December 01, 2006 GMT
On the Road Again

After an interlude to our travels, flying back to Scotland for a family wedding, weīre back on the road for part two of our adventure; South America. Having landed in Santiago, Chile and being successfully reunited with Bertha (our bike), weīre off to Argentina, hopefully in time for the HU meeting in Viedma.

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Ready to go

Having missed all too many family gatherings as a result of living overseas the past ten or so years, we were not about to miss the wedding of my close cousin, Mairi. After all, the wedding reception was being held in a whisky distillery! How could we refuse? (Wedding pics to follow)

PICTURES FROM THE WEDDING OF MAIRI AND JON:

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Catching up with family at home:

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Halloween with Rory

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Being back was great to catch up with family and friends, however after too many drams, pints (not nancy pots or schooners) and home cooking, it was time for teary goodbyes and to get back on the plane.

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With Emīs brother in London

We took the opportunity of a stop-over in Dubai to catch up with good friends, Gabi and Max, who provided us with an insight into life in the UAE. Fortunately, not all of Dubai is sand and glitzy buildings; the mountains providing a cool respite to the desert heat.

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Oasis

They also provided some good trails to ride, Max kindly providing me with his KTM to scoot around on, which proved to be a little more nimble without Em, panniers and camping equipment on board!

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Where are the panniers?

When back in Melbourne, our main task was to crate Bertha for the journey to Santiago. BMW Melbourne kindly provided us with a crate, albeit minus the new 1200 Adventure it originally contained, bummer! Mindful of freighting the bike with an empty tank, we arrived at BMW with the fuel pump wheezing; saving us the job of emptying the tank of residual fuel. As with all the best travels, a case of good luck as opposed to strategic planning.

After braving a Melbourne hail storm (remember, itīs supposed to be summer here!), and a bit of juggling here and there, we squeezed the bike, panniers and spare tyres into the wood and cardboard box, strapped it down and said goodbye. All being well, weīd be reunited in Santiago in a couple of weeks time.

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Fortunately, Melbourne wasnīt all work and no play. We caught up with relatives of Em, whilst Martin and Fiona were once again the perfect hosts. Martin taking me fishing out in the bay, my lack of skill landing a somewhat immature flat-head. I gave it a second chance at life and threw it back.

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If you hold it close to the camera it looks bigger! (Em)

We wrapped up our Australia trip with a drive down the Great Ocean Road on our final day with Martin, in his extremely quick VW. It may not have been a bike, but bloody good fun nonetheless. Experiencing the waves crashing in on the South coast seemed a fitting end to our (almost) circumnavigation of this massive island.

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Us and Martin (Urban Man)

Rather then fly directly to Santiago, weīd opted to stop-off in Tahiti for a couple of days and then Easter Island for a week. After all it was the same price as a direct flight, so why not? I should have realised if David Essex sang about somewhere, it was bound to be dubious! Ok, thatīs a little unfair (on Tahiti, not DE), it wasnīt so bad, just expensive. Nonetheless, it did provide us with the chance to kick back after the previous monthīs excesses. (Next time Iīll go to Tahiti and he can go to Skegness! - I liked it! - Em)

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The view over my book

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Em at least made it off the beach

Both keen to visit Easter Island, Isla de Pascua or Rapa Nui, depending on your language persuasion, we soaked up our week there exploring the island both above and below the surface. Other than its isolation, wonderful barren landscape and friendly folks, Easter Islandīs draw card is of course the mystical Moai, the massive stone figures that dominate the horizon.

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Hewn from a dormant volcano between 800AD and 1600AD, the Moai were then lowered down to the base of the volcano, final carving completed, before being transported to their respective Ahu or platform at various locations around the island. Sounds straightforward, however these statues can be up to 20m in height, weighing in excess of 100 tons...and no cranes, hoists or low-loaders to transport them the kilometers required back in them days! There are of course as many theories as there are possibilities, most employing wooden logs in some configuration or another. Hence the reason for the lack of trees, so it is believed.

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Anyway, however they were produced, transported and erected is irrelevent when you sit and take them in; the sight is really quite something.

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Spot the Hamish!

As a result of fighting between tribes over declining resources (some things never change), in this case, the Long Ears and the Short Ears (I kid you not), all Moais were knocked over and production abruptly ceased. Hence the volumes of Moai in various states of completion seen around the Moai birthplace, Rano Rakano.

In an attempt to restore order, someone dreamt up the Birdman philosophy. Instead of fighting for leadership, select members of each clan would tear down the slopes of a volcano, swim through treacherous waters to an uninhabited island to retrieve the first egg of the season from a particular sea bird. The winner would be the first to retrieve the egg via the reverse route. Not entirely different to the cult ī70īs TV programme, The Great Egg Race.

So when we werenīt learning about stone statues and birdmen, we took to the water to explore the crystal clear depths. Did I mention visability? 30m +! Diving to a depth of around 25m and looking up as if wearing aqua marine coloured sunglasses on a sunny day. Spectacular.

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H & E get into rubber!

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Change of transport 1

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Change of transport 2

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All too soon it was time to pack up the tent and hit the airport again. Fortunately this would be our last flight for a while, instead relying on our bike to carry us across borders, not planes. Em was on the ball and reserved window seats on the left side of the plane, providing us with our own live mountain documentary as we flew alongside the Andes approaching Santiago.

The following morning Jesus, our freight agent, collected us and drove us to the airport to be reunited with Bertha. Having taken almost two days to clear the bike upon arrival in Australia, we were expecting the process to take some time in Chile.

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However, having the Saviour on our side helped no end. After a few hours of shuttling from desk to desk we had Bertha loaded onto the smallest truck in Chile and off to Jesusīs warehouse for unwrapping. Christmas came early.

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(Jesus is the one on the left)

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After a day or two in Santiago to re-organise our gear, realise how little Spanish we know and catch up on the blog (you know how long it takes to write this stuff?!), weīre off tomorrow across the border into Argentina. Already our plans have changed, weīre heading towards Viedma on the East coast for our first HU (Horizons Unlimited) meeting, where we hope to meet up with like minded vagabonds. Itīs then South towards Tierra del Fuego for Christmas. Well thatīs the plan at present....

(Hamish)

Posted by Hamish Oag at December 01, 2006 03:39 PM GMT
 
 

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