Recently in Peru Category

IMG_1045We were going to go south into Peru from here however, we found out the road south was in bad shape. They had a big storm a couple weeks ago and now the road is very rough with 3 or 4 water crossings. They estimated 10 hours in a bus to get back to good road. We had no idea how deep the water crossing were and the communication problems weren’t making the road sound any better.

So we backtracked 50 miles to Loja and headed south on a main road to Peru. This road turned out to be a good ride along a high ridge with huge vistas on both sides. Nice pavement for the most part and we cruised along at a nice pace. After yesterdays tough road we were enjoying the smooth pavement with some small gravel sections that kept us on our toes.  

 

P1000812We also banked a little flat tire karma. We ran across this guy and his family pushing his bike. We stopped to find out he had a flat rear tire. We got out our little electric pump and pumped it up. Only to find out he had a leak in the tube. We couldn’t really fix it without pulling the tire and all that. So we got him rolling and then stopped again a few miles down the road to pump it up again. That was enough for him and his family to get into to town to have it fixed. We hardly exchanged a word, But the brotherhood of motor-cyclists was all that needed to be said. A biker in need, you stop.

 

IMG_1061We arrived at the border with Peru in a few hours. That is after we circled the town looking for it. It was kinda funny that the locals in town would just point… Like they see dumb gringos on bikes all the time looking for the border. We found a road that lead out of town. Dirt and gravel, “this can’t be it” “We came in on a nice two lane paved road.” Well it was and shortly after leaving town it turned back into a nice road and we rolled up to customs. We processed out of Ecuador in about 30 minutes total. No worries.

Crossed no mans land and processed into Peru in about 45 minutes. The dude was a bit confused with the fact that we are brothers and Dans middle name is John…. But with the forms filled and the stickers placed on our bikes. The Motobrothers were in Peru! 

Total cost to exit Ecuador and enter Peru – $0.

After about 20 miles we were stopped by the Policia, thats pretty standard as they want to check to see that you somehow did not sneak in without all the right paperwork. Our papers were in order however and the dude let us pass. Not before telling us not to stop for anyone but the Policia…. What? I thought this was Peru? We rolled on but our shields were up and we talked about evasive maneuvers and such.. The biggest observation for the first 100 kilometers where that we probably saw more animals on the road in that 100 kilometers than all of 8,500 miles so far – goats, cattle, turkeys, chickens, dogs, birds, vultures, etc… amazing.

When we stopped for gas we realized we made a rookie mistake. We didn't know the exchange rate for Dollars to Soles and we forgot to exchange any dough at the border….DOH! The gas guy was happy to take US though and in the end he didn't clip us too bad.

We rolled down to the flat land and the city of Piura. We found a Hotel right on main street without any trouble and headed out for a beer and burger.

Tomorrow we ride south into the desert.

Cheers’

We got an early start thinking that we wanted to ride the desert early to avoid the big heat. The gas station guy said we were on the wrong road – the other road is “mas rapido” – we backtracked for a bit and decided the GPS was “mas smarter” than the gas station guy (GPS vs. GSG) – so we headed out in the original direction.

IMG_1069After a bit it was apparent we were on the wrong road – 35kph max speed (22 MPH) for first 45 or so miles “urban Zona”– then only up to 60kph – but surface was excellent and everyone was speeding so we hung in there – It kinda paralleled the big highway in the desert. But this one was along the hills in the trees.  It would get us there. As time went by the road won us over. We were able to go about 70mph and there were no trucks, busses or cars. It really does get old breathing diesel smoke from the clapped out busses. So the fresh air was a treat. Lots of awesome scenery and in the end it only cost us maybe 45 minutes more.

 

 

IMG_1101After about 150 miles the road met back up with the main PanAm and we blasted across barren wasteland. We were ripping along at about 90mph. The wind was blowing strong, seemingly from every direction at times. Sand was blowing across road and sometimes dunes encroached right up into the edge of the lane… Big areas of absolutely nothing and then areas where tons and tons of garbage dumped…

 

 

 

 

IMG_1100Then you would descend a couple of hundred feet into a river wash and it would be swarming with farms, rice, sugar cane, and processing plants. It was truly strange seeing some of the most thirsty plants growing in the middle of a desert. As well as the contrasting colors from all shades of brown, to amazingly lush green fields. 5 miles later it was back to sand and rock with nothing in sight for miles in every direction.

 

 

 

 

We rolled into Trujillo with a hotel in mind. Dan had done his homework and had the GPS coordinates loaded. After little trouble we arrived at the hotel. Only to find out they had no secure parking… We started roaming around looking for a hotel again. These seem to be the hardest times for us. Were both shelled after baking in the sun and the towns are not easy to find a logical pattern to the streets. Both of us have ideas on how to drive around and look for a place and they’re not always the same ideas….After a long day of riding we both just want to call it a day and finding a suitable place is not as easy as it may seem.  

We did find a place though and after checking in we went for a walk around town and had dinner.

Tomorrow we head up into the white mountains – the Cordillera Blanca – with some 35 peaks over 20,000 foot elevation and the road in the valley at 13,200 foot it should be beautiful and a challenge for us and the bikes. 

 Cheers!

 

We got a late start today, we were actually up early but we seemed to get bogged down a bit. Had an early breakfast and then started trying to get things ready to head out – we ran into a snag with one of the “Hero” cameras. These are cameras that we can mount anywhere on the bike or helmet – they take shots or videos etc. We  have not used them since northern CA because most of the pictures come out blurry and you end up with a 1000 plus photos to sort through. We knew this was going to be an epic day of vistas so we thought we’d try them again, this time mounting it on the top of John’s helmet…. Well, one of them wouldn’t work no matter what we did for about 30 or 45 minutes and after getting to the point of saying “F*ck it, we need to get moving” it started working for some unexplained reason.

IMG_1116After getting on the road about 10am – we managed to head straight out of town without a wrong turn. This may be a first occurance for us – typically there are ZERO road signs, ZERO street signs, and about 9 million taxis trying to kill you while you’re negotiating the various turns to make it out of town. To top it off, we each have a different opinion of which way you should go. But, today, it worked and we started heading east.

The road up into the mountains was spectacular – decent road surface and it climbed and climbed and climbed. We were quickly up around 10,000 foot elevation when we ran into our first snag. We ended up in the town of Otuzco which was a weird labrynth of dirt streets, mud buildings, and lots of people looking at us like we had 3 heads. Then after making a couple laps thru the little town, the people all started pointing in various directions, not much consensus as to where we should go. Finally, we got back to the town square and asked a guy where the road to the next town was. Well, we passed it about 5 miles back because we didn’t think it would be gravel. Head on back there.

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We got back to the road and began a discussion about how much of the gravel road we wanted to do. When we first planned this section of the route the map indicated the road was all the same – from Trujillo all the way up into the mountains and back down to Lima. AND, the GPS (which is never wrong?!) indicated about the same thing. Well, reality bites sometimes and it looked like we were in for at least 80 miles of gravel road.

PICT0400The agreement was we would ride to the first “big” town and make a decision after that. That was about 60 kilometers. Off we went. The road quickly turned to absolutely “sh*t” – softball sized loose rocks, baseball sized rocks with mud and BIG “gravel” – like the size of golf balls. Add to that the trucks and lunatic bus drivers and you’ve got a challenge. The road was climbing and climbing - switching back and forth working its way up and up. As we talked on the intercom we were both complaining about the dust – and then it started to rain – lightly. Well, at least it will keep the dust down. Then the rain started to get heavy and we suited up to deal with it. And all the dust turned to mud. And the trucks and busses left deep ruts of mud here and there…

 

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Dan’s bike started developing a squrtching sort of noise when it was under power – light acceleration led to a “scurtch, scurtch, scurtch” sound coming from the rear wheel. Not good. We talked it thru a bit and it was either a wheel bearing (bad) or it was the rubber cushions in the sprocket assembly which are just squeaking (not bad). We decided to let it go for a bit and see what happened.

PICT0567Then it started to really rain – huge rain drops and it was coming down hard and heavy with huge standing puddles and running water on the road. We pressed onward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1133Finally making it to the town of Quiruvilca after about 2 1/2 hours (to go 60 kilometers or 40 miles) the rain had stopped and we decided to take a look at Dan’s rear end (the bike’s rear end). This involved taking the rear wheel off which isn’t too big of a job. We had it off in about 10 minutes and the bearings looked fine – we smeared some oil/grease on the rubber parts to see if that would quiet them down, reassembled the bike and gave it a test ride. The squrtching seemed to be gone so we were confident it wasn’t the bearings at least.

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Are we having fun yet?

 

 

 

 

Now we had to decide if we should go on to Santiago de Chuco – about another 30 miles or so. Yea, let’s try it. Maybe the pavement starts there? Sure thats it! Off we went and the road started to climb again … we were already at 10,000 feet and huffing/puffing while pulling the wheel off. We worked our way up to nearly 14,000 foot elevation with the bikes wheezing a bit and it was cold, muddy, nasty, and absolutely beautiful. We finally cruised into Santiago de Chuco around 5 pm – so 7 hours to go about 115 miles.

PICT1135We rode around town looking for a place to stay – looked at a couple and they were “rough”. Settled on another one that was still “rough” but we could get the bikes inside. The rooms are barren paint peeling walls, no bathrooms, the beds are like rock, there is one light bulb in the ceiling, and so forth but it is home for the night. Total cost for both rooms? 20 Soles or about $6.30. We walked around town to try to find something to eat. We were walking slow and both of us were sucking wind. The town was at about 10500 feet and we were feeling it…

 

 

 

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A shot of Dan’s room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow we decide whether to head back or push onward. To push onward the road is about 250 miles of the same crap we have been riding on….

Cheers!

IMG_1142After a lengthy discussion we decided to head back the way we came…

It is over 250 miles more to continue on the same road. This is the gravel/dirt/mud/track we rode yesterday. It took us about an hour and half to go 22 miles!!! It also beat the crap out of our bikes. Dans started making the scrunching noise again about 10 miles after oiling the rubber cush drive for the rear wheel. Johns bike started making the same noise about 5 miles from Santiago De Chuco. We think its just the fact that muddy water, grit and crap found its way into the cush drive… Without getting to technical, the cush drive is just some rubber dealy’s that absorb the shock between the rear sproket and the wheel. Grit and stuff gets in there and then the rubber grinds against the metal causing it to squeak. Sounds like a good theory doesn’t it???

 

 

P1000835Anyway we decided to head back to the pavement as there is 6000 plus miles left in the journey and we don’t want to have too much trouble with the bikes. Call us pansie’s if you wish. About half way back to the pavement John noticed his fairing bouncing. After a close inspection all the bolts had come loose. We got out the tools and tightened it up. Then we started looking around and found most of the subframe bolts loose as well and looked on Dan’s bike and there were numerous bolts loose there as well. The road was reallly taking its toll.

 

 

 

The rain held off on our trip out and the scenery was beatuiful – huge vistas that were very hard to capture on camera.

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IMG_1154After 3+ hours of crappy roads we arrived back at the pavement and had a nice smooth cruise into Trujillio. With the exeption of a quick stop to shed our wet weather gear, at which time Dan’s bike decided it needed a little nap. So it laid down for a quick rest…. Dan let it sleep long enough for John to take a couple pictures. It started to tip over and Dan realized his footing wasn’t too good on the loose gravel so he let it go rather than risk some injury trying to keep it upright.

 

 

 

 

 

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We stayed at the same hotel and played a few games of cribbiage. Over a few beers we looked at the maps and made up a new route south down the PanAm.

Tomorrow we head south again –

Cheers.

 

 

Bonus blog

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We’ve been rolling hard the last couple days – so behind on the regular blogs. However, I have finally gotten the programs working that update our positions and create maps and webpages etc…

You can check it out by clicking the “Where are we?” tab above – or click this link

I put a permenant link to the SPOT page there for quick access – and you can see each individual day of travel that we’ve been on. Check out the buttons for satellite images and you can zoom in/out etc.

Ok – before you send me a bunch of email about bugs in this stuff – I know there are problems and am working on them. So give me a week or so to clear them up.

We’re off to La Paz today – and 3 days in one place to catch up, wash clothes, do bike maintenance and all that stuff.

Thanks for reading
Cheers

 

Lima, Peru to Camana, Peru

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We got up early to get a moving. We planned a long day today and it was just that. 550 miles! Thats a heck of allot of miles down here. To start with, the road was good for the most part and we stretched the throttle cables in the open desert. On the map the road followed the coast and we were hoping for some good scenery. The first 150 miles was pretty flat with about a 40 MPH cross wind coming in off the ocean. It was picking up sand and we got major league sand blasted. It was tough keeping it out of your eyes and mouth…. P1000954As you can see in the pictures there was a wake of sand blowing off of the bike/car/truck in front of you. As you went to pass, you would get showered in sand till you got of in front of it. You can also see the dunes drifting and filling the lane. It made for some tricky conditions….

As we approached Atico the drifting sand became a real problem. At one point it was covering our lane completely!! Then when we reached the entrance to the town we had to wait for a front loader to clear the road as a dune had reached all the way across the road.

 

 

 

IMG_1244We were starting to rethink our destination for the evening…Then, Shortly after rolling out of  Atico we came to the most amazing coastline we have seen! This road easily could challenge Hwy 1 in CA. It was about 150 miles of motorcycle heaven. Very little traffic and we were loving it! At least 15 times the road wound its way up to about a 1000 feet about the ocean then descended down to the water level. All the time right on a cliff looking right down at the waves. It was truly amazing. We were both instantly refreshed and feeling great in the late afternoon sun with the ocean at our wheels. It was hard to believe how many miles this lasted and how many times it would descend down to a river that met the ocean.

 

 

 

 

PICT0141It would be an all green valley with a little town.  Then the road would rise up to about 1000 feet again looking out over the water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We stopped at an overlook and watched the sunset.

 

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 We rolled into Camana just about dark, had a few beers and called it a night..

 

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Cheers!

 

Camana, Peru to Juliaca Peru

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We headed out of Camana with not much hope of scenery as the road turns inland. We were rewarded with lots of nothing to look at. Flat desert with a few rock formations here and there. Maybe 80 miles of nothing combined with more nothing – thankfully we didn’t have much for cross winds.

IMG_1263We were quickly into the LARGE city of Arequipa. We had already decided our map didn’t jive with what the GPS said.

We were pretty sure we were in for a run around in the city trying to find the right road out of town to Juliaca. After fueling up we got some directions from the gas dudes…. “Couple blocks down this way then boom!, straight out of town!” They did the classic Latin American arm waving gesture – sort of like throwing you in the direction you should go.

 

Well thats how it always starts.  First off you have to remember there are no signs pointing to the next cities. What you think is a main road may go about a mile then turn to dirt and dead end. The GPS would show us on the right road, only to have it turn into a dirt road and end in someone's yard that you think is a junk yard, but really is IMG_1265just all the other cars that could not find their way out of town… So we rode around some more and some more and some more. Dan must of asked at least 10 people “donde estar Juliaca or Puno??” I would say all 10 pointed to different parts of the city…they would use they're arms like left, right , left then kinda like they're bowling swing it up and go “boom” straight out of town…. Each time we would head the way they would say and each time we would end up at dead ends and one ways. sometimes one ways that dead end!!! So after almost 2 freakin hours of going round and round looking for a way out of this town. We were pretty stressed out and tired of it all.

We were to the point we would have even settled for the wrong way as long as it got us the hell out of that place.

 

We did finally find a road that lead to Yura. Which was not were we wanted to go, but we saw on the map a road that led from Yura to Juliaca. It was longer but we had had enough of riding around a noisy, diesel smoke laden, and dusty city. Just before arriving in Yura a split in the road appeared and bingo a sign to Juliaca! Both the map and GPS were totally off. We took the turn and started up the pass. We set a new record on the trip for elevation as the road climbed to 14,700 feet. We had to stop at the top and put on more gear. It was COLD! We took some crap in the first part of the trip about how much cold gear we were taking. Let me tell you, we were glad we had it.

 

IMG_1266We stopped at some tiny little berg of a town to grab some chips and try to warm up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P1000971This kid was just sitting there with a couple motorcycle tires – trying to sell them. There wasn’t a single motorcycle visible in town except ours – not sure what he had in mind but maybe he found the tires and had big plans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We arrived in Juliaca without any more trouble and checked into a nice hotel right downtown.

We went out for a pizza. Dan ordered a large pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms and cheese. Or so he thought… The lady kept asking more and more questions and Dan kept trying to clarify it but… she arrived with a large cheese pizza and we started eating it wondering where the rest of the toppings were… Then she arrived with a large pepperoni pizza, followed by a large mushroom pizza….

We only got through 2 of them.

Cheers!

 

Juliaca, Peru to La Paz, Bolivia

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Today the mileage was not to bad so we took our time getting moving.

IMG_1270We were on the road by about 930 and about 20 miles out of Juliaca we ran into another motorbike traveler at a toll booth. Pete Chester from Las Cruses, NM. We stopped and chatted with him for a bit. Dude is 66 years young and riding a Yamaha XT225 down to Terra Del Fuego on his own. How cool is that??

It was nice for us to talk bikes and English with someone!

  

 

 

 

 

After saying goodbye to Pete we headed south along Lake Titicaca which is a massive lake at 12,000 feet that is split by a border of Peru and Bolivia. Very pretty with some snow capped mountains in the background.

 

IMG_1275We got to the border and Dan kick started the customs machine into gear. Within minutes we were officially out of Peru and into no mans land.

He then headed into the offices in Bolivia only to come back out a few minutes later saying they wanted $135 US each for a visa to visit Bolivia…

When Dan went in everything seemed normal until they saw the US passports. Then he was escorted back to the boss’ office. The boss tells Dan to sit down and starts pulling out forms and sticky stamps. Dan said he heard the fee and thought he had misheard it – $135 each – can’t be – so he just went along filling out forms. Then it came time to pay and the fee really was $135 each!!

 

 

It all sounded like a total scam – in fact the “official” stickers had $100 on them – which he just crossed out with a pen and said “it’s now $135!” – of course no English is spoken. Dan told him that we weren’t going to go thru Bolivia – just back into Peru and down to Chile. El Jeffe said “well, you need a tourist visa to come into Bolivia – no other options”

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After we talked for a few minutes Dan decided to check it out on the Internet. He walked straight past the immigration offices and into the border town in Bolivia. He found a couple Internet cafe’s but none were working and they said “only Peru”. So – Dan walked back across nomans land and into Peru to find an internet cafe to see if these dudes were trying to fleece us. He did find out the fee was correct.  It is only charged to US Citizens because the US charges the same fee to Bolivians when they come to the US. 

When Dan comes back from the Internet cafe – “What could possibly be worth seeing in Bolivia for $270 god damn dollars!!” I believe was the quote. We chatted about not going into the country and finding another way down to Chile. All the while I was chatting to a pretty cool dude named Jose that worked for the Bolivian customs office and he informed us its because of good ole George Bush upping the visa fees for Bolivians to visit the US. So in response they upped the fees for us. Thanks Bush, even out of office you’re the gift that keeps on giving.

There were other visa types available – one for $85 which Dan tried to get them to issue – but they were not interested. El Jeffe brought in his henchman to yell at Dan – this guy used the “volume” translation method – if your listener doesn’t understand you then you just yell louder… Dan tells them fine – let’s do the tourist visa’s at $135 each – so the paperwork is processed and money is paid. Then El Jeffe tells Dan that he needs to get copies of the passport, stamps, etc… go across the street to get the stamps etc. That’s when Dan’s patience snapped – “so, you just charged me $270 for the f*cking tourist visas and you can’t make copies of the passports on your god damn copy machine right there!” – sorry, no. So – copies were made across the street.

In the end after we paid it and the rope blocking the road was lowered, we were let into the country. Jose processed our bikes in for us and we were off to La Paz. After a few kilometers we were stopped at another check point to see if we had the right paperwork no doubt. We were then charged another 10 blolivano’s to have that rope lowered so we could head to La Paz. About $1.20. At that point, it wasn’t the money it was that we had to take our gear off and fill out some forms and pay the money – a pain in the ass.

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IMG_1279We had reservations at a Hostel and we had GPS coordinates for it. La Paz is a city of at least a million and is in a large bowl. We wound our way down and down into the bowl. All the while keeping an eye on the gps. Mind you the GPS has no roads for this city just a dot where the coordinates are. So we end up in a maze of one ways, dead ends and nightmare of being on the wrong side of a hwy that had no overpasses in sight. After at least an hour we found arrived at the “dot”. Only there was no hostel. There was an old man there and Dan is asking him where the hostel is – the guy keeps saying “Maybe” – but nothing is making sense. About that time, a woman of maybe 50 comes walking up with a cell phone in one hand, way too much lipstick on and she is obviously under the influence of something – she starts sluring out some “timmy fell in the well” and Dan says “nada, gracias” then he starts his bike and rolls off about 100 yards. The woman starts grabbing at John – touching his coat and pulling at the bike…. John just has that affect on women…

It seems the coordinates were wrong. Again the fun of finding things in these cities without maps or street names is really not fun anymore. It was now dark and we were both tired. So we found an internet cafe and looked up they’re web site again. Got some new GPS coordinates and lucky for us it was only a few miles away. Pretty cool place. www.theadventurebrewhostel.com We enjoyed a few games of cribbage and drank a couple beers on they’re rooftop bar.

We are looking forward to a few days of chilling out, bike maintenance, laundry and catching up on blogs/email.

Cheers!