October 26, 2009 GMT
Cusco to Columbia

Monday morning at 6:30 I am out waiting for the taxi that is to pick me up and take me to bus that will drive to train station for trip to Machu Picchu. Taxi is late, had problems finding camp ground, bus has already started out so we test the taxi drivers skill racing through Cusco and finally catch up to bus about 10 K out of town. At Urmbamba we get on the train for the ride to Machu Picchu. Once we arrive we once again board a small bus for the ride to the top. They said it takes 1 1/2 hour to walk up but I think it would take me half a day. The bus ride up was great, one lane gravel road cut into the cliff with buses going up and down.
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Road up Mountain to Machu Picchu (camera problems with color)

Once on top we had a two hour tour of the site. Will only put one picture here as my camera was having problems and there is little or no color.

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At the base of the mountain there is much building going on. This is mostly by hand as no road reaches there. They were washing sand in the river, packing up to wheel barrows in buckets then to construction site where it is pilled for making concrete. Lower down the river a small rock crusher is working to make small rock for the concrete. Six to eight inch rocks are hand fed in to crusher then crushed rock is hauled to wheelbarrows and moved to construction site.

It was 10:30 that night when I got back to the camp ground, was a long day. It would be best to pay the extra and do it in two days.


Plaza in Cusco

The next morning I pay bill at camp ground and begin journey to coast (Nazca). Looking at the map it appears that this could be a one day trip but I have been advised to do it in two so only went to Chalhuancha were Vaudi said there was a good hotel.

I had met Vaudi at the Harley Rally and he had got a tire ordered for me, on his way back back he put his bike down in loose gravel on a corner. They were putting down new oil mate. He broke his arm/wrist and had to take taxi to Nazca then bus to Lima. He sent me an email so when I went thought the area three days latter, was very careful.

It would have been hard to make Nazca in one day as there are three mountain ranges between Cusco and Nazco. First up to 4600 meters then down to 1800 meter then repeat two more times. Switch backs up and down on each mountain range. So many corners that I was exhausted at the end of both days.

As I was entering Nazco met up with Argentina moto rider that had passed me as I had stopped for a bite to eat in the late afternoon. He would be heading south the next day but we found a hotel and had dinner together. He worked with computers and got my mic to work so I could try to use Skype for phone calls. We also worked on camera and increased color intensity to max, now have color but still not right.

CA_MotoInLoby 070.jpg Motos in hotel

When we looked at the hotel we told them we needed a place to park the motos that was safe. They had us bring them in the front door and into the lobby.

Next day on to Lima. Had been told to go to Milaforas suburb as it was the new center and would find good hotel there. It was also close to where I would need to go to get tire. This was the upscale part of town, three block from hotel there was a circle with a Starbucks, Chilies, TGIF Fridays and McDonalds. It was good to get a good cup of coffee and went to McDonalds twice because they had WiFi.

Got the tire put on at Harley shop on Friday. The Dealer went broke in Lima and this guy bought up stock of parts and is trying to get dealership. With import fees buying a Harley (or any big bike) is expensive. They pay about twice as much as in US. With wages much below US, only the wealthy have big bikes.
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HD shop in Lima

From Lima I traveled up PanAmerican Hwy. This area gives new meaning to "dry". I asked how much it rained, answer "we get a few drops every five to ten years". Many huts were of woven bamboo. Most of the places I stopped to eat had roofs made of the same woven bamboo mats. The only places that had populations and farming were where they could get irrigation from rivers coming down from the mountains.

I stopped at Chan Chan, was the largest pre-columbian city in South America. It was defeated by the Inca only 30 years before the Spanish ran them out. They have been digging out what is left, 10 hectares of the original forty. Everything was made of mud bricks but with little or no rain much has survived.

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Chan Chan

There were two crossings into Ecuador, one by the sea and the other in the mountains. It was hot, I went for the mountains. Have also been told that others have had problems crossing down by the ocean. The crossing at Sozoranga was easy except for needing to wait for an hour for them to fix the dish system and get computer to work.

Got a room for the night at Grande Hostel, $7.00. Then went to find Internet to check email. As I am walking down the street around the corner came two motorcycles, one a 650 KRL and the other an old Harley. It was a 1943 45inch flat head. Originally a military bike left in Holland after the war. Yon had it shipped to the US and ridden across the country and up to Alaska. When his three month leave was up he talked employer into another three months and when that was up they would not give him more time off so he quit. Been on the road for 14 month now and plans on going south into Chile then over to Argentina and back north through Brazil. He is an economist and said all he ever did was work and study then his girl friend left him so he decided he needed a vacation and is doing a good job of it. He wanted to go back up to Columbia before he ships home, seems he met a girl there that he wanted to see again. There seems to be several travelers that have got stuck in Columbia due to the beautiful women.

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Costs for a place to sleep have been running from $6.00 to $16.00. There are a few top end places, five star that can get expensive. I was hoping to find a place with WiFi so I could call home and stopped at one that wanted $135 for the night. There seems to be nothing in the mid range.

Because of the heat in the low lands I decide to take the high route north, ruta 35. At Loja I find ruta 35, it is one lane gravel hoping it gets better I go about 12 K till I decide that there is no way I can make the 200 K before it gets dark. So I backtrack 80 K and head for the lowlands.
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Ruta 35

Someday Ecuador will have some great roads, because every road in the country seems to be under construction. (or maybe just the ones I pick) This made travel slow. I left Riobamba at 8:00 headed to capital, Quito, on a great 4 lane road and figured I would be there by 10:00 where I could find some place to get laundry done (bag kind of smelled a bit). It was not meant to be, more road construction with one lane dirt, mud, rock detour route which lead into a city with no signs of which way to go. It was a long time before I made it out of city and back to the road, 2:30 to Quito.

Stopped for road work just long enough to have a cup of coffee, just about done when traffic started moving.

I have been sick, hacking cough and congestion sense before Martha went back. Think I had pneumonia (self diagnosed, self proscribed). Had some antibiotic in the kit that the doctor proscribed for travelers diarrhea but the enclosure indicated its main use was for pneumonia so give it a try. Seems to be working as I feel much better.

Ecuador is a beautiful country and seems to be doing better than Peru economically. When I got down to the coast there were banana and sugar cane plantations. This seems to be there primary export crops.

a few cows in the road

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Ecuador view


Crossing into Columbia, as I am waiting in line several young people come up and ask if I speak English. They are a group of students who their teacher brought to the boarder to practice there English. They were doing very well for the most part, had their questions written out but did well when I asked them questions. Even had them help me with my Spanish.

Have a picture of class but can't find it now, will add if found

I am in Cali Columbia now but will end this post here and put all of Columbia in the next one. Today I decide if I fly the bike to Panama or take a boat. Copac I am told is now flying bikes for $500. If I fly it will give me a few extra days and thinking of staying here and studying Spanish for awhile.

Checked this AM, looks like I will take boat as Copa will not have a flight till the 19th and others are spendy.

As of Oct. 26

Posted by Robert Thode at October 26, 2009 06:14 PM GMT

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