Contributed photo Kix Marshall, of Red Deer, missed last winter by journeying to Central and South America.

Red Deer man embraces adventure on motorcycle trip through to South America

Kix Marshall has hair-raising and heart-warming encounters

Kix Marshall is still heading for “the end of the world” on his motorcycle – despite encountering a boa constrictor, gunshots and a mudslide.

Eight months, and nearly 6,000 kilometres, into his epic road trip through North and South America, Marshall is tenting near Cartagena, Colombia. He’s not even halfway to his destination of Ushuaia, at the southern tip of Argentina.

“I’d like to land at the end of the world … around Christmas time,” said Marshall, who envisions celebrating the holidays with other “over-landers,” like one big, happy, ex-pat family.

The Red Deer businessman sold his local assets and headed out on the highway last October, making good on a long-held dream to motorbike around the world — starting a cross-continental 12,600-km trip through South America.

So far his trusty Kawasaki KLR650 (affectionately named KLaiR) has seen him through some heady times and tight places.

The most scared he’s ever been was a night in Guatemala, when he heard gunshots and mysterious whispers outside his tent. Another night in Costa Rico, he noticed a cat staring intently at something in the dark. He switched on his flashlight and illuminated a six-foot boa constrictor coiled under his bike. “That cat saved me from stumbling over that snake!”

Last week, he and a Swiss motorcyclist were riding the back roads of Colombia, hoping to not cross paths with drug cartels. After a day of heavy rain and manoeuvring around pot holes, a mud slide blocked the last mile of their journey. “We had to unstrap all our luggage and walk the bikes through a muddy trail…that made for some memories,” Marshall wryly recalled.

But the positives far outweigh negative aspects of the trip, said Marshall, who’s learning Spanish and meeting many good-hearted people.

He warmly recalls the time he spent with a “very rural, very economically poor” family in Guatemala. They lived in a house made of old signage and random scraps of metal, with a hole-in-the-ground backyard toilet. There was only a sheet separating his sleeping quarters from where the oldest son and grandma slept.

But the kids were happy and inquisitive. Meals were always shared with anyone who stopped by. And the father regularly rode his push bike 10 km to town to meet Marshall and lead him back to the house, so he wouldn’t get lost.

“I decided if they could live like this everyday, I could deal with the facilities and pitch in with the cooking,” said Marshall, who’s hoping to get the family donated computers and tools through a story on his website, KixMarshall.com.

He also fondly recalls the six weeks he spent at an organic coffee farm, where he learned the process, from hand-planting to picking, sorting and roasting. “My teacher, Javier, had me hanging out with his friends in this little volcanic-based town … Such great people and an experience like nothing else.”

Marshall’s heard many folks reveal what they wished they could do. Usually they talk themselves out of it, but he believes “simply attempting a goal positively changes your outlook … You need to at least try. Who knows what else you might fall into along the way?”

He’ll be back in Red Deer by next spring – unless he can finance an African/European/Asian leg of the tour. Anyone wanting to sponsor a “great guest speaker” can contact him by emailing travelschool101@gmail.com.

lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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