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.

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

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