Talking nonsense in Colombia on the Sena 20S

We thought we would give everyone an inside view into our trip, what we see when we ride, and the fantastic load of rubbish we talk when we are riding through a town or city.

The footage and beautiful audio are all thanks to our Sena 20S intercoms with Audio Packs for GoPro, and our GoPro Hero 3+ cameras from World of Heroes South Africa

The Sena is an absolute must-have for the bikes, we would really struggle to live without it. Sena’s audio packs for GoPro are also magic little contraptions, making recording in-helmet audio an absolute breeze.

 

Hold tight, not one word of sense or worth is spoken in this footage…

EDC and Pocket Dump for Motorcyclists – What do you pack in your Jacket & Tank Bag?

As a motorcyclist, especially an overlander, one unknowingly develops an uncanny talent for fitting an unbelievable number of items (mostly completely useless and lost to memory) into both one’s pockets as well as the tank-bag. This can turn you in a junk-shop on wheels, and frequently does.

We decided to turn out our pockets and our tank-bags in the name of curiosity and humour, risking severe criticism from the all-knowing motorcycle travel community in the process. This is what we found:

 

Poodle’s Pockets:

EDC, pocket dump, everyday carry, kit, packing, list, motorcycle, adventure, travel, overland, overlanding, mototravel, dualsport, knife, knives

This is what came out of my pockets… useful? Well most of it is

  1. Business card for a random hostel we never visited and a vastly inaccurate hand-drawn map of a dirt road through narco territory that we probably shouldn’t have ridden
  2. My Bike keys with various toggles, straps and ribbons to prevent me from losing them again
  3. Alpine MotoSafe earplugs – specifically made for motorcycling, and with two separate inserts for various noise levels, these earplugs have been invaluable, they are lightweight, small, and comfortable. They are also tough, having not broken at all after over 10 months of regular use. They have also helped us get to sleep on more than one noisy night and can be used very successfully against a nagging spouse
  4. X Kulcha peak from Coutry Trax Offroad Riding Academy. X Kulcha make some really tough, high-quality stuff. This cap is on my head every single day after my helmet comes off and still shows no sign of fatigue, absolutely essential. The Country-Trax offroad riding course is also beyond essential.
  5. Go Performance Products chain lube – The only thing that goes on our chains, this wax has proven itself time and time again. It doesn’t fling, it attracts minimal dirt and grime and it preserves a chain better than anything else I have ever used. The size of the container is also fantastic, small enough to fit in a pocket so that it’s always on hand for a quick application at a gas-stop, it is also not pressurised and doesn’t spray on, so the lube goes where you need it and not all over the rest of your bike. Highly recommended
  6. Earbud earphones – We use these every day when riding long distances, especially over tar or with high wind noise. They plug straight into our Sena 20S units, providing us with both noise protection and high quality audio for music, podcasts as well as crystal-clear intercom conversations at a great volume. No need for an expensive set, as the wind noise will negate any advantages a fancy-schmancy pair will provide, they also have to put up with a lot of wear and tear, and therefore have to be replaced regularly.
  7. Victorinox Swiss-Army pocketknife – This piece of kit should need no introduction, small, versatile and on my person at all times. This one also has the added bonus of looking like it is from Tron, which is rad.
  8. Petzl Tikka 2 headlamp with Petzl core attachment – This really needs to be near at hand when traveling by motorcycle, not only for setting up shop when arriving at night, but also for working on the bike. The Core attachment is a USB rechargeable, clip-in battery pack that can also be easily reprogrammed to use the battery in a custom manner: Either brighter, getting dimmer at the end of the battery-life, dimmer for maximum battery life or as bright as possible until the battery dies. Really nifty little device
  9. Microfiber cloth – needs to be close at hand for cameras, sunglasses, and goggles
  10. A Bic lighter – Because obviously.EDC, pocket dump, everyday carry, kit, packing, list, motorcycle, adventure, travel, overland, overlanding, mototravel, dualsport, knife, knives
  11. My state-of-the-art, lightweight kickstand widener, fits any bike on earth with no assembly necessary. I tried to sell this marvel of modern science to Touratech, I’m still waiting for a reply.
  12. Apple iPhone 5 in Lifeproof Fré case – Probably my most essential tool, with a 100% reliable case to protect it. Uses include:
  • GPS
  • iPod
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Guide book
  • Booking tool
  • Notepad
  • Internet browser
  • Bike manual
  • Game-boy
  • Email
  • Translator
  • E-reader
  • Flashlight
  • A way to find your spouses phone
  • And many, many more

Our Lifeproof phone cases, help our stress levels dramatically by being completely drop-proof, waterproof, dust-proof, snow-proof, mud proof, well, pretty much anything-proof. The case also makes it possible to mount the phone to the handlebars with Lifeproof’s handlebar mount, turning it into a GPS when yours is (regularly) on the Fritz.

  1. Torx keys – 90% of screws on a BMW are Torx, which is a good thing, as they are way more resistant to stripping. It also means I carry the full compliment on me to tighten or adjust random goodies on the fly.
  2. Leatherman Supertool – It is a SUPER TOOL, useful for anything from repairing a pannier to removing a tooth.
  3. Leatherman Crunch – This is the only Leatherman to incorporate an adjustable vice-grip, I have used this many times for a wide variety of things that needed vice-grippingEDC, pocket dump, everyday carry, kit, packing, list, motorcycle, adventure, travel, overland, overlanding, mototravel, dualsport, knife, knives, lifeproof
  4. Hohner Blues-Harp – I’m a musician already, but my father is a harp player. A guitar would need a pretty large pocket, so it’s probably time I joined the family business. It makes you happier when you’re happy and makes you feel better when you’re down.
  5. Cell-phone charger with adaptor: For a recharge if you stop for a quick break. As you can see from all the electrical tape, its not the sturdiest of devices out-of-the-box
  6. Walkin’ around money – money for walkin’ around
  7. Very, very, very, fake driver’s license: a bad copy made in Chile to fool the Rozzers. Keep your real one safe, there are plenty stories of crooked cops holding your license hostage while you have to pay the ransom. Always hand a fake one out first. Having a fake also helps if you really did lose your original drivers licence in the desert somewhere on Ruta 3. If the cops look suspiciously at your terrible forgery, just proceed to tell them that its made in Africa and they usually send you on your way with an ‘Oh, that explains it’ look on their face.
  8. Buff – preferably covered in skulls, because it’s obviously cooler and makes you ride faster. Our Buff’s are extremely useful tools, and never far away. We have used them for:
  • Sweat in and out of the helmet
  • Warmth in and out of the helmet
  • Sun protection over your neck
  • Tying your hair up
  • Keeping cool: drench the buff in water and then wear it around your neck or on your head inside your helmet
  • Keeping flying bugs out of my ears off the bike
  • Keeping flying bugs out of my neck on the bike
  • Wearing it over our nose and mouth for dust
  • Cleaning your visor
  • Wiping your hands
  • Storing something delicate (sun glasses)
  • A supporter flag at the Dakar Rally (SA Flag)
  • Dressing up like a ninja
  • As a swap to put disinfectant on a wound
  • And… occasionally blowing my nose

 

Meg’s pockets: She keeps all the good stuff since I cant be trusted

EDC, pocket dump, everyday carry, kit, packing, list, motorcycle, adventure, travel, overland, overlanding, mototravel, dualsport, knife, knives

Megan’s pockets – All the good stuff

  1. Old, expired admission ticket to Machu Picchu
  2. iPhone 5 in Lifeproof Fré Case – (See no. 2 above)
  3. Fake ownership papers for motorcycles in Ziplock baggie (See no. 19 above)
  4. Spare passport photos for random visas and difficult border officials, normally showing me looking suspiciously like a criminal
  5. One random, unspecified sweetie of unknown age and unknown origin
  6. Walkin’ around money – money for walkin’ around
  7. Our passports – Very important and very, very real. Never to be placed under my care under any circumstanceEDC, pocket dump, everyday carry, kit, packing, list, motorcycle, adventure, travel, overland, overlanding, mototravel, dualsport, knife, knives
  8. Collection of stickers, to be applied to panniers and bikes once they are clean again (it could be a while)
  9. One torn note from Bolivia – I am not even going to try and explain this one
  10. The kidney belt of grave importance – This is where the passports go, along with a credit card, spare cash in USD, as well as the home of our bike ownership documents. I get scared just touching it
  11. Torch & Electric paralyser in one – Meg’s ‘feel-better’ device for carrying when she is on her own, it looks just like a torch so no problem getting across borders
  12. Bike keys – Meg needs less fluff to find hers
  13. Toilet paper, AKA ‘White Gold’ – can make or break a ride, if you have ever had to resort to using a sock, it was probably the last time before you learnt your lesson
  14. Lip Balm – The sun is heavy on the lips, when combined with wind-burn it can be a real pain the backside
  15. Spare cash monies – hidden in some deep, dark recess in your bike, your jacket or preferably both. Many prayers are required to avoid having to resort to these desperate measures
  16. Tampon – lady stuff, I am not even going to try to go there. Useful for plugging a bullet wound if you want to be manly about itEDC, pocket dump, everyday carry, kit, packing, list, motorcycle, adventure, travel, overland, overlanding, mototravel, dualsport, knife, knives
  17. Very, very, very, fake drivers license, see no. 19 above
  18. Earbud earphones, see no. 6 above
  19. ‘Mugger’s wallet’ – preferably the same as your actual wallet, or very similar in appearance, with some cancelled credit cards (what other kind are there) and small money. The function of this is that if you are ever mugged, you give them this wallet instead of the real deal, and hope they bound off happily to explore the meagre spoils, having not realised your real one is still in your pocket.
  20. ‘Ray-Bans’ – originals you ask? Por Favor….
  21. The real wallet – In all its juicy goodness, just ripe with potential. This would basically pass as a mugger’s wallet for someone who actually had any money.

 

Poodle’s tank-bag:

EDC, pocket dump, everyday carry, kit, packing, list, motorcycle, adventure, travel, overland, overlanding, mototravel, dualsport, knife, knives, tank bag

My tank bag, I think it’s time for a repack…

  1. Glove inners – to ward of the frigid temperatures of the Altiplano. As you can see they were still easily accessible by the time we were riding in the Caribbean…
  2. Cookies / crackers – To ward off episodes of Hangriness, a lethal combination of hunger and anger that is a very real and present danger in my life. Also known colloquially as ‘Hangrinades’
  3. MSF (Doctors Without Borders) stickers – Stickers have way more applications on the road than one may think. Apart from marking your territory and promoting worthy causes, they can get you on a policeman’s good side, make children ecstatically and unreasonably happy and basically win over the hearts and minds of the local populace.
  4. Orange headlight filter – A way of making the bikes more visible on South African roads, this one fell off roughly 30 000km ago and is illegal on this continent. Glad I held on to it.
  5. GoPro mounts: GoPro’s are all about crazy angles, so these are easily accessible whenever a creative idea might strike
  6. Double Karabiner with a bottle-opener function: It’s a bottle opener AND a biner.
  7. A Skull ring: Because you cant be cool without a skull ring, Keith Richards wears one, and that’s all the reason I needEDC, pocket dump, everyday carry, kit, packing, list, motorcycle, adventure, travel, overland, overlanding, mototravel, dualsport, knife, knives
  8. Canon Legria HFG25 – A powerful tool that is always never more than an arm’s reach away. A powerful, versatile and rugged video camera with a crazy zoom, brilliant image stabilisation and all-round awesomeness. We capture some of the most important footage for the documentary on this camera, it is especially useful for moving shots.
  9. Spare GoPro batteries: Although amazing action cameras, GoPros are not known for their battery-life. We carry 8 batteries between our two GoPros to keep the cameras rolling
  10. Sena housing for GoPro with Sena Bluetooth audio pack for GoPro. One of our most valued possessions. This amazing little device allows your whole intercom conversation to be recorded straight over your GoPro video, you can also narrate your videos in absolute clarity.
  11. Business cards: Always useful for exchanging informationEDC, pocket dump, everyday carry, kit, packing, list, motorcycle, adventure, travel, overland, overlanding, mototravel, dualsport, knife, knives
  12. GoPro remote: for when my GoPro is mounted in some ridiculously inaccessible spot on my bike, thus negating the need to try and turn it on under a fairing at highway speed and subsequently end the trip
  13. Religious paraphernalia: You need all the help you can get on a trip like this. Given to us by friends and acquaintances we have met on the trip, they always serve as a reminder of support and well-wishes when times are tough
  14. Those are tinned viennas, slachichas, wieners or whatever the hell you want to call them. Another form of ‘hangrinade’, I’m just going to come right out with it. I like them.
  15. Lifeproof audio cable. Made to fit into the audio port in Lifeproof’s waterproof Fré case to accommodate headphones into this nuclear-submarine of an iPhone case
  16. Microfibre cloth: You can never have too manyEDC, pocket dump, everyday carry, kit, packing, list, motorcycle, adventure, travel, overland, overlanding, mototravel, dualsport, knife, knives
  17. GoPro waterproof housing with lens-cap – For when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and with the cap on it, can just be chucked into the tank-bag without a care, like most of my other belongings
  18. Spare GoPro connector – they’re everywhere
  19. Rider’s good luck charm – given to me by my father, and hand-crafted into a beautiful helmet with rider as the paint job, it is a very special and precious possession.
  20. Telescopic baton / nightstick (plus random screws and bolts of unknown origin that I forgot to label) – my ‘self-defence’ for the trip. Hopefully I will never feel the need to use it, its heavy and probably really unnecessary, but its more manly than carrying around a rape whistle
  21. SkinCeuticals Sunscreen – Kindly sponsored to us by Fourways Aesthetic Centre, this sunscreen is the most comfortable and hard working sunscreen we have ever had the pleasure of using. Used by us almost every day, these tiny, easy to carry bottles last a bizarrely long time. We have never experienced any burn at all when using this sunscreen. Sunscreen is extremely important on a trip like this, speaking as a medical doctor, one should never embark on a journey like this without regularly application. The SkinCeuticals brand is highly recommended by both of us, and is an essential part of our every-day-carry.
  22. Wind-Stopper Buff – This was really important in the cold, and in the tropics it keeps our Canon Legria safe. This is a great Buff for biking, it is made up of half normal buff and half Gore-Tex Wind-Stopper fabric. In the cold I used it to cover my nose and mouth with the normal portion and my neck with the wind-proof section, making the ride way more comfortable
  23. Wind-proof lighter / blowtorch – why would this NOT be a good idea!?
  24. Mini solar-powered flashlight – never used it. Doubt I ever will
  25. Spare key with La Posta bottle-opener key-ring
  26. Anti-fog inserts for GoPro – these are way more useful and way more effective than I ever thought they would beEDC, pocket dump, everyday carry, kit, packing, list, motorcycle, adventure, travel, overland, overlanding, mototravel, dualsport, knife, knives
  27. Alcohol gel hand-sanitizer – necessary if you want to avoid contracting apocalyptic level diarrhoea from whatever dodgy-as hell stuff you touched before eating
  28. Our Sena GoPro audio packs – see no. 10
  29. Zam-Buck – If you are an African, you will understand. Us Africans use this miracle balm to cure everything from insect-bite itch, to cracked lips to mystery rashes, and it works every. single. time.
  30. GoPro pole – Essential to get the right angle, proper stabilisation and panning shots, always on hand
  31. Yet another little flashlight, message received. I think I am going to try and cut down on these things

 

Meg’s Tank Bag:

EDC, pocket dump, everyday carry, kit, packing, list, motorcycle, adventure, travel, overland, overlanding, mototravel, dualsport, knife, knives

A look inside a woman’s tank bag – hold on tight…

  1. 90° valve stem elbow – for easier attachment of a pump to your valve-stem through the spokes. I have not used them once on the trip – laziness has ironically provided me with the drive to make a plan and avoid fiddling with these little things
  2. CPR mouthpiece – Important to able to resuscitate someone in the event of an emergency without having to smooch a random stranger or get druggie-vomit in your mouth. We have a strong belief that all riders should be trained in basic first aid and CPR, and therefore carry one of these
  3. Swiss-army knife – Absolutely essential and used all the time
  4. Spot Gen 4 GPS tracker – also a vital piece of kit, the Spot tracks your position live, uploading the data onto a website that you can share with followers and family. The actual device has buttons for sending an sms or email home to confirm a safe arrival with a location, a button to request basic assistance, and an SOS button in the case of an emergency. The subscription from Spot also provides rescue and evacuation in this case. A Spot has provided us with great peace of mind when we are off the grid
  5. More sunscreen – this is one for the rest of the bodyEDC, pocket dump, everyday carry, kit, packing, list, motorcycle, adventure, travel, overland, overlanding, mototravel, dualsport, knife, knives
  6. More hidden cash – I think Megan has enough money hidden in various spots to fund an entire new trip for us
  7. X-Kulcha ‘Buff’ with hair-bands – see no. 20 above
  8. Colombian insurance – its very important here, and really official-looking, hence Meg holding onto them
  9. Chaff / Chamois Cream – really important to prevent saddle sores on long rides, we have not even thought about this, never mind using it, since we got our Airhawk seating systems – our arses have never been happier
  10. Earplugs – see no. 3 in my jacket
  11. Nail-files – another lady-thing that I am not even going to attempt to explain
  12. Thermal inner-gloves – Meg also hasn’t gotten around to packing these away since we hit the tropics
  13. Spare keys on a long idiot-proof lanyard
  14. Polaroid photo of Erdem, Sarah, and Tara from Nonurbia – some of the most fantastic people we have ever met
  15. Crkt Minimalist Bowie knife – affectionately known as ‘The Toothpick’. I am really jealous of this little knife, it has a full-tang, sharp-as-sin blade and a great, sturdy sheath, attachable to anything and anywhere, a really useful EDC knife.
  16. Loose change of unknown origin – its bound to happen
  17. Screw of unknown origin
  18. Zam-buck, cherry flavour, refer to no. 29 in my tank-bag
  19. Iliadin nasal spray – if you are like me, and become violently allergic to every new place you visit for at least 1 day, you need some Iliadin. Its no fun sneezing repeatedly or having a runny-nose in a motorcycle helmet, so this little bottle has been a life-saver
  20. Remote trigger release for DSLR – we use this with the remote to take ride-by shots, pics of ourselves from a tripod, time-lapses and more, a really useful piece of kit for any serious photographer, and the most advanced way to take a selfieEDC, pocket dump, everyday carry, kit, packing, list, motorcycle, adventure, travel, overland, overlanding, mototravel, dualsport, knife, knives
  21. Stickers – see no. 3 in my tank bag
  22. Leather baggie holding our international driver’s licenses and other important documents that aren’t allowed near me
  23. X-Kulcha neck warmer – A life-saver in the cold weather, this super-snug, super-comfy neck warmer was essential, in the Caribbean it is slightly out of it’s element, but still doing a good job of padding our camera
  24. A spare lens-cap
  25. More religious paraphernalia – This time a pic of Mary, see no. 13 in my tank bag
  26. International driver’s licenses – yet to be used
  27. Pen – really important to have one of these handy
  28. Oakley microfiber goggle pouchEDC, pocket dump, everyday carry, kit, packing, list, motorcycle, adventure, travel, overland, overlanding, mototravel, dualsport, knife, knives
  29. Microfibre cloth with yes… you saw it correctly… stones. Since I have known her Megan has had a problem with collecting ‘pretty rocks’. No further comments.
  30. SkinCeuticals antioxidant – Important to apply before sunscreen on a daily basis, these go a long way to preventing sun damage and damage from irritants and pollutants, very small, very effective and they go a very long way
  31. Open back door for Sena Audio pack for GoPro
  32. Measuring tape – I’ve got nothing…
  33. GoPro lens cap – don’t use this kind, they tend to touch the actual lens and cause more damage than they prevent, we have turfed them
  34. Painkillers – for all types of ouwies
  35. Band-aid – for a range of boo-boos and blistersEDC, pocket dump, everyday carry, kit, packing, list, motorcycle, adventure, travel, overland, overlanding, mototravel, dualsport, knife, knives
  36. Not pictured – One of our most prized possessions after our actual motorcycles, our Canon 7D DSLR – carried in Megan’s tank bag, this is the powerhouse of all of our filming and photography done on the trip. Providing stunning stills and super-slick video, it is a beating heart of our journey. This camera was even tough enough to survive a two-story drop off of a gravel canyon into a rocky riverbed, with merely a scratch here and there to prove it, the body shrugged off the damage. I cant stress enough how amazing this piece of equipment is, professional and rugged beyond belief from the manufacturer of the best camera gear on Earth, just look through our photos if you need any proof.

So that’s all the crap we were carrying on us when we decided to shamefully dump our pockets, nothing hidden, and nothing added. What do you have in your pockets and tank bag and what do you think would be an important addition -?

~Poodle

Salt, Sky and Satan himself – The Polarising Beauty of Bolivia

After conquering the infamous and otherworldly ‘Ruta De Las Lagunas’, we found ourselves in the small desert town of Uyuni, right next to the massive, fabled ‘Salar de Uyuni’, a perfectly white salt flat which extends for 10 600 square kilometres, providing one with an unsettling sense of disorientation as the horizon becomes flat and white in every direction. The site is a huge draw for a massive range of tourists, backpackers and overlanders from all reaches of the globe, all of which come to take the classic Salar photos of distorted perspective: People eat cars, run away from plastic dinosaurs, hold their friends in their hands and climb out of plastic juice bottles… you get the idea.

Uyuni, the actual town itself, to put it lightly, is not. very. nice. Also known as ‘Satan’s Armpit’, it exists solely to provide tourists with a place to stay and a way to book a tour when visiting the Salar. The food is expensive, and terrible, the hostels are expensive, and terrible and the locals are just plain miserable. That is on the rare occasion you actually manage to spot a local amongst the hoards of Korean tourists decked out in white gumboots, white gloves, white sunhats, surgical face-masks and matching tour t-shirts. To be fair, if I had to live in Uyuni I would also be a miserable arsehole.

Uyuni, Bolivia, South America, Haircut

Getting a short back and sides in Uyuni

Bolivia, Uyuni, South America, haircut

The result…
I wish I had more from the actual town, but you’re going to have to settle for this

After a fair amount of trial and error and trying our damndest to enjoy this horrendous place, we managed to find the one sole vestige of decent food and good vibes in this entire den of despair, the aptly named ‘Extreme Fun Pub’. This became our go-to during our stay in ‘Pooyuni’, making our two night stay feel less like two weeks, it is a must for anyone traveling to this God-forsaken town, I would specifically recommend ordering the biggest burger you can get you hands on, and Meg had a particular penchant for their coca mojitos. In case you were wondering, coca is like a religion in Bolivia, it helps with everything from altitude to indigestion and is consumed in every form, from tea, to sweets to chewing it. It is also the main ingredient of cocaine, so you know its good.

Uyuni, Bolivia, South America, extreme fun pub

The Extreme Fun Pub – The last outpost of fun (and llama sperm) in Uyuni

Coca, mojito, Uyuni, Boliva, South America, drink, alcohol

Megan’s poison – the coca mojito

Megan Snyman, coca mojito, bolivia, uyuni, south america

That Mojito doesn’t know whats coming…

Boliva, Uyuni, South America, Matthew Snyman

A bit ragged from the road into Bolivia, a beer will sort it out…

Uyuni, Bolivia, South America, South African, drink

The South Africans were here – they even have a shot for the ‘Sprig Box’

As luck would have it, we had arrived in Uyuni and therefore the Salar, in the rainy season. What this meant, is that, to our great disappointment, we were unable to get pictures of us holding our bikes in our hands or Meg being squashed my giant boot against the striking white earth and clear blue sky. Initially this was really upsetting to us, but luckily we were fairly rewarded with the biggest, most stunning mirror that you could ever hope set your eyes on. When flooded, the Salar causes the Earth to mirror the sky in every direction, the horizon disappears completely into a panorama of moody clouds on blue sky, providing you with the eerie feeling of flying on your motorcycle as the clouds open up in front of you. With ‘up’ and ‘down’ becoming rather ambiguous terminology, the ground drops away, and infinity opens up before your eyes. It is truly an awe-inspiring feeling.Bolivia, Salar, Uyuni, flooded, motorcycle, motorbike, bike, adventure, travel, dualsport, dual sport, offroad, south america, bmw, f800gs, touratech, lifeproof

Bolivia, Uyuni, Salar, flooded, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, matthew snyman, megan snyman, mirror, touratech, Canon

About to brave the giant mirror

Uyuni, Salar, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

Riding into the clouds

Bolivia, Salar, uyuni, flooded, motorcycle, motorbike, mototravel, adventure, travel, mirror, dualsport, dual sport, offroad

Uyuni, Salar, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

Zoe and the Mommy Frightener – our homes on the road

Uyuni, Salar, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, Canon 7D, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

And our trusty, bomb-proof Canon 7D

Uyuni, Salar, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, Lifeproof, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

Uyuni, Salar, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, Lifeproof, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

This is the view from the bike

Uyuni, Salar, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport, megan snyman, matthew snyman

Being silly on the Salar

Even with a more-than-generous helping of ‘awe’ to go around, there is a small issue with riding the Salar. As you might have picked up already, the Salar is made of salt, a lot of it, and as any Dakar competitor knows, (Sorry Riaan) salt eats motorcycles. So our little excursion involved getting the bikes coated in oil before the Salar, then literally and after much deliberation, rolling through the water to take some pictures and then rolling out. On getting back to Uyuni the bikes had to be high-pressure washed at least twice over in one of the many wash bays. We also decided to dismantle them to a degree, cleaning brake callipers, electronics and chains amongst other components with a toothbrush before greasing, oiling and reassembling everything from the bottom-up. It was a late night in the garage, with a greasy salchipap dinner, but completely worth it to be able to leave Pooyuni in our dust the following morning.

Uyuni, Salar, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, Canon, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

Trying to not break my bike getting in and out of the Salar…

Uyuni, Salar, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

Uyuni, train, graveyard, cemetery, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

Another attraction of Uyuni is the train cemetery just out of town. Old trains lie strewn across the desert

Uyuni, train, cemetery, graveyard, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

Meg exploring the trains

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More trains…

Uyuni, train, cemetery, graveyard, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

Our wheels hit the road at 8am and we were immediately confronted with our first Bolivian fuel hurdle, which has become a dreaded situation amongst overlanders. In Bolivia, the fuel is subsidised by the government, making it extremely cheap, about 50 USc per litre cheap. So what’s the problem you ask? Well because the fuel is subsidised for the Bolivian people, it isn’t subsidised for everyone else. The gringos are meant to pay a gringo-price, just over 1$ per litre, and with this, a whole bucket-load of Bolivian paperwork, which is ten times worse than normal paperwork, needs to be completed just to fill your tank. The solution to this is a complicated one and comes with a few options, all involving a jerry-can:

  1. Pay the gringo price without a receipt and let the guy pocket the difference, at east you save some time§
  2. Wait at an official ‘YPFB’ gas station for the guys to fill in all the paperwork, and then pay the gringo price anyway, you loose time and money
  3. Pull up to the actual pump in any gas station and be denied any gas at all
  4. Or, as we chose: Pull up outside the station, away from any cameras, leave your helmet on. Confidently take a jerry can to the pump and ask for the gas in Bolivianos (local currency) and not in litres, try to act like this is completely normal and you do this every second day. Get him to fill the jerry can whilst listening carefully to his instructions about which pump to use and which truck to hide behind so as to avoid the CCTV, and then leave a small tip. This worked every time for us, and we never got denied gas, or had to pay a gringo price, a very proudly earned notch on the belt

This might sound like a massive pain, but everything comes with a benefit, in this case, every fuel stop was an exciting mini-mission, usually filled with laughs, plus, the added time made it a nice break from riding.

After the first of many gas missions, we made our way over the dirt highway out of town, with much surprise, and without any prior warning we were suddenly confronted with a stunningly beautiful stretch of tar, something highly out-of-the-ordinary for Bolivia. It was the road to Sucre, a wide, flat, curvy piece of black beauty through beautiful scenery and otherworldly views. We rode this dream for a good part of the day, until it ran out about half-way to Potosi, becoming riddled with potholes, loose rocks, trash and all forms of animals, domestic or otherwise. One thing we noticed in particular was the abundance of homeless dogs. The strange thing about these dogs was that they all looked well fed, and all had their corners, even on the remotest stretch of road, nowhere near any human settlements. We later learned that the dogs all worked their corners like little hairy prostitutes, waiting at designated points for trash and food scraps to be thrown out of passing cars or trucks, which was quite obviously a common occurrence.

Potosi is a brutal little mining town close to the beautiful colonial city of Sucre, where literally millions of miners have lost their lives within the nearby mountain, which has become known as ‘the mountain that eats men alive’ pretty evil stuff. In the last 500 years 8 million people have lost their lives trying to mine silver out of this beast, many as young as 6 years old, when their mining lives begin, only to be dead by 30 years of age due to silicosis from dust inhalation or being hit by a mining trolley. The miners also feel that the mountain is a place without God, and even though they are Catholic, they worship the devil when entering its depths, leaving offerings of tobacco, alcohol and coca at satanic idols on the way in. It is a rough place, with a dark history, all of which is documented in a great documentary called ‘The Devil’s Miner’, I highly recommend watching this, it is guaranteed to make you appreciate your life and life in general far more afterwards.

The Devil's Miner

The Devil’s Miner

For us, the road to Potosi ended with a bang. The bang being a Bolivian ‘speed-bump’, which is basically a glorified name for ‘unmarked, camouflaged curb in the middle of the road for no apparent reason’. It was only a few kilometres down the same road that I realised what damage the ‘speed-bump’ had done. On a lonely bridge just outside Potosi, I came to the shocking realisation that the rear shock/suspension was toast. I was leaking foul-smelling black fluid all over my bike and the road surface, which smelled even more beautiful once it had burnt on the exhaust. I was now riding a smelly pogo stick, and had joined the worryingly large club of traveling motorcycles who have had a rear shock give up the goose.

After coming to the realisation of what had transpired, we considered stopping over in Potosi for a night or two to assess the damage and plans for repair, but on riding through Potosi, and seeing what it had to offer, I decided, quite promptly, that this was not going to happen. Others have told me that Potosi is actually quite a nice town, and maybe it was the route I took through the town, but to me it looked thoroughly like hell-on-earth, trash everywhere, homeless animals, homeless people, sewage in the streets, unmarked roads ending in gravel heaps, and one out of four locals begging at you on a moving bike whilst trying to manoeuvre over a said gravel pile to try and get into a fuel station. I was not impressed. Looking back, I think I merely wasn’t used to Bolivia yet, spending some time in the country numbs you to madness and mayhem, which also seems worse after having spent the last few months in Chile. If I had had a problem with my front wheel I would have made an honest attempt to ride through Potosi and onto Sucre on the rear wheel alone, a world-record wheelie all the way to Sucre.

I was sad, disappointed, and anxious, a new rear shock was going to impact on both our time and more importantly, our money. I was also secretly really happy, because now I had an excuse to buy myself some awesome Touratech suspension, which would otherwise be a really hard sell on Meg, as it normally is with anybody’s better half.

So I rode that smelly pogo stick to Sucre, bouncing merrily over the speed-bumps, a bizarre and clown-like sensation which will put an irresistible smile on your face, no matter how bad your mood. It is ridiculous and hilarious and you feel like an absolute putz, the universes own way of cheering you up in a bad situation.

On arriving in Sucre, we were taken completely by surprise. The city is neat and clean, the buildings are painted and the central plaza is beautiful, well maintained and full of huge, leafy trees, all the time retaining the insanely low prices that we had come to expect from Bolivia. We also found a fantastic hostel by the name of Pachamama and moved right in for the long haul. Little did we know our ‘long haul’ definition of a week or two was about to be severely altered.

Sucre, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

Sucre’s main plaza

Sucre, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

The locals

Sucre, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

Pigeons: targets for young children since time began

Sucre, pigeons, children, plaza, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

Sucre, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

You see some great things in Bolivia: like riding on a motorcycle side saddle, whilst speaking on the phone and carrying a dog, with no sign of a helmet

Sucre, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

The viewpoint over the city

Sucre, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, Canon, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

The view out over Sucre

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Witches market, Sucre, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

The witches market

Witches market, Sucre, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

The witches market

Sucre, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

Some interesting remedies

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And the selection of fresh fruit and veg is unbelievable

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A local muso

Sucre, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, Canon, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

Sucre’s narrow streets

On doing our research, we found out that Touratech Peru had the part we needed, and that it would take five days to get it to us, ‘that’s cool’ we thought, ‘five days is nothing!’, and it actually did take five days… to get to customs.

Customs, or ‘Aduana’ as it is known around these parts is an absolute nightmare, and significantly more so in Bolivia, where red tape, unpredictable working hours and a general lack of common sense is the norm. If I had known how bad it was going to be I would have taken a bus to the Peruvian border to fetch the part myself. After the five days it took to get the part shipped to Bolivia it took a further five days to get it couriered to Sucre, which had to be done by a special handler as we later learnt due to the shock’s declared value. After organising this shipper with much difficulty, the shock vegetated in Aduana for a staggering 18 days. Paperwork was lost, the package was lost, etc. etc. To make matters worse we were trying to perform this miracle feat during carnival, which had a record number of official public holidays, in between which, people just decided not to do any work at all. Good times

So if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

And join the carnival we did. We were sick and tired of running around town for two full weeks being pelted with water balloons on every corner or having buckets of water dumped on our heads from the balconies. We had to have revenge. This started with a rather misguided attempt at retaliation by myself, when returning fire using an unexploded water balloon. I, by mistake, missed my target and instead hit a respectable old woman. I’m not proud of it. No matter how beautiful the shot. And it was definitely a good one. We had a few days where we selflessly supported the black market water balloon trade, got payback for past injustices, danced around with the locals, and had copious amounts of ‘Leche de Tigre’ or ‘Tiger Milk’ poured down our throats.


The sounds of carnival: This is what we had to put up with all day, all night, every day for over two weeks

Carnical, Sucre, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport, matthew snyman

Getting in on the carnival

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Buying an ammo refill

Sucre, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport, Megan Snyman

Meg had a blast

Sucre, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport, matthew Snyman

And she wasn’t the only one

Sucre, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport, matthew snyman, water balloon

The moment of impact

Sucre Uyuni GoPro-18 Sucre Uyuni GoPro-17

Sucre, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

Urban warfare in Bolivia

Sucre Uyuni GoPro-27 Sucre Uyuni GoPro-25

Sucre, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

Locals, and more than enough Leche De Tigre

Apart from frustrating us to high Heaven, the time in Sucre allowed us to see every attraction there is to see, as well as eat at all the best restaurants in town, which are all amazingly cheap. We also had the blessing of meeting a host of awesome and interesting people. Amongst those that we met were Felipe and Silvanna, a Chilean couple who were traveling from USA to Chile and Argentina on a V-Strom. We had a great few days with them, plus we saw them again later when they returned to Sucre after Silvanna broke her leg when the motorcycle slipped on a muddy road near Uyuni, an unbelievable story that you have to read, teaching us that a bike problem is always better than a body problem. You can read about their adventure <HERE>.

We also met Martin Lampacher, who would soon become a very good friend and travel partner. He made a great first impression by doing an A-grade strip show in front of a mob of ravenous Bolivian girls on ladies night. He removed the army uniform in great style to win free beer and a night’s free stay at the hostel. He also, initially, confused the living hell out of me by being a born and bred Italian who’s first language is German, for about two weeks I had no idea where Martin was from, this all made sense later on. Martin is currently traveling from Chile to California on his BMW R1200GS, and you can find his blog HERE.

Sucre, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

Martin was even on form with the ladies before he showed off hi talents on stage

Sucre, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

Martin about to wow the audience for free booze and lodging – check out that sharp uniform

Sucre, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

The girls were ravenous – the gringos got it bad

The other notable characters we met were Erich, a crazy Alaskan, Marco, the most Italian Italian I have ever met, and Roland and Liran, a German and an Israeli who had teamed up for a while on their journeys through the continent. Roland is riding a Triumph Tiger, and is currently on his way through Africa, making us maddeningly homesick as well as furiously jealous on a constant basis, you can follow Roland >HERE>.

So after carnival, Megan promptly got back to harassing the DHL employees and making regular death threats to the Aduana. You can only eat so many Tucumanas from Condor Café…

After spending a month in Sucre, after all the chores we could think of were done, and the novelty of ridiculously cheap prices, abundant fresh fruit and veg and abominable internet had finally worn off, we made one more trip down to DHL to try our luck. Lo and behold, my shock had arrived!

11021093_848112688581213_8008233731496706517_n

Sucre, Bolivia, South America, BMW, motorrad, f800GS, salt, flooded, GoPro, motorbike, motorcycle, mototravel, adventure, travel, offroad, dualsport

THE SHOCK ARRIVED!!!!

I thanked my lucky stars, kissed the box and nearly got hit by a car as I danced for joy in the middle of the street. We were mobile again! We owe a huge thanks to Ivan and Ines at Touratech Peru for getting me my new baby, and dealing with all of the headaches that the Bolivian customs had to offer. We couldn’t wait one more minute. Within record time, the shock was in, the sag was set and we left the very next morning, surprisingly sad to see Sucre in the rear-view mirror, it had been our home for a month, and we had really come to love it.

Our next stop was Cochabamba, and meeting up with Martin to finish off Bolivia and head into the mystical, ancient Peru, where our trip would move well past its adolescence and test us in ways we never thought possible.

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