South America by Geezer

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by RexBuck, Oct 14, 2012.

  1. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Yah, still in Peru - Arequipa right now. I really like Peru and could spend a lot more time here.

    The plan is to get over to Buenos Aires and ship my bike back to the US somewhere. My problem is, I'd like to be there around the first of April so I'm running out of time for Bolivia, Chile and over to Argentina. Taking the whole Geezer thing to heart, I've been keeping my riding days fairly short (usually) and staying places for a few days just because I feel like it. Resulted in me being a bit behind so, will be a pretty superficial sampling from now on.

    You have been having an epic adventure. :clap You are doing it right.
  2. stevie88

    stevie88 That's gotta hurt

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2005
    Oddometer:
    24,860
    Location:
    Texas, I know, right?
    If you plan on making Tierra Del Fuego you're going to have to haul ass.:wink:
  3. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    My ass is too big and too old to haul that far that fast. Knew from the start I'd be too late for TDF. I think if I'd started in Prudhoe Bay, I'd be earlier here and more motivated to get to Ushuaia.

    On this trip, If I had alloted myself more time I'd spend it in Peru and Bolivia.
  4. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Easy ride planned today of about 200 km to Cusco. What a beautiful road up over the Andes – just about all switchbacks and twisty roads. Leaving Abancay


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    As usual, spectacular, rugged scenery. Two dimensional photos don’t capture the vastness of these mountains and my photographic attempts turn out half-vast.



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    Thought I was going to get into some fog going over the 13,000 foot summit but just stayed under it then we were descending. Yahoo!

    Got to about the midway point to Cusco and encounter a whole line of parked buses and trucks. So, I dutifully pass them only to find the mountain had slid onto the road completely blocking it.



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    Assessing the situation, there is no riding over it, there is no riding around it. One guy was trying to get me to ride down the 20’ embankment to the little trail along the river right below the slide – oh, that was over some 3’ diameter boulders. I don't know of many dirt riders that would try that with this pig. Then he was trying to tell me three people could carry my bike. My thought was “Maybe you and a couple of your amigos could carry it off to an ally in town but you just ain’t that husky to be carrying even a striped down 500 pound bike across those boulders.”

    Most of the people on buses were packing all their stuff and scrambling down the embankment, walking under the slide and back up the other side to catch one of the buses on the other side to continue their trip.


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    The problem with that plan is that every once in awhile you’d hear a holler and this

    <iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/8NsnwA9nt0A" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="560"></iframe>

    Those big ones flying through the air were landing on the trail along the river. I don’t think anyone got hit with one of those but that’s all I’d need to be riding along the bottom and inadvertently try to stop a melon sized rock.

    People were talking about 4 hours then 6 hours for the road to open – that was at one o’clock. I’m thinkin this is going to take longer than that, but what do I know? I remember seeing a hotel back about 15 or 20 minutes so I thought I’d check it out and maybe get something done. Fooled around there then it turned out that although they said they did, they really didn’t have internet. Fugit! Let’s go back and see how the cleanup is going.

    Back at the slide at 3 and the equipment hasn’t even arrived yet. Now they are talking about mid-night. I can see where this is going.

    A brief contemplation to figure out what to do with the rest of my afternoon. Why not go for a ride? Hmmm, any good roads around? Well, I do recall there is one to Abancay that is really outstanding. Why not? Back to El Peregrino Hotel we go.

    Just a spectacular ride again. Got rain for about 20 minutes but that was it. There was no traffic going my way – all stuck at the slide. No buses. No trucks. Bonus! Had a really "brisk" ride back.

    El Peregrino didn’t have any single apartments left but after I gave them a really long face, :crygave me a two bedroom apartment for the same price. Even nicer than the one last night. Livin large baby!

    Had chicken and chorizo for dinner. Excellent! They even had a salad bar - a first I've seen in Latin America.



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    Announcement :clap

    I have just made a change to the RexBuck Latin American cerveza list. I am happy to announce that Cusqueña Malta has moved to #1 position taking over from Mexico's Negra Modelo. :slurp


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    The next morning I'm off to see if they opened the road. Sure enough. Once I get to the other side, turns out there was actually two slides next to each other - the second one was at least as big as the one I have pics of. After watching the rocks tumbling down yesterday, I certainly wasn't going to loiter on that little road they cut through.


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    Encountered some pretty heavy rain for awhile on the other side but it was just as pretty.


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    I came across one little town and pulled to the side of the road and took these three pics. They are really typical of Peruvian small town life. Notice in the first pic there is something going on at the school but Grandma sitting on the grass on the left with the grand-kids and their pig grazing on the grass.


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    Notice the fedora style hat common in this region


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    Cusco is a decent sized city. It's in a bowl and lies at 11,000 feet altitude.


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    Encountered this on my way down the hill. :lol3



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    It would be great for a picture naming contest.

    Like: "Back, back, back . . . oh shit!"
    Or: "OK, if I sneak up here, I can get ahead of all those taxis."
    Or, of course if in North America: "Here, hold my beer and watch this . . ."


    Arrived at Kukuli Lodge in Cusco and got settled in for a couple of days before Machu Pichu

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  5. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2,330
    Location:
    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    I am really enjoying your RR. As we are in Costa Rica am back there in the post and trying nor to read too far ahead. We are formally from Port Moody and now from Pritchard. Good luck.


    Sara
  6. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Hey Sara. Welcome aboard. Hope you guys can find some useful things in my experiences for this leg of your journey.

    There is sure a lot of nice riding around the Kamloops area. Pritchard is a lot nicer (IMO) than Port Moody.

    Ride Safe.
  7. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Kikuli Lodge was an interesting place. Really nice people running it - Ronald, Mark and Sandra treat you as a guest in their home. They have an unused store at the back of the Lodge that fronts on the next street where I parked my bike.


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    They have a couple of dogs, one of which is a Peruvian Hairless and a bit of an onery disposition. Kind of ugly, but what do I know.



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    This was largely a stop for maintenance (change rear tire) and planning (Machu Pichu).

    Replaced my rear tire that had finally got down to the wear bars and, equally important, I’m just getting tired of carrying the new one around. The tread was flush with the wear bars (which you can see at the top of both old and new tires) and I know some of you would consider this only half used since you can't see patches of ply yet but that is just the way I roll.



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    Nice place to work on the bike out of the rain


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    Went down to the Plaza de Armas to look around



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    This little guy was hilarious trying to catch pigeons


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    How to tell a tourist town in South America


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    Oh, and that little sign below the Starbucks logo means "don't honk your horn" - a most irriatating habit they have in Peru. Peru drivers, particularly taxi drivers seem to have a rule that if they aren't moving, then they are required to honk their horn. Many intersections have no stop lights or stop signs so, the first one in gets the right of way. This is usually preceded by a honk. Generally if you honk coming into an interesection, you expect everyone else to stop for you. Interesting when everybody honks at the same time. Cars will stop inches from the car that beat them - I'm always amazed there aren't more fender benders.



    Of course the main reason I came down here was to find the Norton Rat's Pub


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    The guy that owns the place is apparently a big Norton fan, hence the name


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    And sign their register of motorcycle travelers


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    Was enjoying my favorite libation made in Cusco by Cusquanians :slurpAfter a while, the place started to fill and I wound up sitting next to a bunch of English speakers. Get chatting to Zac (originally from Australia) and his Peruvian wife (for the life of me I cannot remember her name). Also their friend Matt (who is also married to a Peruvian) originally from Idaho. Really nice people.


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    Turns out Zac is starting up a small craft brewry and makes the beer sold as the house brand. Said the biggest problem for making beer here is the altitude. Not bad – liked the Pale Ale.


    [​IMG]


    Wound up playing darts – Europeans against non-Europeans. I didn’t help the cause. Notice all those Europeans standing erect, like they were frickin athletes or something . . . I don't even think they were drinking. Notice the patch of dark hair on the guy throwing? Didn't know that was there . . . :D


    [​IMG]


    Couple of shots of Cusco streets. Like many old cities of Latin America, streets were designed hundreds of years ago. Also, iIn many cases here, some buildings and walls were built on top of ancient Incan walls, buildings and temples


    [FONT=&quot][​IMG][/FONT]


    [FONT=&quot][​IMG]
    [/FONT]
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  8. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,270
    Location:
    North of T.Ho., Ontario
    The pictures and narrative just get better and better. I like your meeting with the locals and travelers. Wish I could taste that new beer.

    This line from your previous update cracked me up: "As usual, spectacular, rugged scenery. Two dimensional photos don’t capture the vastness of these mountains and my photographic attempts turn out half-vast. "

    Thanks for the updates RB, really enjoying them. :clap
  9. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Thanks, glad you enjoying them.

    Best way I know of to taste some of that beer is to hop on your bike and ride south until you start to see Cusqueña signs. You'll figure it out from there. :slurp
  10. Jick Magger

    Jick Magger Exile on Main Street

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2011
    Oddometer:
    885
    Location:
    Okanagan Valley BC, Canada/Scottsdale, Arizona
    I'm too busy shovelling this....Can you just please send some?:freaky<a href="http://jickmagger.smugmug.com/Other/snow/28403263_nSCRgG#!i=2405487249&k=DMFTN3d&lb=1&s=A" title="Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug"><img src="http://jickmagger.smugmug.com/Other/snow/i-DMFTN3d/0/L/snow-L.jpg" title="Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug" alt="Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug"></a>
  11. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Machu Pichu is located in a very remote valley outside of Cusco. It was so remote, it was never found and plundered by the Spanish and hence, is better preserved. Access now is mainly by train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo. There is a second entrance at the “back door” which requires taking a circuitous route essentially around Machu Pichu through the towns of Santa Maria and Santa Teresa to a large hydroelectric project aptly called Hidrolectrica. This of course is the way I will go.

    Coming out of Cusco, the GPS took me on the shortest route which turned out to be 15 or 20km of good quality dirt road. Through some very picturesque farm land and a couple of small towns. Then back on the usual good quality paved two lane roads. Through Ollantaytambo with their small ruins along the side of the road. Saw this lady with another really different hat.


    [​IMG]


    The next 100 km were switchback heaven as we climbed over the mountains to the valley on the other side. Here is the road – start at the bottom and reach the peak of 14,000 feet just after it turns left on this map.


    [​IMG]


    The first part of the road winds up this valley following this little wild stream. Here happens to be another set of Incan terraces sitting above the stream.


    [​IMG]


    As we climb, the walls of the valley narrow and the road is sometimes quite close to the stream resulting in the stream periodically eating part of the road.


    [​IMG]


    A crappy shot of some of the switchbacks


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    As we get up into the plains above the tree line, I stop to take a pic of a thatched roof house typically occupied by the locals at these high altitudes. Before I even turn the engine off, a swarm of kids come running from a house across the road. Since I know I’m going to get hit up, I might as well make it worthwhile and at least get a picture. They've done this before. Sure enough, when I put the camera away, out come the hands. Started handing out some change and then notice that every time I put a coin in a hand (kind of like Halloween) the number of hands didn’t decrease. Well, now we are into the small stuff I can never get rid of anyhow. Finally tell them no more and I bugger off. Never did get the pic of the house.


    [​IMG]


    14,000 foot summit and have pretty well avoided the fog. Now it starts to fill in a bit. Never got real thick. However, it has been drizzling most of the way up (which screwed up the visability for many longer shots) but at the summit it starts to rain seriously.


    Coming into the valley after the summit

    [​IMG]


    Tons of water crossings that are quite active. This one was average – maybe 4" deep. Some had a lot of water crossing the road and as we got lower, the streams seemed to get more powerful and they started shoving rock and gravel onto the crossings. A couple of them had enough volume that you could feel the water pushing sideways on the front wheel.


    [​IMG]


    When I was planning for this little jaunt to Machu Pichu I had taken a lot of people’s experiences into consideration and had this vision in my mind of 30 km of a very rough, deep slop and rutted muddy road that would be difficult at the best of times. Given my proven lack of skill in mud, I decided that if conditions weren’t pretty rosy, I’d park in Santa Maria and take a bus or something to the train.

    So, as I descended and the rain became more intense, the streams wilder, pushing rocks and gravel down, hillsides were sliding. A few construction projects resulted in some stretches of pretty greasy mud. A large slide had a road over it with some of that sticky rutted mud. I made it through all that but I’m thinking that if these are the conditions on the good road, the crappy road is going to be a gong show.

    So, I reluctantly decided to park my bike in Santa Maria and take a taxi or a bus. After looking around for about an hour, finally find a place to park. (Right behind the Doña Elena Restaurant) Easy access, quite secure and only 10 Soles (about $4) for two days.


    [​IMG]


    Spending that time looking for parking, I missed the batch of buses to Santa Teresa but there were a couple of cabs that would head that way. Guy figures he can get me there just before the 3 o’clock train leaves. OK, lets go.

    Guy drives like a mad man – passed all the vans and all the other cabs. He is on a frickin mission. I think he looks insane . . . :D



    [​IMG]


    Tried to take some pics but was having a hard time hanging on to my camera much less hold it steady.

    Of course now that I see the road, I am both pissed off and embarrassed. This road was quite a decent dirt road. There were a couple of muddy spots but there were a number of places on the highway that were much worse than here. Oh well, would have been a fun ride.

    You know, I’ve come to the realization (and I know this will be a shock to those who know me :norton) that I sometimes over-think things.

    Haul ass through Sta Teresa and on the way to Hidroelectrica where I’d catch the train. This road is a little worse – little muddier – a little chopped up.

    Come up to a whole bunch of heavy equipment in the road


    [​IMG]

    and the madman pulls over and parks and says that’s it. Huh, where's the train? It’s about a 10 minute walk from here. Bunch of other vans and taxis there so I figure he isn’t BSing me. Pay him and tip him and he grabs my bag and starts walking up the road. OK. Had I known this little trek was in store, I would have sorted out my big yellow bag and brought 10 pounds of crap rather than 40+ pounds.

    Come to the spot where the road is washed out and they have this little flimsy plywood bridge across and are only letting one person at a time on it.



    [​IMG]


    Cabbie gets me to the top of the hill – pretty good climb, points to where I have to go and heads back to his cab. Thank God he carried my bag that far for me – my old and fat ass :gergwould have missed the train for sure.

    First thing you come to is a Machu Pichu booth and I ask if this is where I buy my tickets for the train? They are all excited about getting me to sign a book and telling me where to go to walk in to Machu Pichu. They aren’t listening to me. :fpalm "Dude, I have a 40+ pound bag here that isn't a backpack, I’m in full motorcycle gear, my jacket is wetter on the inside than out . . . I’m not walkin and it’s gettin late. Where’s the frickin train?" Oh, you want the train? 3 minutes up that road and you’ll see it. Sheesh, no respect. :ddog

    Sure enough. Get there, walk the length of the train, find the ticket office. Girl takes forever putting all my info from my Passport in – it's about 3 and she comes out and asks if I want to go on this train. I’m sure she read the incredulous look on my face pretty quickly as she hands me my passport and tells me to get on the train. My ticket came later.

    Lots of hikers walking in while I enjoyed the comfort of a beautiful dome car – one other passenger in the whole car. :clap

    Beautiful ride up valley. The initial climb from the train station is so steep, the train has to reverse itself a couple of times for some back and forth switchbacks.


    Get into Aguas Caliente – and, sure enough, pretty much a tourist town. Tons of restaurants and coffee shops and a gazillion booths selling “artisan” stuff. Not really my kind of town but at least a lot of the places have Cusqueña Malta so, I’m good.

    Have grilled Alpacha for dinner – it was good but next time I’ll ask for it rare.


    [​IMG]

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  12. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Oh, that's just nasty.

    If: A) I can find a spot in my bag; B) I don't drink it first, I'll bring ya some Jick. Otherwise you'll just have to take my word for it. :deal

    What the hell is that animal? A Scottish Pug?
  13. Vernonpedro

    Vernonpedro Gravelrash

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Oddometer:
    8
    Location:
    Okanagan Valley, BC
    Enjoying the tales immensly, RB-looking forward to seeing you safe at home.
    Vaya con your dios.
    Pedro:norton
  14. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Hey Buddy, good hearing from you. Glad you are enjoying. Hope you guys are enjoying Italy and that fine Eyetalian food. :dg
  15. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Did the famous Machu Pichu tour today. Machu Pichu is designated as one of the "New" 7 Wonders of the World.


    Machu Pichu sits way up on top of a mountain. There are two ways to get there: Walk or Ride the Bus. I struggled with this decision, I could do the walk, sounding like an old steam locomotive puffing up there and probably coughing up a lung at some point or, ride in the comfort of a nice bus and actually being able to walk around the site when I get there. After much contemplation . . .



    [​IMG]



    This is part of the road weaving its way up the mountain. Quite a transportation system to get the 2000 to 4000 people a day up and back down the mountain.



    [​IMG]



    Interesting to me after visiting many of the other ruins in Latin America is that Machu Pichu is relatively young. Construction started in 1436, and when the Spanish showed up, it was abandoned in 1536 unfinished.



    Here's the money shot of Machu Pichu with Huayna Pichu in the background


    [​IMG]




    A pretty sophisticated society. Built things almost entirely from rock and had great skill to cut, shape and polish rock. For higher quality construction used for Royal buildings, temples, etc, the rock was fit with no mortar.


    [​IMG]


    Larger rocks were left in place and carved out as requuired. Such as these stairs on the Inca Trail


    [​IMG]


    Some of the terraces used for food production


    [​IMG]


    Interesting water system distributing water throughout the community. A water source is tapped up the mountain and flows down this little ditches dug into the stone. They empty into small cisterns and the excess flows downhill to cisterns further down.



    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]




    You can see many of the houses of the upper class and priests. The round building was one of the temples


    [​IMG]


    Pretty good grasp of astronomy. Here is a carving of the Southern Cross, pointed exactly south


    [​IMG]




    Apparently Machu Pichu was basically a summer house for the King who's permanent residence was a palace in Cusco. He would walk with his entourage over the Inca Trail from Cusco to Machu Pichu for a couple of weeks stay then return to Cusco.


    Here is Moses standing next to the King's bed (that rectangular shaped thing on the floor) - the bed was about 4' wide and 15' long. Apparently enough room to keep a few wives handy for when he felt randy. The King is said to have had 500 or so children. :eek1


    [​IMG]


    There were a number of permanent residents – about 300 families stayed there including some priests. Given the proximity to a number of sacred mountains, the location obviously has religious significance. This is eviendced by the number of temples and alters around the site. Windows usually faced east or west which had religious significance.


    The many altars were set up to sacrafice everything from Llamas to Guinea Pigs. Moses wanted to get a picture of some guy praying on one of the altars but wouldn't let him touch - didn't want to anger the Gods.


    [​IMG]


    I'm sure this guy was happy the priests aren't using Llamas anymore


    [​IMG]



    My guide was Incan and still practices the Inca religion which includes making offerings to their Gods every day. Also, Guinea Pigs were a large part of the Inca diet and Moses told me he has 25 or so guiena pigs in his kitchen all the time. He said they eat the little critters on special occasions. Given how they breed, I’m thinkin they have a lot of special occasions.


    Elected not to hike up Huayna Pichu as I was told people with bad ankles or knees shouldn’t do it – I score 4 for 4 there. They limit access to the mountain to two groups of 200 people per day. Apparently they used to not limit the number of people climbing up there and would have a few tourists fall off of the narrow, steep trails each year.



    Did hike up the trail to the Inca Bridge. I actually got on this trail by accident but it was a nice walk. They put that big pile of rocks across the trail so people couldn't actually cross the "bridge"



    [​IMG]



    Then found the Inca Trail (which is the one I originally wanted to go up) but turned around about 2/3 of the way up to the Sun Bridge as my body was complaining and I was looking at some pretty serious rain bearing down on me. Looking up the trail



    [​IMG]


    Looking down on Machu Pichu from where I turned around


    [​IMG]



    Here are a couple of shots of the surrounding area looking towards Aguas Calientes. It is a breathtaking view

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

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  16. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF more off than on

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    11,026
    Location:
    The Shenandoah valley of Virginia
    It's good to know your limitations. I've seen several reports where riders seemed rather blah at the desolate stretches endured to make that goal. And at least one where it's been a great adventure, including hiking to awesome remote glaciers (Ulyses). But like you, I think I'd be better served exploring around where you are. That, and I exploring around Ecuador. But now with just the couple of weeks you say you have left, that time will fly by and you'll need to be at your departure point. Do you have a departure date / location set yet?

    Glad to see you are having a wonderful time of it. I keep seeing you referring to "we" but don't recall you disclosing who you are travelling with nor seen anyone else included in your pictures. Are you referring to your bike and yourself, or is there a companion at this juncture?
  17. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

    Joined:
    May 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Interior BC, Canada
    Unfortunately, sometimes I don't know my limitations . . .

    You are exactly right about enjoying things along the way. I met a guy the other day that planned on riding Buenos Aires to Ushia to Anchorage in four months. I guess he can do it in ideal conditions but he will miss a lot along the way and I suspect mid-May is not a good time to be travelling in Northern Canada and Alaska. Different people have different objectives for their trips and I've tried to make my riding days shorter and find slower but more interesting roads.


    The we thing is a bad habit I have. We guess it would be best described as the Royal We . . . but it's just me (We), solo.
  18. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF more off than on

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    11,026
    Location:
    The Shenandoah valley of Virginia
    Some would ask "Do you have a mouse in your pocket?" hehe
    But in your case, your bike is your companion.

    You'll never fault yourself for enjoying each place you find yourself.
    Traveling for the sake of experiencing is altogether different from traveling for the sake of acheiving a destination.
  19. Kedgi

    Kedgi Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,388
    Location:
    Shediac NB
    Hey Steveo

    Good job on the RR. Nice photos! That road to Hidroelectrica is made all the more dangerous for Motos by cab drivers like you describe. They won't give you a friggen inch or slow down as you negotiate the foot or so they leave you along the edge of the cliff.

    I thought of you last night as i watched NBC News which named Bolivia the least tourist friendly Country in the World??? I would have thought North Korea could have beat them out.

    Save a few bucks for speeding tickets there. I got one even though cars were passing me, in a construction project, like I was stopped.

    I liked Cusquena, but you can only find Moosehead Ale with the red label, nector of the Gods, right here in NB. (Not the lager in the green bottles we sell everywhere else):1drink

    Good job, ride safe!

    Kedgi

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=832336
  20. Sandino

    Sandino Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    169
    Hey mate, really nice report and pics!, Bolivia is great, a must, and so is Paraguay where I am located. So, please do not hesitate to contact if you plan to come. most travellers skip Paraguay, and those who don´t, surely can advise to see.
    cheers:freaky