Wednesday, April 17, 2013


So below is a note I wrote to my wife.  It fairly well explains what has happened, except that our plan was to divide the ride from Campina Grande to Belem (1,360 miles) into three equidistant days.  But on the second day my bike developed a deep loud sound that I thought sounded kinda cool.  But there was something obviously wrong.  The KTM had blown an exhaust gasket between the header and the muffler.

Why it would do this can only be faulty assembly.  We tried a make shift gasket with tin cans but we apparently didn't have enough cans on the wrap.  It was a good temporary fix, but still leaking exhaust.  It needed something more.  In the next sizable town Alto Algre we actually found a motorcycle shop that had many different exhaust gaskets sizes and who did the repair there in their shop.  All in all, they charged my 30 real or $15 US for about 2 hours of work and parts.  I threw in an addition 20 real for Cerveja (beer).  So this necessitated a longer third day.
Header pipe sans Exhaust Gasket

The usual group that gathers to watch the Gigantic Gringos repair their machine

Fixing the exhaust gasket
Group at motorcycle shop
We made it to Belem, but not without trials and tribulations.  It was about 600 miles we rode in 13 hours, to make up for the day before when my bike broke down.  We went through at least four separate rain storms and I think one of them messed up my cruise control because it stopped engaging.  I had to shut it off, turn it back on, reset the speed and every time I hit the brake for a truck or speed bump (lambada) I had to go through it again.  After a while, even shutting it off stopped working.  The problem with that on a motorcycle, especially on long days like yesterday is my right hand starts hurting from holding the throttle open.  BUT, THE GOOD NEWS … another rain storm came along and fixed it.  Ha!  Well for the time being anyway.

Belem, for being a city I had never heard of is remarkably large.  We had bumper to bumper traffic for the last hour into the city.  It was dark by the time we got to a hotel Chuck had found the day before.  Fortunately, it wasn’t like most of our searches for hotels; go here “we’re full”, go there “we’re full too”, end up in some little hotel at the side of the road.  They actually had a room with two beds.  SCORRRRRRRRRE!

Tomorrow we will board the ferry for travel north across the Amazon to Macapa (pronounced “ma ca Pa’” emphasis on the P).  The trip is supposed to be a day and half.  We are going into the downtown area today, to the ferry building.   We need to find out what we will need to bring with us on the ferry; food, water, and of course beer (or what passes for beer here).  Fortunately we have an air conditioned cabin because no matter what time of day it is here, it is HOT and HUMID!  This is like what people think of when they think of the Amazon.   Once we arrive in Macapa we have 400 miles of mostly dirt north to the border with French Guiana.  We have to be at the border by April 22nd when the bikes need to be out of Brazil.

In Macapa, we will cross the equator for the second time.  The first time was in Ecuador, but we were late getting into Quito, it was dark and we didn’t realize we were crossing the Equator.  This time we plan on stopping and taking the perfunctory pictures.

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