Entries by FHW

Chasing the Dakar – Pt. 5

The Atacama Desert stretches 600 miles along the coast of Chile. It is the driest desert on earth, having no recorded rain for the last 150 years. Think of Death Valley, and then multiply it by 100X. There is not ONE plant growing in this place, not a shrub, cactus or weed.

Chasing the Dakar – Pt. 4

Our tour was organized by Rawhyde Adventures, BMW’s official off-road riding school which teaches guys like me to be Real Dirt Eating Men. Typically, I skipped the school. Also, to “qualify” for going on this adventure tour, one had to fill out a questionnaire asking about one’s dirt riding experience. I approached answering these questions as any ex-ad man might: lots of embellishment on the positives, not too much emphasis on the negatives. Net, I omitted the fact that the last time I’d ridden a motorcycle on dirt was 1993. This would come back to haunt me when crossing the Andes, which in this case included 250 kilometers of dirt road…

Chasing the Dakar – Pt. 3

I stopped feeling guilty after the first day of seeing hundreds of people on the side of the road cheering our little band of Dakar Chasers. I started to sign my name, “Fred USA” with more gusto after the first dozen autograph requests. At first, pictures with girls, their boyfriends/husbands, their children, and grandparents were done passively – OK, if you insist!

Chasing the Dakar – Part 1

I joined ten other motorcyclists for two weeks following the Dakar circus from town to town in South America. I had always dreamed of getting close to the Dakar. The old saying, “be careful what you wish for,” has new meaning for me now.

LBS Pt. 3 – Looking for a Great New Year

2008 marks the beginning of a new phase in Little Big Sur’s life, namely shifting from building it to using it! After a fist full of “mananas,” we’ve now spent two holidays moving into our little palapa. Little Big Sur is 90% done, missing “only” the furniture, full electricity, and assorted finishing touches. Here’s the report from our last visits.

LBS Pt. 2 – It’s All Downhill from Here

The next hint that maybe this wasn’t going to be your average, slightly vexing vacation home construction project was the small little fact that the only way to get there was via an hour long water taxi ride. At the time, I didn’t understand this is the only way that we could get there and it was the only way that anything was going to get there. Which turns your sense of project planning and timing upside down since things like the hundreds, if not thousands, of bags of cement used for construction needed to come via water too. Other things useful for construction, like power tools, were not in abundance either since the place is off the electrical grid and runs primarily by solar, generator and mule power. Heavy emphasis on the latter.

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Little Big Sur – Part 1: Not for the Faint of Heart

This is the story of how we became owners of a 500 sq. ft. beach casa on a turtle preserve in the jungle 30 miles south of Puerto Vallarta, violating most of the rules of smart real estate buying in the process. Along the way we crashed an international conference on real estate (apparently not learning much), got familiar with the emergency procedures for a scorpion bite, discovered the finer points of getting on/off a water taxi, and partied in an Old Town PV bar in which the most popular way of entering or exiting was on the back of a donkey. Puerto Vallarta would seem to be our kind of town.