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:: The Hunt For Puerto Del Faglioli
The Hunt For Puerto Del Faglioli
A Motorcycle Adventure In Search Of The Improbable
It's 2008. The world enters economic meltdown. A global flu pandemic looms. An historical US presidential election is taking place and, somewhere in the Americas, a lone Irishman is coaxing his temperamental Italian motorcycle through another electrical breakdown...
Interspersed with anecdote, social observation and liberal doses of humour, this book follows writer and seasoned overland traveller Paddy Tyson, through his battle with bureaucracy, bike breaking road surfaces, illness, accident, gun toting police and a pasty Celtic complexion remarkably unsuited to the Central American sun.
Published as a collection for the first time, this witty and informative account is essential reading for travellers and would-be adventurers.
"A fantastic account of life on the road and an antidote to celebrity overland adventures - I laughed out loud many times and felt like I was riding pillion. Can't wait for the next adventure." - Gwen Roberts, Motorcycle Mojo Magazine
"Funny, informative and thought provoking. A great travel guide and a great read" - Nich Brown, The Road
"We are seeking legal advice" - Puerto del Faglioli Tourist Board
By 8am on Monday morning, Matt and I had found the correct Police building and were sitting in the cool of an air-conditioned office. Then 'god' walked in. Stocky, with a thick neck and unfeasibly short legs, baggy suit trousers and unbuttoned shirt, he surveyed his quarry and began establishing power structures. This was his office, he had a gun, a badge and bad memories from school. We were going to wait.
In a restaurant in Casper, Annie, one of the waitresses, asked all the truck drivers who had come from the south whether the main highways were open. All said they were, but I should watch for the wind. Then Annie had a look at my map to see where I could stop if the weather turned worse on my next section south. "Awe hunney, they've just rit a whole buncha names on yer map soaz to fill them spaces. There ain't nuthin there really, but there's still one store in...." and she proceeded to (correctly) identify every possible stopping place in the next 180 miles. It took a minute or so.
Ottawa has a 200 mile canal stretching to Kingston on the shores of Lake Ontario, that was built for military purposes by Irish navvies under British direction. It was all to do with defence and the response to American invasion. Well, we all know what a lightning quick method of transportation the canal and all it's locks, can be. That would surely have got the reinforcements there in no time. Today the Rideau Canal is the world's longest ice skating rink for a goodly percentage of the year, the winter being something of an oversight on the part of the defence design team. In 2007 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, recognised as a 'work of human creative genius', so the blindingly obvious still escapes some.
I felt obliged to sit up until 1am with the three interesting characters who walked out of the forest to join me at the tent. Sitting smoking joints and regaling me with tales of derring-do on the high seas, I couldn't help myself but look around for the hidden cameras that were filming some new reality TV show, or perhaps gathering material for the next "Police, Camera, Action" where a gang of salty sea dogs tear a hapless tourist limb from limb in the forest and then feed the remains to the bears. Am I being melodramatic? The whole night made me feel like some peripheral being looking in on a form of alternate reality from behind a glass panel, but helpless to get anyone to snap out of their caricatured roles, so I was grateful when the thunderous rain had me up at 5.30am and away to enjoy the low cloud and short vista sightseeing.
And then it was northern Californ-eye-aye, and the mighty Redwood trees. They are immense. I know you know that already. The tallest trees in the world and with the girth of an average American male. 15feet diameter is common, over 370ft high and anything up to 2000 years old, the battle for their preservation still goes on against the loggers. Less than three percent remain standing and still there is a desire to cut them down. But walking through the forest creates a calm that I'm not sure I've felt before, and approaching Peggy I realised she looked like a mini-moto parked on the aptly named Avenue of the Giants. The age and size of these trees is staggering, what they've lived through unfathomable. Some of them had already taken root when some young upstart Judean revolutionary overturned the moneychanger's tables and got everyone pissed up at a 'dry' wedding.
But what I have never seen anywhere in my life before, is the four or five blocks to the east of the financial centre. With the junction of Hastings and Main at its heart, this area is where the city has consciously concentrated its mentally ill, its destitute and its hard drug users. This is not some "Oh it's a bit rough and seedy down there" comment. Today I saw a girl on the footpath holding her obviously cadaverous friend, rigid limbs, blue lips and staring eyes. She was so out of it I'm not sure she realised she was holding a corpse. The footpath was awash with crack smokers, drunks, collapsed smack heads still with needles hanging from arms and legs. Individuals of indeterminate sex or ethnicity so disfigured through violent assault some looked like discarded piles of rags. It was hard to comprehend. I don't mean the odd doorway here and there on the block. I mean thick with people, like central London at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon. Destitution in central Manila doesn't look like that.
With thickening fog that managed to produce heavy rain, I overshot the unmarked turning to Batopilas by 20kms. For some inexplicable reason my body had now started to sweat profusely, no doubt because it had realised there was one more way of expelling liquids that it hadn't thought of before, and I started to feel even weaker. Turning in to the correct mud road, I had slithered barely a mile and was wondering whether Matt would really have come this way on his own, when I got a corner completely wrong at the same time as I met the only vehicle for an hour. I'd like to think that I scored points for style and grace, as my wheels swapped ends in the rutted quagmire and I remained upright, coming to a halt next to the passenger window.
I really didn't have the energy to rise to the challenge, so instead I spent the evening with Marlon and was finding the conversation all quite fascinating right up to the bit where, in tears, this tattooed, psychologically unstable ex-gang member from Belize city, fondled his knife and told me how he was going to kill his ex wife and the fucking Canadian that she had run off with. I didn't doubt a word of it and just hoped that the Canadian didn't look anything like me as I shared his rice and beans and then lay on the floor and tried to fall asleep...
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