Monday, February 12, 2007

Goa India: 'Just when you thought you got out, it pulls you back in!'

Goa is a great place to relax and think things over. I got here at the end of October, which is really the beginning of the season. There are hardly any tourists around and the beach shacks are only just now being built. The beach is still nice and empty and every now and then there is still a little rain in the late afternoon. Leftovers from the monsoon which had lingered here longer than usual this year.
November brought visitors from Switzerland: my parents and later my brother showed to check up on me. We had a wonderful time. We went jogging every morning on the beautiful Varca beach, which is just perfect for that. Unfortunately my parent's jogging shoes got stolen and doing it barefoot proofed a little difficult in the end. The days passed way too quickly and soon I was alone again.
I left Varca beach and moved a little further South to Cavelossim. Same long stretch of beach but different crowd. Here I seemed to have landed in little Switzerland! With all the people I met I had trouble finding time to read my books. Nudi and my parents had brought lots of reading material and I was really keen on getting some reading done. I did manage to read ‘Der Weltensammler’. A novel by Ilija Trojanow based on the travels of Richard Bourton. I loved this book.
Beginning of December brought a halt to the leisurely beach life. I went back to Benaulim where I met up with Khim. The plan was to spend a couple of weeks doing maintenance on the bike and splitting up our equipment.
First thing on the list of maintenance work was taking of the swing arm and checking the kardan. The bike really sounds pretty bad and we were afraid the kardan might be going. But it was a false alarm. The kardan looked just fine.
Next we removed the gearbox. There had been a slow leak around the output shaft. We thought we might need to change the seal. But again, false alarm. A re-tightening of the screws did the job.
Next we wanted to have a look at the rear shock. It seemed to have too much play at the bottom socket. We fixed that by putting in a new bearing and we were about to remount the shock when we noticed that the spring was broken! Bummer! Where to get a replacement? While we were pondering this question we tried in vain to straighten out my front end. If you have followed our trip, you will remember that I run into a truck on the KKH in Pakistan. Some nifty workers straightened the front forks again and I was able to drive to India, but something was definitely still bent and we needed a more permanent solution. After bending and re-bending the steering wheel and the triple tree, we finally gave up and decided to just get replacement parts.
So with the rear shock, the triple tree, steering wheel and front forks the list of parts kept growing. Then there was the problem of camping equipment. I needed a tent, a cooking stove, cooking gear and a couple of other things, which we only had one of. Plus Christmas was coming up. So I decided to fly home for Christmas!
After Christmas I showed up in Goa with 40 kilos of spare parts in my luggage. I had been really worried about getting stopped at customs. But nobody looked. Ten days later the bike was like new: new front end, new back spring, new oil! I was ready to hit the road. My first stop was Patnem beach only 50 kilometers farther south. There I met up with some friends whom I had made on the trip to here. First there was Anders and Laurent, two bikers we had met in the Kyrgyz embassy in Almaty. Through them I got to know some other bikers who were also hanging out in Patem. It was great swapping stories and just talking. Also in Patnem were Ute and Andreas whom we had met in Northern Pakistan. Even though it was great hanging out I was keen on getting on the road. So one Monday morning I packed the bike and was about the ride off, when the handle for the front break just broke in lots of small little pieces! Bummer! My attempt at fixing it with liquid metal failed utterly and so I resigned myself to some more beach rest while waiting for parts. Finally another then days later I did make it out of Goa.
I managed to get two days of riding in and landed in Hampi. But the bike sounded really bad! This was really getting to me but there was nothing for it but trying to figure out what was wrong this time. It sounded like it might be the drive-shaft. This was unlikely, since as you remember we had just checked that. Nevertheless I took it off again and sure enough it was ok. This was actually bad news, because that meant it was probably a problem with the transmission. Draining the oil from there confirmed this suspicion. Hampi is a great place, if you are a tourist and want to see ruins from an old Hindu empire. It is not such a good place to be when trying to fix a transmission. So I decided to drive back to Benaulim in Goa, where Khim was still hanging out and where there is a lot more infrastructure. I can't tell you how glad I was when I made it there! Say what you will about BMW's, but they always get you there!
Khim did a great job on the transmission. Turns out the small bearing on the output-shaft had gone bad. On the second attempt we managed to fix it and now the bike runs really smooth. So guess what: Tomorrow I will try to set out again. I am really curious to see how far I get this time around.

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