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 22nd August 2004

Well this is the last ever post to this site, it was only 1 year and 6 days ago that I set off to Canada via New York to pick up my bike in Montreal and start the journey that has taken me thirty five thousand kilometres around the most amazing continent, the Americas. 

After leaving Santiago, Chile we visited some friends in Sydney, Australia and then had a day in Bangkok, Thailand.  I then had 5 days back in London before I flew out to Madrid to pick up the bike and start my final meander home through Northern Spain and France with Thump.  It was great to return to Spain and be able to actually talk to the people, cor, what a difference that makes.

The French LOVE camping in the summer holidays, I never realised how much until I was turned away from my 5th campsite in the first day in France.  I visited two towns in Brittany where the literally had not a single space for my tiny tent and bike on the same day.  Shocker.  The thing that made it doubly hard was my terrible French and my still freshly learnt Spanish, the days were filled with Buenos Dias, …. sorry, Bonjour and the like.  Very confusing, but the kind folk in the villages just laughed it off ( or laughed at me ).  Every single Frenchman and woman I met was very polite and accommodating.  This is something that I had not seen so much in Paris or the booze cruise ports that I have visited over the years.  Stands to reason really – wherever there are too many people, the standards seem to drop….apart from Buenos Aires that is.  LOVED that city, in fact do me a favour and look into it as a holiday destination please.

My last evening camping in France saw me find the only space in a campsite for miles – the tiniest space ever, right next to the rubbish bins of the site -  Delightful.  So I went out for my last official evening of the holiday and dined on a plate of seafood in the charming sea port of La Rochelle as the sun set and the street acts and other night crawlers came out to ply their trade.  Who would have guessed that the man with the motorcycle helmet eating Salmon, trying to fit into the scenery actually went home to a tent and slept next to garbage?

It seems that a lot of things that I read or see kind of link up with the trip and things.  Another film of Che Guevara’s motorcycle diaries is about to be released, if you don’t know, he’s a famous Argentinean that travelled around South America on his motorbike.  I can’t wait to see that film.  I have the feeling that I might be a tad eager to go out and do the Americas again after seeing it.  But I fear that my credit card cannot take much more of a battering and any more abuse would see it having to enter the credit card hospital once again.

It has to be said that all this no-work business is nice, especially at this time of year when London seems to be more chilled due to the fact that its summer holidays.  Although I couldn’t help looking at the tower blocks of white city the other day and dreaming how that only 2 months ago, the only thing on the horizon was an endless view of the Andes.

As I walked home from the supermarket tonight after getting an emergency supply of toilet paper, I looked at an unusually pinkie-light blue sunset over London, with a huge feeling of having ones wings clipped, no more adventures for the time being.  It’s a strange world this one in London, it felt so normal and natural to ride a bike through desserts and mountains.  I wonder if I shall miss the celebrity-like status that goes with riding a bike into a village crammed with wide-eyed curious kids that have never seen or head of an Englishman, let alone one on a motorbike.  I wonder if I will get used to the anonymity that one has from living in London.  I wonder.

Finally I’d like to say THANK YOU to all the people that have helped me along the way, from Lucille who gave me her truck for 3 days in the USA, to Francisco who showed me what Christmas was like for the Mexicans, to my big sister Helen for looking after my paperwork and to Jules for putting up with my Philosophising and for being Jules.  Infact thanks to everyone that I have met in the past year, and thank you for reading and following the journey.  I think its fair to say that I achieved what I wanted,….. to understand more.

Brian

xxx

 

20th July 2004

 

There and back again

 

The inflight map on the miniture screen 20 inches from my face tells me that we are 33000ft over Delhi, India.  It's another sobering reminder that Heathrow is about 8 hours ahead.  Reminders like that and the captain stating that London has "persistant light drizzle" as we get nearer do nothing to help my denial that I am going home.

My friend Dermot told me in an email to savour every remaining morning, day and night, as the realities of life will hit me hard on my return....well mate, they have not only hit me hard, but they have push me down the stairs, taken me out the back and given me a good going over with a bit of 2 by 4.

Ive already started to reminice about the adventure that has taken a year to fulfill, already started to pour over the photos of people met and places visited.  The memories are still fresh and I want to keep it that way, although I am painfully aware that two weeks from now it will all seem like I never left blighty and those memories will start to fade.

Consoling myself with the fact that I will see my family and friends soon, and that eases the pain, whilst I have been away, I have gained "Uncle Brian" status, I cant wait to meet my niece Megan.  Have some good days ahead in the UK....am I clutching at straws?

Na, actualy England is a pretty damn cool place to live and being away from its quirks and delights really makes you appreciate the place.  I think the biggest fear is one of getting back into the routine, if I'm honest with myself I think that is what I fear the most....slipping into a routine an watching months go by being a wage slave.

Right, I've got that out of my system for the time being, so what did we get up to in our last month in South America?

Well Iguazu falls knocked us off our feet, we took a flight there from Buenos Aires in Argentina.  The girth of the falls was incredible, even when you are half a kilometer away from the falls, you cannot fit it into your vision, ITS THAT BIG!  Then a flight back to Bueenos Aires saw us soaking up one of the best cities in South America.  We fell in love with Tango and took private lessons, lots of fun and lots of work.  I'm still trying to sort out the moves in my head and piece a sequence together.  After BA we took a bus to an estancia (a Argentinian farm) to go horse riding and walk around the hills around.  The owner / host was the ex president of the Argentinian gastronomic society.  My god, the food that he conjured up for every meal was a small miracle.  Had not tasted food that good for a very long time.

Then a very uncomfortable 10 hour bus ride took us into Mendoza, more shopping there and more sampling of their fine wines and meat saw me put on more lard.  After Mendoza we took a bus back into Chile and Santiago.  At the border I approached a bunch of bikers, they were Chileans, and had traveled a day on their bikes to pick up their dead pal from Argentina, they were taking him back into Chile for his "final ride". 

Santiago saw us get some quotes on flying the bike back home to Europe.  Got a mail from a biker friend on a really really good price on flying the bike back home.  I subsequently followed up his hint and got an amazing price. 

We took in Santiago for a couple of nights before deciding that we should spend the last remaining week in latin America in a city we really wanted to be in...so we took another flight back to Buenos Aires.  There we dined on more incredible food and spent the day getting more lessons from our very patient tutors.  It's not an easy dance and will take a lot of practise before I can even think about keeping in time to music.  Lots of twisting of the torso in one direction and the legs in the opposite.  It really is a beautiful dance...ahem, when its done properly.

After our final visit to Buenos Aires, it was time to return again to Santiago, where I visited a Chilean airline and said goodbye to Thumper as I saw him get all packed up like a big present.  They even covered him in shrinkwrap.  Feel a bit guilty that the last month of travel was without him, but there was no way that we could have covered the distances we wanted to travel in Argentina on him.

So then we left Latin America, my home for the past 8 months, what an experience it was, what a fantatic, colourful, passionate part of the world.

We then found ourselves in Sydney where friends put us up for three days.  It was three days of taking it easy and catching up on news, again, more time would have been great.  Then onto Thailand for a stopover in Bangkok. At this point our internal clocks were all over the place, we were eating breakfast at 11pm and having dinner at 8 in the morning, or so it felt.  After a productive day of buying all kinds of things, thoughts turned to home.

So here I am, it's summertime in London and the weather is superb, Saturday night approaches and we are off to a wedding.  What then?  Well, I have a flight out of here on Tuesday, to even sunnier Madrid, where my bike awaits, it's just arrived from Santiago....well, you didn't seriously think that the adventure was over just yet did you?

 

Thursday 24th June 2004

 

I looked at the road ahead and imagined the 2000km of desertland that awaited ahead.  Arequipa to Santiago.  Looked at thumper and gave him a pat.  "Good bike"  Shortly after that moment we were twisting and turning around the road leading down the Chilean coast and into the Atacama desert with Red Hot Chilli Peppers blasting away.

Five days of that behaviour and you have one hell of a happy boy feeling on top of the world after having sooooo much time with machine, BEST music selection you can imagine, blue skies, and curves.....sooooo many curves, not short and nippy but long and gliding...sometimes I could have sworn I was dreaming.....  You can find yourself blatting it down the coast without another vehicle to be seen for hours.  Heaven.  Even better was that for the first time in yonks, Thumper was at zero altitude - the grunt and thrraapp sound of the bike was a very welcome change from the simple purr he made at 5000 metres he recently suffered at the top of the Andes.

Jules was meanwhile learning Spanish for the same week in Santiago.  It has to be said that her week of Spanish has seen her surpass my 4 weeks in Mexico in terms of confidence she has with the lingo and bredth of conversation!!!  Pesky language degree student!!!

Before all of this we travelled to the middle of the Andes in Bolivia.  We took an amazing tour around part of this incredible mountain range.  Experienced thermal baths at 4500 metres, with a ring of mountains around us for company.  Flamingoes everywhere around the salt flats and a very special sunset and moonrise above the mountain range.  Stayed in a very remote part of the Andes in a military police station.  They were stationed there to stop the flow of nicked vehicles being brought into Bolivia from Chile.  Did not get a great deal of sleep that night as the station is soooo remote, it feels like the place is exposed to the harshness of space when the sun sets.  We all woke up with icicles dangling from our noses in the morning, IT WAS THAT COLD!

La Paz was a fun place to be also.  A road with the title "the worlds most dangerous road" cannot be left alone.  Was hesistant to do it on thumper, so settled to race down it with a group on mountain bikes.  It was a hairy road and cant believe the speeds that we attained on that dodgy piece of road.

We were introduced to Vicunas and baby Alpalcas, very cute little things with big brown eyes and eyelashes....that also make excellent steak and throwovers for the sofa.  Cheers fellas!

Lake Titicaca is beautiful and does indeed (as the books say) have a special kind of colour in it, apparently due to it being the highest navigatable lake in the world.

The electric vest came in very handy some days at altitude.  Could have survived without it, but it just made riding comfortable those days instead of just bearable.

So far Argentina has surpassed everything we have heard about this wonderful country.  We are only just recovering from the first few days here of an onslaught of snow shoeing, bike riding, riding the teleferico (cable car as they call it over here) and of course sampling the delights of the world famous steaks and wines....often for less than a british pint and a half (I'm not kidding). 

Iguazu falls / Buenos Aires / Skiing and Estancias of Gaucho land all await over the next two weeks & we can hardly wait.  Sorry about that......hows that work thing then?

 

 

Thursday 20th May 2004

 

Aye?  What?  Another month gone by?  How did that happen?  Another month, another 5000 km of travel.  There have been some "big days out" recently, taking in views of mountains views that make you believe that you are standing on the roof of the world....on a bike.  Trying to fit all the stuff that's happened and experienced into a page is difficult.  I realise now that a lot of stuff is going to remain in my head, never to pass my lips, because there are no words for that match the sights...none, but if I could make a sound it might sound something like weeeeeeeewoooooowaaaaaa la la la leeeeeeeethrrrrrrrpbibble..

 

After arriving in Costa Rica I decided that I would forgo any trekking and other big adventures in Central America, as I wanted to get the bike flown from Panama City to Quito, Equador in good time to get me started in South America.  In Panama City I paid the fee to fly the bike to Quito.  The manager of the freight company and his family took me to his beach home where I got treated to a BBQ on the beach.and a nights accommodationall inclusive!  The downside of this was that the bike did not make the flight and it finally arrived 5 days late.  Upshot of this is that I received a 60% refund, jammy Colesy does it again. 

 

Very relieved to see the bike in Quito customs.  Customs was a mad scene of lots of bit of paper for the bike, people shouting at each other about the bike and me and what to do with us both.  It took six hours to process.  In the end I was surrounded by a gathering of officials watching me reconnect the bike battery like I was re-assembling a UFO.  I expected a round of applause after the heated interest, but none came.  I gave one of the officials a lift to and airport building and got back to my hostel in Quito.  Parked the bike at the Turtles Head pub (local bikey hangout for overlanders) and had a few pints to celebrate my re-union with Thumper and shared stories with the other bikers there, lovely crowd, great pub, amazing food.

 

Above the clouds in Equador, you discover a new colour of blue in the sky...dunno why, its just a different colour up there.  The weather ranged from the aforementioned blue skies to riding through clouds and mist at 20km an hour for hours.  On one such misty day, I managed to hit a rock-boulder thing at slow speed, this pushed the bike to the right, I planted my right foot down and struggled to keep the bike upright (but once she gets past a certain angle shes a-going).  But the forces of gravity and my knackeredness gave way and I saw the bike tumble off the right into a BIG ditch....mmmm took 4 people to get him out of that mess.  Right hand mirror broke off.  No other damage.  I was VERY glad to get to town after that...so I sat down, had a coffee and stared off into the distance for a bit.

 

Seeing Julie at the airport in Trujillo / Peru just made me grin.  She had been traveling for around 48 hours by the time she had got there and her plane had been delayed by 6 hours from Lima.  Grins all round in the cab back to the hotel.  The next ten weeks will see us traveling through some incredible sights together and I cant tell you how lovely it is to have her here at last.  Lucky lad me.

 

We've been blasting it through the coast of Peru and Julies bike training in the UK has paid off big time as a confident pillion, money well spent that.  I cant wait to see her ride Thumper, but Im pretty sure I will wee myself laughing and fall over when I do and be massively proud at the same time.  There is not a great deal to see along the coast, but its a quicker route south.  The plan is to spend most of next 9 weeks in Argentina and Chile.  This means that certain corners have to be cut.  For example, flying to Cusco instead of riding it there.  Doing shorter hikes in Machu Piccu.  Can't do everything...unfortunately, but I don't believe that South America is going anywhere soon, so one will return...I know that already.  Everything that everyone has said about this place is true.  It's a beautiful set of countries.

 

Jorge a fellow overlander helped me get to a good garage to replace the back tyre and then took us to his weekend retreat just outside Lima.  What a treat that was.  His house staff served up a typical Peruvian meal, introduced us to Pisco Sour and to top it off the Lima Harley Davidson Chapter turned up on his lawn for a drink. 

 

So it's 9.16am now we are waiting for a plane to take us to Cusco, where the famous Machu Piccu  Inca city sits majestically and draws millions of tourists every year.  Slightly miffed by the fact that we got up at 6am to get this hugely delayed flight.  Jules tries to flatten down my "suprised morning hair" to no avail, boing.

 

So that's less than three months of travel left....

 

Blimey.

 

 

Monday 19th April 2004

 

Crash, bang whallop, border crossings and Semana Santa.

 

Just when you think one month can`t get any better, along comes another one that blows the socks off the previous said groovy month.

 

Ive experienced crashes, blood, robbers, corruption, the biggest Easter party in Latin America, new wonderful friends, volcanoes, 100 degree temperatures and the like..

 

Mary, or Mary Moo as Mary is known, and I traveled south from the amazing Tikal in North Guatemala.  We decided that a bit of off roading type action was required, so we agreed to take off on a road into a remote part of Guatemala.  We started with good intentions to getting more experience with each other for backup in the case of an emergency.  Two hours along this track it has stopped being a proper road as soon as we started down it, the track started to deteriorate badly.  We pressed on through truly pants terrain.  I heard a massive bump and scrape, looked in the mirrors to see a massive cloud of dust and gravel where Mary should have been.  I`ve seen a motorcycle accident many moons ago, not nice.  So was very concerned as to how Mary had fared on this incident.  Luckily she was swearing and shouting like a trooper.  A good sign, she`s ALIVE!   Mary had cleared the bike and the bike had followed, and stopped about an inch behind her.  She had a fair chunk taken out of her hip flesh wise, needed to be cleaned but otherwise she was ok to stand up, not to ride.  So there we were, in the middle of a Guatemalan jungle track, lots of k`s in front of us and it was starting to get dark.  We locked up Marys BMW and put her rucksack on my bike and she got on the back.  Off we went down the poorest excuse of a road I`ve ever seen, no lights anywhere, potholes that deserve the title "craters".  Two hours later in the dark and deep into this national park, we found the only accommodation listed in our guide booksclosed.  Oh dear, not good.  We talked to a few locals hanging around a shack cum bar and were offered a place to stay.  It was a shed, but a shed with beds and a table, for a small fee of course.  Lifesavers.

 

We dined on red wine (bought earlier in the day), tuna with veg, bread and sweeties and Mary had lots of painkillers to get her through the night.  The next day was not that much better on account of the rain, making it doubly treacherous to ride the track back.  It took hours to do, but we found Mary`s bike and got on our way to the nearest big town with a posh hotel to crash out (no pun intended Mary).

 

A few days later we traveled to Guatemala city and then Antigua where the largest Easter festival in Latin America was about to get under way.  So we booked accommodation and set off to Lake Atitlan to chill, see the lake and get a shiatsu massage, because life is so stressful.   We Met Maximon  (he`s made of wood) a patron saint of the area.  He smokes / drinks / wears a cowboy hat / gets shifted from home to home and generally looks like a street dude, but his many followers are dedicated and worship him like there is no tomorrow.  For about a dollar, you can get blessed by a high ranking Maximon priest to pray for you, swallow a mouthful of rum and then have him release it into your face.all meant to be good for the soul..I abstained.

 

I had a wonderful time in Guatemala and in Antigua, thank you Mary, Alex, Bret, Jeff and Agnieszka.

 

I always approach border crossings with a sense of resignation to the system, and recall the wise words of my friend Deepinder.  He said about India once "see Indias bureaucracy as a brick wall, you can push it and fight it, but the only thing you can do is sit with your back to the wall, and SLOWLY, the bricks will start to come out over time".

 

So don`t rush, smile, ask for receipts for EVERYTHING and be courteous.  Even when you really dont want to be.

 

On the approach to the borders of Honduras and Nicaragua you are bombarded with money changes and helpers all vying for your attention and pointing you in different directions to get your papers.  It`s hot, youve ridden a fair bit already that day and all you want to do it have a beer in a nice hostel.  Enter one drunk man trying to be a helper at the El Salvador / Honduras border crossing.  The sod would not go away after repeated calls of "I dont need you" and "you smell".  He followed and pestered me from department to department, only adding to the already frustrating experience that border crossings can sometimes be.  Finally after 2 hours of queuing, photocopying and explaining, I had my vehicle permit for Hondurs.  For some unknown reason the border official gave it absentmindedly to the inebriated pest following me.  The pest`s eyes lit up and he legged it out the door.  Right..  Great.  I ran to the police station (as the immigration officials shouted at me to do) as the git flew back across the border bridge (think checkpoint Charlie).  A horizontally challenged policeman looked up from his pie he was stuffing his face with and mumbled a "what do you want me to do?".  He was in no fit state to give chase as he had clearly eaten all the pies.  The next 30 seconds saw me mount the bike, hoon back across the border at silly speeds no time for helmet etc, stick my left leg out as I passed the git and walloped him in the back of the knee out of blind mad rage to see him fall down.  I jumped off the bike and gave chase down an alley way that he then disappeared into.  I finally caught up with the mother of all skinheaded drunks, whereby he then threw the permit down.  In the moment that I picked up the permit, I stood back up and watched him continue to run, lose his footing and fall arse over elbow down a flight of stairs..."street justice" I said in my head, "street justice my son".  I then faced the border control guards I had flown past to give a description of Mr. Permit thief.

 

Just when I thought that was enough I was stopped by a man with teeth of gold and a walkie talkie 100 metres outside immigration and customs, asking me to pay 10 dollars for something I had already paid 10 dollars for and got the receipt for.  I demanded he get on the back of the bike so that we could talk to the police about it....he then said it was alright for me to pass.  Cor, don`t mess with Colesy that day.

 

Thumper has been doing so well that if it was a horse, Id be putting some extra oats in its bag.  So I gave it a treat and fed it some premium fuel yesterday.

 

So after Guatemala /  El Salvador / Honduras / Nicaragua and some great days riding on the bike, I find myself in Costa Rica,  I have an uncanny feeling that more trails of the unexpected await.what have you been up to then?

 

20th March 2004

 

Belize please / Guatamala - A dream realised

 

Wow, a whole month has passed since I wrote my last little note.  Feels like a lots of things have happened.  It's amazing what you can achieve whilst not working, it really is.  If you've never had a long time out of work, do it, it's the best thing a person can do.

The past month has seen my little bike and me roam through the last bit of Mexico, travel through Belize, and enter Guatamala...... 

It felt good to leave Mexico, because I have had the best part of 3 and a half months there, when I intended to spend just a couple of months riding through it.  I feel like I have seen a massive chunk of the place, but also know that there is a shed load more to see in that wonderfully diverse country.  It was a good time to leave, I felt like that I had "done" Mexico for the time being.  Adios Mexico, thanks for all the laughs and experiences.

On the way out of Mexico, I met up with Mary - a fellow brit.  I've never travelled with anyone else on a bike, and after 6 months of doing it on my tod, I was not sure how good my company would be.  It has to be said, I've landed on my feet to find a perfect travelling companion - Mary is ace and we've had the best laughs.  There are so many great things about travelling by yourself, but its a great thing to be able to stop suddenly and say things like "christ on a bike, did you see the size of that pothole we just went through?" - rather than just say it in your head. 

As I type this from my hotel veranda overlooking lake Peten Itza in Flores, the sun has been setting over the tree lined lakefront and a gentle breeze has just wafted over me, cooling my sun kissed bonce....god its a struggle some days, I feel a beer coming on v shortly to take away all this stress.

Infact, sod it, I'm off for one now to catch the sunset, will prolly do the rest of this tomorrow.  Have a lovely evening / morning / afternoon.

Good morning, after a few cocktails and beers I feel suprisingly nice (that's last night, not after breakfast).  So after leaving Mexico Belize opened her arms to us.  Had a wonderfully lazy time on Caye Caulker - a small island off the mainland.  One particular day, it was noted that the things achived for the day were: Eating twice and splashing around in the water....that was it - and a whole day went by, and it seemed to completely occupy the mind!

The Belize zoo proudly boasts to be the best little zoo in the world.  They are right.  I'm not a massive fan of zoo's.  But the Belize zoo is testament that animals are happy and healthy inside an encampment.  They were all well looked after because they were still in their natural habitat, with massive spaces to move around in, lots of lush green vegetation and trees for the spider monkeys, and Scotty the tapir looked like he was having a ball in his posh home - complete with pool.  All zoos should be modeled on this one. 

I'm now in Guatamala and its thrown all kinds of wonderful experiences at me so far, and I've only been here five days.  For example, as a lad I was blown away by the Star Wars films.  In one particular scene at the end of the first film, an amazing forest view with huge ruins towering up above the forest canopy is filmed.  For years I wondered where this place might be and wanted to go there as it looked so amazing....I went there a few days ago, the place is called Tikal.  It lived up to all my expectations and watching the sunset with a fantastic view of these ruins in the forest, listening to the forest come alive.....well, it was a dream realised I guess.

It just keeps getting better.  Going to spend a fortnight here in Guatamala, its a superb country with a ton of things to see.  Heading towards Lake Atilan in the south, where I'm hoping to get off the bike for a bit and go climb some Volcanoes.

Thanks for your lovely mails - keep em coming.

Brian

 

 

22th February 2004

 

Born to be mild / Down by the sea.

 

It's a hot one...but then every day in Pacific beach town puerto escondido seems to be that way.  Passed a few important figures the other day.  On the 16th Feb, it was six months since I left blighty, dear old England.  My map says that I just passed 20,000km on thumper.  Also I'm on my 1500th photograph....ummmm, something else....errr, nope sorry, cant give you any other figures, it must be the 90 degree f. heat here in P. Escondido making me forget things....sorry had to get that temperature in.

 

Lots packed in since I left my spanish course in Guanajuato.  Final day at school culminated to a party with lots of bbq type food.  Left my lovely home in Guanajuato and headed for Morelia.  Stayed close to Morelia to visit the butterfly sanctuary.  In Jan and Feb the sanctuary sees the migrating Monarch butterflies fly from the US to Morelia - 2500 miles & at 13 miles per hour, not a single butterfly that starts the journey actually ends it...their decendants do.  No-one knows why they choose this tiny forest to migrate to, they just do.  Incredible place.  The photos will tell a better story than my warble here.  Imagine a million butterflies in front of your face all flapping aound and the sound from a million tiny wings being like a gentle breeze from trees.

 

Then into Mexico city for 6 days of big city life.  "Don't go there" many people said (often those that had never been to the city) "its dangerous".  Well every city has its dicey parts, and I'm glad to say that I saw nothing but a crazy, bustling, bursting with life city.  You really did get the feeling that you were walking around with all of its 20 million citizens, its was PACKED!  Did a few day trips, some in the city, some outside, saw a match on sunday at the Olympic stadium.  Mucked around the canals outside the city on a large punt. 

 

Met and hung out with some good people, proving again that its not just the place, but the company that you keep.  Good hostel in Mexico DF overlooking the cathedral, again the pics will tell a better tale.  Abbie from Hackney, Ryanna & Nena from Ealing, a slice of home every now and then is such a superb tonic, not having to explain yourself to Londeners when talking is a luxuary.

Then down to Puebla on a south eastern angle, where the fuel pump finally gave out once to often (bike stops, wait 5 mins, restart, ok for another 80 k's).  So got that replaced with pump from a car.  Bike working like a dream, but noticed a small amount of fuel coming from the pump, will sort that out shortly....had a small heart attack when I saw a firebreather doing his job v close to the bike, images of thumper going KABOOM!  Puebla to Oaxaca for a few days, and again find a hostel rammed with good people.  More laughs and day trips to ruins and a visit to the worlds largest tree in the sun on the bike.

Then directly south to Puerto Escondido, to laze around in the day on the beach and play with the enourmous waves.  Again good hostel, chilled big time with friends there - was very hard to leave that place.  When you are faced with a day on a hot beautiful beach with friends you just want to stay just one more day....

The mexicans are a friendly bunch, big hearted and always have a big smile when you greet them with the same.

My eyes and head are so full of wonderful views from riding the bike, somedays it feels like there is no more space for more....but you can always squeeze another two or three in!

Mexico continues to amaze and impress every day.  Next big stops are San Cristobel de casas, Palenque and Tulum.  Another 1500km and 9 days to go till I get on the plane to see Jules in Boston....hurrah!

Still working hard?  Keeping the cogs of industry turning?  Keep up the good work.  Teehee.

Brian,
xxxx

 

 

Monday 26th January 2004

 

Well, about three weeks have flown by since the last journal entry, so I thought I'd knock another one out....

 

Mexico is a very cool place.  In the past month, I've experience the sun kissing my skin in the 90's along with snow in the mountains.

 

After Jules left, I crossed the sea of Cortez for the third and final time this trip.  It's the stretch of waters that separates the Baja Peninsula from mainland Mexico.  This time I took a ferry to a place called Los Mochis.  Met a friendly Austrian couple doing the same route as me, so we spent the night talking bikes and travels....

 

I got off the ferry 7 hours later at 8am and settled into a decent looking hotel with secure parking (primary hotel requirement for me).   The next day Im up at 4am to take a journey on (as Michael Palin said once...) one of the greatest journeys in the world.  The journey is into a place called the Copper Canyon.  It's 4 times as big as the Grand Canyon.  It was huge.  The journey was magical astonished gasps from the passengers all the way prompted by each turn revealing a new magnificent view

 

The train itself consisted of one carriage for the passengers, one carriage for the restaurant and one for the bar!  I spent the majority of the time speaking to my new found friends from the Netherlands and gazing out the window.  The tiny little thing chuffed its way the winding path through the mountains.  In sticking my head out of the window between the carriages and seeing the amazing views unfold and the train winding ahead of me, I got that "adventure" feeling again and felt very far away from home.  Tingling through the body stuff.  It was a cool moment.

 

Spent a day in a town called Creel (named after Enrique Creel, the guy that made the railway), in the middle of the canyon.  All the classic sights and smells of a town in the middle of nowhere came into view upon getting off the train.  The smell of wooden stoves burning, narrow streets, and a very different looking people to the "townies" of Mexico.  Katmandu I thought.

 

Met some wonderful people on the train there and back and at the hostel in Creel, good little place called Margaritas.

 

The train ride back was just as spectacular.  Mounted the bike, and got on my way to Morelia to see Francisco and his family.  Arrived there and instantly got invited to a large party at the family home.  I spent the night trying out my Spanish on the poor people at my table.  I then got a tour of the city from my friend Yurisha and her mother whilst sampling the local traditional ice cream.  Yum!

 

Then back to Guanajuato late at night, not a great experience that.  Two and a half hours in the dark along reasonably good roads.  Wont be doing that again in a hurry.

 

Right now I'm staying with a wonderful family in Guanajuato, Maria and her kids have been looking after me and I can't wait to see what Monday brings in terms of learning some new words!

 

Just fixed the speedo and for the first time since San Fransisco, my bike will be registering the proper amount of miles on the clock, so you know who not to buy an Honda Africa Twin bike from now then!

 

When the week is done, I'll be back on the bike traveling through central and south Mexico where I'm looking forward to seeing a LOT of Mayan Pyramid ruins on pristine beaches...Can't wait to get there.  The problem is that there is a tons of other good stuff to see and experience along the way!

 

(please don't hate me!)

 

Keep well and tell me whats going on in your neck of the wood.  Tell me tell me tell meeeeeeee!

 

Brian

 

Saturday 10th January 2004

 

Hmmmm, being away and writing the above "2004" feels good, you normally notice it when you write it the first time, along with writing your age shortly after your birthday.  It normally feels you with the feeling of wanting to do more. 

 

It also feels good because my sister Helen and Rob have a beautiful girl, born on 1st January.  Mum and Dad doing well, albeit tired!  It also feels good because I have spent a wonderful two weeks from the old year into the new with a Miss Julie Ann Calver.  Wanted to kidnap her and phone her work for a ransom so that we could then fund our travel around the rest of the Americas....nearly did it as well. 

 

Don't get me wrong though, I missed home a LOT during Christmas, especially not being able to see my little niece & being Uncle Brian.  Thanks for the cards Mum and Nan, Derm and Al.  Jules smuggled a Christmas Pudding through customs along with TONS of lovely presents for me....it felt like Christmas then.  Lucky boy.  Thanks Janet & Steve, Derm & of course Jules.

 

Got a fast boat ride tonight to the mainland mexico again, the 3rd time I have crossed the sea of Cortez in 4 weeks.  This time though I am going to land in a different port and hopefully get to go on one of the worlds most spectacular train rides (according to a Michael Palin), through the copper canyon.  It doesnt leave until 11pm and gets in at 6.30am.

Then it's back to school in Guanajuato via Guadalahara to do a bit of cultural malarky.  The spanish is well, working really.  Pleasantly suprised as to the fact that I am speaking a foreign language and that things are getting done as a result of it!!  Understanding the replies I get is another experience altogether though.

 

Thanks to everyone that wrote to me over Christmas, I loved your mails, you know who you are.  Keep 'em coming please they are wonderful.

 

I've uploded a few more piccies.  Still working in that bleedin 'orrible weather?  Sod that.  Off to get my hair cut now.  Wish me luck.

 

Brian

xxxxx

 

25th December - Christmas Day

 

Feliz Navidad!

 

Well, what a great day and night I was lucky to have yesterday.

 

It all started when I met up with Francisco, a Mexican dude that I met on the boat to La Paz. 

 

We talked about bikes as used to race them here in Mexico.  We said we would meet up later.  The next day I met Francisco again and said he would show me a couple of places in La Paz for some Christmas shopping.  He then introduced me to his beautiful family.

 

First off we stopped off at what must be the worlds busiest and best tacos stand on the planet.  His mother in law treated us all.  We then went to the supermarket where the women did the shopping for the evenings food.  Francisco invited me back for a bit.  The day wore on and "the boys" got the beers in and I was fed by my new friends for the second time that day in the family home. 

 

Then reaslised that it was nearly 5pm, Christmas eve and I had not checked into a hotel, the guys drove me to a decent little place in the sun, complete with pool and diving board, air con, two massive beds, decent decor and TV, phone etc.  Not back for 15 quid a night!  Done deal, booked in for two nights, RESULT!

 

Then it was back to the family home where the whole family turned up.  I was then invited to the family Christmas meal, everyone was in good spirits, laughing and the kids playing games in garden, exited at being up so late and generally being very cute. 

 

We all sat down at the table and I got fed and watered for the 3rd time that day, the clock struck twelve, we all hugged each other and exchanged a "Merry Christmas", followed by a mammoth pressie opening effort.

 

Today is Christmas day and I am typing this from a cafe about 4 steps from the beach.  Blue sky, perfect temperature (about 75) A surprising amount of shops are open, not to mention a ton of internet cafes, where I will post this shortly.  Just finished my desayuno (brekkie) and will spend some time in the sun, uploading pics to the site and will drop into Franks place for some Christmas drinkies later in the day.  Oh, might go for a swim also.

 

I took the bike for a spin to here the centre of town, warm breeze in the hair and on the arms, feeling a bit pleased with myself with my nice little trip by the sea.

 

Even better than that, Jules comes out tomorrow, what more could a lad want!

 

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas,

 

Brian

 

xxxx

18th December 2003

Well, Lycos (my web site hosts) have got their backsides into gear and have "fixed" their web servers, but at the expense of losing a months worth of web page editing.  SO some things from this site may be missing!  At least I got a partial refund.

Ive spend the last 2 weeks in the middle of Mexico in a fantastic city called Guanajuato.  Its the perfect Mexican city, lots of multicoloured houses everywhere.  The people are superb. 

Ive spent the last two weeks attempting to learn spanish.  As its the first time Im taking the learning of any language seriously, it is turning out to be suprisingly fun!  I have another two weeks of tuition ahead of me.

The students are great....Im the thickie of the school, but that suits me fine as I get one to one tuition...hurrah!

 
12th November 2003
 
Good morning,
Gary Turner, 34 failed to match the Guiness record he established of attaching 153 clothes pegs to his face.  With nine pegs to go he ran out of space.  I thought I had a lot of time on my hands. 
 
Just read the ay Times - on Wednesday.  Interesting little article by the editor of a mag I get back home called "the idler" (it has a tagline of "literature for loafers" ....maybe gives away what its all about).  He quotes Samuel Johnson "every man is or hopes to be, an Idler".  Idlesness is freedom.  He goes on to quote facts from the UK workforce becoming disilusioned with self-betterment through promotions and office politics with bigger houses and TV's & with the endless cycle of earn more, spend more.  I've noticed as I travel here that people work really really long hours and the fact that 16 year old kids work at burger king to pay off their jeep really kind of sets them up for life as debt enslaves.  Bullying at work, long commutes, trying to please the employer rather than family and friends.  Pack in yer jobs and grow carrots!
I think that downsizing is a great idea, because I've seen "success at work" for 10 years now and I don't like what it has to offer.
I know I know - "easy for Mr Single on a bike around the Americas to say"  Balls to that - one life, one chance.
Right, I'm done.
 
11th November 2003
 
Wow,
What a month!  Month three has been a non stop superb month of wonderfull stuff - a certain Julie Ann Calver joined me for much of it and we had an amazing time - the pics will tell that better than words can.  This is the first night I've had on my todd for ages now - hence the updates...apologies again for not keeping in touch better, but it's been a busy one.  I've still only read one and a half books so far.
My lovely friends Jim and in San Francisco have looked after me lots and took care of my bike whilst we travelled around Calafornia.  Easily the best state I've been through so far.  Thanks for doing that guys - will always remember your kindness. 
Soooooooooo much to see and do here in CA.  Did you know that the state of Calafornia if seen as a country would be the 5th richest country on the planet!!!!  (Thanks for the facts Jim, I'll be sprouting them for weeks now)...  The Terminator is now in charge.
The forest fires of Calafornia stopped us from getting to a few places in big bear national park, but apart from that the places we stopped off at include:
Yosemite National Park - beautiful, I liked it better than Yellowstone, possibly because I had my heath this time round, but the scenery was a 1000 times more dramatic and accessible.
Las Vegas - a whore of a city that screamed at you to spend spend spend.  The most over the top place I've ever experienced.  A lot of fun - took a flight over the Grand Canyon with Jules and experienced a great flight....want to brush up on my flying skills after that.
Los Angeles - a ton of things to do there, Hollywood, did a Jay Leno show - not as fat as he looks on TV, Universtal Studios, Getty Museum, lots of yum food, venice beach, great coffee shops.
Santa Barbara - met up with Richard there - a great guy who lives in a wonderful part of the state - stunning scenery and a cracking bit of wine tasting, followed by the best steak sandwich I've had in my life, followed by a David Lynch movie fest.  Thanks again Rich.
I'm heading south now and do not intend to go north until I get to Argentina - with a possiblity of going to Brazil for a bit....will cross that bridge when I get nearer.  Off to Mexico with one months worth of spanish lessons awaiting me.  Should be fun, but will probably be hard for me, not a natural at that sort of thing.  But it WILL be nice to stay in one place for a bit - so that I can maybe get round to working off this extra spare tire I've created around my tum!  Fatso boy!
So I'm sat here in the hostel in Santa Cruz, stuffing myself with Chai Tea and eating the free food they have here (tons of it great stuff - all kinds of bread and cake!
Want to write more, but am tired, its 11pm and I want to sleep......lots.
Sleep well,
Brianxxxxx
 
 
 
8th October 2003

Apologies,

I should really name this section the bi-monthly log.

I've been a bit slack and that mainly due to the fact that I've been covering a lot of ground recently.  I think from the last time I posted a log near yellowstone I've covered 2169 miles.

A thanks to the weather god, thanks for making it not snow or rain, and thanks for giving the Canadians their indian summer.

The weather has been very kind to me.  As have the people, thank you Neil and Marie for putting me up - I did my longest journey yet after my v comfortable stay at your home.  That journey lasted 10 hours and I travelled 450 miles.  I know you can do a lot more in a car, but the road from Vancouver to Lake Louise.  Need to do some extra big back stretches soon. 

I was also fortunate to meet Stuart between Banff and Vancouver - Stuart saw the site and offered his house and fed and watered me.  But the best bit was to be able to talk the Stuart about his round the world trip on his bike.  Thanks Stu.  I hope to be able to return the favour one day....

After yellowstone I travelled south west to Salt Lake City otherwise known as Mormonville. 
Spent a good amount of time there recuperating.  Got the back tyre replaced by a top mechanic called Andy - $54 for the whole job inc. the tyre (was a secondhand but was in great condition) who also gave me some tips on altitude and what I may need to do to the bike.

Managed to shake my cold thankfully.  Glad to see the back of that sod.  Travelled through Idaho, stopped off at a great HI hostel, hiked around a bit there.  Eventually made it to Vancouver.

Lake Loise - beautiful lake. Set off the next day to Banff to do some rock climbing and got a dude of a climb guide called Brett.  We climbed admist jaw dropping scenery.  Weather amazing for those two days.  Could have spent a much longer Banff, it was a great hostel and there is so much to do around. 

Stopped on a very long road with no cars on - shouted "IS ANYONE THERE?" stupid boy, of course no one was there.  Shouted out something else to make myself sound less uncool.  Didn't work. 

The thing is this,... you want to do things like shout something out in the middle of nowhere - I dunno why, but the urge is there.  Done it now, got it out the system.  La la leee.

 
15th September 2003
 
Well a whole month will have flown by tomorrow since I left the UK.  What a month!  I cannot believe how much has been packed into that month. 
 
It's been amazing - I've spent the last 9 days hooning accross from Chicago to here in Yellowstone park.  Stopped off at Madison for a couple of days, been through badlands but apart from that its been 350-400 miles a day on the bike.  Not a great deal maybe in a car, but on a bike in weather, it's a com-ple-tely different experience.  Take wind for instance.  In a car you notice the odd gust here and there....on a bike it can put you at riding at a 45 degree angle for bloody hours out here.  "That's Wyoming winds for you" - the locals say.

As soon as I started to hit the hilly stuff 100 miles east of Yellowstone, the rain starting sticking to my visor as the bike climbed over 10000 feet.  Oh dear...snow.  None of the forcasts or things I had read said that it would snow in September.  Chuck in a few miles of ridiculously slippery mud and you have one lad using up his entire lifes worth of adrenaline keeping a heavily laden bike upright.   I did it. Big grin on my chops when I got to the top of the mountain pass and saw a lodge open.  A few hours later I was off in a van in the snow with the locals to a place down the road for late night beers.  The mountain people.  Not something I've encountered before.  Hunt'in, Fish'in and Fight'in.  Met and drank with mountain people till 2am then went on a small tour in the truck with them on the search for elk, amazingly delicate creatures for the amount of cold out there.  It was an amazing experience and a real insight....into mountain lives!
Can't believe the bike started first time in the morning - even though it looked like a small mountain of snow was dumped on it overnight, tough little cookie.  Speedo is broken though.
 
Phew.  Another little tale of life out here is when I checked into a motel 4 days ago, shortly after my snow experience.  Got talking to the owner and Lucielle - who works there.  Lucielle heard my concerns of going into yellowstone with the chances of snow on the bike.  She offered my one of her trucks to cruise around the park in, which is what has enabled me to truck around in.
 
Next stop is Salt Lake City (to change both bike tires & general repairs) and then up through Idaho then Oregon and Washington, hopefully get to Vancouver before it gets too cold up there.  Massive departure from my original plan, but then again, the rockies are getting a lot of snow - two wheels and the white stuff do NOT mix to well.  Things change - learning that - fast.
 
I'll stop here as I could probably go on for another few pages, but I won't, instead I'm going to chuck another log on the fire.
Take it easy
xxxx
 
3rd September 2003
 
It's September and I'm in a public access library - on my way to Chicago, but will be stopping at a camp site somewhere between here (Cleveland) and Chicago.  Should arrive in time for the Jazz Festival that runs this weekend. 
 
Need razors badly, looking like Grizzly Adams.  Feel the need to start talking to the animals.
 
I had a superb time in Toronto, got looked after by Liliana and Patricia (thank you both) it is a great place when you are escorted around a city - even when you do take a few wrong turns here and there :p (Liliana).  Went inline skating along the harbourfront - with the airshow going on overhead - excellent sunny day.  Bit of Salsa / Tango one evening and generally taking it easy - you know - stuff I'm good at.  The people are generally friendly and curious to know what you are about, got stopped by the police as they had not seen a UK license plate before.  Never one to miss out on a photo opportunity, Sgt Ashen and I had a kodak moment.
 
Stopped of at Niagra Falls for about 2 hours yesterday - it is a souless place, but the falls are nice and got soaking wet.  I was quite sad leaving Canada at Niagra, its been good to me so far, I wonder was the US will bring.  I think I'll be getting back into Canada in about a week or so from now - hopefully in Calgary by then.
 
Stayed in Erie last night - a bit of a dull place and from here to Chicago, it's very dull and from Chicago to Calgary it gets even duller.  So the music is turned on and it's lots of singing in the helmet.  If you've travelled in the US / Canada, the interstate highways are VERY VERY long and VERY VERY much the same.  I've taken a few lake shore roads here and there and its been pretty.
 
It's interesting to note that when you travel by yourself - the people make a place, not the place itself. 
 
29th August 2003
 
Toronto.  Um, appear to have found a coffee shop that also happens to be near an unsecured wireless network for some corporation - so am currently piggybacking off of their lovely fast network as I type this.  I'll be having coffee here every morning I think...only a hop skip jump from the backpackers also.  Staying in T.O until the weekend, then off west - still not 100%  which direction to go yet - USA or Canada...ahhhh decisions decisions.  I like T.O - they have freeeeee outdoor swimming pools - most cool.  %80 - hot.
 
25th August 2003
 
Quickie.  Spent the last two days in Ottawa, just a short stay away from Montreal (Montreal is v european, lots of fun & got looked after by Anthe and George)
 
Did me first big trip yesterday (Ottawa to Toronto).  Lasted a little big longer (6 hours) than intened.  All I did was 270 miles.  But the traffic jams, detours, dicey redneck truckers and the bike battery connectors falling off did nothing to make the first big outing a straightforward one, but valuable lessons have been noted and learnt.  I have a feeling that there will be more to come.  All the bikers I have been past give big thumbs up and it feels good, even got a salute from a harley rider the other day.   Groovy.

Set off a bit later than planned also....but refreshed for the extra time I had.  Mucked about with the bike electrics enough to stop the bike from starting, so delayed my stay at Ottawa for a day, got it working and had a v dull ride on the interstate, learnt to:

  • get off the Interstate for interesting routes 
  • decent headphones to stop wind noise and to enable listening to cool tunes, whilst feeling supremely cool.
  • not do big distances with hangover and not enough kip coz wind noise hurts head.
  • don't mess with redneck drivers who, although are stationary in worlds biggest jams, make a point of getting in your way when filtering past them.
  • don't give said redneck the "you're a div" sign as they may have a shotgun in the back next to their wife-cousin.

Ottawa is boring - everyone was saying this, but it was a really really cool place with lots of nightlife going on, went out and had a lot of fun.  Great place.  Stayed in a dorm that night.  Lots of farting and drunkeness in my room.  I was on the top bunk!  That took me back a few years.

21st August 2003
 
They let me in!  Idiots!
 
The trip did not start with a bang, more a fizzle and thrrp...power outage delayed my flight.  My lovely friend Di and her friend Amanda got me booked on a flight the day after - and got an upgrade to get more legroom - v handy.  Not sure what it is with me and electricity, but when I arrived in New Zealand years ago, they suffered the biggest power loss, and the central business district did not recover for weeks.  Weird.  Must be my bacofoil nickers.
 
Spent an extra day in NYC waiting for my new toy (notebook) to be delievered - they screwed up the order - add into that the blackout causing piles of parcels in the fed ex depots....things were not looking good for my package delivery.  To cut a long story short, the notebook company paid for me to stay and extra night and delivered my notebook late the next day, about 1 hour before my bus to Montreal was to depart.  So ran to bus terminal (about 13 blocks away) and arrived nice and sweaty with a sandwich hanging from mouth (non stop bus so needed the food).  Phew.
 
Having spent 2 days in NYC I got on a greyhound bus to Montreal (9 hour trip).  Numb bum. 
 
Montreal is v different from NYC, very relaxed and has a european vibe about it.  I like it. 
 
Picked up the bike yesterday, the cargo airport is 70km from the city, so had to catch ANOTHER coach to get to the airport.  Sick of coaches now.  I cried out loud when I saw thumper and resisted the urge to shake the hand of the nearest cargo official with thanks and praise.  What a great thing to see - my bike on foreign soil.  Felt good to be back on it.
 
Will get some pics up soon - not had a great deal of time to take piccies, but things are calming down now.  I DO NOT know where the days seem to be going.  But I am keen to start doing lots of nothing shortly.
 
Seem to be going through the funds very quickly, mainly due to the fact that the hotel I am in equals my daily budget!  Off into the fields between here of Canada soon, so watch out Bears, Colesy's coming.
 
Everyone drink coffee at my local coffee shop, they are ace:  http://www.munsons.org.uk/
 
24th July 2003
 
Um, testing this log thing out a bit.  Not quite sure how it's going to work...