About Us

My photo
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Brian & Deya met in Vancouver Canada. After a few years together we were married and made choices. One was not to have children the other was not to take life for granted. The rest is yet to come.

November 27, 2011

Back to the land of crazy drivers and good times

I should know better but down here I don’t know a dam thing. We arrived into Bogota after a tiring flight. Being on the bike is the best way to travel; I’ve never sat in a first class seat on a plane but imagining the best I’d still choose my bike. We had to wait for several hours in the airport before transferring to a different terminal. The bus ride there was our first reminder of Colombian traffic as I was sent, bowling ball fashion, rolling to the front of the bus with my broken wrist and separated shoulder in slings. Nothing to hold onto, I just about knocked four people over as I rolled down the alley towards the pins; that is when Deya burst and yelled, “Can someone give the seat to my husband who has two broken arms?”, one guy finally got up to let the injured dude take a seat on the rollercoaster ride to terminal Two.

The next flight wasn’t long, into Medellin and onto another bus we made our way to the hostel we had booked. It was nice to be back in Medellin because it’s familiar, clean, friendly and you can get things done here. We had a lot to do and for starters my cast was rubbing me the wrong way, literally. I was developing soars and bloody rub spots. Anyone who has had a plaster cast knows the difficulties of maintaining it and the meaty hock contained within. We went looking for alternates and discovered that Colombia is awesome for things like medical equipment. For a lower price as one poorly constructed splint in Peru we were able to get a really good splint, a shoulder harness and a fancy sling that fully supports and holds the shoulder in place.
PB190013
Now that I was high tech I could clean up and start to recondition the arm, taking off the cast revealed maelstrom of zombie looking flesh. The arm was bloated and soar, the bulk of the colour was from the many many failed needles. I’ve been in worse condition and been needled way more often but this was butchery and now it really showed. The good thing was that after a few days of cleaning it up, light massage, redressing and splinting the arm was looking fantastic. The only form to remain after the bulk of the swelling was gone was fluid in the back of my hand which causes tension and restricted movement. I’ll get it figured out in Cuba.
PB200019PB250090PB260001PB260004
We stayed at the Palm Tree hostel, possibly name thus as there is a big palm tree in the court. The folks here are awesome and it has been good for us. We also met some fascinating travellers and some other bikers Canadians too! I love those people from Canada they feel like family although they talk funny, eh? Some of the special people we met here and enjoyed intelligent conversations and great food with were the British couple Will and Stacey and the German/French girl Catherine who spoke four languages! As always meeting people and sharing is one of the great pleasures you experience by travelling.
PB060001PB050046
Enough about me lets talk about the bikes. It turned out that Maersk missed the boat on our order, pun intended. I’m guessing it was because Customs was too busy playing with our kit to release the bikes but it may have been something else. I mention that because our kit was very thoroughly searched and put back together by a three year old. A little upsetting since we were charged a handsome fee for the privilege of having it searched. Once we re-organized the gear we found a critical piece of tool missing. Inside the crated bike there was a closed pannier, inside the closed pannier there was a closed tool bag, inside the closed tool bag there was a closed black case containing a $170.00 dollars chain cutting and press tool with instructions. Now, it is a complicated tool and I have used it twice already, both times I needed the instructions and even with instructions I just about screwed up. Turn out the guy searching felt it necessary to remove the press fit and instructions rendering the whole 8 piece useless. Stupid!!! I would say we were lucky to have lost only that but having paid for the service and been delayed a week by the bikes missing the boat you might imagine that I’m not too impressed.
PB050051
Okay so the bikes got forwarded to Amber Worldwide/Consolcargo and loaded, success! Deya, being Deya was on them like rotting meat stinks and had the whole team on a first name basis. That team consisted of the offices in Bogota, Medellin and Buenaventura, including some contacts back in Peru. Leave no rock unturned. Consolcargo must certainly inform us when the bikes were unloaded and deconsolidated. Nope, there was so much misinformation, wrong numbers etcetera that if not for Deya’s persistence we would never have found out about the bikes. Deconsolidated for three days and we were in a panic to contract carriage from Buenaventura to Medellin. It was epic and we’ll explain those three days of intensity as its own bit of fun later.
PB090019PB160005PB190016PB240053
Suffice to say there is a team of incredible individuals right on our tails. From Mario in Chile to our old pal Diego in Medellin and Ivan in Peru we’ve got a network of support that’s unstoppable. I have talked about Ruta 40, the BMW shop in Medellin, as being outstanding and once again I have to say Mauricio of Ruta 40 has really laid it out. With the help of his friend and fellow rider Carlos the epic recovery of the bikes from the port in Buenaventura was made possible. Even with that, the chance of us getting to the Stahlratte on time was reduced from 14 days to about 2 hours.
PB230050
At one critical moment in Buenaventura Deya asked, “Do you think all this means we aren’t supposed to go on the Stahlratte?” To which I said, “Not if the bikes aren’t loaded today and we are not able to leave town”. That said it all, we would have to change plans based on the omen set out in front of us. The short story is, due to several factors, we now are up to two days to clear Customs and load onto the Stahlratte, we’re going to Cuba!
P6190111

The bikes have been tuned up and my pannier hammered back into shape. We’ll leave for a 14 hours ride to Cartagena on Monday. Cross your fingers folks for a smooth sail from Medellin to La Havana.

November 15, 2011

Leaving Lima

PA230035PA230037
Huaraz wasn’t working out for us so after an uneventful evening we decided to head back to the coast the next morning and back on track North. It was only 14 kilometres out when the ‘A dog and his broken bones’ event occurred. Back in the hospital we had a long wait. Deya would spend most of the next three days running around sorting out paperwork and arranging for our return to Lima. This process will be described in better detail by Deya later. One of the first people Deya called was Carmelo, we weren’t sure where to go and had no local contacts so Carmelo seemed like the most intelligent choice. The response was overwhelming, Carmelo wanted to do a full airborne assault, parachuting in and riding the wounded Chuleta out with the full family convoy following up in the rear. Nice thought but not the right idea, instead we were directed to come and stay with the family at the beach house until we could get our logistics sorted out. This would turn out to be fantastic.

PA260089
PA260092PA260093
I don’t want to sound like a complainer in regards to the medical services but I do want to point out some observations that are less about capital resources and more about training. At no time was there any first responder, first aid or emergency medical services. No assessment was made as to the condition of my spine, neck, knee or crushed foot. They put gauze on my foot but that was it. The staff was friendly but medical care was lacking, wounds were not re-dressed or cleaned, old gauze was not replaced, shoulder support was not properly applied, etc. How do I know how things should be done? Well I seem to be very familiar with crashing, it’s my third busted shoulder and second broken wrist among many other injuries, I’ve also been a first aider, levels I and II, for over a decade and have seen some stuff.

Brian's body after 1 week IIPA230046PA230059PA250073
Here is the simple truth, it wasn’t bad but if you’re from a developed nation the difference is vast, in fact too vast. It’s like I said the training is lacking; training is probably one of the easiest things to manage with the biggest payback if a society is interested in people’s development. If that was a rant then it’s done.

PA270030
While in Huaraz one of the ladies, Hilda, who called the police at the scene, helped us out with storing the bikes and with a place to stay before we shipped the bikes to Lima. The first round of budget wreckers was about to occur. The bikes would go to a bus terminal where we would arrive. It would be an all night journey and then many hours of waiting to unload the bikes. At that point I still struggled with trying to stand or sit so Deya had a full schedule.






Deya had asked the BMW dealer in Lima if they could help us out, we needed a couple of minor things done on the bikes and a place to hold them until we had our new route and transport logistics figured out.
PA270032PA270035

BMW Lima picked us up and took us back to the dealer in good fashion. They worked with Ivan, a networked friend, who would begin to arrange our transport to Colombia. I have to say thanks to BMW Lima for their service, support and consideration. They are not just a dealer they are actual riders and that makes a difference worth remembering.
PA270034
Carmelo met us there, at BMW, and packed our stuff in the car and took us back to Asia which is about 100 kilometres South of Lima. His home as you’ve seen is relaxing and his family made us feel, once again, a part of the team. We would spend the next 9 days experiencing family, good food, nearby places, sea creatures and beautiful walks along the beach. The time with Carmelo and family helped me heal to a point of being able to dress myself and eat, big accomplishments and excellent down time. The generosity of this family was amazing.
PA280043PA280045
PA290046PA290049PA310004PA310006

But it didn’t stop there; friends and family offered all kinds of well wishes and help. Though we were working through what we needed to do to get back on course the offers of support reminded us that we are not alone or stranded on this journey. Despite the pain and difficulties we faced and the challenges yet to come there are still positive lessons from all this.
PB010013PB010015
PB010019PB010020PB020001PB060002PB060005PB090016PB090020PB110022
We’re leaving Lima today, November 10, and onto the next part of the journey which is to fetch the bikes (sounds so easy) and try to enjoy Medellin (is easy). But as we leave I have to be grateful for what this chapter has offered us: insight, friends, family. A special thanks to Carmelo, Ivan and the team at BMW Lima for the tremendous help and support they have given us. While we never intended or wanted to come to Lima we’ve found that it’s not so bad, so maybe now Lima will let us go.
PB050039PB050051

November 09, 2011

A few good friends

099
I grew up in a small community, seemingly, in the woods. I played sports, broke bones, got in trouble, got kicked off the bus and generally did most of the things that other kids did. Of course I went through the stages of life that everybody else goes through, though some challenges make you grow faster than others. Regardless, I was a bit of a loner and had very few friends as a kid. Friends were never something that I needed or sought after, I never liked crowds or attention and the truth be told my growth was consumed with a disappointment in the human race. Very little value did I hold for those things I saw that were not worthy of a higher intelligence and people through my youth, for the most part, seemed more like simple animals than anything else.

140
Leaving Asia and our good pals was a breeze for me but as I mentioned Deya didn’t want to go, she wasn’t ready. I’m always ready though and one of my great pleasures is to get on my bike and ride off into the distance. It’s where I belong, as an individual or a loner maybe; happiness can be found in the uninterrupted drone of the helmet.




PA190019
We headed South from our friends’ place riding with Kai and Annette to the highway to see them off. I did this because I thought it would help Deya break the cord a little easier, because it’s a nice gesture, but mostly because I love to watch the ‘Duck’ move; it’s a cool machine. As we approached the road Kai said he had to go into town to get fuel, oops, so we had to head North anyways, the problem was the road we were on was one way only and the traffic does not slow down much. The highway was divided, separated by a sandy trench about 3 metres across, maybe a half metre deep. Deya and I turned around to go back the way we had come and I laughed as I saw the Duck burst across the road and enter the ditch emerging on the other side like a soldier advancing out of a trench during a charge. I opened my helmet up and said to Deya, “That’s why they’re the veteran travellers here!” We passed them at the gas station two minutes later and shared a good-bye wave.

152
I wonder sometimes about media, I know the media is notorious for its promotion of foul news. We blame the media for this and so we should but how much are we to blame and is blame really necessary? My years as a teenager only strengthened my resolve that the only real sin is having faith in the words and writings of men; the same weak creatures who speak from the side of their mouths about righteousness but behave with less honour than street dogs. There were good people in my life but I couldn’t recognize them, I was consumed. The world became a dangerous place that needed defeating and with so much foul news and the impressions of a few dummies this ideology was for me confirmed.

Our first challenge of the day would be to successfully get passed Lima, a city of millions and that means a multitude of bad drivers, we failed. Of course as we entered the city we missed the poorly signed turn for the bypass and were taken into the heart of the city. We’ve been in worse cities and this wasn’t so bad just frustrating that we were going to spend an hour an a half extra to navigate our way out. The streets narrowed and we were following the GPS to twist our way through this labyrinth of streets, cars, people and dogs. We drove against traffic a couple of times on one way streets, too much confusion, confident only in that we were following local drivers doing the same.

In the heart of a sketchy looking neighbourhood with a cop on every other corner I was contacted by a cab. The street narrowed to one lane but that didn’t prevent two cars in the same lane. The traffic was not moving and as we waited for the intersection to clear, Deya in the lead, a white cab pulled up on my left. The cab had three occupants and the driver was an older looking character in about as good condition as his beat up car. The driver was trying to make a right turn so the reason why he had chosen to come up on my left was a mystery soon to be resolved. He pulled himself up on top of the steering wheel for a better look and began inching his way right. I had nowhere to go so as the traffic began to advance I did too. The weird part was that instead of following Deya I was now going right, the old bastard was pushing me, his bumper against my pannier. I accelerated ahead and off the front right bumper leaving a mark, he continued right and up the street. Cops turned their heads, passengers shrugged and I raged silently. I like to remind myself that discretion is the better part of valour but the cabby played a dangerous game that could have resulted in a violent shaking or a quick bitch slapping. I’m glad now that didn’t happen.

We made it out of town and were exhausted by the effort. It’s hard to describe the mental effort required to manage chaos in an organized mind and I laugh to think of Carmelo’s advice, “Be like the fish, they never bump into each other.” I can’t do it but it’s funny as anything to think of me like that. As we travelled North our plan was to visit a little place just off our path on the beach that Carmelo had recommended. Unfortunately the extra time in Lima had eaten up both our schedule and our will, so we got to our turn off and headed East to Huaraz.

The road was good and it was nice to get off the Panamerican. I was happy to be off the Panamerican and into the mountains again but in my mind I was wishing to skip the sightseeing and carry onto our objective of getting North. Despite the feelings we enjoyed the route stopping for a break in a little community along the way. We parked the bikes across the street from a small shop and went over for a coffee.

PA220028
The shop served a really good coffee and afforded a street view. People walked up and down the street, there were only a few and it was the same people strolling but that’s a small town, a guy laid under his truck seemingly working on something underneath. As we chatted with the shop’s owner a motorbike went slowly by. I told Deya he had plates from British Columbia and the whistling started. First, Deya yelled at the guy, then the shop’s owner started whistling and the chorus of whistling carried on down the street and out of sight. I couldn’t imagine a radio being as effective and it was only a matter of moments that the rider returned after being directed back. We invited him to sit with us for a coffee and he obliged.

Ben came from England and bought the bike, a KLR 650, in Abbotsford B.C. and had learned to ride at that time. Now he had made it to Peru, what a champ! We swapped a few stories, knew some of the same people and places and generally had a nice time. It’s moments like these that remind you that you’re not alone in your crazy ways. By the way Ben thanks for the heads up on the oil slick 20 kilometres ahead, it was as bad as it looked and would have been a real shocker if we didn’t know it was coming.

As we were about to leave a couple local fellows pulled up on KTM adventures, out for an afternoon ride. We parted ways and headed into Huaraz.

Neither Deya nor I liked the city when we entered. At our very first stop, while Deya was inside checking prices, I was approached by a drunk. Despite my lack of Spanish he blithered on trying to get us to go with him somewhere for food or something. Then he tried to get his drunken buddies to come out of a nearby pub to look at our bikes. The guy seemed friendly enough but the situation was getting tenuous and needed to change. As always the best way to defeat 47 ninjas in a dark alley is to not go into the dark alley. I stepped inside to tell Deya that we needed to depart immediately because of the danger outside. The guy was trying to collect his friends. He came back out running when he saw us trying to leave and approached Deya, I signalled to the guy and when he turned to me Deya took off. I started to go and he jumped out grabbing my right arm and handle bars. The effect was startling as I realized just how easily it would be to throw a rider off his bike as the bike nearly came down on both of us. He was rambling, apparently unaware of his own violent stupidity and I shouted, “No, No, No!” and gave him a five finger poke into the left pectoral. The effect was that he stepped back, letting go of the bike and my arm as the pain from the pressure point seized him into a moment of confusion. I took my chance to leave; as I looked back he walked up the hill behind us with an odd mixture of emotions on his face: confusion, angst, regret, maybe others. I’m not sure what his final message was but that’s not for me to figure out. Our first experience in Huaraz, not good.

It’s not that I assumed people to be bad; I just had a very low tolerance for those that just follow the carrot in front of their noses because that’s just what simple animals do. We’re all guilty of it on occasion but are we all accountable for it? It was this thought process that led me to joining the Army. I wanted to do my part, reduce the numbers so to speak and if I should be one of those numbers then, that too would be okay. It became an experience that would not change my life but it would change the way I looked at things, at people. It would eventually lead me here and teach me that most people are actually really good, to which we now have countless examples to refer to, with no end in sight. I have learned something that I only hope the carrot in front of my nose doesn’t blind or distract me from, something that I can silently share.