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Old 06-23-2012, 06:10 PM   #31
Derby City OP
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Cajamarca to Huanchaco, Peru

Well enough of the dirty, dusty, muddy roads for awhile…or at least a couple days. Today I headed over to the the Panamerican Highway and the Pacific coast. The Panamerican Highway through Peru is known as a desolate road, with high winds, blowing sand, and not much else. Today I got my first taste of it.

The road ahead


The road behind




Today’s destination was the town of Huanchaco. It’s a surfing town just north of the more populated city of Trujillo, Peru. Now’s not the tourist season, so the place was rather empty. Didn’t matter, I just needed a place to sit and let the dust work it’s way out of my eyes. Huanchaco fit the bill. I stayed there for two nights, and for $15 a night had a swank room on the beach.

Huanchaco, Peru


I was also lucky enough to meet a German couple, Heidi & Bernd, who pulled into the hotel the second day I was there. They’re on their second big multi-year trip to see the world. Their website is http://www.welt-tour.com....Hope you can read German. They’re headed north while I’m headed south, so we were able to give each other advice about what we might see on the road ahead.
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Old 06-24-2012, 07:56 AM   #32
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Huanchaco, through Canyon del Pato, to Huaraz, & beyond, Peru

I was already planning to ride through Canyon del Pato. Bernd and Heidi had just ridden the road, loved it, and made it clear that this was a road I should not pass up. Just a short 100 miles on the Panamerican Highway in the morning, then turn left to get to the canyon.

Bernd explained the entire road to me the night before from south to north. Going from north to south, I almost crossed the wrong bridge, but in the end, no wrong roads were traveled today. Bernd had described a coal mining operation done mostly by hand with the help of a conveyor belt. When I arrived at it, I knew I’d taken the right road.


The road travels along the Santa River. About 60 miles of it are on loose gravel with a little bit of sand hidden in spots that take you by surprise. I really haven’t ridden in sand before, and was surprised by how it just grabs the front tire out from underneath of you. Just hit the throttle, take a little weight off the front wheel and you’re fine. Wasn’t long before I could spot the sandy spots and avoid them altogether. The ride, while dusty, was absolutely beautiful. Admiring rock formations, passing through tunnel after tunnel built into the mountains, and crossing small bridges were the highlight the day. It was an impressive ride.










I always hear the rocks from the front wheel beating against my tool tube. The rocks of Canyon del Pato finally killed it. I had to re-arrange the luggage situation in some small town in the middle of nowhere when I saw this damage. Fortunately I didn't lose any of my stuff.


After Canyon del Pato, I stayed in the town of Huaraz. Huaraz seemed like a nice town, but I left the next day. I have people to meet in Cusco, Peru and I don’t want to be late. Nevertheless, Huearaz was the first place I'd seen snowcapped mountains since I'd reached the Andes Mountains.


A wider angle


South of Huaraz, the road ascended and plateaued for awhile. The blog of my friend, Motohank, said that the road reached 13,500 feet before finally descending. Hank had a GPS showing him the altitude, so I’ll trust his electronics. By how cold I got, and how thin the air felt, I’d assume he was right.

Snow capped mountains continued to my left, and rolling hills to my right. The road was rather desolate, but indigineous people traversing these roads, herding sheep and cattle, reminded me that no land is left untouched.


While passing crystal clear streams of this land, I also passed a parade of cars, trucks, and dump trucks protesting mining of the same land. They weren’t more than 10 miles beyond where these pictures were taken.


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Old 06-29-2012, 07:23 PM   #33
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Lima, Peru

Caught a little stomach bug again, but was on the mend by the time I reached Lima thanks to a little help from Cipro. Lima wasn't that exciting due to the stomach stuff, but I did get out to see the changing of the guard at the presidential palace. Also scoured the city to find some new tread for the rear wheel. Back tire isn't looking so good these days, so it's about time to replace it. I'll carry it to Cusco before getting it changed.

Nuevo llanta. Hard to find a tire here if you don't know the Spanish word for it.


Presidential palace in Lima, Peru. There's a changing of the guard ceremony daily at noon.




Plaza De Armas in Lima, Peru. This is what the guard at the Presidential palace stares at all day long.


Hot pink wedding dress or just a flashy dresser?


Random important statue.


Chess matches, a sure sign you're in a big city.
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Old 06-30-2012, 08:49 PM   #34
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Nazca to Abancay, Peru

After Lima, it was off to Nazca for the night. Nazca is famous for the 'Nazca Lines.' They're a bunch of stone lines in the ground formed to make figures only visible if you're way above the ground. They're another wonder created by people of long ago that weren't discovered until the early 1900's. There's a little tower off the side of the road you can walk up to see very little. In fact, I think the tower is there just to remind people they really need to pay for a flight over the lines if they're going to see anything.

The see nearly nothing tower


Almost to Nazca


Moving further south into Peru, I'm finding things to be rather touristy. When I pulled into Nazca, I was cut off by a cab driver who stopped in front of me. He was holding a brochure he wanted to show me, but I just pulled around him and went on my way. He then followed me for about 8 blocks before I stopped to listen to him tell me about his mom's hotel. I went to the place, looked at a room, then left. His starting price was 70 soles, and by the time I was walking out the door it was down to 30. Everything about that guy bothered me. The hotel actually wasn't bad, but I ended up staying at another hotel of lesser quality for the actual competitive going rate of 30 soles. Just didn't want to give that guy my money.

When I pulled into the next hotel, there were two guys hovering over me wanting to sell me a flight over the Nazca Lines. Nazca rubbed me the wrong way right off the bat. I didn't do the flight to see the Nazca Lines for a few different reasons, and hit the road the next morning.

From Nazca it was east back over the Andes mountains on my way toward Cusco. Didn't make it to Cusco though. Had to stop short in the city of Abancay. This is the second time I've crossed the Andes going from east-west / west-east. Mountain pass after mountain pass, they're all really spectacular. I even got a little snowshower over one of the higher mountain passes.

On parts where you're climbing or descending, this is what it looks like.


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Old 07-17-2012, 08:42 PM   #35
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Cusco, Peru

I arrived in Cusco earlier than scheduled with work to do. I had some family coming to visit, and I needed to arrange for hotels, bus & train rides, and a Machu Picchu tour before they arrived. Cusco is probably the most touristy town I've visited on this entire trip, but I loved it. No amount of hustlers selling their crap in the town square could take away from the charm of this old city. Here's a few photos.

Cusco








The famous Incan walls with interlocking blocks, no mortar, & still standing a long, long time after being constructed.




Mmmmm....bacon


Extra crispy, please






A group of 3 motorcyclists on Beamers traveling from Brazil stayed at the same hotel I was at. I never did meet them, but they did shove a Brazilian flag into my new, manufactured in Brazil, Pirelli tire I was carrying. To the Brazilian flag givers...If you see this, thanks for the flag!
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Old 07-20-2012, 08:13 AM   #36
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Puno, Peru

So after a few days in Cusco, the visitors started to arrive. First these two arrived (via airplane) for a three amigos reunion.


We spent some time catching up. They shared stories of sitting in an apartment in Bogota for a month looking for jobs, and I shared my stories about riding a motorcycle through the Andes Mountains on some of the greatest roads on earth. Seriously, it was really great to see them again!

Next, it was time for my Dad and Grandma to arrive. The itinerary was set, everything was booked, after a night in Cusco, we were off to visit the floating islands of Lake Titicaca just off the shore of Puno, Peru.

Welcome Dad & Grandma


We booked a tour bus to Puno that turned out to be rather nice. It was an 8 hour trip with a stop every couple hours, and a really good buffet lunch.

We stopped at some ruins




We stopped at a church known as the Sistine Chapel of South America. Sorry, no pictures allowed inside.


There was a high pass that the bus stopped at. From left to right: Roberto the Mexican donkey wrestler, Don King, & me


The following day, we took a boat ride out to tour the floating reed islands of Lake Titicaca.












After Puno, it was back to Cusco. But this time we did it on a high class train. The train essentially ran the same route as the bus, but it was an entirely different experience. Activities on the train included a couple bands, a fashion show, dancers, and a bar-tending class. And we got to enjoy the scenic Peruvian countryside between Cusco and Puno one more time.

All aboard


Banks of Lake Titicaca




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Old 07-21-2012, 07:56 AM   #37
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Machu Picchu

My sister and her son had arrived in Cusco by the time we returned. The next big event was visiting Machu Picchu. The following two days we traveled to and visited the site. They're the same pictures you've seen of Machu Picchu in National Geographic...but this time they're on my camera. Lucky for us, the sky was crystal clear the day we visited.

Jacob & Michelle, my nephew & sister














After a guided tour, most of us climbed the Wayna Picchu peak. Dad and Grandma had already done their normal morning exercises of 500 push ups and 500 sit ups, so they stayed behind as they didn't need the extra exercise.

A different view of Machu Picchu from atop Wayna Picchu


















And so that was Machu Picchu. It really is all it's cracked up to be, or at least that's what I thought...and I've seen quite a few archaeological ruins at this point. Dad & Grandma caught their plane home when we got back to Cusco. Michelle, Jacob, Rufio, Coco & I finished out the week around Cusco. We tried our paddles at whitewater rafting, then visited the city of Pisac just outside of Cusco. Jacob was keen to distinctly pronounce Pisac as pee-sack which provided countless hours of entertainment for all. From Pisac, Jacob & Michelle headed home, I don't know where Coco & Rufio went, and I headed south for Bolivia to finish up this trip.
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Old 09-02-2012, 08:45 PM   #38
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Leaving Peru

After I left my family in Pisac, it was back to Puno to spend another cold night on the shore of Lake Titicaca. The following day, I set out to cross the border from Peru into Bolivia. Took a road along Lake Titicaca on a crisp and cool day. Here's a couple more pics of Lake Titicaca in Peru.




When I visit another country, I play by the rules…usually. And for the most part, considering Central and South American rules are liberally bent in any direction that suits your fancy, following the rules has been pretty easy.

When I arrived in Peru, I knew that purchasing insurance was mandatory, and I even went to several offices to purchase a policy. However, I'd only found agents willing to sell 1 year insurance policies which is 9 months longer than my tourist visa allowed me to stay in the country. I didn't think that was a fair deal, and eventually I just forgot about purchasing the insurance policy altogether. Besides, wrecks are settled on the side of the road anyway, and insurance policy or not, the foreigner is always responsible for the accident even if it's not his fault. A few Benjamin Franklin's will go much further in that situation than a piece of paper showing you purchased Peruvian insurance.

And for thousands of miles ridden in Peru, forgetting to purchase an insurance policy wasn’t a problem…except for the last couple feet of pavement before crossing into Bolivia. The first step in checking out of Peru is a police inspection. I sat down in front of the border cop at his desk and first thing he asked for was my insurance. Even though I understood everything he said, I did my best to pretend like I only spoke English and had no clue what he was asking for. 'No insurance is a violation of the law' he told me while smacking his fist down on the desk. 'There are fines for violating the law in Peru' he continued.

Playing dumb wasn’t working, so from there I tried the old paperwork shuffle. Spent about 15 minutes or so going through all my papers, and handing them one by one to the cop to see if he’d accept one. Just like pretending to only speak English, this approach wasn’t working either. As I was fumbling through papers, he sat there as calmly as could be reading a magazine. It was clear he was just going to sit there and wait me out until I produced the insurance documents.

I finally just said that I don’t have any insurance and he jumped away from his magazine like someone hit him in the behind with an electric cattle prodding device. 'For $100 Soles (Peruvian currency) I can do a little work on the computer, stamp the paperwork, and send you on your way' he told me. I only had $80 Soles left in my pocket to pay the "fine" which he gladly accepted. After putting the proper stamps on everything, he shook my hand (the handshake was awkward), and wished me well on my journey. For some reason though the money I paid for the fine was deposited into his left front pocket, and I suspect Peru has no record of the money received.

The guy walking into the green building is working hard to make sure people driving in Peru purchase insurance. I don’t have a picture of his face, but he looked like a young Walter Matthou.


The rest of the border crossing was straightforward. The guys in the Bolivian office were upbeat, funny, and professional all at the same time. It was a nice change after my recent dealings with the Peruvian authorities.

From the border it was just a few short miles to Copacabana, Bolivia where I found a $7 USD hotel room for the night. Also met another biker staying in the same hotel. Pieterjan, from Belgium, was headed north to Colombia after purchasing a bike in Santiago, Chile. We had a couple beers that evening and also grabbed breakfast the next morning. It's always good to get advice about the road ahead from a traveler headed in the opposite direction.

Pieterjan with a hand full of Bolivianos (Bolivian currency) after trading some Dollars


Copacabana was alright. It’s hard to get a good feel for a city when you’re only there for an evening, but it was alright. It was a much smaller city than I thought it would be.

Streets of Copacabana


Lake Titicaca at the end of the street


Gigantic church in the town square at Copacabana. People bring their vehicles to the front of the church to be blessed which is supposed to improve the safety of the vehicle. Proper vehicle maintenance might be a better option, but I guess whatever you can afford will work.


A shot of Copacabana in the distance as I was riding out of town.
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Old 09-03-2012, 09:24 AM   #39
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Great Report!

Wonderful pictures and great writing. Thank you for sharing!

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Old 09-26-2012, 07:49 PM   #40
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Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RandyLove View Post
Wonderful pictures and great writing. Thank you for sharing!

Randy
Thanks Randy, and to everyone else that has voiced their kind words. Good to know someone's enjoying it.

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Old 09-26-2012, 07:55 PM   #41
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Copacabana to La Paz, Bolivia

So after Pieterjan and I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, I set off to ride a short 100 miles to La Paz, Bolivia. Ever since I arrived in the high mountains of Southern Peru, there’s been no need to get started early in the morning anymore. Being south of the equator, seasons are reversed which means it’s the middle of winter here for most of South America. Couple that with high altitudes, and you end up with some freezing cold nights and mornings. Fortunately the sun almost always comes out during the day, and it warms the air into the 50's or 60’s Fahrenheit.

This would be the last bit of riding I’d do along the banks of Lake Titicaca. Set in front of snowcapped mountains, the lake took on a different look in Bolivia that was far more scenic than in Peru. And after stopping on several occasions along the banks of this mighty body of water, I can attest that the best way to look at Lake Titicaca is from a distance. You couldn’t pay me to drink a thimble full of unfiltered water straight from this pond.

Views were really pretty. The pictures just don’t do it justice.




On my way to La Paz, not only did I get to drive alongside the lake, but I got to cross a section of it as well. If you had never learned to swim, you'd think twice before boarding one of the ferries that take you across Lake Titicaca. These flatboats constructed of rotten wood and powered by 10hp Evinrudes looked like they were constructed 75 years ago. The ferry's movement with every little wave inspired no confidence. In fact, I'd say the hull of the boat I was riding on had more flex than a bodybuilding competition.

Fortunately the car in front of me had just been blessed at the church back in Copacabana, so I knew I'd make it to the other side alive.


Here's the ferry captain pushing us away from the shore with a big pole. Nice guy who was more than helpful when I had to back my bike off the ferry, but I doubt he's ever heard of lifejackets. Shortly after this picture was taken, he spent 15 minutes getting the boat's motor started.


Proper footing was very important. I didn't want to get wet falling into the lower deck of the vessel.


After the boat ride, it was 70 miles or so before I arrived in La Paz. But before getting lost in the city, I had my first experience purchasing...or attempting to purchase...Bolivian gasoline.

Bolivia has three prices for gas. The first is the price for nationals which is by far the cheapest of the three. The second price is about three times the price of the first, and is levied on any individual driving a vehicle without Bolivian plates. The third price is only for non-nationals, and is somewhere between what nationals pay and what non-nationals are supposed to pay. Price #3 is always negotiated with the guy or gal pumping the gas. They ring up the sale based on the price for nationals, and the pumper gets the difference between the price you pay and the cost for nationals. Assuming you were smart enough to negotiate a price lower than the price for non-nationals, you pocket difference between the cost for non-nationals and the price you paid the pumper.

The real problem turned out to be honest gas pumpers. They're required to fill out additional paperwork when ringing up a sale to a non-national. More often than not, they refused to sell me gas because they were too lazy to fill out the additional paperwork. So many times in Bolivia, I was denied gasoline even though I was willing to pay the full price non-national are obligated to pay.

But I eventually made it to La Paz, and I even pulled into town with a full tank of gas. La Paz sits at an elevation of 12,000 ft which is 600 ft below Copacabana. It sure was nice to breathe easier.

La Paz. A city way down in a bowl, surrounded by mountains.


I spent a good deal of time lost and looking for a hotel in La Paz. When I was stopped on the side of the road looking at maps, a motorcyclist stopped, asked where I was going, and led me to the hotel I was looking for. It made my day.
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Old 10-01-2012, 03:04 PM   #42
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Moving South through Bolivia

Only stayed in La Paz for one night even though I planned to stay there longer. I was impressed with how modern parts of the city were. I really had no idea what to expect, but my expectations were low. They shouldn't have been. Big cities everywhere have any amenity you're willing to pay for. I should have already learned that by now. I wasn't too sad about leaving La Paz early though. I'd been breathing thin air for quite awhile, and was ready for warmer weather. Denser air would eventually come in Argentina, but warm weather didn't arrive til I got home.

From La Paz, it was south to a town called Oruro. There's no reason to go to Oruro unless you have to, but mileage-wise it's a good stopping point after La Paz. I found a cheap hotel without heat for the night. Lack of heat in buildings is not uncommon in Bolivia. Coincidentally, the people of Bolivia (and Peru for that matter) are excellent makers of heavy blankets that will keep you warm in the coldest of temperatures. And when I say heavy, I mean they weigh a lot. Laying in bed at night, you feel like you're in the dentist's chair getting x-rays with the lead blanket smothering you.

And while Oruro didn't have much worth mentioning, I was able to find a new gas can in the local market. This was a big deal as I had been looking to pick up a gas can ever since Ecuador. People in hardware stores look at you like you have two heads when you ask them for a gas can. Gas cans get classified as a 'plastic goods' item in South America. They're not something you'd find in a hardware store. You have to find someone selling all sorts of pastic buckets, containers and the like to have a chance of finding a gas can. They don't even sell gas cans at stores that sell chainsaws and weed-eaters....I checked.

Did I mention it's cold in Bolivia? The 60 mph wind chill you have to endure while riding doesn't help either.


The cold weather required frequent stops to warm up. While stopping you can do things like..... take pictures of an occasional lake


Take pictures of passing trucks


Everybody waves


Photos of yourself and llamas is another option


One thing you need to learn quickly while traveling the Bolivian altiplano is this...HEED ALL LLAMA CROSSING SIGNS!


These animals are all over






After Oruro, I traveled to the city of Potosi which is a little more touristy. Potosi is also one of the highest cities in the world at 13,420 ft. It has silver mines to tour, but I didn't do anything touristy. I found a cheap hotel with heat in Potosi, and I think I stayed there three nights. I'd been on the road 5 months at this point. The length of time on the road, the cold, and the lack of oxygen were definitely starting to wear on me at this point

I was also considering riding some really high altitude, desolate roads in southwest Bolivia, and was researching whether they were too dangerous to do alone. I had been able to contact a couple other guys motorcycling through Bolivia, and was hoping they were headed to southwest Bolivia as well.
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Old 10-01-2012, 05:19 PM   #43
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Just discovered this RR Pete. Looking like a great adventure. I hope to do something similar three years from now when my mortgage is paid in full.

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Old 10-10-2012, 04:45 PM   #44
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Uyuni, Bolivia

Half the reason I went on this trip was to see the largest salt flat in the world. It's located in Uyuni, Bolivia, and it was definitely on the list. Please Wikipedia, tell us more:

Salar de Uyuni (or Salar de Tunupa) is the world's largest salt flat at 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 sq mi). It is located in the Potosi and Oruro departments in southwest Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes, and is at an elevation of 3,656 meters (11,995 ft) above mean sea level. The Salar was formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes. It is covered by a few meters of salt crust, which has an extraordinary flatness with the average altitude variations within one meter over the entire area of the Salar. The crust serves as a source of salt and covers a pool of brine, which is exceptionally rich in lithium. It contains 50 to 70% of the world's lithium reserves, which is in the process of being extracted. The large area, clear skies and the exceptional flatness of the surface make the Salar an ideal object for calibrating the altimeters of Earth observation satellites. The Salar serves as the major transport route across the Bolivian Altiplano and is a major breeding ground for several species of pink flamingos. Salar de Uyuni is also a climatological transitional zone, for towering tropical cumulus congestus and cumulus incus clouds that form in the eastern part of the massive salt flat during the summer, cannot permeate beyond the salt flat's considerably more arid western edges, near the Chilean border and the Atacama Desert.

Is it just me, or is this the neatest thing on earth? My god, I'm a dork. Who cares, pulling into town was exciting....really exciting.

The big white nothingness on the right just below the horizon is the Salar


Just like all the Bolivian cities before it, my expectations were completely wrong. Thinking Uyuni would be a unique tourist town, it turned out to be desolate town with a certain look of abandonment to it. Had there been any nearby vegetation, there would have been tumbleweeds blowing down the streets. Instead it was just salty dust blowing around, and rabid dogs chasing me down the street. And it was damn cold....have I complained about the cold weather in Bolivia lately.

Right after pulling into town, I accidentally found the train graveyard Uyuni is known to have, so pictures were taken
















After visiting the train graveyard, I went looking for gasoline but the only station I found had already sold out for the day. Didn't have enough gas in the tank to drive out to the Salar, so I just found a hotel instead. Figured I'd find gas in the morning, go out on the Salar, and maybe even camp in the cold. Instead, a third bout of stomach troubles would plague me here. Fortunately this was the last round of stomach problems of this trip.

Fast forward a couple days later, it was off to the Salar. Filled up on gas in the morning before riding 15 miles down a washboard grooved road. It took a few tries to find a solid track out to the Salar from the main road, but I managed to find one which got me out to the salt flat so as to avoid paying to get through the main entrance. There were some spots where the bike wanted to sink into the ground, so you've got to use some caution. But once you're on the nice, smooth, almost crispy salt flat, you can just hit the throttle and go as fast as you'd like.

Been waiting quite awhile to get here










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Old 10-11-2012, 03:06 AM   #45
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This report cost me 30 minutes of precious time this morning, but was well worth it! It's well done, and the pictures are fantastic and really help tell the story. It brought back memories of my trip south, which I stared last December and am doing in stages. Next month I will be leaving Cuenca, Ecuador and riding down to Cuzco, Peru, or perhaps Mendoza, time permitting. Your report has provided great additional route planing intel and insight. Thanks, and ride safe.

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