Canada2Argentina - Going outside to play for 6 months!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by marcoue, Jul 8, 2016.

  1. Stahlratte

    Stahlratte Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the great report!
    You made our boat 20 meters longer, though;)
    Have a great time in South America.
    Stefan
  2. knight

    knight Long timer

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    Congratulations on reaching SA

    Lots of great camping spots and cheap hostels (some with lockers) await you . A paddle lock will come in really handy for locking up your stuff
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  3. RidewithAB

    RidewithAB Just Ride! Supporter

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    I just caught up reading this awesome RR and love it. I learned so much from your prep and packing, how you are planning your days very fluidly. Thanks so much for sharing and congrats on the journey thus far...AB
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  4. HBLQRider

    HBLQRider Been here awhile

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    What a fantastic experience you are having. Soak it all in as you will have these memories with you forever.

    Safe travels.
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  5. hardroadking

    hardroadking Been here awhile

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    Hello Marc,
    just a few questions about water filtering and copies at border crossings.
    1. Copies of documents that need to be given to officials at border crossings - is it worth carrying around a bunch of copies of your Title, Registration, Passport, Drivers License etc...to help expedite the process OR do you have to make copies anyway of forms they give you and you fill out and get stamped and then make a copy to give to someone in the process? I guess what I am really asking is: can you arrive at a border crossing with copies of everything you will need or do you end up having to use the copy services anyway because of new documents created in the process that have to get copied?
    2 Water Filter - you said you will send it back with your girl friend. What was your system for carrying water thru Central America? Did you use tap water and then filter it into a container? Or did you end up just buying bottled water. With your plans to camp in South America, won't the water filter become more useful or do you have alternate plans?
    thanks for information, Tim
  6. knight

    knight Long timer

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    Wise to carry copies , but not for sharing

    Don't drink the water , if there isn't a beer for sale , you're in the wrong town
  7. OtterChaos

    OtterChaos Guzzi Sud!

    Joined:
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    I believe it is wise to carry copies, when I entered Mexico at Mexicali I needed a copy of my registration or title (they would accept either one) and a copy of my passport in order to get my TVIP. Since I didn't have them they did make some for me (because Mexican's are very nice!) and got me on my way. From what I've gleaned you will still need copies of documents after they have been stamped at some borders so having them ahead of time won't help in those situations. While I never got far off the beaten track bottled water was easy to find and I always had two liters on me when riding, of course sometimes that water then got very warm in the temps I was riding in but when I needed a drink it worked well. A camelback might have been a good choice for me esp. in Baja but I don't know how comfortable wearing a backpack like that would be over the riding jacket.
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  8. marcoue

    marcoue Been here awhile

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    Thanks Abambach! Great to have you on board!
  9. marcoue

    marcoue Been here awhile

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    Thanks!!! It is indeed one of the reason I take the time to write the blog!
  10. marcoue

    marcoue Been here awhile

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    Hi Hardroadking

    I made a few copies of my passeport, driver's licence and motorcycle registration (title) on the same page and it was helpful for many crossings and I was really happy to have them. It's far from being necessary but it saved me from having to find the place, line up and pay for copies.

    Where copies are needed with the stamp (example: Costa Rica), the place was really easy to find.

    As for filters, I left with 2, a Steripen – UV Water Purifier and a Katadyn Hicker Pro.

    The Katadyn Hicker Pro will (might, not 100% yet!) be going back home next week simply because I have not used it and would only do so if I do remote camping, which seems less and less probable.

    The UV filter is really useful. I use it everyday and have never been sick! Saves me a few $$$ but more importantly, makes water ALWAYS available from the tap. No need to worry about getting a bottle at night because you ran out and need to brush your teeth!

    One more thing about water, my Camelpack is also very very appreciated! A must!

    Thanks Tim
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  11. marcoue

    marcoue Been here awhile

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    Day 48 to 53 – Colombia – Cartagena, Mompos and some Adrenaline on 2 Wheels!

    2016-10-29 – Day 48 – Cartagena, CO
    2016-10-30 – Day 49 – Cartagena, CO
    2016-10-31 – Day 50 – Cartagena, CO
    2016-11-01 – Day 51 – Cartagena, CO to Mompos, CO (314 km – 4:45 hrs)
    2016-11-02 – Day 52 – Mompos, CO to Marguarita, CO, and return (51 km – 2:30 hrs)
    2016-11-03 – Day 53 – Mompos, CO to Barichara, CO (477 km – 8:00 hrs)


    Colombia was a nice surprise, although I had visited it a few years ago. I realize more and more the different perspective that travelling by motorcycle provides, and also the additional difficulty that is now, in this country filled with motorcycles, simply to make its place on the road so as to be able to survive a total madness on 2 wheels!

    I had the privilege to be accompanied for the greatest part of my time in Colombia by my girlfriend who came to join me for 2 weeks. We crossed almost all the country together, from Cartagena, we went to Mompos, Villa de Leyva, crossed Mountains, drove in heavy rain, deep mud, saw all sorts of animals, got into infernal traffic, got to the big city of Medellín and ended our adventure in Cali.

    Before her arrival, I was a little worried about adding weight to the bike, but ultimately, apart from moving slow in traffic jams, her presence behind me was almost unnoticeable. Her bag was about 8 kilos so she did a great job of limiting the amount of luggage she took along! The big GS is perfectly suited to sit a passenger and the power of its engine allowed me to do just about everything I did when I was alone. Obviously, we are talking about driving on the road and not on trails.

    As you can see, I have not updated the site for a while. It’s a little harder to find time to write with company! I will do my best to catch up with lost time in the next few days.

    Let’s start by Cartagena which has a superb old quarter, surrounded largely by a stone wall. The small streets intersect and offer perceptive and colours more beautiful one after the other.

    Although very touristy, I enjoyed staying here for 3 days while waiting for the arrival of my passenger. As I wanted to have her stay in a comfortable, clean, quiet and friendly place, I kinda blew my budget and booked at Casa Bustamante Hotel Boutique, Cabrero Calle Real # 42-67 https://goo.Gl/maps/qqkzKWZdky12. So I took the opportunity to rest, relax at the pool and refuel for the next adventures.

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    I also walked a lot in the city, jogged in the Bocagrande area and even had dinner on the street! It is incredible the good beef and chicken offered everywhere by itinerant cooks just for 2 or 3 dollars. Accompanied by a (or couple) of good cold beer and the laughter of the children having fun around you is a good recipe for nice simple, pleasant and cheap evenings.

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    My girlfriend arrived very late on Sunday after a long day of travel so we waited until Monday morning for me to act as a tour guide and take her on a quick (but complete!) tour of the old town.

    Look at how people are resourceful. No baseball field provided by the city, no problem, we will make one! Uniforms, referees, markers all the stuff for a real ball game!

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    On Tuesday, November 1st, we got on the bike and rode towards Mompos (also known as Mompox or San Cruz de Mompox).

    This small town is popular with tourists, but getting there remains a challenge. For backpackers, you have to take several buses. For people on a motorcycle like us, we must take some roads not always easy to find, not very well maintained, and possibly a ferry.

    Google Map points me to one place, my GPS to another and the maps.me application generates another route.

    I took the time to visit the website of a motorcycle rental agency and contacted them because they are go to Mompos on one of their tours.

    Motolombia – Motorcycle Tours and Rentals
    # 48, Avenida 6 Norte # 48 Norte-48, Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia
    +57 2 6659548

    They were very nice to answer all my questions and suggested a suitable route for a big bike with 2 passengers and their luggage.

    Getting out of Cartagena was fairly sporty! Hundreds of motorcycles, trucks, cars, bicycles and pedestrians stand in front you, or very close behind you and on each side of the bike, cutting you off without any discomfort, as if it were normal or safe. Obviously, it’s quite normal for them, but not for us and it is certainly not safe! But it’s crazy and at the same time, exciting and the adrenaline does its job to finally help us get out of town and engage on multiple country roads up to Mompos.

    Roads 25 and 80 were quite bad because there is a lot of construction to make it from 2 to 4 lanes. There is also a lot more presence on the road than in Mexico or Central America, mostly big trucks. Once on the road to Santa Ana, we can finally relax and enjoy the scenery.

    Despite everything, I have to admit that even though the first few minutes or driving were a little difficult, because I had to get used to driving with my new passenger, it was really nice to find myself behind the handlebars after almost a 10 days break!

    Of the 3 routes offered by my various navigation tools, Google was the winner, because its maps took into account a new bridge that allowed us to cross the Brazo river of Mompos, which was a little relief because it would have had to put the motorcycle on a small craft boat, which was not too reassuring.

    Mompos is relatively isolated and there is little automotive presence, but were invaded by hundreds of motorcycles right after our entrance into the streets of the city, just like mosquitoes in spring!

    The streets lining the river are peaceful and there are beautiful series of old houses and well maintained. But this is not the case when leaving these tourist streets! There are so many motorcycles that it is difficult to cross intersections! You need eyes all round our heads!

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    The ferry I mentioned earlier! Phew, happy that the new bridge is built.

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    We decided to stay in this village 2 nights, because a colleague adventurer had contacted me a few weeks ago via the site advrider.com to give me advises for the Colombian portion of my trip, and he also is in the country at the time of my passage so he took the opportunity to come to join us from Medellín with his spouse.

    So I took tome to relax and go for a race on the small dirt road along the river. Even though I feel my physical shape slowly deteriorate since the beginning of the journey, it was once again a very pleasant outing that led me to quickly leave the village and jog in farmlands, surrounded on one side by the river, and the other by chickens, horses, cows of every possible colour, pigs of all sizes and beautiful verdure and tranquility well appreciated.

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    I feel a little I’m being watched!

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    Back at the hotel, I proposed to my girlfriend to get the panniers off the motorcycle and to return on this small road in order to appreciate the more rural region just outside the city.

    She hesitated a little, but as soon as I showed her a small video of a herd of cows that I went by during my jog, she accepted! (She’s an animal lover!)

    So we left off with a much lighter motorcycle in a warm and sunny morning.

    The first kilometres were spectacular and relatively easy to cross, but after a few rudimentary and isolated villages, the road began to deteriorate. It was made up solely of dirt, which results, during the present rainy season, in many spots of deep mud.

    In most cases, it is possible to pass by slowing down a bit and accelerating in order to lighten the front wheel, all without much effort. But the further we went, the deeper the mud and the accumulations of water became, so that my passenger had to get off the motorcycle a few times to facilitate the passage.

    At one point, we passed a motorcycle stopped evaluating his options to get into one of the water holes. The very sympathetic driver warns us about a portion of the road a little further away where the sun cannot dry the road. His passenger, holding 2 live chickens by the legs, clearly on its way to a good fresh Pollo a la Plancha lunch, tells us that we should go back, but it is not so much an option, because had just passed a dozen difficult spots of mud and my GPS tells me that the branch to the main road is much closer than turning back.

    So we take the risk and we embark on the adventure!

    As a matter of fact, a few hundred metres away, a passage is covered by large leafy trees and the road is muddy, accompanied by some small lakes (!) that seem to me very deep. We take the time to observe a small 125 cc pitching on one side and the other in the deep mud to eventually venture across the 200 metres on the path that seemed to be the most stable. Obviously, my passenger crosses on foot.

    I got a few curses in the intercom, because even on foot, it is difficult and a bit… dirty!

    I set my ESA suspension at its lowest level in order to be able to place my feet on the ground if necessary, and makes sure that the traction control system is disengaged.

    I then proceed slowly into the challenge that stands before me. Did I mention that the day was sunny and … hot!

    I have to work very hard so the bike does not fall because it’s slippery, like driving on the ice. The rear wheel turns without much traction and I finally slip into a hole of water. I manage to get out and this repeats itself a few times until the bike decides to get across the road, the rear wheel into a deep hole and turning but not going forward.

    I ask my partner to come and help me, because I am unable to move forward or backward. Need I tell you that it is for here, going back to where she came from, again in the mud she had just crossed in order to come to push a motorcycle splashing a nice sticky mud with the rear wheel. She was not too happy, to says the least.

    Fortunately, a man also on a small motorcycle stopped and came to help us. After a few front-to-back movements, I managed to get out of the mud lake and get to the other side of this difficult passage, completely soaked by sweat, but terribly happy not to have fallen into this sticky mixture. My boots now weigh 2 kilos each, thanks to the mud that is now present on the soles, up to the edge of my pants. The motorcycle is also completely covered by a thick layer that gives it a trench soldier look.

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    Even without luggage, a big GS in the mud is not ideal, and the clutch has made this clear to me, producing a not very pleasant overheating. The following kilometres were a little less difficult and much more pleasant.

    We finally took 3 hours to travel the 50 km of this little improvised promenade. But it will remain engraved as a wonderful memory!

    Small improvised washing session.

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    In the early evening, my ADVRider contact arrived with his spouse and we took advantage of the beautiful evening to walk along the river and share a good meal filled with travel and motorcycle stories!

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    We leave early the next day for a quick visit of Barichara, a superb village perched in the mountains!

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    Some sections of the road are still very wet and difficult to cross.

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    One thing well appreciated in Colombia, motorcycles do not have to stop (or pay!) at toll booths!

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    One thing also seems very obvious after the first few days of travelling the country: the mountains are largely present and it will take some a little longer than usual to get from one place to another.
  12. Drufiddy

    Drufiddy Been here awhile

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    Cool stuff Marc. I'm enjoying the pictures. I can see why you didn't want to go to Bogota :/ Hahaha.
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  13. marcoue

    marcoue Been here awhile

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    Thanks! Indeed, the roads in Colombia are sometimes very difficult. Even though major truck traffic is often present, they remain narrow and full of curves!

    Bogota is an easy flight from Montreal so it gives me a reason to come back in a few years!
  14. Par4pogue

    Par4pogue Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2016
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    19
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    Salt Lake City, UT
    Have enjoyed all your updates Marc. Thank you for taking the time and sharing this adventure with us. One question....do you carry fuel with you? Have you had any issues with the availability of fuel anywhere? Do you carry a siphon?
    marcoue likes this.
  15. marcoue

    marcoue Been here awhile

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    My pleasure.

    I don't carry fuel (except for cooking fuel that it). The GSA can easily do 500 KM before I need to fill up and when I do, there is still at least between 5 and 8 litres left. There is no problem finding gaz, except in very remote area, and even then, I'm always surprised by a gaz station that pops up in front of me without warning.

    The situation might be different going south, but with my style of traveling, and the capacity of my tank, there is really no need. Things might be different with an 250 km autonomy for example...

    I don't have a syphon per say but carry a tube that connect to the fuel socket of my tank in order to pump fuel out if a fellow rider needs it, but as you can imagine, it's no been used so far!

    Hope this helps.
    Par4pogue likes this.
  16. marcoue

    marcoue Been here awhile

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    Day 54 to 61 – Colombia – A Few More Cities and Final Thoughts

    2016-11-04 – Day 54 – Barichara, CO to Villa de Leyva, CO (198 km – 3:40 hrs)
    2016-11-05 – Day 55 – Villa de Leyva, CO to Medellín, CO (419 km – 8:40 hrs)
    2016-11-06 – Day 56 – Medellín, CO
    2016-11-07 – Day 57 – Medellín, CO to Jardin, CO (129 km – 3:00 hrs)
    2016-11-08 – Day 58 – Jardin, CO to Salento, CO (188 km – 4:00 hrs)
    2016-11-09 – Day 59 – Salento, CO
    2016-11-10 – Day 60 – Salento, CO to Cali, CO (292 km – 7:40 hrs)
    2016-11-11 – Day 61 – Cali, CO
    2016-11-12 – Day 62 – Cali, CO to Popayan, CO (143 km – 2:30 hrs)


    After a quiet night in Barichara, where we have the full hostal to ourselves, we went to bed early to get some rest for the road leading to Villa of Leyva.

    Although so it is also located high in the mountains, it was not the same range so it took us 3 hours to cross on a superb road, almost always surrounded by nice mountains. Unfortunately, big trucks presence was high and I had to work hard to pass many of them, and deal with the smell of the diesel which ends up being very unpleasant. The last portion of the itinerary brings us on a more rural stretch of road that was really pretty.

    The arrival in the village is spectacular, with many white houses, streets made of stones and mountains which encircle the whole place.

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    We go strait to the hotel because in spite of their beauty, streets are a challenge to drive on with a big motorbike. Stones laid out by hand are not very uniform and at low speed, it is more La Gorda that decides where it wants to go than the driver!

    The city is simply superb. Nested between a series of green summits, its big central place is impressive and welcoming. Several restaurants and hotels for all budgets are also found there.

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    Our plan is to go to Medellín the following day to spend last evening with my contact of AVDRIDER.COM before he goes back to the United States, so we leave with regret this nice small village which has a multitude of options for many outdoor activities. We set off very early on November the 5th to attack the longest day of motorbike of our trip, an 8 hours drive to go through only 400 km. There is only one thing that can explain this: mountains!

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    And mountains, we got some for our money, and going down, and then back up, and then… You get the pattern! We chose to use route 60, that supposedly was more picturesque and had nice perspectives on the mountains of the region. What was not mentioned is that some portions are a very isolated, with dirt portions as well as several difficult steep passages. The road is often in bad shape and major construction sites are found in many places to improve its quality. And I don’t mean to patch a few holes, it’s major construction, including bridges and major work to enlarge some portions which are not much larger than a car.

    It was an incredible day of adventure motorbike riding! We crossed passages in altitude of an extraordinary beauty, isolated villages, many types of animals, to finally arrive in a huge city that is Medellín.

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    Unfortunately, the show was spoiled a bit by a huge storm at the time of entering the city and, besides the sky that was falling on our heads, we had to confront hundreds of audacious drivers (read here: crazy) who, behind the handlebar of their small and much more agile motorbike, followed us and passed us way too close for comfort, in spite of the storm. We then had to confront water excesses, because rainfall was far too much strong for the aqueduct system. A nice water puddle is not so bad to cross, even if it is deep. The problem is when you cross it at the same time as dozens of other cars and lorries which do not slow down one bit. The produced spatters are so strong that they go over the motorbike! Not fun!

    Traffic is extremely dense, I must make several line changes to get to my destination. The whole challenge is to try to avoid numerous near collisions with so many vehicles coming to us from every angle possible!

    We finally arrive at the destination, at the same time as my friend who is also completely drenched, but, in spite of a long day of driving, wear a broad grin of satisfaction!

    After a good hot shower, we go to the district El Poblado for a good meal and a quick visit of the surrounding streets. As it is a Saturday evening, the place is in full swing and very crowded with young people taking advantage of the many bars around!

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    Sunday is much calmer and we take advantage of a grey day to take it easy, do a bit of shopping and prepare our route for the following day which will bring us to Jardin, a small touristy village stuck in mountains. It is also the birthday of my girlfriend so we find a good spot to celebrate!

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    My favourite Argentinian singer! I am going to miss him just by a few days!

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    We leave Medellín on Monday, November 7th towards Jardin. As it is a holiday, getting out of the big city is relatively easy. When we get to the mountain region, traffic is once again dense. It is only after 2 hours of sporty driving that we can relax a bit without having aggressive driver following us or have to pass heavy lorries, always very slow on this type of hilly road.

    We arrive in the village which is straight from another century! Houses are painted with lively colours and several horses wander near the main place which is very crowded. Because we didn’t have a hotel reservation, we start looking around and, of course, you will have guessed it, the rain starts to fall heavily! After a few swears and a couple of tries, we find a small almost empty hotel next to the central place which costs 15$/person for a big room with 3 beds (which will be very useful to dry our things), but no parking. I decide, having looked a bit around, to leave the motorbike on the street, close to the door and under the window of our room, while activating the alarm and putting on the cover. In this type of village, it does not preoccupy me too much to be frank.

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    Nice surprise, a few minutes after our arrival, I came across Drew, who is examining my motorbike and who was on the same boat as me for the crossing to Colombia! We discuss a bit our road option to go on southward.

    We can backtrack and take the road towards Pereira, or take a small off-road path which crosses mountains towards the village of Riosucio. I had made inquiries to policemen about the state of this road and I was told that it was very wet with all rains of last days. I was therefore a bit hesitating to go through these 50 km alone.

    What happiness to have a partner and we made the decision to make it a try the following morning.

    Restaurant offer is a bit limited in the village. There is a ton of places that serve superb coffees (we are in the coffee region after all), but we ended up finding a small place serving good pasta and of succulent pizzas. After having walked the city a couple of times, we had a quiet evening with a good (!) bottle wine and a good hot meal.

    The following morning, we go back to the main place to have a good coffee and excellent pastries with Drew and his girlfriend who accompanies him for a few days in Colombia. We then attack the mysterious remote road towards Riosucio.

    The road is indeed very small, not very broad, and made of crushed stones, what makes it quite easy to drive on even in wet spots. We take about 2 hours to drive the 50 km stretch. The rural and hilly landscapes are incredible! What a good decision! Thanks to Drew for actin as our scout guide!

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    The objective of the day is to get to Salento, another mountain village, located between Pereira and Arménia were we made reservations at the Salento Pequeño Hotel (https://goo.gl/maps/mSDme943sYn) for 2 nights.

    As soon as we pass Riosucio, the road becomes modern and rapid, in spite of many the many climbs and descents.

    Salento is a place which is also very touristy and its charm is a little more difficult to find. The main attraction is the Valle Del Cocora, which is a few kilometres away and which has a panoply of outdoor activities.

    Our hotel is little outside the village centre, but gives a has a nice view and is equipped with a small kitchenette, therefore we use it to cook our meals during our two nights’ stay. We also saw Drew and his friend again. We had a cold beer and swap travel stories! Very nice!

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    On the morning of November 9th, we took a taxi, which is in fact a Jeep where as many tourists as possible are stacked up, to drive the 10 kilometres to get to the Valle Del Cocora to do a bit of horse-riding and trekking. We would have been able to use the motorbike, but we wanted to take a pause and live the full experience.

    It was a good decision, because we met a Frenchwoman and an Argentinian during the return and then shared a good meal in a small restaurant in the city.

    The mountain trek was incredible. We went through the first kilometres on horseback, in a very abrupt, humid and difficult track. The horses are really agile and know the path perfectly!

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    The portion covered on foot brings us to a place where you have very high palm trees (the highest in the world supposedly). Impressive!

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    The following day, we leave to go to visit the coffee region south of Arménia. We go to a hotel which was suggested by my contact from Medellín, but, even if we had made a reservation on the phone, the place is closed for the week. We go for a promenade to try to find a place to spend the night and visit a coffee plant, but the region is not very attractive to us that morning (many lorries on the road, hotels are so so). We go to the village of Bellavista for lunch and then, we decide to go and spend the last coupe of days together in Cali.

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    Side note, my girlfriend leaves from Bogota, but since we would have had to go once again over the mountains, an 8 hours ride (and which I would have had to do again in opposite direction to go on southward), we purchased a ticket for an internal flight from Cali to Bogota early in the morning of the 12th, which will allow her to fly from Cali and then back to Montreal on the same morning. For 70$, it was no really a difficult decision!

    The road between Bellavista and Cali was driven under the rain once again. But since we had reserved in probably the best hotel of the city for our last 2 nights together, we had a small bonus waiting for us at the end of the wet road, therefore it was not so bad.

    The entrance in Cali was a true caricature taken out straight of a cartoon. In spite of the fact that we were getting used to having multiple motorbikes following us way too closely, being cut off to the point of almost making us fall, here, it is the worst of bad driving!

    It was an infestation on 2 wheels! The 40 minutes taken to get to the hotel was done in intense traffic. It was the craziest driving of my life! I even burst out laughing at some point, as it was so incredibly dangerous!

    During our visit in Cali, I took advantage of the BMW Motorrad dealer to leave my bike for maintenance.

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    Normally, I do this job myself, but I suppose I was a bit lazy and I used their services to make my easier life. I regretted it a bit when I got the bill, but oh well, I got it, the next servicing will be done with my own hands! Speaking of hands, I could not resist getting myself an early Christmas gift!

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    Cali is a rather big but agreeable city. It has several districts and the one we chose, Granada, has several restaurants and boutiques. Our hotel, the Marriott, also has a superb restaurant which proves to be be one of the best of the city. Therefore, makes a rare exeption of having dinner in the hotel we stay in! I have a good steak (I’ve been waiting fo rthis for so long!) and we have a great relaxing night. If you visit this city, this hotel probably has the best breakfast, well it was the best I saw in all my travels! I highly recommend the place!

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    My girlfriend leaves very early in the morning of November 12th, with a bit of a broken heart. It is very much more probable that we will not be hable to seeing each other again in 2016, and even before the end of the trip. Her professional obligations do not, unfortunately, allow her to make this type of trip in repetitions.

    It was not easy to return to an empty room and especially continuing southward without my passenger!

    We had a great time and I hope that she appreciated the experience to live a portion of my motorcycle adventure.

    I really think she was very courageous to have gone through all these kilometres of roads sitting behind me, not always in easy conditions, sometimes in rain, mud, traffic… Bravo!

    I get up late that morning and leave the city towards my last destination in Colombia, Popayan, which has a very white (and rainy) centre! Fortunately, the hotel manager does not want LaGorda to get wet!

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    Here are a few pictures of Popayan’s centre streets.

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    It is also here that ends my adventures in Colombia.

    There remains many places to be seen, to visit, but the rain is unfortunately too present and I made the decision to head south.

    On November 13th, I leave Popayan and will try to get into Ecuador where a new page of my trip will unfold!

    I appreciated Colombia for its impressive green nature, its picturesque landscapes, its mountains, the kindness of the people.

    Several people consider it to be a paradise for motorbikes. It is, unfortunately, not my opinion.

    Take these nice people and give them a steering wheel, and they become completely mad and frankly, dangerous!

    Unfortunately, their behaviour makes it difficult to enjoy driving in most of the roads and towns I visited. Because this trip is a road trip, it is difficult not to take this into account it.

    There were some small isolated roads with incredible beauty and were a pleasure drive, but mostly, I was put on edge by the countless motorbikes, cars and lorries with which I had to not only to share the road, but also fighting not get into accidents (especially with motorbikes!). The density of the traffic is really more important than during my passage in Mexico and in Central America.

    My next visit in this country will be made by plane and by bus. I will be able better to appreciate the landscape and be a lot more relaxed!

    There was also the rain that spoiled a bit of the visit but this is part of a motorcycle trip and I know I must get used to it even if it is not very easy!!!

    Coup de coeur: Villa of Leyva
    Disappointment: The region of Arménia
    Most welcoming city: Villa of Leyva
    Best atmosphere: Cartagena
    Where I would spend a full month in winter: Old city of Cartagena
    Where I will not return: Armenia
    The surprise: Traffic density on all roads and the numbers of big lorries, even on Sundays
    The nicest road: The 60 between Villa of Leyva and Medellín
    The ugliest roads: The 80, between Cartagena and Mompos
    If I had to do it again: A few more days in Villa of Leyva, a different route to get us to visit Bogota
    Next time: A would visit in the summer period and not the wet season
    What I missed me most: Mexico, for its quiet and lonely roads!

    Number of days: 16
    Distance: 2300 km
    Cmnthead and HBLQRider like this.
  17. marcoue

    marcoue Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    526
    Location:
    Montréal, Québec
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    Day 62 to 65 – Ecuador – Contrasts and Great Surprises!

    2016-11-13 – Jour 62 – Popoyan, CO à Otavalo, EC (493 km – 10:00 hrs)
    2016-11-14 – Jour 63 – Otavalo, EC à Quito, EC (101 km – 2:00 hrs)
    2016-11-15 – Jour 64 – Quito, EC
    2016-11-16 – Jour 65 – Quito, EC


    My last hours in Colombia were spent on an absolutely splendid road! There was a lot of traffic, but the beauty of the surrounding mountains, often very steep, made the end of my visit of Colombia a beauty.

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    I left early on the morning of November 13th to try to get to Ecuador, more precisely, to the city of Popoyan.

    It meant an itinerary of at least 9 hours, plus the time to get through the border.

    I had the chance to get relatively favourable weather, with just a bit of rain here and there.

    I nevertheless had to make a couple of stops, among which one was to take out warmer gloves which had been hidden at the bottom of a bag for weeks! Indeed, the temperature went down below 10 degrees at high altitude. The mountains were impressive and I as I went over one of the summits, on a road which I considered to be secondary, a big city, Pasto, appeared, to my big surprise, in just a few seconds. I so much did not expect to see a city of this size at this moment and place.

    The border crossing to Ecuador was possibly the easiest since the beginning of my trip. 10 minutes to get out of Colombia, and 30 minutes to enter Ecuador. No fees, no document to fill and nice smiley officials to welcome me in! I even got a tourist map. That’s a first!

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    What a contrast with what I lived since my departure.

    But the word contrast was going to take quite other turn as I entered in the country.

    Having worked extremely hard the past few weeks on the roads of Colombia, I am now on a motorway, often with 3 lanes on each side, with a tarmac in perfect condition. I can quickly see 2 things. There are no more motorbike around me and the drivers have a minimum of courtesy and seem to me much less audacious and dangerous.

    The road goes up gradually, to an impressive region in high altitude. The road is modern and leaves speechless! Wow, what an incredible contrast. The best word to describe my feelings after a few hours’ driving in Ecuador is relief. I am finally capable of relaxing a bit on the road, looking at the landscape, slowing down without being honked at or dangerously passed.

    I even see at some point, a spot build to make a stop and to take pictures!

    I am also a impressed by the landscape contrast between the 2 countries. Here, it is really a high altitude scenery. I drive at more than 3500 metres in some spots.

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    At some point, I take a road towards the city of Otavalo and am finding myself on an urban boulevard with sometimes 4 lanes on each side!!!

    Otavalo is a kind of a suburb of Cotacachi. Its city centre is modest, but well organized. With a little bit of luck, I quickly find a hotel room in an OK place, which has a big parking for my motorbike and that is located in the centre of town (Hotel Coraza). For 18$, I get a room with Internet and hot water!

    I then go for a walk see immediately that the population is much more indigenous, with a very dark skin and wearing traditional clothes. The women carry their children in cloths over their shoulders and their nice big hats remind me of Bolivia.

    People are a little more distant, less smiling. I felt that right from my contact with the men at the hotel.

    When I cross people in the street, no smiles nor a salutation. Something else than I saw it is that it is much calmer than Colombia. There is a good presence on streets, but no horns, no motorbikes which passes you nearly over your toes, nobody goes thru red lights. It would be a lie to say that I did not appreciate this almost calmness.

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    The following day, I leave towards Quito where I reserved a flat on airbnb.com. A first one for me.

    It exceeds my daily budget, but I will take advantage of the kitchen to cook my meals. It will also give me the chance to look at my options for next few days in Ecuador, because I really do not have a planned route.

    The road towards the capital is also impressive and in perfect in every condition. The only thing to be mentioned is that I must once again get accustomed to stop at toll booths! A big 0,20 $ every time! In fact, the problem is not so much having to pay, but the hassle to take out money from my jacket. Not so obvious on a motorcycle.

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    Entering Quito is far easier than Cali or Medellín. The many motorists (very few motorbikes) are much calmer.

    I meet Maria at 13h00 and she gives me the keys of a flat which is on the 7th floor of a relatively modern building in a district called La Zona, filled with bars and restaurants. There are also many schools, which makes it very dynamic.

    I used these couple of days to visit this district, but also the centre, located about an hour’s walk away. I also walked around twenty kilometres every day, which was nice, because I’m starting to feel thw kilograms adding on, due to the lack of exercise!

    The city is huge and has European feel to it. The old centre mysteriously reminds me of some cities in Italy.

    It is also a pleasure walking all these streets, in a big city, without the presence of almost continual honking. Here, once again, it is much calmer and orderly. Strange not?

    Here are some pictures of the city which was a big and nice surprise. I did not expect this level of historical quality of the buildings and the atmosphere which is found there. One of the nice city centres I have seen in Latin America.

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    A volunteer to drive this bus in the streets of Quito?!

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    As you can see, I was also blessed with sun!!!

    Finally! I stopped at Euromotorbike to see if tires were available. The model which I was looking for was available in the right size for my motorbike, but for 750$US, ouch, I think I’ll pass! I ended up reserving the same tires at Touratech Lima, in Peru, for 370$ US. I now understand how the nice roads are financed!
    BigDogRaven likes this.
  18. marcoue

    marcoue Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    526
    Location:
    Montréal, Québec
    Day 67 to 70 – Ecuador – Hiking, Driving, and Final Thoughts

    2016-11-17 – Day 67 – Quito, EC to Quilotoa, EC (166 km – 3:30 hrs)
    2016-11-18 – Day 68 – Quilotoa, EC to Baños, EC (157 km – 3:30 hrs)
    2016-11-19 – Day 69 – Baños, EC to Cuenca, EX (336 km – 5:30 hrs)
    2017-11-20 – Day 70 – Cuenca, EC

    Leaving Quito, I am once again agreeably surprised with the quality of the road and in spite of the intense rush hour traffic, exiting the big city is done without too much stress.

    In spite of easiness to circulate on the nice highways of the Equator, I not here to visit motorways therefore I plan to follow a rural road to get to Quilotoa, where a nice hiking opportunity around a lake in a crater is found.

    Just outside Quito, here is the show which presents itself to me. The Cotopaxi volcano.

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    The small road is called Via Sigchos – Quilotoa. This was a very good decision.

    Even if itinerary adds one hour driving, landscapes are incredible with high green hills, passing from the high mountain areas to farmlands, providing number of curves and some loneliness which I had not had for some time.

    I come across more farmers on foot or on horseback than vehicles. The road is perfect, no hole, perfect inclines always calibrated property what it allows me to have a good time driving, and of nice surprises at every curve exit.

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    As everything is never perfect in Latin America, I am slowed by major building construction sites for some kilometres before arriving at destination. I am impressed by the magnitude of the works performed on a road that is very secondary. Our elected representatives should come to spend some time here! The engineers and workers have an obvious talent to construct high quality infrastructure in very difficult conditions.

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    En arrivant dans le village qui est un peu, disons, piteux, je visite un premier hostel pour lequel je pourrais utiliser le même qualificatif pour finalement déposer mes sacs dans le second endroit qui est un peu moins de ce même adjectif!

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    The reason why I stay in this village is that I want to go for a walk on a trail which goes around a crater filled with water.

    I need to do a little bit of sports and this itinerary will not disappoint me! Here is the view when I start the walk…

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    I thought to be able to go around in an hour, but in the end, it is a rather demanding trek and the perspective of an easy one hour tour becomes hard work, with rises just under 4000 metres in altitude, almost always on a narrow ridge which gives vertigo! The show is unforgettable and I probably took the same picture of the hole of water hundreds of times!

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    At one moment, I was even surprised by the presence of a small makeshift kiosk held by a 12-year-old kid at 3900 metres of altitude. He climbs from his village every morning of the week to sell the work of his family and drinks. He explains that he’s been doing this for past 2 years. He goes to school on Saturdays and Sundays and passes the rest of the week here.

    I can only respect effort, but I also question myself on the perspectives for the future of young people like him who are called to play this type of role for their family.

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    I dine with a hybrid couple (girl from Ecuador, fellow from Germany) in the hostel I stay at. We will exchange good travel stories and retreat at the end of the party in my room trying my best to stay warm, because he it is 5 degrees outside and the room is nor insulated nor heated!

    The small bug that I must kill before being getting under the thick covers doesn’t give me great confidence, but I really do not have much accommodation choice at this time of the night in such lost in mountains. I hope that Lyme disease will not take me as a client tonight!

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    Breakfast was also including in the price of the room, but since all the plates from the night before were still on the table, I passed my turn and left fast towards another mountain called Baños.

    I must take my heating jacket out as it is 5 degrees! What happiness I get from this artificial heat source! The first kilometres are spectacular, but the rest of the road is rather uninteresting.

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    I have a little bit of time on my hands and I use it to drive slowly (and nobody pushes me from behind!). I even help a fellow BMW rider stopped on the side of the road. He had overestimated the capacity of his gaz reservoir and I gave him a little bit of the precious liquid by using a small tool which I always carry, that is a tube which I attach to the connector cable of my own tank. By operating the starter, the petrol is flowing out without any other effort! Cool!

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    The city of Baños is supposedly a dream place for the outdoor amateurs, but I must have been to Mount-Tremblant or Whistler too often and there is nothing too impressive for me there. I am going to have a nice walking in mountain, but leave the following day.

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    The small centre is nevertheless active and I had the chance to have a nice evening with a couple from Paris. How agreeable it is to be able to speak your own language event if it is only for a few hours! I even taught our cousins some small expressions from Quebec!

    Some portions of the road to get to Cuenca are without interest, but for the great majority time, I am presented with mountain landscapes and very little presence from other vehicles.

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    Cuenca (Hi Daniel!) is an important and very nice city and with a colonial aspect. I choose to spend 2 days and got myself a bit of luxury. I stay in one of the nice hotels in town and treat myself to a meal in an extraordinary restaurant.

    San Blas Hotel & Suites
    Mariscal Sucre & Manuel Vega, Cuenca, Ecuador
    https://goo.gl/maps/m1B78QKHGqz

    El Mercado
    8-27, Calle Larga, Cuenca, Ecuador
    https://goo.gl/maps/AtyefXfEXBJ2

    The city is really very nice, but what I appreciate the most is the quietness in spite of its size. The cathedral is huge, the streets are possibly the cleanest that I have seen since the beginning of my trip and restaurant offer is good. I spend my 2 days jogging, walking, visiting, but also planning my passage and my first days in Peru.

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    When I read some of the people who made this journey, I realize that what I did to this day is quite small potatoes compared with what awaits for me in the next country.

    I appreciate the beauty of roads in Ecuador and the easiness of getting from one place to the other, but it seems more and more obvious to me that Peru will be a real logistical navigation and driving challenge.

    Mike from ADVRider.com strongly suggests not taking the Panamericana, which follows the coast, but to concentrate on the road 3N which goes thru the Andes. I agree with this suggestion, but I am a bit concerned as sections of the road risk being difficult, maybe impossible on a motorbike, or I should say, alone with my big motorbike.

    The fact that I am alone makes getting to some places impossible and although I am comfortable with it, I am nevertheless obliged to make my duties and study carefully my routes!

    La Gorda is still in perfect shape. No mechanical problem to be mentioned, if only a small water presence in the final drives. I consulted my chief mechanic in Montreal (thank you, Geoffrey) as well as on the site ADVRIDER.com (http://advrider.com/index.php?posts/30815408/) and came to the conclusion that it is a miner. I cleaned a small part (the breather) and replaced adequately on the drive. I will see if the problem is gone during the next oil change in Santiago.

    It is nevertheless strange mention a city in Chile.

    When I look at the route for the next weeks, I realize to how much distance I have driven, but what is in front of me seems so much more complex, huge, and far!

    With all the detours, I estimate a distance of about 8000 km between Ecuador and Santiago, in Chile. And every kilometre in Latin America demands much more work than in the north. There is no way to drive 3500 km (like I did in the United States) in 2 days. On a straight line, it would not be too complex. It would be possible to make it in some weeks, but I want to pass by mountain regions, Cusco, Bolivia, the north of Argentina, the Atacama Desert, the vineyards of Cafayate and more importantly, getting to Ushuaia, at the end of the world, in Patagonia. Another 4000 km… Minimum! It is huge! And to a certain degree, intimidating.

    I therefore try to concentrate on one stage at the same time and to try to cut the route up in smaller fragments, easier to be managed.

    I must also make peace with the fact that I will not see everything.

    I take the country in which I am now. A lot of people tell me not to miss the Galapagos islands. Unfortunately, this detour will not be done during this trip for two reasons. The first one is that I came here on a motorbike. I have the chance to have complete autonomy and to be able to move fast and easily.

    The second is that it is easy to return to Ecuador and Islands will still be there during my next visit. All that to say that I have no intention of parking La Gorda for 2 weeks and go for a cruise. When I am going to visit this place, I will concentrate on the place.

    For the moment, every morning that I have chance and privilege to get on my motorcycle, I am completely motivated to go on southward, and to discover the horizons that this means of transport, with its advantages and disadvantages, allow me to see and to live.

    And this, even if I miss my girlfriend, my family and friends, my professional life at Solo… And so on.

    To be continued! And the next post will come to you, I hope, from Peru!

    Coup de coeur: Quito
    Disappointment: Many of the small villages seen on the road lack beauty
    Most welcoming city: Quito
    Best atmosphere: La Zona in Quito
    Where I would spend a full month in winter: None
    Where I will not return: Baños
    The surprise: The nice roads and how easy it became to drive in just a few minutes out of Colombia
    The nicest road: The first 2 hours when entering the contry and driving towards Otavalo
    The ugliest roads: The first part between Baños and Cuenca
    If I had to do it again: A few more days to visit the coast but because my rear tire is quite worn out, I didn’t want to add a 1000 km the the journey
    Next time: Visit the Galapagos Island
    What I missed me most: My girlfriend who left me in Cali!

    Number of days: 9
    Distance: 1300 km
    mattn, hardroadking and stromsavard like this.
  19. WhicheverAnyWayCan

    WhicheverAnyWayCan Deaf Biker

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,794
    Location:
    Seven Springs NC
    I don't understand that we crossed the same border at CR/Panama and you paid $12 CR's exit fee when I paid $7? I have receipt on me. They sure can never have the exact price/fee at each border and try to extract as much $ as they possible can from us gringos.
    hogtotex likes this.
  20. marcoue

    marcoue Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    526
    Location:
    Montréal, Québec
    Day 71 to 73 – Peru – A Serious and Dusty Contrast!

    2016-11-21 – Day 71 – Cuenca, EC to Piura, PE (529 km – 9:30 hrs)
    2016-11-22 – Day 72 – Piura, PE to Cajamarca, PE (472 km – 7:30 hrs)
    2016-11-23 – Day 73 – Cajamarca, PE to Huamachuco, PE (222 km – 7:30 hrs)

    When I mentioned a contrast between Colombia and Ecuador, well, multiply it by 10 and you will get the one between Ecuador and Peru!

    Having passed 2 nice days in Cuenca, I felt ready to go on southward and set myself to a mission. Cross into Peru!, located still quite far, about 8 hours away.

    Waking up was very early and I set off at 6:00 AM, with a cold 2 degree temperature! I put on my heating jacket, but after 30 minutes, the temperature went down by a notch to get to -3. With completely frozen hands, I also had to slip on the heating gloves, a first one since I left.

    Once dressed adequately, I can comfortably drive in a relative warmth. Small problem, the battery of my iPhone, even if connected and recharging, drops dead because of the cold temperature and so, the phone, which is my main GPS (GOOGLE MAP), goes dark.

    I must therefore set my course again in my old GARMIN GPS, which is not optimal, because the maps from OSM are not very good in this region.

    After some hours of driving in green mountains, the landscape progressively changes from forest to desert. In fact, it’s not really the desert, but a dry vegetation, with big trees which seem dead.

    I arrive to the border of Peru under a blazing sun and a nice 36 degrees, 40 more than this morning!

    The border post is completely unorganized, as though it had been improvised 50 years ago and that it had been never updated since then.

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    The crossing is easy and quick. Officials are courteous. I must pay 35$ US for a month of insurance in Peru (SOAT).

    After just a few kilometres, I can see major poverty, the most serious one since the beginning of my trip.

    I head for Piura, a big city located at a reasonable distance and where I intend to spend the night.

    I must cross dusty cities and villages that seem to come right out of an old American western…

    At some point, the main road is blocked because of construction and I must make detours on completely ruined and very poor residential sandy streets. I am also confronted with hundreds of mototaxis on 3 wheels! It is difficult for me to describe this craziness. I really feel far away from the home!

    In more rural regions, I deal with other types of traffic!

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    I arrive in Piura around 16:00 and start my search for a hotel. Prices are high and I end up in an adequate hostal for 35$. A lot more expensive than what I should have paid for what the place has to offer! I then walk in the city. It is another world… Extremely loud, dirty, and for some areas, simply disgusting. Here are the nicest photos which I could take. I’ll keep the other one for myself! The centre is nevertheless OK but…

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    …A few street corners away from the main square, streets are made of dirt and sand!

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    I leave early the next morning. In spite of many people advising me to avoid the Panamericana, which is along the ocean, I decide to take the easy option get to Cajamarca. The road begins with a dusty desert and a straight line for more than 200 km. He would be à lie not to confess that I appreciated these moments of easy driving, a first for some time now!

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    Of course, it was not going to last and once return I got to the big city of Chiclayo, I got on the gravel for a few dozens of kilometres. I must also pass in completely mad villages, with selling kiosks directly on the street, so I had to squeeze in between them, mototaxis and even big lorries who too, had to drive thru in this craziness.



    I few kilometres away, I start gaining altitude and the road becomes very nice, wide, clean, with a perfect tarmac. Landscapes are of equal quality and I in for a nice show all the way to Cajamarca.

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    This city is much more imposing than I believed it to be. I quickly find a hotel which allows me to park the motorbike in the courtyard and use the next few hours to walk and discover a place full of beauties and effervescence.

    However, it is also very noisy, caused mostly by all the vehicles honking all the time.

    I try to study the behaviour, even if it is very unpleasant, as a curiosity and because there seems to be some sort of a system to it.

    First, there are no stop signals at most intersections, therefore every vehicle which arrives at a street corner, well, hits the horn!

    Then, every driver who finds that another car is too close for comfort, well, hits the horn.

    If a pedestrian is on a street corner or tries to cross, they hit the horn.

    If they want to salute you, they hit the horn.

    Sometimes. When a car passes me by, I get the horn, perhaps to greet me or possibly because my headlights are on?

    Then there are taxis.

    They honk for all the reasons mentioned above, but it is necessary to add that they also honk to draw attention from the potential clients walking on the sidewalks. And in places where there are many pedestrians, they honk every 10 metres.

    Beep beep… Beep beep… Beep beep beep… So stressful! But by finding myself stuck in this situation, and because I can’t do anything about it, I try to find some sort of rhythm, maybe a melody?

    Finally, I think that some people are trying to distort my serious study of the behaviour. They simply honk for no reason at all. I try to explain it to myself, but unsuccessfully.

    And the government helps in any way they can… Look at the road sign!

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    You can therefore imagine the concert of strident horns which is present on the streets of the big cities of Peru!

    I leave for Cajamarca early, once again to make progress southward.

    I really do not have any objectives for the day, because it is so difficult to estimate adequately which is the best road as well as travel time. I, however, head towards Huamachuco, where there are ancient ruins which are possible to visit, only a few kilometres of the city.

    The road differs a lot from the previous day. Although still located in high altitude, I get a series of small villages and farmlands. Nice and quiet. I drive slowly and immerse myself in these bucolic landscapes.

    My two stops for breakfast!

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    Miam! Seriously. First, good fresh bananas, and then, the small bakery, right in the middle of nowhere, had great apples croissants. A delight.

    But I’m a bit more strategic than before. Now, I buy one item, taste it and if it is good, I buy more. I took 4 of them!

    I get to the 3N road, which is the one that I am going to try to follow for next days. It is modern and soft for my big motorbike. It is nevertheless strange to see all modest houses of the poor families lining up along this modern and perfect road.

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    the irony is even stronger when I think of the streets of Montreal, the city where I live. It is the complete opposite.

    Nice houses and crazy taxes for streets in state of decomposition!

    OK, let us return to the 3N, what is as also odd is that sometimes it must be shrunk to one lane, because of a badly positioned home or an electrical post. Or because they simply forgot to rebuild a bridge! Now I admit this is more like my local administration!

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    In the middle of the day, I come across a group of adventurer cyclists and I stop to salute them. I am warmly welcomed by a group of 4 persons from Europe and one from Vancouver. Some of them have been on the road for 2 years and started their journey in Alaska.

    I was highly impressed by such accomplishment and it put things in a perspective. They took, since their arrival in Peru, a month to get here. I took 3 days!

    We talk about our itineraries, their bikes, my motorbike. Exciting. I leave 90 minutes later, filled with a new energy which was transmitted to me by the daily accomplishment of these people. I suddenly have a huge desire to camp (what they do almost at all times), and to continue discovering the country via the small less touristy roads.

    They also mentioned that they are going to go to a small lake a little farther out to spend the night and that I am welcomed to join them.

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    Their web site: www.radko.de

    For to get to this place, it will only take me 30 minutes, but for them, it is more than 4 am.

    After leaving, I think about my options. I drive in front of the lake, but nothing here justifies my me stopping as it is only 2:00 PM. As I really feel like camping, which I have not done since Guatemala, I decide to go to Huamachuco, but to also go towards the ruins of Markahuamachocho, do a quick visit and backtrack (30 minutes) to try to find the group near the lake.

    The entrance in the city of Huamachuco is chaotic and difficult. Initially, my GPS routes me adequately, but several streets are closed and Google Maps has trouble recalculating an alternative route. I get stuck in dead ends or streets which are staircases for pedestrianized, therefore impassable.

    It is nevertheless amusing to see the face of people seeing me passing with my big motorbike coming straight from Mars, on their isolated streets with no issues.

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    I succeeded crossing the city and rapidly find myself on a dirt road and starts seriously gaining in altitude. The path is very narrow and overlooks very abrupt cliffs! A challenge in driving and courage.

    I arrive at the ruins, and the security agent present at the entrance offers to watch the motorbike. Great! I then change my clothes, lock all my things and hide them with the bike’s cover. I am comfortable to leave it alone and leave for a 2 hour trek. I am the only person on site and I use this peacefulness to visit slowly and to take many photos.

    At some point, I see a group who bustles about to repair the path and among them, the chief archaeologist of the site!

    I get a quick guided tour and I’m also allowed enter the ruins of the main building, which sheltered, more than 1000 years ago, the commercial fair of the people who lived there, estimated at about 10000 persons. The site is located in the mountain side and was encircled by a 3-storied high wall.

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    A very nice security agent. And a good photographer!

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    After this nice visit, I go back to the lake where unfortunately, I am not able to find the cyclists group. I nevertheless decide camp by the water, on the grounds of the town’s park, a free spot for the night. I park my motorbike and start my tent setup. It is not very long that young kids from the village encircle me and get me with the full set of questions about my trip, but especially about the big motorbike which intrigues them the most!

    Photo session…

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    Meanwhile, a great surprise, another motorbike arrives, a BMW 650 cc, driven by a fellow adventurer from England, living in Belgium and making the same itinerary as me, but northward. He started in Uruguay and will finish in Houston, TX. He has a lot of experience, having made this journey, and others in Europe, in the past.

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    We take a good wine bottle together and swaps many travel stories and tricks. A nice fellow, an incredible evening! I go out of it even more motivated to discover Peru from its mountains and small roads.

    It was an exciting day, probably one of the most interesting of the trip. I met great adventurers, saw nice landscapes, nice ruins, and practised my off-road riding on a mountain top.

    I am ready for the next stage.

    But what awaits me the following days is a lot more intense than what I had planned and I lived the most demanding days of my trip, or even of all my trips.

    Stay tuned!
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