I know, I know itís been a month since I last wrote but just how many times can you write sun, beach, fun, sun, beach, fun??? Iíll try filling you in on some of the sights. First I must say I was glad to get out of San Paulo, for some reason I just didnít enjoy this city, maybe it was because they must not sleep for more then 4 hours at a time, because out of 20 hotels that I stopped at 18 of them only rented rooms for 4 hours at a time, go figure, the other two were 5 stars and they were full. I got lucky on the 21st try and found a place to stay. When I was leaving the hotel to leave I ran into a couple Simon and Lisa Thomas from England, they were also doing the round the world thing however were going the other way, bummer they seemed like really nice people and would have been nice to ride with them for a short time. They were on the way to the BMW shop because Simon rode his bike off a home made bridge and they had to have the bike rewired. After exchanging a few stories we were on our separate ways. San Paulo extremely hard to get around, it had to be the most confusing city I have ever driven in. I had unlimited time so I headed to Rio de Janeiro at a nice easy pace. I have to say Brazil has it all as far as riding goes, good roads, lots of gas, and to date, some of the most beautiful scenery I have even seen, from the jungle to the coastal roads to the open farm lands. I even saw two of the coolest rainbows I have ever seen. They were between 3 island mountains on both sides of the middle mountain. What made them so cool as they were not the traditional shape but rather cascaded down like a waterfalls they the colors covering between the mountains. I made the coast in about 5 hours and decided that was far enough for the day, got a hotel room and just walked the beach. It was pretty much the same thing for the next 4 days, ride a little find a nice small quite village, find a room take in the sights. One of the things I saw, falls into the ďjust shake my headĒ category. One night I saw 15 guys and one girl roll out this fishing net that I was told was a 1000 meters long (I think that was bullshit, but it was huge) they walked it out into the ocean then started to drag it back, 8 people to a side. They had a belt with a hook on it, they would walk out hook the net and walk backwards until they were about 25 yards on the beach, unhook and start all over, I had to stick around to see what they would get and after about 2 hours of dragging they pulled up about 150 lbs of fish and about 250 lbs. of garbage. It was sad to see all the garbage they pulled up, 60% was plastic bottles. I couldnít tell what kind of fish they were but there were only a few what I would call ďkeepersĒ that had any size to them but they kept them all, hell if I worked that hard I would have kept all of them also
The plan was once I got to Rio I was going to take a vacation from my vacation, 14 days of just laying around, enjoying great company, and taking in the sights. I was really looking forward to checking out the beaches of Rio, I heard so much about the ďsceneryĒ that I just had to see it for myself. Just my luck, the first thong I saw was on the twin sister of Mimi from the TV show with Drew Cary, I think I was blinded for about 3 hours. The guy with her looked like Drew in a Speedo, not a pretty sight. Most of the guys here wear Speedos, there is no way you would EVER see me in one of those, and they were the same suits I wore when I was 6. We saw the Jesus statue, did the parasail over Rio, and just walked around and watched people one of my favorite things to do. I spent several days trying to work out the details of how to get my bike from Rio to Auckland New Zealand with out having too much luck. Brazil has some very strict rules on exporting things not made in Brazil. I finally went to the airport to talk to them face to face; I talked to Lan Chile (the only cargo airlines that service New Zealand) after talking to them they said it was no problem getting the bike to New Zealand, however Brazilian laws require you use a broker to export out of New Zealand. Five Stars was the only broker that would talk to me, quoted me a price of $5.45 a kilo, plus $.75 a kilo fuel tax, $75 Dangerous goods tax, $100 for the wood to build for the crate and $75 to build it and pack the bike. I knew that Lan Chile Cargo in Santiago Chile only charged $2.20 a kilo, $.55 a kilo and $75 Dangerous goods tax; I didnít know what they got for the crate but figured it couldnít be any worst. To me this was a no brainer I was going to road trip it back to Chile and ship from there! So around 830 AM on Monday the 28th I said good-bye to Rio and started my road trip to Chile. I rode for 13 hours on Monday, 18 hours on Tuesday and 19 hours on Wednesday and at 1120 Wednesday night I pulled into Santiago. The ride was pretty much uneventful it rained for most of the time; I did add a rat and a small yellow/gold bird to my road kill count. I had no troubles at the borders this time however when I crossed over to Argentina, not only did they spray my bike but they also made every one get out of their vehicles and step on a wet mat that had some kind of bug killer on it. As I was crossing over from Argentina to Chile I passed three people on two bikes, as luck would have it I was just coming out of a town so I did a u-turn to try to catch up with them. They saw me do the u-turn and pulled into a gas station and waited for me. They were a couple and a single guy from England also doing the round the world trip and again going in the opposite direction of me, damn! I mentioned to them that I had run into another English couple and right off the bat they said it wasnít Simon and Lisa was it? It sure is a small world; they were to meet up with them. Remember I told you they were waiting for their bike to be repaired because Simon had rode off a bridge? Well it turns out that he broke his neck in that fall and had to have surgery on it, they said he was ok and I dropped him a email wishing him well and good luck, Iím sure as soon as they are able they will continue on the trip, I know I would. After exchanging information and addresses I was off again, not looking forward to crossing the Andes in the dark. The crossing wasnít that bad, no thatís a lie, it sucked, there were a lot more big trucks out at night and made a long tense ride, you would think with it being dark they could see my head lights and make room, wrong, you just had to go slow and get out of there way, at least you could see them coming. Once I got into Santiago I went right to the airport, found Lan Chile Cargo and waited until it opened. Things went very smooth at Lan Chile, they sent me next door where three guys came out and built a crate in about 2 hours, they only charged me about $50 for the wood and work. That was the only unknown cost I had, so it cost me 3 days travel and under $400 to ride from Rio to Santiago so I would say it was a good call on my part
After knowing my bike was ok I went over to the air port and booked a flight for Auckland, damn it was cheaper shipping the bike then it was for me, the cheapest way to Auckland was first flying to LA 12 hour layover then to Auckland, my flight left at 1030 that night, it had been a long four days, needless to say I slept the whole way to LA. What a great treat to hit the states even if it was only for 12 hours. I jumped on a bus and went down to San Monica pier, just to watch people and to understand people talk as they walked by. Even the bus ride was enjoyable, a crazy black street guy almost got into a fight with a crazy white street woman, I have no idea what started it but they both just started yelling and swearing so loud at each other that the bus drive stopped the bus and made them both get off. On the ride back this woman got on the bus and refused to pay or get off the driver had to call the police and they dragged her awayÖonly in CA land of the fruits and nuts. I flew Qantas to Auckland, what a great airlines, I watched 3 movies and the food was very good. Should have know it was going to good, ran into a slight problem when I tired to enter New Zealand, all was going good until they asked to see my plane ticket out of New Zealand, should have seen the look on his face when I said I didnít have one. You would have thought I tired to smuggle in 10 lbs of pot. I got escorted over to this isolation booth and left there for about 20 minutes with out any one talking to me, when they interviewed me I explained that I was on a world trip and didnít know where or when I was going to fly out of New Zealand. I told them that when I emailed the New Zealand tourist bureau some time back that said that I would be granted a three month visa due to an agreement between US and New Zealand, that I required a carnet for my bike but never said any thing about a ticket out. After it was all said and done, they granted me a one week VISA and was advised that I would have to apply for an extension. Youíre required to fill out a customs card before you enter each country, on this card they ask various questions one of which is list the countries you have visited in the past 3 months. I filled the front and the back and hit every red flag, Columbia, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, so needles to say I got pulled in for inspection, which took about a Ĺ hour, and was released. They said my bike would be there Monday so I just got a room close to the airport and waited. Well Monday morning rolled around and you guessed it the bike wasnít in yet, they said it was due in on Tuesday, so back to the hotel to wait some more. I know, I know this would have been a very good time to update this blog but I really wasnít in the mood to type. So back to the airport on Tuesday at which time they said they told me it didnít the Tuesday flight either and the next flight was due on Friday, by this time I am a bit frustrated but I kept my cool, jumped on the bus into the city and headed into Auckland (the airport is about 20 K from Auckland) So I got to know the Auckland bus system rather well and spent the next few days seeing the sights of Auckland via the buses, I even took a ferry out and spent a day on Waiheke Island. I headed to the airport first thing Friday morning and no the bike wasnít there, it was stuck in Sydney, they plane it was on was red tagged and wouldnít be in until 8 at night, so another bus ride back to the city and I walked around aimlessly until 7 back on the bus to the airport and tada the bike was in, it just had to be unloaded, inspected by the Agriculture people and it was mine, one of the things I did in the 4 days of walking around was pre cleared the bike with customs, good move on my part I was a little nervous with the Agriculture people Iíve been told that they can be a real PITA and will send your vehicle several time to get steamed cleaned at a cost of $50 for the steam clean and another $40 for the inspection. I think they felt sorry for me because they barely even looked at it and at 1030 PM Friday night I was on my way whooooooowhoooooooo. The plan was to get out of Auckland and head for the South Island; I was told by every one that the South Island was the best for sights and riding. Of course as soon as I got on the bike it started to rain, I also learned another important lesson, all hotels close at 1030 at night, WTF how are you to get a room after 1030? What was really funny is that there were all these road signs saying ďDONíT DRIVE TIRED, RESTĒ ďDRIVE TIREDÖDIEĒ That fit into the ďjust shake my headĒ category. I drove all night and ended up in Wellington the south end of the North Island. I tried to get an oil change at the Harley dealer in Wellington but they said they couldnít get me in until January 2nd, told then to kiss my ass and will change it myself. The ferry from the North Island takes 3 hours, you drive you bike on board lash it down and enjoy the ride over. I didnít get to the South Island until 930PM so when I got over I called it a night.
December 10th, 2005
I was up early and wanted to start taking in some of the sights of the South Island that I had heard so much about, looking at the map (at least you can find road maps here) I decided to head up north along the coast. With in 10 minutes of leaving Picton I knew it was worth the wait, my god what beautiful country, I knew right then this trip was going to take longer then I planned, I would ride for 10 minutes find a spot that was so pretty and peaceful you just had to stop and enjoy, I was right it took me all day to drive just under 300 K, I made it to Westport just in time to cook a nice dinner, I went to bed with a nice smile on my face, I knew this was the closest I was ever going to get to heaven.
December 11th, 2005
I think I could have walked as far as I road today only made it from Westport to Greymouth about 105 K (kilometers its .62 miles for every mile, so 100 K = 62 miles) I put on a lot more miles then that, I took a lot of side roads just to see where they went toÖviews are breathtaking. Iím trying to take pictures but they just donít do it justice plus everything is worth taking a picture of so itís hard to decide what to take pictures of and what not to. I took over 150 pictures today be at the end of the night I deleted most of them, you can only take so many pictures of the mountains, and ocean. I tried to keep the best, the wonders of digital pictures! Just as I thought they would be the people of New Zealand are very friendly, I love the accent but sometimes itís hard to understand, but the key word is I CAN understand it, itís so nice to be able to talk and ask for directions or advice where to go or what to see. The little sayings they have would even put my dad and his ďJeanisums ďto shame. ( for those that donít know my dad he has a way with words while heís describing something or yelling at you, he made it so hard not to laugh while being ďtalkedĒ to, it didnít help with mom snickering in the background) I have to stop and figure out what the hell they are trying to say. In the morning I am going cave rafting, should be pretty cool. We have to walk about a mile in the jungle to the river; from there we grab some old fashion inner tubes, ride the river to where it goes underground, and see where it goes.
December 12th, 2005
Had a blast today!! We left at 8AM and didnít get back until 4. They gave us wet suits and helmets with minersí lamps on them and away we went. The ride to the mouth of the cave wasnít that long; from there we walked, crawled and rode about 2 miles in. I had visions for getting my fat ass stuck in some of the holes we had to craw in. We found some natural rock slides that emptied out into small pools of water so of course we had to try those, some of the pools of water were pretty deep (I didnít try that hard but couldnít touch the bottom) so we did some cave cliff diving, I will tell you itís a tad freaky when you turn off all the head lamps and you blind jump into water. In some spots of the cave there are ďglow wormsĒ when you turn off your headlamps it looks like 1000 blue stars shinning in the blackest of nights. We sat there in the dark for 15-20 minutes no one talking just lost in their own thoughts. We went as far as we could and had to turn around and walk back up stream. Every one was pretty much worn out by the time we got back to the van. Back to the hostel for an early to bed. In the morning Iím heading down to Franz Josef to take a helicopter up some mountain and white water raft out.
December 13th, 2005
I was surprised to see that we had the same guide as I had in the cave rafting; he told me he had had so much fun with us yesterday that he traded with his buddy to take us on this trip. I guess most of his trips are boring and said I spiced things up, now what do you think he meant by that? The ride in the helicopter was amazing I found out right from the start that guide and the pilot were good friends and was out to test me; the pilot made the ride very interesting or in other words scared the shit out of me! He didnít get me to scream but I did have several ďpucker factorsĒ The ride down was also amazing we spent about 6 hours on the water with lots of category 4 and 5 rapids, I know Iíve said it before and have a feeling will be saying it a lot on this trip but some of the views were breathtaking I wish I had my camera but was a good thing I didnít we got pretty wet. The guide gave us our moneys worth and challenged us, I came close a few times but didnít fallout. We had a BBQ at the hostel and another early to bed. Franz Josef has the largest glacier so I think Iím going ice climbing in the morning.
December 14th, 2005
Damn Iím getting old, lets just say Iím wee bit sore today, with the pounding my body has taken over the past two days. So I blew off the ice climbing and took a nice slow ride down to Queenstown, or better known as the booze capital of New Zealand (a quote from the new paper), that same article said there was one liquor license for every 60 people that live there, I donít know how many people live here but it is a fairly good size town. I know I donít have to say it but the ride was great. I did see one thing that stood out, about 5 miles from town I saw a barbwire fence that had bras and panties strung out for over 100 yards, Iím sure there were close to 1000 bras and yes I stopped and got a picture of it, I tried to find out the story behind it but no one I talked to knew, must have been one hell of a party. On the ride to Queenstown a lot of the mountain tops were snow covered, Iím told that the skiing is very good here in the winter. One of the things probable not worth mentioning but I am is the toilets, on top of a lot of the toilets there are two buttons to push to flush, full flush and a half flush, I actually think itís a pretty good idea to conserve water. Most of the water you get here is rain water and there is no lack of that. At some point it has rained here everyday, not for long and itís a warm rain so you really donít pay any attention to it. Itís off to Milford Sound in the morning
December 15th, 2005
The day started off with the nice steady rain not too hard just steady, it never let up all day, and at first I was kind of bummed that was until I headed north from Teanau to get to the Sound. One word WOW ok two words unfuc%^%$#%$king believable, 120 K of mountains and waterfalls. Iím told that because there is no dirt in this area the water has nothing to soak it up so it follows the path of least resistance and form 100ís of water falls some of them falling up to a quarter of a mile down. When it rains like this it also creates very fast moving creeks that all dump into the Sound. I was told that it rains so often that the sound has a thin layer of fresh water on top of the salt water. All the waterfalls and creeks are gone within 3 hours after the rain stops so Iím glad it rained all day and I got a chance to see it. You might wonder how there is so much vegetation with no dirt the seeds fall into the cracks of the rocks and grows from there, their roots then intertwine and support each other. I had to ride in this one tunnel that had a 10% down grade, as cold and wet as it gets here in the winter I bet this is a fun tunnel to get up. I was a bit disappointed in Milford Sound itself. Looking at it from a map and all you hear about the Sound you would think that there would at least be a town there, not so, a bar, a restaurant (food wasnít that good), a private lodge and a hostel, not even a gas station that took cash. They had a pump that only took credit cards from New Zealand; I had to hang around until someone was getting gas then ask them if I could pump some gas and give them the cash. I made it in time to ride the last boat out into the sound but figured I was wet enough and with the low cloud cover I figured it would be better in the morning. I got a bed at the hostel (last one), dried off, and got a good nights sleep.
December 16th, 2005
I should have gone on the tour of Milford Sound yesterday, it was pretty enough but it stopped raining over night and by morning all the waterfalls you could see from the hostel had dried up. You could see where there were waterfalls in the sound that would have added so much to the tour. If any one ever heads down for a tour, make sure you take one of the smaller boats, we were the first ones out and the last one in and got to go places the bigger boats couldnít get to. We saw dolphins and sea lions, got close enough to the sea lions to smell them, not a wise choice, boy do they stink! There are a lot of good hiking trails around the sound, after the tour a few of us decided to hike over to this one lookout point. Disaster struck, because of all the rain it was pretty muddy, well we were going up this one incline when two young guys from Denmark, screwing around slipped and came sliding down the path, they wiped out four of us on the way down. I donít know what I did to my right knee and ankle but itís not good, all I could think of is how long the walk back to the bike was. I know I didnít break anything, but I might have torn something, we will just have to see how it feels in a few days, sure puts a damper on my plans for the next few days or weeks. Since I had a full tank of gas figured I best get somewhere near a hospital in case it was worst then I thought. Once I got on the bike (it took great effort) riding really wasnít that bad, my leg was bent at just the right angle to fit on the foot peg. I made it as far as Colac Bay at the south tip of the Island when the leg started to throb, I knew I had to get some ice on the knee and ankle so I parked it and iced them all night long.
December 17th, 2005
Moving kind of slow today, had plans to taking a ferry down to Stewarts Island but think it best I just start heading north. Made it as far as Dunedin before the leg told me it was time to rest. Found out that I canít make slow right hand turns, pulled into a gas station tired to pull next to the pump and looked like the guy from Laugh In, got the leg out and didnít hurt it any more, going to have to try to remember no slow rights. Found a Hostel that had over 100 DVDís going to park it for a few days and do some more icing.
December 18th, 2005
Let see what did Craig do today? OH yea movie, ice, movie ice, etc. Going to spend another day here and rest it some more. I donít know what hurts worst the knee or the ankle but I can tell its getting better, I donít think I tore any thing just a good sprain.
December 19th, 2005
I felt good enough to get a little riding in today, didnít feel too bad. Made it from Dunedin to Timaru. There was a movie theater right next to the hostel I was staying at so I hobbled over and watched King Kong, it was filmed here in New Zealand.(2 1/2 stars). One on the things Iíve had to deal with is the difference in money, trying to figure out what was worth what, New Zealand has a cool concept, each denomination has itís own color, fifty is pink, twenty is green, ten is blue and the five is orange, makes it easy to grab what denomination you want. One of the things I donít like is they are also different sizes, itís hard to keep them nice and neat.
December 20th, 2005
Knee is felt pretty well on the ride today. The east coast has a different look then the west coast, not as magnificent but pretty in its own way. Notably the ride into and out of Kaikoura. Remember I told you how bad the sea lions smelled? There were tons of sea lions to the north of Kaikoura and you could smell them long before you would see them. Made it to Picton in 8 hours, this is where you pick up the ferry up to the North Island. Saying good-bye to the South Island, despite the leg was a great trip, It is a MUST see for any one out there. More icing the leg, still moving slow but feeling better day by day. Speaking of legs the spider bite from Mexico is 100% healed. Also to date I have put on 21,000 miles with just about 18,500 of those miles in Central and South America. I donít know who is reading this blog but please feel free to contact me atCRAIGRTW@AOL.COM, if any one has any comment (beside write more often) or place
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