This blog's for ME

Almost 25 years old, asking my parents if I can sleep in their bed with them. I had thought I was going to be the 25th Prime Minister of Canada. Things had changed. 10 years later, I was still a scared little boy. The time had come to slap myself awake. One Saturday morning, November 19th, 2009, I declared to the world I would be riding my 10 year-old motorcycle from Vancouver, BC Canada to Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, and back.

The official departure was August 28th, 2010. A group of well-wishers saw me off at 8:03 am.

I arrived in Rio de Janeiro around 6 pm March 1st, 2011.



My return to Vancouver came on July 5th, 2011 about 2:00 pm.

Drug & alcohol abuse, ADD, social anxiety, health, chronic pain, night terrors.

So many concerns. But I am far more interested in this question: Do I have the capacity to make this trip despite all my shortcomings?

My mission: To inspire myself to face my fears, enlighten myself on how all living things can peacefully co-exist, enjoy every moment, and see the world as plentiful and generous.

Go ahead. Call me crazy. Call me anything you like.

I'm out to save my world.



I LOVE YOU ALL



Questions, comments, concerns, threats? Contact me: jason.chapman99@gmail.com


Unbelievable

The day started off well, saying farewell to the over 20,000 spiders as big as my pinky that had spun 100s of interconnected webs, catching most everything small and able to fly. Quite an amazing unexpected display of nature´s raw power and lack of emotion. Luckily, Jorge, sporting a rifle, had some, and asked before shooting me why I was there. It was an ideal location just 50 metres from the roadside but hidden with a great deal of foliage, and yet a clear spot for the tent.

Plenty of gas stations and I´m wondering if Michael wasn´t a bit overcautious about the state of Paraguay roads. Although the quality degraded severely, it was still rideable pavement with good stretches. Good fortunes continued, as I stopped at a gas station and was told immigration and customs were actually THERE, 250 km before the border. I would´ve had to drive all the way back...... The guy looked kinda american, and the girl was a coin collector so I dumped a handful of coins from all over central and south america on the counter. She was happy and surprised.

150 km later, I was expecting the gas station they promised me but now the pavement is gone, and I´m driving on a pretty shitty dirt road. That shitty dirt road turned into sand, then space for two trucks either direction, then one small car one direction. The tracks were so deep and the edges were so hard I could´ve broken a leg trying to stay upright. The places I fell were graciously open enough to avoid it. 3 times.

Then, a sign saying 34 km to the border. I see colors down the road and I think it´s a person and I hear horses hooves. Good sign. One guy peers behind a tree down the road and I wave and say ola. They take forever to meet me and I speak spanish. My spanish was rough, having speaking portuguese only for 3 months straight. They didn´t understand a word. I didn´t think it was THAT rough.

I felt nervous, and said goodbye. I could only go 30km-hr so it took 5 minutes to go 500 metres or so it felt. Then, more people, more nervousness. Finally a child flags me down with something and I decide to stop. I then realize these are indigena, and they speak only Guarani. I do what any nervous north american does and give him 10000 guarani or about 2.50. I thought he was selling me his mask, but he was apprehensive about giving it to me. I will keep that mask with me to remember how stupid I was.

I put my finger on the push start and it sounds like I have no gas left. My tank is under all my bags. So I get up to start pulling everything apart and now there are over 20 people standing there staring. One guy with a gun and a bag of dead pigeons he killed with a slingshot. He speaks spanish. I ask if I can have a photo. No. When I´m filled up, I go around and shake everyone´s hand, kids and all. And I´m off again.

Another 5 minutes and I´m at the military post, and there´s a metal fence stopping me from going further. One guy speaks some english. There´s some kind of masculine, feminine going on, as one has his shirt off, and another has his 70s style short shorts hiked up around his pelvis. The shirtless guy says speak spanish. I do my little dance and look them all in the eyes answering all their questions. I ask for some water, and they give me a full cold 2 L bottle.

They said there was no gas at the next town, and there was possibly 200 km of sand before the next town after that. Now I´m screwed. With only enough gas to go about 50 km I was seriously stuck. They suggested asking the guarani if they had gas. Ok good idea I´ll go back. Then the shirtless guy says something about camera. Yes I have a camera, but I looked around and couldn´t find it. I thought it was a joke they were playing. Actually I had left it at the guarani village, and a kid had walked all the way to tell me.

So I turned back, and cut through the forest to go directly to their village. At a side road, I looked left, and saw all of them waiting for me on the main road. I went over there, and indeed they were all keeping watch on the bag with camera, laptop and money all intact. Some of the people had cross eyes and I was seriously feeling like I was in the movie Deliverance, Paraguayan style. Had to be some inbreeding there in a small isolated village.

I asked about the gas and he pondered deeply then said yes come to my house. half way there, we´re talking about things and he mentions the tractor. I stop. You know my moto takes gasolina not diesel right? Theres often a gap with my spanish understanding but I made that really clear. He pondered again, assured me not with a lot of confidence, and we continued walking.

What a surreal experience. This wasn´t your national geographic village. Everyone was wearing tshirts and jeans, but the surroundings were amazing. We walked through a tall clover like field over a hill, past the slingshot hunters house whose wife was plucking the small pigeons he had shot, then this man´s house. He must have been the leader because he had a small tank covered with a black plastic bag. He sucked the gas up and started the vacuum into a 2 L pop bottle. Smelled like gasoline. On our walk back he was suggesting I sleep at the militaria because of the arena. I didn´t know what that was but I hoped it wasn´t a jaguar or banditos.

We returned to the 20 people waiting at the bike. It was also a defining moment, being stared at by these strange people. I must have looked strange too tall, kinda white but full of dirt with this kinda shiny strange machine. After the fill up I had to ask them to push the bike back out of the sand to get to the main road.

Then the journey continued. My arms and legs were spent from the 4 hours of sand that day, so I stopped every 10 km. That took 20 minutes. On my 2nd 10 km, I was laying on the ground in pain and exhaustion. I saw some lights come up, and thought I was in no position to meet a malcontent. I would´ve had to give them everything and put my hands in the air. It was actually the one truck I had seen all day on that sandy road returning. I waved hello, and was eager to have him pass me so I could continue. We talked for awhile, and he said there was gas at La Patria, and I thought it was about another 50 km. We said goobye.

By the time I had all my gear on, his taillights got closer and closer to me. I´m not sure about that gas station he said in spanish. I was too tired to listen anymore finally he said siga me (follow me) then he said you go ahead, and when I flash my lights, thats my turn. about 4 km we turned left and Jose Migueletes stopped the truck after the gate, which his wife got out to close for us. What is arena I asked. Sand. Uh huh.

We drive for 10 km and I´m thinking its taking all my gas just to get to his house. His road was better, but I could only go about 50 km-hr. Another 10 and we´re finally there. We get into his house and we talk for a couple hours, with some wine and pimento. I recognized his Spanish accent from Spain. He bought this section of 70,000 hectares 3 years ago and now they are ripping it apart to make cattle fields. Jaguars and cobras are killed on site. Only the biggest trees stay in this pristine but bug filled part of the country. Biggest producer of cattle in the world in Paraguay. All going to Mcdonalds I´m sure. He´s about 45 and his wife is get this 17. common in Paraguay. Love the guy big time but I can´t help wonder about the extent of devastation in these unknown areas, and how much we really consider this when we eat our mcdonalds hamburger.

The next day, after as good a sleep as can be expected, I walk out and see all of Joses workers looking at the bike. Pretty soon the truck came over and they were filling the tire with air. Then, there´s air sounds coming out of the valve. I was floored and crushed. What am I going to do? The nearest yamaha dealership is in assuncion 800 km away. Then I changed my mind and put my faith in the situation.

Jose said bring the bike under the verandah. It was cooler there. The mechanic guy a short fellow with flip flops had us lift the bike up and put it on some shaky blocks. then he´s ripping the tire off. I look at his eyes and their really red. I wanted to pull jose aside and say are you kidding me he´s totally drunk or hung over he can´t do this! but I didn´t. It was tough getting the tire off the rim without proper tools but it happened. Then the leak was discovered to be in the worst place according to Jose. The stem. We took it back to the mechanic, and he looked at it, and went over to his house for the umpteenth time. i learned patience.

He came back with some wire, and wrapped it tightly around the stem. What about the metal digging into the tire I asked. No problema. Tire remounted, and then the bike won´t run unless on full choke. ´

Lets have lunch jose says.

I think about the bike for those 10 minutes and get back after some wine and pimento. Still couldn´t get it. Jose was the idea guy. clean the spark plugs? we couldn´t find a tool to get them out. Air filter? clogged FULL of sand. Washed it out. Still the same. I get frustrated and take it for a drive. I think the tribal gas is bad. I remembered a strange hissing sound when I moved the bike after we filled it there that never happened before. After a tough drive around the settlement, same problem.

Its early afternoon now, and I stop at the mechanics house. He was sleeping. He finds the same valve that Luiz in Mexico adjusted and boom that did it. Shitty gas needs a richer blend I guess. Said goodbye and faced the long road back to the pavement.

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