‘Si fama, ni fortuna’

'Si fama, ni fortuna'

<!– @page { size: 8.5in 11in; margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } –>Medellin, march 22th 2010

It’s on a friday afternoon when I hear a peculair, distinct, sound when wandering around in the storage part of Dakar Motos in Buenos Aires. Motorcycles arrive and depart from here, I’m accustomed to that, but this is a different sound. The low, bass thumping of a classic single cilinder I assume. I open the gate. That’s when I meet Gustavo, big, broad smile from ear to ear. ‘Hi, I’m looking for the Harley who came in here all the way from Alaska’. ‘Looks like you’re the guy who I’m looking for’ he adds. After running around my motorcycle for more than half an hour whe move outside to take a view on his bike. ‘Wow. this is a 1930’s Norton’, ’she looks like the Che Guevara Norton’. Gustavo keeps on smiling. Then he explains, ‘I restore classic bikes for a living, I built the bikes for the movie ‘The motorcycle diaries’, and this is one of the bikes that’s been used or the movie’. He built three similar 1939 Norton’s for the movie. One is now at the Che Guevara museum in Havana, Cuba, one is in the Che museum in Rosario, Argentina (birthplace of Che) and the other one he owns and uses. ‘If you’re interested, visit me in my workshop this afternoon’.

That afternoon I hop on my bike and criss cross Buenos Aires to find his workshop, well hidden behind his mother’s house in a ordinary street. I am amazed by what I see. This is like going back in time. Three British bikes in different stages of completion, Norton, Matchless and AJS. A sidevalve 74 cubic inch Harley just missing some vital parts, a Vincent engine in the process of rebuilding. New and old pictures on the walls, trophies, a closet full of pistons. On the ceiling frames, laced wheels, tanks etc. Tools and all you need to do a rebuilt everywhere. Amazing.

Just for the thrill of it he pushes the Norton outside and kickstarts the bike. Oh that low, slow single cilinder sound. I love it. When he hands me the handlebars I am a bit confused, ‘why’. ‘Take her for a spin’ he says. I am in doubt for a mili second. Then I take place on the seat, search for first gear, and then I’m off. And I can’t stop. Another block and another. Riding a classic makes me smile all the time. The old iron, the distinct handling, riding with hand and feet to operate all the manual levers, just sweet!

Gustavo also has some amazing stories to tell about the movie. How he teached the actors to ride on an old AJS in just two months time. About Alberto Granada, Che’s friend with whom Che undertook the motorcycle trip and who was present during the filming. From Alberto he learned the real story of the bike. The Norton wasn’s destroyed in reality as the movie suggests, just the housing of the gearbox broke from the frame. Alberto’s brother picked up the bike later in 1952, fixed it and rode it to Venezuela where he stayed to live. In the late 50’s the bike got scraped and sold in parts.

The stay in Dakar Motos is pleasant. I spent the last day’s of Marcus’ stay in South America together with him. Altough it’s pleasant I feel a bit nervous. Nervous about the next stage of my roadtrip. It seems like I fear taking a straight decision going back to Diana. ‘does that mean the end of my roadtrip?’, ‘what will happen in future’ as I fear her cancer and similar questions run through my mind. I even make up scenarios again of riding through Africa back to Europe. A seemingly obvious one now Marcus and I could do it together. Without even mentioning, I know it could be done the two of us, although practicalities would be in the way, like me not having a valid carnet. It’s funny fear and me. Ever since I decided to go on this roadtrip I broke through some psychological barriers, and every time it delivered me positive feelings and situations. Realizing that it’s better to face my fear head on, I takemy decision togo as fast as I can to seemy love and help her out in the coming period of surgery and what ever comes on our way.

That’s when I push the button on the flight booking site. My feelings of relief make unfortunately place for those of frustration. The payment bounces. Again, like in Patagonia, the credit card is blocked. What now? In telephone talks with the people of the credit card company I find out I’ve got a financial problem. Another decision, this time a ‘no brainer’ as Marcus calls it. My beautiul Buellat home goes on sale. With an advance on that I can get my card deblocked and pay formy ticket online and pay cash for the bike who is already scheduled to leave in two days time. Not to mention names, you know who you are, I am a few friends at home very grateful for their help!

The process of my finances takes almost a whole week to sort out. During that time I visit Gustavo on a daily basis, I learn a lot about Argentina’s history in general and about British bikes in detail.

Finally it’s time to move. Diana can hardly believe it’s really true I’m coming home for her. When we see each other at friday night a lot of emotions fly and tears are running all over. The bike will be flown to Bogota.

The title ’si fama, ni fortuna’ (yes fame, no fortune) is a variation of ‘ni fama, ni fortuna’, the title of the excellent heavy rock album of Miguels band Diessel. Miguel, one of the two mecanics of H-D of Santiago, gave tht album along for on the road. The titleof this message is especially true forGustavo and maybe a little bit for me now i’m riding the Colombian roads again.More about that in the next message.

13 Responses to “‘Si fama, ni fortuna’”

  1. Mark Perren says:

    Hi Jan, como va la cosa, Diana and yourself. Whats new?…everything under control?. I expect some info…
    Hasta la vista…baby
    all the best…
    mark

  2. Helen Strang says:

    Hey Jg,
    Hoe gaat het met je en met Diana. Ben je nu al aangekomen daar of moet je nog weg uit Buenos.
    Hier alles goed. Ik ben net terug uit Lapland, wat een ervaring. Erg mooi, veel rust en heerlijk land. Ik ga er zeker naar terug. Hoe gaat het met Diana, heeft de operatie al gehad?
    Veel groetjes uit het natte Holland
    Helen

  3. Dirk&Heleen says:

    Wie verre reizen maakt kan veel verhalen.
    Wie verre reizen maakt kan veel ver halen.
    Jij, jij doet het dus allebei.
    De motorpraat over allerlei ouwe of nog oudere motoren is voor de echte liefhebber, ik lees het wel maar dan diagonaal. Je persoonlijk getinte stories boeien.
    Waarom gedachten over Afrika als je je fortuin daar al gevonden hebt?
    “t kost wat, maar dan heb je ook wat.
    En fin el tiempo lo dices todo. (nou ja alles?)
    Een groet en sterkte met al je nog te maken keuzes. Dirk en Heleen.

  4. de buurtjes van 56 says:

    Ola Gebster,

    Gaaf verhaal, hoop dat het goed gaat in Colombia. Als alles daar achter de rug is kan je altijd fase twee doen: vanuit Z-afrika naar de Regentesse lijkt ons een super goed plan !!!

    Anyway geniet ervan en sterkte de komende tijd!
    Marion en Dennis

  5. frank boom says:

    Ha die Gebster
    Kom naar huis! We houden van je
    fam boom

  6. buurtjes van 56 says:

    Wij houden ook van je
    XXX

  7. Erik JAN says:

    Verkoop je buel niet dit is je vrijheid
    Maar ook wij houden an je
    Erik Jan

  8. Arend Jan says:

    Beste Jan Gerben

    Al enige tijd volg ik je verslagen in Big Twin en pas vandaag vind ik je website. Onvoorstelbaar wat je aan het doen bent. Veel sterkte met Diana en goede reis.

    Groeten en veel succes

    Arend Jan

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