A few years ago I wrote a list. It was meant to be nothing more than an expression of my desires. It contained epic long and short-term goals, without a time constraint or an expectation to accomplish any. Between “skydive” and “hike the Appalachian Trail” was “motorcycle South America.” I remember when this came about. It was early 2007, and while traversing New Zealand with my old pal, Phil, I had been reminiscing over a motorcycle trip with my mother that occurred two years prior, covering 2200 km through Germany, France, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, and Austria on two BMW R1150R motorcycles. As I stared out the passenger car window into the lush New Zealand mountainside, I realized that what was missing from New Zealand was a motorcycle, and what was missing from motorcycling Europe was New Zealand’s tropical rain forests and unexplored wilderness. Instead of New Zealand again, my next destination would be South America. I nixed the idea of renting a bike or shipping my own and decided to mix things up. The allure of a dangerous journey through beautiful Latin America was what captivated me, and so my goal only naturally evolved into motorcycle Latin America! Thus, the title of this publication is En Moto al Sur, which translates from Spanish to On Motorcycle to the South.
Preparations for this trip began just over three years ago after returning from New Zealand, when I moved from my hometown of Stuart, Florida to Boca Raton, Florida, resuming my university study of the biological sciences. Being monetarily broke and driving the wrong bike for this type of trip, I was staring down a challenge to become ready by my graduation. Fortunately, scholarships and grants covered my tuition and most of my apartment costs, so my job at the local off-campus college textbook store expanded my savings. July last year, I hopped a plane to Denver, CO and purchased my first KTM, a 2005.5 950 Adventure, bringing what had been previously just a few words on a piece of paper and some fanciful ideas, into the tangible realm.
A lot of encouragement has come from my father, family, friends, and strangers, and to you all I thank, but there was no greater support than from my mother. Entrusting me with my first motorcycle at age 9 and teaching me to ride sanely, she accepted the dangers of what she was unleashing with a stride. She always supported my travels, including this one. Without her support, I might not have been able to fund my new bike, have the fortitude to mount it, or even be in the position to contemplate this type of journey this young (or ever). The tentative plan was to set off shortly after my graduation in May, 2010. Devastating news struck early December, 2009, when my mother discovered she had severely progressed liver and colon cancer. I invited her to move from North Carolina to live with me while she sought treatment. My final, most demanding semester coincided with her diminishing in health. Sadly, she didn’t make it to my graduation or to see me off to South America. Her death this past March has only reinforced my determination to continue on, bringing the strong spirit she instilled in me along on my trip.
In the past month I’ve reduced my possessions to only those that can be carried on my moto, left my apartment, and quit my job. I intended to work through the beginning of the Fall college semester, the busiest season of the year, but the pressure was building. A decent amount of preparation still remained. My girlfriend would be moving to Atlanta to pursue her Ph.D. at GSU. I weighed spending my last moments working 10 or more hours per day in a stressful work environment vs. sharing them with loved ones and finishing preparations. Although I consider many of the people I worked with friends, something had to give. I as well as many others would claim I’m a masochist had I chosen to stay.
Prior to leaving the country, I’ll be visiting family and friends in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. With today’s exodus from Boca Raton, my course is set for North Carolina and Tennessee’s Tail of the Dragon. ETA: 2-3 weeks.
Hasta la próxima vez!