May 28, 2006 GMT

You may remember the nightmare of addresses in Japan, which are vague in the extreme and where even the posties* don't really know which building is which.

Reminder: All my pix are here.

The centre of Caracas has its own conundrum. None of the streets have names, or even numbers. Instead, the street corners are named, and an address will be expressed as in between two corners. Aargh.

Bogotá has yet a different scheme. All the streets are numbered (and some have names as well). Calles run E-W, numbered from south to north, and Carreras run N-S, numbered from east to west; which sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? Ha, gotcha. Addresses of individual buildings are a little more challenging.

For instance, my hotel has the address Calle 106 14-49. Aha, you may think, it runs from number 14 to number 49 on Calle 106. You have the Calle 106 bit right, but the 14-49 bit means it's 49 metres from Carrera 14 in the direction of Carrera 15. Obviously it's all a bit approximate, but even locals and taxi drivers have difficulty sometimes. And everything's complicated by Diagonals and Transversals, and as street signs are minimal even really strict counting doesn't necessarily work too well as it's occasionally difficult to distinguish between a street and a building site.

They repealed the helmet law in Colombia some time ago; by which I mean that they allowed motorcyclists to wear helmets. But it went further. All motorcyclists have to wear a bib with their registration number front and back in big reflective characters. The number must also be on the back of their crash helmets (and those of their pillions). Often they don't bother, and it doesn't seem too strictly enforced. I asked a motorcyclist about it the other day, as he had several bikes, and he said you either have to have a helmet or two for each bike, or arrange some sort of removeable sticker you can transfer from one to t'other. Nightmare. Still, if you can afford more than one bike you can afford more than one helmet, I suppose. A standard 1200GS like mine is double the price here, and the guy I spoke to (Andreas) had the new 12GS Adventure so must be loaded.

The fun gets even better this weekend for the election. Not only are the streets absolutely crawling with soldiers and armed police, but I've just had an email from Rupert in Cartagena to say that no bikes are allowed on the streets at all this weekend there, which has caused him some accommodation problems; here in Bogotá no pillions are permitted, so unless a bike can be found for me I can't go on any of the rideouts. Even worse, no booze can be sold between last night (Friday) and Tuesday morning. Don't worry, I've checked that the hotel has a sufficient supply of my medicine.

The reason for all this is that a few years ago there were many ride-by shootings, both criminal and political, so they banned helmets to provide a better chance of identification. Then on safety grounds they repealed that law but insisted on the provisions I described above. And the same fear is the reason for the ban on bikes and/or pillions this weekend.

Hope you all had a good Bank Holiday weekend, but bet it's not as much fun as here.

* Non-Brits: a postie is a postman.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at May 28, 2006 07:42 PM GMT

HU DVD Summer Special!

Now that summer is here, get On the Road! Take 30% off the Achievable Dream - On the Road! 2-DVD set until August 31 only. Get On the Road! Learn the tips to staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure!

Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.

"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."

"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!