21 March 2003
Well, I was running out of money. So I flew home to San Francisco. I have left my bike in La Paz in the backyard of a German couple's house. They were nice enough to provide a place to stay while in La Paz, and to shelter my bike until I return.
And the reason for the seemingly abrupt return was I figured if I had to go home, I should surprise all my friends in San Francisco. So I showed up at our usual Thursday night bar unannounced. Surprise!
My plans are vague. I will return at some point, but I don't know when. I need to get a job and work for a while, then I will continue the trip and complete my tour of South America.
Thanks for following, and I'll let you know when I start again.
17 March 2003
I had a long, slightly wet, and very cold ride today. But it was still nice, with beautiful scenery everywhere. Traveled from Arica on the Pacific coast up into the mountains. The road went over 15,600 feet, where the mighty GS didn't like life. The carburetors were choking, and it had very little power.. But it carried on and made it into the Andes. The day was touch and go, so many of the peaks were hidden in clouds, but it was still stunning. Snow covered mountains, beautiful green fields, and tons of weird creatures, llamas, and some other strange looking deer like things.
I stopped for lunch once I arrived in Bolivia, and to put on some more clothes. It was damn cold at 14,000 feet. And, I'm not sure, but I am pretty sure I had llama soup and roast llama for lunch. It didn't taste bad, but it was pretty tough. Like shoe leather.
Made it to La Paz this afternoon, and headed to a fellow rider's house here. He and his wife have lived here for two and a half years. His wife works as a diplomat or something like that. Anyway, he offered to put me up, so here I am.. Big nice house, and I ordered a pizza delivered for dinner.. It is so civilized.
16 March 2003
Yesterday I took it easy, slept in, and packed up. This morning Merv, Ruth and I got up, and went our separate ways. They are heading south to try and avoid the worst of the winter. I am heading back north to Bolivia.
I had an easy 200 miles today, so I stopped at this ghost town near Iquique. An old mining town called Humberstone, circa 1872. Pretty cool, as much of the town is still in one piece, including the theatre and the school. I then headed north along this huge river gorge. At one point I pulled off the road onto a little sandy trail to take some pictures. Problem is, the trail was on the side of the gorge, with a steep hill heading downhill for a few thousand feet. I parked, putting the sidestand on a piece of pavement that had fallen down from the road. I then got off and walked about 10 feet away to take a picture. At which point the pavement broke, and the bike fell over, lying upside down in the sand on the side of a hill. Only way to get it upright was to roll it entirely over and then pick it up. So today was my biggest crash.. Twisted the windscreen and broke both mirrors. Windscreen is fixed already, one mirror has been replaced with my spare, and all I need is a welder to franken-mirror the two broken ones into one good one. But today is Sunday.
Arrived in Arica, and checked into the nicest hotel ever. Right down town, with a pool, gardens, a courtyard for my bike, and only about $9. Met some surfers from Santa Barbara and a nice guy from Bolivia who told me some good places to go there... Off tomorrow for La Paz, Bolivia.
14 March 2003
This morning we woke up and headed to the port for the first of the hurdles we needed to get over today. We were told we needed stamps on the form from the port office. So we went there. Several people debated what we needed, we were lead around for a while, then told we needed to go see Jose Miranda.. So we walked down to see him, and everything improved. We were taken in a van from the security office to his office, and he explained that the boat wasn't in yet, but invited us to wait in his office and have a cup of coffee.
Finally, he brought us out to the pier, with necessary hard hats, and we watched as one ship left and ours arrived. We then were allowed to stand on the pier as they lowered the ramp, then we rode our bikes off, not something they normally allow. Finally, we had our bikes and headed to customs.. (of course, to this point took about five and a half hours). And also, surprise surprise, when we got to customs, the boss was out to lunch. So we headed to lunch, arrived back 5 minutes before they told us to. After another half hour there and we had to return to the port office, get them to complete some paperwork, then we got to leave! So, finally, after eight hours, we were done! Bike is legally in Chile, parked at the hotel. Tomorrow I head north, maybe back into Peru, maybe Bolivia.
13 March 2003
So, after a journey in a bitchin' 1980 Chevy Malibu collectivo taxi through the border, then a 4 hour bus ride through the biggest sand dunes I've ever seen, I arrived in Iquique Tuesday afternoon...
Just in time to head off to the shipping office with Merv and Ruth. It was their third trip, my first. We were not able to accomplish anything, because our useless shipping agent in Panama had not sent them the info. So after I blasted off an email to the woman in Panama, we returned the next morning to complete the paperwork. We were then told to come back in a few hours. We finally returned at noon and got it done. It did cost another $30 for the Bill of Lading, which we had paid $25 for in Panama. So off I sent another email to the big fat liar in Panama. We were then told to head to the port to get the importation papers, which I was doubtful we could do without the bikes themselves. Sure enough, after walking all the way down there, we were told we needed the bikes.
So today we do nothing, as the ship does not arrive until tonight, and it is supposed to be unloaded tomorrow. Hopefully we can get the bikes and get the paperwork without a huge hassle. I tend to doubt it though.
Last night we went to the mall for dinner and a movie. I had the hot dog Aleman special.. That would be German. It had chuckrut on it.. Which is sauerkraut. I really think they should change the name of that though, chuckrut doesn't sound like something you want to eat.
Anyway, pictures are up of Iquique and especially, the graffiti in this city.. Tons of really nice work.
Also, one of the CDs I bought in Huancayo was an old Peruvian guitar player.. Raul Garcia Zarate. After talking to one of the guys at my hotel in Lima, I discovered that this guy is the 'padre' of Peruvian guitar. And the guy I talked to was playing guitar very well himself on the roof, so I figured he knew what he was talking about. Check out Puro Sentimento.
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