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I thought you lot might fancy some inspiration to travel from Sam Manicom's latest book. :)

I've done my review here......
http://www.xrv.org.uk/forums/product-reviews/56819-sam-manicom-tortillas-totems.html



Chapter One Predators and the Border Queens
‘Get your motor runnin’, Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure, And whatever comes our way’
Steppenwolf

The bike and I leapt violently into the air. As we did so, all the thoughts that had been meandering though my mind, changed instantly into survive or else! My bikes engine screamed as I involuntarily opened the throttle on take off, this grasp of fear almost making the situation worse. As we took off I heard and felt the drive shaft hit the top of the tope with a sickening thump. This just had to have caused major damage. A tope, which you pronounce as toe-pay, is a Mexican speed bump, but this one was no mere bump. There’d been nothing to warn that it was there. The dusty tarmac had camouflaged it perfectly and the sun, right overhead, hadn’t cast even a hint of a shadow. The wheels came crashing back down again and with a wobble that I knew was going to throw me off, the bikes suspension bottomed out under the weight.
Somehow the bike leapt sideways and of course, there was a ditch waiting for me to fall straight into. I heaved at the handlebars and for once my instinct made me do the right thing. I opened the throttle wide again and with a wild weave, we somehow managed to stay upright, and on the road.
The day had started in Guatemala with no hint of what was going to happen. The dawn was cool and bright with a faint mist that hung around the jungle trees. The sun had tried its best to creep through the gaps and as it did so, its dust filled misty beams had dappled the road around us. My bikes tyres hummed, all my gear was strapped on tightly and we’d just filled the tanks with fuel from a station that was totally at home with its surroundings.
Ancient, liana strung trees surrounded the time-worn crumbling walls, which cried out for paint to bring it back to being the pride and joy that it had probably once been. The rough track off the main road to it was heavily rutted by a generation of trucks, and the roadside ditch was filled with that same generations cast offs. Paper, bits of broken vehicle, old oilcans and rusting barbed wire were collected together to form an untidy reminder of everyday life. The air was heavily scented with the musty smell of layers of leaf mould, and with the tang of both fuel and the cigarette that a man was smoking as he poured diesel into the tank of his truck from an old watering can. The cream coloured pickup looked as if it was being held together by rust, string, and gaffer tape, but mostly by prayer. The wood and silver crucifix that hung from the trucks rear view mirror suggested that this was the greater strength.
The uneven, oil-stained forecourt was time and weather worn, and the pumps looked as if they belonged in the props office for a Hollywood film studio. The pump had clunked and whirred irregularly as petrol sploshed with surprising speed into my tank. The white arm of the gauge had jerked in stages around the crescent moon shaped dial, and the attendant’s eyes had opened wide as litre after litre had flowed into my 43-litre tank. This small Indian man wore beige overalls that looked as if they hadn’t been washed for a decade, and he had a jaded face which said he wasn’t surprised by many things. His deeply lined skin gave me the feeling that he’d seen much in his life, but not a bike with a tank that could drink so much fuel. Watching him, I was conscious that this man was perhaps one of the last people I’d speak to in Guatemala.
As my partner Birgit and I rode the last miles towards the border, my mind ticked over in time with the bikes engine. Around us a sweaty heat began to swirl, and beneath my bike the tarmac undulated with tricky to ride heat heaves. Heat and heavy trucks play wobbly games with the road surface in this part of the world and my bikes suspension was working gentle overtime. Loose gravel on the corners and the frequent potholes kept my mind split between the riding moment, where we had been, and where we were going. Even after the six years plus on the road, I still worried about border crossings. This was to be the last in Central America. This day we’d be riding into North America. The border with Mexico loomed.
It’s too harsh to say that I was confused, but adrenaline popped at the thought of a new adventure. For sure one was about to begin, and I knew that it was going to be very different to the last years of meandering through South and Central America.
The lush jungle vegetation began to ease away, to be replaced with scrubby bush and an occasional tree. I took the flower-strewn verges as a good omen. The sun was out in full now, and even though the dawn still held a dash of cool under the trees, I began to feel a trickle of sweat creeping down my back. My bike, Libby, ticked and purred as if she too was anticipating a new beginning and more gentle roads perhaps.
A vast valley dropped us down towards the border. We’d heard no scare stories about this crossing. Central American borders had a million tales of hassle, bribery and corruption attached to them. We’d not found them difficult, but in my eternal search for information I’d always listened too hard to the tales, and had let a tinge of fear creep into me as we’d approached each one. One of the things we’d learnt was never cross a border on a Sunday. The stories had it that ‘fees’ leapt up and that many of the crossings were undermanned on a Sunday. The perverse in me was tempted to try a Sunday though. If everyone steered clear of borders on a Sunday, perhaps it would in fact be the easiest day to cross.
Fear of the unknown always added an element of anticipation that sharpened my senses and gave that burst of adrenaline. But this new border was going to be a whole new game, wasn’t it…
Want to know a little more from later in the book? Read on…
Walking out into the vastness of this cacti-strewn land is like stepping out into a giant’s rock garden. Tall spiky shapes surround you, and pale green ground cover succulents and clumpy scrub block your way, forcing you to meander across the garden in an apparently aimless and random zigzag. The sun becomes your friend and your guide; it would be easy to get lost out there. One hill looks much the same as the next and though each cactus bears resemblance to the next, each has its own characteristics and each has been formed as a result of where it has found itself to be living. A large boulder might push it leaning crazily in one direction, or a particularly shallow stretch of soil may have stunted its growth. Strange rustlings emerge from the deep shadows beneath the scrub, reminding you that you are not the only ones passing through the giant’s rock garden. This is also the home of lizards, spiders and snakes…’



‘An hour or so later, as the sun was beginning to fall over the end of the valley, turning the violets, sages and greens of the hills into shadowy dusty reds and oranges, a group of horses appeared. The lead horse, a black, white and brown ‘paint’, pawed the ground and sniffed the air. We were downwind but perhaps he thought he’d heard us talking to each other. I doubt he could see us but he was on his guard as the other horses, a couple of which were wobbly-legged foals, set to grazing the stream’s banks, or to drinking from the gently flowing water. We held our breath. This sight felt like a pure gift. Never had I imagined that we would be sitting in a place such as this, surrounded by wild horses. The now brilliant orange sun made the perfect backdrop as the milling horses kicked up small clouds of dust as they fed and drank. This was the real Wild West as far as I was concerned. The horses did their thing and we sat silently watching their peaceful movements. It was almost as if, to the horses, we weren’t there at all. Slowly they began to head downstream, feeding as they went and before long they disappeared into the deep red that the last of the sun had cast over the land. Then suddenly it was night and the stars were appearing above us. We didn’t need anything else at that moment. Life was pretty much as perfect as it could get…’

‘The bikes’ engines idled as we sat looking at the obstacle. The only thing to do was to ‘go for it’. We’d make it or we wouldn’t. Neither of us considered that going up would be far easier than going down again. As always, Birgit went first. She gunned her engine a little, as if to make sure it hadn’t gone to sleep and was ready for what was to come. Standing on her foot pegs, she eased forward, and then went for it, her eyes fixed on the smoother trail beyond. We’d both learnt by this time that often this is the only way to get through a situation like this.
Pick your route, plan what you are going to try to do, and then focus on the other side leaving the power of the bike and instinct to deal with the problems. With a roar, Sir Henry hit the gully, his back end jiggled furiously and then, bucking, he took Birgit up and through the rocks. Not once did she look as if she was going to fall off. I was impressed, but now it was my turn…’

‘Hardly a house, rarely a village, seldom any traffic; what a beautiful road. We were on one of the fabled bikers’ highways of North America. Within minutes of rolling onto it, it had started to live up to its reputation. Just road, forest, flowers, lakes, rivers, bears and a few road repair crews for added diversity. In the distance, craggy peaks, lightly dusted with snow, formed one of nature’s perfect backdrops. The curving, dipping surface of the Highway eased from asphalt to gravel to short sections of thick glutinous mud. Fun time. Above us, clear blue sky and a sun that warmed our backs as we headed north…’


Sam Manicom : Adventure Motorcycle Travel Books for all the info, reviews, readers feedback (we love to hear from you) pictures and much more. There’s a limited period special offer on too…
Order Books by Sam Manicom : Distant Suns, Under Asian Skies and Into Africa
 

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I wonder, as Sam is publishing this himself, if he has thought about producing an ebook type thing for the likes of iTunes and the Amazon Kindle.

Don't know any others that do but it's got a big audience. As long as it doesn't cost a fortune to do.


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