I am currently reading a book entitled Odyssey to Ushuaia : a motorcycling adventure from New York to Tierra del Fuego by Andrés Carlstein. Like the last book I read, I'm finding it hard to put down. He's a good writer, using language effectively to make the reader feel as though they're there with him, experiencing the same adventures, feeling the same surroundings.
I'm impressed with the marked differences I've already noticed in the writing style of this book, compared to the last book I completed that I mentioned in a previous blog post. For example, I've just started Chapter 4, and this guy's already had two sexual conquests amongst the Aztec ruins! I'm thinking that by the time I finish reading his book, he either will have had to return home early to seek medical attention to relieve the STDs he contracted, or he managed to happily f*ck his way through South America, breaking hearts along the way. I wonder if Lois Pryce experienced South America in the same way and merely chose not to go into so much graphic detail about her encounters? Sometimes, I think I'm reading an erotic novel - his descriptions are quite vivid.
From the reading I have done so far, I am coming to terms with what I'll need to take into consideration when it's my time in the sun.
( Eek! I should clarify that statement! I was not referring to the sexual encounters that I will be experiencing on my trip! I'm changing subjects now... )
I've been keeping notes on the equipment I will need. I've also been paying heed to the observed cultural differences between the countries I will pass through so that I will not have to learn the same hard lessons that these people did. I'm particularly paying attention to the routes that seem to be hell on earth to ride through. It's becoming obvious that I will encounter a fair share of pot-holes, gravel, mud, sand... these obstacles excite me and frighten me at the same time.
Funnily enough, I am particularly looking forward to riding through the Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth. Imagine riding over this terrain?
( http://www.sessionmagazine.com/img/nature/world-in-numbers/Atacama-Desert-Chile.jpg )
Unbelievably, the stats and reports detail that the average daily temperature is between 0 and 25 degrees celcius. Sounds like my kind of place... I would have thought that I could fry eggs on the ground in a place like that.
But I digress... there's really no point in discussing places that I yearn to see. Best to save such commentary for AFTER I've seen them.
As is the case whenever one has particular plans for the future, I am starting to notice the news reports of events (good and bad) coming out of South America. For example, I awoke one morning recently to hear of a land slide in Machu Picchu, Peru. This place is definitely on my "must see" list... and, of course, the internal dialogue about the dangers I might be faced with started immediately. However, almost as quickly, this was over-ridden by my fantasies of this far-away land that I have only read about.
I have a confession to make on this point. When I was little, I avidly read a series of comic-strip novels by Hergé called The Adventures of Tintin. One particular title of the series was Prisoners of the Sun, set in Peru, where I learnt all about the Incas, Machu Picchu... and even the way the indigenous South Americans use llamas to cross the Andes mountains. It's funny where you pick up trivia - I recall Captain Haddock, one the characters of the book, being spat on by a llama as it became annoyed by the attention it was receiving. (Yes! Apparently, llamas spit on you when they're upset!)
Reading the Tintin series taught me a lot about different parts of the world... I'm sure that following his adventures ravenously as a child shaped the woman I am today, riddled with wander-lust and an insatiable desire to see more of this magnificent planet and the variety of peoples that inhabit it.
So... reading about the adventures of other motorcyclists is my thing right now. As I am not quite ready and able to depart for these places, I am a mental traveller at present. I happily follow along on the trips that are documented in these books, creating mental reminders to make use of when I'm actually faced by the same environment, first-hand. To that end, I have purchased a few books from Amazon and various bookstores on the web. Perhaps others might find them of interest too?
Distant Suns: Adventure in the Vastness of Africa and South America - Sam Manicom
Latin America in the visor - Angela Schmitz
One More Day Everywhere: Crossing 50 Borders on the Road to Global Understanding - Glen Heggstad
Two Wheels Through Terror: Diary of a South American Motorcycle Odyssey - Glen Heggstad
Jupiters Travels: Four Years Around the World on a Triumph - Ted Simon
The Longest Ride: My Ten-Year 500,000 Mile Motorcycle Journey - Emilio Scotto
Riding the World: The Biker's Road Map for a Seven Continent Adventure - Gregory W. Frazier
The Road Gets Better From Here - Adrian Scott
All of these books are giving me courage. It's reassuring to know that I'm not as mad as my close associates have accused me of being. There are kindred spirits out there with a sense of adventure, willing to take the same risks and venture into the unknown. Besides the actual "ride", I am mostly looking forward to immersing myself into the cultures that I will possibly have the good fortune of meeting. Hopefully, they will allow me a glimpse into their world and possibly, in turn, will have an interest in mine...