Across Americas - Discovering the New World on a motorcycle

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by AnjinSan, Jul 19, 2012.

  1. DucHym09

    DucHym09 n00b

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    Vietnam?
    Great RR!

  2. poolman

    poolman Gnarly Poolside Adv.

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    AnjinSan,

    I am really enjoying your photography and ride report, especially your perspective on the encounters with the people you have met along the way.

    Looking forward to seeing your take on the Sacred Valley area!

    All the Best,
  3. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Hi Pat,

    I've been meaning to write you following up on our PM conversation regarding Machu Picchu. I took your advice and went with the bike all the way to Santa Teresa. And guess where we ended up leaving our bike (by total chance):

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    I am sure you will recognize the place. Guys I know that for most, the picture is just of some strange clothes (they are not ours :p) but 3 more "episodes" and we will be there with the story and Poolman's part in our adventure will become clearer. :clap
  4. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Might as well be, but this particular shot is, believe it or not, from a desert. Peruvian desert :) Here is the full story:


    In the desert, passing the last days of 2012: 26-31 December
    The landscape changes quickly once we are in Peru. Everything is dry around us.
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    But the road starts to descend rapidly following the beach line. We are looking for a place to spend the night and among all the 5 stars locations we manage to find a decent person who probably just started the business. We was probably still trying to get clients or else I cannot explain why he gave us such a good price for a bungalow by the beach. Mmmm, first night in Peru the sound of the waves puts us to sleep.
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    Things get serious on the second day as it is time to really meet Peru. First impressions are good and not so good. We are impressed by the landscape. It´s a desert and some might say there is nothing to speak about but I like it. You definitely get a lot of time for meditation. And my mind starts to wander along with the peaceful sound of the engine.​
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    Phill had a functional GPS so we decided to let him go in front. This way we had someone to blame if we got lost. Ahaaa… blame the GPSof course, I was talking about the GPS. [​IMG]
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    Here are the 2 VStroms, old and new model. I might be biased but I prefer the old model.​
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    Landscape changes even more and we are now riding through real desert. Peru is also called “The Egypt of South America”. And it doesn´t take us long to figure out why.​
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    Depressing? Maybe. But there is something soothing about the way the dunes are aligned, shaped by wind and time. Waves of sand dancing with the waves of water.​
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    But the wind starts blowing faster waking you up from your dream. You must keep your eyes on the road as it gets invaded by the sand from place to place.​
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    Second picture bings us to the not so good impressions about Peru. There is garbage everywhere. Yes, I know, it´s a general problem. We´ve seen it in many countries, also in Romania. But we can never act cool about it, nor we want just to shoot the “nice frames” and ignore the rest.​
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    Worst thing is that there is trash even in deserted area where you can see no people. And still, the traces of “civilization” are everywhere. All these might be easily avoided by a vacation photo camera but we don´t feel we are on vacation so we also add these pictures to our photo album. We are not judging, we are not in that position by any means (thinking how much work we still have to do back home in this regard) and it actually hurts to see the same sad things happening here.​
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    I remember how angry I would get back home when seeing some smart guy throwing trash from his car. Well, you better learn how to deal with it inside of you after spending some time in Peru (and later we will see that it is the same in Bolivia). Throwing what you don´t need from your car (paper or other trash) is something common here. I wander what people think when they do this. Do they realize it is not ok to do this and don´t care about it? Or they see all the amount of trash by the side of the road and think another plastic bottle won´t make a difference?​
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    I think I have to add something here: we are on PanAmerican highway so I want to believe that once you get away from the main highway that crosses Peru from North to South garbage presence decreases as well. And also, to be completely honest, it is actually hard to “behave nice” as there are virtually no trash cans to be found nowhere. But who knows? And then I think about the huge trash island that floats in the Pacific Ocean, all “human made”, as example of our “civilization”. Compared to that, this land is darn clean. I am seriously wondering if we will ever win this battle with waste.​
    The only green patches are the ones that have irrigation systems or by the side of the rivers. And there is huge contrast between green and desert.​
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    I wanted to know more about these green oases especially since I couldn´t see any rivers and I read that irrigation water comes through large pipes all the way from the other side of the Andes. Here´s how the Amazonian basin helps bringing the desert to life.​
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    We make another stop by the side of the ocean, in Huanchaco, a resort that seems to be very touristic. But we do manage to find a budget hostel owned by 3 friendly brothers.​
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    Lima is not so far away from here. Another day through the desert and we are in the capital city. Nothing is out of reach of sand out here.​
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    Here´s a view from above of the green- yellow mosaic, where man tried to intervene and cultivate something.​
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    Otherwise, the road tries to find its way between the sand and the ocean. It´s the third day in the desert and I am still not bored. It´s something I cannot explain, the same thing that made me enjoy the endless Canadian preeries (there were different colors there, colors of the field flowers, yellow and purple). I could ride through the desert forever. Ah, I really hope I can do this!​
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    We might be in the desert but one can never forget about basic life necessities, not even away from “civilization”…​
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    There´s no time to wonder about the surprises of international commerce. We get to Lima and it´s December 30. Right on time to count backwards along with many other people gathered by the seaside. 3,2,1 and huraaaay we are in 2013. God help us! We would like to be healthy and wiser than 2012 and we wish you the same thing!​
    [​IMG] Happy new year, 2013!

    Route map for this story:​

    <small>View Larger Map</small>
    Next time we will leave the desert and its heat behind and venture into the Andes. Stay tuned!​
  5. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

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    The desert mesmerizes, it draws you in with open vistas and open skies. I makes you feel both small because it is vast and it makes you feel big because you are the only thing moving, breathing. You own it and it owns you.

    Thanks for the update

    Abrazos mi amigos!
  6. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    A few days ago, we entered in Argentina, just for a day before making a loop back into Chile and Atacama.

    At the boarder there was a sign... so here it is, we have it "in our sights"... well not close yet but hopefully we will get there!

    [​IMG]
  7. GeneC

    GeneC Been here awhile

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    Wow! What an awesome RR! Been spending the last week reading this, nice and slow, enjoying each word and picture. Thank you so much for bringing us along on your epic journey. I'm between bikes. Went from a f650gs (single) to a 97 r1100gs and now I was really concidering a Wee. Your journey also proves to me how great the bike is from a reliability POV. Do you have the ABS model? if not, do you wish you did? I'd really like to get the 2012-13 model because of the standard abs plus the other "minor" improvements that everyone seems to like, but funds are a bit tight. So I might go with a slightly older model.

    Thanks so much for the great RR and wishing you a blissful, safe adventure!

    -gene
  8. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Hi Gene,

    thanks for the nice words. We have the K7 model, very very old but the first year they were produced with ABS as well. And to be honest we very glad that we have the ABS. For such a big bike (and such a bad rider like me) I wouldn't want to be without ABS.

    I only owned 2 bikes in my life both with ABS: a SV650 which I sold and bought a DL650, once I got a wife which liked to travel on bike as well :clap So my opinion might biased :evil
  9. Markaso del Norte

    Markaso del Norte Adventurer

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    Hi Anjinsan,
    I have been reading your trip report for several days. I am enjoying the pictures, and narration! I am happy to see your 07 Vstrom doing so well. I have the non Abs version 07 Dl650. Its nice you and your wife can share the trip together. When I pack for a trip, there is no room left for my wife!
    Stay safe, and keep up the great ride report. We are with you in spirit.:dllama
  10. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Haha funny thing.... when we pack for our trip... there is no more room for our luggage, but for the wife there has to be (otherwise someone will be in trouble) :evil

    Though some here have seen an odd creature for a while: a moto loaded with: 2 riders, 7 pieces of luggage and 2 new tires on top. That was for sure not handling well, but hey, you have to do what you have to do...
  11. GeneC

    GeneC Been here awhile

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    Thanks so much for answering my ABS question. I started riding on dirt back in 1975 and then I bought my first street bike towards the end of hight school in 1980. A suzuki GS425 (my dream bike for the time :-). I was going along on some wet pavement and jumped on the front brakes to hard going quite fast and the front end locked up. How I didn't go down is a frigin miracle. However, it did leave some brown stains in my pants :-). As many on this site, the bikes went away when I met my wife and had 3 kids. Jump Head 20 years. My son and I got into dirt riding when he was 15 and not so long after that I started riding street again. When I realized that they now made bikes with ABS I was thrilled!!!! So now I feel it is a must for me. The only problem is that it really limites your choice on bikes. That's why I went with the f650gs and the r1100gs. I just didn't "love" those bikes (although they are obviously great bikes). Went to the New York bike show this weekend and sat on the new Wee and it feels right on so many levels. So I will try to save for a 12 or find an older model with ABS. Sorry to ramble, just wanted to share what was behind my ABS question :-). Looking forward to your next installment!!!!!!!! Say hi to Andrea and Gunnar for me :-)

    -gene
  12. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Don't worry, I am happy to talk about the bike as well. Again I don't know much about the new model. What I do know from a friend that is traveling with us from time to time (the yellow 2012 model) is that it has a smaller tank. Other than that it seems a great bike.

    If you go for an older model, try going for at least 2008 model which has greater alternator and better other things.

    Good luck in finding the bike. I sure hope to be able to take mine back home once I finish the journey. It might be old, but we kind of bonded...

    Alex
  13. OldTriumphRider

    OldTriumphRider Livin the Dream

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    Just caught up on your R.R. after a week of reading every single word you write!!
    I feel like I'm riding with the 2 of you , the pix and writing are superb!
    It must take some awesome courage to set off on such a journey!
    Thx for letting all of us come along , it must be a labor of love writing such a great R.R. and doing it in 2 languages..
    If you ever come to east Tennessee , you have a place to stay , it would be an honor to have you guys !
    I love your view on the things you see ...
  14. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Where the condors fly!: 1-3 January 2013
    2013 came upon us with Peruvian fireworks. I felt that we have to speed up. One year ago, when all this was a just a drawing in our head, I was thinking that we will be in Ushuaia by December 2012 and in 2013 we will be already going up, heading home. Oh well, here´s the reality, January 1, 2013 Lima, Peru shaking hands with the Dakar 2013 competitors and wishing them good luck.
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    Ok, we accepted the fact that we will not take the 4th of February flight back home (as originally planned), -a sponsorship from a flight company would do as good right now- [​IMG] but at least we can make it to Ushuaia by the end of summer (end of February). It´s time to hit the road. We leave Lima on the 1st of January and move fast past the beaches full of people enjoying their vacation. There are more than full. There were buses full of people! Beaches were really crowded.​
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    We are nostalgic about the beaches up North, so deserted and clean. One more day in the desert and that´s it, tomorrow we will be turning left into the mountains. To the Andes! We stop for now in an oasis, an unexpected but interesting experience.​
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    Huacachina is now a very crowded touristic place but…. it was good for us also that it was listed in the guide of South America or else we would have passed it so we cannot complain. I go up the dunes and cannot help imagining how this place looked like before being discovered by the “travel agencies”. Or how there are many more undiscovered oases in Africa or Middle East, wondering how they are. Wondering if we would see those places someday. This I don´t know but I do expect to see T. E. Lawrence show up from the dunes!​
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    Neither Lawrence nor other warriors can disturb our evening. So we enjoying peacefully this day´s dawn.​
    We meet Phill here and decide to ride together again. First stop, Nazca lines. The best way to see them is from the plane. But our budget doesn´t allow us to climb on a plane so we take the more “earthly” option:​
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    A steel tower that you climb and from where you can see to of the Nazca lines, plus some weird lines. It´s not all of them but it´s good enough.
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    Interesting fact is that nobody knows for sure what was the purpose of these drawings (or who did them).​
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    There are many theories, but “your guess is as good as any” as it read somewhere. We would rather not guess what were their purpose, we admire them one more time and then descend our steel tower.​
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    We wave to our “more fortunate” friends wishing them to enjoy their flight and the views. No matter the purpose, to see the Nazca lines or not, flying is something I really enjoy!​
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    And this is it, time to say goodbye to the desert. Ever since we crossed into Peru the mountains were always on our left side but we always kept our distance following the coastline. Now it´s finally time to turn left towards the Andes.​
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    We are 600 km away from Cusco, the old capital of Inca empire. And we have almost 600 km of windy and alpine roads (or should I say “Andine”) that we take us up to over 4000 meters and down again, but not lower than 2900 meters, a giant roller coaster.​
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    The road goes up really fast and we barely see anything around.​
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    It´s just the beginning of the climb so we cannot perceive how high we will get. We stop to take pictures and realize we have trouble breathing without making any effort.​
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    The vicuñas (wild relatives of the llamas) don´t seem to have troubles breathing, they run pretty fast as we are trying to get closer to them. It´s ok, there will be other opportunities. So far we are enjoying the well paved road (still, you have to notice that there is no shoulder)​
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    Phill is behind us although I am sure he can ride much faster than us on these curves (he is a race pilot).​
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    But why hurry when you can enjoy these views?​
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    You might have noticed something new for Peru in the picture above: clouds! We forget about rain, it was just a memory from Ecuador, somewhere around Christmas. I could say we didn´t see rain since last year… But now we are in the mountains and we are in the middle of rainy season.​
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    How come? We planned this trip so that we could follow the summer from North to South. Yes, this might be a good thing in most of the countries but apparently in Peru and Bolivia summer means rainy season. And when you are over 3500-4000 meters, rain can be more than just water (hail, snow…). So we have to pay more attention to the clouds in front.​
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    So far rain doesn´t stay in our way, we get a few warning drops and then we can further enjoy the spectacular views. We cross a mountain pass (Phill´s GPS says 4560 m) and things turn green. In a good way…​
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    Andreea´s riding jacket cannot protect her from the wind she is wearing her rain jacket for some time now. I am still trying to fool myself that I am protected by the (nonexistent) insulation of my riding suit, obviously created for way warmer climates.​
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    We pass through villages and more isolated households.​
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    And we meet people at the same time.​
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    Quechua. No, not the Decathlon brand but descendants of the Incas. Actually, we were to discover later on that Incas was not their proper name. Back then they were also called Quechua, Inca was only their king, their leader.​
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    They are all friendly. They are waving and smiling at us. We don´t get the ADV sign here…. [​IMG]
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    And we are getting another show as we are looking up towards the blue sky. Unfortunately this show is getting more and more exclusive: the flight of the condor!​
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    The huge bird is performing its majestic flight, way up high in the sky. Our camera doesn´t allow us to zoom to much and get a perfect photo. But here´s a “cropped” zoom:​
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    There are more than 600 km from Nazca to Cusco and you can make it in one day if you put your mind to it. We don´t want to do this so we decide to stop for the night in Puquio, a small mountain town “only” 3214 meters altitude. Not a touristic place but a total surprise.​
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    One of those places where you stop only for the night (hoping it will not be “too bad”) but you discover it is much more than that and find it hard to leave in the morning. Yes, Puquio for us was one of those places. It appears to be just another mountain town that you might pass by without any regrets.​
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    But if you do stop and walk around the “glitter” less streets you end up discovering an authentic Andine world. We had cheap food and accommodation (we got the prices for locals not for turists). We slept in a hotel that appeared to be still under construction but with impeccable rooms, hot water and a dedicated owner. We could carelessly and safely walk the streets (with no police around but also without feeling like they should be there).​
    People were smiling, saying “hola”, talking to us out of pure curiosity and not to ask us for money or anything else.​
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    We were enjoying Puquio.​
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    We went to bed under three lama blankets. It was warm and we slept very well!​
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    Route map for this story:​

    <small>View Larger Map</small>
    Next time we continue our high altitude ride and have to make a decision: we pass directly into Chile or make a “detour” through Bolivia? Stay tuned!
  15. riding machine gene

    riding machine gene n00b

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    I agree with OLDTHUMPERRIDER, you guys rock!:clap
  16. Dracula

    Dracula Deus ex machina

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    Simply beautiful! :lurk
  17. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Going home....
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    For us, it is not time yet!
  18. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    We are in the mountains but still this doesn’t quite feel “usual” for us. Which is a little bit odd as Andreea was born in Meridional Carpathians and I grew up close to Oriental Carpathians back in Romania. But here… strange things one has. At more than 3500 meters altitude, even if it is summer can get cold, real cold and in the same time, if you forget to use sunscreen for a few minutes you are burned. Literally. Here’s the end-of-day result of my burned face with the very sexy (uhmm not) ” motorcycle helmet pattern” .
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    You can notice as well the “central heating system” made out of 2-3 blankets (llama fur, very good) and hat from home. But, regardless of the cold, the posts on Micadu must go on, right? [​IMG]
    And there is also another strange thing happening. We are in a wonderful natural place, the kind of place where you would say you go to take a “breath of fresh air”. Well, here you must really try hard for that breath of air as the oxygen is quite sparse.​
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    We find ourselves waking up in the night breathing hard and not because we had a bad dream but just beacause our lungs are trying to compensate. And climbing 2 flights of stairs with luggage feels like 10. On the streets we wonder how the local youngsters vividly walk or run around without losing their breath over it…​
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    Still, we lake the places very much. We are blessed with another sunny day (which I hear it is quite a big thing during the rainy summers) and we try to adapt as well as we can to the conditions, on our way to Cusco, the old Inca capital. Phill is following us patiently although I am sure he could have sustained a far greater pace. But we stick together and press on.​
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    It is hard to say when we are left without breath due to lack of oxygen or due to incredible views. Curve after curve, the road snakes through green pastures, cleverly avoiding the higher peaks and lovingly hugging the slopes.​
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    We are on llama territory and we are very happy to see them from up close.​
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    We stop. Phill’s GPS says we are at a respectable 4400 meters. We needed a break anyway so we take our camera and try to get closer to the “ladies”.​
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    But these ladies can have questionable manners, we’ve heard, as if they don’t like you enough they can spit you right in the face before moving along. We get lucky I guess as we “pass the test” and we are let to photograph them without getting spit…​
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    It’s sunny, we are in an extraordinary place and the fact that we should make some progress and reach a certain place by tonight kind of fades away in the back of our minds. We will get there if we will get there. While Phill goes on in front, we decide to slow down, and turn off the tarmac road.​
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    A loaded VStrom might not be the best bike to venture out on rocky terrain but hey, we are kind of venturing out of our safe zone for 6 months now. We carefully (and wobbly) plot a route through the rocks and get to a place… where you cannot see nothing else made by man. Only green lush pastures and lakes, guarded by white peaks and lighted up by a blue sky with white clouds. Stop. Don’t move. This is real! This is Peru! And you are here!​
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    Back to the tarmac road, we meet Phill further down a few miles. He was waiting for us as we kinda lost track of time. And space. “I thought I lost you somewhere”. We explain why and he gets it. “Getting lost here might be dangerous, but at least is damn beautiful”. And it is not even all the time without people. We soon find small villages.​
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    The small huts, with roods made out of straws and stone fences seem to just have come out from a story with knights and kings. And the small gardens and shelters for animals are like mosaic pieces spread on the slopes.​
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    Of course, there is no electricity out here. And no running water or waste management. This is kind of to be expected. But even more, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of potable water around (as we don’t see many streams) and also there is no wood for heating. And in winters the temps can go really down at this altitude. We can only imagine the harsh life that these people can have. Still, they belong here. From thousands of years they’ve called this place home and they are bound by this land by the invisible links of their ancestors. For them, this is home. And it is always good to return home!​
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    Like them, we too are bound by invisible links to a place, far far away, that we call home. For a second, the Andean air brought as the fresh pine smell from the Carpathians. We hope that we will be able to get safely and happily there, home, again. But not yet. Not just yet!​
    The map for this post:​

    <small>View Larger Map</small>
    Next time we have some hard decisions to make. Should we “splash out” and visit Machu Picchu? Will we find a way to do it minding our budget as well? And leaving Peru, should we head for Bolivia or directly for Chile? Stay tuned!
  19. JohnnyTh

    JohnnyTh Been here awhile

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    I have been following you guys for a long time now and i must say i love your RR. It truly have inspierd me to do my own little adventure. Its nothing like yours but il try to do Norway Turkey and back. Including Romania and a stop in Bucarest :)
    After all this time -yes i was there from the start- and reading evry word i feel like i know you. i hope you have fun and make the most of your travels. And i think you should see Machy Picchu :)
  20. Frankenfeejeer

    Frankenfeejeer NooB?

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    Again, Just wanted to say thanks. Outstanding pictures, insight and reporting. I sound a little guilty admitting it, but I thankful that your trip is not going to end Feb 4th as planned. More time for me to spend with your RR!

    The meeting with fellow Romanians at Christmas is another little sign of God on Earth. Amazing.