Archive | October 2014

Open waters..

Transport is still an issue. These things take quite a bit more time than anyone (me) could forsee. Good thing is we have a lot of time available.. But idle-hands are up to no good, so we decided to complicate our days here a litte.

I kind of belong in the water, and the subject of scubadiving has come up earlier during the trip. The thought of learning how to dive properly, mastering my fear of being shark-bait, and not drowning where all imensly compelling reasons to forge ahead. Anyways, so we sat by the pool (yes, I know – not easy being me..) and the subject came up again. I imediately grabbed that idea and ran with it like a hungy Labrador making away with the family dinner. The key is to rush on with total abandon! What can possibly go wrong, right? Before Tonje really knew what happened, I had made an apointment for our first PADI Open Water class at the local scuba-center in Benalmádena, Spain.

Two days later we met up at the local dive center. We had a quick-ish briefing and dive-theory session, gathered all the gear, learned how to assemble and do a pre-check, before we packed the van and headed for a confined waters dive.

A confined waters dive is basically a pool-dive. I can understand why PADI chose to label it differently. This confined waters dive, or pool-dive as it where, would take place in a hotel-pool nearby. A hotel-pool full of screeching children, old pink tourists and leathery sun-worshippers. Imagine us two norwegians and the DiveMaster walkin up to the pool, getting into wetsuits and scuba-gear, doing a buddy-check and then waddeling into the shallow end. Trust me, there where a lot of conflicting feelings. Are we as Norwegians such pussies that they need wetsuits in a hotel-pool? Maybe they all think theres something wrong with the pool? Should I present myself as Sweedish if someone ask? It the water really supposed to be so very very cold? Why is the lifeguard playing Bob Marley on the stereo? 

A lot of information where conveyed at the surface. I learned that with the hood of the wetsuit on, you really can’t hear anything. So some of the information was lost. We prepared to decend (at about 1 meter 20 cm depth) I defalted my BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) and decended. Had I heard all the neccesary information, I probably would have replaced my snorkle with my regulator. The regulator is a breathing doo-daah that you shove into your mouth, that lets you breathe and therefore not drown.. If you try to breathe through the snorkle at any deapth that is not surface, you get a lot of water. In the seconds it took me to realize this and grab the regulator, I swallowed a good portion of the pool. Then followed a lot of wheesing and coughing in the regulator and trying to control my initial near panic: Your fine! Wheeeze. Your fine! Cough! Your not drowning.. Breathing under water in very counter-intuitive. It takes a while for your brain to accept the fact that though you are well submerged you can breathe and thus not drown. All the while we did a lot of training drills to prepare us for the open waters. And if I where cold,- Tonje had it worse: she where practically blue after 90 minutes of not drowning.

The next day, we had our first salt-water dives. Tonje where padded with extra layers of insulation. Due to the relatively cold tempratures in the ocean – a brisk 17 degrees C on the surface – Tonjes extra insulation layer had an extra insulation layer. We had to walk to the house-reef all kitted up. It’s about 300 meters to te shoreline where we could wade in. Being mindful of Tonjes back-condition, I carried my own kit on my back, and then hers in front. It’s a lot of weight. And let us not forget the 12 kilos in the weight belt around my hips. Or the fact that a wetsuit is supposed to keep you warm. A black wetsuit in the sun = sky-rocketing temprature inside the suit. The chill of the ocean was a blessing!

Visibility at the housereef was not the best. My logbook says 1 meter. I kept loosing the others all the time. However, the DiveMaster and Tonje managed not to loose anyone but me.. Later Tonje claims that I got lost trying to keep up with this or that little fish-thingy. She claims I acted like a hound with my nose to the ground following a hot trail, ears flapping. We agree to disagree on this. But safe to say, the fear of drowning as a result of breathing under water is gone.. My mask kept leaking and filling with water, prompting me to empty it every 5 minutes. Imagine emptying a mask of the water inside it, under water. It’s a tricky prospect of wich I am now something of an expert..

Third dive-day we got stuffed into the dive-mobile to travel up the coast to Nerja. The plan was to go down to 18 meters. Getting there, we kitted up and headed to the water.

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The Divemobile

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Happy campers on our way to our fourth and fifth dive.

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These boxes in the back of the Divemobile; all that’s needed in order to help six people to not drown while breating 15 meters below the surface…

Liam the driver diver

Liam, our British-Spanish driver-diver. And sort of navigator.

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Dive site

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Divesite close to Nerja, Spain.

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Kitting up. Getting more familiar with it all

The last dive took us down to 15 meters. I wondered about my own reactions to this. Some people feel it’s claustrophobic or get stressed. Or so we where told. I just felt free. Diving may be one of the most liberating experiences I’ve had. Also, communication is clearly a lot more difficult under water,- and so they teach you some hand signals for the most basic needs. Tonje and I expanded that a little, and I am proud and amazed how an alread very good level of communication could expand and get even better. It may sound like a cliché (probably because it is), but we as a team grows stronger every time we challenge ourselfs, together.

When the fifth and last dive was over, I really just wanted to jump right back in. Tonje, with her multitude of layers looked me dead in the eyes and said “We are getting dry-suits!” shivering all the way.. Also, leaving the shoreline after the final dive, Tonje carried her own kit like it was nothing! It made me wonder about the real reason I carried all the gear the 4 previous dives.. 😉

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Post dive. Clearly not drowned. And really eager to get back into it..

Before we could complete our course and take the exam, there where a lot of theory and informational DVDs to go through, Nothing spells excelent study conditions like Vino Tinto..

study time

Last night before the exam. Trying to cram the difference between all the fun acronyms like RDP, RNT, ABT etc..

As of wednesday this week, we are both PADI-certified for open water dives. Wohoo!

Cant wait to do it again..

HELP! TRANSPORT!?!

HELP

That’s what we need.

HELP.

Christer & Tonje. Happy travelers in Toscana, Italy.

Christer & Tonje. Happy travelers in Toscana, Italy.

Our world trip is safely underway, but we have encountered something of an obstacle.

We’re having trouble securing one very important thing: TRANSPORT from Spain to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Transport for the car that is. We want to ship it in a Container (standard 20 ft)

The car in question, a Mitsubishi Pajero Dakar. Yes, the angle of the image is correct! Steep narrow alpine roads in southern Austria

The car in question, a Mitsubishi Pajero Dakar.
Yes, the angle of the image is correct! Steep narrow alpine roads in southern Austria

Problem is that most of the big companies (Schenker, Maersk etc) will not ship unless it’s for a company. As a private party we’re a little out of luck. We had something ordered, but it may now fall through, sadly.

So, does anyone out there know of a shipping agent or company that can help us ship the car in a standard 20 ft container from Spain (Malaga, or any other port) to Argentina (Buenos Aires)? We want to ship early to mid november 2014.

If you know of someone, or have tips to this regard, please contact me

Email christer.berentsen@gmail.com

Phone 004740607088

We are currently in Benalmádena, Spain.

Also, please share this post to anyone and everyone that you think could help or have info.

Best regards

Christer & Tonje

www.lostbiker.net

Austria, Italy, added and removed equipment

Our first week was a blur of passing kilometers, bad diner-coffee and trying to find parts and equipment.

The second week we finally saw our new rooftent from Gordigear installed. Ofcource, nothing is ever straight forward. There is always some thing that goes wrong or is delayed. Since our would be norwegian 4×4 equipment supplier (who shall not be mentioned by name) could not deliver, we had to find an alternative. I reached out to Franz at Gordigear, Germany, – hoping that he would know where I could get what I needed. True enough, Franz delivered. He helped us locate a nearby 4×4 equipment dealership, Taubenreuther, across the border to Austria. All good so far. But it is never that easy. The parts could be ordered, but would not arrive until friday, 3 days later. So we spent a few days in Salzburg before showing up at Taubenreuther very early in the morning.

These guys helped us mount new rails on the roof, but also talked us out of buying quite a few nice-to-have items from their shop. Then to top it all they then pointed us to a different caravan/camping store for some other bits and pieces we still needed. Great help, great service and very nice coffee. What, the bullbar? With some knowhow, a quick discussion on the merits of the law in all of EU regarding how very illegal the large bullbar is (since 2006) and how complex the propper fitting would be, we decided to get rid of it. At 0755 in the morning…

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Breaking out the toolbox at 07:55 in the morning

Bullbar. Gone!

Bullbar. Gone!

Tonje; the mechanic. Her hands fit to tie up loose wires where the gorilla-paws could not..

Tonje; the mechanic. Her hands fit to tie up loose wires where the gorilla-paws could not..

After our session at Taubenreuther we drove over to this new caravan store, then back to Euopark, a big shopping senter to buy a camera and som other electronics, and then back to Laufen to get our new tent installed. It turns out that my masterly navigational planning had us crossing the German/Austrian border about 4 times. It also turns out that outside Salzburg there is always rushour. We know this from experience…

Coming late to Gordigear (thanx for waiting), we finally fitted the last big piece of the camping puzzle. Our new tent is called Gordigear Explorer Plus, and is a marvel both to use, pack and unpack. I admit I felt a little uneasy sitting on the ledge in the beginning, considering that it seems to float unsupported a good 120 cm over the cide of the car. But wow! This is a lot of tent for the euros spent! In unexperienced hands it takes maybe 5 minutes to pitch, and maybe 15 minutes to pack up. And the best part is being a good 185 cm off the ground. You can imagine Tonje being very exited on the prospect of NOT sleeping on the ground in South and Central america later this year and in the beginning of next. For those of you who have read my earlier posts, Tonje has a total of 7 camping nights under her belt. All of them with me on our shake down trip summer of ’13. Now, the experience is more luxurious by several degrees. This is going to be fantastic! For us, this is a brave new world..

Franz mounted the very large tent on the very large car (using a fork lift!), explained how everything worked, stoically shouldered all our repeted questions, explained again (like I was five years old, much because I asked him to) and then sent us on our way.

Easy does it..

Easy does it..

Tadaaa! New tent properly installed!

Tadaaa! New tent properly installed!

We had allready decided against testing the tent the first night, knowing that we would probably get ourselfs lost again and find a campsite very late… Instead we booked a very cheap room in a alpine, well Hostell seems a bit too nice.. a nice alpine dump. To be fair, it was very cheap. And the innkeeper, not speaking any english or german (in austria) was very charming. It was an experience and an eye-opener. The room was so filthy that we really didn’t want to tak off our shooes before going to bed. Tonje took a shower, and later professed that she positively could not wait to go camping! The room had been cleaned, probably just after WW2.. The dinner, I don’t even know where to start. We put all our money on schnaps killing all germs in the food.

The next day I plotted a fun fun fun backcountry treck all over the tiniest roads over the alps. As the roads got steeper and steeper, and the lane narrowed more and more, I knew I had gotten what I bargened for. The car got a proper test and we got som spectacular scenery. Then followed our first night in the new Gordigear tent. Morning came and we looked at the looming rainclouds and quickly decided to pack up everything and head south. Driving by GPS, you have to understand that it’s like having a tempered teen giving you directions. It can be fine at one moment, and the next (after you change your mind and ask it to please please please recalculate to the new destination), you have to be punished by taking the very much longer trip through the places of hillbilly Italy that will never ever make it to an tourist information brouchoure.. My current favorite is the intersection that was so narrow that it felt like a parkingspace two sizes too small. However, after promising the GPS that I would buy it some new map-upgrades, we finally arrived at a very nice camping site in Toscana, wine country! We stayed for 2 nights, before heading to Genova.

Head for the hills!

Head for the hills!

Check out the GPS image lower right corner. A lot of winding roads to crawl down into the next valley

Check out the GPS image lower right corner. A lot of winding roads to crawl down into the next valley

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Tonje persuading the local alpine horsie to stay out of the passenger-seat. Close call..

Tonje persuading the local alpine horsie to stay out of the passenger-seat. Close call..

Navigator strikes again

Navigator strikes again

Our first night in our brand new Gordigear tent..

Our first night in our brand new Gordigear tent..

...followed by the first field-strip of the MSR burner to get the morning coffee going..

…followed by the first field-strip of the MSR burner to get the morning coffee going..

Toscana

Toscana

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Toscana, doing the tourist-thing

Toscana, doing the tourist-thing

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Lunch, Toscana-style. Well worth the traffic (!) to get here..

Lunch, Toscana-style. Well worth the traffic (!) to get here..

Oh what a mistake that was. Genova is one of those places that I will most likely never come back too. It’s not a ghetto per say, – that would probably be offensive to other ghettos all over the world. We ate at McDonalds and stayed in our hotel room..

I would like to just ad one thing about Italy. The traffic is rediculous. Maps, signs, intersection-lights and even directions from police are very much a good indication, but not really any rule. Two lane streets will be filled by five lanes of cars and wespas. Everyone is honking so you honk back, just because it seems like the right thing to do. And all this in the behemoth of a Pajero. I may or may not have ran ove a few Fiat Pandas down here. We’ll probably never know..