The Achievable Dream 5-part series - the definitive guide on DVD for planning your motorcycle adventure. Get Ready! covers planning, paperwork, medical and many other topics! "Inspirational and Awesome!" See the trailer here!
Gear Up! is a 2-DVD set, 6 hours! Which bike is right for me? How do I prepare the bike? What stuff do I need - riding gear, clothing, camping gear, first aid kit, tires, maps and GPS? What don't I need? How do I pack it all in? Lots of opinions from over 150 travellers! "This DVD will save you a fortune!"See the trailer here!
So you've done it - got inspired, planned your trip, packed your stuff and you're on the road! This section is about staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure. And crossing borders, war zones or oceans!
On the Road! is 5.5 hours of the tips and advice you need to cross borders, break down language barriers, overcome culture shock, ship the bike and deal with breakdowns and emergencies."Just makes me want to pack up and go!" See the trailer here!
Tire Changing!Grant demystifies the black art of Tire Changing and Repair to help you STAY on the road! "Very informative and practical." See the trailer here!
Ladies on the Loose! For the first time ever, a motorcycle travel DVD made for women, by women! These intrepid women share their tips to help you plan your own motorcycle adventure. They also answer the women-only questions, and entertain you with amazing tales from the road! Presented by Lois Pryce, veteran solo traveller through South America and Africa and author of 'Lois on the Loose', and 'Red Tape and White Knuckles.'
"It has me all fired up to go out on my own adventure!" See the trailer here!
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Achievable Dream The definitive guide to planning your motorcycle adventure! This insanely ambitious 2-year project has produced an informative and entertaining 5-part, 18 hour DVD series. "The ultimate round the world rider's how-to DVD!" MCN UK.
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Ride TalesAn easy way to post your ride reports, whether it's a weekend ride or around the world.
Please make the first words of the title WHERE the ride is.
See the announcement in the forum for details on posting.
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Or at least, it has been exactly one week from the day I started the process, and nearly 4 weeks in total since I arrived where I am now.
On Wednesday, October 25th, the Lawyers assistant told me to come back in the morning at 8am, and so I did.
I got up earlier than usual, didn’t sleep enough, and instead of meeting anyone, I found this.
I stood in the morning sunshine on the corner for 15 minutes, just in case, and eventually made my way back towards my hotel to sleep more. I was friggin tired.
On the way back, I saw this Honda XL 185s. There wasn’t anything too special about it.
Out of curiosity, I like to check the odometers on bikes that I see. This little bike had 85,062 kilometers showing! 52,866 miles, NICE!
Back at the hotel, I forced myself to sleep a bit more. Around 11:30am, I was back at the lawyer’s office. The outside door was unlocked, but the door to his office was closed. No one was home. Around here, when a door is closed, and its business ours, you just sit and wait for them to come back. They come back nearly all the time. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes until I say the Lawyer walking up the hill. He saw me, waved, got closer, shook my hand (I shake about 20 hands a day when I’m with this guy), opened his office, grabbed my papers, and off we went to get my previously translated title, notarized.
With some sleight of hand action, I snagged the Notary Lawyers photo. Little work happened, but what did “go down” was what needed to happen. When asked the price, I was charged $30, and the first real feel I have paid since I started my “release of motorcycle” campaign. (Not including heinous amounts of photocopying at $0.03/pg)
The result? A very official looking folder with 13 pieces of paper inside that I have had copied for $0.39 a time, at least 5 times. EVERYONE wants a copy. Luckily every corner has a copy shop. Why these guys don’t buy their own copier for, I don’t know. They’d save an hour a day.
The fancy stamps, stickers, and signatures of the Notary Lawyer. (Side note: All lawyers are referred to as Doctor here. As in, “Hola Doctor”, shake a hand, etc. And if you’re my lawyer, you call the pretty lawyer women, “Doctorita”, hahaha. They do have a “doctorate” right?)
From the the Notaries Office, it was off to Biblian, to talk to the prosecutor, and judge that are in charge of my case. My Lawyer seemed to have something up his sleeve, and I didn’t really understand his technical lawyer talk either. I can shoot the shit in Spanish mind you, just not legal terminology.
So off we went. We arrived, and we chatted, and we talked some more, and we chatted a bit more. I shook about 15 hands, I said, “Buenas” at least as many times, and I sat in a chair. Lawyer man shot the shit with the second Prosecutor (who I met and shook hands with just then), and explained my case.
“He’s has an accident. He’s been here for over 3 weeks. His friends are traveling ahead of him. He’s alone. He needs his bike. Can we get his bike? And while we’re at it, how about we move his hearing up to say, tomorrow, or Friday”
Prosecutor Number 2, “Where are you coming from? USA? Holy shit! How long? Seven months? Holy Shit! All on a bike? Yes. Holy shit! Where are you going? Argentina. Holy shit! What kind of bike is it? Suzuki DR650. How much was it? About $5,500 when I left. That’s ALL!? I have a Honda CRF450 that I bought, it was $8000. I ride motocross. How long have you been here in Azogues? Almost 4 weeks? Damn! Are you traveling solo? You are now, but you have friends 2 days ahead of you? SHIT! Let me call the other prosecutor. Let me talk to the Judge. I have free time on Friday morning. You’ll get your bike tomorrow, and be free to go Friday, and catch your friends on Monday. Done.”
HOLY SHIT. WHAT IS HAPPENING!?
Did I mention that this guy rides motocross, is much younger than the other prosecutor, and was wearing a sporty (clean and never ridden in) Shift motorcycle jacket?
And so he called the other prosecutor and got his permission to take my case. Then he walked across the hall with my Lawyer and I in tow. We shook hands, etc. Prosecutor Number 2 states his case to the Judge.
“Senor, this guy is traveling from the USA, he’s been here for almost 4 weeks, and his friends are only days ahead of him. He needs to leave. We have free time on Friday. Can we get him into an audience? 2:30pm? We have 8:30am free. Ok. 8:30am, Friday the 28th. Done.”
HOLY SHIT. WHAT IS HAPPENING!?
Back in the car, and headed to the lawyers office, the Lawyer Man tries to explain what’s up. All I understand is that I’ll be getting my bike the next day, and having a court hearing the day after. I don’t understand the legal parts. So we talk about what I do for a living. I tell him that I drove trailers in Alaska, in the snow and ice 20 degrees below zero. He looks at me like I’m crazy. “Like the Discovery Channel?” he asks. “Yea, like that.” I say.
(Disclaimer: I spent 6 months in Juneau AK, where the lowest temperature I saw there was only 15* F (-7.5*C). Then I spent one week in Fairbanks, lowest temperature I saw while on the job was still only -20*F (-25*C). TOM spent 2 months there in Fairbanks, 25 days of which never went above 0*F (-15*C) and he saw multiple days on the job at -40*F (-40*C).)
Back at the office, Lawyer Man showed me what was up.
The Criminal Warrnts Judge can replace or repeal a precautionary measure ordered before or dictate nonetheless of having previously denied if:
a) Current new facts so warrant;
b) The obtaining of new evidence or substantiating facts give justified rights or not those upon the deprivation of liberty. (Just CAN’T Translate this)
Well. I got the point, and he elaborated. He had been informed that the police investigation of the accident proved my innocence, and that I was not guilty of any wrong doing in the traffic accident case. He would present such evidence, and the case would be closed. I would no longer be required to stay in the country any longer as had been the case earlier. And with that, he told me to come back the next day at 8am, to go get my motorcycle….
Well hot damn! I’m getting my bike back, AND my court hearing has been moved up more than 2 weeks! Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeet.
Well, that enticed me to go get some chicken, and head back to my hotel. Not too long after I had been there, I received a Skype chat message from Charlotte. It said, “We’re going to a music gig (classical) at the church. Do you want to go?”
Of course I wanted to go, and I said exactly that. I stuffed face on my chicken, surfed the web, and was ready to rock and roll an hour later when Charlotte and Lison showed up in the back seat of Gabby’s car. Sweet. We even had a ride.
Minutes later we were parked in front of Iglesia de San Francisco, and I was snapping photos. Check it out Padre!
The view over the city is pretty good from up here too. Awesome.
The inside of the church is just as impressive as the outside as well. Stone pillars, painting, sculptures, wall hangings, and a very impressive back drop behind the pulpit.
We took our seats around the mid section on the left hand side. Here’s my view from the bench.
Say hello girls! From left to right are, Gabby, Charlotte and Lison.
We arrived about 15 minutes early, but by 7:05pm, things were underway, and we were being serenaded by a fantastic singer with the Cuenca Philharmonic Symphony behind her. Awesome.
Oh yea. I forgot. To my left, were two robed priests, standing, and enjoying the music while I was seated in my shorts and flip-flops. What a ridiculous presentation I made. If I had thought ahead of time, I would have at least put on my socks and sandals, and worn my only pair of pants. At least on second glance I saw that one priest wore traditional style sandals… That counts right?
I wasn’t the only one out of place thought. This dog was having a great time.
After the first set, the singing woman stepped down, and everyone gave a standing ovation.
What came next though was my favorite. This guy ripped into the Yamaha Grand Piano like it was a play toy. He shredded the keys like than Jimmy Hendrix shredded a guitar. It was awesome. And then, THEN, he whipped out his accordion, and gave the originals an example! YES! As you might be able to tell, I very much enjoyed it.
Well, the second set ended with a call for an encore, and so it was. The symphony played a second song, and the Pianist/Accordionist ripped it up again. I spent about an hour uploading a mini video of the guy, cause it was bitchin.
After dinner, the girls were hungry, and so we hopped in the car and Gabby took us to a café that was open. Three of us ordered a beef plate, while Lison ordered fried fish. (Seems she’s pescatarian*, i.e. doesn’t eat meat other than fish.) Three of us had a glass of Strawberry juice as well ($0.75). It was the first time I had beef since I left Bogota, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
With dinner over, it was time to go to bed. These are working girls, and they had work in the morning. Not me! I had a motorcycle to pick up in the morning!
I met the Lawyer at his office at 8am, as he requested. I was early, and he arrived in his Mitsubishi Montero. I hopped in, and first step was to drive to Biblian, to see Prosecutor Number Two.
The Prosecutor has gone about his business and accomplished everything that he has said he would, and to top it off, he had a stack of papers that needed to be copied. Perfect.
Down the street we go with a stack of 10 or more pages that have been added to the 13 or so pages that were in my original folder. We find the copying place, make the copies, pay the lady (I always pay for the copies) and go back to the Prosecutors office to hand them over. We keep a signed piece of paper, say thank you, confirm the appointment for Friday at 8:30am, and then head back to town.
I suppose I should mention that Biblian is a small town that is 3 miles from Azogues. It’s more like a suburb to me.
Back in town, it was off to take a look at the bike, to make sure it was there… Excellent. Please notice my severely displaced hand guards, broken head light, and front brake line hanging on the front cowling.
My left side auxiliary LED light lens cracked. Shit. That means water.
When you run into large object on the highway, unprepared, bikes get bent out of shape! My pro-taper 1 1/8th bars have stood the test of time. Shoot, this time, even the left hand guard got bent a little. Can you believe that? HDB Guards don’t just, “bend.”
Oh yea… My right side pannier and lid. Happy Trail, I like your pannier racks, and I like your mounting pucks. They kick ass. But I just don’t think I can handle Aluminum boxes. Not yours at least.
I saw another bike in the corner, a Yamaha 125. It had 80,505 kilometers on it. 50,034 miles, NICE.
Well, that was good enough for me. The bike is still there. No worries. On the other hand, someone else had something to worry about, as a funeral procession was taking place on the avenue outside the police impound lot. :/
Well, after confirming the status of the bike, it was off to the Jefetura de Policia’s office (A police boss man). Before that though, I needed 2 copies of my passport. Oh, and the Jefetura’s office is closed. So, instead, Mr. Lawyer Man took me to a motorcycle shop that he recommended because the Police motorcyclists use it. He took my there, I told the man what was up, and he just said, it was no problem, and that I should come back in an hour and a half. So, after more hand shaking, we went back to the Police Boss Man’s office. He was open.
First though, it’s a cigarette break.
At the office, I was asked to pay $1.50 for each day that my motorcycle remained in the Police Parking Lot. My lawyer made a valiant effort to mitigate the fee (27 days multiplied by $1.50 = $40.50), but it was to no avail as we’d have to come back tomorrow as the systems that allowed it weren’t on the same computer. So, I paid the man. So far, I’m up to $70.50.
From there, it was all straight forward. We got a signed piece of paper that said I had paid, and headed back for the bike. I couldn’t start my bike, because the kill switch was jammed closed, so I couldn’t ride it to the motorcycle shop. Mr. Lawyer Man had an audience in 30 minutes, and wasn’t about to miss it. In 3 minutes, he had a truck lined up to haul me and the bike a mile or so to the shop.
The three of us heaved my bike into the back of a short-bed, dual-cab pickup truck, and with a single length of rope, the driver tied it in. I hoped in the cab of the truck, and off we went. It turned out that the driver spoke pretty good English, and understood me even better. He had lived in the United States for 11 years, and the child in the back seat was even American.
Only a few minutes and three dollars later and I was dropped off at the Motorcycle shop. Que bien.
Inside of 4 minutes, the shop owner had placed a new front brake master cylinder in my hand. How much? $18.00…. I’ll take it.
After installing that, adding brake fluid and bleeding the brakes, it was onto the head light. First step was removal.
Second step was convincing the helper that was now assisting me to retrofit the high-output 60watt halogen bulb from my old busted headlight into the new one. I wasn’t too fond of the idea of riding with a 30watt halogen bulb in my new $10 headlight assembly. He agreed it was better, and we installed it.
Say goodbye to the busted head light! Adios you pile of crap!
Next step was to address my broken clutch adjustment screw.
And then after that, to deal with the burnt our break light that hasn’t functioned since the first week of Mexico. That turned out to be a BITCH, as the light bulb had rust/welded to the insertion slot, and removing it turned out to be impossible.
Marvel at the rebar turned tire iron that measures about 3.25 feet long.
Watch the shop assistant saw off some tabs on the edge of my new rear light bulb socket to replace the old one that was chopped out.
By now, its 2pm and according to the boss man, seen below on the far left of the table, it is time for lunch. The guys are getting hungry as well. I am invited, and so I go along. I hadn’t eat yet, and I was damn hungry as well. Meet the guys that fixed up my bike!
While we were sitting there at lunch, I asked the shop owner how much the meals cost. He replied that they were $1.50/each. We’re talking about a bowl of bean and noodle soup (that I think is really damn good), and a plate of rice, vegetables, and meat, accompanied by a glass of fruit juice. I almost laughed because it was so cheap.
Right before we left, he got up to pay the bill for himself and the shop workers. He was probably going to pay mine as well. However, I beat him to it, and when he set down a $10 bill, I snatched it out of the waitresses hand from behind the counter, slapped it back on the counter in his direction, and handed over my own money. $7.50 for 5 meals. Call it a donation to THEIR fund. The owner said thank you to me no less than 3 times. He meant it too.
Back at the shop after lunch, I was hard at work tweaking things, and making sure everything was good to go. The front turn signals were addressed and I had new L.E.D lights on in a flash ($8.00 a pair).
After that, I locked the hand guards back into place, adjusted the lever positions, tightened the mirror, and shortened the screws holding my Auxiliary Light brackets. Putting the front cowling on was a slight chore as the new headlight unit is slightly larger. Adjusting the inside diameter of the cowling proved simply enough by using a hack saw blade to remove a few flanges, and VIOLA, I’m functional again.
Next on the list was to take care of the Chain. I had replaced the chain in Bogota before I left, and used a 525 o-ring master link to do it. However, the master link was such a bitch getting it on, and not of the right fit apparently as the chain formed a kink at the master link and wouldn’t flex at that point. It was the right size as per the package AND stamping on the link (DID 525), but if just didn’t fit.
Getting it off proved to be easier with a 4” dye grinder, and it was replaced with a 530 master link as a 525 was not available. To make it fit, one of the o-rings on the chain was ground down, as the 530 link was JUST too short to make it fully to the other side. I’m not worried about it. I’ll last.
Next, was creating a buffer zone between my left hand aux light and water. I unscrewed the outer bevel that holds the glass plate in place and removed the plate as the release of pressure allowed it to fall into 3 pieces. I then placed 3 layers of clear plastic bag over the exposed LEDs, and screwed the bevel back in place, forming the plastic into a 3 level waterproof barrier. I then wrapped electrical tape around the light to prevent seepage from the not fully screwed down bezel. Until I can find someone to cut me a perfect circle out of glass, this will have to do.
And now, the only things left on the bike to worry about are the right side mirror that was shattered, and finding a replacement windshield, as I broke mine when I body slammed it. I’m willing to bet that finding a new mirror will be the least of my worries, and a windshield will show up in due time.
Last but not least, I pay the man.... Total?... $40.00....
Then, for the first time in 27 days, I got on my motorcycle, and rode it back to the hotel, wearing flip flops, shorts, and a long sleeve shirt. I didn’t even have a helmet or sunglasses. That’ll be the last time that happens.
I stopped off on the way back to the hotel to ask a welding shop if they could fix my side bag. They suggested another shop, and that was that. I’ll go their tomorrow after the hearing.
Now, I just have to mentally prepare myself to leave this place. Saturday will mark 4 weeks that I have been here. I am thinking Monday, the 31st, Halloween, will mark my date of departure, and my subsequent entrance into Peru…
Of course, things will not go as planned, but who here makes plans anyway!? Not me, that's for sure!
Today, Friday morning at 8:10am, I was waiting in front of the Lawyers office, waiting to be picked up for our Scheduled 8:30am hearing...
The outer door that opens to the street was open, but alas, his door was closed.
No sooner had I been waiting for 5 minutes or so, did his assistant show up. Shake hands ,buenas dias, etc. I followed him into the office, and he asked me what I needed. Instantly, without another word, I realized that my hearing would not be that morning... Guess what? It didn't phase me! HAHA
I told him that the lawyer had asked me to come at 8:10 am for my audiencia (court hearing). He looked at me with a bit of an unsettled look, like he didn't want to ruin my day, and told me that he wasn't sure it was happening that day.
He went over to the lawyers desk and opened up the drawer to remove the date book that was inside, He opened it up and scanned it for my name "ALEXANDER MICHEAL SMITH" (Pronouced Al-eex-onder Mik-eye-ehl Es-smeeth)
He didn't find my name in the planner, but he did see the note on the table instead.
You can likely read this other than the word "Martes" which is "Tuesday". It would appear that I now have a scheduled audience on Tuesday, November 1st.
Shortly thereafter, the Lawyer arrived, telling me what I had just heard as he was on his way int he door. Not pausing to speak even for a hand shake.
The Audience (Court Hearing) had been suspended until the 1st of November upon request of the other parties lawyer. They had some evidence to demonstrate, or so it would appear. Mr. Lawyer man seemed nonplussed, and told me not to worry. I didn't worry, and I still am not.
And so. I wait.
On the way back to the hotel, what seemed like every 14-18 year old high school student was out in the streets, in a formed parade style conglomeration, marching against violence. Complete with a drum core.
Well, I paused to listen for a little bit, and bought some fruit from my favorite fruit vending lady. Of course, Gringo in all his "casi" 2 meter tall, long ass hair (by local standard), shorts and flip flop wearing attire, was on display to the hundreds of high school students walking/marching in the streets.
Then began the hooting and hollering. "WHOOOOOOOAAAAA".... "WHOOOOOOO"..... "WHEEEEEEEEEEEE".....
The girls were Cat Calling me, whistling me down 9aged 14-18) while the guys were yelling sounds at me. EVERY SINGLE person in the street was looking at me.
So. I waved. And...They...Went...Ballistic!
One girl even had the courage to come up to me and hand me a flyer. A guy did the same 30 seconds later but was too late. I don't know if it's because I am white, super tall, or a combination of it all (probably the latter), but these people really like to call me out.
And so there you have it. I wait more. Party tonight. Why? Because it's Friday.
Today I took the bike with the right side box strapped to my top rack, to a shop down the road.
They pointed me further down the road, so I kept going.
My goal was to get my right pannier case bashed back into a "rectangle" rather than a diamond.
$3.00 later, and I had a functioning side bag again. It's not pretty, and it surely isn't perfect, nor does it look good... But it will suffice.
They also gave me a screw for my left passenger peg bracket as one apparently vibrated loose.
Then I replaced the 4 plastic screws that hold my visor and face shield on my helmet. Two of the 4 plastic screws were missing, and the remaining two were cracked. Though I don't like the sound of it metal on my helmet, but I replaced them all with metal bolts. I'll be hard pressed to every find plastic screws down here. I know have 4 gold colored shining 8mm bolt heads on my helmet.
During the to the mechanics, I noticed something again, that I had noticed yesterday when riding back from the motorcycle shop. My front brake rotor was "hiss, hiss, hiss'ing" as I rode at slow speeds. It was hard to hear at higher speeds due to engine noise and increased frequency, but a quick glance down at my rotor showed a wobble...
So, I rode to the Motorcycle Shop. I told them what was going on, and they asked me if my wheel was not true. I told them that it COULD be the problem, but that I think the rotor is warped.
So the assistant hopped on my bike, and took off down the road. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, WHACK!
The masterlink in my chain (the original one, and not the one I made yesterday) broke loose, and the chain separated.
Luckily, the chain barely piled up, and didn't bust a case or anything so severe as that. It did make a small mark on the case, but barely even a scratch.
The guy walked my bike back, and we found the problem. Of course, there are no 525 master links available, and I don't have any. So the same story goes. The o-rings on one side of the chain were ground down, and a 530 link went on the chain.
And he went for another ride, coming back with confirmation that my front brake rotor is warped, and look, there, you can see where it hit the cement; where that big ass gouge it.
I need a new front brake rotor, and the closest one is in Guayaquil, Ecuador, a 4 hour bus ride away. I would seem that I will be going on a bus one of these next few days.
UNLESS one of you happy sons-of-guns has a spare front '96+ DR650 Front brake rotor for CHEAP? Parts here in Ecuador have a 100% import tax on them. That's a $200 brake rotor...
ProCycle sells a replacement for $106. Does anyone else sell them. Ebay has a bunch of weird "chinese" looking front brake rotors for $60-$90.
Around here, everything speeds up on the weekends. That means, heading off to the big city of Cuenca which is home to over half a million people, and this particular weekend is the weekend before Halloween. So, my weekend went like this.
Friday, the Euro girls asked me if I wanted to go to dinner in Cuenca. Of course that sounded good to me, regardless of the fact that I had eaten 30 minutes ago. And so, less than an hour later, Charlotte and Lison arrived in the back of Gabby’s car, I hopped in and off we went, headed for dinner.
It was then, in the car, that the girls informed me that we would be going to dinner, and then going to a Karaoke bar. Well… Ok then.
First was dinner. I had a chicken burrito. It doesn’t compare to Mexico, but it was good.
It just so happened we sat next to a group of fellow gringos, all in Ecuador as part of the same group of Peace Corp volunteers. It just so happens that they know my friend from University, Alex Helpenstell, who is 423km’s north of me in the jungles of Ecuador. Small world eh?
After dinner we hopped back in Gabby’s car, and headed back to Azogues, to pick up Gabby and the girls’ coworkers, and hit up the Karaoke bar. We had 7 people in a 2 door hatchback. It was RIDICULOUS.
There is another woman, out of frame, in the top left corner. I am the only man.
There she is!
And where do you suppose we ended up? Hahah. At Elvis Disco Bar and Karaoke!
I think Charlotte was a little excited! Don’t you think?
They were happy to be there. I was uncertain…
The dance floor that see’s it’s action between sets of Karaoke songs. Again, I’m not so sure about this…
The girls are getting their groove on!
And by then end of the night, we were the only ones there. I had sang, “We Will Rock You”, “Staying Alive”, and “Roxanne”… We Will Rock You, was my favorite.
At two a.m., the owner of the bar who apparently was from Brooklyn, and only sang Elvis songs, closed shop, and we all piled back in the car to get back into town. And that, was Friday night.
The same thing happened last night, Saturday the 30th. The girls suggested meeting at the bus terminal and catching a bus into Cuenca to have dinner. It was the last bus of the night, so we’d be taking a taxi back to Azogues afterward.
The bus left at 7:15, and arrived at 8pm.
We had dinner at a Mexican joint in town. While there, Charlotte got a call from Gabby. She was coming soon in her car. It seemed like we’d have a ride back that night, sweet. Well, while at dinner, we sat at a table for 4. Charlotte was across the table from Lison, and I was to the right of Lison. Twice during dinner, Charlotte left the table to answer a phone call. And it was during that time, that assumedly the person sitting behind Lison and I lifted her purse from where it hung on her chair, leaving with it unnoticed, when no one could see it happening.
It was when we stood up to leave having paid our bill that she realized it was gone. She swore she didn’t leave it on the bus, or in the taxi we took from the bus station to downtown. It simply disappeared.
So off we went to the Internet Café to use a phone booth to call her credit card company to cancel her card. Other than that, only her camera was of any importance. Damn it all.
Shortly after, Gabby arrived and off we went to a bar where we would meet with her friends. We each had a drink and the drinks were terrible. Soon enough Gabby’s friends arrived, we paid our bill, left, and walked to the next place; which as I’ve discovered is one of Ecuador’s favorite past times, a Karaoke bar.
And, like all good Karaoke bars, after each table has had its round of 3-4 songs, the dancing begins.
And basically, all Latinos can dance. The guys gave the girls a good work out, and we all took our turns helping to empty the two pitchers of Mojitos that graced the tables.
And that was how Saturday night went down; with too much singing, too much dancing, and too many loud noises until 4am. Damn I was tired that night!
When Sunday came around, I didn’t wake up until noon and I was still tired even then. I didn’t do a lot until about 6pm besides go eat some chicken. Apparently there was some outdoor music festivities going on down the road in the parking lot of the old bus terminal, and the Euro girls invited me.
While I was waiting for them to show up at the hotel to lead the way, I was happy to feed this dog the remnants of my chicken meal.
On the way to the “concert” Charlotte had a good idea for a photo. In respect to the “no nudity” rule, they covered them up.
Half the city was there, and the music sucked. I’m not a particular fan of Latin music, but I know how to appreciate someone that can sing well. And well, from what I’ve heard, and from what I’ve experienced, these guys enjoy people who can’t sing that well! What I have seen them do however, is rock out on any instrument in particular. Music is part of life here, and it’s bred into them. Very many people can sing well, but I have yet to hear many that are particularly GOOD. But it’s the mood of the people that counts the most, and they were all in a good mood, and we had a good time.
Here in the mountains for the past month, it has been rare that a particularly nice sunset graces the sky. Tonight however, it was nice.
After the show, it was off to the Italian restaurant that serves me my favorite ice cream. The girls each had pizza and I had an ice cream. For some reason, I wasn’t hungry… After their pizza, they shared an ice cream as well.
Then, it was back to the music for a little while. That turned out to be an entertaining aspect of the night! Apparently a person so tall as myself makes for a spectacle in a large group of people here where the average height of a man is 5’2” to 5’6”. Did I mention that Charlotte is 5’11” and Lison is about 5’6”? So, the three of us stand at height, a head over, and head and shoulders over the average person here.
That was enough to warrant 7 different people to come up to me and ask for photo; two of which offered and insisted that I have a shot of Rum and Coke.
Well then. If I must!
And another shot of the crowd.
And with that, weekend Festivities come to a close!
Tomorrow is a rest day, and I’ll take the bike out for a test ride to make sure all is well. Tuesday is the hearing for my case, and if I have it my way, Wednesday will see me exit Ecuador after a full month here in Azogues, Ecuador!
I took the bike out of the garage at about 4pm with the goal of giving it a good ride up into the mountains. I figured I’d be able to tell if there was anything wrong with the bike, especially the front brake rotor.
So, off I went to the gas station 2 blocks down the road and filled up with just about 3 gallons of gas for less than $4.50. Gas is $1.48 for Extra and $1.98 for Super. I don’t need super, so Extra it was.
For the next 5 miles I pulled over every 6 minutes or so, and checked the brake rotor. It was never too hot to touch, and never more than slightly warm. Good news so far.
So, I took the first left hand turn that looked promising and headed East uphill, into the mountains. A few minutes later, I paused for a photo.
And a few minutes later, I paused for another one.
Son of a bitch! First the rear started to act shaky, but I was on a dirt road, but then I stopped, looked, and realized my rear tire was flat. Damn it. Well. I rode a flat about 50 yards up the hill and around the corner, and asked the two nice women sitting on the steps of a corner store where I could get a puncture repaired.
They told me to go up the road, to the internet café and no further. Well… Ok.
So I went up the road, to the internet café, and asked some working men across the street where I could get my flat tire repaired, and they told me to go into the internet café. Right, well, ok. In I went.
Yea, we can help you says the man, and yelled something, and a Mom and younger son came out. Just up the hill there, to that building with the grey doors, they said. We’ll help you there.
And so the sage begins. With a cement building block and three 2x6’s the bike was put up on its bash plate and the bike’s rear end was in the air. In my excitement to ride off into the sunset tonight, I had left with only my two standard tool kits. One is for removing the wheels and tires and patching flat tires, and the other is for everything else. Well, that just means that I didn’t bring my pump, my tire patches, or anything else for that matter.
However, what faced me was NOT a motorcycle shop, but a bicycle repair shop. It wasn’t under equipped though, and between the 15 year old Paul (Pah-ool) and I, we had it covered.
First step was to remove my rear wheel to get to the tire. Having ridden a ways on a flat tire, the bead had been broken, and using my tire irons proved to make easy work of getting access to the tube. And so it went.
With this HUGE compressor, we checked the tube for leaks. We found one, and it wasn’t too big. Nothing else seems to be an issue. Excellent.
Paul, grabbed a patch from the shelf and began his search for glue…. And he came up empty handed. He looked to me, and told me that he needed to go to town and to get some glue for the patches. I could wait in his home (the internet cafe) while he went and when he returned, we’d fix my tube. I asked him how long he thought it would take. About an hour and a half he said. OK!
I’m not going anywhere with a flat tire, I F-ed up in the first place and didn’t bring my own equipment, into the mountainous towns of Ecuador, and well, an internet café is as good a place as any to be stuck for an hour and change!
So the bike was left where it was, up on it’s make shift stand, the wheel, tire, tubes, my tools and helmet were locked behind the door, and I walked down to the internet café with the Mom (who’d been overseeing everything) and off went Paul on the next bus into town.
By the time that Paul got back, it was pretty much dark. The lights in the shop were dim at best, and we went to work. He had a Dremel Tool at his disposal with a little sanding disc on it, and he went to work lightly sanding the area surrounding the puncture while his mom watched curiously.
With the tire inflated slightly, he busted out his glue (he only bought one tube in town…), and smeared it on gratuitously, covering the area well. Then, we waited a bit. When the glue had become sticky rather than runny, he squared up the patch over the puncture hole, and using a screwdriver with 5 or 6 washers in the shaft, pressure rolled the patch to secure it.
After that, it was a simply 5 minute wait before we aired up the tube looking for any other leaks. With none found, we set about putting the tube back in the tire. Almost as an afterthought, but likely due to the numerous punctures I’ve had on this trip, a stuffed my hand in the tire and checked the inner section for sharp objects… Sure enough, I felt this little bastard stuck in the tire. I had to use pliers to get it out.
Shortly thereafter, the tube was in, tire was seated on the rim, tube filled up, and wheel was back on the bike. When I asked my partner in crime Paul, what the charge was to fix the flat, he responded with “I don’t know.” Well, Paul was a nice kid, and unlike many people that would have told me I was out of luck; this young guy spent nearly 2 hours going into town on the bus to come back with glue to patch my tire.
Was he impressed with me? I don’t know. He sure liked to ask questions about my trip. And unlike nearly all of the other people that ask me questions, not one of them was about how much my trip cost me, or how much my bike cost me, or how much money I saved, or how much I earn from my job. Instead he asked me how I like traveling. Why I was doing it. Where I had been, where I was going, and where my goal destination was.
A tire patch job in the town of Azogues, costs $2 when you bring your bike to the mechanic. The mechanic does all the work; he removes your wheel, removes the tire, removes the tube, patches it, reinstalls the tube, seats the tire, and reinstalls the wheel. He provides the tools, the work space, and the knowledge and he earns two dollars.
This guy Paul could patch a tube, had a compressor, and had patches, while I provided the rest of the ingredients along with his help. They were my tire irons, my knowledge of motorcycle tire removal (not so impressive) and my methodical process that were used. It was joint operation.
When I asked him the charge, and he told me “I don’t know,” I was giving him the opportunity to run the show. He didn’t take it, but I understand. The guy is 15 years old and is face with a 24yr/old, taller than a tree gringo who rode his motorcycle from the states. He doesn’t know what to do. So, with only $2.85 in my coin bag, and one $10 bill and two $20 bills in my wallet, I handed him the ten dollar bill. He looked at me like I was crazy. I told him that I knew that a normal shop charges $2-$3. I told him that because he was so willing to help me, and spent 2 hours of his time going out of his way to solve my problem, and gave me a place to rest while he did so, that his actions deserved to be rewarded. I told him not to think twice about it. He smiled, and didn’t complain.
Furthermore, while I was there, his mother gave me three pieces of a local fruit of which I don’t know the name. When Paul came back from town, and we were in the garage patching the tube, he gave me a dried fruit bar, because I must be hungry having waited for him. Paul asked me where I was staying that night, and I could tell that he was going to offer me a place to sleep. I had my room at the hotel and told him so, but his intention didn’t go unnoticed.
Paul was nice kid, and because of all the people that have supported me on this trip thus far, I was able to enjoy the pleasure of supporting this guy as well. Meet Paul.
From here, it was an easy ride down the mountain, on the same road, with no turn offs all the way to Azogues. Having walked around most of the entire central area, I soon came to a road that I recognized. From there, I headed to my favorite chicken joint that was still open at 8pm, and had a 1/4 chicken on the spot, and ordered an 1/8th to go. I munched my food, and too the rest back to the hotel.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 1st at 8am, I have my second and final court hearing. Mr. Lawyer Man called me while I was in the mountains, and reminded me to meet him at 7:45 at his office to ride to Biblian where the audience would be held.
Wednesday will see me cross the border into Peru, headed South.
Today, this morning, I had my second court hearing, which took all of 15 minutes. This is how it all went down.
8:15am, The Judge explained why we were all there.
8:17am, The Prosecutor told us what the case was all about, and the circumstances involved. This included the location of the accident, the time of day, the events leading to the accident, the accident itself, the proceedings after the accident, the drunken status of the pedestrian, my black Suzuki motorcycle, and my North American self.
8:20am, The other party's Lawyer stated their case and tried to defend the status of the drunk pedestrian, stating that he was within his rights, and that the fault was with me, the motorcyclist, and they asked for damages.
8:25am, My Lawyer defended my innocence, stating I was within my rights, could not avoid the accident, and the pedestrian was drunk and crossed the highway non-prudently thereby causing the accident. He stated the police report decision that I was not guilty of an infraction of any sort, and that there was no one to prove otherwise.
8:30am, Then the Judge closed the current proceedings, stating that he needed to talk to his superiors, and we went to intermission.
I go to meet my lawyer at 2:30 this afternoon for the rest of it. He believes that I will be free to leave tomorrow without any problems.
I'm hoping so.
I'm going to pack my luggage, and find a laundry shop...
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