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Old 03-30-2013, 07:41 AM   #391
Jick Magger
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Man, what a great trip! Your reports generally make me hungry too. Have you gained weight on this trip?
Rexbuck,

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Old 03-30-2013, 01:47 PM   #392
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Man, what a great trip! Your reports generally make me hungry too. Have you gained weight on this trip?
It has been a super time. You are right, most of the food is outstanding.

I don't know about the weight thing, thought I might stop at one of the truck scales and see how I am doing.
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Old 03-30-2013, 01:52 PM   #393
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Rexbuck,

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I'm ok with that stuff as long as I have access to some hot sauce to make it palatable and some beer for nutrition.
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Old 03-30-2013, 03:03 PM   #394
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Mar 12 Lake Titicaca

The main reason I came to Puno was to see Lake Titicaca and to see the floating houses of the Uros people.

Now, Lake Titicaca is a must see for anybody who went to school. Don’t you remember when you were 14 years old or so and some incredibly bored teacher was droning on about world geography and you’re in a daze thinking about __________ (fill in the blank with anything other than geography) when all of a sudden some spidy sense tells you the teacher just said . . . Titicaca. You are immediately jolted from your thoughts, trying desperately to (unsuccessfully) suppress a giggle that will quickly morph into uproarious laughter with the rest of the class. OK, enough. So, you can understand this has held some sort of fascination since childhood. Of course, some claim I’m still a child . . . .

Lake Titicaca is one of the highest lakes in the world at about 12,500 feet and is considered the highest navigable lake. It has the border between Peru and Bolivia running down the middle of it.

The Uros people are a pre-Incan race who are thought to have originated in the Amazon and who eventually moved to the edge of Lake Titicaca. When the Spanish arrived in 1534, in order to escape them the Uros looked for another, more secure place to live. They noticed chunks of reed roots floating on the water after a storm and came up with the idea of using the reeds to build floating islands to avoid the invading Spaniards.

There are roughly 75 islands in the community located off of Puno in the Northwest corner of Lake Titicaca. They are built by taking huge slabs of reed roots that are over a foot thick, tying a few slabs together then covering the whole thing with a few feet of dried reeds. They then anchor the island by securing it to stakes driven in the shallower waters. Every two weeks they have to add another layer of reeds on top. An island can last 25 – 30 years before the buoyant layer of roots poops out.

Looking across an expanse of reeds to the community





One of the islands





Our greeting party





Some small chunks of reed roots used for a demonstration of how the islands are built





Cooking fires are lit on stones so the island doesn’t catch fire. I don’t know how well the reeds would burn though, I lifted the top few inches of reeds and it was pretty wet underneath.





They even haul some soil out and have a little garden





The mayor





This lady as a stone that is curved on one side and rocking it back and forth crushes grain for flour





Neighbors






The islands are solid but you can feel a slight movement from the lake's swell and they are like walking on thick moss – cushy.

Caution: Skip this paragraph please – RANT. Today, many Uros still live on these islands and have developed a good tourist business. I heard some people complain it is too commercialized but, I say what tourist attraction isn’t? I give these people credit for finding a way to make a living in an area that isn’t rich with job opportunities. They have a unique community – tourists want to see it – and they willing to pay for the privilege of seeing it. So they try to sell you some knick knacks (paddy wack give the dog a bone) – if it offends you, shut up and don’t buy any. You paid the equivalent of $10 for someone to pick you up, haul your whiney ass out to the islands in a boat and tell you about whats going on. You got your money’s worth right there. Say thank you for sharing and cross another item off your bucket list. Rant off.

They took us for a ride on a big double reed boat they use for tourists. Their regular paddlers must have been off harvesting reeds or something as I think this may have been the first time these two ladies had rowed. They were having quite a struggle with the breeze until they figured out it would work better to turn around so the front end of the boat was at the front. Worked much better and they eventually got us back to the island. Here they are working hard at going the wrong way






Watched a couple of guys sculling on another double boat and it looked almost effortless as they rocketed past us






Met another moto traveler on the tour. Jonny from Switzerland ridding an 800GS also. Started in BsAs 3 weeks ago, been to Ushuaia already and hopes to reach Anchorage by Mid May…. WOW –that’s moving! If he makes his schedule, he will likely beat me to my home. Might run into the odd bit of snow, ice, mud and gravel along the northern routes but, that’s his adventure.



A couple of shots in the town of Puno








Fianlly, a menu for tourists. The menu in Spanish with English translation in brackets.





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Old 03-31-2013, 09:01 AM   #395
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Mar 13 to La Paz and Bolivia

Had to wait for the other guests to finish breakfast as I had to ride down the hall between the lobby and the dining room and out through the lobby. Easier out than in.

The hotel with the receptionist who did some traffic control for me on the way out.





Pretty flat ridding along Lake Titicaca. Came across a lot of these contraptions in the lake. Look like fish pens so maybe the locals are farming some sort of fish.






There was a whole bunch of these neat formations. I guess the strata just turned up on edge and after the soft stuff eroded, only the hard rock remained as these structures. Thought kind of looked like the back of some dinosaur.





There are two ways to get to Bolivia from here, south around the end of Lake Titicaca or take a ferry across a channel between two peninsulas across the lake that almost touch. Once we turn onto the peninsula, stop in Yunguyo to top up with gas and then hit the border shortly thereafter.

The border - means leaving Peru. I'm realizing that I spent almost six weeks in this wonderful country. Obviously longer than I had intended and I'm sad to be going. Very friendly people and a stunningly beutiful country. Deserts, high mountains, sea shore, Amazon, Andes, very old culture . . . a place I won't forget.

Just before the border I came across these ladies herding their livestock. Stop to try and sneak a couple of pictures and all of a sudden the one lady turns around and starts yelling at me and throwing stuff. She was pissed. I apologized but, thought I had better not take anymore pics.






New record for a border crossing – under an hour. Both sides very easy and very laid back. The Peruvian Aduana guy had a calendar that you would usually see in a mechanics shop. How many Gov’t offices do you know that would have nekked pictures on the wall? This is a family venue so no pics.


The border. Notice the sign on the barrier of "Stop" is in English only






Had this public bathroom right between the Migracion and Aduana buildings. Couldn't quite figure out what the guy painted on the side is supposed to depict - a pervert with a gas problem? I don't know.






After the border had some hills to climb which had some welcome twisties after the flat stuff along the lake. Come around a corner and a guy on the side of the road is flagging me down. I stop and he wants a ride. Tell him I’m fully loaded already. He has a huge suitcase and he wants me to hold his suitcase in front of me while he climbs up and sits on top of my bags. I was trying to suppress a laugh because the guy was dead serious and seemed in almost a panic. I finally convinced him this wasn’t going to happen and he needed to wait for one of the buses to come along.

The town of Copacabana (and you thought it was a club in New York)





Had to stop here at a police checkpoint. He looked at my documents and said I was missing a stamp. Wanted me to go back to the border to get it. Told him the border guys said I didn't need anything more. He insisted. Finally told him to put his own stamp on there, which he did. Then charged me 10 soles . . . a tax. Whatever. These ladies were across the street and seemed much more pleasant.





Got to the ferry. These are essentially barges with what looked like about a 25 hp outboard. A bus and a car are loading on one ferry and the guy motions me to squeeze in beside the car. OK, tight but made it. They throw a couple of boards in the big vacant spot on my left. Just loose boards and I kind of have the kickstand on a wedge . . . hanging off the back of the boat . . . about 3” between my side bag and the car. Decided to just sit on the bike and try to keep it from rolling over into the lake or bashing a dent in the guys car as the ferry bounces around a little bit.





Nice people in the car. Carlos and his wife.








One of the hands and Carlos helped me back the bike uphill and get it off. Bus just about runs over me in his hurray to get going.


The ferry we were on







Wide open plains from Lake Titicaca to La Paz with snow capped peaks in the distance.






Some ladies doing laundry in a river





Big city and crazy traffic, but pretty easy to get around. By the time we get through the first few km of congestion then take a big ramp around onto a freeway. The overpass and onramp are completely clogged with vendors stands and people walking around. Hilarious.



La Paz is in a big bowl so you come over the side see part of the city below you





Main road takes a big circuitous route to make it easy getting into the bowl – glad my GPS didn’t take on the shortcut across town.

Adventure Brew B&B (Hostal) where I was booked is on this main road but we were in the lanes going the other direction. Tried to hang a left but some Transito had a conniption so I had to wander around a bit to find a cross street with a light.

Adventure Brew has a B&B with rooms (where I am) and a Hostal a few houses up the street with dorms . . . and my bike. Seems ok (busy) but can’t get connected to the WiFi. Finally get hooked up , slow but adequate.





The Hostal has its own brewry and a bar in each of the buildings. They give you a free beer each night and the Pale Ale wasn’t bad. The first night I was there they had an all you can eat spaghetti feed. Those who are true conssures of pastas would have turned up their noses at this stuff and called me names like Mangiacake. However, it hit the spot and I had 2 ½ plates.
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Old 03-31-2013, 02:25 PM   #396
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Mar 14 La Paz

Today was a walk around of downtown La Paz. The major city in Bolivia and the highest capital in the world - something around 12,000 feet


Other than the hostel having its own brewery, they had you wear these hopital type wristbands that were a really good idea. When I was in Cusco and met up with the ex-pats in the Norton Rat Bar, I had forgotten to take the address of the hotel with me. The younguns were quite concerned that a cab wouldn't be able to find it but fortunately I a couple of wits left (or maybe just one wit) and was able to give the cabbie a landmark to get close and then I could find my way there. This would have been simpler.




Lots of ladies in their traditional dress











Little kiosks like this lined the streets and sidewalks in many areas





There were quite a number of men carrying these huge bales from the street, down an alley and into some areas of shops. I'm guessing they had clothing in them. They all used a rope tied around their shoulders.





This guy is just picking his bale up with the help of the guy behind him. The lady to the left seemed to be the boss and paid each guy as he picked up a bale.






This guy just sat with a handfull of birdfood and that little smile on his face






Girl at the hostel sent me to a Bolivian fast food place for dinner. This is Paceno. It was pretty good. Took me awhile to figure out how to eat the beans though.






The main Plaza has the Bolivian Parliament Buildings on one side





And the Presidential Palace adjacent. The guards at the palace





Notwithstanding my thoughts of staying here for a few days, I’m not feeling really connected to this unique city. It might be the hostel – on a major thoroughfare so street noise was very noticeable, bad/non-existent internet or, the one major drawback of hostels, all tourists - nobody there from the country you are in. Or, maybe I’m just grumpy.

My remaining timeframe for South America is shrinking rapidly so I decided to cut my Bolivia experience to just two nights and leave tomorrow. There are other things I’d like to experience here but those will have to wait for another day.
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Old 04-01-2013, 07:41 AM   #397
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Mar 15 to Chile

Not sure what the roads are like to the Chilean coast so had located a small town across the border into Chile that has a few hotels in case I need a place to stop if it gets too late to get to Arica on the coast.

Will need to get some gas before leaving Bolivia. The problem in this country is that gas is cheap but only for Bolivianos. Everybody else has to pay triple the regular price and the gas station has to fill out a bunch of paperwork. Needless to say some pump jockeys just refuse foreigners so they don't have to do the paperwork. After all the horror stories I’ve heard about people being refused or being charged even more, I went loaded for bear.

My plan was to choose a busy station and if they refused me, I’d just stay parked at the pump clogging up a line until they gave me some gas. Kind of like a little kid holding his breath. Many times stations here have pretty long lineups, so that’s what I’m looking for. Found one right away. Wait in line for about 5 minutes, get up to the pump, take all my crap off and the girl pumping gas looks at my plate and starts telling me (in Spanish) that the gas will be something like 25 Bolivars which is about 7 times the normal price.

Hmmm, rather than argue, decided to switch tactics and try a little confusion so, now I suddenly don’t speak Spanish (The reality is that what little Spanish I do speak is really bad). So, I shrugged my shoulders and used the classic “No fumar Español” (Credit to Crashmaster) which got this really strange look from her as she is trying to determine whether I’m just a stupid gringo or a retarded gringo. I started waved my hands around and said loudly (In English) I need gasoline while pointing at the pump and my gas tank.

Well, I don't know if she wanted to get the line moving, she felt sorry for me or just gave up but the price suddenly comes down to where it should be and there's a nozzle in my tank. Boss Chica comes over with a form for me to sign and put my passport number on. I end up paying about $1.35 per litre which isn’t that far off of what we pay in Canukistan.

Then leave the station with a huge amount of class. This is the main highway and busy. There is a whole line of trucks parked front in on my right. I’m trying to find a break in the traffic when I realize the truck I’m next to is slowly backing up. So, I had better hurry up or it will take forever for this guy to be on his way. See a gap in the traffic and can still easily get around the guy backing. I start for the gap when all of a sudden some frickin retard mini-bus driver comes hauling ass from my left and cuts me off. I’m leaned over a bit, have no chance to straighten out and, over I go. Right behind a truck that is still backing up. I didn’t even take time to hit the kill switch . . . I run up to the cab and tell the guy to stop. I feel like an idiot but, take a bow. Then I ask him to help me pick my bike up . . . which I thought was a good deal for him because, if I had to do it myself, it would take quite a while to unload all the luggage get it up and reload. No problem – nice guy. Had a good chat about the trip.

Overall, took an hour to get out of La Paz, but it’s a big city. For the next 100 klicks the highway is under construction so, tons of detours and gravel spots. I know Kedgi recently got a ticket along here and I tried to keep speed and passing under control. No tickets. Thanks for taking one for the team Kedgi.

Lots of big agriculture growing huge acreages of beans. A bit boring but at least it was green.

Finally started to get some elevation (12,000 feet doesn’t count, we have to go higher) – once we got up to 14-15,000 feet, it was little more than range land populated by gazillions of Llamas. All appeared to be herded belonging to the local farmers.





The Altiplano is incredibly beautiful. Wide open plains with the volcano cones in the distance – usually snow covered. At these altitudes, very little vegetation.








Finally came to Bolivian Migración and Aduana. Wander over to the Migración building and stand in line for a minute, then peer around the corner and see it is only for people coming into Bolivia. Ask a policeman standing there and he tells me I have to go 15 minutes further to another Migación/Aduana. Back on the bike but we immediately cross into Chile – the Bolivian offices are about 10 km inside of Chile.

There must be 5 km of trucks parked waiting to get into Bolivia. It is mind boggling what a waste of time and resources these border systems are.

Sure enough, 15 minutes later come to another set of buildings. Only about 1 ½ km of trucks waiting to get into Chile. First building I come to looks like it has both Bolivian and Chilean Migracións and Aduanas . . . at least that’s what the sign says. Bolivian Migración seems to be locked up so I ask at the Aduans and find I have to walk a hundred yards up to the next set of buildings to get checked out of Bolivia. Then I have to go back to the first set of buildings to check my bike out. Go to Chilean Migracion next door? Nope. Back to the second set of buildings for Chiean Migración and Aduana.
All of this sounds complicated, but it went pretty fast. Even had to have an Agriculture inspection – which consisted of the guy looking out the window at my bike, asking if I had any fruits or vegies, filling out a form, sign it and done. All together, about an hour. Good in my books.


The first set of buildings with Bolivian Aduana. You can also faintly see the first 1/2 km or so of trucks lined up in the distance





The second set of buildings - grey one on the left is Bolivian Migración and the blue one on the right has the Chiean offices





At 15,000 feet this is pretty desolate country but looking behind the border buildings loom these guys with some Llama grazing on the sparse vegetation in the foreground.





As we start to loose altitude on the west side of the Andes, it becomes very arid. Lower altitudes are basicly mountains covered in sand.








Some valleys may have a river that can provide irrigation and the only green in these desolate areas





Carried on for the coast and the good sized town of Arica. This is a port and has a number of container ships in the harbor waiting to unload. Judging by the number of containers I saw on the highway, I’m guessing most of these are destined for Boliva. Hope there aren’t a lot of perishables there.

Had a few hotels earmarked for Arica. Couldn’t find the first two, the third one, Hotel Americano I found and was perfect. Great parking, good WiFi and two blocks from the downtown.

Got some cash (strange there was no money changers at the border – maybe not lots of tourists coming this way – I was the third vehicle importation they had done that day) and an electrical adapter for the goofy plugs they have down here.


Here is a picture of my electrical adapter collection. Left to right: 2 blade adapter used all the way through Central America, Colombia and Ecuador; 2 blade adapter with both blades narrow for Peru and bolivia as their 220 plugs will not accept the other one; Three round prong plug for Chile 220; 2 round prong plug for Argentina 220; 2 Slanted blade plug for Argentina 220 that the 2 round plug adapter fits in.



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Old 04-01-2013, 08:45 AM   #398
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Fantastic RR RexBuck!! Thanks!
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Old 04-01-2013, 10:22 AM   #399
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Fantastic RR RexBuck!! Thanks!
My pleasure - glad you are enjoying it.
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Old 04-01-2013, 10:46 AM   #400
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March 16 Arica

Arica is a nice town with a very active walking mall just around the corner from my hotel. Even had a very civil demonstration against animal cruelty





Went for a walk in the afternoon and ended up at the wharves. Big container ships unloading – I’m guessing most of this cargo goes to Boivia.
Gobs of pelicans hanging around seem oblivious to the people






Then I noticed the Sea Lions. They are apparently South American Sea Lions and, they really looked like lions.










Thought they were just hanging out when all of a sudden one of the many fish markets starts dumping their accumulation of fish guts out a drain. It was pandelerium! Sea Lions, Pelicans and Sea Gulls all vying for the tasty morsels. No wonder these guys are so rotund - they don't even have to go hunting.









Lots of fish vendors at the wharves








Most of the vendors were busily making up ceviche which they sell to the lunch crowd in those plastic containers





Found a great restaurant called Los Aleros de 21. Great steak accompanied by some decent Chilean wine. I was happy.



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Old 04-01-2013, 01:47 PM   #401
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Mar 17 Iquique

As I was getting ready to leave Arica, these two fellows were parked next to me and were getting their bikes ready. Argentinians on a vacation with their girlfriends. Riding two up on 250s – has to make for some long days.





Was expecting a straight and boring ride across the desert down to Iquique. Good news, most of it was big sweeping curves as we went up and down 3-4,000 feet at a time over the sand covered mountains.
This is a continuation of the very desolate desert I encountered into Arica. The only green you might see would be at the bottom of a valley that has a river through it. Otherwise, nothing . . . at all. Nada! Not even a reflection of green. Just sand. Very beautiful in its own way.








Look like some pretty prosperous farms here





Encountered these objects an artist had erected in the desert








There are quite a few Prehistoric Goeglyphs in the desert of Chile. They are similar to the Nazca Lines but apparently more numerous, spread over a larger area and a few hundred years younger. Here are a couple I noticed along the highway





Once we got south, it became Utah windy. Wind moved around a lot, be leaning over one way then suddenly realize you are leaning the other way. Came into one flat farm area and noticed dozens of little whirl winds out across the flat. This one was the biggest – carried on for a long time. It was probably a couple of miles away.





Got into Iquique – man, this is a good sized town. Went to the first hotel I had picked and strangely, locked up and nobody there. Then found Hostal Casa Norte nearby and it is perfect. Old house with 16’ceilings and the original 8’doors. Best WiFi I’ve had for a good month. Parking in a garage just off the lobby.

Nicely developed waterfront. This walkway wended itself all the way out past those buildings in the distance.








The beach. Notice the giant sand dune behind the tall buildings





I didn't stop and take a picture of the dune when I came into town so I took a ride up the hill on the morning I left. You can see how the town is squeezed between the dune and the ocean






Fair number of surfers enjoying the waves





The obligatory food picture. Can't remember what this was called but it was good! Also a bottle of their local brew Iquiqueña Pale Ale - very good.





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Old 04-01-2013, 02:16 PM   #402
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Old 04-01-2013, 06:48 PM   #403
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Great update RB. Amazing transition between the two countries and from the highlands.

I like all the fish market and pictures and then you end up having steak for dinner

This is like watching a PBS show. Loving every update. Thanks
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Old 04-02-2013, 08:40 AM   #404
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Absolutely! Enjoying the excellence of your depiction of your adventure. You've been cranking them out lately at a rate that I'm challenged to keep up with. I'm guessing in real time you're having the time of your life in Buenos Aires. Hope everything related to shipping and returning comes off without a hitch. I'm also guessing that since you didn't report any outrageous fees to enter Bolivia that those are in place for discouraging US citizens only. Everybody's cool with peace-loving Canadians, eh?
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Old 04-02-2013, 12:12 PM   #405
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Great update RB. Amazing transition between the two countries and from the highlands.

I like all the fish market and pictures and then you end up having steak for dinner

This is like watching a PBS show. Loving every update. Thanks
Thanks Sunday.

Seafood and me have a strange relationship. When I order it I usually enjoy it but I rarely go out of my way to get it. If there is meat on the menu, that usually catches my eye and that's what I order. My wife thinks I'm weird that way (and a few other ways too)
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