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Old 11-24-2012, 02:17 PM   #151
RoninMoto
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Dammit. I wish I wouldn't have seen this thread. Its hare enough keeping my thread up to date without getting distracted by threads like yours!

Great pics! Nice to see some people on REAL BMWs.

Shiny(ish)-side up!
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Old 11-25-2012, 12:20 PM   #152
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Sometimes you get lucky. This morning we pulled off the front cover of Jan's bike and the charging problem was plainly obvious. His brushes were worn to the point they were not contacting the rotor properly. They were replaced jut before his trip and whoever did the job messed it up. Dead brushes and stator in hand, we flagged down a cab to see if he could take us to a car repair shop. He got the hint looking at what we were holding and dropped us off near a string of car repair and parts supply places. Within a few minutes we were in possession of two new brushes (all of $77 cents...) and got a friendly pointer to another store where I could use a soldering iron. Half an hour later we were on our way back and the problem was solved. Tomorrow we press on to Puno, before hopping into Bolivia via Copacabana.
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Old 11-27-2012, 07:52 PM   #153
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November 27, 2012 - After replacing the brushes on Jan's bike, we left Arequipa the next morning for Puno. The road was smooth and fast. Right out of Arequipa, the road winds ever upwards. The high of the day was around 4,600 meters.

There was little to no traffic for most of the way.



Even at an average height of 4,400 meters, the bikes ran well and we covered a lot of distance at 100 km/h or so.

We approached a deep blue lake ringed with green hills and Jan pulled over, I presumed to take a picture. Instead he said his electricals were acting up. A quick check revealed the battery was down to 8.8 volts so clearly no charging was taking place. Popping the front cover off the bike, a quick test confirmed the alternator rotor had malfunctioned. Luckily Jan had a spare so we contemplated changing it right then and there.

Then, the unthinkable happened. A Brazilian motorcyclist pulled over and told us he was with a group of others, including an escort vehicle pulling a motorcycle trailer. Five minutes later, about ten other motorcyclists and a few escort vehicles were parked alongside the road and Jan's bike was on the trailer.



Off we went, back to Arequipa. The hotel owners had a good laugh at our expense and put us in the same room we had vacated a few hours earlier. After dinner we swapped the bad rotor out and brought the battery to a place where it could charge overnight.

The next morning, our second attempt to head for Puno failed right at the start. Jan's bike refused to start as the battery didn't hold the overnight charge. Off we went to buy a new battery, which went surprisingly quickly. At the end of a long day, we ended up in Puno and connected with our Australian friends again. After dinner we all decided Puno wasn't that great of a place so tomorrow we're all heading for Copacabana in Bolivia.
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Old 11-27-2012, 08:06 PM   #154
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Some of these pictures belong in National Geographic - absolutely fantastic. I'm really enjoying the report. Be safe!
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Old 11-27-2012, 08:19 PM   #155
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Some of these pictures belong in National Geographic - absolutely fantastic. I'm really enjoying the report. Be safe!
Thanks! Much appreciate the comment. There are more pictures here:
http://www.nohorizons.net/2012/slideshows.html
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Old 11-28-2012, 09:40 AM   #156
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Rescued by a tour company.

How embarassing
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Old 11-29-2012, 06:57 PM   #157
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Rescued by a tour company.

How embarassing
True :-)
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Old 12-01-2012, 11:57 AM   #158
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December 1, 2012 - From Puno, the road to Bolivia runs alongside lake Titicaca. It was a tranquil ride and after a few hours we arrived at the most lackadaisical border crossing so far on our trip. No hassle, just a few quick stamps to get us out of Peru. Maybe all of ten minutes.

The Bolivian side was just as relaxed. We had to wait for about twenty minutes before the customs officer came back from lunch. We sat in the shade and had out typical on-road lunch, a diet Coke and a bag of chips. A few kilometers further, we arrived in Copacabana, a dusty fishing town with a near-empty tourist infrastructure. It was a sleepy place and a good stop for a day.



The markets and surroundings made for good places to shoot some of the locals.



Aside from a day's rest and Jan changing his oil, not much happened. We connected with our Australian buddies again for dinner and a walk around town.



The next stop is La Paz, the highest capital in the world.

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Old 12-02-2012, 06:30 AM   #159
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I just wanted to say thanks for this great ride report. I'm following a lot of your route in the spring from Portland down through Nevada to Yuma, then up the coast back home. You've given me some great insights into where to stop, what to see and mostly, what the roads will be like in early May. I want to ride before the furnace kicks on down south but after the passes are fairly clear. Its kind of a short window of opportunity. Thanks again.
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Old 12-02-2012, 08:44 AM   #160
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I just wanted to say thanks for this great ride report. I'm following a lot of your route in the spring from Portland down through Nevada to Yuma, then up the coast back home. You've given me some great insights into where to stop, what to see and mostly, what the roads will be like in early May. I want to ride before the furnace kicks on down south but after the passes are fairly clear. Its kind of a short window of opportunity. Thanks again.
Glad to hear it could help you out. One of these days I am going to post all the Garmin files on my site as well. I've kept the tracks of each riding day, organized by country. What might help there is that the end points are inevitably at a cheap hotel with wifi :-)
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Old 12-10-2012, 07:09 PM   #161
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December 3, 2012 - The ride to La Paz started well enough. We meandered through some highlands and after taking a rickety ferry ride across a channel, ended back on the mainland of Bolivia.

The ferry ride was a non-adventure, although initially it looked a tad more dicey than it actually was. It was quick and cheap. We arrived at the dock and basically rolled straight on to one of the many floats crossing to the other side.



After a few hours, the rain started and by the time we were thirty or so kilometers from La Paz, it started snowing. The temperature dropped quite quickly and in no time we were wiping ice and snow from our visor every few minutes. Dripping wet and covered in mud from all the road construction, we arrived at Hotel Fuentes in La Paz. After an initial hesitation, we got a reasonable quote for a room. Andy and Linda were here too and we made plans to go for dinner after we had showered and arranged all our dripping wet gear in a safe spot.

La Paz is an ok place to kill a few days but it has little in terms of real sites.

I wandered around Plaza San Francisco a bit but the photographic harvest was quite modest. A common theme on our trip has been the penetration of cell phones everywhere. In the city, out in the country, everyone seems to be connected to their smart or not so smart mobiles.



Poverty is still visible everywhere.



Where we were staying was right in the old "witches market", where all sorts of potions can be bought to cure all ails. Or you can buy dried lama fetuses as offerings to the gods.



La Paz and Bolivia in general feel a bit odd to me. I can't quite put my finger on it, whether it's the fact you need to pay three times the local price for gas as a foreigner, or the general attitude that foreigners are "targets". If you don't ask and agree on a price beforehand, it is always a bad surprise.



People are not very warm compared to other South American countries and are borderline unfriendly. We did have a few nice dinners with Linda and Andy at the top of a hotel overlooking the city.



The next stop is Uyuni, to visit the salt flats.
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:21 PM   #162
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December 9, 2012 - We left La Paz and fought traffic for a good twenty five kilometers before we could get into third gear. Our first stop was Oruro, a necessary evil on the way to Uyuni.

We found a dumpy hotel for way too much money, but it served the purpose. In the evening, we went for pizza and stumbled upon a place that only did pizza the right way. There was happiness in Oruro after all.

The next morning we were rolling before sunrise as we feared the road to Uyuni from all reports we had read was a nasty one. To our surprise, we found a brand new perfectly paved road and made it to Uyuni early in the afternoon. For the first time in our so far eight month trip, we ended up in a town where there was no wifi service anywhere, so we were relegated to using Spanish keyboards on faded CRT monitors. Uyuni is a dump of a town, filled with tour operators, white tourists and very grumpy and unfriendly locals. The 2012 Uyuni smile contest produced no winners, only whiners.

The local train graveyard is quite famous and we wandered over to shoot some pictures. There are a boatload more under the "Slideshows" tab.



The tour we booked was a three day jaunt into the Salar de Uyuni, massive salt flats and other unearthly terrain.



Some of the Salar is covered in water this time of year.



We didn't spend three days on a bunch of salt flats but visited a few other sites in the same area. The camera got a workout.



All in all the tour was a grand success and we didn't have to subject our bikes to a bunch of salt water. Instead, we got carted around in a Lexus 450 4x4 which certainly was very comfortable. Given some of the terrain, I have more respect for these things now as I always thought they were wannabe off-road machines. We climbed some hills I would not want to tackle with a Land Rover LT110.

A few hundred kilometers of fantastic off-road riding put me at a very small border crossing a day or two later.



Before I cleared the border, I had to pay a two dollar bribe at the police station before I got my exit stamp. I asked for a receipt first and the only answer I got was that everyone paid it. I am done with Bolivia and its people. On to Chile.
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Old 12-13-2012, 07:34 AM   #163
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Bummer that you met some unfriendlys....Glad the airhead is treating you well! Thanks for the fantastic report and breathtaking photos!
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:29 PM   #164
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December 10, 2012 - Farewell to Bolivia, onwards to Chile. The border on the Chilean side was easy, all of five minutes, polite nods and glances, a single piece of paper printed for the bike, a few signatures and I was on my way. On to paved roads, as promised by our Bolivian driver earlier.

Alas, the reality was painfully different. The roads got worse as the day progressed and four hundred kilometers of gravel and broken up pavement later, I arrived in Calama. The sun was weighing on the horizon, but with only a mere hundred kilometers to go to San Pedro de Atacama, I pressed on. Who knew pavement could be so satisfying.

San Pedro de Atacama is a dusty crop of life in the middle of the desert, wise to the tourist dollar. A simple room with shared bathroom was $26, the highest price encountered on this trip. And that was a cheap place. However, the surroundings were worth it. I rode the bike out to Valle de la Luna and waited for the sunset the next day.



I didn't venture much further than Valle de la Luna and took it easy the day after. Aside from the church, there really is nothing of esthetic value in San Pedro.



The next stop was Taltal, a whopping six hundred kilometers further south, but this time all on smooth pavement. The famous hand in the desert needed its picture taken. Sadly it's defaced with all sorts of graffiti these days.



Taltal is an odd little place, half town, half shanty town. Some attempts to spruce it up, such as a decent Plaza de Armas and even a few small sections of malecon, overlooking the water. The hotel I stayed in looked more like a comfortable living room with some quarters surrounding it. It was quite busy and very casual.

A walk around town scared up an odd sight. A German-plated BMW sidecar bastard.







I must admit I don't get sidecars. You're combining all the negatives of motorcycling and automobiles with none of the benefits of either. Beauty in madness I suppose. Tomorrow I'm off to La Serena, where I'll pause for a few days.
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:30 PM   #165
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Bummer that you met some unfriendlys....Glad the airhead is treating you well! Thanks for the fantastic report and breathtaking photos!
You're welcome! Yeah, Bolivia wasn't too friendly. Chile is a lot better. Glad to be off the plateau. Been on or around 12,000 feet for weeks now. Back to sea level.
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