We climbed to the top of the mountain and
floated among the clouds, hwy good (sparse traffic) & we
glided, floated, drifted ...surreal. And then we descended;
the curves got tighter but concentric, loved the sound of
my KLR purring, coasting, and carving the mountain. It was a dreamy 265 miles.
I left Omaha NE with Frank and Kevin at 9 a.m.;
temperature 29 degrees. Kevin Naser was traveling with us
for just the first part of our journey through Mexico and
We left on Friday, December 21st and we scooted
along because we were concerned about beating the cold
front and snow due to arrive Saturday, the 22nd. When I
talked to Kath (wife), a few days later, she said we
barely made it out of town...rain Friday night turned to
snow on Saturday; winds picked up Saturday p.m.
Frank says that I am disorganized - 'I don't get his
point' - but I did forget to bring my writing pad, and
somehow I've lost my pink registration for my MC; hope I
won't need it.
It was great talking to Kath, she sounded so perky and
wonderful. I really miss her every quiet moment.
Tuesday p.m. about 2 or 3, I almost met my 'waterloo';
got brushed by a car doing probably 100 mph and went down.
I feel blessed that I escaped.
Frank, Kevin, and I were traveling on the right
shoulder of a 4 lane interstate in Southern Mexico,
wanting to get turned around to go South; Frank went
across first, then Kevin, I looked back to see if it was
clear for me go. There was a bank of cars coming at me
about mile back so I knew I had time to get across
safely. I traversed across 3 lanes and was about to enter
the 4th lane when I was struck a mighty blow on my left.
It didn't hurt, it was just a solid impact. I awoke on the
shoulder with Kevin talking to me. I said, "I'm aLRight."
My motorcycle was still on the highway on its side.
Some people were trying to get it up and out of harms way.
A young man kept saying, "I'm with the Red Cross; I have a
medical van with me, do you want anything?" "Are you OK?"
I was still sitting on the roadside, trying to think
what had happened. After a couple of minutes, I think...I
did get up and went immediately to my side pack to get
some ibuprophen, took 2 and said, "lets go."
Later at a roadside restaurant, Frank and Kevin said a
red car sped away from the scene doing at least 100 miles
an hour. Kevin said that when he raced toward me, he was
horrified to see me face down, and what appeared to be
blood all over my face, but it was just that the sun was
shining through my sunglasses to make it look like blood.
My face was bloody, but nothing serious.
The damage was: very skinned up side panels, shredded
side packs and panniers, broken windshield, banged up
knee, and some road rash. Not only was I in some mild
pain, but now had to deal with riding without a
windshield, which made me have to stiffen my neck to the
wind, and of course, achieved a sore neck at days end,
making it more difficult to get myself to sleep.
Great ride again today, spent much time on our
tire edges, about 5 solid hours of twisties & switchbacks.
It was so smooth and exhilarating that I was saying to
myself 'I'm so glad to be able to do this, and I feel
thrilled to be going south, south, south.'
6 p.m. Great dinner last night, showered again,
shaved, and shaved my head. Temp outside about 75 degrees.
Slept wonderfully with overhead fan all night (dried all
our clothes on the clothesline Frank rigged). We plan to
get to Esquintla, Guatemala today. We're a little
frustrated with our charge cards, can get only 1 of 4
cards - oh well. Frank finally talked to Sandy last night
(talked a long time), meanwhile I met and visited with
'Rigo' from Idaho Falls, ID - a potato patch worker down
here to see family for 2 months, (he was very well dressed
and much gold in his mouth) .. hmmm. Also ran into
international couple, Bill from Spain and Dedro from
I'm in a lot of pain tonight (in Esquintla,
Guatemala). Bumped a VW on the rear bumper and went down
hard (details later).
Getting across the border into Guatemala was lengthy,
and frustrating. We got sent back 30 miles to get a stamp
on our paper... unbelievable that the needed stamp
wouldn't be right there for travelers. - It's an insult! I
watched the bikes while Frank negotiated for 2 hours.
Anyway, it put us in position to have to drive 120
miles at night to Esquintla, worst ride of my life, 3
hours of torture; my mask was fouled by insects so had to
leave it up, which fouled my glasses. There was constant
awful traffic with terrible glaring lights, cane trucks, 5
mph almost every hill. Then I met a man walking towards me
in the middle of my lane. I clipped him with my mirror at
55 mph and almost went down again. I'm really glad to get
to Esquintla - great room, shower & dinner.
Tomorrow will be a better day. Thought we might meet up
with Kevin at the 'Texas' Hotel, but no.
Thought a lot about my Kath today - hope she's doing
well on the road to Tennessee. I'm anxious to talk with
her again on the 31st.
Woke this a.m. (6:00) feeling
wonderful and relieved to have slept, except for a blast
of loud music about midnight for 3 songs - amazingly rude,
it was thunderous, Frank said he didn't hear it. We had
our typical breakfast of oatmeal & coffee, heavy on the
powdered cream...and everyone was mesmerized by Frank's
'whisper light' stove.
People would gather around us while we cooked and while
12/29 - 12:00 p.m. Traveling the highway thru this
jungle, the road is lined here and there with big stones
painted white on our side; interesting and pleasant
My bike switched to reserve at 235 miles as I was
passing a truck. Been about 2 hours now (at the border
again), trying to get out of Guatemala and into El
Salvador. Frank keeps coming back to the bikes to get
for more 'copies'. We've been following a surprisingly
pleasant schedule of eating... oatmeal pack & coffee for
breakfast, and late evening dinner.
Yesterday, while waiting for Frank (at the border), I
was approached by a skinny, dirty lady with child (guess
about 8 or 10 months old - crawling). She came to me, I
figured out, because she observed my attempting to put my
medicine pack back in a zippered pocket. She sat the baby
down by me and the baby started crying loudly and clawing
at the pocket while mother spoke frantically. I went to my
trunk, un-bungeed it and pulled out some crackers (baby
still crying), she bit open one end of packet and gave the
baby a cracker... what a scene... as she walked away.
Within 5 min, grown men and others came to me
requesting, 'a coo-kee, me hombre'.
It's been a couple hours since I saw Frank (in border
check office), very 'calor' (hot). I'm a sweaty mess,
can't wait to hit the open road. Finally, we're off at
El Salvador - people were on the road this a.m. picking
up sugar cane stalks that were dropped in the night by
trucks. Lots of animals on the road - pigs, lots of
Brahma's, chicken, women and young girls with loads on
their heads. Most of the road was wonderful, winding down
This wasn't a good day. We were doing our normal thing,
traveling the curved highways of Nicaragua, about 50 or 60
miles per hour, Frank leading. We were both taking
chances, .passing with questionable circumstances, and
getting away with it, (like passing on hills and around
curves). It was a long slow curve to the left, maybe a
dozen cars to pass. Frank went and I followed, .. prepared
to dive back into the right lane if something was coming.
Well, something was coming, .a bus, blowing his deep
sounding horn. No problem, I'll just move over to the
right here between these 2 cars, and to my surprise and
horror, that 15 foot gap that was there just closed, as
the car beside me moved up; .no room for me.
The bus was now 25 feet in front of me, coming fast,
and still blowing his horn. What a terrifying moment. My
choice was to stay in the bus lane and be smashed, or move
over anyway, where there was no room. Of course, I moved
over, gently bumping the car next to me, and those of you
who ride bikes or motos know what happens then. You go
down hard, and I did. I remember hitting the pavement,
hard on my knee, and skidding on my face, (thank God for
my helmet). I skidded off the concrete and into the ditch,
the weeds and dirt were much more hospitable. I jumped up
quickly, in the middle of the great traffic jam I caused,
and with help from others, up righted my bike.
I couldn't walk now without limping. There was a very
sharp pain in my knee. I didn't want to look at it. Frank
and I drove up a ways, where there was a pull off, and I
tried to walk off the pain. No way! So we continued our
journey; .Frank mentioned he thought I was a tough SOB,
though he didn't say anything about how smart I was.
What I learned from this: the person riding the
motorcycle ahead of me has a different set of conditions
to make his decision to pass or not to pass, and I can't
do what he does, because my timing will always be
different. So I made a vow to me and to my sweet wife,
that I am solely responsible for my safety and therefore I
will only pass when I am certain it's safe for me, .and to
hell with any other thoughts. Don't pass or take chances
to keep up just because someone else does it.
We stopped (one of our rare instances) for a light
lunch by the sea. I took Frank's picture. Tonight we
stopped in Zacatecoluca. Hotel was great with a pool - we
indulged -- $20.38 - almost cheaper than camping.
6 a.m. - shaved, brushed teeth,
tended my bike - 80 degrees. No sign of
dysentery or stomach disorders. Yesterday,
we saw many sections of the shoulder where
people spread their grain to dry and tended
with a hoe.
Many beautiful cottage-looking abodes
with many flowers, but they consisted of
boards and sticks with a tin roof. Today,
Frank and I came in off the road with
blackened faces. What a scary sight in the
mirror! At the Honduran border 11:50 a.m.,
snapped a picture of Frank being besieged by
boys again (they try to get you to hire them
to assist in paperwork).
3:00 - finally left border. The treatment
at the border is insulting, especially El
Salvador to Honduras. The officials have all
these arbitrary charges, and constantly
'pulling rank.' We met Jim Donaldson from N.
Carolina - he was very frustrated and angry
at everyone including his 2 riding buddies.
'Now I know why they say when you do a trip
like this, buddies don't speak to one
another for a year or more'. Jim drove a
R1000, bent his wheel on chuck holes, and
was admiring our KLR's; said next time he's
going to get a KLR.
Beautiful ride from hotel to border
- really feeling great, no prostate problem,
no sinus infection, sleeping well, getting
along with Frank, sort of. Frank knows
everything about these KLR's - taking good
care of us. We saw kids at the roadside
holding up dead lizards for sale. Took
picture of a bonita 10 year old girl -' Lini
'- selling apples, then of Frank refreshing
@ roadside, then a village fruit market.
First 30 miles of the road into Nicaragua
was the worst I've seen since we left. Met 3
the guys from N. Carolina again (w/Jim D)
not getting along, separating. We left at
We really made headway today, but I am
exhausted. 3 hours to get out of Honduras
and into Nicaragua, We drove across and
checked out, and into Costa Rica. Arrived
about 9:30 p.m., washed clothes and listened
to the fireworks and loud bands 'playing' in
the New Year. I hurt my mouth on the 25th
(side swipe), and it hasn't gotten better
... gotten a lot worse. Doctoring it, hope I
can get it taken care of so I can enjoy
eating and other things. Really miss Kath.
Talked to her briefly tonight, maybe try to
call again tomorrow.
Leon, Costa Rica. A shoeshine waif approached me to solicit me. I said 'no comprende'; 'Boleo sus zapatuz', he repeated
himself, but a little slower. I said 'no
comprende', he moved round in front of me,
pointed to his eyes with 2 fingers, as if to
say, 'now pay attention' and said 'Senor, (I
was sitting in a chair), he repeated the
syllables very slowly; 'bo-lay-o sus
za-pot-os'. I burst out laughing, he smiled
for a moment, but then shrugged his
shoulders helplessly, and walked away, but
not without giving me a parting shot of
disgust over his shoulder.
We stopped in San Jose and did a
successful update at the Internet Caf, but
leaving there was now my latest worst ride
ever. It started bad because I went on
reserve a mile out of town - then it started
raining on the mountain, and the worst part,
a thick fog... driving in low gear and
picking our way was nerve-wracking, took
about 2 hours of this when we came upon a
quaint hotel, thank God! We were told
gasalina is 70 K, about 40 miles, Oh Boy! We
got really cold at the hotel, no heat, just
thick blankets, To park our motos, there was
an elevated carport with the owner's car
parked at the entrance with 3' wide opening
to get by without hitting a steel rail, it
was raining, very precarious. After we
negotiated this, the owner pulled his car in
behind us so we couldn't leave without
Next a.m., we drove about 10 miles, my
clutch broke, 5 seconds later, ran out of
gas. Frank emptied contents of his gasoline
cooker in my tank, replaced the clutch
cable, and we were going again in 15
minutes. We went about 15 miles to the top
of a mountain, ran out of gas again, I
coasted over 7 miles down the mountain and
rolled right into a Texaco station - WOW!
Frank and I agree this a.m. ride was the
most beautiful (100 mi to Panama); arrived
here at 2:10 p.m. On the shoulder, saw an
iguana entwined with a snake, neither of
It was markedly different
conditions entering Costa Rica and more so
Panama. Roads were marked, there were 'curve'
signs, very few pedestrians. Saw some Hwy
State Patrol vehicles. Even saw a pickup
pulling a ski boat. We saw skinny- tired
road bikes instead of the scruffy mountain
bikes. We stayed at a wonderful hotel last
night (Galleria, in David, I think). The
ride into Panama City was glorious, wide
wonderfully marked roads, sparse traffic, we
found a spectacular roadside lunch place.
Took some pictures - waitress 'Moctie'. As
we entered Panama City, it down poured,
complicating our effort to find our way to
the Aero Puerto. We got soaked, but it was a
warm rain. First place we tried said it will
be $473 for both bikes, but not leave til
Thursday, a week.
Second place, boss not here, back at 8:00
(it's now 4:50). They have flights every day
but tomorrow is booked. We will wait right.
I'm wide-awake and I feel
rested. We're in one of those
sex by the hour motels; very
nice, just one bed. I found
Frank down in the garage
sleeping on his mattress, very
thoughtful of him. We are 200
mi. SW of Bogota. Our tires
are still holding up - wow.
Took a great picture of Frank
going toward a mountain in the
middle of the road (it
seemed). Really miss my
Kath... about 6 thousand miles
to go, can only do 200 or 300
a day. I think Frank & I both
are weaker than when we
started (road weary).
Mr. Romero did show up at
the cargo company (Girog) and
finalized our bike shipment -
$250 cash each; we now are
broke. We'll have to find an
ATM. Hotel took VISA, $142,000
pesos = $71 U.S. Our taxi
driver (Ernesto) is most
anxious to help us. He came to
our hotel 45 minutes early to
pick us up to take us to our
bikes. Couple hours of
paperwork, on the road at
noon, traffic was
unbelievable. We went around
an 'open' manhole in the
street. What a trip stopper
that could have been! We saw a
total of 3 open manholes.
Traffic was bumper to bumper
for about 60 miles. We passed
100's of vehicles on the right
and left to make progress, &
so as not to have to sit in
the 104-degree temp. We
stopped at a pig roast on the
highway, was scrumptious. My
knee is finally better this
a.m. - still a little
feverish, but better. Think we
have about 350 miles to
Ecuador, won't make that
today. So many of these
roadside restaurants have no
menus, just their meal of the
It was beautiful, when we
finally got out of Bogot�,
lush green mountains and
valleys, great roads, well
marked, nice shoulder for
passing when jammed up. We see
great numbers of 'girls' on
bikes & motorcycles now -
didn't see that in Central
America. Traveling is much
better now. Don't care much
for Central America.
To get back on the
Pan American, we had to cross
over a mountain. What a chore,
80 miles of rock, blocked
roads, shear drop offs,
harrowing trip...rarely out of
1st & 2nd gear - stunningly
beautiful though. We are only
about 50 miles from Ecuador,
seems like we are doing pretty
well. Staying at Hotel Impero
de Los Incas, still in
Colombia is my favorite
country, Pasto is my favorite
city, enchanting, ...how
beautiful. We stopped to have
cafe con leche and sweet cake
(not very sweet), 70 miles
from Ecuador border (on top of
a mountain overlooking Pasto).
Saw a guy yesterday (a
painter), on a moto with his
paint buckets and 8-foot
ladder. When we traveled on
that terrible rock road, we
encountered kids with a rope
across the road to stop us for
pesos, but more threatening
was a roadblock with a big
bamboo log across. Frank
talked with the leader a
moment and they opened a
little for him to pass, but
stopped me and demanded pesos.
I glared at him and gunned my
MC thru the opening.
Then, almost as maddening,
we met 25 or 30 groups of kids
with water barrels ready to
douse us as we passed pails of
water & garden hoses. It was
chilly riding in these
mountains, and that made it
miserable. Some kids had white
and other colored powder to
throw on us. It was a most
Sometimes we would pass under
an over-hanging cliff and get
doused from above. Turns out,
we learned later, that we
happened to passing through on
the last day of a religious
holiday, and we were the
recipients of their baptismal.
Had to get used to going
down 2-lane highways with
oncoming traffic and commonly,
someone pulls into your lane
to pass...you just move over.
Saw a sedan pulled over on
hwy, hazard lights blinking, 6
men standing taking a leak.
Don't remember seeing any of
that in America.
Really slept well last
night, think it must have
rained several inches.
Next a.m., couldn't help but
feel like celebrities. People
were all over our bikes, and
us, taking pictures of each
child on the seat (with
sunglasses). It is noon and we
are at the Ecuadorian border;
Frank went inside to do his
thing! He was out in a few
Now to Ecuador... arrived
12:00 noon, out to lunch till
2:00 p.m. This typical
arrogant asshole is like we
experienced in Central
America. He comes to see our
bikes (to inspect). We try to
show him the serial # that he
asked for; he will not be
shown anything. He stops to
talk with a young girl,
laughs, visits, while we wait.
After several minutes, he ok's
the document without looking
at our bikes further. During
our wait for him, I ventured
uptown, Frank stayed with the
bikes, and was taken with the
kids (teenagers), on lunch
break, walking arm in arm
everywhere. I brought back a
large container of fresh
blackberries for us, ...50
cents. They were so
Stayed in Quito last night, nice hotel - cost
$11 for the use of the phones. Talked to my Kath, she was
wonderful. Today was hectic and great. Started out with my
rear tire going flat 1 mile from the hotel. Fixed it, we
thought, went flat again, drove slowly about a mile or so,
found a tire shop, lost about 3 � hours, but the
experience was good. Enjoyed Louis (Lou ees). After
leaving Quito, we climbed to the top of the world, it
We drove in and out of the clouds, it was cold, wet,
and the scenery was astonishingly beautiful. Saw pastures
that were almost vertical, people tending their animals
everywhere. Saw one lady with 3 sheep on a tether with a
baby on her back. Saw men plowing with oxen.
Flashback: My windshield broke off about 3rd day, and
my MC cover disappeared 2nd night on the road. We are
staying tonight at a Hosterie in Biblica near Cuenca on
Pan Am #35.
7:05 a.m. Frank still sleeping. All of our
hotels have been clean, cheap (with 2 or 3 exceptions) &
friendly. People seem to be in awe of us - wish I could
read their minds or visit with them. Our days are long
now, dark after 7.
Today, we climbed to the top of the mountain and
floated among the clouds, hwy good (sparse traffic) & we
glided, floated, drifted...surreal. And then we descended;
the curves got tighter but concentric, loved the sound of
my KLR purring, coasting, and carving the mountain. It was
a dreamy 265 miles. Now we are entering Peru @ 6:00 p.m.
Kathy would love riding in Colombia and Ecuador,
especially today's ride. The policia and military have
been polite & gracious to us.
We are in Sullana (soo-yana), the pace here is dizzying
- with the hundreds of 3 wheel motos w/multi colored
canvas tops (taxis) running around (constant beeping,
whistles & honking). As we left Sullana, we entered a
desert w/terrific winds from the side. It blew my great
gauntlet gloves out of the canvas wrap that was bungeed
down with my grapple. I hate losing them; don't know if I
can find others in Lima. The wind was dangerous to ride
in, especially when passing trucks... and the sand was
blinding at times. We are staying in a hostel near the
ocean, 1st time I've had my own room ($5 a night). It's
miles from nowhere, so no supper, TV, or conversation.
Wouldn't like much of this, but sure gives me time to
think. This darn knee, it's been 11 days since the
accident, and it's still hurting as much as the 1st day.
It gets feverish and swollen, keeps me awake. Guess I'll
take the rest of my Cipro. Found my 3rd camera today and
took some 'moving' pictures of Frank in a sandstorm south
Saw a new huge John Deere tractor in the middle of the
desert, appeared to be abandoned ... then further on saw
an old man miles from nowhere pushing a primitive
wheelbarrow (wooden wheel). What in the world could he be
doing out here?
Entering Chimbotte, 2 policia motioned us over, said
our paperwork was improper and that we were speeding. One
of them went to his radio and said something (I think he
was faking). He pulled out a ticket book and pointed to 'infracion'.
Frank exploded, said, 'We weren't speeding - take us to
jail'. Both officers now sitting in their vehicle said,
'We want money'. Frank said 'Mordita?' (Bribe). 'No, take
us to jail'. Both men looked startled and both started
saying 'Freen' and extended their hands. Frank said
'Amigo?' They said 'Si'.
One said, 'We want gaseous cola' and smiled - Frank
said 'No - you give us money for a gaseous cola'. They
said 'no - Freen'. 'OK' 'Can we go?' 'Si'. 'OK - bye'.
On the road today, we came upon a huge sand dune across
the hwy... a bulldozer was removing it but only had one
lane open, we could scoot through before the rest of the
cars and buses. I think the people here are glad Pepsi and
Coca Cola came here ... their bill-boarding makes good
huts and lean-tos, we see them everywhere.
Frank is uncanny the way he senses which way to go in
these towns, when all I can see is obscure alleyways. He
really startles me when he yells at guards or policia,
when they are inspecting our papers and raising preguntas,
(questions). 'Give me back my papers so I can go'.
Every time he has done that, it has worked. They treat
him like he's having a bad day, and just get out of his
way. They motion with their arm usually, and say, 'Go'.
While passing through a small village in Peru, we
turned onto a street, thinking it was the way out of town.
Some of these are marked obscurely, or not marked at all,
so you often have to guess. As we progressed, the foot and
animal traffic was getting heavier. It got to a point
where people trying to squeeze by were nudging us
After several minutes of this in 100 degree heat, we
finally were approaching an intersection where there had
been a trench dug across the street, about 4 feet deep and
2 feet wide, not real conducive for motos, especially with
the mound of dirt that was created along side of this
trench. We were stopped. We noticed just a few feet to our
right, was a place where it appeared a vehicle or
something had crossed and had caved in the side of the
trench and filled it partially; it was only about 8 or 10
inches deep. Frank tried it first, down into the trench,
and then a sharp upgrade to the top of a huge mound and
then down; .it was like riding a bucking bronco. It made
me nervous to have to do that, but it was exhilarating to
have done it. Wow!
Tonight we are in a small town just north of Lima; cute
and clean hotel for 30 sols each (about $8.00).
Interestingly, Frank w/his larger front sprocket has been
getting better gas mileage than me, but the last couple of
days in this wind, I've been leaning forward to cut down
wind resistance and doing better than Frank's, slightly.
Yesterday, we got 65 mpg, but today only 45 mpg. I feel so
lucky to be able to do ...
We've been in
Chincheros 2 days now, not much to do. It's been raining for some time
now, kind of cold in my walking shorts. I left Frank at desayuno,
(breakfast), writing in his ledger. He thinks we can leave tomorrow for
Cusco, I doubt it. X-ray showed a fracture of the collarbone, but no
separation...swelled up though. Spent the day yesterday washing clothes
(and Frank's) and trying to clean & put my bike back together, pretty
beat up. It started heating badly when we arrived here after our mishap,
but after cleaning mud out of the radiator, appears to be okay now.
It's quite beautiful here, but wish we could go - I'm anxious to be
home and see my Kath.
There are 2 crazy parrots here that scoot around sideways, bickering
and screeching constantly; pretty comical. Rosa says they are sisters,
Lolita and lumas. We've been eating all our meals at this one family's
place, Letoya (Mom), Herlinda (college student), Emerson, Leyla, & Eli.
They are warm, engaging, and wonderful. Though I'm ready to leave
here, I dread the 120 miles of the same rock & rutted mountain road till
we hit asphalt. Was hoping to talk with my Kath today, but probably
tomorrow if we can make it to Cusco. They did have a phone here in
Chincheros, but it was programmed only for about 20 cities in the US,
and Omaha wasn't one of them.
Wednesday. Can't leave today, as planned. Seems there's a sort of 'political
strike', and villagers are blocking the roadways to all traffic for this
Yesterday, the sun shone on the mountain across the way and rained on us all day.
Today, the obverse, so far (9:30 a.m.) Just got back from visiting
Latoya's family casa. She is so proud of their orchard, mostly hard
peaches (but good), on a grassy bank. When they knock down the fruit
with a stick, it drops and rolls and they laugh and chase. Example of a
meal cost: Desayuno (breakfast), plate of rice, covered with large
scrambled eggs (huevos), rolls & butter and 2 cups of cafe con leche
(latte) cost 8 sols for Frank & I together, about $2.50 U.S. This is
Wednesday and we've nothing to do but wait till the 24-hour strike is
'total' (finished)...8 a.m. tomorrow. Frank can lift his right arm up a
little today. I gave him my Tylenol PM capsules last night and he slept
a lot, he says. We eat every meal with our Peruvian family and try to
I'm really missing Kath, want her here, she's a part of me, and I
The world has come to a standstill for Frank and me. All shops are
closed, and roads...we were invited to eat with another family in the
'centro' (knowing we couldn't buy anything), we declined, saying we were
dining with Latoya & family. They were inquisitive and doubtful, saying
she was closed w/penalty for doing business. We told them we were
'amigos'. (So they dropped it). It's 2:30 p.m. and time is dragging,
can't think of anything else to clean. Been sleeping at least 12 hours a
day. Frank sleeps more, and he needs it. He just went to unlock the
garage to get his MC manual to have something to read.
I find myself thinking of Kathy constantly...I see me seeing her and
Almost everyday, I witness some bizarre scene that I say I'm going to
record, most of the time, I forget. I recall in a busy city in
Nicaragua, there was a man on a moto hauling a full size box spring on
back... one carrying an 8 foot ladder & buckets, one family with papa,
mama, and teenager on the back holding a 5 gallon bucket in each hand.
Frank saw the same and said mama was holding a baby.
In Lima, on a 4-lane fast moving street at rush hour, we were in the
right hand lane, suddenly the traffic slowed to 2 mi per hour. The
traffic whizzed by on our left. It took several minutes for each vehicle
to bail out of the lane...and when the last one made it, we saw the hold
up was a man pushing a wooden cart down the middle of the lane, not even
our MC's could pass. I beeped him to let us by, but he ignored us, we
just had to wait to get around him.
In Chincheros, where we were kind of marooned, I noticed early on our
first morning an incessant honking of one of those squeeze ball bicycle
horns. I figured it was a kid trying to annoy people or entertain
himself. But everyday, at different times, it would start up again. Then
I saw the culprit...about a 10-year-old girl walking along honking.
Frank found out later that she was notifying the community that the
fresh bread was done at the bakery. I thought for sure that the
townspeople were being tolerant of a deranged little girl.
left Chincheros 7:00 a.m., climbed from 8600 feet to above tree line,
11,000 plus. We rode 120 miles of rock and dirt, hard to appreciate the
wonderful scenery. Had to watch intensely where your tires were rolling.
At 9:00, Frank's front tire went flat. It was quite a challenge to
repair with Frank's bad shoulder.
On this road to Cusco, we encountered many obstacles that were put
there by the strikers; we could get through though, because they weren't
being manned. Also had to cross many shallow streams, deepest about 12',
and it rained on us. Also encountered 100's of cattle and sheep on the
road We hit pavement and went 4 more hours to Cusco (8:00 p.m.,..very
The city was spectacular, loved the lights and the feel. Police
pulled us over right away, we played dumb for the infraction (wrong
turn, I think), and he got frustrated and waved us on. Found a nice
hotel right away (dark though). Went to Machu Picchu @ 6:30 a.m. on
Friday (exhausting train ride) and back in Cusco at 8 p.m.
Sunday. Had pretty primitive quarters last night in Pamato. Yesterday a.m.
leaving Cusco, I said, 'Frank, we've driven over 7,000 miles' and tried
to give him a high five, but with his bad shoulder, had to settle for a
When we left Cusco, we went south & up to about 7 or 8,000 feet for
300 miles on a high plains plateau road... 42 to 60 degrees. We got
pelted with sleet, and later drove thru some shallow wet snow. Saw
thousands of adobe and straw homes, saw a big white rock (about 12') in
the middle of the lane where it had been dragged under a vehicle for 150
yards before dislodging...left a white chalk mark... must have created
quite a scare. But the stone was left there, of course, ...for someone
else to hit, ...and drag.
Frank & I were in a quandary; we came to the end of the road
(pavement) and suspected the rock road that continued went into Bolivia
(illegally). We had to do that or go north.
We did the rock road... for about 9 miles and changed our
minds...came back and went the long way around. Lots of (100's) llamas &
alpacas, they tend to get in the road and are erratic when we get close.
Frank passed up eating at a 'Subway' in Cusco - WOW!
Saw thousands of 1-room dwellings today constructed of basket weave
panels. When we dropped down off the high plateau, we experienced
massive sand piles thousands of feet tall, (they were majestic), lots of
wind again, but appears we may finally be out of the rain.
Officially - we've been 1 calendar month on the road - 10
countries achieved, 2 to go. We are in Arica, Chile, and it is wonderful
weather...shorts and short sleeves. Got up @ 6:00 a.m. and the streets
were being swept by hand everywhere, never saw a cleaner town.
Frank and I really enjoyed the 'walking' streets (no motor traffic),
outdoor vending everywhere, some of the cafe's tables and chairs
extended into the street, nice feeling,...very modern with Internet
cafes in abundance...we got our clothes washed...feels great!
Met Stephen and Victor on bicycles, stopped to talk a little. Stephen
was from Mexico, near Puebla, and Victor was from Germany. They had left
Ushuaia over 2 months ago. We gave them big fresh plums that they
As we entered another province of Chile, we were stopped and the 4
plums we had left were to be confiscated, or we could consume them...we
consumed them. It's the first time I can ever remember being forced to
eat lunch. Frank said, as we were leaving 'I wonder if they will want to
know where we defecate so they can check for contamination We went about
200 miles out of Arica to the coastal city of Iquique;...beautiful, was
like Highway 1 on the California coast. Stopped at a seaside restaurant,
had wonderful pascada and cafe con leche.
About 20 miles south of the city we kept entering what the signs said
were 'Zona de Neblina' (fog). Traveling on this road was
dreamy...massive sand piles, thousands of feet tall.
I'm dreaming about Kath giving me a haircut (with electric shaver)
and I'm putting my arms around her. I'm dreaming of having breakfast on
our deck, ..it's summertime. Hmmmm.
I think back about the 'sideswipe' incident. And then I start to
think about perching on that cliff that rainy dark night...how terrified
I was getting, observing the car headlights far below me. The beams
would sweep across below me, as vehicles wound along the mountain road
below me (gives me the heebie jeebies again!).
Lots of tent campers along the seashore, most of them bunched
up...would be groups of 6 or up to 20 tents huddling together...for
security, I suppose.
We stopped at the giant hand in the desert, a huge concrete hand,
raising straight up about 200 yards off the road. We were taking some
pictures and eating a donut, when Frank said, 'Well, here comes one of
our compadres...on a KLR.' It was Mariola Cichon. She was heading for
Ushuaia also, then up through Brazil, Uruguay, then over to New Zealand,
India, and maybe Africa.
With Mariola, we traveled about 350 miles today, the last 72k was
rock and dirt...rough.
Mariola took us to a resort beach area, Pan El Azucar (sugar
loaf)...this was gorgeous. We had pascada, rice, salada (tomatoes and
onions), and latte.
It's getting light...about 3:45 Omaha time. Good
sleeping...by the sea, with the waves gently hitting the beach. There
are 3 of us in separate tents. We're supposed to have breakfast with Mariola, but I doubt that will happen, because I don't think the
restaurant will be open.
Frank and I are ready to hit the road. My knee kept me awake for a
while last night...I'm disappointed that it's hurting still; it's been a
month and it's swollen and feverish. I bought some more 'Cipro' in Arica,
in case the swelling started moving down my leg again. I think we're
about 500 miles north of Santiago. Well, the restaurant was open, great
Note from Mariola:
"It is amazing how we, members of one big family, find each other in
the strangest circumstances. I had a great time with you and Frank.
Thanks for sharing stories and your time with me. I hope your journey
will take you to many wonderful places, without any unpleasant
surprises. Wish you the best of luck...and hope to see you on the road!'
Mariola Cichon www.rideoftheheart.com firstname.lastname@example.org"
Saw my first condor yesterday...he was soaring toward me and when he
turned away from me, I saw his distinctive head...those expansive
About 12 or 15 miles N or La Sarena, yesterday, we were inland just a
little, but riding a few thousand feet up, and 'my gosh' off to our
right, on a mountain range between us and the sea...there were white,
heavy-looking clouds pouring over the mountain like a waterfall, and
coming down the mountainside toward us. What a sight and feeling. Right
then, I realized I was getting cold...the temperature was dropping
rapidly, about 25 degrees in just 6 to 8 minutes.
We had a nice dinner last night, carne and arroz (beef and rice) with
fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. Frank was in more pain than usual...asked
if I minded if he rested longer, and to leave later tomorrow (Thursday).
And Thursday is our malaria pill day. We haven't had the slightest
threat by the so-called prevalent maladies and diseases or infections;
just lucky, I guess. Traveling through the villages, we look for correos
(post offices), none...and no carriers or delivery vehicles.
Well, we did it again...went on reserve, and worried for 30 miles,
and out of the desert, a mirage, a gas station...no, it's a
trick...yes!! A gas pump! I'll be damned!
I am so excited, and we're here, about to enter Santiago. Like Frank
says, we're about to enter our 3rd and final phase. The ride today, and
getting this far, is euphoria for me. I feel energetic and excited to
continue to Ushuaia.
THE TRIP ENDS
FOR ME. My adventure ended in Santiago, Chile.
My KLR was in bad shape, tires shot, both sprockets shot, chain
stretched beyond saving, and etc. It was also very pavement-worn from
being down so much, (darn). I took hwy 68 out of Santiago to Valparaiso
and arrived there at dusk, too late to get anything done to get my bike
shipped to the states. So I checked into a hotel and didn't get much
sleep because I was so upset that I wouldn't be completing my trip to
Next morning, I started the process of arranging passage for my bike
(a nightmare). I found a policeman who was wonderful and willing to
help, but after 2 hours of following him around, (and my bike was in bad
shape, and on reserve), we finally located a shipping company, Flamingo,
....talked with, 'Claudia', on the phone, with much difficulty. She and
the policeman agreed that I couldn't negotiate anything unless I had a
domicile,...meaning I had to return to the hotel I had checked out of.
So the policeman helped find the hotel from my receipt. Claudia was to
call me there in 10 'meenits'.
After an hour and a half, I got the hotel lady to call Claudia; this
resulted in Claudia calling me back about 20 times, (maddening). She
said I had to get my bike to the aduana in San Antonio, about 2 hrs
away. I told her my bike was disabled and wouldn't make it. She said she
would call me back.
She called back and said she would have my bike picked up in about a
'What am I supposed to do in the meantime?
She said, 'You can make the shipping arrangements then.'
I had been at this for about 5 hours now. When I hung up the phone, I
was depressed. I started adding up the dollars. About $1,000 for
shipping, $200 or $300 to pick it up in Houston in a couple of months,
the necessary repairs, the hotel expense to stay to make the
arrangements; I started questioning the effort.
I asked the hotel lady, as best I could, 'Adonde moto vendor?'
She understood, and picked up the phone and called, handed me the
phone to try to talk to another lady, at the moto vendor. This took 15
or 20 call backs before I finally got the idea that the vendor was only
2 blocks away, and that they wanted me to bring it over there.
I drove my beloved KLR over there and parked on the sidewalk in front
of this awful looking place. A young man approached me, and said 'Quantas?'
(How much do you want?) I said $500 US dollars. He went into
conference with some of his associates, returned to me and said, 'Ok,
but you have take to the aduana in San Antonio to get the paper.'
I said: 'I want to leave today, and I don't want to go to the
He said: 'Dis a beeg a prublem.'
After awhile, he approached me and said, 'Sell for parts.'
I said, 'Ok, how much?'
$300 american dollares. He then said, 'Un moment, par pavor.' After
some more discussion with assoc., 'Beeg prublem, legal prublem.' 'Eeets
Ater several minutes of doing nothing but standing and fretting, I
started unloading my bike with things I thought I could carry to the bus
station 4 blocks away (so frustrated, I was ready to just leave it).
He approached me again, 'Maybee solution, un momento.'
'Otre hombre say he,....200 american dolla'ers, and 100 euro.'
I said, 'Fine, and took the money.'
I gave them the title, and walked away from my wonderful KLR, parked
in front of this awful place, to be cannibalized.
I caught a bus to Santiago, booked a flight for that midnight, and
was home in Omaha at 11:00 next day.
My KLR didn't deserve the ending it received! The engine still ran
great, always started, such a reliable friend. If it had gotten the
maintenance, the tires, the proper chain lube (Frank told me it was the
I slept well last night and am happy to be home with my Kath. My
right knee is still giving me pain and I suspect I'll have to get an
x-ray to see what needs to be done.
I loved the ride and experiencing the people and the scenery. It was
an exhilarating experience! I'm glad I did it and I wish my friend Frank
success and good health to his Ushuaia goal.
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