• Welcome to the Two Wheeled Texans community! Feel free to hang out and lurk as long as you like. However, we would like to encourage you to register so that you can join the community and use the numerous features on the site. After registering, don't forget to post up an introduction!

To the End of the World

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
May 19th, 2013: We are home!!! Just a few statistics; 37 border crossings (some taking as little as an hour, some taking as long as 10 hours), 94 different places we have stayed (not including the Canadian tour last year in June), 3 back tires, two front tires and around 27,000 miles including the Canadian ride.

SpotwallaEntireSA.jpg


So, my wife says, "we expected you guys to just ride on in on Saturday and get here around midnight". I love her, but there are so many things that hurt right now, the posterior, my ear from ear buds, my neck, my back, my finger that I managed to somehow smash ... did I mention my posterior? Another five hours on top of a full days ride just wasn't going to happen.

Besides; the bike needs some serious attention. The rear shock is gone, just spring (it feels like an old mercury that has never had the shocks changed) and the exhaust gasket blew out again (third time), hence the need for ear buds, but even so, Chuck says I sound like a Harley ... bleh!

It is good to be home and recovering ... more to come.

May 16, 2013: We are in Villahermosa, Mexico. Only three short days until home. A lot has happened and I apologize for not keeping the post up to date, but it seems it is more important to me right now to ride, and get home.

April 25, 2013: We are in Linden, Guyana. A small town on the fringe of the edge of nowhere. There isn't really anything here, but I guess it is the end of the pavement. We have met people here who have NEVER been to Lethem in their lives. Lethem is where we go next. It is across a stretch of about 260 miles of dirt and mud, not an easy trip. But come on man, in your whole life you never felt like traveling to the next town. :-)

Each of us has been doing a blog in our own way, but I thought I would add one here on TWTEX as well. I haven't figured out how to cause the pictures to enlarge when you click on them in this report, but on my blog you can see the larger pictures by clicking on them. Here are some other links of interest:

My link on Blogspot: Ride EOW
Chucks Link on Advrider: Chucks Ride Report
My Spot Link (when it's working, more on that later): Spotwalla
Chuck's Spot Link (although there is some concern about banditos getting this info and kidnapping us): Chuck's Spotwalla

Road%2BTrip%2B029c.jpg


Chuck and I aren't the best traveling partners (that's Chuck on the left). We have known that for some time. We are argumentative, stubborn and crotchity. One of our fellow riders compared us to the two old guys on the Muppet show who sat in the balcony. Probably a good analogy.

statler_waldorf.jpg


But somehow together, we have ridden every state in the US except Hawaii (no road) and every province and territory in Canada except three (one of which you can't get to by road). We have managed to do this without killing each other and with very few personality related changes in plans.

So, we are setting off to conquer the countries of the Americas. Our plan is to be at the end of the world (Ushuaia- Terra Del Fuego) at the end of the world (12/21/2012) . We also plan to visit every country in North, Central and South America during our trip. That's our plan, we will see ...

How it started
I have had a motorcycle endorsement since the early '70's. After totaling a Kawasaki 500cc in a high speed wobble and a '76 Kawasaki Z1 when an elderly gentleman turned in front of me, I agreed with my then wife that perhaps riding a motorcycle wasn't responsible for a man with a child. I sold my bike, but never failed to renew my drivers license with the endorsement. Chuck, on the other hand, had wanted to ride but never found the time nor was he given permission to get an endorsement or a motorcycle.

The kids grew up, each of us divorced and we took control of our lives. Perhaps similar to the captains of the Titanic and Exxon Valdez we were heading for disaster? In 2001, Chuck took the BRC (basic riding class) and got his motorcycle endorsement. Then he received a days rental of a Harley at EasyRider as a birthday gift. Everyone knows riding is more enjoyable with a buddy, so he called me and I rented a Harley as well. Our first trip was 600 miles in two days to Luckenbach, Texas and back. I still remember just how much my butt hurt after that first ride. The person renting us the bikes had to leave early and told us we were welcome to keep the Harleys an extra day. My butt hurt so much, I said "no thanks, I will bring it back early!"

Later that year Chuck bought a Honda VTX 1800, the first year they were made, and he bought an '83 KZ1300 from ebay. He must have been desperate to have a riding buddy. In 2003 we made our first long distance ride to California. The picture above is from that ride, we are standing in front of the Bixby Bridge. Our intention was to ride to Vancouver on the PCH. There are at least two versions of this story; but, somewhere in Santa Cruz there was a misunderstanding, that found each of us heading our own way, me back to Houston and Chuck on to the pacific northwest.

We managed to patch things up the following year and I purchased a used '04 Goldwing in 2005. We made trips then to Key West in 2005, Alaska in 2006, Colorado in 2007, New England and eastern Canada in 2008, Washington DC, BRP and the outer banks of NC in 2009 and finally up through the Midwest Heartland in 2010. At this time we had ridden every state (except Hawaii) in the US and all but three of the Canadian Provinces. Here is a photo from the our entry into Alaska in 2006.

IMG_0877.jpg


The Dual Sport Era
In 2011 we got the dual sport craze. Earlier we had started talking about riding to the tip of South America and began debating which bike would be best and how to gain the experience. We decided the best approach was to buy something without a lot of emotional investment that we could learn on, destroy and then buy a new one. We thought that the right bike might be a KLR to ride to South America. One day Chuck called and said he had purchased a used KLR on ebay. On Friday he flew to North Carolina, picked up that sucker and rode it in the rain back to Houston by Saturday evening. The dual sporting era had officially begun.

Reacting to Chuck's purchase I bought a DRZ-400 here locally in Houston. I think it was a great purchase, pretty much ready to fly. My first dual sport ride was with a bunch of crazy maniacs at 60 mph on the beach in Bolivar. Chuck and I began riding Sam Houston National Forest trails and on the Beach. Later we branched out to Big Bend Ranch State Park and Big Bend National Park. I bought a used KLR in June, 2011, then in August we dual sported through Creede, Ouray, Marble, Grand Junction and points west in Colorado.

2011-08-27_11-55-22_173.jpg



Of course I am leaving a lot out. And there have been the usual Bumps ... and Bruises:

Broken+Circled.jpg
2011-09-08_08-48-56_183.jpg


But there isn't enough time to write it all down. The bottom line is; as of June 30th, 2011 I left the company I had worked for for 30 years and Chuck retired October 12th, 2011. So we are now both unemployed and our plans for our next big adventure are taking shape ...

The Better Half
Of course I would be remiss if I didn't mention the VERY sympathetic support from my lovely bride. The only real input I have received about the journey is "I will not come to South America to retrieve your dead body!" I can understand that! Actually, Laura has been very supportive and understanding. She and I are planning at least two visits to South America during the trip; one being to Ushuaia for the Christmas season. After several months on the road, I will be happy to see her cheerful smile when she comes to visit!

Lori+in+Colorado.jpg


Am I a lucky man or what???
 
Last edited:

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Going Away Party

So we invited a few friends to a little mom and pop Mexican restaurant we frequent. We have known Javier and his wife Isaella for some time. They own a small place called Mr. Sombrero's here in League City. Here are a few pictures:



IMG0009.jpg
IMG0001.jpg


IMG0002.jpg


IMG0003.jpg


IMG0004.jpg


IMG0005.jpg


IMG0006.jpg


IMG0007.jpg


IMG0008.jpg


IMG0010.jpg


IMG0011.jpg


SHIPPING
The bikes are being loaded on the boat heading for Colombia. They should ship out September 14th and arrive in Cartagena on the 20th. We fly to meet them on the 21st. We were not able to take pictures at the docks due to restrictions so here are a few while they are in the crates at the crate builders.

2012-09-06_11-59-27_190.jpg


2012-09-06_11-59-44_479.jpg


So here is a typical traveler in Houston. I think his name was Jed and barely kept his family fed. I saw him on I-45 while heading to meet Chuck. I honestly don't know how he kept some of this stuff on the truck.

2012-09-06_10-45-58_558.jpg


2012-09-06_11-59-57_621.jpg


 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
How to ship a bike to Cartegena

I am going to try to document as best I can the process for retrieving shipped cargo from the port. If you will NEVER need to do this, or don't care to hear the story of two bumbling illiterates in South America, then may be you can just skip over this part. :-) We officially began the process of retrieving the bikes from the port on Monday, September 24th, 2012. We arrived at the port around 9:30a. Yeah I know, it is rather late, but we are getting into the Latin America swing of things. Unfortunately, the DIAN Inspectors arrive promptly at 8:00a.

Colombia+9_25+010+(800x533).jpg


Chuck is posting more information on his write up over on Adventure Rider: Chuck's post on Advrider.com

We shipped through SeaBoard, whose ship, the Colleen arrived at Muelles El Bosque (muyes el bos'key) the week before and the cargo (our bikes) unloaded there on the docks. Okay so here is the first tip, this is a two day activity, don't even expect to get it done in one.

Allow some extra time, because apparently the taxi drivers in Cartagena have no idea how to find an address or read a map. Learn the words "izquierda" (left) and "direcho" (right or straight sometimes .. go figure?); straight can also be "recto". And then bring your GPS or Smartphone and give them directions. Allow a few extra minutes for the cab driver to randomly stop, ask a random individual if they speak English, have a brief conversation about "what?", nobody knows, then laugh and take off again to look for the next likely street candidate who may speak English. Seriously, about five times in one cab ride.

Anyway, to get to Seaboard you must go through security at Port Operations:

Operadores Portuarios
Muelles El Bosque,
Pedro Velez # 48-14
(GPS N10' 23.745" W075' 31.393)

P1010062.jpg


Go into the operation office, to the window present passport and ask to go to Seaboard. They may also ask to see your bill of lading. They will take your passport and give you a badge. Go through security with your badge, turn left, go into the second security building and ask for SeaBoard. You will go through the turnstiles and they may escort you through the security gates (two of them) or they may not. If not you will have to coat tail through the gates when some else goes through. Once through the two security gates, SeaBoard is the last building entrance on the left (see above). Ask for Jesus, he is in IT but will help with the English. You just got to love those IT guys, they are the smart ones :-)!

P1010064.jpg


If your cargo is there, Seaboard will stamp your Bill of Lading and you now must go to DIAN in Manga to obtain your Tourist Vehicle Temporary Import (another taxi ride). The rates range for taxi's from 6,000 to 10,000 pesos ($3.33 to $5.55 US).

Adunanas DIAN
Manga 3A, Avenida 28 No 25-76
(GPS N10' 24.578" / W075' 32.044")

Enter the first building, explain yourself to the receptionist if one is there, ask for Sandra. Otherwise simply walk through the small barrier behind the reception area (and the guy with the very big gun). Go back six or seven rows of desks and you should find Sandra. Sorry I am not more clear here, but once you find the right person it has only begun. Try to explain yourself and you will be given a form to complete. Make sure you get the RIGHT form and not the returning vehicle form. We spent an hour filling out the wrong form, getting it stamped and collated only to find out we had to go through it again. By the way, I cast no dispersion on DIAN, we had similar issues in Houston with Customs and I think we spoke the same language.

P1010067.jpg


There is a little deli at DIAN where you can get some water, etc.

Once you have the form, properly completed and authorized the DIAN agent (Sandra or someone else) will let you know when the paperwork will be back at the Operations Center in Muelles El Bosque, usually it will be the next day. Now would be a good time to go get your SOAT required Colombian liability insurance. You will need a copy of your Passport and your Title. The best place we found was Suras / Sura east across street from the Zapatos Viejos statue.

Suras/Sura
After 18a on Calle 30 between the Chevy and Renault dealerships
(GPS N10" 25.248' W75" 32.232')

They will sell you a 3 month policy. Most places say that a one year policy is the minimum. Our policy was about $50 US per bike (999cc) for a 3 month policy.

P1010034.jpg


P1010026.jpg


The next day, return to the Operations Center at Muelles El Bosque to find the inspector. Best to get there by 8:00a because the DIAN inspectors go to the docks at 8:00am and 2:00pm to do inspections. Missing 8:00a and taking the 2:00p will probably mean another day to clear customs. Once arriving at the Operations Center they may tell you to go back to the security building wait for the inspector. TIP2: Don't do it, go to the Centro de Documentos building as you leave the entrance building. First building on the right.

Now, here is the best tip I have for this whole process TIP3: at the second window at the left as you enter the building, ask for Andre Bustamante (Servicio Al Cliente). She will give you a form in English on what has to happen next, help you with payment of port fees and help you finding the inspector. Without Andrea, it would have taken at least another day to get things done. Our port fees were about $55 US per bike. In addition we had to pay the locals about $30 to uncrate the bikes.

P1010070.jpg


Once you are ready to ride out of the port, don't put up your paperwork. After we cleared the port there was a customs official and a police officer who wanted to see our documentation. You will just have to unpack it again.

Total cost to ship two bikes: $3,213.00

Shipping: $2,368.00 US
Crating: Still unsure at this time but we estimate: $700.00 US
DIAN Port and Uncrate: $145.20 US

Running to and fro to do your own paperwork: PRICELESS
 
Last edited:

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Cartagena (Cart' a hay na)

After posting the write up above, I thought I would take a minute and explain everything else that has happened. We made it to Cartagena with really no significant issues. We were staying at the Casa La Fe. I guess we were so excited we didn't take any pictures of the Hotel, the owner or anything. We did go to dinner with Ed and had an engaging discussion about the world in general. Great meal! Here we are, try to ignore the goofy picture of me, I don't know what the **** I was doing!

P1010069.jpg

Ed, Joe and Chuck - left to right

We did visit the Castillo de San Filipe. Quite a sight. It was very hot but that did not take away from the amazing construction and significant size of the castle. Here are a couple pictures.
P1010023.jpg

Castillo de San Filipe from a distance

P1010046.jpg

View of the entrance from the top

P1010042.jpg

Canon on the upper wall

Based on the advice of Jeff the owner of Casa La Fe, after leaving the Port we decided to travel through downtown Cartagena to get to the more scenic Ruta 90A. Traveling through the city wasn't as bad as we anticipated, I actually enjoyed it a little bit. It's sort of like playing frogger (if you remember that game), only we were in one of the vehicles that ran the frog down :-). We left the city going north, stopped for lunch at a Subway, mainly because it had started to rain. I took this picture from Subway, does anyone see an iPhone lying on the ground?

426268_10151169279069594_565161046_n.jpg


More to come!
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Puerto Colombia

Chuck and I left Cartagena, headed for Santa Marta. Santa Marta is five or six hours up the coast from Cartagena. The rain began an hour or so after we left Cartagena and that really slowed us down. We decided to start exercising our relaxed attitude and stop at a little town before Barranquilla called Puerto Colombia. We drove around the city's streets and eventually found this place called the Pradomar Hotel. The place was a little run down but still commanded higher prices. We decided to stay rather than try to find something else. After negotiating (yeah, right, with our grasp of the language) the best rate we took the room furtherest from the parking area, up the hill and to the right, quite a trip with all our luggage.

P1010088.jpg

After we parked our bikes, I found two of the office workers waiting for a bus and asked if I could take their picture in front of the bikes (really, again there was a lot of arm waving here!)

P1010089.jpg


P1010090.jpg

Here is a picture of the name of the hotel with some art they were hosting. We met the owner, but it was at dinner and I didn't manage to get a photo of him.

P1010092.jpg

The view from the breakfast table

P1010093.jpg

This was one of the workers at the hotel. He and I seemed to get along pretty well even though neither of us understood a single word the other was saying.

P1010094.jpg

The beach left a little to be desired at this location if you were interested in getting into the ocean. I saw a number of people gingerly walking our in the surf trying to protect their feet.

P1010095.jpg


P1010096.jpg


P1010099.jpg

Our room is the first on right.

P1010100.jpg

The premium view of the ocean. Do you see it there?

P1010101.jpg


We spent two nights in Puerto Colombia at the Pradomar. It was time to get things repacked and do a little forward planning. After that we took off on a back road to Barranquilla.

BARRANQUILLA
Barranquilla is a remarkably large town with lots of traffic. It was the first place where we experienced some of the crazy truck traffic that would remain a constant. When we reached Barranquilla the rain had caused what I thought was major flooding, but apparently is pretty common there. Then we ran into road construction that blocked the route we planned, so we took the detour.

I love OpenSourceMaps ("OSM") for our GPS's, and on my GPS it was clear that there was a very short six or eight block alternative to put us back on the route, not the two to three mile detour. Now I would never complain about OSM because they are free, but sometimes they must loose a little in translation. I new this wasn't a good idea the first block into the alternative, but it was so steep and rutted from the river running down the middle that there was no way to turn around. These "roads" were as difficult as any "trail" you would find in Sam Houston National Forest. I reached the bottom and would have driven right into someones house if I hadn't stopped. He was on his porch, shrugged and waved me on down the hill. Chuck said he really didn't like it!

Barranquilla was like a series of rivers at every cross street. Water up to the crankcase, flowing at break neck speed with plastic bottles, wood and every manner of trash. Cars and motorbike alike wadded through like this happens every day, who knows may be it does. I was to busy trying not to drown to get any pictures of this natural disaster. After that a very long ride on pretty much open road with no real speed limit.

THE DRIVING IN COLOMBIA
Now is probably a good time to tell you about riding in Colombia. First off is the speed limit is 40kph you can be pretty sure if there is no traffic that someone is traveling at 90 to 100kph. You either join them or get run over. We passed a number of policia and para military at significantly above the speed limit and about the only look we got from them was the look of oddity in seeing two HUGE KTM motorcycles with two HUGE Gringos on board.

The topes (speed bumps) are a trip. Most every one of them have the topes vendors hawking water, food and probably anything else you can imagine. The trucks slow down to about, well, nothing, really! They barely cross these things, mean time cars and bikes are zooming around them at the topes on the left and the right, while the vendors play frogger to get to the truck driver wanting a bottle of water or something to eat. A wild scene at almost every tope, but to maintain civility the government has a policia or soldier stationed at many topes with an AK47.

Driving through these little towns there are almost always topes, but if that didn't slow down the trucks the hundreds of pedestrians staggering around in the streets usually did. To see this happening as an outside observer it looks like mayhem. But once you start riding or driving, it all seems to make sense. I think the people here all look out for one another and take everything in stride. I have not seen one case of road rage in many, many situations that would have folks in Houston pulling guns on one another.

I am not saying it is all roses though, there are so many trucks. Trucks are everywhere, trucks passing trucks and lines of trucks for blocks. If it weren't for all the trucks some of the roads would be outstanding motorcycle routes.

On to Santa Marta and the first Hostel that either Chuck or I have stayed in.
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Santa Marta

We followed our GPS maps to where the hostel The Dreamer was located, or so we thought. We had heard about hostel living and the web site hostelworld.com through a couple of young people in Cartagena. When I looked it up, The Dreamer got high marks. But we decided to just go and not book, probably not the best choice.
P1010104.jpg


As I said when we got to where it was supposed to be we could not find it. Back and forth on the road, until a woman came out and waved us down. She asked if we were looking for The Dream and then pointed at a sign about 30 feet away, that we passed every time we had turned around.

Santa+Marta+009.jpg

Esther was the significant other of the owner of the Dreamer. She is on the left. She invited us in, told us what the options were and basically the only one that worked for us was the one with four beds and an air conditioner! There were no suites available. So we took what was available.

Honestly I was not prepared for roommates, that was not exactly how I heard Esther describe the room. So there were room mates. Meet Maria and Regula (right). We did not even meet them until the second day, other than a brief hi to Maria. We were asleep by the time they came back to the room on the first day. They wanted the fan off and the air conditioner turned warmer. We tried to accommodate but we were hot. The next day when we finally met them, they said they both slept in sweaters, socks and caps. Talk about making an impression. :-)

P1010107.jpg

Maria and Regula

P1010105.jpg

Chucks bike in front of the office

P1010106.jpg

Chucks bike right and mine in the bushes hiding

P1010108.jpg

The gate that we had to get the bikes into and out off over the curb and step up

P1010109.jpg

It was a tight squeeze

After staying for two nights in the hostel it was time to. We agreed that adding an additional two people two our normally messed up schedules really made things more difficult. If we stay at a hostel again, we will only choose one with no other guests in the room.
 
Last edited:

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Sincelejo (Since a lay ho)

We left Santa Marta and the Dreamer hostel for Sincelejo. We had not made any reservations for hotels or hostels, we just took off. No one at the hostel who traveled all over Colombia, had even heard of this place. Along the way to Sincelejo, we stopped in Caucasia (yes, that is the name) for lunch. Nothing special about the town but we were ready for lunch. Everywhere we stopped the bikes seem to always draw a crowd

P1010110.jpg

One of my favorite pictures so far. The owner was happy we were there. That's him in the red shirt with the bag.

P1010111.jpg

Normal view, with lots of trucks

P1010117.jpg

Chuck finally found a safe lane to ride in.

We arrived in Sincelejo without a clue of were we were going to stay. It was getting dark and it was a Saturday night. Everyone was out on the road. We tooled around downtown and found a hotel in the centro. Chuck went in and I stayed with the bikes. We spent the night in a relative modern hotel. The costs are not as low for some of these places as I was told.

We walked across to the mall and was going to have some fast food and a Cerveza. Who knew that for three days at an election (for anything) that alcohol is not allowed to be served. So we ended up with fried chicken (think Churches) and a coke and an early evening.

The next morning we heard about the bicycle team who had come to a race in Sincelejo. They were staying at our hotel and checking out about the time we were going to breakfast. Below are a few pictures from the hotel.

P1010137.jpg

Bikes parked in secure parking, next to the bicycle team car.

P1010138.jpg

Another shot of the second bicycle team car with bikes.

P1010142.jpg

Chuck managed to get into the photo with some the support team SAG members.
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Medellin (Med' i jean)

We left Sincelejo headed for Medellin. We didn't realize the terrain we were crossing was as difficult as it was. We thought we had plenty of time to make Medellin before dark. It turned out the road was nothing but switchbacks for miles. Those of you that know the "tail of the dragon" in NC/TN, this made that look tame. To make matters worse, it is a main thorough fare with trucks everywhere. It climbed from around 5000 feet to over 9600 feet. At the top, someone saw fit to throw in some dense, dense fog. The temperature dropped from 70's in Medellin to 50's at the top of the pass and didn't get much better.

The downhill side of the pass wasn't much better. The trucks went a little faster but it made the passing more difficult. We mostly sat back and waited until we got to some semi-split highway and was able to make it to the hotel around 7:30p or so. This was after getting a little lost and ending up on a road that looked like Lombard street in San Francisco. Medellin is built on hills and valleys cut by the many rivers and streams that run together. It is beautiful unless you are trying to find your way and have to operate a 600 or 700 pound motorcycle.

2012-10-01_08-50-09_450.jpg

Daysayuno (breakfast) on the 21st floor of our hotel, open air view.

2012-10-01_08-50-00_82.jpg

Another view from the 21st floor

We decided that while Medellin is very beautiful and somewhere we could stay for a long time to see, we were more interested in the more country areas. So we only stayed the night and we were off to Manizales, in the heart of the coffee region. We did have very nice accommodations as did our bikes.

P1010182.jpg


 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Manizales (Mani' sal ez)

We left Medellin planning for a leisurely ride and arrival at the EcoHotel La Juanita in Manizales. Manizales is in the coffee region of Colombia and great place to visit the coffee fields and get a tour of the coffee process. There are some coffee plantations even along the way to Manizales. It makes the hills look very cultivated.

I had made a route plan and spoke with Chuck about a route that wasn't in the maps on our Garmin that took us up through La Cabana. When we finally arrived at the point to make the turn, the GPS began to say that the direction we were going was incorrect.

Chuck felt strongly about not going the direction I suggested and follow the route indicated the GPS. I asked Chuck if he trusted me, wisely he said 'probably not'! And I threw down the gauntlet, I said "you are welcome to go that way, but I am going this way." If any of you know the story of me and Chuck, a statement similar to that led to us going separate ways in California nine or ten years ago.

Fortunately for both of us, a fellow on a little Chinese bike came by and I asked him if the way I pointed was to La Cabana. I learned after a few confused looks that the correct pronunciation is La Cabuya. He graciously led us up the road to La Cabana. This was one beautiful ride. The road was narrow but nice and paved. The views were spectacular and NO TRUCKS! Ok, one or two but not that bad. This is by far the best road we have ridden since being in Colombia.

P1010195.jpg

View from the road to La Cabana

We arrived at the EcoHotel La Juanita and met, Rosaria, Ricardo and their son Ricardo Jr. They are doing wonderful things with their little hotel. We took the two single rooms and have a room to ourselves for the first time on our trip. I will post some more pictures as we continue with our visit here.

P1010210.jpg

This doesn't look that steep ... but it is.

P1010212.jpg

Entrance to La Juanita

P1010213.jpg

Hotel EcoHotel La Juanita

P1010215.jpg

A view from El Terrace in Manizales

P1010217.jpg

Dinner on El Terrace in downtown Manizales

When we arrived at the La Juanita, the water was out, but they had it back on later that night. The pipe from the city had broken and the city was out fixing it. Last night around 10:00p the power in my room went out. Just my room. The owners had gone home (down the hill), but their daughter was still in the main house using the computer. Again through hand signals, my limited spanish and her limited english, I communicated the problem. She called her dad, first by whistling off the back porch (not sure why), and then calling on the cell phone. The solution was for me to move into the "big house" into a fancy room. I must be living right.

By the time I had all my stuff over, I had broke out in a sweat. So I showered. Good thing, because I found out this morning that the water is out again. I don't know how Chuck feels about such things but I am learning to take it all in stride, deal with the inconvenient and revel in the experience. A person is truly a happy soul if their worst experience is a learning experience and they don't bring those around them down.

I want to make sure that everyone understands that our hosts have done to make our visit enjoyable. Rosario, Richardo and their family have gone out of their way to see that what we wanted to do and see was addressed.

Here is Rosario in her garden, that I reckon is needed to get away from the stress of two very high maintenance gringos.
P1010232.jpg


Coffee Processing in Manizales
The area around Manizales is considered some of the best coffee producing areas in Colombia. Today we visited the Venecia coffee farm, an approximately 300 acre coffee producing and process farm near Manizales.

P1010239.jpg

Coffee plants on the hills of the Venecia coffee farm

Alexander (Alex) was our guide and did a great job of explaining how things worked. Here he is making us a cappuccino and explaining how the coarseness of the grind and the amount of compaction of the cup effect the taste. Then it was interesting to actually taste the difference between two different cups just with these changes.
P1010245.jpg


P1010248.jpg

Seedlings for new growth when old plants are removed.

P1010270.jpg

Most of the coffee production is hot, hard work.

P1010258.jpg

Something for my lovely wife, perhaps she can identify this? :-)

Alex told us that coffee workers earn about the equivalent of $16usd a day. This is more than the average of $8 for laborers.
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Popayan (Pop' a john) just like the pizza

After the coffee plantation we returned to the EcoHotel La Juanita. We talked to Rosario about where we should stop next. We planned to stop in Cali, but she said, no, no, you will need to go on to Popayan. All the buildings are white, it is a very good site.

P1010308.jpg

Rosario and her daughter who tried to translate for us.

We got up early the next morning and left for Popayan. After a little rain and some winding roads, some straight and hot stretches we made to Popayan. The diversity of driving terrains is something to mention. High altitudes over 10,000 feet give way to lower, 2,000 and 3,000 foot valleys sometimes rising and falling two times a day. Temperatures as low as 55F up to 98F and then back down again, with fog, rain and blistering sun. It is hard to dress appropriately.

P1010354.jpg


At Popayan we found that the roads are mostly one way and everyone seems to know which way, except of course us Gringo’s. Eventually we found that there are signs on the buildings indicating which way to go and what the street names were.

P1010329.jpg


We continue to laugh that everytime we get a room it is the furthest away from the street where our bikes are. This time was no different. Usually this means three trips with our crap. We have to carry the top case, the sides cases, the camping luggage and miscellaneous helmets, jackets, GPS, Spot, etc., up to the second floor and all the way to the back. By the time I am done with this trip, I should look like Arnold Swarzenegger, back before he became the governator.

P1010324.jpg


After getting settled in, we went out for a bite to eat, tamales South American style. They were very good along with the middle of the road cervaisa’s they have here. We then found a little bar where the beers were really expensive, about $5 bucks. They actually had more of selection so we had a couple and left. On the way back to they hostal we ran into a marching band, playing only percussion, even though they had a brass section, marching the streets of Popayan. It was some religious ceremony, since there were catholic priest and some image of a saint carried on a platform by eight young men. The thing that struck me as we walked behind was the beat of the drums sounded just like those from the Fleetwood Mac tune “Tusk”. I couldn’t help but hum the rhythm guitar part.

P1010328.jpg


We planned to stay in Popayan an additional day. But, after we got back from our tour of the town that night I sent an e-mail to a contact we got from Regula at the Hostal in Santa Marta. The next morning we received a response that said that she actually had a cancellation for a five day Galapagos tour that would work if we hustled it down to Quito. So that’s what we did. Packed quickly, loaded the bikes, checked out and we were off.

P1010330.jpg


Even though we had figured out “una via” and street names, we had not figured out who stopped for whom, and never did find any signs. Not knowing who had the right of way and probably somewhat in the haste to leave town, led to a little incident where I dropped my bike. I thought I had the right of way but didn’t. The bike coming the other way honked and I slammed on the brakes. Because of the rebound on the shocks, the bike came back up slightly at a list and I could not hold it up. Bam, but people came from all around to help me pick it up (and probably to laugh at the stupido gringo!)

On to Igiales for the night. Igiales is a town on the border of Ecuador. Not much in the way of tourism but plenty if you are interested in a brothel hotel, cold porcelain toilet bowls, showers without shower heads and sinks that drain onto the floors.
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Ipiales (Ipi al ez)

We left Popayan to ride to Ipiales. We intended to stay the night, cross the border and make it to Quito, Ecuador by the afternoon. We got to Ipiales around 4:30p, before dark, which is good. However, it seems we have a nack for finding the Farmers Markets as they are closing down. And for Ipiales, this was no different. Cars, taxis, buses, trucks, vendors, pedestrians, people carrying stuff; all in a hurry to beat the now nonexistent traffic flow. In the middle of this, here we are "the Gringos" on big and wide motorcycles. We don't get a lot of people honking at us, because I guess we are a novelty, something more to be observed.

I didn't take many pictures here and what I did is on my camera coming back from the Galapagos. If I get it back soon I will post them up here.

Anyway, we stopped at one hotel, who unbolted their three locks on their door to let me in, and inspect the room. The room was fine, but they had no safe parking. So on to the next hotel. We had several in the GPS but there were a lot more just on the road. We found one of many on a little traffic circle. I went in to ask the price and look at the room. It was 20,000 COP or about 11 bucks. I looked at the rooms quickly and we decided on two or $22. The parking was down the block for $1 / night.

Of course after doing the deal, the rooms were on the third floor, 35 steps, three trips, all our luggage ...arggggh! Once the bikes are parked and we are in our room, Chuck comes by to ask; "does your room have a lid on the toilet, not just porcelain?" I laugh and say yes. He says his doesn't. He went down to inform the female desk clerk. I finish unpacking and meet him downstairs, where Chuck has drawn a picture of a toilet with no lid and also he informed me that he took her into her little toilet behind the desk to show her what his was missing. I am still laughing. He said he got it all worked out, but never did get a lid. :-)

So, I am thinking I got the best deal with the room because of the toilet lid. But then I went to take a shower and didn't have any hot water and no shower head, just a pipe. Chuck says he has hot water and a shower head so I borrow his shower.

Let me tell you a little more about this hotel, on the walls were pictures of naked women, veiled and posed in very suggestive manner. That was the first hint. The second seemed like the desk clerk was surprised that a couple gringos wanted the room all night. Finally about one in the morning a man with a couple of women came into the room across the hall, turned up the music and started partying. Mean time the traffic in the circle was building, honking horns, loud music, people yelling. Thank goodness for ear buds.

We were out of there fairly early, and on our way to the Border. The border crossing was really a non-event other then standing in a long line at immagracion. Then over to DIAN for checking off for the motocycle. From thirty yards away, he looked at the serial numbers on the forms, then the bikes, "si! no problema!, ciao!" And we were off!

The two gringo's. Actually we heard something today that is probably better than the two gringo's, a man in the old town square of Quito came up to us and called us Los Gigantes! The Giants ... hahahaha.

We made it to Quito, and stopped for a quick bite to eat and some help finding the address we were given for the Hostel. The mapping program would not find the address. Quito is a city with a population about the same as Houston. We drove from probably eight or ten miles into the heart of the city, finally stopping at a little Panaderia. Had a quick bite and trapped a fellow customer into helping us with the address. He looked at the address and said tres bloques directo y dos bloques izquerda. We were within five blocks of the hostel. Try doing that in Houston without any idea of where you are or where you are going.

We made it to the hostel, met Maja, got the motorcycles secured, got unpacked and ready for our trip to the Galapagos. I have photos, but I left my camera in the van coming back from the islands. They found my camera but another of the guests is bringing it back with her when she returns today. Hopefully then I can add some photos.
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
We are in Cajamarca Peru, but have had a bit of trouble. The roads have been brutal, and we have both blown the front seals on both forks. We are modifying our route to go to Lima and get the bikes repaired.
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Cuenca (Quen Ka)

Based on information from Warner and others at Hostel Garisol, we decided that we would stop in Cuenca after leaving Quito. It was a fairly large town, with an active downtown area. In fact I had time to actually find a hotel that sounded like it was pretty good and put that in our GPS’s. It seems it takes hours sometimes to find and book a hotel if we don’t do it ahead of time.

Getting out of Quito was entertaining. We made a wrong turn (or two, or three) and took an indirect route to the freeway. In fact we got to one point and ended up riding across a muddy soccer field, onto a side walk and then off the edge and on the Pan American highway. This would be highly frowned upon in the States but normal course here in South America.

P1010833.jpg


The ride to Cuenca from Quito was very uneventful. While in Quito we found out that Ecuador had begun aggressively enforcing speed limits. Anything over 15 Kph over the speed limit and you go to jail for three days. We were lucking that we weren’t stopped going into Quito, because there were many times we were well over the speed limit. So the ride out of Quito was right at the highway speed limit mostly 90kph (60 mph). The highway was two or three lanes wide and moved most the time at freeway speeds. Of course there is some potential for danger:

P1010838.jpg


It was cold riding at over 11,000 feet. Here I am dressed up with my scarf, which I nearly lost a few miles down the road from it almost blowing out.

P1010843.jpg


When we arrived at Cuenca, we followed the GPS to close to the hotel. Then it started taking us around in circles (it does this a lot here in SA). We dead reckoned to close to the hotel, eventually finding a road, but it was one way the other way. We spent at least an hour trying to find a way onto that road and never did find an entrance at the other end of the one way. I honestly believe that most folks just drive up the road the wrong way, but not us gringos.

We left the downtown area and eventually found a hotel out of town. But all in all, we spent at least 2 to 2 ½ hours looking for a place to stay for the night.
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Valladolid (Val a doe lid)

After a late start from Cuenca, we left for the Ecuadorian / Peruvian border. After Loja the Panamerican highway turned right and headed towards the coast. We stayed straight. Eventually the highway, turned to a country road, then finally dirt, but still easily passable. As we rode the passes, up to 11,000 down to 5,000 the roads wound around the steep drops and creeks that cut into the mountain side. Then it began to light rain and some road construction. We were making the kind of distance we had planned and it soon became apparent we were going to need to stop for the night. We came to a little town Valladolid.

P1010929.jpg


After a few questions at a local “tienda” (store), we were directed to the town Hotel! The woman at the hotel; showed us where to park the bikes, as she worked to sweep out the parking place. We stayed on the second floor. I wish she hadn’t because we knew we were just going to mess it up again with the bikes. We each took a room. Mine with two beds, Chucks with one, windows that opened into the area below where the bikes were parked. There was a common restroom with a shower and toilet. The shower had the first electric heater (heater of death) located on the head. It works by electrically heating the water as it comes out of shower. However, it didn’t work, which is probably a good thing, so I had a VERY cold shower that evening, that took my breath away.

P1010933.jpg


Valladolid, from a distance is actually a very pretty little town. This seems to be common of most south American towns. Closer examination however revels an infrastructure in sad need of repair. Houses are partially finished (as was the “hotel” we stayed in), exposed electrical systems held together with crimped wires and electrical tape, and plumbing that sometimes seemed to come from nowhere and lead to nowhere. We had dinner just down the street.

P1010931.jpg


I came into the hotel after dinner to find a man chnging out a light bulb dangling from the ceiling with a kitchen knife. I went to my box and found my leatherman with a screw driver and lent it to him. Chuck and I both wished we could bring extra tools to give to some of these people.

That night I slept on a mattress that was about two inches thick, underpinned by wooden slats. Eventually I got up, went to the bike and got my air mattress, which finally led to sleep. The next morning we were up, had some basic breakfast with instant coffee, packed and we were on our way. We are slowly learning the language but still have no idea what we get when we order meals. We had scrambled eggs, mixed with ham and some fruit. The guy next to us had eggs, ham, some rice, fruit, bread and juice. All we could do is look at him with envy. J
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
San Ignacio

We left Valladoid and traveled through the small city of Palanda and as we approached Zumba we were stopped by the police at a road block. They were all quite young and none spoke English. He asked where we were going and we told him Peru. He looked over the bikes and motioned towards my cases. I said; “no habla espanol!” He motioned more aggressively and said something in spanish. “no hable espanol” shaking my head. Then he knocked on my cases, motioning to open them up. “no habla espanol”. Finally in frustration he just motioned my on. That’s all it took, I was out of there and Chuck right behind. The next checkpoint before the border, the guard was much more friendly, asked where we were going, how long we had been on the road, took our passport information and finally told us which way to go. We were only about 8 kilometers from the border but it took us the best part of an hour to reach the border.

By the time we reached the border it was around 11:30a. We had done well; we had traveled about 90 kilometers in about three hours. We found the border agent at a small café eating lunch. We followed him back to his “office”, he stamped our passports and we thought we were out of Ecuador. Back to the bike, and waiting for someone to lift the gate. The agent came out and said “Adunas” or bike check. So we got off and went back to the Adunas agent. Here is where it got a little difficult.

Apparently, we needed to have the paperwork for the bikes when we entered Ecuador, where the VIN’s had been checked and bike import authorized. Now, we had asked about this when we came into Ecuador from Colombia. We were both told that it was unnecessary. Well, don’t ever believe them! We should of gotten our bike authorization and the Adunas agent at the Peru border was not going to let us leave without them. He said we needed to return to Loja (Low’ ha) to get the proper credentials. It had started to rain hard and the roads were turning to mud. To return to Loja meant about a two day ride. There had to be another way.

The border agent came by and seemed to be advocating for us. We asked if the Adunas agent could call someone for special permission; “no!”. We asked if there were a “fine we could pay there?”; “no!” with an emphasis of cutting ones throat. Chuck, in his best Spanish whine asked “por favor, special excepcion!” “No” again with the throat cutting. Finally the border agent got him to call “el hefe” and there was a long, long conversation with the outcome of el hefe telling the Adunas agent to let Peru deal with it J! We were through without having to go back to Loja. But it had been raining hard now for an hour.

P1010969.jpg


Next came the other side, Peru! We stopped at the Peru side of the border bridge. We walked to the Adunas building on the Peru side and the agent said we must go to the Passport check primary. So down the sidewalk we go. No agent. We wait, and wait, sit more, walk across to the restaurant ask for a coke where they say “si” then sit down and watch television. We sit there for thirty minutes and finally leave for another restaurant, where we finally get a coke. Still no passport agent.

P1010970.jpg


Another person, of unknown authority tells me the passport agent is a home, points out his house and tells me to go knock on the door. I didn’t know who this person was, so I didn’t go. Turns out this is apparently very acceptable behavior, that many times people at this crossing go find the agent. Mean time the Adunas agent takes pity on us and starts filling out the motorcycle import paperwork. About the time he is done, someone has finally gotten the Passport agent out of bed an up to the office. He fills out my passport paperwork but there is one more step. I must be checked out by the police.

Down the hill with my paperwork I go, to the police building. Huh? No one in the office! No one in the back room, no one in the kitchen, so around the corner to the sleeping quarters I go. Ah, there he is, asleep in the cot. Clear my throat, nothing! Perdon! Nothing! Hola!! Hola! Hola! Finally, some movement. “Una momento!” “Si!” and back to the office I go. He finally comes into the office with his uniform half on and fills out my paperwork. Back to the Border agent and he stamps my passport. All in all about 2 ½ hours. Did I mention it had been raining!

After Chuck completed the same cycle we returned to the bikes, this unknown person I mentioned, unlocked the gate and let us into Peru. Finally! It’s about 2:30p, it had taken only about 3 hours but it seemed like an eternity.

P1010918.jpg


Only 25 kilometers to San Ignacio, as the crow flies. We are quickly learning though that 25 kilometers as the crow flies here in the mountains is probably more like 75 kilometers. And, had I mentioned it had been raining. Now everything was mud. Not a real deep mud, but a very slimy, slippery mud.

P1010987.jpg


This is, in my opinion, the worst conditions to ride in. Worse than snow, rain, sand or anything else. The back end will just not stay behind you. Your brakes work marginally but sometimes when they do they cause the front or back end to slip out. We struggle, we push on in the rain and then we come to stopped traffic. Apparently, due to the rain, there had been a mudslide that blocked the road.

P1010994.jpg


An hour and a half later they finally let us through, but the road was an absolute mud pit.

Now it was getting dark. We still had about 15 kilometers to go. Chuck wanted to pitch a tent, I didn’t. It was muddy and the only place was on the side of the road to pitch it, which, in my opinion would not have been safe. We decided that we would just take it easy, work slowly towards San Ignacio. But the mud was bad, it had been worked over by all the traffic including large trucks. It was now dark and I watched in my headlight as a large 2 ½ ton truck tried to make it up a small incline. Two spotters, one on each side, pushed against the truck frame to keep it from sliding sideways, but it still did. But he eventually made it. Now my turn, feet down, light on the gas, keep the back wheel behind me, slowly, clutch, gas, adjust and eventually success.

P1010988.jpg


At the top of that hill, a French guy in an RV came out and waved me down. We talked a little of the road and the mud, but he said he had had it and was stopping there for the night. He could, he had an RV. Chuck and I pressed on. More and more mud, slow, slow in the turns, a little speed in the straight aways. Eventually, we made it to San Ignacio around 8:30p. We had started in Valladolid around 8:30a, so 12 hours to go about 150 kilometers or about 100 miles.

In San Ignacio we started our pattern of looking for a place to stay. We had asked on the road and had been told the best place was the Gran Hotel. Asking for directions to this hotel just got the RCA dog look. Eventually I asked a police man who took us to a hostel. I tried to get them to tell me where we could park our bikes and they told me we could put them in the restaurant next door, but that didn’t close until 10p. About this time, a German pops his head up from a computer there in the lobby, there are three of them there. He says they are staying in a hostel down the road, but there is a big hotel just down from them. Chuck and I have a long chat with the Germans, they are riding a couple older K100R’s and an Africa Twin. Finally they help us find the Gran Hotel.

We check in, drag mud across everywhere, the lobby, the stairs into our room, then order some dinner, but they are closing and the only thing they still have available is Carne Seca, or dry meat (think beef jerky). I was hungry but more tired. I eat a little but it upsets my stomach so I go upstairs and go to bed. A very long day!
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
It’s a new day, no rain, clear, there is a promise. I make a pilgrimage to find an ATM for some Peruvian Sols. I gather this is pretty normal, first town get some local money. We were going to meet the Germans but for some reason the timing wasn’t right. We pack and by the time we get going the Germans have already left.

P1010995.jpg


The roads out of San Ignacio where not bad, not the mud we had experienced the night before. But still dirt and winding back and forth. We had ridden about 15k when we saw some bikes stopped up ahead. It was the Germans. And they had stopped with the French guy in the RV. We visited for a while and then we took off. The Germans followed and we road with them until Jaen or about 50k, where they stopped for lunch.

P1020004.jpg


From Jaen to Chachapoyas the road is paved. Not a lot of difficulty so there was some time to relax and enjoy the scenery. In Chachapoyas we went to the town square. There were several Hostels on the square and as we circled to pick on, I saw a couple who were obviously not Hispanic. I stopped and asked if they had advice for a place to stay. They said they were German, Stephan and Emma and driving a range rover. They had just arrived themselves. So we said we would keep looking but meet up with them later somewhere for a beer. They did ask if we had seen three German motorcycle riders on the road … small world eh?

We drove around some more and stopped off the square. Chuck said he would go look for a hostel if I would stay with the bikes. Everywhere we go we get people coming up to us, asking about the bikes, we try to explain the best we can with our limited vocabulary. This time, I think Chuck left me with the local drug dealers. There was a lot of money changing hands for what reason, I don’t know. At the same time they were trying to get information from me; size of bikes, how much they cost, where we were going, lots of laughing and hand slapping. Eventually Chuck returned from a hostel where he had booked a room, so we left, unloaded and parked the bikes.

P1020075.jpg


As we were parking the bikes in a secure parking lot, Stephan came up. They were staying in the Range Rover in the same parking lot. We agreed to meet later for a beer and we went and finished unpacking. We got out and walked to a restaurant the owner of the Hostel had recommended. It didn’t open until 7p. As we walked around we ran into Stephan and Emma. We invited them to come along with us, back to the restaurant. We had a great meal, some beer and good conversation. We agreed to buy pastries if they made some GOOD coffee the next morning. We met them at the Range Rover where they had the coffee on.

P1020079.jpg


After a while they came and used our shower, with the electric heater (death heater) in the head. It actually worked. We packed the bikes and left for Cajamarca (Ka ha mark a). Before we left, Emma mentioned she had heard from other friends that there was some road construction that had the road shut down all day between Chachapoyas and Cajamarca. Oh great!
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Balza (Ball za)
The road from Chachapoysa to Leymebamba is actually a very nice ride. First pavement, then turning onto the road to Leymebamba it is dirt, but fairly smooth, no big ruts or rocks. Easily navigable, at a good pace and very scenic. It reminded me of a number of roads and scenes in Colorado. At this point it really was enjoyable and yes fun.

P1020167.jpg


As we left Leymebamba, and climbed again to the top of the pass it began to rain.

P1020111.jpg


This seems to be the theme. Nice in the morning, rain in the afternoon. We were stopped briefly for construction in the rain then on down the hill until we left the rain. The road was a bit muddy, but not bad. It was a little eerie though, the road wasn’t much wider then a single normal vehicle. And almost vertical up the hill and absolutely vertical down the mountain for 1000 feet or more. If you even just stepped off, you were going for a long way. You could see this at first, then the fog came. When the fog came it just filled in the valley so you couldn’t see anything below. It was like a giant bowl of fog. It was comforting not seeing this huge drop off, but by the same token a little weird knowing it was there only full of fog.

P1020116.jpg


We rode out of the rain and the road got nicer again. Then we came to another construction stoppage. We were stopped for at least 3 and half hours. It went from sunny and warm to rainy and cold. While there we ran into Larry, a resident of Lima on vacation with his wife and 6 other friends. They had never traveled this road before and told us the girls were all screaming on the turns. He helped translate some of the conversations with the flag person.

P1020131.jpg


Eventually we got moving again. This time because we had waited long enough the road had turned to mud. We could have easily made it to Cajamarca or at least Celendin had it not been for the construction, instead we were faced with riding mud all the way to the bottom of this mountain in dark AGAIN!

Larry and his crew were ahead of us in his van, but they stopped when we reached Balza to help us find a place to stay. We landed this place where it was only a single room and no bathroom (which was about 2 blocks away and was basically a hole in the ground). We had no choice; we could not go on in the dark.

P1020139.jpg


We made our arrangements, pack the bikes in the room, and found Larry and his group having dinner a local restaurant. We joined them and had a really fun time. Even managing to crack a few jokes at different peoples expense.

Here’s a picture of the group. Notice the Los Gigantes in the back, on the right! That’s Larry next to me. I remember some of the names but forgive me my failing memory. Left to right; George, his wife Shiwa?, ?, Azul Blue (the only words he new in English J), Gina, Walter, Chuck, Joe, Larry, Larry’s wife Marisa.

P1020135.jpg


The next morning, we were up early. Had breakfast of scrambled eggs, instant coffee and pan (bread). Packed and headed for Cajamarca.

Downtown Balza

P1020146.jpg


The bridge across the river (Rio Maranon) leaving Balza. The night before there was a bar blocking the crossing, but it was lifted when we decided to leave.

P1020148.jpg

 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Cajamarca (Ca ha mar ka)

The road from Balza to Celendin (See len din) was supposed to be more of the same that we had encountered from coming down into Balza. However, other than the climb and switchbacks it was not bad. However a number of kilometers before we reached Celendin the road turned really rough. Because of road construction, I think they had just let the road go. It looked like it had been made with large rocks as a base covered with gravel then sand. The sand and gravel had long disappeared and what was left was the ends of the large rocks sticking out of the mud. No way to avoid the rocks. It was rough.

By the time we reached Celendin we had decided to stop and clean the bikes. Mud had lodged into the radiator decreasing the ability to cool. The fans seemed to run all the time. We found a car wash and while there someone in the group looking on, noticed that Chuck had a leak from one of his front forks. We checked the others and all four forks were leaking, two on each bike. We did some quick checking on the internet and found the nearest KTM dealer with new seals was in Lima. We changed our plans and decided to spend the night in Cajamarca, and go from there to Lima.

We had heard the road from Celendin to Cajamarca was asphalt. That was mostly a lie. We beat more crap out of the bikes and the clean bikes we started with in Celendin was now again packed in mud. We stayed in a nice hotel on the square in Cajamarca and left the next day for Lima.
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Nuevo Chimbote (Chim' bow tee)

he road leading from Cajamarca was excellent asphalt, as good as any in the US. Folks who ride sports bikes would just love the accent and decent from Cajamarca. Nothing is straight, miles and miles of up, down, left and right. It was fun. Probably 30 or 40 miles of roads as crooked as the Dragon in Tennessee. Unfortunately I was having so much fun I forgot to take pictures.

However, when we finally reached the Panamerican highway along the coast it was windy, straight and pretty boring except for watching trucks and cars jockeying for position. This is a two way road!

P1020176.jpg


We eventually reached our destination of Nuevo Chimbote (Chim’ bo tee). I had located a well referenced hotel there, that we put in the GPS. We turned off the Panamerican where the GPS indicated and drove through what seemed to be a very desperate neighborhood. We stopped at the Hotel Buenos Aires not knowing what to expect. There was a guard that opened the door and let us in on the bikes. What we found was much nicer than you could ever expect.

P1020170.jpg


The rooms were great, the owner (Max) met us and we parked the bikes in the garage. Didn’t have to take everything off, which was very nice. The owner’s son (Maximilian) checked us in and ordered a pizza.

P1020172.jpg


They had some beer in the back room. Max, Chuck and I talked for hours about everything. If anyone is looking for a place to stay on the way north from Lima or about a days ride to Lima, I highly recommend the Hotel Buenos Aires in Nuevo Chimbote.
 
Last edited:

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
The next morning we woke and Max was in front to help us with breakfast. We must of misunderstood about breakfast because we thought it was included, however as we left the clerk came out to ask for payment for Daysenuno. 12 Sol or about $5. No big deal.

The ride to Lima was uneventful, except to say, it was surprisingly cold, it was about 65 F. For being on or near sea level, near the equator, we ended up having to put on more layers to ward off the cold.

People here work very hard and are tolerate of conditions that we in the US probably would not understand. Here is a taxi that pulled up as we were sitting having a coke. The person in red just got out of the back, paid the driver and one of the others is actually climbing back in. There had to be 5 or 6 people packed into the back of this very small vehicle.

P1020206.jpg


Lima is a very large city, I was told there are 20 million people in the metropolitan city. There are no real freeways like we know. There are roads with lights and intersections but it doesn’t flow like our freeways. There are also toll booths. Motorcycles get through free but you have to be in the right hand lane; which usually meant we had to cross four or five lanes of traffic, mostly trucks, bumper to bumper. We would weave at walking pace in front of cars, trucks, whatever to get right then have to get back across traffic to get left again.

When you came to a light, it is apparently ok to turn from any lane. You must watch out if you were going straight, anyone could turn in front of you. We had put the location of the KTM dealer in the GPS and followed the direction. The location that KTM lists in their web site is wrong, it shows it in the 2600 block of Av. Separadora Industrial where the location is actually closer to the city in the 600 block.(gps S12’ 4.300” and W76’ 59.125”). We don’t have a cell phone so we couldn’t call. Eventually we stopped and talked to a woman who looked like she might speak English. She was so helpful, even though she was having an open house for her business. She called KTM, got the address, gave us maps, and directions to lights to cross the freeway.

We finally made it to KTM, and met Jesus Parades Cantreras manager of marketing at the KTM shop.

P1020219.jpg


The building is huge, bigger than anything I have seen in the states for any dealer. He gave us a quick rundown of what was needed asked us if there was anything else then began helping us find a hotel. It turned out that there were no available rooms for the evening so Jesus took us around to look at Hostels, which we picked from and then helped us the following day to find a better hotel. Thanks Jesus for your real southern Hospitality.

I just got a note from Jesus who said it was 631 Sols for repair or about $233 per bike. I am pretty sure we could not have had seals replaced with parts and labor in the US for that price.

Now we plan for our escape from Lima tomorrow.
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Pisco (pez' co)

A final word about Lima KTM. I know there are different experiences people have with services and a lot has to do with expectations and communication. We didn’t know what to expect when we went to Lima KTM having read about experiences from several different sources. All I can say is that I am glad that Lima KTM, and in particular, Jesus didn’t charge us for every hour they actually spent helping us, first with the service on the KTM’s and then trying to find a decent hotel in the area.

I highly recommend stopping in at the KTM dealership in Lima if there is anything you need done while on your adventure. Here is Jesus with my “Pretty”, clean and good as new Dakar.

P1020229.jpg

After leaving the hotel and having a small adventure on it’s own with the Taxi cab driver, we arrived at the KTM shop. The Taxi cab driver didn’t seem to want to take directions from the two gringo’s in the back seat and we got to see some parts of Lima we did not expect to see.

When we got into the KTM shop, the bikes were ready, the bill was ready, we made payment, got our stuff packed and we were on our way, in about an hour. Leaving Lima wasn’t that big of a hassle either. Drove down the main road in front of the shop, made a right onto the freeway, dodging taxi’s, trucks and motorbikes and out of town we went. I am still struck by the desert sense from riding down the coastal highway.

P1020233.jpg

There does also seem to be these places where for random reasons something has broken down. I don’t know what happened here, but it seems the trailer just lost a set of trucks. I worry sometimes that this will happen right in front of me.

P1020245.jpg

We are in Pisco now, and made arrangements to see the Nazca Lines tomorrow from the air. Some of you may be aware that you really can’t get a sense of what these lines are unless you view them from the air. There are also theories about aliens visiting earth in ancient times and leaving these lines for others to follow. We will see them tomorrow, and will “phone home” if we are abducted.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 13, 2010
Messages
355
Location
Austin
Hola Gigantes,

Bienvenidos a America del Sul.

Well, you guys are off to a wonderful start. You've arrived during Spring to South America... the rainy season. Even with the rain and mud and a little bit of misdirection it seems like y'all are covering quite a bit of distance at a good pace. Keep it up!

Sorry to hear about the motorcycle issue. Motorcycle maintenance and repair are going to be a fact of life during your travels. However, I have had some of my best experiences meeting people when I've needed to seek out assistance for my motorcycle.

You'll soon figure out a good routine of riding, lodging, dinning, sight seeing that will make life on the road a little easier.

For me, It took me a few months to figure out this routine.
1. Signed up for hostelworld.com and paid the $10 member fee to avoid the service charges.
2. One or two days before I move to a new location I search for a place. I always sort the search by the ratings and try to stay at the highest rated hostel if they have over 20 reviews. I also try to find a place near the Plaza Central or Centro. And, I try to find a place with parking listed under the facilities. I do not mind sharing rooms, but if one wants to only stay in a private room one can click the Hotel or B&B option or Private Room option. 10 minutes online on hostelworld.com saves me about 1 hour of searching for a place upon arrival.
3. I book a bed, make note of the address, then mark in on my map, iPhone map and gps. This triangulation of data seems to help reduce the chances of wrong directions from a single source (gps). And, upon arrival I typically pull over and ask for directions as a forth data point.
4. Most towns have a Plaza Central (Centro). If you are ever in doubt, just ask for the Catedral (Cathedral)[Ka-tee-dral]. When I arrive into a town I head strait to the Catedral, there is usually a one way street into the Plaza Central and a road that circles the plaza. I circle the plaza, making not of which direction the Catedral is facing, just to get a sense of the town and to gain my bearings.
5. I then locate my hostel or hotel from this central location. Simple.

At first, I would simply ride into town, then try to find a place to stay. But I soon got tired on searching around. Especially when I would arrive late. So, I developed this method. Seems to work for me. But everyone has their own method and I'm sure that you'll soon figure one out. I believe that Nov and Dec are high tourist season in South America, so you may need to develop some strategy around it.

Once you are settled into your hotel... life is good... enjoy it. :sun:

Very nice write ups, by the way.

Que les vaya bien,

Troy
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Hola Gigantes,

Bienvenidos a America del Sul.

Well, you guys are off to a wonderful start. You've arrived during Spring to South America... the rainy season. Even with the rain and mud and a little bit of misdirection it seems like y'all are covering quite a bit of distance at a good pace. Keep it up!

Sorry to hear about the motorcycle issue. Motorcycle maintenance and repair are going to be a fact of life during your travels. However, I have had some of my best experiences meeting people when I've needed to seek out assistance for my motorcycle.

You'll soon figure out a good routine of riding, lodging, dinning, sight seeing that will make life on the road a little easier.

For me, It took me a few months to figure out this routine.
1. Signed up for hostelworld.com and paid the $10 member fee to avoid the service charges.
2. One or two days before I move to a new location I search for a place. I always sort the search by the ratings and try to stay at the highest rated hostel if they have over 20 reviews. I also try to find a place near the Plaza Central or Centro. And, I try to find a place with parking listed under the facilities. I do not mind sharing rooms, but if one wants to only stay in a private room one can click the Hotel or B&B option or Private Room option. 10 minutes online on hostelworld.com saves me about 1 hour of searching for a place upon arrival.
3. I book a bed, make note of the address, then mark in on my map, iPhone map and gps. This triangulation of data seems to help reduce the chances of wrong directions from a single source (gps). And, upon arrival I typically pull over and ask for directions as a forth data point.
4. Most towns have a Plaza Central (Centro). If you are ever in doubt, just ask for the Catedral (Cathedral)[Ka-tee-dral]. When I arrive into a town I head strait to the Catedral, there is usually a one way street into the Plaza Central and a road that circles the plaza. I circle the plaza, making not of which direction the Catedral is facing, just to get a sense of the town and to gain my bearings.
5. I then locate my hostel or hotel from this central location. Simple.

At first, I would simply ride into town, then try to find a place to stay. But I soon got tired on searching around. Especially when I would arrive late. So, I developed this method. Seems to work for me. But everyone has their own method and I'm sure that you'll soon figure one out. I believe that Nov and Dec are high tourist season in South America, so you may need to develop some strategy around it.

Once you are settled into your hotel... life is good... enjoy it. :sun:

Very nice write ups, by the way.

Que les vaya bien,

Troy
Thanks for the advice Troy, the one about driving to the Centro is especially helpful. It is rainy here but other than the mud up in northern Peru, we have been able to adapt. If we don't see you in Buenos Aires, let's make it a point to meet up after we are back. Ciao!
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Nasca / Puquio / Abancay

NASCA
One of the things on our list to visit on this trip was the Nasca Lines. We had decided to forgo the cheaper solution of paying for a climb to the top of the viewing tower and actually forked over enough for the flying tour.
P1020277.jpg


Our Flight Plan
P1020289.jpg


The tower from the air
P1020301.jpg


I decided to try out my video capability, let's put it this way, the Amateur film makers have nothing to fear from my untapped talent. But, just to give you a feel for what we experienced here is a view of the "Parrot", also is a picture of the route we took from Nasca to visit the lines. All in all it was about a 35 minute flight and cost $110.00 US. Chuck was a little woozy from the flight so we took a break after we landed to let him get back his land legs.

[ame="http://youtu.be/jc3qaA_vQvY"]Video of the Parrot[/ame]
PUQUIO
When we finished the tour of the Nasca lines, it was only around noon, so we took off for the next town towards Machu Picchu; Puquio, about 150 kms. It is just incredible to me the rise and fall as you cross west to east across Peru. In those 150kms we climbed to around 13,900 feet and back down again to just over 10,000 feet in Puquio. We found a nice little hotel on the plaza and parked the bikes. Asked the proprietor for a restaurant recommendation and he gave us a recommendation. It was really good food and the courtyard was a relaxing change from much of what we have experienced.
P1020312.jpg


Below is the church viewed from the hotel in the town square. The bell tower on the left was actually rang by young parishioners who either had very good ear protection or came away with an extreme headache.

P1020313.jpg


P1020316.jpg


After dinner we turned in early, got up late, had deysayuno a the same restaurant, got packed and we were on our way again. It was a little exciting getting down from the parking garage, that emptied into a street with busy traffic. Many of the hotels / hostels have parking but it may be a small enclave in the hotel, which usually means steps and gutters to overcome. The owner of this hotel had obviously experienced this before because he had blocks and boards specifically sized to overcome the obstacles. However it was a good 20 degree incline with no place to put your feet. But no incidents, not even a bobble.

ABANCAY
As we left Puquio it was obvious there was going to be rain, in fact there was even hail. I stopped and put my rain gear on, and I was glad I did. But once I have my rain gear on, it is really hard to take pictures. The road actually began to accumulate hail and turned white like snow. But it wasn't slick and we had no problems with traction or slipping.

I did stop and take some pictures as we reached one of the high points, 14,960 feet. There aren't even mountain tops in Colorado that high. We reached this height several times and the lowest temperature we experienced was 38.8 deg as indicated on the bike.
P1020322.jpg


These guys were very suspicious of this gringo on a motorcycle taking pictures of their charges.
P1020327.jpg


On to Machu Picchu!
 
Last edited:
Joined
Feb 4, 2009
Messages
1,946
Location
La Porte, TX
Great write up and pics, Joe. Sure sounds like you guys are having a ball, and it's great that we get to ride along with you. You guys be safe and have fun (wait, is that possible?).
 
Joined
Jul 6, 2004
Messages
3,789
Location
Santa Fe, TX
Joe, you know this makes me jealous. Great pics and write-up.

Now where are the pics of one of those big KTMs inside-down in a mud wallow?
DirtDOG.gif
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Machu Picchu

After Abancay we set off towards Machu Picchu. Actually, you can drive to the town of Ollantaytambo (O’ yay tay tam bo), I know it’s a mouth full but you can’t drive to Machu Picchu. But on the way we found ourselves dodging a little bit of the scenic roadside debris. This is not uncommon in this part of the country.
P1020335.jpg


I thought I would also add a video of Chuck riding through some of the canyon's going from Abancay to Ollantaytambo. I did it with my regular camera, not my GoPro, but Rob, please notice that no one fell down or was hurt in the filming. :-)

[ame="http://youtu.be/8a7dRm8mYt4"]http://youtu.be/8a7dRm8mYt4[/ame]

We also decided to also stop at a little roadside store for a coke and a snack for lunch. While here I was bitten by these little flies on both elbows. As of this writing about six days later they still itch. Worse than any mosquito bites I have ever had!
P1020338.jpg


Again the weather has been so variable. First starting it was cool, then we ran into rain, and by the time the picture above was taken it was over 90 degrees F. It is really hard to plan on what to wear. Chuck bought jacket and pants that are water proof. I on the other hand, felt we would know what to wear each day. At this point Chuck made the right choice. I find I have to stop at least once a day to add or remove rain gear.

We arrived at Ollantaytambo and began the ritual of looking for the Hotel we had planned to stay at. This has been a theme, the hotels are never where Mapsource or Google says they are. So Chuck stayed with the bikes while I hiked around the city. Finally, found it across towns and down an alley. That’s our bikes parked at the end of the alley at the Hotel Casa del Mama Valle.
P1020388.jpg


It was Ollantaytambo’s 125th anniversary. They had plenty of celebration planned, children’s bands, speaches and in the evening a band. Chuck and I had perfect seats to hear the band and the music was honestly pretty good. The view however was sometimes blocked by semi-tractor trailers waiting in the middle of the concert crowd to pass a narrow entrance on the other side of the square. Imagine that, having a concert in the plaza while traffic still passes through. Crazy stuff, you would never see in the US.
P1020377.jpg


We bought round trip tickets for the train that night down this road. Notice all the flowers. November and December is the prime blossoming time, flowers were blossoming everywhere.
P1020398.jpg


So we traveled by train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu City, which is also known as Aguas Caliente because of the hot spring. The train ride was very picturesque, but only if you sat on the side away from the train station. The other side was mostly looking at the side of the wall.
P1020474.jpg


In Aguas Caliente, we expected to find not much in the way of a city. Were we wrong? The city was bustling, lots of shops, a market square and plenty of restaurants and bars. Everyone you past had a hawker trying to bring you in. Chuck met one who had a deal for a hostel. We followed her to her place and it was perfect for the night and the price was right, about $30.
P1020479.jpg


We woke up the next morning BEFORE the crack of dawn and were down at the bus station before 5:30a. Chuck had read that only the first 400 of the day got to visit the temple of the high priest and we wanted to do that. We rode the bus up to the entrance gate. You can hike but it is about 3.5 km, and we saw some who did walk up, and I am glad we did ride the bus.

So here is where things got a little off. While in line with the collective, we began to notice they all had tickets to get into Machu Picchu.
P1020513.jpg


We began to ask ourselves if we needed tickets, could we buy tickets here? Finally I asked a gate agent at the top of the stairs. She told me we needed tickets and that we could not buy tickets there, we had to go back to town. Or, maybe one of the guides could help us. I actually asked the guide closest to the us sort in the left center of the picture. She called, got our information and ordered some tickets to be delivered, but it took an extra hour and half. Chuck was pretty bummed that he had missed the requirement for tickets to be pre-purchased.
P1020515.jpg


Ultimately it all worked out for the best. I don’t think we were prepared to make the trek to the temple of the high priest. It was a very long climb up narrow path and steps to the top of Wayna Picchu, the peak overlooking Machu Picchu. The path and stairs to the overlook from the other end of Machu Piccu was work enough. Here is the standard picture of Machu Piccu with me in it! J Wayna Picchu is the prominent peak in the middle and the Temple is near the top, although it is difficult to make out. The Wayna Picchu trail runs along the ridge along the the shadow line.
P1020522.jpg


Here is a picture of our guide Ruth at the same point.
P1020524.jpg


There were lots of pictures taken but I won’t post them here. It will have to wait until I have a better connection. But here is one I found quite funny. At first on the camera it looked perfect. The Llama had been munching on the grass all the time I walked by. When I turned she raised her head and I took the shot. When I finally looked at it on the computer I noticed an added character on the lower right. I really don’t know what Chuck was taking a picture of, but may be that’s why the Llama raised her head :-)
P1020606.jpg


After traveling with the guide for about 2 ½ hours and hearing about Machu Picchu, it was time for us to leave.

So, here is a piece of advice if you are planning on visiting Machu Picchu, you must take the train. Ollantaytambo is the furthest you can drive. You will be tempted to buy a round trip ticket at the Ollantaytambo station, DON’T! Buy only the one way. When you decide to leave from the other end, at Aquas Caliente; you can buy the return ticket then. The line to purchase there is non-existent.

Chuck and I wanted to leave a little early since we were finished with Machu Picchu. And even though the early return train was empty and the later train we were scheduled to take was practically full, but they would not exchange tickets. “Sorry sir, my system only allows me to sell tickets. I must have twenty four hour advanced notice to exchange.” Argggh! We sat around, drank beer, ate pizza, slept on the park bench and basically became derelict. I guess it could have been worse.

So here are some observations, from sitting around. These folks are industrious. I hear there is plenty of laziness but from watching I didn’t see much. I guess if the salary is structured correctly you will get what you need. I suspect they get paid for every load they deliver.

Here a person pulls a full trolley of drinks up to perspective stores, bars or restaurants. We calculated these things must weigh around 300 lbs and it is up a very steep incline.
P1020613.jpg


These indigenous woman carry the loads on their back. I don’t know how much they weigh but they are large. We watched as she made at least 3 trips up and back this long incline carrying these bags.
P1020619.jpg


Latter, Chuck was talking with an engineer from Korea managing a power project in the area. The engineer said getting locals to work was difficult, everything seemed to be “manjana”! Here is a definition I took from the Urban dictionary: “To take it slow; relax. Hey man, where were you? It's noon and we had an appointment at 9 o'clock sharp! Manjana, manjana!” I guess we should not expect to bring western (or eastern for that matter) cultural expectations to another culture and expect them to work. Getting paid on an hourly basis in this society apparently leads to unexpected results.

We finally got back to Casa del Mama, spent the night and the next day we were up and on our way to Puno, Peru.
 
Last edited:

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Joe, you know this makes me jealous. Great pics and write-up.

Now where are the pics of one of those big KTMs inside-down in a mud wallow?
DirtDOG.gif
Tom; about the only 'accidents' we have had has been drops during turning or missing a foot hold. For example, I went to make a u-turn and the Katoom died. Not sure why, but as you know, when the engine dies while you're doing a slow turn there is only one place you are going. Probably did more damage carving turns and scraping the bag in one of the turns.
 
Last edited:

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Thanks Hellwig and Lee;

I really believe that the most difficult part of this trip was leaving the driveway. Once on the road, relying on ones own wits and learning the social norms, you stop thinking about all the things that could potentially happen to you and start becoming an observer of what's going on around you.

Anyone who tells you, that you need to worry about bandito's or traffic accidents or political corruption, etc. has not done this trip. Don't get me wrong, once you experience it, you get frustrated by things we take for granted in the US, but you also realize there are a whole **** of a lot of other folks living here and dealing with life as it is. Then you start focusing on things that make them (and you) happy. Trip of a life time, nah! A real experience to open your mind, most definitely!

Thanks again for your comments.

Regards,
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
We met a group of folks touring Argentina, Chile and Bolivia tonight for dinner. The guides were from Salta, Argentina. We may change our plans to meet up with the guides next week in Salta. But, the group that was touring with them were from Germany, Switzerland and Austria. We have met so many from Europe (especially Germans and Swiss) it kind of makes me wonder what is wrong with us in the US? Come on, let's represent!!!

Now I realize that a six / seven / eight month tour is not everyone, but these guys were doing an organized tour with two company guides and have been out for a couple weeks on mostly paved roads riding BMW GS650's and GS800. And based on the conversations, it sounded like they were having a great time. They will then return home and go back to work.

In case anyone is thinking about tours in the Bolivian, Chilean and Argentinian area, you can contact Matias Villalba at villalba@horizonte-tours.com. But there are many other tour companies out there as well. I still hope to run into some Americans doing some touring, but so far it hasn't happened.
 
Last edited:

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Puno

Nothing much to report for the trip to Puno. I was looking forward to seeing Lake Titicaca. During my high school years I was in the concert choir. We did a sort of rap song that included geographic locations including Lake Titicaca and of course that became a topic of conversation among us choir members. So this is for my very good friend Wayne Cowin who was also same the senior Concert Choir. And yes, I am wearing Harley Davidson rain gear. Me in front of Lake Titicaca.
P1020669.jpg


Here’s the bike, nice picture eh! Good PR for KTM.
P1020666.jpg


One thing I need to mention is we have traveled over 4,000 miles already and have had no trouble with law enforcement. After all the stories we heard, we had been concerned. If anything by now we had somewhat become complacent. Well, when we got near the city of Juliaca a police car pulled in front of us and began wand signaling us over.

When he came up he asked for our SOAT. SOAT for you who don’t know is the basic liability insurance. We had purchased SOAT in Colombia and had read that there was a treaty signed between Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile which allowed spanning coverage between countries. Honestly, the rules are so vague and confusing about insurance, I am not sure what we had, but at that moment it WAS the insurance that covered us in all those countries.

We had heard from another moto rider that he was shaken down in the exact location for a 110 peruvian, because he couldn’t produce a document. First we said we were from Texas and couldn’t speak a lick of Spanish, and they could not speak English. We told them about the agreement and produced our SOAT from Colombia. They argued it didn’t work for Peru. Eventually after 30 or 40 minutes of arguing back and forth, I believe we started cutting into the profits and they finally let us go, no charge.

We were again stopped at the edge of Puno, and they wanted the same thing, SOAT. I got off the bike, told him I didn’t speak Spanish, but “here we go again, with the SOAT.” He said something that I vaguely understood as “you have already been stopped?” and I said “si!” He just shook his head and waved us on.

Again, finding the hotel was a problem. It wasn’t where it said on Google or Mapsource. So we ended up stopping at another hotel we passed. It was a very nice hotel, it even had hot water. Not all do you know. But the WiFi left much to be desired.

Internet service in South America runs generally on Copper. You can see it strung everywhere. I imagine even some of the backbone is copper. Therefore, even if you have a strong wireless signal, everything gets bottlenecked into the main trunk. I have things to say about global competition and things that countries in South America that we have visited so far will need to change in order to be competitive. The internet backbone is one of them.

Everything is good.
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
La Paz

After leaving Puno it wasn’t a long ride to Bolivia. Crossing the border wasn’t difficult either. We crossed at the major crossing at Desaguadero. We stood in line for ten minutes to have passports processed then crossed the street to get Aduno for the bikes. Again, after presenting the paperwork we actually had this time, it was a very quick stamp and we were out of there. Chuck paid some guy who had official looking slip of paper for what amounted to about 5 bucks for each of us. I think it was a scam, but the guy raised the gate and let us through. It might have been worth it just not to have to wait for the official raise the gate.

P1020670.jpg

Looking back into Peru from the Bolivia side.

It has been amazing that highways in the countries we have been through are more like streets. Streets full of vendors, cabs, buses, trucks and pedestrians. And streets here through the neighborhood are in much better condition. Imagine exiting I-45 to go east on Bay Area. Then throw in vendors on both sides of the exit, like a street festival, with pedestrians walking back and forth, taxi cabs stopping to drop off or pick up, buses who always think they have the right of way and trucks.

P1020677.jpg

Major Through Street in La Paz

La Paz was no different. The major artery into La Paz from the south was about 15 miles of these kinds of highways. We did finally get to a toll road. It is nice here because most of the toll roads are free for motos. Once on the toll road traffic pretty much died. It was nice to have about 15 or 20 miles of little traffic on what was mostly an interstate type freeway.

Regula, one of our roommates in the Santa Marta hostel, had told us about Hotel Rosario, “the best hotel in La Paz!” For the first time the hotel we were looking for was right where the map said it was. Only one problem, they were full. I asked for a recommendation and she pointed out Hotel Sajama a half block away. We negotiated a price around $30 / night and the room was very nice. The next day, based on conversations we had, had before we decided to get two single rooms.

We went back to Hotel Rosario that evening for dinner. I had a great meal of Llama steak. It was of game texture but no game taste. A bottle of wine, with coffee and dessert. The total was about $90 with tip. We stayed in La Paz for three nights and had dinner at Hotel Rosario twice.

P1020673.jpg

Llama steak with all the trimmings ... llyummmy

On the last day in La Paz we rode the bikes without the cases up to the start of the “death road” with the intention of riding the death road. However, when we got there a very thick fog had set in. It didn’t seem like a good idea to take off through a fog we couldn’t see much more than 15 or 20 feet on a road with two way traffic that was only wide enough for one vehicle.

While in La Paz, we had not had a chance to fill up with gas and we were on reserve. There aren’t a lot of operating filling stations in Bolivia. Many have shut down due to lack of gas. The next morning we stopped at a station as we left La Paz. The translation was a bit unclear but it became apparent in Bolivia there was subsidized gas for Nationals and a different price 3 to 5 times as much for Tourist.

What was worse was that there was a paperwork process that involved hand completion and the choice by the operator to even sell to non-Nationals. After stopping and being refused at the first, then the second station, we began to think that we might be spending the night on the side of the road. At the third station we got in line and when we got to the pump, the operator refused us service.

I was determined and just sat there. The security guy came up and really started to push the operator to give us gas. Finally, after realizing I wasn’t moving and the line getting longer, and with the help of the security guy, he finally filled us up. It’s a lesson we are learning. No doesn’t always mean no. It’s a hard lesson for us American’s to understand, even when the vendor or the official says no, stand your ground. Eventually they will give in.
 
Last edited:

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Uyuni

The road from La Paz to Potosi is paved, and not completely filled with Trucks and Buses, so we made pretty good time. The scenary was spectacular, there were places that made me feel I was looking at that the Grand Canyon in the states.

P1020709.jpg

Canyons on the way to Potosi

And we actually found gas along the way. I marked out a hostel and it took a little time to find it. When we did, they had an excellent place to park and a room for about $30. We went and had dinner, and settled in for the night. Potosi is somewhat a tourist destination, so there was a little walking mall, movie theaters and generally felt very safe. We had breakfast early and left. We left town, again without filling up because we could not find a gas station.

We paid a toll for a brand new road from Potosi to Uyuni. It had only been open a month, very little traffic, smooth and about of 120 miles of nothing but twisty road…. It was a blast. But at about 80 miles the reserve light came on and there were NO stations, nothing, nada. Chuck actually had about 46 miles on his reserve when we finally pulled into Uyuni.

We ran into some Germans just outside Uyuni and asked if they could follow us to make sure we made it. They had some extra gas, in water bottles held on back with bungees. Saftey third!

P1020733.jpg

New friends from Germany

Uyuni
The line of cars at the station in Uyuni was at least a half mile long. But, we have found out that usually in Bolivia there is a “moto” only line. I kinda snuck around until one of the attendents finally motioned me in. And we were now traveling with the five Germans on BMWs, so there were seven of us in total.

I sometimes wonder why others don’t get pissed off because of our cutting in line. I have never had an issue, if fact many of those in line will get out of their cars to come ask us about our bikes. This time seven bikes filled up but there were no complaints. The gas truck just arrived to fill up the tanks in the station and I heard later that some in that line had been waiting since the day before. We followed the Germans to the hostel they were looking for. Talking a few weeks later with others who were there, we were told that the gas truck had been days in arriving and they had to find gasoline on the black market from people with drums. (see later note about Ollangue)

After getting a room at the hostel, we removed our luggage, left it in the room and decided to ride out to Luna Salada (the Salt Hotel). We had tried to get a reservation but they had indicated that they were fully booked. But we decided to go anyway, see the hotel and have a beer. When we got there, they said there had a problem with one of the tours and they had some open rooms. We went ahead and took a room; how many times do you get to stay in a hotel made of salt.

P1020755.jpg

Hotel Luna Salada (Salt Hotel)

The road to the hotel was brutal though, entirely wash boarded, some sand but totally beating up the bikes. It had taken over an hour to travel about 20 miles. We decided to not go back that night, and just rough it without our luggage. However, someone was coming out to work and agreed to stop and pick up our luggage. They cut off the lock on the Hostel room, got our luggage, paid our Hostel bill, bought a new lock and brought our luggage for their cost only. Nice!

We stayed at the Luna Salada for three days. The second day we traveled onto the salt, which is the largest lake deposited salt in the world. NASA usebs the surface of the Salar de Uyuni to calibrate their satellite instruments, as it is much more accurate than the surface of the ocean. The elevation on our GPS (approximately 12,050 feet) did not vary over ten feet during the entire crossing of about 40 miles.

P1020760.jpg

The Salt as far as you could see

The outside edge of the salt is actually wet. It rains on the land surrounding the salt then drains into the salt. You must be careful not to drive into the wet salt and become stuck.

We had lunch at the isle de Incahuas. Pretty much a tourist destination, but still worthwhile. Chuck had a young admirer, the daughter of one of the workers in the kitchen. She has apparently never seen a giant with a gray beard.

P1020782.jpg

Chuck's Admirer

P1020784.jpg

She was not camera shy

On the way back, due to the vibration on the salt, the gas can bracket had cracked and broken. The tanks were lying flat on my side cases. We pulled it up and held it in place with a bungy. At the hotel we asked about a welder in town, who could reweld the bracket. Turns out the hotel had someone employed, who welded. He came out in front of the hotel, ran a couple wires to the electrical outlet and welded up a fix.

P1020802.jpg

Welding the gas holder back together

He welded a brace on Chucks as well. But he ran out of welding rod before he could add a brace to my second side. He asked for nothing but we gave him what amounted to about $20 each. I must say, as he started to weld he did not have welding goggles on, and we told him we would not let him weld on our bikes without goggles, so he went and put on his safety gear.

On the second day they moved us to a suite, because the tour that missed the previous day, was now expected. The suite was huge, a large living room and two bedrooms, one with two doubles and the other with a king size bed. Unfortunately, we would have gladly traded the upgrade for a few steps closer to the front door and the bikes. As it was, the suite was literally the furthest room away at 300 steps (Chuck counted). Carrying our luggage out was a workout at over 12,000 feet elevation.

P1020743.jpg

That's loose salt on the floor

P1020739.jpg

Grotto's outside the rooms along the main hall

As we left the hotel on the final day, we asked about the roads on the opposite side of the salt. We were told that it was a pretty good road. Here is some advice, never trust free advice. J

P1020772.jpg

Here's the map, simple right?

Chuck had programmed an intercept from the previous days track. So as we got close he took the lead. I became concerned when we crossed our track but kept going. We were getting closer and closer to the edge and the wet salt. What was worse was that Chuck had taken an angle away from the direction we needed to go. As he stopped to look at his GPS, I caught up and convinced him we needed to back track. He said he would follow me. I turned but as we headed back I crossed tracks from vehicles coming from shore. I stopped to make Chuck aware of the bumps and my bike sank into the salt, getting stuck. I waved Chuck across the tracks to the other side and he came back and helped me get my bike unstuck.

P1020805.jpg

Stuck in the salt. It looks like Snow.

We made it to the dirt road on the other side of the salt. It was about 30 miles to San Juan, but the road was brutal. Sand, rocks, dust and again, the worst wash boards. Along with all the questions about which way to go, it took us at least three hours to get to San Juan.
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
San Juan / Ollangue

We stopped at this small town called San Juan. Initially, we were thinking a coke and some cookies, but as we talked to the store owner, we found out they actually had a hotel/hostel. We were pretty beat up by the road, it was probably 2:00p or 2:30p and we decided to see if there was a room at the inn.

P1020809.jpg

The Hostel at San Juan

The hotel was very clean and a lot larger than we expected in this tiny little town. There were absolutely no guests, so we were surprised when the woman said she had only one single room with double beds. We weren’t equipped to argue with her, so we took it. It also was fairly expensive at around $60 US. But we found out later this included dinner and breakfast. Eventually a whole group of German tourist arrived to take all the rest of the rooms and we found out they had actually given us the room they had reserved for the four tour drivers. We very much enjoyed our stay at the hostel in San Juan.

The next day we asked the proprietor about directions to Ollanguy (O’ ya wee) the town on the Chilean border. He said the roads were good and all we had to do was to stay to the right and we would be ok. These directions lacked clarity and in some cases they were just absolutely wrong. And the road was a mess. Lots of rocks, pot holes, sand, salt and again the thing I was learning to love the most, wash boards. Never, never trust free advice.

P1020831.jpg

My front tire caught the loose sand and spun up into the berm

The distance to Ollangue was probably 40 or 50 miles. But given the misdirection and the quality of the roads, we didn’t arrive at the border until the afternoon. This included a ride off I had where I had avoided a rock on a very sandy track and then followed the sand up the side where the bike stayed until Chuck arrived to help me pull it out. The sand had also pulled of one of my saddlebags that needed a little “adjustment” to make it fit right again. This route also included a railway crossing but not like most. The road just led up to the rails and we had to cross the rails without the benefit of any lead up, just bare rails. This is the MAIN road from Bolivia to Chile????

Ollangue
Directions at most border crossings are unclear. This border was no different. We looked for the passport processing office (usually the Police office) but could see nothing. We saw the Aduna for processing vehicles, we drove the a small pedestrian opening and went in. He asked for our paperwork and was very efficient in processing our vehicles out of Bolivia. When we asked about processing our passport, he just shook his head and pointed in the direction of the Chile office.

So the Chilean imagracion is about 3 or 4 miles across the border. We were thinking he meant the Bolivian passport office was there. We rode across the divide and of course found no Bolivian office, so we rode back. This time there was another person in the Aduna office who pointed to a small Bolivian flag, across the tracks sticking up from behind a train. There we found the police officer who processed our passports. Nothing is ever easy!

P1020832.jpg

Aduna at the Bolivia side of the border

P1020835.jpg

Policia on the other side of the tracks

Chile was very much more efficient. After going in the wrong door, I met a receiving agent. She asked for all our information and processed our passports and motorcycles. Afterwards we noticed that she had put down Honda’s instead of KTM’s for our motorcycles. I guess it’s because we bought our bikes at Wild West Honda … hmmm.

We did not have enough gas to make it to the next major town Calama, but we had been told that Ollangue had a gas station. So we went into town looking for gas. It turns out the station had closed a long time before, but we were told that a Hostel in town sold gasoline out of the back. When we found the hostel we were told they would have gas in a hour to come back after lunch. When we returned we decided to stay for the night.

P1020840.jpg

Gasoline from a barrel
Here we met Pedro. Pedro was from Santiago and owns a trucking company specializing in the transport of copper ore from Bolivia to Chile to be processed. One of the nicest guys, one could ever hope to meet. He let us tie into his cell phone wireless to use the internet and then spent an enormous amount of time giving us advice, directions and descriptions of different places to visit in Chile. We had dinner and breakfast with Pedro and his crew.

P1020843.jpg

Pedro

We also met a group of five bikers traveling from Brazil. They were riding BMW’s and an Africa Twin. It looked like a couple of them had had a get off or two as the bikes were scraped up and pieces missing. They had ridden from Uyuni to Ollyangue in one day, what had taken us two. We didn’t speak the same language but we did speak motorcycle! We took pictures before we left the next morning.

P1020846.jpg

Leoes o' oeste (Lions of the West) with Pedro and us.

On to Calama.
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Calama

We had asked Pedro before we left how good the roads were from Ollyangue to Calama. His answer is one we now get as a pat answer for any road in South America, “the road is good!” Actually, the road was awful, again miles and miles of wash boards and dust. We also ran into our familiar friend, the perfunctory stop for road construction.

P1020851.jpg

Road Construction Stop

P1020852.jpg

Waiting for the blasting to end.

Finally we reached pavement and the jarring stopped about 30 miles outside Calama. I made the comment as we rode into Calama, that it could be any town in west Texas. Windy, dusty but good gas stations, a mall, numerous stores and all the roads were paved. There were lots of nice hotels as well.

But we were in for a shock, unlike many west Texas towns, Calama is EXPENSIVE! The first hotel we stopped at wanted $220 US a night for a room with two beds. After searching for 2 plus hours we eventually settled on a Hostel (which was more like a hotel) for $187 US, ouch!

During the ride to Calama, my speedometer went out, which is not too bad. But also so did my cruise. We were getting ready to do a long stretch of highway, so I ended up tearing out my electrical for the cruise/speedometer to find that a wire had vibrated to the point of breaking. After a quick strip and fix, it was working again.

That night Chuck and I walked the streets of Calama and found another marching band playing for a dance troop that seemed to be dancing as a benefit, although we could not figure out what for. It was colorful and I found myself tapping my toe and smiling while the young, middle age and old men and women danced in the plaza.

Dinner was pretty basic although Chuck did seem to have a problem with his order of papa fritas (French fries). It took almost a full hour to get them, even though he asked about their status several times. Some fairly gruff looking biker types came in and because they ordered papa fritas; as well, he eventually got his fries.

La Serena
The next day, we were up early and rode through the Atacama desert. It was about 500 miles, and was I glad to have my cruise control working. There was nothing but rocks, road, sand and wind. Not even a lot of traffic. We eventually made La Serena and again this turned out to be very nice, mostly touristy. The hostel that Chuck found was very nice and if we weren’t in such a hurry to get to Santiago to get the bikes serviced, it may have been a great place to spend a little time.

We asked for a recommendation for dinner and the proprietor in broken English said three blocks up and to the left, I forget the name. We followed directions and … nothing! So I asked. The soldier in Spanish sorta indicated we had missed it back a block, so we went back, not just one but two. Then I asked a guy with a guitar who looked like he just got through playing somewhere. He said, in broken English, oh, you missed it, go back a block. So we did ... again … nothing, nada, zip!

Eventually we found a café on the side of the road, had dinner and a beer; while watching everyone leave the walking mall.

We were up early again the next morning and off to Santiago.
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Santiago

I had picked out the D&R hostel in Santiago not really knowing where the right place in the town to stay. But I had located the KTM dealer and figured anything close would be good. On the road to Santiago we ran into a KTM rider and his wife from Santiago. He was very familiar with the KTM dealer and said that they were no longer located there and had moved to another area of town. That was not on their web site!

This is another thing we seem to run into all the time. Web information, e-mail, contact numbers, addresses; nothing seems to be right. It’s almost like most businesses just say, if you don’t know how to get in touch with us then we don’t need your business. But sometimes it can be downright frustrating trying to find something. The KTM dealer had moved but did not update their information.

Anyway, the Hostel was right where it said it was, although not well marked and locked up. So we weren’t sure we were at the right place, but in order to get someone’s attention we had to ring the bell and then deal with the language barrier if we were wrong … but we weren’t.

P1020964.jpg

Alfredo, one of the owners, at D&R Hostel (I am coming to Texas!)

Alfredo and Francisco are the proprietors/owners but don’t speak much English. When we asked if they had any open rooms, they said no! But then they had Makarana (yes, like the song) come down. She spoke English pretty well and after a lot of back and forth between them, they decided if we would take a room they had not yet finished (like still under construction) that they would give us a break. We looked at it, it was fine, no curtains, no beds, and a lot of clutter but who cares.

We developed quite a friendship with these guys. They are young but are trying very hard to make a business out of their hostel. The service was good, the building and room were adequate, but the friendship, assistance and sense of belonging was GREAT. I recommend this place to anyone. Don’t expect a Hilton or a Marriott but do expect to get treated right.

They agreed to add a couple beds and we went to find the KTM dealer. I had left the key on while we were inside, so when I returned my bike would not start. We jumped it with Chucks bike and it started fine and ran fine, so off we went. But about 2 miles latter my bike started acting up. Bogging down, not running, dying. We tried to get on the highway but it would just die. I didn’t like not having a shoulder on the highway so I found the first exit.

P1020946.jpg

Dead on the side of the road.

I stayed there on the sidewalk while Chuck went on the to KTM dealer. It was about 5pm but Chuck did not return until about 7p. No one could come and there wasn’t a tow truck anywhere. The freeway had slowed from rush hour, so we decided to limp to the dealer. I found if I turned the key off for a second or two, the bike would start running right again for a little bit. But, when I started it after a two hour rest, it ran fine, to the dealer, back from the dealer to the Hostel for the night and then again back to the dealer the next day. I have written this up in detail because this problem is still vexing me today as we rode from Esquel, Argentina to a small town called Rio Mayo (rio mah’ sho).

Anyway, we got the bike to the dealer, met Josephina who is about the only one there that speaks English and got the bikes in for service and I was thinking a look at the problem.

I had decided since Chucks wife was coming to Santiago and I was going to be on my own for a while that I could almost economically justify buying a plane ticket and coming home for Thanksgiving. So that is what I did.

I left my stuff at D&R, the bike at the dealer and came home.

Back Again …

I showed up to a home coming at the D&R, with Alfredo greeting me like a long lost brother (or may be father). I got settled, reclaimed my luggage and set off for the dealer the next morning. The only thing they had done was to change the oil. How disappointing. I asked them to change a tire I had brought back with me and I was very fortunate that they even did that. I was not very happy, mostly because I still didn’t know what the bike had done previously and they didn’t do anything to fix it.

I met Chuck later that day at the hostel and the next day we were packed, safety isn't as big of a deal in South America as it is in the US. I took this of one of hostels neighbors cleaning his windows.

P1020949.jpg

Safety third - 30 foot drop to the parking lot below

We bid Alfredo and Francisco caio and we left for Temuco. Again, thank god for cruise control. Lots of highway miles and nothing interesting to see. We were stopped by the police at a regular policia stopping. We thought we were going to have to go through the old "show us your insurance card" routine again. But, the first officer asked Chuck for his motorcycle documents, and Chuck immediately produced his Aduna registration, I started to get mine, but before I could the second officer just waived me off, and said go ahead. Then we started joking around and eventually it was just a fun time. Here is Chuck surrounded by the two police officers. I could not persuade them to pull their guns! :-)

P1020965.jpg

Obviously guilty!

Temuco
Francisco had told us about Temuco, it was nice and safe. It may be, but we sure didn’t feel safe and the area was anything but nice. We met Alonso at his hostel Mackay. Again, no sign, we just had to guess. He eventually came out and flagged us down. Nice guy, we asked about dinner and he just shrugged and said, “Sunday, the only thing open is McDonalds.” Ok, McDonalds it was.

Our original plan was to continue south to Puerto Montt, grab a ferry and ride the Caraterra Astral. But, after looking at some of the problems with the ferry schedule and with the road after the ferry (there is several miles of “bough” you had to travel through) we decided on another route up through Argentina and ruta 40. We stayed only that night and we were up early the next day and gone.
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
San Martin de Los Andes

We decided to ride a back road through the Andes into Argentina. It meant 30 or so miles of gravel and dirt but it beat the alternative of the ferry and the Caraterra Astral. It began raining as we got closer to the border and the dirt. Enough so that when we got to the dirt it was well packed and in my opinion relatively fast, except for the pot holes. Chuck struggled a little with the looseness and probably remembering the difficulty we had in Ecuador / Peru and I struggled again with some of the bone jarring the road induced in the bike.

P1020967.jpg

Argentina Border Crossing Control Building

But the crossing went well no issues, very quick and we were in San Martin de Los Andes without much issue. San Martin de Los Andes is a lot like Colorado ski resort town. We rented a condo, with three floors and two bedrooms. It was nice. We stayed a couple nights as Chuck was also trying to get over a cold and I needed to work on my CB, the trigger button had broken.

We eventually found another switch in town and JB welded it into the CB. The trigger works now, but for some reason we have now lost all range with the CB. Chuck will just not get the blessing of hearing my hacking voice as we ride, due to my cold which seems to make me cough continually while riding.

Eventually we got packed and moving the second day, but only had to travel to Bariloche about 100 miles, but about 30 on dirt. We were eager to get to Bariloche because we heard we could finally get some good Argentinean beef. What we have had so far, has been nothing to write home about.

Bariloche (Bear’ a low che)
Again, with the rain, the dirt on the road to Bariloche was full of pot holes filled with water and there was a lot more traffic than most of the dirt roads we have traveled. I found that about 45 mph was the right speed to reduce the vibrations and keep the bike moving in the right line. It took us some time but we made it through the dirt and finally arrived in Bariloche. I had scoped out a hotel that seemed to be ok, so that’s where we stayed for the evening. We consulted the desk clerk about a buen carne a rez. His recommendations were de Belochi de Alfredo and de Parilla la Tony. Because the ‘Alfredo’ was closer that’s where we went.

WOW! What a steak, it was great. We had family style mashed potatoes and salad, as well. The steak you could cut with a fork and melted in your mouth. One of the best steaks I have had in a very long time and I like me some steak. If you make sure you get a good steak house, the Argentinean beef is excellent, but you can also get yourself some very tough stuff in the less catered too establishments.

That was the highlight in Bariloche, the next day we were off to Rio Mayo.
 

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
The Accident (Not Rio Mayo)

First let me apologize for not having any photos. In retrospect I should have been more diligent in my picture taking, but hopefully you will understand why maybe my priorities changed.

Well, we didn’t exactly make it to Rio Mayo, Argentina. On the way, I had decided to stop and take a couple pictures of the very scenic area we were riding through. In order to do this I have to remove my rain gear. When I stopped, Chuck went on and I was going to catch up with him after I took my pictures.

The city El Bolson was about 6 miles ahead. We were planning on getting gas there. I was looking at my speedometer at MPH and gas usage odometer, also trying to gauge with my GPS how far it was and the speed in KPH to El Bolson, the time and when I looked up I had wandered into the center of the lane, which was also occupied by … a tour bus. I was traveling at least at 70 mph south bound and knowing these buses he was probably doing about the same north bound. So our combined speed was somewhere around 140mph.

I glanced off the side of the bus with a loud whooomp sound. The back of bike came around to my right and just flung me off. I hit the road looking at my bike leaving me on the left side and all my stuff from my left side case being flung everywhere. As I came to a stop I watched the bike enter the left shoulder in a cloud of dust and flinging rocks. I stood up, not exactly knowing what to expect in terms of pain.

But I felt nothing, no pain, it was almost like I had ended up just standing in the road watching all this happen. But I looked down at my rain gear and it was shredded. The bus had stopped and slowly the drivers emerged, one at a time. I looked at the road and saw all my stuff behind me. So I started walking back towards the bus, flinging everything in the road to the shoulder. Eventually I walked all the way to the bus.

Still no pain, but now I could tell much of my protective gear had done what it should have. My pants knees had holes, the elbow of my jacket had a big hole, my glove had one of the protective pads pulled out, almost everything I was wearing had something damaged, and my rain suit was damaged beyond repair. Because it was shredded, I looked like a scarecrow, with all the pieces flapping.

As I greeted the bus drivers all they could say ask was “estas bien???” Are you ok? I think maybe they were more shocked then I was, that I was actually standing and walking around and not laying on the roadway. I told them I had to go check “mi moto”. They followed as I picked up my stuff from the shoulder on my way back to the bike, probably 150 yards down the road.

When I got to the bike, it was laying on its left side on the gravel shoulder. I started to pick it up, but it was too much and someone from a vehicle that had stopped came over and helped. We got it stood up and I was surprised at how little damage there was. Sure, the crash bar on the left side was broke, there were some cosmetic blemishes, but the bike looked very rideable.

So I tried to crank it, and it didn’t do anything. Chuck reminded me later that I probably had the kickstand down with it in gear and it won’t start like that. Eventually I kicked it down to neutral and it started right up. More people stopped and asked “estas bien?” “Si, si … bien!”

The bus drivers turned the bus around and came back to where I was. I also noticed at this time that not only had my left case come off and was mutilated but my right case was nowhere to be seen. About then another driver came from be the bus carrying the other case that had apparently ended up on the right side of the road.

At first I thought the bus drivers were just going to say, ciao and go about their business, but eventually they said “policia!” in El Bolson. I said si, no problema. I managed to fix the right case back onto the bike, but the left case was missing all the latches that held it on and held it closed. The bus drivers offered to carry it for me in the bus. I agreed to follow them. I got on the bike and just like the bus was gone.

I finished putting on my gloves as fast as I could and I was off. About this time, Chuck came from the other direction. I just waved him back to El Bolson. We followed the bus into El Bolson, where he stopped at a policia guard house on the side of the road. Fortunately the police officer there spoke some English.

The bus drivers had already gotten off the bus and to the police officer when I arrived. There was a lot of discussion before and what seemed like an indication that we would need to go somewhere else to file a report or something. Then the officer turned to me and asked me if I was ok. I said, yes, I was ok. He asked me for my documentation; passport and motorcycle title, for their report? He asked me what I happened and I told him.

At no time was there any finger pointing, yelling or accusatory behavior on the part of the police man or the bus drivers. After all you hear about how the gringo is always at fault, I was very surprised. Everyone seemed mostly to be earnestly concerned with my health. Eventually, after all the information was written down, the policeman turned to me and said “what do you want to do?” I was shocked, what do I want to do, “nothing!” and that is the way we left it.

The bus drivers had left me my broken case, got back on the bus and left. Chuck had waited at the bikes to keep an eye out and he did not want to induce a request for ‘suguros’; insurance, which we didn’t have. I went back to the bikes and we started figuring out how to re-attached the broken case with cords and straps.

The police officer came back and we asked about a welder for the crash bar. He said he knew one but could not tell us how to get there. Then he stopped a passing police truck and asked them to guides us. They took us to Marcus and Juan who, looked at the bike, then Marcus had us follow him to his shop. On the way he stopped for some necessary bolts for reassembly.

Marcus worked on the bike for probably two hours, getting the welds just right, figuring out the bolts needed and eventually getting it back to functional condition. In the meantime, I adjusted the chain tension and found a small drain screw in the radiator that had loosened and was leaking.

After all this, I asked Marcus how much and he said “nada!” I said, no I would not and left him something for his time and effort. By now it was proabably 3:30p and we needed to be on the road again, this time only to Esquel, about another 80 miles, to find a place to stay.

Esquel (Es quell)
As we went to Esquel, I was reminded just how bad this could have been. While we were El Bolson finding Marcus, we were passed by three touring bikes, I believe they are something like Vasqerous or such. They beeped and waved. As we drove to Esquel, we passed one of these bikes that had obviously hit something very hard. The front end and wheel were completely collapsed, there was a helmet on the road, but rider of the bike and the other two riders were nowhere in sight. That outcome had to be much worse than mine.

Here are a couple pictures I have taken after the fact of the damage and repair work done on the bike.

P1020977.jpg

Crash bar welded below the bag by Marcus.

P1020978.jpg

Strapped on Luggage bag that will do until I get a new one.

Fortunately my stupidity is all something that can be taken care off by that little green thing under the gas tanks in the second picture ... my wallet.
 
Last edited:

jfink

Forum Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2007
Messages
3,105
Location
Conroe, Tx
Rio Mayo

After staying an extra day and getting a few things settled in Esquel, we headed to Rio Mayo, and what was supposed to be the beginning of 300 miles of gravel and dirt (ripio). It was cool and windy as we left Esquel but we were used to this. (sorry no pictures again, I will do better)

This is about where the wind starts howling constantly. It blows from mid-morning until late at night. The nights are getting exceptionally long now too. It is 11:00 or later before the sun sets. It is 9:00p as I write this and it is like it is 5:00pm.

Within the last 30 miles or so before we got to Rio Mayo, my bike started acting up again, just like it had when I was in Santiago. Bogging down, slowing to 50 mph, then 30, then 25. I would shut off the key and it would run fine again for another 2 or 3 minutes. Then it would repeat all the way into Rio Mayo.

Rio Mayo was pretty much a one horse town. We found the only Hostel and booked a room. Chuck and I both came to the conclusion that the problem was the fuel filter. To get to the fuel filter you have to remove the top glove boxes, the crash guard (the one that had been welded and probably didn’t fit right), then the gas tank. Then you had to remove the fuel pump from the gas tank, take the fuel pump apart to get to the filter. Chuck in the mean time had gone inside to use some JB weld on a plastic part of my glove box case, hopefully making it waterproof again.

All this work was done on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant / hostel, with the wind howling at more than 50 mph. The wind actually blew the tools off of my KTM tool case which blew down the block. We fortunately found it later a half block away.

I had bought some acetone in Esquel to clean my hands after using some glue on my CB. When we finally got the to the filter, I used the acetone to backwash both the filter and the pre-filter. Re-assembled and hoped for the best. All this took a couple hours.

We ate dinner, and retired to our overheated ‘habitacion’. Heat seems to be persistent, everything seems to be overheated. The hotel rooms, the restaurants, the buildings; it is almost like since it is cold outside they overcompensate inside. We have asked many times for the heat to be turned down, but there is seldom any control in the room nor any ability for anyone to turn it down. We generally sleep with the window open, if we have one. In this case, no window, no vent, no control, so we slept in a hot room.

The next morning we were up and left after 10:00a. Our destination was Baja Caracoles, another one horse town. The bike has run fine ever since we got it back together. I will have them change the filter if I can find someone in Buenos Aires to do some maintenance.
 
Top