When Amazing Becomes the Norm

I was sitting at Overland Oasis in Tule, Mexico one afternoon last August, listening to two travelers, Jason and Toby, discuss their travels. Both had been through South America already and were headed north — Jason and Lisa on BMWs, Toby and Chloe in their Ford F150 camper. They both seemed to be suffering from some version of sensory overload, I suppose. They were somewhat lamenting what life was going to be like after the trip was over. I think it was Toby that said he had arrived at the point during their South America expedition that even the most majestic mountains and waterfalls became “just another mountain” and “just another waterfall”.

Then he said it. The line that hit me like a brick to the head:

“You see and do all of this incredible stuff and you get to the point where amazing becomes the norm.”

Wow. Mind boggling. Dangerous. I’ve always been an adrenaline junkie. What will life be like after seeing all of these amazing sights? Then what? Can you accept a daily routine in one place? What will it take to keep you happy? What will provide the adrenaline rush?

I’ve attended seminars and presentations held by people who have traveled the world by car, motorcycle, bicycle, boat, or on foot, and often there is the question of how to adjust to life after the trip ends. Most of the time the answer I’ve heard is the same: they don’t. They go back to work for some time, always with the goal of going again. But are they happy to be doing that? Or has it become a necessary drug to feed an addiction?

After seven months, I’m still fairly new to this, but the thought of how you handle life after amazing becomes the norm has me a little bit nervous.

But not enough to pass up the amazing.

Just a few days ago, I was sitting at a campsite on the beach with Daniel and Joey. They’ve been traveling together for 22 months now. When we last spoke in El Calafate, they were uncertain of what was next for them. They were discussing shipping the bikes home to Germany from Buenos Aires, and taking some time off from traveling. They were facing difficult decisions about starting a family and settling into a “normal” life.

Joey spoke up over dinner at the camp north of Rio Grande, Argentina: “Well, we have some exciting news.”

This sounded a lot like the introduction to “I’m pregnant and we now know which direction we’re headed”. Turns out it was quite the opposite.

She said, “We’ve decided to ship to Africa!”

Wow. Didn’t see that coming.

They said they were basically broke, and didn’t know how they would afford Africa (remember, this is the same Daniel Rintz that left home six years ago with no money to start his journey), but they were going anyway.

And then Daniel uttered a line that became the second time this trip that I had to immediately jump up and write something down:

“The thought of going back to a regular life is more terrifying than facing Africa with no money.”

Truer words have never been spoken.


Note: When I first drafted this post, one month into my trip, it was difficult for me to see beyond the amazing sights that I anticipated over the next several months. However, since riding the length of South America, and seeing some truly amazing places, I’ve come to realize that there is enough amazing in this world — even in your own backyard — to last more than a lifetime. If and when this trip ends, I believe there will still be amazing weekend trips to local places that I have yet to discover. 

And that’s more than enough to keep me going. 

I’ve had this fortune cookie slip of paper in my wallet for years. You can see why.

Expense Report: February 2016

February turned out to be a fairly expensive month due to new tires and a number of tours. Even though I had seven nights that I paid $0 for lodging, the expense of hostels and hotels in Patagonia drove the average up. Way up.

Gas: $139.65 (Daily average: $4.82)

Food: $382.60 (Daily average: $13.19)

Lodging: $841.17 (Daily average: $29.00)

Tours, Park Admission: $154.14

Bike Maintenance: $380.36

Tolls, Ferries: $23.95

Grand Total: $1925.21

Still cheaper than staying home…

March will be the most expensive by far, due to shipping and air fare costs, but I was aware of that ahead of time so it’s no surprise.

Ruta 3….Still!

March 4, 2016

This road truly seems to go on forever.

If you’ve ever driven through the King Ranch in South Texas, or up Highway 395 between Victorville, California and Ridgecrest, then you know the feeling of driving a long, straight two-lane road with nothing but desert scrub in either direction as far as the eye can see. Now, instead of that long, straight road going a hundred or even two hundred miles, imagine it going for 1,800 miles. In other words, if you left Raymondville, Texas (near the Mexican border) and drove north through the King Ranch, the scenery wouldn’t change until you got to, say, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. That’s the same distance. With a few dots in the road along the way for towns, but for the most part, nothing and nobody. Yep, Argentina is a big country.

Thankfully there are occasional detours to places that are a little more interesting.

Rada Tilly. I camped here one night at the municipal campground a couple of blocks from the beach. Nice town.


Puerto Madryn. I spent a couple of nights at the Ruca Hue bungalows. Reasonably priced, with my own kitchen, good wifi, and walking distance to the main area of town and groceries. Always nice when the staff encourages you to park your bike as close as you want to your front door.


Playa Larallde on Peninsula Valdes. Thirty miles off of Ruta 3 heading east across the peninsula, then six miles down a gravel road (the last mile was actually just beach sand). I had the whole place to myself all day and night, with the exception of a few hours in the evening when a couple of fishermen showed up. It was so dark that night (just a sliver of moon) that I was amazed at the stars and the Milky Way in the sky. And for the first time I saw the Southern Cross.


Low tide. That big rock sticking out in the water is about 15 feet from the water to the top.


Nearing high tide. At high tide, the rock was completely submerged. Made it easy to figure out where to put my tent.


Only 771 more miles to Buenos Aires!


Tangled Up in Blue

March 6, 2016

Just south of Bahia Blanca the scenery finally begins to change. Things start looking greener. Trees appear. I spend the night on the coast in a public park called Balneario Maldonado. A nice older couple manage the campground, and it’s just me and a guy from Buenos Aires staying there. 

In the morning I pack up late, taking my time. The weather is good — clear skies and temperatures in the upper 60s and low 70s — and my days are getting shorter, both in mileage and in daylight. Today is my last “long” day in South America: 245 miles to Azul. 

South of Tres Arroyos I pass a couple on a Kawasaki KLR on the side of the road. They look like they are in need of help, so I turn around and ask. They are from Buenos Aires, and have been to Ushuaia and are headed home. It seems the KLR has stopped charging and died. He has a small set of home-made jumper cables, and I offer to try to jump the KLR from my XT250. We succeed in killing my battery as well, which is tiny and the KLR is really dead. Fortunately my bike push starts easily and I’m able to get it going again. No such luck for the KLR. I offer to give him (or her) a ride to the YPF service station 15km up the road in search of a new battery, but he insists on waiting for a car to stop that hopefully will be able to jump-start the KLR. They thank me profusely, but I feel bad as I ride away leaving them on the side of the road. 

I pull into that YPF station several minutes later for fuel, and there are a half dozen other bikes there already. They are the Fuser biker club from Punta Alta (just north of Bahia Blanca), and are returning home from a weekend ride. They stand there bug-eyed while I discuss riding my 250 from Texas to Ushuaia and now to Buenos Aires. You can almost see the wheels turning. Most of them are on 250s, with a 400 and a 600 thrown in. Suddenly their world seems to be getting bigger. They can imagine traveling further on their 250s. We sit down and have lunch together in the fast food restaurant at the station, and, as usual, have a conversation in Spanish only. It’s getting easier, but can still be exhausting, probably for them as well, since I have to ask them to repeat several sentences. 

Fuser Moto Club Punta Alta Argentina

After lunch and trading stickers, I head north and they head south. The landscape continues to get greener. Crops appear; corn, soybeans, sunflowers, olives. 

Hard to see, but sunflowers as far as the eye can see.


These signs are randomly placed along the highway; not anywhere near the Malvinas (or Falklands) Islands. It seems Argentina wants to be sure to remind everybody who these islands belong to.

For seven months, I’ve been riding with a Sena bluetooth headset on the side of my helmet, but I haven’t used it once. I used it constantly in the States, but in Mexico, Central America, and especially Peru, I didn’t want any distractions taking my attention away from the other drivers. Now, on Ruta 3, I finally feel comfortable that I can listen to music in my helmet again. It seems appropriate to listen to Gotan Project as I make my last days towards Buenos Aires.

As I pull into the campground in Azul, I am approached immediately by a gentleman in a new motorhome. He invites me over for a maté (tea), and wants to discuss travel. Hector and Olinda are from Buenos Aires and have just purchased their motorhome. They are clearly excited about traveling.

Hector and Oly and their new motorhome.

 “Oly” wants to take it to Central America and Mexico. We have a spirited conversation about getting the motorhome around the Darien Gap to Panama, and she begins to make a list of places to see in each country, asking questions about my route. They are not computer-literate, so I pull out my Michelin World Map that I have traced my route on with a black Sharpie, and we talk about where I’ve been, and why I chose to go where I did (and didn’t) go. This couple speaks absolutely zero English. I spend a good two hours with them before I even get the tent off the bike. It’s fun, but at the same time, exhausting. Hector gives me a tour of the motorhome. I am actually amazed at how much space there is and how nice it is considering it’s built in a Mercedes Benz Sprinter. It has a bathroom, and double bed, a nice kitchen with a fold-down dinette, and lots of storage. I tell them that next time I’m doing this trip in their motorhome. 

With all of the time spent talking with others, it’s been a long day. I finally get the tent pitched, and cook the last of my pasta for dinner.

And I had “Birthday Cake” for dessert…


My brother and sister-in-law sent me this awesome card for my birthday. I think they hit the nail on the head.

Two hundred and sixty miles left to Buenos Aires. I’ll take two more days to do it, just to make it easy.

The Americas By The Numbers

March 9, 2016

Now that I am in Buenos Aires I have essentially completed the North, Central, and South America leg of my journey. In the future I will likely return to South America to continue to explore areas that I missed this time around. It’s a big continent, and I could easily spend a year here. Perhaps on Lap 2…

So here are some basic numbers:

  • 235 days on the road (115 days on the bike; 120 days off the bike)
  • 29,756 kilometers (18,490 miles)
  • 278 gallons of gasoline
  • 45 nights spent camping
  • 14 countries
  • 38 individual trips through immigration (and another 38 trips through Aduana or Customs)
  • 7 oil changes
  • 4 sets of tires
  • 3 sets of brake pads
  • 1 set of chain and sprockets
  • 2 crashes 
  • 1 tip-over
  • 1 bike “cannonball” off a worklift
  • 1 broken pannier rack (re-welded)
  • 0 flat tires

Aside from some dirty fuel in Argentina, and a leaking fork seal, I’ve had no problems with the bike.

Buenos Aires, Part One: The Bike

March 11, 2016

Before I could allow myself to do any serious sight-seeing in this city, I needed to get to work: I had a list of items to be done on the bike before taking it to the airport for it’s first flight.

First things first: get all the mud, dirt, and grime off so I can work on it. It’s nice to have car washes that will actually wash bikes too. These guys did a great job: they used degreaser, soap, and not too much pressure. Cost: about $7.


The Butterfly Effect: lots of white butterflies on Ruta 3 heading north. Many of them were kamikazes, turning my helmet into a sticky mess.


Meet Paolo. This guy is awesome. He runs Moto Avenida, a little one-man independent parts, accessory and service shop just around the corner from my apartment on Avenida Cordoba in Buenos Aires. I stopped in and asked him if he would let me use his shop to change my oil & filter and chain & sprockets. He gladly allowed me to use his space. I bought a few small items and my oil from him. As usual, not a word of English, but incredibly nice and helpful. I had to remove the swingarm to install the endless chain, but everything I did took about an hour and a half at his shop. Just coincidence that he was wearing a Yamaha t-shirt when I showed up.

Back at the apartment, I removed the fuel tank and swapped out the fuel pump and fuel filter. As noted earlier, there’s nothing wrong with the fuel pump, but unfortunately the in-tank fuel filter is part of the fuel pump and only comes as an assembly.

One of these things is not like the other: old fuel filter/pump on the left. Filter is just a wee bit black compared to the new one. I’ll clean it again and keep it as a spare just in case.

I also replaced the mirror that was broken when the bike was dropped off the worklift in Punta Arenas. I removed my GPS, its’ mounting dock and associated wiring for shipping, and installed a new air filter.

At this point, the bike is ready to ship. I’ll cover those details Tuesday when it goes to the shipper.

Buenos Aires, Part Two: The City

March 13, 2016

With the bike prepped and ready to deliver to the shipper on Tuesday, I have a few days to relax, wash gear, pack everything, and see the sights.

This is a very lively city, with tons of sidewalk cafes and beautiful parks. Today I walked about six miles in one direction, then caught a cab home at the end of my tour.

From the apartment, I walked to Plaza Serrano, a small park surrounded by bistros and sidewalk bars and cafes. Being Saturday, the park was covered with arts and crafts vendors selling their wares, while others continued to assemble more booths for Sunday’s large event. I stopped at a nearby cafe for a couple of empanadas and a smoothie, then continued walking northeast.

Palermo Buenos Aires

The trees and plants here are beautiful. The front of this cafe was covered in an enormous bougainvillea.

Palermo Buenos Aires


Triumph Thruxton

Saw this nice Triumph parked on the sidewalk while walking along.


My route took me past the Buenos Aires Zoo. Beautiful place…I might even go back and pay to go in. But for free, from the sidewalk, I saw flamingoes, giraffes, and hippos. For a moment I couldn’t help but think about the expense of shipping to and from Africa, versus walking past the zoo here and seeing the same animals.

Yeah, I know….I’m going to Africa.

Buenos Aires zoo flamingoes


Buenos Aires zoo giraffe


Past the zoo, I walked through several more large, shaded parks. In the corner of one, near Plaza Italia, is the Jardin Japones, or Japanese Garden.

Jardin Japones Buenos Aires

Jardin Japones Buenos Aires

Jardin Japones Calendar Buenos Aires

I found my ultimate dream job: I want to be the guy that changes the date every day on this rock calendar at the Japanese Gardens in Buenos Aires. The most stress he could possibly experience is leap year.

Eventually I made my way to the Cementerio del Recoleta. This huge cemetery in the middle of Buenos Aires is absolutely incredible. Well worth the price of admission, which by the way is nothing. Nada. Free.


Cementerio del Recoleta

Cementerio del Recoleta. Feels like a small city of buildings.


Cementerio del Recoleta


Cementerio del Recoleta


Cementerio del Recoleta


Cementerio del Recoleta


Evita cementerio del Recoleta

Evita’s resting place.


Eva Peron Cementerio del Recoleta


Next up was Calle Defensa, a street in the San Telmo district that is lined with flea market vendors on Sundays. Probably a kilometer of them. With a few side streets joining in with vendors as well. It ends at Plaza de Mayo, which is also filled with vendors.

Calle Defensa San Telmo Buenos Aires

Defensa Market San Telmo Buenos Aires

I ran into this guy with a Luckenbach Texas t-shirt.


Great street entertainment.

This guy was quite entertaining as well:

And great street food.


Reflections of the past


Citroen 2CV Limo Buenos Aires

You can tour Buenos Aires in a stretch limo Citroen 2CV.


I saw this on the way back to the apartment. Not sure what it means…


Then back at the apartment, I was looking through a coffee table book on Banksy, the graffiti artist, and ran across this. Apparently there is quite a bit of copy-cat Banksy artwork in Buenos Aires. I’m guessing the overpass sign is one of them.


You Can’t Fix Stupid, But Fortunately You Can Find Ways Around It

March 16, 2016

Never let it be said that I am not capable of doing some really stupid stuff. Yesterday is just my latest shining example.

Yesterday (Tuesday) was supposed to be “shipping day”: the day I took the bike to the airport and delivered it to the shipper. I had a 10:30am appointment at the cargo terminal. It takes just under an hour to get to the airport from where I am staying in Palermo, and I needed to get just a little gas before heading that way so I wouldn’t run out (the bike is supposed to have less than two liters of fuel in it when it goes on the plane).

I made sure the bike was sorted, packed and ready to go the night before. Tuesday morning I left about 9am, and rode a block to the gas station where I bought exactly two liters of fuel, figuring I would burn about a liter on the way to the airport.

After getting fuel, I pushed the bike off to the side, out of the way, and pulled out my waterproof zip-lock pouch with all of my documents in it. I looked at the information from the shipping broker, DakarMotos, which had the GPS coordinates of the cargo area on it, and entered the coordinates into the Maps.Me app on my phone. The route came up, I slid the pouch into my tank bag, put my gloves on, and set off for the airport.

About two miles up the road, I stopped at a stoplight. A cab pulled up behind me, honking furiously. I looked back, and the cab driver was pointing behind him and yelling something at me, but with all of the traffic noise I couldn’t hear him. I assumed I must have run a red light or cut him off in traffic, so I simply waved at him and when the light turned green, I took off.

About a half mile later, I looked down and noticed my tank bag was open. And my document pouch was gone. Massive panic immediately took over. The pouch contained the original title to my bike, my Argentina temporary import certificate, my Argentina reciprocity fee document, the shipping paperwork for the bike, and a bunch of other stuff that I can’t even remember.

I spun an illegal U-turn in the middle of an eight lane busy avenue and started splitting lanes as fast as I could to get back to where the cab driver had been honking at me. I rode in the gutter, between cars, around trucks and buses. When I got back to the street where the cab driver waved me down, I rode slowly up and down the street all the way back to the gas station, several times, looking for my documents. I kept thinking someone would see me and yell at me, waving my documents. No such luck.

Dejected, I went back to the apartment, and set off on foot to walk the entire route. I spent another two hours walking both sides of the street, looking on cars, in windows of buildings, in trash cans, everywhere I could think, with no success. Eventually, I began to accept that my documents were gone, and I was stuck in Argentina. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get a replacement title from the US, and a new temporary import document from the Argentina Customs offices, or if that was even possible. Fortunately, I had two pieces of good news: first, I had the original Texas registration for the bike in a different pouch at the apartment, and I thought I might be able to use it in lieu of the title at Customs. Second, Sandra and Javier at DakarMotos had photocopies of my temporary import certificate, which I hoped would make it easier to get a replacement original.

I contacted Sandra, and after a long discussion with the airport Customs officials, she suggested I file a report with the local police, and get an affidavit from them advising that I had lost the documents. So after a couple of hours at the police station, and the help of Sandra’s daughter-in-law acting as translator, I walked out with the affidavit.

Meanwhile, my brother in Texas was working on getting a certified copy of my title from the Texas DMV. I was somewhat shocked to learn that I could send him an email and he could take it to the DMV and they would give him a copy of my title. For all the difficulties I usually suffer at the DMV, this seemed way too easy. Perhaps they felt sorry for me? Nah, it’s still the DMV.

I went to bed with the bike still in the garage…it should have been on a plane or at least in the cargo area at the airport. I couldn’t help but think of all the things that had to be addressed now: besides documents, there was local logistics (I had to be out of the apartment by Friday morning, as new renters were moving in, and now I had two large roller bags with all my stuff packed in them that wouldn’t fit on the bike); travel logistics (I was going to miss my flight Thursday night, and I wouldn’t arrive in Cape Town when I was supposed to, so my hotel reservation needed to be changed or canceled); and bike logistics (what if I exceeded my time limit in Argentina waiting on documents? I had no document to allow me to exit the country with the bike and then return to start the clock over).

It’s amazing how quickly the stress level can rise after months of virtually no stress. Eventually I took a deep breath, sat down and made my “to do” list, and got to work.

Sandra and Javier are experts at shipping bikes into and out of Argentina, and I was not the first person they had dealt with who for one reason or another didn’t have a full set of documents. After exchanging a few texts, Sandra agreed (for a small “Stupidity Fee”) to meet me at the airport Wednesday morning with the remaining copies of my documents that she had, along with the registration and police affidavit that I had, to see if we could convince Customs to accept what we had and allow me to ship the bike.

After four hours, and another hand-written statement explaining what had happened, I was allowed to take the bike into the freight warehouse and put it on the pallet. Things were once again moving forward!

Before putting the bike on the pallet, I rolled it onto a freight scale. The fully loaded bike, with everything except my camping gear, weighs 174.5 kg, or 384 pounds. For reference, an unloaded BMW 1200GS weighs 260kg, or 573 pounds dry, and a stock KLR650 with no luggage weighs just more than my fully loaded bike, at 176 kg claimed dry weight.

Bike going onto the pallet…


It’s definitely getting real now. This is the first shipment for the bike with the exception of the Stahlratte; I’ve ridden it everywhere until now. It’s a lot farther to ride home from Africa than from Argentina.

And finally some good news: since my bike is considerably smaller than the typical 1200cc adventure bike, the shipping cost turned out to be 20% less than I was originally quoted. So even with the Stupidity Fee it turned out to be less than I had budgeted.

One more day in South America, then a very long flight to South Africa.


How To Turn A 4,300 Mile Trip Into 13,200 Miles

March 19, 2016

Buenos Aires, Argentina to Cape Town, South Africa. Direct, it’s a bit over four thousand miles. Not bad. That would be about eight hours on a plane. If there was a plane from Buenos Aires to Cape Town. But there isn’t. For me, or for the bike. South African Airways used to fly between these two cities, but no longer does. Which means that instead of eight hours to cover 4,300 miles, it now takes 37 hours and just over 13,000 miles to travel between South America and South Africa.

I left Buenos Aires at 9:30pm on Thursday night. Eighteen hours later (and seven hours of time zone changes), I landed in Dubai, UAE, at 10:30pm Friday night. I’ve traveled to Japan many times from the United States, but this was the first time I had been served dinner, breakfast, lunch, and dinner again on a flight.

I had a nine and a half hour layover in Dubai, and the airline provided me with a free hotel room near the airport to get some proper sleep before continuing on in the morning. I was a bit disappointed to be there only at night, and not get to experience this incredible city in the daylight. But I was also exhausted from being on a plane for so long, and was ready for a bed.

Dubai at night

Arriving in Dubai Friday night.


The hotel apparently functions solely as a stopover for Emirates Airlines. When I checked in, they already knew my schedule, and had already set up a 5am wake-up call, and informed me that check-out was at 6am (how’s that for efficiency?). By 6:30am I was back at the airport and about to board my nine hour flight to Cape Town.

By the time I arrived in Cape Town Saturday afternoon, I had been served six meals and watched ten movies, including:

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • The Big Short
  • The Martian
  • A Walk in the Woods
  • Amy
  • Truth
  • The Program
  • The Legend of Barney Thompson
  • Trumbo
  • The Intern

You’ve probably never heard of more than half of these movies. I hadn’t either. But I have to say, they were all good. Some were good for helping me catch up on my sleep. Others, like Barney Thompson, were just plain strange.

As of this writing, the bike hasn’t left Buenos Aires yet. It will fly to London, then change planes and head to Cape Town, and should arrive here Tuesday afternoon. Meanwhile, I’m on foot (well, foot and a half, actually; my ankle swelled up tremendously from all of the plane time, but I’m still walking fairly well), so I plan to do some walking today, and head to the shopping area to acquire some things that I couldn’t fly with, such as gas canisters for my camp stove.

Swollen ankle

27 hours in economy coach seating is not good for the ankle.

The area I’m staying in reminds me a lot of Southern California, and in particular Orange County. The neighborhood, the weather, and the landscape looks and feels a lot like it.

Since I’m restricted to short distances for a few more days, I probably won’t post much until the bike arrives, unless something interesting happens between now and then. Otherwise, I plan to catch up on my reading and rest until then.

Carnets, Cape Town, and Kindness

March 23, 2016

My bike flew into Cape Town from Buenos Aires via London yesterday. This morning I went to the airport to begin what I assumed would be a long process of getting the bike through South African Customs. I had set aside a couple of days for this process just in case, especially since I still didn’t have a title for the bike (it’s on its’ way; in South Africa now but hasn’t been delivered yet), and I wasn’t sure if I could get the bike released without the title.

First up: find the bike. It arrived on a British Airways 747, but nobody, including Google, seemed to know the location of British Airways Cargo Services. I wandered the airport for a while, until someone pointed me towards South African Airways Cargo. It was a large building, so I thought maybe they shared it with British Airways. After going through their security checks and signing in, I was told that British Airways cargo was handled by Swissport, which was a few more blocks down the street.

When I got to Swissport, they immediately knew my bike was there, and handed me paperwork and directed me towards Customs which was just across the parking lot. This is the point that I figured I was going to spend the rest of the day, and I fully expected to have to hire a customs broker in the end to complete the transaction. But I was determined to try to do it myself first and save the expense.

To my surprise, the woman in the Customs office was incredibly helpful and very knowledgeable. She handed me another form to fill out, which I recognized as the form that a customs broker would normally complete. I took this as a good sign. She then asked me to sign a form giving Customs the authority to fill out my carnet de passage. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the carnet, it’s basically a form stating that you have put up money for a bond, and are temporarily importing the motorcycle and will take it back out of the country within a certain time limit or forfeit your bond.  This is required in many countries, including most of Africa. I’ve been carrying it with me but hadn’t needed it until now.

I signed the letter of authorization and she filled out and stamped my carnet. She never asked for any other paperwork for the motorcycle. At this point she and I walked back over to the Swissport warehouse together and she verified the chassis number of the bike, then signed the release form.

Wait, what? That’s it? You mean I’m done? I can take the bike? Are you sure? Wow.

Well, I did have to pay Swissport $18.95 for handling charges. But within two hours I had my bike and was free to go. No hassles. Very little waiting. It probably took me longer to get to the airport and find the right warehouse than actually walking the bike through Customs.

The forklift driver and warehouse supervisor asked me where my vehicle was located to load the pallet. “I’m going to ride it away”, I said. They looked at me, then at each other, then back at me. Finally the forklift driver said, “Who?”

“Me.” I waved my helmet at him. The grin on his face was huge. I’m not sure, but I think he was thinking, “This guy is crazy, and too old to do this.” Apparently I don’t look like a motorcyclist here. I haven’t decided yet if that’s a good or bad thing.

I took the bike off the pallet, connected the battery, installed the mirrors, pulled my compressor out and aired up the tires, and I was ready to go. Slowly. Very slowly and cautiously. Because they drive on the left here. Which makes intersections, especially right turns, a bit tricky at first. Not too bad if you’re in traffic and can follow other cars, or when the street is well marked with arrows painted on the lanes. Without all of that, it requires a bit of extra concentration. As I approached the first roundabout, I was constantly repeating “LEFT! CLOCKWISE!!” in my helmet. I know from past experience riding in England that it will quickly get easier.

I’ll spend the next few days sight-seeing around Cape Town and prepping the bike, then I plan to head along the coast for a few days, camping and visiting some of the spectacular spots in South Africa. It’s all coming together.

Feels like Southern California (temperature and neighborhoods), looks a bit like Honolulu. That’s Table Mountain in the background. I’m headed there tomorrow. More details on that later.


I couldn’t decide if this guy’s board was really wood, or just fiberglass made to look like an old-school wood board. It has grain and knots and the whole bit, but I’m pretty sure it’s fiberglass. Looked cool though.


Cape Town’s version of Alcatraz: that’s Robben Island in the distance. Originally a leper colony, later a prison, this is where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of the 27 years he served behind bars. In addition to Mandela, two other South African presidents, including current President Jacob Zuma, were former inmates here. It is now a museum and the tour guides are former prisoners.