Some clown once coined the contradiction in terms that is “expect the unexpected” lazy advice from lazy parents everywhere. Not wanting to be so cavalier with my readers safety in case you wish to embark on a similar adventure, here is my guide to unexpected things on South American roads.

Dogs

Dogs of South America choose to highlight their otherwise mundane day by chasing passing motorcyclists to the point of exhaustion. Sometimes you will see a head pop up with ears perked as you approach before Rover widens his eyes like a skilled sniper and chooses his moment to dart out and snap at your heels. They’re easily outrun, I even met many bikers who throw rocks or even carry an air pistol however I found that if you just slow down and stop, Rover gets confused and you’re presented with a dog who simply doesn’t know what to do next.

Cows

Cows are oblivious to the world around them, in their mind there are places with grass and places without grass and who gives a shit about the places without grass. I think that the girls in horror movies that run up the stairs towards the killer in blind panic must somehow be related to cows as this also seems to be their tactic. As you approach they can hear you coming and they will move eventually but at the point that they change from stationary meaty lump to bucking bronco, there’s no telling where they’re gonna go. Chances are 50:50.

Sand

For reasons I cannot even begin to explain, be you in riding through thick jungle or the middle of a city, mysterious piles of sand occasionally appear in the middle of the road. Perhaps the camouflaged body of some kind of sand creature or perhaps left there by reality TV contestants who’s sole purpose in life seems to be to piss me off, either way its dodgy. Hit that patch too fast and your back wheel can whip right out and usually the patch is just small enough to ensure a nice hard asphalt landing.

Speed bumps

More so we found in Bolivia and Peru were the stealth speed bumps, no doubt left by evil cops with evil intentions. They share the characteristics of any other self respecting speed bump, a bump, however unlike the rest they are not painted with any kind of warning colour. They are instead camouflaged with the rest of the road and are seriously difficult to spot until it’s too late, they have almost been the end of Frank on more than one occasion. On the flip side we also found yellow painted strips with speed hump warning signs and no actual hump, begging the question, who’s painting the roads out here?

Busses

Millions of kids and adults alike sit at home on their playstations playing grand theft auto without a care in the world. What they don’t know is that they may actually physically be controlling the bus drivers of South America. While most car drivers are simply crazy, Bus drivers are dammed insane and will do just about anything to be the fastest most wreckless thing on the road. To them, an oncoming motorcycle is an invitation to overtake and since the beginning of our journey I have become very well acquainted with the nearside gutter. Every time you round a blind corner, expect to see a bus.

Franklin

My esteemed partner in crime whose mind operates much like that of a cow except with vagina instead of grass. Given his dues he rides a motorcycle well and can push his Honda beyond the limits of my Suzuki, right up until the point that he crashes, and then I often catch up. Perhaps not an immediate threat except to himself and any girl willing to have sex with him in improperly furnished hostel bathrooms. However, he has been known to leave me bleeding in the road while speeding off, no doubt with that vagina auto-pilot guiding him towards pastures new. So if nothing else, just be wary who you ride with.

Not forgetting rockfall on those mountain passes, flash flooded river fords, wet & slippery railroad crossings and oblivious kids on bicycles, that’s about it. Happy adventures through South America and…   err…  Expect the unexpected.

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