Friday, March 25, 2011

Featured in RidersWest Magazine :)

Angela writes:

Sending a big “shout out” to our dear friend Lisa for hooking us up to be interviewed by the talented Glynis Fediuk who has recently written about our adventure in an article for RidersWest Magazine!

RidersWest magazine is published five times a year so for those of you in Western Canada you should be able to find this issue on shelves in a week or so.  Otherwise here is a link to our story online called “Borders? What borders?”:

Happy reading and thanks for your continued interest!

Ang & Daryll

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Driving, Living, and Internet Connection in South Africa

Angela writes:
We have arrived. Arrived on the third continent of our journey, “The Dark Continent” of Africa. The transition from living in Latin America to living in Black-Africa has begun.  Apparently we will have another transition once we reach the north of Africa, Muslim-Africa, but we’ll let you know about that once we get there. 

When driving the roads in South Africa, you drive on the left hand side of the road.  My first experience doing this was on our way from the airport to Daryll’s parent’s house.  Our bikes had just been released from customs and we were operating on 30 hours without sleep, so I just had to hope we’d get there without incident as my attention span was dangerously short.  When I was riding the roads, it felt like I was looking into a mirror.  All the merging onto the highway was to the right, the slow lanes were on the left, and the dominant lane position for riding a motorcycle changed to the right side of the lane.  When making a right turn at an intersection, I would often come nose-to-nose with another vehicle also making a right turn in the opposite direction.  The unconscious internal messages to my brain needed some serious updating and my mantra has become “stay left, look right”.  I actually had to think about whether or not my motorcycle would operation the same – would the clutch and break be reversed?  Like I said, I was pretty tired. Now after 3 or 4 rides I have actually become quite accustomed to the changes however, it still requires extra concentration on my part.

For the last 6 months we have been living, breathing, and dreaming in Spanish so it came as no surprise upon arriving at the Johannesburg airport that Daryll would respond to people with si’s and gracias’es, a habit which we have quickly un-learned in the last week.  After spending 6 weeks in friendly, open and relaxed Argentina, we were quite accustomed to having lengthy conversations with people at gas stations inquiring about our trip.  Upon arrival in South Africa the vibe about conversing with “Mr. Stranger” comes with great warnings fraught with suspicion and concern for safety.  While driving in a car around the city, the doors are always locked.  I do however hope and suspect this paranoia will lessen after we leave the city. We are currently in Johannesburg, a large international city where carjacking, and shooting trespassers are common neighbourhood lore.  We’ve heard stories of how the extremely poor of this city have stolen live electrical wires right out of the ground using pickup trucks, also known as “bakkies”, to pull the wires out and we’ve had first hand accounts from residents of nearby condos who had to go without power for a week until the wires could be replaced. We’ve heard stories of how people have stolen the SIM cards out of the traffic lights, also known as “the robots”, to use in their own phones to make free international phone calls.  Every outing we have had there have been at least 3 or 4 major traffic intersections that have become 20-lane, four-way stops. 

In Latin America we became used to reliable and frequent sources of unlimited internet connections.  Within a day of arriving in Johannesburg we exhausted the monthly plan that Daryll’s parents had for internet as they commonly only do a small amount of emailing or Skyping.   Telkom South Africa has a monopoly on internet services here and without much competition, charges users by the amount of data uploaded, downloaded, or viewed.  Since we were “greedily” trying to download GPS maps and upload photos with this service provider,  we ended up having to upgrade our internet package for the month. This comes to a very important point about updates to our blog dear readers.  Across this African leg of our journey we will have even more limited amount of internet service available to us.  This means updates to our blog may come every couple of weeks and unfortunately we will have to be very selective on the photos we upload. We are currently in Johannesburg, South Africa, arguable the most advanced city in Africa and we still are experiencing data limits on our internet service.  I’ve read once we reach a country like Ethiopia, internet might be available only in the capital city and it might take an hour to open a 2 line email!  Our blog updates will be limited in the next 6 months – sorry!

Staying here in Johannesburg with Daryll’s parents has been wonderful.  After 6 months on the road it is so great to be with family.  Daryll’s Mom and Dad are bending over backwards to ensure we have everything we need to prepare us for our next 6 months and are making us very comfortable in the process.  The food has been fantastic and Daryll’s Mom tries to feed us 4 or 5 times a day with treats and fresh fruit that I can rarely say no to.  We’ve had dinner parties, birthday parties (we’ve become seriously smitten with our “new” nephew who just turned 2) and gatherings with some new motorcycle friends where we’ve received help with the bikes and great route planning advice.  We’ve done mountains of laundry (sleeping bags, riding gear, helmet pads etc), cleaned out the tent, and completed maintenance on the motorcycles. For Daryll’s cousin I’ve promised an update on how our dog Echo is doing at my Mom’s in Ontario.  My Mom says:
Echo has certainly become part of the dog pack.
She has made herself comfortable and likes to run with Max (one of her other dogs).
She loves to play and she gets down on her two front paws a lot to show us she's
ready to rumble but she’s such a “big horse” she’ll knock you down and keep going!!!
No problem with her appetite. She has many food bowls to choose from and likes to
make sure all taste the same.She is slumming it right now - laying on the floor by my feet, usually it’s the
Thank you Mommy for taking such good care of our girl! And thank you to Daryll’s family for taking such wonderful care of us!
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Saturday, March 19, 2011

It’s Time for Africa

Daryll writes:

After two magnificent weeks, we bid a sad farewell to all our new friends in Buenos Aires.  We had arranged with our shipping company to drop off our bikes at the cargo terminal on the Wednesday and for the bikes to fly to Johannesburg on the Friday, knowing that we were to fly out on the Sunday.  So if there were to be problems with any of the paperwork, we would still have time to sort it out before we left the country.  We’ve heard some horror stories of bikers leaving before their bikes could be shipped only to find out that customs hadn’t cleared the bikes to be exported. 

Our departure from Argentina though was not without drama.  A short clip of our bikes being packed and ready for shipping.

It's Time for Africa from One World 2 Explore on Vimeo.

Having arrived in Johannesburg with little sleep, we spent the entire day moving from one office to the other and trying to have our bikes processed and cleared through South African customs.  Thanks to Shalan, my brother in-law who met us as we disembarked our flight and dropped us off at the air cargo terminal together with a jerry can of gas.  I was amazed how helpful people were.  Once we had customs sign off for our bikes to be released, a forklift brought them out into the parking lot.  We both were relieved to see them in tact and the way we had seen them taken away a few days prior.  As we unwrapped the several layers of plastic, we had several onlookers as everyone was eager to see what was under all that wrapping.  As we worked to get the bikes on the road again, we had several offers of help and one guy went off and made a funnel and brought it back so that I could fill the tanks with gas.

I’ve never lived in Johannesburg and was shocked at the traffic.  It was rush hour and we had to get to my parent’s home.  I purchased the Tracks 4 Africa mapping software for my GPS prior to leaving Canada, however just realized that it doesn’t auto-route in and around the Johannesburg area.  So we were glad when Shalan arrived at the cargo terminal to lead us home.  As we inched forward in traffic, we got a few stares as it is common practice for bikes to lane-split, so the locals must have wondered why we were sitting in traffic.

It’s nice being at home, having a warm bed to sleep in and especially taking advantage of my mothers cooking.  The last week was spent catching up with family and friends and I need to spend the next few days going over the bikes.  It is good being at home, but we are also itching to get going again as it is now 3 weeks since we’ve really ridden our bikes.  We’ve purchased a new guidebook and now the planning begins for the start of the next leg of our adventure.  Stay tuned!
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Friday, March 11, 2011

Thank You Latin America

Daryll writes:

We had such an amazing time in Latin America and wish that we had more time to explore the areas we missed and is definitely a place we will come back to.  The people that we met along our journey were extraordinary, the landscapes breathtaking and the food divine - Latin America holds a special place in our hearts.

Thank You Latin America from One World 2 Explore on Vimeo.
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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why we do It!

Daryll writes:

Our friend Paul had sent us this link of another biker explaining why he travels on motorcycle and it explains exactly how we feel when on the road.

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Home of Tango

Daryll writes:

Our focus for our first week in Buenos Aires was to arrange shipping of our bikes to Johannesburg and were glad that we dedicated all our time to it.  We drop off the bikes on Wed. March 9th and if all goes well with customs, they will fly out on a South African Airways flight on Fri. March 11th and we will follow on Sun. March 13th.  Now that we got the logistics taken care off, we are making more time for sightseeing.

Wall mural in La Boca
We are staying at Kilca Hostel and upon arriving last week, we met a South African couple (David & Ewa) that were awaiting the arrival of their Moto Guzzi from Cape Town  I had also told our friends (Michael, Jing & Sean) about the hostel and they arrived a few days later.  So we ended up being one big biker family at the hostel and thanks to Michael who prepared a lovely pasta dish for us.

Evening dinner
Buenos Aires is a large city with an excellent network of public transport that includes both an underground subway system and efficient bus network and also has one of the widest streets in the world eminating from the Oblisque.  On our way back from La Boca, we missed our stop and ended up at the end of the line and the bus we were on had terminated, so had to get off the bus and get onto another one going back in the direction we had wanted.  It gave us a good sightseeing tour of the city though.  We had heard so many different stories of how dangerous the city is and that pick-pockets are all over the place.  In the short time that we have been here, we have only met friendly people that always offered their help when asked for directions.

It’s Mardi Gras and there where small Carnivals all over the city this past weekend.  It’s the first time that Buenos Aires was having celebrations, so it is still new for the locals; however it didn’t take too long for everyone to get into the spirit of spraying foam on each other.  Our friend David was the worst and the little kids would chase him around as he retaliated.

Angela and I decided to spread out our sightseeing over a few days, so not to get tired in the heat.  Our first stop "Recoletta" to visit the grave of Eva Peron who served as First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952 and became popular for speaking on behalf of labor rights for trade unions.

As we walked around, we came across a few dog walkers and found a few that herded over 18 dogs, simply talented as all the dogs were so well behaved under their control.  Don't know how Echo would have done?  In the La Boca district, where the famous soccer club has it’s stadium, the restaurants on the quaint colorful streets have free tango shows to draw patrons to their restaurants.

We also headed to the old part of town, San Telmo District with cobblestone streets and found Casa Minima, the narrowest building in BA.

Casa Minima
Our German friend Paul had also arrived in BA, so we had arranged to meet for coffee one afternoon.   While we headed south to Ushuaia, he spent some time in Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil and still has another month in Argentina and Chile before shipping back home.  We had spent Christmas evening with Paul in Quito, Ecuador and it was nice catching up with him and have arranged to see each other again once we get to Europe.

Wall mural in the San Telmo District

National Congress

Old guy in Church

New photos added to the Argentina photo album.
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