Touring South America: and we’re off!

Touring South America is a series recounting over three months on the road traveling around the diverse continent. That journey holds a very special place in my heart and I hope it continues to inspire people to get out and see the world by whatever means possible. The original stories in Spanish can still be found at Vuelta Sudamericana.

Without further ado, here’s part one:


Chapter 1: March 23rd, Lima, Peru.

It seems that it isn’t just people who are opposed to change, but the universe itself. I’m convinced that the universe has a routine and when certain events alter those routines, the universe tries to alter its course to return to normalcy. The universe thought I was trying to change its routine. The universe did not want me to embark on my trip.

I had committed to leaving the day before and set it as a deadline for my departure. It was my “no matter what” date. Several setbacks had already forced me to postpone the trip two weeks and every little delay started to make the whole endeavor impossible to even get off the ground. I couldn’t keep waiting any longer. The morning of March 23rd, 2010, I gathered my things, packed everything into my saddlebags and backpack and after lunch I loaded up my bike.

This is the unfortunate pose I decided to go with.

This is the unfortunate pose I decided to go with.

My original loading plan for my bags ended up being quite impractical and even dangerous since it interfered with the bike’s maneuverability. After two hours of unpacking and repacking with different variations, I hit the optimal loading sweet spot for my motorcycle ensuring that nothing would fall off. The problem now was that it was 5:30pm and I had promised my dear mother that I would not be riding at night under any circumstance. I delayed my trip one more day and stayed home that night.

As I sat at my desk going over the roadmap, I figured it was in my best interest to go over the clauses of the travel insurance I had purchased. Imagine my surprise when I realized that it would not cover any events occurring within the national territory (Peru in this case). It was too late to call their offices at that point. The delays kept mounting on.

The following morning I headed straight for the insurance provider’s offices downtown. I had forgotten how excruciating traffic in Lima could be at 8am, even on a motorcycle. I took twice as long as I had anticipated to reach my destination. I parked my bike outside the building and requested broader coverage for my plan. It took a bit of convincing but I finally go them to extend coverage.

I left the building happy with my success, got on my bike and noticed one of my mirrors was flipped over. I straightened it up and found it shattered. Someone had left a note on my bike telling me that a taxi had hit the mirror and took off.

I couldn’t believe it. I was one hour away from my newly established departure time and then this happens. I spent the next two hours looking for a replacement which I luckily found for cheap. I popped my new mirrors in, went back home to load up the bike yet again and was ready to go. This time for real. I said my goodbyes and my mother wished me success and safety and sent me on my way with one extra item: a lunchbox filled with cans of tuna, crackers, cookies, and fruit juice. Nice!

After so many delays and setbacks I was finally leaving. I was finally setting out after many months of ideas and planning. What better way to commemorate such a grand milestone than seeing my odometer roll into 10,000 kilometers. What a rush. What a magnificent starting point.

Party like it's 9999!

Party like it’s 9999!

I stopped at a red light and smiled at the “1” that had just popped into the left. As I waited for the light to turn green, a chopper pulled up next to me. He asked me where I was going with all that stuff loaded on my bike. I told him I was going to Argentina.

Argentina! That’s some journey. What size engine you got there?

– It’s a 200cc. Like yours, right?

– Nah. Mine’s just a 150. But man, you need at least a 250 for a trip like that!

I pondered what he said. I thought of all the people that told me not to take such a long trip on such a small engine. I thought that maybe he might be right, that maybe I should be waiting to get a larger motorcycle. How much longer would I have to delay the trip I had been planning for so long?

– No. 200 is more than enough.

– Well, my friend, if you say so. Good luck on your travels.

The light turned green and with another rider’s blessing, I took off due south for an unforgettable journey.

Odometer at 10,000 kilometers traveled.


Luis is just an ordinary guy who happens to love traveling on motorcycles. When he's not revving his bike's engine, he's writing about motorcycle travel and helping people find the best motorcycle gear that will make their trips more comfortable and enjoyable.

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