I awoke yesterday morning wrestling with a conundrum, go back, go forward, or stay put. All
options posed problems that there didn't seem to be answers for. My, perhaps slightly overladen, BMW had once again pulverized a set of wheel bearings (I suspect the replacements used back in Costa Rica were of the, cheap, weak, Chinese variety).
Returning to Lima added 1,400 miles of tough roads to my trip, and there was no guarantee that once I reached the BMW dealer there, if I made it at all, that they would have the parts needed. Staying put would mean waiting for parts from the States and the time and expense of this would have been great. DHL wanted $300 dollars to ship a bag to Cuzco from Bogota in a week. All this was in addition to the fact that I had nowhere to make the repairs once I got the wheel bearings. The motorcycle repair shops in Cuzco were not acquainted with shaft driven motorcycles so I wouldn't let them touch my bike. Going forward (the only real option if I was to reach Argentina in time for my flight) was still somewhat silly. Though La Paz was only 300 miles away all the (drug) money
and dealerships are in the eastern part of Bolivia in Santa Cruz. That's over 1000 miles away (connected by what I'm sure are only the finest roads), and finding a mechanic familiar with BMW's along my route seemed less likely than experiencing complete bearing failure followed by a precipitous plunge from a Bolivian escapement (a la Butch Cassidy). So, as I prepared to pack my bags and head to Lima I saw a reply to my plea for help on advrider.com from a Canadian fellow who gave me the address and phone number of a motorcycle tour and rental business in the city of Arequipa, only slightly off my path to Bolivia (four hours total). They have a few BMW's in there fleet of 35 bikes and after talking the owner, a Dutch fellow named Lars, who seemed to think he could help, I hastily departed South.
A full day of riding, with elevations over 12,000', gave way to riding in the desert night with absolute darkness and temperature plunging into the 20's. After an hour or so of painfully cold riding, on a road unknown to the GPS's map, I
began to see a light on my tail in the rear view mirror. No matter how hard I pushed the incandescent glow only strengthened. With the ground around me visible I pulled to the side of the road to allow the pesky car by. I waited, but nothing passed or overpower the auditory charm of the clickity klack emanating from my Beemer's horizontally opposed engine. I turned to see what had happened to the tailgater to find the brightest Moon I had ever witnessed. Where had it come from? Only moments before, in a cloudless sky, there was nothing but stars. It had quite literally sneaked up behind me to cast light on a barren desert. I'd never seen anything quite like it. I stopped to take a picture and suddenly it didn't feel so cold anymore. The desert gleamed in a very welcoming fashion and any peril that I had been feeling slipped from my mind.
Sometimes you don't see the answers coming, and the outlook is bleak, however, the light is there behind you, hidden just out of sight. Keep looking. Whether you are rising with the sun, or riding through the night, there is nothing quite like the surprise of a full desert moon.