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Old 02-10-2013, 11:52 AM   #271
ONandOFF
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And greetings from Virginia!
Hi RexBuck, I just came across your trip - looks fascinating. Only seen the last page so haven't seen the whole picture of what you're up to yet. Great pictures and descriptions! Just thought I'd shout out now since you're working your way around Ecuador and I've been to Ecuador a few times and have been fortunate enough to travel around there a bit. I did write up some suggestions for another traveler in case you're interested in seeing that, I can PM it your way. Hit me up and let me know! Am interested to know the cost of hanging out at that beautiful resort in Puerto Lopez for a week with the Mrs. Sure looked fine. Too late to recommend a great restaurant in Montañita... I know... Peace!

PS: love it when people quote your entire post with all the pictures in order to comment...
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Old 02-12-2013, 05:23 AM   #272
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Originally Posted by owlex View Post
Greetings from So. Ca. I've been following your travels and have a question or two.
What's the average cost per day for a trip like yours, ie: extrapolating for the total costs? I'm a noob to ADV but been riding just locally for many years. I will be retiring next year which will open up the opportunity to do long journies, so starting to figure what's attainable for what I'll have ($) to play with. I'm currently all set up with a newer F800GS having had several other Bmers.... so my equipment is mostly taken care of.
Best regards & safe travels,
-Alex
*Owlex
Hey Alex
Welcome to the Forum and thanks for following along.

The cost thing is a bit difficult as I had a couple of things going on that others wouldn't such as spending some extra time in California on the way down and my wife joining me in Ecuador.

So, adjusting for those two things and not including any preparation costs it looks like I have spent just over $100 per day so far. That would be a bit on the high side for many travelers as many camp when they can or use less expensive hotels/hostels, etc I think you would have to work pretty hard to get costs below $60

I don't have a breakdown of individual costs and they vary a lot from country to country. Largest single cost was shipping me and the bike from Panama to Colombia at about $1300.
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Old 02-12-2013, 05:28 AM   #273
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ONandOFF View Post
And greetings from Virginia!
Hi RexBuck, I just came across your trip - looks fascinating. Only seen the last page so haven't seen the whole picture of what you're up to yet. Great pictures and descriptions! Just thought I'd shout out now since you're working your way around Ecuador and I've been to Ecuador a few times and have been fortunate enough to travel around there a bit. I did write up some suggestions for another traveler in case you're interested in seeing that, I can PM it your way. Hit me up and let me know! Am interested to know the cost of hanging out at that beautiful resort in Puerto Lopez for a week with the Mrs. Sure looked fine. Too late to recommend a great restaurant in Montañita... I know... Peace!

PS: love it when people quote your entire post with all the pictures in order to comment...
Thanks for joining in ONandOFF and thanks for the compliments.

You may notice in the titles of the posts that I put the date that particular post occurred. My posts seem to run about one to two weeks behind. So I actually left Ecuador a week ago and am now in Peru. Thanks for the offer though.
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Old 02-14-2013, 03:46 PM   #274
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Feb 2 Cuenca

Wanted to get on the road early today as I have a bit of a big day ahead and not sure what conditions I will encounter. Although breakfast doesn’t start till 7:30, the hotel was good enough to ply me with coffee, fresh fruit, croissants and a couple of bowls of cereal so I can get out by 7.


It was great riding back up the road to Ambato along the river and through the mountains with very little traffic. Trying to keep that little Ecuadorian penalty chart in mind . . . didn’t work. Sure enjoyed it.


In Ambato I turned off for the National Park with a road around Volcan Chimborazo, an inactive volcano on the way to Cuenca. The road was great. They are upgrading most of it so it was a big construction project until the turnoff back to the Pan American Hwy. However, it was pretty flat gravel and a nice ride.




The mountain was spectacular. These photos are taken when I was around 13,000 feet so, still a lot of volcano sticking up.







Gained steady altitude and hit my highest altitude so far south of the volcano at about 14,500 ft. Ran across some Llama again and a whole whack of Vicuñas. These are kind of like a cross between a Llama and a deer. Smaller than a Llama and quite skittish. Had a young one run in front of me just like a deer. They are found at higher elevations. Pretty neat looking.





It is surprisingly flat and arid at this high altitude



Once cresting the peak, ran into thick fog on the other side. Not a lot of traffic on this road but enough to have to keep an eye for shapes appearing out of the fog. Many Ecuadorians believe headlights are only for nighttime so, you have people bombing through this thick fog (in some cases couldn’t see 50 feet) sans headlights. Made for some pucker moments.



One of the other things they like to do frequently is "pull over" to water the plants. In Ecuador, pulling over means just stop in the road. All of a sudden you realize there is a shape appearing in front of you . . . it’s in my lane . . . it ain’t moving. My helmet learned more words today.


The people living at these high altitudes appear to be more traditional natives with both men and women dressing in their distinctive garb. It is pretty desolate up there and has to take a pretty hardy people to eak out a subsistence. Frequently see men and women in the fields with large hoes harrowing the recently plowed field or, cultivating crops. Will many times see people carrying huge bundles of grasses on their backs to feed their cattle.

Some of the people living at 13-14,000 feet.















Down a bit lower, much more conducive to farming. See small plots of corn and other crops. Pastures with beef and dairy cattle. Cattle, pigs and sheep are many times fed the grass growing along the road and they are either tethered or herded, usually by the women.



Soon after rejoining the Pan American Hwy, fog struck again at much lower altitudes. The next 100 km or so was mostly thick fog and drizzle. Going so slow there was no ventilation so had to look over my glasses. Get behind someone else and be patient.

It was too bad for the fog. A couple of brief breaks allowed a quick view of the scenery which was spectacular.

Stopped at this little place for an early lunch and had seco de pollo. Delicious. Decent coffee too.







After the fog, arriving in one little town and they had this picturesque church stuck on a hillside.



See a lot of places along the road with what appears to be a freshly barbequed pig propped up like this. Also, note the cow head . . . not sure what they do with that.



Sorry for the quality of some of these pics. I finally got the last part for my Ram-Mount set up and find it difficult to dampen the vibration from the bike for moving shots.

Finally got into Cuenca, arriving at Posada del Angel located in the old part of town. An old refinished house, it is excellent. Great room, hot water, good WiFi, restaurant. Parking down the street – were going to let me park in a storeroom but I didn’t think my big ass would make it in there.
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Old 02-14-2013, 10:17 PM   #275
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ONandOFF View Post
And greetings from Virginia!
Hi RexBuck, I just came across your trip - looks fascinating. Only seen the last page so haven't seen the whole picture of what you're up to yet. Great pictures and descriptions! Just thought I'd shout out now since you're working your way around Ecuador and I've been to Ecuador a few times and have been fortunate enough to travel around there a bit. I did write up some suggestions for another traveler in case you're interested in seeing that, I can PM it your way. Hit me up and let me know! Am interested to know the cost of hanging out at that beautiful resort in Puerto Lopez for a week with the Mrs. Sure looked fine. Too late to recommend a great restaurant in Montañita... I know... Peace!

PS: love it when people quote your entire post with all the pictures in order to comment...
You're welcome. Glad I made your day
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Old 02-15-2013, 07:40 AM   #276
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Feb 3 Cuenca and Super Bowl

Wandered around town a bit on Sunday – fairly quiet. Pretty, old town with lots of nicely maintained older buildings.

Posada del Angel





I thought the style of some of the older buildings was kind of cool.

















A night shot down the street





The Plaza looking towards the Cathederal





Flower sellers in front of one of the churches next to the Cathederal





Had this outstanding sammich at the Hostel - first pic is the equally good appy







Was sitting around the hostel and heard this racket outside so go out to investigate. Some sort of parade






It stops and they put up this kind of May Pole






Lots of kids, all dressed up in traditional garb








Some ladies in their cool hats









Sunday was Superbowl. I enjoy football but don’t follow it as much as I should, particularly on this trip when I followed it zilch. Couple of weeks ago I realized Superbowl was coming up and was looking for the date to see where I would be on the big day then see if I can find somebody showing the game. Discover to my surprise, that my team is in it.
Since I would be in Cuenca for the big day find out that an ex-pat bar called the Inca was going to have it on. Only problem is that in Ecuador they can’t serve booze after 4 pm on Sundays . . . bit of a problem when the games starts at like 6:30. So, close the doors at 4 and turn it into a private party, problem solved. They had some pretty good beer on tap which was a nice change from the somewhat bland local beer. Oh, the game?

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Old 02-15-2013, 09:37 AM   #277
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Feb 4 & 5 Last days in Ecuador

Had my bike in front of the hostel to get loaded up. Came out after paying the bill and there is a guy sitting in his car right behind me. I’m thinking “you have a bit of a wait buddy if you want this space” . . . he comes bounding out, sticks his hand out and introduces himself as a member of the Cuenca Dual Sport Club and welcomes me to Cuenca. Gave me a couple of stickers. Nice guy and unfortunately, I forgot his name.







Really pretty ride to Loja through valleys and (relatively) low mountains. Saw this Land Rover loaded up with literally everything except the kitchen sink. He pulled in behind me when I was stopped for an equipment adjustment. Had a good chat with David who is from Jersey and has been travelling around the world for 18 months so far. Nice guy.







Stopped for lunch that was perfect. Many times in these roadside restaurants, they don’t have a menu and basicly just ask what you want. Learned to just ask for Almuerzo – lunch. Kind of like the Blue Plate special. Soup, this sprouted corn thing they serve warm (good), rice, beans, meat in a sauce. Very hearty - really hits the spot.










As I approached Loja, started to notice some sloughing off the banks and a lot of rocks that have rolled down. Came around one corner and there is a pretty good stream across the road. Family doing their laundry in it.

Then shortly after that came on this mess – looked like this creek really went wild as it roared down this mountain. Good thing this house was in the way or all that crap would have taken out the road.






Saw these little mini-slides frequently along the road.







There are three crossings into Peru. The one at the coast is apparently the big one, the one at Macara in the middle which is smaller and one at La Balza which is a dirt road crossing. Thought the La Balza crossing would be cool but will have to see how the road is. Judging by the amount of rain they've been getting in the area, I'm not too confident. Head to Vilcabamba and see if I could get a room at a Hostel recommended by many.

Arrived at Hostel Izhcayluma which is a very neat joint on the hill overlooking Vilcabamba. Only have a room for one night so decided to stay the night then go back to Loja for a night. Would have liked to stay at Izhcayluma longer as they have some nice hikes in the area and other things to do at the hostel.











The view









Given all this rain and the sliding I saw coming into Loja, I definitely will not be taking the little crossing into Peru. Which is fine. Talking to one of the Overlander couples who just came up that road they said the road to La Balza was very wet and very slick clay. They were having difficulty steering in a 4x4. With my demonstrated prowess in mud, it was an easy decision.


Short ride back to Loja for another night- have to go there anyhow to get the road to Macara. Wanted to get a couple of things dealt with before leaving for Peru.


Found a decent hotel - Hotel Podacarpus – secure parking & good internet.

In Latin America, many things are built to accommodate the people here. We North Americans are somewhat larger than the locals and you many times run into (literally) things built for the shorter people here like this TV support.








Couldn’t find a place for dinner so settle for a sandwich and Inca Kola. Inca is a Peruvian soft drink and first reminded me of Cream Soda but then had a bit of a bubble gum after taste. Believe it or not, wasn’t bad.





Two other items


SOAT - That is the Ecuadorian vehicle insurance. It is mandatory. When we crossed into Ecuador, the office at the border that sold insurance was having computer problems and told us to buy it in Quito. First clue it may not be that big of a deal. I tried at least a half dozen times to buy the damned stuff and could never find the right place to buy it. Found lots of places that sold it but they either didn't have what I needed or wouldn't sell for an imported bike. Went through tons of police roadblocks and they usually waved me through when they saw I was a foreigner - never once asked for proof of insurance.


My pet peve in Ecuador (and to a lesser extent, Colombia). Car alarms. For some reason the car manufacturers don’t install car alarms at the factory down here so, everyone decides they need those stupid after-market alarms that go through a whole range of sounds from sirens to beeps to buzzers. And they chirp from one to four times every time the arm/disarm the little nuisances. And nobody seems to know how to operate them - they go off when you start the car, they go off when you stop the car, they go off when somebody lets off a firecracker nearby (like all the time).


Everybody has them, they are always going off by accident, everybody ignores them . . . what’s the point? Maybe it’s a status symbol down here, I don’t know. But if anyone knows where those things are made and can blow up the factory, the world will be truly thankful.

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Old 02-15-2013, 11:03 AM   #278
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Feb 6 On to Peru

Road through the mountains heading to the Macara border crossing was quite plesant. Nice curves, great scenery and pretty good pavement.

Right out of Loja I run into stopped traffic. As the line moves up I discover the lane going the other way is stopped at about the same place. Bunch of folks with clipboards are interviewing people going through. Decided to give it a pass and just rode around. If those poor kids tried to give me a survey in Spanish, it would be akin to trying to teach a dog to sing: You’ll just frustrate yourself and piss off the dog. Ran into groups of people doing these surveys all along the highway.

As I got down towards the border, started to see lots of donkeys, goats and pigs wandering on the road. Had to keep a sharp lookout as they liked to stand in the road just around a number of corners.




Four gas stations in Macara. First one had no gas, second one was closed, third one had gas and I stopped at and fourth one looked like it had gas. When I turned in, I was stopped right at the entrance by a guard wanting to know what I wanted. Told him and he directed me to a pump. That was so cool! I would have never been able to figure out which pump was available. At the pump there was also a Policeman (Ecuador police) and an Ecuadorian Army guy. They all left me alone but I thought it strange to have so much security at the gas station. Maybe Peruvians try to come up here for gas? Theivin furners!

This had to be the best and least painful boarder crossing ever. Total of an hour and 10 minutes which included about 20 minutes to wander over to the old boarder crossing to buy Peruvian SOAT insurance for the bike. It looks like they just built a new bridge so Migracion and Aduanas on both sides were in temporary quarters. I think I was the first one through for the day that needed a passport stamp and vehicle documents. Just local traffic and trucks. Very tranquilo.

Ecuador





New bridge





Peru






Get stopped at an Aduana roadblock a few miles down the road to check documents. No problem other than a bus in front of me where they had to check out all the luggage compartments.

Road straightens out now as we approach the desert and then enter the desert. Looks like they have a good source of irrigation water as there are miles and miles of mango orchards and a fair amount of rice. Fields aren’t quite flat so have a fairly complex terracing job for the rice.






Stopped to take a picture of the mangos on the trees and a little three wheeler carrying 3 or 4 guys and a bunch of wood on the back. Stops ahead of me and motions me to come up. Just see these hands sticking out the side waving me up. So I stop and one of the guys hops out, big smile, shakes my hand and offers me a bunch of undersized mangoes. That was really nice of them and they were really good. The Peruvian people are already proving their friendliness.








Little three wheeler moto taxis everywhere . . . literally. It looks like some people might even use them for personal vehicles. Mangos being harvested now and many are loaded down with boxes of mangos that they drop off to be loaded on to larger trucks. There was probably about 500 pounds of mangoes on the back and inside of that 3 wheeler on the right. Pretty typical until their suspension broke then they had to cut back to 400 or so.






Truck probably headed to the city





Even have some grapes





Got to the hotel. Kind of a boutique thing in a residential neighborhood. Get checked in and ask where the parking is. “Uhh, we don’t have parking.” Well on your website it says you do. Well we really don’t but you can park your moto inside in the front courtyard. Works for me. Little tight getting in over the curb and simultaneously make a hard right to miss the door and then over the sidewalk – up and down, round and round . . .

Went down to the park about a block away for dinner. Had pork costillas.







Give you a bunch of fried plantains and some sort of hard corn thing – kind of like peanuts except corn as an appy. Great with beer.





Had a Cusqueña Beer. Black beer but not too heavy. Nice having a beer with body for a change (well except at the Superbowl, that was good too). Immediately my favorite Peruvian beer.



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Old 02-15-2013, 03:06 PM   #279
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Feb 7 To Jaen

Got the bike turned around in the crampted quarters – had to move some big plants. Then was able to ride it out. Sorry I didn’t get t pic – thought I did.

Heading out of town and these 3-wheelers swarm around you like the little motos do in Colombia. I think they only have a top speed of 25 or 30 kilometers an hour. Some of them get modded right up. You be riddin in style with this BMF . . .






Most of the little three wheelers are stock. The largest brand I saw represented here were Hondas. And they are all the same color combo.




Stopped to take a pic of the traffic and these two guys rush over, one grabs my camera and his buddy sidles up next to me, take a pic and then they swap places. Ask about my trip, shake my hand and off they go.












Comment here about my first impressions of Peru. The people in rural areas seem noticeably poorer. People on the desert where I don’t think it gets cold mostly live in these houses basically made of sticks. This is a smaller one – some are a lot larger. Notice however the little solar panel. They aren't completely without civilization.





Having said that, many of the people I have run into so far have been very friendly. I’m getting waved at, honked at and lights flashed at more than any other country. At gas stations, I tend to attract a crowd. Lots of questions about the bike and the trip.

Back to the ride. Pretty straight for the first 150 km except for one little part when we went over the first line of hills. Straight across the desert then all of a sudden some perfect twisties for about 5 minutes then straight again. That was quite the sensation. Actually dragged a peg.





At Olmos, turn onto a different highway and get pulled over by a couple of cops at an impromptu checkpoint. Asks for my documents. Give him the document you receive at the border for the bike and he stood there reading every word of it. I don’t think he’d seen one before. Then asked for my license and stared at that for a couple of minutes. Handed it all back to me and waved me on.

Started climbing up into the Andes again. Great twisties. Nice views. A little truck and bus traffic. Then it got a little foggy. Then it got real foggy. Then I shit myself. Came too close to having serious problems. My fault.

Fog got worse and I welcomed a bus and truck to follow in first gear – couldn’t see anything anyhow. And, I needed to relax. Finally headed down hill and got out of it.

Stopped in a little town for lunch. Had Gallina Guisado. Gallina is an older chicken. Good. A lot of people complain about the local food but I think it’s tasty and hearty and really fills you up. 7 soles including a Coke. Little less than $3 (That's pieces of neck in the soup . . . I sure hope they could reuse those)






This lousy picture is a dam to control flooding of Chamaya River to protect some pretty extensive rice farms for miles below it. You can see where the lake was and it was there recently








Got into Jaen and after trying a few places, tracked down Hotel Prims downtown. A bit pricy at 70 soles (little less than $30.) But, HW, WiFi, Parking (although 3 blocks away). Good to go.

Just remembered they have 220v power in Peru. Guess all my stuff is ok cause none of it’s fried yet. Even my little power bar that is only rated 120 seems to be fine.

Walking around town, come across this construction project. Pouring concrete. No cement truck, no cement pumper. Just a lot of guys with a mixer, shovels and buckets. Took about 4 guys on the mixing end measuring sand and gravel (rocks - big gravel), two guys bucketed/shoveled concrete into the buckets to be carried and 3 or 4 guys carried the buckets of concrete to where it was dumped down a chute.













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Old 02-15-2013, 09:59 PM   #280
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I haven't posted here in awhile, but I am still following along, really great pictures & narrative...

I even got the wife reading this RR....
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Old 02-16-2013, 08:03 AM   #281
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I haven't posted here in awhile, but I am still following along, really great pictures & narrative...

I even got the wife reading this RR....
Hey thanks for the props going south. And, thanks for joining in Mrs going south.
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Old 02-19-2013, 10:20 AM   #282
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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!





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Old 02-19-2013, 12:55 PM   #283
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Thanks for the smooth ride up the river.
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Old 02-19-2013, 02:25 PM   #284
RexBuck OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete_Tallahassee View Post
Thanks for the smooth ride up the river.
Glad you enjoyed it Pete
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www.rexbuck.com - RexBuck's Latin America
Information on travelling in Latin America.
Includes links to ride reports to Mexico and to South America
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Old 02-19-2013, 02:39 PM   #285
squatch.f22
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Thanks for the RR. Really enjoying reading from Alaska!

Squatch
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