Xplore2Gether - California to Ushuaia

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

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  1. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Day 2 - Huallanca to Huanuco. Another adventure. From my research, I knew this day would be a challenge, because there was a dirt segment (per Maps.me), and Google was saying 4hr 55 min to Huanuco, which is on the long side of our comfort range. It seemed an overestimate to me, but in the end we took an hour longer than this!. Searching in Google, Bookings.com and iOverlander, we could find no options other than one "wild-camp" site (this means a place off the side of the road you can camp - but not an organized, official camp site) at a reasonable mid-way between Huallanca and Hunuco. There were lots of options for lodging in Hunuco, but at five hours driving, it seemed a stretch .

    So I didn't make a reservation in Hunuco, because I wasn't sure we'd make it that far. The wild-camp site on iOverlander was just before the end of the first (supposedly only) dirt section and I thought we'd see what time it was and how we were doing when we got there, and then decide if we'd go on to Huanuco or camp. Maps.me said the dirt section was 12 miles long - but it was probably more like 8 or 9, not counting the typical dirt patches of 100 ft to 100 yd along the way, and it was a pretty good road. We got to the campsite and ate lunch, and we were both confident we'd make it to Hunuco no problem (since it was paved the rest of the way - ha!). So I made a hotel reservation (there was cell service) and we headed out.

    Shortly after the lunch/camp spot, the pavement resumed. The road was narrow (mostly 1 to 1.5 lane) but mostly paved, and not much traffic - until we got to the summit at 4000m (~13,100') elevation. Shortly after that there was an "Inicio de Obra" sign, and from there to just a few miles outside of Hunuco, it was dirt, or sections of "used to maybe have been pavement", which in many cases was worse. Parts of it were ok, but it was long (about 35 miles) and downhill (dropping to 4000m to 2100m in Hunuco) with a fair amount of switchbacks, and the few parts that were bad were really bad, and those, along with an increase in (crazy) traffic the closer we got to Huanuco, and just the length of time on the road - it all took it's toll.


    I am pretty sure this was the longest day on the road we have done this entire trip - about 6 hrs on the road, and 8 hours total elapsed time. Carol's elbow and arm were hurting by the time we finished, but downhill is definitely easier for her; I think if the road we tried to Chavin (from Chacas) had been all downhill, she would have made it. And I am positive that it is the longest contiguous section of dirt road that Carol has ever ridden - and she survived!

    Carol rode the whole way on her own except for one section just after the summit, not long after the unplanned dirt section began. I watched some cars ahead of us struggle to get past this section, so I went first to see for myself, and almost immediately as I got into it told her through the coms; "No way you are doing this - wait for me!". It was so bad (see photo - as typical, reality was worse than the picture); it was the first time on this trip (outside of our off-road training class in Guatemala) that I've really thought "I'm not going to make this!" But I did - twice - her bike and mine, but it was close. I almost lost it with both bikes. This road section (maybe 50 yds) was a bulldozed section of rocks, not even dirt, just coarse rocks about 4 to 8 inches in diameter, with moguls, with a drop-off to one side. We seriously messed up not getting a video of me ridding the bikes through that!

    Carol made it more than half way through this last section without dropping her bike - then a pickup forced her into the sand on the side of the road and she went down (did I mention the bad drivers?!). Later, at the very end, she tried to stop for an oncoming bus and dropped it due to bad footing. At least that time people stopped to help - unlike with the pickup. Traffic on the last 1/3 of the 35 mile dirt section was really horrible; traffic volume significantly, and almost everyone was driving way to fast and expecting us to pull to the very edge so they could have more road than they needed - it really seemed that they expected us to yield for them, regardless of the situation. I was using lots of horn and sign language to try and get them to move over and slow down for Carol, who was behind me.

    We were stopped by a couple of policia about 1/2 way through that last dirt section; I am nearly positive were shaking people down. They started out asking us for our paperwork, and separated Carol and I. I walked over to Carol and one of them started shouting at me as I did, but I just ignored him and walked up beside her and said "lo sciento, no entiendo". I kept telling him we were going to Huanuco. They said a bunch more, pieces of which I got - but I just said "Somos estadounidenses, vamos a Huanuco", holding up my passport. They finally gave up, told me to move on and drive slowly and carefully, and never even looked at our passports. Later I thought I should have told them (re: their admonition to drive slowly and carefully) "Dices este a la camiones y autobuses" ("tell that to the trucks and buses"), but that would have revealed to much Spanish skills. Carol wanted to ask them questions about the road - I said "no, lets go while we can!" She had not picked up my vibe that this was probably a shake-down.

    The frustrating thing is that none of my research indicated that we should have expected these conditions on this last 35 miles section of road. But the new map I found, which mentioned earlier, from www. perut.org, did show it, very clearly. But in retrospect, if I had known about it, we might have diverted to the coast, and as it stands now, I am pleased with our position in terms of our path forward; we have a lot of options that we would not have had if we hadn't slogged through to Huanuo. And I was encouraged by this; Carol said to me that although she would never want to do that again (in total - length of time plus miles of dirt, etc. Nor would I), it did give her confidence for our future riding, especially in Patagonia where I have told her from the beginning I expect to have some significant portions of dirt. So I am glad to have the perut.org map for future planning, but I am also happy we stumbled into and through this experience of getting to from Huallanca to Huanuco, both because it was a confidence building one and because it has left us in a good position for our route options moving forward.


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    We had a bit of an adventure finding a hotel in Huallanca. We had no reservations; there were no bookable hotels in the town in booking.com or other sites - though Google Maps showed several. So we just rode in "blind", only to find the first few we tried were either booked (!) or had no parking. We finally found the Hotel Mina Azul - which had vaccancy and parking, but no restaurant, which forced us out into the town for dinner and breakfast the next day. At dinner, Carol made friends with this little girl, who we think was the daughter of the cook. She really warmed up to us, and gave us both hugs :-)


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    Bullfight advertisement in Huallanco. As I mentioned earlier - this is a prevalent thing in the towns of Perú from our experience. "2 Torros de Muerte" = "Two bulls of death".

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    THis is on the first section of road (Rt 3N) that we anticipated would be dirt - it was not so bad overall, but had some interesting portions! And the dirt section was shorter than expected by several miles - so we were happy with that.

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    Beautiful views along the way (Rt 3N).

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    Even when the road is paved, you have to watch out for animals. The road basically a single lane road. But there was little traffic (other than the animals) in this portion.
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    And when the road turns to dirt ... you still have to watch out for animals! This was still in the section we expected to be dirt.

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    Carol behind me, eating my dust. Our riding clothes were so dirty after this day! We (Carol) washed them at the hotel in Huanuco (Grand Hotel Hunuco; they let us use their industrial laundry), and the water was muddy.
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  2. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    More photos on the way to Huanuco from Huallanca, on 3N.

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    This is where we stopped for lunch, and was a possible campsite. But we both felt very confident at this point that we'd make it to Huanuco, so I made reservations at the Grand Hotel Huanuco, and we moved on.
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    Even when paved, the road is not great - and there are always other forms of traffic on the roads!
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    On 3N - still before the summit, and the road is mostly paved. This is the road condition we expected all the way to Huanuco, after the end of the first anticipated dirt section! It was not to be.

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    This is shortly after the summit, near the beginning of our long 35 mile stretch of construction and/or bad dirt road. This is the section that I rode Carol's bike through for her, and I nearly dropped my bike and hers riding through this nasty collection of bolders and rocks. But I made it - wish I had thought to have Carol video my performance, for posterity and bragging rights. Cars were having a difficult time getting through this section.
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    Some of the construction after the summit. I have very few pictures of the worst part of the road, as usual. Taking pictures isn't high on the list when you are struggling to stay upright and on the road. This section isn't so bad - that's why I have a picture!

    Since we've been in Huanuco, multiple times people have shook their heads and made comments about the road, when we tell them how we got here.

    Chavin to Huanuco Anotaded (Large).jpg
    This map overlay shows the two days of ridding (yellow= day 1, red = day 2) from Chavin to Huanuco, and the sections of dirt road we rode one day 2 with comments. The first section we expected, and in fact it was shorter than we expected. The second was totally unexpected. But we did it, and as I said, Carol's confidence is bolstered as a result. If I were to do it again, I would have split it into two days, somehow. I am sure we could have found a place to camp if desperate enough.
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  3. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    I started this section of updates with this image - I'll end with it. This captures it all - the hikes, the rides, our last 2.5, nearly 3 weeks now, in the Andes, starting in Chimbote and ending in our current location in Huanuco. We will be here another day to finish some planning and other "chores", and then continue south on 3N. And the trip report is up to date at last! Not exactly sure of our route details at this point, other than "Ushuaia bound!"
    Two and a half weeks - Andes.jpg
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  4. asromalover

    asromalover n00b

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    Just wanted to send a note to say Thank You for taking the time to post your travels. I live in Canada and my wife and I (each on our own bikes) will be doing this trip (or similar to it) once our children are independent enough that we don't feel they need us daily. We currently try to do one trip a year now, but the longest we are able to be away at this point is 3 weeks. Three weeks from where we live doesn't get us very far, but for us, its the enjoyment of quality time we spend together (and no, it's not all rosey), and how traveling changes your perspective on life and the world we live in. We enjoy moto-camping, and the daily grind of figuring out the basic things...food/water/rest. I see that Carol and you do a lot of hostels with the odd hotel and travel within your comfort levels, while trying to take in as much site-seeing and culture as possible. This seems very similar to how we would like to travel through South America, and on. Although you do not speak of budgeting/finances very much, have you determined your average daily or weekly costs (not including motorcycle maintenance costs)? I understand that there are A LOT of variables that go in to that number, and its different from region to region, but from what I have read, your style is similar to how we would like to travel. Please keep posting, there are many of us out here enjoying the Americas though your travels! Keep safe!
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  5. Kyron

    Kyron Oncler Inds

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    What a great RR, thank you for letting us follow along !
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  6. GoDoMore

    GoDoMore life in the fast lane...full speed ahead

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    Found this last week... excellent report... keep up the great work
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  7. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Thanks - it is hard work and I appreciate the feedback! Similar to you, Carol and I did one to two week extended rides every summer for five or six years before we left on this trip - including one foray into Mexico that was sort of a test to see if we REALLY wanted to do this thing (answer is obvious). Our "About Us" on the xplore2gether website gives some background about how we got back into riding after the kids launched, and the genesis of our current trip from an epic moto trip in our youth. You may find some parallels to your experiences!

    We planned for this trip for about 20 years, saving aggressively for early retirement (I turned 61 on this trip, Carol turn's 60 in a few days), and we sold our house and most of our belongings before we left. By so doing we have eliminated the ongoing costs of home ownership (mortgage, insurance, taxes, maintenance, etc), and our daily expenses on the trip are low in comparison to daily living back home. So we are fortunate to be in a position to not have to worry to much about expenses. I keep track of our "burn rate" (and have a target, which we are under) but I do not track expenses on a detailed level.

    We enjoy camping - but also are happy that we don't have to unless we want to. We are looking forward to an increasing number of camping opportunities as we continue south. What we found, and others told us to expect, is that there are very few opportunities to camp in Central America, and even Colombia and Peru. That, combined with the very affordable hotel/hostel prices makes camping sort of a rarity in the middle of the full North-South America jaunt. We have stayed in some nice hotels because of my Marriott points from when I was working - but that has only been in big cities (which we are happy to mostly avoid!). Most of the past three weeks up in the Andes, we've spent $15-$30 (USD) per night , except for a splurge in Huanuco for a nicer hotel, because we could. Even a "splurge" means ~$60-$70 a night - much much less than in Canada or the US. So far we are under budget, but everything I've read and heard says "just wait until you get to Chile!" It is not cheap - one couple we know who did this trip in a Ural a few years ago told us: "Chile is a lot like Europe, including prices". So we'll see how the budget holds up there.

    In terms of average daily cost: The best trip report I have come across in terms of expense tracking is the one by Shannon and Mike Mills, "S&M Boilerworks". They did a three year round the world trip, ending in 2017, and started out doing Seattle to Ushuaia. Mike kept excellent expense records, and he published a spreadsheet after each country, showing exactly what they spent, and on what. It is amazing to me he could keep such detailed records! Go to their website at http://www.smboilerworks.com/ and in the search box at upper right, enter "Expense Report" and you will get a series of links with Mike's rundown of their expenses by country as well as yearly summaries. Their trip blogs are great - I have been re-reading their South America blogs recently, to help us plan as we move south. And Shannon was very helpful to me as we were making final preparations and I had questions - she was happy to answer my emails. Hope to meet them some day!

    If we had one piece of advice to give, given your timeline, it would be this: Start learning Spanish! It takes so little in terms of Spanish skills to make such a huge difference. We started a few years before we left, doing online courses (which didn't hurt, but didn't really get us far), and spent three weeks in two different places during our trip, taking intensive classes (classes are cheap - esp, in Guatemala). We are far from fluent - but compared to when we started we are practically natives :-) It really makes a difference, and it doesn't need to be much to make a difference. Lots of people do this trip w/o knowing any Spanish, so it obviously is not 100% requirement, but in our opinion, it has made a huge difference in our experiences and in our ease of travel.

    I read that out-loud just now to Carol, and she said to add: "And take an off-road riding course!" We planned to do this before we left, but it didn't happen because I had to have back surgery. But we ended up taking a class in Guatemala, and we are so glad we did. We are constantly saying to one another "In this situation Jose (our trainer) would say to ...."

    Glad you are following along - and look forward to reading your trip report in the future!

    Jim
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  8. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    We stayed five nights in Huánuco, a city of almost 200,000 people. The size of the city and our hotel, the "Grand Hotel Huanoco", were a big change from the tiny villages and equally tiny hostels we had been in for most of the previous two weeks. We visited the nearby ruins of Kotosh one day, and decided to stay for a few more days to catch up on stuff like laundry, catching up with family, this trip report :-) and general R&R.

    Our visit to Kotosh continued our backward march in time in terms of our archeological visits: Chan Chan ==> Huaca de la Luna==>Chavin de Huantar==>Kotosh. This series of visits has taken us sequentially (and unplanned) from about 1400AD, just before the Inca, to 2000BC. By the time we get to the Inca they will seem almost contemporary!

    DSC04572.JPG Taken from the Kotosh site, this is the valley that 3N comes in along, from the north.

    DSC04598.JPG This is inside the main structure, which was used for religious purposes. Behind us you can see the two sets of crossed hands - one to the left and the other to the right. These are replicas. One set are the hands of a man, and the other the hand of a woman. One of the originals was destroyed by vandals, and to protect the other (I think it is the female set) was removed and is in Lima. The little alcoves were used to place plant and possibly animal sacrifices - we saw similar type structures in Chavin. As we understood it, there is no evidence of human sacrifice with this culture. That seems to have come of age around the time of the Moche (Huaca de la Luna).

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    Kotosh
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    More Kotosh
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    Our hotel was right on the town square. We were there five days - and at least four of those days there was some sort of parade! As I've mentioned in earlier posts - the Latin culture is very festive, lots of festivals, celebrations, etc.
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    I thought the little girl with the leopard (?) suit and ballerina dress was cute.
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    Lonely Planet recommended this restaurant - it was called the Trapiche House. It is hard to find (use the address on their Facebook page and trust Google - the street looks deserted but it is there!). And is only open a few days a week! But it was very nice. Really good mojito's, and I had bbq baby back ribs that were great.

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    The town square from the Hotel Grand Huánuco
    DSC04631.JPG Interior courtyard of the Hotel Grand Huánuco. They staff were very nice and helpful. They let us use their laundry facility so we could wash our ridding gear (much needed, and we prefer to do those ourself) and some clothes. And I needed to print, sign and scan some documents and they let me use their office computer and printer/scanner.
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  9. asromalover

    asromalover n00b

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    Thank you Jim (and Carol) for your response. I certainly chuckled when I read your comment about the off-road course because (like carol) have had very little experience with off-road. Both my husband and I agree that this is something that we need to gain experience on, and learn spanish! My husband understands it (he's Italian), but i agree that it would change the experience, especially to interact with the locals the way we like to do! Thank you again for the information and may your travels always be safe!
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  10. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    While we were in Huanuco we made a big itinerary decision. We were planning to stay up in the mountains on 3N/3S and head to Cusco that way. And above all else - we were determined to avoid Lima! But ... I started reading more about this place called "Caral-Supe", aka "The Sacred City of Caral". This place is amazing - the ruins there represent the oldest known civilization in all of the Americas. Not only that, but these pyramids and other structures have been dated back to the time of the first Egyptian pyramids! Over 5,000 years old. And we will be in the Andes many more times (this is my logic at work) and we will only ever be this close to this significant, UNESCO World-Heritage archeological site once. But .. we have to A) leave the mountains for the coast, and B) (ugh!) go through Lima!

    We decided it was to much to pass up - we'd regret it later if we didn't go. So we charted our course: first south on 3N for about a day, then west on PE-22 (which is where 3N becomes 3S), to Lima and the coast. From Lima, north a days ride to Caral-Supe, and spend a few days there to see the ruins. After visiting the ruins, we would return to Lima. I had a package that my son was going to send us (with among other things our updated registration docs and tags) in Cusco - but Lima was more direct and cheaper, so I decided we'd stay in Lima a few days to get that package, then continue south on 1S through Nazca (where I am typing this), giving us a chance to see the Nazca Lines, which we would also have missed if not for this route change. From Nazca we would head back up into the mountains for Cusco.
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  11. TeeTwo

    TeeTwo Been here awhile

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    LOL - back in March my GPS routed me off 3N from Huallanca to Huánuco, cutting out the northern loop to Huánuco on 3N. It was a tough days ride with washed out roads in places and I regretted not staying on 3N...after reading your report I am now happy the GPS took the decision it did. What you were on was obviously a repair following the torrential rains during the last wet season.

    BTW if you have time when you are in the sacred valley take a look at the town of Pisac and the ruins there. A local put me on to Pisac; a fun town and the ruins and terraces are amazing...and no crowds, easy to get to and cheap to enter.

    Enjoying your report.....now in Patagonia myself.

    Ciao. T2.
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  12. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    So day one of the new plan: Head south from Huánuco on 3N. As I researched places to stop for the night, I found that there was not much to choose from. I finally decided that we'd have to spend the night in Cerro de Pasco. This is a mining town, and everything I read about it pretty much said "move along, nothing to see here!" But there were not many choices, and they did have hotels - so that was our destination.

    The ride from Huánuco was a pretty gradual rise back up to high elevation - starting at around 6,000' out of Huánuco, and climbing to over 14,000' after a full day of ridding. We pulled into Cerro de Pasco, at 14,100', and found our hotel, the Hotel Las Torres. It was cold - in the upper 40's when we arrived! But we were feeling otherwise ok as we checked in, and the woman at the hotel (Kary, the daughter of the owner) was very friendly and helpful. But when we got into our room we realized there was no heat in the room, or anywhere in the building! But there where stacks of alpaca-wool blankets on the bed, so I was sure we wouldn't freeze.

    I've decided I can best describe Cerro de Pasco using a phrase I've only seen in novels but never had use for it myself: "Hard scrabble" It is a hard scrabble town. That pretty much sums it up. It didn't feel unsafe - but not completely safe, and it was ... a mining town. At 14,100 feet elevation. And it is cold - It was snowing off and on while we were there. And as I said, our hotel didn't have heat, none of the restaurants or shops we went into had heat, and I don't think any of the other hotels had heat. People just "bundle up". And it is close enough to the equator so that there is not a huge variation in temperature - no seasons to speak of. Wikipedia says the average daily temperature throughout the year varies from 39.7F to 43.5F, not much of a range. So what we experienced is pretty much what it is year round. To me it would be like living in endless winter; very depressing, to live every day of every month bundled up against the cold - sort of like in the Chronicles of Narnia with the White Witch, if you've read those books. The buildings are all very utilitarian, and you get an overall vibe of a people who work hard to make a living in this place. And I read there are issues with heavy metal poisoning in the area related to the mine. "Move along, nothing to see here ..." about sums it up.

    Side note: As we were unloading, a man came up and started asking us the typical questions about our trip and our bikes At some point the woman from the hotel came out and just watched - and when he left she asked us if we knew him. I said no - but that he had told us he was a police officer from Chimbote (I didn't ask why he was so far away in Cerro de Pasco). She told me he was known to her and was not a good person. Ooops! The radar wasn't working very well - in retrospect there were clues I should have picked up on. Stored the experience for the future.

    Kery, from the hotel, insisted that she needed to walk us into town for dinner, so we agreed to meet at 6:00 PM. I wanted to go at 7:00 PM, but she seemed to think it was not a good idea, because it was to late, which increased my anxiety as to what sort of town this was! We met at 6:00 PM, and she walked with us to show us where the restaurants were, and along the way we heard the music from a festival, which sounded to be nearby, so the she walked with us to the festivities and explained that it was for the anniversary of the technical institute. Latin cultures love festivals! We ended up staying an extra day (read on) and there as another festival the next night - no idea what for. After watching the festivities for a bit, we headed back into the town, and Kery showed us the block that had several restaurant options which she left us to choose on our own. We ate and then returned back to our (cold!) room.

    If it wasn't for what happened next, I wouldn't have elaborated so much on this intended-to-be whistle stop. That night ... Carol got sick. She got altitude sickness (AMS in the literature), and started vomiting. We've dealt with this before when backpacking in the High Sierra - but on this trip, up until now, we had been really pleased that we, and especially she, were handling the altitude well. We had spent most of the past three weeks above 10,000 feet, with excursions up to over 15,000 feet, by foot and on the bikes, with no major symptoms. But this was the highest altitude we had spent the night (14,100') , and Carol's body didn't like it. She started vomiting, and I was left trying to do my best as nurse Jim to keep her hydrated and provide sympathy. It was obvious the next morning that there was no way she was getting on a motorcycle, which was frustrating because we both knew that getting to lower altitude (which our next ride day would accomplish) would make her better. In past experience, Benadryl has helped her quite effectively deal with the nausea, but it didn't seem to be helping here as she continued to vomit and have a headache through the morning. We have a prescription drug (Diamox) that is supposed to help speed up altitude acclimation, and guard against some of the potentially life-threatening effects of AMS. She had used that earlier in the trip, but not for this ascent. And now she was vomiting so often it was not worth taking, similar for pain meds for the headache - if she was vomiting every 30 to 60 minutes, not much of the drug would get into her system.

    In the morning I went out and got her some coca tea, and then just sat in the cold hotel room (my fingers got numb trying to use the computer) while she lay bundled in bed under the alpaca blankets, sleeping but waking every so often to vomit again. As I sat, I was researching altitude sickness on the British national health institute web site, were it described a prescription medication that could be used to combat the nausea symptom. The article gave the name of the drug - and it rang a bell. Back in California, as we were preparing to leave for this trip, I was going through the drawer of unused prescription meds that most of us end up with over time, trying to decide what to dispose of and what, if any, to take with us. As I did, I came across an anti-nausea drug that was given to me after one of my surgeries, and on a whim I thought "I'll bring this along - it could be useful" As I sat there reading the article, I remembered bringing that, but I wasn't sure of the name ... I walked over to the dry bag that had the meds, dug out the bottle - and it was exactly the drug that the web site was referring to (promethazine)! I was elated to have something to offer to help other than tea! I gave her a dose, and it had a clear impact - she didn't vomit again for several hours, managed to keep down a bit of food and liquids as well as some pain meds for the headache. That evening I gave her a second dose, and she was feeling good enough to walk to dinner with me and have some soup, and the next morning she was able (and ready!) to leave on her bike.

    And that is how a one-night whistle stop turned into an epic, unforgettable stay! I was so glad to leave Cerro de Pasco, hoping to get my wife to lower elevations and to somewhere warm.

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    THere is a big traffic circle on 3N right at the intersection for the road that leads to Cerro del Pasco ("Pasco Hill") - we stopped there to get a drink and eat some food before we headed into town. At this point, all is well.
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    FLock of aplpaca near the turn-off to Cerro de Pasco

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    This was the festival for the technical institute - there was a sort of line-dance, with the band off out of the picture to the right. I was told that all the prior graduates of the institute come back for this festival, so there was a mix of ages participating.
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    And as part of the anniversary festival .... they cut down trees!? I asked "why?" and was told "it is just a tradition" They would dance around in a circle, and every once in a while someone would pick up the axe and give it a whop. One fell while we were there, this one was hanging in there as we left, but the next day all of them were down. I assume they replant for next year.

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    Preparing to leave Hotel Las Torres - cold rooms, warm blankets, very friendly people.
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    Cerro de Pasco - a hard scrabble mining town, living in endless winter.
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    Adios Ceroo de Pasco!
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  13. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    464
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    From Cerro de Pasco we headed south on 3N until PE-22, then turned west and headed up over the pass bef.

    It was a great ride - the first half of it on 3N was through this high altitude Andean valley, so wide it was more like a plane or prairie. The whole plane was at near 14,000 feet, with snow capped peaks in the distance. There were sheep, alpaca and llama and signs of mining operations - this part of Perú has a lot of mining activity.

    Coming over the pass on PE-22 we topped out at 15,826'; I've lost track, but I think that is a new record. Lots of switch-backs, and approaching the summit we had to suit up with our rain gear. It snowed on us a bit but temperature didn't dip below the upper 30's and the roads were wet but not slick. We finally stopped in the town of San Mateo, and with some help from the gas station attendant we found Hospedaje los Americas, which had a chochera (parking garage) - still no heat in the room, but we were now down to just above 10,000' and it was much warmer.

    Then the next day we continued down to Lima - which I was not looking forward to. It met expectations! We got on the Panamerican (1N) and continued south a bit, to get out of the worst of the city traffic, and to be in good position for the next day's ride to Caral-Supe.

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    The mountains in the distance across the (huge) valley. The views on this ride were just jaw dropping. I had to restrain myself from posting dozens! Here are enough to get the idea.

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    This is on PE-22, near the summit - you can see the precipitation falling ahead of us.

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    On the down-hill side of PE-22. Lots of switchbacks, and pretty heavy truck traffic.
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    View from the back patio of the hotel in San Mateo (Hospedaje los Americas).

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    And then - culture shock! This photo is from the end of day 2 of our ride from Cerro de Pasco, after we arriving in Lima ("Indepencia" to be precise). After three weeks in the mountains, staying mostly in small villages and towns with only basic services, we arrive at our hotel and walk to this HUGE mall nearby. We ate dinner at a Chiles restaurant, Carol bought some jeans in an up-scale Macy's-like department store, and I found a Home Depot (not called that, but that is what it was in practice) and bought an 11mm combination wrench (found I need that for bleeding brakes) and a few other items. It was so strange to be in the midst of such a western, affluent setting after so many weeks in rural Perú! We imagined some of the people we met in the past weeks, how they would react if they were transported to this mall - it would blow their minds! A totally different world.
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  14. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    464
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Back on the Peruvian coast! Pretty much the same here north of Lima as it was up north near the Ecuador border - except this time we had fog, pretty bad, on a stretch. But it was a fairly quick ride to Huacho, the town closest to the Caral-Supe archeological site. Huacho is a pretty dusty (sandy) town, with not much to offer other than it's proximity to the UNESCO World Heritage ruins, but we stayed two nights in a wonderful oasis, the Hotel Villa Kitzia, which we highly recommend - to my surprise we have no pictures! They have a walled enclosure that I estimate encloses one and a half to two acres, and when the gates open you leave the sand and desert behind, and enter a garden of fruit trees and plants of all sorts. The "rooms" are actually little cottages. The owner helped me arrange for transportation to the ruins, and for an English language translator to go with us (the tours at Caral-Supe are all in Spanish).

    The site itself is in the desert, but not to far away is a seasonal river-bed (the Supe river), which supports agriculture. Walking through the sand dunes and seeing the pyramid ruins, you could believe you were in Egypt, and in fact these structures were contemporary with the first Egyptian pyramids, about 5,000 years ago. The civilization here was pre-ceramic, but they did leave behind clay statues and other artifacts. Animal remains were found that indicate that they were trading with the Amazon jungle, and from up the coast as far as Ecuador. Just amazing.

    And this ends our backwards in time journey (I think!): Chan Chan ==> Huaca de Luna ==>Chavin de Huantar ==> Katosh ==>Caral-Supe.
    That spans from about 1500AD (Chan Chan) to 3000BC (Caral-Supe). Now we are ready to leap forward to the Inca (headed to Machcu Picchu)!

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    The Sacred City of Caral is in the desert! Could be Egypt. It is surprising to me that there is such a history of civilizations in Peru that established themselves on the arid coast.
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    It is an active archeological site - the flags on this pyramid are related to ongoing investigations. The recent history of the site is interesting - it was "discovered" and forgotten (thought not important) several times, until in 1994 when it was re-discovered by the Peruvian archeologist Ruth Shady. Her work led to the first radio-carbon dating of the organic artifacts and remnants, which led to the startling discovery that this civilization was about 1000 years older than what was previously thought to be the oldest civilization in the Americas. It took years of confirmation by other scientists before this was generally accepted as it is today.
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    Sundial. Note how small the shadow is - we are still not that far from the equator!
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    We used to live in upstate New York, and we know all about snow fences to control blowing snow. These are sand fences built by the Caral builders! We saw modern day sand fences along the Panamerican Highway on our ride down from Lima.
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    To the east of the city is this fertile plane that is fed by the seasonal Supe river, whose waters run down from the Andes. All along the Peruvian coastal desert, the Andes are what supplies the water.
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    Attached Files:

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  15. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    464
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    After Caral-Supe, we had booked a hotel for three nights in Lima, in order to interecept a package my son was sending us. This involved, obviously, riding back north into the heart of Lima (our hotel was in Miraflores, a Lima neighborhood on the southern side of the metropolis).

    I wrote this to my son who lives in Los Angeles:

    You do not know traffic or bad drivers until you've driven in Peru, and Lima takes the cake.

    Here is traffic in Lima: Imagine a major Los Angeles freeway, say I10, at full capacity. But, for every 10 vehicles on the freeway, replace 3 of them with buses, and 3 of them with trucks. THen of the 4 remaining, 3 are taxis (often mini-van taxis). One car is a personal vehicle - and basically zero are large adventure motorcycles.

    The buses and trucks drive like the 800lb gorilla - they do and go where they want. It is like you don’t exist. The taxi's drive like taxis - lawless, daring and downright rude and dangerous. And the private cars drive pretty much like the taxis. Some are worse – I think because they are rich enough to own a car, they drive with a “in fact I do own the road” attitude.

    Now ... on that freeway - just for fun, there are bus stops, on the freeway, usually just before a cloverleaf. There might be a bit of a pull-out but so many buses are stopping that they spill into the right lane, and sometimes the next lane over. This causes huge backups and all kinds of daring shenanigans as the other buses, trucks and taxis try to maneuver around the mayhem. And everyone is honking their horn – as if it will do any good. If you are lucky enough to be in the left lane, you have to watch for cars, buses and trucks that want to be there to and don’t care that you are in their way. Lanes that are not lanes appear by consensus – a three lane road becomes five by use of the shoulder and lanes between lanes. The lines on the road no longer matter – however many “lanes” the consensus seem to agree on is what you have to work with. Good luck trying to stay in your “lane”.

    And this all brings traffic to a near stop, as vehicles move in and out of lanes (real and imagined) and try to force their way forward. And then, there are the street vendors. Strategically positioned where they know traffic will grind to a stop, they take advantage of this bus-induced traffic jam, walking out into the middle of the mayhem, trying to sell fruit, juice, cell phone chargers, various foods and snacks. It is utter chaos.

    And a second before you and everyone else was going 60 mph.

    And here we are on our motorcycles, penned in between lanes, between buses and trucks who act as if we aren't there, taxis that don't care that we are there, and trying to stay alive and move forward.

    It is crazy beyond belief!


    Of course I don't have pictures from the worst of it, because I was to busy trying to stay alive :-) But here are some GoPro shots taken when I could spare the attention, to give you an idea.

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    Carol and I are at at a full stop here, in the precious left lane, incing forward. It is enticing to maybe move over one lane - but odds are that just out of view is a tangle of buses and trucks jockeying for position. This moto-cop just weaved by and split the lane - easy to do on the little 150CC motorcycles.
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    Seconds after the cop goes by, this woman walks out - I have no idea how the moto-cop avoided hitting her! I wonder about the life expectancy of these street vendors, walking out into this mess all day.

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    Trouble ahead! I managed to get this shot off as we were approaching a buss stop, and up in the distance all traffic is stopped. This is the "And a second before you and everyone else was going 60 mph" moment. Traffic flow goes from freeway speed to dead stop in short order.
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  16. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    464
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    HEADS UP IF YOU ARE RIDING INTO LIMA!

    There are some roads inside the city that are off-limits to motorcycles. There are no signs to tell you this. We got nailed for riding on an expressway - cost $100/S "propina" to the policia to deal with it (about $30 USD). I kept asking him how a visitor should know if there is no sign to indicate that motorcycles are not allowed - he had no answer. If I had patience to say "Ok, let's go to the station so I can pay the fine" he may well have given up. He asked for $200/S, and I told him that in my country, they treat visitors better than this, and that I'd give him $100/S, to which he said, without a blink, "Ok". Should have offered $50/S, lol!

    The front desk at our hotel was very kind to help me chart a route from the hotel to the FedEx facility hear the airport - I had to go directly through the center of Lima on city roads, avoiding all express roads. They also helped me verify our "escape route" when we left to head south for Nazca. In the map below, I highlighted the roads that I am sure or pretty sure are off-limits, and the red-circle is the area where we were stopped.

    I could not find any online resource to determine which roads were off limits, but the one we got nailed on is a very appealing expressway that goes right through the center of town, which Google will happily route you on. One suggestion is to use "bicycle" routing, because Google did avoid that road when I tried that (after the fact).

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  17. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    464
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Below is our route from Huanuco to Caral-Supe and back south to Lima, exported to Google Earth. I had the Inreach Mini with us when we did the tour of hte Caral-Supe ruins, and it was kind of cool to see how that looked on Google Earth, so I included that.

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    This is the GPX track of walking tour of hte Caral Supe ruins, exported to Google Earth. The satellite view gives you a good perspective of the size of the city.
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  18. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2014
    Oddometer:
    464
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    A long shot call for assistance, for friends:
    If you've been following this report from the beginning you have read about the good friends we have made along the way, fellow adv-riders Chris and Sharon Struna. We first met them by serendipity in Baja, and have connected with them several times since, most recently sharing about a week with them in and around Caraz, Chacas and Chavin here in Peru.

    They are currently stuck near Trujillo, Peru, because Chris' Suzuki DR650 needs parts - piston and some transmission parts. It is looking like his best bet for getting the parts is to buy them in the US and find someone that is coming this way, say to Lima, that could bring the parts with them.

    Which gets to the long shot: If anyone following this report is or knows of someone who is flying to Peru from the USA in the coming weeks, that would be willing to help Chris and Sharon out by adding some parts to their luggage, please send me a PM.

    Chris & Sharon.JPG
    Left: Chris and Sharon riding into Chacas, Peru, where we spent a few days together. Right: Chris and Sharon walking down the sidewalk in old-town Cartegena, coming to our AirBnB for dinner.
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  19. Ohio_Danimal

    Ohio_Danimal If I die trying, at least I tried Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    3,457
    Location:
    Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (The Crooked River)
    Hey Jim.
    I tried to put them in touch with Sata, the owner of MotoHell in Quito, who specializes in DR650’s.
    Sata has replied on FB offering to ship to Trujillo any parts they need and already confirmed he has all they need.
    How that may translate to actual help is debatable based upon problems in Ecuador, but Sata seems confident. Hope they get things sorted.
    Great report as always. Using info from you nearly every week as I’m just behind you, riding from Caraz to Chacas tomorrow
    Be well
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  20. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    1,013
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    There’s a Facebook group called Overlander Mules (run by @michnus of PikiPikiOverland) that tries to help with such matters. If you cannot get connected, PM me with the info and I’ll get it posted.