Day 184 – Copacabana, BO to La Paz, BO

Day 184 – Copacabana, BO to La Paz, BO 02/21/11 Mileage: 102

After tracking down some breakfast, I packed the bike and split for La Paz.

One last look around town on the way to breakfast…

Low on fuel, my first stop was at a gas station in Copacabana…but it was closed…and so was the other one. It was around 10am, so it’s not like it was too early…hmmm.

A view of Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca…

I pressed on towards the ferry at San Pedro de Tiquina hoping to find gas there…but no luck.

Coming into San Pedro de Tiquina to catch the ferry…

On the ferry I met a Swiss couple, Ornella and Fabian, who have been traveling around the America’s in their 4×4 VW camper….cool!

Off the ferry I again was on the hunt for gas, but like the previous gas stations, the next 4 were either out of gas or closed completely. I had no choice but to press on towards La Paz…now running on vapor.

Sure enough in a few miles the bike started to sputter and I had to switch to the reserve. The countdown was on, I had around 40 miles of gas in the reserve tank and 1 liter in my stove bottle…which would get me another 10-15 miles. I had already dropped my pace a while back to save fuel, and now I tucked in behind a slow moving mini-bus to block the wind and hopefully stretch what gas I had left. Mercifully though, around 30 miles later there was a gas station that was open and had gas…which was in the process of being delivered by a tanker! The smell of fresh, wholesome gas pouring into my tank never smelt so good! Now with a full belly of fuel I was free to make the run to La Paz, so I cracked the throttle on the KLR and whipped up the pace. Soon I was flying by minibuses and trucks like they were in a parking lot and it felt good to be able fly again. I reached the outskirts of La Paz and El Alto and my high speed flight was over…now I was in a traffic dogfight.

The view of La Paz coming down from El Alto…

Riding in cities where there are few traffic laws and even fewer adhered to, the only way to get anywhere is to ride aggressive and use the bikes acceleration and maneuverability to your advantage.

I sliced and diced my way into the heart of La Paz and made my way to the Adventure Brew Hostal. Yep, a hostal that has it’s own brewery, secure parking for the KLR and books mountain bike trips to the famous Death Road in the mountains above La Paz…sounds like a place purpose built for me! Oh, a beer and breakfast is included with your stay too…nice.

After settling in I went out in search of some spare gas cans to strap to the bike, which I planned on purchasing here anyway despite this mornings gas shortage.

Searching for spare fuel cans in the bustling LA Paz markets…

My planned route in southern Bolivia across the Atacama Desert will exceed the range of the KLR, so I’ll need to carry extra fuel. I was also told of fuel shortages in parts of Argentina, so the extra fuel will provide a safety net there as well. Of course, finding gas cans, even in a city this large has proved difficult. The closest I came was a little old lady selling used plastic containers from a street stand. Amongst the used cooking oil jugs and gallon shampoo containers were 2 gallon size 40W oil containers. Seeing as the KLR has an appetite for 40W oil anyway, I figured any residue in there wouldn’t be a problem. So, I purchased the 2 containers for 6 Bolivianos (85 cents) and a picture with her.

Back at the hostal I collected my free beer and got it on a poker game…and promptly lost my ass. Luckily for me, there was no money involved and the first man out, which was me, got a shot as a consolation prize. After some wifi and a few more beers, I stumbled down to my room, 1 floor down…convenient!

The 4th floor pub at the Adventure Brew Hostal….complete with a great view of downtown La Paz…

Tomorrow it’s off to ride the famous Death Road, not with the KLR, but with a mountain bike!

Day 183 – Puno, PE to Copacabana, BO

Day 183 – Puno, PE to Copacabana, BO 02/20/11 Mileage: 90

The rain was coming down in buckets when I woke up so I lingered in my room and watched some CNN…in english…a rare treat of sorts. The rain let up around 11 so I packed the bike and set out for the Bolivian border. I took the road that followed the west shore of Lake Titicaca which was scenic and a nice ride.

They say it is the highest navigable lake in the world…whatever that means…but I can say that it is for sure BIG and also high at 12,500 feet above sea level. I was started to run low on fuel and I only had 16 soles left…enough for just over gallon of gogo juice. The gas station I found would not take US dollars, so I got my 16 soles worth and continued towards Bolivia. I calculated that I had just enough fuel to get to Copacabana just beyond the Bolivian border….so I pressed on.

Passing through Yunguyo, PE

I arrived at the Peruvian side of the border and it was the usual song and dance. I was told to first go to the National Police office, but they told me to go to the aduana (customs) office first, where I was told to go to immigration first, where I was told I had to go to a different National Police office first! WTF…is this their first time doing this…don’t they do this sh*t every day for a living?! So off to National Police office #2 where the officer applied a stamp to my tourist card, then back to immigration where the official applied his stamp. Now it was back to customs to cancel the bike import permit, which he did with his stamp. I asked if I could keep a copy, but he said no and angrily rattled of some spanish I didn’t understand. Okeee, now it was back to National Police office #1 where they in fact asked for a copy of my canceled bike permit…the one the customs official wouldn’t give me. I went back to the customs office and explained that the National Police needed a copy of the canceled permit, but he insisted they did not. Alrighty…back to the National Police where I explained as best I could that customs has my canceled permit and he says the you the police don’t need it. Well, they insisted they did need it, so it was time to do what I always did in my professional life whenever people started playing the finger pointing game…call a conference. I went back and asked the customs official to accompany me to the National Police office to settle the disagreement. So after a few minutes of official cock fighting, the police got the canceled permit…after all, they do have the guns! That completed, the police let me pass (but not before asking for a tip, which they did not get) and I was on to the Bolivian border post where, I have to essentially do the whole process in reverse. Ahhh, the joy of border crossings. The process in Bolivia was mercifully straight forward…immigration, customs, national police…not too bad. The only bummer is that U.S. citizens are charged $135 for a visa to enter, making this the most expensive country to enter yet. The fee however is in reciprocity for the fee the U.S. started charging Bolivian citizens to enter the U. S…so you can’t blame them. So, with all the border formalities complete, I was set loose in Bolivia…country number 14! I decided to hold up in Copacabana just beyond the border as I liked the vibe and the town is situated in a nice setting right on the shores of Lake Titicaca. I found a room at the Hotel Ambassador where there were many stickers on the front door from other overland travelers.

The Hotel Ambassador

My room at the Ambassador…not to bad…

Copacabana, Bolivia on the shores of Lake Titicaca…

I found dinner at a cool little joint called Nimbo which has unique decor and nice pooch guarding the entrance.

Tomorrow it’s off to La Paz….

Day 182 – Cusco, PE to Puno, PE

Day 182 – Cusco, PE to Puno, PE      02/19/11      Mileage: 244

After running some last minute errands, I gassed up the KLR and headed south for Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca. With my late start I was more than likely going to be riding the last stretch in the dark, but the road was paved the entire way and hopefully I could make up some time. Well, you know that wasn’t going to happen and in the back of my mind I knew it too. It’s just impossible to go any kind of distance down here compared to what is possible in the US in a day…where 500+ miles, even on a KLR, is easy to do. There were some stretches of high plains where the road was arrow straight and I could open it up. But soon, the ever present rain started and I had to back off the pace a bit. With the cold and rain, I just wasn’t compelled to take many pictures, in fact I didn’t take any. All told I had to roll the last 2 hours in the dark and rain…a calculated risk for sure. After a few attempts, I finally found a room with secure parking at the Hotel Arequipa. Tomorrow, it’s on to Bolivia, country number 14…

Token picture: I warm little pizza joint with an authentic brick oven….nothing washes away 240 cold, wet miles like hot pizza and cold beer…   😉

Day 179 – 181 – Cusco, PE

Day 179 – 181 – Cusco, PE      02/16-18/11      Mileage: Local miles

The last three days were workdays of sorts as I had a laundry list of things to do…including actual laundry which I dropped off first thing. I pulled the liner out of my helmet and washed it too as I couldn’t bear to put it on again….it was like putting your head in a sweatsock after a football game.

Bit of a demonstration going on in front of the Cusco municipal building.

The bike getting a much needed bath….

The bike needed some routine maintenance so I did that in between rain showers. I also spent several hours updating the blog and returning email after a few days off the grid in Machu Picchu. Since I’m sending some souvenirs home, it was also a good time to sort through my gear and send home things that I no longer need. Thursday night I met Geneviève, the gal from Switzerland I met in Aguas Calientes a few days ago, for what ended up being a late night of drinking and smoking a hookah.

 Today I paid the price with a hangover that lasted all day. Tomorrow, it’s back on the road south towards Bolivia.

Day 178 – Aguas Calientes, PE to Cusco, PE

Day 178 – Aguas Calientes, PE to Cusco, PE      02/15/11      Mileage: 137

I decided to hike out all the way from Aguas Calientes back to Santa Teresa instead of taking the train to the hydroelectric station. So at 8:30 I started walking down the railroad tracks which parallels the now raging Urubamba River. It was a great morning free from yesterdays rain and the temperature was perfect.

The main square in Aguas Calientes

The raging Rio Urubamba

Looking up at Machu Picchu from the valley below…

Hiking along the tracks back to Santa Teresa

It took 2 hours to get back to the hydroelectric station. I had to use an alternate pedestrian bridge as the one I crossed 2 days prior had been washed out last night.

Repairing the bridge after it was washed out the night before…

 That doesn’t bode well for the streams and dirt road I had to traverse on the bike to get out of here. Farther down the road had been washed out were I had stopped to take a picture the other day…I thought the road was a bit close to the river, and apparently it was.

The road was there 2 days ago…

 I was on foot anyway, so I just climbed up the bank onto some boulders and hopped across. Back in Santa Teresa I collected the KLR and left town heading back to Santa Maria and the road back to Cusco. Shortly out of town I was stopped at the point were I had crossed the land slide 2 days ago. A bulldozer was still in the process of clearing it, but the road opened with in half an hour….great!

The rest of the road out was muddy in spots and there was some fallen rock and slide debris here and there, but it was all passable.

Clearing another fresh land slide…

This rock slide took up most of the road and it was a little dicey sneaking by it with the cliff on the right!

After topping up the tank in Santa Maria, it was back up and over the pass back into the Sacred Valley.

Another stream crossing….whitewater motorcycling?

Passing through Ollabtaytambo I saw another KLR sitting in the town square. I pulled over and the owner, Alex, came up and we started swapping stories.


He started from his home in Texas a few months ago and was heading for Ushuaia too…that makes 4 riders in 2 days! We exchanged emails and I continued heading back to Cusco.

Night and rain caught up to me about 20 miles from Cusco so the last part of the ride home wasn’t too pleasant, but that certainly didn’t spoil another great day.

Day 177 – Machu Picchu

Day 177 – Machu Picchu      02/14/11      Mileage: 0

The alarm went off at 4:15 and there are not many things I enjoy getting up that early for, but Machu Picchu I guess is one of them. I had to be up that early so I could be on line for the bus ahead of the crowds and hopefully get to hike up Wayna Picchu(the mountain overlooking Machu Picchu)….as they only let 400 people hike up per day. I figured I came this far…might as well try to do it all. The plaza in Aguas Calientes was empty, but as soon as I turned the corner by the shuttle buses I saw at least 150 people already in line…what time did they get up?! It was another hour wait until they started loading the buses, but I was confident that I was still going to be one of the first 400. The bus ride took about half an hour up a steep switchback road. At the visitor center there was another line and I thought I recognized a couple about 10 people in front of me. I went up and asked where I know them from, but we couldn’t place it. I asked Beto if he rides and he said that he and his girlfriend, Tracy, are riding 2-up on a KTM 990 from Colombia to Ushuaia! They also happen to be talking to another rider, Andrew, who’s from the UK riding a Yamaha XT600 and is on a round the world trip! What a stroke of luck to meet 3 other adventure riders. So enough yada yada… are the pics…..

Beto and Tracy

The view of Machu Picchu from Wayna Picchu

Andrew, Beto and Tracy on Wayna Picchu

These “stairs” are every bit as steep as they look in the picture!

Beto, Tracy, Andrew and I ended up touring the ruins together for a while and exchanged info in the hopes of meeting somewhere down the road. Beto and Tracy went to find the guide they had arranged for and Andrew and I hiked out to see the Inca bridge.

The Inca bridge…

It was pouring at this point so Andrew and I decided we’d seen enough and took the bus back to Aguas Calientes. We were soaked like drowned rats and looking to dry out over a hot meal. We settled into a descent restaurant and chatted about our trips. Afterwards he split for the train back to Ollantaytambo and I went to get dry room as it was too late to make my way back to Santa Teresa. That night the power went out and all the restaurants and businesses were lit by candlelight which made for a very nice scene.

Even the tienda’s looked nice in the candlelight…lol

After a few drinks, light dinner, and some great laughs with a new friend, Genevieve from Switzerland, I called it a day…and a very full and rewarding one at that.

Day 176 – Cusco, PE to Aguas Calientes, PE

Day 176 – Cusco, PE to Aguas Calientes, PE       02/13/11      Mileage: 137

Motorcycle, train and an automobile…it would take me all three today to get to Aguas Calientes…the gateway to Machu Picchu. There are officially 2 ways to get to Machu Picchu, the Inca trail (which is closed due to heavy rain) and the train to Aguas Calientes. Now, I could have of course just gotten on the direct train from Cusco, but where’s the challenge or adventure in that? I had heard and read about a “back way” to Machu Picchu and that sounded like the more “fun” and interesting way. So I topped up the tank on the KLR and headed north out of Cusco. The weather was, well, not raining and that is to say it was great for this time of year in the mountains of Peru. The road was paved and the scenery was great as I passed Chinchero and descended into the Sacred Valley towards Urubamba.

Looking across the Sacred Valley at the snow capped peaks…

Looking down at the town of Urubamba…

Riding the Sacred Valley

Continuing up the valley past the town of Ollantaytambo, the road turned sharply up the mountain pass and soon I was back in the rain and fog.

The air turned cold, so cold I had to break out my winter riding gloves again…something I’ve done only a handful of times since Alaska. Once over the pass the road descended as sharply as it had climbed, plummeting over 10,000 feet into the valley below.

The road also turned to dirt, and more specifically mud in many spots so it was slow going much of the way to the turn off to Santa Teresa.

The road crossed the raging Urubamba River once more and began to climb up a steep canyon.

I had to cross a few fast moving streams, but only maybe 8-10 inches deep. But then I came to a fast moving stream where the water was over 2 feet deep. Fast moving water isn’t a problem if there’s not that much of it nor is 2 feet of water that’s relatively calm…but together it’s a significant obstacle. I got off the bike and walked across to scope it out…wet boots are much easier to deal with than a swamped motorcycle. There were some large rocks but I did find one line that seemed possible, so I decided to go for it.

Dosen’t look too bad in the pictures….  😉

I eased the KLR up to the edge of the water and then rolled on the throttle. The rear end bucked around as it searched for traction on the slippery stream bed, but was able to tractor through it and up onto the far bank. Several miles later I came upon a relatively fresh landslide. A few vehicles were stopped on either side of it and the drivers were evaluating the relative safety of crossing it. Some vehicles clearly crossed as there were a set of tracks.

I dismounted and walked it myself, and figured I could make it if I stick to the inside tire track. If I fell to the right when crossing, that wouldn’t be so bad, but if I fell to the left, me and the KLR would tumble into the ravine for sure! So after taking a good look, I was fairly confident I could stick the line, so I eased the bike up and onto the slide and with a few dabs with my right foot, I was across.

The last few miles into Santa Teresa were uneventful and I found secure parking for the bike at a small hostal.

See…you can ride your bike to Machu Picchu…    😉

That leg of the journey complete, next was to hike to the hydroelectric plant where there is a local train to Aquas Calientes. The problem was the pedestrian bridge across the Urubamba in Santa Teresa was washed out, and the next bridge across was a vehicle bridge a several kilometers away up a dirt road. I could walk it, but then I would miss the train and end up walking the entire way to Aguas Calientes. If I had more daylight, that’s what I would have done, but I didn’t want to hike in the dark. Given the few options, I hired a car to take me up the road to the hydroelectric station. The road in spots ran right next to the river, so close it seemed at times as if I was looking up at the river wave crests!

The river was right next too the road and it was swollen and angry…like a giant milkshake still in the blender.

See the BIG rock….

… you don’t…gone!!

If the river came up any higher, that road is a gonner for sure. I made it just in time to buy a one way ticket and hop on the train.

The “tourist” class car was really nice…much too nice for a smelly biker, but then again it better be for the 52 soles it cost. Locals only pay 2 soles…that is tourist robbery! The train left just before dark so I wasn’t able to enjoy the scenery along the way. We pulled into Aguas Calientes shortly after 8pm…so it took just over 11 hours to get here from Cusco.

In the end, was it worth all the effort and the cold, rain, mud, swollen streams and land slides…you bet.  😉

Day 174-175 – Cusco, PE

Day 174-175 – Cusco, PE       02/11-12/11       Mileage: 0

Typical morning of blog and email accompanied by the typical rainy weather. Around 11 the light rain stopped, the sun came out and it looked like it would last awhile, so I made a dash for archeological site of  Sacsayhuaman which is on a hill just outside of town. It’s a good walk up there…uphill all the way. I passed a young women also walking up and she started chatting with me as we were walking. It turns out Dayana was a guide on her way up to work but offered to give me a private tour. Can’t say no to that, right guys?  😉  Well, she is as knowledgeable as she is cute…oh, and she speaks 4 languages.

Me and a few alpaca’s. I’m glad they don’t know I ate one of their cousins the other day!

The Inca archeological site of Sacsayhuaman

The Inca’s revered the puma…do you see the stones placed in the shape of a puma’s paw?

The view of Cusco from Sacsayhuaman….

She also took me to tour the nearby ruins at Qenqo which were modest in size but interesting nonetheless.

I asked if she would like to join me for lunch in town so we went to a nice place close to the plaza that serves typical local food. I said I have been meaning to try cuy and she said it was really good at this place. So, what is cuy you ask…well…it’s whole fried guinea pig.

The aftermath…

Oh, and what did she get…chicken! Lol. Well, I can tell you now with certainty that guinea pig does not taste like chicken. What it does taste like I’m not sure, but it’s not good. So, with that checked off the trip to-do list, I said thank you and goodbye to Dayana and went back to my room for a shower and to do some homework on Machu Picchu. At night I went to a nice tapas bar that I had scoped out the day before. The food was as good as the wine and it was a bit expensive….but worth every centavo…

More posts coming soon….

Hi All,

I’m back in Cusco from Machu Picchu and it was unbelievable! More posts coming soon….


Day 173 – Cusco, PE

Day 173 – Cusco, PE      02/10/11       Mileage: 0

I spent the morning in typical fashion, and that is sitting in an internet café working on the blog and getting caught up with email. After doing that I toured two museums, the Museo Historico Regional and the Museo Municipal De Arte Contemporaneo which were both nice and included in the multi-day tourist pass that I bought.

The Museo Historico Regional…

The Museo Municipal De Arte Contemporaneo…

 I also helped (or tried at least) Danielle with a computer program she needed for her volunteer work at Cositas. We grabbed a quick dinner and a few beers afterwards and then I retired to my $7 room for a few hours of reading and route planning for the road south.

Day 172 – Cusco, PA

Day 172 – Cusco, PA      02/09/11       Mileage: 0

I spent most of the morning updating the blog and catching up on email. After that I spent the afternoon walking around the areas of central Cusco I haven’t yet been to and took care of some errands.

The Plaza de Armas…while it’s not raining. A rarity for this time of year….

More famed Inca stone work. This wall collapsed in an earthquake and had to be rebuilt, but is a good example of their curved stone.

At 3 I met Danielle who I had met 2 days earlier in a coffee shop and had a nice conversation with. She’s from Holland and is here living in Cusco volunteering for a Dutch aid program that teaches women weaving and silver craft skills and promotes fair-trade and prices for their work. She had offered to show me the workshop high on the hill above Cusco where the local women learn and practice their craft, so that sounded like an experience too good to pass up.

We jumped in a collectivo (a small local bus) up to the workshop where I got to meet the teachers and a few of the women in the program. I watched them making silver jewelry and weaving blankets and pillows on wooden looms and the amount of work that goes into these crafts is enormous.

Here they are making silver jewelry…

A simple white alpaca wool pillowcase takes 14 hours of work, while a blanket with an intricate design can take weeks! It certainly makes you appreciate the amount of work that goes into even a seemingly simple craft. Back in town we went to the shop were the crafts are sold which is also a nice café. The idea is that the café pays the bills and covers the expenses for the shop so that the bulk of the proceeds (90%) from the craft sales goes back to the women artists. We had a light dinner at the café and I had alpaca carpaccio (yes, raw alpaca) which was very good…and no it doesn’t taste anything like chicken…  😉

Day 171 – Cusco, PE and The Sacred Valley

Day 171 – Cusco, PE and The Sacred Valley      02/08/11      Mileage: 0

I met the 8 others in my group at 8:30 and we were soon on our way to the Sacred Valley of the Inca’s.

Entering the Sacred Valley

It was an hour drive to our first stop, the town of Pisac and the central market know for great local crafts and in particular silver. We were given a short tour of where they make the silver and other kinds of jewelry which was very interesting.

After walking the market we went to the Inca archeological site of Pisac above the current town. It’s an amazing site with many terraces that were still in use until a few years ago.

 After walking the site for an hour or so and a quick lunch in Urubamba, we were off to the next archeological site of Ollantaytambo. This site was to be the Temple of the Sun, but the Inca’s never got to finish it because of that pesky Spanish invasion. It was nonetheless and impressive site and in some ways more interesting as you can see how the site was built.

I am still in awe of the Inca stone work and the precision with which some sections are constructed. The seams between the large stones is so perfect you can’t fit a pin in anywhere.

The largest stones known to be quarried by the Inca’s are found here and are pictured above. They weigh over 50 tons each and were brought to the site from a mountain 7 kilometers away! It’s amazing what these ancient people did without machinery and power tools.

Errrr, yah….

Next up was the market and archeological site in Chinchero.

This market is known for its woven alpaca and sheep’s wool textiles. We were given an interesting demonstration on how they still use the ancient methods today to clean, spin, dye and weave the wool.

 After that we toured the archeological site. Like many colonial buildings in Cusco, the Spanish put their buildings on top of Inca foundations as the stone work was so good. Here the Spanish put a church on top of the stone walls of an Inca temple.

After lingering there for a bit and trying to resist the pressure sales from adorable local kids, it was back to Cusco for dinner at Paddy’s Pub and to catch up on my email.

Day 170 – Cusco, PE

Day 170 – Cusco, PE      02/07/11       Mileage: 0

It was a late morning due to last nights bender but I didn’t have anything grand planned for today anyway. I spent most of the day walking around and gathering info on the numerous sites, figuring out what I wanted to see and making a plan for the next few days.

This is the famous 12 corner stone. I still can’t wrap my head around how perfect the joints between the stones are….and to think they did this with basic hand tools….amazing!

At night I had dinner and few drinks at a great little joint just off the Plaza de Armas called Chez Maggy.

They had a great local band play a few sets and they were so good I bought a CD. I shot a video but the internet was just too slow to upload.

Tomorrow it’s off to tour the Sacred Valley of the Inca’s…

Day 169 – Chahuanca, PE to Cusco, PE

Day 169 – Chahuanca, PE to Cusco, PE      02/06/11      Mileage: 202
The rain started shortly after getting on the bike this morning and poured almost the whole way to Cusco….which explains why I took so few pictures.

I arrived in Cusco mid afternoon and immediately liked it here. I found a room and after unpacking the bike I walked to the town center and the Plaza de Armas.

Cusco is a nice mix of locals, travelers and ex-pats and there are tons of great bars and restaurants. History is literally all around you and down every street you walk. You can see the famous Inca stonework everywhere and the level of precision that the stones are fit together with is utterly incredible.

That night I knew exactly where I was going, and that was to the notorious Norton Rats Pub(Norton is an old British motorcycle manufacturer)…one of my to-do’s on this trip!

I could hardly contain myself when I saw the nice selection of Belgian beers they had! I think I might of had 1 other Belgian beer since leaving the States, so I splurged the $11 for a nice Trappistes Rochefort and savored every drop.

After that it was back to the local brew which is perfectly drinkable, but average. They also had the Super Bowl on the big screen and there were lots of Americans there to catch the game, and I ended up partying with a few of them until the wee hours of the morning.

The one lone picture from the nights debauchery before it got bad…(good?)

I would have taken some pictures had I been sober enough to work the bloody camera, or even remember what pocket it was in. Damn the bottle…

Day 168 – Huacachina, PE to Chahuanca, PE

Day 168 – Huacachina, PE to Chahuanca, PE      02/05/11      Mileage: 304

I was on the throttle shortly after 8 and eating up tarmac across the open desert south of Ica.

My route took me by the famous Nazca Lines so that was worth a quick stop and 2 soles to climb the observation tower.

You could also take a tour by plane for around $50, but in the end I decided to skip it and keep rolling. The road turned sharply up into the desert mountains and the air was once again getting thinner and colder.

I don’t have any pictures from the last half of the ride because it was abject misery…cold driving rain, fog and countless switchbacks which while fun on dry roads, suck the big one in the pouring rain when all you want to do is make time to end the suffering. I pulled into Chahuanca like a drowned rat and took the first room I looked at…which I was told was the honeymoon suite.

I had a hearty dinner in the restaurant downstairs and then retired to my suite for some well earned rest.

Day 167 – Miraflores, PE – Huacachina, PE

Day 167 – Miraflores, PE – Huacachina, PE      02/04/11      Mileage: 221

After a quick breakfast I packed the bike and rolled south down the Pan American towards Pisco. It was a pleasant if somewhat boring rip down the pavement, that is until excitement came knocking on my door. I was riding down the right lane and had just passed a truck a few moments before. From behind me I heard screeching tires and as I looked over my left shoulder I saw a car sideways in the left lane skidding out of control. I wailed the brakes with a squeal coming from my own rear wheel, only to see the car careen into and across my lane and over the embankment! I pulled over onto the shoulder a fair ways up the road just in case it caught fire. (Don’t ask me why I know what a safe distance from a burning car is….trust me I know, right Tracy!)  The truck that was behind had pulled over as well and the truck driver was half way down the embankment when I started running back to the car. We helped the driver and passenger up to the road and miraculously aside from the woman being in hysterics (and rightfully so) and the driver having a cut on his forearm, they appeared to be OK.

I took this picture as I was running back to the car. The guy in the red shirt is the truck driver and you can just see the driver in the white shirt crawling out of the car.

The woman in black was the passenger.

The driver went back to retrieve some of his things. The left wheel is totally jacked which could of happened in the crash, but could have been the cause of it if he broke a tie rod or ball joint.

To say that they were lucky is very much understating the fact. Hell, I was shaking a bit myself because had I not gotten on the brakes hard myself they would have side swiped me for sure and taken me out too. Did I say the Pan American was boring? Scratch that. Back on the bike I continued south and pulled off in Pisco for some lunch, and of course, a Pisco Sour. I can’t say that I drink them at home, but when in Rome, right?

Road food?

Continuing south towards Ica I had read that there is a little oasis in the desert just to the west called Huacachina. It was about the right time to stop for the night so I decided to check it out. I rolled into what was once an oasis for sure, and may have still been after some development, but honestly the place as a whole was kind of run down. That being said there were some nice hotels and I found a comfortable room at the Huacachinero.

After settling in I hiked up to the top of the sand dune behind the hotel and was treated to some great views of the Huacachina, the dunes and a nice sunset.

The two big activities were dune boarding (snowboarding on the sand dunes) and dune buggy rides. I didn’t have time for either unfortunately as it was already dark and I was pulling out early tomorrow. Got to leave something for next time!

So after a dip in the pool, some wifi, dinner and a few beers with some of the other guests…I packed it in.

Day 164-166 – Miraflores, PE

Day 164-166 – Miraflores, PE      02/01-03/11       Mileage: 0

I spent the last three days running errands, getting a haircut, laundry, working on the blog and giving the KLR some much needed TLC. I’ve been riding mostly dirt for the last 10 days through southern Ecuador and northern Peru and in the last few days especially the bike has really taken a pounding. I changed the oil and filter, changed both front and rear brake pads, adjusted the chain, cleaned the air filter and a few other odd and ends.

NOW I feel like I’m back in civilization…a Starbucks!

Next time I’m taking this rig. You don’t have to pack light and local parts are always available!!  🙂

Wednesday night I met some fellow bikers and (ADV’ers) who have been stranded here in Lima with two dead bikes.

Alberto (aka – betitolara)and Naomi (aka – svensmanager) started from their home near Vancouver, Canada on their new BMW F800’s who’s engines both essentially self destructed north of Lima. Bad gas is suspected, but nobody can say for sure yet. They’ve been working with the local BMW dealer, their Canadian dealer and BMW in Germany to get their bikes fixed, and BMW Canada finally came through for them and is going to pick up the tab for repairing the bikes. That is great news for them! I hope they are back on the road soon so perhaps we can share some miles down the road.

Day 163 – Lima, PE to Miraflores, PE

Day 163 – Lima, PE to Miraflores, PE      01/31/11     Mileage: 26

This morning I worked on the blog and got caught up on my email. At noon I went to go watch the changing of the guard at the Government Palace which was pretty cool.

After that I packed up and relocated to Miraflores which is a nice section of Lima south of the downtown.

Along the way I stopped in at Barbacci Motors…a great shop if you need any gear or parts in Lima.

 I dropped anchor at the Hitchhikers hostal and then went to run some errands. I brought dinner back to the hostal and worked on the blog before calling it a night.

Day 162 – Recuay, PE to Lima, PE

Day 162 – Recuay, PE to Lima, PE      01/30/11      Mileage 234

This morning I had the bike packed and was on the road by 8:15. Just south of Catac I pulled off for gas and went to pay with the 50 sole bill I got from Andrzej the day before, and sure enough, the attendant said it was fake and refused it. Damn! Oh well, I’ll get rid of it somehow. Back on the bike the road continued up and over the pass and it was a nice canyon carver all the way down to the coast.

I hung a right on the Pan Americana and continued rolling south for Lima. I passed two cops on the opposite side of the road and they were frantically waving me over. Shit! They had a car, but I decided to just pretend they were waving at someone else and kept going. Well, soon I could see the flashing lights coming up behind me…damn. So I pulled over and Abbott and Costello started in on their good cop bad cop routine.

Bad cop said it was a 500 sole ticket that I would have to pay in Lima. Good cop said, because I was a tourist and they didn’t want to inconvenience me, I could pay them 250 soles right now! So there it was, a bribe is what they were after. I of course have cash squirreled away, but I said that I didn’t have that much and that all I has was 50 soles…which was of course the counterfeit 50 sole bill in my dummy wallet! So, I took out the fake 50, folded it over and handed it to good cop. Bad cop practically through my (expired) license back at me and after a quick half-assed lecture on the dangers of speeding, they said I could go. Well, I didn’t wait around for them to realize it was a counterfeit bill, so I thumbed the starter and rolled out of there. I was laughing in my helmet for the next 10 miles thinking of those two bozos going to pay for a nice steak dinner with their spoils only to be told it was a fake 50 sole bill. That was worth every (fake) cent. AMF! The rest of the road to Lima was over rolling sandy desert scenery and it was an interesting change from the mountains.

I made my way to center Lima and found a room 3 blocks from the Plaza de Armes. They let me park the bike in the lobby, and after a shower I went out to explore the city center.

The Plaza de Armas is spectacular and the Moorish influenced Spanish architecture is really cool.

At night I had a dinner (trout ceviche) at nice restaurant just off the Plaza.

Day 161 – Huaraz, PE to Recuay, PE

Day 161 – Huaraz, PE to Recuay, PE     01/29/11     Mileage: 115

It had rained all night and was still raining this morning as I packed the bike. I rolled out of town south towards Catac to catch the road to the ruins in Chavin. Along the way out of the corner of my eye I saw 2 adventure bikes getting gas. I wheeled around and went back to say hello. Andrzej and Jacek are from Poland and had shipped their bikes to Buenos Aires 2 months ago and are riding north to Cartagena. They were heading for Chavin as well so the 3 of us rode together.

Me and Andrzej…

Andrzej and Jacek’s bikes…a Yamaha Tenere and a Honda Africa Twin…two bikes the US never got.

The road from Catac to Chavin was paved some time ago, but it looks like all maintenance has been abandoned. The road has completely deteriorated to dirt in spots and where it hasn’t were bike eating holes. These kinds of roads are worse than all dirt, as the pavement potholes create deep sharp edge holes that are hell on the bike, suspension and will certainly give you a pinch flat if you hit one at speed. Arriving at the Chavin ruins is kind of underwhelming honestly, but we hired a guide and the tour was interesting nonetheless.

Arriving at Chavin…

Inside the main temple…

I’m not sure Chavin was worth the 4 hour round trip down that shit road, but it was nice to ride and swap war stories with Andrzej and Jacek over lunch. Luckily they spoke pretty good english, because the only Polish word I know is kielbasa.The restaurant didn’t have much change, so I paid the bill and Andrzej gave me a 50 sole bill….the problem was he had 2 50 sole bills and he knew one of them was counterfeit…but we couldn’t tell which one. I just picked one thinking if it was such a good fake I could still use it. So after lunch we said adios and they headed north for the Cordillera, and we south for the coast. Unfortunately, not only was it pouring now, but I had to backtrack down that shit road and by the time I got back to Catac, I was soaked, cold and miserable. It was also too late to make a run to the coast so I got a room in the tiny town of Recuay.

There was only one place to stay in town, so that decision was easy. My room cost 15 soles, or about 5 dollars…and certainly I got what I paid for! 😉

My hosts for the night….very graciouse and accommodating people.

The building was so old it seems it was built for the local indigenous people who are short in stature. The ceiling in my room was maybe 5’10” as I had only an inch or two of clearance being 5’8″ myself. The door was only 5′, so I had to duck to get in or out of my room…which didn’t lock.

The view from my room…

The bathroom was down the hall and was, umm, rough.

It’s all good though, and it sure beats pitching a tent in the rain…