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Old 06-04-2012, 05:47 PM   #16
Derby City OP
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Bogota to Villavieva

This morning I left Coco & Rufio in Bogota. For them, this trip was a chance to explore new places and settle down somewhere for awhile. Colombia had a way of pulling them in that no other country weíve visited thus far was able to do. Rightfully so, itís an absolutely beautiful country with great people, any climate you could want within a dayís travel, and a lot of culture. It also appeared to be a place where they could reasonably find jobs, so Iím sure that was very appealing to them.

While Iím sure I could spend another month or so touring Colombia with a good deal of satisfaction, I decided that for me, this trip was about sampling as many of the countries that Iíd set out to see. If I left only seeing one country in South America, I think Iíd be disappointed with myself because the chances of coming back to do a trip like this sometime in the future are remote. So this trip now becomes a solo journey.

I pressed on today just over 200 miles southwest of Bogota to check out a planetarium located in the middle of a desert region of the country. This country has so much to see, it reinvigorated the photographer in myself to try and capture some of it. Here are some photos of todayís ride.


This tunnel had to have been 2 miles long. It was good to get out!


Motorcycles don't pay tolls in Colombia. There's a lane on the right of every toll booth where motos pass for free.


This was new! I turned around and chased these guys down to get a pic. The kid on the back of the bike turned around at one point and gave me a 'what you lookin at' glare. Unfortunately that didn't get captured on film.




I finally made it to the observatory, but the sky was completely covered in clouds, so there was nothing to observe that evening. I was able to camp right outside the place though, so lodging for the night was extremely cheapÖonly about $2.50 for the night. Itís amazing just how varied the landscape is here in ColombiaÖsimilar to the United States I suppose. This place has every type of climate and location youíd want to visit; beaches, mountains, big cities, small 'cowboy towns,' deserts, etc.






My accommodations for the night
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:19 PM   #17
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San Augustin, Colombia

San Augustin, Colombia was the next destination after I left the desert. Itís another one of those Ďcowboy townsí that also has some archaeological ruins from a long, long time ago. The minute I arrived in town, the heavens opened up dumping an inch of rain on me. To complicate things, the hotel I was looking for was down a dirt (mud) road with a really steep gravel driveway. I drove around town in the rain looking for other hotels, but eventually took my chances on the wet, steep, gravel driveway and made it up successfully.

Sometimes you get to these hostels, and the group of travelers staying there is a really great group of people. This was the case in San Augustin. I ate dinner and hung out the first evening with the other travelers. Ireland, Germany, France, Argentina and the USA were all represented at the dinner table.

The following day I went out to tour the archaeological ruins with some other travelers at the hostel. Statues here seemed to have funny expressions compared to some of the other ruins Iíve toured on this trip. Hereís a little sample of what we saw.

I'm pretty sure this guy is a character on South Park










The following day, several of the other travelers left, making their way to other cities. I decided to stick around and tour the city and surrounding area on my motorcycle. Paula from Argentina, who was also staying at the hostel, was brave enough to accompany me on the motorcycle around town. We found a couple waterfalls, some more ruins, and lots more nice views.








Every kid took a turn sitting on the bike, some took two. Who wouldn't want to sit on a KLR (please keep responses to yourself)?
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Old 06-06-2012, 05:56 PM   #18
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Shipping by air - Lima, Peru to the United States

Anybody out there shipped a bike by plane from Lima, Peru to the United States?, or remembers seeing a thread here about someone who did? Any info would be greatly appreciated.

Thinking about skipping the winter in Argentina and Bolivia, flying to the USA west coast, and riding home from there.
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Old 06-08-2012, 06:37 AM   #19
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San Augustin to Popayan, Colombia

When you look at a map of roadways in the United States, the major interstate highways are usually denoted with the boldest lines, other major State Highways with a less bold, secondary roads with even less distinct lines and so on. Regardless of what road you look at on a United States map, you can almost always assume the road is paved. Up to this point in Colombia, Iíd been traveling on the roads denoted by the boldest lines on the map, and they were still plagued with landslides and the like. Today I set out on a road as denoted by the map as a second tier to the best roads in the country. It might have a couple more rough spots I assumed, but surely it was paved.

The hostel owner in San Augustin was a real nice guy, and also a motorcycle rider. When I paid him in the morning for my stay there, he informed me that the road Iíd be taking to Popayan was only about 30% paved and 70% not paved. The hostel owner told me heíd been running the hostel for 19 years, and from what I could tell in my three day stay there it didnít appear that he left the place very often. I was hoping that maybe the road had been paved in the last couple years and he was just not aware. It didnít matter though, it was the most direct route back to the Panamerican Highway, and I didnít want to veer too far off the beaten path in Southern Colombia for safety reasons.

Rain started falling about 5 miles before the pavement ended. I only stopped once at the beginning to put in my rain liner before pressing on for 3 hours in 1st, 2nd and occasionally 3rd gear on a nasty, muddy road. I had to keep the helmet visor wide open to keep from fogging up, and since I wear glasses, my vision was further impaired by the rain pouring in my helmet. This particular region of the country receives a lot of rain, so turning back to try it another day would have been pointless. It was the longest three hours Iíd spent on the bike so far. There were moments when I wondered what the hell I was doing and wished I was back at work. I wish I had more pictures of the bad spots, but I was a man on a mission, and the mission didn't include stopping for photos. These couple at the beginning are all I have.

This was as good as it got for 3 hours, and really isnít a good depiction of the road traversed




As I got closer to my destination, Popayan, the skies cleared up and I started to dry out. Itís a good thing too, because I was really starting to get cold. Hereís a couple pics of the final miles on the non-paved section.




When I finally arrived in Popayan, I stopped in the town square to find the hotel I was looking for and was accosted by a drunken shoeshine man. Most town squares are heavily policed in Central and South America and this guy was so drunk, it really wasnít a threatening situation. However, he grabbed my arm a couple times and wouldnít let go. When I finally ripped my arm out of his grip, he fell over on his back on a concrete post. I felt bad, but didnít help him up because I wanted to make sure he didnít think he was dealing with a nice guy (even though I am indeed a nice guy). I had told the guy ďno graciasĒ 30 times already, just spent 3 hours in the rain, was covered in mud, and really wanted to get to a hotel. When he came to his feet, he showed me his back and I told him it was alright. He then gave me a fist bump and went on his way. The next day I found him sleeping under a bench in the park at about 11 AM, one shoe off, one shoe on. I liked him a lot better when he was asleep.

But donít let the drunken shoeshine man impair your impression of Popayan in any way. Itís a college town full of really good looking Colombian college women, and I was happy to be there. There are probably college guys there too, but I didnít notice any. I spent the next day walking around the city, which is almost exclusively painted white. I was told they repaint all the buildings white before Easter week just to make the place a glaring sea of white for the religious holiday. If you go to Popayan, I have one recommendation. Donít go on a Sunday as the city shuts down at about 3:00 PM. I was lucky to find dinner.

My friend's legs hanging out from under the park bench






Wretched non-white building. Conform already, Conform!
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Old 06-09-2012, 09:58 AM   #20
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Popayan to Pasto, Colombia

The guide books donít have anything good to say about Pasto, Colombia, but itís close enough to the border to make it a good stopping point before crossing into Ecuador. Most of the ride was mediocre until about 50 kilometers outside of Pasto. The road turned into pathways carved into the side of the mountains. I broke out the camera to get a couple photos, but kept my eyes on the road because guard rails were lacking. Any misstep could have meant falling thousands of feet into the ravines below.

Hereís a few photos of the good part. If you're looking for guardrails, they're not here












Pasto turned out to be alright. People were out and about in the evening on a Monday night. There were tons of shops open, and people were shopping. The city was also a lot larger than I expected. I wish I could have spent a couple days there, as there had to be something the guide books were missing.

On my way out of town, I was stopped at a red light next to another motorcyclist who chatted me up. Apparently he was an English and French teacher at a local University. He took an interest in my trip, asked me how many days Iíd be in Pasto, and I was almost embarrassed to tell him I was on my way out of town after only one night there. This was consistent with my interactions with people in a restaurant the previous evening. Pasto is begging to be liked by anyone willing to go there.
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Old 06-09-2012, 07:49 PM   #21
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Colombia to Ecuador

Got up early to get started south to Ecuador. I wanted to make a stop at Las Lajas, Colombia to see a church built into a canyon before crossing the border. While back home researching the trip, Iíd seen a lot of other travelers stop at the church in Las Lajas. Iím not usually a person to seek out churches to tour, but this one was definitely a stop on my list.







Official 'I was here' pic, and a moment of satisfaction because I'd made it this far.




Arriving at the Colombia/Ecuador border just past noon I was expecting to wait at least two hours for lunch breaks, plus whatever time it would take to get the paperwork processed. Getting out of Colombia turned out to be the easiest border crossing yet. In no more than 10 minutes both the bike and I were processed out of Colombia. Ecuador was a little longer. Getting the passport stamped didnít take too long, but importing the bike took about an hour and a half of waiting. The whole ordeal took about two hours which wasnít too bad considering I was expecting a lot worse.

Excellent roadways are the first thing you notice in Ecuador. Cars were actually passing me again, something that didnít happen very often in Colombia. Thereís some really aggressive passing going on here though. More than once, there was a truck barreling down at me in my lane at high speeds.


Hereís a few more shots of the first day in Ecuador




Bad news: Iím paying tolls againÖÖGood news: Theyíre only 20 cents
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Old 06-11-2012, 08:05 AM   #22
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Otavalo, Ecuador

Otavalo is known for its market filled with indigenous artisans selling their goods. The market is open all week, but Saturday is the big day for the market. The traditional dress and styles worn by such a large percentage of the townís population makes you feel like youíve stepped back in time against the backdrop of a modern city built for tourism. The town was quaint, felt really safe, and I found it very pleasant overall. I wasnít able to stick around for the Saturday market, but I spent quite a bit of time walking around the marketplace, and it was bustling just fine early in the week.

Otavalo town square had music playing all the time from speakers hidden discreetly in the landscaping.




Traditional dress everywhere....I'd almost call it popular dress


The market






Made a little purchase from this guy. I'll have to model it and post a pic before I leave Ecuador.


Want a beer in Ecuador? This is what you're gonna get...and forget about 12 ounces, it'll be a double deuce
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Old 06-11-2012, 07:19 PM   #23
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The Equator

Another milestone on this trip was reached. Iíd have to say the earth was feeling a bit more round today.

This bucket of bolts made it to the equator


And it brought this cheesy smile


And it was all possible with $1.48 per gallon Ecuadorian gasoline. Thanks Ecuador!
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Old 06-16-2012, 10:18 PM   #24
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Banos, Ecuador

My stay in Banos turned out to be two full days of figuring out where Iíd go next, how many miles I had to go before I reached Buenos Aires, and some blog updating. Banos sits at about 6,000 feet along a river cutting between the Andean Mountains. It rains about 5 times a day, so sitting inside to get a bunch of work done wasnít too bad.

I did get out to get the oil changed in the bike (last oil change was in Granada, Nicaragua). Also managed to get these photos from around town.













Getting into the clouds. No more picture taking opportunities beyond this point.
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Old 06-17-2012, 07:49 AM   #25
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WOW , just WOW !
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https://vimeo.com/42443080
DRIVEN , solo moto to the Arctic Circle
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Old 06-17-2012, 08:28 AM   #26
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think I'll hang out with you on the trip, good luck and be safe.
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Old 06-17-2012, 12:03 PM   #27
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The rest of Ecuador

After all the wrong-hand turns are factored in, it was a 400 mile day from Banos to Loja, Ecuador. Fortunately, 400 miles in a day is possible on the main roads in Ecuador. With all the mountain passes traversed today, I froze and thawed out about 5 or 6 times. Sometimes this trip feels like itís taken 5 years just from all the climate changes experienced.

Arrived in Loja well after dark because so much of the day was spent stopping for pictures and enjoying the views. The scenery continues to impress. Iíve definitely entered the Andes Mountains.












Spent a Sunday and Monday night in Loja, so there wasnít much going on. While in Loja I did everything I could think of to prepare the bike for the higher elevations that will be encountered in Peru.

After Loja, I planned on traveling 100 miles or so south to the border, crossing the border, then going another 170 miles or so to Chachapoyas, Peru. Little did I know that the road conditions Iíd encounter would prevent me from even exiting Ecuador. Instead, I made it to the town of Zumba, Ecuador and stopped at about 3:30 in the afternoon. Zumba is right on the border, and is just big enough to have a few hotels. I didnít want to cross the border late, then get into Peru and not find anywhere to sleep, so Zumba was my home for the night.

The road from Loja to Zumba, Ecuador. It'll be awhile before I forget this road.


Sometimes it turned into a stream


Sometimes it got muddy


It had landslides


Had to get around this guy


This bridge must have had 3 tons of mud on it


Getting to Peru, slowly but surely.
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Old 06-18-2012, 08:01 AM   #28
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Entering Peru

Left Zumba, Ecuador early in the morning to get to the border. It was another 25 miles or so on the dirt roads before I arrived at the border.

One last photo in Ecuador.


I like the small town borders. Here's the Ecuadorian customs office. Migration office is just past the pile of gravel.


Cross a bridge, and you arrive here, at the Peruvian customs and migration offices


The guy at the Peruvian migration office was probably about my age or a little older. When I walked in the office, it was silent. He turned on music as we started the paperwork process and left it way too loud the whole time I was in there. It's not like I don't have a hard enough time understanding Spanish that I need a bunch of loud music playing to drown out everything he said. He also spent just as much time on Facebook as he did processing my paperwork. He was quick though. It didnít take too long to get the whole thing done. Before I left, the guy working at the customs office even gave me a couple fresh oranges for a snack down the road.

According to my map the road was supposed to improve significantly after I crossed the border. That didnít happen though. It was another 70 miles of dirt and gravel before the road finally turned into pavement. On the gravel section, I had to stop every half hour or so just to clean the dust off my visor and glasses. Mileage in Peru from Google maps has also been well short of accurate. I donít think they account for all the switchbacks in the mountains, so itís good to double their mileage just to be safe.

First few miles in Peru were on this road


Donít think for a minute theyíre not working on the roads here. Thereís construction everywhere. If you're thinking about taking a trip to Peru for adventure, you'd better hurry.




Ran into another little road-blocking protest. Fortunately they all realized right away that I donít vote in Peru. The police moved some rocks so that I could get through right when I pulled up.


These little 3-wheeled vehicles are the cab/car/workhorse of Peru


After a 12 hour day of riding and crossing the border, I eventually arrived in Chachapoyas, Peru after dark. The last couple days of riding really wore me out. After dinner, a couple beers, and an Inca Cola I slept really well.
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Old 06-19-2012, 02:28 PM   #29
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Kuelap

Going to Kuelap was the reason for getting off the beaten path in the first place. Hereís how Wikipedia describes Kuelap:

The fortress of Kuelap or Cuťlap (Chachapoyas, Amazonas, Perķ), associated with the Chachapoyas culture, consists of massive exterior stone walls containing more than four hundred buildings. The structure, situated on a ridge overlooking the Utcubamba Valley in northern Peru, is roughly 600 meters in length and 110 meters in width. It could have been built to defend against the Huari or other hostile peoples however evidence of these hostile groups at the site is minimal. Radiocarbon dating samples show that construction of the structures started in the 6th century AD and occupied until the Early Colonial period (1532-1570), however through the pre-Columbian, conquest and colonial periods we have only the four brief references to Kuelap. In lieu of newly discovered documents, there exists no other testimony concerning the site until 1843.

Kuelap is know as the Maccu Picchu of Northern Peru, but it's not nearly as visited. Part of the reason why is the road to it. The road is over on the right hand side of this photo.


And here it sits, a fortress on a hill


This is what the other side looks like


And they knew real estate developmentÖalways build a place with a view. I suspect the Trump family holds, in secrecy, a book on real estate development written by these ancient civilizations.




Some more of Kuelap








New resident at Kuelap
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Old 06-21-2012, 06:30 AM   #30
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Kuelap to Cajamarca, Peru

What a day. Iíve never ridden roads like this. The mountains were absolutely beautiful, and the road was at times terrifying. These roads look desolate, but I was chased by more dogs today than I have been in my entire life combined. I was trying to get to the town of Cajamarca. I knew it would be a long day...it turned out to be a 12 hour trip.



Two major mountain passes had to be crossed. Here's one at 3,600 meters.


Ride atop the mountain for awhile after the peak is reached.


Don't look down




The road eventually starts to descend. You can see the valley in the distance


Get to the valley & you're in a desert with cacti all around. Time to start climbing again.


You don't belong here.




Arrived in Cajamarca and stayed there a couple nights. Lots of politically active people in this town. Seemed like all day long, people were marching around the town square demonstrating for better schools, new presidents, environmental issues, etc.




There's a whole lot of 10 gallon hats in Peru, lots.
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