Thursday, March 20, 2008
I am starting to feel at home here in Valparaiso. I am staying with Martina&Enzo in their guesthouse Villa Kunterbunt. Every once in a while a couple of backpackers show up, but mostly the other guests are also motorcyclists. This way I get all the news from the road. This of course makes me want to go out there as well. But it is getting kind of late in the year to head South to Patagonia where everybody is coming from. I think I will head North form here first.
This is not Asia anymore! You have to be more careful here. A lady who was staying at the guesthouse got mugged in full daylight walking down a fairly crowded streets. Also I have heard from travellers who had their bike stolen, even their shoes. So I have to be more careful again. I find that this bothers me a lot.
While I was here Ruth and Tom, friends of mine from Switzerland, came by. It was great to see familiar faces and talk in Swiss German. Funny how things work out sometime. They are travelling around Chile and Argentina for three months and were here just in time to meet up with me. Great, isn't it?
On Tuesday Enzo and I went back down to TPS. We got the release papers from them which we had to take to Customs. This took a couple of attempts, because of misspelled numbers and missing copies, but eventually we got it right. Then we talked our way into the Container terminal. It was quite scary finding your way around all these big machines lifting heavy containers!
We were hoping to just get the bike out of the box and then drive out of the port. That would have been easy. But it was not to be. They made us hire a truck which had to transport the whole box to the other side of the port. There finally we got to open it. In it, just as I had left her, was Stybba, my trusted motorcycle!
By now, as you might imagine, there were a lot of spectators. Which means there were also a lot of men wanting to help. So a great many hands helped putting the bike on the central stand, mounting the front wheel and reconnecting the battery. But I got to start her again by myself and sure enough, no problem the bike is still running.
All that was left to do, was got customs to check the bike. They had a quick look at the chassis number and then that was that, I was out of there and driving through Valparaiso back to Villa Kunterbunt.
All in all it went pretty smoothly. It took a whole day and we did a lot of running around but it was ok. Still I think, it would have been much more complicated had I tried this on my own. But with Enzo's help it was easy. Enzo who has done this for a lot of other motorcyclist before me, so he knows his way around and does not get spooked by all these bureaucrats. So really it was a piece of cake. Thank you very much Enzo!
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
On the long ride through Tibet in October and November of last year I had plenty of time to think about the next leg of the journey. Since I have already been to Southeast Asia and Australia on my last trip I decided that once having reached Bangkok I would continue on the American continent.
So the motorcycle got shipped from Bangkok to Valparaiso in Chile. A long journey for the bike: it got put into a box and then loaded on ship destined for Hong Kong. There are no direct cargo connections between Bangkok and South America, which make this transshipment necessary. In Hong Kong the container got transferred to the 'Andes Bridge' sailing under Honduran flag for Chile. Or so I was told. On Saturday I saw the 'Andes Bridge' here in Valparaiso’s port being unloaded. I was really excited and very much looking forward to Monday when I would be able to pick up my trusted ride.
For me the journey from Bangkok first brought me back home for a visit with my family. It was great being back home again and the days were packed with fun stuff to do, people to see and things to take care of. Only too soon I had to leave for Valparaiso so I would get there a couple of days ahead of the ‘Andes Bridge’. This I did last Tuesday after a long flight from Zurich via Madrid and Buenos Aires and finally Santiago the Chile. My luggage was not so lucky. It only made it to Buenos Aires. Seems at the Check-in the lady from Swiss checked my bags in only to Buenos Aires. By the time I finally got them to Valparaiso someone has had had plenty of time to go through them and pick out what they liked! Not a good start, but I learned two things about air travel: Always check your luggage tags, just because they use a computer to check your bags in, does not mean they actually know what they are doing. Second, never put anything you really like in bags that you check in. Not even if they are locked!
Anyway, back to the interesting part of the story. Today is Monday and first thing in the morning I go down to the port to pick up the bike. I had already paid for all the port fees on Friday and had them check the ‘Bill of Lading’. So I was all set and confident that I would be out of there come lunch time. But there was a bit of a problem: the container with my box and therefore my bike in it is not here! ‘What do you mean the container is not here? Where is it?’ Nobody knows, but they all seem to think that the number of the container on my papers is probably wrong and that I should check with my Forwarder. A visit at my Forwarder and several phone calls later it turns out my container somehow is now on a ship called ‘Supremacy’ which is supposed to get to Valparaiso on the 13th of March, three days from now. Or so they think and I hope! They do not yet know where and why the container ended up on the ‘Supremacy’, let’s just hope it gets here on Thuersday!
So keep checking this blog by the end of the week I should know more. In the meantime have a look at my pictures of the lovely port town Valparaiso and of the ‘Andes Bridge’, the ship that did not bring my motorcycle here to Chile!