8. Minimalism by Justin Chatwin

A man once approached us at the Colon, Panama border crossing on his bmw gs1000.  He was staring at Nik's "madmax" whore of death attire and trying to figure out where he was hiding all of his gear on his Harley.  "Where.. What.. Is your style called.  What would you classify yourself as" he said in broken English. Nik was staring at the ground for an uncomfortably long time.  I could tell that he was really trying to think of a good answer for the guy. 

"Minimalist"

 

Dirtbag  

Dirtbag  

My once white shirt was now barf brown with sprinkles of yellow from the dozens of wasps that decided to commit suicide on my chest. The biggest challenge for me on a bike isn't snow or rain or hairpin turns. It's heat and straightaways. Boredom, the killer of youth. Although we gave Drew directions down the infamous highway 40, we learned that it was unpaved so we took a detour into central Argentina. Here we hit an all time boring road that lasted the next two days. Think summertime in midland Texas but on the other hemisphere. A hundred degrees. I could still see down the road where I was gonna be at hour ten. Not to mention local farmers were burning the fields.

Fly fishing on the Chimehuin, northern Patagonia 

Fly fishing on the Chimehuin, northern Patagonia 

We rode through giant flickering flames that resembled something out of a Metallica music video. On these trips, we begin to confuse the external with the internal.  What does it mean?  What does it all mean? Self obsession at its finest. Maybe it was a burning off of what we didn't need anymore of the past.   A cleansing.  Nik had already lost half the stuff in his bag and I had thrown out my underwear.  At this rate we'd be arriving in bariloche completely naked.   The road teaches you a lot of things. Maybe it's less baggage, more freedom.   At the end of the day it's the things you own that end up owning you.   A culture of hoarders.  Throw out your stuff. You are still okay.  Burn. Burn..   The Harley's.  The original five guys.  Now two.  The old behavior that didn't work.  The old personalities that don't serve us.  A new high performance life for hopefully a new high performance chapter. So.. The end of an era.  Birth of a new one.  I always admired a man who can live out of one bag. And more so a woman.  

When my highway eyes started playing tricks on me, I was convinced that we had entered a literal purgatory.   I saw Niks head nodding off at the wheel so we pulled over for an afternoon nap at a donkey truck stop.  In hell.   We were running out of money now and earplugs and sunscreen and tire tread and integrity and I had already folded my underwear all four ways to Sunday.   At one point we had to choose between water to drink or gas to move.  I showered and even drank a bit of water out of a farmers hose after our nap just to wake up.  We ended up hanging out mesmerized by a giant golden cloud sunset that hynotized us into a giant golden cloud downpour we had to outrun. Also resembled something of another Metallica music video as we managed to roll into somewhat of a civilization that night.   When you get to the similar latitudes on the other hemisphere it all begins to look the same as ours.   I felt like we travelled through Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, California, and landed in a region that was a spitting image of southern Montana. We spent the next few days fly fishing with an old pal and combing small towns for a working bank machine.   Gotta love socialism.  No money.  No cards.   No hotels.  No Drew.   Luckily the 100 dollar bill in my shoe could speak for a couple nights to a local cabana owners.  We hoped to salvage the money the next day to get to Bariloche to meet Drew the next day.  Nik dismounted his bike "no shit"

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"What's up?"

"No wonder I was sliding around on the road all day." The webbing of his worn down tires was showing. Probably a hundred and fifty miles till they pop.

"What are we gonna do"

Nik just shrugged.

"It's not a problem till it's a problem."

I could see the Milky Way. And new constellations. I could hear the creek running. And a single dog barking. We were a long ways from home.

7. Chargentina by Justin Chatwin

I Brought a pound of Tobacco back from the Amazon in the shape of a giant dildo.  My friends found me in the Quito apartment bath tub snorting tobacco two days in a row with blood shot eyes. "It's like a bathtub. Has the jaguar called yet?"

"Yeah" said Drew. "He says he's waiting for us in chile ."

Amazonian tobacco  

Amazonian tobacco  

"is there anymore dried fish?" 

Drew and I were famished and loopy  from the new jungle diet.  He was really coming down from the Amazonian high and I could tell he was struggling with a lot of the unknowns with our spontaneous style of travel.  At the airport they weren't gonna let us on the plane because we needed a return ticket so I made up an elaborate story about being on a South American tour as a faux band called "The Death Ravens" which he said he knew.  Nik was the vocalist, Me the drummer, Drew was the sound mixer and our manager JD was already in Santiago with our return tickets.  Needless to say we got priority seating on that flight.    We also got a workers discount and free continental breakfast at the holiday Inn Santiago that night when I told them I was visiting from the Anahiem branch. 

2015 Ducati Monster

2015 Ducati Monster

Ducati Santiago, God bless them and all Italians, loaned me a black 2015 Ducati Diavel, which somewhat resembles the batmobile. Nik saddled up on a shiny red 2015 monster. It wasn't two minutes into having these bikes that Nik was up on one wheel at 80km/hr and Drew had his sweaty hands gripped around me holding on for his dear life. I could see Nik smiling through his helmet. Or maybe it was my own reflection. With our dopamine hit, we could breathe again.   "See you tommrrow Drew! And thanks for taking our bags Dad!" and as quick as we got the keys, we were waving goodbye to Drew as he headed to the airport. "We already miss you!"

Needless to say, we were pulled over my Chilean police within the first hour for speeding. From experience, If you speak no Spanish and give them an American drivers license they'll eventually get so frustrated with you and let you go. This happenned all six times. 

Love the police

Love the police

We approached the Swiss-German influenced border town of Portillo on an Empty tank. We were so excited to be on the road after two weeks of false starts, that I guess we forgot to fill up. I was mobbed by fans at immigration, being forced into taking a bottle of pink champagne, and it wasn't until I was shown a picture of Bryan Cranston in the VIP room upstairs that I realized they thought I was Jesse pinkman from breaking bad.

That afternoon we managed somehow to go 100 miles on Empty by coasting through high desert Andean landscapes. And not learning our lesson the first time, went empty again six hours later while racing a local gang of Argentina motorcyclists. Stuck in Nowhere, Argentina on day one. Freedom is a full tank. Something about this was so satisfying. The sun had just set and a farmer watered his crops in the distance.

Nik pulled up. And then one of the Argentinians. Then another. And another. Then the whole squad.  Before I could process where I was, we were all sharing cigarettes singing "No mas Gasolinaaaa! Ducati no Gasonlinaaaa!" All the while two of the Argentinians, Leo and Vicente, had already sourced a hose from the farmer and was sucking gas out of his own tank and cyphining it into the Diavel. With a mouthful of gas, Vicente started asking us a bunch of questions in Spanish such as "Why are you riding these bikes to the bottom of Argentina? Where are your clothes? Why do you ride so fast in just t-shirt and jeans? Why does Nik have a pink backpack? And why does that guy look like the guy from Dragonball (which I later found out, Vicente and most of Argentinians are fanboys of)

Ducati no gasolina  

Ducati no gasolina  

We were shown unbelievable hospitality by our escorts to San Raphael that night and in return we showed our appreciation by giving them the bottle of pink champagne.

I almost forgot about Drew. And all of our gear.

"Drew, you almost here buds?"

"Car rental place doesn't have a car available for three days"

"Is this a joke"

"Negative"

"You drinking"

"Positive"

"Where are you?"

"In Mendoza." I could hear humming in background. "Getting a tattoo"

"Of what?!"

"Well.. It's in Spanish"

His wife is gonna kill me. "What's it say?"

"Freedom is a full tank."