The journey narrated in this article took place prior to the COVID-19 healthcare crisis, between December 2019 and January 2020, in the saddle of my Triumph Bonneville: the Silver Bullet.
THE IDEA FOR THE JOURNEY AND PREPARATIONS
After returning from my first South American tour, I was full of travel ideas: in the end, however, I chose to return to South America again, where the Dakar Rally was to be held. Seeing the rally in person had started out as a wild dream before gradually solidifying into my ultimate goal.
During preparations, however, I learned that the race would be held in Saudi Arabia instead. Despite my disappointment, I didn’t lose heart and persisted with the idea of returning to South America, changing my route: I would set out from Lima and arrive in Montevideo, visiting Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, North Argentina and Brazil along the way.
I consider travelling by motorcycle a great privilege, and I had decided to put it to good use by raising funds for research into Ewing Sarcoma, for the Rizzoli Hospital in Bologna. I set an ambitious target: €5,000, one euro for every kilometre I would travel (by the end of my journey, I had actually covered 5,400).
LIMA, THE MOTORCYCLE ARRIVES AND THE JOURNEY BEGINS IN EARNEST
I left Italy on Friday 27 December 2019 and arrived in Lima the following day. My motorcycle was supposed to follow me, but the backlog caused by the Christmas period meant that it was dispatched a day late.
So, I took this opportunity to visit Lima and try out its famous cuisine, which offers excellent street food as well as restaurants. On 30 December I was awake at 7 a.m., on my way to the warehouse beside the airport to meet Rafaela (the customs agent) and begin the far-from-simple bureaucratic process of retrieving my motorcycle, in the hope I wouldn’t end up waiting a week as a result of the end-of-year celebrations.
Thus began a wild goose chase in 7 stages: one for each of the 7 different offices we had to visit to sort out a thousand minor details before we were able to access the warehouse. I spent the morning bouncing from one office to another, like I was trapped in a pinball machine. Finally, in the late afternoon, the traveller’s “buena onda” kicked in. All was OK with the motorcycle, and I plunged straight into the traffic of Lima. It was total chaos: it took me almost two hours to travel the 12 km from Callao airport to the hotel, being stopped along the way by the police for taking a road which was closed to motorcycles.
31 December 2019. Finally, the journey began in earnest. The first stretch was Lima-Nazca, around 450 km.
That morning I was excited and a little nervous, but as soon as I got into first gear I thought of nothing but riding and enjoying the trip. Everything went smoothly, apart from the heat, with the last 150 km consisting of (almost) total desert. A strip of asphalt stretches out in the middle of nowhere: no trees, no bushes, just the light-ochre desert broken up by a couple of hills, utterly bare of vegetation and marked by the passage of the occasional rainwater. It had been an excellent warm-up. In the late afternoon, I arrived in Nazca and had soon found a hotel with a garage, a must-have at every stop. It didn’t take me long to organise a visit to the city’s world-famous lines for the following day. It was 31 December, time to begin celebrating the end of the year.