September 10, 2008 GMT
2. Planning

I needed to know roughly the numbers of the trip I was looking for. The first thing I did was displaying a South America map, took a notebook, and while going along the marked roads from my starting city to the most extreme city of the continent , added kilometres to get a number. I got 32.200 km. Next, I estimated riding times according to paved/off and mountain/valley roads; added border, visiting and resting times. I got 115 days. After that, I estimated costs: gas, hotels, meals, borders, tickets, parts. I got close to 5.000 US. I already had the main, albeit rough numbers.

Following in this pre-planning stage, was to identify the best weather window, as many latitude degrees would be covered during a few months, and different seasons mixing rainy, dry, hot and cold weather. In two zones weather is critical: high mountain and far South. I didn’t want to ride in extreme cold temperature, though dry, as the high mountain is around July; nor in rainy season as it’s from December to March. Neither in southern winter. Ushuaia is able to ride from October to March, that is southern summer. For the Altiplano (Bolivian plateau), the good combination of high (moderate should be read) temperature with low precipitation was from March to May and from September to November as well. Other zones are not critical. But you have to connect those critical zones of your trip. At this point I found that the South American windows did match perfectly my North American window escaping Canadian winter. Making Peruvian and Bolivian high mountain late on the year means comfortable temperatures with little rain when off-roads still are in good condition. And you have enough time to get the far South while in summer.

This time of the year also perfectly matched my working status. As seasonal worker for an engineering company, my duties are off during the Canadian winter. I got permit from my boss for leaving a little early this year, so the company also contributed to the well development of my trip.

With my pre-planning stage completed, I went to read reports of riders. The most I liked were those of Mariola Cichon therideoftheheart.com (who suffered a terrible accident later in Africa), Robert Bielesch, Grant Guerin & Julie Rose, and Hamish Oag & Emma Myatt (all in horizonsunlimited.com/tstories) . I learnt a lot from all of them and others as well. So, I organized the scattered information in a spreadsheet with five different windows: Reports, Places, Gear, Route, and Climate.

Statistical data (temperature and precipitation) from the most parts of the continent was complemented and graphically analyzed to confirm weather windows. Riders reports were organized by date and shortened for easy comprehension. Visited places were listed and organized in the sheet by latitude and longitude to get a kind of “map” where to visualize names. From the reports, from this and other web-sites, I made my own packing list and gear, some times cancelling items, others adding. And finally, after too many read reports, the route finally took shape about one year ago. The route comprises roughly all the places visited for most of the riders, plus others in which I have special interest. It also includes countries not considered at the beginning.

And you probably will ask me about the family’s coordination. I must say it was easy despite the implications of been disconnected for 6 months. House stuff will remain in storage. My wife Marta will go to Toronto to stay with our daughter Helena-Maria, 33, who is having her fourth baby, Federico, completing four after Sara, Isabela and Daniela. Our other son, Ricardo, 29, was my expected travel partner up to two months ago, when he finally had to give up. The reason, what I call “productive-age problems”, when you can’t coordinate available time and resources with duties. Margarita and Salomé (wife and daughter) need him more than he needs the trip, and more than I need him as a partner. Next time. Finally Sabina, 20, who was many times invited to going with me, missed the opportunity to grow up as a person and to know a world she doesn’t imagine. She preferred to remain in the world she now is living in , or perhaps surviving. God bless her.
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Amigo: ahora puedes leer la historia completa en mi libro "La Suramérica que recorrí". Ve a www.palibrio.com. Las fotos, míralas aquí.
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Yo necesitaba saber aproximadamente los números del viaje que quería hacer. La primera cosa que hice fue abrir un mapa de Suramérica, coger papel y lápiz, ir recorriendo las carreteras y sumando kilómetros desde mi punto de partida hasta la ciudad más extrema del continente para obtener un número que fué 32.000 km. Luego estimé los tiempos de recorrido por tramos según éstos fueran pavimentados o destapados, en montaña o en valle; agregué tiempos en fronteras, visitando sitios y descansando; obtuve 115 días. Después de eso, estimé costos de gasolina, hoteles, alimentación, fronteras, tiquetes de entradas a sitios, repuestos, y obtuve cerca de US$ 5.000. Ya tenía los números, que aunque aproximados, ya eran algo.

Lo siguiente en esta etapa de planeamiento previo fue identificar la mejor ventana climatológica, puesto que se recorrerían muchos grados de latitud durante diferentes meses y diferentes estaciones mezclando lluvias y tiempo seco con clima caliente y clima frío. En dos zonas el clima es crítico: alta montaña y extremo sur. En la alta montaña, yo no quería viajar en el frío extremo, aunque seco, de Julio; ni tampoco en la época de lluvias de Diciembre a Marzo. Ni mucho menos podría llegar al extremo sur del continente en el invierno. A Ushuaia es posible llegar entre Octubre y Marzo que es la época del verano. Para el Altiplano, una buena combinación de alta (debe leerse moderada) temperatura con baja precipitación se daba de Marzo a Mayo, y de Septiembre a Noviembre. Otras zonas geográficas no son críticas. Pero usted tiene que conectar esas zonas críticas de su viaje. En este momento encontré que las ventanas de clima suramericano coincidían perfectamente con mi escape del invierno canadiense. Haciendo la alta montaña de Perú y Bolivia al final del año significaba temperaturas confortables con carreteras destapadas aún en buenas condiciones debido a la poca lluvia. Y aún tenía tiempo para llegar al extremo sur en verano.

Esta época del año también coordinó muy bien con mi tipo de trabajo. Como empleado estacional para una compañía de ingeniería, quedo en receso durante el invierno canadiense. Sin embargo obtuve permiso de mi jefe para salir este año un poco antes, por lo que la compañía también contribuyó al desarrollo del viaje.

Con la etapa de planeamiento previo completa, me puse a leer reportes de motociclistas. Los que mas me gustaron fueron los de Mariela Cichon, therideoftheheart.com (quien sufrió un terrible accidente en Africa), Robert Bielesch, Grant Guerin & Julie Rose, y Hamish Oag & Emma Myatt (todos en horizonsunlimited.com/tstories). Aprendí mucho de ellos así como de otros también. Entonces organicé la información dispersa en una hoja cálculo con cinco diferentes ventanas: Reportes, Lugares, Equipo, Ruta, y Clima.

Datos estadísticos de temperatura y precipitación de varias partes del continente fueron complementados y analizados gráficamente para confirmar las ventanas de clima. Los reportes de viajeros fueron organizados por fecha y resumidos para fácil comprensión. Los lugares visitados fueron listados y organizados por latitud y longitud para obtener un “mapa” donde visualizar los nombres. Con base en reportes de este sitio-web y de otros, hice mi propia lista de viaje y equipo, algunas veces eliminando artículos, otras adicionándolos. Y finalmente, después de leer muchos reportes, la ruta finalmente tomó forma hace como un año. Dicha ruta comprende en general los lugares visitados por la mayoría de viajeros, más otros en los cuales tenía especial interés. Ella también incluyó países no considerados al principio.

Y ustedes se preguntarán cómo fue la coordinación con la familia. Debo decir que a pesar de todo lo que implica desconectarse por 6 meses, ella fue muy fácil. El contrato de arrendamiento del apartamento se cumple justo en Octubre. Los enseres domésticos quedarán en una bodega. Mi esposa Marta Elena va a acompañar en Toronto a nuestra hija Helena María que va a tener a su nuevo hijo Federico a finales de Septiembre/08. Con Sarita, Isabela y Daniela, ya son 4 los nietos que tenemos por este lado. Ricardo, el segundo hijo que vive en Cali-Colombia, fue mi esperado compañero de viaje hasta hace sólo 2 meses, cuando definitivamente tuvo que renunciar al viaje por los mismos motivos que yo lo hice durante más de 30 años. Es lo que yo llamo “problemas de la edad productiva”, cuando es muy difícil coordinar recursos, obligaciones, matrimonio, disponibilidad de tiempo, etc. Margarita su esposa y Salomé (nuestra otra nieta) lo necesitan más que lo que él necesita del viaje y de lo que yo lo quise como compañero de viaje. Me hará falta, pero estoy seguro que su decisión le conviene más al futuro de su familia. Otra vez será. Finalmente Sabina, que también fue muchas veces invitada a ir conmigo, desechó esta buenísima oportunidad para crecer como persona y para conocer un mundo que ni se imagina. Ella prefirió quedarse en el mundo donde ahora vive, o tal vez sobrevive. Dios la guarde.

Posted by Santiago Lema at September 10, 2008 01:22 AM GMT
 



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