So it´s time to make the final run towards Rio. Which means big days and big miles and I am well-aware that I am making some big overdrafts on my psyche to get where I want to in the time that I want to. I don´t see any viable alternatives, this just needs to happen. Two days to go and things are looking good, achieveable…. and then it rains. And rains. I pull into a service station to take shelter from the downpour and wait it out and after three hours of watching it hammer down a sympathetic guy wearing a Harley t-shirt comes over and reads the futile forecast from his blackberry – more of this shit all day and all night and maybe all tomorrow aswell. Well then, just add it to the list of challenges. I suit up for wet-weather ops, repack and hide-away all electronics and set-off out into the gloop and finally after too long a wet pennance I am saved by a highway hotel with a garage and a place to attempt to drip-dry my kit for the last day´s run and what turns out to be the longest leg.
And so next day, after 500 blessedly dry kilometers and with 200km yet to grind I know I am heading into trouble. Those overdrafts I´ve been making to get here are all calling in for payment, and I am getting lightheaded in the saddle. I pull over and sit on the roadside and scare myself by nearly passing out. I think about pushing just a few more miles but then the craziness of this situation dawns on me, and I know its not worth risking everything in lust for the finish-line. So I stop for food and consider finding a hotel, agonisingly only 180kms from Rio. Once Aroha and I are all fueled up again, we agree to ride on the condition that I monitor myself, strictly, for any fucked-up signs of danger. Funny, I always suspected it would be Aroha that would be the risk to finishing, I never thought it might be me who was the weaker link.
By Grace alone, I roll into Rio de Janeiro. Through the commuter traffic, across the harbour and mist and scenic granduer of a city that unmecilessly stuns you with her beauty. Through downtown and up the cobbled streets into Santa Teresa, and the Hostel, and the final garage that I will stable Aroha in. There should be champange corks flying and confetti falling from the sky but I settle for a dorm room and new friends and the raddest Hostel I've ever stayed in. Rio becomes home then and there, and it makes sense to me why I had to push so hard to get here. Get Home.
25,000 kms, two rear tyres, one front tyre, two chains, 4 sprockets, a bunch of brake pads, a paddling-pool’s worth of engine-oil, so much gas, one ring-set and cam-chain, a doohickey, one motorcycle jacket and one crash. And a fingernail.
11 countries, 5 ferry-crossings and 3 canoe-crossings, dozens of hostels, cities, hamlets and towns, dirt roads, sand roads, mountain twisting switchback roads, gruelling highways, innumerable amazingly benevolent people, some Spanish, some Portuguese, a few new life-long friends, one new career-direction and one new Life.
In retrospect, while I stressed over selling Aroha in Rio and I did all that I could, listing her online on overlander websites and posting fliers round nearly every hostel, in the end she was never going to sell. She was never meant to be sold and I just wasn't listening to that. It was while showing my hostel-staffer-mate Leandro the bike, young man struggling musician artist new wife, and the look on his face and the tone in his voice when he said he was going to have to sell his precious guitar so he could afford to buy her, that´s when I knew. No mate, you're not. And so I gifted Aroha on in her namesake of love and in hopes of safe riding and good trips away for him and his family. Free to a good home.
And the amazing part is how benevolently circumstances align for the last of my South American Journey. A few weeks earlier back in northern Colombia on the suggestion by my kiwi-travel-Uncle Kim that I continue on by bus after Rio I nearly gag, and yet after two weeks rest in that delightful cobbled suburb, with sunshine refreshing me and being surrounded by good people and goodtimes, I am ready to enjoy some hard-earned luxury, thank you very much. So I recline in my bus-seat and gratefully breathe-in the air-conditioned air and gaze out the window half-heartedly at the scenery going by and muse on how it feels to be full-circle. I embrace and enjoy some remarkable Brazilian beaches, drink far too many caipirinahs and gaze deep into the Majesty of Iguazu Falls, a seam of reality spilling water so brown after rain it is almost thick like blood drowning out all your past fears, past conditioning, and setting you free.
Enlightenment or Bust
So, sitting here in a dark hostel in Buenos Aires a few hours before flying back to my Home, Land and Sea, it is the time for honest answers and necessary conversations. Why did I do it? What are the words I wanted to share all along in those dark moments on that road that I have pondered on and held onto until now? Because I already know I did this for me, to let myself go and explore and discover truth and what real trust means. But part of me also did this for all of us. I did this so we would know what its like to go down there and yet emerge safely, if you'll let providence handle the details. And maybe we will see that there is insufficient reason for us to doubt anymore. A Marcio or an Armando will always be there to help you out with parts. A Doc Wenner will always be there to scrape you off the road when you crash. And an Andreas or a Da Dennis will always be there to help you make sense of it all. You will always make it to the next gas station, if only just. And it will always, always work out, just perhaps not how you expect it to.
Aroha, my not-always-so-trusty-steed. Gifted on in love and good karma - cjG