Summary map showing the full route taken on my 2011-2012 Bonderman Travel Fellowship trip around the world:
Motorcycling down the backroads of Vietnam across the DMZ, from north to south, the atmosphere is thick on many levels. It’s so hot and humid that sweat beads on my forearms, even with the highway breeze.
South America to Southeast Asia is a pretty big jump. I couldn’t think of a way to prepare mentally or physically, so I just got on the airplane willing to figure it out on the fly.
The sun is dipping toward the horizon for what will be my final South American sunset on this trip. After 254 days in seven different countries around the continent, this moment feels like saying farewell to a friend.
I set out at the beginning of February on a limping motorcycle, destination Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of the populated world some 2,200 miles away. My bike, heavily loaded on the rear luggage rack at a high center of gravity, rides with something less than stable grace.
Santiago is the capitol city of Chile and plunged me headfirst into a new world that seemed strangely familiar. Beside the rapid fire slang-ridden Spanish used here and the comical currency valuation, the city feels in a lot of ways like the United States.
Mar del Plata was the starting location for this year’s Dakar Rally, a massive cross-country race for cars, motorcycles, quads, and trucks. Incidentally, Mardel (as it is often referred to down here) is also one of the best locations in Argentina to celebrate New Year’s.
We ended up staying in Buenos Aires for 16 days, chalk-full of adventure and misadventure (most of which I don’t have space or inclination to share here, haha).
I pulled out of the driveway in Cochabamba, the sun rising over the city, only a vague idea of the road ahead. Destination: Buenos Aires, 2000 miles away through mountains, dirt highways, prairies, bugs, and border guards. I was lost within an hour, riding slowly through the deserted early-morning stone streets of Tiraque looking for someone to point me in the right direction.
I was in my new tent, camping by myself in Jose Delgardio’s backyard in the jungle town of Villa Tunari. At one in the morning, the grass around the tent was flooding and the rain pelted above my head like a cold shower.