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Tortillas to Totems
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Tortillas to Totems

Price: £13.99

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CGR is pleased to promote the Author Sam Manicom and his motorcycling adventure books. One of the worlds leading motorcycle authors his books have been read and reviewed the world over.

In Sam Manicom’s fourth book Tortillas to Totems, he and his partner Birgit Schuenemann head up through Mexico, a complex, beautiful and diverse country, towards the USA, but he’d feared that things were going to be too easy. The States and Canada were going to be lands where he knew how things worked. He’d seen enough TV to believe that there were going to be recognisable rules and regulations for everything. It felt as if those systems would allow them to ride without thinking too much. He worried that there’d be few of the challenges or the dramas that had kept his ‘guardian angel’ working overtime for so many years as he’d ridden through Africa, Australia, Asia, the Middle East and South America. He also worried about the negative pictures of the USA as painted by the more unscrupulous elements of the media.

Sam says, ‘I was wrong to be so worried, but I didn’t anticipate just how different things were going to be. We thought we spoke the languages and knew what to expect, but we didn’t know the half of it. I also hadn’t realised how much Birgit and I had changed over the years in third and second world countries.’

The 304 page Tortillas to Totems  is packed with line drawings with the centre pages made up of colour photos


Globe-trotting biker Manicom’s a natural storyteller. Although this trip may sound like a standard ride through familiar country, be assured, it isn’t. Adventure Bike Rider magazine


‘That night we found a gem of a camping spot. It was one of those places that you dream about. Tucked away down a long gravel road, the tiny campsite nestled on the shores of a small blue lake. The Mexican owner rushed out to greet us. I liked him straight away. He was a small, brown, round and cheerful man with thinning hair. He was shaking our hands even before we could get our gloves off. He showed us to a prime spot right by the shore, and then where the showers were. He was very proud of the fact that they had hot water. He’d rigged up a series of oil drums, suspended over a long fire pit. He told us that at 6pm each day he’d light the fire under the barrels and the water took about half an hour to heat to, “A very good temperature.” He was right too. It was blissful and there was something rather fine about showering in a wilderness under water that had been heated in this way. The wooden stalls were only as high as my shoulders and that night we showered to the sight of the sun going down. It fell as a perfectly round orange-red ball until it disappeared behind the forested hills. As a sort of final dash of defiance, the sky suddenly turned a flaming orange which turned the hills into a stark black silhouette. The only sounds came from the rushing shower water and the call of a bird down by the shore. The contrast to the city couldn’t have been more profound, and that night we were treated to a sky so full of stars that it looked as if someone had tipped over a pirate’s treasure chest…’

‘North American supermarkets were a childish adventure for us. We were like kids in a toy store at Christmas. For the last couple of years we’d done most of our shopping in little shops where squadrons of flies practised aerobatics over the one choice of sardine, shampoo, soap, bread and sometimes even goat or sheep cheese. We’d bought our vegetables from little Indian women, choosing from their displays lovingly laid out on blankets on the ground. Great fun, but sometimes we’d dreamt of not having to bargain for everything. It’s a slow process. Now, these dreams were coming true. Ten choices of sardine, fixed price; twenty choices of shampoo, fixed price; but what to choose? And so many different types of bread! The goodies on the salad vegetable bar looked really fresh. We stood admiring them and then were amazed as artificial thunder rolled, lights flashed and artificial rain fell all over the salad from the ‘roof’ of the salad bar! When cool air floated out towards us I suddenly realised that I was standing with my mouth open, again… No blanket on the ground here, that’s for sure…’

‘An hour or so later, as the sun was beginning to fall over the end of the valley, turning the violets, sages and greens of the hills into shadowy dusty reds and oranges, a group of horses appeared. The lead horse, a black, white and brown ‘paint’, pawed the ground and sniffed the air. We were downwind but perhaps he thought he’d heard us talking to each other. I doubt he could see us but he was on his guard as the other horses, a couple of which were wobbly-legged foals, set to grazing the stream’s banks, or to drinking from the gently flowing water. We held our breath. This sight felt like a pure gift. Never had I imagined that we would be sitting in a place such as this, surrounded by wild horses. The now brilliant orange sun made the perfect backdrop as the milling horses kicked up small clouds of dust as they fed and drank. This was the real Wild West as far as I was concerned. The horses did their thing and we sat silently watching their peaceful movements. It was almost as if, to the horses, we weren’t there at all. Slowly they began to head downstream, feeding as they went and before long they disappeared into the deep red that the last of the sun had cast over the land. Then suddenly it was night and the stars were appearing above us. We didn’t need anything else at that moment. Life was pretty much as perfect as it could get…’

‘The bikes’ engines idled as we sat looking at the obstacle. The only thing to do was to ‘go for it’. We’d make it or we wouldn’t. Neither of us considered that going up would be far easier than going down again. As always, Birgit went first. She gunned her engine a little, as if to make sure it hadn’t gone to sleep and was ready for what was to come. Standing on her foot pegs, she eased forward, and then went for it, her eyes fixed on the smoother trail beyond. We’d both learnt by this time that often this is the only way to get through a situation like this.

Pick your route, plan what you are going to try to do, and then focus on the other side leaving the power of the bike and instinct to deal with the problems. With a roar, her bike hit the gully, it’s back end jiggled furiously and then, bucking, it took Birgit up and through the rocks. Not once did she look as if she was going to fall off. I was impressed, but now it was my turn…’


‘The writing style is engaging and steady – that horribly addictive style that leaves you realising you’ve been reading for 10 hours straight and just can’t put the book down. The stories he tells don’t just transport you there – they encourage you to get on your bike and ride. For me – that’s the best thing a travel book can do.’ The London

Reader’s Feedback Quote:

I found all of your books a fascinating read, you really get into the country and people and its not a boring list of roads numbers and limited observations. Nick – UK

304 Pages & 22 Colour Photos

Signed and personalised copies:  If you would like a signed or personalised copy e.g "To Fred from Sam".  Please leave a note in the comments.  No offensive content will be considered acceptable.


At checkout please enter coupon code : t2totems
This will reduce the standard postage cost by £2, happy days!


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Customers Feedback

" Very pleased, an excellent product.  I look forward to being warm this winter. Dave Sampson - New Jersey, USA.

Delivery Charges

DeliveryUK Recorded £4.99
Next Day UK £11.00
Overseas rates vary.

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Made in England

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