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Old 02-07-2013, 05:28 PM   #136
alison's wanderland OP
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Back in the game...

From the moment I crossed the Ecuadorian border into Peru, I could feel the mad dash was on. I needed to make it to Arequipa by Jan, 16. The roads through lush equadorian highlands, once twisted, now straightended for miles and miles through flat Peruvian desert.

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First night in Peru, I could feel a difference of environment, I wasn't as safe as I was in Ecuador. At this point I was really thankful for riding with a male companion (Ulyses). It wasn't just that the policia officer wanted a kiss for a needed stamp on my paperwork because mi novio no esta aqui, men as a whole were more aggressive here. And my feelings were confirmed by the campestre we stayed at...it was the height of Mango picking season, so watch your shit.



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Sand dunes raised high above our thumping motorcycles, pushing 300+ miles/day. Peru is bigger than I gave it credit.








We decided to fit in quick detour, riding down Canon del Pato, along Death Valley-esque landscapes.





It was one of the most spectacular roads in Peru.





It was also where we found the necessity for the signs to honk before entering the tunnels... my heart was definitely beating hard when pinned between a tunnel wall and massive work truck.

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The road let out to a bustling mountain town of Huaraz (about 10,000ft), surrounded by the snow-capped Cordilla Blanca.



I could have stayed there longer with friendly people, good food and beautiful scenery. But I needed to keep moving.

Passing more miles of desert and crops where crops shouldn't be grown:

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We found the beach town of Huanchaco had its charm and an amazing suset...





Riding down in elevation to sea level, my bike began running like crap again. I have been chasing a carburator air/fuel mixture promblem since Mexico. It chugs, but not all the time. So I tried different octane of gasohol (they cut all thier gasoline with ethanol) which I thought was the culprit, but alas, no... (more on the next post)



Next we headed to Lima for a little bike maintenance. I was having charging issues, so would find my bike unable to start at really inopportune times - I got really good at parking it at the tops of hills. The guys at the shop were very friendly and helpful, and even gave Oscar a wash (probably the first time in a over a year).





Unfortunately, they didn't have the part I needed at a reasonable price (I wasn't going to pay $360 for a voltage regulator in Peru when it costs $99 in the states and I was able to kindly have one brought to me in Arequipa.) So they sent me on my way, all shiny and clean.



But not before introducing us to the local mercado for lunch. Which is what I think did me in. The words of the lady who tended the hostel in Cuenca, Ecuador still rings in my ears... don't drink the water in Peru, not even the juice. But the juice looked so refreshing during the hot Lima days. I wish I would have listened.



I headed off solo for my date, Two more days of riding Peruvian coastline that reminded me of home in California.

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Up next...Arequipa and beyond.
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:43 AM   #137
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Alison,

Awesome RR, keep it up, looks like you are having a great time, while I'm sat in the office in the UK only dreaming of your achievements so far!

Keep it up and fantastic pictures!

Ash
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Old 02-08-2013, 06:28 AM   #138
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Hey Allison glad to see you updating again, hope all is well with the belly! Sure don't envy any of that! Anyway, I have a question about the exchange rate. I was looking at your picture of the fuel station and am assuming that the posted fuel prices are expressed in soles? If so, that makes the upper mid grade posted at 15.80 equal to $6.13, I hope that is not in litres! Can you enlighten me please? About how much are you spending on a tank of fuel for the KLR? Thanks for the insight!
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:34 PM   #139
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev Kiecker View Post
I've visited this exact German Bakery a couple years back. First thing I thought when seeing your picture was ---- CATS!!!

Thanks for the updates!
The cats were so darling, I wanted to take them with me.

I think its a must visit for a slice of home to anyone riding through!
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:37 PM   #140
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Markaso del Norte View Post
Hi Bubbletron,
I am at home in rainy Victoria, BC, Canada.
Your RR, and Ulyses RR, are getting me through a dreary January.Keep safe and have a great and memorable ride!
It's been a fun adventure so far... hope things dry up soon. I've stopped in Bolivia which happens to be the rainy season. Not so fun to ride in, but On the other hand its good to be inside so I can catch up on RR.
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:38 PM   #141
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdvSplash View Post
Alison,

Awesome RR, keep it up, looks like you are having a great time, while I'm sat in the office in the UK only dreaming of your achievements so far!

Keep it up and fantastic pictures!

Ash
Thank you!

Next post includes some not-so-good photos too :)
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:50 PM   #142
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodly1069 View Post
Hey Allison glad to see you updating again, hope all is well with the belly! Sure don't envy any of that! Anyway, I have a question about the exchange rate. I was looking at your picture of the fuel station and am assuming that the posted fuel prices are expressed in soles? If so, that makes the upper mid grade posted at 15.80 equal to $6.13, I hope that is not in litres! Can you enlighten me please? About how much are you spending on a tank of fuel for the KLR? Thanks for the insight!
Having some down time to work on the bike and get myself back in order (more on that later) helps - as long as I can find internet.

As for fuel prices... you are right. Most of the time we put in 90 octane which is $6.23/gallon (luckily not liters) and averaging fill-ups at every 150-200 miles, which my KLR gets about 50mpg, I spent $19-$25/tank. Double that if riding 300+ mile days. Peru is by far the most expensive. And coming from California, I thought prices were bad.
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:51 PM   #143
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A quick note on photographing people

On the phone with my mom, she asked, “why don’t you post more pictures of people?” Well, it’s a good question.

I left Los Angeles with the idea of shooting more portraits and people like in the day of Freelander or Winogrand. But when all the other tourists are running around wielding cameras like they were working for National Geographic, I just want to put mine away. I don’t want to be a part of that. And they don’t really want anything from me. I have a genuine interest in people and other cultures and usually can people watch for hours, but after finding myself a spectacle that is often stared at (a 6’0 tall white girl with blue eyes doesn’t really blend in around here), I sympathize with being pointed at as a freak show. And so I don’t. Occasionally I shoot from the hip, but that usually doesn’t lead to any well framed shots. So I guess the real answer is that I am not comfortable. When I see indigenous women walking around the town square, yes, I want to take a photograph, but they don’t want me to. I am not engaging with them, it would be a lens pointed at their face, which they knowingly turn away from, as so many gringos have done before me.

Or they demand money:

Walking through Chivay, Peru in the morning, Scott stopped to take video of sheep being herded through the muddy street. Being a vet there was genuine interest to show the clip to kids at home. When he was spotted holding a camera, the man told the woman to go get money. The woman came over to us and demanded to get paid. We said no, and pretended not to understand Spanish, but the man continued on angrily about how we needed to pay him. If he didn’t want a picture, for any reason, then say something, but the matter is we were filming sheep not the older indigenous couple.

I wish I had a picture, but I don't...

It was very unlike the 6yr old girl with her 2mo old llama all dressed up in the town square, knowing she is there for show, knowing I will give her soles in the end. Did I capture that great picture? Not really. Did I get suckered into her cuteness, of course.

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I have asked other women, whom I have bought things from (be it food or goods) and respect their decline to be photographed. I have noticed I tend to crop out faces or snap one when their backs are turned.

This is a morning walk through the market with my iPhone...









Others shove their handmade goods in our face, so I snap away, yet still kindly ask for propina.

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It’s been turned into an idea of tourism and not about authentic encounters. So be it out of respect for their customs and not wanting to make spectacle out of their culture or I just don’t want to buy into their game, people have not made it to the most photographed list.
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:32 AM   #144
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I understand how you feel. I would be in the same boat as you. Looking at it from the point of view of the poor indigenous peoples, I too would want to be paid by the wealthy (to them) tourists for photos.
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Old 02-09-2013, 06:19 AM   #145
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It is a strange bargain that we make when we visit another land. We carry the the foibles every other other visitor who has been their before as well as everyone who will follow.
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Old 02-13-2013, 03:53 PM   #146
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Heya, just found this RR. Amazing stuff. It really makes me want to go on a trip like this sometime sooner rather than later!
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Old 02-17-2013, 05:13 PM   #147
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Great story

Awesome so far. What an adventure!
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Old 02-27-2013, 08:00 PM   #148
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Bolivia...eventually

The last leg through Peru was a cold, wet, and snowy one with lightning striking all around us. But I wasn’t turning back to Arequipa. And there is no where worth stopping until Chucuito, which took us through some of the nastiest weather on the trip so far.

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So against better seasonal judgment, but we just happen to be so close, Deb and I decided to cross into Bolivia for exploration during the rainy season.

Being Australian, Deb has the advantage of not holding a US Passport. Literally when I pulled up to the border, I could see dollar sings in the officers eyes. “Americana? Tienes Visa?” That’s right, as an American, I have to pay $135 USD to enter Bolivia. (Note: despite what the repeatedly outdated lonely suggests, you do not save any money by trying to get a Visa before the border. In fact, when I was in Puno trying to do just that, they pretty much told me they didn’t want to do it since it was the same price and easier at the border.) I was afraid it was going to take hours, but he was right, it was easy. I believe I actually bothered them from their computer game, which they were way more interested in than me filling out a form and handing them money, well maybe for me handing them the money part. Even getting the official stamp was more effort than they wanted to provide.

I heard afterward from Deb that she had to pay her first bribe to an officer at the border. They wouldn’t let her pass without greasing the gate a little. Luckily she only had to hand over about $30 bolivianos (approx. $4) So I had to wonder which was worse, knowing you have to pay a hefty price before you reach the gate or getting a little extra sprung on you in the moment?

Once into Bolivia, I rounded Lago Titicaca to meet Deb at Copacabana.





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The town was alive with Costumed dancers and Marching Bands for the festival de la Virgen de la Candelaria. After sorting out a camping spot at a hostal with a great view of the lake, we excitedly walked to town to watch women in full colorful skirts dancing around the square, followed by tubas and drums, and men in bird costumes. I haven’t seen that much glitter and gold lame since my days in San Francisco. I was impressed with the ornateness of the costumes.













The next day we headed to La Paz, and it was only then I realized how big Lake Titicaca is. We spend most of the day riding around just half of its circumference. And went for a ferry ride across it.











Apparently they like giving speeding tickets in Bolivia. We lucked out by knowing enough bad spanish to say we will be more careful and somehow they decided to not write us up. So we continued on, slower, along the road that leads to La Paz...



A notable mention for the hostel we stayed at in La Paz: Pirwa Hostels La Paz BackPacker (Montes Ave No. 641) has a lovely courtyard to park (and if need be work on) motorcycles. And the dormitory accommodations aren't bad either.

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Old 02-27-2013, 08:01 PM   #149
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Bolivia...trying to find the good things

The dust laden streets were alive with the sounds of a band marching and the shuffles of dancing feet. They passed the hostel several times before bursting through opened steel doors. We and our dismantled bikes were greeted with confetti and streamers around our necks and offerings of beer, some for drinking and plenty for showering. They danced for carnival, a celebration strongly rooted in tradition. I was surprised, yet thankful, for their welcoming nature at the present since we (gringos) were invisible all other times.

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We waited until the sun was low in the sky before heading out to the Solar de Uyuni. It had been dry since we arrived, following the dirt tracks out to the famous salt flats was our plan. Deb took lead, ambitiously cutting through a puddle, proving it was much deeper than it appeared. It swallowed her bike, shifting its gravity to much closer to the ground. Blood, from the collision with a broken again windshield, dripped down her nose splashing a much brighter red than the dirty water below. She’s a tough one, shaking off the impact, uprighting the bike and hoping back on track. We were not going to miss the sunset on the solar. We were not going to stick around another night.





















The solar was much bigger than I imagined. And more crowded. The stillness of the water reflected the few clouds that hung in the sky. There was a quiet as the sun changed from gold to red to purple. It could have gone on forever, chasing itself, but the magic of the solar was revealed as it slipped below the line of the horizon.



It was mentioned to us the the amount of salt lingering in the air can mess up electronics, so it was only mild surprise when Deb's bike wouldn't start. Was it the Solar or was it the fall? It was just a push start away. We watched the sun set and as we got suited up to leave, I tried to start mine and nothing. Barely even a click, then silence. I couldn't help but laugh. Neither of our bikes wanted to leave, yet the miles in between said it was time. Another push start and we’ll figure it out in the morning. After tearing apart the bike in the courtyard once again, the bolts on the battery had shook loose from the washboard roads the night before. Deb had too much mud in her start button. Still in concern of too much salt on our machines, we headed to the Lavadaro to scrub our motorbikes as well as ourselves down.





Who knew that it would be so futile just miles down the road… But that’s another story…

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Old 02-27-2013, 08:12 PM   #150
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Originally Posted by Merlin III View Post
I understand how you feel. I would be in the same boat as you. Looking at it from the point of view of the poor indigenous peoples, I too would want to be paid by the wealthy (to them) tourists for photos.
Just my 2 cents, but I don't view them as poor. I see them richer in many ways living a simpler life, knowing the land, keeping traditions alive, and not having/knowing the same consumeristic ideas as gringos. Maybe that is what I don't want to feed into. But it is ultimately their choice.
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