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Photo by Ellen Delis, Lagunas Ojos del Campo, Antofalla, Catamarca

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Ellen Delis,
Lagunas Ojos del Campo,
Antofalla, Catamarca



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  #301  
Old 12 Aug 2014
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I love seeing the email notification of a new post from you guys. I always find some slow time to sit with a cup of tea and read up on your latest adventures. Thanks for taking the time to post all the amazing photos and allowing us to ride along with you for a little while. Travel safe,

J.
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  #302  
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/164.html



While we were in Huanchaco, we received some devastating news. Neda's mom in Croatia had been complaining of a gradual loss of feeling in her arm for the last week. She checked herself into the hospital and had some tests done, whereupon she discovered that there were growths in her vertebrae that were pinching a nerve. She is a breast cancer survivor and there is a fear that the cancer has metastasized and spread to her bones.


Between Trujillo and Lima, the coastal plains are squeezed into the coast by the foothills of the Andes Mountains

We were galvanized into action, making plans to leave the next day for Lima, which is about an 8 hour ride south of Huanchaco. We thought that since Lima is the capital city of Peru, we should be able to make arrangements to get us and the motorcycles shipped out of the country. Our Temporary Vehicle Import Permit was due to expire in a couple of months and the medical situation was dire enough that there was no estimating when we would be able to resume our trip, if it was even possible. So it was decided that we needed to get the bikes out of Peru to keep from running afoul of the expiry dates since there would be huge legal and administrative headaches if the bikes overstayed their permits while we were in Europe.

This meant that Lima would be the end of our South American journey.


Trying to get past traffic on the Peruvian Pan American Highway

Neda was really worried and I tried to do my best to keep her spirits up. We pegged all our hopes on Lima having the infrastructure to get us and the motorcycles out expediently, and we optimistically told Neda's family that we would be in Croatia within the week.


Looking forward to being with her mom soon. Note to self: Pick up a new pair of gloves for Neda...


The scenery rises up around us

We've got an eyes-ahead focus on getting to Lima in as short a time as possible. Over the intercom, I try to keep Neda engaged, but I can hear the worry in her voice as she feeds me curt, obligatory responses. The land rises up around us as the road threads the edges of the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean, but Neda's mind is thousands of miles away.


Our stops are few, only when there's construction, or we need to drink or eat


The beautiful blue of the Pacific Ocean greets us as we ride south to Lima


Over 500 kms fly by in a single riding day. This is the most distance we've covered in quite awhile.


The town of Villa Estela, just north of Lima. Etched on the hill: "Christ Lives"

We book into a hostel in the west end of Lima, in the Callao district. We're here because it's one of the cheapest places we could find, but also it is 5 minutes away from the airport and all the shipping companies are in the same area. The next day we get to work, scouring the Internet for any companies that can ship our bikes out of Peru.

Hoping to spare Neda the majority of the work, I find an agent in the US that had experience shipping motorcycles in and out of South America. We opt for air over sea, and the price quoted was steep but we were in a rush and conducting business in English instead of Spanish seemed to be a plus, since I could handle the communications instead of Neda having to do so in Spanish. All the paper work was exchanged and we were on course to ship the bikes within the week.

However, the day before we were to drop the bikes off, the agent sent me an e-mail saying that there was a mistake with the quote and the price was now thousands of dollars more expensive. At the new price, it would be cheaper to set both our bikes on fire in Lima and just buy the same models in Europe. I was furious. Not just at the gross ineptness, but that we had wasted four precious days and would now have to start from scratch. To add further insult, Neda would have to perform most of the communications now, because it was obvious that we needed a local shipper, not someone working remotely from another country.

I felt useless. This was not what she needed.

We spent our days typing out e-mails to companies listed on the Internet that did not exist anymore. We made phone calls and left messages that were not returned for days. It was a frustrating time because we were now stuck for over a week in Lima with absolutely no progress and Neda's family was starting to ask why she was not in Croatia yet, which put added pressure on her. We decided that the minute we found a shipper, she would fly out immediately and I would stay behind to try to finish up any last minute work that needed to be done.

We were going stir crazy in that tiny room in the hostel, only venturing out to eat at the tipico restaurant downstairs or go grocery shopping down the street. I suggested to Neda that we go out in the evenings just to get her mind off of things, but she said she didn't feel like sightseeing, not in her state. So I suggested we try a nicer restaurant in town. We had to eat anyway, and Lima is world-renowned for good international cuisine. It was now our two-year anniversary on the road, so I found us a sushi restaurant to celebrate.


Blow fish sushi?


Two years on the road

With the future very much uncertain, we reminisced about all the experiences we had in the last couple of years and toasted our last days in South America. A bittersweet meal with Neda's mom's illness constantly looming in the background. I felt a sense of powerlessness, like nothing I could do or say could help Neda or her mom.

Back in the hostel we were making some progress. Air freight was out because of the costs involved, so we were now researching shipping by sea. We had found a logistics company in Lima and from talking to one of their agents, they said they had experience shipping motorcycles to and from Europe for the Dakar Rally. That seemed promising, so we proceeded with them, exchanging e-mails and phone calls over the next week. It was a tedious process because of all the communications they needed to quarterback between the cargo company and the fixers in Lima and in Europe.


Finally, I get to see Paddington Bear!

Because Neda didn't want to go sightseeing, I had to think of other things that she was amenable to, just to get her out of the room. She loves animals, so a trip to the Lima Zoo was met with her not-so-begrudging approval. There were lots of wildlife from all over the world, but we tried to spend our time in the pavilions that housed local animals.

In the picture above, the Andean Bear (or Spectacled Bear) is the only bear native to South America. It was the animal that Paddington Bear was based on, and was a lot less cuddlier and larger than what I remembered of the cartoon! Maybe he just needed a large, oversized Peruvian bowler hat?


Beautiful Amazonian Jaguar, the only kind of panther that exists in South America


Neda shares a moment with an Andea Llama


Looking over the moat that surrounds Monkey Island at the Lima Zoo


Chompin' on a yummy banana


Blue-and-yellow Macaws during feeding time

Two weeks since arriving in Lima and we were finally getting somewhere with the shipping. We had signed Power of Attorney agreements with the shipping company, so Neda was off the hook as far as having to be in town. Oscar, our designated fixer in Lima, took us all over town getting papers photocopied, signed and notarized. On our part, we had to unload all of our personal belongings off the bike and send them separately to Europe by courier because there had been problems in the past with Peruvian customs not allowing non-motorcycle items to be shipped in the same container.


Our bikes waiting patiently to be wrapped up and boarded up

Oscar led us to a run-down building where the bikes would be crated. It was a pretty sketchy neighbourhood, and over the intercom I expressed my fears to Neda whether this was a legit operation or not. As always, we just shrug our shoulders and go with the flow. The people helping us to crate the bikes were very helpful and professional and our minds were set at ease.


As always, Neda finds a four-legged friend everywhere she goes


Windshield, mirrors and bags off to reduce the dimensions of the crate, then a few layers of plastic wrapping to make sure everything stays put.


After the cost of shipping, we couldn't afford plane tickets to Europe, so we found a cheap way to get Neda back to Croatia!
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  #303  
Old 13 Aug 2014
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Sorry to hear what has happened. I hope everything works out for the better.

Best Regards
Wayne
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  #304  
Old 13 Aug 2014
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Hope Neda's mum recovers lightcycle. Safe journey home mate.

Bones
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  #305  
Old 13 Aug 2014
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Sorry to read of your unplanned detour, but then, they are the turns that define our lives !
Chin up Neda, give your Mum a hug from all of us
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  #306  
Old 14 Aug 2014
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Wishing Neda's Mom all the best and a speedy recovery.........and both of you good wishes....

hickery
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  #307  
Old 14 Aug 2014
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/165.html



I've been in Lima for a week now, patiently waiting for word from the logistics company that our bikes have passed customs. This is the sticky part of the shipping process and the reason why I stayed behind while Neda went ahead to Croatia. From all the research I've done, we do not want to be out of the country trying to troubleshoot remotely if there are any problems with Peruvian customs - which there frequently are.

Neda Skypes with me everyday and we keep each other apprised on the progress of her mother's health and how the customs process is shaping up. Although Neda is happy that she's able to visit her mom everyday in the hospital, her condition has deteriorated quite rapidly. The growths were malignant and were spreading very quickly, putting pressure on the spinal cord and paralyzing her below the neck. The whole family was now anxiously awaiting for a surgery date to remove the affected vertebrae and hopefully restore her mobility and feeling.

I listened to her voice everyday growing more and more concerned. She told me that she needed me in Croatia for support, and that maybe I should just trust in the logistics company to handle things after the bikes cleared customs. I was missing her presence a lot too. It's strange being joined at the hip with someone for over two years and then suddenly not having them around anymore. I've gotten so accustomed to just having her nearby, that during the last week, I'll be typing away on the laptop, or watching a movie or listening to music, then I'll stop what I'm doing to talk to Neda and then realize she's not there in the room.

But she's always there... Such a strange feeling...

A few days later, we got word that the bikes had cleared customs and would be on the next ship to Europe. I booked a ticket to Croatia immediately. Whereas it would take me two days of airplanes and buses to get to Croatia, our bikes were going to take the slow boat to Hamburg, crossing the Panama Canal in the process (again! ha!). It will be almost a month and a half before we will see our motorcycles in Zagreb!


Stopover in Munich

There's a train that runs from Munich airport to the downtown core. I boarded it, took a seat and watched other passengers trickle in. As the car began to fill up, I noticed how tightly I was holding onto my bags and luggage - and the only reason I noticed was because everyone else around me seemed to be so carefree and unafraid. One man fell asleep, his briefcase sitting unattended on the seat beside him. I glanced around wondering which one of the other passengers would steal his bag first... This is the third time I've been to Munich, but despite that I was still experiencing culture shock! After over a year and a half in Latin America, the blithe attitudes towards security and safety here were a bit unsettling.

And yes, I totally stole that guy's briefcase...


There is construction everytime I visit the Marienplatz. This time is no different.

There were several other cultural jolts:

- Everyone is so tall! In Central and South America, I would tower over most of the population. Now I'm dwarfed by a forest of Germanic oak trees.

- All the cars stop for pedestrians at the crosswalks. That was surprising! I gingerly stepped out onto a crosswalk in front of a stopped Mercedes thinking this must be a trick or a trap...

- Everyone speaks English! But they assume I speak German first. I was at a donair fast food stall and the guy at the counter asked me something which I didn't understand. I automatically defaulted to my first non-English language: "No entiendo". Picture a middle-eastern guy asking something in German, and an Asian guy responding in obviously bad Spanish. The donair guy narrowed his eyes at me. I'm sure he thought I was making fun of him in some way.

- Everything is SO CLEAN AND SO QUIET! OMG I LOVE IT!

Looking back, I don't think I could have picked a more diametrically opposite place from Peru to have come to than Germany.


Mariensaule - a gold statue of the Virgin Mary. This is what Marienplatz was named after

I've been to Munich 3 times now, and every single time I visit the Marienplatz just to see if the place is still under construction. The answer is yes. I've seen the little Glockenspiel show that is so popular with tourists and I'm always underwhelmed by it. So this time, my Central/South American instincts take me to that same gathering spot and my camera is now out trying to look for interesting indigenous peoples to take pictures of. I find one very quickly:


Wonder if he got his hat in Peru?


Locals call this "the most over-rated show in the world"


This is what I was really here for: dark German and sausages!

They said the best place for German sausages was Weisses Brauhaus, which is just around the corner from the Marienplatz, and was the primary reason why I was in the middle of MunichTouristCentral. The food and the didn't disappoint and I had another culture jolt in the restaurant: the bill...

And also, another German patron sitting at the same table from me kept glancing over at me with curiousity. I'd smile and nod and then he would smile and nod and then nothing. If this was Latin America, no time would have elapsed before: "Chino?" and then a hundred questions in Spanish which I couldn't answer. So I decided to break the ice with a "Sprechen sie English?" (yes, I do speak fluent Germglish), to which he replied, "Of course." Of course, he spoke English. Duh. We then had a great little conversation, which would never have happened if Latin America hadn't taught me that it's okay to approach random strangers to spark up conversations regardless of language barriers!


It looks like I may have brought the rains with me from South America. Sorry, Germany!

Since I only had a day's layover in Germany before my bus to Croatia, I spent it doing some motorcycle gear shopping (OMG the selection!) and also visited the BMW Welt. It was under construction the last time we were here, but it's now completed.


I wasn't happy with any of the pictures of the Welt except this one. You can see me in the picture, I'm right in the middle.


Inside the Welt is a huge commercial for BMW car and motorcycles


And then every once in a while, someone would ride up to you and try to sell you an F800GS...
If you think this is cool, you should see the X5 salesguy...
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  #308  
Old 16 Aug 2014
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Sorry to hear of your sad news ,Things like this happen in a persons life (my mum 81 was hit by a hit and run driver ,has had the last 2 months in hospital) Anyhow i hope everything turns out for the best ,regards Noel
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  #309  
Old 22 Aug 2014
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Thanks for the well wishes, Noel. Sorry to hear about your mom as well.
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  #310  
Old 25 Aug 2014
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/166.html



After two long weeks apart, I joined Neda in Croatia. She's very happy that she's able to see her mom every day during visiting hours at the hospital, and now that I'm here, her support system is complete. We missed our 10th wedding anniversary while I was in Peru.


Re-united!

Pula is Neda's hometown in the Istrian peninsula of Croatia. The town is over 3,000 years old having been a part of the Roman Empire, the Italian Ostrogoths, the Germanic tribe of the Franks, the Venicians, then became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and then united with the Republic of Yugoslavia in 1947. All the signage in Pula is in both Croatian and Italian to reflect its roots, and also to cater to the large number of Italian tourists that visit the peninsula every summer. Neda learnt Italian by watching TV programs that leaked across the airwaves of the Adriatic sea, which is how she was able to pick up Spanish so easily while we were in Latin America. At least that's my excuse...


View of Arena from the Pula Marina

Pula's claim to fame is the Roman-built Arena, which rivals the Coliseum in Rome for size and history. While gladiators fought orcs and minotaurs in the olden days, now big stars like Sting and Norah Jones come into town to hold concerts here. This summer, Joss Stone and Lauryn Hill are slated to play here. Neda showed me all the places along the wall of Arena where she and her friends used to hop over the fence and sneak in to avoid paying the entrance fee.


View of Pula Harbor through the walls of Arena


Every summer, there is a Gladiator show twice a week in Arena. Here, the cast is literally hanging out before the show.


Ship-building is Pula's other claim-to-fame. Neda's mom used to work here, and her uncle and many other relatives still do


Golden Gates (or the Triumphal Arch of the Sergi) is another notable landmark in Pula

I've been to Pula many times in the past, but most of the time, it was to visit family. Now that we're here for a longer period of time, Neda is able to properly show me all the places that she used to roam around when she was a kid. We are in the middle of the European summer vacations, so the town is over-run with tourists from Italy, Slovenia, Germany, and all over Europe. Tourism is Pula's other main industry, and the town's narrow streets are inundated with foot and vehicle traffic that will all but disappear by the beginning of September.


Shadows of tourists walk past the buildings in the old historic centre of Pula

While Neda is happy to share her hometown with me, she is also excited that I'll document Pula properly on the blog. She's very proud of this place that holds so many memories for her. I hope I do this very pretty place justice. One things she doesn't like are all the crowds. Everywhere we go, she shakes her head at the congestion clogging up her city streets.


Pulankan Biker

This guy came out to talk to us when he spied us gawking at his motorcycle. Our bikes are going to be quite a long time arriving in Europe, and we are starting to miss having easy transportation with us. It's fortunate that we are staying in Neda's mom's apartment close to the city centre so almost everything is within walking distance.


Tourist central - old historic Pula


Bikes are allowed to park anywhere in the old city.


When we get our bikes, we're going to ride the 400 meters to the historic centre, park there and watch people gawk at our motos!


As is tradition, I always try to find an indigenous person to take a picture of when I go out with my camera


Arts and crafts for sale in the tourist centre of Pula

I ask Neda why she doesn't poke around the little curio stores in town, and she replies angrily, "That's what tourists do! I'm not a tourist!" The funny thing is these are *exactly* the same kinds of places that she loves going to when we're traveling. Like... EXACTLY! I stared hard at my new surroundings: the fresh paint on old buildings, new and expensive restaurants, bars and stores in the shells of Corinthian-styled edifices, the UNESCO-type-attraction of Arena that draws all the cameras and wallets out...

I told Neda, "Pula is a total GringoTrail town!" Her eyes widened, "OMG, I never realized it!"


Walking the city streets


Settling into Pula - I stake out my Man-Cave (Man-Corner)

It feels good to have a permanent place where we can settle down again. Neda is happy that there is a kitchen that she can use to cook, and we eat all of her favorite Croatian dishes now that the ingredients are all close at hand. The fridge is pretty much empty as she goes to the market every morning to get fresh groceries before visiting her mom in the hospital. One of Neda's friends is a musician and she lent me her guitar while we're here, which was really nice. Neda's old high-school friends are so compassionate and warm, taking us out almost every evening to keep us company and to keep Neda's thoughts and her mood positive while she attends to her mom.


More indigenous food, handed down from generation to generation - stuffed peppers


IndigeNeda takes me to all "The Best" places in town. This is "The Best" place in Pula for Burek, a traditional Bosnian cheese pastry


Bust of one of the National Heroes of Yugoslavia

Near the hospital where Neda visits Neda's mom is this interesting-looking building from the communist era. It used to be a military base for the Yugoslavian Army. When the former republic fell apart, the buildings fell into disuse and was set up as a refugee centre during the war in the mid 90s. Today it is being used as a very funky community centre, with many of its rooms being used by musicians, artists and various other clubs.


Courtyard of the community centre - still has a lot of the old-world communist feel to it


Karlo Rojc Community Centre

Pula hosts quite a lot of festivals and special events each summer. The most well known is the Pula Film Festival, which is mainly an outdoor event held at various locations in the city, including Arena. Unfortunately, Neda and I brought the RideDOT.com rains to Croatia, and it has been unseasonably wet and cold this summer. We attended a couple of films during the festival and one of them got rained out.


Pula Rain Festival


Arena is all lit up for a drier night at the Pula Film Festival


Fireworks over the city kick off the Pula Film Festival


Smoke from the lengthy fireworks display floats past the lights of the Arena,
making it look like a cool flying saucer



Cranes above the shipyard are lit up every night in the summer for the tourists, just like a GringoTrail town
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  #311  
Old 26 Aug 2014
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Great to see another update and more fantastic pics.
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  #312  
Old 26 Aug 2014
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Happy 10th anniversary guys

You may not have your bikes, but damn Gene, you still knock up a great report to keep us poor home bound types entertained
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  #313  
Old 26 Aug 2014
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Glad to see you are back and while in Croatia try and visit this.......Croatia Bike Week - Home

I wish I was going

All the best
Wayne
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  #314  
Old 26 Aug 2014
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Great to see an update again, so pleased you managed to get to Croatia and that Neda has had time with her mother. Thoughts are with you both and your family.
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  #315  
Old 26 Aug 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lightcycle View Post
Updated from Mar 20 2014: Final Days in Colombia


When I was a kid, I used to play a video game called Quake (and Doom and Castle Wolfenstein), I could swear they modeled the maps after this church, especially the lighting.


I can tell from the look on her face, Neda knows where the rocket launcher is


Strafe Left! Strafe Right!
Neda: "What on earth are you doing? And why are you holding that camera like it's a gun?"
HILARIOUS!

It does look like that place was the basis for the game.
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