Wednesday, November 7, 2007

One stupid Bolivian driver and that's it.... for now

i will make it short.
on the way from Rurrenabake to Santa Cruz, in mid day, i was hit on the back from a stupid (motherfuckercocksuckinsonofabitchstupidassholewormeaterlyer) Bolivian driver who tried to overtake me. i drove thousands of KM's on unpaved roads, uphills, downhills, rocks and water. all went fine (in most cases), but as soon as i reached the asfalt road, i had this sad accident.

so suddenly i find my self lying on the enge of the road, and this man is looking at me with eyes full of fear. i don't remeber any impact or fall, just suddenly i was down on the ground.
i was transported to the local hospital in Trinidad with local by passers.
the damage:
5 broken ribs, twisted ankle and 7 stitches on my left knee.
more damage: the bastard who hit me took all my stuff with him and brought it back to me 3 days later with all my valuables missing. (except my professional camera which i insisted to reclaim it).
if this is not enough, he also charged me on crashing on his car and he wants me to pay his damages. ofcourse this will not happen.
i recieve help from the social worker in the hospital. hopefully all this will end soon and i will be on a plane to israel to recuperate.
the bike is damaged as well.
i feel good now, only suffering a bit from my ribs.

i see you soon my friends,

Monday, October 29, 2007

many rivers to cross (one too many)

After waiting for the bikes papers to arrive on my name for about 2 weeks, i finnaly launched C'mon pussycat to a new adventure. riding from the high andes mountains (La Paz) to the humid jungle village of Rurrenabake, where the Tuichi river flows and stupid Israeli travelers get lost in the jungle and write best sellers from their story.

taking my biker friend, peter, advice, i took the long and scenic road from Sorata and Mapiri villages.

going down from the Andes was as beautiful as it sounds. curvy dirt roads, in all kind of conditions, catlle crossing the road, river crossings, small villages and lots of dust. the bike took everything with no problem, compensating for my driving mistakes. the road was dry all along and the weather was great aswell. just perfect.

then i arrived to Mapiri. after passing the village i reached a large and flowing river. first it looked like i took a wrong turn and lost the way, but there was no other road, and i had to cross the river. never i had crossed such a deep and fast river, but i had full confidence in my bike, aparently too confident.

i pulled the gas throttle to a steady velocity and started to cross. the river was about 70 meter wide. i reached to the middle of it and BOOM, i hit a rock, and straight away, the bike was completly drown under the water. the current was too strong and it started to carry the bike down stream. for that moment, it was the first time during my trip when i felt that things are going really bad.

i could not move the bike and the water were starting to penetrate the engine and the bags. rapidly, i took off the bags, which were already soaked wet and whighted double as they used to. everything was wet. water went into the engine and there was no chance o start the bike. but first, i had to take it out of the water. no way!!! lets start by lifting it up. it took me 10 long minutes to lift it up agin on its wheels. i looked around, and there was no one around. i was really despaired. the only village around was Mapiri, and that is 20 minutes by bike. the time was 17:00 and the sun was going to sleep pretty soon. i waited for a another 30 long minutes for someone to arrive. and ofcourse, they arrived. 5 cattle walkers and their herd. they helped me take out the bike and a boy from the next village went to call for help.

help arrived with the figure of Jose, the village's only biker. he came and towed me with his small motorbike to his village. we arrived at night time. he gave me a place to sleep in his brother's garage, and i spread all my stuff to dry. damage report: my small camera and my MP4 hard drive (where i store my pictures) were gone. all the books were wet. my pro camera was attached to me, so it was saved.

The village name was Chimate and the population was 350.

now in the morning we had to start working on the bike. we striped it from all the plastic and took off the fuel tank. Jose cleaned the carburator from all the water. he did an excellent job. now the bigest problem is to take the water out of the engine. it was already mixed with the engine's oil and it looked more like a milky paste. we drained the oil, and flipped the bike on its handle bar, to drain any other oil that was left inside. big problem #2, there is no place in the village to buy new oil. not even used oil. now i remembered Peter's comment, saying that you will always find the best mechanics in the smallest town. and he was right.

Jose, went to look for new oil, but when he returned empty handed he had a new idea. he will cook the oil and dehydrate the water from it. at this point i let of my control of the situation and gave him the freedom to be creative. he picked up some fire wood and came back after 2 hours with clean, but a bit burned motor oil. he sayed it will be good enough to ride safely to the next village. after another 4 hours of working and draining, the bike was ready to go again. it was still dripping water from everywhere, but the engine sounded even better than before.

i asked Jose how much he wants for all his services. he didn't know what to say. i helped him. asked him what's his daily income. he tought for a while and sayed 30 Bolivianos, which are 4 US$. i already had a 100 Boliviano bill in my hand. i gave him the bill with a great smile. i told him he was my saviour. he was smiling too.

i started the engine and was about to leave, but then he told me that there is another wider river jut in the exit of the village, but i shouldn't worry too much. there is a "Balsa". "Balsa??" i asked. i didn't know this word, so i assumed it's a ferry. i arrived to the river crossing. the whole village was waitnig for me there. i guess they were looking for some more action. i saw no ferry, neither a boat, and then came the Balsa. five Bamboo sticks attached to each other.

i smiled this time and let the locals do what they have to do. the crossing was smooth.

i rode for an hour to arrive to the next village, Guanay. in the morning i changed the oil and the bike was just like new, even cleaner. it took me 3 days more to reach Rurre. i stopped there for 5 days of complete relaxation.

this picture does not belong to the story, but it makes me laugh.

next destination... The animal refuge of Ambue Ari, near Santa Cruz, eastern Bolivia.


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A birthday present

for my 33rd birthday i bought my self a new bike.
ater spending more than a week time in La Paz , in search for the bike, i am finnaly happy to have it and start moving again. it is a nice Honda Falcon 400 c"c.
it still doesn't have a name, but "c'mon pussycat" is one option.

everybody here wants to buy this bike, because it is red and beautifull. and the driving experience is totaly a different thing. smooth and powerful. this is the best present i have ever recieved. so lucky to have myself as a friend.

talk soon


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Salar de Uyuni - The hard & long way

Hello again,

I met Vincent on a hostel in Tupiza. at first he looked Israeli. but he wasn't. he was a crazy french guy. i offered him to join me for a small ride around the mountains and valleys of Tupiza. in the morning we hit started riding and climbing the mountain, the both of us on the back of poor Chicho. Chicho was not complaining, he was just doing his best... meaning going first gear around 15 k"m per hour. the ride was nice and the views were spectacular. it was enough to turn Vincent on and make him want to make his own motorbike trip around. "if i only had a bike when i was traveling in the Salar of Uyuni, wow it could have been amazing!" he told me after our little one day trip. "well, maybe we can find you a small rented bike here and hit it" i answered him.
and in Bolivia, almost everything is possible, so we found him a nice little 125 c"c bike. a moped to be more precise. well made and constructed by the Chinese brains. the brand name was so ironically, "SuperMotos". we will see about that later. so we have a rented motorbike, we have crazy Vincent who just want to have adventures, we have Chicho and we have a 1000 k"m of dust roads,valleys full of gravel, high altitude peaks (up to 5000 m above sea level) to conquer, too many rivers to cross, boulders and stones and we also have a big big will not to be Aquarium tourists, meaning sitting on a bumpy jeep for hours each day and wait for the next comfort place. we joined our mutual adventurous spirits and decided to do this trip on the long & hard way.
this trip through the lagoons and salt planes of the south western Bolivian deserts should normally take 4 to 5 days on guided 4X4 cars. we calculated to make it on 7 days, with enough time to get lost, have technical problems and have fun.

we were worried a bit about our orientation in this big desert terrain just for the fact that almost 99 % of the people who go through these roads are tour operators with well knowledgeable guides.

we set the day of departure for Saturday, so we took Vincent's motorbike one night before, to get it ready for the ride and also to let Vincent get accustomed to it. on that night i started to have strange feelings and warning from the boss above. i also discovered that Vincent never drove a motorbike before !!! "first time on a motorbike !?!?" "don't know what is a clutch ??, ehhhmm.." i stood amazed in front of Vincent trying to keep it cool and not look worried. but inside i was terrified, and not majorly for the fact that Vincent is going to eat lots of sand in this trip, but for the fact that i planned to go for this dangerous trip with a hard-core fantasist friend, who knows nothing about riding. but not to worry, for the next 30 minutes Vincent received a crash course in riding and handling a bike. mostly it involved shouting him "The clutch is your best friend!!" and "don't flood the engine !!". after this night lesson Vincent told me his ready to go on the next morning. i nodded with a firm expression on my face and went back inside the hostel.

next morning we packed our bags, bought some food and water and with great spirit we headed towards the desert. it took Vincent a few tries to start the engine and then a few more tries to get it moving. he looked more like an old grandmother with Parkinson disease who's trying to steal a bike. it didn't look good. after 10 minutes of wandering in the streets we decided to make this day a training day around Tupiza, and embark on our trip only the next day. it was a smart decision. we rode the bikes around in different terrains and Vincent showed a great progress. after this day he could actually stop the bike without letting the engine stop. i guess he acknowledged that the clutch is his friend. :)

Sunday - leaving Tupiza

we finally started our trip. it was a great sunny day and we left Tupiza a bit late, around 10:30. our destination was a small village called San Antonio de Lipez. we started climbing the mountain in a slow and steady pace. we drove for 2 hours in a rocky road going up and down, but eventually climbing to an altitude of 3500 m, but as we will notice later on, god was playing games with us. first game, let's fix a flat tire. Vincent had his back wheel flat. i took my repair kit out and we started fixing the tire. sun is shining, good spirits, all good.

we managed to fix the tire in 40 minutes, but right after we placed the tire back on the bike, it started to loose air. ohhhh, still with smiles, we took it off again and went through the same procedure again. after 30 minutes now we finished. fixed the tire on the bike and..... same shit, air is coming out. now, with less smiles and more looking on the watch, we fixed it again and now it worked. in total it took us 2 long hours.

now it means less 2 hours of driving. we calculated a long 8 hours drive day. now we had only 5 hours of light and 6 to 7 hours more to go. i told Vincent that in any case, we never drive at night. it is dangerous, specially when my head light has the power of a candle.

we started to ride again, trying to rush and make it into our first destination. the road was beautiful and challenging. we drove non stop, slowing down only on small river crossings. time was 18:00 and the sun was setting. the great desert cold had started to arrive and freeze our asses. we didn't see any sign and didn't have any clue on when we are supposed to arrive. we only knew that if we don't make it, there is another closer village, a couple of hours before San Antonio. as light disappeared i turned on my lights , but i discovered that the Head light was broken by the strong shakes and it was hanging loose on the steering wheel. it was freezing cold and dark and i had to fix the light to keep going. i found this rope that i was carrying for 6 months i my bag, just in case i needed it, so here came the chance. after 5 minutes the light was temporally fixed back to it's place. we continued riding in the dark, something like 15 k"m per hour. we stop again. now, Vincent's spare fuel tank was starting to leak. we lost something like 2 litres out of 5 and lost one jerrycan. we kept going, all frozen, praying for the village to show up. we kept praying for another 2 hours and eventually we arrived to the first village, San Pablo.
we found the only hostel on the village, parked our frozen bikes and had some Coca tea to de-freeze ourselves। we went to bed at 22:00 exhausted from the long day and specially from the night ride.

Monday - trying to reach Quetena Chica

after the long and unlucky day, we woke up and got ready to another long day of riding. now we had the initial 6 hours of riding and another 2 hours we missed from the previous day. so we woe up around 7:00 and it was still freezing, the water in the taps was also frozen. i had bad feeling that day and i was not keen to ride again. Vincent was all excited for the fact that he made the first day, and he was full of good energy. thanks for that. we looked on the map and started riding along a wide river. the road was bumpy as hell and after 1 hour i crashed my bike. it was a stupid crash, in 2 second gear. nothing happened to me or to the bike, but it pissed me off completely. i was already pissed off by the hard road, and i had thoughts of going back, as long as it is was possible. i started to loose my temper. i kicked my helmet and shouted towards Vincent that i was not having fun, and these roads are killing me and the worst roads are still to come. Vincent was not impressed. for him, as long as the bike goes, he is fulfilling his dreams. i agreed to keep going, not before popping some relaxation drops on my tong. after 1 hour we stopped again. the road did not match the one on the map. instead of going south -west we were going north. we agreed that we took the wrong road, and we turned back on our tails for an hour. our next village was San Antonio, the village that we were supposed to reach on the first day. we stopped there and spent the night there. we talked with locals about the road ahead of us. it wasn't getting better.

Tuesday - Trial day

after long day in San Antonio with countless games of dice, we woke up in the morning with good energies and a strange feeling in our chest. we were breathing just like at low altitudes. we didn't pay too much attention to that fact. some local people who saw our small bikes, had told us that we would not make it up the mountain which reaches 5000 m. we looked at each other and agreed that this would be our trial day. if we can make the big climb, we should keep going all the way to the Salar. we started riding towards Quetena Chica, not before Vincent had a big fight to start his bike. his battery was almost dead, so he could only start with his kick starter for the rest of the trip. we already reached an altitude of 4800 m, and the bikes were just on their edge. we were doing the uphill on 1st gear with the engines screaming for help. but, as a gift from god, we reached 5000 meters and the bikes just wouldn't stop. they went up the summit just like heroes who want to prove us something. that day, the hardest of all, the bikes were just like super bikes, going like crazy. at first we didn't know what made them act so strong, but later on, we figured out that we had just experienced a high pressure climate system, and the air was saturated with oxygen. this made the bikes react just like if they were in sea level.
we reached Quetena Chica before schedule and our spirits were high. we taught that the worst is behind us.

Wednesday -first attempt to Laguna Verde

the crown Jewel of this trip was Laguna Verde, the green lagoon. it is full of poisonous minerals and it has a strong green color up until mid day. we were so impressed by the bikes and we started climbing another peak of around 5000 m to reach that lagoon. we started the bikes and immediately we sensed that they are not responding like the day before. they were heavy and choked. the skies were starting to get cloudy, and i tried to remember some geography lessons i had in high school. something that had to do with high/low barometric pressure and clouds and rain. it appeared that the high pressure system had finished and a low pressure was starting to form with the coming clouds. we started climbing but we made it only a quarter of the way. then the bikes stopped in the same place. we looked at each other with a big question mark on our faces. "what now?" do we go back all the way? and who says that we can do what we had done a few days before with the help of the high pressure. the only way was to go back and try another route. we had to skip Laguna Verde and take a short cut to Laguna Colorada which was further north.

driving to Laguna Colorada was a piece of cake. the bikes were responding well, the rough uphill climbs were behind us, and all we had to do is cruise up and down towards that beautiful lagoon. no special problems, just these annoying washboards that again shook our bodies into pieces. so the deals is quite simple. you can have terrible uphill and curvy road with rocks and holes and an average speed of 15 km"h, or you can have a flat straight road were you can speed up, but shake like crazy. there was no easy way. i preferred the uphill.

we reached laguna colorada in time.

Thursday - another attempt to reach laguna verde

now, after relaxing in Laguna Colorada and watching thousands of pink Flamingos fly by, we were ready to drive to Laguna Verde. first stop was an area full of natural bubbling mud pools and hot geysers. then, after a long and speedy drive downhill we reached a warm natural pool that gave us a nice brake from the ride. we bummed and relaxed there for a couple of hours, and started heading again towards laguna verde. it was partly clouded and we could see some more heavy clouds forming on the horizon. at that point there were lots of tour agencies jeeps who stopped for the mineral pools. we asked one of the drivers to sell us some gasoline, as we were almost out of it. he was happy to help us (and himself) , and we filled our tanks and our spare gas bottles. now the road to Laguna verde is mostly straight forward. we were not expecting any trouble, so we started cruising through a flat desert area called "Desierto de Dali", for its surreal stone forms. the sky was getting cloudy and heavier, but we kept going. in the middle of that desert i stopped to take a picture.

i saw a huge cloud blocking the road, it was just there. i had some doubts about going further but they were eliminated by Vincent and his "killer" bike. he just passed by me in full speed (65 km¨h), shouting like crazy.i tried to stop him and consult him about our progress, but it was in vein. he cruised straight into the storm cloud with much enthusiasm.

i quickly got on my bike trying to chase him and stop him, so we both got into the storm। after 20 minutes of riding in the snow, while the visibility was getting poor and snow was starting to pile on the road , i saw Vincent fighting with his bike। we were so lucky that his decided to stop, because otherwise he would have gone all the way into the storm। by the time i reached him he was already cursing like a real french man, "merd, merd, ale ale !!" and kicking his bike with full power, but the bike just wouldn't start. i tried to kick it , he tried to kick it, we both tried, but no good news.

suddenly a tour agency jeep stooped and a french guide jumped out of it and approached us with a serious and worried look. it looked like he's going to help us, but instead he just told us, with his serious look, that we should try to start the bike for another 10 minutes and if we fail, we should leave it on the road and go back to a safe place on my bike. then we heard a shout from the jeep, rushing the guide to get back and continue with his guided trip. he gave us his fake smile and went back to his spoiled tourists. we looked at each other and without further talking we waived bye bye to the jeep with our middle finger. we were even more pissed now. we cursed them for a few minutes and after we were feeling better, we pushed the bike and made it run. we drove as fast as we can back to the natural pools and spent the night there. we finished that day with a long and warm bath in the wide open.

arriving to Laguna Verde - finally!

next day we started riding early happy for the good weather in the pool area. we were riding mostly on a flat area and descended to the Laguna with no special problems.
we had to pass a truck that was stuck on the road due to the snow and was blocking the road. we also had to deal with a high layer of snow that had piled during the storm, that made the road even more spectacular. we rode in good weather and reached the laguna after 2 hours. it was the sweetest arrival and we both took our time alone to appreciate this trip. other travelers had looked at us with envious eyes, which made our trip feel even more special and crazy.

we went to have a brake in a small hostel near the lagoon, and then it started to snow again. we got stuck there for another 2 hours with a group of travelers who were waiting to pass into Chile. when the snowing stooped we started our way back to the pools, to spend another night there, before going back to Laguna Colorada. we made a huge detour and see this lagoon, but it was well worth it.

back to laguna colorada.

we went back on our tails towards Laguna Colorada, passing by the geysers. suddenly i heard a cracking noise from the bottom of my bike. it wasn't that strong, so i kept going. the washboards were feeling even stronger on the way back, and it felt like the bikes are falling into pieces. it wasn't that far from reality. when we reached the Lagoon, i checked my bike and found out the the chassis was broken in 2 different places. i was very close to ride my bike with two different pieces. just like in the cartoons. we couldn't keep going like that. we have been told that there is a welder in the laguna, and he would be able to help us. but he wasn't there. he was away for a job in Quetena Chica, and he should be back in the after noon. he wasn't. we waited in this lonely hostel, without knowing when we could get out of there. at the same time our money was starting to run out, due to the extra nights we had to spend and the gasoline we lost in different occasions. we had to ask for money from other tourist who arrived in the evening. vincent was in charge for the European crowd and i had to deal with the Israelis. obviously, Vincent had the toughest job. he managed to pull out some cash from a french couple and some other tourist, but had very bad luck with a mixed group of Dutch and British people. they just didn't believe our stressed situation. they refused to give us any help, telling us they don't know us and can't trust us. Vincent went mad!! he was cursing again and wished the group some "pleasant" time wherever they go. for me it was easier. i met a group of Israelis, told them our story, and in no time i had 100 Bolivianos (14 us$) in my pocket. again we learened another lesson.

at the morning after i got sick. it was a deadly combination of Altitude sickness and Diareah. i fell into bed for 24 hours of shaking and hallucinations. i guess there are wors things, but at that time i just lost my touch with the real world. when i recovered, i felt completely exhausted. i couldn't eat and my body was weak. there was still no sign of the welder man. we fell into dispair, mostly for not having any idea when can we get out of this place. we waited another day and he eventually arrived. we fixed the bike,in a very temporarly way, and we rushed toward Uyuni, to see the famous Salar.

Riding to Uyuni.

we had to take a different road towards the Salar. the common road was too rough for our bikes, that were falling apart. i had half of my chasis broken, and Vincent's bike was really in a bad state. in front of us were around 250 k"m of washboards. so we took another road that goes through some mines and remote villages. we started riding. after 20 minutes, my bike started to go slow and my tent,which was attached tothe back, was starting to slide down from the back of the bike. i don't really know why, but this made me go mad. i droped the bike on the ground, jumped on it full of angry nerves, shouting like a mad man. Vincent looked at me, with a relaxed face, but he didn't open his mouth. while i was jumping and shouting, my camping mattres got loose and started to roll away with the strong wind. i saw that a bit too late and the matress was a long way from me, rolling constantly down the hill. i stopped jumping and started running like crazy after the mattress. i lost my breath completely. i think i ran a k"m away, till the matress stopped. i picked it up and walked all the way back. by the time i was back, i was completely relaxed and vincent was trying his best not to burst into loud laughs. without a word, i packed my stuff on the bike and we started rolling again.

we reached a moutain area with a very tough road, full of rocks. after 30 minutes on that terrain, Vincent's bike stopped in a very rough way. we looked at it and discovered that the rear brake was completely broken. the chinese engineering had failed again.

now vincent had to ride all the rest of the way with only the front brake. dangerous indeed, but it made vincent even more excited. no danger - no fun. i decided to ride the rest of the way behind him, waiting for his crash. but he didn't fall. he practised a championship riding. i was so proud :))
that day was Vincent's birthday. as a present, he recieved a nice flat road, with no washboards. we were cruising around 85 k"mh, the fastest we ever went. the bikes were doing their best. after an hour of racing with each other, we stopped to have a rest. vincent was flying with joy and happines. it was a joyfull ride.

at a certain point, we arrived to a deep river crossing. looked left, looked right, looked ahead, and without further delay i charged the river like there is no tomorrow. and shit. i was literally got stuck in shit. the river was carying the sewer of the villages nearby, and the bottom of it was a soft and smelly compound. the bike was stuck midway with no way to move.

after no more than 10 minutes, a jeep arrived. at first he didn't want to help us, but i couldn't take no for an answer. i blocked the jeep's way and gave the driver a false promise i would pay him 50 US$. then he found the time to help us. after 10 minutes the bike was out of the shit. the driver asked me for the 50 US$. i told him, without blinking an eye, that he should look for me in Uyuni. i had no regrets for lying to this greedy bastard.
we reached Uyuni with the last light. it was the first normal town after a week time. we found a hostel, took a shower (well, only me. vincent's is living up the french reputation) and went to the most expensive restaurant in town to celebrate Vince's birthday with a good steak and a bottle of wine.

riding on the Salar

this was the goal of all this trip. riding on the worlds biggest salt plane, with our beaten motorbikes. after starting on the wrong foot with a flat tire, we finaly reached the salar. no words to describe the beauty of it and the experience of riding on it. we could ride for long minutes with our eyes closed, and nothing would happen. in the middle of the salar there is a
small island called "Isla del pescado". huge cactus are grown on it and the look of it is amazing and sureal. again, i have no more words. we spent a lazy day on the salar and went back to Uyuni towrds evening, riding again at night, against our will.

back to Tupiza

there are 250 k"m from Uyuni to Tupiza, on a hilly road. it should take us something like 6 to 8 hours of riding. the views and town looked just like a movie from the wild west.
after 120 k"m Vincent's bike stopped for good. that's it, no more. his chinese soul went to heaven, leaving us stuck in the middle of nowhere land, and with only 2 hours of light. we still had 130 k"m to go. we tried to do the best, but nothing worked. we were planning on opening the tent for the first time in this trip, but there came a jeep. we spoke with the driver and he agreed to take the bike on the roof.

i took the rest of the fuel from his bike, loaded the bike on the roof and started riding towards Tupiza. we were really short in time and i raced this part like a crazy man. the jeep was behind, lighting the way for me. Vincent was a bit disapontend for not being able to finish the trip on the bike, but shring beers with the driver had put his soul on rest. we reached Tupiza around 21:30 at night.
after this trip i decided to sell Chicho. i just couldn't think of going with that kind of bike. my body could not take it anymore.
Chicho was sold to the hostel owner, Maurizio, for 900 us$. not too bad for 10,000 k"m of riding. now he will have better life in this tranquile town. no more washboards. no river crossings.i think we are both happy for that.
2 days later we took a 20 hour bus ride to La Paz. after that i decided to buy a new bike.
more to come, soon

click here for a slideshow of the trip

Amor Y Paz

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Arriving to Bolivia

Hello friends,
long time.....
so finally i arrived to Bolivia. after a long ride in the Paraguayan desert i arrived to the Bolivian border. i was welcomed by a lazy customs official, a sign indicating the border and the long anticipated dirt road. That's it i said to Chicho, easy days are over! we start the fight now. and the fight began. i started riding to the next village on the route called Ibibobo. just a few houses and drunk people doing nothing. i fell from the bike 2 times when the road became too sandy. on my next days, sand will be my biggest enemy.
i managed to arrive to Villamontes before dark and parked the bike for that day. the city of Villamontes lies just beneath the Andes mountains and at the next morning i was exited to start a new adventure on a completely different environment. First climbing into high altitude. just like the human reaction, the bike has the same reaction to the lack of oxygen in the heights. i didn't feel any difference yet, but it will soon start when approaching an altitude of 3000 meter and higher. the bad roads was also something to get accustomed to. from an average of riding 250 k"m a day on nice asphalt
roads, i drooped to an average of 60 k"m in 8 hours drive. but i didn't care. the views were amazing and the road made a nice challenge. my next destination was a town called Tupiza, which is situated just north to the Argentinian border. i had to drive 400 k¨m on curvy mountain roads ascending and descending on a regular basis. it took me 4 days to arrive to Tupiza.

giant Cactus started to appear along the desert road and the atmosphere reminded me a of the classic western movies, with steam trains, mules and horses, and dusty Little villages. just after i reached Tupiza i discovered that this area was the surrounding environment to one of the legendary wild west stories of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid, two vigilantes who robed trains and found their death in the village of San Vicente, just a few kilometers away. their story became a classic western movie starring Paul Newman.
Chicho held up pretty good. going slowly but surely, i fell from the bike only 2 more times before i learned the trick how to avoid the sandy curves and not sink into the sand. after completing the ascent to the mountains, i encountered i new enemy. Washboards!! these are little bumps on the road which are made from the fast jeeps and trucks that go on the soft road. they usually appear on long stretches of dirt roads where the vehicles can go fast. the bumps are 90 degrees to the driving direction and they can go for ages and make your driving experience feel like going on a rodeo or getting inside a mixer. it is bearable for 1 or 2 minutes, but after 5 minutes of fierce shaking, i just had to scream out loud and take a rest. chicho took it very hard and on the following days i tried as hard as i can to cross these awful washboards in the smoothest way. surprisingly, when i arrived to Tupiza, chicho was still in one piece.
in Tupiza i found a nice little hostel and settled there for a few days. i met a french guy named Vincent which will lead me to the next adventure to the salt planes of Uyuni, better known as Salar de Uyuni.
again, that's another full story, so until then,
Shana Tova to all the good Jews among you.
miss most of you :)

c ya soon

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

what's wrong with this picture

Hello kids,
is the world gone upside down?
are these a new kind of special socks?
did i overdid my time with no shower?

please help papi figure out what is wrong here

Shana Tova

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Paraguayan Chaco and the falling beauty

i arrived to the desert area of Paraguay called The Chaco on route to Bolivia. i wanted to visit this rarely visited area and see what it is about. in arriving to the first settlement by the name of Filadelfia, i met a lovely french girl named Jessica. what a strange and secluded place to meet a young girl traveling by her own. we took a tour in the surrounding areas and visited a few German colonies which has settled there some 80 years ago. it was quite interesting and the harsh and dry landscape was some kind of familiar from back home.

then we took the bike and had a small trip around the small dirt roads. it was great riding together and sharing the experience.
Jessica left after 3 days and i headed deeper into the chaco towards Bolivia.

Jessica !! if one day ...., i am here :)))
the riding on the chaco roads went smooth without any problems. the roads were perfectly paved and all i needed to do is take another 10 litter of Gasoline to make it into Bolivia.

first night i slept in the open after not reaching the only settlement around. then early in the morning i rushed towards the Bolivian border. i had a strong urge to arrive to this country and start a new and interesting adventure. i had quite enough of roaming alone in remote and secluded places, and i also needed to change the same flat landscape which had been around me for too long.

the border crossing went smooth and Chicho received his 90 days permit to stay in Bolivia not before the officer in the customs control had implied to me that he is short in cash. i smiled at him with a very stupid look, but he kept telling me that he is doing a great effort for me and he would appreciate my "donation". in exchange i kept looking at him with the same frozen stupid smile, and finally he gave up.
my lesson here is... to beat a stupid mind you have to play even more stupid.

i have arrived to Bolivia at mid day to find out that the roads are all gone. that's it for nice and paved asphalt roads. welcome to the land of dust, stones and more dust.

more to come from Bolivia.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A motorist's fellowship in Paraguay

Hello friends,

i have passed through Paraguay, a magnificent and rarely visited country, and stooped there for a few days. on the road i visited a farmers house who live in a sort of paradise in front of great mountains. they invited me to their house and all they wanted is to have a conversation and know stuff about other countries.

than i arrived to the border town with Brazil named Pedro Juan Caballero. i wanted to service my motorbike and change both tyres to a more serious ones which will serve me on the dirt roads in my future travels.

i took a small ride in the city and suddenly i was stopped by a friendly guy from a motorcycle workshop. his name was Nelson. he asked me what i need and he straight away started to think on how to help me. at first, i was a bit suspicious, but after a while their motives were clear. they were so impressed by my motorcycle (a poor Chinese bike), and they just wanted to help.
so, a simple mission of changing the tyres became a full day job. they had to build up a new wheel which will fit the new off road tyres and my weird motorbike. it took the man a whole day to figure it out, but eventually he did. then after the day passes and night began, another friend invited me to stay in his house for the night. when i wanted to pay for the work, they refused to receive any money. i stood amazed by their kindness. this is what is called "A motorist fellowship" they told me. i have learned a huge lesson about kindness and giving. the people at "Taller Kiko" will forever stay in my heart.

por todos mis amigos en Pedro Juan Caballero,

Kiko, Diego, Javier, Nelson, Carina y toda la familia Berreto

ya te extraño muchisimo.

ustedes son los mejores jente que encontre en este viaje

muchas gracia por todo!!

estan siempre en mi corazon

Paz, Amor & Rock 'n' Roll

Eilon & (super)Chicho

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The wild & the lonely

in the pantanal i met these 2 "retired" guys.
they both travel and camp with their camper van.
they met on the camping area and for me they seemed to know each other for ages.
one is 75 years old, single, no kids, curses all day and in constant look for hookers
the other is 78 years old, happily married, with his full mojo working.

could you guess who is who ???

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Brazilian Pantanal nature reserve

hello friends,
here are a few photos and a video from the a great 7 days trip i made to the Pantanal, a huge swampy nature reserve in Brazil.

i arrived to a small town named Bonito in Brazil. just by the name of it ( Bonito = Beautiful) i could guessed it would be a tourist trap. and so it was. the area around the town is sure beautiful but it is also expensive as hell and every place should be visited with a guide, which takes the fun out of it.
i met some people on the local youth hostel and they were all taking a guided, all-inclusive "safari" trip to the Pantanal nature reserve. in all my travels i try to avoid these guided tours, but at this point, i wanted some more human company. eventually i decided not to join a tour and go solo with Chicho, my trusted bike. i have been warned about the rough road in the reserve, which was all dirt , gravel and stones. me & Chicho were going on an adventure and a challenge. a 150 k"m of off road driving, which would be a small warm up to the forthcoming journey to the Paraguayan Chaco (details soon..) and Bolivia.

i rode for 3 days in this amazing nature reserve, surrounded by millions of birds and Cayman alligators which could be seen all along the rout. in the second night i asked one of the few farmers in the area to camp in his Fazenda (farm) and he agreed without hesitation. i stayed 2 days with his family and he took me for a private horse ride and animal watching. i stopped missing any other travelers companion and just enjoyed the deeply lazy pace of farm life.

in the middle of the 3rd day of riding i finally met another bike rider. Pieter, a Belgian guy, was just starting his solo ride into the Pantanal. we switched some information and made a small plan to ride together for a few days. and so we did. we met again after 2 days and rode together back on the long road to Bonito. it was a great experience to ride together and share the adventures.

Cayman aligators

till the next one


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Paz, Amor & Rock 'n' Roll

In the Iguazu falls i met a Brazilian couple from San Paulo.

Karina & Marcos

they were impressed by my courage to do this trip by myself on a Chinese bike,

so they wished me a little support from above.

in the morning when i woke up they were already gone, but they left me this cute little note

little gesture...... very big love

thanks so much