An overlander's account of South and Central America by motorbike - the trusty Suzuki DR650. Within are great travel tips and hints (2011).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Salut Santiago!

Ahoy there all!

Tomorrow (16th Feb) I start heading south for Ushuaia and net access will be less frequent!  Planning on camping as much as possible and the first place I reach tomorrow should be Colbun Lake near Talca, which also has hot springs nearby!!!  Fishing, swimming.  mmmm.  So a little blurb about the shananigans in Santiago before I leave...

I arrived in Santiago on the 5th Feb after a hectic few days of travelling with the akubra lieing aloft thy head (Bris -Auckland - Buenos Aires - Santiago).  And all were overnight!  The akubra has certainly attracted some of the craziest looks from people and a couple of andale andale eeba eeba´s!

On the 4th in New Zealand I visited Rangitoto Island.  A grand little island that popped out of the ocean about 400-600 years ago after a volcano eruption in the ocean.  Pretty little place now!  In Buenos Aires on the 4th/5th I had to change airports across the city which was bloody hectic because some crazy uni estudiantes were havin some crazy dance fest at the entrance of each one because they had nothing better to do.  What should we do today Pablo, I´m bored...Oh lets farkin protest!  Brilliant!  Ended up having the good ol tuna wraps (best transit food ever) for lunch and dinner and slept on the floor in the airport.  From BA to Santiago there were miles and miles of paddocks...and then the breathtaking Andes!

Flying over the start of the Andes
Upon arriving in Santiago on the 5th we had a massive feast (ceviche) and went to town for some local dancing!  Great stuff.  After waking up quite hungover at 1330, I decided to checkout Cerro San Cristobal (big hill in Santiago with statue).  So went for a stroll to the hill and accidentally bought a ticket for the cable car to the top (I thought it was the park entrance fee - WRONG!)  Sunset was at about 2100 and was absolutely beautiful, setting over the city with a vibrant red glow accentuating the (holy shit) Andean mountains  in the background.  

Pics: 1. Cerviche at the hostel.  2. Skatepark alive on the weekend.  3.  Homeless bloke I gave pesos to for a pic  4.  Santiago from San Cristobal.  5.  San Cristobal statue  6.  Chillin'

 The next few days were spent checking out the fresh food and fish markets!  Absolutely amazing!  Eg. 2 kilos of peaches for 500 Chilean pesos ($1 AUD).  $1/kg for strawberries, nectarines, plums, tomatoes, bananas and more!!!  Fresh fish is available at the markets as well.  After a few days of walking around Santiago (staying at Ventana Sur Hostel) I got itchy feet while waiting for the bike to arrive so decided to nick off to Valparaiso and Viña del Mar for a couple of days (10/11th Feb). 
Pics: Fish market and completos

 Valparaiso is a coastal city about an hour n a half away from Santiago by bus.  I rocked up and threw me bags in the hostel and took off through the city to get to the beach to go fishing!!!  I finally found a rocky point and several other keen local anglers!  They had been catching small mackerel.  The locals hooked me up with a special lure they make that has red cotton on it!  Unfortunately I quickly disposed of this lure into the sea due to an untimely problem with my reel!  Still unsolved, but soon enough we will be back on the fishing frontier!  I spent the night in a hostel in Valparaiso (Angel Hostal) and then checked out the beaches at Viña del Mar the next day.  Both places were beautiful with freezing cold monster waves crashing on the beach! 
 Pics:  Beach at Valparaiso.  Fishing views at Valparaiso.

Back in Santiago again I spent the next few days organising to get the bike and leave with it...and relaxing, eating several thousand completos (hotdogs with the wam bam thankyou mam – the lot) and going to the salsa club 2 blocks down the road.  This gringo certainly cannot dance the salsa like the locals but gave it a fair shot with some of them!  Couples dancing are very intimate and its most impressive!  Lads...the ladies sway their hips like nowhere I´ve seen before!  One of these nights the hostel owner joined several of us and we ended up in town at a rock pub (first song I heard was Whiskey in the Jar by METALLICA!!).  When we arrived back to the hostel the owner (Ivan, one of the kindest and best blokes I´ve met on this trip yet) was asking to keep salsaing in the living room...and then 2 minutes later was passed out on the couch with a grand nikko mustache, goatee and “I Love Mumi” on his forehead.  Apparently this stayed there til midday the next day...with new guests signing on, cleaners and maintenace staff and friends all seeing him and not mentioning it!!! SUPERB!

Pics: Ivan (black shirt) and his cousin cookin a barbie!  AMAZING tasting steak and some chorizos!  Beautiful dog I was trying to get some good colour contrast with but she moved...then got humped by male dog # 46,543.  Cerveza and vino at the hostel. 3 legged dog pissing!

On the 15th Feb I finally picked up Nessie!  It was a run around the airport to get paperwork sorted but it was all done with some great Spanglish!  For those wanting to know the process search on the HUBB ( for details of flying a bike from Australia to Santiago ($3000 AUD total).  The poor girl had been tipped on an angle and had landed on the helmet.  Luckily though, as I think the helmet had stopped it falling completely over.  The front fender, and one indicator had been bent and that was it.  The handle bars were put back on and BAM...we were reunited on the road!  Although, a minute after leaving the airport...I heard whirring!!!  Sirens!?  Surely not already ay!  Turns out my new 50/50 knobblies whirr quite a bit on the bitumen!  Haha!  So all was well and we made it back to the hostel with the aid of the lovely GPS...I´m foo-kin useless in cities!  And especially when every second street is a one way street, sending you on laps of the city to get home!

Pics:  Ivan and Baaaaarbs salsaing it up.  The salsa shack.  The little dog was the envy of the biggggen.  Ivan passed the fark out.  Lunch.

Pics:  Peeled a thoooousand prawns.  "Desculpe señor.  Tienes humbre?" (excuse me sir, you hungry?).  

The last few night I´ve spent outside on my blowup mattress as I didnt book a bed for long enough (was expecting my bike to arrive on the 8th).  But it´s been sensational weather for camping!  Can´t wait mate!  My final night in Santiago...I had bought a kilo of prawns for 6 bucks from the fish market which was way too much!  A “madye kilo por favor” (half kilo please) was responed with a “no, una kilo solo” (no, one kilo only).  So having so much prawns I decided to cook garlic prawns and rice and head down to the park to share with some of the homeless who camp on the benches.  Frankie (a dirty pom, great bloke though) joined me and we tracked down a few very appreciative sleeping stomachs.   

And this brings me to now...0300 in Santiago, writing my last entry for a while perhaps.  Keep an eye out and...
Hasta luego amigos!!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Nessie - How she was setup

Hola all!  Currently in Santiago in Ventana Sur Hostel.  One of the nicest in Santiago...with a pool too! Highly recommended!  Have done a bit of walking around in the city.  Some amazing sights here!  Markets are brilliant and grapes, plums, mangoes and more come in at about $1 per kilo!  South Americans are wonderful people!  So many beautiful faces and natures.  A walk through the city will see dogs roaming the streets, cars cruising down tree-lined streets on the right (wrong!) side, people skating in the parks all day long, Chilean couple smooching in the parks and people exercising on the equipment in the parks.  There are convenience shops, bottlos and restaurants lining the streets!  My first day here we had ceviche for dinner (fresh fish cooked in lemon juice) and local cerveza (beer) and vino (wine) and then went to a club and danced it up with the locals!  An amazing scene.  The afternoon was spent watching the sun go down (at 2100h) on San Cristobal, overlooking the beautiful city of Santiago.

Sooooo...the bike.  My bike arrives on the 8th so will stay around here until then and begin heading to Ushuaia when she arrives.  I decided to do this trip in July 2010 which gave me about 6 months to prepare.  The 2010 Suzuki DR650 was dubbed "Nessie"...ask me why over a beer some time.  In the 6 months a few things were done to make it road ready for the world...and a lot less was done to it than others have done to the same model.  They include:

- fitting Dunlop D606 tyres (similar to Continental TKC80s)
- making 2 pannier racks and one top rack (replacing the stock pillion handles and moving the indicators onto the rack
- removing the sidestand killswitch
- adding a switch to turn all the lights off on the bike
- adding 2 12V cigarette adapters with inline fuses and switches
- adding barkbusters and a windshield (problematic as they use the same mounting space on the bars - yet to be resolved)
- adding an inline fuel filter and tap on a T-piece for stove filling.
- fabricating an aliminium mount on the handle bar mounts for all the switches and cigarette adapters
- adding a small sheepskin to the stock seat - really makes no difference I think
- added bashplate and aluminium footrest on front for extra body movement (chopper style on a dirtbike!)
- still have stock - tank, bars, seat, jetting/airbox, pipe

See some pics below.  More later!

                                   The family before I left.                                  My brother!

                                          Rack on RHS                                       LHS rack.