All posts by Thomas

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It’s never over

One day two boys sat on a beach in Istanbul. They had met some people that were riding bicycles from Turkey to Kenya. This impressed the boys tremendously, and they dreamt that one day they would also do something great and impressive, just like that. Why don’t we ride a motorcycle all the way from North America to the southern tip of South America, one of them suggested. (Funny, I don’t even remember which of those boys made this suggestion.)

413612_4327078699439_1260763351_oJulien and me four years ago.

Four years have passed since that day the boys sat on the beach, dreaming. One and half years have passed since they stopped dreaming and left Vancouver.

And now, 42,000 kilometers later, one of those boys is in Ushuaia, the most southern city of the world.

A dream… completed? I thought I’d feel like that. But I don’t want to feel like that. And I don’t feel like that. If a dream is completed that means it has ended. Dividing life in chapters, consequently closing them, moving on to the next one. Fuck that.

I’d rather want my life to be one grand blurry dream, never stopping, never pausing. I’m not going to look back at this trip as something I did, I’m going to look back at this as something I’m still doing. Realizing that life is the dream is the only way of living the dream. To add some emphasis to these words: I’m going to keep this blog alive. De Leven will be Lived.

For a next trip, how about Bangkok to Amsterdam, in which countries like Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, China, Kyrgyzstan and Kazachstan will be crossed? Let’s see what happens.

For now I owe you the story of the ride from Uruguay to Ushuaia.

Continue reading

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Man vs. Rust

I successfully brought a lot of parts into Uruguay. Great.

Next step: say hi to my KLR.

I actually wanted to do that as soon as I got there, but it appears that mechanics and bike-storage-people also have weekends, so I needed to wait until Monday. It was Saturday. Hmm, what could I do while I waited… That’s right, get fucking trolleyed.

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My hostel, the Willy Fogg (will he fuck?), proved to be an excellent location to do just this. There are rumors going around that there is a time warping vortex lurking on the roof terrace which makes hours feel minutes and weeks feel like days. Although these claims have not been scientifically verified.

This situation intensified when some very excellent musicians from Chili showed up.

DSC_0496The things we do.

DSC_0542And making friends with very touchy transvestites.

Because of the roof terrace, it didn’t take long before it was Monday. I showed up at Willie Motos and was very, very, VERY pleased to see my bike!!!

DSC_0570There he is, shining bright like the star he is.

I kind of forgot how much of a wreck it was. I wasn’t expecting that much of it, but still, goddamn what a piece of shit. Love it.

DSC_0569On the IV. Do we have a pulse?

Also the rust really took its toll. A couple of months ago we got an email from Kevin, the dude that we stored the bikes with, saying that our bikes were rusting really badly while they were parked in his storage. He asked if we had been driving anywhere with lots of salt. Hmm, how about the salt flats? It would have probably been a good idea to wash that salt off before storing them for half a year.

The next step was to install all the parts that I brought. Willie recommended against doing it myself, because the bike was so fucked. But as you know I’m stubborn as fuck so I went to try it myself anyway.

DSC_0573Roadside mechanics.

I parked the bike on a street near my hostel and got started. Replace a cable here, replace one there and now let’s undo some bolts. Hmm, stuck. This one? Also stuck. Fucking hell, everything is stuck. Rust sucks! I wasn’t even able to get my rear wheel off. With my tail between my legs I pushed my bike to a nearby mechanic to ask for help.

That turned out to be an excellent, very perfectionistic dude that sanded most of the rust off the most important parts.

DSC_0578Fernando, my savior.

With a new chain and sprockets, my bike was starting to look ridable again. There were a couple of more things that needed to be done that were beyond my powers. For that I raced back to Willie again.

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Things like an oil leak. And taking the forks apart.

But once that was done, the bike was really done!!! Back in very good condition, or well, very good at least considering how it was before. It’s probably now in better state than it has been since that crash in the US.

DSC_0491I also spent lots of time with Eddie, a video editor from Amsterdam who’s ‘sort of’ living in Montevideo. He has a Vespa, that he likes taking on rides to ‘Noord’. 10/10

There was one more task though, maybe even the most vital element of the whole bike fixing mission.

If this would fail the whole trip would have been fucked.

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Obviously I’m talking about the goat skull that my friends in Amsterdam gave me. Thanks so much again, best gift ever. It needed to be installed on the bike.

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For this I didn’t need a bike mechanic but a welder. The dude above matches this description.

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It just took him like 2 hours and that too was DONE! I just needed to install the lights myself and I was completely ready to go.

DSC_0596Vakmanschaft is meisterschaft.

So all in all fixing the bike went well. I couldn’t do as much myself as I’d hoped, but this only set me back an extra $100 or so, so I can live with that. 4 Days of crossing around Montevideo and no major hiccups.

The day after everything was done I left.

But not in the direction of Ushuaia.

See, someone told me that there were excellent parties in Punta del Este, which is 180 degrees in the opposite direction. So that’s where I’m now. Just a few days here, and then my direction will be south!

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Cheers!

 

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What the flipping fuck!? Live de Leven is back!!?

That’s right maggot, Live de Leven is back in business. Before the storm comes silence. The silence has been, so you know what that means.

Things will be different though. This time, Julien and me will not be traveling together. We’re going solo and we’re moving in different directions. I hope that Julien will also make the occasional appearance on this blog, but I can not make any promises, because, as we all know, he’s a lazy bastard (but we love you Julien).

I just spent half a year working in the Netherlands. That’s done.

And I just spent a couple of days with lovely Chaz (or Charley, or Charlotte – she goes by many names) in England. We met in Peru and have been seeing each other quite regularly in Europe now, despite the distance between The Netherlands and England. And they say romance is dead…

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When we met for the second time in Bolivia.

DSC_0480In London.

From England I took a plane straight to Montevideo, where my bike has been parked for half a year. I’ll recollect it and finish the unfinished.

What’s the unfinished? The super short recap of what happened during the previous lifespan of livedeleven.com.

In September 2014 Julien and me flew to Vancouver, Canada. There we bought two motorcycles. We rode down for 33,000 kilometers past Mexico, Central America, crossed into Colombia by boat from Panama, rode through South America and finally reached Montevideo, Uruguay.

The plan had been to ride all the way to the most southern city in the world: Ushuaia. Unfortunately, we never took into consideration that even in South America you have winters, especially as you get close to Antarctica. Who would have thought. 

On top of that, Julien was broke. And on top of that, I was more than broke, being heavily in debt (but thanks for lending me the money, mom, dad). So we parked the bikes in Uruguay (safely), and decided to call it a day and fly to the Netherlands together. That was July 2015, and it was the day that the great silence on our blog began.

A recap is no recap without some pics of highlights!

bikes-first-picBuying the bikes in Vancouver.

moneyshot-cropped-smallMade some riding friends in California.

DSC00398“Working hard” in Mexico.

DSC00893Living with a Guatemalan family for two weeks to improve our Spanish.

DSC00767Realizing how not-waterproof our tent really was.

DSC01477Riding death road in Bolivia.

DSC01591Riding through a motherfucking snowstorm in the desert. Julien’s battery didn’t work, so we needed to jumpstart it about 5-10 times a day.

DSC01568My frame breaking in half in the middle of the desert. Solution: tie the frame back together with rubber.

DSC01053Petting a very fat dog. Definitely a highlight.

DSC01636After almost a week of waiting on the snow to clear up finally being able to cross from Chile into Argentina.

DSC01649When we made it to Buenos Aires we drove our bikes onto a square in the centre and violently kicked our bikes onto the ground. That mess you see is champagne.

But does the bike still work after 33,000 km?

Barely. It has suffered. But, it is a KLR. A trusty, mighty, indestructible KLR. I’m carrying a bag filled with parts to get it back up to speed. So the first week or so will be spent in Montevideo, giving my old friend some sweet loving.

About the silence: what we have been doing for half a year

First, we partied. Then, we partied some more. We also got drunk. Then, we partied a bit more. It’s good to see your friends again after 10 months of being away, you know. 

We did more than partying though. De Leven also has to be Lived while not exactly traveling — even though one might say that life is one big trip — but that might be just a tad too much of a cliche.

Alas, let this be the main topic of this blogpost, and let us call it The Half Year of Silence Saga. A saga divided into 3 episodes, because let’s be fair, a blog post spanning half a year instead of the usual 2-4 weeks seems daunting.

As life is rarely chronological, neither will these episodes be.

The Half Year of Silence Saga – Episode 1 – The Housing Crisis

Being unable to pay for hostels or an apartment (do you understand just how broke we were?), and having no place to stay in Amsterdam, we faced a housing crisis that we both stood up to in our own way.

Julien is no stranger to crises of this nature and it wasn’t for long until he came up with a bulletproof solution: couches of friends. Friends’ places in Amsterdam that he’s crashed: Vigo, Nynke, Melanie, Remco, [Floris, Bart, Girish, Constant -> one house], mine (back when I still had an apartment) and certainly many more that I can’t come up with right now. This is a foolproof solution that has been thoroughly tested in our research facilities, certified by Livedeleven.com(tm).

My solution: a caravan.

DSC_0202Isn’t it beautiful?

You might wonder how I got my hands on a caravan. That was Robbin’s gift. He uses a caravan in summer for a festival that he works at, to live in it for a few months, but outside of summer he has no need for it. I did, so he lent it to me. Thanks, Robbin.

You might wonder where I parked it. On a dead-end street. Conveniently placed right in front of my friends’ house, which gave me some of the perks of living in an actual house: running water and electricity. Thanks, Floris, Bart, Girish and Constant.

Then you might also wonder how I was able to illegally park it on a street and live in it for three months without getting caught or kicked out. I wonder that too.

As Dutch autumn ungracefully kicked in and struck down upon me with furious anger, a caravan started to seem like less of a sunny adventure of happiness as it once did in summer. My clothes were wet. My sheets were wet. The mighty caravan seemed waterproof, but in constant rain the humidity did seem to sneak in through the creaks.

Luckily, but also sadly, an opportunity arose. Our beloved Girish, also known as Gier, Jesus, Huisgier, etc., was moving out. We’re still unsure why, but we believe that some birds’ feathers are just too bright to be caged. Obviously, I was first in line to occupy his now empty room.

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Missing: Huisgier

However, there was one caveat. The house being designated student housing legally only allowed students to live there. A loophole had to be found. The loophole came in the form of someone who probably prefers not to be mentioned by name as I’m now about to describe a practice that is illegal.

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This person wasn’t officially registered as living anywhere, besides at his parents. He is also a student. Which means he could officially register at the place where I wanted to live, and I would compensate him for the rent he paid, and I could sneakily live in the room that he was officially renting. Very cheeky indeed. 

The plan worked.

After taking the mattress from the caravan and throwing it unceremoniously on the floor of my new room, moving in was a finished project. It felt good to live in a house again, and it felt good to officially live in my favorite house of Amsterdam together with close friends.

Let’s introduce them.

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Luuk. The undisputed leader of the house. He is strict, yet fair.

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Floris. A true optimist. He can see the positive and the funny side to pretty much everything. If you ever feel like getting carried away and changing your perspective, have a chat with him.

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Constant. A major force behind Zuiderzee BV, the company that takes down walls relentlessly. The other day I saw Constant looking in his box of fucks that he gave, but the box was empty.

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Bart. Keeping classrooms under control like it’s nothing. Smackin’ babies at their christenin’. Meester Bart is masterlijk hard.

The Half Year of Silence Saga – Episode 2 – The Great Escape of Julien Soudy

As the bottom of his wallet was approaching him with lightning speed, The Great Soudy knew that drastic measures were imminent. He’d have to come up with a plan. A plan that would be so crazy, so crazy that it just might work.

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He sat straight up on his couch. One of the many couches that he held so dear. Couch life is certainly not a bad life, The Great One decided. As he looked out of his window, he contemplated the impending doom of being out of money. Actually, to be fair it didn’t scare him that much as in his soul he found courage and bravery from being nearly broke for years. He tapped into this courage and knew that he would, as ALWAYS, come up with something to keep on traveling and never actually work.

You need to be a certain kind of man to be on the road for 4 years. The Great Soudy is exactly this kind of man.

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You have to be willing to give up your comforts. You have to go further than that and not simply live without comfort, but in a constant state of discomfort. That might sound unpleasant, but I told you before that it takes a very certain kind of man to be able to do this.

You have to not give a single fuck. Don’t give a fuck about eating like shit, sleeping in a tent, in the dirt, at a gas station, and working ridiculous “jobs”.

You shouldn’t only be indifferent to these things, you need to like them. You need to love living your life like this, in a way that many people would consider impossible.

The Great One loves it. And he is good at it. Some say he’s the best.

IMG-20160114-WA0005Discussing a business strategy in Amsterdam with Robbin.

So what was his plan this time?

It involves the United States of America, not being too bothered with breaking the law, and being there in the right season. It involved working with a certain type of plant. Let’s call it gardening.

He’d become a gardener.

Having made lots of other gardening friends on the trip, he was well set up to become a great gardener and work on fantastic gardens. How this eventually turned out, you’d have to ask the man himself. I can reveil merely a tip of veil, but I would be out of line to fully disclose this adventure, which is rightfully its own saga.

The Fantastic Soudy looked out onto the horizon of the shores of Zuiderzee and he knew it. It was time to leave this shithole and get rich — or die trying.

The Half Year of Silence Saga – Episode 3 – Get Rich — Or Die Trying

Now my story of getting rich — or dying trying — in The Netherlands.

I’m a programmer. That means I type code, and then you get software. I focus mainly on writing software for the web, so usually I’m programming websites, or applications that have a lot to do with the web but aren’t exactly websites. I do this in various programming languages, mainly these: PHP, JavaScript, CSS and HTML.

So you type stuff like this:

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And then you get stuff like this:

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A good thing for me is that I run my own business which goes by the name of Webvalid. That doesn’t mean I have employees or a fancy office somewhere, but it means that I’m unemployed. Makes it sound a bit less impressive, but this gives me great freedom, which is fantastic if you like to travel.

So I work for other IT companies that basically don’t have enough employees, or that don’t have employees with a specific skillset. I’m the reinforcement for those companies. I usually work for a company like that for a couple of months. In these months I don’t become an employee, but they outsource their work to my company. This is called contracting.

welcome

As mentioned a couple of times already, I was super broke at the end of our last adventure. I needed work fast. I already started looking for work while I was still in Argentina, knowing what date I would arrive. I spoke to a recruiter, who found me a potential job. The potential client: Us Media.

I would have a meeting with Us Media within a week of coming back to the Netherlands. The meeting took place on a Friday. We decided we liked each other and I went to work the Monday after.

The change of lifestyle was intense.

Just a week earlier I was camping in the desert and living like a bum. Suddenly I found myself wearing a buttoned shirt and sitting in an office from 9 to 5. That first week or so was weird. Going to meetings. Sitting at my computer all day. Pretending I wasn’t only thinking of a different life that I had so suddenly left.

While I was traveling I expected it would be very hard to return to The Netherlands, and hard to adapt. A thing that happens while traveling is that you change. Of course your friends and your country back home is also changing, but it doesn’t change as quickly as traveling makes you change. So I was worried I wouldn’t fit in anymore and that life back would become an absolute drag.

This was bullshit. Thank god.

It was easy to get used to The Netherlands. It was so nice to see all my friends again, and to see that the friend group was still intact. My new colleagues at Us Media were awesome. The work was interesting. The house I lived in was fantastic (well it was still a caravan back then, but whatever, I was sort of already living in the Zuiderzee grachtenpand). 

The lesson learned is that non-traveling certainly doesn’t have to suck, it can in fact be just as awesome. It just depends on what you’re doing. I think If I would have lived by myself again in a lone apartment it might have been a different story.

After two months the job at Us Media came to an end. A week before I finished working there, I already had a meeting with two old friends: Rob and Tinky, from The Knowledgebase Company.

IMG-20160111-WA0017Me signing a contract with The Knowledgebase Company with Mr. Strong.

I’ve worked with The Knowledgebase Company for years. Usually parttime, sometimes fulltime, and often not at all, because of other commitments. But we were no strangers to each other, even though it had been a while. In a short rendezvous it was decided I’d work for them again, for at least a couple of months. This ended up being 3,5 months, and I worked there until merely days before I left to go traveling again.

This is a fantastic company to work at. Many try to achieve what they have successfully created: a great company culture. Even though the work they do is serious, it’s fun to work there.

This means that no one shouts at you when you’re late. That you see people walk into the office at 9 in the morning with a smile on their face (yes, it’s apparently actually possible).

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Oh my god, look! It’s smiling people in an office! Arie and Joraaaaaaaaam!

But of course this also came to an end. I find it typical for my life that I’m a freelancer. So often I have to say goodbye. It’s a different side of the golden coin called traveling. For freelancing this is no different: getting to know people for a couple of months and then saying goodbye again. And you know it’s quite bonding to spend 40 hours a week sitting in a box with the same people? It’s sad, but a part of the deal.

DSC_0143Part of the job for The Knowledgebase Company was going to Denmark on a business trip. Fancy as fuck, check out the skybar of my hotel.

DSC_0145And the reception. Quite different from the usual hostel.

The Half Year of Silence Saga – Miscellaneous

Sometimes there simply isn’t that much to say and it’s better to tell the short stories through some pictures. An ode to various other things that happened in the past half year.

DSC_0187Created a fake postbox to convince tourists to put their drugs in before taking their bus.

DSC_0189The writing on it.

DSC_0135Went on a typical holiday to a Dutch island. You can not do this without renting a tandem, that would be offensive.

DSC_0119When we woke up Remco was surprised to find all his clothes ripped to pieces. You have no idea do you?

DSC_0111A wall was just standing there taking up space in our house. So we fucking wrecked the cunt.

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I just had to also buy a bike in the Netherlands.

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Family matters. Especially when they book you a flight for Thailand to come and invite you to come and chill with them for two weeks.

DSC_0338-smallLetting up the wishing balloons there made my mom a happy mom.

DSC_0302And I went on a road trip with my brother.

What’s happening right now

I just arrived at the airport of Montevideo.

I was very happy to pick up my bag from the conveyer belt, thinking that all my troubles were over. I was actually worried that my bag would get through customs, because I was carrying a goat skull with me (more on this in a future blogpost) and a lot of parts for my bike.

Then I turned a corner and saw that my bag was going to get scanned. Fuck.

Obviously I didn’t make it through without questions and I was made to unpack most of my bag. The skull? Illegal. All of the parts? Illegal, unless I’d pay taxes for them somewhere, somehow.

But there is always a solution. The face:

Photo on 1-23-16 at 1.22 PM

And also lying about how many parts exactly were in my backpack. “Yeah just two sprockets that’s all”.

To which the nice customs lady replied:

“Alright then, get out of here as quickly as you can. I didn’t see this.”

So yes I made it through, with the skull AND all of my parts!!!

After taking a bus to the centre, which was blazing ACDC at maximum volume, I got to my hostel. It’s the same as I stayed in when I left here and surprisingly I still kind-of remember the way here. It felt strange to walk the same road with the same backpack again, but now not in the direction to the airport, but in the direction of the hostel.

In a few hours I’ll go and see my old red and black friend again. Let’s see how he’s doing, and if he’s up for another adventure.

 

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Oil Stained Pants

The stray dogs start barking at a truck that rolls in and I wonder if I should join them. Tonight, we sleep outside the same gas station.

Sitting on the ground somewhere in the middle of this industrial park, somewhere just outside of Antofagasta, Chile, the contrast with the Bolivian wilderness couldn’t be any sharper. White snow is exchanged for grey dust. Dirt roads for a four-lane highway. Flamingos for diseased dogs. Nature’s perfect silence for the forever ongoing beeping of backing-up trucks.

But we like it here. We’ve had our fair share of stunning landscapes and challenging terrain, and we feel accomplished. The last three hours were spent in the station’s restaurant making up storylines for Italian soap operas, after which we pitched our tent in the dirt. Don’t forget that the subtitle of our blog reads ‘In the end it’s all just jokes’.

There’s only one thing on my mind really: this morning I booked my plane ticket home.

I was thinking to say that it feels like the end, but with merely 2 weeks and 2,500 kilometers to go that would be an understatement. It is the end.

And feelings follow facts. It feels different to ride with such a clear destination and deadline in mind. A stroll through the park versus cycling to work.

I think about that first afternoon that we’ll sit in the park again, together. Friends reunited. The same friends, the same park and that same good old bottle of Mooi Kaap. Back into a familiar life with another life’s worth of unforgettable experiences.

Lots of people go traveling to find themselves. I don’t think that anyone knows what this means and I don’t believe in it. What I do believe, is that traveling changes people. The choices we make, the things we do, and the random shit that comes on our path is always defining who we are and therefore changing us. ‘He not busy being born is busy dying’, grandmaster Dylan once said.

You don’t need to be traveling to be changing, but traveling does tend to change you at a much higher pace than life back home. All these people you meet, all these things you see and all these experiences, experience, experience! A beautifully ambiguous word for the immense variety of ways in which traveling can shape you.

So did it? What changed in me? That’s like asking me the speed of Earth’s orbit around the sun. Judging is hard without a point of reference. Fucked if I know.

I do know you grow in unpredictable ways. If you go traveling looking for an answer to your question, chances are you won’t find it. You’ll find answers to questions you never had.

How do you feel when you just go on your first ride out of Vancouver and a bearded biker on a massive Harley throws a peace sign at you? Or when a Bolivian tells you they’re all poor because they’re stupid?

How do you say ‘I love you’ in Spanish?

Are you scared when you see one of your best friends crash his motorcycle at 80 kilometers per hour in your rearview mirror, after which you run back to help him, but you can’t find him? When you find a scorpion’s nest inside your tent when you wake up? When you have to race your coworker to the hospital after he got bitten by one of world’s most poisonous snakes and he might die within 20 minutes?

What does llama taste like?

Can you still be happy without wifi, electricity and when there is simply, absolutely nothing to do?

Does it humble you when people that live on a few dollars a day share their food with you? Or when filthy rich republicans let you stay in their aircraft hangar and supply you with food and beer for a week?

What is a carburetor?

How badass do you feel when you jumpstart a bike in a snowstorm with homemade jumper cables? When you get laid with a goddaughter of Pablo Escobar?

Are you lying when you say you don’t have that much money and that you’re just traveling on the cheap?

What does the sunrise at the Lagoon of Seven Colours look like on XTC, viewed from a catamaran filled with your speechless friends?

Can nature be so beautiful and desolate that it makes you cry?

What do you smell like after going without a shower for two weeks?

Questions that I never asked, but they and their answers make me who I am today, and for that I am ever so grateful for each and every single one of them.

The amount of experiences lived on this trip is overwhelming.

We laughed, we cried, sang, danced, bled, sweat, got drunk, scared, excited, we rode, we crashed, got back up, loved, hated, whispered, shouted, we remembered, forgot, we fought, joked, we were sad, happy, bored, awkward, rockstars and we LIVED and I feel like, I feel like, feel like I’ve lost my mind and it’s still gone and I don’t want it back and I swear to you that tears well up in my eyes as I type this and I’m shouting on the top of my lungs THAT. IT. WAS. SO.
FUCKING.
AWESOME.

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Peruvian Tales

We were quite confused, those first couple of days in Peru.

I expected people with funky hats over their ears, high mountains, freezing weather, lamas, roasted guinnea pigs on sticks and Inca ruins.

But on our first day in Peru we didn’t see anyone with a funky hat. They weren’t even wearing ponchos! Also, we were riding in dry, flat, low lands. Not that pretty actually. On the second day of riding we even got to a desert. Pretty cool, very interesting, but, what the fuck. They have deserts in Peru? Confused looks were exchanged and we did the thing that we do best: keep riding.

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DSC01237Peru’s coast, which we didn’t find particularly beautiful.

DSC01243We did make friends however.

This period of dry landscapes instead of gorgeous mountains was extended by taking a wrong turn and riding in the wrong direction for 70 kilometers. Too stubborn to turn back, of course, so we kept going. Just as the scenery was about to get good!

DSC01236In one of those cities on the coast, we met these two lovely ladies while driving in traffic. We were lost, and they were showing us the way. I forgot the name of the lady behind the wheel, but we prefer to call here Jane Rambo anyway. Jesus, that woman can drive that scooter like mad.

DSC01244Just a quick stop at a mechanic. Seems legit.

Speaking of legit mechanics, our bikes are starting to look better and better.

DSC01246 If a zip-tie can’t fix it, it’s broken.

DSC01248 DSC01247 This actually holds Julien’s gas supply in place.

DSC01245And this conspicuous contraption should make certain things better.

But how could we possibly have missed a turn? It might be that we don’t have a GPS. We also don’t have a map. That good-looking compass that I mounted on my handlebars? Doesn’t work. And since Julien’s watch stopped working a few weeks ago, we don’t even know what time it is anymore. Sailing blind. Livedeleven.com is rolling.

But fear not, we managed to get back on track. After a day and a half of low-land dryness, the mountains finally started to get big on our horizon. Very big. Before we knew it we were at 4000 meters altitude, in the gorgeous, stunning, intimidating Andes.
 
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These rapid ascents and descents cause an insanely quick change in climates. Over the course of just 2 hours we have been in 30 degree sunshine beach-weather, then to 5 degree rainy Dutch autumn, only to return to a Californian spring at 25 degrees.
 
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Startlehorse, fartleforce
Fartling – To emit wind from the anus, in response to feeling sudden shock or alarm
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“This day went by so quickly. It feels like only yesterday that I woke up this morning.”
 
This whole coastal adventure wasn’t the last time we took a wrong turn.
 
We picked a route to Huaraz by looking at a map we found online and picking the most squiggly lines, in theory the best for riding motorcycles. This went very well, with staggering beauty being thrown at us from left and right. Until the road turned into a slow dirt road, which didn’t look like it was going to turn into pavement anytime soon. We found some cops, explained our not so carefully stippled out route, and they informed us it would take us, via that route, at least 6 days on the dirt to get to Huaraz. Ouch. That morning we had just made our peace with the idea that we maybe wouldn’t get there the next day.
 
Time to turn around and pick another route: past San Tiago and Cabana. This too, would take us a few days longer than expected. But the Andes can change one’s perspective on trip-planning.
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Peru is painfully beautiful. The one amazing view, mountain, cliff, whatever, after the other. So who cares if you’re taking a few days longer to get to Huaraz?
 

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And the roads get quite crazy
 
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I’m not sure what’s more impressive about the Andes: the quality or the quantity. There is so much Andes. Fun facts: being 7000 kilometers long, it’s the longest mountain range in the world. It spans through seven countries in South America, from Venezuela to Argentina.
 
Sometimes I wonder if I can ever get enough of all this. And then I cross another mountain ridge for the next view and I realize that that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
 
DSC01305 DSC01307 DSC01303 And that’s what we did. Seems excessive when you haven’t driven here, but trust me, on single-lane roads with multi-way traffic and plenty of blind turns, this saves lives.
 
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On our way to San Tiago we met some dudes that were drinking beer on the street, getting ready for a saturday night. They were happy to point out that if we took this certain dirt road we would get there within just 2 hours! Woohoo shortcut!
 
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Of course, it didn’t turn out to be 2 hours. We spent the next 4,5 hours battling through hail, rain, mud, river crossings and sketchy bridges. All the while getting lost in a maze of dirt roads without any signs, deep in the mountains of Peru. And it was awesome. And how glorious it was to finally arrive in San Tiago by nightfall, after beginning to doubt if the fucking town even exists.
 
DSC01268 The river that got the best of us and made us go ‘nah-ah’.
 
DSC01269 Luckily, there was a hidden bridge nearby!
 
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San Tiago! It’s real!
 
It’s funny how I eventually managed to crash.
 
We had just spend a day and a half riding on dirt, after which we finally saw some pavement again. Sweet, let’s go fast! After a mere 15 kilometers, an unexpected tiny patch of gravel, hidden in the blind corner of turn, was my downfall. Dirt is okay, as long as you expect it.
 
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Luckily, I wasn’t injured and the bike was doing alright as well. A small crack in the frame supporting my panniers was all. And in Latin America, a welder is never far away. We found a hotel soon after the crash as it was getting dark. Of course the hotel’s neighbor was a welder and he was happy to work on a sunday evening.
 
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Listo! As good as new. That will be 5 dollars please.
 
The welder’s wife happened to run a restaurant, where we had spaggethi with all of the family. We were challenged to show some dance moves to the local Peruvian music. Challenge accepted. Challenge completed.
 
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Recently all this mountainous beauty came to its pinnacle, in the form of Parque Huascaran, featuring the highest point in Peru. I will say no more and let the photos do the talking:

 

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Met some Belgians! Truly hardcore. They biked from Belgium to Poland, then from Tanzania to South Africa, and now they were on their way from Ushuaia, Argentina.
 
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All this mountaineering was coming to end though, as Peru’s coastal capital Lima was calling us to finally change our tires. Just having passed our 25,000 km milestone, a replacement was in order.
 
While changing the tires, Julien noticed his brakepads were also totally fucked. So we went on the hunt for some new ones, which led us to Christian, the owner of the bikeshop Endurance Motors. An amazingly nice dude. He didn’t only sell Julien the brakepads, he also invited us to come stay in his house for a night and have dinner with him. Dinner took place at a restaurant where a meeting was being held for an upcoming bike race. So suddenly, we found ourselves at a biker meeting. Life is funny.
 
DSC01398 Aftermath of the bike-race meeting. We rode with these guys after the meeting through the crazy traffic of Lima, by night. They are racers, need I say anything about how hectic that ride was?
 
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Christian!
 
Currently, we’re on our way to Cusco, backpacker party town to the bone. We’ve been on the road for almost 2 weeks now, after leaving Montanita in Ecuador, riding every single day. It’s still awesome, the landscape is not tiring, but I have to say my ass is getting sour and I’m longing to stay in one place for a bit, make some friends and get fucking hammered.
 
Now let me close this blogpost by posting that wicked GoPro video again, for completion’s sake.