years in developing countries while in the military and was fortunate that I had many opportunities to experience life as the locals lived rather than being isolated as a tourist. I fell in love with Micronesia and the wonderful people there. I lived on the small island of Yap for about a year as a member of a 13 person military team that was basically the military equivalent of the Peace Corps. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Thanks for sharing your adventures with all us armchair adventurers.
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  #80  
Old 1 Mar 2010
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Glen,

Great job on One More Day. The book is a great read and your posts on this site are a great complement to the limited space of a book. I spend most of my time on here just reading since I've not created my opportunity for a global or even continental ride yet.

I have a good friend with a 650 Dakar and I also find that it is a great bike. I'm still a KLR guy though.

Keep up the great work and stay safe down in Mexico. I hope to head down there again soon, my previous trip was confined to Baja. I must say, after three weeks on the road, all I wanted was more. I absolutely love the Mexican People and culture. Your repeated observations of the worlds poorest people being the most open and giving mirror my own. I spent many years in developing countries while in the military and was fortunate that I had many opportunities to experience life as the locals lived rather than being isolated as a tourist. I fell in love with Micronesia and the wonderful people there. I lived on the small island of Yap for about a year as a member of a 13 person military team that was basically the military equivalent of the Peace Corps. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Thanks for sharing your adventures with all us armchair adventurers.
And thanks to you too amigo. It is interesting to note the common discovery by overland travelers throughout the developing world--it's often those with the least who share the most. What does this tell us about ourselves?
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  #81  
Old 10 Mar 2010
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And thanks to you too amigo. It is interesting to note the common discovery by overland travelers throughout the developing world--it's often those with the least who share the most. What does this tell us about ourselves?
Very interesting statement, really makes one stop and think ! And if not it should ! Glen thanks so much for the incredible posts and photos, you are a
talented traveller, writer and photographer

Steve
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  #82  
Old 20 May 2010
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Zigzagging Africa

Ali Hussein December 24
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

After visiting a few mostly white enclaves and small African towns, Dar es Salaam was my first predominately-black, major city heading north. Aside from decaying old European-era buildings, because there is not much to see, the drab capital of Tanzania serves mainly as a commercial center and transit point for tourists visiting the offshore islands of Zanzibar.



A small contingent of foreign aid workers and businessmen are hardly noticed alongside African born Indians busy managing hotels and stores. From dusty, congested street-markets to grimy corner cafés, Dar es Salaam has become pure African with little Western influence and no Western franchises. In matters of race, it’s a reversal of roles now being a minority judged by a suspicious majority.

But passive Tanzanians lead simple lives and don’t require overbearing authority to keep order. Except for scattered unarmed men in worn-out, blue polyester uniforms directing traffic, it’s hard to find a cop.



With rougher edges than villagers, city folk are always harder to approach, but even when idle young men stand staring from street corners, most are happy to talk if acknowledged properly. Swahili was easier to learn than I first thought and like everywhere, greeting in native language buys instant acceptance and conversation. “Jambo! Haguri gani? Jina langu ni Glen. Nimekuja kutoka amerce kuku tembelea” Hello, how are you? My name is Glen and I’ve come from America to visit you.



By five o’clock, I had made my first Tanzanian friend, a tall, heavy-set motorcyclist, who, although a third generation Indian, considers himself African. Preparing to meet his family for dinner, the unshaven Ali Hussein was closing his motorcycle workshop when struck with an unexpected vagabond’s wish-list for repairs. Shiite Muslims are strict family men and staying late to work on some distressed foreigner’s faltering bike was the last thing on his mind. But once hearing my situation, he offered, “Since you are traveling such a long way, me and my men will work tonight.” But wrenching in the dark leads to errors and lost parts so we agreed to wait until sunrise.

In the morning, uncomfortable with his non-English speaking crew, when an overly concerned Ali Hussein suggested disassembling the entire drive section for inspection and cleaning, I argued that the rest of the motorcycle was fine and all that was necessary was to unbolt the rear swing arm to replace a worn chain and sprockets—a one-hour job with the correct tools. Fluent in Swahili, Hussein turned, yelling words to his men that made them laugh aloud.

Curious as to the joke, I asked, “What’s so funny?”

“I told them that you are afraid of their skin.”

Embarrassed because he was right, I tried to deny it, “No that’s not it, I just prefer not to take things apart unless absolutely necessary. You never know what can break or get misplaced in the process.”—Still, the truth was, I foolishly questioned their competency because they weren’t Germans in white smocks.

“You worry that they won’t remember how to put it all back together?”--more comments and more laughter.

But Hussein is forceful and to my dismay, wins our debate, directing two young black men with callused feet, to disassemble the suspension mechanical arms for further inspection.



An hour later they handed me two sets of rusted bearings—the same ones we had just replaced in Borneo.



After riding the washed-away coast near Banda Aceh, saltwater from low-tide beach-runs had leaked past protective rubber seals, corroding hardened steal balls and needles designed to spin free. Had this damage gone unnoticed, they would have disintegrated and left me stranded on the most rugged section ahead in Africa.

Hussein continued, “See, you don’t have to worry about my workers, they know their job.” Thirty minutes later, a winded errand boy returned with new bearings and fresh oil while another prepared a homemade arc welder to remove a stripped-out drain plug.



Annoyed at my constantly questioning each maneuver, Hussein takes me by the arm, “Come, let’s get out of their way so they can make everything new for our traveling brother. You need to see my empire”

Importing a dozen shipping containers a month, except for South Africa, Ali is the largest motorcycle parts distributor on the continent. This will be good news for Internet linked international riders who until now, have been unaware of his presence. In a Developing Country with limited industrial base, I am amazed to see a warehouse stocked with hundreds of tires and engine re-build kits. Yet skilled labor remained questionable.
A one-hour chain and sprocket swap had turned into eight with a lengthy list of replaced parts, but by the end of the day, a minor job turned major repair was complete. Preparing for the worst, my meek request for the bill was met by Hussein’s stern gaze. “There is no bill for you. My shop is absorbing the entire cost for our traveling brother.”

And he wasn’t listening to steady objections—even when insisting that I at least pay for parts only made him angry. “I have made up my mind, this is between Allah and me.”

Convinced of his determination, I made a final demand. “Okay but I’m taking you to dinner.”

Every big city has good restaurants but for travelers to find them unassisted requires extensive exploring with more misses than hits. Hussein knows of the best, where only black Africans go to eat. In north Dar es Salaam, an empty block normally jammed in daytime traffic becomes a nighttime bazaar of street barbeque kitchens and temporary dining rooms of uneven wooden tables and flimsy plastic chairs. Hussein is well-known among crowds of jabbering patrons—even cooks and waiters shouted back and forth as we approached.

At first, ordering food was awkward as he issued commands to the cook without asking me what I wanted. With fierce expressions and aggressive verbal exchanges, both men dickered as though in serious confrontation about to turn violent. Suddenly, each was laughing and clasping hands while shirtless waiters in baggy shorts set down huge platters of sizzling lamb and chicken. Hussein translates. “I told them that this is my motorcycling brother who knows Judo and if the food is not good, he will kick your ass.” When the bill arrived for far more than two men could eat and drink, the scribbled numbers on a piece of torn paper only amounted to a fraction of a tourist area price.

Two days accompanying Hussein on his daily rounds of slapping countertops while shouting negotiations ending in laughter, was a fascinating side-journey into the business culture of Dar es Salaam. Even the briefest glimpses into the lives of those in distant lands are the ultimate prize of adventure travel.

But the sourest moment of this unforeseen detour neared and after reminding Hussein of the sacred coin he promised, the time had come to say goodbye. As he closed his eyes reciting an ancient Shiite prayer, a hundred-shilling Tanzanian coin carefully folded in a printed handkerchief became a belief from the both of us that continued safety lay ahead. “When you reach Ethiopia, you must stop and give this coin to a poor man and Allah will guide you the rest of the way.” As he shuffled his feet while looking down, I noted that Hussein also disliked goodbyes. With two sets of watery eyes, we touched cheeks Muslim-style with an enormous American bear hug. Tomorrow is Christmas and a long ride toward the northern plains of Serengeti.

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Last edited by strikingviking; 2 Mar 2012 at 16:37.
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  #83  
Old 9 Jun 2010
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Great Book

Just wanted to tell you that I just finished your latest book and really enjoyed it. Do you have plans for another in the making?
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  #84  
Old 20 Jun 2010
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Just wanted to tell you that I just finished your latest book and really enjoyed it. Do you have plans for another in the making?
We are close to inking a deal for a moto-adventure travel show for Nat Geo which should begin filming soon. It's not exactly what I wanted to do but we are still dialing in the details. Keep your fingers crossed and stay tuned.
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  #85  
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  #86  
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When it Rains, it Pours
January 5,
Northern Kenya



Guidebooks are correct when claiming the beaten path terminates in Northern Kenya. Since first entering South Africa, except for riding smooth graded tracks the length of Namibia and a few subsequent, intentional dirt detours, all roads have been lightly used, smooth flowing asphalt that wound through lush tropical jungles or spectacular desolate plains. As all good things come to an end, a wanderer’s pleasing dream has just concluded at the equator.



In Africa, crummy food doesn’t matter, vagabonds don’t eat for pleasure or even health, only to minimize hunger. Up until now, meals and accommodation had been understandable, though unsuccessful attempts at Western standards---yet at the frontier town of Isiolo, Africa abruptly turned bare-bones-basic, reverting to a sandy meshing of old and ancient.


In the animated jabber of a garbage-strewn market, arriving in Isiolo was a return to Islam with colorful veil-shrouded women bartering with Masai tribes-people for withered fruits and vegetables. A sundown visit to the town center mosque yielded questioning from worshippers after prayers.

“You don’t worry when traveling so far alone?”

“Why should I? Allah protects me.”

“Ah, so you are Muslim?”

“No, but Allah still blesses my journey and keeps me safe.”

“So if you believe in Allah, you must become Muslim.”

“Maybe, but I’ll hold off making decisions until returning to my home.”

“All right, but in the meantime remember that Allah protects us all.”

With a hard day ahead, just before dawn, imagining the misery of riding in a dust storm of commercial trucks in convoy, I skirted the final military checkpoint requiring foreigners to travel under guard. As the last chance for supplies and fuel drifted by in a reluctant haze, a starker image of Africa emerged.



Fashion statements became blade scarred faces above elaborately beaded neck disks and pierced bodies against deep midnight skin so black it was almost blue.





Walking sticks morphed into bows and arrows as wary herdsman stopped to eye a trespasser traversing a parched and drought stricken land. If disregarding a long pale strip of mangled dirt track, this was an evolutionary step back into primordial survival, with nature prevailing. Everyone is thirsty. Only a single river contained enough shallow pools of trickling water to supply scattered villages for twenty miles. The rest were dried sandy creek-beds with stooping women digging barehanded in fruitless searches for traces of underground streams--and as a two-year drought continues, there was little left to find.



During unpredictable bursts of desert struggles, there is no backup plan, just faltering beliefs that when masses begin to die, a world community will again, send more aid. Africa is a cruel and unrepentant provider that challenges humanity to contend with its whims. But as the newest species on the planet, only man considers himself a higher form more deserving to live.




Other than indigenous natives, the empty, rocky desert is only traveled by occasional caravans of aid workers, and the odd, determined adventurer transiting from Cairo to Cape Town.



There is no other reason to pass through an environment so hostile to life. Armed soldiers may fend off roving bandits and murderous warlords but there is nothing to protect even the hardest tires from slices and punctures punched by razor edged volcanic rock.



Directly after re-securing a gushing high-pressure fuel line, a dreaded rear-end sway signaled the first flat tire of the day. There may be only four hundred miles to the southern border of Ethiopia, where a paved road leads direct to Addis Ababa, but wretched conditions stretch that into a miserable three-day event. Severe washboard turning unexpected soft sand and back, to deep gullies of fist-sized stones defy even the best of suspensions--but since mine was rebuilt ten thousand miles ago, hard rubber seals should have weathered the strain. They did not.




Mind-numbing jarring and bucking was so intense that more gas spilled through the tank breather-vents than was burned by the engine. Even sloshing battery water slapped high enough to drip from an overflow tube. And that was the good news. Normally when shock absorber fluid begins seeping past worn seals, lack of oil shouldn’t cause a compression lockdown. Treated liquids and pressurized gases regulate rebound action and without them, handling deteriorates into a tolerable, bouncing, pogo-stick ride. Although a blown shock should not remain compressed, mine did, resulting in zero vertical travel to relieve explosive jolting from a jagged road. And that guarded convoy so carefully avoided, was several hours ahead.



Even at ten miles per hour, vertical forces generated were difficult to endure with the rear section kicking up and slamming back down. Ridges on a deep-cut washboard surface turned spine-snapping slaps equally destructive to metal frame welds. With nothing but thorn-tree desert ahead, the only solution was a ten-mile retreat to relieving shade of the last tribal outpost, with a hope that the natives were friendly.

Competing for resources in the midst of a drought, water is too scarce for washing. Barefoot in filthy ragged Western clothes, Muslim Kenyans coexist in détente with spear toting Masai tribesmen festooned in sparkling metal trinkets. Only a few offered greetings. Language barriers kept most from understanding each other but the message resonated, one angry woman did not want a foreigner to linger. Her reasoning was valid. In a robbery-plagued region, I could draw unwanted attention and they had no protection against marauders with guns. Absent governing authority or troops to keep order, violence and murder is the law of the land. Cattle rustling and cross-border reprisal raids have resulted in retaliatory slaughters of entire villages.



And a traveler in their midst was a legitimate concern considering news of a treasure-laden American could draw roving cutthroat Somali bandits eager to pillage his precious cargo. In a heated exchange of English and Swahili, a verdict was returned that the alien be sent on his way. And who can blame them? Why should they fret for the plight of white man with more riches in his wallet than they earn in a year? Still, it was early evening and after a long hard negotiation, my desperate plea for sleep was considered. A simple bribe of four hundred shillings was sufficient incentive to conceal my bike in a straw hut and allow a four-hour rest, if promising to be gone by midnight.
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  #87  
Old 9 Sep 2010
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Reading your book now and coincidentally came across this thread. Nice to getter a better visualization as to what you experience(d).
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  #88  
Old 11 Mar 2011
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Reading your book now and coincidentally came across this thread. Nice to getter a better visualization as to what you experience(d).
Thanks amigo. You can find all of the photos I uploaded while on the road by clicking here.
All the best,
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  #89  
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Any updates on the NatGeo project mentioned earlier in this thread?
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  #90  
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Wicked

hey Glen

I sitting here in Hawaii on a two month holiday ( I quit my job ). I have been reading non stop. I read your book. Great book.

This blog was very hard to find. I think that you have many fans that would like to find this.

Keep it up and let me know of your conning to Canada. I notice it's not on your map. northern canada can be as exciting and foreign as some of your other travels. I would reccomend doing a fall ride. Wait for the freezeup then do one of the ice roads. If that seems too crazy then spring summer anywhere in Canada would be good especially western Canada up to the Yukon, Alaska and the arctic ocean.

Be safe and good

Mark
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