By Marisa Notier
The Notier Notes
Our Sunday Scoop
Getting ourselves from Africa to America during a pandemic is hard enough. Getting our motorcycle across continents is even harder. But we were fortunate with the people who helped us, even though the entire process really tested our patience, and certainly emptied our wallets.
Starting with the motorcycle, there's a lot of things that can go wrong. When it comes to flying a motorcycle via airfreight, you don't actually know how much you're going to pay until the bike is crated up, has passed customs, and is ready to go on the plane. This is because the cost is based on the final dimensions of the crate which is hand-built around the bike. So we could only get estimates beforehand, and the numbers that people were getting back to us varied by thousands of dollars. Sometimes even the same clearing agent would change his price by a couple grand overnight due to some "unforeseen" cost.
“You will never want to leave Malawi," is what people told us. “The lake is perfectly placid and warm, and swimming in it is divine." Hearing things like this got me excited to visit this small African nation bordering the most biodiverse lake in the world: Lake Malawi. But then we also heard the many warnings: “Watch out for the Bilharzia parasite," and “Beware of crocodiles."
Moreover, it was going to be $75 per person just for the visa to enter Malawi, and because we happened to be visiting in the midst of the rainy season, the weather would be at its worst. In the end, we worried the high price to see this small country would not be worth it for us.
By Tim Notier
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday upon us once again, it is time to start pondering what to get our two-wheeled riding loved ones for Christmas, Hanukkah, whatever gift-giving traditions that the church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster may have, and even for the atheist in your life that likes receiving gifts on a cold December day.
Here is a brief list for those motorcycle enthusiasts in your life. These are some of our favorite items which have served us well on our round-the-world trip. We are not sponsored by any of the products below, and bought each item ourselves with our hard-earned money. These are simply our fair, honest opinions after putting them through hell over the last two years.
Once again we've broken down in the middle of nowhere, this time it was out in the scorching Kalahari desert after a nasty fall into the sand... But let me start at the beginning, and it was a good beginning: the Drakensberg, meaning Dragon Mountains in Afrikaans.
Back in South Africa, these jagged peaks definitely earned their name. Like towering stone monoliths ruling over the landscape from their lofty thrones, they say that it was the scenery of South Africa that inspired J. R. R. Tolkein to create Middle Earth in his fantasy books The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. And I certainly agree that there seemed to be magic there, like I could just picture a dragon hiding behind the crags, protecting his hoard of gold and treasure.
I haven't written a post in a while, but that's because we're back home in Chicago for a break before heading off to Africa, and life here has been pretty normal.
The regular American grind used to be our daily reality: waking up to the sound of the alarm, getting the coffee machine brewing before our eyes were properly opened, running from an air-conditioned building to an air-conditioned car, then coming home to turn on Wheel of Fortune or some other brain mush show until falling asleep. It's not a terrible existence, in fact, there's something very comforting and lovely about it. It's predictable, controlled, and best of all, here in Chicago, our friends and family are always close by, and weekends are spent visiting one another with good food and laughter.
By: Tim Notier
With over two years on the road are now in the books (and soon to be in physical books). From Chicago to Ushuaia, and back up to Iguazu Falls, the questions are now: what worked and what did not?
We've made it to the end of the world: the most southern point that you can get to by road on the planet, which is quite an accomplishment, but it has not been without its obstacles. We've had one bike problem after the next, so much so that we are now stuck in Punta Arenas, Chile until we can get the proper parts flown in to this section of the world.
More than a month ago in northern Chile, the engine started overheating on crisp and cold days. So we took it in to the KTM workshop in Santiago where they fixed the water pump, changed out the coolant, and we figured our bike issues were behind us.
With the bike not starting from our ride through Bolivia's salt flats, we were in a bit of a predicament. Our dear and wonderful friends who'd stayed by our sides throughout it all, Brendon and Kira Hak, were on the verge of overextending their visa in Bolivia, and needed to go. Unlike us, their bike was fully functional, and their plan was to take a difficult, but gorgeous route south and out of Bolivia: the Lagunas Route.
But as Tim and I found ourselves immobile in the town of Uyuni, we knew that if we didn't get our bike running before they had to leave, we would not want to do such a challenging road by ourselves with a questionable motorcycle. Our plans and dreams of riding the Lagunas Route were now falling apart.
So the pressure was on for Tim to fix the bike, and he needed to do it by 11:00 AM the next day, which was checkout time for the Haks and the latest possible moment before they had to leave.
Yes, it looks awesome: the mirror effect of the largest salt flats in the world during the wet season. But don't let the surreal image of us riding through the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia fool you, because it has rendered our motorcycle immobile.
The amazing photographers who took this shot are our friends Kira and Brendon Hak, the fellow KTM-riding duo called the Adventure Haks. We met up with them for Christmas in Sucre, Bolivia, and then headed south together a few days before this epic failure-of-a-ride.
As many of you know, we were on the road to Peru two weeks ago when our monoshock broke and we were forced to haul the bike back to Cuenca, Ecuador, to get it fixed. What we didn't realize at the time was that the particular stretch of road between Cuenca, Ecuador and Jaén, Peru is cursed.
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