The other day, I came across the Motorcycle diary of Avinash Thadani. Avinash is an avid Indian biker rider who recently drove 15, 000 km across South America, consumed 650 litres of petrol and travelled through six countries...
He wanted a real adventure in life. He got his bike, a beautiful KTM 640 Adventure, out of the bonded warehouse in Bogota, Colombia and headed out. Simple plan, head south - Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Brazil - and experience the best of South America.
He says he did not knew the local language or where he was heading to but planned to figure it out on the road.
The very next day, while he was crossing the Andes, he had the worst fall of his trip. the big Bike was on top of him for half an hour, blood oozing through his legs, lowering his confidence limit. That's when he made a deal with his bike.... He says, I promised I would take her home with me as long as she got me through this adventure.
The police warned Avinash. Told him how dangerous it is to go deep into the Colombian forests. But like a typical boarding school brat who hates being dictated, he didn't listen. No.. its wasnt the animals...Two days through dirt tracks, he finally saw them. The FARC (Revolutionary Army of Colombia) were toting AK-47 s and did not look happy.
He prayed and rode away as fast as he could. The rest of Colombia was amazing; a lonely desert, dancing cities (Cali Colombia is the salsa capital of the world) cities and beautiful churches built along solid rock canyons.
Next was Ecuador. He rode along the Pacific Ocean, on a lonely, twisty road called the "Routa Del Sol". It literally means "The Route of the Sun" but for Avinash, it was the route of his soul. The blue of the Pacific Ocean, the wind in my face scented with the freshness of salt and adventure.
For him, Peru was nothing short of pure magic. He ended up spending a month there. He rode through a mountain pass at 5, 000 metres. It rained, hailed and snowed upon him. He still loved every bit of it.
He saw lots of llamas, who had probably never seen a tourist before, and then two days of no human contact at all. He kept telling himself "this was not a holiday for me to check out the sights;but an adventure for the sights to check me out, and to see if I was worthy to cross them!".
Cuzco and then Machu Picchu. It's been 100 years since the first Westerner discovered it but he, unlike millions of other tourists, did not hit the Inca trail. Instead, he just soaked up the atmosphere.
Then at Bolivia Avinash met the Salt Flats. The ride was the toughest of the trip since the road was quite terrible. It looked like just flat and white. No roads, no signs, nothing, just flat salt as far as the eye could see.
It took him five hours from there to get into Argentina. Once in, Avinash headed for the Dakar rally. Seeing the bikes and cars flying through the desert made him resolve to take part one day.
Next stop: Buenos Aires. Bit tired and depressed by this point, he did not feel like battling the winds of Patagonia but still loved the sight of penguins, elephant seals and sea lions.
At the end of the road in Tierra Del Fuego - the tip of the continent - he saw a bench. He sat down and started thinking about his next adventure - when he would go around the world on my motorcycle....