Thursday, January 7, 2016

COLOMBIA AND THE RALLY CONTINUES SOUTH TOWARDS ECUADOR



Hello Colombia!  The two motorcycles arrived at their Colombian destination in crates constructed so well that they could have carried glass statues.  The wooden boxes were built in Miami at a small side street shop that specialized in crating.  At the crating location none of the workers spoke English, so there was considerable trepidation about whether or not the motorcycles would reach Colombia 15 days later and a couple of thousand dollars after paying for the crate construction, associated air cargo costs and handing over the original ownership papers to unknown third parties.  Each crated motorcycle passed through several inspections, like the US Customs checking the Vehicle Identification Numbers, and therefore the boxes needed to be open enough for inspectors to see what was inside, so the tops were a see-through plastic film supported by a strong frame.

Pictured above, the crated motorcycles were being given a final inspection in Colombia before they could be un-crated, gasoline put in the previously drained gas tanks and the batteries reconnected.  All went OK except for the final step, the purchase the Colombian third party vehicle insurance. The last bit of paperwork was done on the morning of the second day of what Frazier called the “get-the-motorcycles-out-of-jail-paperwork-adventure,” also known as clearing Customs.
Both motorcycles are 1983 Honda GL650 models, so each was 33 years old.  As one motorcycle journalist wrote, “Any Tom, Martin or Wolfgang can purchase a new motorcycle, send or drive it to South America and ride them around.  1’000’s of motorcyclists have done it before and 100’s are doing it now. It’s really pushing the true envelope of motorcycling adventure to use a pair of 33 year-old motorcycles, models which were never imported to South America. For Livermore and Frazier there is no “safety net” of spare parts at motorcycle dealers or repair shops familiar with this model of motorcycle for the next 10,000-12,000 miles.”


Richard made a disappointing discovery on Day 1, that being that Frazier’s (known as “Dr. G”) Spanish was not as good as Richard had assumed it would be after Dr. G’s two previous motorcycle rides through South America.  In Frazier’s defense, it had been 10 years since he last used his Spanish, and he entertainingly defended himself by saying, “Hey, I remember how to say beer, toilet, money, motorcycle and pretty lady. The rest of my spoken Spanish will come back in time as I need it.”

The official Start of the second leg, or stage, of The Great Around The World Motorcycle Adventure Rally was from Bogota.  Richard displayed the cloth banner that was a gift from the Irish Team that did the Clancy Centenary Ride, celebrating 100 years after the first motorcyclist circumnavigated the globe in 1912-1913.  The banner will be carried around the world, again.


Both Richard and Dr. G made another enlightening discovery after the first days of traveling in Colombia: they had too much luggage.  The weight (equaling, as one said, that of a fat lady on the back) made handling the overloaded motorcycles through tight curves a maddening test of their motorcycle piloting skills.  They spent one evening cutting down weight by giving away items or consuming what they felt was not absolutely necessary. Frazier quit carrying a bottle of vodka, which he claimed was for medicinal purposes, purportedly his bad knee, bad back, and previously broken arm, wrist, fingers, shoulder, collar bone, big toe and right leg. Richard was not yet willing to give up on carrying four rolls of toilet paper, but decided five pair of pants were too cumbersome as was a sports coat, second sleeping sac, several dress shirts and one pair of long underwear.

  
A scurrilous rumor, spread by jealous motorcycle riders stuck in their office cubicles or at home finger pecking nightly on their keyboards, needed to be dispelled.  The Internet rumor mongers expressed their out-house specialists opinion that one of the two adventurers had done so much Internet research and book reading prior to leaving for South America that he was carrying a toilet seat in his motorcycle luggage. "Not true," laughingly replied Dr. G, "and I suspect these trolls and toolboxes also know where Elvis is living and how deep Jimmy Hoffa is buried."

Road carnage.  On the second day Richard saw three motorcycle accidents and several automobile and truck crashes. Earlier he was lightly hit by a car behind him when the car was making a lane change in slow moving traffic.   

At a gas stop Richard verbally expressed his having noticed the aggressiveness of the Colombian car, truck and motorcycle drivers seen on their way south towards Ecuador.

Dr. G stopped what he was doing, looked skyward and thought for a few seconds about Richard’s observations regarding motorcycle riding, road carnage, and traffic in South America.

Then, as he strapped on his helmet for the next 150 miles of motorcycling, said to Richard, “If you were Toto, I would say 'We aren’t driving these 33 year-old motorcycles across Kansas.'”