Ok – this was probably the most eventful day so far.
Started out of La Paz OK – we saw Jorge, an Argentinean on an old (1979) Kawasaki 660 – he’s on his way back from a “short” ride from Buenos Aires to Machu Picchu and back.
Gas was hard to find on the way out – we wanted at least 90 octane fuel and to pay with a credit card – yeah right! Settled for 84 octane and paid in US dollars at a bad exchange rate.
The GPS was routing us back through Peru and when it finally found a route through Bolivia to Chile it was not showing the roads we were actually traveling on.
I then almost ran out of gas getting to the Bolivian border, which was very easy.
The Chilean border was further down the road and probably the most scenic border you’ll ever see.
We arrived along with a big bus full of people… and got into the line that they were standing on.
Turns out we had to get a piece of paper from office number 1 who told us to go to immigration – house number 3 – who told us to go to customs – house with no number – who told us we were done!
We happily took off noting that there was a 4th step – police – which I assumed was further down the road. I also assumed that house number 2, agriculture and sanitation was for trucks carrying cargo.
15km down the road a check point. It did not look good when the officer called someone and talked to them for a couple of minutes.
We had to go all the way back because we had forgotten to get “a stamp”. Marc asked if we could just do it there but the officer was stern and said that we had to go back – no way of getting through that point without going back.
So we back tracked – a very annoying thing to do on a trip – and got back to the border where we were told that we had not completed house number 2 nor house number 4 – we fled the scene – and that was VERY serious.
I explained that we were told that we were done and police check points usually are further down the road from the border.
He didn’t really care and said that we would have to appear in court in Arica so that a judge could decide what course of action to take with us. I continued arguing that it was an honest mistake and that we had no intention of not following their procedures but the officer was
unmoved and started writing up our summons.
Another guy was being booked for having a mango in his car – he also had forgotten he had it – and was going to have to show up in court on the following day (Monday).
“Wait, isn’t Monday a national holiday!?” said one of the officers.
So now not only we had to show up in court, we would have to stay an extra day in Arica to go to court on Tuesday!! I insisted in trying to make the problem go away right there to no avail. The officer filled out what seemed like 10 forms and instructed us to go to Arica and appear in court on Tuesday – so we’re stuck in Arica on Monday – a Chilean national holiday – waiting for our court appearance on Tuesday 10am!
After making sure we had completed all the required steps we were finally riding in Chile – and a beautiful one I must add.
Halfway down the road we stopped at this small “complex” where you could get fresh juices, lodge, camp, go on archeological tours and even do astronomy at night. We walk in to find a Canadian girl and four children eating at a table watching TV through a PowerPC
Macintosh computer. The “man of the house” was baking some bread. We were welcomed and got some juice and a sandwich. We were told that all the electricity comes from solar panels and wind powered generators.
Very interesting place.
Further down the road, 40km or 1/2 hour to get to Arica I start feeling my rear a little wobbly. I kept on thinking in was merely psychological but at one point I stopped an my fears were confirmed…
A FLAT tire!!!
I proceeded to remove the wheel from the bike and getting to the inner tube when some bikes stopped by to see if we needed help. At that point things were looking good buy we gladly accepted one of the guys help to remove the tire from the rim. They soon left and we were left
there with the task of replacing the bad tube with the spare I was carrying.
I’ve changed plenty of bicycle tires before but a motorcycle tire is an entirely new ball game. The amount of strength you have to put on it to place the tire back onto the rim is pretty awesome.
I couldn’t believe that the tire would simply plop back on to its proper position once you inflated the tube – which we were trying to do with an electrical compressor connected to the bike’s battery. It did not look promising because of the rate at which the compressor was
filling up the tire and because of the position of the wheel on the rim.
So I removed the tire from the wheel again and started it all over thinking I had done something wrong.
Turns out I was doing everything correctly… but the spare tube I had was either damaged as well or I damaged it in the haste of putting it back into the rim!!
So we were stuck in the middle of the road with no way of fixing it there on the spot.
I crossed the road and went up to a couple that was talking in front of a parked truck. Turns out they were having a fight or a big talk – they were both crying! So I diverted to talk to some other people to see if they had a cell phone so that I could call one of the guys who had stopped previously.
“Sure but there is no cell phone coverage here!”
Back on the bike Marc had pulled out the satellite phone! Perfect!
Not so… we kept on getting invalid number…
The sun set and it got dark…
Plan B – put the wheel back on the bike and push it to the other side of the road and leave it there for the night – next morning we would come with new tubes and a mechanic to help us out.
As we were waiting to cross the road 2 motorcyclists and a car stop to see what happened…
“Wait here – I am going to get my pick up truck and we’ll take the motorcycle into Arica!”
HA!!! 5 seconds later they would have missed us!
20 minutes later we put my motorcycle on the back of his truck and he takes us to his house – well – his garage – which had about 20 cars and some motorcycles and a bunch of people helping out.
“Leave the bike there for the night and tomorrow we’ll deal with it. Take a car so that you can take your stuff to the hotel and that can drive around – or do you want to take a motorcycle?”
I settled for the Mercedes (M-class) where I put all of my gear and then proceeded to follow him on his truck and his son on another car to the hotel. Marc followed us on his bike.
At a gas station Marc and I just laughed at the whole situation – this day was getting more interesting by the minute.
At the hotel Carlos negotiated a special deal for us and told us that he would stop by in one hour to take us out for dinner!
11:30 we hop back onto my new ride and follow his son who came pick us up on his car.
We arrive at the restaurant – probably the only one in town open so late on a Sunday night – and wait a little for Carlos to arrive.
Turns out Carlos did a motorcycle trip to Brazil when he was 21 – 4 months on the road as well – so he understood our pain.
As the conversation went on we told him that I needed new break pads and that Marc needed a new visor for his German helmet – both hard to find parts in this area.
No problem! They whipped out their cell phones and started making calls. A friend of theirs races KTMs and is going to find these parts on Tuesday morning and take them to the airport so that they arrive in Arica Tuesday early afternoon!!
We tried to pay the bill but his influence over the waiters was greater than ours and even though Marc had given them his credit card at some point during dinner, Carlo ordered the waiter to not take it and paid for dinner as well!
WOW – what a day and how lucky we were to have run into them! Endless generosity!
We are unstoppable!
Woke up at 6 and went over to the bike and saw two more problems totaling 4.
I had found 2 severed wires last night leading to the voltage regulator – that meant that the battery wasn’t being charged.
This morning I found the power cable to the starter was also with a bad contact.
And the 4th problem – dead battery.
Basically the battery wasn’t being charged – when the power level went below a certain point the speedometer, rpm gauge and fuel injection systems went dead.
Then the starter would try to start the bike but the wire would disconnect from power leaving the impression that it was something serious.
So I found an electrician who is referred to by “scientifico” because he fixed the modern electric cars.
He charged my battery and then soddered the broken wires together.
Ride to La Paz was uneventful but good and chilly.
Border crossing went relatively smooth but took some time.
Arrival in La Paz was cool and we found a nice hotel called Europa
which unfortunately has Internet problems so again no videos 🙁
They gave us an upgrade though – we got a full apartment!!
Calm day riding… easy road… no traffic… soothing scenery… frequent gas stations… all good.
Puno is on Lake Titicaca – the highest navigable lake in the world at 4000 meters (12,000 feet)!
Puno itself is not very pretty – the lake is quite nice but we didn’t get to explore much because as we were driving to the hotel the guide book recommended my RPM gauge and speed indicators went to zero and the bike lost power and died.
Tried to start it again and nothing…
We push/bump started it and it fired back up but shortly after it lost power – no gas was being sent to the engine.
Marc went to look for a mechanic while I took it apart to see if I found any loose connection hoping to find something obvious and praying that it was not the electronic fuel injection system itself.
When Marc came back the bike was completely “naked” and I had found nothing… and the mechanic found nothing either… well… it was the first time he saw so much electronics on a bike.
I then went with a cab to this other guy who they recommended – he knew how to deal with these “electronic” cars and all… he was not there.
So we left the bike in a gas station and came to the hotel.
I called some dealers in the US who gave me some more suggestions like checking the battery connectors themselves (duh!!) which is what I am going to do right now… 9pm… got to get this bike working again… the closest dealers are in Lima, Santa Cruz (Bolivia), and Santiago
(Chile) – all about 4 days driving away… yikes!!
Will update soon…
So… went to the bike and the connectors to the battery were fine but found another set of wires that were broken.
The mud and dust that has accumulated on the wires dried some of them out and broke them.
The good news is that it is electrical – the bad news is that I was not able to fix it – will have to get an electrician tomorrow… let’s see.
WOW – Machu Picchu was definitely worth the trip.
The geographical setting of the place, the train ride, the energy there and the mystery that shrouds that place is phenomenal.
This is how it went down: we woke up early to catch the train from Ollantaytanbo to Aguas Calientes, aka Machu Picchu. The train ride lasted 1hour and 45 minutes through a deep valley of lush vegetation.
Arriving in Aguas Calientes you purchase the ticket to enter Machu Picchu as well a ticket for the bus that takes you there in about 20 minutes. Nothing is cheap here but all worth the while.
The mini-bus climbs about 1000 meters through a dirt road that grabs the mountain and twists up and up. The cliffs on the side give you vertigo. Once we got up there we got a guide who gave us detailed information about the entire city.
For me what stood out was the level of sophistication of the agriculture there – they even had a staging or experimentation area to test new crops.
Another very interesting thing was to see how the split the rocks open. They would look for a vein on the rock – a small crack – dig some holes along this line to stick a piece of wood in it – then get the wood wet – the water expands the wood and cracks the big rock open!
After about 2 hours we get the bus back down and the train back to the hotel where we hopped back on the bikes and came to Cuzco.
Beautiful main square.
As we were parked I heard say “You beat me here!” in Portuguese! It was a Brazilian cyclist we saw on the way to Ollantaytanbo yesterday.
We saw him on the road but completely missed that he was Brazilian so we didn’t even stop. In any case, he has been on the road for 2 years and 7 months carrying about 80 kilos on his bike! This is the second trip he’s doing – the first was in 94 where he went from Brazil to the
USA and back! He’s going with NO money so we contributed a little with his trip… very little but that’s all the cash we had at the moment.
He is from Sergipe…
Now at the Casa Andina hotel near the Plaza de Armas…
Had dinner at Cicciolina – one of the best places we’ve eaten so far in this entire trip! Tapas and pasta – very cool ambient and very very tasty food!
So we are at the foot of Machu Picchu!
Tomorrow morning we take the train to go up there and back on the same day to then hop on the bikes to go to Cuzco 🙂
This morning I reajusted my chain and forgot to tighten the main rear wheel bolt!!! YIKES!! Thankfully I felt the wheel a little loose on the first few turns and I didn´t loose the bolt! I tightened it back up in a haste and didn´t look at the wheel alignment so had to stop again to realign the wheel – was feeling a little wobble in the turns.
In the meantime Jesee got a flat tire and Marc saw that the line from the rear shock pre-load adjuster is leaking – nothing to worry about since it is not the actual oir from the shock that is leacking… we hope.
In any case – the psychology of it all hit me – at every turn I was sure that my back wheel felt funny – and then on a tight turn a truck showed up and I locked my front wheel! Yikes! ABS kicked in well, I kicked the ground with the sole of my boot and regained control of the bike in no time. So for me it was a tense ride this morning in terms of taking the turns and all.
The scenery was AMAZING! Snow capped mountains and steep canyons!
As a reference – it took us almost 4 hours to do 80miles! That´s how winding the roads were!
Getting to Ollantaytanbo we had some very good lunch, went out of town on a dirt road to find the hotel we wanted closed, and then found the hotel we are staying in near the center of town. Very nice.
No videos or photos today since I´m using the hotel´s computer.
Also no replies to the comments – which I loved! There is a line of people looking at me wanting to use the computer!
Wow – for me it was a majestic day of riding! Finally the scenery changed into something more dramatic and interesting.
At the start of the day we ran into Jessie, a New Yorker riding a KLR who told us that Peru has been great so far for him – that’s because he did the mountain route, where we did the coastal/desert route.
There were a couple of points where the road was being repaved and the traffic was being held up. For some odd reason Marc asked how long it would take to let us through – odd because it was the first time that it has occurred to us to ever ask –
it usually is pretty fast. This time we were informed that it would take about 2 to 3 HOURS!! After some whining we convinced them to let us through! Uff!!
Up and down mountains, through valleys, amazing turns, lots of llamas and very little traffic.
Funnily enough I was noticing smells today – pleasant smells – the rain water vaporizing up from the asphalt, apple being baked in some hut, flowers, freshly cut grass, and some other smells I’d never encountered before…
We didn’t make it all the way to Cuzco but got pretty close to a town called Abancay where we had some very good pizza while sharing travel stories with Jessie – very cool guy 🙂
Mood is getting better but started out pretty bad today… the road was straight and dull… no colors… no distractions… but then arriving at Nazca everything changed… some turns on the road, we could see the sky again and the colors came out!
I think the video and the photos (or lack of them) says it all…
Wow – I can’t believe it’s day 60!
Wierd day today. Was still not 100% this morning. The altitude, cold, fog, and potholes on the road did not help. Down from the mountains we got more desert until Lima… Got pulled over by some cops who caught us speeding 🙁
Lima is not pretty – well at least from the little I’ve seen – not realy fair but so far Peru is my lest favorite country so far. So barren. Very poor. Not too pretty.
Hoping Nazca and Machu Pichu will be worth it and change my opinion of the country.
Ok – ok – not a fair review of Lima – what we saw were the outskirts of town. After settling down at the hotel Libertador we went to have dinner at Antica Pizzaria – a very nice Italian place where you choose the pasta and then a sauce out of several choices. The neighborhood was quite nice as well.
In any case – tomorrow we should drive through the historic center of town to get a better glimpse of the nicer parts of Lima.
And today’s video is almost not worth posting… the battery was low and I didn’t notice it throughout the day so I only got the first few seconds of each comment I’ve made… I decided to post just to get some of the scenery: