WHO would think of riding a little pizza-delivery motorbike from the southern tip of South America, 11,000km all the way to New York – at the age of 74?
Simon Gandolfi did and being a travel writer and avid people watcher, he chronicled each day in his softcover book, Old Men Can’t Wait.
It didn’t start off well.
He was run over by a huge truck on the first day, his ankle broken, his brand-new 125cc Honda bike smashed.
But he went back to his starting point, spent some time recuperating, made good friends of the villagers and set off some weeks later – with his leg still in plaster.
Despite warnings of gangsters, drug lords and various other dangers in the 12 South American countries he traversed on his little Honda, almost a year later, he made it to the US where he met up with his daughter.
On the way he slept in some hovel-like ‘hotels’, ate some dreadful dishes, bumped his way through dense forests, rocky mountains, braving searing heat, extreme cold and torrential rain.
There were also terrifying days and nights aboard a rickety ship of sorts, piloted by a clueless ‘captain’ in extremely violent seas.
English-born, but of distant Spanish descent and fluent in English, French and Spanish, the nuggety septuagenarian also had a great many happier experiences, engaging people in conversation wherever he landed, often with delightful results.
Inter alia, several Honda dealerships en route serviced his trusty little bike gratis, a couple of Peruvian policemen quietly paid for his lunch at a remote servo and he enjoyed some wonderful extended hospitality at a superb farm in Argentina.
He also did a bit of teaching here and there, revelled in the remains of Spanish architecture and engaged in conversation with anyone willing to chat.
Strangely, Gandolfi also met quite a few writers on his journey.
His trip was in the time when George W Bush was the US President, and none of the many folk he met in the dozen South American nations had anything good to say of ‘Dubya’.
Old Men Can’t Wait might be at some bookshops, if not, copies are plentiful at Amazon and other online bookshops. Around $15.
It’s a great, liberating read, presented in diary fashion.
Sole spelling error I spotted was the word ‘breaks’ instead of ‘brakes’ on his Honda, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying every page.
Primarily it’s a chronicle of an old man’s drive and insatiable hunger for new vistas and the opinions of fellow earthlings of every kind.