Friday, March 30, 2012

Day 7 Peru

Day 7 Friday March 30, 2012

Today is going to be a long day. I fly from Cusco in the morning and then a little after midnight, I fly to Atlanta from Lima. I am currently in the airport awaiting my flight, and a woman wearing far too much makeup and a plastic purple skirt and vest just walked by..... (shudder)

The morning was uneventful. I packed everything, downed 3 mini Lara bars and tried to check in for my flight back to the states via wifi but was unsuccessful. I caught a cab to the airport paying a FAR more reasonable S10. The flight to Lima was pleasant and brief. It was neat to fly over the Andes one last time, seeing the snow capped mountains and the ocean in one single view as we approached Lima. The water near the port in Lima looks absolutely awful, chunks of trash floating in it, streaks in the water where ships pass, and boats out fishing in it.

Approaching Lima, note the snow capped peaks and the ocean

I made it into Lima without any problems, and I found the baggage storage place fairly quickly after realizing it was called "Left Luggage." I thought that this was a place to claim lost luggage, but it's actually storage lockers. I changed from my boots to tennis shoes, grabbed my camera, and shoved everything into a locker. I paid S38 for day use of a large locker that easily stored all of my gear.

I headed out of the airport, and knew that the cheaper taxis would be out by the road, so I walked out that way. I had a map of the historic district of Lima, so I choose a random central-looking square and got a ride. About 20 scary as hell minutes later, I was at Plaza San Martin. I took a stroll around the square and took some photos before busting out the map. I had looked up a couple of veggie restaurants in this area and found I was close to one of them, just off of Plaza de Armas. I found the address where the restaurant was listed and it was closed. Due to dark tint and the gate out front, I wasn't sure if it was permanently closed, or just for the afternoon. Maybe they will be open later?


I detoured through the Union Pedestrian Mall, taking in all of the shops and restaurants before arriving at the Plaza de Armas. It was about 3 now, and I was getting quite hungry. I found a walking "alley" off the plaza that contained a number of restaurants. I figured Italian would do if nothing else jumped out. I looked around and ended up at an Italian place and immediately had difficulty conversing with the waitress. Fortunately, a German gentleman spoke up and offered his assistance. Stephan was a very friendly man from Bavaria who runs an organization in Iquitos as well as owns an international restaurant there. I quickly explained that I was vegan, and what that meant, and he began to give me a hard time about it, but in good fun. I said I was interested in gnocchi and he discussed this with the waitress. She confirmed "sin queso" and ran off to put in my order. Stephan and I discussed Europe Peru, business and culture as I waited.


A while later, the waitress returned with a bowl of gnocchi swimming in a creamy pesto sauce. Uh oh.... pesto, by nature, contains cheese, and the sauce was extra creamy looking as well. I didn't was to seem ungrateful, and honestly, it's probably not the first time on the trip that I had something I wouldn't normally eat, so I dug in. I was pretty decent, which is saying something as I am I'm not a big pesto fan usually. Nothing close to the gnocchi I had in Urubamba, but decent. For S15, it seemed quite affordable for an upscale neighborhood in Lima.


I thanked the waitress and Stephan, promising to check out his website ( and decided to head South toward a few parks, museums and wait appeared to be a shopping center. The central bus station was located under the shopping area. I first strolled through the park, relaxing on a bench and people watching for the better part of an hour. It was pretty warm out.

I then checked out the shopping areas, the first was called "Lima Centro", located across from a more modern shopping center. I thought I might find a new clean shirt to change into. My ADV shirts from fattees have been great on the trip, but after a few sink washings, they need to be properly washed; they smelled like the water in Cusco. I had been walking around in it all day, sweating, and thought I could use some deodorant also. Turns out, Lima Centro is a large 4 story building full of nothing but print shops. Lots..... I mean LOTS of print shops. There were guys that specialized in ditto-printing forms, others that only cut paper, huge banner printers, anything you needed for printing. Later that night, I would also pass through a 3 block zone of printing and stamping shops with forests of paper piled on the sidewalks. Lima must need a lot of crap printed.

After striking out at Lima Centro, I crossed over to the modern shopping center. I walked through it twice and was seriously debating on watching a movie as respite from the heat, but settled on a frozen smooth instead. It was mixed up, poured into a plastic cup and then had a plastic lead heat sealed to it. I was given a giant pointed straw to pierce the lid. It was wonderful and cold, helping to cool me down quite a bit.

Fresh smoothie, the lid was sealed on after being blended up

The shopping center had their own marching band... their uniforms had the center's logo on them:

Band at a shopping center. Their uniforms bore the logo of the shopping Center

I eventually wound up in a department store were I bought some deodorant and a cheap S14 shirt that was pretty ugly, but clean. I had deodorant in my locker, but I didn't feel like tearing into the Coyote for it, and it was JASON brand "hippie" deodorant. It works great when I take a shower and spend much of my day in an air conditioned office, but today, I needed some mega-powered shit.

As soon as I left the store, literally in the exit path, I ran into a kiosk selling nice higher quality shirts in the style that I wanted. They were S40, but I had some extra cash on me and decided to get one. I returned to the store, BSed my way through a return and bought the shirt I wanted. It was after 6 now, so I decided to see if the veggie restaurant was open tonight. No dice, still closed tight.

Plaza de Armas

I ended up back at the Plaza de Armas for about 30 minutes, watching all of the surrounding buildings begin to light up. The square looks fantastic after dark. There didn't seem to be a lot of taxi traffic here, so I walked back down the Union Mall to Plaza San Martin, where I had started my touring this afternoon. There were lots and lots of taxis, but none wanted to take me to the airport. I was starting to be a little concerned when one driving began to explain, in Spanish, so I didn't understand, why no one would go there. He was indicating a road that would have to be crossed to get to the airport, and was saying "fuerte" over and over. I was afraid a road might be closed.

Plaza San Martin, Lima

Finally, one pulled up and let out a fare, agreeing to take me to the airport for S40. It was a little more than I paid to get out to the Plaza, but I jumped right in. He stuck with secondary streets on the way back, a different route than I had been on earlier, and soon we were passing through neighborhoods that put me on edge. The driver was much safer than my driver earlier in the day, but with the sketchy neighborhoods we were in, I was far more concerned. I actually began to mentally inventory what was in my pockets, thinking that if something bad did go down, I had a $100 hidden in my pants, I just needed to keep my passport. Fortunately, my driver turned out to be a cool guy, and about 45 minutes later (traffic was REALLY thick in spots) we arrived at the airport. He had only scraped up against one light pole on the trip!

I found a restroom in the airport, slathered myself in cheap but effective roll-on deodorant, changed into my new shirt and carefully sealed my smelly shirt into the bag the new shirt came in. Good to go, I almost smell human again! Got my luggage back and proceeded to the Delta check-in counter. I was about 2.5 hours early, so the counter had no one there, but there were already 5-6 other people waiting for the same flight. It opened about 45 minutes later, I got checked in, got through security, didn't have to pay a departure fee (I think it's included in most ticket fees now), and breezed through customs.

My flight back home was uneventful, I actually fell asleep before we left Peruvian airspace, and woke up over southern Florida.

I had a really great time, and apart from simply disliking Lima (too many people, too many scary neighborhoods, too many hustlers) I really enjoyed my time in the country!

The rest of my pictures from today: March 2012/7 Friday March 30th

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 6 Peru

Day 6 Thursday March 29, 2012

Woke up at around 7:50 this morning after a fairly restful night. At a little before 5:00am, what sounded like a trash truck slowly made it's way through the neighborhood and had music BLASTING. I wonder if this is a regular occurrence here. I hope not for the locals!

I got up, took a shower and packed. I knew that the market had a large juice area, so I decided to check it out and grab some breakfast. For S5, I scored fresh squeezed orange juice mixed with fresh pineapple juice. The woman first manually pressed the oranges, 6 of them, on one of those cheap plastic pressed. She then dumped the fresh juice into a blender. She turned the blender on and started to chuck two pineapple cores in with the orange juice. After blending it all, she poured the juice through a strainer and into a plastic measuring cup. She poured a glass, and then handed me the glass and the remaining juice in the cup. It was great, and a lot of juice. So tasty.

Jugos de Naranja y Pina at Urubamba Market, hella good.

I walked around the market again briefly and gradually made my way back to the hostal. I finished packing, checked my email one last time and jumped on the bike around 10:45. I filled up the tank and began towards Maras to see the salt mines, 15 minutes away from Urubamba. A few kilometers from town, traffic was stopped by a landslide that was being cleared. I breezed my way up to the front of the queue, only about 6 vehicles deep when I arrived. After waiting over 20 minutes to be allowed to pass through, I eventually made it to Maras.

Landslide leaving Urubamba

I blew right past the sign to the salt mines, and rolled into town. I drove through town, following the main road and these red arrows that were painted at each intersection and stopped to take some pictures just past town. A car with a white couple drove past me just as I was sticking my camera back in the tank bag, so I followed them for about 15 minutes down a rough dirt road. I suspected that they too were headed to either Maras or Moray, and they were. The stopped the car just past Laguna Huaypo, and I rolled up next to them to talk.

They confirmed that they were headed toward Maras but suspected that we were headed the wrong way. I got out my map, and the map confirmed that Maras was North of town, and we were South of town now. We turned around, and made it back to town. My map showed the road to Maras straight north of the main square, but the turn of was actually about 3 kms before entering town. The couple stopped and asked some construction workers, and they pointed us in the right direction. I rolled up to the gate, paid my S5 and made my way down toward the mines.

Everyone always says that pictures of the mines is deceiving, and it is absolutely true. The salt pools are much greater than expected. They stretch out over a much larger area than I expected. The pools are all fed from a single tiny creek that slowly spills over each layer. It's a very neat layout, and impress to see.

Salt Mines at Maras

After exploring the mines for about an hour, I climbed aboard the bike once again, and pulled out the map. It was 12:45 and I had to be back in Cusco tonight. Dark settled in around 6, so I had just over 5 hours of time left on the bike. I was considering going back to Urubamba and then heading east to Pisac via the north route. Several people had told me that Pisac was worth the drive out, and there was a native market hear as well that I would have liked to seen. Unfortunately, I had a loaded bike, and no idea as to whether it was safe to leave it parked there while I took in the town. I also was not sure how long it might take me to get there and then back to Cusco.

I knew that the road I had followed earlier and gotten "lost" on was fun, and it would be nice to get off pavement again for a while. I could take this to Izcuchaca and then on to Cusco. If I arrived in Cusco early enough, I could drop my bags at the hostal and then take off toward Pisac. I hadn't traveled on most of the roads in this plan either, so that is always a plus. I headed south and the road quickly degraded. It was extremely potholed, and rough to ride on beyond about 35-40 kms per hour.

Laguna Huaypo

I was offered great views of the lake, farming plots, and locals out grazing their animals. It quickly became apparent that not many foreigners traveled out this way as I rode past two women while standing on the pegs and their mouths literally fell open when, I think, they realized I was white. Sort of weird, but cool to think that I was off the tourist trail. It was a very nice area, and as I neared Poroy the dirt road made several tight switchbacks that were interesting. I honked around each corner, but I would hate to meet another vehicle head on here. I arrived in Poroy, and back to pavement quite a bit sooner than I expected to, and suddenly wished I had my GPS working to check out several other places out this way.

Laguna Huaypo

I eventually reached Poroy, and suddenly it began to look dark above me. As I snaked my way back into Cusco, things suddenly began to look familiar, and I ended up on the main road in Cusco. I first saw a sign for the Plaza de Armas before I saw the road that I had taken previously to the hostal, so I decided to detour. Just as I passed the central market, which I had been within a block of previously, but never seen, it began to rain. I snaked through the historic district and found Nuevo Alto again, the road to reach the hostal. I got back to the hostal around 3:00 and it was still raining. I didn't think I had enough time to reached Pisac, explore, and get back to the hostal before 6, so I decided to get off the bike and take a shower. Instead of visiting Pisac, I decided I would see the main market in Cusco.

I called Victor, unloaded the bike, took a shower and set out to find some food close by. I hadn't eaten all day, just had my juice this morning, so I grabbed some papas fritas from the local polleria "Starlet." They were the best I had on my trip. Hot, crispy and delicious. They came with 3 little plastic baggies of condiments, mustard, spicy green salsa, and what I think was mayonnaise. I enjoyed the green and yellow stuff, and another Inka Cola.

Papas Fritas

After getting the bike checked out by Victor and everything finalized, I made my way to the market. I loved the market at Urubamba, and this one was even bigger. I wandered around taking pictures and checking out the wares for about 40 minutes, slightly amused that there were 9 key makers in stalls next to each other, next to 3 basket makers. I don't know how any one survives when competing with 8 other vendors immediately next to you with the exact same services. Earlier, when I rode by, there was some sort of local dancers at the main entrance, but I was bummed to see them missing now.

Mercado Central Cusco

I decided to see the Plaza de Armas again and scope out anything happening there. As I wandered toward it, I passed a native crafts market. I did not really have room for any additional gifts, but I always like to see locally produced goods. As I rounded one stall, two American woman were looking as scarfs at another stall. My wife likes scarves, and I heard the vendor say that they were S10. I decided to buy one, surely I could shove it some place.

As I was purchasing my scarf, the women and I began chatting. They had been in South America for 18 days and were headed to the Galapagos and Ecuador for the next 20. They told me this crazy story of a miner's strike in Arequipa that they got caught up in on their way to Nazca. Sounded nuts!

As I approached the Plaza, it was obvious that something was happening there this afternoon. As I reached the Catedral, a dance troupe began performing. It was quite impressive. It appeared to be a competition and several groups were staged to perform next. Each group performed for about 6-8 minutes and represented a different area; each had different costumes and hats. It was very amusing and I'm glad I got to see it. I watched 4 or 5 groups perform and then took a lap around the square.

Native Dance Contest at Plaza de Armas in Cusco

As I passed "tour row", the section that arranged a bunch of daily tours to various sites, a woman was handing out pamphlets for massages. I declined, but half a block later, I passed a massage parlor. I was pretty stiff and my back hurt some, so I figured "why not?" I paid S30 for a 45 minute massage. Seems like a deal to me! I had never had a professional massage before, but now I know why my wife is always trying to talk me into going with her to the spa. Holy crap, I felt GREAT when I left. Possibly the best $15 I spent on the trip.

As I left the masseuse, it appeared that the dance contest had just wrapped up. The last group, very elaborate and with a 20 piece marching band was slowly making their way out of the plaza, playing and dancing.

Native Dance Contest at Plaza de Armas in Cusco

I was getting hungry by now, and it was starting to get dark. I knew that there was a vegetarian restaurant near here, but it had been closed my first night in Cusco. As luck would have it, El Encuentro was open this evening. They served vegan and vegetarian versions of Peruvian classics, so I ordered the Lomo Saltado, which is stir-fried vegetables (peas, peppers, onion and tomato) with marinated seitan. Homemade papas fritas are tossed in at the end, and it's served with rice. I believe it to be a modern dish mixing Chifa (Peruvian Chinese) and Peruvian cooking. It is GREAT, I really liked it and it totally hit the spot.

Lomo Saltado Vegan from El Encuentro

I wandered around the Plaza again taking some evening photographs until it began to rain again. I headed back to the hostal, watched some (bad) Spanish TV, and went to sleep.

Plaza de Armas

The rest of today's pictures and video:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day 5 Peru

Day 5 Wednesday March 28, 2012

This morning I woke up naturally, the first time I've not set an alarm. I lay in bed for a while, and finally climbed into the shower. As I finished up in the bathroom, Victor flipped the TV on and then jumped into the shower as I began packing. We got the bikes loaded up and hit the road around 9:15.

Surprisingly, the road had changed some in the previous 12 hours, the big muddy patch we hit was even soupier and larger than yesterday, and grading work appeared to have been completed overnight. This had the effect of smoothing out the road in several places, but making it extremely silty in others. I'm not sure that much had improved, but I bet cars were bottoming out less. We made it back to Santa Maria without any problems.

Shortly after Santa Maria, not long after returning to pavement, Victor was in front of me, and he passed a dog that was lying in the road. This is nothing unusual, at all, and he honked to let the dog know we were headed toward him. The dog lifted his head and watched as we passed, not terribly bothered by us. The chicken that was laying, hidden, next to the road was another matter entirely. When Victor honked, the chicken FREAKED OUT. I mean, he went ballistic. I wasn't even sure if Victor saw the bird at all, but afterwards he said it flew out in his field of view briefly. The chicken began running and flapping, trying to get away from the road as quickly as possible. He was never actually in danger, but his determination to escape the non-existent danger led to his demise.

First, the chicken ran away from the road and slammed into the house that was near the road. Upon hitting the house, he turned and began running across the road at a 45 degree angle toward me. He might have been okay had he not decided to turn and run directly across the road just as I passed him. I believe that he actually slammed into the side of my front wheel, and he was full tilt when he did. I don't know if I also nailed him with the engine or rear tire, but when I looked back, he was a goner. One wing sticking straight up in the air, feathers lightly fluttering. I felt really bad for killing the bird, but I felt even more awful at the thought that this was a young, not very meaty bird, and that I had killed an impoverished families future food source.

I had slowed down some to assess the situation, so I pinned the throttle back and caught up to Victor. I honked the horn and he pulled over. I told him what happened and then asked if we should return to the house. I wasn't sure what the protocol for this might be, and I didn't want to piss anyone off. Victor said that while it was indeed unfortunate, he recommended that we continue on. He said that since I was a foreigner, even if I offered a few bucks for their trouble, they could demand more from me than was just, and that I should consider this incident as simply me making someone's dinner decision for tonight. I agreed that he was probably correct and we moved on.

Speaking of dogs and chickens in Peru. Dogs are EVERYWHERE in Peru. The run the streets but seem mostly healthy. Some are obviously strays, and others seem to be cared for regularly. They mostly had healthy weight on them, and most of them also had rabies collars on them. I couldn't understand why so many had collars until I got a close look at one dog. The local authority using plastic packing straps and crimps to make collars when they vaccinate a dog, a cheap and easy way to keep track of street dog health. I was also somewhat confused as to who all of these dogs were so healthy looking. I did see several digging through a huge mound of trash (that looked freshly dumped) in Cusco, but I also saw a restaurant owner throwing discarded meat and bones out to several dogs one morning.

The dogs look both ways before crossing streets, move when a vehicle approaches, and the know what a horn means. The only dogs that chased us where up in the highest points away from villages and people (oddly, still laying on the pavement), and I only saw one dead dog in the entire country. The dogs are smart. Chickens, not so much.

I also saw donkeys, cows, turkeys, pigs, and sheep along the roads. It was sort of funny, but it seemed as if each house in each village had the same animals as all of the rest. I would see a village of pigs, and then a village of cows, followed by a village of turkeys. The donkeys were usually only one or two, often at a solitary house. Each time I saw a donkey, I slowed down and thought of Clay Schwartz.

We rode on, pressing toward Abra Malaga. The weather was slightly more clear today, but as we approached the pass, and were meet by oncoming wacky cyclists, it got really cold. It seemed like it was 10 degrees colder than 2 day before. My fingers were beyond numb, my face shield was useless, and I was ready to be warm again. We crested Abra Malaga without stopping and descended a ways before I stopped to take pictures. I still seemed quite a bit cooler than the previous trip up.

Headed from Abra Malaga to Ollantaytambo

There are primitive homes and huts very close to the top of the pass, but with it being so cold I took pictures of the, relatively, more modern homes down lower. We continued on the awesomely sinuous road into Ollantaytambo and stopped for a brief rest. After resting next to the market in Ollantay, we pressed on to Urubamba, the temperature warming up the entire time. It was starting to feel great again as we passed by the train sheds that were along the route to Machu Picchu.


When we reached Urubamba, Victor and I consulted briefly, and he helped me locate a nice hostal in town. I will have to update this later with the name, but I think it was called Hospedaje Burganvilla or something like that. Anyway, the owner was nice, the price was right, and the place was very nice with a security fence and very pretty gardens. The room I had was nice and big, huge bathroom, large bed with 2 pillows and wifi. The wifi was not very strong in my room, but the family that ran it invited me into the living room of their house where the router was mounted. It was nice to relax with them while they played Playstation, and I also got to speak with some volunteers that were visiting from Canada. The volunteers were helping with an animal sanctuary and some other program that was run by relatives of the hostal, and had built a nice relationship with the family. It was great to have a nice long conversation in English with all of them.

After checking my email, I went into town to look around and try to find some lunch. I found The Green House, a pasta and pizza place that had good reviews on vegetarian websites, and they were still open. I was not disappointed. Eduardo, the owner and chef, was just wrapping down from lunch, but took the time to make sure I had a great meal, good bread and oil, fresh handmade gnocchi and probably the best pomodoro sauce I've had in years. I scarfed down my first meal of the day, forgetting to take pictures of the goodness. The staff all spoke excellent English and were very nice. They obviously enjoyed what they did and loved to make a positive impression on visitors. As I ate, I spoke with a woman from San Diego about riding motos, Peru, and traveling. She owned a GS500 and was saving for a Triumph Bonneville. She said that I had to check out the central market.

I strolled to the Plaza and hung out here for a while, watching kids play in the fountain and parents eating ice cream while relaxing. I soon realized that Urubamba had the kind of vibe that I like, and I hung out for about 45 minutes just taking it all in. I wasn't sure what time the market closed, so I made my way toward it. Not only was it still open, it was hopping. The market seemed to occupy two multiple floor buildings, but various vendors also had fruit and vegetables spread on tarps along the sides of the building and out into the streets. It was a palette of colors and smells for two blocks. I loved it! Rows of dry beans and grain, a large fruit section, and 2 large rows of vegetables, and a several stalls with butchers occupied the main level of the primary building. The second and third floors were lofts above the main floor, partial floors that wrapped around the central section of the main floor. The second floor contained several "restaurants" with 2-4 seats at a counter and a few clothing stalls as well. The third floor was a big juice area, probably 5 or 6 vendors that all had similar pricing. Next to the juicing area was Comida Vegetarino. I would have liked to try it out, but it was closed each time I returned.

Urubamba Market

As I left the market, I found some sort of a bank and was able to have 2 S100 bills changed into more manageable amounts, and then went to see about getting my hair cut. I found a barber shop and was glad to pay my S5 for a hair cut..... I paid $1.87 for a haircut! Insane! Even with an 80% tip, it still cost me less than $4. Crazy! Turned out nice too!

My S5 haircut, $1.87

I made one my loop of the market, stopping to buy a bag of freshly popped popcorn for S1 ($0.35), and then stopping to buy a bottle of Inca Kola. I had been putting off drinking carbonated drinks as I'd been taking Diamox for altitude and one of the side effects of this is that it makes carbonated drinks taste flat. I ended up back at the plaza, snacking on my popcorn and Inka Cola. The soda is good, sort of bubblegum flavored, but not in a bad way. Not sure I'd drink it often, but it was a nice treat.

Afternoon snack, about $1 for this

I also saw this guy on an XT300, the older bigger brother to my bike back home:


I made it back to hostal a few hours after I left, and the Canadian kids told me that some sort of festival was happening in the Plaza that evening around 7:30. Around 8, I went to the Plaza and found a small group of people standing around two guys doing some sort of rehearsed show. It looked like street acrobatics, but was apparently quite funny to those watching. This was the "festival" but unfortunately, I couldn't understand so it was lost on me. I decided to go grab some dinner. I had a great pizza at The Green House, and an excellent conversation with Eduardo, finding out how he ended up here and where he had cooked in Central America, were he got his produce, and his commitment to getting the high quality ingredients he could. Very nice evening. I pulled my fleece pullover on and walked around the streets of Urubamba. Eduardo told me that Wednesday night was a big party night in Urubamba, apparently many people couldn't wait until the weekend and there was a number of bars and clubs hopping as I walked around. Many restaurants were open later, and there were woman running small grills on various street corners, grilling meat and potatoes.

Vegan pizza from The Green House in Urubamba

I watched various cars and mototaxis, really noticing the various logos, stickers, and decals on them. The funniest one of the night had to be a Mototaxi that had custom mudflaps on it. The had a big Nike swish in the middle of the mudflap, and said "Titanic Motors" on them. So many things wrong with that! Unfortunately, I did not get a picture as it was driving past. I did get this one earlier in the day though:

Plaza de Armas in Urubamba

As I reached my room, I realized how much I liked Urubamba. It was not overly touristy, I didn't feel like people were trying to pull something over on me, and the market was incredible. I really wished I had more time to check this place out. I got back to the room and discovered another treat. The TV at the hostal had several English channels, including Food Network. Awesome.

The rest of my pictures from the day are here: March 2012/5 Wednesday March 28th

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day 4 Peru

Day 4 Tuesday March 27, 2012

Wowee Wow! Today was very, very cool! I woke up @ 5:30am, ready to roll on up to Machi Picchu. There was no towel in my room, and it was dark downstairs still, so I instead of trying to track down a towel, I took a big sniff of my shirt and decided it and I were clean enough to forgo a shower. I brushed my teeth, slapped on some deodorant and headed out.

I bought a bottle of water (man, Aguas Calientes is expensive) and climbed onto the first waiting bus at about 5:50. After a few minutes, the bus began the roll up the mountain toward Machu Picchu. The sun was just beginning to light the area up, and the early morning views seemed to be forecasting a great day ahead. I began to notice ruins on the peaks surrounded us, ancient walkways and stone structures hidden amongst the trees. As we climbed higher and higher, the clouds became thicker and the scene more dramatic.

Machu Picchu

After the 20 minute climb from the river to the top of Machu Picchu mountain, we arrived at the main gate. I presented my ticket and proceeded to the bag check area. For a mere S3, I was able to check my backpack and jacket near the gate. Awesome, I thought I would have to lug those around all day. I then made my way past all of the guides offering private tours of the ruins and entered the complex. It was still quite foggy/cloudy, so I decided to first see if I thought I could tackle Wayna Picchu, the taller mountain that overlooks Machu Picchu. I first moved down the main structure to the bottom, checking things out as I went, and then turned around and attempted to make it up to the top of the main structure in one shot. No way, not even close. I still was no where close to being acclimated, and had to stop several times before making it to the half way point. I think that the altitude had a greater impact on me than many people, but when I reached the halfway point and this young-20-something year old stopped next to me and was gasping for breath, I felt quite a bit better about the situation.

Machu Picchu

I made it to the "main" level that was used to move between the two halves of the complex and provided the easiest access to Wayna Picchu and decided to head to the farthest end and work my way back to the front. As I reached the gate for Wayna Picchu, there were a number of people waiting to be let in, and the opposing mountain was shrouded in thick fog. I turned around and began my thorough exploration of the ruins. I saw things that I had read about in "Turn Right at Machu Picchu" a few months ago. Wow! The Temple of the Three Windows, The Royal Tomb, The Temple of the Sun, Intihuatana. It was overwhelming and exciting. I spent the better part of 4 hours wandering around the site, taking pictures, being amazed at all of the sites, and eavesdropping on the guides to learn a little bit more about various items. I was amused be the number of times that I heard guides tell people about things that were either, at best, guesses or flat out wrong, at least according to leading anthropologists.

Machu Picchu

It's pretty overwhelming as a whole, and really hard to get into words, so I'll let the pictures do the talking. After checking things out for a few hours, I eventually made it up to the top of the complex, and began to see signs for the Inka Bridge. I had no idea what this was, I don't recall reading about it during my somewhat limited research. I walked up the pathway and into the woods before reaching a small shack with a desk and "guard" behind it. He asked me to sign into the guest registry and then set me free to see this bridge. Before long I ran into a German couple and asked them if they had any idea what was back here or how far away it was. They did not know, but were a pleasant couple, so we chatted as me walked.

Toward the Inca Bridge at Machu Picchu

We reached the bridge about 10 minutes later, not very far from the gate house, and we were taking our time walking and taking photographs of the construction in the valley below. The bridge itself was very impressive. The walkway is made up of stones stacked up to a point, and then wooden planks suspended over an exposure. It would have been pretty cool to see this built, and even more so to see the Incans use the path to traverse the steep mountains.

Inca Bridge at Machu Picchu

Eventually, after seeing more of Machu Picchu, I made my way back to the buses. I wanted to grab something to eat in Aguas Calientes and I had to catch the 12:30 train back to the hidroelecric station. I had a plate of burritos at one of the restaurants in town right along the railroad tracks. They were very delicious, but quite spendy also. If I recall, I spent about S35 on lunch and a drink. As I finished up my meal, the Belgian couple from the train ride yesterday sat at the table next to me, and we discussed the possibility of them purchasing a car in the US, and what they should expect to spend on a vehicle, insurance, fuel, etc. I wished them well, and made my way to catch the train.

Machu Picchu

I hopped aboard the train just as rain began to fall. I sat at one table that promptly began to leak at the window and drip water everywhere, and then moved to a dry spot for the remainder of the ride. By the time we reached hidroelectrica, it had stopped raining, and I found Victor waiting. I jumped on the back of the bike and we rode to Santa Teresa. Today, the ride was much more comfortable and did not bother my hips nearly as much as the ride out. As we rode, Victor asked if I was interested in staying in Santa Teresa and visiting the hot springs. I told him that the springs sounded like a good idea, but it was already quite hot out, and Santa Teresa looked rather boring, so I'd rather ride some this afternoon. We got back to town and loaded up all of the gear before heading out.

One of the multiple water crossings between Santa Maria and Santa Teresa:

We made it to Santa Maria around 3:30 and stopped to discuss options. Victor said that we could push to well beyond dark and reach Ollantaytambo, we could stay at a hotel that was being renovated (decent room and garden, but even less to do than in Santa Teresa) in Santa Maria, or we could ride to Quillabamba and see if the public pool was open. Pool sounded great to me! We took off to reach Quillabamba before dark.

The ride out to Quillabamba was very uneventful, A fairly easy ride with only a few bad washboard spots and one really long muddy spot that a passing car slid toward me at an alarming rate before gaining traction and reclaiming it's own lane at the last second. We reached town and began scouting for a hostal. We ended up with one that was fairly new with indoor parking for both bikes (in two small gardens inside) at a good rate. We unpacked, cleaned up, and changed clothes before we found out that the pool was not open. Instead of swimming, we went out in search of pizza. I had a veggie sin queso, not particularly great, but cheap and edible. I think I paid about $4 for dinner tonight.

Pizza in Quillabamba

We visited the market for a little while so that Victor could grab a new T-shirt, and then headed back to the room to watch the Simpsons in Spanish..... haha, awesome! We discussed plans for the next couple of days. I had only paid for Victor's time for the trip out to Machu Picchu. He said that he would have no problem accompanying me for the next two days, but that I would have to purchase his gas and hostal for the next night. I decided that I would like some time to explore on my own so Victor would split off tomorrow when the time was right. I figured that this would allow me to take the pace that I wanted to and not feel so bad stopping to take pictures whenever I wanted to. I never felt pressured to keep moving, but I felt like I was holding up progress at times.

The rest of my pictures from the day:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 3 Peru

Day 3 Monday March 26, 2012

Slept until 7 this morning, about 11 mostly uninterrupted hours. Was very nice. Victor was slated to arrive at 9am, but called stating he was about 30 minutes late. We hit the road and drove around Cusco looking for fuel. Heading northwest stopped and got 5 soles worth for me. Rolled on another 10 minutes and filled up. Not sure what the deal was, but okay. Headed toward Urubamba on a very nice and curvy road. I soon picked up much of the local way of driving, honking when passing, at dogs, people, kids, on narrow blind curves, things like that. About 15 minutes after crossing out of Cusco, it started raining. It was a pretty heavy rain, but visibility was good. We rolled on through the rain, passed through a couple of villages and it finally let up before getting to Urubamba. We descended down into Urubamba on this excellent twisty road that I really enjoyed. We got gasoline in Urubamba and then rolled on. I got a really good vibe from that town.

We carried on a little while and arrived at Ollantaytambo where we stopped for a few minutes to get off of the bike. There was a market here that seemed to exist only to sell souvenirs and some sort of archeological site. Jumped on the bikes and motored on.


The road to the highest pass on the trip was something else. Constant switchbacks, excellent views, little traffic. The were also a lot less dogs, but we had a few ran after us, which is not normal. A few kms before the pass, the temperature began dropping quite a bit and it began to rain quite hard. We reached the pass, took a few pictures and victor stopped to pray at a church. It was cold and wet. I put on my glove liners and had my visor flipped up stupidly so rain got on the inside of the lens some how. When we took off I couldn't see crap. Flipping the visor completely opened help, but with the visor closed more than halfway, it fogged. Must get a pinlock.

Abra Malaga

Visibility was way down and victor was keeping the speed to about 25kph. Traffic was still light, but some what freaky when you did see something. Victor took us on a small muddy two track road that bypassed part of the main road. It was only about a 1/4 of a mile and slippery as crap. I couldn't see that well, and was following victors line. For some reason, he went off into this grassy area right at the end. I followed and realized I should have gone right and not left. The second the rear tire hit the grass it began to slide. The bike went down and pinned my leg. Nothing major at all, but in the mud I needed some help to free my leg. As we descended it began to clear but continued to rain. The worst stretch was about 30 kms. As we made our descent, I began to see what was coming, there were small villages dotting either side of a decent sized river.... we began to pass bikers going in the same direction and passed a Mazda 3 with a big Ralli-Art decal on the windshield (Ralli-Art is Mitsubishi's in-house tuning company). Every once in a while, I would see a single pimped out car next to a tiny house on the side of the road.

Eventually we reached a spot where the road become dirt and gravel and I thought "finally, dirt." massive paving works are in progress and the pavement ended in maybe 1km. We had maybe 10kms of dirt until we turned off to Santa Teresa. Here the dirt started.

Barrel gas in Santa Maria

After filling up with barrel gas, we took this awesome dirt road for about 20 kms to Santa Teresa. It was great! Dry, some water crossings, including the one everyone takes pics of, and relatively quick dirt most of the time. It was great. Of course I took zero pics. We are going to take it slower on the way back and I plan to take pictures. We got to Santa Teresa and stowed one of the bikes in the exact same place poolman did on his trip. We then went to hidrolectrica tandem.

I had planned to hike to Aguas Calientes, but between the threat of rain, stairs winding me, and then then worn out feeling from riding tandem (I have hip problems and the 25 minutes on the back of a bike sucked compared to riding 220+ kms solo) I decided to ride the train. Good thing too, it started raining about 15 minutes later and didn't stop until 5 hours later.

I got a ticket on and hopped on board just in time. In the foreigners car there was only me and a Belgian couple. They asked me if I knew what a fruit they had just bought was, but I wasn't sure. He said that the woman called it something that he did not recognize and then said she also called it "passionfruit" but didn't think that was a real name. Hey, I know what passionfruit is! They had no idea how to eat one. He offered one to me, and I dug into it. It was quite good, I don't think I had ever eaten one before. He asked me if the seeds were edible, but I had no idea. About a minute later, he says "the seeds are good". Apparently they had eaten a larger variety in brazil and had eaten the seeds.

Train to Aguas Calientes

We rolled into AC and I found a S40 hostal, paid S10 for internet to look up 1 restaurant, send 3 emails and check my email. I then went out and booked my return train ticket for 12:30pm the next day, and paid for my bus tickets to and from MP. After waiting at the bus counter for nearly 30 minutes while they replaced a broken keyboard, I set out for food.

I found Govindas after about 20 minutes. Govindas is a worldwide "chain" of Hare Krishna vegetarian restaurants that sets there own local menu. The only thing in common between them is the name and Hare Krishna, from what I can tell. I ordered the set menu which gave me a soup choice, entree choice and juice. I came with an interesting whole wheat bread that I believe was unleaven. It was quite tasty. I had the quinoa soup that was a bit bland and didnt seem all that great. I also had the Spanish paella. It came out and had nearly identical vegetables as the soup and looked more like stir fry, so my expectations were pretty low. I have had paella and this wasn't it. However, it was DAMN good! I really liked it a bunch. It was more like a stir fry with brown rice, and delicious. I also had lemonade. There was some confusion when I ordered and honestly I was not sure if I had ordered a S17 soup, S22 paella and S5 lemonade or if I got a fixed menu, so when the bill came to S20, I was quite happy. Worth every cent.

As I was waiting for my food, the managers son came over to the table and apparently asked what my phone was. I flipped it over and he was enamored with it even before he could unlock the screen. I unlocked it and started up a couple of games. He shot up zombies while I had my soup, and then raced a trial bike while I had the paella. I settled the bill and his father and the waiter told him to give the phone back. Then the woman cooking joined in. Finally another customer who obviously knew the family also started telling him to give it back. The boy would simply say "una momento." Finally he died and handed it back. He walked me to the door, talking the entire way and gave me a high five as he said "caio!"

Headed back toward the hostal and thought more about the food. I realized the the few small fried potatoes in the paella were really nice. I stopped and got some water, and heard some Pink Floyd blasting from this hamburger joint across the street. I placed an order for papas fritas to go. The place was a dump, but had a good vibe. One guy was working and two other guys were hanging out and playing various classic rock. Floyd, Golden Earring, Sweat, the Ramones, stuff like that. One of the guys, looked like Richie Sambora with curly hair, came out front to go next door briefly and after returning asked me where I was from. If I understood correctly, he had traveled and worked in Europe but was always planning on going to the US. He said that next year he was going to "Hollywood!" Good luck brother, I hope you make it. Really nice guys. Got back to the hostel, checked my email, ate my fries. Might have been the hunger talking, I had 1 mini Lara bar for breakfast, no lunch, but the fries were great.... maybe the best I'd ever had.

Papas Fritas in Aguas Calientes

Sitting here typing this on my phone, listening to Explosions in the Sky, first time I have played my own music since I got here. Listening to the roaring river right outside my window. About to pass out and get up early for MP!

The rest of my pictures from the day: March 2012/3 Monday March 26th/

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Day 2 Peru

Day 2 Sunday March 25, 2012

Today I set my alarm clock for 4:30am. Surprisingly, even after only about 5 hours sleep in less than ideal environments, I woke up very easily and ready to roll. My flight from Lima to Cusco was scheduled for 7:00am, and the taxi showed up a little bit early, so I was at the airport by 5:10am. The departure process for in-country flights is significantly more "primitive" than international flights. After lining up at a "gate", everyone boards a bus that transports passengers to the tarmac next to a plane, which in this case is a British Aerospace 146. First over-the-cab-wing plane I've every flown in.

Star Peru plane to Cusco

This flight was also without incident and afforded me my first glimpse of the Andes. I had an aisle seat, and the girls sitting next the window were sleeping and closed the shade, so I dozed on and off during the flight. The landing was nice and smooth. When I got to the airport, I grabbed my luggage and made my way to the parking lot. I found a taxi and gave him the directions I had to my hostal for the evening, he said "No problem, I can take you." When I asked how much, he said "30." Stupidly, I agreed, not knowing how far it was from the airport, and thinking that $10 for a taxi ride was okay even if it was pretty close. Unfortunately, about a mile from the hostal, he said "Thirty Dollars" and when I protested that it was 30 Soles, I realized he never stated a currency. I argued with him about it a little bit, but realized I had no real ground to stand on. Damn it..... lesson learned there. That won't happen again.

I arrived at the hostal ( and was greeted by the wonderfully delightful owners. I believe that they are brother and sister, and were ready and waiting for even though it was only about 9 in the morning. They knew that my flight was early, and that I had arrived in Lima late the night before, so they had my room ready and waiting for me, even though it was hours before check-in. At best, I hoped to store my bags and go explore the town some, but instead, I managed to get a few hours of sleep, and then was able to check things out much more refreshed in the afternoon.

I was slated to meet Victor at 12 noon to finalize paperwork and details about the ride, but he was running a little late. About 1, he showed up, and we rode to his office.

This is from the last day, but here is Victor:

Victor from Maginka World Tours

We rode two-up to his place, worked out all of the details and payment, and then he dropped me off at my hostel. We planned to meet at 9:00am the next morning.

I had the rest of the evening free, so I set out to see some of Cusco. I walked around town checking out various alleyways and side streets, Incan walls, and cathedrals. I quickly realized that the altitude had a much greater impact on me than I expected it to, and climbing the staircase into the San Blas neighbor left me huffing and puffing. I have to remember to take it easy while climbing up.

Plaza de Armas Cusco

As I walked around, I fired up my GPS to try to locate one of Cusco's several vegetarian restaurants I had loaded into it. Uh-oh.... this isn't good. There is only one road displaying, and NONE of my POIs are on here. Damn-it.... what did I do? Somehow, after verifying that everything was there, I wiped out the map and POIs on my GPS. Crap, so much for that. I specifically traded for this GPS so I could load Peruvian maps on here, fat lot of good it's doing me know.

Inca Wall Cusco

I had only eaten 2 Lara bars early in the morning and as it was approaching 3:00pm, I was getting quite hungry. I stopped at a Juice bar place called "Yo Jugga!" and had a veggie sandwich and a strawberry/orange juice. I paid S12 for it, and it definitely hit the spot. This would hold me over until dinner.

Next, I headed to the minor Plaza next to the Plaza de Armas to check out the goods that were being sold here. I found two prints that I really liked, and decided to chance it and buy them on my first day. The survived the trip in one peice, and made it home just fine. I also purchased to locally made charms on cheap chains, one of a llama and the other a hummingbird.

I converted some more USD into Nuevo Soles and realized that the conversion rates SUCK on the ground in Peru. The ATMs have far better conversion rates, do yourself a favor and take out cash this way if possible.

Plaza de Armas Cusco

After wandering about for a while, I ended up buying one more print off of this college-aged kid on Plaza de Armas. He seemed like a nice guy, but caused some serious frustration on my part. I changed some USD to Peruvian Soles in Atlanta, and as part of the deal received a 200 Sole bill. I had twice tried to use it, and once tried to break it for smaller bills, and all three times the receiving party acted like they didn't know what it was and handed it back. Basically, I had an unusable S200 and an unusable (small rip) USD$100 on me, both tying up a significant portion of my planned budget, and both seemingly unusable. I didn't know what the sort on the S200 was, but figured I'd get something figured out eventually. So, as I am paying this kid for the print, he points right at the S200 bill and asks me what it is. He claims that it is not Peruvian money, and acts genuinely confused by it for a few moments. Eventually, he says something like "I think you were robbed..... you should let me take that to my art class so I can show them what fake money looks like." That almost immediately confirmed that the money was real, at least in my head, but apparently not widely used in this region. Nice one, kid. The owner of the hostal would later confirm it was legitimate and part of the latest revision of bills in the country. He even took it to the gas station on the block and had it broken up into more usable bills for me the next morning.

For dinner, I was planning on eating at this vegetarian restaurant near the Plaza that I had seen, but at 6:15 it was still closed. I ended up at an Italian place instead, and had a rather normal spaghetti Pomodora with free salad bar. The salad bar consisted mostly of pickled vegetables and beans, different, but good. The salad bar reminded me of the appertivos served in Italian bars.

Salad from dinner

I was pretty wiped out by this time, so I headed back to the hostal and watched the Dakar on Speed before passing out around 11pm. Fairly relaxing day, although I learned that the altitude is going to have at least some impact on my trip.

All of today's pictures:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Day 1 Peru

Day 1 Saturday March 24, 2012

This day I have the least amount of notes in my journal as it was a long day and I got to my hostal in Lima about 1:30am or so. I kept a fairly detailed daily journal during the trip, but not so much for Saturday.

Woke up early, fairly excited about getting off the ground and to Peru. My wife and her brother and his wife were slated to depart Nashville International at 1:30pm, and my own flight was scheduled for a 12:06pm departure. Mark and Jessica stayed in Nashville overnight, so Karen and I got up early and had breakfast at G's Pancake house before leaving for Nashville. It was nice to be able to hang out in the airport with all three of them before getting on my plane.

The flight to Atlanta was uneventful, and I had a rather easy 3 hour layover before leaving for Lima.

About 4 months ago, I began to eat vegan again, and was planning on sticking to this as much as possible while in Peru. Suprisingly, I was able to eat vegetarian and nearly vegan for the duration of the trip, but I "fell off the bandwagon" a few days after getting back to the states. It sort of sucks as I would have really liked to sample some of the more traditional Peruvian dishes..... feel so dumb sometimes. meh, whatever. That said, I had the vegan meal options on the flight. They were not very good in either direction, which was a big dissapointment after have really decent vegetarian food on my flight to London last year. The overnight meal to Lima was some sort of grilled vegetable dish that was basically grilled vegetables in a brown sauce. The vegetables were very mushy and not tasty. Fortunately, I had some Larabars with me to hold me over.

The flight was very smooth, with no problems. We flew over Cuba while the sun was still up, which was pretty interesting. I didn't see anything noticable other than some buildings and roads, but possibly as close to Cuba as I'm going to get to seeing Cuba, at least for a long while. We also flew over Panama City Panama, which was neat for me as I had lived near there when I was a kid.

We arrived in Lima about 12:15, and I made it through customs and baggage claim with zero problems. Walked out past all of the waiting cabbies, and out into the parking area to catch a taxi to Hostal Las Fresas ( The ride over showed that the hostal was not in the best neighborhood, but the entrance was on a weird somewhat hidden alley, and once I was inside, I felt completely safe. Very basic room, but at a good price. I paid S70 for the night and a taxi ride that was pre-scheduled for the next morning. After getting to the room, taking a brief shower, and jotting down notes for the day, I crashed out pretty hard.

Hostal Las Fresas in Lima

Rest of my pics from today:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Planning and Packing

Essentially, it started like this (post from my motorcycle forum):

"I have a feeling I won't be riding this weekend , bike is partially dismantled, too cold, need to Christmas shop, family in from out of town, etc...

Oh yeah, and I have a lot of research to do on Peru! My birthday was today, my wife gave me a guidebook to Peru, and as I puzzled over it, she handed me a plane ticket to Lima for March! I'm going to Peru for 1 week in about 3 months! WOOHOO! Honda XR250R or Falcon 250 rentals for about $45 a day! Machu Picchu! Cheap food and hostels!!!! WOOHOO! My wife rocks!"

I posted the above line on December 9, 2011 at 9:25pm on the night that I found out I was going to Peru. I was overjoyed at the prospect, caught off guard by an awesome trip, and overwhelmed with the idea of planning an awesome ride. I can be a bit of an over-planner on a trip, and for a few days, Cusco seemed to be starting the same way. I had some help on here with a few different ride reports, but specifically Poolman's "Sacred Valley of the Incas" ( and swamp's Machu Picchu report (!!%29/?PHPSESSID=1e2f1d07272fcaf0f37f68adf67b5cfd). Both swamp and Poolman helped me during the planning stages, graciously responding to PMs (even initiating them themselves, great guys!) and helping clear up any questions I had.

Fortunately, I realized that over-planning for this trip was simply not going to happen. As with most emerging countries, you have to learn to go with the flow. Situations can change on an hourly basis, roads can wash out, governments can shut down. Fortunately, I embraced this idea quickly. I booked my connecting flight from Lima to Cusco, found a hostel for me first night, and setup a rental bike at Victor at Maginka World tours has been incredibly helpful, responding to questions, verifying route options. He and I discussed getting into Machu Picchu via the back door, and laid the groundwork for an excellent 5 days on the bike. I am enlisting their services as a local guide and translator as well. I was initially a bit bummed by the idea, but my wife was very much relieved by the thought. I have some high school Spanish that I have not used in years, but could probably fumble my way through what I needed to say while in Cusco or Ollantaytambo, but if I ended up somewhere that the locals where speaking Quecha, I'd be screwed. Overall, probably a good idea.

So, after nailing down a rental bike, the rough plan to get to Machu Picchu and booking my entrance, I basically stop planning. I've done some research on various villages I might visit, checked out the possibilities of riding Colca Canyon, seen what options I have to make a big loop versus an out and back ride, but basically, I decided to wing at last part of this ride. I think it'll make things more exciting, but also not setup a plan that is waiting to be thrown out the window. Instead of planning everything I want to do (like I did in the UK last year), I spent a lot of my time buying gear.

I'm a bit of a gear whore. I'm also a list maker. It's bad at times. I was always making this big lists of things I "needed" before I went. I already own a Giant Loop Coyote and Diablo tank bag, and I have a nice heavy duty backpack with 2 liter water bladder in it. I didn't have any good motorcycle boots, so I ordered a set of Gaerne G-adventure boots. My wife got me a Steripen for Christmas, and a hidden wallet. I ordered 2 FatTees wicking shirts, and a pair of new lightweight cargo pants from REI. I decided to take a pair of shoes for any hiking I do, and my Patagonias were nearly worn through the sole. I found a set of nike trail shoes on discount. I spent $64 on socks! I already had a pretty decent first aid kit, but now it kicks but. I visited the doctor and received my Yellow Fever inoculation, Hep-A, Diamox for altitude. I planned to buy a SPOT and a GoPro. My buddy TN-Steve offered me his old SPOT that he no longer used, awesome! I realized that I could not load non-North America maps into my fancy-dancy fairly new Delorme PN-60 GPS. I traded it with marcusarelius for a old-new Garmin 60CSx so I could load maps up from OpenStreetMaps. I tracked down electrical connectors, chargers, and AA power headlamps. My buddy Matt snagged one of those could rechargeable USB power supplies on Woot for me (Thanks Matt!). I like buying gear, and I like crossing things off lists. It's pretty bad.

To be honest, some of the stuff I got is probably overkill. I always like to think of myself as an outdoor person, I used to be really big into hiking, but in reality, I've only "camped" probably 5 nights in ten years, and I'm known to beat feet as soon as the sun rises so I can get home and get some real sleep. Somehow, during all of that, I amassed a decent stockpile of outdoor gear. Oddly enough, much of it is crap. This prompted me buying some new gear, as well as building my first aid kit and personal effects bags. Some of the stuff I could have gotten in Peru (probably cheaper), but I don't want to spend a half a day walking around looking for a pharmacy when I could be checking out a town. Don't get me wrong, sometimes that's a great way to find new and unexpected things, but I realize I'm on a bit of a constrained schedule this trip. I will be flying to Lima on Saturday March 24th, flying out Cusco the morning of the 25th, and then jumping on a bike on the 26th. My return flight leaves Cusco on Friday the 30th.

So, basically, I'm ready to go. I can get all of my stuff into my Coyote, a backpack, and a helmet bag. I'm fairly impressed at how small I got everything, and I'm taking a tooltube bag, tool roll, air pump, spare tube, 2 days of clothes, extra shoes, and a 20 degree sleeping bag (it's what I had). I've only ever done 1 overnight trip on my bike, and that was to my parents house last summer. So, my first bike big trip, in a foreign country on a continent I've never visited, on a new bike, and where I barely speak the language. Oh yeah, I've only been riding for 1.5 years. I can't wait to get this started.

Oh, and my wife's brother called her a few weeks back and said that they were going to Italy during the same time frame that I was going to be in Peru, so she's headed to Europe while I'm in South America.


Karen's bags for Italy are in the background.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Piles o' Crap

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Tonight began the true effort to pack for Peru. I'm not going to be riding my bike much (if at all) before the 24th now, so I could start moving bags and tools from my bike to my den to pack. Here is the initial outcome:

Packing Pile

Here is the bulk of everything. I've not got 100% of the stuff in the piles yet, but it's mostly all here.

Packing Pile

In this picture is the clothes that will be packed for the flight, including two pairs of quick drying synthetic boxers, 2 liner socks and one out socks, 1 pair of heavy wool socks, fleece pullover, long sleeve wicking shirt from FatTees and a pair of swim trunks. I will likely be wearing one of the pairs of liner socks. The guide book has been rebound to only include the 50 or so pages from the Sacred Valley region. In the top of the picture (and partially out of frame) is my electronics (Garmin 60csx, SPOT, usb quick charger, wall charger and cables, batteries, Steripen and pre-filter/adapter, headlamp), personal affects, and First Aid gear. In the bottom left is my sleeping bag stuff sack for the Giant Loop Coyote and 2 lightweight dry bags that should hold most of the rest of the things.

Packing Pile
This picture includes my Coyote heat shield, tools, spare tube, Larabars, some cashews, lock, HJC IS-MAX helmet, Gaerne Explorer boots and backpack with water bladder. The base for the Diablo tank bag (bottom right) is in the backpack as well.

Packing Pile
This last picture has the stuff that may or may not make the final cut of gear, as well as the pants and tshirt I'll be wearing on the way down. The tank bag and my gloves are in this as well. I may be leaving my heavy winter gloves (in the first picture there is a small bag with thermal glove liners and balaclava that take up minimal space), two pairs of cotton socks, Maglite, pocket knife and AA-powered usb charger.

Here is my master packing list. It doesn't format great on here, but it's definitely usable. Green means it's within the piles. Yellow means I own it and it will make it to the piles. Red means I need to get it. I'll pick up some of this in Peru. The riding gear is up in the air right now. Both of my jackets and the pair of pants that I have are too big on me now. I've been looking at Klim riding gear, the Badlands jackets and pants look like an incredible year-round capable adventure riding suit. Unfortunately, it also costs $1550 for the pants and jacket. I will most likely end up with two suits, something like an Olympia vented or mesh suit for hotter weather, and something waterproof for cooler and wetter riding. With that in mind, I've been looking at Bilt waterproof gear to take to Peru. It's cooler there (under 70 most days, unless I dip down into the warmer rain forest areas) and it's been raining quite a bit. Cyclegear sells Bilt (it's an in-house brand) and they have a waterproof adventure setup on sale for $240 right now.






Copies of Passport1


Hidden Wallet1For Passport


Insurance Docs, ID, CCs6In Wallet


Emergency Contact Cards2


Paper Maps1


Pens & Journal13 Pens, 1 Steno Pad





Socks32 liners, 1 over, 2 pairs black socks, 1 pair wool


T Shirts22 ADV Wicking


Underwear32 synth, 1 ExOfficio


Fleece Pullover1


Rain Jacket1


Off-Bike Cargos1


Hiking Shoes1


Swim Trunks1





Giant Loop Coyote Bag1




Diablo Tank bag and plate1




Riding Jacket1And Liners


Riding Gloves3Liners, Heavy, Light


Riding Pants1And Liners





Health & Hygiene


Personal Effects Bag1Basic


-tooth brush1


-tooth paste1


-hand sanitizer2






-mouth guard1








-nail clippers1


-lip balm1


Toilet Paper1


Sun Screen1


Insect Repellant (DEET)1


Sleeping Bag1Compact, lightweight


First Aid Kit1


Protien Bars8


Spare Glasses1


32oz Water Bottle1with silicone sip reducer





Patch Kit1




Pressure Gauge1


Cable Ties12


Spare 21" Tube1


tool bags2


MISC. from front fender pack





SPOT GPS Tracker1


Spare AAA Lithium Batteries10


Garmin GPS1


Cell Phone1


Spare Cell Battery1


USB Charger, Cable and Adapters1Micro Cable, Mini Adapter, Wall Charger


USB Portable Charger1


AA Powered USB Charger1Includes Mini USB Adapter




SD Cards310GB total


Steri-Pen, filter and adapter1


Headphones1Ear Buds


iPod Shuffle1


iPod charge cable