12 November 2003

Well, last night we met more bikers..  two British girls.  One who is on her way from Alaska to Tierra del Feugo, and another who flew into Lima and met up.  It looks like they are heading my direction, so we may travel together for a bit in Bolivia.  We had a great time again at Norton Rats..  Owner Jeff would not let us leave and kept buying us more beer.  Oh well, what ya gonna do?

Today, Dieter and I got up to meet the girls and Jeff, but evidently they all over imbibed, because none of them could get up.  I found the girls in bed dreaming of room service and good full English breakfasts.  Sorry ladies, this is Peru.  So, Dieter and I left and headed to see some Inca sites.  Amazing.  They spent some serious time building some of these things..  A 12 kilometer aqueduct to bring water to the stepped potato fields...  unbelievable things.  Unfortunately, my new memory card seems to have crapped out, so I lost half the pictures.  I may still be able to retrieve them, but I got things to do..

Dieter and I leave tomorrow morning for a four day hike through the jungle to Machu Picchu.  We hike though 5 or 6 other sites, only accessible by foot.  Should be good..  but I will be out of touch for at least four days, so try and live without me.

11 November 2003

It has been a few days since I have updated..  Much has happened.  I left La Paz on Saturday and headed for Copacabana, Bolivia.  The ride was nice, cruising along Lago Titicaca for many miles.  I was slightly delayed when I caught a bicycle race.  Many cars were taking both lanes and following the last two riders as they struggled.  Finally, thankfully for those of stuck behind them, they gave up.  I continued on and got to ride on a ferry...  a wooden thing called a ferry.  It had huge gaps in the floorboards, and flexed more than was believable.  But I rode on, and rode off without a problem..

In Copacabana I found the gringo trail again.  It was weird being back.  I spent a quiet night, as I wanted to get up and be at the border when they opened..  I still had to get out of the country with very expired paperwork.  It took me about 25 minutes and 20 bucks, but I convinced the border customs agent to let me out.  He really didn't want to let me out, but instead send me back to La Paz.  So between my persuasive horrible Spanish and my crisp new greenback, I was able to bribe him.  Luckily.

I had to wait for Peruvian customs to open, but finally got on the road, headed to Puno.  About 30 minutes later my bike broke.  Charging system crapped out, and finally the battery drained to the point it would not run anymore.  So I pulled over to the side and started pulling the bike apart.  I pulled the rotor, stator, and diode board, cleaning them all and making sure the connectors were good.  After about an hour or so, I put everything back together and tried to start it.  Because of the hour rest, the battery had regained enough charge to start it.  Yee hah, things back to normal more or less, although I am nervous about it's future reliability.

I made it to Puno and coincidentally checked into the same hotel as Dieter, the Swiss rider Frank and I were meeting up with.  Frank showed up a few hours later, and the three of us had dinner and walked around the market.  But we headed to bed early as we had to ride to Cusco the next day.

Frank is an early riser, and at 6:45 am decided he couldn't wait for us to leave at 7:30, so he took off.  Dieter and I headed out in rain sprinkles at about 7:45...  And by 7:47 we were in a hailstorm, with cold, wind, and plenty of rain too.  We soldiered on, but it soon became apparent that I was going to freeze to death if we didn't find a restaurant for breakfast soon.  But all of the towns we went through had nothing.  We finally found a slightly larger town, and found a woman who sort of had a restaurant..  that is, she had a table and food, and was willing to sell it to us.  Good enough.  We had a couple of fried egg sandwiches, a cup of hot coffee, and the rain stopped.  Everything looked better.

We headed off, and made it another 50 miles before I broke down again.  Right side throttle cable died.  Of course though, I had a spare one, and in 20 or 30 minutes, we were back on the road again.  The ride was beautiful, the weather was beautiful, and all was good.  We arrived in Cusco in the early afternoon, and couldn't find Frank as the entire internet seemed to be down.  So Dieter and I head to the main plaza, looking for Frank.  We found him at Norton Rat's Pub, a biker bar here in Cusco, owned by an ex-pat American.  Dieter and I checked into a nearby hotel, and headed back to the pub.  I spent the night with 2 Germans, 6 Swiss, and an Austrian.  They kept flipping back into German... problem is, only the Swiss understand Swiss German, and nobody understand Austrian German..  and of course, I don't understand any of it.  But we had fun.

Tomorrow Dieter and I plan to head on the train to Machu Picchu...

**After many complaints about my crappy maps, I have added new country maps**

07 November 2003

Well, I was supposed to leave this morning..  But once again, the bike decided not to.  Last night I tried to go to dinner, but the bike would not start..  Starter issues.  So we ordered a pizza instead.

This morning I got it started and went over to Christian's shop, pulled and tested the relay, which was ok, then pulled the starter.  One of the mechanics at the shop manufactured a new sleeve for the starter.  The old one was kind of screwed up.  Bike is back together and running good, so I should leave tomorrow..  If nothing else breaks.

06 November 2003

I was going to leave today, but yesterday afternoon I discovered my newly installed tires were leaking.  So, I think I got them fixed today and will leave tomorrow.  Frank is gonna leave a day later and catch up with me to see Machu Picchu.  Then I will probably return to La Paz, and go venture into southern Bolivia and check out the huge salt flats.  But who knows, I need to get out of the country with my expired paperwork first.

05 November 2003

My bike is working well, I've got new tires, a new battery, and the valves are good.  Now I need to pack it up and see if everything still fits.  I was over at Frank's mechanic, getting the new battery charged and swapping tires (about 75 cents each for tire swapping), and met a four star general.  Pretty amusing as he was in full dress with bodyguards and everything, but was stopping in to check on his BMW car..  We chatted in broken English and Spanish for a few minutes.

It looks like Frank's party is a complete bust..  everyone has cancelled for one reason or another..  So, I may take off tomorrow for Machu Picchu, but I'm not sure, as Frank may want to come with me.  If he does, I may wait until Monday to leave.  It couldn't hurt to have him along as I try to break out of this country with expired paperwork...  he speaks fluent Spanish and has diplomatic plates on his Africa Twin.  In the meantime, I am catching up on sleep, which is necessary, particularly here in La Paz where I am at 13,000 feet.  It is pretty tiring doing much of anything, plus it's been so long since I was able to lie in bed and read..  I'm so used to falling into bed after work and passing out.

03 November 2003

Well, I made it back to Bolivia.  Frank (the German fellow who stored my bike) was waiting with hot coffee and tales of Bolivian politics.  Everything is calm here now, with only a few graffiti slogans to tell the story of the recent revolution.

I had a bit of trouble leaving San Francisco, as they really did not want me to bring my new battery.  I had to speak with four people, and the top person of that group was talking to the head of the airport and American Airlines headquarters in Dallas, Texas.  They told me repeatedly that I could not bring it, but I was persistent.  Finally they let me take it, saying they would take my word it was safe (!?!).  So off I went.

As it turns out, I didn't need to bother, as once I put some gas in my bike, it fired right up with the old battery that has been sitting here since March.  Oh well.

The next challenge I will have to deal with is leaving Bolivia.  The paperwork I have for the bike expired in April, so I may have significant trouble at the border, depending on how willing the border customs guy is to take a bribe.  It could turn out to be a nightmare...  or it could be easy.

Anyway, I will spend the next few days in La Paz working on the bike and seeing if anyone shows for Frank's party.  He has had many cancellations due to the recent conflicts here.  After that, I head to Peru and Machu Picchu.  See ya!

20 October 2003

Everything is back on track.  The Bolivian president fled to Miami, and the Vice President has taken over, the rebellion is over, and things are back to normal in La Paz (pictures of the rebellion in the photo section).  So I will leave here on schedule November 2...  Yee hah!

12 October 2003

So, I'm back updating the site again...  I am excited to be scheduled to head back to Bolivia on November 2.  However, Bolivia is having some fairly serious political and social problems, so it could be interesting.  Uh oh!


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