Chris' 1994  R100GS/PDChris' new bike, a 1996 F650 ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650
Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

Nov 15 , 2002.-- Travelling in Hungary and Brasil:

Credit to reunion, more great friends, and leaving the beaches

-- Story by Chris --

Oct 23-Nov 5th: While Erin and her mother were gallivanting around northern Brasil for 2 weeks, I flew to Budapest, Hungary to visit with my 95-yr old grandmother. She is in excellent shape but still not getting any younger; at her age things can change quickly, and we are another year from returning home. My parent’s knew about the trip and arranged to be there around the same time I surprised the others. It was great to be back in Budapest, seeing all the family and eating many home-cooked meals!  Granny is as fit as she was 25 years ago.   Although the stairs are starting to slow her down physically (they live on the third floor of a walk-up apartment building), her mind is sharp as a tack! She still won't let a few hours pass without trying to fill my belly with some kind of meal or sweet.

Back in 1909, when my grandmother’s parents had money and a very large house, they wanted a special furniture set made for the "big room", what we would call the dining room. A set was procured, including a dining table with enough leaves to seat 24, matching chairs, and multiple cabinets. The set was later used as a dowry when my grandmother got married. By the end of WWII, many Hungarians had lost their worldly possessions.  My father recalls winters being dangerously cold, thus having to break up the chairs to use as firewood, along with several other pieces, including sections of the table. He recalls they kept one section to use for playing Ping-Pong. Today, there remains 2 tall cabinets (called "vitrin" in Hungarian; butor is furniture), and a couple of small, non-descriptor pieces. My grandmother has since handed these down to my father, her eldest son.

Maróti Géza was one of the leading designers of the European secessionist / American art nuveau style in the early 1900s.  Last year, my father contacted the organizers of an upcoming art nuveau exhibit in Budapest. They were very excited to hear he had some pieces left, immediately took one of the vitrins to be refurbished, and it is a main piece of the Maróti exhibit, which will soon tour the world. I won't pretend to know anything about Maróti or his work, but those of you into this sort of thing, I imagine, will be duly impressed.

The remaining pieces have now been registered as National Treasures, so they will have to remain in Hungary. The most amazing part of this story was going to the exhibit with my grandmother. She was ecstatic to see her old butor in the fancy museum. There was a photo of Maróti’s summer home, and as soon as she saw it, my grandmother got very excited and said, "my father tried to buy that house when I was 9 years old!" Anyway, we thought it was pretty cool, guess you just had to be there…

If you want more info on any of the above, contact my father: or you can check 


Tues., Nov 5th: I arrive back in Recife, and it is my 36th Birthday! The girls (Erin and her mom) are waiting for me with balloons and a birthday cake, which thankfully only had about 6 candles. We splashed out and went to a fancy Chinese restaurant, then headed to bed for an early night’s sleep.

Weds, Nov 6th: After my farewell kiss to my mother-in-law, the girls headed to the airport while I went over to the Suzuki shop, prepared to replace my timing chain and speedo cable. Tacio, the owner, is an avid traveller and has taken various trips to Ushuaia and the USA on his Goldwing. He plans to ride his cruiser to Alaska next summer, then attend the Harley bash in August.  His brother Giovanni owns the Kawasaki shop down the street, and together they and their teams couldn’t seem to do enough for us – they had helped Erin with an electrical problem the day I left for Europe.

I came back from Europe with a small bundle of BMW parts that I believed we needed and could not find in Brasil. A month earlier when we were in Salvador, I discovered my timing chain was very lose, so I purchased a new chain and planned to do the job upon returning to Recife. I was led to believe it was a simple, and more importantly, quick job -- we were running out of time if we planned to exit Brasil before our visas expired. I was told the chain is open-ended, and easy to thread through the engine. When I was back in Brasil, I realized the new chain was a solid loop, not an open ended chain as I expected. I feared this meant removing the clutch basket, a job that is a royal pain even with proper tools. I knew the local guys could help me, but feared it would take more then the half a day I had allocated to do the work on my bike. I reached out to and got some immediate and very helpful answers from several of the members – thanks guys. It turned out the timing chain tensioner was the problem, and not the chain itself. The mechanic back in Salvador had stated the funny sound from the chain was normal, and the tensioner did not need to be replaced. I fortunately chose to ignore him, and brought both parts back, and the job was much simpler then expected. The original chain is fine, and we will just carry the new one until needed.

We did manage to spend 2 days adjusting and fiddling with various small issues on the bikes (Erin’s speedo broke while traveling with her mother, some more small electric issues, plastic parts wearing down). The bikes are certainly showing signs of age and tough use, so minor issues seem to creep up more often now. Luckily, with Tacio and Giovanni offering full use of shops, sending out for repairs and/or fabrication of some small plastic items that were cracked, and the mechanics continually asking if there were any other problems, we were able to take care of the current issues. To top it off, they told us with a smile that our money was no-good! We argued that there were too many man-hours involved, not to mention services rendered outside their shop. They just smiled and shook their heads!

While we were waiting around for parts to be delivered back to the shop, Tacio took us on a small tour of nearby Olinda, the original capital of the state of Rio Grande de Norte. Olinda is a historic town, which is now protected and designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Its streets are steep and cobble-stoned, lined with colonial houses and buildings from the 16th century. There are many old Dutch style churches, commanding spectacular views of Recife and the coastline, and also the old slave trading market which is now a handicraft market and art gallery.

We attended one last evening motorcycle meeting and were surprised at the turnout for the Thursday night outing. There must have been close to 100 big bikes there, loitering around the Ipiranga gas station. It was a wonderful close to our time and friendships developed in Recife.

Friday, Nov 8th: After spending the morning re-packing the bikes and making the rounds to say goodbye to all our new friends, it was approaching lunchtime. The guys asked us to stay for lunch, but we had to decline in order to get up to Natal, 300km north, before the early sunset. We arrived at the Free Willy Pousada where Erin and her mother had stayed previously, and spent a nice weekend enjoying the beach for the last time until reaching Central America.

Monday, Nov 11th: We spent the next 4.5 days travelling 2,100kms from Natal to Belem. We drifted 160-400kms south of the equator, with 45C/110F temps and very high humidity most of the way. Sunset varied from 5-5:30pm, so the days were very hot, and did not come with a long period of light. The first day was a 520km trek, and we arrived in Fortaleza around 4:30pm, just before dark. We discovered another lose electrical connection, and were steered to Jawa the local m/c electrician’s shop. As he was closing, he took us to a local hotel, and the next morning we arrived to his shop at 9am. Jawa was not impressed with the various roadside repairs I had made thoughout the last few months, which resulted in a variety of different connectors and plugs. While replacing these, we decided to also relocate the voltage regulator out from under the seat. Our units always get very hot, and being trapped under the seat with no airflow certainly doesn’t help. BMW moved it behind the engine guard on the new F650GS starting in 2000, so they must’ve thought it was a good idea to move it too. We decided on attaching it to the rear passenger foot-peg bracket. Three hours later, the only payment Jawa would except was the cost for the new connector/plugs. Later that day we covered only 200kms before stopping in Sobral for the night. Day 3 was about 400km to Teresina, where we got a 90-day extension on our visas and motorcycle papers. Day 4 was the longest, arriving in Capanema 750kms later, mostly over some of the worst paved roads we’ve ever encountered (even compared to Cambodia). The potholes were not only massive, but also very well camouflaged and doing wonders for the tire rims! We stopped continually to drink water, and also when the police caught us with their radar driving 100km/h in 80km zones – surprisingly, they did not ask for money, but requested that we slow down. Tomorrow will be a simple 180km hop into Belem. There is some conflicting info regarding the boats going to Manaus, and we want to go direct to the port to see if we can get some firm information.


Chris and Bözsi, his 95-yr old grandmother


Dad, grandma, and one of their Maroti cabinets

Mom's side of the family

TOP:  Cousin Viktor, Uncle Feri, Aunt Eszter, Cousin Anita, Dad, Zolli
BOTTOM:  Aunt Iren, Marika, Mom, and Chris

Giovanni (Kawasaki) and Tacio (Suzuki)


When the Dutch first stepped foot on this overlook, they said, "oh, how beautiful" = Olinda in Portuguese

Timing chain tensioner -- the one on the right is no good


We passed a caravan of 7 of these trucks -- big tires, eh?!

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