My Ground Truth

Psychologist | Military-Grade Mindfulness Trainer & Coach | Carsten J. Grimm

Chapter Two: The Chilean search

Up and Down on Luck 

When you're going to expedition-motorcycle across an entire continent it's best to have a very good idea about bikes. Like what condition of servicing is your bike in, how to service it yourself, and how to carry out minor repairs for when you're lost and isolated and potentially hundreds of miles away from the nearest mechanical support. Things of that nature. Things, that at the start of this adventure, I knew nothing about.  

But I did know how to find people who knew. That's how I met Ricardo, a Santiago community member of the overland motorcycle forum who offered to help me out when I emailed him ahead from BA calling inbound. And as was my experience all the way around Latin America, when you ask the local people for help they are likely to drop everything and support you going above and beyond. That's how it was with Ricardo, from cruising the local bike shops to look at options, to finding parts and spares stores, places to get pannier racks welded-up, even surfing the online buy-and-sell forums with me back at the hostel over a beer calling potential rides on each webpage. Day one of my search for a bike left me empty-handed but nevertheless up on luck on balance with promises of checking out two bikes on day two, one of which was the hot, albeit expensive, favourite.

The hot favourite got sold next morning and not to me. I then got completely over expedition-hiking the endless city grids heaving-in what engines spew-out looking for a bike that wasn’t there. But it wasn't all bad. Back at the hostel I had a maintenance lesson with Kiwi Nick who taught me how to change a chain-and-sprocket on his Honda 250, as well as a bunch of other nifty little tricks you can only learn growing up fixing tractors on a rural sheep-station in central Canterbury.

When you're at the mercy of serendipity and timing you win some you lose some, and your focus and attitude decides the final balance. On the way over from BA l almost got robbed in the bus-station leaving town, only just managing to grab my bag back off the thief as I was gullibly distracted by his accomplice who’d dropped crumpled dollar bills next to me as an attention grab. Almost down on luck that time. Few days later I got stiffed by a taxi-driver in Santiago who took off with my change, then got stiffed by the ticket-counter-lady when buying a metro ticket. Few days later, when I needed a pay-phone with none around in the local suburbia, a crew of dudes having lunch tossed me an iphone for the call, completely gratis, then we all sat around and had a friendly chat about bikes. Ricardo’s help. No bike. Up or down on fortune, who gets to decide? 

Looking For and Losing Hope

But even knowing that does not stop me from the pursuit of the bike-search internally wound up way, way too tight. Having rested so much hope and expectation on how this was all meant to play out it inevitably breaks apart when it doesn't conform to my agenda. So one day I'm staring out a gas-station window sipping coffee internally licking my wounds and I realise, or I'm reminded, ah fuck none of this actually matters. And there’s joy in my heart and tears in my eyes. Experiencing the kind of stuckness the Buddhists try so hard to induce, the kind that is a precursor to all real understanding, and the place where anything can happen and probably will.

Realising this I see clearly that it's time to be off the very next day, down into southern-Chile, Pucon, where wilderness and small towns await. No more chasing shadows I arrive in the place that this trip was meant to be all about for me, where finally I'm listening to the hints to just shut-the-hell-up-for-a-minute and wait for the right circumstances to produce this elusive bike I've been holding out for. If at all. And that’s fine by me. I make some great friends in the hostel, the saving grace of a city I never really liked, and overnight-bus myself down into where I needed to go all along. Confident in the uncertainty.