Before and after the 7 month journey from London to Rio

Follow the adventure on Facebook

Make a donation to UNICEF

Last Week I have mostly been... riding a vespa sidecar over the Andes. As you do!
Arguably the non footballing high, (pun intended), of the trip. 

The pass to Argentina had been closed for but late autumn sunshine meant it was open for a couple of days.  I had to go now.  Days of preparation with Richard aka “MacGuyver” and Radislav, the veteran of the mountain crossing from the Santiago Vespa club had me bouncing from confidence to absolute terror.  The final words on the early morning of my departure through rolling eyes were “You’re not very well prepared for this.” Coming from a veteran of the Santiago to Buenos Aires route, this was a close to “Good luck" as I was going to get! 

Early morning I was wearing all my clothes, feeling like the Michelin man and ridding into the mist and clouds.  I’ve often felt alone during the trip but never to this extent. For the 1st hour I saw none else then a couple of trucks coming the other way through the mist.  The sun peeked over the mountains only to be forced out of sight by clouds.  It stayed cold.  In another hour the sun managed to muscled through and I felt warmth on my back.  Another 1/2 hr and I saw the temperature gauge start to move.

After a couple of hours the terrain changed to the steep climbing 37 hairpin turns which must have been designed by the a cartoon artist.  Think Road Runner cartoons. I stopped to rest my neck, take photos and appreciate the view behind me as I climbed.  Speeding trucks heading for Santiago deadlines drove over rocks and crushing them and spitting stones which pinged off the scooter as I ducked.

Next, snow capped gently rising hills edged to the peak and to Argentinian customs. There were a few kiosks at the queue so I rounded up the first Argentinian I could find to take a penalty. He was joined by a curious off duty Chile cop with his family in tow.  Both scored good goals to the bemusement of tourists and truckers.

Going through customs was not slow but thorough.  I had questions from officers as soon as the formalities were completed and later private emails from officers who’d seen the sidecar. The landscape changed to a bronzed rocks, but now I’d left Chile and I was in Argentina….
Colo Colo 0 Palestino 1
Colo Colo had just won the league a week ago and this should have been a formality against a less fancied Palestino.  Yes its a team started by Palestinians in Santiago.  Its not alone in being a team with expat roots.  Other teams include

It was predominantly Colo Colo fans with shirts celebrating their league title in the crowd and a celebration atmosphereIt could have been tactics but both teams decided to turn out in a white kit.  This definitely helped Palestino as despite pressure and a number of internationals about to prepare for the world Cup Colo Colo just could not score. Palestino got stronger and managed to score on the counter attack.  

Good singing and climbing of the stadium floodlights over my head by local fans who claimed to support West Ham United!

Santiago Vespa Club
Great bunch of guys.  Special thanks go to Richard and Radislav for all their help with customs, routes, equipment (I was really unprepared and with their help was slightly unprepared by the time I left!  Many Thanks and guys the helmet visor finger wipers are on the way to you.