(Disclaimer: The following posting is rather long and may offend animal lovers. But it is fun and I took a great deal of effort documenting it, so please read.)
Q and I have managed to complete almost 40,000 kilometers on Casa – that’s our loyal motorcycle for those of you who are new to our blog. Many asked us,”Are your butts sore?” Well, it turned out both of us are quite butt-aware and were absolutely determined to keep them unsore.
The Exciting Beginning
We had three things done to our motorcycle to make the ride more comfortable while in Abu Dhabi.
First was to replace the original suspension with some Dutch custom super-duper one. I don’t remember how much it was, but it was a lot of money – as most Dutch things are.
Second was to firm up the underlying foam. We bought a cheap memory foam pillow, brought it to a local upholstery shop, and have it shaped to suit our needs. The goal was to raise the passenger seat a bit more so my vision is not just all Q’s helmet.
The last was to get ourselves a sheepskin buttpad, which commercially can cost a fortune. Now you may wonder, where does one go around find one in Abu Dhabi?! The answer was Stephan, who was an motorcycle expat living in UAE for decades, which meant he was very resourceful. Not only he patiently answered all our newbie questions, but provided us with the much-needed sheepskin. Ta-da, problem solved! Okay, the source of the sheepskin is still very mysterious but we knew better than asking questions.
Anyway, back to our butts. And we were ready for the motorcycle journey!
The Broken Pieces
For the first seven months, the sheepskin performed wonderfully and kept our butts perfectly comfortable through some pretty tough terrain. Come to think about it, maybe the expensive suspension has something to do with it too, but what do I know.
Then the rain season started and we failed to keep the sheepskin dry. A couple of times later the sheepskin started to tear apart, and soon we could no longer keep it on the seat. Eventually I picked up the pocket knife and cut it into two pieces, still hoping to salvage it for later.
Let’s just say we are clear now that in South America, there are definitely more rainy days than dry in the rain season. We kept the pieces of sheepskin in storage bag for most of past month.
Then we came to the altiplano – 3,500+ m high planes in Bolivia. And boy, it was cold. I miscalculated with my clothes and was freezing on the back of motorcycle. I was so desperate for solution to the whole cold situation.
Should I buy some clothes? But I have plenty in storage! No.
Should I wrap a sleeping bag around me? Q said it would be too slippery. No.
Should I stuff newspaper in my jacket? The American dude we met in Buenos Aires did it and he did it. Well, not sure if I would get enough newspaper. Another no.
My mind raced through all our belongings. Eventually it occurred to me to stuff the now-two-pieces buttpad in my jacket: bigger one in the front and smaller on the back. Wah-lah!
I know how funny-looking my hairy chest looked. Go ahead and laugh, I don’t care, because I felt warm again, and that made heavenly difference on an eight-hour-ride through rain in high attitude. It was heavenly I tell you.
By now I have officially included the two-piece sheepskin as part of my outfit. So we started looking around for replacement sheepskin. After all, we are in a farming continent and the fat and furry sheep are everywhere, before in Bolivia and now in Peru.
While driving through a small town, we spotted shops with stock piles of sheepskins. We were quick to find a very thick (and smelly) one. The shop owner also made it a point in mentioning the sheep was recently slaughtered, so it is really fresh! What a bargain, only 6 soles (~US$ 2.5)!
Our enthusiasm quickly dimmed out as we discovered that what we bought was essentially thin and crispy rawhide with dirty fleece, which still needs to be cleaned and treated (“tanned” is the techincal word) before it becomes soft and supple leather. And tanning process is quite challenging when we are constantly on the road.
The Replacement – Take Two
By now we have a two-piece sheepskin and a rather-large and smelly sheep hide. Maybe a logical thing would be just to quit searching for a replacement and use what we have.
But then I saw a beautiful black sheepskin in a market stand. I won’t say it’s love at first sight but it was pretty close. 20 soles (~US$ 7) later, we have our third piece of sheepskin.
Next we found a leather workshop and was able to have the buttpad made out of the newly purchased sheepskin: basically cut to shape and attached with elastic straps.
On the way back from the workshop, I stuffed the third and newest sheepskin under my jacket to protect it from the rain. Take that, plastic surgery!
Honey, Do You Smell That?
So at the moment Q and I may have only two shirts each, we now have three sheepskins together. I guess that is a bit odd, but you can see how we got here.
One motorcycle, "two Chinese”, and three sheepskins. Anyway, if we smell funny the next time you see us, you know why.