When I came across a group of people on the road who were just as crazy as (if not more crazy than) me, I couldn’t help but feel a special connection with them. I met these three at a motorcycle group meet-up on one of my last days in Brazil. They were also traveling around South America on two wheels, but instead of motorcycles, they were on Vespa scooters! We were all heading toward Cusco, but on different schedules and at different paces, so I went my own way with the understanding that we may or may not run into each other again. However, considering there was really only one way to get to Cusco from where we were, we did end up running into each other again, but not under the best of circumstances. When I found them on the road, one of the Vespas had broken down and was being towed by the other. I had arranged to stay with a Couchsurfing host that night, but instead, decided to camp out with them at the closest gas station. In the morning we hooked up the broken Vespa to my motorcycle with a rope and I towed it about 50 miles to the next closest town. By the time we got there, my friends still didn’t have a solid plan for fixing their bike, but I was on a tight schedule to get back to Cusco to meet up with my dad, so I decided to keep moving forward. We had only known each other for a couple of days, but it was still very sad when the time came for us to part ways. I have serious respect for these three people. The political and economic situation in Venezuela right now is complicated to say the least, but they took it as a an sign to pursue a dream and were extremely positive and flexible throughout the trip, even despite the trying circumstances. Meeting them was definitely one of the highlights of my trip and I hope that our paths cross again some day! Viva Latinoamérica en Vespa!! 🇻🇪
I remember the first time I went to Brazil about 10 years ago. I was visiting my sister during her year long exchange and one day our hosts decided to take us to visit some nearby waterfalls. I had seen lots of lakes and rivers and rapids before, but at that point in my life, waterfalls were just not something that I was used to seeing. Once we got to the first one, we were invited to go up to it and even go under it. I was a little hesitant at first because the movies that I had seen had made waterfalls seem very powerful and dangerous, but once I got under that first one, I was hooked. It was a magical and refreshing experience. Not to mention it felt like getting a free back massage! Now I seek out and swim in waterfalls whenever I get the chance. And now that I am aware of how great they are, I have realized that they actually aren’t that hard to come by in the Midwest! Here are a few pictures of me visiting a waterfall/swimming hole in Porto Velho, Brazil.
When I spent an evening with two hard core motorcyclists and two hard core Science professors.
Shirley is suddenly a chick magnet with a new wash and back tire!
Almost 6 months on the road and I was getting used to meeting strangers. My little Peruvian bike piled high with gear and my very apparent solitude caught the attention of people on the road, at stop lights, gas stations, restaurants and pretty much everywhere else I went. I got asked to take pictures with hostel guests and workers, truck drivers and even border patrol. In this particular instance, I was at a gas station in the middle of Brazil. The guy on the right was from the area, but also happened to be traveling by motorcycle. We got to talking when he noticed my Peruvian license plate as I was packing up to leave. It’s always nice to chat with other motorcycle aficionados! Just then, the guy on the left pulled up right next to us. It was apparent that he had been traveling a long time. He had stickers and patches on him from Alaska to Argentina and everywhere in between. As he got off his bike, he exclaimed, “Is this the girl from Chicago?” I quickly looked over my clothes and my bike to see what I had on me that could have given away where I was from. When I realized that I didn’t actually have anything on me that said Chicago, I asked him how he knew where I was from. “Everyone has been talking about you on the roads!” he said. “You’re the girl from the U.S who is riding a Peruvian motorcycle around South America! You‘re so brave for doing this!” I stood there feeling a mix of emotions; surprised and confused, then honored. I couldn’t believe that I had come across someone in the middle of nowhere, Brazil who had somehow found out about me and my story. Also, he had clearly been riding for a lot longer and further than I had, yet he considered ME brave! Now that I am back in the states, I always think back on this as one of my proudest moments and I continue to travel (vicariously) by following his motorcycle adventure pictures and videos on social media! 🙌🏍