Friday, 25 December 2009

I had forgotten how much I enjoy kayaking

I flew to La Paz in Mexico where I met a couple of friends who had driven down from LA. Louise had brought a couple of her boats which she had built herself. We hired a 3rd kayak from a local company and also got them to take us out to one of the islands in the Sea of Cortez. We then spent 5 or so days paddling around the island and camping on the beaches. Quite idyllic.
Louise and I first met almost a year to the day whilst I was sailing in Antarctica and she was working on a US research station called Palmer. The most tiring part of the trip was the long drive back to LA. You will have to excuse my 'uncool' hat but it has been my kayaking/sailing/trekking hat since I was in Canada. Consequently I have a soft spot for it.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Xmas alone in La Paz or kayaking with friends in Mexico. Easy decision!!

Took Masie to a local bike shop in La Paz to have them confirm my worst fears. My monoshock was beyond repair. I am trying to source a new one and in the meantime I will go kayaking in Mexico with friends. Dad has again been co-opted as my logistics manager and will try to get the new part sent to me.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

On the way out of Copacabana I rode over a speed hump and soon afterwards I noticed that the ride was very hard. On stopping I was unable to get the sidestand down so had to find lower ground to put the stand in. On inspection it was clear that the shock was fully compressed and would not extend. The bike was about 4" lower than it should have been. I had to get across a ferry but could not buy a ticket because if I got off the bike then I would not be able to stand it up. A New Zealand backpacker was good enough to find out about tickets and find out where I needed to go.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Bolivia here I come

One more night in Chivay along with some Alpaca admiring. They are really good to eat with chips and salad. It was then time to say goodbye to my Canadian friends and head for the Bolivian border. Nothing was really recorded at the border and so it was a really quick crossing. That night was spent in Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca.

Copacabana is on the shores of Lake Titicaca and it appears that the Bolivian Navy knew that I was visiting since they laid on a Guard of Honour.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Colca Canyon

The next day I was still without lights so this unexpected tunnel proved a bit of challenge. The dust thrown up by the trucks was expected to cause problems but teamwork prevailed. The view of the canyon and the condors that were flying around us made the ride down the dusty road to get there all worth well.

A pair of XT250s

In Cusco I met up with 2 Canadians, Dan and Claire riding a pair of XT250s and I rode with them to Colca Canyon. It took us two days to get to Chivay the town before the canyon.

That night Claire could not resist joining in the entertainment but she did get a bit violent.

This witch standing beside the road was obviously a good witch snd looked over me. That day I lost both high and low beams and so the night time ride down the switchbacks into Chivay required some teamwork to avoid the rocks and potholes. Dan in front and Claire behind. They must know what a 'guide dog' feels like

Monday, 14 December 2009

A genuine Inca Village

Ollantaytambo is little known so far, except by artists, interesting expats and Inca historians. A friend suggested I visit it so of course I did. The town population is 2000, a lot smaller than it was in Inca times. But you can still get llama for lunch and grilled guinea pig for dinner. I won't get either one again but at least I can say I tried them.

The ruins are an engineering marvel. Particularly the interlocking stones that withstand earthquakes and the stone baths with their patented turnoff feature. Just pass your hand through the stream to turn off the flow and then throw some water at the channel to turn it back on again.

Okay, enough resting. Tomorrow its back to Cusco and riding on.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

And now I'm here !

From Cusco it was nothing but an early morning wake up followed by a taxi and a bus, getting herded around like cattle, and finally the train (where I discovered I'd left my tools behind), followed by another bus, and then arrival at Machu Picchu. I must say, this was less strenuous than the last time I visited (4 days on the Inca Trail) but less satisfying too.

But this place isn't the top tourist destination in the Americas for nothing. It's stunning. I ditched the group tour and employed my own guide. The first thing to notice at any Inca ruin is the bloody astounding stonework. No mortar, no metal tools, no JCBs, nothing but alpaca skins and a few thousand workers to fit and lift the multi-ton stones into place. The fit is so precise that even today one can not fit even a sheet of paper in between adjacent blocks.

The climb up Waynapicchu is a bit of an endurance event. I made it in 20 seconds (sorry, I meant 20 minutes). The view from the top though is really gobsmacking. Here I am, literally sitting in a cloud.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

South Americas premier archaeological site here I come.

From Nazca took 2 days to ride to Cuzco. The scenery was stunning as we climbed through the mountains and the road was brand new. This added up to some great riding though I would have liked a sportsbike with a tad more power.

We met 3 Ecuadorians on KTMs, one of which had broken down. Morale of the story is buy a Yamaha.

Monday, 7 December 2009


Viewed tha Nazca lines which are perfectly formed geometrical shapes upto 135 metres long that were produced by the Nazca people. They removed the darker surface rocks to expose the lighter rocks below. They can only be seen from the air so how come they are so perfect and why did they produce them. For an accurate answer Google Nazca Lines. Took a 30 minute flight over them and these are some of the shots. You will have to look closely to see the humming bird.
On the way there we met a German also on an XT660R and it made me realise that mine is well down on power.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

The trip is fun again

Travelled along the coast road in a stunning desert. It was amazing to see the desert come right down to the ocean.

Had lunch in a local restaurant where the menu items were walking around out the back.

No we didn´t get p****d in Pisco

Tried a few Pisco sours and was plied with beer by a bunch of Irish guys. I was going to take more photographs but I was a bit insulted. Did nobody tell him that it is ´rude to point´. Stayed in a hotel with a swimming pool which was a first for the whole trip.

Friday, 4 December 2009


I must start by apologising for the lack of photos in this section. Unfortunately I got a trojan on my camera memory card which I then transferred to my back up memory sticks. I managed to save the photos on the memory sticks but I had not backed up for a couple of days and so when I reformatted my memory card I lost a couple of days of photos.

It was great to have someone to ride with again and the following day (30 Nov) we made Trujillo where we stayed for a day and went on a tour to some historic sites. The Temple of the Sun and the Moon and Chan Chan. I felt like quite an archaeologist. Stopped at the beach on the way back to the hotel. Their Ship´s Husbandry could do with a bit of work. I know just the man. Apparently his boss was a really nice guy!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

This is what you call roadworks

Wanted to go Hueras which is supposed to be a prime trecking location in South America. It was going to be a dirt road to get there but unfortunately that dirt road was being turned into a sealed road and every 10 minutes we had to stop for roadworks. In the end time was against us and we turned back to the PanAmerican highway. Good dirt riding though the like of which we had not had since Mongolia.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

On 27 November I left Quito and made Cuenca a beautiful city to the south. Whilst asking a policeman for a hotel Cristian pulled up and in perfect English said that I could park the bike in his spot in a secure car park and he would then walk me to a reasonable hotel. To top it all he paid for the hotel. Top bloke! He is the Ecuadorian distributor for Fuji Film and also has a bike.
From Cuenca I rode to Macara right on the Peruvian border. The border crossing was very easy and the Peruvians did not charge me anything. I made Chiclayo that night and was able to meet up with David, the guy who I left the UK with way back in April.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

How much?

Got Maisie sorted to fly to Quito. Almost choked when I was told that it would be $1901-34. Still I had no option and after arranging for her to see me in Quito, I paid $486 to get myself there. Six hour wait at the aiport and then I was heading over the Darian Gap. A 50km stretch of lawless jungle between Panama and Columbia where isn't a road.
Quito quite a nice place and now waiting for Maisie to arrive later today. She had an overnight stop in Bogota, Columbia. I hope that she is being well looked after. Almost certain that I will get the Maisie out of customs tomorrow morning and then ride south to meet up with my mate.
Last night met up with Nico, a local, and Frank an Aussie who rides a BMW650 Dakar and has been on the road for 8 years. He thinks that he may go home next year. B****y hell that is a seriously long trip.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Now I just need a flight!

There has been some long days to get to Panama having passed through Costa Rica since the last update. Beautiful country but it did rain a lot.

Border crossing onto Panama was OK then passed through David. Since Mexico I have obviously sinned and lost my Saintdom. Went to see the Panama Canal today. Very impressive but could not stand the heat waiting in the 45 minute queue so slipped into a side entrance and saw ships going through. Could not get any photos though.
I now need to get my bike shipped to Ecuador so that I can catch up with David who is hanging aound there for me.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Granada. The Nicaraguan Antigua.

Anither expensive border crossing to get into Nicaragua. I think that it pays to use the services of one of the many locals plying for that business. Having crossed the border the bike kept losing power like it was fuel starvation. Cotinued for about a mile and then the petrol light came on. I had only filled up about 10 miles earlier. On pulling over petrol was spraying out from beneath the fuel tank. Empty feeling in the pit of the stomach. This could be serious. On checking one of the connectors had come off. Before starting the trip I had removed it with great difficulty. Had this been a poor connection since I started? If so why had it not been leaking. It still remains a mystery.
Spent the night and a day off in Granada which is without doubt the best town I have visited so far. Picturesque, friendly, cool and safe. Had a rest day here and wandered around town and down to the lake from where blows a woderfully cooling breeze. Great and cheap hostel where Mazie has again been treated to a night under cover and what is more even the chicken busses are courteous and friendly.

Monday, 16 November 2009

On the way to the boder with Hondurus I came across a number of bridges that had been washed away by the recently torrential rain. On crossing one river a couple of feet deep with a bottom of rocks the size grapefruit I dropped the bike with my leg stuck under it. Fortunately an eagle eyed local saw that I was having trouble and lifted the bike off me. At the border I hired a guy to help me through. Thank God wat a nightmare even with him knowing what to do and where to go it took 3 hours and $85. What a rip off. I was only going to be there for one night. This hotel room cost me $25. A beautiful country but I found it to be a rip off.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

10 murders a day

From Antigua it was a mornings ride to the El Salvador border. Quite an easy border to get through and only took 2 hours. The thing I noticed about El Salvador was the intense heat and beautiful coastline. I stayed at the surfing centre of La Libertad in a really nice lodge. Have to say that I was feeling terrible and threw up a couple of times. I put it down to a touch of heat stroke and stayed there for a day to recover. El Salvador has a population of 6.7 million and is the most populated country in Central America. It has a strong gang culture and there are 10 murders a day. That said they are very friendly people but clearly do not feed their livestock enough. These goats were eating the road.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Guatemala the second time round

Having visited Guatemala last year this was just going to be a way to get to El Salvador. That said I was still amazed by the beauty of the country. A lot of things have changed though one is the road from the border to Antigua. Last year it was under construction and travelling was at little more than walking place. Now it has a lovely smooth surface and allows for speeds upto 90kmh. What has not changed is the recklessness of the Chicken Bus drivers. Chicken as in they play chicken with anything on the road. The problem is now they (10 tons of brightly painted ex US school bus) are coming up behind you at 110+ kmh. I stayed the night in Quetzaltenango at Casa Argentina where I did a hike from last year with Quetzal Trekkers. This is the aftermath of one of their days in the mountains.