I (Chris) am a Rural Economies Officer and Liz is a Rural Communities Officer, both working for the Countryside Agency (Government Department) for 3 years until we both recently gave it all up to travel. Riding an Africa Twin we'll be setting off from the US and heading for Mexico before deciding on where next. At £30 a day we have funds for 5 years on the road, but we only plan as far as the first week and then see how we feel and where we want to go. That may change!
Chris Smith and Liz Peel, Coventry, UK
A sand storm is just beginning, we're at 5,000 metres and still hundreds of miles from any settlements. The sun is dropping behind the mountains and the temperature will soon be below freezing and will continue to fall until the sun rises again in the morning. We've just come off the bike and petrol is pouring out of the hole in the tank where the tool box has just gone through. Once again we've made it tough on ourselves!
Bolivia is a country which is all things to all people. The cosmopolitan cities of La Paz and Sucre, the lowland jungles of the Amazonia, Andean mountains, altiplano, lagoons, remote villages and developing infrastructures. Bolivia is like walking into a good restaurant where every taste is catered for, and at a good price. We had pushed hard to reach the country before the rains came and made traveling harder than it already is. First stop was La Paz, a crazy city for so many reasons. The highest capital city in the world with searing sun by day and freezing cold by night, the streets are packed with impatient taxis and street hawkers selling everything you would find in the shops if only you could get to them for all the street hawkers. The taxis race at a snails pace as they refuse to give way to each other for the sake of traffic flow. Matters are made worse by every major inroad and outroad being blocked by demonstrators with thousands of gas bottles in light of the disagreement over Bolivian oil profit sharing. Our sole purpose for coming to La Paz was to get new tires, of which we were assured in Peru would not be a problem. We did indeed get them but it took 4 days to locate the only pair in the country which would fit our bike. As crazy as La Paz is it does have a bustling charm about it that leaves you either loving it or hating it.MORE...
It was a long and cold ride across Tierra del Fuego to Ushuaia all in one day but upon reaching Rio Pipo campground it was like coming home. We pulled up at the gate to be greeted by old friends. Alec, Martin and Katya, Martin and Siliva and others. Hugs and warm welcomes were exchanged as we tried unsuccessfully to get of the bike with sore backsides. It was the 23rd of December and despite the best efforts of fate we’d bloody made it!
Christmas day ride to the famous sign.
Following our adventures in Bolivia we had been stuck in San Pedro de Atacama for over a week trying to procure anything that would serve as a temporary repair for our leaking petrol tank. We did the best we could and set off for La Serena with the tank still leaking but not as badly. Thanks to an email from Martin we knew we could get a permanent repair there. A third of the way down Chile, La Serena is a lovely Colonial city, marred by graffiti but saved by a good motorbike shop which for us makes up for anything. As we rode to the bike shop we were assaulted by rude gestures and verbal abuse from three huge Russians in the back of a pickup with a broken down KTM. The gestures were aimed at our ailing Honda but we shouted back pointing out that at least our bike wasn’t in the back of a pickup. Evidently a good point. It turned out that they were going to the same place as us for repairs. As we pulled up and hopped of the bike they jumped out of the pickup and loomed over us shaking our hands and laughing. Meeting several Moscovite Hells Angels in mid Chile is an odd experience made all the more mad for their perfect English, backgrounds of bankers, journalists and businessmen and personalities resembling 5 year-olds fed on a diet of steroids and having an adverse reaction to E-numbers resulting in something akin to kids in ToyRUs on an unlimited budget. Once the bike shop had our respective repairs underway we all jumped back into their pickup for a break-neck ride round La Serena in search of a McDonalds and more E-numbers. Sometimes life on the road takes on a surreal air for us.MORE...
Christmas is long gone, as are the chills of Tierra del Fuego and for the first time in 2 years the compass is reading due North. In less than a month Tierra del Fuego was over 4000 miles behind us and we were back in the North of Argentina fighting off the mosquitoes again. These last 4000 miles had been an odd mix between enduring howling winds, the boredom of endlessly straight roads and the enjoyment of experiencing a vastness of flat landscape like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Even the Senora Desert of northern Mexico has more undulations and subtle changes than the endlessness of South-east Argentina. The experience does have its occasional distractions though. Littering the southern coast are the bones of ships that didn’t survive the traitorous waters of the lower 40’s. The struggling fishing villages all but abandoned and dead on their feet since the economic collapse of Argentina. And the hidden coves well off the beaten track where guanaco, rhea, elephant seals and penguins share the same beaches. A landscape of boredom and a seascape of captivation side by side.
Well once again we find ourselves diverting from our own personal travels to work for a while. Although this time it does involve motorbikes. We are well into ur first tour as guides for Globebusters and already lots of adventures and new friends. I am not going to repeat it all here but provide a link to the site for our Travellers tales.
Hope you enjoy the stories. The site is updated every few days so keep looking for the next installment.
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I’ve just finished mowing the lawn and Liz is cooking tea. How quickly social conformity takes hold once again it seems. On the surface anyone looking at us would think life has always been like this for us, but they’d be wrong. For two hand a half years we’ve had the time of our lives, experiences we will never be able to share or explain to anyone, even those people closest to us. To say we lived life to the full would be a huge understatement; we lived a lifetime every day and came to know ourselves and each other like never before.MORE...
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