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Chris Sorbi
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Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 106
 
   Posted 12/10/2010 7:03 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
While on the road, I tried to catch up with the blogs but the road life didn’t allow that and I feel that it’s best to get up-to-date, rather than posting old stories from two months ago. I will skip the rest of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile and will get to right now. I will post all those blogs shortly so you won’t miss anything. That’s a promise.


[CENTER]Escape from Patagonia[/CENTER]


I felt as if my right foot was on fire, but I blamed it on the wind. When the wind blows from the side, it pushes the heat of the engine sideways, hence the all familiar warm sensation, but this time my foot was actually burning. I looked down and found my right boot covered in hot oil and saw a cloud of smoke coming from the right tail pipe. The engine started to sound like a Chinese washing machine with a roll of quarters in it, and before I knew it, it lost compression all together. The tachometer needle dropped slowly from 6000 rpm to nothing, and I had to stop. I was broken down in Northern Patagonia, with 230 kilometers to the closest city, in temperatures as hot as Texas in July.

Two weeks ago, after 101 days of hard traveling, we rode gloriously into the end of the world, Ushuaia Argentina. With that I completed the longest leg of my journey, a distance of 26,400 miles from Helena Montana, to Arctic Circle and due south to the end of all roads: Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego. I did this journey on a 28-year old motorcycle, which astonishingly made the grueling trip beyond the speculation of many.

It wasn’t just me who felt victorious, the Racing Green Endurance team was ecstatic. Setting a new world record, the SRzero electric car became the first electric vehicle in the world to successfully complete this distance on the longest road in the world: the Pan American Highway. The long journey was over and with that the filming of the documentary which Claudio shot from the back of my motorcycle.

Our parting was bittersweet as I bid farewell to Claudio and Paul as we had traveled together for so long. Although it was just another day for me, for Claudio and Paul, it was just the beginning as they flew back home to edit the hours of footage and get the episodes ready for the BBC. The eight-part documentary will start broadcasting on January 1st, from BBC World News so don’t miss it.

For the rest of the team, I wish them best of luck on their future adventures. They were a good bunch, and despite the differences we had, we got along well and worked towards a same goal in harmony. However hard it was to be on the road every day, it was an honor for me to be a part of this monumental undertaking and play a small roll in its achievement. These young guys showed how with determination everything is possible, even when they were laughed at every time the bottom of the super-low race car scraped on another speed bump. The electric car is a reality, believe it or not. I was skeptical from the second I laid my eyes on it in Mexico, but I was proven wrong. Big thumbs up to the RGE team.

The end of the world

Ushuaia sits at 54 degrees of latitude in the southern hemisphere and is the most southerly city in the world. Just a few kilometers to the south, the Beagle Channel separates the last sizable land mass from the rest of the freezing waters of Antarctica. Here at the end of the world or as the locals like to call it: “The Beginning,” life is as laidback as it comes. It’s really no different from the Alaskan communities I’ve visited and the mental attitude is the same. Since Cynthia was flying back to California, we decided to spend a few days together in the wild expanses of southern Patagonia before saying goodbye.

We visited the penguins, and canoed to a few island south of the Beagle Channels and made some new friends. Between the touristy visits and recovering, I chased after new tires as the rear tire on the GS was worn out beyond safety (the horrible Pirelli MT66, of course) in only 3000 miles, and I needed new tires to cover the distance of over 3000km to Buenos Aires. The more I searched the less I found, and I had to ride on these tires from lack of a choice.

The bike needed some seals and gaskets to stop the oil leaks here and there, and since there were no parts available for this bike in South America, I contacted the Z1 Enterprise, a company that specializes in old Japanese motorcycles. I had a positive experience from my previous purchases from them and I knew if there was one place that could locate all the parts I needed it was them. With only one email (I had no phone access to call them directly), Jeff Saunders of the Z1 Enterprise answered my pleas and the Z1 Enterprise officially became our parts sponsor. I sent a long list of items to Jeff, and he started pulling parts off the shelves and direct ordering the rest from Suzuki. With that out of the way, Cynthia and I started the 600km journey back to Rio Gallegos in light snow.

The wind started to blow, and as Patagonia is famous for its mighty winds, we had every right to be apprehensive of this phenomenon. We crossed a 120km gravel section, survived a very bumpy ferry ride and camped on a rancher’s land at twilight the first day. The winds were still manageable and calmed down as we got to Rio Gallegos. We visited our friends, the Sanchez’s 100+ year old ranch, Chali Aike, on the way to El Calafate and got the taste of ranch life. In El Calafate, after a day on the glacier, Cynthia got aboard a plane to Buenos Aires to visit family before heading to California.

Alone

In every relationship, there’s always a compromise. I always thought that you either have a choice to be in a relationship and be irritated, or to be lonely and not irritated. Now that Cynthia was gone, I was both! I felt alone. I was in a strange country with no knowledge of the language, or a single person I could call friend. We had rushed so hastily to the airport that I had no idea where I was in relation to the roads. I was truly lost, emotionally and physically. The only thing familiar to me was the old faithful GS850 that didn’t let me down. I walked out of the airport disoriented, sad and somewhat petrified. I had no GPS maps for southern Patagonia, and all I could do was to match the coordinates to my paper map and go from there. I rode out in mild winds towards Rio Gallegos with a million thoughts in my head and uncertain of the imminent future.

The wind

Somehow in the dark, I miraculously found the ranch we stayed at on the way to Calafate. Since the ranch was on a totally different road, I had no idea how I got there, but getting lost actually saved the night. The Sanchez family received me with a dinner of spaghetti and lamb and we capped off the night with Mate, the national Argentine drink.

In the middle of the night I woke up to the atrocious sound of the wind lashing the tin roof of the building and wondered how tomorrow was going to fare. In the morning, I walked outside and could barely stand straight as the wind forced me back in the house. The radio announced five days of wind averaging 80 to 100kmh in the provinces of Tierra del Fuego and Santa Cruz; where exactly I would be traveling. I had to make the call before it was too late. I could either stay put at the ranch and wait out the winds, or I could tough it out and try to out run it before it got worse. Since I needed the parts that Jeff was sending me to Buenos Aires, I decided to leave and dash for the capital city.

The wind blew from the Northeast and it was a tail-wind until I reached the crossing of the Ruta 3, the highway that runs North/South on the Atlantic coast of Argentina. This is where things started going from bad to worse. I’ve ridden this motorcycle for so long that I know its every move, every flaw and every handling glitch, and I was confident that I could ride it in any weather on any continent. And I have. I’ve ridden it in snow, in sand, in the mighty winds of southern Wyoming and New Mexico, the Dempster Highway in Yukon, the floods of Central America, and the high mountain roads of the Andes, so my confidence wasn’t from a macho ego; it was based on the hard-earned experience of thousands of hard miles. But there was something different about this wind. It was constant.

It pounded me hour after hour without mercy to the point my neck was hurting from the force of the helmet pushing on my head. Every little hill I passed was a dangerous wind-stopper as it stopped the wind for one or two seconds and unleashed its full furry on the other side all at once. Every truck that passed me on the opposite side promised a mighty blow and trashed me about the road. Sometimes there were three or four trucks passing me simultaneously and that was the absolute hell on earth. I stopped at every sheltered outcrop of rocks to catch my breath and relax my aching arms. I tried a few time to light up a cigarette and only once I succeeded. I took one puff, and the cigarette burned almost halfway with the wind.

And the land was flat. No shelter to pitch a tent or even a tree. I was sure that my tent would withstand these winds as it’s a four-season mountaineering tent, but the problem was pitching it. It was impossible for one person to hold the fabric down and erect the tent in this wind. I was ready to dig a hole and go underground if I couldn’t find a place soon as the wind intensified by the minute. The wind wasn’t just killing me; it was killing my precious fuel in a land that gas stations are more scarce than hen’s teeth. I could see the fuel gauge needle moving towards empty, but there was nothing I could do. I kept on rolling the throttle and hoped for a gas station, or I would be doomed.

In a distance I saw two giant hills and a wide open valley after that. I had a feeling I was going to get hit hard there as the valley dipped very low, and I knew it would be a disastrous wind tunnel. I just didn’t know how bad. As I entered the hills the wind stopped, but I could see a bridge over two small ponds down the valley that looked horrifying. The shallow water of the ponds had one foot or bigger white-caps, and every bush and tall grass was flattening to the ground. It was too late to stop, and I emerged out of the shelter of the hills. The gale hit me on the left side and brought the 800lb hunk of iron traveling 60mph to a halt. I had the throttle wide open and kept down shifting for a hope of getting out of this tunnel, but the bike came to a stop a few feet before the bridge in the middle of the road and stalled. I held on to it with everything I had as I knew if I dropped it, I would never be able to pick it up in this wind. I was at a 45 degrees angle with my left foot on the ground and trying to save the bike from blowing away.

I heard a loud honk from a truck coming at me from behind, but I couldn’t move. I tried to start the bike, but to no avail so I stayed put in the middle of the road motionless. The truck swerved hard to pass me and his blast hit me even harder than the wind. I had to get off the road but my legs were trembling and the bike wouldn’t turn on. Pushing it was out of the question as the wind was hitting me straight on from the side and front. I opened the choke all the way, and the bike rumbled to life. I ushered it to the shoulder with the kickstand down. Even with the kickstand down I still had to lean on it to keep it from toppling over.

I was pinned in the worst place I could possibly be, and I couldn’t move. So I waited. I started to see a pattern in the gusts. The wind blew a steady 90-100kmh and that was manageable; it was the gusts that made it impossible to move. The gusts weren’t short, they would last 15 seconds, and then they would calm down for 10 second before hitting again. For about 5 minutes I studied the wind and waited impatiently as my fingers started to get numb from the cold. The temperatures were well below freezing, and the wind-chill was intolerable.

I counted 1, 2, 3, 4,… and on 10 I made a run for it full blast on to the bridge to other side. I rode like a bat out of hell and finally stopped behind another hill to catch my breath. I kept the bike running this time. The temperatures were so cold and the wind so fierce that it cooled off the engine in less than two minutes where I was pinned down on the road, that’s why I had to choke the bike. I was scared beyond belief. If someone gave me a bus ticket in exchange for my bike on that bridge, I would have happily done so, but now I was coming out of the shock. I kept telling myself that this was stupid. It was suicide. I saw a building that looked like a gas station in a distance. I ran for it. Later I learned that two motorcyclists died that very same day on this road in the wind. I was very lucky to be alive. My heart goes out to their families.

Out of gas

I rolled into the quiet gas station and was disheartened to see a sign on the pump: Out of gas. I noticed two other motorcycles parked in front of the building and a guy who seemed to be one of the riders came up to me to give me the news. He asked me how much fuel I had left and when I shook my head, he said in perfect English: “Well, you’re f**ked brother.” There was no gas anywhere for another 100km.

Jorge Zmud or “Tati” as his friends call him is an Argentine who lived in Florida for 10 years. He and his friend Fokundo rode their 125cc Yamaha’s from Mar del Plata, Argentina to Ushuaia and were on their way back. They had a close-call as well on the bridge with Fokundo being blown over and falling. Tati told me they were going nowhere in this wind and they were waiting it out. That sounded like a smart decision so I joined them inside for mate and empanadas. The weather turned for the worse with snow flying horizontally and temperatures dropped even more. In the meantime, we sucked out 4 liters of gas out of their tanks to put in my gas-guzzler four cylinder engine to enable me to get to the next station.

Tati called his girlfriend, and she updated us with good news; the wind was supposed to die down in a few hours and we had a clear window to ride out of hell. While we waited, a group of Brazilian motorcyclists joined us with their disbelief of the wind and empty gas tanks. We waited for three and half hours before we could ride again. I wore everything I owned and still shivered as I walked outside of the building. Tati, Fokundo and I rode out north to the next gas station and from there we decided to travel together since we were going to the same town anyway.

These guys were heaven-sent as they knew the area and knew the language. They were both good lads with lots of stories to tell and they traveled the same way I do: camping and cooking their own food. We became fast-friends in no time. We camped the first night at a campground which turned out to be free since the guard wasn’t there. The next day we covered 500km to the coast on the Atlantic. The weather started to warm up and mercifully, the wind was almost gone. Occasional gusts shook the bikes but nothing we couldn’t live with. Our plan was to stop at Punta Tomba, the biggest penguin reserve in Argentina (top three in the world) to see the giant flightless birds. I saw the penguins with Cynthia in Beagle Channel, but it was so cold and windy that day that I didn’t care for them too much. This time we would see them in much better weather and on our own pace.

The tire dilemma

My rear tire started to get really bad to the point that the cotton threads holding the plys together started to show. It was scary riding on it, but I had no choice. We kept pushing towards Comodoro, the biggest city closest to us and the tire kept getting worse. After calling around for almost two hours, we located a no-name tire that fit. It was wider than the original, but the same height and size, so I went for it. In México City, I purchased four new Pirelli MT66 (they are awful, think twice before handing your money over for this garbage), two fronts and two rears and used three out of four. The one leftover was a front tire which I didn’t need, but didn’t want to leave behind either. I hauled this garbage tire all the way with me and in this town, I found a customer for it. A guy wanted the tire so I sold it to him for 400 pesos. My rear tire was 350 pesos and installation was 30 pesos. I scored 20 pesos which I tipped to the tire guy. Life was all good again. We stayed at a municipal gymnasium for free that night, thanks to Tati’s fast-talking, and treated ourselves to a hearty camp dinner and cheap wine. We crashed like logs.

Amongst the penguins

The road to Punta Tomba took us through the countryside with nothing but deep gravel. The roads were new with no potholes so we unleashed the bikes 60mph on deep gravel, occasionally sliding and skipping, but we just gave it more gas. In 100km we didn’t see any cars, and we rode Dakar style on the pegs over the rolling hills. It was a much needed joy run, and I was impressed with Tati’s dirt riding skills. I chased him for an hour to catch up with him, and when I finally did, he was slowing down because we were at the end of the road. There’s only one secret to dirt riding: being fearless enough to give it more gas when the bike goes where you don’t want it to go. I think most people who fall and hurt themselves dirt riding are those who are scared of going fast. This 28-year old road bike was nothing short of a KTM on these roads, it just lacked the suspension travel which wasn’t important anyway since the road was as flat as a mirror.

We reached the penguin reserve at dusk and were informed that there was no camping allowed anywhere, and it was closed until 8am the next morning. So Tati got to work and after talking to the park ranger for 10 minutes, we even got invited to stay inside the ranger’s house with steak dinner. I don’t know what he told him and I don’t care, but I’m loving this guy. The dinner was exquisite, and the company a typical warm Argentine camaraderie. The admission fee was 35 pesos each which they waved, and we were the only people walking with the penguins for two hours.

This reserve is packed with over a million penguins and they are as fearless as they come. They walked right towards us, and some even poked their beaks in the camera sunshade. The penguins I saw in South were lazy and stupid looking, but these guys were lively and cheerful. This visit was the most amazing experience of my stay in Argentina to this day, and it will be hard to beat.

The disaster

The weather kept getting hotter, and we started to shed off our long johns and ski gloves. We camped in a beach town the next night, and it was almost too hot to sleep in the tent. At 8am I ran out of the tent with sunburn as the tent turned into a solar oven. We cooked some eggs for breakfast and decide to leave after lunch so we can do some chores around the camp: cleaning helmets, chains, checking the oil, tire pressure, mending clothes and socks and of course drinking mate. Around 1pm, we finally got on the road and made 200km before stopping for fuel. I told the guys to go ahead as I would catch up with them on the road. I wanted to get my MP3 player hooked up so I could listen to some music. I got back on the road maybe only 15 minutes after they left and cruised about 70 to 75mph to catch up with the slow pokes on 125cc Yamahas. And that’s when the bike broke down.

The engine was so hot that I couldn’t keep my face close to it to see where the oil was coming from, and one small try to restart the bike (after adding oil) disheartened me. It sounded like the pistons were scraping the cylinder walls and I stopped. I was frying in my protective gear in the full sun, so after taking off my jacket, I tried pushing the bike. I don’t know what I was thinking, but after 2 inches of hard push I gave up. The bike wasn’t going anywhere.

I tried to stop some small pickup trucks but I soon realized that there was no way of getting the bike in the bed of a pickup without ramps and even with ramps, it would take a few people to push this monster up there with no power. The search for a pickup truck towing a trailer turned out to be futile, and as the sun blazed on my head, I got more nauseated. I flagged down a semi truck and he stopped. With my 50-word Spanish vocabulary I got the message across that the motor blew and I needed to get to the next gas station where the guys would likely be waiting for me. The semi was empty with plenty of room, but again there was no way of getting the bike 6 foot high in the air to load it in the trailer.

Thinking the unthinkable

Only one option remained as I was as far from any civilization as could be: to tow the bike behind the semi with a tow strap. Towing a motorcycle is illegal in the United States and for a good reason; it’s extremely dangerous. What keeps the motorcycle upright is the power of the engine to the real wheel which allows it to maneuver with accelerating and leaning under power. When it’s towed, the leaning becomes obsolete as the tow rope passes between the forks and the power is coming from the tow vehicle. The rider has to sit down on a death-trap and follow the tow vehicle with no control whatsoever and if anything goes wrong, the bike and riders are sure to be dragged behind the truck until the driver realizes the mishap.

I had no other choice. I wrapped the orange strap carefully around the frame and tethered my life to the semi truck ahead of me. The problem was that the strap was too short, and since I was riding behind the trailer, the driver had no way of seeing me. He asked me how fast he should go and the only high number in Spanish I remembered was cincuenta (50) so I uttered it with fear. He shook his head in agreement and started to pull me off. The strap tightened and off we went after a couple of jerks. The gas station we were trying to get to was 58km away and I think I lost just that much weight in pounds sweating and cursing at the driver as he sped up to 80kmh, well beyond my comfort zone. I held on for dear life and didn’t blink so I could take the slack out of the tow line every time he slowed down with gently using the rear brake. Every truck that passed us on the opposite way blasted me, and I shivered at the thought of losing control. Mile after mile, I sweated and held on for the safety of the gas station which seemed to be on the far side of the moon. Finally the truck started to slow down, and I kept a tight rope between us as he pulled in the station. From the corner of my eyes, I saw my biking buddies coming over camera in hands snapping pictures of the stupid scene.

Tati came to my rescue one more time as he worked out a deal with the driver to take the bike and me to the next town, 170km away so we could figure out a way to fix it. He agreed on 150 pesos but one problem remained. We still had no ramp. We rounded up a few hefty guys and as I watched in awe, they lifted the heavy beast 6 feet off the ground and into the back of the forty- foot trailer. We strapped it down and headed out on the road again, due north.

We stopped at a truck stop right before the town to figure out what we could do as Tati and Fokundo had a reunion to attend at 5p.m. the next day 450km away. Tati suggested taking the bike to his ranch, about 40km from Mar del Plata where I would have a place to work on it, and I could stay as long as I needed to for free. Again, I had no choice and his offer was hard to resist, so I agreed. The truck driver would take the bike to a transport company in the morning to be shipped and I would catch a bus to the ranch to meet the guys. I bought dinner for the very helpful truck driver and my new friends and we slept at the back of the semi-trailer that night next to rotting tomatoes and cabbages. The next morning, we shipped the bike for 450 pesos to Mar del Plata, and I got on the bus for another 150 pesos myself to meet it. The day after is a holiday in Argentina so I have to wait another day to pick up the bike from the trucking company. Then, I have to rent a small pickup truck to take it to Tati’s place 40km away and find out what’s actually wrong with it.

As I’m writing this very long post in the bus station, I’m grateful for all the help and suggestions anyone can offer as I’m in a pinch here. This bike is my only ride and what I have on it are my only worldly possessions. When I started this journey back in August of 2009, I sold everything and I donated every piece I had left including this bike to our non-profit organization. If I can’t fix it here, I’ll have no choice but leaving it behind to cut the losses. Purchasing another motorcycle would be extremely expensive in Argentina as every imported thing is taxed 200%. An old shaggy Kawasaki KLR costs around $8000 USD here, and I honestly have no more money to afford that kind of spending. If the heads and cylinders are beyond repair, shipping the parts from United States will be outrageously expensive even if I can find the parts for free. Cross your fingers and wish me luck as I’ll try my best to get this old gal back on the road.

I’m not giving up, bike or no bike, I’ll continue this journey. Donkeys are cheap down here so stay tuned.

Chris Sorbi

[CENTER]







































































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The Expedition's website: www.motorcyclememoir.com

Post Edited (Chris Sorbi) : 12/10/2010 3:35:14 PM GMT

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Chris Sorbi
Registered Member



Email Address Not AvailablePersonal Homepage Not AvailablePrivate Messaging Not AvailableAIM Not AvailableICQ Not AvailableY! Not AvailableMSN Not Available
Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 106
 
   Posted 12/19/2010 3:58 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Deep Into South America

As you read previously, my motorcycle broke down in Patagonia after wrestling for two days with mighty winds, and I had to send it to the next town so I could start the diagnosis. Well the diagnosis is in. I took the engine apart and my suspicions were right on the money. I had three pistons with holes on top. To make it worse, debris from the detonations splattered all over the inside of the engine, and destroyed the rod bearings. Mar del Plata, Argentina was the end of this motor.

Although all the parts could be found either in US or Europe, there were virtually no parts available in Argentina for this bike. As I always do, I turned to my abundant faithful Suzuki friends on the GSR and in no time, Matt Hanscom, one of the GSR members generously donated a complete motor out of his own bike, and the rest of the guys gathered up the bits and pieces for the swap. Z1 Enterprise kicked in with all new gaskets and necessary parts to make the replacement engine as reliable as new, and as we speak, there are a few guys working on the engine to get it into shape. The big problem is shipping the motor down south, and although many has pledged donations or already contributed towards the shipping cost, it’s still not clear which route we should take to get it down here economically and quickly.

I’m eager to thank everyone who has helped with this dilemma, either financially or by moral support, but I don’t have the complete list of names here so I won’t mention any until I do. Thank you for all you’re doing and thank you for the encouraging comments and emails, they do make me feel that I’m not alone.
In the mean time while I’m waiting for the engine to get here, here’s the rest of the story from Colombia to Argentina as I promised.


Cartagena to Medellin

We stayed in Cartagena for so long that it felt like we were living there. For the last few days of our encampment we stayed at Claudio’s friends’ restored colonial home in the old walled city. Because of the owners’ fear of kidnapping and extortion, we can’t publish any pictures of the place nor even say their famous names, but it was an amazing place replete with servants, balconies, zebra skin rugs and a parrot truly worthy of a decorating magazine spread. While there, Paul Jackson, the very talented British editor of the Long Way Down, (the second BBC TV series of the adventures of Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman and Claudio von Planta to Africa on two BMW GS1200) joined us for the rest of the journey to Ushuaia, Argentina. Paul will be editing the footage that Claudio shoots daily for the web episodes and rough cutting them for the upcoming documentary series, broadcasting from BBC World News on January 1st. The group is back to 9 people again, with me and Claudio on the GS850, two guys in the SRzero electric car and the rest in the van heading down the Pan American Highway.

We passed through the tropics of Colombian countryside and with temperatures soaring to the high 90’s, we sweated and cursed at the bad roads. Pothole after pothole started to take their toll on the suspension of the bike, and the awful Pirelli MT66 tires made the experience worse with yet another flat tire. This time the RGE guys stopped to wait for us, and the police escort led us to a tire shop on the side of the road to get the tire fixed. It wasn’t much of a shop, but the shirtless guy was very skilful as he changed, patched and installed the tire in a record time of 15 minutes with the sheen of sweat covering his body. I guess he saw the pretty race car and felt like he was doing a pit stop. The cost: $4.20.
From Monteria the scenery started to change dramatically. The high temperatures slowly cooled off, and the road started to head uphill for as long as I remember. From sea level we climbed to over 7000ft; in that distance, the look of people changed as well. The scenery was the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen in my life; it looked like the jungles of Pandora out of the movie Avatar. Claudio and I kept looking at each other in amazement; we couldn’t believe our eyes. This is the place that cocaine is made. Men on horseback traversed the treacherous mountain paths, and every overlook was a scene from the heavens. If I ever settle down anywhere, that’s where it would be.

The weather cooled off to the point that we put on ski gloves to keep us from shivering, and we stopped frequently for the amazing Colombian coffee to warm us up. Colombia, unlike all the other Latin American countries is very motorcycle friendly. Motorcyclists don’t have to pay tolls to enter toll roads (everywhere else we had to pay tolls), and they always have the right of way. We never got stopped by the police or military while most trucks and cars did. And the police are mostly on motorcycle and are as cool as they come.

As we entered Medellin we had a motorcycle police escort and they didn’t leave us alone until we left for Bogota. The shocks had finally given way, and it was time to get the suspension back in shape, so Cynthia and I stayed behind in Medellin while the rest of the group went to Bogota for press events and sponsor duties. Our police escort had nothing else to do but to hang out with us, so we went out on the town to fix the shocks. Stay tuned.

Shock repair and going to Bogotá

Medellin is a peculiar city, but in a good way. It’s built in a valley and extends up into the surrounding mountainsides (literally) so it goes up and down indefinitely. The streets are mostly at 45 degrees angles, and it makes an interesting exercise on a loaded motorcycle when wet, which is all the time. Medellin was a notoriously dangerous place in the late 80’s and the early 90’s, and it was even home to Pablo Escobar, the infamous (or the Robin Hood figure to poor of Medellin) Colombian drug lord. However, in recent years, the city has transformed into a bustling cosmopolitan place which is just as safe as any other major city. It soon became my favorite city in Colombia, as the hospitality of its people was overwhelming.

At 9 am, our police escort was ready for us to go shock hunting and off we went. From the very first shop we went to, we were told that no one has these shocks in Colombia, and we were out of luck. So we settled for plan B, which was finding similar shock absorbers to make them work with this bike. We dismantled the old shocks and kept the progressive springs to install them on two heavy-duty shocks. These shocks were from a Taiwanese 250cc motorcycle with mono rear suspension system (one shock in middle), and they were unbelievably stiff.
We mounted the springs on the new shocks and modified the bushings and heads to fit the GS and installed them on the bike. It's a pain installing shocks on this bike since I have to remove the boxes in order to get to the shocks and we did this 7 times.

The shop that did the shock work was a specialized machine shop that only dealt with motorcycle suspension, so there was no shortage of tools or talents there, but we kept getting stiff shocks. In fact, they were so hard that 3 people couldn’t push the bike down to compress the darn thing. At 6 p.m we stopped after 7 hours of work and left the rest for the next day.

The cure to the stiff shocks came from enlarging the oil valves inside the shock bodies and diluting the oil viscosity by half. To make them even more adjustable, we cut 3 grooves on the outside of the cylinders to able to position the ring pin for the adjuster in 3 different positions 0.75 inches apart. After many trials and errors we finally settled down on an adjustment that worked. We configured the shocks for two people, the load and the biggest pothole we could imagine. The rear is very stiff now for just one person as I only weigh 150 lbs, and I can barely push it down but fully loaded with Cynthia on it, it’s just right.

The bill for 14 hours of machine shop wages including the shocks came out to $460,000 Colombian Pesos ($250 USD). I can’t imagine how much an American shop would charge for the same job if they even would accept it. I usually ask for a discount, but this time I happily handed the cash over since these guys went above and beyond to help us.
When the shocks were done, we lucked out again and met Diego José Aristizabal who owns a brake shop. Freno Motos is a well stocked brake shop which is one of the best I’ve seen. All they do is brakes, and they are good at it. I needed a set of rear brake pads and from México to Colombia, I searched for a replacement and had no luck but here I found them. Diego donated another set of metallic brake pads to us and after taking some pictures and drinks on the house, we bid them farewell.

We met a MIT graduate named Jorge at the university where the SRzero was being charged and he put us up at his parents’ house for the night. We were amazed at their gracious hospitality towards complete strangers. To thank our friendly police escort, we invited them to dinner and told them that they can eat anywhere they liked. Their eyes opened up and excitedly they said McDonald’s!!!! McDonald’s is apparently a luxury and hip food joint as it is expensive for the locals. A typical dinner for 4 people would normally come out to 12-15 dollars, but McDonald’s prices were the same as United States if not more. So we had Big Macs and chicken sandwiches for the first time since we left US, and I honestly don’t miss it at all. Passing under the golden arches did feel like home though.

Thanks to all the beautiful Colombians who made our experience an unforgettable one. After traveling in many countries, I think I can say that Colombia is officially my favorite country in the world. It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth, and it’s so diverse in scenery and climate that it never disappoints. I will come back here one day.

Heading for Ecuador

Ever since we left Medellin, the weather stayed glorious: sunny blue skies with temperatures ranging from the 60 to the 70’s. I checked the oil before we left and added some, but somehow I forgot to screw the oil cap back on. 30 miles of curvy mountain roads later we stopped for fuel, and when I looked down, I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Cynthia and I were covered in oil up to our knees. No one else was around so I blamed it on Cynthia not reminding me to put the cap back on :)

The roads turned out to be great and with one twist after another, it was a joy to ride in the beautiful Colombia. We still had over 600 miles to Ecuador but I secretly wished it would be longer. I guess my prayers were answered as Ecuador closed its borders to Colombia and Peru after its president was kidnapped and held hostage by Ecuadorian police force. Apparently the president took it upon himself to boycott the benefits of the police substantially while offering them different benefits, and that didn’t settle well with them. The president attended the police protest and after a while, he got hot-tempered and opened his shirt and yelled “Why don’t you shoot me?”, and so the police obliged. One thing led to another and they kept the president hostage for their claims. In the middle of all this, we were waiting patiently for the news as when things would calm down and if they ever would.

We set up a couple of visits for malnutrition programs while in Bogota but since the shock ordeal delayed us in Medellin until the weekend we weren’t able to make it to the appointments, so for the first time we went out with Paul and had a day of sightseeing. We visited the world famous Museo de Oro (Gold Museum) and the surrounding plazas. While jumping into the air for a picture, I landed wrong and hurt my leg. The pain stayed with me for the remainder of the stay in Bogota. I rode through 2 continents on the bike with no injury, and the only injury came out of my own stupidity of trying to act like a 10 year old kid in a 30 year old body. We finally headed for Pasto, a small town close to the border of Ecuador. This section as we found out later was a major FARC territory but since we didn’t know, we stopped at every scenic place and walked around like we were on holiday. I even saw a sign for zip lining after one of our stops and I had to do it. Cynthia, Clemens, Alex and I rushed for the line as it was only $5 USD and better yet, it ran from one side of the 3km long valley to the other side. It was by far the longest zip line I’ve ever seen. The one minute run between earth and sky was mesmerizing although we seriously shouldn’t have been there.

Claudio and I stayed back to film a bit more, and that’s when we did all the wrong moves (good thing we didn’t know it at the time). We stopped at a bridge to film a river, and the very same bridge was the scene of a bloody attack on a bus a few days before. We stopped at a non-functioning gas station and chatted with an old man while taking our time putting more layers of clothing and before we knew it, it was dark and the heavy fog settled in. The good roads turned into almost trenches and with detour after detour, we felt like we were on the moon. The look of modern and comfortable Colombia turned into a scene from a war torn country, and it didn’t get better until we caught up with the rest of the guys a few miles before Pasto.

At dinner in Pasto we were told all the horror stories that go on that very same road we took so leisurely, and we shuddered as we heard more. All in all, no one was hurt, and we all made it to safety. It’s just sad because this area had the second most amazing scenery in all Colombia after the road leading to Medellin. The FARC still fights the government and still kidnaps civilians to gain leverage and continue the chaos.


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[center]Many thanks to all the members who've contributed to this noble cause.[/center][CENTER][/CENTER]
[CENTER]A few dollars here and there goes a long way.[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Visit the expedition website to get up to speed: www.MotorcycleMemoir.com[/CENTER]

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Chris Sorbi
Registered Member



Email Address Not AvailablePersonal Homepage Not AvailablePrivate Messaging Not AvailableAIM Not AvailableICQ Not AvailableY! Not AvailableMSN Not Available
Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 106
 
   Posted 12/28/2010 6:09 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
DEC 24TH. CROSSING THE EQUATOR

Ecuador is one of the smaller countries in South America, but it was an interesting point in my journey. The equator passes through Ecuador and that means that by reaching the equator, I traveled from the furthest north in Yukon to the center of the earth. Crossing into Ecuador was by far our easiest border crossing in the whole trip as the guy we met in Pasto, Sebastian Moreno, a former Colombian Formula 3 race car driver, accompanied us to make our lives easier.

As we suspected, Ecuador was still in a political chaos from the president kidnapping incident of the week before. This time the president dismantled the police force so it doesn’t happen again. Instead of the regular police, he appointed Special Forces and the military to be in charge of security of the country. These guys were armed to the teeth and were the most formidable looking police force I’ve ever seen outside of the United States. But they turned out to be as menacing as puppies and a lot of fun.

They took it upon themselves to protect and serve us as we drove towards the capital city of Quito, and they never failed to entertain us. Right at the border I made some friends with some of them (distributing American cigarettes never hurts) and in return they took me shoe shopping, opening the way in the busy streets with M-16s. At one point, they pulled over in the countryside and loaded their guns for us to shoot at some plastic bottles while they stopped the traffic for the festivity. As Claudio puts it “It’s always good to make friends with the guys holding big guns.”

Upon reaching Quito, we settled into our hotel with the plan being to leave in 2 days for Peru, but the craziest thing happened (beside another flat in the crappy Pirelli MT66 rear tire.) The RGE team had a press event at the university the next day, but they had partied all night and were still a little tipsy in the morning. The normal presentation involved going really fast and braking hard to demonstrate the amazing braking power of the SRzero electric car, but this time, Nick Sauer, the RGE guy who was driving the car for the demonstration, forgot to brake a little earlier and the SRzero crashed into the wall in front of the TV cameras and the few hundred spectators, just missing Clemens and Claudio. A cheer went up from the crowd, and with that we got stuck in Quito for 5 more days while the guys fixed up the car.

I always thought that Ecuador was a tropical place and since it was on the equator, it was warm. Man, was I wrong. It was mountainous and snow-covered peaks loomed everywhere you looked. It was quite cold, and it rained on and off. I took the time to change the oil on the bike, flushing the brake system with new brake fluid and complete some other due maintenance. Ecuador also turned out to be a really long country as Claudio and I had the longest riding day of the trip trying to get to the border. We left at 6:30 am with only a few hours of sleep and reached the border town at 11 pm, after 17 hours of riding through banana plantations, deserts, mountains and tropical patches.

As we got closer to the Peruvian border, the once nice and clean countryside turned into pile of garbage. There wasn’t a pit stop that we didn’t mention what a s**thole it was. If the garbage and the foul smell wasn’t enough, we met our most vicious predators: dogs.

These dogs hunted in packs and somehow they evolved to know that speed bumps are the best place to hunt for innocent motorcyclists. They hung around the giant speed bumps, and as we slowed down to go over the small hill, they attacked us from every side. Claudio and I kept our legs up, and I rolled on the throttle as they lunged at us with bared teeth.

Into Peru

I was really looking forward to seeing Peru, especially western Peru and the magnificent Andes, but as it turned out, our route was going nowhere near the Cordillera. Instead, we hugged the Pacific Coast on the Pan-American Highway and went nonstop through the country. But that didn’t mean that we didn’t like Peru.

In fact, the very first night we got to Peru, Claudio and I stopped for a cup of coffee as the rest of the team were behind at least an hour (the GS850 was unstoppable on the perfect Peruvian highways at sea level and clocking 100 to 110 mph was not uncommon) so we walked in a restaurant to kill some time.

The first thing I saw was a charcoal grill the size of small swimming pool with a giant pig roasting away above the embers. Claudio suggested that we eat there so we walked in to the back where a band was playing. I literally stepped one foot in the room, and I was handed a beer from a semi-drunk guy at the next table. Long story short, we downed 6 bottles of beer (the beer in South America comes in two sizes, the small bottle which is a normal 12oz and the big one is a 40oz like Old English) courtesy of our two new Peruvian friends and settled down for a long conversation which none of us could understand. They spoke only Spanish, and between Claudio and me, we spoke six languages, but none even came close to Spanish.

One thing that they did manage to get across was that we are all brothers no matter where we come from, and they welcomed us to Peru. They were both bikers, and I suppose a loaded motorcycle was enough to bring out the hospitality. We had an amazing welcome to Peru, thanks to our new friends and Crystal, the fine Peruvian social lubricant.

Western Peru is dry. In fact we didn’t see a drop of rain the whole time we were there. Since the climate is so dry, nothing really grows on the coast, and the food staples are chicken and fish. Fish come out of the ocean and the chicken farms are set right on the beaches. In fact, chicken must be the national bird of Peru as it’s served everywhere and is the specialty of the country. One night Claudio, Cynthia and I went out to town for dinner, and we honestly couldn’t find any restaurant that served anything else besides chicken. There are thousands of chicken farms right on the beach as you travel down the coast highway and with every breeze, chicken s**t smell filled up the air.

We visited a very poor town and got to hang out with some volunteers and the children that they were working with. After lunch (chicken, of course!) we set out for the town of Huacachina in the Ica region of southwestern Peru, which boasts an actual oasis. The landscape changed from coastal sands to full-fledged desert and it looked much like Sahara. Sand dunes piled up to 1000 feet, and every gust of wind shoved a little more sand into my helmet. The oasis was a fascinating place straight out of Lawrence of Arabia with an emerald green lake surrounded by palm trees sheltered by sand dunes as high as mountains. Cynthia, Claudio and Paul ventured up the biggest dune to take pictures and film while I slept like a baby, glad not to be in the 100 degree heat outside.

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[center]Many thanks to all the members who've contributed to this noble cause.[/center][CENTER][/CENTER]
[CENTER]A few dollars here and there goes a long way.[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Visit the expedition website to get up to speed: www.MotorcycleMemoir.com[/CENTER]

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Chris Sorbi
Registered Member



Email Address Not AvailablePersonal Homepage Not AvailablePrivate Messaging Not AvailableAIM Not AvailableICQ Not AvailableY! Not AvailableMSN Not Available
Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 106
 
   Posted 1/5/2011 1:42 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
DEC 29TH. PARANAL AND THE CHILEAN WHOREHOUSE

Lima marked the last big civilization in Peru, and the worst traffic I’ve ever seen in my life. In the first hour entering Lima, the SRzero ran into a semi-truck in the mayhem and broke the rear fiberglass fender. The RGE guys fixed the car in no time, and soon we entered Chile, to attempt crossing of the Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth. Ever since we left Ecuador, seeing a tree was like a Bigfoot sighting and the Atacama was living up to its name. Occasional desert flowers and green moss were signs of underground waters, but they were far and long in between. Even cactus were few and far in between in certain areas of the desert. Atacama is a giant desert, and it is a fascinating place. In the day time, the temperatures soared to the point that asphalt started to melt, and at night they dropped down to freezing.

To say that the region is dry is an understatement. My rear tire was down to almost nothing, but considering the impossible chances of precipitation, I chose not to change it until it was gone completely. We continued along a mostly flat moonscape which seemed to go on endlessly, but would occasionally wend along and down into fantastical yawning canyons.

Despite having to have the bike inspected and the entire van unloaded to x-ray all the contents at the border, we made it out of Peru and through Chile in a record-breaking time. Chile is unlike all other Latin American countries. The European and in particular, the German influence, is tremendous, and all the natural resources have made this very long country a success in the relatively poor South America. We proceeded to Arica, a coastal town with more German flags than Chileans, and we promptly got lost. Through most of Central America and some of Colombia we had police and/or contacts meeting us and escorting us from point A to point B, but now as we were traveling independently, we were to experience travel the way most people do, which I much prefer. The RGE guys usually set up the route and chase Google maps on their Ipads religiously as we follow along, but occasionally I had to turn on the GPS to help us find our way back to the right direction.

Just like In Oaxaca, Mexico, we got stuck behind a strike in the middle of the highway which was in this case for a customs checkpoint. Again we could get around the ordeal on the motorcycle, but the SRzero and the van had to wait out the festivity. Claudio was so dead tired that he slept right on the side of the road while I used the time to go fishing and Cynthia picked up shells. When the road cleared up, Cynthia got on the back of the bike, to her delight, and Claudio slept in the van. Since there was no filming to do, we went ahead and took our time fishing and stopping for pictures while the slow pokes followed behind. In all of our time on the road, I have never seen so many pick-up trucks. In fact, pick-up trucks are rather few and far in between in much of Central and South America. However, there seemed to be almost more pick-ups than cars which we found out later belonged to the miners.

At around 5 pm, we arrived at the mining town of Antofasto and waited at the entrance for the rest of the guys to catch up. We waited an hour and half with no sign of them with the temperatures dropping as sunset approached. Around sunset we gave up, and drove into town looking for internet to email the guys and get some food. Claudio wrote to say that they stopped about 80km before Antofasto as the car ran out of charge and to just get a hotel and let them know where to find us in the morning.

We considered sleeping on the beach as there is no shortage of coastline, but A. we didn’t have our camping gear with us as everything was in the van, and B. the locals strongly cautioned against this, saying that the area was quite dangerous. Thus began a three hour ordeal to find a hotel as apparently during the week, the hotels are all full from all the miners and business people. We even had one hotel call other hotels for us, but there was only one room vacant and it was $250. I was very tired and sleepy and not happy to have to drive back to Mejillones where the rest of the group was, but not wanting to pay a fortune for a night sleep, we started on the way out of town, when Cynthia spotted a tiny motel which looked promising.

As we rode inside the gate, a plump lady ran towards us and asked us “How many hours?” All night was the answer. I had my own girl with me otherwise she would have supplied the lady for the night as well. The whorehouse was” homey” and cheap, and we had our own private garage. We rented a pink room with hardwired speakers that played love songs all night. It even had a sighting window with light in it for peep show I suppose. Now that we had our room, we went back into town to email Claudio our address and GPS coordinates for the next day, and on the way back the clutch cable broke. Again. Thankfully, I had a spare bare cable which barely worked with some heavy modification. When I closed my eyes it was 2 am already.

Paranal Observatory

Much of the area looked liked Mars, with no humidity or even a cloud in sight. That’s why 14 European countries got together, and built the largest and most impressive observatory on earth in the middle of the Atacama Desert. The European Southern Observatory (ESO) or the Paranal is the one and only in the world, and we had the privilege to visit it. The last James Bond movie was actually shot there, and if that wasn’t enough to persuade us to go there, we were offered to stay at the observatory overnight, and would get a tour of the inside of the telescopes at night to see the far far away galaxies.

The roads to the observatory weren’t marked, and we had a hell of a time finding our way there. The sun burnt through my black riding gear and the engine felt like a million degrees in between my legs. We asked for directions three times, and every time they sent us on a wild goose chase. After much frustration, we finally found the road and started to climb high up in the desert until we could go no further.

Paranal’s remote location was selected due to the unique feature of being one of the least humid and driest places on earth which makes for ideal clear skies for the telescopes. While checking in and getting our ID badges, we were told that tourists could only visit on weekends but were not able to stay overnight or go up to the observatory at night. Being able to stay at the observatory where the workers and visiting astronomers stay was a pretty big deal. The site has many workshops and storage buildings clustered together. Towards the West is a large object that looks like a Frisbee or a giant UFO sitting on top of the earth. We descend down the path into the disc and found ourselves in a man-made oasis with tropical trees, birds, flowers, vines and a pool in the middle. Inside the bubble, there was a cafeteria that served delicious food, made by world class chefs, and the James Bond hotel consisted of three stories of bedrooms where the astronomers stayed. On the hill several kilometers above the bubble was the observatory.

Despite the amazing location, I had to put aside any thoughts of relaxation as the bike was in desperate need of some TLC. I was pleased that they had a workshop where I could change the bald rear tire and the oil. The kind mechanic gave me free oil and the complete use of his shop. I arrived at the Paranal on an empty tank, (gas stations are few and far between in the desert and getting lost three times to find the place didn’t help) and was grateful that they generously filled up my fuel tank as well. In the evening, we went up the hill with the group to look at the stars and the observatory. It was almost impossible to see any black sky due to the infinite number of brightly glittering stars. The view was truly spectacular. We went inside for a tour of the control room of the observatory and were able to see the image of a far-away star pulsating on the computer screen. However, frankly it was disappointing. We thought we were going to peer through the telescope and see many stars up close, but apparently they don’t do that. Computer screens are what they spend their time on, but it was a great experience nevertheless.

In the morning I finished up the maintenance on the bike, and we headed out into Atacama again. While it was somewhat warm at the Paranal, it became bitingly cold and windy as we descended down to the valley, so we bundled up like Eskimos. Surprisingly we started to see more signs of life as the road came closer to the coast again and we started to catch glimpse of patches of green interspersed amongst the rocky terrain along with cactuses and various desert wildflowers in purple, yellow, and white. After so many days of sand, dirt and rocks, these little bits of green seemed to be from a Technicolor dream. I wanted to eat the flowers rather than looking at them! Eventually we made our stop in the sleepy little fishing village of Tongoy at a seaside hotel situated directly on the water. With furnishings straight out of a 1950’s time capsule, the hotel had a sunny, airy feel to it with floor to ceiling windows and view of the Pacific dotted with bobbing yellow fishing skiffs, pelicans, and seagulls, as well as a perfect sunset. We weren’t disappointed to find out that due to the low amperage electricity, the SRzero would not be fully charged in time to leave in the morning which meant that we could enjoy a rare full rest day in this delightful locale.

Out Of Chile

It was 9 a.m. by the time we headed out of Tongoy and headed for Santiago. The morning started out overcast and very cold with Claudio back on the bike. As we rode on, the landscape gave way to more eucalyptus and fir trees and the roadsides were lined with clumps of yellow flowers. We arrived in Santiago by late afternoon and promptly got lost again. Santiago is the capital of Chile and is nestled at the base of the Andes Mountains. It is a very modern, fashionable and wealthy city, and its culture is more regimented in following procedures and rules. Chile is the only country in South America that you can’t bribe the government officials including the SS looking police. Their uniform was straight out of the 1940’s Nazi Germany with pea-green long trench coats, high leather boots and gloves. In fact they were very strict and not once did they cracked a smile. After so much freedom in all other countries, Santiago seemed very uptight and didn’t feel right.

We had a few days in Santiago to cool our jets and do some work. I celebrated my 29th birthday by spending a fun relaxing day with Cynthia. This was the first time that we were able to enjoy a stop in a big city for a few days WITHOUT having to do any maintenance to the bike. Chile has a strong economy and is one of the top Latin American countries for security. Chile has eradicated malnutrition through extensive government efforts, and several locals that we talked with were quite proud to share how the government provides fortified split rice which is used to make soup for elderly pensioners which has actually, along with the fortified milk, helped to increase longevity in the elderly. On Wednesday, the RGE team, Paul, and Cynthia left to Talca. Claudio and I stayed back in Santiago to wait for Claudio’s replacement video camera to arrive via UPS from the UK. The next day we tried to pick it up only to discover that Claudio would be required to pay an exorbitant customs fee ($700 USD and hire a customs broker to get his own camera out of the greedy hands of the Chilean customs officials). We said, “Hell no,” and rented a camera instead, and headed out to catch up with the group in Talca. The drive down got progressively more beautiful as the very green countryside was dotted with vineyards, trees of all sorts, and loads of yellow flowers along the roads and in the fields. With the view of the white-capped Andes in the eastern horizon, we slowly traversed the longest country on the map towards Argentina.

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[/CENTER]


[center]Many thanks to all the members who've contributed to this noble cause.[/center][CENTER][/CENTER]
[CENTER]A few dollars here and there goes a long way.[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Visit the expedition website to get up to speed: www.MotorcycleMemoir.com[/CENTER]

Back to Top
 

Chris Sorbi
Registered Member



Email Address Not AvailablePersonal Homepage Not AvailablePrivate Messaging Not AvailableAIM Not AvailableICQ Not AvailableY! Not AvailableMSN Not Available
Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 106
 
   Posted 1/7/2011 4:35 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
JAN 7TH. ARGENTINA, TIERRA DEL FUEGO

We intended to start out around 9 a.m. to finish our last leg in Chile and cross the border to Argentina. However, somehow the RGE team’s Nikon SLR camera went missing which caused a delay as everyone searched around for the camera. Unfortunately, the camera was nowhere to be found (most likely got stolen out of their hotel room). With only seven days left to the finish line, I offered the use of my Pentax SLR and we got out of dodge.
The scenery on this last leg was absolutely breathtaking. It’s almost impossible to describe how lush and verdant the terrain was. The mix of fields, mountains, trees, and profusion of flowers make it jaw-dropingly spectacular. For me, Claudio, and the guys in the SRzero, there was a bit more to contend with as not only did we have rain, (the first real rain since Colombia) but it was bloody cold. We had all kinds of layers on to help ward off the chill, but it wasn’t working

And at last, there it was, the white and blue flag of Argentina waving in the wind. Since I was eight years old, I had wanted to visit this country, and 21 years later, I rode my motorcycle to it. It was the hot summer of 1990 when the Argentine national football team lost the final World Cup match to Germany, and I cried for two days. I wanted to be a football player, but it turned out that life had a different path in mind for me.

Upon our arrival at the border, the bike was completely out gas. Trying to get gas from the van was a no-go as it had an anti-robbing screen in the way. A kindly policeman came to my rescue who went out to town and got some gas for us. Finally the stern Nazi-like Chilean police had given way to helpful and laidback Latino police we came to know.

As soon as we entered Argentina, we came across patches of snow much to Claudio’s great delight. He wished only for two things on the last leg of the film as we had pretty much seen everything else in the long journey: snow and penguins. As it turned out, he would never get to see the penguins, but at least snow was better than nothing. As we got higher into the mountains, the snow covered the landscape and the freezing rain turned into ice. The weather was blustery and cold in earnest, and we were relieved to enter Bariloche and settle into a cozy chalet with heating (a novelty in these parts). The host was incredibly accommodating to our every request, including parking the bike on the covered balcony by our room

The next day dawned bright and sunny although it was still bitingly cold outside. Then it changed again. In the space of a few minutes it rained, snowed, and hailed. Cynthia and Claudio braved the elements for a walk to the beautiful lake to film and take pictures, elated that we weren’t leaving until 2 pm. Our next stop was Esquel, a beautiful ski town in the foot hills of the Andes, and that marked our entry into the Province of Chubut, the start of the Patagonia. I didn’t get a minute of sleep that night as two busloads of high school rugby players checked in the hotel the night before and kept us up all night with their rowdy antics. I was so tired that the thought of driving 400 miles was out of the question. Paul Jackson, Claudio’s film editor, took on the task of riding, and I slept in the van the whole time. All I remember is peeking out of the dusty van windows between naps and seeing millions of sheep scattered all over Patagonian landscape.

The Patagonia has a peculiar landscape. It has so many living things in it that makes it so alive. From flamingos, armadillos, deer, sheep, guanaco, (wild lama) and ostriches to of course cows, it is home to giant glaciers, formidable mountains, and barren deserts. It has some of the most extreme temperatures from minus 30F in winter to 100F in summer. To add to that are the freakish winds which blow in the summer at such vicious velocities that it makes the locals wish for the freezing but calm winters.

The next day proffered a bizarre scene from a horror movie. Millions of grasshoppers covered the road as we left tire tracks on their corpses. The motorcycle engine was covered with torn off legs and heads, and it smelled like a bakery as they sizzled on the hot engine. As we caught up with the rest of the group, we found the electric car being pulled out of a ditch. The SRzero had spun off road trying to avoid a large pothole and broken two shock absorbers. A three hour roadside wrenching party started, and a guacho came by on horseback with his dogs from his hillside home to see if we were ok. Luckily we had spare shocks, and replaced the broken ones and got back on the road to finally enter Tierra del Fuego.

Tierra del Fuego is an island, and that’s where Ushuaia is located. To reach it, large ferries are used to cross the Strait of Magellan, which can haul pretty much anything, and that’s the only way of getting in and out besides flying. Tierra del Fuego is also co-owned by Chile and Argentina, which means you have to cross into Chile again and back to Argentina 100 miles later. The no-man’s-land is heavily protected with mine fields and barbwires as Argentina and Chile have a long dispute over these parts. Argentines are not too fond of Chileans and vice versa, and it’s apparent everywhere you go. To give the Argentines credit, they are warmer people than their aristocratic neighbors. Besides, they make one hell of Asado (Argentine-style BBQ) which is hard to beat. Argentina is a meat lover’s paradise.

For the first time in the long journey down, I took a turn riding in the SRzero for a ride to Rio Gallegos. I rode my bike inches from it for thousands of miles, but now for the first time, I truly got to appreciate its powers and smoothness in that 200km ride. The SRzero is an electric car with no internal combustion engine. It makes no noise, no pollution, has 400+ horsepower, sits 2 inches from the ground, it’s pretty and holy crap, it’s fast. Unlike gas engines, all the power is available at a split second at all time, and it takes off like a rocket the second the accelerator is down. It was a fun drive to Rio Gallegos, but as my bad luck would have it, the bike broke down soon after we started out in the middle of nowhere while Claudio and Cynthia were riding it. We had long passed them not realizing they had broken down, so it took hours for them to find us at our destination as they had a hard time flagging someone down amidst the ostriches and guanacos to help them get the bike started.

The stator was fried and with our deadline closing in, I had to fix it fast. I ruled out spending time to find a replacement for it as I quickly learned that parts for this bike are almost non-existence in South America. That left me with the only option: rewinding it. The entire next day, which happened to be Cynthia’s birthday, found me and Cynthia in a shop trying to fix the stator while the rest of the team went out to enjoy a day at a sheep ranch owned by the Sanchez family, our new friends. The guy who did the work wound the coils wrong on his first try, so he had to do it again. Wrong again. At 10 pm, after three tries he said that he’ll fix it the next morning, but we had to leave the next day at 7:30 a.m. and that wasn’t an option. I asked him if he would let me do it in his shop (the bike was torn apart there) and he amazingly agreed. He gave us the key to his shop (total strangers), and he even came back himself after midnight to help some more. By the time we redid the coils and got it working it was already 4 am. That left us with two hours of sleep and on the road again for Rio Grande, the home to Malvinas heroes (or as the English call them: Falkland Islands intruders) our last stop before Ushuaia. But I didn’t care. We were so close to the end that it was hard to sleep anyway. We even made it to our meeting place at the appointed time a full half hour ahead of the RGE team.

The Racing Green Team would finish their long journey in Ushuaia, the southern tip of Argentina and also the southernmost city in the world. From there, I would spend some more time enjoying Argentina with Cynthia on our own before she went home and then resume the rest of the journey as a One-Man-Band again. The days were numbering and with only 2 days to go to Ushuaia, it almost didn’t feel real. We had traveled together from México to the end of the world, and with all its ups and downs, it was a fantastic experience. I got to learn many things from Claudio on professional videography, and numerous film editing tips and tricks watching Paul do what he does best. And most importantly, I got to share it with the amazing Cynthia.

Although Cynthia joined the expedition in California, she played a tremendously invaluable role in starting out our budding non-profit organization, and was a diligent expedition partner throughout the journey. She never once complained in any kind of riding or weather conditions, woke up early and went to bed late. She dried my clothes with a hair blow dryer in tropical rains of Central America, stood by my side anytime something went wrong, took amazing pictures to document the journey, coordinated our visits to clinics and poor neighborhoods, constantly translated for me, went out of her way to fix anything and everything she could, and she gave more than I could give. The decision to part was not easy to say the least, but it was necessary for the completion of this expedition, even though she may not think so. This could be a decision that I will regret for many years, but it was the right thing to do for me and the expedition. She will still be actively involved in the organization, and I know that if I ever need something, I can always count her, no matter what. She will be missed dearly.

The odometer is clicking fast and Ushuaia is only a rock-throw away and with that, I covered 120 degrees of latitude on an ancient motorcycle from the Arctic to Equator to Antarctic. We made it to the end of the world.

[CENTER]













































































[/CENTER]


[center]Many thanks to all the members who've contributed to this noble cause.[/center][CENTER][/CENTER]
[CENTER]A few dollars here and there goes a long way.[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Visit the expedition website to get up to speed: www.MotorcycleMemoir.com[/CENTER]

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TNSV650S
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Total Posts : 37
 
   Posted 1/11/2011 4:08 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
dude hats off to you still dont know how you do what you do but thanks for all the updates!


skin grows back......paint is another story

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Chris Sorbi
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Total Posts : 106
 
   Posted 1/13/2011 12:25 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
TNSV650S,

Thanks for reading buddy. Stay tuned, there's a lot more to come.

JAN 10TH. PATAGONIA BREAKDOWN AFTERMATH

Tati and Facundo took to the bus station and made sure that the driver knew where to drop me off. I was supposed to get off the bus 40km before Mar del Plata at the Otamendi Junction, and the guys would pick me up to take me to Tati’s farm in Otamendi. He even wrote on a piece of paper for me: I need to get off in Otamendi, in Spanish just in case the driver forgot.

The bus ride was only 400km long and I figured it would take no more than 6 hours, but I guess the Argentine buses are like Greyhounds; it stopped a million times to pick up passengers along the way. I was dead tired and I slept pretty much the whole time. Tati was supposed to call me at 6pm to see where I was to pick me up so I kept the phone on for his call. Around 6 pm the phone rang, and it was Cynthia who hadn’t heard from me in a few days and had no idea yet about the motorcycle motor. I told her that the bike motor blew up, and that I was on a bus and asked her not to call me as I was waiting for a phone call (the phone battery was almost dead) and hung up. She took it as I was blowing her off, and called again. It took 6 more phone calls and precious battery life till to literally beg her not to call, and by that time the phone died for good.

At dusk, after 8 hours I got dropped off at Otamendi road, a long country road with nothing in sight with no phone or even knowing where I should go. The clouds started coming in and a light drizzle started as I waited over hour and half at the side of the road for a phone call that I couldn’t answer. I tried turning the phone back on and it started ringing immediately. It was Tati and all I said was that “I’m here,” and it cut off again. As I was preparing myself for a bivouac for the night, I saw a dim motorcycle light approaching me, and that was the Calvary.

Facundo took me to the farm where we had a reunion. Four other guys with their bikes were there and along with a German woman who the guys had seen riding her Suzuki DR400 heading for Buenos Aires and invited her too. The giant grill at Tati’s farm was in full operation with chickens and chorizos roasting away, and the endless flow of wine took my mind off the pickle of a situation I was in, at least for the night. We would go to Mar del Plata after the holiday to see about the bike.

The next day Tati took me to his mom’s house where I could stay. Fortunately they had the much needed internet and I started the search for the parts. Not knowing what was wrong with the bike yet, all I could do was to wait. Finally the holiday was over and we picked up the bike and rented a truck to take it back to the farm. Loading and unloading this beast on back of a pickup truck is not easy as we had no ramps and with the bike not running, even if we had ramps it would be a nightmare. When we got to Otamendi, there were only three of us so we opted for a solution. Tati ran into town and picked up couple of drunk guys from a local bar to help out for $2 each. With five us, we picked up the bike and lowered it to the ground.

I immediately started to dismantle the engine and the further I inspected the worse it looked. Three pistons out of four had dime size holes on top and with further inspection, it turned out that the rod bearings were shot from the debris of the blown up pistons. The engine was beyond repair. It was repairable if I had the parts, a clean place to work, tools and access to a machine shop, but I had none of that. I reported my findings and dismay on the GSR (the Suzuki forum) and went to bed.

When I woke up in the morning, the guys at GSR were already on top of it and were making things happen. Matt Hanscom, a member and a friend, donated a complete engine out of his own bike, Z1 Enterprise, our parts sponsor pitched in with all new parts to make the new engine road worthy, another member donated a complete final drive, and Jared Williams, our public relation director (also a GSR member) lead the whole orchestra.

Despite Christmas closing in and family responsibilities, Jared went out of his way and picked up the engine in Maine, then disassembled the whole thing in his kitchen to fix it up. More GSR guys pitched in and they had a wrenching party at Jared’s house to finish the work. In the meanwhile, many members donated money for the shipping cost, and all I had to do was to stay put. And put I stayed. I stayed at the farm. Alone.

I read the two books I had with me twice, watched every movie I had on my computer, wrote blogs, edited videos and even tried to compose music on my computer, but there was nothing that could cure my boredom. I spent the Christmas alone and the New Year. My only transportation was a lousy ancient bicycle that went flat every day, and heading to the town of Otamendi became my only getaway. I would go to an internet cafe to catch up on the shipping process despite the ungodly slow connection, and busied myself shopping for food. Cynthia served as my only contact many days with the outside world, as even my parents couldn’t get a hold of me.

My only pastime became killing flies at the farm as with a pig farm next door, there was never a shortage of flies in my room. Sometimes there were a few hundred files hanging upside down from the ceiling, and one movement from me sent them buzzing all over the place. The first few days I bought bug sprays to kill them, but it got expensive quickly. Then I learned to spray a few shots, and close the door for a few minutes. It wouldn’t kill them but made them a much easier target for my rolled up newspaper.

With flies came spiders too. All my life I liked spiders or at least I left them alone until this farm. One night as I was watching a movie, I felt something walking up on my foot, and as I looked down, I threw the computer to the side, and jumped up a few feet in the air. I could hear my heartbeat in my head, and I was frozen. The giant tarantula-looking hairy spider was more afraid of me as I was afraid of him, but that didn’t matter. As I hit him on the head with a flip flop and thought that it was over, an even bigger one came out from under the bed, and headed right at me. This time I ran out of the room and headed straight for the town. I came back armed with bug sprays and sprayed the whole room until I was about to pass out myself. I never found the body of the second one, but I’m officially staying out of like with spiders.

Days went by and the shipping situation became a problem. Courier services like UPS and FedEx were way out of our price range, and our only hope was airfreight. After a long search (not me, I only take credit for staying put) the rescue team finally figured out a way to send the motor down here. Jared meticulously packed up all the stuff and built a crate for it and was on his way out to send it off when the worst winter storm of the decade hit the northeastern United States. With snow piled up everywhere, over 7000 flights were canceled, and I had to stay put even longer. A few days later, finally the engine went out of Boston, MA and it’s en route to Buenos Aires as we speak.

I’m deeply indebted to all of you who gave moral backing, hands on assistance and financial support to rescue my ass from Argentina. I don’t even know how to repay you, but I want you to know that I’m blessed and grateful to have friends and supporters like you. Thank you, thank you and a million times more: thank you.

[CENTER]



























[/CENTER]


[center]Many thanks to all the members who've contributed to this noble cause.[/center][CENTER][/CENTER]
[CENTER]A few dollars here and there goes a long way.[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Visit the expedition website to get up to speed: www.MotorcycleMemoir.com[/CENTER]

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Chris Sorbi
Registered Member



Email Address Not AvailablePersonal Homepage Not AvailablePrivate Messaging Not AvailableAIM Not AvailableICQ Not AvailableY! Not AvailableMSN Not Available
Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 106
 
   Posted 1/14/2011 11:38 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
JAN 13TH. GETTING THE MOTOR OUT OF CUSTOMS

Jared emailed me with the delivery date of the engine and the waiting was over. The crate would arrive in Buenos Aires on Monday, and it would be ready to be picked up by Tuesday. I packed a little backpack with a shirt, my knife, my small laptop and headed out for the capital city, 500km to the north.

While we were searching for parts in the early stages, Rich Suz, a fellow motorcyclist emailed another GSR member, Adrian Sayanes, in Argentina for help. Adrian emailed me his phone number and offered his assistance, so I took him up on it. He would pick me up at the bus station in Buenos Aires when I arrived, and would help me to get the engine out of the customs.

I had to take two buses to get to B.A. One from Otamendi to Mar del Plata and another to B.A. The main Buenos Aires bus station is the size of the Atlanta airport. With hundreds of bus companies, gift shops, restaurants, and piles of luggage, it was overwhelming for a guy who spent the last two months in one of the most desolated part of the world. The area was packed with Bolivian immigrants who were sleeping behind the fences in the open.

I met Adrian and his brother Esteban at the station. They had to take a long train ride and a bus to get to me, and from the first moment they were nothing but helpful. After a drink at the station, I was relieved to find out that they both spoke very good English, and we got along well. They generously put me up in their mom’s house, and fed me the most delicious pizza I’ve ever had.

I was tired and fell into a peaceful sleep, but woke up at 3:30 am to a racket. The skies were as bright as day, and small rivers were forming in the streets from the massive thunderstorm outside. The rain came down with such ferocity that it killed nine people in a flash. I kept thinking of the poor immigrants that were camped out in a canal next to the railroad tracks under plastic sheets and inadequate shelters.

At 7:30 am, we tried contacting AmeriJet, the airline which shipped the cargo, but there was no answer. We called and kept calling until at 8:30, we finally got through. They didn’t have the engine nor did they know where it was! The guy said that AmeriJet doesn’t fly into Argentina, and they must have put it on another flight. He asked for some info and said he’d get back to me on that. He didn’t sound very promising, so Adrian and I headed out in search of internet so we could call the AmeriJet headquarter in the US to find out what to do. We found a little café with internet, and set up our command center. For the next two hours, I called everyone I could, and we finally succeeded. The engine came on another flight from Florida and it was at the airport already.

With no time to waste, we started our quest at the airport in the hot and humid weather of B.A and it didn’t stop until 8:00 pm. Since we didn’t hire a customs broker, we had to do everything ourselves, and not knowing what to do, we walked around aimlessly and did our best. Actually Adrian did his best. I was just the guy who followed him to the bank, and coughed up money for this paper and that paper. Right off the bat, the airliner charged us $95 for something they couldn’t even explain themselves. It had something to do with the storage and transportation inside the airport. We chased papers one office after another until at around 4 pm; we first got to see the crate. It was monstrous as I expected. The boss man came to inspect the contents, but they had to get into it first. It took a guy with an electric drill a good while to extract twenty or thirty screws from the top cover just to expose the top of the engine. So they weren’t too enthusiastic to dig in further which would reveal the expensive new parts from Z1 enterprise.

The boss man said that importing a complete engine for personal use was illegal in Argentina, but he made an exception; reading Jared’s letter explaining the situation in English and Spanish. He appraised the value of the complete motor at $400 (the new gaskets and seals alone were 400 bucks) and set the tax at 200%. So we walked back to the bank for the 6th time and paid the money. As we thought it was over, they charged us another 90 bucks for storage fee, inspection fee, (for the guy who wrestled with the screws to get the top off) and forklift before releasing the engine to us. They charged us for two days of storage, but in reality, the engine arrived at the airport at 11 pm on Monday, and we were taking it out on 6:00 pm on Tuesday, not even a full day! But who can argue technicality when bureaucracy prevails every time. So again I paid the man.

Now that we had the engine, we had no way of getting it back home. Adrian’s car is a small BMW and the crate was as big as his trunk. Opening the crate was out of question. Adrian found a guy and after negotiating, they loaded the box in the back of their van for another 100 bucks to take back to town. (Adrian paid for the van and would not even consider being reimbursed, thanks again Adrian). The van driver suggested for us to go ahead, and he would follow, but I wouldn’t have any of it. I jumped through way too many hoops to get my hands on this engine and I wasn’t about to hand it over to anyone else. I rode in the back with the engine while Adrian took the lead to his house.

If getting the engine out of the customs was hard, we were faced with a bigger problem. The bus company refused to take the engine as my luggage due to its ungodly weight. The train turned out to be full and not going to Otamendi, and renting a car from B.A to Otamendi was $350 one way plus gas. We called everyone we knew for hours, but no solution came out of it. So we gave up for the night.

Adrian invited me to his place to have dinner with his girl friend, and they fed me delicious foods until I was about to pop. He dropped me off at his mom’s house gain and this time I slept the whole night after three days. The next morning I woke up with good news. Adrian found a cheap trucking company to take the engine to Otamendi, but we had to drop off the crate at their terminal. Adrian’s mom called around and found a van with a driver for $45, and once again we loaded the crate and headed for the terminal. Another $40 later, the engine got loaded up and it will arrive in Otamendi on Friday. The madness was over. Esteban, Adrian’s brother, took me to the bus station and put me on the bus to Mar del Plata, and I was home free.

Adrian and his whole family literally spent two days on the phone to make all these arrangements, and I have no clue on how I would have done it without their help. Adrian skipped a day work without pay, (despite getting in trouble) and spent every minute of it helping me with anything and everything. I don’t know how I could even begin to thank these amazing people who extended their generosity to a complete stranger with just an email.

When I came to Argentina, I was impressed with its vast landscape, towering mountains and beautiful glaciers, but what most strike me is its people. Nowhere in the world have I ever been this welcomed as Argentina. It’s an honor to be in this beautiful country.

[CENTER]













[/CENTER]


[center]Many thanks to all the members who've contributed to this noble cause.[/center][CENTER][/CENTER]
[CENTER]A few dollars here and there goes a long way.[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Visit the expedition website to get up to speed: www.MotorcycleMemoir.com[/CENTER]

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Chris Sorbi
Registered Member



Email Address Not AvailablePersonal Homepage Not AvailablePrivate Messaging Not AvailableAIM Not AvailableICQ Not AvailableY! Not AvailableMSN Not Available
Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 106
 
   Posted 1/22/2011 1:20 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
JAN 22ND. TO THE NORTH

I checked very connection, every bolt, every cable, but I just wasn’t ready to push the start button. I lit up a cigarette and stared at the bike for the longest time. It was 45 days since the last time I road this bike, and 44 days that I was stuck in the village of Otamendi in Argentina. The whole world went above and beyond to get a new engine to me down here, so it felt surreal to be only a push of a thumb away from freedom. That’s how prisoners must feel I suppose.

When the engine got here, I immediately got to work and retracted a million drywall screws out of the crate to free the engine. It was so well packed (thanks to Jared’s hard work) that the airliner could have just air dropped it at the farm, and it would have survived. By the time I got the engine out it started to rain, and it didn’t stop for the next two days. But I could care less if concrete blocks came down from the sky let alone a little water. It was like Christmas. There was a complete motor, lots of shiny new parts from Z1 Enterprises, and a replacement final drive to swap out the battered leaky unit. With the help of Juan (my very helpful neighbor at the farm) we pushed and shoved the entire block on the frame, and fastened it tight.

For the next two days I scavenged everything I could from the old motor that was in a better shape, and installed it on the new motor. I swapped the drive shaft, final drive, stator cover, ignition cover, bolts and even the oil pan with all new seals and gaskets, and proceeded to time the engine, adjust the valves, replace the air filter, and installed new plug wires on the coils. Then I fired up the soldering iron and soldered every connection. It looked greasy and dirty, but beautiful.

It was time. I poured a gallon of fresh gas in the tank, filled up the crankcase, final drive and transmission with oil, flipped the petcock to prime and pulled the choke. Finally I pushed the start button. The motor turned a few times and it roared to life. My eyes were wet and I couldn’t believe that I was free at last. Hearing the perfect sound of the new machine was like a lullaby, and I listened to it like a good song. The job was done. I turned off the engine and fell asleep as the skies outside poured their hearts out with rain.

I woke up the next day to take out my baby for a ride. As I pulled out of the driveway the front tire slipped on the mud and I went down. I was baffled. A deep slippery mud covered the driveway, and I hit the ground no more than twenty feet from my room. I picked up the bike and mounted again. Mud or no mud, I was going out for a ride. The road from the farm to Otamendi is 3km long, and the rains turned the soft-dirt road to chocolate pudding with standing water in every pothole. In the first 500 feet I fell three times and I finally gave up. The tires were covered with sticky mud to the point that the front fender was scarping on the mud. With much difficulty, I picked up the bike for the last time, slipping and sliding in the process, and headed back to the farm defeated.

There was nothing I could do but to wait for the sun to dry up the road. I had better luck the next day and I finally hit the tarmac with no fall. I took the bike straight to a carwash and for six dollars; two guys washed the bike for 45 minutes. (I needed it clean so I could spot oil leaks.) Then I went out for a 100 miles test run. It ran great, and to my delight, there was no oil leak, except a little sip from the clutch shaft seal which wasn’t a big deal. (I’ll replace it in Buenos Aires). I checked the spark plugs, and they were all black and whitish with no excessive carbon, no caked white stuff, and no oil. She was ready to roll. I took my time to organize my stuff, fix little things here and there, and wash my cloths before getting back on the road. I said my goodbyes to Tati and his family in Mar del Plata, and threw a thank you BBQ party for Juan’s family which helped me immensely during my stay at the farm.

I’m leaving tomorrow morning for Buenos Aires. The route is set to go north for Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, and in western Peru load the bike on a dinghy and float the whole length of the Amazon River to the Atlantic Ocean. From there finishing up Venezuela, Surinam, New Guinea… and finally jump the big pond for Africa.

I can never thank those who helped me get back on the road enough. My gratitude goes to Jorge (Tati) Zmud for putting me up in his mom’s house and his place for 48 days free of charge, and for showing such generosity and hospitality to a complete stranger. I made a friend for life. I also like to thank Juan de Martin and his family for feeding me countless home cooked meals and the much needed help with fixing the bike.

I’m indebted to the GSR community for all their troubles as they literally put together a complete motorcycle in one month, and shipped it down here. It’s inspiring to know that I have so many brothers that I’ve never met, but with a single line, they come to my aid at the time of need. I’m honored and humbled to be a part of this great fraternity for I know that they are as selfless as they come.

I’m also indebted to Z1 Enterprises for sponsoring this expedition and delivering the much needed parts with such short notice. Jeff Saunders went above and beyond the call of duty to order everything he didn’t have in stock from Suzuki, and ship them to Jared for the engine makeover. They are great folks who know our bikes inside out, and serve us with care.

I would be remiss not to thank Matt Hanscom for donating the engine, Cliff Saunders for donating the final drive, Sean Pringle for his magnanimous donation which covered the biggest portion of the shipping cost, and those who covered the rest: Jared Williams, Gregory Quinn, Gib Acuna, Barron Fujimoto, Lynn Minthorne, James south, Tom Kent, Joshua Russo, Brandon turner, Robert Hayward, Eric bang, Merrill Oates, Richard Stiver, Dale Dunn, Howard Fairfield, and Daniel Provencher. Forgive me if I’m missing any names here, I don’t have the updated list.

And last but not least, I’d like to thank Jared Williams for his diligent and attentive service to this organization. Time and time again, he has proved to be a blessing, and he continues to impress us all.

Thank you guys for everything. Stay tuned as I hash through the Amazon jungles.

[CENTER]















































[/CENTER]


[center]Many thanks to all the members who've contributed to this noble cause.[/center][CENTER][/CENTER]
[CENTER]A few dollars here and there goes a long way.[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Visit the expedition website to get up to speed: www.MotorcycleMemoir.com[/CENTER]

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Chris Sorbi
Registered Member



Email Address Not AvailablePersonal Homepage Not AvailablePrivate Messaging Not AvailableAIM Not AvailableICQ Not AvailableY! Not AvailableMSN Not Available
Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 106
 
   Posted 2/11/2011 7:05 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Hey guys,

I haven't been in a good enough shape to even try to post the blogs here, but here is the run down. The last two blogs are at respectively:

http://www.motorcyclememoir.com/archives/3557
And
http://www.motorcyclememoir.com/archives/3539

They cover my travels to and out of Uruguay and the stories of fixing the bike and more at Eliseo's place. Here's the latest one to be up to date:

FEB 11TH. NO MAN KNOWS MY HISTORY

Is it the struggle towards the goals, which makes mankind happy? Or is the goal the struggle to stay conscious in the midst of ghastly twinges? What is the value of having goals for our own sake? After 30 years of living on this green and blue ball, I know one thing… they all vanish… It is merely a question of time.

All I remember is the screech of the car tires behind me trying to avoid collision, and the sound of metal scraping on the wet asphalt in the Paraguayan tropics. Just moments before the slide, I tried to pull over to the shoulder to wipe off my visor, and that’s when I went flying to the middle of the road.

When I left Argentina for the beautiful Uruguay, I was happy with no worry in the world. The bike was fixed, the hospitality of the locals was top notch, and the weather was glorious if just a little hot. But my mind quickly tuned into the ever-changing state of this expedition, and with that came the thoughts, and agonizingly hurtful memories of my recent relationship. Explaining the causes and details is not something I’m willing to do, but the outcome was devastating nevertheless for both of us. And with every mile, this pain became more tangible to the point that it was unbearable to carry on. Somewhere in northern Uruguay, I got sick. I started to vomit few times a day and eating became a chore. I tried to force-feed myself, but I couldn’t hold anything down, and the burning fever skyrocketed to compound my misery in the already hot weather. But my deteriorating physical condition was no match for the despondent mental state I was in.

I rode day after day with no real destination as my compass pointed north towards Paraguay and Bolivia. The perpetual fights and indecisions went on with Cynthia via emails and phone calls, and I hoped against hope just to have something to cling on to. I met amazing people on the road and they all showed me nothing but the greatest care and love, but I failed time after time to even take out my camera to snap a photo of them to remember them by.

For two thousand miles I hallucinated. So when I found out that I washed my passport inside my riding jacket in the washing machine for two cycles, I wasn’t one bit surprised. My only identity and my ticket out of this land now looked like a watercolor painting of a s**ty story as my stamps resembled the famous painting; “Persistence of Time” only more incoherent. My importation papers for the bike looked like a wet clump of toilet paper, and I didn’t even notice that until I reached the border of Paraguay.

I spent hours at the border going from one office to another to beg the apathetic officials for mercy, and at last I succeeded. This was a true test of my Spanish limit and, I was exhausted when I received my entry stamp and stepped foot in Paraguay.

I rode towards Asunción, with nothing on my mind but Cynthia, and I lost my focus on the road and my surrounding. For the first time in my life I hit the ground while riding a motorcycle. I spent years perfecting the art of alertness in traffic, but I succumbed to what I knew too well. I let my guard down, and I simply didn’t think of what any idiot would already know. I pulled into a muddy shoulder after heavy tropical rains at speed, and the rest is history.

I have to get my focus back, and this country is going to be the place to do it. Paraguay is beautiful, but also is one of the poorest countries in South America with a real grip of poverty, and malnutrition chocking its population. Countless skinny and dirty innocent little faces made me realize once again that nothing in the world is ever worth fighting for than standing up for those who can’t. I’m here to stay and I’m here to do what I set out to do. I tried to take a trip, but the trip took me.

We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.- John Steinbeck

[CENTER]











[center]Many thanks to all the members who've contributed to this noble cause.[/center][CENTER][/CENTER]
[CENTER]A few dollars here and there goes a long way.[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Visit the expedition website to get up to speed: www.MotorcycleMemoir.com[/CENTER]

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Chris Sorbi
Registered Member



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Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 106
 
   Posted 2/15/2011 2:47 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
FEB 15TH. BACK TO TROPICS, PARAGUAY

With every fall we learn something new, and with every rise we stand taller. This only holds through if we accept the reality and move on. And best of all, it gives us a chance to evaluate who’s a friend, and who’s a foe, and who to keep and who to let go. My friends list is much shorter now, but more realistic.

As I have been blessed many times, I managed to meet some of the best people I could wish for in Paraguay. I met a cute and very down to earth girl in Asunción named Leticia. To my delight, she spoke very good English, and showed me much of the city. We became friends and by the time I left, she was like a little sister to me that I never had. I stayed at a flat all to myself, and recuperated. I spent the next few days getting back to shape by force-feeding myself and trying to get a grip on reality, and Leti did her best to cheer me up. It was nice to have a friend to talk to and fight like teenagers about music and travel. Leti and her mom looked after me, and I’m very gracious for their hospitality.

While I was still in United States, a friendly biker named Robert Rolon from Paraguay sent me an email, and told me to count on a friend when I get there. Robert is a civil engineer and economist who studied in the states, and one hell of a genuine guy. I called him up in Asunción and we all went out to dinner joined by his beautiful wife, and his good friend Christian. Robert works at a sugar mill in a beautiful country town of Teibcuary, and of course he invited me to go visit.

Paraguay is landlocked between Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia and it truly is a lovely country. With only 6 million inhabitants, it’s a wide-open country with miles of nothing especially in the north. Most of Paraguay’s economy comes from agriculture, and farming and it’s no surprise. Everywhere you look, there’s an exotic tropical tree with shiny, and delicious fruits hanging from it. The people are amazing, the weather is almost perfect with a permanent chance of rain, and it’s nice to know that Paraguay is the only bilingual country in South America. Spanish is spoken everywhere, but the native language of Guaraní is predominant in rural areas. Guaraní is nothing like Spanish, and the first time I heard it, I was like what?!! I don’t have a chance in hell in learning it but it’s beautiful.

Although something’s are similar here to Argentina and Uruguay, Matte is definitely not. The tea is almost the same, but they drink it with cold water, and it’s called Terere. It’s a refreshing drink in the sub tropical and hot Paraguay, and I honestly like it better than hot matte in this kind of climate.

When it was time to leave Asunción, I headed out on the open country road to central Paraguay with clear mind, and started to see the country the way it was meant to be seen. I started to notice every cow, every blade of grass and the amazing skies again. Robert welcomed me at his beautiful home and I settled in. As every South American I met, he’s the master of the grill, and he showed his talent the very next day by grilling some serious meat. For the time being I’m enjoying their company, and will get on the road soon for eastern Paraguay to visit a local office of Action Against Hunger, then head to the field for some serious work with children.

Life is what we make it, love is what we give with no reason, and travel is what we do to challenge no one, but ourselves. To give up exploring is inconceivable to me. I’m back. And I’m loving it. Stay tuned.

[CENTER]















[/CENTER]


[center]Many thanks to all the members who've contributed to this noble cause.[/center][CENTER][/CENTER]
[CENTER]A few dollars here and there goes a long way.[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Visit the expedition website to get up to speed: www.MotorcycleMemoir.com[/CENTER]

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Chris Sorbi
Registered Member



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Total Posts : 106
 
   Posted 2/21/2011 1:51 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
FEB 21ST, THE BEAUTIFUL PARAGUAY

All the struggles, up and downs, and self mutilations finally found me in an emergency room. High fevers and not being able to breathe didn’t leave me much choice, but to listen to Robert and see a doctor. Robert generously put all the medications on his company account as if it was for himself, and I started medicating with colorful pills and drops.

The doctor urged me not to get out of the bed, but the prospect of staying still was too much to even consider. So we loaded up and headed out to the countryside to have a look at the beautiful Salto Cristal water fall, joined by Leti, her mom and grandma. The climate was tropical and very hot, but equally beautiful. Lush vines and green trees obscured the path down to the fall, and we trekked down for a good 45 minutes to get to the bottom. The route was almost 90 degrees down with class 5 scrambling, so we had to leave Roberts’s 8 months pregnant wife Sandra, and grandma at the base camp.

I’ve seen a lot of waterfalls, but Salto Cristal stands out because of its secluded location, and climate. The water was cold and it was a welcoming relief to my fever. We spent a few hours swimming, and laying in the sun before leaving the heaven. Now that I look at the pictures, I look whiter than Casper himself, and all the weight I lost concerns the hell out of me. So the next step was to fatten up.

The next day I made some Persian Kababs for the family, and although I couldn’t taste anything myself due to being sick, I devoured as much as I could to get some needed fat back. I visited the fascinating sugar factory with Robert, and we did some riding around Tebicuary. This town is very clean, with almost no garbage anywhere. The people are laid back, friendly, and always ready for a good fun. As most of South America, Dirt rallies are very popular in Paraguay and we had a chance to go and see the first race of the season. Although it rained a lot before the race, people pushed through the flooded roads on bicycle, motorcycle and small cars not to miss the race.

With Subarus and Mitsubishis being the predominant race cars, these amazing drivers cut through hard corners, and mud with unbelievable speeds and managed to keep their wheel on the ground. It was an exciting race and the locals did everything in their power to make it more fun, whether throwing their shirts on the track to have the tire mark as a trophy, or by jumping after the cars.

My stay at Robert’s house was a great experience and I got to know him and his beautiful family. He’s an amazing guy, with high hopes for his country. He welcomed me to his home and showed me nothing but good times. Paraguay is not a tourist destination by any means, and for no good reason. It is safe, beautiful, relatively cheap, and quiet. It’s a perfect getaway. Don’t miss out on this country, you’ll love it.

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[/CENTER]


[center]Many thanks to all the members who've contributed to this noble cause.[/center][CENTER][/CENTER]
[CENTER]A few dollars here and there goes a long way.[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Visit the expedition website to get up to speed: www.MotorcycleMemoir.com[/CENTER]

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Chris Sorbi
Registered Member



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Total Posts : 106
 
   Posted 2/23/2011 10:42 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Totally unrelated but just for the change of scenery:D Because how often do i get to hang out with Miss Paraguay again?

[CENTER]

[/CENTER]


[center]Many thanks to all the members who've contributed to this noble cause.[/center][CENTER][/CENTER]
[CENTER]A few dollars here and there goes a long way.[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Visit the expedition website to get up to speed: www.MotorcycleMemoir.com[/CENTER]

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Chris Sorbi
Registered Member



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Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 106
 
   Posted 3/3/2011 7:51 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
MARCH 3RD. CIUDAD DEL ESTE, PARAGUAY

Some people can’t travel alone. They have to have at least one other person with them so they can even begin to consider making any plans. Well, that’s not me. Ray Charles played piano, Hannibal Lector ate people, my gig is meeting people. Traveling with another person or group has its advantages (unknown to me), but in reality it kills a good trip. When you travel with others, you automatically have a company, so you’re less likely to initiate any interaction with others. Traveling alone doesn’t mean being alone. In contrary it affords you the time and interest to meet other people. And they are always a lot more interesting than the ones you take with you.

When we were at Salto Cristal with Robert’s family, we met a French guy on a bicycle touring South America. Robert naturally invited him to his house so the family number grew by one more. The weather turned unusually wet and it rained day after day until the ground couldn’t take it anymore. Dirt roads turned into mud pits, and prevented me from venturing south, and my visit with Action Against Hunger. (I cover the full story from there in the next blog.) So we stayed and watched the rain pouring down.

We finally packed up at the first break, and got on the road. On the way I visited a small town called Campo 9, and stayed with a couple of Peace Corps volunteers. In all my travels south of the borders, I always managed to find English speaking locals and travelers, but never any American. Now in the middle of nowhere, I sat with two American girls, Lyna and Julia, sharing stories, and laughing our asses off. Things got more interesting when I was informed that local supermarket stocked a few American condiments for the gringos in the area, and that included Ranch. Not Hidden Valley Ranch, but I wasn’t complaining.

It’s a cliché to make fun of Americans when they ask for Ranch at foreign restaurants, but now I know why they do it. Having chicken wings and ranch is like flying the American flag; it’s patriotic. So we dashed for the supermarket, and started our festivity. Pink Floyd played “Wish You Were Here” on the radio, chicken wings sizzled in the pan, and Budweiser lubricated the conversations. Only the Super Bowl was missing, and the occasional passerby cows reminded us that we weren’t on American soil.

I stayed with Lyna for two nights, and headed for the border of Brazil. One of Robert’s friends, Edson, came out to meet me and took me to his house in Ciudad del Este. Just when you think people can’t get any nicer, another guy shows up, and blows you away. Although Edson doesn’t speak much English, we got along great right off the bat. His family welcomed me with utmost hospitality and I felt at home right away.

Ciudad del Este is an interesting place. It’s a border town that sits between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, and according to US state department, it’s a place no American should dare to go. In reality, I like it. It’s a gigantic market with people from all over the world. Everyone is selling something, from cruise missiles to tampons; you can find something to your liking here. I had no use for armaments, but I needed new tires. Edson kindly took me to the market, and we found some 60/40 dual sport tires for the Bolivian Chaco. The Chaco region of Paraguay is mostly paved, but Bolivia has no paved roads except around big cities. My current tires are only good for highway use, and they have been bothering me to no end every time I go on muddy roads and sandy areas. Since I’m planning to cross the whole section of Amazon Rainforest inland, I need some serious preparation to see me through. Very few people have done this route so there’s practically no information available on the road conditions, and availability of gas. The only guy I know who successfully crossed the Amazon on motorcycle is Emilio Scotto, an Argentine rider who rode around the world on his Honda Gold Wing for 10 years. Although he didn’t cross the whole section, his account is terrifying nevertheless. The tires we bought are only for the “bad roads” in Bolivia, starting from northern Bolivia, I’ll switch to full knobies before going off the map.

When traveling, you have to keep your mind and schedule open. You will meet people who change your life, you go places that you never want to leave, and most importantly you find harmony and peace within yourself. That’s all traveling is; enjoying the little things as they come your way.

[CENTER]

























[/CENTER]


[center]Many thanks to all the members who've contributed to this noble cause.[/center][CENTER][/CENTER]
[CENTER]A few dollars here and there goes a long way.[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Visit the expedition website to get up to speed: www.MotorcycleMemoir.com[/CENTER]

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Chris Sorbi
Registered Member



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Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 106
 
   Posted 3/7/2011 11:43 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Dear friends, readers and supporters,

As you might already know, the recent rains in central South America has created disastrous floods especially in Bolivia. La Niña (oceanic atmosphere phenomenon) has damaged many regions in Bolivia. There are over 60 confirmed deaths and over 68,000 victims and still counting. Seven out of nine departments in the country are severely affected, and the rain continues to complicate the rescue and disaster relief. In department of Cochabamba alone, more than 20 rural towns are flooded, leaving more than 6,000 people homeless with no shelter or food.

After a long “linger” from the federal government, the president Evo Morales, caved in and finally, and declared a state of national emergency due to severity of the disaster. The National Contingency Plan La Nina 2010-2011 of the Defense Ministry gave priority to the most vulnerable municipalities, and has allocated a budget of about 20 million U.S. dollars.

We are organizing shipments of food and emergency supplies on the ground in Bolivia. I’m in Contact with the local rescue operation, and I am arranging the transportation from Paraguay and will travel with the convoy personally to the ground zero. Bolivia doesn’t have the infrastructure to deal with such disasters, and their only hope is foreign aids. Please join us in helping these people in the time of need, whether you can volunteer your time, your expertise or just cold hard cash. Every penny counts here, and there’s no time to spare.

I’m looking forward to your support and generosity.


[center]Many thanks to all the members who've contributed to this noble cause.[/center][CENTER][/CENTER]
[CENTER]A few dollars here and there goes a long way.[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Visit the expedition website to get up to speed: www.MotorcycleMemoir.com[/CENTER]

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RedDog
Retired SportBike Bum



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Total Posts : 13635
 
   Posted 3/9/2011 10:12 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Wow! I did some catch up on your trip. Man, you sure have your ups and downs. Nasty pistons! I can resemble to that particular engine, picked it apart myself on the living room table. Seems that you meet lots of great people, that Miss Paraguay must have been a blast, lots of spiders and good food.

The pictures tells a lots. Thanks for sharing.


RedDog
Think Ahead! Travel Light & Leave Your Fears Behind You!
Normal People Scare me! Travel Light and Leave Your Fears Behind You!

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Chris Sorbi
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   Posted 3/11/2011 6:20 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
I have written many words in the past two years. I have made my life a public pastime for your boredom, and in fact I have shared many personal moments in my life with you people; my relationships, my hardships, my laughter and my triumphs. So if you found it all so amusing, and awaited more of it, here’s a bit more. The problem is that most of you will not give a damn. It’s saddening that I get personal kudos by the dozen for posting pictures with hot girls, but not a word when I break the news that people are suffering somewhere not too far away.

Sometimes ago, someone mentioned that my readers don’t want to read about disasters and catastrophes because they want to read about beautiful places and to see exotic pictures. That they don’t want to think about hardships of others when they already have problems of their own. Maybe he was right. Maybe what I’m doing should be just a joy ride to fulfill just that. But I can’t. So I beg again. And I won’t stop.

Many set out to change the world, with their mosquito nettings, Ipads and hand sanitizers to arrive at an NGO in a strange country to do what they think is right. After a while they give up and head back home with a camera full of pictures to show to their friends, and although deep down they resent what the outcome, they justify it because that’s the way it is; living with guilt is not easy.

We need help, pure and simple. And by help I don’t mean prayers. So instead of sending me your non-perishable prayers, send food, medication and emergency shelters. Although my heart goes out to victims of the recent tsunami in Japan, I am NOT in Japan. I’m tired of Kansas City shuffles. I’m tired of humanitarian organizations and governments shifting their focus and resources once every hour to some other place that’s more news worthy. When an earthquake hits a place, nobody ever mentions Darfur anymore. No one cares about India anymore, and certainly no news organization will ever cover a “not so news worthy” disaster concerning bunch of brown people when a bigger and better one is brewing somewhere else.

This is not a one man job, but I’m pulling the rope one handed. Give me a hand. Whatever you can. If you’re good at cold-calling so call the damn corporations and get the money. If you’re good at selling lemonades, sell the lemonade. If you’re good at drinking $5 cups of latté all day, spare a cup and help these people. It won’t change your lifestyle, you won’t go broke, and I promise you that you’ll feel better at the end of the day. The following is my address to our board of directors, take a minute and give what you can. I’m begging you.


[CENTER][/CENTER]

[CENTER]La Niña Flood Disaster Relief Assessment And Actions
Bolivia, 2011

By Chris Sorbi, On-site Ambassador[/CENTER]


NATURE OF THE EMERGENCY:


Torrential rains heightened by the effects of la Niña weather phenomenon have flooded seven out of nine departments in Bolivia. The most affected regions are in the Amazon basin, to the Northeast where multitudes of Amazonian tributaries cross these plains. The rains have flooded several major rivers such as the Beni, Chirnore, and 14 de Semptiembre. Due to the unique geographical location of Bolivia, all the water from the Andes highlands will continue to flood this area well after the end of the weather pattern. It is my strong prediction that the scale of the damage, and loss of lives will increase as the waters inevitably continue to flood these lowlands.

The major complication has been the loss of crops with over 25,000 acres of growing-lands being under water in these regions amongst severe damages to houses, roads and basic infrastructures. The affected families rely heavily on their crops, and the floods not only have destroyed their source of food and income; it has destroyed the food reserve of the region as well.

According to the official reports, over 60 people have lost their lives, and several hundreds have been injured. These statistics are underestimations at best, as most of the disaster area is inaccessible by roads, and the predominant population consists of indigenous tribes of Yuracares and Yuquis. The Bolivian civil Defense has catered to number of families since the end of February, but they have reportedly exhausted their resources and are unable to provide further assistance.

NEEDS:

Beside basic food and clean water needs, we require immediate assistance to obtain temporary shelters. Schools have been used in the area to accommodate the refugees, but the number of refugee has increased dramatically, hence the need for improvised shelters in the area.

Staple foods to be delivered are flour, corn, rice, beans and vegetable oil. Transportation of live stock or meat to the area is next to impossible due to difficulty of crossing flooded plains, and lack of refrigeration. Priority in food distribution will be given to children, women and the elderly. Drinking water will be collected from rain, and by treatment of existing sources to simplify the operation and cut cost on transportation.

The need for volunteers to work and distribute the food is great, so a public announcement for immediate help is suggested. I’m in process of recruiting volunteers among foreign travelers in the area, but help from the United States and abroad is required. Professional volunteers are needed with experiences in the medical field as well as constructions.

OBSTACLES:

The food prices have increased radically in Bolivia so finding outside sources to truck-in the food into the region is imperative. I have requested the cooperation of the Bolivian government, and have been promised of logistical assistance on this matter. Furthermore, I have requested military and police support to secure the convoy through the region, and unrestricted passage through borders from the south. We will collaborate our efforts with the existing NGO’s and other international organizations in the field for the best possible results.

OPERATIONAL COSTS:


The work will be done on volunteer basis as always with no salaries to be paid. The operational cost will include the supplies, and transportation of the good into the region.

Average food prices are as follow:

Items Price
(USD)

Quantity in Metric Ton
Rice $850 1
Vegetable oil $1700 1
Flour $700 1
Beans $650 1

Immediate donations and sponsorships are essential to tackle this calamity, so I urge all the directors of the Transcontinental Humanitarian Corp. to use all the possible resources including public assistance, churches, schools, … to procure the necessary funds.

Sincerely,

O. Christopher Sorbi, Founder and CEO

March 8, 2011


[center]Many thanks to all the members who've contributed to this noble cause.[/center][CENTER][/CENTER]
[CENTER]A few dollars here and there goes a long way.[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Visit the expedition website to get up to speed: www.MotorcycleMemoir.com[/CENTER]

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RedDog
Retired SportBike Bum



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   Posted 3/11/2011 9:38 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Chris: I am sorry that I referred to some of your nice shots - I am actually taking on some issues that we have at home, MC Accidents. And that's
what I do and have the time to do. Our MAST is a non-profit organization and in deep demand. I am lucky that I am in a situation that I can do so.
If I had to work 8/6/340 I would not be able to do so and we. MAST have saved several lives too.

All good. I wish we had millions of money ...


RedDog
Think Ahead! Travel Light & Leave Your Fears Behind You!
Normal People Scare me! Travel Light and Leave Your Fears Behind You!

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CaddmannQ
Random Moto-geek



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   Posted 3/12/2011 9:14 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Chris,

I noticed that your Donate button has stopped working & I can't find the cause. The links still seem to be correct. Perhaps dotNetBB has changed something that short-circuits this mechanism.


To the rest of you:

If you wish to make a donation, click here: www.motorcyclememoir.com/contribute

I'm sort of amazed that this thread hasn't had more attention at MCUSA.


"When in doubt, ride."
Cadd................................Clovis CA
2004 Nomad 1500............"Baggins"
qmann at asdiengr dot com
http://hooligancruisers.proboards102.com

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Chris Sorbi
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   Posted 3/12/2011 3:29 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Reddog,

I never meant you by what i wrote. I'm glad you made comments about nice shots and please continue to do so. a lot of people took it personally when i had no such intention. here's the explanation that i gave another reader, i hope it clears things up a little.

cowboyup3371,

Thank you for taking the time to write, and I completely understand. I would like to point out that what I wrote was not directed at anyone personally, it was a blog from my website, very much directed at my very own friends of many years. The picture reference might have come a little strong, but it was never meant to attack anyone or discredit their concern. (We had a lot of exchanging comments about that post, and please keep it coming.) I have been blessed with the help of many here including yourself, and I would not be so ungracious to underestimate that.
My frustration grows out of utter disability to do anything substantial while I have to watch this misery. I understand that the economy is tough, and many including myself are hurting because of it. I myself have to eat one meal a day so I can have enough money to simply keep going. We all have our priorities and when it comes to family, I would do the very same for my family before I would throw a penny at someone else. All that being said, helping is not just money. I would love to hear the experiences, suggestions, pointers and tips and tricks from others. I would love to hear that Mr. X raised money by showcasing a two headed rabbit for the benefit of Boy Scout in 1986 and this is how he did it. Maybe I can learn something from it. Or someone to say hey I don’t have any money, but I have a friend at North Face who might be able to get the tents… Even just posting the link at their Facebook or sending an email to their family and friends. You catch my drift.
Every one of you can help out with raising the awareness, by however means it’s doable for you. Charity ride, beer fest, garage sale, or just talking …
When I took on this mission, I knew very well that a one handed clap is not audible, but I had two choices: to keep clapping one handed or find another hand.
Thank you guys for all you are doing, and please do what’s in your power, not for me, I can live with one meal a day. Do it for those that don’t even have that one meal in a week.
Chris


[center]Many thanks to all the members who've contributed to this noble cause.[/center][CENTER][/CENTER]
[CENTER]A few dollars here and there goes a long way.[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Visit the expedition website to get up to speed: www.MotorcycleMemoir.com[/CENTER]

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Chris Sorbi
Registered Member



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Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 106
 
   Posted 5/13/2011 7:33 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
MAY 13TH. THE LONGEST SHOPPING TRIP IN THE WORLD

When I was just a handful of years old, my uncle had an old Canon SLR camera which he babied throughout his life. He wasn’t a professional photographer, nor did he have a clue when it came to capturing stills. Nine out of ten photos were out of focus and badly framed, but no one knew any better. His camera was pretty much the only camera in the family, so my entire childhood turned out blurry and out of frame. Oh and if we ever touched that old dinosaur. Our only chance to examine the fine equipment was when he went to work. My cousin and I used to sneak in to take the camera out of its leather case, and touch the shutter release so carefully so not to snap a picture accidentally and get in trouble. I always wanted a camera like that, but all I could have was an ancient and broken black and white camera which used 126 roll films that were so old you could not even find them in museums anymore.

When Thomas Edison invented the first motion-picture camera, he fully understood what a breakthrough that was, but with today’s technology, we get to see a series of seamless stills at 30 frame per second and we take it for granted. When I first learned the physics of the motion picture I was very much interested in finding out more for myself. But again those days a professional film camera was more than a few years salary of a decent job. It took a long time for me to transition from stills to motion pictures, but when I did I never looked back. To me, a still picture only tells one fraction of a second of the story, but one second of video tells 24 to 30 times more of the same situation. I still love to take still pictures but I don’t get all hyped-up about a photograph the way I drool over a good video footage.

There are some professions in the world that don’t require the best tools of the trade. For example it would make no difference if Shakespeare wrote his entire collection with a broken goose feather or a Parker ballpoint pen; the result would have been the same. But if James Cameron shot Titanic with a cell-phone camera it would have been disastrous. He knew better. 200 million dollars later Titanic received 14 Oscar nominations; eventually sacking 11 of them. Titanic became the highest-grossing film ever made until Avatar came along in 2009. And that was his own film too. James Cameron was a school drop-out who drove trucks, and he had to take his first rental camera apart so he could figure out how to actually use it. It’s true that in most cases tools don’t make the artist, but in videography it plays a tremendous role.

From my early days of sneaking my uncle’s camera out for inspection, I knew that I had a good eye for pointing out the mistakes of others (and I arrogantly seldom acknowledged the good parts), so I became a critic. And like every critic, I was like eunuchs in a harem; I knew how it was done, I had seen it done every day, but I never did it myself. I arguably have seen more films that most. At times I watch five films a day. I watch them from credit to credit. I want to know the name of the soundman, the carpenter and even the location of the stock archive footage they used in the said film. I can tell instantly if a scene was badly shot, or edited by a crappy editor. I can point out the slightest awkward scene blocking that was not intentional, sound bites that start too early or music that fades too late. In a sense, I hardly enjoy movies anymore because I’m constantly thinking of what could make it better. It has got to have one hell of a story or a superb cinematography to watch it again. So sitting out of the ring and trying to judge the punch was getting old. I picked up a camera and started shooting.

When I set out on my mission, I honestly didn’t know how to get the attention of the audience to make them “aware” of the real poverty issues, and if I ever succeeded, it wasn’t because I was good at it. I followed the notion of persistence. I kept doing it until I got it somewhat right. I figured that if you leave a monkey with a typewriter long enough, he’ll eventually write Hamlet. I didn’t come close to writing Hamlet but I learned how to push the keys.

There’s no better exercise that doing the deed itself and filming is no exclusion. I could go to a film school but I chose a better way. I traveled with a man who understood videography better than anyone I could hope for, and by videography I don’t mean dollying an IMAX camera on tracks on a set, I mean guerrilla-style filming at its finest. Claudio von Planta spent a better half of his life in conflict zones and jungles around the world filming what made him tick; from Mujahedin struggles against the Soviets in Afghanistan to freedom seeking rebels of New Guinea fighting against Indonesian army. As I traveled with Claudio, I took notes every time he picked up the camera, from the way he positioned himself for the shot, from getting up-close and personal, from being a shadow on every move and from his absolute persistence on getting the best shot and not settling for an easy one. He became oblivious of his surrounding once the tally light came on. He climbed hills, hung from trees, walked in the middle of protests and he never got his eyes off of his subjects for anything. Honestly I can barely remember him when he didn’t have a camera in his hand. For 15 hours a day, and for over 100 days, I was in a company of a few professionals who took their work seriously, and I learned little by little the things they don’t teach you in schools. For the rest, I read as many books as I could find on films, from its history to odd ball techniques for arctic photography just In case I found myself filming ‘The March of the Penguins’ one day.

As Claudio shot his BBC series, I shot the same scenes, one from his angle and one from another perspective and compared my work to his for feedback. I shot over 90 hours of footage and I remember Claudio asking me what I was going to do with them. I didn’t have an answer for him then, but I knew what I could not do with them. They were shot on a crappy handheld camcorder with such mediocre image quality that I wouldn’t even consider it good enough for projection to a group of retarded monkeys. They were mostly mediocre B-rolls since I wasn’t filming anything in particular. But I knew they were good works in style considering I had no tripod, no light, no microphone to speak of and the camera didn’t work half the times.

My mistake was not getting the best tool for the job before I even started my journey, but again I didn’t know 100% how I was going to make people aware of world hunger. I had a vague idea but it was just an idea. I researched every possible camera for almost two years, spending hours at time reading pros and cons of each system for certain situations, but I could never find the “perfect” camera for my traveling style. I simply wanted a camera to match my limited space and unpredictable environment. There was no such a camera in existence. I wanted the system to have interchangeable lenses, shoot well in low light, have excellent image quality, full manual controls over every aspect, and preposterously I wanted it to be light, packable and in my budget too. Two years of agonizing research returned absolutely nothing until I had to alter my traveling style and budget to match my shooting needs. I finally got to a conclusion that if I was serious about videography, I couldn’t put a price or limitation on the equipment I needed. What exactly Claudio told me over and over during our conversations. I lost precious opportunities when I didn’t have the right equipment, but I was on the right track at last.

I settled for the best camera I could possibly budget for by cutting my two meals a day to one ration. I also planned on selling my DSLR camera and put the cash towards the video equipment. (At the end I kept the DSLR as I knew I would regret selling it later.) The new camera weighed a whopping 10lbs with no accessories. It was a shoulder-mount, and I could be spotted from a mile away as a Yankee, but that’s what would do the job for my meticulous taste. The whole package including professional audio equipment, tripod, lenses and storage drives was so heavy and expensive that I couldn’t get myself to ship it to South America trusting the postal service. Even if I managed to get all those goodies shipped to where I was, the customs would kill me on importation taxes the same way they killed me in Argentina when I was getting the motorcycle engine out. So I had to make an out of schedule trip to go shopping in the United States and bring the equipment back personally. I left my belongings behind in South America and hitched a free flight out of Asunción, Paraguay to São Paulo, Brazil sitting in the back with the flight attendants and keeping them company. It was a great ride, with unrestricted access to peanut bags and beer. It goes to tell again that it’s not what you know; it’s who you’re sleeping with.

My plane landed in the enormous city of São Paulo a little after midnight, and I hitched another free ride to New York City a few hours later. TAM Airlines only fly to Florida and New York and I picked the Big Apple since I had a few friends around and I wanted a change of weather from the hot tropical South. I had no time to waste so I started my shopping frenzy the second I landed, and walked the Time Square to B&H photo, a sprawling photo and electronics emporium on the 9th Ave. After a couple of hours of being mesmerized by the American life after a long time of being off-the-grids I wanted to buy everything. I shoved giant New York pizza slices down my throat as I walked from one store to another to find what I wanted. When I was done going crazy in NYC, I hopped on a Greyhound to Boston, MA where my friend Jared Williams would pick me up.

It was nice to be back in the country even for a short time. A few times I ordered my food in Spanish by default, but I got used to speaking English full-time again. The downside was that I could understand everything that everyone said, and that was a lot of useless information to take in. As I kicked back with Jared fixing up his new Suzuki GS850 motorcycle and using the super-sonic internet connections of the Northern Hemisphere, the UPS guy kept on bringing boxes after boxes until I was penniless. I made a side-trip to New Hampshire to see one of my old friends, and before I knew it I had to get back. I had to take all these electronics back with me to South America, and most importantly I had to fit them somehow on the bike safely. The GS850 is like a freight train so I wasn’t too worried about the weight, but I had to make sure that they would stay dry and safe while riding.

Jared and I spent days looking for a suitable box to fit everything in, from Pelican boxes to even amplifier hard-cases, but we couldn’t find anything that would reasonably work. The Pelican boxes were tough and waterproof, but they weighed almost 30lbs empty and they were monstrous, not mentioning the steep $300 price tag either. So we improvised. We bought a semi-hard duffel bag from Marshall’s for 30 bucks, and made our own waterproof/shockproof case, making Jared’s living room a big mess once again. It had to be big, strong and absolutely waterproof and we accomplished that. When we were done with it, I could fit the video camera and two lenses, my big laptop, my DSLR camera and two lenses, jumble of audio cables, batteries, hard drives, light, microphone and a small pillow inside with ease and nothing moved an inch from their position.

As much fun America was, it was time to go. When Jared dropped me off at the bus station in Boston, I was loaded with two suitcases, a backpack and a giant camera in my hand. From Port Authority I chased the airport bus for 300 yards and I spent the next 6 days dragging this stuff behind me because everything that could go wrong did. As I touched down in Brazil, I was arrested. I had no visa for Brazil which wasn’t a problem as long as I was in transit and stayed inside the airport, but my Paraguayan visa turned out to be a single entry visa rather than multiple entry which I thoughts it was. Automatically my ticket was canceled, and I was scheduled to be deported back to US at 6 am the next day. No amount of begging in my nonexistent Portuguese made them sway so I played their game. The “law” was to have a valid ticket and valid visa to be considered a transit passenger, so I bought a valid ticket for a country that didn’t need a visa only three hours away rather than going half the planet back to United States again. For the 7th times in a row in five months I entered Argentina. They should make me an honorary citizen; I’ve never been to any other country that many times.

And the timing couldn’t be worst. That week was the Holy Week; the Easter weekend. South Americans take their religion way too seriously so the whole country was shutdown from Thursday until next Monday when I could get another visa in Buenos Aires for Paraguay. A good thing about Argentina was that it was relatively close to where I was going, and the food is exquisite. Specially the chorizos (sausages). So I indulged in a perfect weather in the capital of Argentina for 5 days, taking my time to see my friends and enjoying the Paris of South America. I had a royal welcome even without a notice, and I was taken care of as well as I could wish for. Finally on Monday, I managed to get another visa and took a bus from Buenos Aires to Asunción, Paraguay for another 22 hours to be reunited with my bike. I miss Argentina already. I could call that place home in a heartbeat.

The whole point of this excursion was to get the right tool for the job and I finally did. But I had some homework to do. If my limit was the camera before, now I was the limit for this camera. With a gazillion manual buttons and settings to mess with, it’s a not a point and shoot camera and it takes a skilled operator to produce a good image. I knew I could shoot half decent in available light, but the hard part was recording good footage in low-light and run-and-gun situations, trying to focus and set the exposure manually at the same time. I have an excellent 3X wide angle lens which is perfect for these situations, but as my luck would have it the back focus was faulty, and I had to send it off to be fixed. So to make the best out of it in the meanwhile, flashing my press-card I attended every night-event in the city, from concerts to parades and plays. And since it’s the 200 year anniversary of independence in Paraguay, there’s no shortage of entertaining events for another month. I kept on rolling films until I mastered the lowlight manual focusing, gain and proper exposure and got to know my machine as best as possible. To this day, I have not used this camera in automatic mode and I probably never will.

I’m shooting a Docu-Film (It has no boring interviews with the characteristic of a feature film) on “Over Population”, with its effects on economy, religion and poverty, combine with the adventure of motorcycling through the jungles. It is witty, shocking, truthful and chiefly entertaining [remember that I’m a critic, so if I say it’s good; it must be:)]. In a world where I can’t get the attention of people with anything else, the motion picture stands head and a shoulder above any tool I could use. If you have made it this far down this post, you are a rare breed, not many read for that long any more. My hat is off to you.

Stay tuned.

P.S. I was turned down on my first book proposal. Bastards. Who wants to read a random chapter and give me some feedback?

P.P.S I entered Argentina for the 8th time yesterday again. I had to renew the motorcycle papers. I can’t get enough of that country.

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[center]Many thanks to all the members who've contributed to this noble cause.[/center][CENTER][/CENTER]
[CENTER]A few dollars here and there goes a long way.[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Visit the expedition website to get up to speed: www.MotorcycleMemoir.com[/CENTER]

Post Edited (Chris Sorbi) : 5/14/2011 2:42:36 AM GMT

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Chris Sorbi
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   Posted 6/2/2011 10:28 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
JUNE 3RD. OVERPOPULATION AND ITS EFFECTS

Poverty in simple language is: Deprivation of essential chattels that others take for granted. The more I traveled, the more I became aware of these “others”. These “others” were the middle class and higher class. And out of these two classes, the upper class took the cake every time. On average, the world poorest 20 percent holds a share of only 1.5% of the total private consumption in the world where the richest 20 percent amounts to 77% of the consumption. The middle class sneaks in somewhere in the middle with not much of an impact.

But somehow the poor and rich argument didn’t satisfy my curiosity. The more I looked around, the more I shuddered at the frightening population increase in the world. From the start of the human civilization the world’s population increased steadily, but something happened in the last 100 years. The population figures jumped off the chart. In biology overpopulation is a condition where an organism’s numbers exceed the carrying capacity of its habitat. It doesn’t necessarily depend on the size or density of the population, but on the ratio of population to available sustainable resources. For example, Antarctica is a giant piece of land – almost twice the size of Europe, but only has a few thousands human inhabitant. So besides the fact that it’s one hell of a cold climate, would it be possible to populate this landmass with millions of people? Perhaps. But that comes with adverse effects on the continent’s eco system as it cannot sustain that size of life.

Our planet is not big at all despite what many think. You can circumnavigate the entire globe in less than three days in an airplane. And almost everywhere you look you’ll see a sign of human intervention, whether farms, cities or ships on the ocean. So we are many. And we are here to stay. At the start of the 20th century, the world’s population was roughly 1.6 billion. By 1940 this figure had increased to 2.3 billion, and at some point in the year 2011 it finally reached the staggering figure of almost 7 billion.

Poverty doesn’t come out of nowhere just because rich people eat the share of the poor. It’s a big factor but not the only factor. The main factor is that there are too many mouths to feed with vanishing resources. Sure the world produces twice the amount of food needed to feed everyone, but at what cost? A very dear one: deforestation of the earth, poisoning the environment, melting the polar cap, genocides, slavery, wars, and turning the planet earth into a giant human feedlot to name a few. So what causes overpopulation? A simple answer would be too much sex. But to outlaw sex is sure to bring out every opposition from every group in the world. And since I’m guilty of enjoying this pastime myself, I will leave it alone because of self interest. But what can we really do to control the population?

Overpopulation in human accrued because of a very few simple factors: increase in births, a decline in mortality rates due to medical advances, increase in immigration, and industrialization of agriculture. There are hundreds if not thousands of organizations working on the environmental aspects of overpopulation except one: increase in birth rate. No one with a head on his shoulder has seriously tackled the biggest factor in overpopulation. And if they tried, it has always been vetoed by the media, the society and different interest groups to keep this taboo at bay. And those who work diligently to cover up the issue are our trusted friends in governments and various religious sects. All to make another buck, and control the people.

For start, one simple condemning of having more than two children from the Catholic Church alone could result in cutting the population growth in half and the poverty rate by landslide, but we never hear that from the Vatican. As a matter of fact, the official policy of the Catholic Church is very clear on this issue: a firm NO to contraception, contragestion, and abortion. And if we thought that disapproving the control methods was the only thing that the Vatican was concerned about, we’re in for a surprise. The Vatican doesn’t only condemn the population control; it promotes having as many children as “God wants you to have.” In simple words: as my children as you can possibly conceive with total disregard for their well being and their effects on the society. If that’s not what they mean, at least in reality that’s what happens.

Before you start bashing me I need to clarify one thing: to make it very clear I’m not attacking Christians, Jews, Muslims or any other religious groups. To me people are just people. Believing in God or not doesn’t constitute goodness or evilness. It’s what we do that makes us good or bad. The same way that millions of Christians are wonderful people so are the Jews and Muslims. But we often sadly relate the wrong doing of a few bad apples to the whole, and it does nothing but to generate hate. My goal is not to generate hate, my goal is to explore the truth and if the truth comes out to be what you didn’t want to hear, don’t shoot the messenger.

And the world is not getting any smarter either. There is a strong tendency for countries with lower national IQ scores to have higher fertility rates and for countries with higher national IQ scores to have lower fertility rates. And as many would like you to believe, it’s not the out of wedlock pregnancies that are the problem. In fact most children are born in legally or religiously bonded families. Worldwide, nearly 40% of pregnancies are unintended, some 80 million unintended pregnancies each year. An estimated 350 million women in the poorest countries of the world either did not want their last child, do not want another child or want to space their pregnancies, but they lack access to information, affordable means, and services to determine the size and spacing of their families. In the United States alone, in 2001, almost half of pregnancies were unintended.

In the developing world, some 514,000 women die annually of complications from pregnancy and unsafe abortion. Of those who survive, they give birth to 8 million infants who die needlessly every year because of malnutrition or preventable diseases. And what happens when the United States tries to help? Everything gets mixed up with the politics and thousands die because one senator who wants to get re-elected needs a catchy slogan: “Pro-Life”. Then millions of American can’t wait to line up at the voting booths to support what they think is moral without weighing the consequences.

I am personally Pro-Choice. And it’s not my choice to be for, or against abortion. Women have to make that choice. But shockingly to many Pro-Choice advocates, I don’t regard abortion as a population control method. The same as that I don’t regard wars as such. Killing live people is not going to solve overpopulation. What does help eradicate overpopulation is planning for that kid. And that comes with education not with abortion. Our best option is to focus on education about overpopulation, family planning, and birth control methods, and to make birth-control devices like condoms, pills and intrauterine devices easily available.

Knowing where I stand on abortion, I will say that the real matter here is not the abortion, whether you are in favor of it or not. The fact is that most women who are willing to have an abortion will go through with it even risking their lives, whether it is legal or not. In 1984 Ronald Reagan implemented a profane policy dubbed the Mexico City Policy or better known as the Global Gag Rule. Its main objective was to direct the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to withhold funds from NGOs that used non-USAID funds to engage in providing advice, counseling, or information regarding abortion and family control, or lobbying a foreign government to legalize or make abortion available. If you didn’t get it the first time, I repeat it. This policy was NOT to prevent the foreign non-governmental organizations from spending the USAID contributions on family planning; it was to prevent them from even using their OWN funds that didn’t come from USAID for that matter. In a sense bullying these organizations with threats of sanctions and punishments to achieve a religious agenda.

And the Reagan administration knew too well that these foreign organizations were often the only health-care providers in remote rural areas, but elected to greatly contribute to extermination of 78,000 poor women who died because of unsafe abortion every year with its policy.

This policy prohibited aids even for:

Providing legal abortions even where a woman’s physical or mental health was endangered
Providing advice and information regarding the availability and benefits of abortion and from providing referrals to another health clinic;
Lobbying their own governments to legalize abortion, to maintain current law and oppose restrictions, or to decriminalize abortion; and conducting public education campaigns regarding abortion.
In 1993 Clinton administration stopped this policy, but history repeated itself when George W. Bush wanted to run for presidency and needed the “Moral Majority” vote. On his first day in office, Mr. Bush reinstated the Mexico City Policy as a thank you present to all his Pro-Life voters, but somehow he went on to exterminate millions of innocent people in the next eight years in the name of the good Lord. So the term Pro-Life is a selective term. It means that we get to choose who lives or die. Brown people should die and babies should be saved to be turned into dead soldiers when they grow up.

And of course a calculated political move; when Barak Obama took office, one of his first acts was to end this policy yet again to satisfy his Pro-Choice supporters, and this time the whole Christian world collapsed on him. The Vatican issued an amusing statement so colorful in language that baffled the media. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life (Supposedly there was a need for an academy of this nature, like the Vatican stance wasn’t clear enough!), responded that the repeal of Mexico City Policy was done with “the arrogance of those who, having power, think they can decide between life and death.” I believe they wanted to sue for copyright infringement more than anything.

It’s truly a sad thing that Iran is the only country in the world that contraceptive courses are required for both males and females before a marriage license can be issued. The Iranian government emphasizes the benefits of smaller families and the use of contraception. And it’s important to know that abortion is illegal in Iran. In the Iranian society these days, having more than two children is considered backward thinking. And yes, we are talking about the very same Iran that George Bush included in Axis of Evil.

Paul Ehrlich, the American biologist and environmentalist says in his book, The Population Bomb: “A cancer is an uncontrolled multiplication of cells; the population explosion is an uncontrolled multiplication of people. Treating only the symptoms of cancer may make the victim more comfortable at first, but eventually he dies – often horribly. A similar fate awaits a world with a population explosion if only the symptoms are treated.”

Enacted in 1970, Title X of the Public Health Service Act of the United States provides access to contraceptive services, supplies and information to those in need with priority given to persons of low-income. Title X as a percentage of total public funding to family planning client services has steadily declined from 44% of total expenditures in 1980 to 12% in 2006. Title X does NOT fund abortion and never has since its establishment. However, abortion opponents often take issue with Title X since 25% of all Title X money goes to Planned Parenthood affiliates. Although Planned Parenthood is prohibited from using federal funds to perform abortions, Pro-Lifers argue that any money given to Planned Parenthood from Title X frees up more non-federal money that can be used to perform abortions. Title X clinics and funding may represent the sole source of health care services for many of their clients. Of the 5.2 million patients served in 2009, 70% were below the federal poverty line and around 66% had no health insurance. In 2006, over 60% of women who received health care services at a Title X clinic identified that as their usual source of health care. Speak up people. Your silence is playing with lives of millions.

The truth is: reducing population from today’s level of over 6.8 billion to 4 billion would take slightly longer than 50 years if every couple, worldwide, agreed to produce an average of only two children. But it will not happen if the church continues to hamper all the efforts. We need to stand up and say enough is enough. Believe in whatever you like, that’s your freedom. But speak out when an arcane law is being shoved down your throat as a biblical fact. A law that doesn’t just affect the church followers, it affects the whole humanity.

So am I saying that not to have kids anymore? No. Not at all. I love kids and I would never say that. All I’m saying here is to be mindful of your actions. If you truly love kids, you should think about their children too. How is their life going to be affected when they live in a world that has 15 billion inhabitants and not a tree in it? Would you want to live in that world? How do you rationalize your large family when you know many more kids will die somewhere else in agony because your kids will take priority on the resources? How are you doing the gods work when over populating the earth will effectively set worldwide famines and horrible wars on its population? Is this truly what the lord wants? What would Jesus do? It’s a principal Catholic teaching that Jesus was an only child – so why not follow Mary’s step in life? I’m just tickling your conscience here, that’s all I can do. The rest is up to you.

The German monk and theologian Martin Luther once said: “God makes children. He is also going to feed them.” But I’m here to report from the heart of the disaster that God is not sending food baskets down here. God gave you brains also. Think for yourself. Teach these facts to your kids. Adopt a kid. There are millions of them out there. Have a family plan. Don’t have as many kids just because you can afford it; the world can’t. Take part. Sponsor a family and help them to change the world one less dead or poor kid at a time. I promise you, you’ll see the difference in your lifetime.

As for me, when most people blamed me for staying in one place for too long, I was working on two things. I started a comprehensive micro-finance program in Paraguay which includes over 30 children. These families were selected out of many qualifying families based on their willingness to better their life, their immediate needs and NOT their religious views. In fact they happened to be all Christian families extremely loyal to the Catholic Church. My conditions are simple: First rule is honesty. If they return the loan, they can take double of that amount the next time. They are obligated to cultivate their lands by growing what they can, raise chickens and small farm animals for their own consumption. Plant a tree, burry their trash and most importantly send their kids to school not one excluded. No stupid thank-you letters, no phone calls or picture drawings. They are supervised by locals and best of all they are not given a free charity. That’s what most organizations overlook. Charity makes people lazy and ashamed – putting them to work makes them proud, useful and productive. They are hard-working and they are determined to make a difference in their life. I actually come to like this so much that I’m going to set this up in every qualifying country I will travel to

And I’m getting as poor as any down here. I own no house, no car, no real-state holding, no nothing really. I have two cameras, a cooking pan and two sets of cloths. I eat once a day, take a shower once a week, and the last time I drank a beer was three weeks ago. The motorcycle, the laptop and everything else on it is not even mine; I donated them to the corporation along with thousands of dollars of my savings. To be honest, I have $1300 in one bank account and $600 in another. And I don’t get paid for what I do, nothing, nada, zero. But it’s a satisfying job, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I have invested the remainder of my meager funds to film as much as I can for the upcoming documentary. When it runs out, I’ll push a broom to roll another tape. It’s a film from the heart of these people, regardless of their religious views or political party. It’s a first-handed struggle of the masses mixed with my story; uncensored and unbiased. I won’t ask you to buy me a beer, but I’ll ask you to help them to help us. We are more dependent on these people than we think.

“Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.”— Pope John Paul II

[CENTER]

















[/CENTER]


[center]Many thanks to all the members who've contributed to this noble cause.[/center][CENTER][/CENTER]
[CENTER]A few dollars here and there goes a long way.[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Visit the expedition website to get up to speed: www.MotorcycleMemoir.com[/CENTER]

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Chris Sorbi
Registered Member



Email Address Not AvailablePersonal Homepage Not AvailablePrivate Messaging Not AvailableAIM Not AvailableICQ Not AvailableY! Not AvailableMSN Not Available
Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 106
 
   Posted 8/20/2011 7:58 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Running a non-profit organization and going on a blind-date is not all that different – in both you never know where you are going to end up; home with a bottle of cheap whisky alone, or in bed with a big titted blond. The non-profit sector has become every bit as greedy as the for-profit sector, and in some cases, it has surpassed the latter. In today’s market, the administrative cost and executive compensations have become a direct derivative of the organization’s net income. The more the organization receives, the higher the salary of its executives will be. A 10 million dollar corporation will have a surplus of 1.5 to 3 million dollars to candy out to its executives and other expenditures.

As in the for-profit sector and specially the financial sector, the non-profit laws had been wacked to pieces to insure that top players can enjoy their private jets and multi-million dollars homes in the Caribbean. The IRS has a laughable term describing the circumstance which gives the green light to this shameful money sacking: “Reasonable Compensation.” Reasonable compensation is defined as “the value that would ordinarily be paid for like services by like enterprises [for-profit] under like circumstances.”

Going by this vague standard, the 2.5 million dollar salary of William Barram of the American Cancer Society, or the 1 Million dollar salary of Gail McGovern of the American Red Cross is rightly justified, because the net income of their respective organizations is comparable with the for-profit enterprises of their class. And when watchdog groups disclose these numbers with public and a few souls raise their concerns, the kind of Miss Betsy Brill, publish defensive articles in nation’s economic papers like Forbes to tone down the criticisms. In her article for Forbes Magazine, titled “Nonprofit CEOs Are Worth Every Dime”, Miss Brill goes on and on to why these thieves are entitled to public donations that were intended for a different purpose than buying another Rolls-Royce:

“…critics may cause donors to question–or even to pull back–their charitable giving at a time when nonprofits are struggling to meet an increased demand for services in the face of government cutbacks and dwindling private support.”

What did she just say? “At a time when nonprofits are struggling?” Miss Brill never explains why the “struggling organization” is paying a man a seven figure salary if it is indeed struggling. But she is quick to add: “Keep in mind that the highest paid CEOs are overseeing complex multimillion-dollar ventures.” Does she have alternative motives? You bet.

For many years prior to the market collapse of 2008, over-fed, over-paid, white-color financial analysts told us the very same thing, “AIG is doing wonderful, Lehman Brothers is at the top of its game. Don’t fear, invest, buy this, give them your money…” And when the economy collapsed and 700 billion dollars came out of the taxpayers’ pockets to bail out these criminals, these very same analysts justified their deceptiveness by saying that what they said was “just an opinion”. They got paid to put AAA ratings on worthless Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDO) and investors bought these high risk worthless pieces of ****s because credit rating agency’s like Moody’s and Fitch endorsed them and backed out later. Miss Brill doesn’t work for a Credit Rating Agency, she owns a counterpart of it in the non-profit sector. She is the President of Strategic Philanthropy, Ltd., a philanthropic advisory firm in Chicago. Same ****, different name.

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The non-profit entities are not that different from for-profits either. Where there is money there will be always greed. Where there is money there will be also power, and mankind is prone to abuse both. In for-profit corporations, the share holders and investors question the executives on how their money is being played, but in non-profit world, the faith of the donors are in hands of a few volunteers and more often than not, the organization’s CEO holds a dictatorial power over the governing body. It is irrelevant that the board has the power to hire and fire the CEO, the CEO in a non-profit organization is nevertheless the dictator and the law maker of the organization with only the IRS to answer to. And the IRS position is already clear: “reasonable compensation.”

The only difference is that when a for-profit corporation goes bankrupt, shareholders and investors lose money and their outcry makes the evening news, but when a non-profit organization goes under, there is no one to take the hit. Donors give less than a **** – hey, they gave the money away in the first place – and in most cases they don’t even want to know where their money goes as long as the organization has a picture of a skinny black baby or a woman with one breast cutoff on the header of their website. The real victims are the poor, the class that was supposed to be served, but they have no voice. Their voice, if any, gets lost in the roar of the private jet engines and sport cars of the thieves who stole their money in the name of making a difference.

We are being told on an alarmingly increasing rate, that being non-profit doesn’t mean not making a profit. More and more non-profits are running mafia-style businesses as they hire and compensate their own relatives inside the organization with many six figure incomes. Then the seven figure elite supporters come in and tell us that only those making these ungodly sums have the intellect and capability to pull off the operations in these large entities. But, long ago, before there were these salaries, people did just that and the poor received the majority. Imagine that.

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It’s not the legality of these gruesome compensations that is the issue; it’s the morality of the whole business. I founded a non-profit organization because I was compelled to help people and I surrounded myself with those who had the same inkling. Do I have the power to abuse them? Absolutely. But at the end of the day I know, what I take is what could have put a smile on a child’s face. To me that’s the drive not the salary. Maybe I’m radical but I do see the struggle of the poor first-handed on daily basis.

I leave you with one question: is the job of managing a charity really more “complex” than running a 300 million population country? If not, how do you justify salaries as large as six times of the US President? Don’t we have any talented people willing to manage charities in the same unselfish spirit as their donors? If not, we should outsource these jobs too China too, they sure as hell will do a better job it for a much lower wage.


[center]Many thanks to all the members who've contributed to this noble cause.[/center][CENTER][/CENTER]
[CENTER]A few dollars here and there goes a long way.[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Visit the expedition website to get up to speed: www.MotorcycleMemoir.com[/CENTER]

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Chris Sorbi
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Email Address Not AvailablePersonal Homepage Not AvailablePrivate Messaging Not AvailableAIM Not AvailableICQ Not AvailableY! Not AvailableMSN Not Available
Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 106
 
   Posted 8/23/2011 6:10 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
AUGUST 23RD, 2011 - ENTERING THE ARGENTINE CHACO

I’ve ridden a lot of miles and visited a long list of places, and it makes it hard to answer the age old questions of, “What’s your favorite country? – Where was the most beautiful place? – What country has the prettiest girls?” They are almost impossible to answer as every place has its own unique ways of life. Town to town and time zone to time zone, everything changes. The language, the food, the people, and of course the weather, but I can competently say that my recent trip was one of the most enjoyable trips I’ve ever taken.

Saving you the headache on the charity work, I needed to renew the permit for the motorcycle and not wanting to pay the customs and immigration a 300 dollars fee; I decided to leave Paraguay for a few weeks. My options were Bolivia to the north, Brazil to the east and Argentina to South and West. From the day I left Argentina, I was disappointed that I didn’t get to visit the northern regions of it. In fact, most Argentineans I know have never been to these parts, let alone the tourists. Northern Argentina holds a big portion of the Gran Chaco, a sparsely populated, hot and semi-arid lowland region of the Río de la Plata basin, divided among Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina and a small portion of Brazil. Those who have visited the Chaco region are divided into two groups, they either consider it hell on earth or they love it so much that can’t shut up talking about it.

My destination was the foot hills of the great Andes range on the border of Chile to west, then I had no idea where from there. I had no map, my GPS was of no use in this alien land and I could care less about any of that. I decided to take my friend Lourdes with me on the trip as she had never been to that part of the world either, but we had one problem. Ever since I added a giant box for my camera gear to the back of the bike, I only went for short rides and I had no idea how it would act in strong winds. Also, the box covered the back rack and now I had no place for my dry bag. Going solo was not a problem with all the gear but adding another person to the mess was just too much. On the morning of our trip, we hauled everything from Lourdes’ apartment on the 7th floor to the underground parking and I started to fill the boxes. In addition to my normal provisions, we were packing arctic clothing since I figured it would be bitterly cold in the mountains (It’s still winter down here), my guitar and 40 lbs of camera equipment. The mound of gear was unnerving and every minute passed I got more frustrated. There simply was no room for another person and sensing that, Lourdes suggested that I should go alone with a sad look on her face. I couldn’t do that to her. She was so excited to go on her first motorcycle trip and I didn’t have the nerve to turn her around at that point. I emptied the boxes again and got rid of anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary with the exception of the guitar. Once I was done with packing, the bike was so heavy that I could barely get it off the center stand.

We rolled out of Asuncion and reached the Argentine border around noon. The border crossing (my official 10th entrance to this country) went without a glitch and soon we were on the open roads heading northwest with no maps to where I thought the Chaco region was located. The traffic dwindled down and apart from the occasional kamikaze bugs, there was just the hum of the engine and the wind. The bike handled marvelously and I soon got used to the additional weight. The scenery started to change dramatically from the lush green tropics to brownish dusty landscape, with patches of boreal forests, funny looking Palo Borracho trees and occasional palm trees. The Palo Borrachos have a giant trunk not unlike a drum and they hold an enormous amount of water in their trunk, a rare commodity in these hot and sunny regions. The road was as flat as glass, and straight as an arrow. We stopped in a middle of nowhere where I saw a sign for meat and bought 3 pounds of ribs for dinner. There was no refrigeration or USDA stamps, the meat was simply hanged in a dark room from the ceiling, with maggots visible here and there – just the way I like it. At sun down I spotted a working ranch in the distance and headed straight for it. As I tried to slow down I flipped my helmet up and as my luck had it, a wasp flew in and as I tried to get him out, it stung me on my cheek. I cursed all the gods and continued for the ranch. A tiny Indian lady with her kids and a herd of dogs greeted us and we asked for permission to camp out at her place. She was the caretaker and the ranch was a beautiful place, with cows, goats, pigs, horses and as it is common in this region, a coal making oven. We pitched our tent and cooked the meat on the lady’s grill (they cook on open fire all year long, the grill is their only stove) and shared it with the family. She brought out homemade empanadas and after a countless rounds of Mate, and a few tunes on the guitar, we retired for the night. We would start the next day for the heart of Chaco. Stay tuned.

While I edit the pictures and write the rest of the story, don’t forget to checkout Greg Powell and Coburn and Erin Black’s adventures here and here. They are our ambassadors on the road and living a dream of their own with lots of great stories and pictures.

[CENTER]



























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[center]Many thanks to all the members who've contributed to this noble cause.[/center][CENTER][/CENTER]
[CENTER]A few dollars here and there goes a long way.[/CENTER]
[CENTER]Visit the expedition website to get up to speed: www.MotorcycleMemoir.com[/CENTER]

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Chris Sorbi
Registered Member



Email Address Not AvailablePersonal Homepage Not AvailablePrivate Messaging Not AvailableAIM Not AvailableICQ Not AvailableY! Not AvailableMSN Not Available
Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 106
 
   Posted 8/25/2011 8:43 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
AUGUST 25TH, 2011 - DRAGONES, THE WEIRDEST PLACE ON EARTH

We woke up to a strong orange light shining through the tent’s rain-fly and we were baking already. The anticipated cold weather was definitely not the case, and our mound of winter gear was just dead weight. We packed up and left the ranch heading west again. I kept a steady speed of 55mph to calculate our gas mileage, and I was pleased with how little the consumption was; we were getting 43mpg out of an 1100 pound motorcycle with aerodynamic of a brick. One full tank of gas carried us an average of 250 miles, and that was a critical advantage in these parts of the country.

Gas stations are scarce, even more than the vast Patagonia, and the water a nonexistence commodity, so we rationed that too. Temperatures soared to high nineties and in a landscape with no shade; we had no choice but to keep moving and marvel at the vastness of this unpopulated place.

After the second fill-up, we had no luck finding another station and the fuel gauge needle started to go down. I slowed down even more to conserve fuel, but there was no gas station to be found anywhere. Sun was going down quickly and running out of gas with no shelter was definitely not in my (vague) plan. We passed two guys on a small motorcycle stranded on the side of the road, and I just had to turn around. We hadn’t seen a car in hours and we surely were their only hope. They had a flat tire with three holes in it and they needed tube patches to get them going. Lucky for them, I carry a whole motorcycle shop with me so I hooked them up with patches and glue, and they returned the favor with two liters of gas. But two liters wasn’t enough to get us to the next station which was 130km away. They told us of a town about 40km away which we might find gas in, and we started back on the road.

The sun was already down when we got to the town. It was called Dragones, (dragons in English) and the name was very fitting. There was no gas station – actually it wasn’t even a town. It seemed like a scene from the Mad Max movies, and the people looked like the village people. We asked around for gas and they sent us to someone’s house who sold gas out of Pepsi bottles, but as our luck would have it the guy wasn’t there. We had no choice but to stay in that town and wait till the next day. The problem was that this town had no hotel, and from the look of the place, I was apprehensive of camping anywhere in the open.

Then it hit me. There was an Evangelist Church across the street and that became our salvation. We talked to the pastor and he agreed to let us sleep there after the mass. He seemed like a nice guy and the church’s yard had a gate which would keep the bike safe. We unloaded our gear and headed out to eat something as we hadn’t eaten anything that day. We walked around and found a joint that sold empanadas. The woman who took our order was retarded – literally. We ordered the same thing four times and she kept coming back and asking us what we wanted to order. Then she disappeared for 40 minutes as we sat there looking at each other in disbelief. From where we sat, we could see the whole town. It had eight streets (all dirt covered) with buildings right out of the Soviet Block, a few hundred inhabitants, a jail-style mini supermarket complete with bars, and three cars. Everyone walked in circles around the block, from children to elders. Every 10 minutes or so, we saw the same people walking passed us, and the same cars going in the very same loop. On the corner, there was a girl talking to herself out-load and worst still, there was a dripping carcass of a freshly slaughtered and skinned baby-pig hanging from the post next to us to add to the horror. When I tried to take a picture of it, we were yelled at, and they took it away! We started drinking beers to bring down the thirst and taking the edge off the post-apocalyptic join we were in. The empanadas finally arrived and to my surprise they were delicious.

When the feast was over, we went for a walk around the town and we had no problem blending in. On the first day, Lourdes’s boot lost one heel and she limped with one heel alongside me in the dirt streets of Dragones. We stopped at the supermarket to pick up some things, but the woman at the counter scared the hell out of me. She looked like the Wolfman as I can swear to any god, she had more hair on her arms than I do, and I’m a hairy guy. The town was just too much to take in so we went back to the church to get some sleep, but the night wasn’t over yet. As we walked in, the church was in full assembly and before we could sneak passed the gate, the pastor called our names and we had to sit down. The problem was that we were both a little drunk, Lourdes was already hopping on one heel and none of us was religious, let alone evangelist. We became the center of the attention and all the prayers ended with the North American visitors names.

I was hauling a guitar on the bike and taking a musical instrument in a naturally music loving church is not a good idea, especially if you have a few beers in you. As we later found out, all the people in the church were either the pastor’s children (he had 12) or their cousins – it was more of a cult if you will. The pastor informed the audience that I was going to sing and that wasn’t a suggestion either. I never having played a Christian song in my life was dumbfounded. My only advantage was that they didn’t speak a word of English so I resorted to slow rock songs like “Dust In The Wind” and “Wish You Were Here” while they ate it up as English church tunes with their Amens. I’m sure if I sang the Wizard of OZ, they still would have said Amen.

All in all, they were wired, but very nice and generous people. We didn’t have to get our sleeping bags out as they gave us a room with a bed in it for the night and we retired. We slept in a room with no windows and I was sure by the end of the night that this town was a government concentration camp for FDA drug testing. The next morning I tried fixing Lourdes’s boots, but I had no luck finding any nails. She limped to the gas-house and after getting some very questionable gas for double the normal price we rode west towards Jujuy to see what else is awaiting us in the Chaco. The official sign of Dragones read “La Perla de La Ruta” (The pearl of the road.) Whether it a was a joke or not remains a mystery. Stay tuned.

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[/CENTER]


<center></CENTER>
[center]A few dollars here and there goes a long way.[/center]
[CENTER]Visit the expedition website to get up to speed: www.MotorcycleMemoir.com[/CENTER]

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