Peru and Bolivia
December 12th. We`re in Puerto Montt, Chile, having so far
ridden 7.200 km in South America, almost 26.000 km total.
The wine here is good, very good, and we`re doing a pretty
good job trying to taste as many different ones as possible.
We arrived in Quito, Ecuador quite exactly a month ago and
spent five days there, waiting for our bikes that were delayed
for some mysterious reason in Colombian transit. Getting the
bikes out of customs ended up not being the herculean effort
we were expecting, thanks to our carnets de passage and the
help of a pricey but very competent tramitador (Luis Gustavo
Mejia, Tel 434770, 481890, $ 50 per bike, we were out of customs
in under three hours)
of the delay in Quito and because we had spent more time in
Central America than planned, we were somewhat behind schedule.
After visiting the Equator, we crossed Ecuador fairly quick,
heading for Peru. We followed the Panamericana through Northern
Peru, through rapidly changing landscapes and towns that were
obviously not much used to seeing bushy bikers on filthy rat
bikes. In Chiclayo (rightly self-proclaimed “capital de la
amistad”), after an uneventful lunch, we were beckoned into
the kitchen, whereupon the whole family started falling over
each other in order to get into a picture with us. We spent
a very pleasant extra hour posing before we were back on the
by motorcycle has many obvious advantages, but its most pleasant
moments are definitely the reactions you get from the people
you encounter. Moments such as when, coming around a corner,
you`re beamed a brilliant smile from a little Indian girl
at the roadside, or the truckdriver that we passed again and
again along the road, and each time we passed each other,
he showered us with flashing head lights, waves and honks.
When at one point after a break, one bike would not start,
this truck driver pulled over his semi to help us jump start
the bike. When it finally started, he began jumping up and
down, blowing kisses at the sky, shaking our hands congratulating
us, and was generally happy as a clam for us. There have been
many moments like these and it`s them that will make this
trip truly unforgettable.
crossed Lima and arrived in Nazca, where we left the Panamericana,
heading for Abancay and Cuzco. That road has had a reputation
for bandit activity in the past and was correspondingly empty
of traffic and a pleasure to ride, at least until Chalhuanca
where it became a nasty dirtroad from hell for the next 150
km. There were plenty of things to keep us entertained : A
very photogenic Tarantula; lurching luggage (some escaped);
meeting two brazilian guys, Thiago and Pedro, on DR800`s,
having just started a worldtour; and finally, pouring rain,
mud puddles up to our hips, nightfall and poor visibility.
Quite a fulfilling day.
three days were spent visiting Cuzco, the surrounding Inca
ruins and Machu Picchu. Each day was concluded with Andean
music, good food and Pisco Sours. Culture tends to make us
thirsty. Despite the current political situation in Peru (President
Fujimori resigned because of corruption charges), all seemed
quiet, at least until one morning when our cabdriver dropped
us off halfway to our destination because of a rather large
mob of people blocking the road and throwing stones at every
vehicle in sight. There had been a price increase of cab fares
and this was the reaction. Since we had no idea what was going
on, it made for quite a bit of adrenaline, but tourists were
obviously not on the menu this time, so no harm done.
continued towards Lake Titicaca and the ruins of Tihuanaco
in Bolivia, crossed La Paz and headed west towards Arica,
Chile, through some of the most spectacular scenery we had
ever seen. Truly breathtaking, and not just because of the
altitude, the highest point we crossed having been at 4667
meters above sea level. The bikes lost some power at altitude,
but continued running smoothly, despite the 84 octane fuel.
In Tihuanaco, we made the acquaintance of Charlie, a rather
nosy but very photogenic Llama. During the photosession, he
somehow misunderstood our intentions and tried to mount me.
Upon my polite refusal, he changed his mind and turned his
amorous attention towards Ellen and could only be persuaded
to give up by a solid kick in the butt. Definitely a confused
Puerto Montt, we`re taking the ferry to Puerto Natales, in
order to have enough time for a leisurely visit of the Torres
del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia. After that,
we cross into Argentina and head for Ushuaia where we will
meet up with my parents in order to righteously celebrate
X-mas and my fathers 65th birthday.
The fun continues