January 11, 2002 GMT
Ecuador and northern Peru - floating among the clouds

Riding in Clouds
Experiencing the euphoria

Today, we climbed to the top of the mountain and floated among the clouds, hwy good (sparse traffic) & we glided, floated, drifted...surreal. And then we descended; the curves got tighter but concentric, loved the sound of my KLR purring, coasting, and carving the mountain. It was a dreamy 265 miles.

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1/8/02 Stayed in Quito last night, nice hotel - cost $11 for the use of the phones. Talked to my Kath, she was wonderful. Today was hectic and great. Started out with my rear tire going flat 1 mile from the hotel. Fixed it, we thought, went flat again, drove slowly about a mile or so, found a tire shop, lost about 3 ½ hours, but the experience was good. Enjoyed Louis (Lou ees). After leaving Quito, we climbed to the top of the world, it seemed.

We drove in and out of the clouds, it was cold, wet, and the scenery was astonishingly beautiful. Saw pastures that were almost vertical, people tending their animals everywhere. Saw one lady with 3 sheep on a tether with a baby on her back. Saw men plowing with oxen.

Flashback: My windshield broke off about 3rd day, and my MC cover disappeared 2nd night on the road. We are staying tonight at a Hosterie in Biblica near Cuenca on Pan Am #35.

1/9/02 7:05 a.m. Frank still sleeping. All of our hotels have been clean, cheap (with 2 or 3 exceptions) & friendly. People seem to be in awe of us - wish I could read their minds or visit with them. Our days are long now, dark after 7.

Riding Tops of Andes
Riding through the clouds in the Andes

Today, we climbed to the top of the mountain and floated among the clouds, hwy good (sparse traffic) & we glided, floated, drifted...surreal. And then we descended; the curves got tighter but concentric, loved the sound of my KLR purring, coasting, and carving the mountain. It was a dreamy 265 miles. Now we are entering Peru @ 6:00 p.m. Kathy would love riding in Colombia and Ecuador, especially today’s ride. The policia and military have been polite & gracious to us.

We are in Sullana (soo-yana), the pace here is dizzying - with the hundreds of 3 wheel motos w/multi colored canvas tops (taxis) running around (constant beeping, whistles & honking). As we left Sullana, we entered a desert w/terrific winds from the side. It blew my great gauntlet gloves out of the canvas wrap that was bungeed down with my grapple. I hate losing them; don’t know if I can find others in Lima. The wind was dangerous to ride in, especially when passing trucks... and the sand was blinding at times. We are staying in a hostel near the ocean, 1st time I’ve had my own room ($5 a night). It’s miles from nowhere, so no supper, TV, or conversation. Wouldn’t like much of this, but sure gives me time to think. This darn knee, it’s been 11 days since the accident, and it’s still hurting as much as the 1st day. It gets feverish and swollen, keeps me awake. Guess I’ll take the rest of my Cipro. Found my 3rd camera today and took some ‘moving’ pictures of Frank in a sandstorm south of Sullana.

1/11 Had breakfast at seaside, saw many fish being caught plus couple of manta rays, an octopus, and larger fish. I have mixed emotion with such a beautiful road along the sea, and the great dangerous wind and blowing sand.

Saw a new huge John Deere tractor in the middle of the desert, appeared to be abandoned ... then further on saw an old man miles from nowhere pushing a primitive wheelbarrow (wooden wheel). What in the world could he be doing out here?

Entering Chimbotte, 2 policia motioned us over, said our paperwork was improper and that we were speeding. One of them went to his radio and said something (I think he was faking). He pulled out a ticket book and pointed to ‘infracion’. Frank exploded, said, ‘We weren’t speeding - take us to jail’. Both officers now sitting in their vehicle said, ‘We want money’. Frank said ‘Mordita?’ (Bribe). ‘No, take us to jail’. Both men looked startled and both started saying ‘Freen’ and extended their hands. Frank said ‘Amigo?’ They said ‘Si’.

One said, ‘We want gaseous cola’ and smiled - Frank said ‘No - you give us money for a gaseous cola’. They said ‘no - Freen’. ‘OK’ ‘Can we go?’ ‘Si’. ‘OK - bye’.

On the road today, we came upon a huge sand dune across the hwy... a bulldozer was removing it but only had one lane open, we could scoot through before the rest of the cars and buses. I think the people here are glad Pepsi and Coca Cola came here ... their bill-boarding makes good huts and lean-tos, we see them everywhere.

Frank is uncanny the way he senses which way to go in these towns, when all I can see is obscure alleyways. He really startles me when he yells at guards or policia, when they are inspecting our papers and raising preguntas, (questions). ‘Give me back my papers so I can go’.

Every time he has done that, it has worked. They treat him like he’s having a bad day, and just get out of his way. They motion with their arm usually, and say, ‘Go’.

Desert Highway
Pan American Hwy north of Lima along the Pacific coast in the Atacama Desert

While passing through a small village in Peru, we turned onto a street, thinking it was the way out of town. Some of these are marked obscurely, or not marked at all, so you often have to guess. As we progressed, the foot and animal traffic was getting heavier. It got to a point where people trying to squeeze by were nudging us constantly.

After several minutes of this in 100 degree heat, we finally were approaching an intersection where there had been a trench dug across the street, about 4 feet deep and 2 feet wide, not real conducive for motos, especially with the mound of dirt that was created along side of this trench. We were stopped. We noticed just a few feet to our right, was a place where it appeared a vehicle or something had crossed and had caved in the side of the trench and filled it partially; it was only about 8 or 10 inches deep. Frank tried it first, down into the trench, and then a sharp upgrade to the top of a huge mound and then down; …it was like riding a bucking bronco. It made me nervous to have to do that, but it was exhilarating to have done it. Wow!

Tonight we are in a small town just north of Lima; cute and clean hotel for 30 sols each (about $8.00). Interestingly, Frank w/his larger front sprocket has been getting better gas mileage than me, but the last couple of days in this wind, I’ve been leaning forward to cut down wind resistance and doing better than Frank’s, slightly. Yesterday, we got 65 mpg, but today only 45 mpg. I feel so lucky to be able to do ...

Posted by Dale Thornton at January 11, 2002 12:00 AM GMT
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