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The Adventure Begins... Looking Back...The Galapagos Islands
Wow... I've spent a month in Ecuador... time has really flown by. There is so much to see and do in the country that I still feel that I've just scratched the surface. Back in December my whole objective was to pass through Ecuador in less than 2 weeks so that I could travel to Peru to watch the Dakar Rally. Well... that didn't happen. There was Christmas and New Years and I went on some excursions and met some people and started having a really good time. I made a calculation of the mileage that I would need to ride and the amount of time that I had to travel to reach Lima, Peru by January 15th... and it just wasn't possible. But no regrets, I've experienced so many amazing things in the past month that it has all been worthwhile.
At the beginning of January I wrote a post about flight.
It was the beginning of a story about a trip to the Galapagos Islands.
It has taken me a while to process the whole experience and sort though my images, but now I'm ready to share the story.
The adventure began in the city of Quito. My first day in Quito I met Miguel Vinueza. Together we walked along Avenida Amazonas where there were a number of tour agencies. After talking with a number of agencies, I found an agent that could book me on a tour to the Galapagos Islands on a small cruise boat for 5 days that would leave within 2 days.
Two days later... I was waiting for a flight in the Quito airport.
After a short wait in the airport, I was in the air...
Flying over the clouds, ocean and finally reaching the islands.
For the full story click on the links below.
My itinerary would be...
Day 1: SANTA CRUZ ISLAND
Day 2: SANTA FE ISLAND
Day 3: ESPAÑOLA ISLAND
Day 4: FLOREANA ISLAND
Day 5: SANTA CRUZ ISLAND
The Adventure Begins... Riding South In Ecuador
I had some of the best roads and riding of my trip while traveling south in Ecuador.
The roads between Cuenca, Loja and Macara were newly paved, wide and twisty. The engineers had figured out how to make the twisty parts without blind corners. To boot, there was very little traffic. The weather was cool, probably around 60F (15C). I had to wear all my cold weather gear, but I was still comfortable.
For about an hour, I traveled through a stretch of pine forest. The area reminded me a little of east Texas or a certain segment in central Texas around the town of Bastrop. It smelled good too.
For the full story visit Riding South In Ecuador
The adventure Begins... Ecuador To Peru
I crossed from Ecuador into Peru.
Leaving Ecuador was fast and efficient. I decided to cross at the town of Macara. It probably only took 5 minutes. First a visit to immigration where they checked my passport. Second to Customs where it took probably 2 minutes. Basically they checked and kept my temporary permit.
The immigration office in Peru was amazing fast as well. I was the only person in line. I handed the immigration officer my passport, he put a stamp in it and handed it back.
I then proceeded to the Customs office. They made copies of my passport, motorcycle title and request for a temporary permit. They actually made the photocopies... how refreshing. They instructed me to buy temporary insurance across the street. Once I obtained insurance I was back to the Customs office. The officer checked a few things, compiled my papers and issued me a temporary permit.
All done, probably all within 15 minutes. No ayudantes. No bribery. That's the way to run a border crossing. Great job!
Peru, here I come.
For the full story visit Ecuador to Peru
The adventure Begins... Peru Revisited
A few years ago I visited Peru.
At that time I was traveling with my friends Susan, Kim and Raj.
We visited Lima.
Saw the catacombs at the Monasterio de San Francisco.
Traveled to the ancient empire of the Inca, Cuscu.
Where some traditional customs still exist along ancient stone architecture.
I happened to arrive during one of the most significant celebrations for the city of Cusco, the Inti Raymi or Festival of the Sun.
People from the surrounding towns travel great distances and re-enact a ceremony that depicts the mythical origin of the Incas. People from all over the world visit to see the event.
We spent a number of days hiking the Inca Trail.
And spent some time at Machu Picchu.
We visited Lake Titicaca and Uros where people live on floating islands made of totora.
And construct their houses, boats and other everyday utensils with totora.
We visited the small island of Taquile where the textile arts have been honored by UNESCO.
Then, we traveled to the "white city" of Arequipa.
Visited the Monasterio Santa Catalina
And admired the beautiful colonial architecture.
Ate one of the local delicacies Cuy (Guinea Pig).
And finished the trip with a flight over the Nasca Lines.
This time around I didn't want to revisit the same areas... I wanted to check out some of the areas in the north, coast and desert.
For the full story visit Peru Revisited
The adventure Begins... Chiclayo... A Biker and Brujos
From Piura I rode south and entered the desert.
There were miles and miles where it was just flat.
And there were a few areas with low lying brush.
The next town that I stopped in was the mid sized town of Chiclayo.
As I was pulling up to a hotel, another adventure motorcyclist named Kevin pulled up on his KLR650. We ended up getting a bite to eat and hanging out a bit.
I visited the Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipan. They would not allow me to take a camera inside so I don't have any photos to show you. However the museum had a nice display about the excavation of tombs of the Lord of Sipan.
I wanted to check out the local market where I had heard they had a little bit of everything.
To this...El Mercado de Brujos (Witch's Market).
It is a supply center for shamans. I struck up a conversation with one of the vendors who said that he was a shaman.
The stalls had all kinds of herbs, potions and instruments...
Powders and stones...
And other tools of the trade.
I actually got a little creeped out by this stuff. I don't believe that this shaman stuff has any real power over me. But, I was definitely saying my own prayers of protection. After seeing what I wanted to see I took off.
For the full story visit Chiclayo
The adventure Begins... Riding Through The Peruvian Desert
From Huanchaco I traveled to Lima.
Through the desert...
The sands were still, but the wind was stirring.
There were sand dunes the size of mountains.
It was a vast distance to cover.
Emi handled it well.
I came across this oasis of a town along the coast call Tortugas and took a break for lunch
There were some twisty parts.
But for the most part, it was long and strait.
Passed by some unknown ruins.
Passed by some farm land.
And as I neared Lima there were fields of sugar cane.
For the full story visit Peruvian Desert
The Adventure Begins... Lima... Food, Art and Blowing My Own Horn
I did not spend much time in Lima.
Just enough time to try these sandwiches and milk shakes at a sidewalk cafe called La Lucha.
Checked out some street art at Parque Kennedy.
And replaced the horn on my motorcycle that unfortunately stopped functioning while I was navigating through traffic in Lima.
The Adventure Begins... Huacachina...A True Oasis
I found a true oasis in the desert.
There was this little town called Huacachina.
There were a few structure built in colonial style...
That surrounded a laguana.
And just outside of the town was a huge sand dune that was probably over 500 feet in altitude.
While I was in Huacachina, a group of three adventure motorcyclists pulled up. They were riding a KTM990, BMW1100 and a DR650.
The DR650 had a 10 gallon monster gas tank. Pretty cool.
For the full story visit Huacachina
The Adventure Begins... Chala...Between A Desert And A River
I left Huacachina and headed toward Arequipa.
Along the way, I met a fellow adventure motorcyclist from Paraquay who was riding a BMW1200.
Outside of the town of Nasca I passed by the Nasca Lines.
I believe that these lines represented a tree.
I stopped overnight at a town called Chala that had this nice view of the ocean.
I continued on the next day through some pretty rustic looking areas.
And I passed by some beautiful beaches with a raging surf.
Until I came across this river.
Buses and large trucks were crossing the river, but the cars that tried to cross got flooded and stalled. I thought about riding or pushing my motorcycle across, but then came up with an alternative.
I rode back up the line of waiting trucks and found an empty one. I asked the driver if he would carry me across. He agreed. I recruited four bystanders to help me load my bike into the back of the truck. Then we road across the river.
On the other side of the river, the truck driver pulled up to a sand embankment and I rode my bike off the back of the truck. I kept my bike and my boots dry.
Then it was a little more riding through the desert to the town of Arequipa.
The next day I took a little day trip to the mountains.
I passed through some desert area.
I came across this sign...
Which was a warning to look out for vicuña.
Vicuña are an endangered species that are related to llamas and alpacas.
I saw a number of vicuña run across the road, so I pulled over and snapped this photo.
I continued riding and came upon these snow covered mountains.
Desert riding and mountain scenary... what else could I ask for.
Certainly made for some fun riding.
Here is a short 3 minute video about crossing the river. There were a number of people along the banks watching as trucks passed through the water. At about the 1:50 minute into the video you may notice a few cars that attempted to cross the river and were stalled. I shot this video on my iPhone.
For the full story visit Crossing A River
The Adventure Begins... How Can Ceviche Be So Good And So Bad
I ate this seafood ceviche from a restaurant in Arequipa called Cevichería Fory Fay. The ceviche had fish, squid, shrimp, onions, mushrooms and sweet potato. It was so good. But it was also so bad. About an hour after eating it I had an allergic reaction and broke out with a rash of hives.
Many years ago I had a similar reaction, so I wasn't worried and I knew what to do. I made a quick trip to the pharmacy and bought some benedryl. After some time the inching and hives stopped and I returned to normal.
Totally worth it.
The Adventure Begins... Arequipa and Some Bike Maintenance
I had logged 10,000 miles on my bike and felt like it was time for a little maintenance.
Emi was coughing a bit. I wasn't sure if it was because of the altitude, bad gas, spark plugs or a dirty carburetor.
I rode around town and asked a few people about where I might be able to find a good taller (workshop).
I was directed to this workshop operated by a guy named Lucho. There was a Honda XR650 and Kawasaki KLR650 parked outside. I took this as a good indication that they knew how to work on large bikes from Japan. They said that they couldn't work on my bike on Friday, but that they could make an appointment for me on Monday at 8am. And they said that they could perform a complete tune up and obtain all the needed parts for my bike... oil, lube, filters, spark plugs, chain and sprockets. Great news!
It would be two days of waiting, but if they could provide all the right parts it sounded like a good deal.
On Monday, I arrived at the shop at 8am. Well, the shop wasn't open and nobody was around. I waited.
The shop was on a street that was right in front of this raging river. Was this some kind of omen? It is the rainy season and it had been raining in the mountains and in the city every day since I was in Arequipa. Needless to say I was a little concerned that if I left my bike at this shop and the river overflowed it's bank, that my bike would be flooded or washed away.
I asked a policeman that was patrolling nearby and watching the river conditions if he had any reports as to if the river was going to overflow. He said that it was possible and that he was on guard as a precaution in case an evacuation would be necessary. Not comforting.
Anyways, the shop finally opened at around 9am. They started working on my bike at around 9:30. I did not have anything to do other than to ensure that my bike was worked on properly and that the work was completed before the river overflowed, so I stayed and watched while they worked on my bike.
For some reason the mechanic worked really slooooow. And, it turned out that they could not obtain the correct filter, nor spark plugs, nor chain, nor sprockets. Luckily I had a spare filter and spark plugs. The rest of the maintenance would have to wait until I arrived in Chile.
We cleaned out the carburetor, changed the spark plugs, put in higher octane gas, adjusted the idle a bit, changed the oil, installed a new oil filter, cleaned out the air filter, lubed the axle bearings and lubed the chain.
Lucho did teach me how to change the jet of the carb for high or low altitude. It was the first time that I'd personally cracked open and worked on my carburetor, so I appreciated the lesson. I did the work myself so that I'd know how to do it in the future. Monkey see, monkey do.
It took all day to complete the work. By the time we finished the sun had already set and it had started to rain. I took Emi out for a test ride. She seemed to like the tender loving care.
I had mixed feelings about this workshop. It seemed as if I had to direct much if the work, they worked really slow and they did not have many of the critical parts that they promised they would provide. The positive points were that they did let me oversee the work and showed me how to crack open my carburetor.
I felt like I was at least half prepared to begin some long days of riding through the desert.
The Adventure Begins... Peru to Chile
From Arequipa, Peru I traveled to Arica, Chile. I left early because it looked like it might be a full day of riding.
I picked up a few supplies because I knew that I'd be riding through the desert for most of the day. An orange juice, saltine crackers and chocolate cookies.
I passed by desert dunes...
Along the way I met a fellow adventure motorcyclist from Argentina named Alejandro riding a Honda Falcon NX400. I really like the styling of the NX400. I wish that Honda sold the bike in the states.
Alejandro passed me, then I passed him, then at an overlook we pulled over and started chatting.
He had a pretty nice hard case setup on his bike. Turns out that he made it himself. Also he build a pretty sweet tool tube that fit opposite his muffler. I asked him if he was an engineer and sure enough he was. I have a number of engineering friends and you can always tell the work of an engineer.
We seemed to have a similar riding pace... so on we rode.
We exited Peru with ease.
We entered Chile with ease.
Simply amazing views all around.
For the full story visit Peru to Chile
The Adventure Begins... Burning Rubber Across The Atacama Desert
The northern part of Chile has some amazing scenery... that is if you like the desert.
The desert in northern Chile is known as the Atacama... it is on record as being the driest place in the world.
I don't know why, but I've grown rather fond of riding in the desert. I like the smooth subtle colors and shapes...dunes, sand, rocks, shrubs...earth tones.
And then there is the sky. The sky is blue...always...and it stretches from end to end... blanketing the horizon. There are few clouds...the forecast...little chance of rain. It is the same yesterday...today...tomorrow.
The smooth shapes seem to be formed by the sun and wind. Large formations like mountains, valleys and canyons formed over thousands of years by erosion, expansion and contraction.
Other formations like dunes seem to change before my eyes... growing, shrinking, moving.
It was subtle...
It was dramatic...
And harsh at the same time.
The elements of the desert were all very similar, but the alchemy of it all was kaleidoscopic.
Alejandro and I decided to ride together until he would go his way and I would go my way. We covered some good distance each day...500km...600km.
There were some long stretches of emptiness between the towns in the Atacama. It was nice having a partner along for the ride.
The towns that we stayed in were a blur...resting places...the goal was to ride...to reach the other side.
Have a BIG Coke and a Big smile
Tocopilla street dogs...there were lots of them
El Mano del Desierto (The Desert Hand) is a big sculpture in the desert
A BIG stone sculpture
In La Serena, Alejandro and I parted ways. He would cut across east to San Juan, Mendoza, San Rafeal...Argentina...for him...home.
I really enjoyed riding alongside Alejandro. A true gentleman adventurer...cultured, curious and moving forward. I hope to see him again down the road.
I would continue south to Santiago.
For the full story visit Burning Rubber
The Adventure Begins... Santiago City Walk
Red, White and Blue with a Lone Star... but it is far from Texas.
It's the Santiago historical district
Passageway in the Bellas Artes district
Painting the town red
Plaza de Armas (Central Park)
Statue of Pedro de Valdivia, founder of Santiago
A day in the park
Bolsa de Chile (Stock Exchange of Chile)
Palacio La Moneda...the presidential palace
Museo La Moneda
Correos (Post Office)
Museo Historico Nacional
Sculpture by Enrique Villalobos...a tribute to indigenous people.
Sculpture of Salvador Allende...politician.
For the full story visit Santiago City Walk
The Adventure Begins... Out On The Town...Santiago
In the morning, I was walking through the Plaza de Armas (Central Park) and saw a crowd of people huddled around something. I decided that I should check it out. Watch the short video to see what it was.
For lunch, I went to the W hotel and had lunch with my friend Rodrigo who works with a money management firm in Santiago called Capital Advisors. He treated me to a nice meal... I owe you one Rodrigo.
Later that evening these lovely ladies invited me to diner at a restaurant called Tiramisu. How could I resist? Megan (Colorado), Jessie (Buenos Aires) and Lucila (Buenos Aires).
Afterwards we went for drinks. Megan and Jessie got comfortable in these comfy chairs.
Lucila and Megan made life imitate art.
I just kicked back and thought... I'm a lucky guy.
Good times... with good folks.
For the full story visit Out On The Town
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