Leaving the Arrowhead Country to ride Peru and beyond

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by MikeS, Feb 18, 2016.

  1. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

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    Of course the log home builder from Grand Marais notices the timber framed roof at the rest area tiki hut! Keep it coming Mike!
    #41
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  2. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Unicorn hunting

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    I enjoy all these Peru RRs. And I'm looking forward to your day trip to the Kuelap ruins.

    It must be great doing rides out on that bike without the luggage.
    #42
  3. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Actually, I'm packed pretty light. There is very little difference in handling loaded or not. I have the Giant Loop luggage instead of heavier metal panniers, and no camping gear. It's so inexpensive to stay in posadas and eat out that that's what I'm doing. I'm living/traveling on about $40US/day to date. This 250cc moto is the best possible moto for what I'm doing here. It handles the gnarly stuff just fine, and at the same time will pull well up mountain inclines and easily move along at 80 on the long highways without any stress. The tires aren't balanced, and I get a bounce when I run faster. I'm as fast as most traffic here. This is a big bike and nice bike by Peru standards. I'm totally satisfied and would take nothing bigger.

    Slow internet for the last few days made me lazy and I don't have Kuelap ruins totally organized yet. It was an amazing place to visit, like were the ruins near Humachucho that I visited earlier in this trip.
    #43
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  4. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Unicorn hunting

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    Thanks for replying, MikeS. Personally, I'm heavily into ancient sites (I'm an administrator on the Megalithic Portal, here's our Kuelap page - http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=16158 ).

    Peru is now high on my list for a moto trip, I think I would be going all over the place. The ancient sites on the coast also intrigue me - the Lambayeque pyramids look interesting and also the really ancient (same age as the Egyptian pyramids) Caral-Supe sites a little farther south.

    I'm thoroughly enjoying your trip from my armchair in England. Cheers.
    #44
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  5. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Tuesday March 1 Staying in Chachapoyas, rode to ruins of Keulap

    Once off the blacktop, which is curvy mountain road, the gravel road to Keulap follows the edge of a mountain and makes a very big loop around.

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    There is construction under way to shorten this loop, with a gondola crossing the valley. The far terminal is well below where Kuelap is, and I don't know what the plan is to get people the rest of the way to the top. I assume another lift of some sort. Construction of the base terminal is under way. Per chance, I was passing through when the concrete was being poured for the far terminal. I got a photo of the concrete being dumped in to the hopper above the chute.

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    I liked this little house along the way:

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    There are two plus kilometers of path like this, accessing Keulap. Notice the diamond on the path. I saw a couple of these. This pattern is unique to Kuelap, and the fellows setting the stones for the path took some liberty and added a few signatures along the path.

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    This is what you see as you approach the ruins. The walls are extensive and huge. Lots of labor to say the least.

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    One of the signature structures inside, the tower as it's called:

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    The stone work on the walls and on the major structures consists of square shaped stones. The stones are coursed row by row. The many circular residences are more a rubble style stone work.

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    There are very few entrances, three I believe. They all are up a steep incline with tall walls above. As you approach the end, the entrance is only as wide as one person - a good defensive strategy.

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    The residences are circular stone structures. There are a whole lot of the base courses of residences, scattered all around the ruins. I have no idea how many there are, but a lot. One of the structures is rebuilt for a visual image of what the residences looked like.

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    The only residents left in Kuelap. I bet they get photographed by many of us tourists.

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    This is some of the diamond and zig zag decorative stone work that was incorporated in to some of the structures. As the signs pointed out, this is unique to the Chachapoya culture.

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    Then there's this structure, a ceremonial structure. I wonder how many stones fell off the building during construction, only to have to be hoisted all the way back up. I have no idea why this was built with the walls tapered out. Today, we construction people would call this "some hair brain idea of an architect". It takes the architect to come up with the idea, and the craftsmen to solve the problems along the way amd make it a reality.

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    A small carving on this structure. It's very nicely done. I don't know what they used for tools. I'm sure they didn't have steel or iron, but maybe copper or bronze. I'm not sure.

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    #45
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  6. Dudley

    Dudley Long timer Supporter

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    Mike,
    Great trip! Tell more about the Honda...I have not heard of a Tornado in the states, are you renting it?
    Dudley
    #46
  7. goodcat

    goodcat Changing latitudes, altitudes and attitudes

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    Awesome pics.
    I wouldn't call building a tapered out wall hair brained at all. Its actually pretty ingenious even by todays standards. And the proof is that it is still standing.
    Btw....The construction sequence is Architect 1st....Structural Engineer 2nd....Craftsman 3rd. And the craftsman can only make approved changes if the design doesn't match up.
    Guess you hit a nerve with your comment :lol3
    #47
  8. joenuclear

    joenuclear Still here....

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    If they had more $ it would have been an upside down pyramid.
    #48
  9. goodcat

    goodcat Changing latitudes, altitudes and attitudes

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    Hahahaha
    Maybe that was the intention and this was a first draft build :imaposer
    #49
  10. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    About the Honda Tornado First look it up on the internet It s a xr250 assembled in Brazil. Very capable moto, and popular in SA. Parts are here, including china replacement parts for cheap. Not available in US or Canada. Not the sophisticated moto that North America riders demand. For here, it s perfect as far as I am concerned My attitude is I want to ride, and I m not looking for the best performance or lightest moto. That said, I like it better than my KL250 in the states The suspension is better than the Kawasaki.

    2 March, Wednesday Chachapoyas to Moyobamba

    I got myself and motorcycle all packed and then walked to the plaza for breakfast. While there, I thought I heard some English from two folks across the way. After I finished breakfast, I asked them if they were English speaking. Turns out Trent is from Oregon, and Kristin from Arizona, or NM. Both are working for Peace Corps. What a great thing to do! They have a two year comittment, and are working on projects pertaining to waste management and resource management. First English speaking folks I've met. Trent was interested in my moto, so after they finished, he came to see my moto before I left. He doesn't ride, but wants to learn and wants to ride to the tip of South America.

    I don't have the right title for the motorcycle so I cannot go in to Ecuador or Colombia. I've been trying to get it forwarded to me but have failed multiple times. It's in Huaraz at a currier office. They have offices all across Peru, but between their policies and my language skills, it's stuck in Huraez. As a result, I'm making a loop to the east, through some jungle area as recommended by two folks I've met along the way. I've been through quite a few police stops, and they inspect the title, insurance, and other documents. For some reason they haven't caught it. The license number is wrong, for one.

    Being in construction for many decades, I notice construction techniques. Much of what I've seen so far is typical of Latin America, namely steel reinforced concrete post and beam style construction, with manufactured red tile blocks as in-fill. Often the blocks are covered with stucco. I don't recall seeing any mud blocks yet, which I have seen on my Mexico trips.

    Around here I'm seeing extensive wood construction for the first time. One style, used moreso on poorer farm residences and in tiny communities involves horizontal log with corner notches. The logs are stacked and then the spaces between are filled with what looks like mud and maybe straw. Later the whole outside is covered with either mud or stucco. Some look pretty classy, and others quite crude.

    In process, with the front fully covered with mud and the side only filled between the logs.

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    I've also seen another more refined technique using mortise and tenon corners; even locking corner notches. The logs are flattened on the outside and I assume on the inside. They are fit close together and some are covered with stucco.

    This is a dovetail corner building, with the front covered with stucco. On the logs, you can see the bottom logs were flattened, I suspect with an adz and not with a hewing ax. To me it looks like the upper logs were flattened at a sawmill, since no adz marks are present. From the road this work looked well done, and it is the most refined of the three wood construction methods I am seeing here.

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    A third technique uses a post and beam system utilizing wood instead of reinforced concrete columns and beams. The outside of the frame is then covered with sawed boards, installed vertically.

    Here's the frame for a building that will be covered with vertical boards. It doesn't look very well supported structurally, although the boards will provide some reinforcement. They might add some diagonal bracing when installing the vertical boards, or not.

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    As I headed down this grade, I entered the jungle area. The smell was different as I descended.

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    #50
  11. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    3 March Thursday – Moyobamba to Juanjui

    Garden and my room in Moyobamba. Upscale: Soles 40, or about $13US.

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    It rained heavy all night. In the morning I found a weather forecast, which also wasn't good. I was wondering if I'd be delayed by land slides or debris over the road. The rain let up after 8AM, so I decided to leave. The weather all day was decent, with scattered heavy rain 4 or 5 times throughout the day.

    I was going to stop at a cascade and another archeological site north of Moyobamba. The weather changed my decision, and the day become a day of "ride the motorcycle". Days like this are also good. I enjoy just riding – there's a rhythm to it that's good for the soul. I've been in a mix of some rolling hills and lush jungle type growth to flat river bottom and lots of development. At times the traffic was somewhat thick, other times no. Thick here means quite a few cars, vans, and trucks; plus lots of motorcycle and three wheel taxi/motorcycles. I was stopped twice, once a small land slide and another time from a tow truck trying to pull a semi tractor out of the ditch. I made use of the "motorcycles go to the front of the line" mode of operation. I wish that was accepted practice in the States.

    Truck in the ditch

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    How about that ditch to the right and the left. Later in my travels I saw a tractor trailer truck that had the right side of the truck down in one of those ditches.

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    Small town business district along the way.

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    Juanjui:

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    "Hospedaji Here I Stay"

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    I went down the street a few doors for dinner at a chicken place. The owners family was eating, and again I was the only customer. It took quite some time for my dinner to be prepared. I suspect the chicken was being cooked right after I ordered. No problem. A girl from the family befriended me, and between me and Nickalodian on the TV, we chatted back and forth over time. Eventually she got out her computer and used a translation site to ask a few questions. She is 10 years old, almost 11, and loves her grandmother who is 74; just like my granddaughter loves her grandmother. She was not afraid of strangers or foreigners at all, and her parents did not discourage her from interacting with me. The welcome attitude of Latino culture is taught early.

    The road ahead of me tomorrow is going to get more flat and boring, according to what I've been told. I'm also on a bit of a mission. I want to get to Huaraz in order to pick up the correct title card for this moto. I have been told that tomorrow I should ride non-stop from Juanjui to Tingo Maria. Although cleaned up now by the Peruvian government, it is an area known as "cocaine alley", and might still be a little rough. It's about 220 miles/370km, which will be my longest day so far. If I want to get to Huaraz by Saturday afternoon, I have another similar day ahead of me. I'll decide how to proceed once I get to Tingo Maria. I'm thinking to head towards the coast, to ride some more mountains again and to see several sites there that are noted on my map. On the coast I want to walk through the oldest center of civilization in the Americas, located near Supe. According to the notes on my map, it is contemporary with Egypt. This will also get me on the famous/infamous Pan American Highway.
    #51
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  12. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    4 March, Friday Juanjui to Huanuco

    This day has been planned to be "ride through here non-stop", on the advice of Toby from Around the Block Moto Tours. He told me it's a rough area, and used to be a major area of cocaine and drug supply to the US. I followed his advice – somewhat, dallying at several gas stops. It's not as flat and boring as I was expecting. The road included blacktop in various levels of repair from very good to really bad. There was also plenty of dirt, including very bumpy. Parts of it were isolated with very little traffic. There definitely is tropical jungle vegetation here.

    Pictures from the road:

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    This section was pretty remote with very little traffic. Pretty area.

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    Rain in the distance

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    My original plan was to ride the 325 miles from Moyobamba to Tingo Maria and stop there for the night. As I got close, I realized I had enough time to go the remaining 80 miles to Huanuco. That's more than double the distance of what is a typical travel day for me in Peru. Toby and Sara are in the States right now, but there is a Hostel on the same block, close to the motorcycle shop. Jamie, the mechanic at the shop, was impressed with my 400 mile/670 km day. I adjusted my chain and tightened a couple spokes that evening, and Jamie tightened the steering head bearings, which were a little loose. My chain needs tightening more often than I'm used to, and is showing wear. I also was able to get confirmation that the title card for this motorcycle is in fact located in Huaraz. I need to go there and get it. After that, I'm heading to the coast.
    #52
  13. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    5 March Saturday

    I got organized in the morning and took off to Huaraz. Because tomorrow is Sunday, I can take two days to get there. My plan is to stop at La Union and see the ruins there on Sunday. It will be a short day on Sunday to Huaraz, and on Monday I can finally pick up the title card for the motorcycle I am riding.

    I chose a more northern route, which consists of potholed blacktop and quite a bit of gravel along the way. There is quite a bit of traffic on it, requiring attention because of the curvy and narrow mountain road. Meeting head on often requires cooperation, which means the motorcycle hugs the shoulder. In Peru biggest trumps big which trumps small. I can't imagine much pleasure riding these roads with these road rules while on a heavier 650 or bigger travel moto.

    Hacienda along the way that has seen better times

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    I saw this central plaza down a side road and went down there for a look. I ate a late breakfast from my backpack here; banana and bread.

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    Little did I know how a version of this would play in to my day

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    When suddenly:

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    I'm not good with pictures during missions like this, so you get the short narration. First thing I did was walk back and look for the pieces. You can see what I found. After searching through my repair gear several times, I concluded I did not have any spare master links. I turned around and rolled down hill, and only had to push for a few short stints. I'm in the mountains, and it was a climb all the way. I got to a police stop I had passed through and asked them if they knew of anyone close who could help. They did, and I found him. He did not have a welder to weld the master link. After several creative attempts at a solution, I said I think it's best to flag down a truck. I ended up loading the moto on a one ton truck over loaded with potatoes. The fellow and his two sons are Inca, and we listened to Inca music and slowly head down the mountain. Eventually he had to stop because his brakes are overheating. Actually, the front brakes are overheating, as the rear brakes are not making contact. Later on he stops to jack up the loaded truck to adjust the rear brakes. Not a lot of success as the pedal is still very soft. Needless to say, not the best of conditions, but what can I say or do. At this point, the driver turned off the music because of the importance of the task at hand. He used the gearing primarily to descend the rest of the mountain. Realize, this is a truck on a narrow mountain road, and meeting and getting past another vehicle is often not an option. This situation presents itself at the most inopportune moments, like a blind turn on a one lane section of road with a drop off below and no where to go. It took all of the afternoon to go the 35 km/22 miles to Huanuco, and I was finally unloaded at 6pm. We got the motorcycle unloaded near where he was delivering the potatoes, and I rolled it a few blocks to a motorcycle repair shop. The mechanic/owner modified my chain to accept a non-o-ring master link and I was mobile again. He didn't have an o-ring chain. If he did, I would have had him replace it straight on. As it was, he fixed my chain plus replaced worn rear brake shoes and springs, all for 35 Soles/$11US. I am back where I was in the morning, and I'm going to replace both the chain and sprockets either today, if Jamie at Around the Block Moto is here, or do it on Monday.

    There's much more to this story, but solo motorcycle adventures become just that when things don't go as planned. In the end, it becomes a new experience with interaction with whoever is part of the adventure. There is definitely uncertainty and unknown, and decisions have to be made. I find I seek adversity and unknown in motorcycle travel, and I have found it and enjoyed it in many forms of motorcycling through my years.
    #53
  14. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    6 March, Sunday Day in Huanuco

    I'm not getting a chain and sprockets today. Jamie is at a motocross race and won't be back until Monday. I have been told that one of the mechanics will be in around 9am Monday, and hopefully I can get out of here before noon. My plan is to make a second attempt to get out of here, with the goal of making it to La Union Monday night, and Tuesday see the ruins near there plus pick up the title card at Huaraz. Time will tell how that plan goes.

    The Kotosh ruins are located close to Huanuco, so I went there today. First thing though, I made an attempt to post updates to this ride report. I had to go to an internet tienda on the main plaza, but I could not load my pictures on to Photobucket.

    Continuing on to Kotosh - no tools, no extra master link – I paid my Soles 5 and walked across the pedestrian suspension bridge. As I understand, the Kotioh civilization prospered here between 500 and 1500BC.

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    The main feature of this excavation is the matramonial temple. The crossed hands are the symbol of the temple. The first one is for the groom, with right hand over left. The second, for the bride, left hand over right. In the middle is the sanctuary or alter, the two will meet and bring their hands together while crossed.

    In front of and south of the position of the bride and groom is a recessed fire pit, with a buried combustion air source. The bride, groom, and the fire became a triangle, a sacred symbol to the Kotosh, and of course to many other religions throughout the world. The complexity and the symbolism of this temple, which is dedicated solely to marriage, suggests the importance of family and marriage to the Kotosh.

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    For the groom:

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    For the bride:

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    While I was in the temple, a fellow came by and described the importance of the temple and the crossed hands. There were three others there, and he explained it in a manner that I understood, as did of course the native Spanish speakers. Afterwards he continued and explained more of the area. At the end, he brought us to his vendor stand, in order that we would buy something. I bought a little trinket and gave him a tip for his information.

    We were told that the tall rock, consisting of quartz in granite, provides tranquility for those who come before it. The smaller rock near by has additional attributes, which I did not understand. Afterwards, I was told there is an area near the suspension bridge where you can stand and it produces an echo to whatever you say. It's not surrounded by walls of any sort. I did't learn about it until after I returned to Huanaco from Kotosh, so I was unable to test it. Lots of cosmic power here.

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    This mountain, south of the matramonial temple, represents power. If you take your left hand and make a fist, looking at it from the receiving end of a fist fight, you can see the similarities.

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    This is the first ruins I have visited that are not on the top of a hard to access mountain. Maybe the area was ceremonial, and few people lived here. Several streams pass through the area, a source for water for people, animals, and maybe crops. More of the ruins, the significance of which I do not know:

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    Farther up the mountain in these caves, archeologists have found evidence of human residence that pre-dates the Kotosh civilization.

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    A fellow who took a liking to me while being guided through the ruins:

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    A whole lot of cairns around the ruins, and I was unable to understand the significance to Peruvians. However, for residents of the Lake Superior area where I live in North America, it means buen viahe (good trip). I left a quick one, something I do on longer trips, and have not done in Peru yet. Hopefully my mechanical troubles will be behind me.

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    #54
  15. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Unicorn hunting

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    #55
  16. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Even though I ended up overnighting in La Union, I had to pass. My original plan was to ride from Hunauco to La Union and visit Wanuku Pampa. I didn't get out of the motorcycle shop in Huánuco until noon, plus it rained all afternoon and through the night, throwing off that plan. The elusive title card for my motorcycle was also at a currier office in Huaraz, and the deadline for returning it to the sender was approaching. I've been through a lot of police stops with the wrong title card, and eventually someone is going to notice. Choices had to be made. Fortunately, I'm storing the moto in Huánuco at the end of this trip, and Wanuku Pampa is still within reach. Huanuco to La Union is a great area to ride a motorcycle, with several route choices - two, three, or more times. Can you imagine getting tired of twisty, narrow mountain roads? I actually can, although I'm not there yet.

    I think the riding days on this report must be pretty boring - pictures of roads, mountains, rivers, canyons, and curves. I don't know how to make those days interesting on a ride report. Being here however is definitely not boring. I like riding motorcycles, and I like riding in awesome country. The Andes of Peru are definitely that. There also is a lot of interaction when I stop in small towns for gas or stop at a small tienda or food stand. That interaction doesn't get in to a report. After having an Inca Cola at a gas stop, plus travel conversation with the guys hanging out there including an offer to buy some cocaine or pot, I don't like whipping out the camera and taking a photo. It doesn't seem right. It's just one of those unique experiences of travel that feed the addiction and cannot be captured by a camera. Ya just gotta go there and be there.

    I tell you, if your vision of Latin American travel is interacting with local residents, and not focusing on other international travelers, study Spanish. I've been using Pimsleur Spanish, and I'm half way through the second level. I'll never be fluent unless I live here for a long time, so fluency is not my goal. However, my travel comprehension of the language is improving a lot. Some native Spanish speakers are good at talking with a foreigner using a second language, and I can understand a lot. Others, not so much so. The information I wrote about in the previous post of the Kotosh ruins came directly from a Spanish guide who had no English language skills. Having some language skills allows for direct interaction, which is what my vision of travel is all about.

    Random pictures from March 7 - 8:

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    #56
  17. Bigbob1

    Bigbob1 Rain Rider Supporter

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    Great report and pictures. Thanks for bringing us along for the ride!
    #57
  18. STRich

    STRich Been here awhile

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    Mike, sorry I am not there to see this little adventure..... But for sure I can relate to riding in trucks on the scary mountain roads :-)
    Thanks for letting us live vicariously!!!!
    Rich

    #58
  19. MNimum

    MNimum Been here awhile

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    No one said you needed to take selfies :choppa afterwards. :lol3

    But seriously - I'm enjoying your ride report. Nice. Thank you for sharing!
    #59
  20. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    I did in fact think of you as I was trying to figure out a solution. I would have accepted your offer for assistance. The difference was 1) no one was riding ahead of me to come back and figure out a solution, and 2) my difficulty was not as terminal as was your totally trashed front wheel and rim. As you know, riding in a Latin America overloaded truck on narrow mountain roads is an experience that happens not by choice. I've owned/operated a big truck, and I know what it means when you turn off the radio and send the kids on to the bed in the back of the truck on top of the load.

    I have some amazing pictures and places I've seen over the last three days, including some ruins, and will update this RR soon.

    Mike
    #60