Two Guys on Motorbikes Comes to an End

Now that both bikes are gone, our journey is over...kind of.  After all the partying we did in Santiago, we had to fly to sin city itself - bring on Las Vegas baby! It was the cheapest way to get home by almost $400, so we kind of had to.

Even our trip to the airport in Santiago was an adventure. We took an Uber and the driver couldn't figure out how to get to the airport for the life of him - in fairness the directions on the app weren't working, but c'mon man, really? Anyways, we had long layovers in Lima, then a bit in Mexico city (where we finally got that Mexico stamp we were missing), and ended up in Vegas. Trevor had to be there for 24 hours to get his flight to Victoria via Seattle, so Dave decided to hang out and invite his old man down to join.  We stayed in New York New York, explored the city, did a little gambling and sight seeing - t'was good times yet again. Always good to explore...even if you've been doing it for the past four and a half months. The funny thing is, Dave had already been to Vegas on this trip since he flew there for 12 hours after his graduation in November.

One noteworthy thing that happened during our time in Vegas was along the strip. While wandering between areas, we walked beside a section of road then ducked into a casino nearby. 30 minutes and $40 later, we come back outside... to a huge number of police cars, crime scene tape, and a closed down roadway. Turns out somebody went a bit crazy while driving and decided to run down as many people as she could on the sidewalk. Yep, the sidewalk we had been walking on not 10 minutes prior to her mounting the curb. This was apparently the biggest traffic incident in Las Vegas since 2005... Who would have thought that one of the closest times to death on our trip would have happened in Sin City?

Once Vegas wrapped up, it was time to finally part ways.

The trip was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity and I wouldn't have done it with anyone else. It was full of up and downs, twisty, bumpy roadways, and many sketchy lane splitting passes, but we survived and it will be unforgettable. Thanks for a great time and I hope you all had fun reading about our adventures here.

Who know, maybe another trip will be in the works down the road...

The Sale of Trevor's Motorcycle

Just one week ago, Dave sold his motorcycle without much incident. Shouldn't be too bad for Trev too, right? Right.....

Fred, the Belgian who was buying Trevor's bike, showed up in Santiago on the date promised. He test rode the bike, like what he saw, and the deal was on. No problems so far. The next part - making the sale official - is divided into two parts. One part is the legal transfer of ownership, and the other part is transferring the "temporary import permit" to the new owner. One week earlier, Dave had done "part one" using BC registration without any issues because he was selling to another Canadian. Super simple and clean. "Part two" had been done by going to the airport, talking to the customs officers, and having them move the paperwork over to the new owner's name. This was what we had been told to do by many different sources - various web forums, the Chilean customs agent (with an English translator) at the Bolivia-Chile border, and the central Chilean customs office in Santiago (with step by step instructions written in Spanish to show if we had any difficulties). We had done our homework this time (yay we're learning!) and it definitely paid off. The transfer of Dave's temporary import permit was quick and easy and went off without a hitch. Great. 

Two months prior, Trevor had phoned a law firm in Santiago to go over the details of "part one" of the transfer, and how to make it legal to sell to a foreigner. Again, the instructions were given (in English!) step by step. The trick was, we could go to a notary in Chile and sell the motorcycle as an object, more or less. Trevor would sell this thing he owned to a foreign buyer (matching description KLR 650, 2008, blue, etc etc.) This would allow the buyer to be the legal owner of the vehicle, although not the registered owner. That is sufficient to import and export the vehicle into countries, insure it, and sell it later on. Perfect, that sounded ideal. 

So, we start the process to sell the bike. Unfortunately, we weren't able to start this whole thing until 2 days before the flights home. No problem. Stuff always works out for us. Johan, the hostel owner, spoke perfect english, being an ex United States diplomat. He was more than happy to help us out! We start out by explaining our situation to him and asking him to recommend a notary nearby. He offered to call the notary first and discuss the situation with them so we could just walk right in and it would all work our. Great, thanks Jo! Except... He hangs up the phone and tells us "Sorry, can't do it." This phrase ends up being one of the most hated ones ever... Anyway, Trevor calls up the law firm from two months ago (english speaking) and talks to the same lady. Contrary to two months ago, she says Trev's not allowed to sell the motorbike this way. She says he needs an RUT (basically, a personal Chilean tax number... not exactly, but close enough). This is exactly what he asked about two months ago! And so the frustration begins.

Luckily, Jo to the rescue. He called what I'm pretty sure he thought was a sketchier notary a bit out of the downtown core. After a quick chat, he gave us the thumbs up. They would do it! He wrote out some super short instructions, told us to talk to a certain person, and they would make it happen. Perfect. Trev and Fred then jumped on the ol' KLR and headed off to the notary. We get inside, find the person to talk to, show them the instructions... and get met with a "Sorry, can't do it." What? We just talked to you on the phone! Why do rules change based on a person's mood around here? This notary also says that we both need RUTs. Okay, well I guess it's off to the Chilean labour office.

Trev and Fred hop back on the bike and ride over to the labour office. We're met with a 2 hour wait, so we take shifts to wait while the other person goes to buy lunch. Finally our turn arrives. Fred, luckily, already has an RUT from a trip down here a couple years ago for a different reason. So Trevor shows his documentation to the officer and asks to be given an RUT. Of course, he's met with a "Sorry, can't do it." What else would the officer say? Classic. He says, as of one year ago, the law is that a foreigner now needs to be sponsored by a resident. He gives me the paperwork for the sponsor to fill out, and we get showed the door. Well, I guess that's all for today.

Luckily for Trevor, a friend was working in Santiago that was able to sponsor him. So, first thing in the morning, the two of them meet at a notary to get the sponsorship notarized. The two of them fill out the paperwork, hand it over to the clerk, and are told "Sorry, can't do it." Perfect. They said that the documentation isn't legally binding. But, luckily enough, they offered to write up a new version that they could notarize. Perfect. After way too long, the job is done.

At that point, Trevor and Fred meet up and head out to the airport to work on "part two" - transferring the temporary import permit. The rest of part 1 can wait. At least this part should be straightforward... We get to the customs office, explain the situation, and show them the paperwork and Spanish instructions. Surprise surprise, we're met with a "Sorry, can't do it." And no real explanation why, even though Dave did it not even a week prior. Luckily, Trev had an English speaking contact at the central Chilean customs office, which was just down the road. Fred and Trevor jogged over there, sat down in the office with her, and even found the original author of the Spanish instructions. After several phone calls and discussions, they told us the magic phrase: "Sorry, can't do it." Apparently Dave's paperwork was a mistake on their end, and they aren't actually allowed to do it that way. There were only two options: Surrender the motorcycle with no reimbursement, or drive to Argentina and transfer it there. Guess we're going for a night ride...

Now, Trevor and Fred try to finish up "part one" of the sale by going back to the RUT office. All the paperwork should be in order, and we wait for two hours (again...) and finally get a chance to see an agent. Guess what? He says "Sorry, can't do it." The paperwork that the notary wrote up this morning is invalid... Realistically, it was because he wanted to go home on the Friday afternoon and we would have been his last clients. Perfect. The frustration is building, and with only 24 hours until the flight home, tension is high.

Walking back to the motorbike, Trevor and Fred walk by a really sketchy looking notary. The wallpaper is peeling, the desks aren't level or square, the floor is damaged... Hmmm, this could be perfect. The two decided to try the original plan one last time, and sell the bike without a RUT. Walking in, an English speaking clerk promises to help as best he can. Turns out the place is just sketchy enough to do it! YES! Still don't understand the situation, but he will give us paperwork. Good enough for me.

An hour and $40 later, the two leave the notary and head for Argentina. A beautiful 2.5 hour drive up into the mountains ends at the border office. Long story short, the two had to bounce back and forth between the two border offices and drive a little bit into Argentina to get some paperwork stamped. Trevor didn't legally enter Argentina because of a "reciprocity agreement" which would have cost him $80, but Fred went in, stamped some stuff, then came back and pick Trevor up. At nearly midnight, the bike was back in Chile, in Fred's name, and the paperwork was complete. Unbelievable! The 2.5 hour ride back to Santiago ended at around 2:30 am, when an extremely cold Trev and Fred grabbed some street meat and a beer. Finally, bed time came at 4:00 am (12 hours before the flight home)... Talk about last minute! No problem.

10 Days in Santiago

Since we had to be in Santiago relatively early for the sale of Dave's bike, and Trevor's buyer was going to be significantly later in the same city, we found ourselves in Santiago for an extended period of time.  This will be a great opportunity to explore and really get to know a new city, right? wrong...

The hostel we were staying at was great - Dominica Hostel...highly recommend!  That being said, it was adjacent to the main party street in Santiago...which meant many mannyyy days/night of meeting new people and going for drinks. Probably too many drinks.

Since none of this was particularly memorable, we'll just share a few highlights. The first awesome thing, was meeting Jan, Michael and Josh. Our only activity we did together was walk up to a fancy swimming pool where we had to pay way too much money to swim around (but it had a pretty cool view of Santiago). The rest of the time with these guys was spent at The Purple Place.  The Purple Place is a bar on the party street - I won't think we ever did find out the real name of it, but we ended up there almost every night.  I think it was on night 3 of drinking there that we realized it didn't even have a roof and was actually just a cloth sheet over our heads at the plastic tables. Oh, man it was fun there. Good times. Josh and Michael had plans every day to move on to a new city and explore as it was there first week in South America, but they were always way too hungover to get goin'. On one memorable day, we found ourselves in an Irish pub in Santiago with these American kids from Charlotte watching the Carolina Panthers NFL game.  Go Panthers Go!  Their love for Cam Newton was infectious. Eventually they moved on, and it was probably a good thing for all involved. The other awesome thing about Dominica was the owner - Johan.  He was a great guy!  We thought for the longest time that he was just the manager, but one day we convinced him to go for drinks with us and that changed everything. At first we suggested we grab a six pack from the store and bring it back to the hostel for us to share, but no no...Jo wants to treat us to a beer on the terrace. Okay, why not?  We get there and before you know if we've consumed 6 litres of beer between us. At the end, we didn't pay a thing!  Turns out that Jo owns that bar...and co-owns 2 other bars, and the hostel. Oh and he was an american diplomat working at embassies all over the world and has met many presidents.  He's now 46 years old, running an awesome hostel, and drinking beers with people from around the world. Not a bad life.  We continued drinking with him and he showed us one of his favorite dinner places and showed us the proper things that the locals drink.  Again, this lead to a hangover the following surprise there. Par for the course.

All in all, Santiago was a great time! Definitely time for a break. Guess that means we should go to Vegas, right?

Day 129 - December 9th

Now it's only '1 Guy on a Motorbike'!

Dave got up early(ish) and met Alf at the airport shortly after 9:00am. Dave, Barbara and Alf ate a quick breakfast, did the Canada side of the paperwork and did an e-transfer of the money. We then went into the Aduana (customs) office at the airport and explained what we wanted to do. They were a little bit confused at first, but once we showed them our passports, some emails, and a document or two, they understood and everything was pretty easy. Dave handed Alf the keys and the whole process was done in about an hour. Dave was a bit sad to see it go, but Alf seems like a pretty great guy who's been around bikes a bunch - he'll have a blast riding it back to Canada I'm sure.

The remainder of the day was spent in celebration of one successful bike sale (and a bit of planning to get flights home...since one of us actually has enough money to get a ticket now :P).

Later, we got a note from the German guy and his Brazillian girlfriend, who we'd met at the tool booth a couple days prior, for us to come join them for dinner and wine at another hostel. Can't turn down something like that!  We went over to EcoHostel and had a great stirfry and a bunch of wine. There are so many cool people you meet travelling - it's awesome. Oh, and we helped them attach christmas decorations to their motorbike - they'd obviously seen how awesome our bikes looked and got a bit jealous haha.

Hopefully the sale of Trevor's bike goes this smoothly.

Day 128 - December 8th

Woke up good and early to an excellent breakfast that Barbara whipped up for us - an unexpected but great start to the morning!

We got on the road and headed for the short 90 minute ride into Santiago. We opted to take the most direct route and head back to the Panamericana, but ran into some sort of police roadblock and had to do a pretty big detour. It actually brought us down a few really cool roads though, so we weren't too upset. Trevor had already done a bit of research on a place that seemed cool before getting into town and turns out it was a good choice. We found a good hostel first try! That seems to be a rarity these days. Things are starting to look up. We got settled into Dominica Hostel, with warning from the owner Johan that the area we're in can get a big rowdy at night. Sounds good to us - we like fun! The hostel also had awesome WiFi and super nice, hot showers.  Pretty excited for that if we're going to be here for a decent amount of time. We actually ended up getting a private room because all the dorms were full for the next couple days, but the owner let us pay the same price...which actually works out pretty awesome so we can unpack all our motorcycle stuff and get organized before trying to sell the bikes.

We got a recommendation from Alf yesterday that we had to try a Pisco Sour, so once we got all unpacked, we headed town to the terrace on Pio Nono and got out first real Chilean Drink. Wasn't too bad at all.

We had a couple more drinks and explored the area a bit, but didn't get too too crazy - Dave still has to sell that motorcycle to Alf tomorrow at the airport.

We did, however meet some pretty cool Brazillians. They even cooked the whole hostel some traditional Brazillian BBQ and supplied a bunch of Escudo beers for everyone to drink - I think we're gonna like it here.

Day 127 - December 7th

This morning, after a quick breakfast that our friend had prepared for us, we were on our way. Thanks so much to them for their hospitality! Since their WiFi broke, our first step was to go to the nearby cafe from yesterday to coordinate the meeting with Alf, Dave's bike buyer. After getting directions and picking a meeting time (more or less) it was time to give Dave's bike one last good scrubbing. The gas station wash booth was anticlimactic and didn't really work, so instead we scrubbed it by hand. An hour later, she was ready.
We headed up to an area called Horcón, where Alf was staying with his wife, Barbara. The two of them were doing a one month trip in an old Subaru, then Alf was to continue on up to Canada by motorbike. We found the place they were staying, said hello, then we went and bought beer. Step one.
After returning from the tienda, Alf checked out the bike quickly. Seeing nothing major, he asked about the tools that we had with us. Standard stuff, wrenches, sockets, vice grips, etc... Well, that will be perfect to fix the Subaru. So the next little while was spent fixing the gas cylinders on the hatchback. Not what I expected to do in Chile.
After the vehicle was in tip top shape, we were all getting hungry, so we went down the road for empanadas. A nice Latin American greasy meal filled our stomachs and we were ready to go again.
By this time, the day was getting late. Alf and Barbara found out we didn't have a place to stay for the night, so they offered us the spate bedroom in the apartment they were renting. The two of us played a quick game of Rock Paper Scissors to decide if we were going to stay here with Alf, or go to Santiago and find a hostel. The game spoke, and we opted to stay with Alf and Barbara - awesome! The 4 of us hung out and exchanged stories for the rest of the evening, and we went off to bed at a decent time so Alf and Barbara could head for a little day trip to Valparisio in the morning. Tomorrow's a holiday here in Chile, so we'll wait until Wednesday to do the exchange of the bike money and paperwork until then. Neat.

Day 126 - December 6th

For potentially being Dave's last day with the motorbike, today was wierd...
We woke up to our motorbikes being in the restaurant....just as we left them. We scooted past the bikes and sat at a table (which still wasn't open to the public for some reason) and got served breakfast. Good stuff. We backed out bikes out of the kitchen and headed off toward Concon.
The road was super freaking rad. Fast, curves and very little traffic for most of it. We got on a big detour before getting to Concon (our destination for the day), but that was fun too and we arrived into town by 11:30am. Never been so early before! Awesome. As we rolled up, we noticed the sandboarding spot. We got STOKED and SHREDDED THE POW for a good hour. Was pretty hilarious. Off to a good start for the day.
After POACHING ALL THE LOCAL'S SICK LINES, it was time for some grub. We found a little café that turned out just opened by a Scottish guy. He's lived here for 6 months, bought the place 6 weeks ago, and has been in business for 13 days. His lady friend was a Chilean accountant so its all starting to make sense (or is it?). Having no idea where we could stay for the night, he googled for us and found a hostel (or so we thought).
The Google directions to the hostel brought us to a church. Not the first time we'd stayed in a Church this trip so we went to go ask someone. Nope, no hostel here. Darn. They pointed to a place 2 blocks down....think we could find a hostel there either? Nope. What's going on?!? Why's it so hard to find a hostel...or any cheap place to stay for that matter. We wound up finding another hotel on the beach, but they would budge on price cause the owner wasn't around. Then we went across the street to a wierd love motel thing that reaked of cigarette smoke. Nope, not gonna stay there either. This is getting ridiculous, guess we're not staying in Concon tonight, so we headed north.
Once out of town and on the highway, we notice a place that has cabanas and a pool and a bunch of kids toys like playgrounds and stuff. Why not, lets give it a go. Seems a bit odd, but whatever. At this point I'll take pretty much anything. We asked the lady for a spot and she said we could pay just 15000 Pesos and we could have 3 hours in her cabaña and even use the jacuzzi. Wait, what? She thinks we're gay? Not again! I guess this is the place you bring your kids then have sexy times or something. Oh man.
We got to a town called Quintero where we initially saw a super fancy looking place, but opted to go in anyways to ask where the cheap hotels were since we'd had luck with that many times prior. Turns out the receptionist's husband had just rolled up in his car and she spoke some spanish with him and next thing we knew, we were at their house, sleeping in their basement and our motorbikes were in the carport. I guess we're not going to a hotel after all. WHERE ARE WE? WHAT IS GOING ON? The owner spoke to us about his bonsai trees for a good half hour, and we went for food and a wander around the town.
I still don't know what's going on, are we paying to stay here? Do we buy them beers? Are they just nice people? Maybe they're super religious. I have literally no idea. Any case, we have a place to stay, so that's good I guess. Dave is probably gonna meet up with Alf (the guys whos gonna but his motorbike) tomorrow 20 mins up the road, so we'll see how that goes.
It's been an interesting day.

Day 125 - December 5th

For whatever reason, it was much easier getting the bikes out of the hostel this morning than getting them in last night. Not too sure why. Probably geometry. That's a good start to the day though.
Having some leftover pizza for breakfast was enough to get us to Andacollo, which was our first city off the beaten path since entering Chile! Last night, Trevor got in touch with his old boss at Teck Metals to try and set up a tour with one of the Chilean operations. Unfortunately, there was no time to arrange anything, so we figured we'd just show up and try our best.
First thing's first... After arriving in town,we found a cafe and got our morning coffee. While finishing that, we wandered over to an archeology museum. It cost us $300 Chilean pesos (60¢ Canadian) each for entry, which may or may not have been worth it. The museum was tiny, and not very amazing. Maybe if we could read more than 10% of the Spanish it would have been better.
Next, we tried to go to the Teck copper mine. Driving up to the front gate, we were greeted by confused security guards that didn't speak a word of English. We told them we used to work for Teck in Canada, and basically quit our jobs to drive down here (which isn't exactly true, but bear with me). They told us there wasn't a tour, but they'd see what they could do. They got in contact with a friend of Trev's old boss, just to make sure our story checked out (I think) and from there did everything they could, but a tour wasn't in the cards for the day. Too bad. We still had lots of fun talking to them and hanging out. And the lady security guard apparently loved our blue eyes!
On our way out of town, we took the same road back to the Panamerican highway, which was an awesome road. Twisty and mountainous, it was our first breakup of the monotony that is the Chilean desert. Awesome. Anyway, we made it back to the highway, and except for a couple gas and snack stops, we kept ripping for the whole day.
One time, after a toll booth, we met a German couple on a 26 year old BMW. Pretty cool seeing a classic bike like that, which he had apparently torn down and rebuilt from scratch before the trip. The bike was shipped to Chile, and the two of them were doing one month of travels before she had to fly home and he kept going for another 6 months up to the USA. Great to hear some of their stories.
Eventually we arrived in a town called Papudo, which had a cool beachy vibe to it. It seemed like a tourist destination for Chileans, but not many foreigners. Pretty cool. We found a cheap hotel/hostel thing, and parked our bikes in the restaurant. This isn't even weird to us anymore. After a wander down to the ocean for dinner, and then a coffee shop with WiFi, we called it a night.

Day 124 - December 4th

Today wasn't exactly the most exciting day.

After drinking too much the night before in the dumpy town of Chañaral, we had some hotel breakfast (with excellent juice) and got on the road with no real destination in mind.  We see the first distances highway sign on the highway and it says there's a place called La Serena exactly 500 kms away.  Lets go there, we decided!  Turns out yeah, it was doable, but oh man was it ever boring. After the first 100km of so, we stopped for second breakfast in a town called Caldera...a cup of coffee was definitely required today. Knowing that we were likely going to be cruising through 400 more kilometers of desert, we opted to actually use our Sena headsets to there full potential and listen to music! Today was there first time since Canada where we actually used the Sena for music rather than just having it on voice so we could talk between ourselves.  It was a good thing too. Probably would have fallen asleep if we weren't jammin' out.

We made it to La Serena which actually looked like a pretty cool city, parked in the main square, and started to look for a hotel. Trevor went literally everywhere, took forever, but eventually found a quaint little place that said "oh yeah we can for sure fit your motorcycles inside".  Turns out the entry way was one of the smallest doors either of us had ever seen. We took the bins off, drove up the sidewalk and had 3 people manhandle the bikes inside.  I dont even know how it was possible, but they're in there now. Hopefully we can get them out tomorrow too, that'd be a plus. By this point, we were both super pooped, Trevor wasn't feeling 100%, but we managed to find a place to grab a pizza before hitting up a corner store and going to bed.

We likely have another decently long day tomorrow. Hopefully it's a bit more exciting than today.

Day 123 - December 3rd

Today was another travel day south. After not being able to find an affordable breakfast anywhere, we bought these chicken and cheese pastries from a corner store. Good enough. Dave also bought a juice, but it only made it about 10m out of the store before he dropped it and broke glass everywhere. Guess it's going to be one of those days.
We left Antofagasta and headed onto the highway. About an hour down the road was our first destination: Mano del Desierto, or Hand of the Desert. 100m off the side of the Panamerican highway is an 11m concrete hand sculpture. It was pretty neat. Made for a good photo op spot and a breakup of the monotony that is the Chilean Panamerican desert.
Speaking of monotony, the next 5 hours or so were entirely spent driving straight highway, except for the occasional gas station or jam and bread stop. Unbelievably thrilling. We both turned on music in our helmets (for the first time since Canada!) to stay awake.
A while later, we arrived in the coastal town of Chañaral. The town was so incredibly dumpy looking we couldn't believe it. The highest rated hostel on trip advisor had been demolished to build a highway. The other buildings nearby had been abandoned, with windows smashed, walls crumbling, and pavement torn up. And this wasn't part of construction/demolition... This was just disrepair. It honestly looked like a war zone. Perfect, let's stay here for the night.
We managed to find a hostel, which apparently was combined with a perfume store. But nope, they were closed for the night, and told us to go down the street. The hotel down the road seemed fine, but it stood out like a beacon of hope amongst dozens of crumbling buildings. What do we get ourselves into?
After moving in, we looked for food. It was sometimes difficult to determine what was actually open and what was abandoned, because even the operating businesses were incredibly run down. Then we found what looked like a nice bar. Perfect! Oops, turns out the kitchen doesn't open for 45 minutes... Okay, no problem. We went across the street to the tienda (corner store) and picked up some chocolate bars, brought them back to the bar, and ordered some beers.
After the kitchen opened and we had dinner, we took off to buy some tienda beers and check out more of the town. We wandered into an abandoned stadium, which was super creepy and cool, and then explored a couple other abandoned buildings. Really strange and really cool.
After the tienda beers, we went back to the bar for karaoke night. We didn't take part, but it was a heck of a good time trying to read the words and translate them to English. At one point the girl at the table next to us was singing. I think she spoke English, because as we were translating (poorly and incorrectly of course) she just starts laughing at how dumb we are and has trouble finishing her song. Oops. Maybe it's time to head back to the hotel.

Day 122 - December 2nd

Alrighty, time to get out of this wierd remote border town that is...Ollogüe.

First things first though, we really need gas.  I mean we might be able to make it to Callama but it'd be just over 300kms total on this tank. Better not rish it.  After breakfast, Dave went out on a mission to find someone in the town who had gas. After being led around the entire town, and finding a helpful old lady, I was led to a back yard with some dogs where we parked the motorbikes and the lady came out with a couple 5 liter jugs of petrol. Awesome!  They charged us about 1.5 times what we should have paid, but knowing that we'd make it to the next town made it worth it. Leaving Ollogüe was actually pretty cool.  The first part of the road was nice and paved, but they were re-doing it (or more likely....making a real road for the first time ever), so there were many long stretches of gravel and some sandy bits. Always makes riding interesting. We closest town was another 120kms away, so the really understanding the remoteness of the border crossing we took was pretty cool. We gassed up properly in Calama, Dave helped a cute girl start her motorcycle after grabbing a bite to eat, then we kept heading onwards toward our destination for the night...Antofagasta.  On the way, we saw some big mining operations, but not much else. Pretty good sized industry stuff going on up there though.

We eventually arrived in Antofagasta after a long 450km ish day. It took us quite a while to find a hostel to stay at (mostly due to the fact we hadnt had internet the night before to research), but we found a place in a pretty good location, parked the bikes, got some food in us and hung out for the evening. There was a mall pretty close so we wandered around there. Turns out they sell cars in shopping centres in Chile, so that was interesting. Prices were comparable to home, if not more expensive, but about half the car brands there aren't available in Canada, so it was kind of cool to explore.

One more fun fact: the police have special police edition BMW GS motorbikes here. At least some of them do. I guess this really is more of a first world country compared to where we've been. Only time will tell I guess.

First impressions of Chile: It's way more clean, the north has pretty much nothing, cars follow rules, and life actually makes a bit of sense for once!

Day 121 - December 1st

Time for our last border crossing of the trip! We woke up in time to catch the first wave of breakky at the hostel, packed our things, bought snacks and water for the day, and got on the road. First stop was to swing by Robin's place, both to say hi and to give the bikes a good cleaning. Salt flats salt is nasty stuff on vehicles so we wanted to keep them nice.
Robin welcomed us in again and gave the bikes a thorough wash. Never looked so good in their lives! We then sat around, had some coffee, and traded stories until lunch time. Then we all piled into Robin's land rover and headed to a lunch spot nearby, along with Dave, a pedal bike traveller staying with Robin. Lunch was good and cheap, and we traded more stories again. Good fun.
Much later than we wanted, we finally left Uyuni. The road to the border was about 220km, and there was no promise of gas on the other side... Halfway there, a town called San Cristobal had a gas station which was unreliable at best. Apparently only 1/5 times they actually have gas. Well, today was our lucky day! No problems filling up there.
After San Cristobal, the road got worse and worse. Why am I still surprised that the main trucking route between Chile and Bolivia is sand? Anyway, in one particularly deep patch, Trev dropped the bike going about 10 km/h. No harm done, just a big frustration.
After another hour or two of riding crappy roads, we arrived at the border. The customs offices and immigration etc were so much in the middle of nowhere... All you could see in all directions was dirt and sand and dry, dead mountains. It was super bizarre.
Leaving Bolivia was easy. Stamp in the passport, revoke the import permit, and we were on our way. No problem! Entering Chile was also pretty easy. We found a guy at the immigration building (next to the foosball and ping pong tables) to stamp the passport, and then it was on to customs. Paperwork was easy and straightforward, and we even got their advice on how to sell the motorbikes. Super helpful! Trevor got his turnip beans confiscated (that he had found in Peru) so we can't send them back to Wisconsin. Sorry Alex!
The border town in Chile is called Ollogüe, and is less than a 2 minute drive from the border. After a bit of messing around, we found a weird hostel thing with no WiFi, but it had English TV. Neat. They fed us dinner and we had a low key evening after a big day. There was a beautiful sunset, and that's about the most exciting thing about the entire town. On southward tomorrow!

Day 120 - November 30th

This morning at breakky we met some other Canadian travellers who were doing a month in Bolivia. Turns out, back in 1972, they drove a truck down from Canada to Chile and all the way back. They're way more hardcore than us. Pretty cool to hear some of their stories!

Next, we left the hostel to find the motorcycle tour company in town to ask some advice. After a bit of messing around, we found his place. He had converted an old abandoned church into his tour company, with rental motorbikes and gear as well as a small shop. He immediately invited us in for coffee and told us some of his stories. Seemed like a super down to earth guy and was more than willing to give us some tips. Thanks Robin!

After we left there, we headed towards the Salar de Uyuni (aka Bolivian salt flats.) The road out there was under construction, so there was a bit of a bypass with a bunch of sand. Sand sucks. We made it through unscathed, though.

We made it to Colchani, which is the standard entrance onto the flats. From there we followed a gravel road until we came upon a group of 5 SUVs decked out with adventure gear. Cool! One of them took off toward our main goal for the day - Isla Incahuasi - so we tagged along behind.

It was about then that we actually got onto the salt part. It was absolutely incredible. I never would have thought I could have so much fun driving in a straight line, for 78km, at 110km/h. The "road" was just a darker section of the salt from tires of previous SUVs, but you could drive literally anywhere and in any direction. It was cool being able to look behind you, while travelling full speed, for more than 20 seconds, without looking forward. There was nothing that you could possibly hit, and if you drifted off course, it didn't actually matter. It was crazy! Such a unique and thrilling experience.

After about an hour, we arrived at Isla Incahuasi. It was cool how it started as a blank space between the two "coasts" of the salt flats, and slowly emerged as we rounded the curve of the earth. The island had a small cafeteria, a museum, a gift shop or two, and a couple pieces of furniture made entirely from salt. Neat! For lunch we had llama, which was pretty darn good. The llamas are raised in the fields just off the south part of the flats... I would say this falls into the 100 mile diet, but the flats might be too big for that!

After lunch, we did a quick hike to the top of the island. Pretty crazy view being able to see nothing but salt in all directions. Once we got back to the bikes, we headed a bit away from the island to do some goofy perspective photos and fun gopro videos. So much fun!

On the hour or so ride back, we had a lot more fun goofing around with the gopros and stuff. Because we could drive literally anywhere, we could take our hands off the bars and mess around, doing stupid poses or fun camera angles. Such a rush.

Back near the edge, we found the Dakar monument and the visitor flag area. First, we had to hang the Canadian flag. Trev found a ladder behind a nearby building, and climbed up the flagpole. Success! Next we went in front of the monument to do more photos. Again, success!

A bit further along we found a salt hotel. We wandered around inside and checked it out... Super cool! All the beds, tables, chairs etc were all salt. Dave even tested a bench - yep, it's salt.

On the way home, we were allowed to drive through the construction site. No sand! Awesome! We tried to find Robin to get pizza and beer, but he wasn't home. Too bad... He seemed awesome. Nothing left for us to do except buy gas, which is an experience in itself. The guy at the station wouldn't sell us gas for a discounted rate (only double what Bolivians pay) while his manager was around. He wanted us to pay triple. Then, lucky for us, his manager left for a minute and he gave us a deal. He likely pocketed the difference. Man, of all places to expect corruption, a gas station attendant wasn't what I expected. With full bikes, we headed to dinner to fill our stomachs, then we called it a day.

Day 119 - November 29th

We got on the road at a reasonable hour this morning - about 8:30 - because we had a long travel day ahead of us. No real issues getting the bikes out of the hotel or finding our way... Everything seemed to be working out for us. Nice start to the day.

Driving through the rolling hillsides and long, straight valleys, we saw more llamas and alpacas than probably the entire rest of our lives. And that's saying something, after the last few months! They seemed to be roaming free for what seemed like forever, but upon closer inspection we noticed tags on their ears. So somehow, somebody somewhere manages to keep track of the herd of animals that rules the Bolivian plains. I don't understand how. It was also fun to come around a corner at 100km/h and be greeted by a 5' tall furry animal in the middle of the road that couldn't care less about the impending death that is my motorcycle. On the other hand, some were super skittish and even a quick horn boop sent them scattering. Silly llamas (or alpacas... How can you tell?)

After we got to Challapata (about 1/3 of the day) we had to get money from the ATM. It was almost a slam dunk - one ATM in town, open on Sundays, and easy to find. Perfect. But I tell ya, I have never in my life used a crappier looking ATM, and I probably never will. The screen was shattered and you could barely make out the words on the screen... But it still dispensed cash, somehow. And it had this annoying little "Banco Union" song that was stuck in my head for hours... Overall a negative ATM experience. Hilarious, though.

By far the most intense part of our day happened shortly after Challapata. We came up to a blind corner and saw some cars parked in the middle of the lane. This isn't such a weird occurrence, as people tend to be oblivious all the time, so we proceeded to just drive around them. Right then, we realised why they were parked there. Not 10 minutes before, a semi truck towing gasoline had rolled, taken out the guard rail, and fallen to the valley below.

Immediately we pull over to help out however we can, but with the language barrier we were all but useless. Since it had happened so recently, nobody had made it down to the truck yet to see if he was okay. We could see people going down the valley side, but they were clearly hesitant because of the trailer full of gasoline that could explode at any minute. Finally, a group of two or three younger guys made it, and nearly immediately turned back up the valley side. Apparently the driver had died immediately in the crash and there was nothing anybody could do. Very sad and very intense.

The next three hours of riding was, needless to say, much more cautious. After more ups and downs, we rolled into Uyuni, the home of the Bolivian salt flats. Because we were running low on gas, we pulled up to the station... Only to be in line behind a dozen or so expedition vehicles preparing for the morning drive on the salt flats. They were filling jerry cans and everything too, so it took forever. We also ran into a husband, wife, and baby combo who were travelling overland in a car, who we already met in Boquete, Panama. Crazy small world!

After gassing up, we found a hostel (first try!) that would take us and our bikes: Piedra Blanca. Seems pretty chill so far. The evening was spent planning the last few weeks here in South America, and trying to figure out the best way to get to Chile and see the salt flats and everything. Logistics! What a rush!

Day 118 - November 28th

Dave didn't wake up til 1030...what a guy. We were supposed to be up and at 'er early too.

Dave stumbled out of bed, still drunk from the night before, packed up as fast as possible and oil and put together the air filter he'd cleaned the night before. Even with that though, we still didn't get on the road til 1 or so since it was already time for the second meal of the day and Trevor was hungry (did you know that Trevor eats a lot? Fun fact #74). You can see a pic of him eating questionable balls below.

Once we were on the road it was a bit of a struggle getting out of town. La Paz is crazy and its traffic is worse. Coupling that with that fact that Dave's bike still wouldn't run right, we weren't doing so hot. We really need to drop some elevation I tell ya. At one point Dave's bike was so bad that we had to stop, push and limp it up the just wasn't getting enough air. We made it work tho!

The next step was to get gas....I hate this part. Bolivia has such a dumb system. Unfortunately, we were unable to find a corrupt petrol pumper this time and had to pay the full gringo price for gas. It's almost three times what the locals pay! Sucks so much.

Nonetheless, we got our gas and were on our way. Once out of town it was a pretty pleasant ride. We got to see some really flat farmland even though we were still hovering around 4000 meters above sea level. It's pretty nuts how the land can just be like that.

We got to the major (ish) town of Oruro where we decided to find a place to get an oil change done. We found a pretty cool shop with a bunch of guys outside and they were stoked to help us. Good stuff! Another check mark for the  to-do list.

It was almost night by this point so we decided to find a place here rather than continuing...its a good thing we did too, 'cause it started pouring rain on us before we could even find a hotel that would take us and our bikes. We would up putting the bikes way down a super skinny hallway to the lobby of a hotel deep in a building. It wasn't easy, but we made it work!

Still can't belive Dave was even coherent enough to ride his bike today. Good on ya Dave.

Day 117 - November 27th

Today we accomplished one of our major goals for the trip: riding the Bolivian Death Road. We started in town leaving the hostel, and we followed Google maps recommended route. Once again, Google led us on some crazy route that actually didn't make any sense. The roads were so exceptionally steep, it was unlike anything we'd ever seen. It made the roads in San Fransisco look like gentle slopes. Crazy start to the day!

After we got through that, the main highway took us up and up past cool ridges and lakes to the summit of the highway pass. This was at about 4600m, and was the temperature was barely above 0. At the top, we saw a bunch of groups of mountain bikers starting their rides. Riding death road on bikes is apparently the thing to do these days...

A couple kms, a 1500m elevation drop, and a gas fill up later (which was hilarious... Why was there a sheep at the gas station?) and we were at the start of Death Road. The sign at the top was hilarious... It warned of cliffs on the side of the road between 280 600m tall. As in, there were no cliffs shorter than 280m. Lovely.

As we meandered down the road, the sights were immediately amazing. The mountains across the valley were beautiful, and they weren't kidding about the cliffs. The road was mostly the width of one vehicle, with vertical cliffs upward to the right and vertical cliffs downward to the left. Also, fun fact... The death road is the only road in South America (besides the countries of Guyana and Suriname) where you have to drive on the left side of the road. So that put us driving right on the edge of the cliff.

There were so many cool sights along the road, so we kept stopping and taking photos. The photos will never be able to capture the beauty of the road, however. One section had been carved through the cliff face, so we were driving underneath a large rock over our heads. Meanwhile, the water draining from above was coming down quick, but we were driving behind the waterfall. It was epic. A little farther down we weren't so lucky, and actually had to ride through the waterfall... Oh well. No big deal at all. Something like that couldn't wipe the smiles off our faces!

Lunch that day was had on the roadside and was just jam and bread. Whatever gets us through the day! Just after lunch, we found some guy with a gate across the road who made us pay 25 Bs (about $5). Still not sure if that was legit or not.

About 3 hours, 34km, and 2000m vertical later, we reached the valley bottom. It was crazy too because the temperature had climbed about 30 degrees, and we were absolutely sweating by the bottom. From here we took the new main highway back to town, which in itself was a beautiful road. Nowhere near as sketchy or dangerous, but it had great corners and beautiful views across the valley of Death Road. After a rainy climb from 1100m to the summit of 4600m from earlier today, we thought we had seen it all. Nope. Apparently the rain on the La Paz side of the summit wasn't rain at all, but snow and hail. Perfect. That was our first time riding through snow on this trip!

La Paz itself was sunny and nice to get back to. An hour of aggressive and lawless traffic (which, realistically, was much more dangerous than Death Road) and we were back at the hostel. The afternoon was spent doing a bunch of random things, including cleaning an air filter, buying a towel, exploring a market, getting dinner, nothing crazy really. We had a couple beers at the hostel bar, then Trev called it a night while Dave went to another hostel down the road to meet up with some guys we met yesterday. 

That got messy fast. After some pitchers and shots and some beer pong, we all went to another bar and was some guy's birthday so he was paying for everything. Wierd, huh? Anyways, Dave got home at 4:30am. 

Today was a big day....but holy moly was it fun!

Day 116 - November 26th

Today we left the godforsaken place that is Puno.

We got up at a decent time and headed out of town because there wasn't even a restaurant near our hostel. We ended up finding a place for desayuno (breakfast in Spanish) just on the outskirts of town. There was a definite language barrier this time, but all we knew going into the meal is that she didn't have eggs, but she did have coffee. We ended up with a plate with fish with tons of bones and some rice or something. It was pretty terrible, but it somehow only cost us 7 Soles (about $2 Canadian) total for the two of us. Not too fact I'd say it was well worth it for a meal with coffee for a dollar.

The road wasn't too incredibly exciting, but some nice views by the lake made it still pretty enjoyable. The one weird thing was the amount of vans we saw with sheep strapped to the rooftops ( sheep on the roof of vans). Kinda weird, right?

We got the the border and it was a typical gross border town that seemed dirty with nothing labelled. Great. In all actuality tho, it was pretty easy to leave Peru. The official was quick and efficient...the only wierd part was the amount of bicycles that had been converted to carry vegetables from Peru to Bolivia. There was a nonstop train of them that made it hard for even a motorbike to get thru. Quite strange.

Bolovia was pretty easy to enter too, just a bit of a line for immigration and a single photocopy at the Aduna for the bikes and we were done. While we were there, we met a tour guide guy that was super chill from a company called Tucan Tours. He was touring people all around South America and had been doing it for over 2 years so he had some good advice for us....including that fact we can barter over gas prices in Bolivia....but we'll get to that later. We also ran into the swiss lady again (the same one from Nicaragua and Panama and Columbia). Pretty crazy.

After an hour and a half or so at the border, we were on the road again. Our first mission was to find fuel as we'd already driven 200 kms on the Peru side before reaching the border. The only reason we didn't fill up before crossing was because we could only find 84 octane gas. Figured that might be a little low. There's gotta be a gas station on the Bolivia side that's better, right? Wrong....well kinda. The first gas station we went to said he didn't have any. The second was about 20kms farther and they said they weren't allowed to sell to us. Finally, the third gas station did finally allow us to purchase gas (after some convincing) at a price of 5 Bolivianos per liter. Sure, whatever. The real price on the pump was 3.74 Bolivianos, but we knew foreigners got a precial terrible price, but hadn't figure it out yet so we just went with it....especially after going 300kms on this tank and Dave was already well into his reserve.

It rained on us super hard as we were entering La Paz and Dave's bike was still running pretty terrible just from the elevation. I guess that's what happens when you travel to one of the highest cities in the world without changing carborater jets. We found a hostel down the road from the hostel with a brewery with parking for the bikes so we got in and went for food at a super greasy burger joint. That was probably around 4 or so.

We showered and all that good stuff, then went down to the Adventure Brew hostel where we endulged in some decent beer, played pool, ping pong, foosball, beer pong, and met some pretty cool people. Definitely coming back again tomorrow, but we called it an early night around 1030 so we could be good and fresh to ride the infamous Death Road tomorrow. So excited!

Day 115 - November 25th

After a good long sleep and a hostel breakfast, we got on the road again. After about a minute, we realised Dave's tire was low. No problem, we asked a police officer where we could get air and we ended up at a tire shop on the edge of town. As Dave was filling up the tire and checking pressure, the lady working there (dressed in classic Incan attire) started getting frustrated with Dave's methods, so she took the gauge from him and started doing it herself. Pretty hilarious.

After that, we left Ollantaytambo. We rode through valleys and farms, but nothing too crazy or exciting today. Today was a long travel day so we kind of just wanted to get from A to B.

On the road again, we got a bit hungry. Not wanting to stop for a meal yet, we pulled over at a little tienda (corner store kinda deal) for a snack. And what a find we had - a huge bag of animal crackers for 3 soles (about $1)! Perfect! Clearly, healthy, well rounded meals are not our top priority.

After a few more hours riding, we arrived in Puno, a town right near the side of lake Titicaca. We were greeted by rocks and broken glass all over the road. No big deal, we'll just drive around it... Except it continued for the entire town. It was crazy. Gravel and small boulders and everything in between, combined with broken bottles, windows, and other glass littered the streets everywhere. It was difficult to ride anywhere! We found out later that it was a one day thing where the residents were protesting increased water prices or something. Not a very welcoming start to the town.

After finding a hostel/ hotel kinda deal, we went for dinner in a mototaxi. Trev had more alpaca, which continued to be fantastic. After supper we went back to the hostel and slept early, just after treating our Machu Picchu bug bites. Even 4 months into this trip, a 7 hour riding day still tuckers us out. Go figure.

Day 114 - November 24th

Today we saw Machu Picchu!! Sit tight and prepare for a long post.

We got up at 5:30....its gonna be a long day.  Had breakfast at the hostel at 6, grabbed our bags which we packed the night before and walked down the the train station. This is where the beginnings of our hilarity for the day first thing we notice is how under prepared we looked compared to everyone. Dave literally only had short shorts, a singlet, and boat shoes. Trevor was also in shorts, but at least he had real shoes and was carrying the backpack (for now at least). Everyone else seemed like rich old people who were decked out in 3 layers of brand new hiking clothes with hiking boots and umbrellas and hiking poles and so much other stuff. This is awesome. The next funny thing was the fact that we were able to send a video of turnips to our Turnip guy in Wisconsin....turns out the hills around Machu Piccu are covered in them. I think we're gonna start a company called 'Yellow Flowers of the Americas'. I'm sure National Geographic will pick us up pretty quick here.

The train itself was nice. We got coffee and stuff and it had comfy leather seats. And it's a good thing. Cost us each $115 USD round trip. After 90 mins on the train, we arrived in Aguas Callientes, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu. Here, we spent more money...$24 USD each on bus tickets, then $38 USD each on Machu Picchu entrance tickets. This better be good. Does it really matter though? I mean your not gonna come to Peru and not see Machu Picchu. They kinda have the market cornered and can charge whatever they want.

We got up to Machu Picchu and it was pretty spectacular. The views were awesome of course, but the really cool things were: the bus many switchbacks and wow can those guys drive busses well. Pretty cool. The Sun Gate was pretty neat! We walked super high up (didn't realize it was gonna be so high or we probably wouldn't have done it to be honest) and got an interesting view of Machu Picchu. The Inca Bridge was a bit lame....but the cliffs over there were cool. We tried to listen to some English guides along the way for a few fun facts. We do love fun facts. We got yelled at about 74 times by people or guides or officials or something saying 'don't jump for photo!!'. So naturally, we had to both get jumping rebellious, eh? Then we did the whole circuit of the ruins. Meantime, Dave was getting eaten alive by these tiny little bugs and was dying a bit....should have sprung for the overpriced bugspray at the bottom I guess.

We also probably should have brought more food. Would have stayed a bit longer but the food up there was stupid expensive so we opted to call it for the day and head back down to Aguas Callientes where Trevor got Alpaca steak and Dave got Burritos.

We had a few hours to kill in Aguas Callientes, so we went around all the souvenir shops (which there are millions of), then got smart and bought beers at the market and went and wandered with those and souvenir shopped. Then when we were all shopped out we found a little soccer field where some people were playing and sat in the stands and hung out until our train left at 7pm.

The train ride was really cool actually. We met a guy and a girl who were dating and one was a genetics guy and the other was a doctor lady. Trevor and Dave kept asking questions and we ended up learning all about genome sequencing! Super fun, very practical.

We got back to Ollataytambo, and passed out pretty quick...but oh man, what a cool day.