Tuesday, 29 November 2011

 Valparaiso censores (elevator)

Port Valparaiso

another censore

KTM race truck

hanging out with team ktm

George, Kate, Martyn, Joe and Rob

In an effort to improve our Spanish we've been trying to fit in a few self-taught lessons. I have enough trouble with English so don't find it easy at all. Mary who works at Hostel De La Bara where we stayed in Santiago was in the process of learning some English so we helped her out a bit and then reversed her learning work books and she helped us out, we had a lot of laughs and after several sessions actually come away with a few new words.

During one of our days out exploring the city of Santiago we just happened to see a nice KTM 990r which stuck out among all the commuter bikes. We decided that we had to go and have a chat with the owner. Turned out that we had bumped into Martyn an ex pat pommy now living and working in Santiago, who had contacted us earlier through the ADV rider offering some assistance with our bikes on arrival in Chile. One in a few million chance of that. Martyn has been fantastic offering us a bed and after 3-4 days and a few beers and BBQ, swimming in the pool, map reading and just general bike talk we had a great time.

Martyn also hooked us up with a local adventure bikers meet up the coast a couple of hours north west of Santiago at Pichidangui. We felt like gate crashers without our bikes and when we walked into the site in our shorts and sneakers we were promptly told that the place was fully booked out for the event and to leave. Once we managed to convince the organisers that we were actually bikers from NZ we were welcomed with open arms and met a bunch of great people, got a lot of advice for our route planning and had a super BBQ evening. Over 120 people present lots of BMW adventure and KTM 990's.

The KTM Chile crew kindly offered us a bed in there sweetly set up transporter race truck and also gave us a ride back to Santiago. The same vehicle is used to support the Chilean Dakar KTM team. We helped pull down there display tent and load the bikes and then hit the road. With 5 brand new ktm's on board, two 990 adventure's, a 990 supermoto, a 690 enduro, and a 150 motocrosser, we had the ultimate bike collection and vehicle to get us any where and we laughed about a high jacking. Francisco the driver was just too nice, the DR and XT will have to do the job! A big mucho gracias to Martyn and Kate for giving us a great few days.

We are now out at the port city of Valparaiso where we are staying at the Hostal Casabella. The owners Rich and his partner Lilly have been helping us out with customs and freight here in Chili and have been exceptionally helpful. We are really grateful as we know that with out there help we would be really struggling with our limited Spanish. Valparaiso is a Unesco World Heritage site and is an interesting place. Colourful houses, lots a bit rough and half broken cover the surrounding steep slopes which can be accessed by famous censores (elevators). The main streets are full of markets and people.

Our ship is due in port today so we may have the bikes by the end of the week? Simon, the third amigo in our crew is still missing in action( last seen in Vancouver and heading south) but with his big 990 we're confident that he will catch up with us at some point. Looking forward to opening up our boxes. Off down to the port now to see if we can spot any NZ ships anchored up with our container.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Touch down in Chile

I'm writing this blog looking out the 2nd story window of our hostel here in Santiago. This is a city alright, the street is full of traffic, lots of cheap Chinese motor bikes dicing with trucks and cars, everyone jumping on there horns at first chance. And it doesn't stop until late. It's loud and on top of that the hostel is pretty much right on top of a fire station. I guess with 5 Million people in the vicinity if everyone just as much farts it's going to be bloody loud. It sure is a different world here from sunny little Nelson.

The flight over from NZ was not too painful, helped hugely by the fact that we got upgraded free of charge upon boarding. When we got pulled aside at the counter both Rob and myself thought we where in trouble with attempting to overstay our 3 month tourist visa as the lady at check in had already given us a hard time with or 4 month return flights. Not to be, instead we felt like VIP's as we cruised in style up front in the big air bus. Rob thinks our travel agent may have pulled a few strings ( thanks a bunch Rhonda, we owe you) but I tried to explain that I was due for some good luck with flying after having a heap of LAN flights cancelled due to volcanoes earlier in the year.

A week before departing we found out that our bikes had been delayed 2 weeks at sea so we have a wait here in the city. Usually 2 days in a city is good for me so I'm sure by 2 weeks we will be itching to hit the start button on the bikes and get out of the smog. We've managed to get a few things sorted during our wait, Rob dropped by the NZ Consulate and voted for the legalise cannabis party and I visited my surgeon here that screwed my elbow back together when I broke it while mtn biking earlier in the year. We also went to TGL freight who are handling the unloading of our bikes at this end. We walked into the office expecting a difficult time due to our not so good Spanish but we were instead welcomed in the door and greeted by our first names! Thanks to Rich at Casabella Hostel (out near the port where we will stay later next week) who had already been in contact with TGL and warned the office that 2 very good looking Kiwi's with bad Spanish would be turning up.

So we still have a heap of time to kill, thinking of heading out of town for a few days of exploring. Hopefully we have no further delays and get the show on the road soon.

Sunday, 13 November 2011


Its been more than 18 months since we decided to to take on this mission of riding our motorcycles in South America and now its nearly time to leave New Zealand and fly to Santiago-Chile. Yeah!. We have had a few hiccups along the way.
Firstly, Joe (cousin) broke a piece of bone off his elbow in a mountain bike accident & wondered if his nerve damage in his hand would improve enough to make the trip.... pleased to say that he has recovered  - not 100%, but can ride his motorbike.
Once we knew Joe was able to go, we had 10 days to get our bikes boxed (along with any gear that we wanted shipped in the crate) & transported to Mainfreight in Christchurch. I did some of the Customs declarations myself & got my own valutation which was needed for the insurance - this reduced the cost.

Fortunately,  the two bikes were shipped off 10 days before the MV Rena got stuck on the reef off Tauranga. Although I was informed by one of my helpful work mates that a male Maori with a moko was seen riding my bike at a beach in Tauranga a couple of days after the event! The container ship with our bikes has gone to Busan in Korea, then across the Pacific to South America. We were informed the voyage would take 55-60 days, however, last week I was checking on the boats progress & was told that they are not expecting the ship to arrive in Valparaiso till the 2nd December.

We have no option but to fly to Santiago as planned & wait for the bikes to arrive, it was too expensive to change tickets. We will make use of this down time to get some spanish speaking lessons in Valparaiso, get familiar with the Freighting people and do some route planning. Hopefully, Simon (brother  who is meeting us from Canada) will meet up with us in that first week.. not certain of his plans as we haven't heard from him recently.

Had a barbeque last night, with family & to say thanks to the people who have helped me get my bike ready to go. Last minute purchase of spare bike parts tomorrow & final pack. Have to be at Nelson Airport 8.30am  Wed am. Getting excited!