Lobsters to Llamas, Maritimes to Argentina

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Kedgi, Oct 7, 2012.

  1. Kedgi

    Kedgi Banned

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    I had an outstanding night tonight, played pool with Chris and Stephanie then spent a good bit of time talking to Vasilie and Camelia. I took pictures. I'll post them later. Nice people.

    Camelia told me, just between us, that last night when they went to bed, Vasilie said "It was so cool to meet Dwight, there's no age difference between us, we both speak bike"

    How cool is that?

    Dwight
  2. Kedgi

    Kedgi Banned

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    I had a Marathon Day yesterday. (I'll post some pictures later. This hotel works on 220V and I can't recharge my computer so I'll keep it brief this morning)

    I left LaPaz at 8 am yesterday headed for the Chilean Coast, following my GPS, which for some reason yesterday, couln't find it's way to the floor if you dropped it and seems to think I have traded Trusty in on a mountain goat.

    The ride out of La Paz with no map and a GPS with no clue was interesting to say the least. What a crazy city. Really bad drivers, incredibly steep hills, no signage, all I had to go on was I knew where the highway I wanted was and it was at the top of the bowl that is La Paz. I climbed one street, it was so steep, I swear if I had to stop I never would have got going again without flying over back wards. So, of course, what happens? A little mini van cab with no brake lights or signals stops right in front of me in the middle of the road. I squeezed between him and the curb to keep going, with the obligatory horn on of course.

    After an hour or so of switchbacks and turns at intersections just too steep to make on a loaded Klr and U-turns and round the blocks to get a better run at a hill I finally surfaced at the highway right by a radio tower La Paz has that resembles the Eiffel Tower, and I was on my way.

    I should have known it was going to be a long day as soon as the GPS started increasing the distance to the next turn, as I rode toward it. It sent me south on Rte 1 out of La Paz and said all I had to do was turn right on Rte 11 and that would lead me right to the Chilean Coast. Simple!

    So away I went. On the way I got my first speeding ticket of the trip. Not sure what happened there, but I was pulling onto the gravel of one of many many patches of construction and I didn't think I was going that fast (The cars were passing me like crazy because the gravel was pretty coarse and not friendly to my street oriented Metzlers and any way about eight cops waving big red flags pull me over.

    The one cop, who appears to be in charge tells me I was speeding. They had a radar gun there but they never showed me my speed. He takes my licence and then shows me a highway rule book that does say the fine is 200 Bolivars. I saw that myself. He then tells me all in Spanish that the speed limit on the pavement is 80k and on the gravel, construction 40k. Good enough, unable to converse well enough to really argue with him, and him giving me the option of paying on the spot or contesting it in La Paz, at least that's the drift I was getting I paid the fine (About $30) and left. I had a long way to go. No paperwork, no ticket, no nothing. Done. I wonder where that money went?. As I rode away several cars blasted by me at well over the 40k limit without ever being stopped. I gave the officers a "salute" as I left.

    Then I ride into the high high Altiplano in Pouring cold rain and finally break out into a sunny day. I arrive at the turn, make it, take some pictures of the distant rain i had just ridden through and proceed down highway 11 only to have it end in a muddy farmers field. I'm in a sketchy town call Eucalyptus. A cop, who I think knew I was lost and was worried about my safety (I really got the feeling this wasn't a good place to be) came right over and talked to me as I took a picture of a church in their town square. He was very nice, I explained as best I could how I eneded up there. He gave me directions to a town called Oruro and said I could turn to Picasa there and make it to the Coast. I thanked him after a brief chat and I was on my way back out to the highway and turned toward Oruro. I knew it, my friends the night before had expressed an interest in a Carnaval taking place there. I rode toward Oruro then I got thinking I have had so many bad directions on this trip, I better get my maps out and figure this out. I looked at Oruro and there was no obvious way to get through the Andes mountains there, The GPS was telling me to U-turn too but was still insisting I use the non existent Rte 11.

    I looked at my options. The map showed a good road about 120kms back to the coast at a town called Arica, I could just continue south through Bolivia, I could go back to La Paz, 190kms away and call it a day.

    In the end I back tracked 120 kms toward La Paz in the same pouring cold rain I had just left behind me and arrived at the turn to Arica at 4PM. I had passed the sign for Arica earleir in the day, in fact I stopped and had a banana and a piece of bread for lunch there at noon. So I had lost 4 hours.

    I decided to go for it. I wanted to get to the Coast and not waste a day trying. I blasted off for Arica, 380 kms away. Decent road, some potholes but long straight stretches and easy to fly along at 110K. I figured with the border i might have to ride an hour or two in the dark, The time change was in my favor so it was all good.

    On that road you climb to what must be 15000 ft. You are right up at the snow line on huge mountains. I have the pictures. There was even snow banks at the side of the road, freezing cold. Holy Crap. I got to the border. A cluster as ususal.

    First the first guy, doesn't bother to ask my direction of travel, has me fill out a form before I can get my Migracion stamp, them gives me crap when he finds out I'm going into Chile, not Bolivia. Pretty typical. It's happened to me before. Then I have to ride another 20 k to the next part of the process. You're well into Chile at this point and I get my Chile Migration stamp after a long wait in a long line of two sets of tour bus passengers. Then i have to go to Bolivian Aduana to stamp the bike out of Bolivia, why there office is in Chile will forever remain a mystery to me. I tried another Bolivian Aduana office on the Bolivian side and they said i had to go to the Bolivian one in Chile. (I must remind you that these conversations take a long time, a lot of hand signals and you leave still not sure of what you were told or if they understood what you were asking)

    So, in Chile I wait outdoors in sub freezing temperatures and wind for almost two hours, in a long line as it gets dark waiting on this obviously over worked Officer. When I finally get to talk to him, he speaks English very well and asks me if I live in La Paz. No, "Canada", "Well how did you get your bike here?" "I rode it." He was a non believer. I told him I crossed at Kanasi Feb 5th. He asked where is this form? Holding up a form I had never seen before. "No idea" I said. I told him when I crossed , no one spoke English and I just took what they gave me and that's it. He wanted me to ride back 20kms in the dark to get a photo copy, then ride the 20 kms back to give that to him.

    I'm glad he spoke English because he understood when I said. "Look Man, I'm on a FN motorcycle. I have been waiting in freezing temperatures in the wind for two hours just to talk to you, I am FN frozen. I need to get off this mountain. If you need photo copies you should have a FN photocopier" He relented and let me go.

    I still had one more step. Chilean Aduana. They were pretty good and spoke a bit of English. they had concerns about some piece of paper, that I was supposed to have stamps on that I didn't have. (All the others I had seen had failed to give me that) I asked what stamps, they told me. I had all the same stamps in my passport, on my release from Bolivia etc. (I'm getting better at this after more than a dozen borders, and learning a bit of Spanish) They finally relented and I left. The Chilean guy warned me the road was bad.

    Of course the road was bad! It was dark, freezing cold, lots of trucks, construction, potholes, piles of rocks in the road. It always happens that way when you end up riding after dark.

    I got to Arica, Chile, on the coast at 11:30PM. What a day. I found a reasonable motel and I am sitting outside in tropical heat typing this, enjoying a McDonalds coffee. Does that ever feel good after a month or more in the mountains. I got up at 5am just to enjoy a walk in the warm weather.

    Today, further southward. stay tuned.

    Kedgi
  3. Hevy Kevy

    Hevy Kevy ADDRider

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    Wow Dwight, you continue to rock it. My son and I are reading your post, googling locations and just really enjoying your adventure. Wait, f**k, gotta go shovel the 36cm of snow that fell yesterday. :kboom
  4. MoToad

    MoToad Been here awhile

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    Settles it for me Bud. If I ever head down there I am taking mind control lessons from a Jeddai. You; 'You will let me thru.' Border Turkey;'I will let you thru.' :1drink
  5. KLRJRS

    KLRJRS Jimmy

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    Hi there buddy! Just arrived back in St.John's after 4 days in central nl.was minus 37 wind chill last night and around Mid 20 wind chill all week. There wasn't any snow but all was frozen solid. Today the snow has hit and supposed to be 40 plus cm in next few days in central and we are going to get nailed as well. Guess that the shovel will get a workout over next few days ! So even though you are cold, you are on your bike on a journey that we can only dream of while we wrench our backs trying to shovel tons of snow in the next few days! Keep focused and keep the report coming, you are an inspiration to us all ,!
    Thanks for letting us see South America through your eyes on a KLR.....I am at McDonalds having a coffee in the warmth of a fireplace after walking the dogs through 6km of a blinding snowstorm that is upon us reading your report.......a nice diversion from the tons of snow that will soon face me.....
    Keep safe and enjoy your journey ,,, as its a journey for lots of your readers,,,,new are with you All The Way,..
    Jim
  6. yellowknife

    yellowknife Is In Canada

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    Dwight: Why do you need all these stamps and paperwork?

    Border Person: "I'm sorry, Sir, it's orders." We can't go against the protocol.

    Dwight: I don't even know what protocol means.

    Border Person: Neither do I, Sir.

    :D

    Have a great day D

    YK
  7. Kedgi

    Kedgi Banned

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    Well Rory,

    You're just going to have to come to my welcome home party and fix that!

    Dwight
  8. Kedgi

    Kedgi Banned

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    Just be thankful you don't live in Shediac. Angele says they got 36 inches. I saw the pictures. They got hammered!

    Kedgi
  9. Kedgi

    Kedgi Banned

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    I think it's the Air Traffic Controller in me. I have a very low tolerance for BS

    Kedgi
  10. Kedgi

    Kedgi Banned

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    That's what these border crossing are like. Surely somebody somewhere, in a place to fix things, knows this is all a complete waste of time, but is doing absolutely nothing about it. Seasoned travelers have told me it gets worse every year.
  11. Kedgi

    Kedgi Banned

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    Well, Dear Readers

    I'm in Antofagasta Chile, tonight, last night I was in Iquique, Chile and the night before I was in Arica, Chile.

    The road from Arica to here is awesome. Stunning canyons, climbs, staggering heat in the valleys, cool on the tops.. Stark desert landscape Amazing views of the Pacific. It's like riding on the moon with an ocean beside you. Nothing grows here. Absolutely nothing. They get virtually no rain. Something like 1mm every ten years. I'd like to send them some from the Maritimes, we seem to get more than our fair share.

    I haven't posted for a few days because Chile runs on 220Volts. Today I was finally able to get a step down transformer and charge my computer again. It was only about $20 bucks at a Home Depot clone called "Easy" Try finding something like that in small desert city when you don't speak the language. I was lucky.I wandered around the store, found electronics, found what I wanted and didn't even have to play charades with a clerk.

    I may need it for a while. The pass over to Argentina, just north of here is closed and has been for a week. That's what I intended to do today was ride that pass. So, it looks like I will have to ride another 1300 kms south to Santiago, before I can turn toward Buenos Aries. The thing is, I don't know, I met a good English speaker today who lives here and he even said he's not sure how far south the next pass is but he says it must be a long way and that I would be better off going across down by Santiago where the mountains are not so high. I guess time will tell.

    It's very late, I rode a lot today, so i won't post pictures right now, but I will as soon as I can, now that I have a computer again

    Anyway, I'm alive and well and living in Antofagasto...stay tuned

    Kedgi
  12. Manolito

    Manolito Patagonia guide

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  13. Kedgi

    Kedgi Banned

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    Thanks so MUCH!

    It's so hard to find info like that here locally when you don't speak the language. It looks like I should try the Socampa Crossing that goes directly from here to Salta, Argentina.

    Kedgi
  14. Smithee

    Smithee F650 Beemerider

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    Dwight, this couple crossed at Aguascalientes Negras. Not sure how far that is from you. This post details their crossing and has a number of photos of the road.

    http://advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=20463306&postcount=313

    Edit - damn that auto correct!!! Heading says Aguascalientes Negras. It should be Aguas Negras.
  15. BKMLWR

    BKMLWR Wondering around...

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    just checking in to say hi, enjoying your adventures....:clap:clap
  16. Kedgi

    Kedgi Banned

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    I have to go back a few days, Not being able to charge my computer really screwed me up for a while. You don't realize how much you use it for route planning and calling home until you cant use it.

    First back to La Paz a few days ago.


    My friends Stephanie and Chris from Juno and Vasilie and Camelita, from Vancouver, who sure made my birthday a lot better than anticipated. Great to meet fun people when you think you're really alone.

    Stephanie and Chris

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    Camelita and Vasilie


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    And this is Martin, he's the Bar Manager at the Brew Pub Hostal on Av Montes in La Paz. Highly recommend this place! It's a great Hostal and martin is a wonderful guy to talk to.

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    La Paz from the top. It is an insanely big city.

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    Lunch outside La Paz, before the GPS sent me on a wild goose chase.


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    Long lonely roads across the Alitcama

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    Looking back at the rain I rode through, only to have to ride through again

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    Trusty, hangin' in Bolivia

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    This statue is in Eucalyptis, Bolivia, when I realized my GPS was on drugs.

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    The cool little church in Eucalytptis where the cop came to help but in the end gave me bad directions

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    Top of the pass to Arica

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    Welcome to Chile

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    Once I was down out of the mountains and in Arica...was I ever glad to see tropical weather again.:clap

    Did I mention I hate cold?

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    The old Customs House in Arica, It looks like they use it as a stage for live performances now.

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    My Hotel in Arica, garbage all over the street and not a very nice part of town but a room was still $52/night. The most I think I'd paid since the USA. It wasn't a bad hotel, just not a great area, and they did have secure parking.

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    I liked Arica, not real big, but lots to see and they have a lot of nice pedestrian plazas like this.

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    These are the power outlets in Chile


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    When you leave Arica and ride south to Iquique this is the absolutely amazing scenery you see. My pictures will never do it justice. The valleys are on a supersized scale. One climb was 21 kms long. It's surreal.


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    Lunch in one of the valleys where it must have been 40 degrees C. I loved it after freezing my butt off in the mountains for so long.

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    It's dry

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    This is one of a very few roadside stops

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    I measured this straight stretch at over 11kms

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    Another long one...No Traffic

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    One of the few places anything was growing, was designated a Park

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    Trusty at the Park

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  17. shirtman

    shirtman Adventurer

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    Your highway is far more barren than ours - amazing pics!

    Ride safe!
  18. Kedgi

    Kedgi Banned

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    My room in Iquique, really nice. I spluged when it was all I could find. Iquique was really busy. Peak season I guess. I tried a dozen places, all full, I took the only available room in this place, a corner suite with a balcony for $80, but I simply couldn't find anything else. They did not have secure parking. I parked on the street with my Kryptonite lock through my brake disc. I went and got a few beers and sat on my balcony and enjoyed the beautiful weather with my feet up. Then the front desk called and said we found a place to park your bike. Well I had had a few by then and wasn't moving the bike I told them. It's alright. The neighborhood wasn't bad and there was a lot of foot traffic so I was sure it was alright.

    I went to bed went to sleep and was awakened a while later to some one repeatedly saying Mister, Mister, Mister. IT WAS THE FRONT DESK GUY and THE BUILDING MANAGER IN MY ROOM. They had let themselves intom y room, while I was sleeping, to wake me up to tell me they thought I should move the bike. Never had that happen before!

    I said the bikes OK go away. They did.

    They must have had a potential cut from the price coming...Holy F

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    My tropical balcony. It was great! I watched the sun set over the Pacific from here

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    My view

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    My hotel. I had that sport on the third floor

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    When i left the next morning I rode right through the City's main square following the GPS to a bank machine. I got a lot of hard looks from the few people that were up and about. I'm sure the squre is designated pedestrian only, so I stopped and took a few pictures.

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    One of Iquique's many beautiful beaches. It's Chile's answer to Ft Lauderdale in my opinion.

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    More from Iquique

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    Another big beach in Iquique

    Some have huge surf, some are calm


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    When you leave Iquique, southbound, it's an awesome ride


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    Sand Golf course

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    Stunning views

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    People camping. I saw the first RV's I had see since leaving the USA

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    These brothers were surfers who warned me about the Pass to Salta, Argentina being closed. They had seen it on the news. and it was confirmed later by a man i met at lunch who lives near the pass and who spoke excellent English, the pass was closed

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    I reached Antofagasta after an awesome ride


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    The view from the roof of my hostal in Antofagasta

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    I had a Kuntsmann Beer. I think I'm going to import this stuff. I can think of some great advertising copy



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    My hostal in Antofagasta

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    I had my continued bad luck with food. Who smears avacado all over a pizza?


    It was awful

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    While I drank my Kuntsmann and tried to stuff down my pizza I saw this poor dog. He's missing his left front leg. He sleeps in the sand on the corner between the restaurant and hostal. he lays there with his head down as hundreds walk by him oblivious to his plight. I saw one lady, thank God, that came and spoke to him. he followed her down the street and then she brought him back ten minutes later, she must feed him. Why doesn't someone rescue him? If I saw him at home in Canada. I would bring him straight home and let him live some happy days. Poor bugger! God I felt helpless to help.


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    More to follow. Stay tuned. I gotta go to bed. Big day tomorrow. I'm at the top of the formerly closed pass tonight. What a day

    Argentina
  19. riverman

    riverman Life is great !

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    Will do. Just let me know when it is. :clap
  20. Kedgi

    Kedgi Banned

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    I'll PM you Rory for sure.

    Dwight