|He's really put some girth on those limbs during this trip eh?|
|One final jump for joy...|
|Looking a little like Ray?|
|Wendy with short guy from short boat.|
|The set on Enferrados, Danny's show on Colombian TV|
|Life as TV stars. It's ok I guess...|
|Random coastal scene from Ecuador|
|Uncle Trev handing out rum shots while on top of a mountain. Pretty standard.|
|Uncey T and Kari performing non-forum based communication. Not standard.|
|Many many bikes getting ready for a ride day|
|2012 Z1000.... is........ so..... awesome....... !|
|Our South American riding buddies, from left: Kon, Kari, Ebru, Ken and Trev|
|A very clear pool in Peru|
|The New Guy takes some time out to relax curbside|
*FARC is one of the Colombian guerrilla armies that have been battling the government and army for the last 70 years. They have been pushed back into the mountains now, but they are still actively at war with the Colombian Army.
|Trev and Matt exploring the remote Colombian mountains|
|Sometimes, not often, we walk places.|
|A local bus in southern Colombia|
|Did you say scenic?|
|The Pan-American Highway in Southern Colombia is simply amazing.|
|I'm sure many people have crashed on this road, with views like this off to one side...|
|Las Lajas church|
|Las Lajas church|
The border crossing from Colombia into Ecuador was exactly the same as all the Central American crossings. There were local men lingering, tattered laminated cards dangling around their neck, offering advice on which building to go to next, hoping for a tip. There were ratty English backpackers, wiping at their noses and glancing around nervously. And there were customs officials who didn’t give a FARC. But it’s old hat for us now, and we all swished through with little bother. I bought a month of obligatory motorbike insurance at the first town I came to, for the agreeable sum of $3. Premium gasoline here costs 50c/L and you can buy a plate of rice, beans, meat, salad, with a bowl of soup and a glass of freshly squeezed juice, for $2.50. Ferg is in heaven.
|We finally made it to the equator!|
Cort, the tour dude, was pleased to oblige, and offered tales of twisty roads, piping hot black coffee in tiny cups and a used Pirelli for five bucks. Following the highly successful mission the gang ventured out into the big bad world to go be tourists. The city of Quito lies beneath a towering mountain range, and for a few bits of silver you can catch a cable car up into the clouds. At the top they were greeted by a British news crew and interviewed on the dangers of Ecuador. Tune in to World News on BBC1 on the first of June if you're missing our smiling faces.
|Atley near horse.|
We ended up staying at a hotel about 40km from where we started the day, but our mud-covered bikes were proof of a successful day of adventuring. The following day we attacked the southern leg of the Quilotoa loop, to visit the crater lake of Quilotoa Volcano. On the road there we were very surprised to bump into Patrick and Janika, a Dutch couple on bicycles that we’d sailed from Panama to Colombia with. We gazed at their pedal bikes, their bulging thighs, their heaving chests and the enormous valley we were in, and happily flopped our skinny limbs back onto our motorised machines, to go buy burgers. Alas up at the volcano they didn’t have burgers, they had guinea pigs threaded onto metal rods, being hand twirled over barbeques by wrinkley, nodding locals. I imagined plunging my pointy teeth into the well-cooked critter, but found my legs involuntarily walked me away, so I followed the others up to a cheap restaurant serving chicken and rice, while trying to avoid the man’s nodding disappointment. The sky that day was bleak and overcast, making the water of the crater lake murky and dreary. We didn’t stay long at the 4000 metre high lake, and hit the wicked mountain curves again for more amazing riding, with Led Zepplin cranked on my iPod.
|Trying out Patrick and Janicka's bikes|
The next notable town we found ourselves in is called Banos, which translates to toilets in Spanish. This is probably because the town lies at the foot of a 5000 metre high and very active volcano, which can shit on them at anytime. The popular gringo thing to do in that town is rent mountain bikes and ride along the river, downhill, for 20km, then catch a truck ride back into town. We joined forces with other people in our hostel to form a bicycle gang of 9, and did just that, ending at a very high, very violent waterfall called El Diablo. On the way we rode a cable car over the river gorge for a dollar, which was powered by the innards of truck, bolted to the edge of the cliff.
|Banos is marketed as a bit of an extreme sport hub. So Atley and Ferg did a bridge swing. That's where you jump off a perfectly good bridge, with a rope tied around your feet, and then swing around under the bridge, for $20.|
From Banos we did our final group ride together, with my bike dripping oil and Atley’s bike dropping bolts, to the unremarkable town of Riobamba. There we went out for quite possibly the fanciest dinner of the trip, $10 steaks, then in the true tradition of many memorable nights of our trip, we had a rum party in the hotel room with Uncky T, while watching the great footage we have for the final video. It was a jolly last evening together and indeed a very sad lot of goodbyes in the morning.
And that was that.
The trip was finished.
And that was that.
The trip was finished.
|Final Rum Party|
We crossed 11 international borders, rode 33 000 kilometres, made hundreds of friends, learned how to maintain, fix and ride motorbikes, learned how to speak Spanish (kinda), learned how to make awesome videos, and we didn’t get robbed, kidnapped, lost or scared. (Much.)
Ferg joined us 2 months into the
trip and immediately became as much a part of it as Atley and I. Together we
ate, camped, slept, decided and acted. We picked each other up countless times,
whether it be from a fallen motorbike or a crappy mood. We looked after each
other when we were sick, drunk or upset, and sometimes all at once. We learned
to read each others’ minds, finish each others’ sentences and at a glance know
exactly how many minutes until I was ready to go in the morning (yep, I was
last to get ready about 95% of the time: AGAIN WE ARE WAITING FOR MATT???
Thanks for that quote German Matt). We have formed bonds that will never be
forgotten and will never be undone, and words cannot express how grateful I am
to both of them for enabling me to have the best year of my life. And as a true
test and example of their muuuuuy fuerte relationship, Atley and Wendy not only
survived being apart for most of the year, but got engaged on a mountain top in
Guatemala. Myself, Ferg and everyone we know, wish them the absolute best in
their future together, and have no doubt that it will be another successful adventure.
|We did it.|
There are so many reasons why most people can’t do a trip like ours, whether it be money, time, family, work, health, ability, comfort or interest, and looking back on it, I’m amazed that we could get all our ducks in a row just to start it, let alone finish it. It was a life changing privilege. Repeat that last sentence please, but slower this time. Perhaps we’ll never be in the same position again, to take on such an epic adventure.... though something tells me that we’ll be back on the mules again, someday, somewhere.
|Bye! I'm going to back to whence I came in the lanky caverns of Atley!|
|Peru mountains. I know I didn't talk about Peru, but that's where Atley and Wendy are right now, so they've slipped a couple of pics in from down there.|
To quickly tell you our future plans at this stage, Atley and Wendy are heading back to Melbourne to save up for their wedding later on this year, Ferg is off to explore Europe with his sister, and I’m heading back to Medellin, Colombia to work for Danny as a motorbike mechanic for a few months.
Although this story is now finished, don’t smash your computer and kick your dog just yet, because you just never know when you may be hearing from us again....