My name is Matt Stackpole. I live in Colorado, I do a lot of Moto riding throughout the Rockies and Utah, mostly trails. Two years ago myself and a friend, Ed Tarleton, set off from Colorado, USA with a goal of riding to Tierra Del Fuego and returning to the USA within 8 months. Riding down the western portions of South America and back north up the eastern portions of the continent, the trip was a huge success. However, while visiting friends in BA, Argentina, my friend's motorcycle, a '97 XR600R, was stolen from the streets of the capital city. Bummer!
Much as I would like to elaborate more on the first trip, the focus here is on the trip we are about to embark on.. It's been two years, and now we are heading back to Argentina to restart the northward journey. Whahoooo!
We will be starting in BA and riding north thru Brazil, spend time traveling the coast, riding the routes of this years upcoming six days enduro competition / race in Fortaleza. We plan to travel up the Amazon to MAnaus and then continue up the Madeira River to Porto Velho. Up into Peru, north thru the mountains, and crossing the bridges as they come. We will be traveling with the hopes of camping a lot, visiting with many locals, spending time in key locations and hopefully do some hiking as well.... vamos a ver!
XR600's, total of three people traveling with the third joining us in March somewhere in Southern Brazil. We would like to share some good travel stories, discuss the adventure and inspire some good folk. When computer capabilities are good enough and connection rates we will try to upload a few photos from time to time.
We are currently in Belem, Brasil!! Heading up the great Amazon tomorrow
evening, the boat ride should last five days to Manaus, then down to Porto
Velho.....just spending some time today walking the street markets and checking
out the central sites of this intrigueing city....its quite the port, lots of
fish markets, street food, plenty of wharfs and tight streets, some old
churches in disrepair, many buildings for that matter, a little paint or wood
work would do alot for this place! The materials and labor are cheap but it
seems like people are too busy doing other things.
The area we are staying in is somewhat comical, as we are staying on the boat, living on the peir for now. Its
sort of like base camp for the expedition, getting climatized to the conditions
around us. The local streets/corridors are small, they are seeded with local feel. The bars are simple, Eateries are everywhere serving salgados(various small pastries stuffed meats and cheeses and are eften fried), serving crabs with beer, egg sanwhiches, fried fish, fresh juices, rice and beans, Gaurana(the national soda which is very good) the music loud and distorted, the people are rough, the houses/shacks look very difficult for living but this is home for these people. The stenches of the streets differ from hanus to anus, and everything in between, trash is everywhere (big bummer) and the gutter water is infested.
The bikes are locked up on the peir,
other boats coming and going, lots of movement! Our captian is a little fat
golly type, always smiling, last night we went out partying with the bartender
from our vessel, getting him on our good side, WE had a couple of dock guys
wash our muddy cycles. Will hope to buy a hammock and mosquito netting today
for the extensive river journey, perhaps a couple of bottles of whiskey as
well! Health is good for now, and will hopefully remain that way, however I
have some doubts, will certainly be taking extra precautions throughout the
next two months!
I am sad to be leaving the beautiful coast line of Brasil behind...the past 6 weeks has been simply incredible, The good and the bad and I have so many wonderful memories and thoughts to keep within me for this evolving life of mine........ Sorry the details are spared!
We stopped for some refreshing beer as the sun beat upon us at over 95 degrees, and the wind was not helping a bit.......the beer flowed, we were now ready to head out to the coast. The day was March 28, 2003, we were riding up the central coast of Brasil. Heading out to the waters edge to find yet another sleepy beach. the dirt road we were commensing upon had some road work machinery in action, we skirted around thru the deep mud and water, and wondered how the passing bus made it thru such a passage.......It had been several weeks since the last dirt, Ed & I were ready! Cruising side by side, headphones in tune, cruising top of fifth gear, standing on the pegs and enjoying the feeling! Suddenly ahead, a large undulation appeared in the road. Never before had we encountered speed bumps on the dirt, as we both saw this ahead, our eyes bulged with fright, this was no ordinary speed bump.....this was at least two and a half feet tall. Cruising a good clip we both realized the brakes on this compacted dirt would do no good........bracing ourselves to the cycle, all system a go, the suspension was prepared and we simultaneously took flight at over 60 miles an hour, Oh....#%&, burst out beyond my helmet for all the grazing cattle to hear! We were frickīn motoring and there was nothing else we could do! Touching down was smooth and we both looked across to one another......... the smiles were grande and the eyes bursting with enjoyment! The thumbs up and hang `Hell Yeah` rang thru the minds!!!
XRīs ONLY for these two riders!!
Our last day we woke to heavy rains, slipping and sliding on the clays surfaces and numerous roots and vines. At on point Jim and the guide(Sandro) had gotten ahead of me as I was tangled up in some bush and vines.
Not having a MAchette I had to untie myself. After doing so I could no longer
see the trail or where they had gone. I Stood there wondering which way.
Suddenly I noticed a large animal traversing my direction. Not sure if it was
one or several animals, I barely made the figure out to be pig like...I called
out for help as I thought I was about to be attacked by a pack of Wild Bore.
At this time the beast stopped. It looked my direction and saw me standing alone.
I now realized that this was a single animal, larger and meaner looking than a
wild bore. It was about a 350 kilo.(700lb) Tapir.....The Tapir Looked me down
and started to charge me. I froze, I yelled, the animal coming thru the bush,
immense in size It looked like a Rhino, it had a funny long snout and a
mohawk, the animal was about to trample me and I could do nothing about it...and
luckily Sandro came running. The beast got within 5 meters from me and stopped
as it noticed two of us. Sandro witha large Machette in hand was laughing at
as the animal ran off in another direction. He yelled Tapir, MAteo, Tapir, you
saw a tapir....He stabbed his machette into the ground and was bent over
laughing in amusement. I just stood there for a moment trying to collect my
bowels before I could enjoy the incident as well. Soon it was all good fun. We
descended out of the steep hillside into a narrow river, walking thru the
thru the knee deep waters, we walked onwards to an area of cliffsides where
Loros nest. Along the river banks we spotted several areas of JAguar tracks,
and more tapir tracks. Although we did not see a Jaguar in the flesh I am
to know that they are living healthy and in numbers within this region. We
arrive to a larger river wher ewe constructed a Balsa Wood raft with about 7
logs, and some small rope. We used some large bamboo shoots to paddle and
with as we desended thru the flowing waters class 1 rapids) about 5 kilometers
down river to our first days camp.
Thru the day we ascended and descended over several mountian
ridges. Rain and sun, rivers and steep jungle mountian sides. The dust was
incredibly blinding at times, and by the evening when we reached Coroico, fun
and excitement had crusted over the bikes our luggage and ourselves.
During this day we encountered a new driving regulation known for this regionīs
dangerous roads. The downhill vehicle supposedly always has the right of way,
and traffic is to stay to the left side of the road. To the right is the
outside shoulderless edge of the road as well. Good for us as we were the
climbing vehicles and were expected to stay to the left lane and to the inside
of the Road. However, this is all good and safe if they were to post signs
making it clear when and where this regulation is to commense. So cruising down
the road in the normal right lane, I had a huge Scandia cargo truck bearing
right down on me. I kept waiting for it to get back into his part of the
road...waiting , waiting....Now whats happening?Ą? Shit.... he's not
responding....into the ditch I went to save my life. Well, I knew at that time
either this driver was crazy, he was a moto killer, or the new driving
regulation had started. However still unsure and still unucustomed to this odd
rule of the road, I was hesitant and confused, I continued to drive the right
side of the road. Plus the last thing I wanted to do was come around another
blind turn and be in the wrong lane right?!!? Well, now skidding, unable to
turn, I know found myself, bearing into my left foot peg with all my might,
while both my brakes applied as hard as they could be, I was now about to be
claimed by a chevy S-10 king cab pick up truck. I also thought this guy was
crazy too, I had now learned the worst most dangerously frightening way
possible about having to drive the left lane on these suicidal roads. The edges
were near as the road was narrow. The cliffs were tall and the river far below.
The raod had numerous cut aways slots where land slides lead straight down for
hundreds of ft. It was even frightening to this well traveled soul. I yelled
out loud several times HOLY SHIT...!! THIS IS FRICK'N INSANE!!! With butteflies
racing within me I had to see waht was over the edge looking beyond and
pondering the consequences.....Keep it up right and take it slow. The trucks
come around the blnd corners at faster speeds than one wold think safe, and
several times had to skid to a stop, staring close into the grills of large
seemingly evil trucks. I claimed one dog, and the lives of several chicken. THe
Dog was unpreventable as it ran down an embankment right in front of me before
I could react, it was under my front wheel and I certainly crushed it badly,
however it did limp away. The 2 chickens would have been perfectly safe
remaining at the roads edge, but with the sound of my moto approaching they
were startled and decided better to get closer to home. Well they tried to get
there a bit too quickly. They ran perpendicular to my approach and took flight
int the middle of the road at full running speed. The roadīs edge came within
feet of their frenzy and the river below was at min. over 75 meters below.
Unfortunately the flowing water and or the large boulders below would have
served them their fate!
It was the fourth of July and we had no Barbeque!! Oh well we found other ways to celebrate......here are some good excerpts from my good friend Jim Stanley Who has been traveling with me since northern Brasil!
...We wanted to barbeque for July 4th, but were unable to buy any food in town, so we ate at the best restaurant. Actually, we started the night off with a few shots of snake liquor. This is a foul local liquor kept in big jar with several black and white snakes in the bottom. It tastes like a mixture of gasoline, battery acid, and tequila, and SNAKES!
After that, we had dinner, then on to the kareoke bar. Turns out, Matt does a good Bob Marley and I do a good Louis Armstrong. The Ecuadorians loved it though when I sang Van Halens JUMP! and jumped wildly each time the song said to. More friendly Ecuadorians showed up with a bottle of rum with predictable drunkenness. We had no barbeque and no fireworks, but we were still celabrating pretty well. Thats when I suggested that we should get the bikes and do wheelies around and around the town square.
Back at the hotel, one of our new friends, Rachel, said "I hate to be the motherly type, but is this a good idea?" I leaned over and whispered into her ear "OF FUCKINGCOURSENOT" and took off. While the wheelies around the plaza were entertaining, it was the stairs and curbs that were really nuts. We rode up the stairs of the church and back down, then the stairs of the courthouse, then some really long stairs in the park. Over curbs, down the sidewalks, down those stairs, and jumping the 3 foot drops back into the street. I was laughing so hard it hurt. Some of the stairs were pretty steep, but again, thats why we are on dirtbikes! The next day, we saw one of the guys from the bar. He saw the whole thing. We are his heroes.
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