02-19-2013, 10:20 AM
Joined: May 2010
Location: Interior BC, Canada
Feb 8 Rio Utcubamba
Woke up after a fitful sleep and really bummed out about the close call yesterday. Fog is about the bottom of my list of preferred weather and I’m starting to think the prospect of riding unpaved roads in the rain and fog is not something I want to do, particularly solo.
This is the rainy season. My underestimating the meaning of this when I originally planned this trip has resulted in things like a lot of fog in the higher elevations and torrential downpours that make the dirt of the unpaved roads mud of the unpaved roads. I have missed being able to properly ride some really nice roads and have missed seeing a lot of scenery at elevation because of the fog. It looks like I may now miss the same on some of dirt roads I had hoped to ride.
So, I'm generally not in a good frame of mind and I could really use a relaxing ride and to spend a few days in a nice town to relax and get my head squared away again. Heading for Chachapoyas which looks like a nice place to hang out for a few days.
Started off with some rice fields
Then quickly turned into rolling mountains that get steeper as we progress up the Utcubamaba River. Wild river full of very brown water moving fast. Would follow it for the rest of the day.
With the heavy rainfall, runoff takes out bridges, erodes roads and generally undermines things. Along the way we come across dozens of single lane as road crews fix the damage. In a lot of cases the rock above the road isn't hugely stable and sheds little rocks like dandruff in a Head and Shoulders commercial.
At one detour the raging river had gobbled the road right up. They had a couple of excavators in the water when I rode by moving rock but by the time I got back they were on dry land again. That’ll be a big job building that bank back up. Notice I’m standing on the center line where the road disappeared.
It amazes me that we are relatively close to the Pacific Ocean but all of this water travels another 1600 km in the other direction to dump into the Atlantic.
Came through the town of Bagua Grande and the Police had a big roadblock. Pulled me over and there were a bunch of Transitas doing the dirty work. “Transita in Training” askes for my drivers license and keeps asking questions of what appears to be the “Head Transita.” Finally they decide I’m harmless and tell me to go. I grab my camera and ask “Transita in Training” if I can take her picture and she shakes her head and points to the “Head Transita” so, mmmkay, I swing around and take the boss’s pic.
A few kilometers later had to go through a particularly long detour (big bridge out) through a ravine and coming back up towards the highway again a couple of cops tell me to pull over. I’m saying to myself “Jeebus, I was just in a police check a few miles back.” One guy, real friendly, shakes my hand, asks about my trip and where I’m going. Then he points to his shirt that says Seguridad on it and tells me he is a security guard. Then he asks me if I have any money. Up until then he has used all Spanish but he sure knows the word money. The light comes on and I tell him I don’t have any money, start my bike and go. He didn’t get aggressive with me so it was ok. Note to self: If pulled over and you notice the person who pulled you over isn’t really a cop, keep going!
These huge double decker tour buses are all over the place, are driven aggresively and are generally a PITA. Some have sleeping facilities on board and some have a row of seats behind that big front window - that would be quite the view.
Here are a few shots of the canyon as we follow the river up.
Notwithstanding my vow not to do anymore videos, I bit the bullet and did another. This was such a pretty and relaxing ride, I thought I would share some of it with you, particularly for those whose motorsickles are locked up for the winter. The GoPro camera doesn’t do the scenery justice since it has such a wide angle lens but you’ll get the idea. Hope you enjoy. By the way, if you haven’t figured it out yet, when watching these YouTube videos, first click on the little square at the bottom right of the video and that will change it to full screen. Much better.
Arrive in Chachapoyas. Great little town. Nice Plaza. Turns out the hotel I wanted was on a street they have blocked off for pedestrians only. Couple of the boys pack my crap the half block to the hotel. They have parking . . . in the City Parking lot next to the Church. Not the greatest but they do lock it up at night, have a guard and had a place to lock up my loose stuff.
Great dinner. Lomo Limón. Tasty!
- RexBuck's Latin America
Information on travelling in Latin America.
Includes links to ride reports to Mexico and to South America