Category Archives: Peru

05-01-2013 Nazca 2: Necropolis

Today, 05 January, I went out to ride without the luggage. The destination was the so called “Necropolis”, a place where a number of open graves contain mummies that date back to the pre-Inca time. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chauchilla_Cemetery.
It’s quite amazing to see how well they are preserved and still sit outside in their open tombs with merely an overhang as protection.

The road towards the cemetery was gravel and sand for the last 15 to 20 km’s or so. This was my first actual dirt road, other than a couple of times practising. It went pretty well, but I was rather tensed during the whole trip, back and forth. Standing on the pegs, I never got above 40 km’s/hour.

This reality check, made me wonder about my itinerary. This trip was without luggage and all the freedom to move around. Will Bolivia have also more than 1000 km’s of dirt tracks? How much time will I loose on those when riding fully packed?
Are there any sights in Bolivia that I absolutely must see? My main 2 goals on this continent are Machu Picchu and Patagonia. Bolivia was an extra maybe.

I have decided: I am going to skip Bolivia and go for Chili straight after Machu Picchu.
The amount of riding days at best are at least another 25 or more. In that case I will have to ride nearly every day and nothing can go wrong. I have taken into account that seeing Machu Picchu will at least take another day and Patagonia maybe 2 or 3. It seems I have lost too much time at customs in Lima to be able to complete this itinerary in a realistic way.

Tomorrow I will be on the road again to towards Abancay and then Machu Picchu. After that I will see how much time it will take to reach Conception in Chile. In my mind that will be a point where I should decide wether Patagonia is still feasible (taking into account that there are numerous gravel tracks as well) or I might have to cross straight through Argentina for Buenos Aires.

The trip to Abancay tomorrow will show me if the gear on the bike is still too heavy and therefore I may need to make even more sacrifices or that it will be acceptable.

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05-01-2013 En route to Nazca

Today I left for the first trip in Peru, from Lima to Nazca.
Nazca is famous for the Nazca “Lines”, giant shapes ‘crop circles’ style drawn in the desert floor.
How they’ve been made has been clarified; why they were made or what they mean, remains a mystery.

This morning I started packing the bike at 07:00 and soon realised that I brought a lot of stuff.
REALITY CHECK 1: Bike is top heavy and too ‘light’ in the front.
Stubborn as I am, I left anyway. It would work out, just needs getting used too, I told myself.

Finding my way out of Lima was quite the challenge. My sense of direction, which is 95% of the times spot on and amazingly accurate, was in an ongoing battle with my Garmin GPS. In time I did manage to find the right route 😉
Riding a motorcycle in Peru has pro’s and cons……  1 disadvantage is, that usually the motorbikes here are small and no more than 250 cc. Other traffic disregards anything on 2 wheels. At least 4 times today I had to escape to the side of the road to prevent from being smashed by upcoming trucks and cars that were overtaking on my lane…..
On the positive side: Toll road attendants also treat bikes as unimportant, and therefore let you pass without paying.

REALITY CHECK 2: the desert is really hot and dusty.. 😉 My riding gear couldn’t keep me cool….
Many times I remembered the Sahara desert back in 2005, since the landscape was so similar and the temperature too. The heavy sidewinds made me lean in the wind and I wondered if my tires weren’t wearing out too much on 1 side.
Also after lunch, the warmth and the monotonous noise of the wind, made me drowsy and that is always dangerous. Fortunately I acknowledged the sensation very quickly and made myself focus a lot more.

It got more cloudy and eventually it even rained for a little bit. Not enough however to stop and change in to rain gear.
The road was winding through the hills and even with the substantial extra weight, de bike went great.
Close to Nazca is a lookout tower which presents a view on a couple of line drawings nearby. Across the road is a small parking space where I put the bike on it’s side stand.
After I got back to the bike I suited up and just when I was mounting the bike, it fell through it’s side stand. I couldn’t believe this was happening on the first day of the actual trip.
2 Very helpful bystanders helped me pick up the bike and held it upright while I mounted up. As far as I could see, besides the broken jiffy, there was no damage… 🙂 it landed mostly on my large bag. Only the mirror needed adjustment.

When I arrived in Nazca, 2 guys in a car persuaded me to come check out their hostel, where there was room for the motorbike. I followed them and the 2 men held my bike while I put all my luggage inside. When I mentioned the broken jiffy, they directed me to a man 2 blocks up the road who could weld it. I found the man and was very relieved that it was fixed straight away.
When I returned to the hostel, they gestured to ride the bike inside the hostel… 🙂 Nice and comfy my Supertenéré sleeps indoors.

Realising that the luggage is too heavy, I sorted out what I carry with me. Clothes and tools are the main things that I will disregard in order to slim down the weight.

For diner I had the Peruvian popular ceviche, raw fish, marinated in lemon juice, served with onions and sweet potato. Pisco Sour was my drink for the night.

Let’s see how things are in the morning… 🙂

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03-01-2013 Last day in Lima

After mounting the front wheel and the mirrors last night, this morning I re-attached my left front indicator with tie raps (obviously last night someone thought that lifting the bike on the indicator should be ok) and filled the OSCO with oil.
Time for a test ride: everything seems fine. left mirror needs a little adjustment en when the cooling fan is on, the alternator seems to find it difficult to keep the sparks going at idling.
Apart from that, it went fine. I quickly got used to the chaotic traffic.

Since the Dakar Rally starts from Lima, I went to see the vehicles up close, while they’re still in town. Monsters…. all of them  🙂

While travelling, you tend to meet nice people all the time… very nice people.
I am grateful to Alex and Priscilla, who let my motorbike stay in their locked garage during my stay in Lima. The people of ATG logistics have been great too. Carlos deserves a big compliment for his patience and his perseverance, Paul and the lovely Noelia for all the info and their suggestions. http://www.atglogistics.com

Third party Insurance was not easy to arrange for South America. Fortunately I found an USA based company that insured my bike after supplying the necessary details in copies per email.
http://www.motorcycleexpress.com

For tomorrow I plan to travel to Nazca, home of the famous Nazca lines. I made reservations in a hostel with a Dutch like name: Hospedaje Brabent.  🙂

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03-01-2013 Motorcycle through customs

Today, 2 Januari 2013, my goal was to finally get my motorbike through customs.
At 07:30 I was at the shipping company from where we left for the customs office which opened at 08:45. The customs inspector woman told us that we would meet her at approximately 09:30 at the customs terminal. Carlos, the man from ATG (Andean Trading Group) told the inspector that I was following the Dakar Rally and needed to attend at the Dakar caravan urgently…..  That story seemed to work.

The good lady did want to know everything that was in the crate, and made me open every bag and the top case. She made it a point to actually check the frame no. But fortunately she was sympathetic to the Dakar caravan story and said everything was fine.
At 14:00 (2 PM), we could pick up the papers, after we made another copy of my drivers license. In the mean time we went to the bank fast to deposit the terminal fee.
At 14:00 in the customs office we waited till 14:30 but indeed got the documents and the carnet, that serves as temporary import document. Back to the terminal to deliver the documents and get the release forms…..

No such luck !!!! the terminal employee, didn’t know quite how to deal with temporary import of a foreign motorcycle and demanded another official document that was validated by notary… (This same day 300 Dakar attendees were going through the same procedures at another terminal, so how hard could it be).
At that particular moment I confess that I actually did loose my cool for a few minutes…… Carlos however, didn’t and said we were going to talk the guy’s supervisor.
This lady made a phone call and agreed it should be possible. She sent us back to the guy that was oblivious to temporary import and he took forever to process the documents.
But at 18:00  (6 PM) we could finally have the truck come up to pick up the crate.

How many times I had to put down my signature and passport no. on documents today, I don’t know…. I lost count. The same goes for how many times we had to drive from the customs office to the terminal and vice versa. Or how many copies we had to make of documents.
Bureaucracy in (slow)motion.

Bottom line: the crate was on the truck heading for the hostel. 🙂
3 Men and myself were at the hostel to unload the crate. That proved to be a challenge…. We basically lowered the front end of the crate out of the truck, then 4 men lifted the front of the bike (without wheel) and walked the bike into the garage where I jacked it up and put the front wheel back in. It was 20:30; what a long day !!!!

Time for pizza and beer !!!! The remaining preparations I will do tomorrow and leave on Friday.

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31-12-2012 Delay at customs in Callao

I could/should have expected it. The last day of the year, many people take a day of to extend the weekend. Peruvian custom employees are no different. Thus there was a shortage of personnel  today and nobody was available to inspect the crate….    very disappointing but understandable. The fact that the Dakar Rally is starting from Lima soon, also puts a strain on customs, and this in fact makes things slightly worse for me….

All my hope is on wednesday now… a week after arrival in Peru.

Every downside has an upside though: I have a little more time now to figure out the best way to create routes in my Garmin GPS. Realistically planning is quite the challenge. I need to keep in mind that I most likely need an extra day to get used to the altitude around Machu Picchu and Lake Titikaka…… I have been told that chewing Coca leaves really helps against symptoms of altitude sickness… Advice well taken…  😉

27-12-2012 Arrival in Lima Peru

Just arrived in Lima. On the way from the airport, I observed traffic. Note to myself: CHANGE YOUR MINDSET ABOUT TRAFFIC !!!! What a huge chaos. I’m sure all will be fine, once I actually start riding the bike, but it’s good to observe beforehand….

After settling in the hostel Casa Ana, I took a taxi to the area called Miraflores at 10 am. This is where the shipping agency resides. Once I told them why I was there, they asked me to come back at 3 pm, so they could draw up some papers I needed to sign for the notary. Miraflores is quite big when you walk around for 5 hours… 😉

Back at 3 pm, I asked them how long they expect it would take to get my bike cleared through customs and delivered to the hostel. Due to holidays and new years, it would take about 2 weeks they said…..
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing…. Quite upset I told them that I can’t spend/loose 2 weeks waiting. I specifically chose this agency because they promised to do what was needed to speed up the process…
After a fruitful discussion, we agreed upon trying to get customs to speed up the process, by me attending personally first thing in the morning, at the customs office and explaining how important it is that I would get my bike a.s.a.p. !!

I will go to bed early tonight to have a clear head tomorrow morning…… 😉

Miraflores 27-12-12 Last Import - 2 Last Import - 3 Last Import - 4