Tag Archives: CB500T

a Boy and his CB500T

…smoking nude in a beach chair chugging an ice cold Coors 24 oz can, my tiny rented room in Flatbush filling up with acrid cigar smoke making its way into every nook and cranny. The heat is oppressive and the blinds shut. The Cuban hails from Buenos Aires, an archaeological remnant of the last great ride…

First apartment in NYC. My 81 year old Chinese roommate.

First apartment in NYC. My 81 year old Chinese roommate and kitchen shower.

Look, fielding the voluminous amount of fan mail that we receive here at Silveryboy on a daily, even hourly, basis is a full-time job. One boy, or even a boy and his bike, cannot do it alone. We already have jobs, bad ones, and we can’t afford to hire someone or cobble together the infrastructure needed to care for an intern. Regardless, it seems that people need closure. What happened to the CB500T? How did you get back to New York?

The book is definitively shut on the South American exodus wrought and wrung out on the legendary CB500T. But less simply, yea the CB and me spent an inordinate amount of time together. Time and miles. We did something like 40,000 miles from New York to the Arctic Circle and then to Tierra del Fuego. The CB500T is an alright bike I guess, but it is a bike and not a horse; a machine meant to be used and bought and sold and traded and given away. Eventually it will return to the earth from whence it came, a loose conglomeration of metals and minerals and vitamins and oil. But does it have a soul?

Watching Richard with the machine, it was suddenly so clear. The Cb500T, would never stop. It would never leave him, and it would never hurt him, never shout at him, or get drunk and hit him, or say it was too busy to spend time with him. It would always be there. And it would die, to protect him. Of all the would-be bikes who came and went over the years, this thing, this machine, was the only one who measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice…


Indeed the CB500T was a finicky little beast, requiring constant attention, but its most pleasing trait, above all and everything, was it’s reliability. It was unbearably heavy and ill-equipped for the mud roads of Latin America. Kick start only. Well, that’s about it I guess and a body can’t really complain too hard. There were only a few places it just could not go. But it never stopped. 40,000 miles and it never broke theatrically in the middle of the desert or downtown Tegucigalpa, shedding a piston or cracking a case. I hope that if it stands for something it would be a symbolic fuck you to anyone riding a brand new BMW adventure motorcycle in a plastic suit.

CB500T highlights:

  • 40,000 miles and nary a flat tire
  • 7 tires used
  • 6 chains
  • in the end it became a total loss oiling system. this was due to a leaking seal and buying oil was cheaper and easier than sourcing the seal in south america
  • i used to oil the chain with used motor oil and everything from my legs back was covered with it
  • only ever serious problem was a stripped spark plug hole. it still made it to the machinist on one cylinder at 6,000 feet.
  • the clutch cable setup was horrible and the cheap bicycle grade cables would snap every few thousand miles. This happened in the middle of the desert, the middle of Patagonia, and on the windswept wastes of Tierra del Fugeo. To fix is a complicated process
  • I had 4 people on the back in the Amazon
  • the rear frame cracked because of that a couple weeks later, then cracked again in Peru
  • epic Fail on Ruta 40. 2 hours of troubleshooting led to shorted wire behind the broken speedo

P1050184The truth was that I planned on blowing it up. In Potosi, Bolivia they sell dynamite at the miner’s market. It only costs a few dollars for a stick of dynamite, fuse, and detonator. I smuggled some out of Bolivia and into Chile by hiding it in a bunch of clothes but when I went to check into Argentina they had these scanning machines. Like, in the middle of the Atacama desert at 14,000 feet at this total outpost. I got nervous…pretended that I had to go back to the bike to get something, dug a little trench with my boot, put the dynamite into it, and covered it up with gravel. Some truck will probably run over it someday, killing someone. Anyway, I had no idea what to expect but..nothing. I just got waved through. No search, nothing. The x-ray machines probably weren’t even plugged in. It’s Argentina man…I didn’t know any better.

Regardless, I was going to light it on fire. Yet, a body tends to get more pragmatic towards the end of things. Patagonia had been breached, conquered. I had supped with seals and dined with penguins. While rich indeed in experience, I realized that I am not a rich man. Maybe people think that but there was no trust fund. There was no rich Dad. There was only…the road. And gas, and food, and oil and beer. I wore the same clothes for 2 years and carried the same tent 40,000 miles. The CB was sold in Chilean Patagonia, the only one of its ilk to be delivered thusly, via tarmac all the way from the Arctic Circle.

2 days later I was back in NYC and things have been weird ever since, Bro.



We Ride as We Live

newly found vintage track from in and around the Uyuni salt flats…the greatest on earth.

Patagonia breached…

The stars at night,
are big and bright!
<clap clap>


Deep in the heart of Patagonia!

P1050692Postales del fin del Mundo:
Plucked only for the inspiring label and name, Postales presents a delightful grape inspired medley, tasty and surprisingly tart and strong. Fit for a gaucho. No se che. You be the judge. Come to Patagonia and get some. Better than the previous night’s box wine, but we don’t whine and remember that to dine with wine is divine! Huzzah! To Patagonia and the Gods of Grape! Best enjoyed on a chilly Patagonian eve with a side of vacio inside a cozy chalet or, better yet, under a blanket of stars drunk straight from the bottle gaucho style naked to the elements, panuelo billowing in the breeze. Remember, in Patagonia We Trust…and we trust no one! Words on the label do say: “Postcards from the End of the World: All of the mystery that envelopes our wines emanates from the place in which we encounter a region of inhospitable beauty, in whose infinite passages we can appreciate the last footprints of creation.” Indeed.


Patagonia be breached son and we remember the words of Lars…could it be true, is the adventure over? Really, could it be?

A long time coming indeed. But where to now? Does it matter?

Ah, but we also remember that the light that burns twice as bright burns half as long – and you have burned so very, very brightly.

Look at you: you’re the Prodigal Son; returned to reap the wastelands.

Savor the Victory…and REVEL in your time!


Ha, nothin’s over till I say it’s over!


Maradona Be Praised

Look at that. We might as well be parked on a side street in Manhattan. But it’s not Manhattan because it’s Buenos Aires.


Quilmes Stout: An unimpressive dark brew from Argentina’s own Quilmes mas production franchise but one must never forget the set, and setting. We’ve made Buenos Aires, conquered a couple of continents, and come a long way. We’ll remember this one most for the Asian shopkeep who sold it to us and tried to take us for a couple of kopeks, barking at us like we were a dog after questioning the price. We remember the words of Lars. Are all Argentines like this? Every Latino down to the last? In the end it matters not as the manchild turned manking simply exits cooly with bottle in check. She’ll never know, few do. WWMD?

Scenes from an Argentinian Spring: Coming from the brutality of the Bolivian Altiplano, it should be noted that the first day spent in Argentina was the first day spent at an altitude of less than 11,000 feet in 6 weeks. The dichotomy between night and day was smaller, less pronounced, and one that we were familiar with. All scenes remind a body of the fatherlands, the Promised Lands of the American West. It’s all desert along Ruta 40 in the Argentinian West, cool and dry in the springtime with lots of cactus and scrub and striking scenes of desert beauty. Red and brown are the colors of nature’s choice and the nicely paved Ruta 40 takes one south, all the way south if you desire, without need for maps. Best to leave it for later as we’ve got business to attend to at the Bonbonera. IMWT. And we trust no one, never.

Can you blow me where the pampas is?


The Adventures of Nazca Boy and the Cuzco Kid

Leaving Lima:

Ah, the Panamericana.

Countless times I’ve heard from other motorcyclists about how indescribably awful the Panamericana is through coastal Peru. Boring they say. Not enough curves they say. The latter part is true as it’s a road through the desert but it’s not boring per se, just straight. This time of year is the Peruvian Coastal winter and it’s marked by mists that roll in off the Pacific casting everything in a perpetual grey. The climate is cool and just moist enough to not be arid and it’s a perfect break from the brutality of the highland summer where a blazing sun turns a body brown during the day and an ice cold moon shocks it with a deep freeze at night; the handover is nearly instantaneous . In the the cool desert air of the Panamaericana while riding the CB on straight, fast roads one can lay back, kick their feet up over the front turn signals and remove their hands from the bars, taking snapshots and receiving thumbs up and squeals of delight from passing motorists. In the eyes of the Sundog the desert will always reign supreme, even if the winter’s garua mists permit few glimpses of that beautiful shining orb and even if the Andes are trying desperately to stake their claim in the heart. Straight roads make for good time and allow one to drink it all in and appreciate the desert’s immense scale and the land where the sand meets the sea. Out there in the seemingly lifeless wastelands civilizations like the ones at Caral, Nazca, and Paracas thrived and flourished in the distant past and then faded away, leaving only grand remnants out on the desert floor to let us know they even existed.

We were growing comfortable in deepest darkest Lima: basking in the perfect climate, sleeping in a bed with a pillow, gorging ourselves on McDonalds and Incan Donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts, and enjoying the fruits of modern man after the Easter Island exodus and return, but a body grows restless and it was time to leave Lima. A farewell was bid to owner Scott at Tambopacaya Hostal and his monkey on the roof that always has a boner which looks like a nail and a course was struck for Cuzco!

Travel Tip: Another place with a bad rap, one can discover the hidden gems of Lima’s dispicable slums if they really want to but in walking, riding the dog, and riding the bike all over the city nothing even approaching the poverty/inbred heroics seen in small towns along the coast and in the mountains was spied or even came close. Lima is a relatively safe, surprisingly clean, quiet, and boring city. Unless one wants to ride the bus, go to museums, eat McDonalds, or walk into a restaurant without the record scratching and everyone staring at you, no one really needs to spend any more time in Lima than they have to to catch the next flight or bus out of it.

Save for quick stops in Huacachina and a cursory glance at the Nazca lines, it was all a straight shot to Puquio, a little Andean town on the road to Cuzco. The first rumblings of the Altiplano are felt as the CB crests a 15,000 foot plain and cruises past an alpaca sanctuary while it gears up for the 300 mile marathon to Cuzco. Leaving Puquio in the cold Andea dawn it was all curves to Cuzco and the CB responded with aplomb, coasting into the ancient Incan capitol cum modern-day touristic navel in thin air and dark night. The greatest motorcycling thus far in over a year on the road. The road from Puquio to Cuzco is a full day’s ride of 300 miles of sinewy Andean tarmac passing trundling trucks on blind corners as you dip up and down and around and around in pursuit of Incan gold.

Yo no soy marinero, soy viajero.


Boleto Turistico: For a scant 130 nuevo soles($50), one might lay their grubby lil’ mitts on the Boleto Turistico, an all-entry pass of sorts to some of Cuzco’s, and even a lil’ bit of the Sacred Valley’s, cultural and archaeological gems.

Sacsayhuaman: Pronounced Sexy-woman, this ancient fortress cum ceremonial site cum whatever it was intended to be is the preeminent archaeological site of the Americas and possibly even the world as it squares off against the pyramids in an all-out grudge match to be the be-all get-out megalithic death rattle of a dead and lost culture. Great big ol’ blocks o’ tha Gods(!), some over 20 feet tall and weighing over 100 tons, are fitted together without mortar and so precisely that not even a blade of grass will slip between them, nor even the infintessimilly thin .002″ feeler guage that one must use to adjust the valves on an equally ancient Honda motorbike. Impressive more so or at the same level is that some of the blocks were quarried 20km away and trundled over the Andes before being fitted together like Duplo blocks in God’s crib, fittingly forming the jaw of the puma on which the ancient Incan capital of Cuzco was laid out upon. Indeed, the ancients are still pulling tricks from their sleeves and out from under their colorful frocks, putting even lil’ Criss Angel and his Vegas buffet to shame. Insert Cris Angel photito here.

Tambomachay and Pucapukara: Get your boleto punched for both at the entrance to Tambomachay (Pucapukara is just down the road within sight of its bigger bro). Tambo was a ceremonial center and sports an Incan fountain which still pumps out the waters of eternal youth. Pucapukara is a hilltop fort or something which provides 360 degree views of the Cuzco countryside and surrounds. In any other place, Ecuador for example, both would be serious attractions unto themselves but are none too exciting after having laid one’s grubby lil’ mitts on the blocks of the Gods at Sacasyhuaman.

Q’enqo: Pretty cool lil’ site chillin’ out in the hills above Cuzco, replete with ceremonial cave housing naturally refrigerated stone slabs on which mummies once reposed. Q’enqo is basically just a huge boulder outcrop which the Incans, or whoever, carved to their liking. Nobles only!

Monumento Pachacutec: Imposing tower built in modern times using ancient techniques in downtown Cuzco with a huge bronze statue of an Incan of some sort perched atop it. Skippable but worth a walk if you’re determined to get every site punched on your Boleto Turistico, and we are.

Museo Sitio de Qoricancha and the Qoricancha: Crappy lil’ museum (save for the trepanned and elongated skulls on display) in front of the Qorichancha, which ain’t included in your boleto. Regardless, the extra 10 soles needed to enter the former temple of the sun are worth every centimo as it will enable a body to catch a glimpse of more rocks and stonework, which are extremely intricate and amazing. My favorite part was the thumbnail sized stone fitted between and surrounded by much larger blocks, the whole thing perfect and without flaw. The entire site is all haphazardly fitted together around or under a church, built by the Spaniards as to superimpose Catholisicm on and discourage the Incan’s black magic.

Pisac: A huge, incredible ruin reachable only by vintage motorbike or plush tourbus, Pisac is compromised of several different ceremonial sites and oodles of Incan terracing. Pisac contains some of the most impressive examples of terracing in the Sacred Valley and the ancient’s ampitheater-like handiwork extends all the way to the valley floor. Temples abound and even the occasional rock etched Incan seat pops up, upon which weary travllers can rest their magical bums. Lots of little shacks selling chicha on the way up, tambien.

Pikillacta: A refreshing break from the constant barage of in-your-face Incandom, the site of Pikillacta showcases an ancient Wari(pre-Inca tribe) settlement. Pikillacta was built entirely from stacked rocks and is huge. I’m sure it must have taken an incredibly long time to construct. The stonework is crude indeed and really can’t hold a candle to the work of the great ones but I was the only one there and had the run of the place, and run amok I did.

Tipon: A short ride from Cuzco, Tipon is another terraced Incan site impressive for its irrigated canals which still flow and stretch for miles. A cool site indeed which receives few visitors compared to its Cuzco brethren. An opportunity to hike up to the head of the canal and witness yet another temple was dashed when I decided that I was all Incan’d out for the day.

Museo de Arte Popular, Museo Historico Regional, Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporaneo, Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo: These are all pretty terrible and clearly designed to pad the Boleto Turistico. Of them all the most hope was held out for the Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo, which is not a museum or ruin or anything but a show of native dancing and music. It turned out to be really boring and all the dances looked the same just with different outfits and every single song was indiscernible from the last. A lazer light show at the Sacasyhuaman blocks would give much more bang for the buck and I’m sure it is coming. The outfits were cool though.

Chinchero: Ah, Chinchero. Chinchero is sort of half ruin, half functioning modern-day Incan town. More blocks and an impressive cleared plaza overlooking the river below make up the ruins part of Chinchero and Incan Spanish fusion architecture make up the rest with a really cool olden tyme church that is filled to the brim with painting and carvings, nearly every inch of it. Joven, diez soles los guantes, solamente diez solitos, joven.

Moray: Another site that the Cuzco Kid had been wanting to see for some time, Moray is supposedly an old timey agricultural experimentation center, as supposedly the terraced rings that make up the site provide different microclimates for various crops. But no one really knows for sure and it is an impressive site nontheless. Standing all the way at the bottom and in the middle prodces a cool echo effect. Check it off the list.

Ollantaytambo: A real favorite, the ruins of Ollantaytambo are most impressive for their monolithic stonework, which is much more precise than the work at Sacsayhuaman although there’s not as many blocks. Huge perectly carved stones lay scattered about, having fallen sometime in the distant past or having never made it to their final resting place. Six monolithic stones in the guise of rectangles, all separated by thinly carved columns of smaller rocks, stand as the focal point of what was once an important ceremonial site. Below the ruins lies the hamletito of Ollantaytambo, another modern-day Incan town in which people still live in houses built from stone, albeit polished off with modern tops. Narrow cobblestoned alleyways laid down centuries ago lead one to all sorts of fun and an ancient canal still runs through the town with people still using it to pee in and dump their garbage into. Ruins are everywhere in Ollantaytambo and ancient grain silos loom over the Plaza de Armas. The silos are free to explore on foot by any and all wandering souls, and precarious trails lead to treacherous cliffs all the way up high above the town. Rumor has it that this was the favorite site of Nazca Boy.

Sacred Valley Bonus Track:

The Salinas: Leaving Moray a narrow, steep, and precipitous dirt road leads off to some ancient Incan salt pans(the Incans were busy back then). Impressive indeed both for their ingenuity and scale, the pans are fed by a natural spring which culls salt from the earth and are STILL in use today. Not included in the Boleto Turistico but worth a wink and a nod, the Salinas will set you back solamente 7 solitos, joven.

Peruvian Bonus Tracks:

Nazca Lines: A rickety lookout tower (dos solitos, si yo puedo recordarlo) off the side of the Panamaericana (which was built right through the Nazca lines before anyone even knew they existed) yields a relatively unimpressive view of a couple of minor Nazca figures. Nevertheless, the lines themselves do not fail to impress as their scale is immense and they crop up all over the desert floor as you’re riding the Panamerica at a good clip for miles and miles.

Huacachina Oasis: The sand dunes out in the desert near Ica, Peru stretch as far as the eye can see. A truly surreal scene in one of the most arid places on earth. The Huacachina Oasis is a little watering hole surrounded by an overpriced tourist ghetto and is skippable, although one might want to come just for the dunes, and there’s sandboarding and dune buggy rides also.


Coming soon: Macho Pichu: Flex-off on top of the hitching post of the Sun, son.


…and the Peruvian pipe-band played on: Musings from old Peru

…sure, the guidebooks might want you to believe that Peru is all cockfights and ceramic genitals but the truth is that it’s more than that.

But just a little more.

Best to get your info here because we’re here on the ground, riding the dog for the moment in deepest darkest Lima as the CB cools down for a spell; taking some time out to genuflect.

But lets go back, way back to one’s first crossing into this strange and savage land of Incans and gold. One remembers the death roads, ah yes the death roads. One remembers them because they simply cannot be forgotten.

The road to Kuelap: Up and up we go, inching towards the sun on a death road carved into the side of the Andes, leading a body to the ancient fortress of Kuelap. The Chachapoyans were on to something here man, and one gets the feeling that something big was going on all the way up here in the mountains of Northern Peru back in the days of yore, but just a little something half-spied through the swirling mists of time. Cloud warriors, white skinned and blond, usurped by the Incans and dying out sometime in pre-history before the coming of the conquistadores. A mystery for the ages. The last vestiges of a dead race appear in the guise of different archaeological sites that dot the area, remnants reachable only by foot or the occasional death road to nowhere, built to service communities that shouldn’t even exist.

30 foot high walls of stone

The ancient fortress of Kuelap at dawn’s first light and the magic hour. Awaking from my tent to an icy Andean dawn, I would have the run of the place, sneaking around the back and then inside like a covetous Incan. Kuelap is a tremendous ruin, well-built enough to withstand the ravages of time, and huge. Muy impressionante.

Revash: Ancient bones still line the floor inside the sarcophogi of Revash, set in cliff’s niche high above the Leymebamba valley. Yet another site I would have entirely to myself, Revash is left unprotected to all and is in surprisingly good condition, considering it’s nearly a thousand years old…and with all the names and shit carved into it.

Emoliente in Leymebamba: Dubbed emoliente, this weird drink has a gooey texture and is used to cure all sorts of ills, and even chills as it comes served up piping hot; a perfect tonic for the cold Andean night.

Considered one of the pre-eminent death roads in all of Incandom, the stretch from Leymebamba to Celendin is just another one of the death roads that bring new life as we go up and up through the rain and sleet and slick muck over the pass only to do it all over again as next we go down to the Rio Marañon and back up to Celendin. All in a day’s work.

Eyeing up death-road continuation whilst looking across the Marañon River valley. That’s the same road off in the distance, an hour or two’s ride away.

Scenes of utter-destruction as the Ecuadorian welds fail epically, yet conveniently just as we hit pavement, and right in front of a welder’s shop…who sloppily, lazily welded up the frame with a couple of pieces of rebar for added strength.

Conga No Va! A chant a body would hear ad nauseum over and over again as we get stuck and have to spend the night in Celendin. There would be no gasoline for sale, especially to white interlopers on vintage Honda twins, and the CB tank was plumb-dry. Conga is an acronym for an American mining interest who the local populace fear will pollute the environment. Images of angry protesting Incans interspersed with images of angry Incans pissing and shitting in plain sight, throwing plastic bags of garbage into rivers and streams and everywhere else while wearing brightly colored traditional clothing and adorable bowler hats are forever intertwined and scorched into the memory. Although, taken in I was that night by a couple of kind-hearted mestizo school marms, and even given my own personal room with dirt floor and sexy posters of Jesus and babes lining the walls.

Markwahuamachuco: Another sassy pre-Incan ruin with hilltop setting. Pushy security guards and Frenchmen on recumbent bicycles would ruin the set and one is led to the conclusion that Kuelap conquers all. A massively fucked up boulder strewn road tops out at 3800m at ruins edge.

Back to the sea: A gray mist blankets the Peruvian coast as the garua fog rolls in and signals that ‘winter’ has come to the sea. Up in the North and outside the city of Trujillo the impressive remains of Chan Chan scour the coast. Built from mud and straw, the ruins of Chan Chan may only be appreciated for their size, which is immense, and even in this modern age with Trujillo fast approaching, they can still be oggled. One can make good time riding the curveless and paved Panamericana and the desert highways of Peru’s arid shores. Little settlements pop up here and there and glimpses are caught of obscene poverty and most houses are nothing more than four sticks and reed mats for walls and roof.

Hey lady, I can see you through the wall!

Huaraz and the Cordilleras: Death roads galore as the legendary Cañon del Pato road leads a body away from the coast through oodles of tunnels blasted and carved into solid rock as it inches its way up Peru’s Cordillera Negra and into the beating Andean heart of a nation. Dozens of snow and ice-capped 6000m+ peaks are all jammed together in and around the dirty burb of Huaraz, representing Peru’s Cordillera Blanca. Completely surreal and amazing is the setting and the scale so immense that it blows the mind. Incredible no doubt but after a while the alternating hot days, cold nights, and altitude will eventually get to a body and lead it to Lima.

The Canon del Pato road through the Cordillera Negra

View from Punta Union pass at 4750m.

Looking down the other side of Punta Union.

Laguna Churup

It seems as if one is always, always waiting for sun. Camped at 4000m, the difference between sun and shade is stark.

Images shown from Santa Cruz ‘trek’. They call hiking ‘trekking’ here, which I don’t appreciate. Done solo – no burros allowed yo. This is one of the ‘bathrooms’ that pop up every now and again. For some reason, half of them were stuffed with dead animals and I never got a straight answer as to why.

The Purple Potatoes of Old Peru: Peru has something like 80 different kinds of potato. This is not interesting to me in the least because most of them taste and look exactly the same but some of them are purple. That I can dig, and the purple ones taste sort of like yams. Subdued yams but yams nonetheless.

C’mon, what’s in the box?!: Pizarro’s remains repose in an annex of the Lima Catedral, battered and bruised, head and body reunited after all these years. The OG conquistador.

Travel Tip: Free Yellow Fever shots are dispensed at the Hospital Laroazya in Central Lima on Avenida Ugarte every Tuesday from 8 to 11am. Make sure you’re on time or you’ll need to argue for your shot in broken castellano. You don’t want to end up like these two gents, eh?

Inkin’ Dunkin’ Donut:


An American Wereboy in Sudamerica: Year end recap.

One year on the road. Un ano. An excellent adventure and bogus journey. The throttle was turned and old New York was spied in the mirror in June of 2011. Since then we’ve spent most of our time in Latin America, through Mexico, down Central America way, over the Darien and into Colombia, then Ecuador, and now Peru. Patagonia was always the goal, and it still is, but I never really actually thought I would make it this far en serio. And indeed it is far and a long way to come on an old moto and in stinky boots.

Sure, few great truths are revealing themselves, few insights.

But look, it was never that kind of trip.

A great DJ once asked me, “Subcommandante, after all this is over, how will you adjust back to civilian life?”

The truth is that I never really adjusted to it anyway. So it’ll be more or less the same.

I’m just living my life, one peso at a time.

…but never mind that.

We’re in Peru now where the death roads bring new life when you’re staring into the eyes of the beast and crazy, muddy, rocky dirt roads with vertiginous drops blow us away like we’re listening to an old-school Maxwell tape.

On speaking Spanish:
After 8 months in Latin America I can faithfully say that I am a beginner level Spanish speaker. You hear a lot of people throw out the platitude that they can speak Spanish well enough to order food. The truth is that ordering food is one of the harder things to do while speaking Spanish in Latin America. It’s a process that is entirely different than ordering up a cheeseburger in the states. Every country and every different region of each country has different names for everything and, like an imaginary linguistic wall is set up between them, no one knows the words that other places use for different foodstuffs. Menus only exist in upscale joints and sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to get. It’s cool though and I don’t mind. The set lunch is a common thing down here and it’s something that I think we used to have in the states but disappeared a long time ago. It’s like the menu of the day but it’s super cheap, between $1.50 and $4 for the most part wherever you go and it comes with a soup, main dish with meat, starch and vegetable, a glass of juice, and sometimes a little something for desert. It’s really a great deal and it’s enough food for two people. En serio, my spanish is not that bad. It should be better, but I’m lazy. I never study my notes from Xela and I’m a loner man, a rebel, and care little for small talk anyways. And yet, I get by. Here I am.

But hey c’mon man, you got your whole life riding around in that rubbermaid top-box. What if somebody looks in there!?

Relax Billy, they won’t even know what it is man, they won’t even know what it is.

Che Guevara. Who was Che Guevara?

I dunno, some dude I guess. Latins and hipsters and gente the world over love their romantic losers, killed on mountaintops and emblazoned on t-shirts the world over. Best to die, but better to die for a cause.

I’m not going to tell you to go out and buy Che Guevara’s biography. I didn’t. I was going to, in a bookstore in Phoenix, but it was like 900 pages and weighed a metric ton. Couldn’t they have condensed it into a 200 page paperback? Louis L’Amour could’ve done it. I just wanted to know why those dreamy eyes are staring at me from a million t-shirts and car bumpers.

I read the wikipedia article and washed my hands of the whole thing. Fidel won his revolution, but there are no Fidel t-shirts and the reason is obvious. What if Guevara had won?

Che Guevara’s first name is Ernesto, but everyone called him Che because he used the word Che a lot. Che is like saying dude, or man, in American English. If Che Guevara grew up in Mexico instead of Argentina, everyone would have called him Guey Guevara. Because that’s what they say a lot in old Mexico.

I don’t care about dead revolutionaries and It’s not my fight anyway and so the mind drifts to other, more important things.

To go on forever, would be ideal.

The Salton and Camp Zero. One of the last great American wastelands which can never be forgotten.

Lusting for the sun on top of old Tajumulco down old Guatemala way, guey.

I was in Xela, Guatemala for nearly two months and everything revolved around the Miguel de Cervantes School of Spanish. They surprisingly had these neatly constructed ramps to get motorcycles up the two feet of steps and into the narrow hallway. I never fell but the thought of being pinned in the doorway with a hot exhaust pipe burning my leg to the bone was always there.

The Mexican experience summed up in this neat little sign, spied in San Cristobal.

Temascal, or Native American sweat lodge, had down in old Mazunte town.

Brain food baby. I miss Mexico…so long ago.

Free waffle breakfasts at the Roadrunner Hostel in Tucson taste alright to the desert drifter. Plans to dip south of the border materialized here. Who opens a hostel in Tucson?

Worlds tallest flag pole (it isn’t) in Calipatria, California. It was well over a hundred degrees that day and I was alright with that.

Saguaro cactus at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Just south of Why, Arizona and bordering old Mexico, thousands of Saguaro reach and twist towards the sky in all sorts anthropomorphic shapes. I was camped out here, under a million stars, awakened by a Black Hawk border patrol helicopter hovering over my tent.

The Cabazon dinos and the end of the road for the great American adventure.

The Alvord desert. We had finally done it, reached the true West after the Alaskan adventure. A memory never fleeting, the Alvord will always reign supreme.

Dude, the Arctic Circle. Way up North. An incredible day really. I would do the Dempster in the rain and in the mud all the way up to Circle and back without pause. Over 500 miles and skies that stretch forever.

Hyder, Alaska. No small feat indeed. Hyder is this little thumb of America reachable by road that juts into British Colombia off the Cassiar Highway on the way to real Alaska. It felt good to be back on American soil, if only for an hour or so, and out of stinky ol’ Canada.

Ah, the melodious mambo beats of Captain Louis Prima. Who can forget lil’ Kevin and his homestead up in Northern Maine? I can’t, what with all his pianos and what not. This guy was a real surprise. An original.

It’s hard to beat Abi’s Adirondack cabin for a first night’s lodging’s. First day out was cold and wet and awful and my rain pants ripped to shreds, a harbinger of things to come.

This weird tomato from Morelia still makes me giggle and the memory of seeing a little girl that looked like French actor Jean Reno just minutes after purchase will forever be intertwined.

Ceiling of the LA Metro. Thousands of real reels line the ceiling for as far as the eye can see. I thought this was a nice touch. Each station has something different adorning the ceilings or walls.

Canyon of the Gods. No great American road trip can ever be complete without visiting the Grand Canyon. Check it off the list dog.

Teacup terrier shots are the thing to do on one’s 29th birthday in Los Angeles.

Why, Arizona. A great campsite under a great tree. The CB looks so cleeeeeean, a handsome ride.

Where’s the beef? The food in Mexico was amazing, inspirational even, the best in Latin America and the best I’ve seen yet in the world. I haven’t seen anything like it since, not even in Ecuador where they gobble down guinea pigs for breakfast. Sure, that’s different, but I don’t really want to eat guinea pigs. I just ate one because it’s the thing to do. But I could eat head tacos everyday. American food is boring, bland even, but the things we do we do well. New York pretzels and pizzas, a cheeseburger at any diner in America, a cheap fat steak, and a good beer are the things I miss most here in Latin America. They sell pizza in Latin America, but it’s universally terrible, and usually expensive because of the price of cheese. Most of it is sort of like Elios type stuff. The pizza place I used to work at on Long Island would cut the good cheese with the cheap to save money, the good sauce with the bad. I don’t want to know what they do here. Beef is expensive here too, and the hamburgers and cheeseburgers are always thin joints, all slathered in sauces and messy, salty, and disappointingly small. They use “super” a lot to describe the ones that come with cheese but they’re never super, and I always feel just a little bit sorry for my latino brethren because their super cheeseburgers aren’t super at all, but sad. Pitiful even. Maybe  as we inch closer to the pampas the beef situation will get better. No se che, vamos a ver.

But yea, I just miss the regular stuff about being an American in America. Bacon and eggs for breakfast, taking a shit in a clean bathroom, being comfortable and warm and snug, and even the law and order of it all I miss at times. Les extrano mis amigos and amigettes.

But I wouldn’t be here in Latin America if I didn’t want to be.

I’m going to miss Latin America wherever I go next. A lot. The people here might be xenophobic dicks sometimes(who isn’t?) but they are unpretentious and you can ride a motorcycle nearly anywhere. On the sidewalk, through buildings, or down one-way streets and no one cares. Motos are looked at here kind of like the way bicycles are in the states. And go ahead and climb a live volcano if you want to because no one will turn you away.

And when all this is said and done, I don’t know where I’ll end up. Probably America. There are no jobs down here in Latin America anyway. You can teach English and make $5 an hour and scrape by, or rent out your abs to washerwomen for less, but neither is a real option; maybe for a little while.

Just remember that wherever you go, people are going to be the same, no matter the tongue.


There are scant originals out there, though it’s been told that but a few hooligans still roam the roads, searching for something that they will never find.

strangers in a strange land

…with thoughts of the West continuously swirling inside their heads.

That’s it yo.

No regrets…well, maybe a few, but the trip isn’t over yet and they will be made up for.

The heat is on and it’s never been hotter.

See you in Patagonia putas.

Meet me across the sky.