My Longest Dance with Salsa

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by SalsaRider, Oct 20, 2018.

  1. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

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    Tierra del Fuego — A STRANGE NEW YEAR’S CUSTOM

    Puno, Peru
    1 January 2019
    Miles: 5,517

    At 5:30 a.m. I heard the fire alarm go off in my hotel. Opening the door, I smelled smoke in the air.

    Hurriedly I got dressed, and walked down the stairs to the lobby.

    “Is there a fire,” I asked?

    “No,” the clerk said, laughing. “It’s a custom here to fill the air with smoke to welcome in the New Year.”

    I went outside, and sure enough the entire city seemed to be filled with smoke.

    What a strange custom, I thought, before climbing back into bed.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
    kres, 95Monster and Aces 6 like this.
  2. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

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    Tierra del Fuego — LESSON LEARNED

    Copacabana, Bolivia
    2 January 2019
    Miles: 5,666

    Most riders that I’ve encountered have been equipped with a range of electronic doo-dads useful on a ride like mine: Bluetooth, GPS, GoPro cameras, and the like. If I had a do-over, I’d equip myself similarly, too.

    I’m about halfway to my destination now, and up to this point have been lost more times than I can count; ridden for miles in the wrong direction; missed critical turns; and the list goes on.

    I’m used to traveling with paper maps, verbal directions from strangers, and in a way — by the seat of my pants: It’s morning. Which way do the shadows point? Which way is north? This doesn’t “feel” right!

    Of course it doesn’t help that few streets are marked; road signs indicating routes or destinations are non-existent or few and far between; and city traffic can be discombobulating, to be kind.

    Not every time, but sometimes, getting “lost” has resulted in an interesting “feel good” experience: being personally escorted by a policeman to my hotel; meeting another long-distance rider at a gas station; and so on.

    In one city I ended up far from the highway, and had faced the congestion and turmoil of riding through a busy market place. Exasperated, I saw a row of the ubiquitous “white vans”, that carry people and goods throughout the cities and countryside. I stopped to ask directions, and ended up having a delightful time talking with these drivers.

    When one of them suggested that for a tip, he’d escort e back to the highway, I took him up on his offer.

    Together we rode through a maze of streets, turns, and neighborhoods, until finally reaching the highway. I could never have done it alone, or at least not without the electronic whiz-bang technologies that I lacked.

    LESSON LEARNED: If you’re planning a road trip in South America, don’t leave home without such devices?

    Attached Files:

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  3. holckster

    holckster dougholck Supporter

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    Great Reporting.

    About getting from A to B:
    I've found maps.me loaded to my I-phone to be reliable most everywhere in South America.
    Whether using addresses, cities, points of interest or Hotel names it works well with NO phone or internet wifi service (operates off the GPS satellites) .
    Free download.
    Easy to use once you figure out how to enter where you want to go and where you are (just like any GPS device).

    I keep my phone hard wired to the moto battery with SAE adapter, handle bar mounted or tucked into tank bag when raining (do NOT put phone under the plastic cover of tank bag on sunny days as it will overheat and shuts off).

    I use my antique Garmin 2610 loaded with OSM maps as a backup but mainly for an easy to read speedometer/altimeter.

    Safe Travels in 2019
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  4. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

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    Holkster,

    Yes, I have maps.me and other map apps; but not GPS. I can charge my iphone from my battery too, and also from a HALO AC/DC Bolt 58830 charger. What I don’t have, I guess, is the Bluetooth connection that would “talk” to me in my helmet as I ride; nor any way to attach my iPhone to my handlebars (yet).
  5. Shawnee Bill

    Shawnee Bill Long timer Supporter

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    You must have a pretty old iPhone for it to not have GPS, not sure when iPhone added satellite antenna but it's been several years ago.

    Edit: According to google all iPhone 4 and later have GPS capabilities.
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  6. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

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    Shawnee Bill,

    I have an iPhone 7, and you’re probably right that it has GPS capabilities. The “problem” is probably with the user (me)? Maybe I just need to learn how to use what I already am carrying?
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  7. Shawnee Bill

    Shawnee Bill Long timer Supporter

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    Only if you want to.
    I know plenty of riders that get along just fine, as you have been doing, without any fancy GPS.

    .
    pceire32 likes this.
  8. holckster

    holckster dougholck Supporter

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    Yep, you've got ALL you need.
    maps.me turns your Iphone into a GPS and yes you just need to sit in your room and pratice installing destinations and let it build routes.
    Pick the mode of travel in the top header (automobile or walking).
    Click the diagonal line with an arrow in the bottom header ( second icon from the left) and it will ask you for a destination.
    It will search and display matching locations around the world and you pick the one that applies to you.
    Then it asks for a starting point and you can tap the arrow showing your present location or another spot on the map or type in any other town, hotel name or an address.
    Then across the bottom it asks route to or from.
    Then it builds a route, watch icon at top of page for circle to envelop the mode of travel selected.
    Press start and away you go.
    I have good success just entering hotel or place of interests name and maps.me finds the address.
    Practice makes perfect, I'm still learning, just like you have to do with Garmin.
    I don't bother with the Bluetooth voice stuff, I glance at the phone, tuck it into my tank bag and then stop and look for next turn if I can't remember route.
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  9. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

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    Thanks for spelling out the steps for using maps.me. At this point you’re right: what I need to do is practice . . . in my hotel room.
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  10. Bt10

    Bt10 Been here awhile

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    ... and jot a few lines of road names on a small sheet of paper to place in your tank bag map pocket to go farther between iphone refreshes.:-)
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  11. battdoc

    battdoc Old Enough

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    There are several cultural shocks along the way to keep things interesting. Keep cashing in on fun friend. Hope to see you soon again.
  12. battdoc

    battdoc Old Enough

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    I thought you did have the Mapsme app, just remember to downloads maps for each country. Looks like your are going in the right direction anyway, small detours add little flavor to the day.
    Cheers!
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  13. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

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    Yes, Battdoc, hope our paths cross again, soon.
  14. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

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    Tierra del Fuego — RANDOM OBSERVATIONS

    La Paz, Bolivia
    4 January 2019
    Miles: 6,161

    At this juncture I’ve been in South America since mid-November 2018. Following are some random observations:

    THE PEOPLE: Some of the nicest, friendliest, helpful, hard-working people you’ll find anywhere in the world!

    THE LAND: Very beautiful and diverse, ever-changing and varied: from jungle to desert, plains to tall mountain peaks, sand dunes to lush tropical growth. Everywhere the land is being put to use, either for grazing by llamas, alpacas, cattle, sheep, horses, pigs, and goats; or sectioned off by stone fences for crops. Most mountain sides are terraced, nearly to the top, with a lattice-work of small plots. And everywhere, this being spring, young plants are sprouting.

    LAUNDRY: Where there are people, you’ll find colorful clothes hanging out to dry — on lines, fences, railings alongside the roads, and on bushes. Often, where there are streams or rivers, you’ll find dozens of people hard at work, hand-washing their clothes in the water.

    ANIMALS IN THE ROADS: There are many, so beware! So far I’ve encountered sheep, dogs, cows, horses, llamas, alpacas, goats, burros, chickens, and of course, humans. Nearly hit a llama, when it darted right across my path.

    POTHOLES: There are many, so beware! You’ll find them everywhere, but especially in the towns and cities, and right before toll road booths. Not only are they unsightly, they’re also very dangerous!

    SPEED-BUMPS: Every country so far has had them. Makes you watch the road, and the vehicles ahead, very carefully. Many are unmarked, and they come in different shapes and sizes. Some are wide, that you can roll over without slowing down too much. Others are high and narrow, and you’d better put on the brakes before crawling over them!

    DOUBLE-YELLOW LINES: Nobody observes them. Period! Cross them to pass, if the going looks safe. Otherwise you’ll be trudging behind slow moving, smoke belching trucks up steep hills, forever.

    BEING A FOREIGNER: Bolivia is the only country, so far, that charges one fee for its citizens, and a higher one for foreigners. That goes for admissions to museums, churches, or wrestling matches, for gasoline, and tickets to ride the cable cars here in La Paz. A strange rule, but there you have it.

    TRASH: Despite signs urging people to not throw trash on the roads, the sides of most are littered with the stuff; especially in Peru. A shame, too, because I’ve passed through some gorgeous country, the views spoiled, in part, because of the piles of waste lining the highways.

    And finally . . .

    DOGS: Anyone traveling in South America — at least in the four countries I’ve seen — can’t help but notice the many stray dogs on the streets. They seem to run in small packs, but also solo. Mostly they just lay around, hang out near restaurants (or go inside) and food stands, eat anything edible on the streets, and otherwise shy away from humans.

    Not all, though! If you sit down and talk to them, some will come right over and practically crawl into your lap. Or if you ride by on a motorcycle, some will give chase.

    Practically all need some grooming; but odd enough, few looked to be emaciated.

    Attached Files:

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  15. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

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    Tierra del Fuego — LAS SEÑORAS DE POLLIERA

    La Paz, Bolivia
    4 January 2019
    Miles: 6,161

    Los Altos, a separate city near La Paz, is filled with “Las Señoras de Polliera”, or (roughly translated) The Ladies of the wide dresses. They sit under plastic sheets, to ward off the rain, selling fruits, vegetables, and raw meat. They walk the streets, often with babies on their backs, or hand-in-hand with toddlers. And the shops lining he streets cater to their wants and needs, offering beautiful pollieras for sale.

    Their pollieras typically are multi-layered, too. For special occasions they might wear as many as 14 dresses, with the “best” one on the outside, of course.

    Most have a no-nonsense, don’t mess with me look on their faces. Their pace, when they walk, is purposeful and determined. They seem unapproachable, until you approach them with a question or comment. Then that stoic veneer shatters, their eyes light-up, and a smile flashes across their visage.

    When catching the Blue Line back to my hotel, I stood in a long line (100 yards?) of others. Just next to me stood a Señora de polliera. I made some small talk as we waited. Then I noticed that she was “out of uniform”. She wasn’t wearing a hat!

    “Excuse me,” I said, “but don’t you Señoras always wear hats?”

    She gave me a broad smile, reached into her bag, and pulled out her hat.

    “I didn’t want it to get wet,” she said.

    For weeks I’ve considered such ladies to be unapproachable. Now I know better!

    Some photos:

    Attached Files:

  16. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

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    Tierra del Fuego — CHOLITAS WRESTLING

    La Paz, Bolivia
    5 January 2019
    Miles: 6,161

    Now that you’ve met “Las Señoras de Polliera”, it’s time to get down and dirty.

    The vulgar way to describe these ladies is to call them “Cholitas”. I’m not sure how to translate that, so I won’t try.

    On the day I checked into my hotel here in Los Altos (near La Paz), I learned that it was hosting a wrestling match between two Cholitas.

    Count me in, of course!

    I bought a ticket for 70 Bolivianos, then saw a local man pay only 15. I felt as if I had just been body-slammed!

    Inside, the crowd surged, right before the first round, as a bus load of tourists (?) came pouring through the door. That said, there’s were still plenty of empty folding chairs surrounding the hastily-erected ring.

    In came the two Cholitas — the “good” one and the “bad”. And of course, when the fight started, the “bad” one cheated, with help from — of all people — the referee!

    Kicks, slaps, hair-pulling, body-slams, tripping, and so on kept the crowd on edge. Then, when the “good” one was down and hurting, up came the referee to give her a few stomps of his own.

    “Get out of here,” the crowd chanted. “Fuera!”

    And so it went, until the “good” one finally turned the tables and put the hurt on the “bad” Cholita. She deserved those body-slams, too, after all the cheating she did!

    Some photos:

    Attached Files:

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  17. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

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    Tierra del Fuego — THE FERRY RIDE FROM HELL

    La Paz, Bolivia
    5 January 2019
    Miles: 6,161

    I thought struggling up and down the Inca trails and steps at Machu Picchu was going to be the hardest part of this trip.

    I was wrong!

    The beautiful road from Copacabana to La Paz requires a short ferry ride on a “Mom and Pop” boat, taking you from San Pedro de Tiquina to San Pablo de Tiquina.

    No big deal, I thought, as I was directed to board one as the last vehicle. So up the ramp I rode and parked Salsa on one side. Then off we went, crossing the short channel.

    Once underway I noticed that all the vehicles were pointed towards the stern, but the only way off was to back down a ramp from the bow. Not a problem for the two cars; but backing a fully-loaded motorcycle up, then down a narrow ramp? That’s a challenge! And the ferry had no boards in the center, which would have allowed me to turn Salsa around and easily ride up then down the ramp.

    What to do?

    I moved Salsa to one side, allowing the two cars to back off the ferry and be on their way. Then the “captain” came over to give me a hand.

    Up over the ramp’s edge he pushed me, sitting on Salsa, not knowing where to put my feet. I was worried that I’d step down into empty space, and we’d tumble into the lake. We came close to that scenario, too, when my foot just barely caught the ramp’s edge.

    Finally we reached solid ground. My heart was pounding hard, and I had to sit a few moments to catch my breath.

    Compared to that, Machu Picchu was a breeze.

    This was a ferry ride from hell!

    Attached Files:

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  18. pceire32

    pceire32 Irish

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    Great report & photos, remember huffing & puffing in La Paz with the lack of oxygen climbing stairs at that city's altitude. Did it affect you much ?:-)
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  19. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

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    Sure did! I’m luckier than many, as I live in Colorado Springs, over a mile high. That helps, but only a bit when high up in the Andes.
  20. powderzone

    powderzone Been here awhile

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    Cholitas wrestling - awesome!
    I need to ride down there again. I’m really enjoying following along.
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