About the Book
My brothers and I grew up listening to the many stories our parents told of their epic honeymoon motor scooter adventure through Latin America from 1959 to 1960. The stories seemed larger-than-life and got better with every telling and I never grew tired of hearing them. I remember telling my Dad more than once that he should write all these stories down. He would always just nod and smile and say, "Someday."
When he died on November 3, 2004 – 45 years to the day that he departed on his motor scooter journey – we were retelling some of the stories at his wake and again lamenting the fact that he had never written it down when my mother walked into the room and handed me an old yellowed manuscript detailing the entire adventure. Back in 1959, my Dad had been a newspaper journalist and had taken a portable typewriter with him on the trip (I still can’t figure out how they found room for two people, all their luggage plus a typewriter on a little 150cc Lambretta scooter). He wrote about their adventures in a series of newspaper articles that he mailed home throughout the trip. Soon after the trip was over, though, he wrote this manuscript that my Mom now placed in my hands.
Upon returning home, I typed it all into a computer, with the idea that maybe this could become a book someday. As well as being a true life adventure romance, it was a historic journey – to the best of my knowledge, my parents were the first people to ever ride from North America to South America on two wheels – so it’s a story that really deserves to be documented.
I soon realized the problem, though. It was a first draft. Sure, I could fix spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, but it needed more than that. Some of the most colourful stories were missing while many of the others had been glossed over. If he had still been alive, I would have loved to help him edit the book and really bring the stories to life. But now I had a dilemma. Would it be right for me to change his words posthumously? Should I try to add extra details and stories via footnotes? I really struggled with this, so much so that I simply put the manuscript aside for years.
In early 2012, I picked it up again and started editing the manuscript in earnest. I had decided that footnotes would not be enough. This had to be told properly. I had asked myself if I thought my Dad would mind me changing his manuscript, and I decided that no, I really don’t think he would mind at all. I can still vividly remember him telling the stories and I’ve retold them countless times to my own children, so in a way it would still be my Dad who was telling this story in his own words.
With the help of my Mom, who provided me with numerous corrections and extra details (and even a few stories I hadn’t heard), I have tried my best to bring my Dad’s manuscript to life, to tell the tale as it deserves to be told, while keeping it true to his voice and writing style.
The next step was to digitize all the old 35mm slides. He had taken over 500 of them. Unfortunately, they hadn’t aged well, having become red and splotchy. I scanned them in and did my best to restore the colours with image processing software. It wasn’t always possible, though, because the dyes had simply disappeared. The hard part, however, was removing all the blotches. No algorithm could do it well without also degrading other parts of the image, so after choosing the slides that I wanted to include in the book, I resorted to fixing each blemish manually – a slow and meticulous process that took most of a year. In the end, though, I was pleased with the result.
Next came the fun task of attempting to track down all the people my parents met during their travels, to see if any of them might remember any stories of my parents or even have old photographs that I might use in this book. Despite the passage of 53 years, I was actually able to locate quite a few of them, or in some cases their children. They were all very surprised to hear from me, and some of them were kind enough to share old photos that I have included here.
Creating this book has truly been a labour of love. I hope I have done my parents’ story justice.
About the Adventurers
Ron Bowman was born in 1930 in Thorold, Ontario, Canada. A History & Economics graduate of Western University, he became a reporter for the Welland Tribune and later for the St. Catharines Standard before becoming a teacher for Thorold High School.
Tove Bowman was born in 1935 in Strøby, Denmark. At 17, she moved to Stockholm, Sweden to work for the Danish Embasy. At 19, she came to Canada. She was a bank teller before having three children (all boys), after which she became a nurse.
After retiring to Dyer’s Bay, Ontario, Ron and Tove ran a craftshop & tearoom and later a bed & breakfast, where they shared their many tales of adventure with their enthralled guests.
Ron passed away on November 3, 2004, 45 years to the very day that he set out on his scooter journey.
Tove currently lives in Fonthill, Ontario where she is very active in the community. In 2013 she was recognized with a Paul Harris Fellow award for her charitable work.