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


Encouragement

After a week of sleeping on the beach with bugs biting, crabs scuffling, dogs barking-fighting, and monkeys howling, it truly all melted away when a friend sent a message about how something I had chronicled awhile ago meant something to her, and she was using it. That, and after almost finishing Christopher Reeves book Still Me, and the courage that comes from needing people and having them come through, will leave me with a nice bit of self assurance to sleep well, and wake up determined to make a day of it tomorrow.

I had given up on people and my place with others. Too many transient moments on the road, not enough reaching out, and not enough people reaching out to me. Constantly feeling disconnected left me discouraged and unwilling to try. What was really happening was that I just stopped trying, too easy to get into the ruts of prefashioned statements and the same old lines. I had past visions of feeling vibrant and alive with people, but somehow I found too much evidence that I was never going to have that again, and gave up. Its there, waiting. Maybe even better than before.

I truly am a creature that needs people. I need their encouragement, I need their attention, I need their feedback. Ive spent a lifetime trying to get rid of it, and it doesnt go away. I just end up depressed neurotic and ambivalent about everything.

The Waiting Game



Waiting really is a game, isn't it? The players who make life a game are the ones who always win, one way or another. I loved playing games as a child, eerything from board games, to cards, to jumping around on the bales and Lone Ranger with real horses. Suddenly, when I started struggling internally early on in my professional life, the games stopped. Perhaps I thought they had to for me to be successful but this attitude adversely affected my ability to get the juice out of my life required to slog through the frustrating bits.

The only thing available for people wanting to make a difference in their lives, and have extraordinary lives is a good mentor, or several of them. Current educational systems are lacking, and parents are too busy with their own lives. Everyone seems to be out hanging by a thread trying to figure it out from scratch. An entire lifetime can be swept away like a riptide.

I was fortunate to have a lot of people in my life that I could use as guidance, but in the end, it is truly an inner journey I had to undertake if I truly wanted to create a life of my own. It just seems too far away now to do what others are doing, doing it the way one should. Too much pain, suffering and struggle to throw it all away and plug back into the matrix. So what now?

Well, (a fitting word considering the depth of the personal challenge) gcontinuing the journey of feeling uncomfortable, and trusting it will all work out. The waiting game - make the most of it, and enjoy the experience. Practice talking to that gorgeous woman over there. Make an effort. Don't stop. And do stop! for breaks, for surfing, but there really isn't any need to go anywhere. They're just distractions. My body is tired, and I don't sleep that well with bugs biting, crabs crawling, dogs barking and monkeys howling. But I will never forget a friend's advice years ago. "Feel the ground, and feel grounded. You are exactly where you need to be right now."

And now a word from our sponsor, "ADD works!:"A mars bar a day at work rest and play!" A friend gently shared an observation that my fb post about toenail painting was not duly recorded here, so here goes.......

Back on the boat from Columbia to Panama, an Aussie girl was wearing what seemed a dark purple (black) toenail polish and I thought "if I was ever going to wear nailpolish that would be the color and this would be the time", but she didn't have any with her, so I marked that up as a 'someday' proposition. The next store I was at on the mainland found me in the cosmetic aisle eyeing up a bottle of purple nail polish. It was only a $1. It was thrown in a bag and forgotten about for a couple days.

Some downtime required some distraction, so out came the bottle of violet nailpolish. It would dry darker I was certain. When I applied it carefully, which in my case meant half on my nail the other half on my toe, the colour was much closer to a bright violet than dark purple, and it stayed that way.

It was really just an exercise in practicing being comfortable with people's glances and remarks, in the belief that it would help me to continue saying what I want, and being who I want to be. I experienced the urge of wanting to hide them up, and thinking of the two girls here, one with an arm defect, the other missing a hand, who would have a hard time covering that up. Probably the most difficult was a dutch guy who I noticed was looking at my toes, and asked his opinion. He gave that scrunched up face and his voice wavered, contradicting his words of "hey, man I don't judge everyone is entitled to do what they want."

Our defects, our mistakes, our problems and our less-than-perfect moments, scrambling to cover them up and hide the evidence. Now, I simply don't have the energy or care. It is the same when someone 'let's themselves go'; it's just easier to ignore the ego's cries of 'I'm not looking good here and I will be rejected' than to go through the effort of putting up appearances. It's easy to say 'I don't care what other people think'. There must be some effort made to keep up appearances; we're designed to feel good if we look good and fit in. Where the distinction must be made is in matters of opinion, religion, 'group-think', and other group forming natural behaviours of humans that should be taken with some salt, and personal differences defended and debated. In the end, noone really cares what we do in the long run, except us. It becomes a cheap excuse to blame others for our failures in living true to our own vision. Sometimes our lives have to become a complete nuclear waste site before we have the impetus to change.

Even then, we may just feel the urge to lay down in that toxic slick and have a nap.

Cansado

430 came early that Tuesday morning, as I had agreed to meet at 7 am in Rivas, and a long bike ride was between us. Walking across the beach for 10 minutes swept the cobwebs away, and was on the road by 5. It was made a longer journey by the chain falling off, and the front basket holding my computer, camera, flip flops and a book, also came loose forcing me to improvise a couple times using materials from the side of the road. I made it there at 740 am and apologized the jose the taxi driver whom I had thought would have still been in bed at that time.

The three of us went over to get Jose's brother, as Jose had an outstanding ticket he didn't want the police to see. We arrived in Managua by 9 then drove around for an hour trying to find the auto parts place, and when we did, he said we don't have any parts for that kind of bike. I was angry but began formulating a plan. It looked and felt very dire indeed. I couldn't rely on my mechanic for sure. We went to the internet shop and I astarted talking to a few people, ending with Dave from Williams Lake, who said he may be able to help me.

I got back, and swiftly took my chinese new bike in to see if I could trade it for something not made out of tin. No. Absolutely not. Not part of the policy. We argued for a bit, then I decided to give her the bike as a gift. She couldn't say anything about that, but seemed a bit surprised and shocked. Then I bought a used one, promptly finding the gears slipping as I left the shop. Chop Suey chinese restaurant, then off into the dark to get to San Juan del Sur, about 2 hour bike ride. Got there in 1 hour forty, in time to find the Canucks game in the 2nd period. Had funny chats with some guys and a Nova Scotian who called me a douche bag for teasing her about Cape Breton - a bit too much I thought.

Heady from a few nica libres (rum and coke) I headed out for the final hour of ride back through the dirt roads to Playa Madera and consequently Mathilda. Handlebars loosened off, and I was catapulted straight onto my head. That hurt and left me a bit stunned. My computer went flying in its bag. Two guys stopped and helped me move the bike off the road. Had to ask directions in the pitch blackness although I had a light. Left the bike then and chained it to the fence as I had to just drag it by then with handlebars listlessly hung by the side. I had left San Juan after the game at about 11 or so, and got to Madera at 330. Woke up at 5 on the outside couch of the Barrio restaurant, as I was so exhausted walking for 5 km, but headed back to my camp to get a couple hours sleep.


The laptop screen had several cracks and I thought was ruined but I can still use it. Seems I landed on it when I came off the bike.

Laid around a lot today recovering from a very sore body, got an email from Dave saying he has all the parts for me but needed clarification on which cylinder (front or back) so I called Jose to run over to mechanics to find out. As of writing do not know yet which as I couldn't get a hold of him. Then, nice conversations with some Americans (lived in canada for a while) courtneysmith.com
they let me come with them back to san juan, as I needed to bring the bike back but what about the handle bars? I needed an allan key and hoped that would be enough but the local surf shop worker didn't have one, so I asked a German guy and his wife who had brought their truck and trailer down to the beach. He had some. And it worked. I came back and we spoke a long while about the earth and troubles. He was an engineer who developed Coke and Beer factories all over the world. www.travelmaniac.jimdo.com

Canucks

A German, Aussie couple and I made a small trek around the other side of the mountain to hang out in the tidal pools. They were full of scuttling black crabs, small fish and coral-like vegetation. We returned to see Nikki's baby possum, and all weigh in on the moral dilemma of nature vs. nurture. A Canadian couple from Calgary came over to Matilda's and mentioned the Canucks game they saw a couple nights before, and the impending game this night. We've got to go I exclaimed, so we set out for the umpteenth time back to Madera through the rocks and waves, seconded a vehicle within minutes of arrival and made the 15 minute ride into town. Canucks lost again, a disappointing result, but a fun night chatting despite the Czech guy who kept on insisting to me that Canadians love to fight, and that every Canadian hockey player fights. He almost made himself right.

We were stuck again that night in Madera faced with a dark passage along the beach. But we made it.

I was up this morning early, and a good thing because Doug and Deanna, my American ride into Rivas, showed up at Madera an hour earlier than expected. We got into San Juan and had a ecologically minded breakfast amongst several great books for reading at exorbitant prices and the owner's reviews of her fave books. Then, into Rivas, another 30 km, and I was in the back of the truck, and slapped the side when I saw the mechanic's shop.

The motorbike was a shell, really. The motor was ripped apart, and I could see the damage to the piston and arm. Could have made it easier on myself if I had just stopped the bike but on the other hand who knows what would have happened. Took the saddle bags to the next door, then a bike taxi down to a biek shop, purchased a new Chinese built piece of krap bike, made my way back 30 km to San Juan, stopped in at Gato Negro, chatted with Rebekkah, and had my favourite lobster deep fried on the beach.

Then it was a tough ride on the krappy Chinese made bike through the dirt roads to Playa Maderas. 40 km biking today. Now its relax with a book and wait for the surf. I return to Rivas for 7 am tomorrow morning to meet the taxi driver, and the mechanic to head off to Managua to get the motor repaired. Just zen.

Miss Universe

A late departure from Jaco, Costa Rica did not seem like a bad idea at the time, and I guess looking back it wasn't. But by the time I got to the Nicaragua border it was 630, and had closed some time earlier. Back tracking to the nearest town, made a couple stops and thought it was to be one of those nights but happened to find a great little hotel with a pool for $10/night. Fish soup on the menu - bones, crabs and all.

Got off 15 km to the border and the banging started. The little shisters at the border convinced me to give them 30 bucks for a speedy trip through the border but it was the least of my worries. 20 km down the road and I had a huge piece of metal fly off my engine and oil spurting out. That was after about 10 km knowing I should stop but didn't want to push the bike in the heat with the most painful banging noise I was just hoping to hold on but right out of the movies flew that piston or whatever time will tell.

The taxi driver pulled me with his rope, took me to his mechanic friend, the bank, then drove me out to Playa Madera. Was supposed to bring me a pedal bike to buy off him Sat. but never showed. Its just been chilling and surfing on the beach doing my best to settle down. I'm doing allright. I mean, my engine exploded two days ago, and i just said that's it. it's over. the journey is over. But somehow the mechanic seemed hopeful and positive that it can be fixed.

I have been overwhelmingly surprised on a number of occassions, and have no reason to believe otherwise that everything will be just fine. At least it wasn't my leg that blew off that's significantly harder to fix!

Born to be Wild







It's the only song I can think of recalling riding with 9 Harleys through the night to Jaco, Costa Rica.

In other knews, I came to terms with my brain being hardwired for other's approval. In fact, I played out all sorts of games growing up just so I could get the rush of feeling wanted. I even played dead once just to see if people cared. I ended up getting kicked in the nuts!

So, a good friend saved me, or at least I saved myself from calling him. It was in response to another friend's feeling sorry for themself, so I thought I'd just prove a point for myself about how crazy we make ourselves when we're lonely. Loneliness is the ONLY mental illness a human being can suffer from; all other 'illnesses' are a result of it.






Mindlessly using shampoo instead of sunscreen. Bottles are virtually the same in color and size. Costly mistake!



And now it's checkout time and I'm feeling the call of the road. Bike will need to be pushed again power's zapped. Battery is fine it's getting zapped by the lights. next stop La Libertad or near it El Salvador but knowing the borders it will be at least one more stop before then.

New



A new tire, a new attitude, a charged battery and I´m ready to head north tomorrow morning. I just feel more centred than I have been in years. More within my own thoughts, my own feelings, my own direction. I suppose I feel as if my world is my inner world, and as long as I am taking care of it, everyone else can take care of themselves. My world is fine, and I have done the work to achieve it. I am glad to see the Canucks are up 3 to 0, as their loss tonight will take a couple games to recover from.

Expect to get closer to the Costa Rican border by tomorrow night.

Back On Land

Overall the trip was a fairly efficient 5 days, getting a visit into a Kuna village today, and still arriving on dry land Panama side before noon. My bike was the third of 4 to take off the boat, after one of the glass manholes was cracked from Kevin´s heavy 1200. Fritz will not be happy about that. My bike was dead as a doornail and so the worry began as to how to start. I pushed it off the dock, and all the way down to the Kuna stop, where I had to pay $10 for the bike, and $1 for myself. Then, it was down to the air strip, but it looked pretty flat. A big football player sized guy came over and pushed me 3 times but we exhausted it as the battery was so dead. He left back to the office, and returned after about 10 minutes with 6 or 7 of my boat mates. He was taking them through to Panama City. Pete the Brit, the two Germans, and the big Panamian football player gave me a push to remember.

It still took another two times, and it was sounding sick, but she finally caught on. I stopped and said thanks, then followed them down the road to a Military stop and more paperwork to show. Fritz had given me the list of everyone´s passport numbers to give to them, but the guy didn´t want it!

I burned through the very steep, windy but paved roads with the odd 20 metres of dirt in the low passages. I wanted to blow the carbon out of the carbs, and charge up the battery so within 15 minutes I had passed the truck of boat mates handily. Some construction crews and one guy seemed to be quite upset with me, which was rare. Most if not all wave and whistle and cat call some. The bike puttered a few times but after 5 days of laying still in the salt water I wasn´t surprised. Stopped at a little convenience store with a Panamian of Chinese decent and put on the celebrity hat again -he let out a hoot when he saw all the flags on my jacket of the countries I had been through.

Calculating the remainder of my American money, I thought I had $20 to spare, but as the toll booths arose, and I paid for gas, I ended up scraping an American dollar coin out of my pocket from Ecuador, which got me through to the city. Lucky guy. That´s where it ended.

Aduana, or customs was going to be tricky to find. Knowingly begrudging the GPS, I was on my own with only the ability to ask for directions. 3 or 4 guys later, I´m getting escorted there by some government dually Ford. It´s time to turn and I´m paying more attention to how I´ll get through traffic when BOOM! my bike and I fall into 6¨ deep manhole cover, the front wheel goes sideways instantly, and I collapse directly into the side of a truck.

I knew I had no time to sit and think this was a busy street and people were already honking. Some other guys had come over to help me get the bike up. The front windshield was shattered and bent 45 degrees ahead more than normal. I put the bike to the side and went back to the truck. My government escort came over, said a few words, and made the international hand gesture of ´no worries, its all done´. There were some scratches on the side of his truck, but he said the company would pay for that. I noticed I still had most of my windshield left, and I could probably bend it back into place. I still hadn´t found Aduana.

So him and I walked over to the police station to get more directions. He was clear: take a right, then another right at the semaforo (intersection) then through the next semaforo. I still ended up turning around, but did eventually find it. Got in, went to the wrong window ( this is common because nothing is labelled in these countries and forget about directional arrows and signs you gotta just figure it out). So I get to the right window eventually and she looks at my papers and says I need insurance. Not insurance again. Yes. I need insurance before I can get my motorbike customs papers.

After 5 days on the boat, I was pretty practiced at patience so I just asked where. She said Calle 50 (5oth street) but they´re closed now and we´ll be in 5 minutes too. Great.

Still don´t like not getting what I want when I want it. So, I headed back to the bike, asked where the insurance was, and soon, one guide had transferred me to another, who successfully got me down to the insurance office, through winds and turns and switchbacks. There´s no way I could find my way back without doing the same thing I did to get there: ask for directions.

It took the insurance guy an hour to fill out my papers. These people are just slow and inefficient with a lot of their bureaucratic paperwork. I´m just venting, but this should have been a 10 minute procedure. I was calm throughout it all, and read the paper while I was waiting.

Got out, had some beautiful 3 piece KFC, did some hotel shopping, found one for $30 and settled in. Tomorrow, I will find a new tire for the back, get the battery charged up, spend one more night here, then make the trek for Ecuador, where I plan to have a mini vacation of surfing, then continue on to Texas to visit my cousin, then up through the central states to possibly Regina to visit my godson but we´ll see.

Out At Sea

















Kevin and Lorraine, the world travellers, were already out at the bike when I started bringing my gear down. I had promised them to meet and take them over to Bocagrande with me. I had been there before, so I thought I had a good chance of finding it, hero like. But, I still had to find some beer and hard liquor, and cigarettes, necessary evils to get through the ride. As I was committed to quitting before I got to Panama, I could justify one last puff. And we were off at 11 am exactly, after some quick directions.

I led them straight to the church on the other side that Rolly had described, then turned around to the nearest dock. We had to come to the other side of the harbour as the water was deeper there. I said we have nothing to worry about, we should be able to see the boat coming across. It was only 1115 so we sat in the park and chatted. The are a retired couple who met in the British Navy, went through Africa on their 1200 Bmw bike, then shipped it across to Buenos Aires and went all the way down to Patagonia, and Ushaia, the farthest southern tip of South America. They said the wind was so heavy on the gravel road it took both of them just to keep it upright on the foot stand. Something like 90 km in 9 hours! Sure glad I stopped where I did, as I had no interest in driving another 10,000 km to ring a bell and return.

Fritz The Cat arrived at 1205 and my battery did not. Kevin gave me a push but it was so weak I turned it off and rolled it some ways, only to start it luckily again. Big Rolly (the captain) is 2 metres tall and strong as a bull. He straddled Kevin´s bike first and they heaved it up onto the catamaran. Mine was next. It stalled of course, and couldn´t start again, but we pushed it around to get it on. While everything was getting tied down, we put all our unnecessary items in the hatches and I got around to saying hi to everyone. The two Australian girls Loretta and Jane that I had teased showed a bit of uncertainty and surprise as to why I suddenly came on board, but I came out of the gates charming everyone to hide the nervousness of new meets. I apologized to Jane for taking it a bit far and we were all set.

How to sum up 5 days on the boat? I liked the experience. It was good for me, and a strengthening occurred. I felt seasick the first night (ironic considering how much I teased the girls) so I laid down at 8 pm. Got up at 245 to take my shift at the wheel and watch out for other ships in the night. Got my best sleep from 4 to 7 after I woke Sebastian up for his shift. By 8 pm the next night, we were in the San Blas Islands, an archipelago of 365 islands mostly uninhabited and straight out of a calendar or postcard. Fritz said it was one of the fastest, and easiest he´s ever done.

In a nutshell, we always had lots of food, (it missed the mark a few times) and drink (coffee with lots of grinds, tea with lots of leaves, ice water with lots of burning taste to it. It was just very simple kind of macaroni and cheese type fair throw it together and make it palatable. The freshly squeezed lime juice was very refreshing, and all kinds of fruits to eat whenever we liked. I was sleeping early, (I had a 57 year old spanish goldwing rider in my bed who laid in bed 2 days from seasickness) and often but the shift was I didn´t feel guilty or not good enough compared to the chatty, socializing, drinkers. I just talked when I had the chance and didn´t worry about a popularity contest. It was a real nice change.

I finished 4 books in 4 days. ´Tough guy´ (true story of a young New York mobster who finally gets caught, spends 10 years in jail and converts to Judaism), ´Love and Obstacles´, from a Serbian writer who spent his young adulthood in America while the Yugoslavian ethnic war was raging, ´Ishmael´, a talking gorilla that bridges the murderous relationship between Cain and Abel and our own fight today of trying to exterminate all life on earth that doesn´t directly serve humanity, and finally ´Bad Monkeys´ a trippy Matrix type psychological thriller of a woman acting as a double agent between good and evil forces.

Stefan, a super nice french guy, has been on a bike trip of his own lebretonstef.canalblog.com


The snorkelling was brilliant, refreshing my mind, body and spirit after initially finding it tough to breath in the mask. The life in and around the coral was just so beautiful and awe inspiring I´m tearing up now thinking this could be lost forever if we continue eating this earth up. And my nephews, or maybe even my kids or theirs in turn would not be able to marvel at this, because they had all been destroyed by an ocean that is 1 degree too warm. Hmmm.

I have on my thinking cap, and I´m angry. It seems as if I don´t waste time on fools anymore, and see my life pretty clear. It´s something to continue to work on and cultivate, this clarity. Love YOU!

Walk The Plank

5 days on the boat to Panama - here we go!

Happy Hour

It was a smart move coming back over to Getsemani, the tourist area, in hopes of meeting some English speakers and reconnecting. Within 20 minutes of pulling over, I had a guy find a cheap hotel, help me with my bags, then I changed my clothes and was back down to find a couple Edmontonians checking out the bike. I invited them to join me for a beer and found out Shay was Ukrainian and grew up near Forestburg, about 30 minutes away from Stettler, and her husband Dee had been an importer of Asian art for years. That night I was determined to get drunk for the first time in months, and as it was Happy Hour, it would be a hell of a lot cheaper. So, I had 4 mojitos in an hour and was feeling pretty good by the time I had to meet Fritz to give him a million pesos to board the boat. There was some doubt as to whether I was going to get on it, especially after seeing another couple and their bike waiting to meet Fritz as well. So, of course the meeting went well, and I gave him a hard time about hitting the underwater wall once and he took it in stride. You can't do much without the internet knowing all about you these days. I went back to the Tasca Marta and in walks Captain Jack. It was great to see him, and we talked about life for a while until all a group of 10 tourists came in and swarmed him, asking about the boat, and giving him their money to secure their spot. He has his moments of celebrity for sure. Sounds like the bar in Portobello is doing really well, and he has plans to start up a yacht club there too. His columbian girlfriend showed up later, and they told me about their christmas in the poor part of columbia. Poor but happy and phenomenal he said. Then a couple Aussie girls showed up later and I was pretty drunk on my 7th or 8th mojito by now. They said they were going on Fritz's boat so I teased them sometime about seasickness, and how on the way over I was so sick I puked in someone's face, that's how bad it was. They were really believing me, and never asked me if I was going on a boat, but boy are they going to be surprised when they see me and the bike come on board tomorrow! The final indignity came this morning when the police knocked on my door about 730. He asked if I knew about a black motorbike. This wasn't sounding good, although I had my suspicions they had it. Sure enough the police had stolen my bike off the street, and had taken it down to the station. The station was in the middle of the park just 200 metres down the road but it took me a while to get there because I completely passed it. When I got there, I was so damn dizzy and must have reeked like booze, so I concentrated on staying away from more than 50 cops milling around there. The whole process took about 20 minutes, as the cop wrote down what happened in his book, checked my license, and registration, and then fingerprinted me. I brought the bike back to the hotel, and tried to sleep.

Link

A new link that I discovered on the internet. It brings me hope in battling all that 'ails' me by using the focus of my mind. There was nothing wrong in the first place, but the way I learned to focus, or not focus, on the world around me has had distinct effects on my career, health and relating to others. http://www.openfocus.blogspot.com/

Cartagena

Funny how one change of mind can change everything. After the exhaustion of really sank in it became apparent to me that I was crazy. Why would I rush home so fast after working so hard to get down to here? It was clear I wasn't enjoying it, and fortunately I was able to change a stubborn mindset. It would be a bit embarrassing to have to tell people that I would not be coming home when I said I would, but I was a bit surprised to be supported for it. Some people are anxious to see me home and part of me just wanted to make them happy. But then it was also clearer that I was sacrificing my own happiness for what I perceived would be theirs, and nothing but regret for me in the end.


So, that night in Medellin I fell asleep at 8 o'clock. Jenny and the other young fellow from the garage came over to the hotel with a bag of weed and asked if I wanted some. No thank you. Especially not in Columbia. Besides, it smelled and looked like parsley. They were very kind; Jenny helped ensure I could keep the bike at the mechanics overnight, then took me to the internet, then to find a hotel across the street. I think it was about $7 for the night, and the shower was SO cold, with just one valve handle on the wall. Refreshing to say the least, but all I could bring myself to do was go across the street for a beer and ice cream and brought it back to the room. I wanted to meet some people and sit at a bar but decided I was just too tired.


The boys at the mechanics were all there before me, although jenny did not return as she had said. I felt comfortable with them, and they persuaded me into a total bike wash. It sure looked nice after it was done, and gave me some time to just hang out. The other young guy took me down to the bank, and I bought a couple souvenirs along the way.

When it was time to go, a little after 12, I confirmed with the guys that indeed I was looking right at the highway I needed to get on to head north to Cartagena. The bike didn't start but the kid had pushed the safety switch off, which made me happy as I didn't have to push start it. Then down off of the sidewalk, through traffic, and off I went.


By mid afternoon, it was cold and rainy up in the mountains, about 2500 m. Milk cow country in Yarumal. Had a nice chat with the ladies who worked at a good little store/restaurant on the side of the road, having completely missed the city of 50,000. After, I returned down there to get some gas to see all the police dispersing the area from yet another road check.


I rode on into the evening, dropping my bike on the pavement trying to slowly get through a big pothole while going around a corner a bit fast. A bit faster pickup realizing the big bus was coming right behind me. Eventually the road straightened out, and improved dramatically, although heavy heavy rain accompanied it. I think it was around that time I realized I didn't have to make it back to Canada so fast. So, I settled down at a sweet little roadside motel, fairly new near a palm roofed open air restaurant that looked very nice. There was noone to let me into the room for about 10 minutes but finally someone came over from the gas station to take my money. Still only about 13 bucks now for this nice one.


3 brothers discovered me the next morning, and sat down at the table watching me as I ate my breakfast. We talked for a bit, and then I said it was photo time. So I got them all geared up with my helmet and glasses. I gave the oldest the last piece of map I had to show him where he lives. Probably had never seen one before, although he had heard of Medellin of course.


As suspected, I ate that road up that day all the way to Cartagena, and arrived in the afternoon. I got into the old historical part of the city, walled since the 1500's to protect against several other countries ships, and later pirates. The city was being ransacked so much as a result of it being the Spanish pickup spot for all the Bolivian, Peruvian, and Ecuadorian gold and silver they plundered. The impressive walls were built at today's cost in the trillions of dollars. The King had reportedly said "We should be able to see it here in Spain for all the money we've spent on it". They even resorted to building an underwater wall to stop boats from landing on ground.


The first hotel I stopped at within the walls was 300 a night. Although I was looking to have a mini holiday here I thought that was a bit too much. So, I drove over to Bocagrande, and area that looks completely different, with highrises and hotels everywhere. I stayed there for 3 nights. The only exciting thing was one morning when I decided I would change my mood as well, and start trying to connect with people again. So this lady was on the beach putting on suntan lotion and as i walked by I asked if she spoke english. No senor. She didn't sound spanish for sure. Anyways, her husband yells out at me from out in the ocean and starts making rude gestures with his arm, and waving his hands away from his body, like "get out of here". I just stood there and stared at him saying tranquillo! relax you bone head. Still haven't experimented with saying whatever the hell I want in a language the other person doesn't understand. Anyways, I think he got the point I was willing to stay right there until he got out of the water, because he started to hesitate a bit. So that was it for saying hello to people! I think some people are pretty nervous in Columbia, but the locals are some of the happiest in the world.






Mountains of Frustration

Left quito yesterday morning at 1030 and drove all day and night. caught a nap from midnight til about 3 am, then drove all day until now, in medellin. Stopped by cops and had to buy 174 one years worth of insurance in columbia. The town was called Chinchina, and full of beautiful women. I was so grouchy today, and did not want any of the thousand stares I received today. Its like theyve never seen a tall white bearded man on a black and silver bike before.

Just pulled over into a mechanic to look at front brakes. Friendly bunch and helpful. I was coming up through the mountains playing mario andretti and my front brake failed. scary. Also met a nice couple from here that live in Toronto, or near there. They told me it was 10 hours of driving to Cartagena, so I will have to give in and wait until tomorrow. Not much left in the can tonight. Just want to be home, but I must be patient, and concentrate on putting one mile in front of the other.

Rest

Coming into Quito yesterday afternoon was pure hell. Mountain pass with fog, rain, and cold. A respite about an hour before the city with a crazy fun group of people who were teasing me about my blue eyes. Contacted Gabby, an ESL student at my school from almost 5 years ago, and we set up to meet at a restaurant in a couple of hours. As I got into the city, the lights shut out. I found out later it was the first time in years that Quito lost its power......on my first day. So of course the traffic lights were out, and everyone was anxious to get into the intersection and create traffic jams. With a motor bike, I could power through a little quicker. Got into the area of the city Gabby suggested we meet, and got off the bike cold and soaked. A Pakistani guy helped me contact her (she was stuck in atraffic jam) and I told her lets meet tomorrow. Then he invited me back to his house where I met his 4 cousins. They told me about Pakistan, made me tea and sandwiches. Very nice people. Today, I met up with Gabby at an American Sports Bar which was great to eat food from home, and talk with a friend. Otherwise, hoping for good weather as I come out of the mountains tomorrow morning into Columbia. Anxiety was coming back strong today as a result of laying around for the first time in weeks. Just feel like its so difficult to feel comfortable around people. Its a horrible mix of not wanting to be around people, but feeling so damn lonely.

Ecuador

ever since the paraguay border, drivers became very agressive with their passing, waiting for you to pull over so they can get past. That was this day and a lot of cussing on my behalf. But it gave me space to do the same, and not worry. Peruvians communicate the entire range of emotions with their lights and horns. A long day of driving, another sleep on the side of the road. A 3 hour piss off run around with the ecuador aduana (customs) where i had to go into town 3 friggen times. Got into Quevedo around 7 although i was expecting to hit quito couldn´t do it anymore. took all my strength and fortitude to shower go down to american kfc and get some food. then sleep. Woke up this morning wondering about where i would get help on the bike. looked up and there was a yamaha store one block away. couldn´t believe it. too good to be true. they dont handle big bikes. So, I headed out of town after some directions, then stopped at a roadside restaurant. saw a guy with a beer and i thought wow nice style! he motioned me over and i sat down, begged the other restaurant to bring my food over to this restaurant. funny guy and pretty drunk. another nice passionate south american lady came over too and sat down and we talked rather i listened about ecuadorian corruption and politics. So, the drunk guy took me down to el coyote the mechanic and asked me for 2 bucks for his help in finding him geez. the guy owns a jewelery store. thats how tough it is down here! right arm is pretty itchy swollen and sore after a bug got in my coat and stung me or bit me twice. felt like an ice cold poker in my arm. anyways nobody warned me about this danger did they? Now off to quito after bolivian fuck up fixed by ecuador i hope with the carbs, my clutch and speedometer cable i hope i hope i hope cause i really like to know how far ive gone. Life as a human. Important to be a little less aware i think. Coping skill necessary. just got back from mechanic. new cable, carbs back to normal, 2 new bolts, and clutch handle tightened. he looks at me pensively and says 15. unbelievable. thats with the new part and everything. Im sad that these countries have no money believe me but damnit it feels good when I don´t have to worry about how im going to pay for it. i gave him 25.

Shwarmey

Rhymes with Huarmey. That's where I'm at!


After I left the internet spot yesterday, the battery of the bike was dead. Dammit. Seems to run itself down somehow in the heat. And it was hot. And there wasnt much of a slope. And I had my full gear on. But I pushed it down the road, and after 3 attempts, started it up.


I asked 4 people, and somehow found my way out of the city, this time a city 'fast approaching 9 million'. In a friggen desert. Lets put a hockey team here and call it Phoenix. Just sandy desert. On the outskirts, hundreds of small, green painted, square huts litter the beaches. Noone was around, just these huts. Undoubtedly for the very poor. All of these south american countries have a huge disparate wealth to poverty.


So i headed north on the Pan Am, until about 830. I was looking for a campout, but the sides of the road looked inhospitable; on one side precipice to the ocean, on the other, sand dunes. But I found an access road, packed well, down to a electrical tower. I could hear the buzzing like rain. Lets move a little farther away........... Set up my smelly gear and woke up this morning at 6. No rain. My prayers were answered!


And much much warmey. Also rhymes with Huarmey.


Lima Beans

That it I´ve had it last straw. Leaving the bike here and flying home tonight. April Fools!

Mad Jason Beyond Bolivia


I was determined to make Puno my first stop in Peru. It was still damn cold and elevation high. I stopped at a desolate gas station and a little smart alec girl of about 10 came out and pumped for me, conveniently without change. So she went away for about 10 minutes and brought back a handful for me. Gas was about 5 bucks a gallon for 84 octane. low quality high price! Nighttime fell, and colder still. Stopped and asked a young guy if the city was Puno I was looking at. Nope. Another 115 km. You can stay here though nice restaurants, hotels. No thanks I have to get to Puno. About 5 minutes later, a sign saying 52 km to Puno. Nice tourism promoter that guy.


Puno just never arrived, and so cold. But when it did, I went down the main street, and stopped at about the 3rd hotel I saw. Knocked on the door and thought noone was home but Irena opened up and I stalled to keep warm. She had storage for bike, and 10 bucks a nite room. Ok done. Kitchy but clean, all the walls and floor were made of stained wood. She asked if I wanted the controller for the Tv and I said ok. When I got up to the room for the 2nd time, I looked around for a tv but couldn´t find one. She was hoisting a tv from another room! I said don´t worry about it. I had a 2 shirts a fleece coat from Kike and my leather jacket on and started shivering. Laid in bed under 3 blankets and soon felt warmer. Thought I had caught the start of a flu.


Slept well, and knew it from how tired I was when I woke up. Despite noone seemingly around, and unable to exit the hotel, a guy finally came around and let me out. On the road at 730 with the time change.


An otherwordly desert country, this part of Peru, with windy roads up and down and through the snow capped mountains in the distance. Saw a strange production facility in the middle of the desert right out of mad max.


Got to the coast, and saw the Pacific for the first time since the Panama Canal in December. Jumped in! Pretty cold but not as cold as Vancouver would have been. Determined to ride more and get closer to Lima. Met a couple Argentinians travelling south with their motos the first travellers I had seen in 7 months of this variety besides Gustavo, but he was on the amazon boat. I mentioned I had lost my map and voila one of them gave me his!


At about 10 pm couldn´t hack anymore, being on the road for 15 hours. Windy roads and crazy big truck and bus drivers. Stopped at a high point near what I thought was a petrochemical plant. Laid my big helmet head on the rocks, and woke up at 215 am. Rode for 2 hours and saw a discouraging sign 695 km to Lima. I thought 500 at the most. Laid down again near a sign at 430 am and woke up as the sign was rising an hour later. Rode until I hit Lima.


Nice city here in the desert, and a nice warm temperature. About 30 degree difference and 4400 metres in sea level in 48 hours. But I feel fine, and ready to continue on to Quito, Ecuador.






Videos of my journey

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