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Fasten your seatbelts it's going to be a fun ride

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Peru 2022. The adventure ride begins.

Peru. The adventure begins.
1 month. 
Bought a 300 cc dirt bike. 
Rainy season.
8,000+ miles. 
Elevation changes between sea level to 15,000+ feet.

It's been a long time since I had an adventure ride. This will make up for that. 
Scandinavia. Baltics. UK...well those were paved roads with tight police monitoring. 
Except New Zealand, Trevor helped organize a mostly dirt ride through all the passes.

I also did a solo western US national parks ride in 2020 and blogged on that.

After not enough planning and researching the day to leave came suddenly. Bags and I waiting for Arka to drive me to the airport. LAX. That's right, we moved in together to a great duplex in Melrose Hill and I couldn't be happier. 

But not before Dave's Hot Chicken. 
This chicken is delicious!
I ordered a second portion and ate it up to 4 days later in Peru.
I always pack food. Skipping a meal is bad for me but even worse for anyone around me.

Overnight flight. Arrived in Lima at 7am. 
Then sat on the runway for an hour waiting for a gate. 
Welcome to Peru.

Had to take a taxi to the bus station to ship my enormous heavy bags by bus. 
It was chaos. Hot. Dusty. Scary. I was glad to go back to the airport to fly the last leg to Huanuco.

My 3 star hotel. 
The swan towel was positively scaring Grindle. 
It was a quiet place though.

Normally I would ship my motorcycle but given the state of travel these days and the extremely high cost of air cargo, this led me to find a company here in Peru that does a buy-back program.

The bike has been outfitted to my needs, including the mounting of my michelin man. 
I also found a cute guinea pig toy to mount to the handlebars.

This is the shop where the bike was worked on. 

After a first look over, decided it was time to eat. Treated Toby, the person who arranged for the motorcycle purchase, at a steakhouse. 
When my steak arrived, it seemed perfectly medium rare.
Until I bit into it. It was ice cold on the inside.
We asked why. 
They cook their steaks from frozen.
Sent it back twice, still cold on the inside, much like the hotel room I am in now. No heat.
Finally on the third try it was lukewarm. 

Cool lights.

That's Toby on the left. 
King Bob on the right.

Who is King Bob? 

Well there is King Bob minion who is pretty cool.
If you don't know who this King Bob is then you've not read any of my blogs for quite some time. We officially met on the road in southern Sweden in 2018, and then shared the ride together for the remaining weeks through the Baltics, Finland, Norway.
We pared up again in the UK the following year and then again in New Zealand.  

We ride similarly, safe speeds, no drinking at lunch, prefer paved routes to dirt if we have a choice. Neither one of us want to end up in a hospital halfway across the world. We both love riding all day long, and I do mean a full day. I tell people to never underestimate our love of riding. 

We like the same food. We both love meat, in any form, cooked in any way and lots of it. Lamb is at the top of the list. We both enjoy a strong coffee so I bring a jetboil and coffee and he packs the mini moos. We like to eat often, well, I like to eat often and he goes along with it. 

We avoid cities and enjoy "ride by" sightseeing. In 20+ lbs of motorcycle gear, walking around is not fun. We aren't here to visit churches and museums. We are here to see scenery and enjoy the challenge of the road, which I am assured here is quite challenging. 

We liked this place so we came here two nights in a row. 
When we find something we like, we stick with it. 

So I look terrible in this photo but it's the best of the 4 the waitress took.
It's a real camera. People get confused when you hand them a camera these days.

The hotel we stayed at had these regional garb dolls. 
Upon closer inspection, I noticed the eyes were blue.
That's right, Barbie and Ken dolls dressed up. 

TukTuk into town. Only here they are called Bajaj. 
They make things easier for us.
At the end of a challenging day riding, we don't want to put our gear back on and ride anywhere to eat, shop or do anything we need to do once we've showered. 
They are so cheap, it's a no brainer. 

I needed some off road gloves. 
Turns out Peru is a lot warmer than I packed for.
So we went to a shop and they had this helmet.
I absolutely love this helmet. 
Why doesn't the US have anything cool like this.
BTW 2 days after I took this photo, I came close to running over a rooster. 
No joke. 

Street vendors with fresh fruits. 

Me doing some last minute installations to get my bike ready.

Our second night at the same steakhouse and I wanted to show the delicious sauces that always come with the steak. The one in front makes me think of a mustard, the white one olio and the salsa is spicy.

This is Peruvian corn. 
It has no flavor whatsoever. 
And the kernels are as big as horses teeth.

It's a bit hard to tell but there was a massive protest of hundreds of motorcycles and scooters including riot police in the main square. There is a new law that you cannot ride double. Seems there is a tremendous amount of petty theft that happens when two people sit together on a bike. It makes me mad even typing this. For most people here, two wheels is all they can afford and to say that you can't have a passenger is completely unfair. 

Tingo Maria. 

A short ride from Huanuco and that's a good thing too, we had to wait an extra 4 hours for the windshield to be finished on my new bike. It was worth the wait though, I didn't have to put on rain gear for a few hours after it started it kept the water off of me so well.

Stopped for fried trout. 
They have fisheries here and it's about as fresh as you can get and of course, the plate is packed with rice, potatoes and beans. No matter how many times I say, no rice, no beans, no potatoes, the plate comes with an Andes size mound of all three. 

Here are the fish in the tank.

I worked myself up to getting a whole fish, with the skin and head still attached and hoped they weren't using old oil. It was delicious, not a lot of meat, just a snack for me. It was so over-fried, pretty sure I ate the bones that were fused to the meat. 

The Jungle.
Today we made it to the jungle. Huanuco where I picked up my new bike is at 6,000+ feet. Then there was a tunnel. We heart a lot about this tunnel, the lack of light, beware of trucks hogging the center, potholes etc. I've done 30+ KM long tunnels in Europe. I was expecting the worst. 
It was short and we could see well enough to swerve around the hole big enough to trap the front end of a motorcycle and send you flying over the handlebars into oncoming traffic, in said dark wet tunnel.

We encountered light rain and headed to Villa Jennifer based on a rider's recommendation as a safe place to park the bikes. Bike security here is very challenging. You cannot leave it unattended for even a minute. No street or overnight parking outside your hotel. no no no.

I asked to park under the metal awning and was so glad I did as I heard it thunder and rain heavy all night long. It's been a few days since I stayed there and my legs and arms are a constellation of mosquito bites. They are really tiny here, they don't sting when they bite, they don't make that annoying buzzing sound, but lord does it burn two days later. The room had no AC and was hot as the inside of my boots. 

This is my room. Across from another room where a group of people arrived late and drank until 4am. On one hand, it was fun hearing people have fun. On the other, I had only ridden 3 hours that day but was exhausted because of many factors I will elaborate on later. 

The Owl Cave.
Note, there are no owls that live in this cave. There are colorful parrots who lord over the opening of the cave and oilbirds that own the rear of the cave. I took a recording. Creepiest sounds I have ever heard. A cross between the clicking rasping sounds of Ridley Scott Aliens and a really deranged rooster. 

The tourist price is triple the locals price. 

Nice footpath to get there. 
We got there right before the park closed.

To give you an idea of scale. 
It was muggy and hot. 

View from the back of the cave. 

Back to the hotel for dinner and a dip in the fresh spring water pool. 
Used google translate to ask the very confused cook to make me a dish without rice, without potatoes and without beans. It was a meat dish with sautéed onions, tomatoes and cilantro with beef. 
He added plantains and heckled me later by saying "no rice" with a big smile. 

I liked the bar. 

Inside of empty restaurant. 

More dolls dressed in traditional garb. 

It was a yummy meal.


The weather forecast for the next day was 100% chance of thunderstorms.
Given how much I've seen of the road, that means mud.  Oh goody. Slick mud on roads where passing vehicles is a necessity. Glad I brought my rain gear. Turns out the rain was warm, non-stop and with car wax on my face shield, tolerable. 

Take a close look at the sign.
Notice anything unusual?

Peru loves Groot. As I write this, I've seen two others since. 


MaryJane said it just perfect over text phonetically. She and her 3 lovely, feisty (Daisy), friendly (Haley) and smart (Lula), daughters are following my satellite tracks. If you want to watch a little red dot moving through Peru, you can find the link on my website. 

But, it is another city, and the roads are the worst in the city. It's traffic, dusty, muddy, potholed, confusing, stop and go madness. Google maps get's it wrong half the time. One ways that are marked the wrong way. (the wall shows a one way sign, pointing the opposite direction and the newer, less faded one way sign pointing the other way are really fun)

Arrived and took a dip in the pool. A freshwater spring fed pool with no detectible chlorine. It was heaven and cooled my body temperature down. Glad I brought a swim suit. 
This is the view from my room, you can just see the bikes in the back behind the white umbrella.

They are enormous!

The best restaurant in town was an "American Steakhouse", 4 scary on-foot blocks away from our hotel. It was overcooked meat with too much salt and oh yeah, only potatoes to go with. The waitress was very patient with us struggling to choose the largest meat plate options and special order plantains. 
No vegetables. 
They even came over and took a photo of the "Americans" for their FB page. 

Here is the jetboil. No breakfast at this place, not even coffee. Fine. I got this. 

I found a hose to wash off all the mud.
There was a lot of mud. 

That's the sound you hear a lot. If you are wondering what that sounds like, you are not watching Looney Tunes enough. Yes, I meant that in the present tense. Every normal child knows the road runner but healthy adults still watch it. 

To pass anyone, and there are plenty of vehicles to pass and we must pass often, it's two short beeps just like the road runner. Come to think of it, the actual passing part is also like the road runner, as quick as possible because you are on a twisty mountain road with no visibility and a high probability of debris in the road, landslide, water, other vehicles, animals. Pass quickly. 

I had some strange things with the bike the second day. 
King Bob checking the front sprocket. 
Learned soon after I had 10 PSI in the rear tire (and water) and 38 PSI in the front.
For non motorcycle people, it's supposed to be around 25 on both. 

The big trucks, of which there are many and the other motorcycles of which there are many and the tuk tuks of which there are way too many, back up in a conga line on the higher passes. Passing is a requirement we communicate with the the helmet comms and given that King Bob has a lot of power, remember I am on a 300 cc, he let's me know when it's clear and I can wind up my tiny engine and lean forward with all the focus and skill I posses to catch up to him.


Amazonian city the guide books say is a must see. 
Difficult to navigate. 
Nothing like the small town photo in the guidebook.

But they did have great ceviche. 
They spell it with a b here, cebiche. 
A local fish, drowning in lime juice. 
Corn nuts and fried banana chips. 


Did I say we hate cities? 
I found an airbnb that was about as rustic as it gets. 
Cold water for shower.
No fridge. 
Completely open to bugs and other fun things. 
Down a dirt road outside of town. 
This is our host. 

He was so nice, he went to town and did the shopping for us for food and other essentials. He even did our laundry with is still drying tonight in the room with me nearly 24 hours later. It's very humid here. 

Gindle is exhausted. 
He's crammed into the smallest top box in the world. 
I feel bad each day I press him flat with the two other things that kinda fit in this ridiculously small top box. This has upset the whole balance of my packing. Normally I can fit everything. Not with this OH SO SMALL TOP BOX!

Like I said, traditional Peruvian home. Rustic. No AC either. 

In a beautiful jungle.
Blessedly quiet, except for the loud animal sounds all night long.

Take a look at this painting and tell me what's wrong with it?


Beautiful mountains and a mosquito breeding ground right outside.

This is the jungle baby!

Stopped for lunch near a lake.

Typical roadside restaurant. 
Roulette wheel every time.

Chicken soup.
Only this was NOT chicken. 
It was so tough, had to be a over boiled rooster or turkey.

It's a bit heartbreaking how many strays there are everywhere.

Neuvo Tingo.

We wanted to stay at the really nice place in town. 
It was not meant to be, no indoor motorcycle parking.
So we went a couple blocks away and stayed at a cheaper place where they let us bring the bikes inside.
As seen from the third floor. Stairs are always involved.

Clean. Soft bed. Very thick sheets. 
Grindle likes it. Of course, anytime outside of the ridiculously small top box is good.

View from my window.
Kuelap is in the distance.

A local told us to stay in Nuevo Tingo instead of Chachapoyas. 
Glad we did, very small town. 
Packed full of restaurants. 

This is the place we wanted to stay.
A Spanish family had this built and a very nice girl studying engineering, Sara, let us hang out on the porch enjoying the view.

All the restaurants are closed Monday.
It's Monday.
No problem, order delivery.
Enjoyed dinner with Sara at the nicer place. 

The next day we ate breakfast here.
It was food. Very strong coffee, glad I have mini moos.

View of Tingo. 
The towns used to be built near the river. 
Then a massive landslide and other water disasters wiped out the town. 

So they built Neuvo Tingo. 
High up on the mountain top. 

The view of the surrounding mountains was amazing.

Juan was our english speaking guide who spent the morning with us.
Waiting for slow poke Nancy to make it up the stairs. 
All morning long.

Gondola to the top of the mountain.
From 7K feet to 10K feet between Nuevo Tingo and Kuelap.

First outside wall of Kuelap.
10% of the tourists that go to Machu Picchu come here.

We are the first Americans he's seen in 6 months.
This was the service entrance to the city.

View of the lower mountains from the entrance.

There were 5 tribes who lived and built here.
The Chachapoyas were eventually attacked by the Inka's in a siege that lasted two years. 
Rather than be conquered, they committed suicide and only when women and children were left, they took the city.

The walkway installation was pretty good but still full of trip hazards.

All the homes were circular. 
3,000+ people lived here for a couple hundred years, much longer that Machu Picchu.
Usually 6 to a single house.

See that line across the inside? 
That was the Guinea Pig 'run' where they kept them, until they ate them.

Beautiful wall surrounding the place. 
4 different levels with the royalty at the top.

There is a shaman craving on one of the stones in this picture.

Close up. See it?

Giant house. 
Just the way we like it.