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Old 08-04-2012, 03:23 PM   #616
Frey Bentos
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My. Sweet. Jesus. I don't think I have ever looked at photographs of sand and been speechless before. Absolutely beautiful work. Nothing else i can say really.
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Old 08-04-2012, 05:21 PM   #617
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frey Bentos View Post
My. Sweet. Jesus. I don't think I have ever looked at photographs of sand and been speechless before. Absolutely beautiful work. Nothing else i can say really.

What he said!
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Old 08-07-2012, 04:10 PM   #618
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South America is a really beautiful place; i am seriously beginning to wonder if I should skip Alaska and do South America first instead. Nice pics!

On the photography side of things, how do the cameras deal with all the sand in the air? I usually stick with primes when in a dusty area as zoom lenses often move large amounts of air as they expand and contract. How have you managed to have them cleaned (lenses and sensor)? Id be hesitant to trust camera places down there as id be afraid of the sensor getting scratched, especially with sand.
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Old 08-09-2012, 04:18 AM   #619
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frey Bentos View Post
My. Sweet. Jesus. I don't think I have ever looked at photographs of sand and been speechless before. Absolutely beautiful work. Nothing else i can say really.
And not only the sand ones! what about those skyes? And the Santa Catalina convent, and the salar, and the glaciers, and roads, and lakes, and all the rest!

What a journey, thanks or taking us along.
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Old 08-09-2012, 12:51 PM   #620
mightymatt43 OP
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replies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BELSTAFF View Post
BOY!!!! If You guys liked those dunes, your are going to love North Africa & Senegal
For whatever reason, they just really spoke to us. Neither of us had ever really seen anything like it before and I'm sure that we're both going to freak out at bigger dunes like in Africa... loved it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Horton View Post
Sittin on a Gasplattform near Karratha in West Australia, I like to see your photos. Hopefully I`m back in germany when you both visit Europe.

My best regards to you and your wife.
The internet is an amazing thing. So cool that it connects us across the globe. I hope you're in Germany also - I'd like to buy you guys a coffee or something!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Strong Bad View Post
Battery terminals can get wet without shorting out, it happens all the time when I clean the engine compartment of my truck, or when driving through heavy rain storms. While water is a conductor, there is enough resistance for a 12 volt battery shorting is not an issue. However, completely submerging a battery is not a good thing, as even a "sealed" battery has a vent that water could intrude from. I'm told that there are some marine batteries that can be submerged without any issues.

About the dunes, were they composed of "singing sands" that squeaked or "sang" as you walked along??
I guess it's common sense that they can get a bit wet - it's not like cars or bikes have water tight containers around the terminals. Good to know about a complete submersion though - either way, I think I'm going to be moving my battery higher off the ground. It may not be as convenient but it's just too low at the moment. Something to talk to Claude about...

And I'd say the dunes were full of super powdery sand. Not much squeaking. I think that's what made it even more surreal. So hard to walk through...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Frey Bentos View Post
My. Sweet. Jesus. I don't think I have ever looked at photographs of sand and been speechless before. Absolutely beautiful work. Nothing else i can say really.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Backoutonthehighway View Post
What he said!
Hahahaha - awesome response. Pretty much the same on our end when we got there, to be honest...

Quote:
Originally Posted by GSF1200S View Post
South America is a really beautiful place; i am seriously beginning to wonder if I should skip Alaska and do South America first instead. Nice pics!

On the photography side of things, how do the cameras deal with all the sand in the air? I usually stick with primes when in a dusty area as zoom lenses often move large amounts of air as they expand and contract. How have you managed to have them cleaned (lenses and sensor)? Id be hesitant to trust camera places down there as id be afraid of the sensor getting scratched, especially with sand.
I don't know what's better. I haven't spent a ton of time in Alaska but it is stunning. We're talking about trying to spend a chunk of time there at some point. We're huge fans of South America though too...

The dunes were a bit of a challenge as far as the cameras go. We always keep a clear filter on all of our lenses, which helped tremendously, and the Canon bodies are amazingly weather proof. I brought a cleaning kit with us and cleaned out both bodies and lenses afterwards but they were both fine. I am a bit paranoid about letting people service my stuff so I try and do most of it myself as is - I'll let my shop do a full service when we get back to San Antonio at some point. I'm sure I could find a place, but I'm not leaving our cameras with someone down here...


Quote:
Originally Posted by antipode View Post
And not only the sand ones! what about those skyes? And the Santa Catalina convent, and the salar, and the glaciers, and roads, and lakes, and all the rest!

What a journey, thanks or taking us along.
Many thanks!
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Old 08-09-2012, 01:24 PM   #621
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Day 106-114 in South America: Punta Hermosa to Ecuador

Day 106-114 in South America: Punta Hermosa, Peru to border with Ecuador



During our time in Peru, we experienced essentially three categories of roads:

- the coastal route: the straight, flat, boring Pan American Highway
(for making good time)

- the mountain route: a mind-blowingly curvy maze on questionable road surfaces
(for causing anxiety)

- the OTHER mountain route: as twisted as above but without the pavement
(for the adventure)

After dabbling for several weeks, we came away with varying reactions of joy, boredom, awe and horror.



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Our first stop after the sand dunes was at the beach town of Punta Hermosa. Without a doubt, it was the swankiest community we saw during our entire time in Peru. Thankfully, it was nearly empty of people as it was off-season and our room overlooking the bay was only $17.00.

And yes, the seafood was out of this world.


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After lounging in the sand for a day, we headed into Lima and then East into the mountains.

A word about driving in Lima: we had heard from multiple sources that it was going to be a bit chaotic, a bit frustrating and a bit downright dangerous. I can honestly say that we were mainly annoyed at the amount of traffic but I do see how it has a reputation. We encountered several huge intersections (I’m talking 6-7 lanes of traffic) with no traffic lights. It was essentially a free-for-all as buses, horse-drawn carts, motorbikes and cars fought for position. I learned long ago to forget my concept of “lanes” and if I do say so myself; I think I can now hang with Peruvian drivers...



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By heading straight East from Lima, we found ourselves in the mountains once again. Lots of passing slower traffic on curvy roads, spectacular scenery, and an infuriating amount of speed bumps. A word about speed bumps in South America: I don’t know why, but the Minister for Speed Bump Application (I’m sure this is a real position or at least it is in my head) is out of control in Peru. There are an amazing amount of misplaced humps of varying size and quality, all without proper signage. I’m convinced the Minister for SBA (as he’s undoubtable known around the office) hates the Peruvian people and maniacally laughs every time he orders another bump to be put in.

Rant complete.



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During our 10 hour ride East, it got a bit nippy...


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After hopping over the pass, we dropped down into the muggy Amazon and the town of La Merced.


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Kristen was not exactly thrilled to be in a Malaria zone - one time is enough!
We decided to pass on stopping for lunch at a place called Moskitoo...


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We did have an amazing lunch of fried fish, plantains, rice and a side of mosquitos elsewhere, however. Not a bad view though:


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After a few days in the Amazon, we headed North again and into the
Peruvian Cordilleras.


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Eyes on the road...


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After a cold night in Huanuco (and an hour in the morning of us being lost in town while trying to find our way out), we made our attack on a stretch of road that we knew would be a bit trying. We had been warned that the route from Huanuco to Huallanca was beautiful but equally dangerous and would require time above all else.


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It took all of 30 minutes to understand why we had been warned about the road. Never in my life could I have imagined that any route could be so curve-ridden. More importantly, however, was the fact that the entire road was barely wide enough for one car - the required driving style was made clear to me very early on when we came around a sharp bend to find a bus flying towards us from the other direction. I swerved off the road (away from the cliff) and into a steep, concrete ditch on the right side, smashing the bottom of the sidecar and creating a considerable crack in the floor. It was a very close call and Kristen was understandably pissed. From that moment on, I only left 2nd gear a handful of times and honked at nearly every curve to warn oncoming traffic. It was a long 11 hours of riding!



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Along with the constant oncoming traffic of trucks and buses obviously too large for the road, animals and people made the ride even more interesting.


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The tiny farming communities that dot the road also made for speed bump fun...


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I really wanted to stop for lunch at the "restauRAT".


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To top it off there were several detours that took us through the steep backroads of the communites along the way. It really was an amazing insight into the lives of the people in the area.


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It required quite a bit of asking for directions seeing as though these roads don’t exactly show up on a GPS:


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At some point, Kristen literally had to slap this piglet out of the way:


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And we had loads of people shout applause as we passed.


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We’ve spoken before of the large street dog population here in South America. We’ve also hinted at the daily occurance of dogs coming after Kristen in the sidecar. Along this road, Kristen finally was able to snap a picture:


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All in all, it was one of the most spectacular, awe-inspiring, and horrifying days of motorcycling we’ve ever experienced. Well worth the effort.


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After La Union, we gladly embraced the road as it opened up into two lanes.


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After a night in Huaraz...


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...where Kristen found one of her favorite bits of street art of the trip...


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...we headed back to the coast and to the town of Trujillo. As we were riding around the plaza, we were followed by two suspicious looking guys (joking of course, kind of) on BMW bikes. Enter our new friends:


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They kindly offered to lead us to a beach town outside of Trujillo called Huanchaco which we eagerly accepted. We ended up going out to dinner with Leandro and Fernanda, two Argentinians who were riding their bike from Miami back to their home in Mendoza. It was great to swap stories and advice (mainly coming from the exuberant Leandro) plus we ate amazingly well at an outdoor BBQ.


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After another day at the beach, we jetted North towards Ecuador.


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Below: a common pothole. BigBoi and Kristen dislike these very much...


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After a few more days of riding, we came to the border. It turned out to be our longest experience yet - I’m assuming that they were looking for a bribe, but the Aduana (Customs) couldn’t find our bike in the computer system. We had all the right paperwork, but they did not want to let us go. After an hour and a half full of phone calls and questions, we were finally released to Ecuador!



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Goodbye Peru...


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Hello Ecuador.
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Old 08-09-2012, 01:53 PM   #622
Daytonacharlie
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wow! just wow!
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Gopher Everett?
No thank you, Delmar.
One third of a gopher would only arouse my appetite without bedding it down.
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Old 08-09-2012, 02:55 PM   #623
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daytonacharlie View Post
wow! just wow!
+1
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Old 08-13-2012, 08:19 AM   #624
Alaskahack
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Stupid question

Matt
I've been followingyour posts,since you folks did that ride up to theYT in 09
and I've used you rides as a real inspration to myself.

And have enjoyed everything you have posted.

My stupid question is when did you lose your fender to your sc

Thanks

Bob
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Old 08-15-2012, 05:57 AM   #625
Morris4711
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Best 'ride report' I've ever read!!!
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Old 08-16-2012, 02:52 PM   #626
mightymatt43 OP
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Location: Texas, USA
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replies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daytonacharlie View Post
wow! just wow!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Infidel View Post
+1



Quote:
Originally Posted by Alaskahack View Post
Matt
I've been followingyour posts,since you folks did that ride up to theYT in 09
and I've used you rides as a real inspration to myself.

And have enjoyed everything you have posted.

My stupid question is when did you lose your fender to your sc

Thanks

Bob
thank you much - we've enjoyed putting together the reports.

as per the fender, the framing kept braking (probably due to vibration while offroad) and so we finally just decided to dump it in the wilds of Bolivia. i'd be curious to know if any other ADVers have come across it, actually...



Quote:
Originally Posted by Morris4711 View Post
Best 'ride report' I've ever read!!!
quite the statement considering what some other ADVers have done! thanks!
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Old 08-16-2012, 03:40 PM   #627
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Day 115-121 in South America: Macará to Ecuador/Colombia Border

Day 115-121 in South America: Macará, Ecuador to Ecuador/Colombia Border




Both Kristen and I have a bit of history with Ecuador.

She came here several years ago to work as a photographer for Geneva Global, documenting cases of human trafficking, the sex trade and educational issues in orphanages around the country. I came on a separate occasion as a member of the band Grey Holiday, touring around the country as a part of a documentary crew and shooting a music video. Both of our experiences were fairly heavy (Kristen’s more than mine) and seeing as it was one of our first times out of the USA, we returned home bewildered by what we had seen. With those memories floating through our mind, we set out into Ecuador with a sense of purpose, knowing that we were about to see just how much we had grown as travellers and, more importantly, as people.

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We crossed from Peru at the border near Macará and headed towards the lush, green hills that we both remembered fondly.



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We were welcomed with hours of torn up pavement and construction site after construction site.


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It’s hard to really get frustrated when confronting this kind of riding because it’s clear that road repairs are going to make life way easier for the people living in the area. But I have to say, I would take dirt over torn up asphalt every time.

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Regardless of the road conditions, the weather was cool and the scenery through the hills was beautiful. Plus, we ended our day in a really nice, quiet inn just outside of Loja with Max the dog as our security.

It’s worth mentioning that he peed on BigBoi right after we arrived while Kristen was petting him. I guess he wanted to make sure we didn’t forget him as we moved on to the North...


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We woke the next morning and headed through Loja and towards Cuenca. As it so often happens, we got a little off-course...


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...and ended up on a secondary road. It’s amazingly easy to get lost in towns, even with the help of a GPS, and we do it frequently. Often times, when we stop to ask for directions, we get three completely different answers from three different people. The most important thing is to know that when someone says it will take “x” amount of time, it’s best to multiply that number by 2. When we first came to South America, we would get really caught up in trying to stick to the routes we had previously decided on. Now, we just go with the flow...


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We spent the day slowly weaving our way through tiny farming communities and herds of cattle wandering the road. Houses are built nestled into the side of mind-boggingly steep hills. And pedestrian transport from the road to the other side of the valley is a bit hinky:


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After getting drowned in mud over and over due to a lack of fender, Kristen has started to walk some of the muddy sections:


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After a spectacular day of riding through rural Ecuador, we rolled into the beautiful town of Cuenca.


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Cuenca is a little larger than the places that we usually like to stop and stay,
but seriously, it’s worth a visit.

It was here that I realized just how different riding in Ecuador is compared to Peru. Suddenly, traffic seemed tame and slow and I was easily the most aggressive driver on the road. Why weren’t taxi cabs trying to run us off the road? Why are cars yielding at intersections? What is happening!?



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We’ve had several emails over the past couple weeks about where we’ve been parking the rig at night, especially in the bigger cities. Most of the time, we look for places that have secure parking attached to the hotel or hostel, but in cities, we’ve found this to be largely difficult to find. There are usually lots called “parqueaderos” nearby and sometimes we splurge for private garages if we feel the need.

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For instance, in Cuenca we paid about $3.50 USD for the night in a garage.


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The next day started off with a amazing example of bus art:


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And a day full of riding through the Ecuador that we both remember well:


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And at the end of the day, after one last accidental detour along a dirt path, we found ourselves in the touristy hub of Baños de Agua Santa.
There is no doubt that Baños is overrun with vacationers, but it really is unapologetically beautiful. Twisty, rain-forrested roads, waterfalls around every bend, a ripping river winding it’s way below; it’s just gorgeous. More importantly, both Kristen and I had been here before. It was just outside of Baños that I had my most memorable experience in Ecuador years ago - our band was involved in a pretty nasty car accident when our driver rolled the vehicle after driving too fast in the rain.

For some reason, Josh and I were all smiles right afterwards:


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The Grey Holiday boys:


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Just after the accident in which we were super lucky to walk away, I remember thinking that I would never drive in South America. It was too dangerous and too chaotic. And so, heavy laden with irony, we spent the next couple of days experiencing Baños.


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Kris was not happy about this...


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I’m certain that I’ve mentioned this before, but Kristen is crazy. Absolutely no fear. She has enjoyed so many adrenaline inducing rides that she quite literally is immune to them. So, upon seeing a zip line across a 300-foot high gorge, we had to stop.


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I went on this exact trolly 6 years ago:


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After a few days, we pushed on towards Ambato and eventually past Quito, stopping in a few towns along the way for sleep, the center of the Earth, and shopping for souvenirs and skewered guinea pigs .


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Before either of us were ready, Ecuador was falling behind us with the Colombian border just ahead.

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Next up: Colombia and the end of our travels in South America!
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Old 08-25-2012, 01:28 PM   #628
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Day 122-126 in South America: Ecuador/Colombia Border to Tolu

Day 122-126 in South America: Ecuador/Colombia Border to Tolu, Colombia



Colombia.
The final country in our South American journey by motorcycle and sidecar.

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As we rode past the enormous queue of vehicles at the border crossing to a small parking lot for taxis and buses, I was struck by how much we had matured over our time in Latin America.
-Laid back. Slow to frustrate. Easy to please.-
As I hopped off the bike and headed to the immigrations office, I looked back to see Kristen comfortably settling in for a long wait while a horde of gawking cab and bus drivers moved in for a better look of BigBoi. Just before I rounded the corner of the office, I could see her smiling and saying a few quick words of greeting before huddling down in the sidecar as multiple cameras came out and the “photoshoot” began.
-Relaxed. Comfortable. Alive in the moment.-
I came into the immigration courtyard and found myself face to face with a line of at least a hundred people. As I always do (because I never really know what’s going on) I wandered to the front of the line and asked where I could go to exit Ecuador. For some reason, he pushed me inside and in front of the now frustrated line. Whoops... A few moments later, there was a large commotion outside as five police vehicles pulled up to the doors and around 20 armed soldiers escorted a man on crutches into the office.

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As the man was asked to do his paperwork while a news crew documented, I was told by another man in line that he was a member of FARC - Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - the resident guerrilla faction that has operated in Colombia for years. Although their numbers have greatly decreased since the height of their power in the 1980s, it’s estimated that FARC still earns $300 million USD per year from cocaine sales alone.

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All of the armed officers were wearing face masks. I asked the man in line why and my suspicions were verified as he told me it was for their protection and for the protection of their families as FARC is known for retalitory attacks.

The scene at immigration was a perfect introduction for the rest of our time in Colombia. Throughout our entire time, we were stopped time after time by the frequent military check points that dot the roads. A necessity for keeping a country safe that has battled the drug trade for so long and now... well, now it feels as safe as any other place we've been.

After making our way through (which still took an hour and a half even though I cut in front of the majority of the line) we were officially riding in our final country of South America!



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We received glowing reviews of Colombia before entering. Over our time in South America, several RTW travelers told us that it was their favorite place they had been on the entire globe. On the few motorcycle forums that we frequent, we read that there was no finer place to ride than Colombia. Our first impression: hot. As soon as we crossed, it was as if we hit a wall of hot air and humidity. I had almost forgot how much better I like riding in cool temperatures...

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The first night we stayed in the bustling city of Pasto:


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It was here that Colombia really started to set itself apart again. In every other country in South America, EVERYBODY stares. It’s just part of having a sidecar in a continent that is generally sidecar-free. But here, almost no one tried to talk to us. Lots of pictures were taken, as usual, but it was almost as if people were afraid, which is a first. Now that I think about it, I haven’t shaved since Bolivia and neither of us have done laundry in a while... Seeing that the stink of my feet could choke a goat on a good day, maybe it’s not Colombia?



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It seems like the entire country is a shade of bright green. Due to an extraordinary amount of rain, it is a wonderfully lush place.
We headed further North through the mountains to Popoyan and then Cali.



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We were warned at the border not to stop in this region when away from towns or cities as it was a high drug trafficking area. The police checks were frequent:


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Popoyan.


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In Cali, we stayed in a cheap hostel right off the kitchen. We should have known better. We were able to enjoy the drunken musings of some teenagers with a few guitars right outside our window until 3 AM and for some reason a guy woke everybody up for breakfast at 7 AM with a whistle. We escaped as soon as possible.


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We headed up into the mountains again on the way to Medellin, one of the larger cities in Colombia at a population of 2.5 million. Like Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia, the mountains were beautiful but packed with transport trucks.


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Fog makes passing a bit more sobering...


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This guy hitched a ride for miles...


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Too few miles and many hours later, we were headed across the muggy, brilliantly green flatlands.


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I don’t know if this is a farming vehicle but I want one...


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After crossing a few more passes, we finally dropped down towards the city of Medellin. 20 minutes from town, the sky opened up! The picture below was taken as we were changing into our rain gear. I wish my goPro would have not died earlier that day because it would have taken crazy footage.
Minutes later, we were riding through the heaviest rain possible. I couldn’t see, there was no good place to stop, and the roads were starting to flood. At some point, we went through a little river on the road and water splashed directly into my mouth - I gagged. A lot. At another point, I hit some water too fast and a tidal wave went over the sidecar and onto Kristen. For whatever reason, as we’ve done many times in the past, we kept laughing at our ridiculous circumstances.


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We hung out for a few days to dry out and eat...


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We continued on to the North through Monteria and finally to the coast.

Colombia is not a particularly cheap country for motorbikes with a sidecar. In every other country in South America, bikes pass through tolls for free. And although at times it took a little persuading on our part to convince the authorities that we were indeed riding a motorcycle, we were generally ushered through with no fuss. In Colombia, however, there was no arguing. Everyone was very friendly, but there was no way they were letting us pass for free....


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At some point, we were finally able to talk one toll into letting us try and use the motorcycle lane (pictured below on the right). I put the bike in the lane and the sidecar wheel up on the curb. We scratched the undercarriage a bit but it was a success. Looking back, I should have flown the chair through every toll...


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Tolls are also a great place for people to stop and take a photo of us. Kristen started to shoot back in retaliation.


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We spent our last night before reaching the Caribbean Sea in Monteria. It was wet...


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...but we made the most of it with some coffee and street food (arepas are
so good)...


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...and a flat tire.
A word about flats in South America: as far as I’m concerned, if you’re near a town and get a flat, there is no reason not to take it to a tire shop. We did 5 tire changes down here and never paid more than $3-$5. Totally worth it to me as it’s my least favorite chore.


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After a fairly short jaunt up a severally dilapidated road, we arrived just outside of Tolu. With BigBoi as our steed, Kristen and I rode from the southern oceans of Tierra del Fuego to the Caribbean Sea in Colombia.


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Next up: Cartagena and the end of South America.
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Old 08-25-2012, 11:44 PM   #629
championsound
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Oddometer: 62
Another lurker comes out of the closet... Thanks to what I think is one of the best ride reports I've had the pleasure of reading (and I've read a ton on here for years).

I know how much effort it takes to keeping a report up to date so I use wanted to say THANK YOU!

From following all of your travels I know Kristen is a pro shooter, are you?
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Old 08-26-2012, 01:11 PM   #630
Frey Bentos
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Joined: Nov 2007
Location: Fermanagh. Ireland
Oddometer: 640
Another great installment.
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