South America – Pat Lewis (issue 6)

flat smallMy bike was destined to become a water-pump. At least that was option two, according to the enthusiastic Peruvian who handed me a grubby wad of Pesos in exchange for my faithful KLR650; the machine that had carried me and my girlfriend all the way from Santiago de Chile to Lima. Option one was for him to ride the bike on his own dream trip, but considering the state of its engine and the rather short legged stature of my business associate, I was inclined to think that my poor bike was going to end its life pumping water to feed coca crops. I struggled with remorse but then stuffed the pesos into my pocket. The bike and I had travelled a long way, but to be honest, it was held together with cable ties and duct tape … and I had a plane to catch.crash small

Just as it was hard to let go of that bike, it is also hard to let go of our three-month adventure riding free through South America. We’d travelled over the sandy arid plains of the Atacama Desert in Chile, through the high Andean passes to Argentina and then on to explore the Altiplano of Bolivia. Finally we dropped into the humid forest tracks of the Peruvian amazon before climbing over the Andes again to finish the trip in Lima.

I still find myself drifting back to the road in idle moments, re-living those long days on a dusty track, with the desert rolling out ahead and the mountains rearing behind…

This article was first published in Issue 6 of OVERLAND magazine.