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Month October 2013

back to Lima

Someone pointed out the other day that my blog is a little different in that it’s a travelog, rather than a series of essays about places or notable rides with gaps in between, which is the norm. This keeps the pressure on writing, as I account for all my road moves. Even the bad ones, like going backwards to Lima.

My ignition/ECU problem is back. I can’t start in gear, only in neutral. This doesn’t work, as explained before. So no-one has been able to dial this problem out since it started in Nicaragua. It’s probably cost me 10 days or more and 5 visits to mechanics. Every part has been replaced. The whole starter assembly, the potentiometer and the clutch switch three times. It’s a huge mystery. The guy in Cali was sure he had it fixed and it’s been good for maybe 4000 miles, but it’s dead again now.

And there’s my new pants coming in. I wasn’t going to have to come back to Lima for these as Alvaro was coming this way and could have brought them, but now no need.

So since we’ve already covered the Paracas/Lima route, the blog theme for this trip is roadside lunch stop places. I took a few pictures of what the major daily decision looks like, posted here in the order I passed them. Here’s a possible but a bit dull
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This one looks excellent
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Even better though
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These clustered ones don’t grab me
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Nice, but a little too enclosed
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The wrong vibe here
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Perfect, maybe a Michelin star even
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But my hunger caught up with me and so I stopped here
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In a typical town
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The best country for this is Mexico because they’re frequent and the food so good, the worst Panama because they don’t do them at all. And it only applies when you’re on a big enough road. When you’re not you buy fruit and juice from tiendas or stock up in the morning.

Walking Dead 2

That was a big herd. I think it’s headed for the prison. And will Glen live? What’s Rick going to do about Carol and Tyreese? Where’s the Governor? How am I going to find out from Bolivia?
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two days in Paracas

Here’s a waypoint for riders. S13 54.022 W076 17.281, if you want to be at this spot in Peru
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Further east, about twenty miles inland, there’s a lake with black water. Between the two there’s not one sign of life at all. Not the smallest plant or animal. There are a couple of roads that are scrapes that follow rocky ground but the rest is sand in incredible colors but mostly gold. A fair percentage of 4×4’s and bikes haven’t bothered with the roads and you can see frequent tracks disappearing off to the horizon
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But before that we went exploring Paracas and Pisco, where the drink ‘Pisco sour’ comes from. Here’s the main street in Paracas
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And I’ve just realized I don’t have a picture of the beach. Oh well. But here’s a pier covered in gulls and pelicans
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Further north is Pisco, which is much bigger, less attractive but busy. ‘Pisco sour’ is a kind of grape-brandy-and-lemon-juice the Spanish invented here in the 1600’s. In fact there’s a variety called the ‘chicha sour’ which has the corn juice thing added.

Off to Pisco we go, along the waterfront from Paracas. it’s an active working fishing town with zero tourist component
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We pass a couple of women cleaning small fish. There’s a crowd of gulls, egrets and pelicans waiting for the guts
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When the guts are thrown over the wall there’s an interesting pecking order (sorry) with the pelicans first, then the gulls and lastly the shy egrets. Fortunately there’s lots to go around
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Across the street it looks like this guy’s about to throw something body-like into the trunk of his car. There are a ton of these early big 70’s cars in Peru
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Further down some abandoned but beautiful buildings
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And the main waterfront plaza isn’t in great shape either. But the people are friendly and it’s all strangely comfortable
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A little further along
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Downtown it’s happy chaos with a billion mototaxis
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We turn around and head back down the coast looking for the famous Paracas sand that some riders have talked about. I’m in no rush since there are a couple of days to kill so go for a late afternoon explore. As you enter the Paracas reserve there are two choices, a road that follows the coast or a minor one that heads inland. Lucinda says inland, since we have tomorrow too
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Another shot from this location
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It’s completely silent
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Occasionally, maybe 10 miles from the ocean and maybe 500 feet elevation there are mounds of shells exposed
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A geologist could explain this
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The track curves back to the ocean cliffs (the opening photo) and we work our way down to the ocean where we wait until an hour before sunset before riding home
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The next day we head straight for the ocean again
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Get the required Lucinda-looking-out-to-sea shot
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Over the edge the sea looks like this
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And the other way, this
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And head off to ride in the sand. It’s wind-swept and shallow, no more than 6 inches deep and a mix of heavy red stuff and light yellow stuff. Another pose
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A section of the GPS track shows us goofing around
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We can see a bay of fish boats and some buildings in a cove a few miles away and head towards that. The only life anywhere out here and a surprise as there’s nothing on the map
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A purist would probably ride the sand there but the road is fun and fast
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Alongside a cliff. Amazing colors
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At the end of the wall there’s a fisherman and another photo opp
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And head to the village
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Another, because the bay is so beautiful
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Park at the dock
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Fishboats
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And watch two pelicans play with a rope. First one grabs it
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Then the other
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I think this was the alpha-pelican
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On our way back, a sea lion
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Then the ride home
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I’m stumped for something to say, so won’t bother except Peru’s incredible.

Saludos
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to Paracas

I’ve been killing time like crazy in Lima getting everything sorted out but the big hold-up is the new Klim replacement pants coming down from the US. Now normally you’d think pants wouldn’t hold up a road trip, but actually they do. Back to the story

When I was down at Touratech the second time a couple of days ago I was going to get a cab to BMW Lima to pick up Lucinda. Ines wouldn’t let me get a regular cab, as previously mentioned. There was a guy there, Alvaro, picking up some parts for his new 2013 1200GS. He overheard Ines and asked me if I wanted a lift since he was taking his parts over to be installed. And off we went.

He needs to get 1000K on his new engine before his first oil change and asked if we could ride south together. I’ve got to ride around in circles or something until my pants arrive so I’ve picked Paracas (heard great things) as a starting point. I said great. That evening he and his wife Ale took me out to the best restaurant in Lima, La Gloria. No matter how well I dressed up it was a hopeless embarrassment, but they didn’t mind. I’d warned them. It was a fabulous dinner. The top restaurants in Lima are the top restaurants in Latin America they say.

The day’s track
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So ready to ride south together for a day, we meet at my hotel and off we go. A picture at the first lookout. Yup Alvaro’s jacket is bright. I didn’t say anything
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After this shot was taken Alvaro asked me what I thought of the three guys hanging out at this pull-out, one of which had taken this picture. I said they seemed OK. He said nope, they weren’t, they were bad guys. I didn’t like them, but I didn’t feel threatened. Still some learning to do…

We stopped for a last look at Lima. Alvaro’s rowing club is the building in the bay at the end of the long pier
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As usual I’m nervous about stopping and taking shots and slowing people up on a ride so I don’t get a lot of shots. But there’s not a lot to miss on this stretch.

But I pull into a town and ride the sand roads down to the waterfront after an hour. It’s very interesting but deserted. From the main road
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Down at the water, on a seawalk in front of closed-up holiday homes
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Looking the other way. It’s a beautiful spot.
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Off we go again and stop at a lunch spot that’s apparently quite famous
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Which brings us to chicha, this drink that’s on nearly every table everywhere
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It’s juice from roasted corn, a purple variety, mixed with cinnamon, apple and sugar. Delicious. There’s a Pisco sour chicha, but more on that later. The corn appetizer in the background is also on every table everywhere and it’s chullpi.

Then after another hour or two, we stop for coffee and Alvaro’s turn-around point, before I head into Paracas
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Tomorrow’s going to be an adventure, badly needed.

Lima 3

Here’s what a Lima track looks like
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In the above track the only thing I’m doing illegally is driving south most of the way on a bus-only route. The biggest roads in Lima, in fact the only two major highways through, are both illegal for motos. I asked around about this and the reason is that it’s apparently considered dangerous. There are less motos in Lima than in any other Latin city I’ve been in, and this isn’t a close call, it’s by a mile.

So out of protest, here’s what an illegal road looks like, says Lucinda
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And here’s the other
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No one seemed to mind.

We went down to the metal shop that Ivan had so kindly found for me. It was in a dodgy area of town
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Talking about dodgy, Lima is renowned for its pickpockets. I saw the below the other day. And another example of the colorful side of Lima is that you can’t just flag a cab. It is not uncommon for taxi drivers to rob you at gun-point. Ines wouldn’t let me get a cab back from Touratech. Same at the hotel, they say don’t do it. So I didn’t
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Here’s the guy fitting a new plate
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One of the rabid ghetto dogs tagged my brand new Heidenau front tire when I wasn’t looking
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Lima 2

Lima was a bit of a shock. By way of example, I bought my replacement cameras (Canon G15 and Sony Cybershot) because a replacement for my Lumix couldn’t be found in Quito and I thought, well heck, no way am I going to get one in Peru or Bolivia, better buy these while the going’s good. What a gringo idiot assumption.

I’m walking around Lima and it’s like, huh. All kinds of stuff. As it turns out Lima is an ultra-sophisticated 8.5M strong powerhouse. When I drag myself out of sick bed I first walk down to the waterfront in Miraflores, the ‘safe’ district. It looks like this. Not at all representative of Lima, but we’ll get to that.
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Below here is a shopping center with all the US brands well represented and it’s full of rich Peruvians, who as we know are pretty darn small – generally about the size of Bruce Springsteen or a little taller. But as good looking as all the Latins have been. And rediculously well groomed and dressed.
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Looking along the beach from here is lovely. Looking north
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Looking south
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While we’re looking at modern stuff here’s a big Scotiabank. As it happens, Scotiabank seems to own Peru. And Ecuador, and some of Colombia. The presence here is incredible. And it’s not like there are other Canadians, or even US’ers for that matter, there aren’t, just a billion Scotiabanks
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Guessing that some riders aren’t interested in big banks, here’s the head of Government, where the President resides. The Guards of Honor here aren’t like at Buckingham Palace where you can do or saying anything to them and they remain expressionless. I made kindof a dumb face at this guy and he gave me a glance that said ‘if I meet you again I’m going to kill you and everyone in your cellphone’
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The building on the right, below, is the cathedral, and it’s very special
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Inside there’s a hall dedicated to Francisco Pizarro, Spanish conquistidor, who founded Lima in 1535. The remains of his body are here and they did a full autopsy on it. No flash cameras were allowed but there are displays of his various body parts and call-outs and discussion points. Of everything, tip-to-toe. My best shot, a skeletal overview. I think we need to do one of these of Trudeau, we could all have a good laugh
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The construction is wood. Apologies for the shot. Built in 1604.
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Beautiful
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The woodwork is astounding
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Even the pews
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Along each side there are about 10 alcoves each, with a different theme of alter in each, guessing ignorantly as to what they are
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And underneath the floor the cardinals are buried in a cool vault. You can hear them scratching at the stone.
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And a box of heads of other people
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Outside, next door to the Basilica is another example of the characteristic woodwork. I’m guessing the weather is kind. They’re balconies.
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They’re everywhere
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More commonly they’re less elaborate and look like this
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Here’s a modern interpretation, with traditionals behind and opposite
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Some very strange ones
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I ran around looking at balconies for an afternoon. But here’s a construction that stuck in my mind
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Lima 1 (motoviajeros)

When I said in the Mancora post that I wasn’t going to make much southerly progress for a while I was right. As I catch up on posts from further south it looks like I’ll be headed back to Lima tomorrow. More on this in three or four posts.

To catch up, my first stop in Lima was Motoviajeros, the Touratech dealer and also go-to guys for Peru, run by Ivan and his wife Ines, long-distance riders themselves. The operation is in a locked compound. The GPS coordinates are S12 10.858 W077 00.139. These are a little different from the published ones that had me guessing a bit about the entrance.
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You get to park on trimmed grass, yay. Inside it’s got everything Touratech plus a thousand accessories and tools. Very nice. This is just one corner of a large operation
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Outside there’s construction going on in the compound as Ivan and Ines have big plans for expansion of their company. But those plans may be confidential so you’ll have to see for yourself as you come by on your way through Peru.

Ines has helpfully agreed to receive the shipment of my new riding suit I arranged before arriving. My old suit is in rags. It did a year before this ride began, so no complaints. But my new suit, the Klim Badlands Pro is the real deal. I’ll do a review of it once I’ve been through weather.

Thankfully the suit is here. But not without Ines and the boys at Klim going through customs hassles. But the bad news is the pants don’t fit. Guessing the size didn’t work out, so Klim are scrambling to get a new pair down.

I also needed a pair of Touratech pre-filters which Ivan had waiting for me. Also Ivan has arranged for BMW Lima to be ready for Lucinda’s service, 6000 miles since Medellin. Ivan has also saved me hours of hunting around and has found a place he’s worked with before to replace my broken fuel tank mount. Unbelievably, Ines has me write down all my service needs and discusses it with BMW Lima while I take off to my hotel. Ivan and Ines are dedicated to being the big stop in Peru for riders and if you’re reading this, please drop by, they’ll do anything they can to help you on your way. The best experience I’ve had the whole journey.

Here they are
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Ivan tells me he did the same new riding suit delivery for Sherri Jo Wilkins (maybe the world’s most famous female long-distance rider) two years previously.

Back at the hotel I got sick with the flu within hours. Really sick. In a year I’ve had a cold leaving Guatemala for about 5 or 6 days, Montezuma’s revenge in Grenada for 3 days, now this. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad record. But anyway.

to Lima

The day’s track
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One of the great favors riders can do for each other is grab the other’s map and do what Hans did for me in a few key locations and write ‘shithole’ beside towns that are on an otherwise good track. Like he did here for Juliaca:
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There’s nothing to apologize for because this is completely universal rider language. Places are either ‘really nice’ or shitholes. There would be thousands noted all over every map so it’s reserved for towns that look well positioned, a good size and safe, or might catch you unaware somehow. You gas up in them, eat lunch in them but you try to avoid staying in them.

Because Ben, Maddie and I were the first through after the Colombia problems there’s no-one else ahead that I know so I’m a bit short of the warnings. When I left Huaraz for Lima I thought I’d do it in a day but spent so much time goofing around in the valley to the coast I ended up looking for a place in Huacho, a shithole.

Anyway riding in it was obvious this may be a problem town. There’s one Hail Mary you can do (I’m glad to hear that others do this too) and that’s stop a cab and ask him to lead you to the best place in town and see what he comes up with. But like Chimbote the other day, Huancho is on the water so I head to the waterfront and look around. Thank God, no problem. No-one else there and virtually abandoned, it had secure parking for Lucinda and that’s almost all that matters.

Not making a big deal about last night, just thought I’d use it to illustrate the end-of-day situation once in a while and one way riders communicate. Another thing is I don’t complain about stuff so I’d like to spin this as informative rather than a negative.

So the best shot of Huacho from the beach this morning
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And the Hotel, pretty nice, very lucky. It doesn’t always end up so happily.
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Anyway, got off track there.

The short ride, about 90 miles, was largely sand with large industrial operations
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Some cool fortresses with the mini-observation towers
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Over some sand hills as we approached Lima
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Through a mist which I’m told hangs over the city for 10 months a year
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Then it cleared and we rode alongside a famous barrio, a huge sand city, Pueblo Joven.
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Another view
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And into Lima, population 8.5 million
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Down to the waterfront
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Where they paraglide with the ridge lift in the evening
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