Sunday, February 12, 2012


From the moment we crossed the border, Peru has been a challenge in every way.  From hailing highland snow storms to burning desert lowlands and rain everywhere inbetween.  We have been through it all, and it can easily come all in the same day.  One never knows what will happen upon waking.  We have been on a mission.  We have had no plan since the beginning of this trip.  However now, our good friend Hoge, the only one on the entire trip with enough gumption to take the chance to visit this undetermined adventure, has planned to fly in and meet us in Huarez, half way down Peru.  With the document hold up we delt with in Medellin, we had to move swiftly to cross the Colombian border around the Christmas/New Year holidays.  Then, I only had 5 days to get through Ecuador with my passport limit, and now in Peru, we have to cross through some serious mountain terrain to catch up with Hoge. 
 For example, during a random hot and dusty lunch break, we bumped into our good friend Tim from Australia whom we had met in Colombia.  He had gotten seperated from his group and was wandering lost through town.  Come to find out, he and his riding partner had joined up with four others.  So for two days we all rode together.  On day two, a mountain decided to fall over.  It covered the road blocking traffic for hours.  A gas truck turned up the music and we made the best of it with a swim, pineapples, and Tim´s lack of shame.  
Bozo on the bus.  If you only knew how loud this bus horn was.  I got some funny looks from all the passengers still on board.
Slim does it everytime.  The mechanical genius he shows blows my mind.  
This time, it was a messed up coil, so weird.

 The plug wires had been breaking.  So Mike exposed the wires, wrapped them with extra electrical wire which he carries, and sealing it in epoxy.  It worked like a charm.
Mike´s rack was also broken, again.
So, this day included the fouled coil and its repair, the rack broken and its repair, and then the bike ran terribly after all was said and done.  The frustration mounted.  He stopped, ready to blow (up the bike), yard saled all his gear to get under the seat and found that the welder had left his rag over the air intake which was choking the bike into submission.  It was a nice rag too.  Problems solved.
Skipping back, it was good to see Tim, however, he had taken off his Santa that was strapped to his helmet.  I gave him the face I had taped on my helmet from Ecuador for replacement decoration.
We met up with the armada, that is, the group of huge motos we refer to as "ships".  The logistics of more than 2 people immediately gets difficult, especially now with eight.  We all met at a gas station to figure out lodging.  People split off in different directions while some stayed back with the gaggle of bikes.  We drew the attention of the owner of a moto repair shop next door, who came over and with kindness, offered to show us a dirtbike track they had up the hill.  Without hesitation, Mike jumped on the back of his bike and I on mine, and we raced up the hill to see that he was not joking.  He and his mates were heavy into the motocross scene in northern Peru and practice there.  One kid rode the course for us in flipflops.  They were also building a gas station overlooking the town in which they let us camp for free. 
We rode back down to get the others who took a lot of time to get it together.  Meanwhile, for reasons unknown, Mike and I were the only ones that hung out in the shop with our new friends.  They bought us beers and we drank and laughed.  Something foreigners may not know is that getting out of a new friend drinking situation is much more difficult than one might think.  They absolutely insist on you drinking and keep buying you more and more.  We´ve put in enough dues now to be able to refuse, but its never easy. 

Oh yeah, and the drinking custom down here is different than wielding your own brew, which is how it gets out of hand and why there are so many drunks down here.  A group, no matter the size, will use only one glass.  You pour some in, pass the bottle, drink, dump out the backwash, then pass the cup.  Everyone is waiting on the drinker so that they may have a go.  One never realizes how much is being drank, and you end up drinking way too fast.
The rainy view in the morning after camping in the gas station.

The group consisted of Mike and I, the Australian, a Tasmanian, a couple from Holland, and 2 other guys from the U.S.  All had randomly met.  We rode with them for 2 days, but our styles were just too different.

This was the day we realized something we´ve come to call "the Peruvian Triangle".  Directions, road, times, maps, and any other logistical thing you can think of gets boggled, turned around, and confused in Peru.

We had some more issues, but luckily, this time it was right in front of a moto parts store and a Honda repair shop where we could borrow a workspace.
By the way Dave, that kicker didn´t fit my bike.  All is well though, this new one worked for about 4 days before it broke off and sparked down the road.  I put the ol´trusty back on.  Even though its welded to stick out at all times, its strong and still kickin.
Some days are tough, no matter what ya´ll say.

However, in pushing on, there are rewards.

 From tall straw top hats to gagnster tilted enlongated fodoras, the styles of hats change wherever you go in Peru.
This is a mototaxi.  Some sort of these things are everywhere, but these are the best styles.  Our minds were made up, we were going to sell our bikes and get one of these.  We asked around and found it too difficult to pull off, especially since we were in a race to meet up with Hoge in Huarez.

These donkeys got away and were running down the street with the kids in chase.  Mike rode up and cut them off sending them charging back.

Rain gear?  Its not raining right now.

Up in the mountains, we found a village with a great woman that ran a store (and probably the whole town) and a hospedaje.  We had the much needed chance to do our laundry.

She let us use her kitchen which is a huge blessing that allows us to prepare what and how we eat.  We have a camping stove, but food at a restaurant is so cheap, its not really worth the effort most of the times.

She was a busy lady.  If there was a slow moment, she was spinning wool into thread in which she would later make into bags, sweaters, hats, and anything else.

Here we ran into a man-made road block.  They were protesting the gold mine in the background that was destroying the quality of the water and hurting the fish population.  Much of Peru is not a place where one can just hop down to the store and buy what you need.  There are tiny stores with only the basics, if that, and a market of house hold goods, grown food, and animals.  They do their laundry in creeks, using any natural resources they can find to live a very poor life.
Getting sick and tiring from the freezing cold nights, rainy days, and extremely rough roads, we cut out of the mountains and kicked it down the coast, the way most travelers go we found out.  However, we were immediately ready to get back to the mountains, for the coast is a hot hot desert that didn´t seem to offer much except a huge fast road that allowed us to crush miles for the first time in longer than we could remember.  We spent half of a day on this road before cutting back into the mountains.
There were plantaions splayed throughout the sand dune desert and, I believe, these were the tenaments of the workers made out of cane screens.
Even cacti were dying out here.
We have found that most people travel on bikes like these. We pass, or rather, were passed by many people heading for Lima where the famous Dakar race from Argentina to Peru was ending.  Our goal was to skip Lima sticking to the mountains. 
Bypassing Lima proved difficult due to every person trying to send us that direction.  We had to beg for directions for a different way.  We did not want the easiest, fastest route.
We found it.

Cañon del Pato.  Cutting back into the mountains, we took a wrong turn, which ended up being the one we were actually looking for, it just didn´t look like it on the map.  Thus, we entered Cañon del Pato (Duck Canyon).  This is an epic ride, one we had been hearing about by other riders.  A desolate paved road takes you from the coast up into the beginning of the canyon where it turns to dirt and then runs you for at least 70km through somewhere around 80 tunnels.

The canyon is a single lane track that is desolate, but still used by trucks and buses on occasion.  One must use caution around tight turns and tunnels amongst the other obstacles.

We experienced our first, and so far only, flat tire of the trip in this canyon.  We spent one night between the canyon walls.
 This pretty much sums up our entire trip, perfect.

From Cañon del Pato, we headed back up into the mountains and along some hair-raising roads.
Notice the road in this shot?

*** Tank´s wreck site***

Once out of the clouds, this road felt a lot like how it might be if you could ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon--hairpin switchbacks and huge dropoffs.  It was amazing.

So amazing in fact, I wrecked my first wreck ever on a motorbike!!  I was looking down into the canyon and my front tire sunk in some soft sand on the side of the road.  No harm done.  I´m glad to get the first wreck everyone talks about out of the way.  The photo further up is actually where I wrecked.  I was just too excited to get a good photo.  I rolled, landed on my feet and immediately picked up the bike.  This is just where I dropped the thing while turning around to get something that fell off the bike; however, the bike is in the exact same position having done pretty much the same thing.