Monday, October 28, 2013

World Leaders

An interesting map of what each country leads the world in...
source: doghousediaries.com

Saturday, October 26, 2013

It might be a good time to travel to Argentina... but not for the best of reasons


It might be a good time to travel to Argentina, but not for the best of reasons.

Argentina is an amazing country to visit for its culture, beautiful natural areas and friendly people. But it might be a good time to visit for another reason... the Argentine Peso is devaluing relative to the US Dollar.

Okay, traveling to a country to take advantage of currency fluctuations is probably not the best of reasons to travel. However, if you previously thought that it might be too expensive to travel to Argentina, you might be able to take advantage of a Peso that has weakened 32.5 percent this year in the unofficial market and is now more than 70 percent weaker than the official rate of 5.8533 per dollar.

According to an article from the news source Bloomberg...

The Argentine peso tumbled in the black market to the weakest since May as demand for dollars surges on speculation the government will clamp down on access to foreign currency after Oct. 27 congressional elections. 

The peso fell 1.5 percent to 10.05 per dollar in the illegal currency market at 4:20 p.m. in Buenos Aires, according to prices compiled by Ambito.com. That’s the weakest since it slid to a record 10.45 per dollar on May 5. The peso has weakened 32.5 percent this year in the unofficial market and is now more than 70 percent weaker than the official rate of 5.8533 per dollar. 

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who is recovering from an Oct. 8 surgery to drain a hematoma in her skull, has restricted dollar sales in the domestic market since winning re-election in 2011 and slapped a 20 percent tax on the use of credit cards abroad. While she has managed to reduce capital flight, the country’s international reserves are being drained at a rate of $1 billion a month and have fallen to a six-year low of $34.1 billion as the country’s energy deficit widens. 

“The government will tighten controls even more by limiting the use of credit cards abroad because we have a serious problem and the government needs the dollars to pay debt,” former central bank president Aldo Pignanelli said in a telephone interview from Buenos Aires. “The question is how much longer can Argentina withstand the draining of reserves.” 

Click for the complete Bloomberg article.


Friday, October 25, 2013

National Parks of North America - The Movie

Visit some of the most beautiful and majestic places in North America. This documentary film takes you on a visit to a number of National Parks including - Banff, Bryce Canyon, Canadian Rockies, Cascade Range, Colorado Plateau, Death Valley, Denali, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic and Yosemite.
Check it out on YouTube or right here. (52 minutes)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ten Things I Have Learned From Riding In Foreign Countries by Kevin West


When I was riding my motorcycle in Latin America, in the town of Chiclayo, Peru, I met a fellow adventure motorcyclist named Kevin West. Kevin and I just happened to pull up to the same hotel at the same time. He was riding a green Kawasaki KLR650 with some custom made cases. We immediately started talking and hit it off. Kevin had an amazing story. He served as a US Marine for many years, but was now retired. Not content to sit around and play card games, he decided that he would take the journey of a lifetime and ride his motorcycle solo from his home in Windsor Heights, Iowa to Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. We spent a little time together in Chiclayo and then we each went our separate ways. However, we have kept in touch via Facebook.

The other day Kevin wrote a post about, "Ten Things I Have Learned From Riding In Foreign Countries". I thought that his list was both humorous and accurate. Also, I thought that it was worth sharing on my blog. With Kevin's permission I am sharing his thoughts.

Ten Things I Have Learned From Riding In Foreign Countries
by Kevin West

A few days ago someone asked me what have I learned from riding outside the U.S. that I could not have learned by staying home. Since no one had ever asked me that question I was at somewhat of a loss for a good response. After thinking about it, aside from learning about and experiencing different cultures, there is a myriad of little things you learn. Dozens of items eventually came to mind, but for brevity's sake the list has been condensed to 10.

1. Never judge the people of a country by those you meet at border crossings.

2. Bad drivers are a universal problem. The only difference between an affluent country and a poor one is the value of the vehicle trying to kill you.

3. In spite of your best efforts to keep the bank notified of your traveling status, your debit card will be frozen by that bank due to "foreign transactions." This usually occurs after close of business Friday afternoon.

4. The police and other local law enforcement are not your friends. To judge the safety of a particular area watch how soldiers behave. If they appear relaxed, it's probably safe. On the other hand, if they're wearing ski masks and have armored equipment with them, you're probably not in the best of neighborhoods. 

5. It's much easier riding a motorcycle down a flight of stairs than up. Safe parking is important.

6. Road signage is often non-existent. At least 10% of your miles will be spent lost. Even with GPS and good maps you will get lost every day. On the upside, you will end up seeing some interesting things you hadn't planned on.

7. Always go to the center of town to find a hotel. Slums are on the outskirts and no hotels there.

8. Passing slow moving vehicles on the blind curves of narrow, winding mountain roads with precipitous dropoffs wilI often be the norm. Very high pucker factor.

9. Eventually you will remind yourself to look around and enjoy the scenery. As soon as you do, something potentially bad happens. You need to bring your "A game" to riding every day.

10. The words "spay" and "neuter" are apparently not in the Spanish language. At least in Asia they eat stray dogs.

-------------------------------

A while back I posted my own list of 10 lessons learned which you can read by clicking here.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Greatest Places on Earth - The Movie

This documentary called The Greatest Places highlights seven amazing places on earth to visit. Are they the greatest places as the title claims? Well, you be the judge. The film covers Madagascar, Tibet, the Amazon, Iguazu, Greenland, the Namib and the Okavango. A little inspiration to travel.

This film is available on YouTube or right here (40 minutes)

Friday, October 11, 2013

A History of Motorcycles

I came across this documentary about the history of motorcycles produced by the History Channel. It discusses the origins, usage and the many styles that are involved in the world of motorcycles. 
It is now available on YouTube or right here. (90 minutes)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The 2014 Honda CRF450 Rally Motorcycle Revealed

Honda released the first pictures of the new 2014 CRF450 Rally motorcycle which will be used during the 2014 Dakar Rally. The Dakar prototype is based on the commercial competition CRF450X moto.
The 2014 Honda CRF 450 Rally retains the PGM fuel injection, but numerous updates have been added to the new machinery. Honda will have the 5-rider team announced earlier this year consisting of Helder Rodrigues (Portugal, 34), Sam Sunderland (UK, 24), Javier Pizzolito (Arg, 33), Joan Barreda (Spain, 29), and Paulo Goncalves (Portugal, 34). 
Check out the bike promo video.
Check out the bike in action video.

Now if they would only produce a CRF450L for the rest of us.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Thoughts on US Foreign Policy

The world is a big place, but getting smaller all the time.

I recently came across this program on PBS called Great Decisions in Foreign Policy. The full length programs are excellent at describing current trends in geopolitical events. They have posted short videos online that are pretty good too.
Check out the videos on YouTube or right here.

Friday, October 4, 2013

La Motocyclette (The Girl on a Motorcycle) - The Movie

La Motocyclette (The Girl on a Motorcycle) film, also known as Naked Under Leather, is a 1968 British-French film starring Marianne Faithfull, Alain Delon, Roger Mutton, Marius Goring, and Catherine Jourdan.

The film follows newly-married Rebecca as she leaves her husband's Alsatian bed on her prized motorbike—symbol of freedom and escape—to visit her lover, Daniel, in Heidelberg. En route, she indulges in psychedelic and erotic reveries as she relives her changing relationship with the two men, before crashing into a truck at the film's conclusion.

I consider the film to be part of the neo noir genre of filmmaking. The director borrowed some stylistic elements from film noir, but instead of using dark elements, it incorporated more psychedelic visuals and story lines. Rated R for adult content.

The complete film is now available for viewing on YouTube or right here. (1:27 minutes).

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Comparison of the Old vs New BMW R1200GS

The venerated BMW R1200GS motorcycle is often thought of as the Godfather of adventure motorcycles due to it's heritage as a Dakar Rally motorcycle and as the choice of RTW travelers such as Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman as seen on the documentary Long Way Round

In 2013 BMW updated the BMW R1200GS. This video is perhaps the best review that I've seen that compares the old air cooled R1200GS and the new water cooled R1200GS. Check it out. (16:34 minutes)