While i'm getting my life back together, please look at a fine selection of my photos:

Friday, December 25, 2009

In Ushuaia!

Hi all, I'm happy to announce that after about 18 months i'm in Ushuaia!!! So, IT IS DONE!  

I owe a lot to a lot of people. A Big Thank You to all who supported me, took care of my stuff at home, all beautiful people i met, and all who were kind enough to donate.

From the bottom of this continent: Merry X-mas and a happy, healthy and rich 2010.



Sunday, December 6, 2009

Highlights of North Chile/ Argentina

I got some inquiries on my whereabouts not having posted for a while. Thanks to all who are concerned. I apperiate it a lot.

Have been struggling for a long time to get my rear rim fixed properly. First inSantiago, then i left for Valparaiso and Pichulemu, discovered more broken spokes and returned to Santiago again. There i figured out that my bike uses the same spoke/hub sizes as the older WR enduro, and the Yamaha parts dealer had spokes on stock. Lucky me. After replacing a few spokes at a time i have had the whole rim done at once. There's a good mechanic used by KTM. So got all that fixed. Finally. And now, the last bit, i noticed a lot of oil draining from the airbox! Uhoh bad news. Engine throws out a lot of oil through the crankcase-breather-hose, which,  I'm afraid indicates warped valvestemseals and/or piston rings. If not worse. It runs fine though and so far I suspect the first, that being a problem before. And I was already near Osorno, having difficulties finding parts. Chile doesn't do big bikes here. I managed to find three valvestem seals, originally Yamaha. Not at the local Yamaha dealer, they order everything from Santiago, but at a tiny little bikeshop. Hope this is enough. At this point, i don't want to invest a lot of time and money for the last 7000km of my trip.

Yes dear all, the past few weeks i'm more preoccupied with the bike than enjoy riding it. Takes the fun out of it and that really depresses me a bit. Strangle how fixing a problem shifts from a challange to a burden, and how it affects my mental well being. Too long on the road maybe?

I'm currently in the nice and friendly Bariloche at lake Nahuel Huapi, Argentina. Where the weather is good, air fresh, pine trees green, the lake is crystalclear and all that against a background of snowy mountaintops. Lovely. Familiar too, like Swiss maybe? There's at least three bikeshops, so hopefully one of them allows me to work in their shop. And maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to enjoy the last leg down and back up to Buenos Aires without problems.


What where the highlights after Bolivia? My route went from San Pedro de Atacama, to Antofagasta back to San Pedro into Argentina to Jujuy, Salta, Cafajate, Iguzul falls, Cordoba, Mendoza and Santiago in Chile. Since La Paz about 9000km. My MT21 rear tire still had 1mm thread left. Not bad at all.

'Mano del Desierto' in Atacama desert.

Was it worth driving 750kms through desert to see the famous hand? Still don't know but it was a good ride. Still travelling with Graham we made a loop from San Pedro to the hand and from there to Antofagasta and back to San Pedro. This desert is beautiful, hot and deserted. All smooth tarmac though.

This scenery for hours.

But just before San Pedro, there's mountains and winding roads. Remarkable, starting at the coast where its cold, going throug almost the dryest place in the world where its bloody hot to end up at 3200m altitude. And its about 300km.

Pretty special.

About San Pedro: THE tourist spot in north Chile. Expensive, shockingly expensive when you come from Bolivia, actually.The whole village is about touragencies and lodging. Take that out of it, and there's nothing left.

Entering Argentina! The road from San Padro to Jujuy, the first city in Argentina of any importance is really beautiful, mountains, great roads to ride.

..GREAT roades to ride...

Salta. Nice , Not special. Spend a few days appreciating the musea and weather.

Absolutely recommended: From Salta to Wine village Cafayate are two roads. On through the mountains, unpaved, and one back, paved.

 I urge everyone who happens to be in the neighberhood to take this road. It's really really scenic. The unpaved stretch is easy, way less difficult that the lagunaroute in Bolivia.

One of those did-I-really-did-this?? ones.

Made Graham very happy.

Really weird rockformations. It's a famous area, of which i forgot the name....


Nail made 2 holes in my innertube.
I have to say that patching tubes roadside usually doesn't work for me, so i flung on a spare innertube. Quicker and more secure.

Although i was a bit tired of dirtroads after Bolivia. Highly enjoyable.

The paved road back from Cafayate to Salta is through this kind of scereny. In Cafayate, a relaxed, friendly, village, is some excellent wine tasting and tours to do. 

From Cafayate i decided to go to the famous Iguazul falls, splitting up with Graham. And it seemed a good idea to take a shortcut east. Dusty rocky dirt again with some small rivercrossings. Not really what i was looking for. But defenitely nicer than a 200km highway stretch.

Crossing the famous Argentina pampas. At this point still an interesting novelty. Which wears out quickly when its 1600kms the same stuff to Iguazúl. Really nothing to see in between.

Ah! So this is where everyone is so enthousiastic about! The worldfamous Iguazú falls!!

Really amazing. I rained quite severely the days i arrived. Because of the high waterlevels the argentinian side closed some of the viewpoints.

Worth the little detour for sure!

Its realy big, look at the tiny people!!

Yup, really rained quite severe...
I put my tent up underneeth a cover. Lucky me...
Nothing like we have in Holland.

Whats this fuzz about shortage of sweet water again??

Ghosts from far gone times. I spend a day in San Ignatio Miní. A village with one of the best preserved Jezuite ruines. At night there's a audio/video spectacle in the ruines which tells the Jezuite history.

What you see here is a photo of a 3 dimentional laser video projection. Very well done.

Cordoba. Well uhm.. Big city period. Not special, crowded. Didn't click, so to do something usefull i experimented a bit with taking pictures at night. Best result out of 25 takes.

Getting from Cordoba to Mendoza. Did i mention i'm a huge fan of Apple ipods?  And definitely have to clean up a lot of rubbish from it...

These roads are the least used i've encountered in my trip so far. Lonely. Bloody hot and no shade. Luckily all went well.

In Mendoza i learned that Argentinians really take their siesta serious.
Fountain at 12.59.

Fountain at 13.00.  It started again at the end of siesta, around 17.00 or so. Weird.

I stayed too many days in Mendoza. Relaxing. Nice hostal, good people.

I learned a lot about Quebeck from these girls. Aparantly they think the rest of Canada should speak french. Lovely bunch. Jade (red hairband) and her frien (pink hairband) worked as nurses way up north amongst eskimo's. The climate and circumstances are pretty hard there. Respect.

Leaving Mendoza for Santiago I wondered what this white haze was...

The winds were ridicilous strong and turbulent almost blowing me from the road a few times. At some point my bike started vibrating heavily. Ah! I know that feeling! And yes, another enginemount bolt broke. Need to find originals one of these days. But good stuff is hard to find.

Got myself a spare bolt after the last time, so easily fixed? Uhm No. This dumb-ass forgot to buy a fitting nut. I limped 20km to till i found a tire repair shack somewhere. Couldn't make any sense from the heavy dialect they spoke, or maybe it was because the guy missed about all his teeth, but they were kind enough to give a nut for free!

Ah, i see, the haze was snow! Froze my nuts off for about an hour or so crossing the Andes to Santiago despite wearing about everything i had. (Not much these days). Not that high altitude, about 2500m. Things are a bit different than Bolivia for sure. My bike has a thing against cold and wet weather, you might recall one of my first posts in Alaska.

20km befor the border it decided to quit. Luckily at a small village, or rather 5 houses. During my warm-up-instant-nescafé it stopped snowing. Guess what, my bike started again! There's definetly something going one there. Frozen carb? To date still clueless. Continued the last stretch up the mountain to the border in rain and prayed the damn thing would hold up.

Riding in snow didn't happen since beartooth pass in Montana. And i promised to myself not to go to Patagonia too quickly. With all challenges going on lately it might turn out i have to hurry before end of summer!

The bordercrossing was a clownesque event. Reminded me of Central America. Although i really cannot imagine being the first foreigner crossing the border with a foreign registered bike, they were absolutely clueless about the procedure. Very annoying. Or they had a new crew working. I expected better entering Chile. Maybe that was the problem, my expectations of Chile being a DEVELOPT country. They like to believe so.... but at that time i certainly thought otherwise. First time i really got focal about my annoyances which resulted in an official angrily slapping all sorts of stamps on a paper.

The beforementioned delays caused me entering Santiago around 7pm in big city evening traffic. Just got frustrated with finding my way when i looked up a saw this: Andes mountains in afterglow.

And all was good.

...great picture except from the electric cable crossing the street. Anyone handy with photoshop??

I took some time off in Santiago. One reason was that i wanted to wait for the weather to get better in Patagonia, the other that i just wanted to stay put for a while. Besides that there was stil this spoke issue going on. And of all big cities, Santiago isn't that bad. 

So far a short update on my trip. All pictures can be seen here.