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Punky, Lew & Achi 2 in Calafate, Argentina
We are in Calafate, Argentina. We left Ushuaia last Sunday and rode through the mountains and down to the plain on paved and gravel roads in fair weather with some wind. Stayed the night in San Sebastian across the road from the Chilean border crossing. Next day rode the paved and gravel roads to The Straight of Magellan and crossed on a ferryboat. One of the friendly crew members has a KLR. Continued in fair weather with some wind on gravel road to Rio Gallegos and spent the night. Next day rode in heavier winds on paved road to Calafate.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2: Patagonia winds
We finally got a taste of the infamous maximum force winds in Patagonia. Locals confirmed winds of 120kph during our ride from Rio Gallegos to Puerto San Julian on ruta #3. Add to the wind speed our forward velocity of 85kph and you get over 200kph, when the wind was on our noses. That means we were feeling hurricane force 3, I think. The side forces were ferocious, jerking Critter around and challenging my mind to instruct the body to persevere and maintain control. Punky got blown off his perch, but I quickly put him back. His leash is tethered to me around my neck. Critter, Seсor Frog, Punky, Lew & Achi 2 are exhausted, but safely back in Caleta Olivia. Critter went to Balboa Mechanics shop and has a new rear tire (had to settle for a 120 wide Pirelli MT60) and rear sprocket. The mechanic couldn't get the nut off the front pinion sprocket shaft, so I have to get that done down the road, maybe in Comodoro Rivadavia. I have the pinion sprocket. Changed the oil, cleaned the filters and put in synthetic Castrol GPS. Riding north on ruta #3 to Comodoro Rivadavia tomorrow. Its a short 78km ride. There, we will try to make contact with Eduardo Ripoll (lost his phone number), a rider friend of Ricardo Rocco Paz's. Daytime temperatures are up around 90-92F now. Getting rid of cold weather clothing. Ricardo, I'm still trying to get Moto Pablo's info for you. Exactly what is the plan to meet (last I remember you said Dec. 24) in Azul and what is the party Jan. 2,3 & 4 about? I need to go drink another liter of fruit juice and take another pain reliever.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 in Bahia Blanca, Argentina
We left Caleta Olivia last Sunday and rode to the medium sized coastal city, Comodoro Rivadavia. A mechanic at Moto Sur got the nut off the pinion sprocket and replaced the sprocket. We met Ricardo's rider friend Eduardo Ripoll and had a nice chat. Eduardo has a Honda Africa Twin. We also met and had dinner with Aussies Patrick and Belinda, Yamaha Super Tenere riders, headed for Ushuaia and the Christmas gathering of around the world riders from all over the globe. We won't be there, but you can bet we'll be talked about. The following day we rode to a medium sized city, Trelew, in good weather and a little wind Monday. There, we were spotted by a citizen, who called the local newspaper and told them there was an interesting story parked across the street from their office. They printed our story and pix Monday morning. We then rode to a small town, San Antonio Oeste, in decent weather on a so-so paved road. Next day, we rode in warm weather, with clouds on the distant horizon. Rain hit us half way to Bahia Blanca. We got very wet, but not cold. We entered Bahia Blanca, a city of 300,000, in the rain on flooded streets. Had trouble quickly finding a hotel that would accept Punky. Soaking wet, Achi practically sobbed at one hotel receptionist, pointing to soaking wet Punky and got us in. Finally out of Patagonia. Tomorrow heading for Mar Del Plata for a good rest. Then, we will ride to Azul. Then, Buenos Aires.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 in Mar Del Plata
We are resting comfortably, after 10 days of riding with only overnight stops in Mar Del Plata. This is the premier beach resort city for which the people of Buenos Aires can escape the summer heat, buz and congestion of life in the capital. Television news reports massive demonstrations in the city centers of Buenos Aires and Mar Del Plata by those wanting jobs and food. Economic and political problems persist and probably will for a long time to come. Also reports of workers on strike and massive demonstrations in the streets of Caracas, where 80% of gas stations are without fuel and President Chavez is under fire again to resign. If the problems in Caracas persist, we may have to make other plans where to terminate the tour and fly back to the U.S. Not sure how I can afford to pay the high cost of shipping Critter to Miami. Strangely, it costs even more to ship to Panama. I hope I am not forced to sell Critter. I hate the idea of parting with my steed. Daytime max temps in Mar Del Plata are a balmy 75-78 degrees Fahrenheit. Achi is anxious to get a bikini and go to the beach, where the water is cool, but she says not colder than the beaches in Lima. Walked to the beach yesterday and, in an adjoining plaza, saw some wild and interesting folk dancing. Plan to ride tomorrow to Miramar, where the beaches and water are better, and return to Mar Del Plata. Waiting for a message from Ricardo Rocco Paz to know precisely when and where he will meet us, Azul or Buenos Aires. Ricardo, we are at the Hotel Wini Pu, Rm. #106, Calle Garay 1576, tel. (0223) 451-7970/7600. Either city is only about 5 hours away. We need to know in order to make our plans for where we will be for Christmas and New Years. It is more difficult in the larger cities of Argentina to find affordable ($10-15/dbl.) hotels that will accept Punky, have private bath and protected parking for Critter. After a long days ride it is a pain to look for a hotel that will take Punky. All is well with Critter, Seсor Frog, Punky, Lew, & Achi 2. MERRY CHRISTMAS to y'all, with special thoughts of Robyn, the doggies, Achi's family and Motormark.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 in Buenos Aires
We had a 400 km ride on a good paved road from Mar del Plata to Buenos Aires (Bs. As.). Remember, I recently said we would soon be bitching about heat instead of wind and cold. Temps have risen to the 90s and we got cooked riding through downtown Buenos Aires stop and go rush hour traffic with heavy riding jackets and helmets. This is a BIG city. We got in touch with a rider here, Luis "Hueso (bone)" Jimenez, who rented us an apartment for $40 Pesos/day until Jan. 2. The bad news is the TV has 1 fuzzy channel and no antenna or cable, the portable fan has no adapter to plug it in and the water system in the bathroom defies explanation. Last night we went with Hueso and a few other riders to a biker bar, ate pizza and drank beer and shot the shit. One guy is from Cyprus, waiting for his Beemer to be shipped from Germany. He picked up the tab and welcomed us to Bs. As. Said he read about us on the Internet. Today we are touring the downtown area. We saw the most ornate and impressive church I have ever seen, which has the tomb of one of South America's liberators, San Martin. Took pix of the Casa Rosada (the pink presidential palace), inside the church, San Martin's tomb and Eva Peron's tomb, while roaming the streets of the dead in a cemetary of tombs for the rich and famous. I told Achi I was a little uncomfortable visiting the cemetery, but agreed to a round trip. I sweat my butt off and ate icecream and drank juice by the liter. We ride south to Azul Jan. 3 and join the party at a biker's rally. Expect to see Ricardo Rocco Paz there. People are banging pots and pans and on steel doors of bankrupt banks, scribbling their frustrating on the walls in the financial district, shouting and protesting, because they lost money. Many cops standing nearby, waiting for things to get out of hand. Achi is astounded at the civilized manner of things in general. Buses are well marked and routes numbered. They stop where they are supposed to according to the number and route system. In Lima, buses went willy nilly and stopped anywhere to pick up or let off passengers. They did their best to get ahead of other buses to pick up more passengers. Needless to say, this caused much grief and many accidents. Eric and Gail, if you are in the area of Azul for the rally, maybe we will see you there? Thanks to Greg Frazier for his shipping info. Mariola, if you can, tell me how you shipped from Brazil for about $500. Have to get back to the apartment. Poor Punky had to stay there all day alone.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 still in Buenos Aires
Punky is resting safely and comfortably at the apartment, while we troop all over Buenos Aires. Critter is getting a good rest in the garage, while we use public transportation. We went to the National Museum of Beautiful Arts. Saw paintings and sculptures by the most famous artists: Rembrandt, Van Gough, Picasso, Monet, Manet, Rodin, Chagall, "Too Loose" Lautrec, etc., etc., etc. Our rider friend, Hueso, guided us on a scenic river bus ride for 3 1/2 hours to Rio Parana and back to Buenos Aires. The houses along the river have no addresses, only names. The only way folks can get to town and back is by boat. Many use the homes as weekend getaways from the city. Interesting to watch the pilot maneuver the long narrow boat/bus forward and reverse to pick up and let off passengers at tiny docks. It rained lightly during the ride and later poured down all night cooling off the city. Once again Achi was awestruck. She had never seen it rain so hard. Don't know if Rio Parana is the one we know as Pirhana, but didn't go swimming in the dirty water to find out if there were man-eating fish. Toured the old, ornate and famous Colon Theater, where all the most famous operas, ballets and classical singers and orchestras have played. Visited another biker bar and met more friendly riders. Motormark, sent about 4 rolls of film for the website, about a week ago, from Mar del Plata. Pix mostly of Patagonia, including Ushuaia and Perito Moren Glacier. A few of Mar del Plata and Miramar.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 in Azul, Argentina
We left the grandest city in South America, Buenos Aires, and the friendly hospitality of riders Hueso and Juan. Rode with Antoni, a Greed Cypriot, to a motorcycle rally at Azul 400 km south on ruta #3. The rally is hosted by La Posta, the local moto club, in a very nice park and campgrounds. Jorge and his club members welcomed us with emblazes and kisses, BBQ dinners, and gifts. Our names will be added to their clubhouse wall honoring motorcycle travelers from all over the world. We met about 70 riders, including Vincent (France), Antoni (Greed Cypriot), Eric & Gail Haus (USA) and Ricardo Rocco Paz (Ecuador). Yesterday, newspaper, magazine and TV reporters interviewed the foreign riders for their reports. We are have BBQ again this afternoon at La Posta. Tomorrow we will ride with La Posta members 170 km to Tandil and return to Azul for the night. Then, ride back to Buenos Aires for the night. The following day we'll take the ferryboat across Rio de la Plata to Uruguay. Hope y'all had a happy new year.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 back in Azul, Argentina
After the rally in Azul, we had an enjoyable ride south to the lovely town of Tandil with a group including my good friend, Ricardo Rocco Paz of Quito, Ecuador. At Tandil, we were welcomed to a Parrilla (BBQ) of a gut busting bunch of great Argentine meat. There we met the most famous Argentine motorcyclist, Carlos, who won 149 dirt and paved oval track races in the 70's. He is now a Honda rep. Went to visit him at his shop. He showed us Che Gevarra's old 50's Triumph. Looked like about a 125 cc. Che, an Argintine, toured South America on a motorcycle and wrote a book about it, before going to join the revolution in Cuba and then trying to export Cuba's communism to South America. Met an ex-green beret major in La Paz, B.C. Sur, Mexico in the late 70's, who claimed to be part of one of the 2 search teams that hunted down Che in Bolivia. Not sure if the Triumph is the one Che used for his tour. We plan to ride to Buenos Aires Thursday and have a mechanic, who has a bike repair shop there, look at Critter to try to find out why the temp gauge indicator needle is in the mid range and sometimes a little higher, while at speed on the highway. Normally it should be in the quarter range. The radiator core was replaced with a bronze one made in Lima. The radiator is full of water and coolant. I suspect poor circulation in the radiator. The original core is aluminum. Maybe there is some chemical reaction going on plugging up the radiator? The '97 KLR650 with 30,000 miles, that Ricardo just bought from Chris Bright, is consuming mucho oil. He will have it checked in Buenos Aires as well. Anxious to get to Uruguay, Paraguay, Iguazu Falls and Brazil.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2, geezer struggles with run-a-way Critter
Achi really liked Azul. She loved to swim in the river behind the very nice campgrounds there. She saw more lightning than ever before. More is in our future, as well as rain, as we ride further north into the tropic zone. We made good friends in Azul, said our goodbyes with hugs and kisses. Hugging and kissing men, as well as women, is customary here. Had a close call riding from Azul to Buenos Aires (Bs. As.). Went to pass a truck and he didn't use his turn signal until the last moment, while he moved into my lane to turn left. Brakes worked good that time. Martin, a 22 year old rider from Bs. As. led us all the way back through the city to the Florida barrio. Critter feels at home with the Florida license plate. We had a roundtable conversation about the problems in Argentina. I was amazed to hear Martin express support for communism. I gave him a history lesson, while explaining why communism doesn't work. He couldn't understand why American banks and the World Bank wouldn't help. I explained that the world bank wants to help, but with conditions that must be complied with first. Argentina must change its laws, rules and regulations governing the way they do business and the way their economy operates. They must get rid of corrupt politicians and the old corrupt way of doing business and comply with the new rules. That requires monitoring of operations and enforcement of the rules, something I believe to be unknown anywhere in Latin America. I'm sure I sounded like a superior gringo. Upon our arrival at the destination hotel, in the parking lot, I struggled with a run-a-way Critter. The starter was apparently short-circuited and cranking the engine, which in turn was churning the rear wheel, because it was in first gear. All this caught me by surprise, because the ignition key was off. I dropped the bike twice, struggled to right it, unsuccessfully tried to stop it with the front brake and eventually jammed the front wheel against a wall to stop the forward movement. I couldn't get to the tools and remove the side cover to disconnect the battery in my befuddled and exhausted condition. Thus, I let it crank until the battery died. Heard a popping noise when the overheated battery cells cover blew off. Had difficulty finding neutral with my hand on the shifter while moving and struggling with the out of control machine. The neutral light didn't work, because the ignition was off. All this took place in about 30 seconds. I didn't think fast enough to pull in the clutch during the struggle. On the positive side, there isn't a better place in all Latin America for this kind of problem to happen -- in the hotel parking lot and in Buenos Aires, where there are parts and inexpensive and decent mechanics. Electrical and heating problems are being evaluated now by Javier at Dakar Motos in Florida, Bs. As., Bs. As., Argentina. Checking valve clearances, adjusting the balancer chain and repairing a non-functioning left turn signal. Installing a new battery, aluminum radiator, thermostat, regulator and starter solenoid. Other than that, everything is hunky dory. Seriously thinking of deleting the Guyanas and Venezuela from the tour. Problems in Venezuela are getting worse and not much to see or do in the Guyanas. Probably have better luck shipping from Brazil to Miami. We could spend more time seeing Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil. The new schedule would allow us to do Carnaval in Rio in late February. Supposed to have a dinner/party Monday night with a group of about 15 riders including my good Ecuadoran friend Ricardo Rocco and American friends Eric & Gail Haws. Hope y'all are having a good day and enjoying the reports. New pix of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and Mar del Plata are on the website.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 & injured Critter in Buenos Aires
I forgot to mention that when Critter was being trailered across Florida, Buenos Aires, to the shop the trailer became disconnected from the tow vehicle. I was VERY gratified that it didn't occur on an incline. The trailer just came to a rest on the street with no damage. The doohickey balancer chain tension adjuster is broken and the spring missing with no sign of metal in the oil. It may have been a contributing factor to the engine failure near Caleta Olivia. I figure, somebody along the way must have loosened the bolt more than the recommended 3 turns when adjusting the tensioner. Still don't have an answer to why the starter ran with the key off. I told the mechanic to check the solenoid. The starter button has always crunched into the tank bag, running the starter motor, in tight right turns of the handlebars. Ricardo Rocco is installing an aluminum starter button guard. The radiator his been cleaned, renewed and pressure tested. The thermostat has been removed and is being tested to see if it is functioning. The spark plug color indicates a lean fuel/air mix. I told the mechanic to move the main jet (it's a 145) clip to allow more fuel. I figure the lean mix could be, at least partly, responsible for the overheating. Went to a movie last night at a huge entertainment complex. Achi and I took a ride on a roller coaster. The geezer survived the diving, upside down, neck-jerking, twisting, hairpin turning ride at adrenalin pumping speed without a heart attack. I told Ricardo, while he was maneuvering a video race car, that it reminded me of his driving in Quito. He used to race cars off-road, so he got a taste of the good old days. Achi tried the race car video game and drove slower, but scored well. This afternoon we're going to the San Telmo barrio to see more tango dancing in a public plaza. Mariola, please tell me you are OK. Aussie RTW Harley riders, Peter & Kay Forwood, sent me a message from Colombia, saying he will cross into Venezuela tomorrow and let me know about the current situation there. GO Peter & Kay. How many records are you breaking on this tour? Milwaukee and Harley's 100th anniversary isn't far now. You guys will surely be THE star attraction. Are you going to be able to make Daytona Bike Week as well? You'd be a big hit with 500,000 riders in the same place at the same time. 90% of them are Harley riders.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 - update in Buenos Aires
I asked the owner/mechanic at the shop if he used a torque wrench, since I have the manual with all the proper settings. He said yes and held up his arm. Dyno test is not likely to happen. I told the last mechanic, that messed with the carb jet and clip setting in Peru, to set the circlip in the middle with a 145 jet. I now know that he set the circlip one position down from the middle, which allows less fuel. The current mechanic set it in the middle. Critter is supposed to be ready Friday afternoon. If that turns out to be true, Saturday we will ride a little north of Buenos Aires and cross the Rio Uruguay into Uruguay. We will then ride along the Rio La Plata to Montevideo and Punta del Este, then the Atlantic coast northward to Brazil. From there we will go inland to Foz de Iguazu and Paraguay, then back to the coast heading for Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro in late February. I'll be looking for info on shipping to Miami (would be great if we could affordably bounce along the Caribbean Islands on the same boat with Critter) from Recife or Belem, Brazil in early April. It is summer here (93 degrees) and we are heading into the rainy, hot and humid tropic zone. Want to stay on the coastal routes as much as possible to enjoy the cooler weather and the beaches. Achi loves the water. My name is Waterman. I told Achi her name is now Waterwoman. Of course Punky is Waterdog. Seсor Frog is at home in fresh water. Critter is not at home in any kind of water, but tolerates it. A couple of nights ago, we had a great dinner at a nice restaurant, with 13 other riders, compliments of Eric and Gail Haws. They are leaving their beemer in Buenos Aires, returning to Oregon and coming back to continue touring South America in August.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 in Caxias do Sul, Brazil
Critter was released from Dakar Motos, supposedly in good health. We said our goodbyes at a dinner with rider friends in Buenos Aires. Rode north in the rain Jan. 19 with my friend from Quito, Ecuador, Ricardo Rocco, and crossed the Parana and Uruguay rivers into Uruguay. The border crossing was made unpleasant by a Uruguayan customs official. It irritated the hell out of me, because Ricardo didn't have legal papers for his bike and I did. He passed through ahead of me with no problems. We spent the night in Mercedes, where we again drew the attention of a newspaper, whose office was next door to the hotel we stayed in. They took pix and wrote a story. The next day we rode to the capital, Montevideo. The starter acted up again as well as the right turn signal and headlight. A mechanic worked on Critter for 4 hours and couldn't fix the starter or the turn signal, which have been working fine ever since. I was charged only $20 for replacing the headlight bulb. We rode on to Punta del Este in the rain, a beautiful high priced peninsula beach resort. Found an affordable room the 3 of us shared in a hotel in the low rent district of nearby Maldonado. Rode north on the cool coast past Chuy to cross into Brazil and discovered I needed a $120 visa from the Brazilian consulate in Chuy. Got pix, went to the bank for more money, jumped through hoops, got hot and sweaty, had lunch and finally returned to the border and entered Brazil without further incident. We rode on to Pelota and spent the night. Next day we rode to Porto Alegre, spent one night in a hotel sharing the room with Ricardo. Ricardo had his bike worked on and the battery replaced. Critter was worked on again for a loose mirrow that required retapping the threads, electrical problems and loose exhaust pipe. The mechanic, Juarez Kbca at KBЗA MOTOS, worked for 4 hours and charged me nothing. We met Andre Witt, a very nice Suzuki 1400 Intruder rider. He insisted we go to his house. We had intended to leave, but Andre was so nice we decided to spend the night with him. Andre gifted us with his club stickers, shirts and pins and fed us lunch. Next morning, Andre led us out of town and we rode a twisty route to Caxias do Sul. We were stunned by spectacular green scenery, which reminded me a bit of Colombia. Rode 35 km on a rough dirt road trying to visit the water falls in a national park, but it was closed and had to ride back. Ricardo's KLR suffered a loose Supertrap pipe and a broken auxiliary headlight on the rough road. This route included a small German colony, a piece of Germany transplanted into Brazil. An Italian colony maintains vineyards in the area and produces wine. Brazilian Portugese sounds like gibberish to me. Spanish helps to communicate a little. Prices are very reasonable. Gasahol (Brazilian gas) is not. It was even higher in Uruguay. Ricardo is in seventh heaven with the lovely Brazilian chicas. Punky is still the star of the show and continues to draw attention everywhere we go. Achi continues to amaze me with ability to handle riding long distance and sometimes in difficult conditions. She isn't always happy about it, but neither am I nor is Punky. We persevere. The good times far outweigh the bad. Tomorrow, we will ride to the coast again and enjoy the beach, if the weather cooperates. Then, on to Iguazu Falls, Paraguay, back to Brazil and Carnaval in Rio March 1. Mariola and Kris Cichon NEED help to get through the crisis caused by her accident in Africa and to allow Mariola to continue her Ride of the Heart around the world, when she is able. Please help if you can.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 at Ilha Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, SC, Brasil
We had an adventurous ride through spectacular scenery to Lages, where we stopped for lunch. An enterprising newspaper reporter spotted us and had to take pix and write yet another story. Spent the night in the small town of San Joaquin. The next day we rode through more spectacular scenery in cool high country, where it is know to snow in winter (in Brazil?), hence the name Vale Neve (Snow Valley). We then descended into a long deep canyon, Serra Gaъcha, of mind boggling twisties. Ricardo is generaly riding faster and more reckless (like I used to) than we are and boiled his super-duper brake fluid rendering his KLR brakeless. Sent 5 rolls of film to Motormark for our website, including great shots of the area. We are now flopping on an enchanting beach for R&R on Ilha Santa Catarina in Florianopolis, SC, Brasil, a first class resort area. Achi is in 7th heaven and spends every possible moment in the water and on the beach getting too much sun. We are both sunburned and thankful for ibuprofen pain relievers and aloe vera lotion. The 3.40 exchange rate makes the prices affordable, much like Argentina. Argentina nor Uruguay has no beaches to compare with Isla Santa Catarina. Of course, there is much more spectacular scenery and beaches to be discovered as we ride north on the coast, after going to Iguazu Falls and Paraguay. Ricardo is in his 7th heaven with lovely chicas everywhere. His neck must be sore from swiveling his head, sighing and salivating at yet another beaut in a skimpy bikini. I look, but out of respect for Achi refrain from commenting. Even she says the chicas are beautiful. I was not pleased to see searing negative reports about Mariola and Kris's failure to have MediVac insurance. However, everyone is entitled to their opinion and it did serve to inform me of the availability of relatively low cost insurance. I have none either. It would be nice and comfy if I had medical, life, burial, medivac, motorcycle comprehensive, liability, collision, medical and towing, mortgage, household, pet insurance and every other kind of insurance to cover our asses in emergencies. Then, the insurance companies would be more prosperous, have more dough to steal and I couldn't be doing what I'm doing. It's a gamble some of us take. I'm sure there are those who would say, I spent lots of money on stuff I didn't need and should have bought insurance instead. Sorry if my plea to help Mariola and Kris offended some. Thanks to those who are more sympathetic to a brave woman motorcyclist I am proud to call a friend and especially to those who contributed to help relieve Mariola and Kris's plight. End of report and my rant.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 on Ilha Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, SC, Brasil
Hi everyone, I forgot to mention that VISA cards are very difficult to use in ATM`s in Brazil to get money. Most machines don't accept the cards. The few that do frequently don't work. Sometimes a machine insists on identifying the card as a credit card and won't complete the transaction, because the card is a debit card. After chasing around like a chicken with his head cut off trying to get cash, The Geezer (me) went berserk, when he mistakenly thought an ATM ate his card. After the machine gave me my money and a receipt, I waited for the machine to spit out my card. It didn't. I called the cops, cussed, ranted, raved and fretted in a sweat about losing the card and had no confidence the bank would respond quickly and adequately. Then, found the card in my pocket. I was used to machines that keep the card until the end of the transaction, when you are asked if you want another transaction and answer "no" it spits the card out. This machine gave it back to me in the beginning and I put it in my pocket. We are going to meet a group of riders tonight. Tomorrow we'll ride to a lagoon on the island. Intend to leave for Iguazu Falls Sunday and be in Acuncion Wed. Iguazu Falls are bigger, and there is a greater volume of water than Niagra Falls. Iguazu Falls is second largest in the world. Second only to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, Africa. BTW, Punky is fine and enjoying the R&R as well.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 Matelandia, Brazil
We departed Florianopolis with sunburned bodies after a dinner at the home of a famous Brazilian adventuring motorcyclist, Gau Gonzalez. After dinner and drinks, we and other riders went to a huge night club to experience the partying atmosphere Brazilian style -- gauchos and all. The name of the twisty canyon I recently reported is not Serro Gaucha, it is Serro do Rio Rastro. Ricardo got a ticket for crossing a double line. We think we understood the cops to say he can slide without paying, after we talked for a while. At Lages, Critter needed a new spark plug and the main carb jet clip adjusted to allow more fuel again. Ricardo's bike and mine had both bogged severely and overheated pulling a steep grade at about 5,000 ft. The shop in Lages didn't charge me anything. The bad news is they forgot to re-connect the wire next to the spark plug for the fan. Both bikes back in the shop at Matelandia for repairs, including rebuilding the muffler. Again no charge. Ricardo's bike's fan wasn't working. He had dropped it, while intoxicated, parking it at the hotel in Santa Catarina and found the fan shroud bent and keeping the fan from rotating. Ricardo also adjusted his main jet twice now. We are now enjoying the hospitality of a very helpful, friendly and famous adventure touring motorcyclist, Joгo Batista de Lima in Matelandia, 70 km from Iguazu Falls. Tomorrow we ride to the legendary splendor of Iguazu Falls.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 in Asuncion, Paraguay
WOW! Iguazu Falls is magnificent, the highlight of our tour. The falls consist of 275 separate cascades of an incredible volume of water from the Iguazu River that stetches on and on and on. Walked the footpath on the Brazilian side to get the best view of the falls on the Argentine side. Took the boat ride on the river into part of the falls for a soaking and welcome shower. Itaipu dam and hydro-electric generating plant on the Parana River is astounding as well. It is one of the 7 modern wonders of the world. The plant generates 95% of the electricity for Paraguay and 25% of that for Brazil. Crossing the border into Paraguay required a visa costing $45. Another magazine and a newspaper wanted to do stories about us, but we had to move on quickly to get to Asuncion before dark. We are enjoying the friendly hospitality of the Nomads moto club in Asuncion. Tomorrow, Ricardo heads for Bolivia and back to Ecuador. We'll miss our dear friend. We are heading for the 2nd biggest motorcycle rally in South America at Campo Grande, Brazil. Then on to Santos and Sao Paulo, where a big moto magazine, Duas Rodas (2 Wheels), is interested in our story. Then, we will head to Rio for Carnaval March 1. Got bad news from a mechanic today. He says the noise in Critters lower engine is probably worn main bearings. Changed the oil and hoping the bearings last until we finish the tour in Recife or Belem. Still plagued with VISA debit card problems. The card is being rejected. Have to call Bank of America tomorrow and find out what the problem is.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 in Campo Grande, Matto Grosso, Brazil
Critter has over 45,000 miles now. The engine sounds bad, like maybe crankshaft bearings. Maybe we'll get lucky and a bike shop will be able to fix the engine affordably. Glad you received the pix and cards. I will send videos (in a box this time) of Iguazu Falls and Itaipъ Dam along with the next batch of film. The videos are supposed to be in English and formatted for use in the U.S. In Asuncion, we enjoyed seeing Erling Steen, who along with Ricardo was at our wedding in Lima. Paraguay was hot, except when raining, and a step back into the 3rd world, after Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. The president of the Nomadas de Asuncion Moto Club, Tito, escorted us out of Asuncion and pointed us in the right direction as we rode out of Paraguay in rain, which continued to follow us to Joao's house back in Matelandia, Parana, Brazil. Joao wasn't home, but his wife, Eliette, took good care of us. She also let me use Joao's office computer and Internet hook-up. I found Bank of America's toll-free phone number for use outside the U.S. Eight hundred numbers don't work from South America. We are in Campo Grande, Matto Grosso do Sul, Brazil, about 500 km west of Sao Paulo. The big bike rally starts tomorrow. We'll stay here until Sunday, then ride to Sao Paulo. There, Duas Rodas bike magazine is interested in our story. I called the toll-free phone number and found out that Bank of America (B of A) had a block on my VISA card, because the card had been used in a manner different than usual. A restaurant in Foz do Iguazu ran the card 6 times and ultimately said it wasn't valid. The B of A guy I spoke with said he would remove the block immediately. I still had trouble finding an ATM that would accept the card, but finally found one in a bigger town and got some money just in the nick of time. MasterCard is the major card here. The wet roads here have a lot of red dirt on them and Critter is a mess. Punky, Lew & Achi are fine and anxious to experience Carnaval in Rio and get back to the good old U.S.A.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 at Campo Grande, Brazil Moto Road Rally
Hi Dr. Greg and everyone: Greg, if you have it, please give me E-mail addy of Bob Moffit, VP of Marketing and Sales, at Kawi headquarters in SoCal. I am frustrated with the Critter apparently needing more major engine repair and would like to beg Moffit for assistance. When I started the tour Moffit refused to sponsor me. Brazil is a BIG market for motos and Kawasaki isn't even competing. Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki have everything to themselves. Campo Grande is a big city and there is no Kawi dealer here. I see 4 cylinder Kawi sportbikes, but not smaller singles. On our arrival at the rally, we were beseiged by news people of all types. We are on the Internet, TV, in mags and newspapers. The Brazilian zest for motos is evident everywhere, but none moreso than at the Moto Road Rally at Campo Grande, Brazil. Motorcyclists at the rally are free to do almost anything they wish. In the name of all-out fun all the stoppers are pulled out. There seems to be a competition to see who can make the most incredible noise, racing engines, spinning donuts, burning rubber off tires, vertical spins on the back wheel and racing up and down the narrow streets of the fairgrounds where the event is held. There are so many of these expert riders capable of making their bikes do everything, but talk. Six to ten riders at a time perform all kinds of ear-splitting noisy tricks in an incredibly small area surrounded by spectators cheering them on. An endless line of riders waited their turn to perform and add to the acrid odor of burning tires. A fresh pile of tires lays nearby. It is amazing that none of these daredevils lost control of their bikes and hurt spectators standing within a few feet. I have never seen anything like this in America. There are a million rules to abide by. There were 50,000 people in attendance at Campo Grande. Not all were motorcyclists. After 10 hours of waiting, thousands of spectators were finally rewarded to hear an American band playing classic American Rock and Roll. It blared from the stage and speakers everywhere, while bright colored lights danced, as well as the spectators. A naked girl sped on a sportbike through streets crowded with people. A human wave of excited drunken men on foot followed quickly behind. Trikes with VW engines are popular and cheap here. They sell new for $4,000. Harleys are few, but highly prized. Japanese Harley look-alike cruisers abound with Harley copycat riders. Sportbikes are very popular. Small 125cc to 250cc bikes are everywhere in Brazil. I only saw one KLR650 at the rally. At the rally, we enjoyed the company again of Antoni, our Greek Cypriot BMW 1150 GS riding friend, whom we met in Argentina. We are a very popular attraction and Punky made a multitude of new friends for us. Peter Fonda was here 2 years ago. Brazil is fantastic! Tomorrow, heading for Sao Paulo, a 3 day ride to an interview with the editor of Duas Rodas magazine. It's big in Brazil. I think we are in the general area, where Mariola's Roma got sick, quit running and was shipped back to Chicago for repair. I'd like to know who was Mariola's shipper from Sao Paulo. I understand she shipped Roma to Chicago for only about $500. We are now in Tres Lagoas, Matto Grosso, Brazil, on our way to Sao Paulo. It was another wet ride. Rains a lot here, but not too hot. Hotmail seems to have lost my address list.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 in Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Before leaving Tres Lagoas, we contacted Cicero Lima, the editor of Duas Rodas magazine in Sao Paulo. Cicero was interested in doing a story about our tour. We asked for his assistance finding an affordable place to stay in Sao Paulo that would accept Punky. Cicero was accommodating and arranged for a Abutre's Moto Club member to meet us in the city and guide us to a place. The Abutre's club member led us to his clubhouse/nightclub and offered us free use of their dormitory. The dorm was a mess with bunk beds and filthy mattresses in a dungeon-like atmosphere. We declined the kind offer and were led to a nearby filthy motel, where men take their whores. We were tired and hungry after riding all day, and being strangers, I didn't want to look for an affordable room in the biggest city in South America that would accept Punky, so I accepted the room. The Hells Angels wannabe club members didn't sit well with Achi and they wanted me to have a drink and talk. So, with Achi's reluctant permission, I left her in the room and went back to the clubhouse for a few hours. One big mistake after another. The next day we got out of Sao Paulo as fast as we could and rode to Bertioga, a tranquil small beach community. I suffered Achi's righteous rath for 3 days until she cooled down on a nice beach in a nice hotel with air conditioning and a swimming pool. We then rode to Paraty and are spending the night here, before continuing tomorrow to Rio de Janeiro. Temps in the area are reaching 104 very humid degrees and it can rain heavily at any time. I strongly advise touring this part of South America in wintertime. Tropical beaches, coastline and hills are breathtakingly beautiful. Every town along the way is practicing and preparing for Carnaval celebrations. Thanks to Grant Johnson at horizonsunlimited.com (the best info for international riders on the Internet) for his shipping info and advice. I think I will probably ship the bike to Miami from Rio rather than spend more money paying incompetent mechanics. Maybe I can get some help from someone getting the engine fixed properly or replaced. Critter is still noisily thumping down the road trying to make me believe it can finish the ride up the Brazilian coast to Belem, but I think it foolish to try. The engine sounds like it could terminate at any time leaving us stranded on the scenic coastal road in an area known for killers, thieves and hijackers.
Punky, Lew & Achi 2 in Rio
We will ship a sick Critter out of Rio April 12 on Varig cargo air. We will fly United Airlines to Miami. The cost of returning is temporarily putting us in the poorhouse until June. When we arrive in Miami we will not have much funds to find a place to rent or to get Critter repaired. I would like to go to Moab, Utah in early June for the KLR Rally and to see Mariola. If anyone can and is willing to help, please let me know. We are staying at Pousada do Trovador w/pool on Piratininga Beach across the bay from Rio. We are pinching our pennies (reales), but bought tickets to see the best 3 teams of Carnaval at the Sambodromo in Rio next Saturday night. Its a once in a lifetime event for us. Rio is a busy and beautiful city, once the capital of the ex-United States of Brazil, with great beaches. The surrounding hillsides are covered with densely populated and dangerous favelas (neighborhoods) that house the poor. Some favelas are controlled by criminals and the police won't even enter the areas. It is semi-arid and doesn't rain very much in this area. Suffering in paradise. Things could be a lot worse, hey? That's Canadian I leaned north of the border. Later, amigos.
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