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Two Pegs to Patagonia


We are just 2 people with a desire to see places, this trip was about Jean seeing penguins in the wild, we just decided to start near the top and bimble down.

To enable us to go on the trip, I opted for redundacy and Jean took a 9 month "Career break".

The main blog is in the category 2 Pegs to Patagonia, entries from Jean will appear under El bueno, el malo y el feo.

In November 2012 we returned to South America. That tale is here - Pegless to Peru
June 06, 2010 GMT
Pannier preparation

Spent a few hours with Vern (Project VND) trying to work out how, where and what size panniers to stick on the bike. There was a lot of hmmming and arhhhing. Much measuring, re-measuring, head scratching and discussion.


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Posted by Bruce Porter at 06:04 PM GMT
July 16, 2010 GMT
La Hipoteca

The mortgage. Finally paid off this month. Took it out when I was 21.

P1000390-10.JPG

Its been a long time..... maybe I'll go on a little trip to celebrate.

Posted by Jean Porter at 06:12 PM GMT
July 19, 2010 GMT
Pre trip breaking, and you can have too much knowledge

While riding my Pegaso last month I heard a vibration, so I crawled over the bike and noticed the radiator was loose. On closer inspection the 2 top rivets were missing. I popped into Pitstop and Paul had a look, then started to fix it by widening the hole and adding a pop rivet. The 1st one went in OK, the 2nd punctured the rad :-(

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 06:06 PM GMT
August 06, 2010 GMT
Why isn't everything ready ?

I'm not panicking, honest. But with the bikes due To ship out on the 1st September it would be nice if everything was in place

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 01:08 PM GMT
August 26, 2010 GMT
Garage is Full

Finally, after what seems like an age, we have the panniers fitted to the bikes.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 08:43 PM GMT
August 28, 2010 GMT
EL Taller

Bikes are sorted with Panniers

P1000446.JPG

Posted by Jean Porter at 09:24 PM GMT
La Cocina

Managed to fit everything in :-)

P1000441.JPG

Posted by Jean Porter at 10:22 PM GMT
September 02, 2010 GMT
Garage is Empty

After a frantic few days of packing, repacking, buying extra items to aid packing (once we had the panniers we had a better idea of how we wanted to fit things, we delivered the bikes to James Cargo for air freighting to Toronto.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 12:20 PM GMT
September 07, 2010 GMT
El pingüino

On a trek to find his fellow penguins.

pengy1.jpg

Posted by Jean Porter at 03:13 PM GMT
September 08, 2010 GMT
The Pegasi have landed

Touched down just before 17:00 local time (22:00 GMT), pretty uneventful flight, smooth, on time (heck we actually had a plane !) and food as well.

Customs form had a entry for "cargo not traveling with you", so we had to tick that. Which obviously led to questions, a lot of form marking at the 1st custom post and then then being asked to carry on.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 11:36 PM GMT
September 12, 2010 GMT
That will be $1432 please sir

After being hit with $25 taxi fare to go less than a mile (as the crow flies) because no one would let us walk across the runways, these were the words we were met with on Thursday morning when we did find them.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 01:08 AM GMT
September 13, 2010 GMT
Mi nueva casa

On the shores of Lake Champlain, Vermont.

littlehouse2.jpg

Posted by Jean Porter at 01:49 PM GMT
September 16, 2010 GMT
I'm not looking for a New England ..

Since crossing into the US, we have been wandering around the North East (New England) states, in fact we headed East and North into Maine before dropping south.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 11:06 PM GMT
El Malo

Does my bum look wet in this ?

jeanwetbum2.jpg


Results of wearing Dainese "all weather" pants for 2 hours in heavy rain.

Posted by Jean Porter at 11:31 PM GMT
September 21, 2010 GMT
Yee hah !

After our soaking in Pennsylvania the weather has picked up as we have dropped south, after a stop over near Washington with an ex Sun colleague, Christin Tran, we headed on down to Colonial Willamsburg.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 10:59 PM GMT
September 25, 2010 GMT
Flying

Those Wright brothers were damn clever people.

We have just spent a couple of days camping on the beach at Kitty Hawk (North Carolina). The Atlantic swell was "awesome" thanks to the recent hurricanes.

We really like the way the Americans do National Historical sites and had a very informative Park Ranger talk. I never realised that they were bicycle makers by trade and not only did they develop and build their own engine, but all the calculations they produced for wing design are still used today.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 02:00 AM GMT
El primer vuelo

firstflight.jpg

Kill Devil Hills, Kiitihawk, North Carolina. The track marks the world's first successful powered flights, by the Wright brothers, on a freezing cold day in December 1903. A piece of the plane was sent to the moon and back on the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.

Posted by Jean Porter at 02:18 AM GMT
September 27, 2010 GMT
El pájaro de fuego

firebird.jpg

Another cultural interlude (to balance out the previous shooting session) - Bruce was dragged into the modern art museum in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Posted by Jean Porter at 09:51 PM GMT
October 03, 2010 GMT
Thunder at the beach

And not the weather kind.

With our drift south we noticed a lot of motorbikes, all going the same way, So we did the natural thing and followed them.

We ended up at Panama City Beach, Florida, bike week.

http://www.thunderbeachproductions.com/

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 04:17 AM GMT
October 05, 2010 GMT
El caimán grande

Meaher State Park, by Spanish Fort, Alabama.

gator.jpg

Is it a log? No its a 10 foot alligator skulking in the lagoon 200m from our tent. I slept with my feet facing the lagoon.

Posted by Jean Porter at 03:39 AM GMT
October 06, 2010 GMT
There is a house in New Orleans....

They call the ... yadda yadda yadda, been there seen that.

I drove my chevy to the levy ..... etc etc etc, actually camped by it.

So, after the hectic bike weekend we drifted on down to "N'Awleanz", to see swamps and have a nose around. Neither of us had appreciated or realised how big the lake to the north was until we crossed it, one bridge is 24 miles long and they are doubling the width of another to aid hurried escapes from the area. We stopped at the local KOA (Kampgrounds Of America) 10 miles on the west of the city and booked onto the next days free bus ride into the city.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 04:10 AM GMT
October 08, 2010 GMT
And then the next day....

The man who said he would look at my bike, did, it was one look, followed by "What sort of bike is that ? I thought it would be a Harley, I'm not going to start looking at that."

He then sent us to the Harley dealer, saying they worked on all sorts of bikes. The Harley dealer took one look at the bike and said, "Its a metric, we don't work on metrics".

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 03:25 AM GMT
October 10, 2010 GMT
An arm and a leg later

We are back on the road. Final diagnosis was a fault in the electronic dash, so the high beam switch has been taken out of the equation and a hardwire by pass put in.

If this bike gets home, it will be fun getting it through an MOT.

To finish off an expensive day, I had a haircut.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 05:02 AM GMT
October 14, 2010 GMT
Texas is green after all

From bleak oil terminals, to verdant (and warm) country side.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 09:58 PM GMT
October 15, 2010 GMT
El helado

peanutlolly.jpg

Why don't they sell these in the UK ?

Posted by Jean Porter at 04:40 AM GMT
October 19, 2010 GMT
Texas, bigger than France

As so many T shirts shout out in San Antonio.

And, they are right, its something like 2000 miles across.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 12:40 AM GMT
El Contestador

Garden around trailer house in Sabine, Texas

protest.jpg

They're not happy with BP here.

Posted by Jean Porter at 03:29 AM GMT
October 21, 2010 GMT
Texas - Still here

Desert Country

We left the hills behind, and the Gas Stations. Although we were on I10, we managed to hit an 80 mile stretch with nothing, and I mean nothing. Until we came to a rest stop where there was WIFI, but no gas (sorry, petrol). We never got as far as getting connected because we started talking to a man BBQing. Who then assured us there would be some fuel about 15 miles down he road (I'd already been on reserve for about 10). As he was cooking meat before it defrosted he did couple of small steaks for us.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 11:57 PM GMT
October 25, 2010 GMT
Its a Bend and its Big

Big Bend NP

At least we were heading south, even if it was away from the border. Although, while there we camped by the Rio Grande, which is the border.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 04:12 PM GMT
El pingüino en la frontera

Terlingua - Ghost Town, looking towards Mexico

pengfrontera.jpg

Pengy contemplates Mexico, having failed to find any relatives in the USA.

Posted by Jean Porter at 04:50 PM GMT
October 27, 2010 GMT
Mexico - bigger than Texas !

After all the tales of hassle at the borders, armed patrols on the roads and watching for bandits as we travelled through the USA, it was a very uneventful crossing.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 03:28 AM GMT
November 03, 2010 GMT
Mexico -ups, downs, canyons and roads

Some notes on driving in Mexico.

Petrol :- The oil and petrol business is state owned, there is one brand of fuel, Pemex. The price is the same every where in the country, even on the toll roads. Octane is variable, they all have “87” which the the equivalent of our old 2 star and then there is “91” which is the same as the UK unleaded and sometimes “92” or “93”.

Topes :- The speed bumps from hell. There are two types. Most are similar to ours, but not as smooth or small. They are sometimes sign posted and sometimes not, when you hit one at 50-60 miles an hour on a main highway you learn to slow down more near villages. The other type are lines of small metal lumps, semi-spheres, that will send the wheels every where if not taken slowly, best taken by lining up the wheels and going over a single one.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 09:22 PM GMT
November 05, 2010 GMT
El cactus graffiti

On hillside at Real De Catorce

cactusgrafiti.jpg

The local grafitti "wall"

Posted by Jean Porter at 03:29 AM GMT
November 09, 2010 GMT
El turisto

View from 'Garry hostel' roof.

gringo.jpg

He's not in Liverpool now!

Posted by Jean Porter at 01:27 AM GMT
November 10, 2010 GMT
Cuidad De Mexico

Or Mexico D.F (District Federal) as it is known, or just Mexico. It does not seem right following signs for Mexico while in Mexico.

The Mexican motorway service areas are a little different from ours, a line of restaurants appear with ladies waving brightly coloured flags to attract our attention.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 12:19 AM GMT
November 16, 2010 GMT
On the road again

Garry led us out of the city, dropping south to avoid the ring road and a scenic detour to view the volcanoes, then as he had to go to work he pointed us in the direction we needed to go and with a wave merged with the traffic and faded into the distance.

For the 1st time in two weeks we were on our own again.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 03:34 AM GMT
November 20, 2010 GMT
What ? Rain ?

8 weeks of being dry, and then we finally got tropical weather.

As we entered Chetumal, on the Mexico / Belize border, looking for a Couchsurfer's house, the clouds let rip, big style. Within minutes the roads were flooded and we were ankle deep in water (that is, ankle deep while on the bikes). It went dark, and the rain so "thick" we could hardly see,

We quickly found shelter in a tyre fitting bay.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 02:04 AM GMT
November 26, 2010 GMT
Belize - Smaller than Wales

Nowhere is far away in Belize and there are only 3 main roads. In theory, you cannot get lost, so they don't feel plentiful sign posts are worth the money.

And if you do make a wrong turn, concerned locals wave you down and tell you to go back. It's possible to drive through the country on one tank of petrol, without stopping or seeing any thing. However, this would be a shame.

We spent a couple of days at Dangriga, on the Caribbean coast, after riding through more heavy rain and opted for a guest house on the beach.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 02:22 AM GMT
La moto y la selva

Hummingbird Highway, Belize.

happyjean.jpg

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Posted by Jean Porter at 04:38 AM GMT
November 28, 2010 GMT
Five must be the magic number

Meeting people on the road is one of the cool things that happens, it can change the day, dissolve any possible plans and lead you off on paths that you would never normally take.

First we met Evan, a Canadian doing the trip on his own. He spotted the bikes, we started talking and decided to ride to Tikal the next morning together.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 05:01 PM GMT
November 30, 2010 GMT
El viaje a las cuevas

Trip down to caves at Semuc Champey. The tour 'bus' from the hostel, get on and hang on. Single track dirt road winding around steep hills all the way!

bussload.jpg

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Posted by Jean Porter at 01:22 AM GMT
December 11, 2010 GMT
School's Out !

That was an experience, we have just finished 5 days of Spanish "immersion" lessons. Five hours a day of one on one tutorials, and around 2-3 hours of home work a night.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 08:05 PM GMT
December 15, 2010 GMT
La banda de marimba

Performance in the Parque Centro, Quetzeltenango, Guatemala.

marimba.jpg

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Posted by Jean Porter at 03:22 AM GMT
December 17, 2010 GMT
Come on in

The water is loverly, Surf's up !

We had a choice between Volcanoes or Beach. We both felt it was time to visit a beach.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 11:35 PM GMT
December 18, 2010 GMT
El pingüino y los surfistas

El Tunco beach, El Salvador. Looking over the Pacific.

Pengy considers theories of evolution and why there are a lot of surfers but no penguins on Central American beaches.

pengysurf.jpg

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Posted by Jean Porter at 03:46 AM GMT
December 26, 2010 GMT
You meet the nicest people at gas stations

Our plan for Costa Rica was to head straight through in the "Inter Americana" highway that cuts through the capital, San Jose, and then into the mountains.

We stopped over night just across the border ( a four hour crossing from Nicaragua) in Liberia and had an early start at 08:00.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 10:01 PM GMT
January 03, 2011 GMT
Empty Nest

We feel naked.

After kicking our heels for a week, the bikes have been handed to the air freight company in Panama, along with $1800USD.

Now we just need to get our flight to Colombia in the morning, and play the 'get the bikes out of storage' game.

The Cargo company did worry us a bit though

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 10:20 PM GMT
January 06, 2011 GMT
El viejo y lo nuevo

Cuidad de Panama, from the 'old town'.

oldandnew.jpg

A city of big contrasts, where tin roofed shacks of the poor prop up the modern tower blocks of the rich, and the old rubs up against the new.

Posted by Jean Porter at 01:51 AM GMT
Bogged down in Bogota

The Airport abbreviated name says it all.

BOG, well it appeals to my sense of humour.

Its not a bad airport, we just had some fun and games after landing. At first things went smoothly, we had no problems with customs, the tourist information lady was easy to understand and directed us to the cargo depot.

After a bit of going backwards and forwards between people they finally told us that the bikes were still in Panama.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 11:13 PM GMT
January 07, 2011 GMT
La pared de graffiti

Bogota, Columbia. 2 of numerous photos I took today. Well, you have to when you're in a new continent!

1. Graffitti wall near our hostal.

boggrafiti.jpg

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Posted by Jean Porter at 12:49 AM GMT
January 11, 2011 GMT
Bogged down Part II

Progress in Colombia continues at a snails pace.

We headed North for San Gil and then Santa Marta, on the Carribean coast, as everyone at our Bogota hostel said it was a good route to take to get to Cartagena.

What no one mentioned was the number of cars, buses and trucks crawling up and down the winding mountain roads to get north. We took 8 hours to do 330kms (210miles), and when we arrived at the hostel in San Gil we discovered the road north was 'temporarily' closed beyond the next major city (Bucaramanga) due to land slides.

We decided to stay in San Gil an extra night to see if would open, which meant we could play in the local waterfalls.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 01:09 AM GMT
January 17, 2011 GMT
Las señales de tráfico

Probably the most common road sign in Columbia.

headon.jpg

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Posted by Jean Porter at 02:41 AM GMT
El jardín de Edén

Salento, a little village on top of a hill, in the heart of Columbia's coffee growing area.

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Posted by Jean Porter at 02:54 AM GMT
January 20, 2011 GMT
Line crossed

Its seems to have been a long time coming, the nearer we got, the slower we traveled. At times we even managed to venture further away.

But today, we finally crossed the equator.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 02:04 AM GMT
January 27, 2011 GMT
Many climates, in one day

From near the Amazon basin to the sea, all in one day.

We had stopped for a couple of days at a nice Spa town called Banos, which sits in the shadow of Tungurahua, which last erupted in May 2010.

The town is about 60km from the start of the Amazon basin, but as the hostel offered sauna treatments and thermal baths we opted to stay and play in the water.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 06:41 PM GMT
February 02, 2011 GMT
Decisions, decisions, decisions

We seem to be re-planning the trip almost on a daily basis now.

Having taken our time coming through Central America (because we were enjoying it and we were avoiding the prolonged rainy season in Costa RIca, Panama and Colombia), we are now concerned about the rainy season we will hit in Bolivia. As many of the roads are unpaved, this may well mean having to not go to the Salar De Uyuni as the salt flats will be wet and the roads there un-passable (for us).

We may be considered strange as it seems from blogs we read that, unlike a lot of people who do this trip, we like deserts, and Peru is all desert on the West of the Andes, right up to the sea.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 09:39 PM GMT
February 07, 2011 GMT
From the Andes to the Sandes

Our headlong dash out of the mountains towards Nasca to see the "Worlds Highest Sand Dune" and the Nasca Lines (un-explained detailed drawings in the desert, a bit like crop circles, but bigger and older) was interrupted by something neither of us had expected.

A sea of sand dunes, with an oasis.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 10:46 PM GMT
February 14, 2011 GMT
Peru Peru, Salut Peru

Jean had two wishes for this trip, other than the penguin thing.

* To meet an Andean woman wearing a "bowler hat"
* To have a conversation in Spanish with her.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 12:35 AM GMT
February 15, 2011 GMT
Pass the salt please

Uyuni, the worlds largest salt flat.

We had written it off the route, due to its possible inaccessibility during the wet season (dirt roads only), but Jean decided she would brave it.

So, we selected the straightest and flattest route, and hoped for no rain.

The tarmac turned to hard pack, the hard pack turned to muddy sand. And in the distance we saw rain.

At times the road disappeared due to being washed out and we had to re-orientate ourselves or ask other passing vehicles (they criss cross every where out here) for the correct track.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 11:01 PM GMT
February 17, 2011 GMT
Las rutas de tierra y asfalta

The road from Uyuni to Potosi, Bolivia.

tarmacworship.jpg

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Posted by Jean Porter at 02:10 AM GMT
February 18, 2011 GMT
Boivian Blockade

From Uyuni we wanted to head to Chile, the most direct route was 500 kilometres of dirt, with at least one stretch of 400 kilometres with no fuel.

So, to be fair to the bikes and ourselves we decided to head back to Oruro via Potosi which had much more tarmac, and then head into Chile at its most northerly border with Bolivia. A detour of about 1500 kilometres.

The road to Potosi still had stretches of dirt, however this was made enjoyable by some fantastic canyons and gorges. One section, soon to be bypassed and cut off for ever was idyllic.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 11:44 PM GMT
February 25, 2011 GMT
Who stole all the gas stations ?

At least it feels like some one has.

Before crossing from Bolivia to Chile we filled up, but not before the attendant made sure we understood that as foreigners we would be charged double the fuel price, 60p/litre, we assumed it was the equivalent price to Chile to stop people coming over and sucking the tanks dry.

It had been 170 kms since the last gas station, and as it turned out would be 230kms to the next one.

Shortly after crossing we met a Chilean biker, Rodriguez, riding the same model bike as us, much to all our delight.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 10:45 PM GMT
February 26, 2011 GMT
Las llamas y los senales

Somewhere in Bolivia. The most common road sign seen here. And there's loads of them, llamas, alpacas, vicunas.........by the road, on the road, about to cross the road. At least they don't suddenly dash across in the suicidal manner favoured by moose and deer. They eye you up and then casually saunter over the road like someone crossing a main road in Liverpool city centre.

llamasign.jpg

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Posted by Jean Porter at 05:30 PM GMT
March 08, 2011 GMT
You meet the nicest people (reprise), on the internet.

For many years now my email has carried a signature at the end.
"The internet is a huge and diverse community and not every one is friendly"

After our great experiences with people we have met on this trip via various internet resources: Christine in Virginia, Thomas in Atlanta, Pam and also Wes in Texas, Garry in Mexico, and Norm in Panama, who have all hosted us......

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 11:10 PM GMT
March 16, 2011 GMT
Captain's Blog

When looking ahead to this part of the trip we thought the only choices were

1) Ruta 40 - mainly dirt road and high (very high) winds, tracking the east slopes of the Andes.
2) Ruta 7 - the Carretera Austral, 1200kms of dirt on the very scenic west slopes of the Andes, with ferry crossings, followed by Ruta 40.
3) Cross to Argentina by the Chilean lakes, go to the Atlantic coast and take ruta 3 south, then the same road back north.

Option 1 and 2 and been ruled out a long time ago.

Option 4, did not even exist. Until Santiago.

A cruise. And surprisingly I've not been bored.

Unfortunately, the experiment with the expensive anti-sickness drugs failed for Jean, however I would say she was not as bad as normal.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 10:24 PM GMT
March 17, 2011 GMT
El fin de los Andes

View from the Puerto Natales ferry, rounding the base of the Peninsula Roca on the southern coast of Chile.

passingthendes.jpg

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Posted by Jean Porter at 01:15 AM GMT
La vida marina de la Patagonia

West of the Parque Nacional Bernardo O'Higgins on the coast of southern Chile. Pengy finally got to see lots of relatives (the Magellanic family branch) swimming past. Unfortunately they were a bit camera shy and kept diving for fish instead of posing properly for photographs.

thereturnofpengy.jpg

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Posted by Jean Porter at 01:33 AM GMT
March 19, 2011 GMT
Two Pegs IN Patagonia

It's been over six months, somewhere around 19,000 miles with more highs than lows.

We set out with a target of Patagonia, and even though technically we have been in the region since the Chilean "Lake District" just north of Puerto Montt, we didn't feel we had truly arrived until we got to Torres Del Paine National Park.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 09:43 PM GMT
March 23, 2011 GMT
La nueva casa de Pengy

Seno Otway penguinera, near Punta Arenas, Chile.

pengybeach.jpg

Pengy spotted his relatives returning home from the sea, after a long day fishing. When they had finished resting and 'socialising' they all waddled back to their burrows making a lot of noise and stopping from time to time for some beak rubbing and flipper waving.

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Posted by Jean Porter at 10:30 PM GMT
Los monumentos del Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins

(for the Higgins family)

Bernardo O'Higgins, one of the main players in the independence of Chile, has tributes all over the country. There are main streets named after him, a national park, town squares, and numerous monuments.

bernardoandme.jpg

This statue in Punta Arenas is one of our favourites. It's location is particularly inspiring, with Bernardo grandly pointing across the Straits of Magellan towards Tierra Del Fuego. He was one of the instigators in encouraging the Chilean government of the time to stake its claim to the current southern end of Chile, and the strategically important Straits.

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Posted by Jean Porter at 11:01 PM GMT
March 24, 2011 GMT
Idle, and expensive, days in Patagonia

We have been very lucky on this trip, except for the actual breakdown.

A rapid search on the internet located Gonzalo at Motoescar in Punta Arenas who agreed to look at Jean's shock absorber if we could get it to him (240k away).

He then rang back to say he had a friend in Puerto Natales, with a truck, who was going to Punta Arenas the next morning.

Bright and early on Sunday morning we had to use a lot of muscle and ingenuity to load Jean's bike on, especially as it did not fit and the rear sat on the tail board.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 01:30 AM GMT
March 26, 2011 GMT
(Muéstrame) La Via De Volver A Casa.

Cerro de la Cruz, Punta Arenas.

wayhome.jpg

There's the route home, via Buenos Aires and Madrid. I just need a way of getting there!

An enterprising resident has used big poles in their garden to set up signposts to cities around the world. For the equivalent of $40 we could have ordered one for St Helens. However, we'd sooner spend the money on food, beer and getting my bike fixed.

Posted by Jean Porter at 09:31 PM GMT
March 30, 2011 GMT
Don't mention the war

I think I did, once, but I got away with it.

Yes, we are now in the home of beef and claimants to British sovereign territory.

Jean's bike is finally fixed, last adjustments made at 10.00 this morning and then we high tailed it out of Chile. 9 days in Punta Arenas was enough for us. There are just so many times you can walk up and down the same promenade.

With out the aid of Gonzalos at Motoescar we would have been there much longer. His final fix was to get a friend to fabricate a new seal.

Yes, we did sing *that* song as we crossed the border. Our final land border, and the speediest, all done in in about 30 minutes.

A few days of north, with heavy winds are ahead of us.

Posted by Bruce Porter at 03:07 AM GMT
April 03, 2011 GMT
Jean's big day out

After four days of progress north seeing nothing but flat pampas stretching from one horizon to the next, we finally reached the Welsh region of Patagonia at Trelew and decided to have a two night stop.

This meant that we had a chance to visit the largest penguin colony outside of Antarctica. Much to Jean's joy, although we are in the last 2 weeks of the fledgling season before they all migrate north to the sea off Brazil, there were still penguins to be seen.

Lots of penguins.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 12:48 AM GMT
April 07, 2011 GMT
Down Again

But still not out.

After all the bad roads we have crossed :- The gravel, the mud, the sand and the ripio.

A roundabout on tarmac in Argentina is the scene of my worst spill so far.

Its not as if I was going fast, around 35mph (60km/h for any Canadians still reading).

We were going straight on, I entered the roundabout , looked to my right to see if any vehicles were approaching from the next exit and then .......

.... sky, road , roundabout, bike, spin.

The back end just broke away, the bike went down on its left, I completed at least one 360 degree spin (Jean thinks it may have been two) and then pushed myself away and span on my back like a turtle with the bike close behind.

I think Jean was relieved to see me sit up, I was relieved to see that Jean had not followed me.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 01:32 AM GMT
April 14, 2011 GMT
Useful equipment

On the road all kit is useful, however some kit is more useful than others.

By far the most useful and utilised is gaffa/duct tape for its ability to stick anything back together again.

However we carried and collected a few other items that have been invaluable to us.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 04:12 PM GMT
April 15, 2011 GMT
Two down, one to go

Thats two continents down, at least one to go. No more bikes have fallen over recently.

It has been a quiet week, especially with me limping everywhere.

We spent most of the week sleeping and socialising in the garage at Dakar Motors, who have a workshop with a 'hostel' attached.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 10:44 PM GMT
April 17, 2011 GMT
Las Dos Ciudads

We left Buenos Aires in the autumn and 12,000k later arrived in Madrid in the spring. It took us 12 hours in the air to travel half of what took 7 months on the ground.

The steak in Argentina is as good as its renowned to be. We shared a slab with Cindy and Geert at a parilla (BBQ restaurant) in Buenos Aires.

bigsteak.jpg

My first impression of Bueno Aires was that it was quite similar to Madrid. But now I've had a good look at Madrid again I don't think this is true

Buenos Aires is like a much loved and well used designer shoe, all scuffed around the edges but worn with attitude.

Madrid is like a well cared for vintage shoe, stylish and immaculately kept.

Continuing on the shoe theme, here are our feet on the centre of Spain marker in the Plaza Del Sol, Madrid.

Madridfeet.jpg

Posted by Jean Porter at 09:39 PM GMT
April 22, 2011 GMT
Yesterday it was autumn, today it is spring

We managed to leave Buenos Aires without any (more) mishaps, and arrived in Madrid at 05:30. As it was dark we could see straight away the moon was back the right way up, and waning in the correct direction. The bikes flew to London before joining us by Sunday.

In Argentina drivers would look at us as they failed to hit us, back in Europe they are looking at their mobiles.

We aren't going directly home, but faffing about in Spain and France before bimbling back through the UK and have just spent a few days riding north of Madrid with Mike and Moira who came out with Aidan and Angela to meet us.

Yesterday I gloated about the bike chain life, today we had them changed. By a Spanish motocross champion at a KTM dealer. Apparently they were rotten.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 05:00 PM GMT
May 06, 2011 GMT
Bonjour, Yo parle Franole ahora

When we crossed from Spain into France two things became immediately apparent.

The first was that we had finally entered a country where the road signs made logical sense (to us) with the same towns consistently listed, in the same order, and fair warning of a junction appearing. Spain had been little different from the Central and South American system of randomly changing what towns are signposted, with the added attraction of telling you you had just missed your turn off.

Not since the USA, with the exception of some parts of Chile, had navigating been so easy.

Our second experience was that we suddenly had fresh communication problems. During the last 7 months we had become used to listening to Spanish and forming a response, initially I had mixed some French into it but had grown out of the habit. Now it was back to square one.

I found I could understand what was being said to me in French, but forming a response was slow and laboured or resulted in gibberish as I mixed the two languages together. It seems we have become wired to hearing a foreign voice and immediately responding in Spanish, so "si" not "oui", or "dos" not "deux".

When asking for things I would prepare the sentence, get it out and be understood but fall back into gibberish when more was needed.

As the week progressed we improved, even managing a slow stilted conversation explaining our trip to a nice French woman who was fed us yoghurts and home made plum jam in a lay-by. Even in France we meet nice people at the side of the road.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 09:58 AM GMT
May 15, 2011 GMT
Cooeee, we're home !

We've spent the last week drifting across the country visiting friends and relatives , from Plymouth to Surrey and then Sheffield, before turning west across the Pennines with one last stop at Rawtenstall where I was presented with a solution to the coke bottle/straw issue.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 09:50 PM GMT
July 30, 2012 GMT
Getting ready for the road again

We're heading back to South America, this November.

Since finishing the Two Pegs trip I've definitely had a sense of something missing. A need to hit the road again. We had plans for spending a large chunk of the winter in Spain and only taking time to come home if any work came up.

But with people asking me what I was going to do for my birthday this year, my birthday is in November (and I will be 50), we usually pick a city somewhere (warm) and hit it for a weekend with any friends who want to come along. I pondered for a while and realised that what I really wanted to do, more than anything else, was to ride a bike in far off foreign lands again. Warm far off places. Preferably for a long way and for a long time.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 11:32 AM GMT
October 29, 2012 GMT
Packing

It is different this time, packing, and feels all wrong. Normally when we go away we get the bikes out, fill the panniers and then either ride away on them or have them crated and join them a week later on some far flung continent.

Instead we found our selves presented with a pile of clothes and motorbike accessories on the lounge floor like this.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 05:22 PM GMT
November 05, 2012 GMT
Back over the Andes

When planning to do some bureaucratic activity, like trying to obtain an official "tax" number and have vehicle documents put in your name, it is best not to arrive in the capital city on a national holiday. Especially one that occurs on a Thursday, so everything shuts down for 4 days.

Our friend Juan, who we are buying the bike off, picked us up from the airport and took us to our apartment.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 01:11 AM GMT
November 11, 2012 GMT
Progress, at last

"Sometimes you just have to go with the flow." (TM @ bdp 2010-)

Over the last week we have not really felt in control of anything going on with the bike. We just had to put our faith and trust in those that were helping us.

Very little happened over the holiday weekend but then things started to move on Monday. Getting a temporary RUT (tax number) seemed to go smoothly and quickly. We decided to get one each "just in case".

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 02:24 PM GMT
November 13, 2012 GMT
First break down.

Fortunately it was not the bike, it was a friends van. We had been into La Ligua on an errand of mercy with Lorraine, who we have been staying with. As we left La Ligua I commented on the smell of oil and water coming from the van. Lorraine comfirmed it always smelt that way, so I stopped being nosey.

10k later on Ruta 5, the PanAmerican, the van spluttered and died.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 09:33 PM GMT
November 21, 2012 GMT
Crossing the Andes

I went up into the Chilean Andes at the youthful age of 49, and came back down the other side into Argentina at the start of my next half century. Crossing the Andes was significant for us, back in 2011 we stayed on the Pacific side all the way down, with jaunts up onto the Altiplano, but never actually crossed them.

That is one itch scratched.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 08:41 PM GMT
November 22, 2012 GMT
En busca del mar perdido de Bolivia

Bo-pengy (cousin of Pengy) awoke from suspended animation in the bike pannier in Argentina, and started the search for potential Bolivian relatives. As Bolivia ceded its coastline to Chile in 1904 after the War of the Pacific and became a land-locked country, this is likely to be an ultimately fruitless search.

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Posted by Jean Porter at 09:47 PM GMT
A bit of Argy Bargy

Shortly after arriving at our hostel in San Agustin, and after filling the bike with fuel from the much needed gas station, we were told about the local football match that was about to kick off.

With nothing else to do that evening, we wandered down to the "stadium".

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 10:36 PM GMT
November 27, 2012 GMT
2nd Breakdown

And this time it was the bike.

With perfect timing the bike died outside an hotel. I didn't know that it had until I came to move it to the car park an hour later. The ignition didn't even give a whimper. The man who I was meant to be following to the garage re-appeared as I was stripping the fairing to check the wiring.

It took longer to take the fairing off and replace it than i did to find and fix 2 loose wires. This may have been a record diagnose and fix time for me.

While I was leaking sweat profusely into my riding gear, Jean was keeping cool in the hotel. I was putting the fairing back on before she realised I had not returned from parking the bike and decided to come and look for me.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 05:43 PM GMT
December 01, 2012 GMT
Drug Runners

Why is it that you can spend ages choosing a good spot to get "that picture". The one that shows what a rufty tufty overland adventuring biker you are. Some nice gravel, rutted road, rocks and plenty of colour.

And then a little old lady comes round the corner on her scooter.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 06:36 PM GMT
December 06, 2012 GMT
Then and Now

While sitting out the altitude sickness in Potosi we mulled over what to do and where to go next.

Which was a bit daft really, as we both knew where we wanted to go. The Salar De Uyuni.

Nearly 2 years ago we visited it in the wet season and were mesmerised by its beauty, surrealism, and tranquility.

Some people say you should not go back to a place as it will spoil memories. Well, those people are wrong.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 10:15 PM GMT
December 11, 2012 GMT
Please sir, can I have some gas ?

The fuel can (OK, orange juice container) has finally been used.

Not because we are short of fuel, nor because there are no gas stations.

Quite the opposite, there are loads of gas stations here in Oruro, but no one will sell us any petrol.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 11:21 PM GMT
December 15, 2012 GMT
Football, as an insult

While we were having dinner with our friend Jorges back in Tarija, we talked about football as well as bikes.

I was interested to know how good Bolivian football was and how their leagues compared to the the rest of South American and the world.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 05:33 PM GMT
December 19, 2012 GMT
We think the bike has had enough of the Altiplano

All the wings seem to have fallen off, maybe we should start praying....

We had no intention of going into La Paz, our plan had been to get straight through the traffic hell of El Alto as quickly as possible and find somewhere on the other side. But I was sidetracked by the thought of a nice cosy little hotel in the valley to the south of La Paz.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 09:38 PM GMT
December 22, 2012 GMT
It's not for you, Peru

The day started so well.

The sun was shining, the sky was a deep blue dotted with white fluffy clouds and lake Titicaca shimmered.

titicaca1.jpg

On top of this we had a full tank of gas. The "maybe tomorrow" had actually happened at the only gas station in town. After joining the long queue and causing a longer one all the paper work was filled out for foreign vehicle fuel purchase ( 2 forms, 2 different rates, names and passport details). We managed to put 17.25 litres into a 17 litre tank. So, I don't think we even had that 10kms available after all.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 03:54 PM GMT
December 29, 2012 GMT
Clipped Wings

On Christmas eve we watched our bike fork seal being repaired on the roadside by the only bike 'mechanic' in town, with the aid of a hammer and screwdriver. General opinion was not to attempt the job ourselves, as we did not have the proper tools or workshop environment. We have plenty of screwdrivers, but obviously the big hammer was our missing specialist tool.

Then we saw Father Christmas ride past on his sledge while doing the samba (he speaks Spanish as well).

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 01:05 AM GMT
January 03, 2013 GMT
A quiet New Year

We left the hustle, bustle and booze of Iquique behind to head back up into the peace and quiet of the desert. The party crowd had arrived for the new year which meant the town and the hostal had stepped up a gear.

The owner of the Sunny Days Hostal in Arica, Ross, had suggested the Oasis of Pica, back up in the Atacama desert would be an ideal place to chill out and relax while we sorted out how to spend our time in Chile.

The camping gear finally came out as the cost slashing started.

firstcamp.jpg

A shady site in a mango orchard near the oasis was sandy, so despite our lack of sleeping bags and ground mats the saving of around $30 (£20) a day was not to be sneezed at. Apart from a hot spring fed pool, a constant 40C, the town is renowned for its oranges, lemons and mangoes.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 01:14 AM GMT
January 15, 2013 GMT
Saying good afternoon to Ricardo

For 4 days we attempted to say good morning to Ricardo, the mechanic. Unfortunately he never arose before midday, and on a Saturday it seemed 15:00 was his waking hour. Our hostal was conveniently next door but one to his house and workshop, so we could just put our heads out to see if he had surfaced.

Antofagasta is a 'working' town, and we had exhausted all the sights by the end of the 1st day (it does have an excellent train museum). The hostal , which was full of road workers, did not know how to deal with gringo tourists. We were there 2 days before we realised it was possible to pay extra for breakfast. Which was handy, as nowhere in town served any before 09:30.

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 02:02 AM GMT
January 27, 2013 GMT
Si, yo hablo Espanol, pues yo no hablo Chileano

Camping with sleeping bags and ground mats is the way forward. After our nights in the desert and on the beach, using our bike clothes for padding and warmth, in future it's ditch the sleeping bag and take the ground mat.

We enjoyed one last blast out into the Elqui valley, in the foothills of the Andes, tasted Pisco Sours (brandy, lime, sugar, ice), supped wine, star gazed and also navel gazed.

Then we shot back down south to Lorraine's and managed to see the final stages of the Dakar rally (formally the Paris/Dakar but moved to South America in 2009 after security threats).

dakar.jpg

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Posted by Bruce Porter at 02:35 AM GMT
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