Americas Ride - All the countries

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Cisco_k, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. GHT

    GHT Weeee Rider!!!

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2008
    Oddometer:
    162
    Location:
    League City, TX
    It's my dads birthday also.... NO NO NO Chuck is not my father!!!!

    Happy Belated Birthday!!!

    BTW my dad was 82....
    #41
  2. Cisco_k

    Cisco_k Chuck

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    43
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Manizales 10/2-10/3<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    Our first full day in Manizales turned out to be a light day of servicing our bikes, updating our blogs and tending to cloths etc. We did go into town and spent some time looking around and finding a place to eat dinner. Overall, there wasn&#8217;t too much to do and we took a taxi back to the ECO Hotel pretty early. <o:p></o:p>
    Our second day began with a great breakfast at the Hotel and then the owner and her daughter spent quite a while finding us a coffee tour and arranging an inexpensive taxi ride there and back. The tour was at Venecia, which is also a Hostel and from the looks of it a very nice one with great grounds, nice rooms, inexpensive with meals available too. Had we looked into it first, we may have stayed there. The tour, and lunch, was excellent. The tour guide spoke fluent English and was very knowledgeable about the entire operation. We toured the fields, the bean processing areas and also had a brief introduction into the different coffees of the world as well as samples of different grinds and brewing processes. If one wants to visit a coffee plantation and learn about the process from seed to cup of brew, Venecia is the place to do it.

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    <o:p>Road into coffee plantation. [​IMG]</o:p>
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    <o:p>Hostel house at plantation. There is a pool and extensive grounds to explore.</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
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    <o:p>Look at one of the several hundred acres of coffee growing.</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
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    <o:p>The coffee beans on the plant. The red ones are ready for harvest. The beans are hand picked several times to insure that only the ripe ones are taken and the others are left to ripen.</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
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    <o:p>Beans in a cleaning area where sticks, leaves and anything else not coffee is washed off and removed.</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
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    <o:p>Machine that removes outer soft pulp, kind of like the olive meat on the seed.</o:p>
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    <o:p>Coffee beans being washed and deposited in tank after pulp removal.</o:p>
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    <o:p>Drying vats that have heated air pumped up through them so that a thin membrane can be dried and seperated from the beans.</o:p>
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    <o:p>Coffee beans that have been cleaned, dried and packaged prior to shipment to roasters and grinders and then on to the consumer.</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
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    Manizales to Quito 10/4-10/6<o:p></o:p>
    Our intent on leaving Manizales was to ride to Popayan and spend a few days touring the city and seeing the downtown area which is comprised of mostly two story building all painted white. Our ride down there was uneventful and mostly riding through a long valley where sugar cane was the primary crop. When we arrived in Popayan it was beginning to rain and it was also at the height of rush hour traffic. Especially crowded was the old town area where we ended up going through the center of the local market where people and goods were spilling out into the narrow streets. After riding around a bit we finally found a hotel, The Camino Royal, that was in a great place in the center of the old town. It wasn&#8217;t cheap but it wasn&#8217;t exorbitant either so we decided to stay there for a couple of days. The hotel appeared to be very old but well maintained with antiques everywhere. They had secure parking and the city looked interesting. <o:p></o:p>
    That evening we wondered around the streets, had a small bite to eat and then went to a nearby bar to check out the local beers. After a couple of drinks we decided there wasn&#8217;t too much interesting about the beer and headed back to our hotel. As we walked back we found a procession heading our way which consisted of a marching band (only beating the drums), eight men carrying a platform with what I suspect was a statue of a saint, several priests and others slowly walking along carrying candles. For the sound think of Fleetwood Mac and the drum line from &#8220;Tusk&#8221; played very loudly and echoing through the streets. The procession continued to march around several blocks of the old central city and disappeared into the night. We never found out what it was all about and continue to wonder.<o:p></o:p>

    Friday October 5<SUP>th<o:p></o:p></SUP>
    As I said at the beginning of this segment, we had planned to stay for a few days in Popayan, however, that quickly changed and we were on our way to Ipiales by noon. What happened was that we had an interest in visiting the Galápagos&#8217; Islands but had not made any arrangements. While in Santa Marta, the Swiss lady we met named Regula told us about a cruise service that she and her family had used a while back and it sounded like we needed to check it out. Joe sent an email around 10am and inquired about a trip. The service owner emailed back that there was a five day trip available, due to a last minute cancellation, and if we didn&#8217;t want it we would have to wait until November. Additionally she quoted us great price and after emails and a phone call we quickly changed our plans, packed, checked out of the hotel and we were out on the road by noon.<o:p></o:p>
    We picked our destination city as Ipiales because it is as close to the Ecuadorian border as you can get being less than 5K away. It is not a city that I would recommend for travelers, that is unless you are looking for a dump and plenty of prostitutes. I say that because not only was the city dirty and run down but everywhere we would stop to check on a hotel several pimps would approach us. Having left Popayan in a rush we had not made hotel reservations and it dark was approaching as we arrived. Just the time that I guess some people may have been looking for more than a room. We ended up going all over town and finally picked what looked to be the best one in town. The lady at the desk was quite nice and we didn&#8217;t have any problem booking two separate rooms at only about $12.00 US each per night. We may have been some of the rare people that just wanted a room for the night to sleep. The inside of the hotel had several paintings of nude women on the walls so we got some idea of what else it may have been. Our bikes were parked about two blocks away at a secure lot with a 24 hour guard so we didn&#8217;t worry about them. Other than noise in the hall and lots of street noise outside our windows, it actually wasn&#8217;t too bad a room. Well, with the exception of no toilet seat on my toilet and no shower head or hot water in Joe&#8217;s room, but we made do by sharing.
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    <o:p>Typical sugar cane field that was on both sides of the road in most of the long valley that we traveled through on our way to the border.</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
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    <o:p>Hotel in Popayan. It says Hostal but it is indeed a hotel.</o:p>
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    <o:p>A look down the street in front of our hotel. Notice the buildings are all white and two stories.</o:p>
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    <o:p>The view from our room.</o:p>
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    <o:p>The view from our room in the fine city of Ipiales. Notice the other hotels across the street. Rent by the hour I think.</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>

    Saturday October 6th<o:p></o:p>
    We were out of Ipiales and headed to Quito by around 8:30am. The border crossings weren&#8217;t really too bad and a few minutes looking around at each one was all that was need to figure out the proper line to get into. The bikes had to be inspected and the papers we received from the DIAN (customs for importation) office in Cartagena were turned into the inspector. He checked for the VIN numbers from about 30 feet away so he must have had really good eyes. Leaving Colombia only required a stamp in the passport and the motorcycle inspection and entering Ecuador took only filling out one form, getting our passports stamped but no motorcycle inspection or even listing them. At no time when we rode out or in was there someone on the road checking for proper documentation so I have a feeling that someone could easily just drive out of one and into the other country without any regard for the border crossing.<o:p></o:p>
    Ecuador at once had the appearance of a country that was more prosperous and refined. The small towns were cleaner and the buildings were much better kept. In one larger city, Otavalo, I missed a turn at a traffic circle and ended up going through the middle of the old city. I was very impressed by the newness, cleanliness and order in that area. <o:p></o:p>
    The reason I had missed the turn and Joe didn&#8217;t alert me was that we had become separated a few miles back as we exited the mountains. Joe had passed a car and most likely some trucks too before I was able to also pass (not a new thing because we often get separated by a little distance while passing in the mountain areas) and I was trying to catch back up with him. We were running low on gasoline so Joe stopped and while he was stopped I passed him. Perhaps a car or truck had blocked him, and I kept going assuming he was ahead of me and I needed to catch up with him. Some distance on I decided I could go no more without stopping for gasoline myself. While filling up my bike, Joe rode up beside me and said hello. It was nice to be back together since we didn&#8217;t have a location in Quito programmed into our Garmins. What we would have had to have done is either both find a place with internet and email each other or use our Spot&#8217;s to find each other. Joe has a data plan on his phone but I have nothing but my computer. We have decided that if we are separated again, I will stop and send out a message from Spot and then wait for Joe to receive it and check my location. I will have to just wait around but we will be able to locate each other. We will also try not to repeat the situation.<o:p></o:p>
    Things were going very well for us that day for finding our destination in Quito too. The address we had for the hostel where we would stay (Casa Girasol) was where our tour would begin, but it was not showing up in our map searches. We just headed into town, rode quite a way and then decided to stop for some lunch and try to figure it out. While eating I asked a local about the address and upon looking at it he said we were lucky and that we were only three blocks one way and two the next from our destination. After that we were able to locate the hostel which is joined to the travel agency (Cometa Travel). We spent the night, had a great breakfast and left our bikes securely parked in the drive in front of the owners car (the hostel and drive are inside a gated courtyard). The owner, also travel agent, handed us our airline tickets to the Galápagos&#8217; Islands then drove us to the airport and waited to make sure there were no problems.<o:p></o:p>
    #42
  3. GHT

    GHT Weeee Rider!!!

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2008
    Oddometer:
    162
    Location:
    League City, TX
    Photos on the blink again.....
    #43
  4. Cisco_k

    Cisco_k Chuck

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    43
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Sorry, I didn't set up sharing in the folder holding the files. I hope this takes care of it and will double check the permissions in the future. :evil
    #44
  5. knthrall

    knthrall n00b

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2012
    Oddometer:
    5
    Photos are great sweetie! Makes me want to consier becoming a coffee drinker. Cant wait to see the pictures of the islands,
    #45
  6. bob393

    bob393 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2010
    Oddometer:
    394
    Location:
    Goshen, NY
    Great report and thanks for sharing it. Photos are working for me, and a happy belated birthday.
    #46
  7. Cisco_k

    Cisco_k Chuck

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    43
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    The trip to the islands began on Sunday morning with a trip to the airport and a flight of about three hours which included one stop. I found myself sharing a row of seats with two of the nine students that were going to be on our boat. The students were going on a one week cruise as part of a semester abroad course that focused on biology in Ecuador. Other than the students, their professor and his assistant, we were two of the four other passengers. The boat has a crew of seven, plus an English speaking guide, and up to 16 passengers.
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    From the airport we caught a bus to the harbor where we were transported by one of the boats skiffs to the ANGELITO I. Joe and I had an upper deck berth, which was nice because we had windows and a door that opened to the deck. All berths are two person with a bunk bed and a bathroom with toilet, sink and shower. It may not have been as plush as some of the new cruise ships but it was complete and good for our needs.
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    One thing that really stuck out was the quality of the meals. We had the usual three per day plus snacks after excursions. There was a full variety of food prepared for us and it never seemed to repeat. The two cooks couldn’t have made more tasty or presentable food. It was better than any cruise ship that I have been on, even when taking into account the special meals that one can pay extra for on a cruise ship. We always had fresh fruit and vegetables as well as a variety of meats and fishes.
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    I was impressed by the skills of the crew in handling the boat and in handling the skiffs that transported us to and from islands. A few times the waves were fairly high when we had to step out on a rocky shore and the skiffs were maneuvered and held in place against the rocks in a way that amazed me. The crew was also as friendly as one could hope to find. The boat was always kept clean and orderly.
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    The time for excursions and snorkeling was maximized by traveling mostly at night while we were sleeping. Our meals were almost always served while we were anchored in protected waters so that the boat was stable while we ate. A few times while sailing at night, we did have some rough waters and it was difficult to find a position to sleep in where I wouldn’t keep rolling back and forth and waking up. Some of those on board had a problem with the pitching of the boat when it got rough, but they took something for their motion sickness and no one had any problems after the first day. The problems that Joe and I had the most were walking when the boat was moving about. We found ourselves bouncing off the bulkheads and stumbling about like drunks. And, we didn’t have that much to drink either.
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    We were up and eating breakfast at 7:00, in the skiffs at 7:30 for a morning excursion. The excursion either went until just before a 12:00 lunch or it went until about 10:00 when we would return to the boat and get ready to go snorkeling for about an hour and a half. For the snorkeling the adults wore wet suits while the students choose to save $5 per day and swim without one. The water was cold even with a wet suit and I’m not sure how the students made it other than they are young. The tours were very relaxed and everyone had all the time they needed to look about and take photographs. Sometimes we would get pretty strung out because we didn’t have to stay in a tight ball but we did not move on to the next sight until we were all ready.
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    The tours of the islands were amazing because none of the wildlife was afraid of us. One could go right up to mother sea lions and their young, or birds nesting in bushes or on the ground and none of them moved. While on one beach a sea lion came over within six inches of my foot, sniffed my leg and proceeded to put its head down and snooze. In the water the sea lions would seem to play with us by charging right at our face and turning at the last minute then zipping around and under us. The sea turtles paid us no attention at all as we swam around them. The iguanas, both the land and the sea ones seemed as though they couldn’t care less about our presence. The sea iguanas would often be found on the rocks in heaps of ten or fifteen as they warmed in the sun and they acted as though we weren’t there. One actually had to watch their step to keep from stepping on iguanas or other lizards. We saw birds sitting on eggs only a foot or two away from us and birds returning from the sea to feed their young right next to us. It was truly an amazing experience.
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    The government has special rules for the tourist in the park and it is all intended to not only preserve but to restore it to the original conditions before man and the introduction of so many foreign species of plants and animals. On one island there were over 100,000 goats that had to be eradicated because they had gone wild and were stripping the island clean of vegetation. Tours are restricted to visiting certain islands only on very strict rotations and groups are limited to 16 people and one guide. The guides are all trained and registered. There are pathways to follow on the islands and there are restrictions as to where swimming and snorkeling can take place. But, all the restrictions do not seem to have an impact upon what the visitor can see because the wildlife has settled not only next to the paths but on the paths as well. The only real limitations for visitors are to not take anything at all from the islands, to not touch the animals and to take no food ashore either for the animals or themselves.
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    It was a very enjoyable experience on the boat. The students were all well behaved and even tolerated Joe and me giving them our conservative view of how the world should operate. If one is interested in a trip to the Galápagos’ Islands, I would highly recommend using this same travel service. The service, hostel and boat are all co-owned and they take pride in providing the best service possible. To book something with them, or to just find out about it, go to: www.angelitogalapagos.com
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    Our boat and home for the next five days. It was constructed 20 years ago in the Galápagos’ Islands of local wood. It is 70 feet long, 22 feet wide, with three decks and a speed of 10 knots.<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]


    Our plush accommodations. It is not an optical illusion; the top bunk is narrower than the lower one. Joe had first selection choice so I got it. At least there was almost half an inch to spare between my head, feet and walls.<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]

    The professor and most of his students having our first lunch.<o:p></o:p>
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    The rest of us at the second table.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p><o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
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    <o:p>We received daily briefings from our guide Fabian about where we were going, the history and what we would find when we got there.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
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    One of the first land iguanas that we encountered at our first shore excursion. It’s about three feet from snout to end of tail.<o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]

    The sea iguanas were all black so that they would absorb heat from the sun before diving for food.
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    The larger sea iguanas would have some color, but mostly dark. This one is about 3 feet long.
    [​IMG]

    Notice the white crystals on his snout. They have formed from the salt that is sneezed out after they ingest sea water.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p><o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
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    <o:p>Getting and out of our two skiffs was a bit tricky when the seas were a little rough.</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
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    <o:p>After each excursion to an island or for snorkeling, the crew would have a snack ready for us upon our return. Notice who is first to grab something. Oh, by the way, Joe wears a lime green shirt.
    [​IMG]

    There were even Galapagos penguins.
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    Sally Lightfoot Crabs were plentiful. They are dark when young but after several molts, they turn bright red and orange. I understand they are tasty but protected.
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    Here’s a look at some of the coral that grows around the islands.
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    One of many large schools of fish that one sees while snorkeling.
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    he sea lions love to check out the snorkelers and would swim close and blow bubbles in ones face.
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    In one area we swam with about 15 giant sea turtles. One could swim up close enough to touch them and the turtles didn’t pay any attention.
    [​IMG]

    Here is a close up of the turtle eating sea moss off the rocks.<o:p></o:p>
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    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
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    <o:p>And, there were other fish swimming about us. We saw three different types of sharks from the docile White Tipped Galapagos Reef Shark to a more aggressive hammerhead. I don’t know what this one is. It was about five feet long.
    [​IMG]

    I had to get into one photograph with the sea lions.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
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    <o:p>This pup seems to be making the most of waiting for mother to return from eating and feed it.
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    This is what the sea lions do really well on the beaches and rocks.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
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    <o:p>This one’s wait for mother to feed it is over.
    [​IMG]

    This male bull had been swimming in the water keeping other males from coming ashore but came out and put itself in from of some of his harem when he though we posed a problem. He gave loud warning calls to let us and any other sea lions know that he owned this part of the beach.
    [​IMG]

    This pup is so new that its umbilical cord is still attached. It can be seen draped across the mother’s flipper.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p><o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
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    <o:p>Here is the famous Blue Footed Bobby and her young chick.
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    This chick is waiting for the mother or father to return and feed it.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
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    <o:p>It wouldn’t be a trip to the Galapagos without seeing the tortoises.
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    Over the years much of the population of tortoises was wiped out by either hunting, rat infestation or other introduced predators. The park service has a well-developed program for hatching and reintroducing tortoises to all the islands.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p></o:p></o:p></o:p></o:p></o:p>
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    #47
  8. CourtRand

    CourtRand Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2009
    Oddometer:
    227
    Location:
    Quito, Ecuador
    Hi - just cathing your RR now - it is great to see someone put so eloquently why I named my company "FREEDOM" - it is really the feeling you get here when you ride.

    If you are still in Quito, please stop by so we can help you with some maps and some route advice!
    #48
  9. vintagespeed

    vintagespeed fNg

    Joined:
    May 9, 2011
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    1,941
    Location:
    Rancho Cucamonger, CA
    kickass ride report, subscribed! thanks!
    #49
  10. GHT

    GHT Weeee Rider!!!

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2008
    Oddometer:
    162
    Location:
    League City, TX
    Well looks like you guys are having the time of your lives, glad you are sharing it with us pofolks back at home! :D

    Have fun and be SAFE!!!

    And keep the pictures coming......
    #50
  11. rtwpaul

    rtwpaul out riding...

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2,390
    Location:
    round the world

    can you elaborate on this, where (town/ area) and what was the problems, i'll be in that area soon, would be good to know what to look out for
    #51
  12. MysteryRider

    MysteryRider Laughing at danger

    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
    Oddometer:
    949
    Location:
    Veracruz, Ver. Mexico
    Excellent report!
    Thanks for taking time out from your adventure to post.:clap
    #52
  13. bogriffinrides

    bogriffinrides Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2006
    Oddometer:
    80
    A Great ride report. Thank you for sharing. I made the trip in 2006, but you are showing me another side of many of the places. Keep up the good work.
    #53
  14. MarcoDallejandroVega

    MarcoDallejandroVega n00b

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1
    Yo Bro (In Law)

    So proud and psyched about your adventure!
    Want you to know I'm following.

    Be safe and keep pushing the envelope!

    Oh yeah one little thing... couldja pop back and load up one of those bags of coffee for me?
    I'm sure you can easily find a spot on the KLH right?

    Blessing on your fantastic voyage.:freaky

    Marc
    #54
  15. Cisco_k

    Cisco_k Chuck

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    43
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you but we've either been out of internet touch or we've had very little time to log in and check or comment.

    In Colombia we were going to go up to the most northern town in South America, Caserio Taroa, so we could add it to the most southern, western and eastern. No real reason to add all the points other than having a destination. While on our way up north from Cartagena we were talking to a local and he told us of some unrest in the area up north. It seems that it was labor related and not political. He said that there had been some shots fired at some vehicles, boats and buildings in the coal company areas. It seems that the workers aren't happy with their lot in life and want some attention. We decided that, after finding out that the road we were to take is mainly a coal haul road and is full of nothing but coal trucks and has little or no scenery, there wasn't a reason to go anyplace where someone was shooting at anything.
    #55
  16. Cisco_k

    Cisco_k Chuck

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    43
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Thanks to all of you that have left me comments and thanks for my posts. I’m enjoying reporting about my ride and offer an apology for the length of time that it has been since my last post. The ride has been progressing, although it has been tough too. I will catch up on it as soon as we have a little break. My last post was from Quito, Ecuador when we returned from the Galapagos Islands. Since then we have made it down to Nuevo Chimbote, Peru. We hadn’t planned to ride here but are on our way to Lima, Peru to get new fork seals for our bikes. We both blew out both seals on each of our bikes; that should tell you something about the kind or ride we’ve been on as well as the off pavement road conditions in the remote mountains. Anyway, more to come as soon as we take a little break. For now, you can follow my current movements, and look at the history too, at the following link: <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    http://spotwalla.com/tripViewer.php?id=55c3504ed2a3d0244&showInfo=yes

    Still haveing fun! :D

    <o:p></o:p>
    #56
  17. Cisco_k

    Cisco_k Chuck

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    43
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Wish I had room but I had to throw out a bundle of $100.00 bills the other day because I couldn't get the top case closed. You'll have to settle for Starbucks for now.
    #57
  18. Cisco_k

    Cisco_k Chuck

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    43
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Quito 10/14<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    We left Quito early so we could get in some good riding time and be able to take some remote roads that we had been told about at the hostel where we were staying. The person that told us about them had done this part of the ride in 2003 and said that it was really beautiful and that there were few cars or trucks and that it would be high in the mountains. On our way to our next stop, Cuenca, we were on E35, which is the Pan American Highway, and we would stay on that highway all the way to Loja where we would begin the &#8216;scenic route&#8217;. By the way, the highway markers like E35, as with all road markers, are few and far between and in most towns, especially the small ones, there are no markers at all. Quito is at an elevation in excess of 8,000 feet and we worked our way up to a pass that was 11,900+ feet. The roads were in great shape and made riding them a pleasure as we descended and rose throughout the day. The countryside was green and well-tended with a patch work of small plots of farmland. As we headed to Cuenca the area changed to a much more rural setting and we began to see indigenous peoples dressed in their traditional clothing. I had often though that the red and blue wool clothing and hats on the women that one sees in photographs of the people may have been staged and wasn&#8217;t really what they would be wearing on a daily basis. To my surprise, the majority of them dressed and looked exactly as the photographs one sees of the indigenous peoples in the rural areas.

    So you know we were there, here is street in the old section of downtown Quito as well as the central square.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Leaving Quito
    [​IMG]

    Cuenca 10/15<o:p></o:p>
    Our plan was to ride from Cuenca to Jaen, about 200 miles, including crossing the border into Peru. That was a bad plan, or at least it didn&#8217;t turn out as well as we had hoped. At Loja we took the road less traveled and found ourselves on a bumpy and winding gravel/dirt road where we were unable to do much over 20 mph. The road was narrow due to overgrowth and the turns were often so tight that one would be in first gear slipping the clutch to make them as they would many times be at the start of a steep grade. There were also trucks and buses using the roads and there were some interesting encounters at some of the turns. Our speed was so slow that we could clearly see that we would only make it about half way to our intended stopping point so we picked the next town that we came to as a place to stay.

    <o:p>This doesn't look too bad and it wasn't, at first.</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>

    Valladolid 10/16<o:p></o:p>
    The town was Valladolid and it was our first encounter with, how should I say it, less than the accommodations that we have become use to having. As we arrived in town, a town of a few hundred at most, we asked if there was a hotel and were told to go one block, turn left and that it would be the big house. We did as told and didn&#8217;t see anything that looked like a hotel so we stopped in the town square, only one block from where we started, and asked again. People pointed back to the middle of the block we had just ridded to a half built building that looked as though it could fall down at any time. We rode over to it and a woman said that it was the hotel and it would cost us about $4 each for a private room or the same to share one. She said we could park our bikes inside the building so they would be safe. The beds were like rocks, the TV in the sitting area got three channels, one with the soccer match, the bathroom was shared by the building and had no hot water and a very crude wall and door for privacy, but it was a roof over our heads. We went to the square and after much asking found something to eat. Somewhere in our hotel, which was still under construction, there were many people living as they would come and go all night as well as all get together early in the morning and eat before leaving about the time we got up and went for breakfast. Everyone was nice to the &#8216;gringos&#8217;, although the whole town stared a lot, and we were on the road around 8 or 8:30.


    Here's the outside of our 5 star hotel.
    [​IMG]

    Great parking. We didn't have to carry our things too far.
    [​IMG]

    And here's the nice sitting room.
    [​IMG]

    I'm not sure if the wiring is up to code. But, all the fixtures were the same throughout the building..
    [​IMG]

    The town square was nice with a playground and church.
    [​IMG]

    It's kind of what one would think of finding in the old west. Where's Miss Kitty and Matt?
    [​IMG]


    San Ignacio 10/17<o:p></o:p>
    As we headed toward the border it seemed that the day would be about like the previous one with some slow going but not too difficult. We had our first stop at a military check point where all they wanted to see was our passports and ask us a few questions about our bikes. It was a pretty standard thing and was at a permanent checkpoint with a building (shack) and crossing arm. A short distance later we stopped to fill up at the last gas station with the government subsidized gasoline, $2.00 per gallon for premium. There were more military members at the station and they took down our license tag numbers as well as our passport numbers. I think they are there to keep people from filling up with subsidized gas and selling it in Peru since the same gas on the Peru side costs about $6 or $7 a gallon.

    <o:p></o:p>
    As we go to the border, things went downhill for us. All seemed well at first and we had our passports stamped with exit stamps. It also started to rain about this time which should have indicated that things were not going well. We then went back to our bikes and waited for the crossing arm to be lifted and when nothing happened we asked why and were told we had to see the customs agent about our bikes. He asked for the papers we received when we entered from Colombia and we both told him that we were told by two different officials (true too) at the Ecuador border that we didn&#8217;t need anything. He said no documents, no exit. He said we would have to go back to Loja and sort it out. That would take us three days to do and we didn&#8217;t like that prospect. We asked if there was any way to take care of the documentation there, pay a special fee or anything at all. He kept saying go to Loja. The border guard seemed to understand our plight and kept talking to the agent and finally got him to call his superior. We could hear him saying that we were from the USA, had been to the Galapagos Islands and were tourists. Finally, after a long conversation, we were told to just go let Peru handle the problem because when they checked the bikes in they would be covered by a multi country agreement. The agent didn&#8217;t like it but he let us go.


    <o:p></o:p>
    We got to the Peru side of the bridge and the border agent was not to be found and we waited and waited for over an hour until the customs agent in Peru decided to process our papers even though we were not officially in Peru until the border agent stamped our passports. Over an hour has now passed and our bikes are sitting on the bridge behind a crossing arm, oh did I mention that it is raining too. Finally after an hour and a half the border agent returns, has us fill out some papers, go to the police building (across and down the street that is now deep in mud) and get a security clearance. We return to the border agent and he stamps our passports, the customs agent gives us the papers for our bikes and after about two hours we go out to our bikes on the bridge, the arm is lifted and we are officially let into Peru. Oh, it is still raining, and very hard too.


    <o:p></o:p>
    We ride, slipping and sliding for quite a ways until we finally get to some fairly dry road and begin to speed up all the way to 20 mph when we actually hit pavement and begin to feel better. The pavement doesn&#8217;t last long and we come to new road construction which means new dirt. The new dirt wasn&#8217;t too bad except we got to a place where there had been a landslide and traffic was stopped. We spent about an hour and a half stopped before the road was opened. By this time it had begun to rain again. New dirt, lots of rain, lots of trucks, buses and cars equal mud from half an inch over rocky areas to four inches in some areas. Oh, on top of all of that, it was now getting dark. For a real experience try riding through deep mud for miles, in the rain, in the dark. There were times when we were walking our bikes through places where we were doing all we could to just stand up. Some places the trucks and cars were having trouble inching up hills without slipping off the road. We did the last two hours of the ride in first gear. I would say that it was the worst riding that I have ever experienced&#8230;that is until two days later. Anyway, we did find a decent hotel, the Gran in San Ignacio and stayed there for the night.


    <o:p>The road to the border didn't start out too bad although it was narrow.</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p>Then came the border. Just starting to rain and wishing we could get past the bamboo gate.</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p>We saw this view way too many times as we waited for the border agent.</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p>Some of the German riders that were on the same path as us. They had helped us find a hotel the previous night.</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p>They had to be on BMW's.</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p>A little road side stand where we took a break. Notice how close it is to the highway. They like to be where the speed bumps slow the traffic.</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>


    Chachapoyas 10/18<o:p></o:p>
    The ride to Chachapoyas started out in the mud but soon we were on asphalt and enjoying a ride up a long river valley. It was one of the best rides that I have done (although anything on a hard surface would have looked good) with smooth sweeping turns, the mountains rising on both sides of us and everything as green as I have ever seen. We climbed several thousand feet and turned off the main road to ride on up to Chachapoyas. Chachapoyas is a nice little town with the standard central square surrounded by shops, hostels and restaurants. We stayed at the Amazonian Hostel, where by the way the owner spoke pretty good English. There was a secure parking lot only a block away and we had a private room with bathroom. We were there well before dark and had time to relax a bit. We met some German travelers (Almost all travelers are from Germany and I don&#8217;t know if there is anyone left in the country) and had dinner with them at a restaurant recommended by the hostel owner. They also knew some other riders that we had met and talked to a couple of days before. They are driving through North and South America.


    Nice road up the valley with the river to the left.
    [​IMG]



    Another photo of the road up the valley.
    [​IMG]


    Here is in front of the Hostel Amazonia with the owner in the doorway.
    [​IMG]


    The square across the street.
    [​IMG]


    Balsas 10/19<o:p></o:p>
    Leaving Chachapoyas a little late, we had breakfast with the Germans and visited a while, we headed toward Cajamarca and what Joe said would be a good hotel. We did have some more dirt/gravel road to do but it didn&#8217;t seem too bad other than pot holes and large rocks as big as one&#8217;s head that were sticking up from time to time. Once again we met up with the construction crews. They stopped us when it was dry and let us go when it started to rain. We were riding at about 12,000 feet and it was a bit cold too. We had a bit of tricky riding for a while because of construction, rain and mud but finally made it through to a dry stretch and soon we were picking up speed. Just when the sun was out and we were moving again here comes another construction zone. We didn&#8217;t realize it but that zone went on for miles and miles and the road was closed for hours at a time. When we stopped it was 2:00 and when we started it was after 5:30, oh and did I mention that by that time it had been raining hard for the last hour and would keep raining for the next several hours.

    <o:p></o:p>
    One good thing that happened while we were stopped was that we met Larry and some of his fellow friends. Larry spoke some English and he would come in handy when we got to Balsas. Larry was traveling with his wife and three other couples on their way back to Lima. We talked a while and he helped us understand when we would be going again.

    <o:p></o:p>
    When the road did open again we found ourselves on more new dirt/crushed rock/clay. In places it was not too bad to ride on and was only a little soft. The work crew had been driving rollers over the new surface and had compacted a lot of it. Well, as it kept raining the clay in the new surface kept sticking to the rollers and it would come off in big chunks all over the road and it wasn&#8217;t compacting it as well. We followed some of the equipment for several miles as they slowly backed down the road. Oh, the we included several cars, a bus and some trucks. This road was cut into the side of a very steep mountain with sheer drops of several hundred feet. It was so narrow that in almost all places only one car could pass at a time. When a car or truck was met going the opposite way one of the vehicles would have to back up to a wide spot and let the other pass. As it grew dark I radioed a comment to Joe that perhaps it was a good thing that we could no longer see how far down it was because it was less frightening. There was one place where Joe was on a new piece of road, inches from the edge, with me behind him, waiting for trucks and buses to jockey around so everyone could pass. We couldn&#8217;t see how far down it was and could only see an empty void a few inches away at our sides. We had to think about how well the new road surface was adhered to the rocks.

    <o:p></o:p>
    After a couple of hours we got past the worst of it and were on surface that had seen a lot of traffic and was more drivable, however, one still had to watch out for some corners and low spots that were soft and inches deep in mud. We arrived in Balsas and had already decided that we would either stay there or find a place to camp because we were not going any further that night. We stopped at the police station and were asking an officer standing outside about a hotel when Larry appeared. He talked to the officer and then went across the street and talked to a man and old woman in a little shop. The man showed us to a room down a side alley. It had three beds in it and he said we could move a table and put our bikes in the room. He then took us two blocks down the street and around a corner and showed us the public toilets. You wouldn&#8217;t want to go there, trust me. Anyway, we said we would take the room. Most of the negotiating was by Larry and it worked out. We put our bikes in the room, just fit in by taking the side cases off, and we went to the only restaurant in town. In the restaurant we found Larry and his friends and joined them for dinner. Larry told the cook what we wanted the next morning and he and his friends left for Lima. The night was not our best but at least we were off the mountain and the roof didn&#8217;t leak. And, now I had a new worst riding experience&#8230;in only two days too. I hope to never best this one.


    The road didn't start out too bad.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    The views were nice as we climbed past one of the many small villages. You can see part of the road on the right.
    [​IMG]

    We were moving pretty well until we hit this.
    [​IMG]

    And as soon as we got started again, we had to stop and get in rain gear.
    [​IMG]

    Then we got moving again and the roads were dry.
    [​IMG]

    But wait, not so fast'
    [​IMG]

    Now you know it's going to be a long wait.
    [​IMG]

    For the hotel room, see the woman behind the blue door on the right.
    [​IMG]


    Second door on the left is the hotel room.
    [​IMG]

    Ever love your bike so much you wanted to sleep with it?
    [​IMG]


    Nice and close.
    [​IMG]

    At least the police station looked nice.

    [​IMG]


    Cajamarca 10/20<o:p></o:p>
    We were out of Balsas by 8:00 and headed for Cajamarca. The road was narrow, very rocky with ruts where vehicles had traveled and very rough but for the most part dry. It wound its way up from a river valley to elevations of 10,000+ feet. The best part was that we knew that at some point we would be on pavement. After what we had encountered we didn&#8217;t really care about much as long as we found a paved road. We rode on for several miles and came to the town of Celendin where we thought the road would be paved. Our bikes were coated with mud and they had been running a little hot too because the radiators had mud packed in them. We searched for a place to wash them and with local help found a car/truck wash place where a pressure hose was used to blast off all the mud and grit and clean out the radiators. It was while waiting for our wash that we discovered that both front fork seals on both our bikes were leaking. After some time on the internet, we found that the closest KTM dealer was in Lima and so we decided to head there. We had originally planned to bypass Lima because we&#8217;ve figured out that big cities really don&#8217;t have much to offer but big crowds. Our route had been planned through more mountains but with leaking fork seals it doesn&#8217;t make much sense to ride on bad roads.<o:p></o:p>
    We headed to Cajamarca and a nice hotel. While a lot of the ride was paved, we did have to do some dirt/gravel at the start and ended up getting our bikes dirty once again as it rained on us again. Our hotel was on the city plaza and it would have been a nice place to visit and stay awhile except we need to leave for Lima in the morning. The difficult thing in Cajamarca was finding the center of town and the square. I had read before the trip that sometimes the most difficult thing is being able to find ones way into and out of a city and I believe it. Few signs or directions so one really needs to have a GPS and some maps. It was raining when we got to Cajamarca so all we did was walk to a nearby restaurant, eat dinner and return to our hotel.

    The road out of Balsas wasn't too bad.
    [​IMG]

    <o:p>You know you have a problem when you see oil on the brakes and wheel.</o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>

    Nuevo Chimbote 10/21<o:p></o:p>
    As we headed to the coast and the Pan American Highway the roads, traffic and weather changed a great deal. The poor roads gave way to nice asphalt and we found more trucks than cars. Passing the trucks hasn&#8217;t been much of a problem though because the road is generally straight and flat. The coastal weather is very cool because the Humboldt Current flows north along the coast from Antarctica to near the equator. I remember way back when I learned world geography that the Humboldt Current is what causes the deserts along the coast because it cools the air and as the air passes over the land and heats up it dries the land and there is little or no rain until high in the Andes. The air heating and rising over the land is evident by both desert landscape and a very strong wind blowing in from the sea. There is sand blowing across the road and the wind keeps us leaning our bikes into it. If this keep up we will wear out our tires on one side and have like new ones on the other side. Occasionally the desert is broken by fields of sugar cane or some other crops but they must be irrigated.
    <o:p></o:p>
    At Nuevo Chimbote we found a very nice hotel. As we approached it we began to become suspicious because the neighborhood doesn&#8217;t look too good. Fortunately it was only a couple of blocks from the highway so we kept going and when we got there a gate was opened to reveal a very secure place which resembled a spa. The hotel is all built on two stories and there is an open air walk past the pool to our room. Parking was secure inside the walls and there was a 24 hour watchman. The owner and his sons and daughters run the place and they were very engaging to talk to. We ordered pizza delivered and had a nice conversation with the owner as we ate. Breakfast was also available. The name of it is Hotel Buenos Aires. The owner is a former attorney named Max. The rate, although I don&#8217;t remember it, was very reasonable for a nice place.

    The Hotel Buenos Aires
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>



    Nice area inside the walls.
    [​IMG]


    At breakfast with the owner between us.
    [​IMG]

    My bike and Joe's new cloths drying rack.
    [​IMG]

    Lima 10/22-23-24<o:p></o:p>
    We left early for Lima so that we could be sure and be at the KTM dealer before they closed. Riding was routine with a cool coastal wind and overcast skies. The highway was being worked on, but not the part we were driving on. There is already a four lane divided highway for about 150k before Lima and they are working to extend it further north. Lima is a huge city and were it not for our GPS&#8217;s I don&#8217;t know how we would have found the dealer. There are freeways and toll roads but they are not the same as in the US and there is still a lot of traffic entering and exiting in a less than controlled manner. After about 45 minutes of heavy traffic we finally came to the place where the KTM website said we would find it and guess what, it wasn&#8217;t there. In fact the map location wasn&#8217;t even in the right numbered address area. We drove around a while looking and then Joe saw a blond woman that he assumed must speak English so he stopped and asked her if she did. She replied that she spoke all the English that he would require and although she is a local, she was correct in that she spoke fluently English. She too Joe inside a business while I watched the bikes and he emerged with some maps and other information that would help us get to the dealers. While we were getting ready to go her father walked up and we both though he was a priest because of his dress. It turned out he was just a business man but he and his daughter were very helpful.
    <o:p></o:p>
    After arriving at the KTM dealer they took our bikes inside and spent the next couple of hours trying to find us a hotel. We ended up in a hostel for one night and moved to a real hotel on Tuesday. It will take until Wednesday evening, today as I write, to make the repairs. We were able to leave a lot of our things at the dealers and will take a taxi over there in the morning and continue our ride by heading toward Cusco. We haven&#8217;t done much today except walk around a little and work on our blogs. You know, this blog writing takes work and I now appreciate all the effort that folks put into it.

    The road to Lima.
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>

    More on the way to Lima. That's the Pacific Ocean in the distance. I really wasn't trying for a photo of the phone pole but from a moving motorcycle anything can show up.
    [​IMG]

    Here's what you end up with when all the hotel rooms are full.
    [​IMG]

    Joe finds a hamburger joint where he's pretty sure of what he'll get. And he was mostly right.
    [​IMG]

    Oh, before I forget to mention it, I want to say something about gasoline and gasohol. I usually get mileage somewhere in the low 40&#8217;s at home burning gasohol. Ecuador has nothing but pure gasoline and we both got over 50 mpg while riding there. So, don&#8217;t let the green folks tell you that gasohol is such a great fuel because gasoline gave me 25% more mpg. Oh, and here in Peru they have gasohol but they also grow lots of sugarcane which is much more efficient in converting to ethanol. But then in the US we have companies like ADM and their lobby helping to pass the laws to use corn.<o:p></o:p>
    #58
  19. jmn

    jmn Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    11
    Great report Chuck, thanks for taking the time to update :thumb


    Jeff
    #59
  20. SS in Vzla.

    SS in Vzla. Totally Normal? I'm not!

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,217
    Location:
    Banana Republic of Black Gold
    +1

    Looking forward to more updates!
    Ride on
    #60