Xplore2Gether - California to Ushuaia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JimsBeemer, Mar 6, 2019.

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  1. jowul

    jowul Been here awhile

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    At the end this is a beautiful story and something I have experienced several times growing up in Colombia in the 50's. Never though while living in Europe and once during my life here in Canada. Thank you for sharing this story.
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  2. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    After recovering Carol's backpack, we rode south one more day to Chimbote, and then ... we finally (!!) left the coast and headed into the mountains. And it has been just awesome - what I expected from Perú, finally.

    As I write this we have been in the Andes for almost 3 weeks, and the picture below shows our route over that time from Chimbote to Huanuco (current location), extracted from our Garmin Inreach Mini and inserted into Google Earth. The "spine" of our route has been route 3N, running in the valley between the Cordelia Negro (to the west) and Cordelia Blanco (to the east). We learned that the "Negro" (black) and "Blanco" (white) designation of the ranges has to do with which range gets the snow, and which doe not - as evident in the Google Earth image.

    We've made various excursions (two by combination of taxi and hiking, the rest ridding) up into and over the Cordelia Blanca range, and we met up with Chris and Sharon Struna - fellow adv riders that have popped up in this report before, since we first met them in Baja. I will give details of all this in the following posts. We are currently taking some R&R time in Hunauco, so over the next 24 hrs I should be able to bring this trip report up to date.

    Two and a half weeks - Andes.jpg
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  3. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Quick side note on Chimbote - Carol's laptop computer charger had died a few days prior. It is a Dell XPS, and I noted to Carol that I had not seen any Dell XPS computers in the stores in South America, so my hopes were dim. But one of our great triumphs in terms of our use of our Spanish, and a lot of luck, was that we were able to buy a replacement in Chimbote that afternoon.

    This involved many rejections/failures followed by advice to "go to that store over there." I've found that directions given in these situations are so bad and hard to follow. Even our friends Chris and Sharon, who have lived in Central America for years and speak Spanish fluently, have told me that they struggle with directions given in Latin America. Directions are seldom as straight forward as "go straight for four blocks, turn left for half a block and it is on your right." I don't know why - but it is never that simple. Also, I have slowly come to realize that many people do not know how to use or make sense of a map; if you show them a map on your phone for clarification on directions, you often get blank responses, particularly in smaller villages and with people over ~30. This took me some time to understand and to be in tune to.

    Related to that, holding up your phone with a Spanish translation of your question/request from Google Translate does not always work; you are assuming that the person you are holding up the phone to is literate, and can read Spanish! If I'm getting blank stares, I've found it better to use the Spanish pronunciation I've learned (thanks to our Guadalajara and Medellin teachers!) and read it out loud myself, even if I don't know the meaning of all the Spanish words. This also has taken me time to be in tune to. I take map reading skills and literacy in your native language for granted.

    But as I said, in the end, we found a replacement charger, to my amazement. We visited at least 6 stores, all in an "electronics and gadgets" section of town. That is another thing - stores of the same type tend to be clustered - there will be a block of fabric stores, another of tire stores, and so on.

    Anyway, at the tiny hole-in-the-wall that finally came through with the charger, it went like this: The young woman (very tech savy) I talked to got on her phone, and gave someone the specifications (voltage, current, manufacturer) I had given her. Then we waited about 10 minutes, and someone came in to the store from who-knows-where with about four boxes of chargers of different types. She opened them one at a time and they were no go - all Dell but wrong connector - until the last box, and it was exactly what we needed! It was a great relief to Carol, who was really was worried about not having access to her laptop (it is how she keeps in contact with our children and grand kids!).

    We had a similar success when I was able to get replacement tire plugs in Popayán, Colombia. These are for emergency flat repair, I lost the ones I brought with me. That was quite an adventure - I don't think I wrote about that one either. Hint: Auto parts stores do not carry them as you would expect in the USA. You need to look in a Ferreteria (hardware store). And even then it is hit and mostly miss - they are not common here. But I got them! Then ... a few weeks later I lost the hose that goes from my mini-compressor to the tire! That is also a long story; the hose fell out somewhere on the road due to a self-inflicted failure of the door on my Touratech tool box. Thankfully that is all I lost, and Carol engineered and sewed an elastic band with buckle to go around the box to prevent future such events. And I have a replacement air hose coming in a care-package in a few weeks - just hope we have no flats in the mean time! (We've had only one this trip - Carol had a puncture in Baja Sur, Mexico).

    There are so many of these types of experiences and observations that make up the trip but don't make it into the highlights reel. But they are a significant part of our journey, and will be remembered by us years from now as we reflect on the journey ("Remember that time in Chimbote ...").
  4. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

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    Finding adventure in the small things can be very satisfying.
    Here in rural Mexico you often need to know the guy who knows the guy that knows about what you need.
  5. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    We had been in occasional contact with the Strunas (Chris and Sharon) and I knew they had entered Perú a few weeks before us, but had taken a "road less traveled" route into Perú from Ecuador, crossing at La Balza (I mean, really, truly "the road less travelled"!). Earlier in the week I had sent them a request for some route advice (answer: 3N south of Cajamarca has some nasty dirt sections, best to avoid). From that correspondance I knew they were still in the mountains and headed slowly to Caraz.

    From Chimbote we were a long day (and the Cañon del Pato) away from Caraz, and I thought just maybe ... so I contacted them the night before we were going to leave, and they responded that they were planning to arrive in Caraz the next day! So we agreed to meet up, and early the next morning Carol and I headed up Rt 12 from Chimbote, headed up into the mountains to 3N and the famous Cañón del Pato ("Duck Canyon" in English). I think Carol was a little nervous about the Cañón, but the prospect of seeing the Strunas at the end of the ride gave her a goal and focus.

    As we headed up Rt 12, it was so nice to see the coastal desert replaced by greenery and small farms as we followed a river valley up into the mountains. We connected with Rt 3N and headed south, and shortly after the village of Huallanca we entered the famous Cañón del Pato. It was quite a ride; a mostly one-lane (but paved!) road with 35 one-way tunnels, twisting through a narrow canyon between the Cordillera Negra and Cordillera Blanca mountain ranges with the Rio Santa flowing between. There were steep drop-offs on the left (as we headed south). I read a description that compared it to Bolivia's (in)famous "Death Road" (which I did not tell Carol about until afterwards :-) ). I'm not so sure about that comparison; it didn't seem that bad (and Carol concurs with that statement). We certainly had to concentrate on the road ahead, and used lots of horn honking on the turns and in the tunnels to warn oncoming traffic (not so much), and a few times we did have to pull over on somewhat narrow ledges to let other vehicles go by, but it did not feel like a "death defying" ride. It was visually stunning! The canyon is mostly barren with little greenery, but the topology is something to behold. We stopped for lots of pictures, and I took a video of the whole cañón transit that I am editing for eventual post on our YouTube channel - I'll post a link when I have that done.

    We pulled into Caraz, and got a room at the "Hostal y Restaurante Business Rosh" where Chris and Sharon were already checked in. It was great to see them again!

    Photo note: Somewhere along the way, a piece of dust has found its way inside my camera, near to or on the image sensor. You may notice it's imprint in the upper right quadrant of the photos from that camera going forward. It is a Sony HX400V, a so-called "bridge camera" not an SLR, and nearly impossible to open up to clean. It is the camera I got to replace the compact zoom I lost in Colombia at the Valle de Cocora. I am hoping I can find some "canned air"to try and blow it away when we get to a larger city, but if/until then, it will just be my "photo signature" :-) Some of these photos are still-image captures from the GoPro video I recorded as we rode.

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    Headed up Rt 12 - things growing, not desert! And mountains are appearing, and the road has curves. All nice changes.

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    The Andes looming on our horizon, still on Rt 12.

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    It was hot - so we made a stop along the road (Rt 12) so Carol could soak her jacket in the river.
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    Entering the Cañón del Pato! Now on Route 3N.
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    There is a hydroelectric plant in Huallanca, and water is directed to it through this man-made tunnel in the canyon wall. There are evidences of this project along the first 1/3 of the route (headed south). There were a number of service access points, related to the hydro project, that lead to the other side of the canyon. Most of these were by cable-cart (hand pulled cart suspended by a cable over the ravine!), but this one has a foot bridge, seen in the photo.
    Canyon Snapshot 2.jpg
    The tunnels are truly "one lane" tunnels; if you meet a vehicle mid-way in one of these, one of you would have to back out. We saw this car coming so we are pulled over at a pull-out. There are pull-outs at the entrance/exit of each tunnel; sometimes they were on the "cliff" side of the road, as here.
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    Inside one of the 35 tunnels. Many of them are very short, but some are long with turns in the middle, so you cannot see if someone is coming towards you. Hence the many signs saying to honk your horn.
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    Pulling over for another car - this time the pull out was on the less-scary side. The sign on the right says "Toque Klaxon" which literally translates "Touch your horn".

    Canyon Snapshot 6.jpg
    The "paved" road is not pristine - note the asphalt here in front of me. So you have to watch for potholes and sinkholes, oncoming traffic and mind the turns and the drop-off. So the road keeps your attention.

    DSC03462.JPG And we made it! We stopped and took this a few miles after the last tunnel - view is looking back north towards the canyon, and ahead of us in not to many miles is Caraz where Chris and Sharon were waiting.
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  6. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    We spent five nights in Caraz, and used it as a base for two epic day-hikes combined with some rest days and a visit to some local ruins. Carol got an intestinal bug and skipped the second hike. Both of the hikes involved taking some combination of taxi and/or a "combi"- a type of mini-van taxi that leaves when it is full - from Caraz to the trail-head. Caraz is at about 7,400 feet elevation, and these hikes were to elevations around 14,000 feet, with twisty dirt roads to the trailheads. None of us could imagine ridding our motorcycles to these trails - around you would be so beat by the time you got there you couldn't hike. and if you did, you certainly would be to tired to drive safely back down! That said - the taxi rides we took were not a piece of cake: Climbing/descending 7,000-8,000 feet up steep hillsides with countless switchbacks, in a car with a shot suspension and nearly bald tires ... not stress free! The two hikes we did were to Lago Paron at ~13,700' elevation and Laguna 69 at ~15,100 feet elevation - a new record high for me at the time. That record fell a few days later! Both Carol and I have been pleased with how our bodies are handling the altitude. I know some want to ask, so: Yes - we did try the local "herbal" remedy. Did it work? I guess - we didn't get the nausea we've experienced in the high-Sierra, and we only had mild headaches. But we also took the prescription meds we were given in the states before we left, so who knows.

    Here are some pictures from Caraz;

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    This very friendly cat at the hostel decided it liked Carol's motorcycle as a napping place. When we would leave the window open to our room, the cat would jump in, sometimes startling us. The day Carol stayed back due to her intestinal problems, the cat kept her company all day.
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    At "La Pizza del Abuelo" (Lonely Planet recommendation), we were given samples of a local Peruvian wine to try. It was made from berries - I think blueberry. It was very sweet. The pizza was very good.

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    Market day - and what do we have? A bag full of cuddly pets? No - that is a bag of dinner. Guinea Pigs ("Cuy") originate from the Andes, and they have been a staple food in the region for centuries, probably milinea. The other bags you you see, the ones you can't see into, were moving around, so I presume they also had Cuy - which made me think of the phrase "pig in a poke" :-)
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    Market day in Caraz
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    Butcher shop - market day.
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    I got Carol to pose in this cut-out at a little museum we went to in town.
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    As we were walking around town, Carol and Sharron greeted this elderly woman. The woman proceeded to ask questions about the sidewalk - she is blind and was trying to make it to a restaurant nearby. They helped her down the stairs and to the entrance of the restaurant.
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    One night we heard fireworks going off outside, and went out to the street to find a parade in session. The picture is blurry, but it serves to mention that parades and festivals are happening all the time in Latin America. If you stay in one place a week, odds are there will be a parade while you are there. Just a few hours ago as I was working on this update, here in Huanuco, we heard a commotion outside the hotel and we went to look - it was some sort of parade. It is a very festive culture!
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  7. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Pictures from our trip to Laguna Paron.

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    I had the window seat (front passenger seat) on the taxi ride to the trail head, so I took the opportunity to take some photos of the villagers we passed on our way up.
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    There were a lot of people standing along the road as we passed through these little villages - I presume they were waiting for a taxi or combi to come by.
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    At the Laguana parking lot - Chris expressing his pleasure that we've made it. That is our taxi and driver behind him. We paid the driver extra to wait for four hours while we hiked around the lake.
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    The tires on our taxi. The road had sections with nasty sharp rocks - I am really surprised that we didn't get a flat. The ride was about 1.5 hrs, to go a little over 20 miles but an elevation gain of about 7,000 feet. And Chris asked the driver if he had ever been here before - answer was "No - this is the first time". Which is amazing to me, that he could live in Caraz but never have been to one of it's trademark locations, and also because that meant he really had no idea what he was signing up for when he agreed to take us!

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    Laguna Paron. Pirámide mountain (19,308') never came out completely from under the clouds.
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    Huandoy Mountain, the second tallest mountain in the Cordillera Blanca range, at 20,866'tall.

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    The start of the hike - with Chris and Sharron Struna.
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    Near the end of our hike, at the back side of the lake.

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    Carol said "I'm slow - I'll start back first" She was the first one back - we just caught up to her at the parking area! We felt the altitude, but it didn't whip us!
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  8. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Pictures from the Laguna 69 trek. This was a more serious hike - it was 8.5 miles round trip, with an elevatin gain of over 2,800' to the lake at around 15,100' elevation. As I mentioned - Carol was not feeling well so she stayed at the Hostel (with the cat).
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    We toook a combi from Caraz to Yungay, and then hired this taxi (with better tires and suspension than previous!) to take us to the trail-head for Laguna 69. Sharron negotiated with him for a 6.5 hr wait at the trail head - the standard is 6 hrs. We did the hike in and out in the time described in the tour books, but we used the extra half an hour. It gave us a more leisurely time at the lake. There were people there that came in a bus from Huaraz, a much longer ride than from Caraz, and they basically got to the lake, took a picture, and turned around and started walking back.

    When we got back to the taxi, we found we had an extra passenger - this poor guy came with one of the tour groups from Huaraz, and apparently was late getting back, and the bus had left him! Our taxi was the last vehicle in the parking lot - not sure what he would have done if we had not been there. He rode with us down to Yungay, and then he was going to have to find a combi to get from there to Huraz.

    Huaraz is the more popular base of operation for hikes in the Cordilleria Blanca, but for the two hikes we did, Caraz makes a LOT more sense and I would recommend it over Huaraz. Someone told us that they started at 4:00 AM in the bus from Huaraz to do this hike. Would be similar for Laguna Paron - both of these lakes are relatively close to Caraz.
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    Sharron - on the way up.
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    This amazes me. This is a bush lupine, and I swear it is the exact same bush we see along the coast of California - but this is at nearly 15,000' in the Andes!
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    Up and up! This is in the final 1/4 or 1/3 of the hike in, and the altitude really started to get to me, in terms of stamina. I could walk about a city block, and then had to stop and catch my breath and let my heart rate get back down. But I was pleased when we got to the lake when Sharron said "You know, Jim, I'm just saying - you are by far the oldest person I've seen on this hike, and you are doing great!" That made me feel good - and I had to point out that not only that, but I had passed up a lot of those younger people on the way up!

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    We started down there somewhere.

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    Panorama of the lake. Laguna 69 is pretty, but actually we all agreed that Laguan Paron was prettier. But the views on the hike into Laguna 69 were spectacular! Unfortunately, the clouds were covering the peaks of the mountains directly behind the lake.

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    Do the math - it is something around 15,100'. m.s.n.m = "metros sobre nivel mar" (meters above sea level).

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    On the way down, I spotted a group of these furry creatures in some rocks next to the trail. They are Chinchilla! From online research after the fact I learned that they, like the Guinea Pig, originate from the Andes, and that they are endangered in the wild, and are rare to see in the wild in Perú. I took a bunch of photos - they are so cute. Had to restrain myself to post only this one.
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    The views - wow.

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    There were cattle grazing in the valley, at well over 14,000 feet elevation. But they didn't look to healthy! Skin and bones.
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  9. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    I want to say "Thank you!" to Chris and Sharon. These hikes were not on our radar. But they are hoping to do a long trek soon in the Huayhuash region, and they had planned these to hikes in advance as part of a series of excursions to condition themselves for that trek. We were able to just tag along, without having done the research and planning :-) And it was just awesome - so glad we got to see them again, and do these hikes.

    It is similar to the time we tagged along with them for a few days in Colombia, just after we got of the Stahlratte, when Sharon convinced us to go and bathe in the "mud volcano". Not only had Carol and I not heard of this, but we honestly didn't think it sounded that interesting at the time. An that turned out to to be one of the things we still talk about and tell people about our trip!

    Sharron is the main planner - so thanks Sharron for letting us benefit from your hard work!
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  10. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    We took a day to recover after the Laguna 69 Trek before moving on. Both we and the Strunas were planning to go from Caraz to Chacas, but from there our paths would diverge. We all left the hotel together, but they had a side-trip planned, so Carol and I got to Chacas first and got a room for ourselves and Chris and Sharon at the "Hotel Plaza" - Lonely Planet for the win on that one. Chacas is tiny and there are not many options, but this hotel is just lovely.

    Chacas is fascinating. Situated at around 11,000' feet in the Andes, with a population of just over 2,000, it is now at or near the top of "quaint little villages" we have been to - the only one I can think that comes close is Barichara in Colombia. The history of the town and region is amazing - I'll only summarize here, but it is worth looking up and reading more.

    In the late 1960's, an Italian priest named Ugo De Censi came to the region and was stunned by the beauty of the area and the poverty of the people. He had been working with the poor in Brazil, and moved himself to Chacas to work with these people, bringing with him some of the methods and ideas that had worked well in Brazil.

    He realized that the people needed some way out of poverty, but also recognized their desire to stay in Chacas and vicintiy. He decided (who would have thought - you have to see it) that the way forward was to start a school for woodworking, based on classic Itallian methods and skills. His school would offer five years of education with room and board, and he got Italian craftsmen to come over from Itally to help teach.

    Decades later - it is amazing. This little town is thriving. They have kept a base of youngerpeople, with the woodworking industry giving them jobs so they don't have to flee to the cities. The village is clean and "crisp" with evidences everywhere of the craftsmanship of the schools graduates. And the people are PROUD of their little village - they will talk to you about it, and they have a revered love for the now deceased Fr. Ugo De Censi (2018, he is interred in the village church), who is clearly a father figure for the city.

    There have been over 500 graduates from the school, working not only in Chacas but all over South America. In addition to the school there is a professional shop that is doing works of art for clients all over the world; we got a special tour (thanks again to Chris and Sharon, whose Spanish skills got us in). The town itself is a poster display of their craftsmanship - every door and balcony in the town center looks like and Italian piece of master craftsmanship.

    Today, there are other avenues of development at work, still mostly stemming from the work De Censi left behind, work that is being carried on now by others. The Plaza Hotel itself is subsidized by some sort of business incubator. There is a school for women dedicated to glass art (we also got a tour of that!) and they have a nursing school with a hospital that some locals bragged to us is the best hospital in their state. Wikipedia even mentions the hospital - saying it is one of the most modern facilities in this entire region of Perú. Remember - this is a village of only several thousand people, people who 50-60 years ago where in desperate poverty.

    The ride to get there from Caraz and 3N is amazing. The road is Rt 107, and it is a twisty, switch-back laden jaunt over the Andes with incredible views - worth it just for the ride. But I highly recommend staying in Chacas for a few nights and taking in the vibe of this amazing little village, a living testament to what one man can do. You wont find accommodations, WiFi, food, etc, that is as westernized as you'd find in the larger cities and villages like Caraz and Haraz, places that have decades of catering to tourist. So set your expectations; this is a small Andean village that is in many ways untouched, but in so many other ways it has been SO touched. You have to go see it to fully understand.

    Side note: So many Italians have and continue to come to this little village to help support the work, that there is an Italian consulate in the village!

    Here are some pictures of the ride into Chavin over Rt 107:
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    This was taken on our way out later that week. This is the road looking west, on the Chavin/Huaraz side of the pass. Carol went ahead of me here, while I stopped to take some photos, including this one. Then I got to catch up with her :-) I had fun.
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    Since we got there ahead of them, I sat in the village square and read, with my camera ready, to catch this photo of Chris and Sharron ridding in on their Suzuki DR's.
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  11. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Here are some pictures taken from around the village of Chacas
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    View from the Hotel Plaza balcony.

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    All of the buildings surrounding the town square have been renovated by the school and coop. Everywhere you look there is ornate woodwork.
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    View looking west, taken from the patio in front of the church.
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    Not all the art work is wood. And the woman behind the statue was selling popcorn - it was good!
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    This Condor statue was outside of the Don Bosco Woodworking Cooperative. It was a weekend so there was no one working at the shop, and we only got to see it up close because Sharron convinced the watchman to let us in, and for a small "propina" (tip) he gave us a guided tour - those photos coming up.
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    Here in Peru, as in every country we've been in, fields are cleared for planting by burning off the previous years growth. The air pollution is sometimes hard on the lungs, and ruins the views. But here, the sun coming through the smoke-haze was sort of cool. Same practice was used in Central California when I was growing up - I think it is much less common there today. Since we have, to some extent, been "following spring" since we left mid January for Mexico, we have been exposed to a lot of burning fields.
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    The Hotel Plaza - note the woodwork.
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  12. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Here are some pictures of the church, which was renovated into this Renaissance style by the woodworking cooperative around 1990. There is very little of the typical gold-gilded glitz - wood is the central theme (the altar in front is the only thing that is gilded). When you walk into the church - it smells like wood!

    DSC03857.JPG Front of the church - you can see the wood carving motif that is common to all of the buildings in the village center.

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    Close up of the church entrance.

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    This is taken from in front of the alter, looking back to the entrance. One interesting thing is that this church did not have a representation of the stations of the cross on the walls. First time we have not seen that in any of the churches we've visited.

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    Even the gilded altar (I think that is what you call the part up at the front - I'm not Catholic) had wood carving.

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    To the left and right of the Altar - the walls were entirely done in wood. The "golden" hue here is wood, it is not gilded.
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  13. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    These photos are from the "tour" we got of the woodworking cooperative, and then a few days later, of the glass-art school for women.

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    There were large works, like this one, and small. Each piece had a job-sheet next to it with various details on the client and the work being done. This is for a church - but I forget where.

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    There was quite a few pieces that were being done as part of various restoration projects, mostly in Europe. They often only get a photograph of what the piece looked like, and then from that they make a model, which is then reviewed with the client to make sure they have rendered correctly from the photograph. Here you can see the photograph (at back), the model (at front) and the final work, still not finished. Some of the models had drawings next to them with clients notes on corrections to be made. Once the model has been accepted by the client, they then make the full-scale final piece.

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    This more modern cross is going to a church in San Diego in California, USA. There was also a ~12' tall Jesus that will go on the cross. Then the next day in the glass school, we saw the glass work that is part of the same commission. All this high-end, detailed craftsmanship coming out of this tiny Peruvian village!

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    We visited the glass school a few days later (upon returning from our failed attempt at a back-door exit to Chavin - coming up!), when people were actually there working.

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    This glass panel is part of the San Diego commission - see following.

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    This is an artist rendering of the entire San Diego work - the cross with Jesus is from the woodworking cooperative, and the glass panels are from the glass school.

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    This from a painting of Fr. Ugo De Censi, and representations of it are all over town, including one at the front of the church where he is interred. This one is all done in ground glass. I asked if they used sand or ground glass - it is ground, colored glass.

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    Some more modern pieces done with the ground glass.
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  14. jowul

    jowul Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2014
    Oddometer:
    251
    Location:
    Cambridge, ON
    Instead of blowing air into the camera to dislodge a dust particle, try using a vacuum cleaner placed on the front of the lense of your camera. Bridge cameras with their long zooms are known to suck air into the camera. Some people report having had success on their super zooms using the vacuum cleaner method.
  15. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    464
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    So ... I try. We wanted to go to the village of Chavin de Huantar from Chacas. I had found a route that would get there without having to go back the way we came - but it involved 35 miles of dirt road from the village of San Luis to Huari. But it was supposed to be a good road - it even has a number! (Rt 105). The rest of the route was supposedly "pavemiento" (pavement). I figured we'd slog through to Huari, spend the night there and then take an easy morning ride into Chavin. Carol was on board (trusting me!). Chris and Sharon were planning to go that way as well, but were going to stay a few more days in Chacas, so on Sunday 9/8/19 (for a date stamp), we left Chacas for Huari.

    I'll try to make it short (ha!): There were significant sections of 107 from Chacas to San Luis that were NOT paved, in fact by far, the worse section of dirt we did was on that "paved" section. When we were coming back (read on), a guy in a pickup stopped to warn us "that way is very bad" - and I tried to explain "I know - we CAME that way!"

    But we did ok at first. I rode Carol's bike over the one really bad section, and we pushed on. We hit rt 105 after San Luis, and it was dirt as expected - but it was not as good as expected. Carol's wrist and arm have given her trouble, and after a long day involving lots of clutch use, she needs ibuprofen and rest. At this point we had only spent the night in Chacas (we spent more time on the unplanned retreat from the route under discussion), so only the day before she had ridden that wonderful but difficult series of switchbacks up and over the pass on 105, from 3N to Chacas, requiring a lot of use of the clutch. And now 105 turns out to be not such a great road, with sections of "bad", and with a lot of elevation gain somewhat technical in sections, are requiring a lot of use of her clutch. It is somewhat unfair, or maybe ironic, but her bike is not geared as low as mine (though I have changed sprocket ratios to make it lower than OEM), and I have a hydraulic clutch that pulls like butter, and hers is a mechanical clutch. So the unfairness or irony is that on any given road, I do not have to work the clutch near as hard as she does. I've ridden her bike over quite a few difficult spots, and I can honestly say that though my bike is larger and heavier, it is better balanced and lower geared, and in general easier to ride on rough roads. I have not dropped either of them ridding yet, but I've come closer to dropping her bike than I have my own. Oh well, that is what it is.

    So I knew she was wearing out, but I was about to get re-calibrated. We were about 15 miles into Rt 105 on the planned 35 miles of dirt road, and she says to me over our com's:

    "I can't pull in my clutch"

    I'm thinking - "What do you mean you can't pull in your clutch! You can't ride if you can't pull in your clutch!" I immediately told her we had to stop. I got her to get off her bike and lay down to rest on the side of the road while I thought. I told myself there was NO way she was going to make it another 15-20 miles, but then I thought "downhill was easier for her", and we were getting close to the summit .... then back to "No! She can't go on. She isn't going to make it, at least not today."

    Carol convinced me I should ride on ahead to see how far it was to the summit, because she knew it would be easier for her on the downhill side. So I took off and actually enjoyed a spirited run up the road for about four more miles, some of it was pretty gnarly. I was enjoying the ride and could see the summit ahead, but after one nasty bit of road, I realized "who am I kidding?" There was no way she was going to go up this today, even if it was only four or five miles. Not an option. And it is now going on 4:00PM; we only have a few hours left to ride because there is no way we are riding this road after sunset.

    So I rode back to where she was resting and told her we had three options: 1) we could turn around and try to see if she could make it back to San Luis, going downhill, 2) We could ditch her bike and enough of my gear so we could ride back to San Luis two-up on my bike, and then I'd hire someone to come back so I could ride her bike back, or 3) we could try to find a place to camp for the night.

    She liked option #3, and we had food and water - but I honestly could not remember seeing any place to camp, just steep drop-offs on one side and the road-cut embankment on the other. But we started back down and within a mile or two ... there was the perfect camp site! It was off the road, down a short dirt path, and had a nice level place to setup camp.

    So we setup camp, and it was wonderful. We have been wanting to camp for some time - our last camp was in Mexico! In fact that is why we had food with us; we picked up some camping food a few days earlier, thinking we might find a place to camp. This was at 12,700' elevation, and there were a number of Quecha Indian houses on the nearby hillside, each with a dozen or so sheep and a few cattle. We watched the shepherdesses drive their flocks back home, while we ate pasta, had some wine and then Carol hit the sack like a log. I stayed up and watched the stars, and I was able to identify some new "Southern Hemisphere only" stars and constellations. And I swear that my sleeping pad (Sea to Summit) is more comfortable than many of the beds we've slept on in the small village hotels and hostels!
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    The views along the way were wonderful. And parts of the road were not that bad - if it had all been so!

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    This happened a few times. We never take pictures of the really bad roads, or the drops, because at those times one is to busy dealing with the road to take pictures! And the pictures never look as bad as reality - this was STEEP. We had to remove her panniers to pick it up, which is rare (we are pretty much experts at picking up her bike, lol).

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    This was near the "I can't pull in my clutch" moment - we are getting close to the summit here, but not lose enough.

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    You can see the road up to the left - the summit is a few miles from that point. I rode up past this view, and there were a few steep switchbacks and some bad road; despite being so close, it wasn't going to happen. Once I decided that, it was just a matter of figuring out plan B.

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    This is a zoom shot - we saw these on the hillside and wondered what they are. I am guessing they are huts for the shepherdesses to get out of the elements in bad weather (?). We only saw women with the sheep on the hillsides here.

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    The view from our camp - you can see the sheep on the hillside, before the trees (which appear to have been planted).

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    There are the sheep - zoom shot.

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    Kicking back at our camp.

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    This is one of the bad sections on Rt 107 before San Luis - which is supposed to be paved. I'm riding Carol's bike through. This is on the way back the next day. It is worse than it looks - and this wasn't the worse. Deep dust and moguls with hidden rocks.
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    Hope this give some perspective - this car was having a hard time getting up.
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  16. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    464
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    That night I realized that Chris and Sharon were expecting us to send a message when we got to Huari. We were way out of cell phone territory, and I knew they worried when we didn't check in. I thought they might check our Garmin live-map (link is on our Website) and see that we didn't make it and wonder if we were ok. So I sent my son a message using the Garmin Inreach mini satallite message service, with instructions on how to contact them with a message explaining we were ok and camping. He did and they were greatly relieved. +1 for the gadget.

    The next morning we packed up after a breakfast of oatmeal and Starbucks Via instant coffee (still have some of those packets - best coffee I've had in Perú!) and headed back. It was a lot easier for Carol going down, and we made good time to San Luis. We stopped in the town square and got some ice cream, and checked out the church - it was one of the most interesting church interiors we've seen, and a pleasant surprise.

    My favorite part of the return: We knew there was this one really bad section we had come through on 107 between San Luis and Chacas - this is the section that the pickup stopped to warn us about. We kept anticipating it - and at one point we came to a pretty bad section of steep, dusty moguls, and we stopped on the side of the road and I told Carol " I think this is it - let me ride your bike through". She said "no" - she didn't think that was it, and I should save myself for the real deal, and she pulled out ahead of me and started down. I wish I had video - it was really bumpy, and at one point I saw the back of her bike raise up after she had gone through a deep "mogul" and I thought "oh no - she's going down!" And the noises coming over my com from her were consistent with that prediction. But she held it together and made it! And you can guess the rest: We kept waiting for and looking for that "bad section" and as we got to within a few miles of Chacas, we both realized that what she had ridden down WAS the bad section, the spot that the day before we watched several cars struggle to make it up, and one motorcycle fishtailed up the whole way. She conquered that hill, at least on the downside!

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    Inside of the church at San Luis. There are two churches off the town square - and older building, that may not be open (lots of earthquate damaged buildings in this area) and this more modern looking church at the other end. What was interesting was how spartan and "modern" the interior looked compared to what we've come to expect, especially in small rural villages. And the "goddess" at the front!? No idea. Maybe some ethnic version of the virgin Marry?

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    Here is a closeup of the female figure at the front of the church.
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    This is an interesting depiction of the trinity - the Father (at left), the Son (at right) and the Holly Ghost (dove, above). The thing I thought was odd is that the bible talks about Jesus being at the "right hand of God" - but in this icon he is on the left, fwiw.

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    San Luis town square - that is the "Old Church" in the background, it was not open.
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    Found this picture - this is on one of the sections of 107 that is supposed to be paved. I have made it down, Carol is walking down, and I"m about to go up and ride her bike down.

    Lone rider.jpg
    We met Jordit as we were going on the way up, day 1. We had stopped after coming through a particularly nasty spot, and he stopped to talk. A few miles later there was another bad uphill section with deep silt and moguls, and we watched him barely make it - he was fishtailing all over. He had essentially street tires. That was is the section that Carol came down on her own the next day, unwittingly.
    Chacas to Huari route.jpg
    This was the route we planned. I found a new source for Peru maps, in the Adventure Motorcycle Handbook. It is found at:
    http://www.perut.org/
    It is an OSM style map, but it is more accurate than the OSM map I downloaded from the OSM site. For one - it shows that the section of road we almost completed is a dirt track, where as OSM shows it as a viable "road". To make it route this way, I had to set the vehicle type to ATV. I did not find this map until a week after this, after another dirt adventure (to come!).

    Chacas to Huari on PeruUT OSM.jpg
    Removed the route so you can see the road legend - this is the perut map. It says that if we had made the pass, we might have found AN-105 to be more viable, but clearly it indicates that from San Luis to the summit (just after the lake) it is dodgy.

    Chacas to Huari on OSM.jpg And here is what I saw on OSM (and Google, and Maps.me) - AN-105 may be dirt, but it is a more or less "real" road, all the way. We had an unplanned 35 miles of dirt a few days later, on 3N headed south. After that I read about this map source, and it was the only map that indicated that that showed that section as dirt - again Google, OSM and Maps.me (which uses OSM I think) all failed and said it was paved. I haven't gotten much use out of the Adventure Motorcycle Handbook until now - I guess I should read the other South American chapters more carefully!
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  17. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    464
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    After we returned to Chacas, we re-united with Chris and Sharron at the Hotel Plaza, and told them our stories over dinner. They were leaving the next day for Chavin, having planned to go the way we attempted. I pointed out that according to Google, you could go back over the paved pass (AN-107) to 3N, go south on 3N to the paved AN-110 and back over the mountains to Chavin, in only one hour longer than predicted for the route we attempted - and I'm sure the estimate was way off for the route we took! I know they would have made it going the way we attempted, but after hearing our story, they decided to take the "long", paved route rather than fight the "shorter" dirt route.

    They left the next morning, while we stayed in Chacas another day to recuperate from our adventures. The next day we headed the AN-107 (again) and spent the night in Huaraz. The next morning (date stamp: Thursday 9-12-209) we got an early start up an over AN-110 to Chavin, and arrived before noon. We found a hostel on the town square - the Hotel Inca. There are not many places to stay in Chavin - it is on the same scale as Chacas, and we were quite happy with the Hotel Inca. The hot water worked, and we didn't have sewer gas backing up in the bathroom, as Chris and Sharon reported from their hostel.

    Chris and Sharon were still in Chavin, but leaving the next day. And they had already been to the Chavin Ruins (the reason we were all there), but Sharon was up to go again with us. Not only does she speak and read Spanish (most of the descriptive sings are only in Spanish), but she has read up a lot on the various archeological sites and the history behind them, so it was like having our own personal tour guide!

    We have unintentionally gone down an interesting path in terms of archeological site visits. We started with Chan Chan, which was the Chimu people, which came just before the Inca. Every site we have been to since then has gone BACK in time, pretty much in order. After Chan Chan we went to the Huca de la Luna and the Moche, who came before the Chimu, and the Chavin ruins date to 1200 BC and run up to about the dawn of the Moche. This pattern continues - but at some point we will jump forward to the Inca!

    We had one last dinner that night with the Strunas, and the next day they left for Huaraz and some planned hikes. We figure we will meet up somewhere again down the road - perhaps Chile. We stayed one more day in Chacas to visit the museum before we headed back over the 3N and south.

    20190911_112053.jpg
    On the way out of Chacas, on AN-107, I met these guys thumbing a ride. We had seen them in town earlier with their skateboards, and I suspected they must be there to ride the pass, because the roads in town are no good for skateboards! I let them latch on and I hauled them about 5 miles and probably 4,000 feet in elevation. I thought that was probably good enough - but after thanking me (they really enjoyed the ride) they hitched another ride further up with a truck that was passing! We met a group of other skateboarders coming down a bit later. These guys told me that the day before they had boarded all the way to town from the summit. That is quite a ride.

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    View from the terrace of our hotel (Hotel Jacal) in Huaraz, of the tallest mountain in Peru, Mt Huascarán, 22,503 feet.

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    Another day, another scenic ride up and over the Andes! On AN-110 headed to Chavin.

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    AN-110, Huraz (west) side.

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    In Chavin - something we have noted in many of these small villages is that they have a bullfighting ring. It is a thing here.

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    Very secure parking for our motorcycles at Hotel Inca in Chavin. They have a steel door that closes off this inside patio area that is locked at night - we had to ring the bell to get back in both nights we were there, after coming back from dinner.

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    Peruvian breakfast tea options. Note the one on the far right.

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    Town square - the Hotel Inca is on the plaza (behind me in this photo). Very nice.
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  18. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    464
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Some pictures from the Chavin ruins -

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    So hard to really get your mind wrapped around the time scale. I put it into perspective of some biblical eras I am familiar with - this site was being built and used from around the time of Samuel up through the re-building of the temple wall by Ezra and Nehemiah, if that helps. If not - just know it was a long long time ago.
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    One of the cool things about Chavin is that they let you go underground into these chambers. It was thought to be a pilgrimage site for people from as far away as the coast and the Amazon Jungle. Really amazing place.

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    Originally, these so-called "tenon heads" were all around the walls. They are anchored into the wall by a long tenon, or nail-like piece that goes into the wall. As was explained at the site, and we saw the next day in the museum, the heads depict a sequence of transformations of the priest, who would inhale (snort) mescaline (from one of several sources) and enter a hallucinogenic trance, during which he would transform into a fanged creature believed to be the Jaguar. Ooookay.
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  19. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    464
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    I read about that technique and would try it, except I have not seen a vacuum cleaner anywhere since we left the states! That is what led me to consider the compressed air. But if I were to come across a vacuum cleaner first, I would definitely try that. In principle I agree it sounds like a better method.
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  20. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    464
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    After two nights at the Hotel Inca and our visit to the ruins and the museum, we headed back over AN-110 for 3N, with the plan to continue south. At this point were not (and still are not) so sure of our itinerary; we tend to sort of plan on the fly. But we are enjoying the mountains, and so for now we have decided to stay on 3N (which becomes 3S once south of Lima latitude), and will decide later if we will divert at some point to the coast (and Lima), or stay in the mountains all the way to Cusco. I really feel that what we have experienced here in the mountains is what, for me, Peru is all about. And Carol more or less would agree - minus the dirt roads!

    Using Google Maps and Maps.me, I had decided that we could do two long days from Chavin on 3N South; the first day to Huallanca, and then the next to Huanuco. The first day was as expected and planned - we did four hours ridding (111 miles) to Huallanca. Carol had done more research on the weather than I, and she convinced me that we should put on our rain gear when we stopped for lunch at Lago Conococha (with blue skies), which is where the road leaves the valley and starts it's climb up to the pass. Good thing I listened, because within an hour or so it was raining, and getting colder. When we got to the pass at 15,400', it was 38F and raining.

    But ... it was stunning. We stopped just before the summit so I could take some pictures. It was still in the upper 30's, but the rain at that point was light, with some holes in the clouds through which the sun shone. There were snow capped peaks, waterfalls galore, and mist rising from the slopes of the mountains. As I stood there taking it all in (and photos cannot capture it), something happened to me that has happened only a couple of times in my life, when I've been faced with such mountain grandeur: I cried. I totally choked up - I couldn't talk, got a lump in my throat and my eyes swelled with tears. Once I regained my composure, I walked over to Carol, who was patiently waiting on her bike, raised her helmet visor, kissed her and said "Thanks for coming with me, for doing this". I truly feel privileged to have had the opportunity to have these experiences, and am thankful that my wife has come along to experience them with me.

    Here are some pictures from day 1 - Chavin to Huallanca.

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    On AN-110 heading east, you see this statue of Christ as you come through the tunnel at the summit. We read that it was placed here by Italian missionarires (remember the Italian connection to Chacas). We were heading west at this point, but we missed the pull out for photos as we came into Chacas earlier, so I stopped and got this photo on the way out. And this is another case where Carol went on down the other side on her own while I took photos and then ... I got to have some fun catching up!

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    Laguna Querococha, just off AN-110.

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    View from 3N headed south, near Laguna Conococha.

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    Stopped for lunch at Laguna Conochocha, a very shallow lake with a lot of waterfowl. This is where Carol convinced me to put on my rain gear before proceeding - was a good call.

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    From Laago Conococha, the road starts climbing - it is amazing to see the lattice-work of cultivated fields, fields clinging to mountainsides that seem to steep and to high for cultivation to my mind!

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    Near the summit (15,400') - waterfalls everywhere.
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    Caro near the summit, waiting for me to quit crying and taking pictures. I think this is where I kissed her :-)

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    Near the summit.

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    Views near the summit.
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