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Old 10-05-2012, 08:13 PM   #256
csustewy OP
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Wow.... just came across this post! Looks like you are having an awesome time. What a trip.
A long way from Higginsville, hugh Jill? My wife and I grew up in Sweet Springs... Just down the road a bit.
Sorry you had a bad experience near Lake Pleasant in AZ. We live in Wickenburg toooo bad we did not have a connection.
Anyway I'll keep up with your li'l adventure from now on...

Glad you ran into our ride report. It's great to hear from a fellow small town Missourian. I went to Sweet Springs lots of times when I was younger to play sports. I'm a long way from home, but can't say I am missing it much at all, having too much fun on the trip. We are happy that you'll be following along!
-Jill
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Old 10-05-2012, 09:20 PM   #257
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Huanchaco'd

After these past few weeks, Jill was especially ready for some beach time. In fact, even Mike was ready for some beach time. So with our thoughts locked on warm, sunny days while lounging on a beach we took off to Huanchaco. That was not the right mindset to be in for the ride that we took. Instead of dropping straight down to the coast, we decided to loop through Cajabamba, Huamachuco and passing by Otuzco to get a more scenic mountain ride. The start of it certainly was that.


(this area is proud of being the best cuy producers in Peru - now that's an important claim to fame)





And then we kept climbing...into a rain/sleet/hail/snow storm at 4300 meters (over 14000 feet). That was cold. These pictures don't do it justice, but you will get the idea. And keep in mind we are already wearing swimsuits and flip flops (in our minds, of course).









Finally making it down to Huanchaco around dusk, we checked into My Friend Hospedaje. It turned out to be a screaming deal at 10 soles a person (US$4) for a private room with bath, and they let us pull the bike in at night. Even better, the hostel was full of fun people (especially Andy, Georgi, and Cassie, also included, Victor aka Vincent). We ended up getting fully Huanchaco'd and stayed for awhile. Some days were relaxing, some party fueled, others recovering, and some recovering by partying. We had a lot of fun.






(pic taken by Georgi/Andy. Used without permission, but we assume they're fine with that)




(Cassie, Victor, Jill, Georgi and Andy enjoying a good morning)

While there, Radioman (ride report linked here) saw the TA by chance on the street and dropped in to say hi. Mike and him had even emailed about Ecuador customs paperwork in days past, but meeting him in person was a pleasant surprise.


(enjoying a Trujillo in Huanchaco with Mark. Pic taken by Mark, used without permission. I'll ask him next week when we meet again in Cusco. EDIT: He's good with it, so it stays.)

Eventually we built up enough self discipline to actually pull ourselves away from the Hotel California that is Huanchaco...
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Old 10-09-2012, 05:41 AM   #258
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good to see the hook up with RADIOMAN!
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Old 10-10-2012, 04:59 AM   #259
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good to see the hook up with RADIOMAN!
Definitely! Even better, we are looking forward to joining him on a visit to Machu Picchu in the next few days! And in yet another testament to his character, Mark even took care of booking the entrance tickets in advance for us.

More from Cusco soon...
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Old 10-10-2012, 05:17 AM   #260
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Revisiting Llacamate

A few years ago, Mike had worked on a clean water project through Engineers Without Borders in a very small town southeast of Trujillo. This trip may be the best chance he ever gets to return, so a visit was a must.

Llacamate is a town of just over 100 people situated in the foothills of the Andes, about 2 hours east of Chao (which sits right on the Panamerican and is not worth so much as a wave if you're drivin through).


(beautiful ride along the Huaradai River. this pic taken on way back down)



As any small community mainly reliant on agriculture must be, the Llacamatians (that word is not real) are extremely hard working and resourceful. That is evident with the monumental effort they put forth to bring clean water to their community. The physical labor that went into this project is jaw dropping: around 5 km of conduction line buried in steep, rocky hillsides; over 3 km of distribution lines buried in rocky terrain within the far-reaching community; nearly 2 tons of sand, gravel, and concrete transported by hand and donkey down and up a steep valley to construct the spring catchment/protection box, let alone the construction of the catchment itself; and the list could go on. On top of the community providing all of that labor (which is far above a stereotypical labor commitment for a community project) they also had to contribute financially initially, as well as monthly, to receive water service. That is the bigger sacrifice for most of the community, but so important to ensure that the water keeps flowing. All of their payments are collected by their community water committee to be used as they see fit. While it's impressive that this project was completed, it is even more inspiring that the water is still flowing and that the water committee is still functioning years later.


(the community extends from where we are standing down valley a few kms, stopping on the ridge at about mid-frame)


(household tapstand. Prior to this, untreated river water was channeled into open wells near each house that were full of microbes and yuckness, but were still the source for consumption)


(along the conduction line)

All that said, it was fun to see some people in Llacamate that Mike hadn't seen in nearly 4 years. They were full of smiles, and all wanted to know when our next visit would be. I did my best to leave that open ended (although my attendance at Zidane's 18th birthday party in August of 2023 would be greatly appreciated).





(eating with Adenali and Zidane)

Zidane is growing up to be quite the man of the house. He is very well thought out with all of his comments and answers, especially for a 7 year old. One of my favorite conversations with him was when he was calling me out for trying to pass ham off as pork. Jill and I had brought some pita bread, ham, cheese, and mayo to make a snack or meal. One night after a long day we shared with Andrea, Adenali, and Zidane. The review was mixed, at best. Andrea did eat all of hers. And when asked initially, Zidane replied that the food was good. But minutes later it was clear that not all of the food was good, as the ham and cheese were all out of his pita and on his plate. Asking more details went a little something like this:

- Do you not like the ham and cheese much?
- I like the bread and mayonnaise.
- That's okay. These foods are a bit different.
- What are they?
- Well this is ham. It comes from pigs (chancho).
- It is not chancho.
- Yeah, it started as chancho, but then was processed to this ham.
- Chancho has fat.
- This also has fat.
- No, chancho has large, white pieces of fat.
- The fat in the ham has been processed to be much smaller, but it is still there.
- Chancho has thick cuts of stringy meat.
...

The conversation went on a little longer, but you get the idea. In the end, the dogs got Zidane's ham. And I don't blame him. They don't eat chancho except on very special occasions (and I mean very special, as in about once per year for Christmas), but if grilled pork were the only form I knew of pig - and they see or participate in the entire process, so there is no doubt that is chancho - then I probably wouldn't be too stoked with processed ham either.



(Adenali and Andrea)


(Keiko, the little one, Katy, and doña Ynes)

One day, we accompanied a group of soccer players up to the campeonato a few towns away. We were swayed to go by them telling us it's relatively close, but Mike should have seen through this - the Llacamate soccer team walked 6 hours - one way - for a match at a neighboring town during one of his previous visits. Sure enough, the town ended up being about a 3.5 hour ride away. Made even worse by the uncomfortable 4 up situation of us transporting Andrea and her daughter Adeneli. Never again. At least we made it safely.






(in late afternoon they ran these bulls around the field, scattering many spectators, who then followed the bulls back to the hacienda to slaughter them for a feast the next day to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the school)






After a quick couple of days in Llacamate, it was time to get moving, but only so far as Chao. One of Mike's friends from Llacamate is now working in Chao, so we met Cesar for a good pollo a la brasa dinner and caught up for a few minutes.



The sunset (and maybe that chicken dinner) are about all that Chao has to offer. We were happy to get moving again after just a few hours in that town.

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Old 10-10-2012, 06:15 AM   #261
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Downgrading the Cañon del Pato

Heading south from Chao took us towards the Cañon del Pato, which is a notorious ride in northern Peru.


(this guy was not going with us)

While I was excited to check the canyon out, it didn't live up to my expectations. I think it would only be a real treat if you had been traveling on the Panamerican in northern Peru (please don't do it if you can help it!). And hell, if you've only seen the coastal Panamerican for a few days in a row, just about anything would glow in comparison. I don't mean to be so harsh -, riding through the 30+ tunnels in the Cañon del Pato was pretty cool, but overall the scenery was not nearly as impressive as what we had seen in previous days, and far short of what we saw in Huascarán National Park. Take a look for yourself...


(alright, alright, it is still pretty nice...)


(let the tunnels begin)






(the road was originally supposed to go through this tunnel at right, but the tunnel design didn't quite hold up)


(big lunch is the best! Especially for less than US$2)


(light at the end of the tunnel)






(Yungay, just north of Huaráz, where we stayed that night for 20 soles, around US$8. Bike parking was in the middle of a small garden with nice flowers spaced every meter around the perimeter. The little old lady watching Mike wheel the bike in just about had a heart attack. But thankfully no flowers were harmed in the process.)
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Old 10-10-2012, 08:47 AM   #262
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Crisscrossing Huascarán

Riding back and forth through Huascarán National Park was an absolute highlight! The scenery was amazing and the riding itself a lot of fun. From Yungay, we went straight up to the Llanganuco Lakes on our way over to San Luis.
























(San Luis, where we stayed. We got there for a fiesta, which translates to drunk men talking to us while literally drooling in our soup. Really drunk men. Lots of drool. Not much more soup eating after that. Fiesta!)




(this young man was proud to pull his weight, even if it was taller than him)

The next day we visited Chavín de Huántar, a pre-Incan spiritual site, occupied from ca. 1200-200 BC (with some evidence of occupation as early as 3000 BC!). The temples were built in phases throughout that period. Later on in that time, the Mosna river was actually diverted in order to create the main plaza. This location was obviously very important to the Chavín culture. The temples and pyramids have a complex network of tunnels, water channels, acoustic openings, and passageways that are still being investigated today. Exploring some of those tunnels was quite an experience.


(Jill walking into the plaza at Chavín de Huántar)


(the Lanzón is considered to be the supreme deity of the Chavín culture. this lance-shaped monolith is the only carving from its era to remain standing in its original location. (Mike felt drawn to this place and this carving in particular, so he decided to make a souvenir out of it. More on that soon...))


(exploring the tunnels)






(a Lanzón look alike)


(the town Chavín de Huántar was a nice small town that has a nice museum with free admission)

Leaving Chavín de Huántar took us back across Huascarán NP towards Catac, once again through stunning scenery.






(high plains near Catac)

From Catac, we turned back east again to head past Pastoruri towards Huallanta and La Unión.


(the road towards Pastoruri)




(the official greeter at the park entrance. This was the second time we had to pay the 5 soles each fee (1st time was up to Llangonuco).)


(we picked up a sheepskin near San Luis, washed it for a couple of hours in Chavín de Huántar, and continued drying it on the back of the bike. The lady offered it to us for 5 soles, but Jill is a sucker (with a big heart) and gave her 20 for it (she did have a lot of kids, and 20 soles still ain't that much). We provided some entertainment, and maybe earned some respect, for the hostel owners in Chavín de Huántar when we washed it and didn't know the drying process. They helped us nail it to their adobe wall to allow it to dry for a full day (less than the prescribed 3) before strapping it to the TA as shown here)






(all of Peru is an archeological site)


(the TA at 4900 meters (= 16000 ft))








(back to highway, but still beautiful)

The ride to La Oroya was cold. Once again we found ourselves in a sleet storm above 4000 m while passing near/through Junín. And then arriving into La Oroya was not a very sweet way to finish the day. that town is a shithole. It's a mining/metallurgical capital of Peru, and has the feel that you would expect to go along with it. Hostels that were reasonable were sketchy at best, parking non existant. Near the hospital there were nice hostels (but nothing fancy) with parking that cost 70 soles and up. So we kept going. At one hostel that had a garage we found a room for a reasonable rate, 30 soles. Instead of staying in the hostel, though, the guy led us next door to this fine establishment:



The room was fair, sheets seemed clean, and bathroom was as good as any. So we stayed. To top it all off, the small door is all you got to enter through, and it remained locked even while we were inside. There was a buzzer to ring to get the employees over to let us out. Classy.


(bus shelter outside of La Oroya shows what the area is proud of. We saw lots of pro-mining graffiti in this town which was quite a contrast to what we had seen further north)

After the beautiful days of riding around Huascarán, followed by a cold and crappy arrival into La Oroya, it was time to get to Lima for some errands.
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Old 10-10-2012, 10:06 AM   #263
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Love the PUSSY room.

That is a must stop in my book

Looks like a great time, too bad the weather didn't hold for you on the Colombian Road of Death, glad you went in the area, worth the ride.
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Old 10-17-2012, 08:11 AM   #264
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Love the PUSSY room.

That is a must stop in my book

Looks like a great time, too bad the weather didn't hold for you on the Colombian Road of Death, glad you went in the area, worth the ride.
Yeah, we still think back to how incredible the riding was in southern Colombia. Even with some weather it was fantastic!

I'm glad we can repay the favor of providing us with some great ride recommendations by providing you with a ride recommendation as well (in the pussy room). Hope your leg is mending nicely and you are already planning your return to VZ.
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Old 10-17-2012, 08:44 AM   #265
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16,000 feet elevation

How did the TA do at 16,000 feet? Did you rejet the carbs? Jets sizes? Thanks I just love this report and the pics are awsome.
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Old 10-17-2012, 11:48 AM   #266
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How did the TA do at 16,000 feet? Did you rejet the carbs? Jets sizes? Thanks I just love this report and the pics are awsome.
Hey Cory - always good to hear from you. Glad you are still enjoying the RR!

The TA moves along fine at those elevations (however, Radioman may disagree as we were recently tagging along with him riding solo on his F800GS...). She can't get anywhere in a hurry, but especially given that she's so loaded, she manages just fine. I finally switched out my clogged old pilot jets for some fresh new 0.040 DG pilots (1 step up from stock 0.038). I'd have to say that the TA was running better at ~16000 ft with those clogged jets (which makes sense), but I'm getting closer to finding elevation appropriate mixture settings. So far I have left the needle position and main jets alone, and still consider shimming the needle (like Ladder says in the TA thread), but am happy enough that I am in no rush to adjust that.
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Old 10-17-2012, 01:21 PM   #267
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Hey Cory - always good to hear from you. Glad you are still enjoying the RR!

The TA moves along fine at those elevations (however, Radioman may disagree as we were recently tagging along with him riding solo on his F800GS...). She can't get anywhere in a hurry, but especially given that she's so loaded, she manages just fine. I finally switched out my clogged old pilot jets for some fresh new 0.040 DG pilots (1 step up from stock 0.038). I'd have to say that the TA was running better at ~16000 ft with those clogged jets (which makes sense), but I'm getting closer to finding elevation appropriate mixture settings. So far I have left the needle position and main jets alone, and still consider shimming the needle (like Ladder says in the TA thread), but am happy enough that I am in no rush to adjust that.

Thanks for the reply I to did the .40 pilot jets and left the rest alone. You two continue to live the adventure for us.
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Old 10-18-2012, 07:28 AM   #268
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Continued entertainment

Hey Guys,
I'm still following your travels since our chance meeting in the parking lot at Mesa Verde. When following your travels it is hard not to envision replicating such a trip, but when reality sets in, one of the most daunting "flies in the ointment" is Mike's ability to repair the Honda. Assuming one has a newer bike like a late model BMW GS, would the maintenance knowledge to keep the bike running be radically different. Another way of asking is it possible/likely to travel thru the areas you have with less knowledge of mechanical repair with a newer bike than the old Honda or is any bike likely to have multiple repair issues due to the terrain and riding conditions?
Be safe and know you are on the trip of a lifetime,
Eric Sandberg
Atlanta, Ga
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Old 10-18-2012, 08:56 AM   #269
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Hey Guys,
I'm still following your travels since our chance meeting in the parking lot at Mesa Verde. When following your travels it is hard not to envision replicating such a trip, but when reality sets in, one of the most daunting "flies in the ointment" is Mike's ability to repair the Honda. Assuming one has a newer bike like a late model BMW GS, would the maintenance knowledge to keep the bike running be radically different. Another way of asking is it possible/likely to travel thru the areas you have with less knowledge of mechanical repair with a newer bike than the old Honda or is any bike likely to have multiple repair issues due to the terrain and riding conditions?
Be safe and know you are on the trip of a lifetime,
Eric Sandberg
Atlanta, Ga

Eric - we are so glad that you have still been following along! (And our license plate bolts have stayed on solid ever since you noticed one working loose in Mesa Verde - thanks for that.)

Honestly, I wouldn't hesitate to take this kind of trip on any kind of bike, but the 2 things that I would recommend most (with more explanation below) would be:

1 - some Spanish
2 - basic knowledge about whatever bike you choose to take

Having the ability to get even simple points across in Spanish will help any traveler in the Americas, from basic exhanges (meals, hotels, gas) to border crossings to police checkpoints to bike issues. And really, fluency or conversational Spanish is not so important as just knowing enough to be comfortable explaining what's happening and what you need.

Back to what you asked though, as far as bike maintenance, let it be known that I am an absolute hack. All of my Transalp knowledge comes from the great resources on this forum (there is a Transalp mega-thread) combined witth the Haynes and Honda service manuals. I enjoy digging into whatever problem may come up, but always appreciate and often require assistance from someone with better mechanical knowledge than me. Luckily, the Transalp has been incredibly reliable, especially given what we've put her through. But there are plenty of moto mechanics in all towns throughout the Americas if an issue does come up. Having talked with a few other travelers on late model BMW's and KTM's, their experience is a bit different. I imagine they may enjoy riding their machines a ton, but often they search harder for brand specific shops for maintenance, parts, and problem solving. In some cases, it is required (no small town mechanic will have a diagnostic computer or BMW specific tools) while in other cases it is a way for them to try to get the best service for their machine. No matter what bike you would take, having a basic level of comfort with maintenance will ease some of that service searching.

I am extremely happy with our 23 year old Honda Transalp. Without a computer on board, I know that I can address most electrical issues, the engine is known to be extremely reliable, it's chain driven, etc. However, I have met riders on late model bikes that are extremely happy with their machines as well (and I've met a few who have had major issues with their late model bikes).

Don't let any of those hesitations hold you back from taking a trip like this. Once you are on the road, it will all start to fall into place. And well, if it doesn't work out perfectly, then you just created an even better story!

We are definitely still loving our trip of a lifetime. And thanks again for dropping us a line - it's really good to hear from you.

-Mike
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Old 10-19-2012, 02:34 PM   #270
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the Dakar is still in Lima (not really, tho)

Although we are not too hot on big cities, they are a good place to get some errands done, which is exactly what we did in Lima. Lima is notorious for having horrendous traffic, and it didn't disappoint, although it wasn't as bad as expected. We had a couple of hostel addresses written down, and were actually able to find them, but both ended up being booked up, so we settled for the Flying Dog hostel located on the main park in Miraflores, Parque Kennedy (Miraflores is the nice part of Lima that all the tourists go to). It was a fine place to park the bike (although we managed to piss the bartender off pretty bad for having the nerve to work on the bike in his outdoor area, despite the fact than no one ever used the space). We thought the hostel was a bit overpriced at 30 soles per person for a dorm bed, but at least they had hot water and wifi. We also had a strange man from the US who stayed in our room who liked to stay out late, wake up early, and nap all day in only his boxer briefs with no sheet on. This man also happened to be older and overweight, making for a pretty embarrassing scene for everyone (but somehow maybe not for him?). There were also two cats in the hostel that liked to spray, making for some pretty weird smells in some areas.

Speaking of cats, Kennedy Park is home to hundreds of cats. We saw some signs in the park asking people not to abandon their cats in the park and also asking that if you want to adopt (= take) a cat that you bring a cage to put it in. Apparently it has become popular to leave your unwanted cat in the park. Many of them have been painted by a mysterious cat painter (favorite color = purple).

The major reason we came to Lima was to pick up a box mailed to us from the states to a very nice inmate, Bluebull2007. The box contained Jill's warmer riding jacket that she had sent home in Arizona and that she needs now. It also had two more CDI's for the bike, since we had to replace the last two we had in Brazil. Not only did we contact Bluebull2007 unsolicited, but he also had to wait in line for several hours at customs to pick up the box. Then when we met him to pick up the box, he insisted that he take us out to dinner. A very nice dinner, which we enjoyed very much. Neil has been in Lima for about five years and runs a silver mine in Bolivia. He is originally from South Africa and picked up quite a bit of mining experience in Africa. He is also a crazy dirt bike rider with some intense stories of riding and near disasters while riding in Peru. He also recommended our route to Cusco, which turned out to be great advice. We really enjoyed meeting him and hope to run into him again when we visit the mine in Bolivia.


(Us with Neil outside of the wonderful restaurant he took us to)

Also in the box were 2 new pilot jets for the carburetor, allowing us to finally get rid of our miss at low engine speeds and poor off-idle performance. After having cleaned the old jets a few times in the past few months, it made the swap pretty darn easy with so much practice. The other important errand to run while in Lima was to find some new brake pads. Even with 3 reputable shops to try, no one had replacements. One offered to order them online, but at a huge mark-up and with a 30 day delay. No thanks. Conveniently while at MotoPerformance Peru, some other travelers pulled up - Jordan (gordojordo) and Anne (aka17) on their KLR650 and Will on his new-to-him DR650. They were in the middle of finding a shop to lace their new-to-them rear wheel, which they did finally get sorted. Thanks to their advice I was able to find a shop to refill our old brake pads, which kept us going even if they are pretty crappy. And better yet, we got to hang out with them a couple of nights later.

Jordan and Anne had just finished up their Peace Corps service in Paraguay, bought a bike from another traveler there, and have spent the past couple of months traveling extensively in Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru. They will be on the road another month or so before selling the bike and moving on to their next adventure. Their friend Will had just flown in from the states, bought a bike from someone that works in our hostel, and was planning on traveling with them south (more on that later). We had a really good time hanging out for the night, although at least one of us had a few too many Pisco Sours to be able to travel the next day as planned. We also had some delicious Pollo a la Brasa, which has become a staple for us here in Peru. You can order a 1/4, 1/2 or 1 full chicken and it comes with french fries and salad. A 1/4 order is a huge amount of food, is delicious, and usually costs 6-10 soles (about $2-4) depending on how touristy the town is. Sometimes we eat it on several consecutive days. We love it.


(Anne, Will, Jordan and Mike post-Pollos)


Perhaps the best errand that got done though, was for Mike to get some art (i.e. a tattoo). After stopping in a couple of shops, he settled on Dakar Tattoo shop, which turned out to do a great job. He was drawn to the Lanzón design from our visit to the ruins in Chavín de Huántar. So now it stays with him on his shin.


(in the middle of the three hour process)


(the final product)



(we always like to see good graffiti)


(sunset from Larcomar, the extravagant shopping mall right on the beach)
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