Crashes & Accidents In My Old Stomping Grounds

Have you been following the international news? There’s always a crisis and seemingly always people dying. Earlier this week a group of Americans taking a side trip in Northern Chile by bus to Lauca National Park died when the bus driver had to swerve to avoid an oncoming truck. The bus went tumbling down hundreds a feet into a ravine killing 14 passengers. They were just northeast of Arica a short jaunt to the Bolivian border where I’m sure the relished in the beauty of Chungara Lake, one of the most highest in the world, located at the foot of the Payachata twin volcanoes in Lauca National Park.

I can understand the need to swerve and avoid oncoming traffic. To be sure, motorcycles have the advantage here as we need less space to get by large vehicles. But a sudden shock of a truck in your lane can cause panic and erratic moves. I remember in Mexico riding on nice pavement with beautiful curves and falling into a nice 60 or 70 mph rhythm when I came around a corner and a car was in my lane. In the other lane into the middle of the blind curve was a broken down car. The car in my lane was just trying to get by. Jeremiah happen to be behind at this point and his recollection of the story is priceless.

“I don’t know how you did it.”

I squeezed by both vehicles and he followed suit. I feel bad for the families of those who died.

In January Jeremiah and I battled our brains about whether to take the “escape route” out of Bolivia and thereby avoiding Potosi and the cruise to the Salar de Uyuni, or simply to move on. Constantly battling the relentless precipitative skies of the Andes this time of the year, we decided to move on. My fateful accident just days later forced me to escape out of the country via a medical evacuation, but the rains and flooding in Bolivia also forced Jeremiah to retreat and take that escape hatch out of Bolivia to Arica, Chile very close to this bus accident.

Today, I learn that a small plane crashed in Southern Ecuador. The plane left from Cuenca and flew into a tire factory somewhere nearby. I don’t have fond memories of Ecuador for a couple reasons. First, while it rained in Bolivia and Peru, nothing could top the nasty weather, fog and virtual no visibility of my journey to the Peruvian border through the Andes in Ecuador. Cuenca is a cute colonial town. I just wish it wasn’t raining when I stopped in.

A few other updates worth noting, I heard from Lana Lowe who I spent several days with in La Paz, Mexico. On her own Latin American Odyssey from Canada, she woulda joined me on the ferry to Los Mochis, but was forced to wait for a new radiator fan to be delivered from the States. Lana is in Antigua, Guatemala now. Obviously on a much less aggressive timeline, though she tells me that she hopes to make to South America in the next month before the start of the hurricane season.

Glenn Heggsted will return form his 20 month jaunt around the world on his 2005 Dakar on April 2nd. Currently in Mazatlan he’ll cross the border at Tijuana on Sunday morning and will meet a welcoming party in Palm Springs later in the evening.

Jeremiah sent me a cryptic e-mail this morning:

[…] BMW Sucks

I´ll tell you why later. I´m too hungry and upset to think (or write). M […]

Just a few days before he told me he made it Brazil and was planning on staying off his motorcycle for awhile and enjoying some R&R. The journey to Ushuaia and then to Buenos Aires took its toll on his bike and his psyche. I’ll report back more when we have a chance to catch up.

2 replies
  1. HarleyDave
    HarleyDave says:

    Hey Alan
    Glad you are coming along with the rehab. Have been keeping up with your travels and abrupt cessation to same and remain fascinated by the places you’ve been and the things you’ve seen. Caught JK on the tube the other night as per your suggestion and yeah he got to Africa before you but he didn’t look like he was having as much fun as you would! Rough world out there for the solo biker as evidenced by Miah’s comments and your disaster. But, to paraphrase, better to have lived and fallen off then never to have have lived eh? Hang in there, better days are coming and I look forward to the next pod-cast and further adventures of my old (not so old) neighbor.
    Dave Polett

  2. WorldRider
    WorldRider says:

    Hey HarleyDave – Thanks for the comment here. And I think you’re right about Africa — my journey there will be much more fun than hanging out with a bunch of gun toting freedom fighters! Not that his trip wasn’t interesting, I’ll go a different route — so to speak.
    Stay tuned for more PodCasts and I look forward to catching up with you and the road again soon.


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