Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Insurance Woes - 17 February 2018

17 February 2018 – I woke up to bottle caps falling from the bed to the floor. I checked my e-mails and texts. Chris, my guy out in front of me e-mailed me all the necessary information to leave Peru and enter Chile. Nothing that unusual other than I need to purchase motorcycle insurance for Chile online before I come into Chile. That took me 5 hours and without his help, I would have been purchasing it in Arica, Chile. Another adventure I didn’t want to undertake. I just found out that all my work on the insurance turned out to be a waste of time. After I put all that effort into buying insurance, it’s incorrect. I will have to go to Arica and see if I can find an insurance agent where I can purchase the motorcycle insurance I need. I’m still not done with my blog due to this insurance thing. I so wanted to be out of this town tomorrow with this blog stuff wrapped up. I gotta go get something to eat and text Mary. Maybe she can help me.

Reflections on Privilege - 16 February 2018

16 February 2018 – Today I looked at the news coming out of the U.S. I swear, I don’t how people living in the greatest country in the world can be so ignorant or stupid. They should take that kid that killed 17 people in Florida and put him in a maximum security prison with the bad boys. He needs to find out what it’s like to be owned property with no regard of what he thinks. The rest of the brainiacs should travel through some of the countries I have traveled through and see how little the people have. People have so little, every window and door must have bars on them to keep the thieves out. Every car and motorcycle has to have a secure garage for the night or find everything gone the next morning. When you come and go from a hotel you must be buzzed back in. Every gas station must have a 24 hour guard on it. Every bank and many of the hotels have a staff of security people to handle the bad guys. Police and guard dogs everywhere. People only have enough money to buy food. You don’t see anybody walking into a store and buying a $3.00 Snickers Candy Bar. I feel guilty when I do with everybody watching me.

A sticker in my room that says, “Safe Area in Cases of Earthquake.” I wouldn’t say the building isn’t safe…….but it’s solid concrete. Solid concrete isn’t flexible. So, it tends to break and crumbles when shook hard enough. I saw the curtains in one hotel swing two inches once and the window wasn’t open. If they would have kept swinging, I would have been out of that room in a flash. I don’t know what caused that but it got my attention immediately.

Other than that, I worked at catching up on my blog. I still have a lot to do. I need to get the pictures organized and try to e-mail them to Mary. That won’t happen today. I just hope I get the blog updated.

Long Ride - 15 February 2018

15 February 2018 – I woke up and knew I had not checked out my route for today. According to Blanche, it would be a 180 Mile/300 Kilometer ride, and all I have to do is follow the Pan American Hwy. I also needed to find a hotel for the night in Tacna, Peru. I spent a bit of time hunting on the internet and finally found a hotel I liked. It was Hotel Holiday Suites. Everything perfect: wi-fi, good price and secure parking. I got the GPS Coordinates figured out and written down. I was good to go after breakfast. I was loaded and off before 10:00 a.m. Actually, a rather late start. Blanche staggered around a bit but she eventually got me out of town.

I was back on Pan American Hwy with the semi-truck traffic. That’s when I know I’m where I belong. We went through one roundabout and I could swear I picked the wrong exit. Blanche recalculated and we kept going. The road was good but I always had a feeling we were on the wrong road. Toward the end I was driving on roads that were too narrow and there were no semi-trucks. She tried to drag me down gravel field roads. I finally put my foot down and wouldn’t drive them. There were black top roads paralleling the gravel roads. She picked the gravel roads because it was a shorter faster route. She worked me over pretty good today. If I ever get that feeling I’m on the wrong road again, I have to trust that and go back and check the signs that I picked the right road. Eventually, she got me back to the Pan American Hwy. That was an adventure.

From there on into Tacna, Peru I drove through a lot of brown desert. I entered Tacna just at sun down and my trip odometer showing I had driven 250+ Miles / 402+ Kilometers. Slightly more than the 180 miles / 300 Kilometers she predicted before I left this morning. I entered in my GPS coordinates to take me to the Hotel Holiday Suites. Everything went well but when I arrived at my destination there was no hotel. I’m near the hotel, but there was no hotel to be seen. I’m pissed: I keep coming up short and not finding my hotels. Rounding off the numbers in the decimal seconds must be affecting me finding the hotels. I never did find Hotel Holiday Suites and ended up staying in Hostal Montana Suites. It’s ok, but it’s not my first choice in where I wanted to stay. I talked to Mary and bitched about Blanche being so annoying. I took the night off and went and got something to eat.

Sandy Valentine’s Day - 14 February 2018

14 February 2018 – I woke up sometime around 3:00 a.m. and a light popped on inside my head and it said, you cannot spend seven days up in those mountains and risk not getting to Ushuaia, Argentina the tip of South America. I might have let a few of you down by me not going to Machu Picchu, but not as much as myself. Ushuaia, Argentina is the ultimate goal and everything else is second. I may revisit Machu Picchu after I reach the tip of South America. Before I left I sent Mary a valentine text. I loaded my bike and headed down the Pan American Hwy toward Camana.

The Pan American Hwy to Camana, Peru was more of the endless blowing and shifting sand with beautiful beaches. The valleys are mostly green but once you start going up the mountains it turns brown. A lot of that flat desert land behind the beaches looks surveyed and lots laid out with streets. It almost looks like you have to homestead it after you purchase the property. To me it looks like an investment in the future.

I pulled into Camana. I just picked a hotel randomly out of Blanche’s lodging library. It was Hotel Tourista. It’s nice place with a large swimming pool. It even has a toilet that would meet the requirements of the Twin Cities Tall Club. When you sit on it your feet dangle and don’t touch the floor.  I know I fell asleep before 9:00 p.m. 

Running Out of Time -13 February 2018

13 February 2018 – I got up and took a quick shower before going down for breakfast. It was a Continental Breakfast but you still had to order your eggs. So that complicated the breakfast. After breakfast I went back to the room and wrote up a list of 5 statements in Spanish for the motorcycle shop because I’m sure they don’t speak a pinch of English. 1.  I would like to change my motorcycle engine oil.  2.  I have tools.  3.  I have oil.  4.  I can change my own oil.  5.  I will pay you to use your oil drain pan and take the old oil.

I rode my motorcycle to the shop knowing this would be a touch and go situation. I walked in the door and asked to see the boss man or lady. You never who is running the operation. In a few minutes a woman shows up all of 8-1/2 months pregnant. I showed her my paper with all the statements written on it. I showed her my motorcycle and told her I could work outside. She said that would be ok. She rounded up an oil drain pan from in the shop. I think they only had one. So, I set about changing my oil. I did it out on the street. I had the oil drained out, the new filter put in and the new oil poured into the engine. I saw another American roll up on his motorcycle and walk into the motorcycle shop. I’m sure he saw me but he never said anything.

I kept working and eventually he walked out and back to his motorcycle. I walked over and said hi. Come to find out he was attorney from Annapolis, Maryland. He was 78 years old and riding these mountains. I had to give it to the guy; at his age you need a good pat on the back. Although he did say interacting with his fellow motorcycle riders was a bit challenging. I ran into that when I was in Africa except it was the tour operators who were difficult to get along with. Anyway, he had commitments and we parted ways. I went back to finishing up with my oil change. I dumped the oil out of the pan and paid the shop $1.50 for letting me use their drain pan and taking the used drain oil. I rode out of there and headed back to the hotel.

On the way there I decided to drive down the road about 3 Miles / 5 Kilometers to get the new oil warmed up and circulated. On the way back, I saw a car wash and the guys were setting around doing nothing. I pulled in and asked if they would wash my motorcycle. They reluctantly agreed to wash it. They wanted to be paid first so I kind figured it would be a poor quality wash job. Anyway, they power washed off all the heavy dirt and then hand washed it. If they would have put 25 per cent more effort into the wash the motorcycle would have looked great. As it was, it looked good. When it dried off you could see all the areas they missed in their half-hearted wash. So, I was out of there and back to the hotel to get my route planned for Cusco.

Mary and I talked some about Machu Picchu. We thought I could fly out of Arequipa to Cuzco and save some time. Here how it shakes out….it was a 2 day ride and 3 mountain ranges to cross at elevations 13,000 Feet / 4000 Meters before getting to Cuzco. I would be 3 days there and then another two days back down the same road. A total of 7 days would be spent in that adventure. 5 days if I flew to Cuzco. Here’s the poop: I have to be at the tip of South America, drop dead latest, 15 March 2018 and I will have icicles hanging off my beard and mustache. I am prepared to ride to Cuzco thinking I’ll never be here again. So, the plan is to leave early in the morning and ride toward Cuzco. I went to bed.

Oily Shenanigans - 12 February 2018

12 February 2018 – I got up around 5:30 a.m. and pretty much was rolling by 7:30 a.m. I told the hotel owner when I was about to leave that if I would have had my gun, the barking dog would have been dead. He was not impressed that I said that about the dog. The dog stopped barking about 1:00 / 1:30 a.m. That dog barked for 18 hours straight. It kind of sounded like the dog’s barker / vocal chords broke and he / she couldn’t bark any more. You could tell a distinct difference in tone and loudness. He or she tried to keep barking but pretty much petered out after 1:00 a.m. I have nothing against dogs, guard dogs or dogs in general but that nonstop barking was just too much.

I checked my rear brakes for braking capability. I would say the braking capabilities are up to 90 per cent. I’m sure when the pads wear into the disk rotor the braking will be back at 100 per cent. It was Monday morning and I was worried about rush hour traffic into the city. By 8:30 a.m. I was in stop and go traffic. There was no way I could get through it. I still had 6 Miles / 10 Kilometers to my turn off to the Yamaha dealer. I can’t drive that far in stop and go traffic. I pulled off the highway to a side street and stopped until after 10:00 a.m. when the traffic started to free up.

While I was waiting, I drank a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and ate a slice of pineapple. I noticed a definite pattern in the traffic. When the highway traffic stopped, the traffic backed up on the ramp took off onto the highway, and when the highway traffic started moving, traffic on the ramp would stop and start to back up. So, when I started to see the ramp traffic stopping I jumped in line so I would be ready to merge onto the highway and be off. It worked, and I was back riding again. There were two or three stop and go areas before I reached my exit to the Yamaha Dealer. Once I got on the side streets the traffic got a little more civil, if that’s possible down here.

Blanche took me right to the dealership. I went inside and there was no one interested in talking to me. I was surprised. I walked up to the counter with my piece of paper asking for Yamaha oil 20w-50. The guy freaked out at the cash register because he couldn’t communicate with me. He threw his hands in the air and disappeared. An English-speaking woman showed up and another woman working on another parts computer helped me out.
I could not purchase anything from the store without being registered in the parts computer. They needed my name, address and what kind of motorcycle I was riding. So, I had to order the oil first, get a copy of the transaction, take it to the cashier and pay for the oil, she stamped the invoice, I take the invoice back to the parts person, she gets the oil from the parts room, parts room guy stamps the invoice that I received the oil and then the parts lady gives me the oil and a copy of the receipt to me. I staggered around wondering if anyone would attempt to say one word to me. Nope, nada, nothing. That was kind of disappointing. I wondered how many jerk American / European riders they run into in a year? I bet it could be as high as 20 or 30, having a fit about just purchasing some oil.

I walked outside, put my oil in my top box, took a few pictures of the joint and left. Of course, I forgot the name of the street I was supposed to take back to the Pan American Hwy. I staggered around for about 20 minutes before I found it. Then it was back on the highway to Nazca, Peru. The ride to Nazca was pretty fast and uneventful. It was pretty much all brown desert with nonstop shifting sand except for a few plush green valleys. Miles and miles / Kilometer and kilometers of beautiful beaches. I was tempted to stop and check out one of the beaches. I could have set up my tent and stayed a while.

I arrived in Nazca just at sundown. I found a nice hotel with a large secure parking area. I got all moved in and then went out for pizza, and did some food shopping. I’m thinking tomorrow I’ll go looking for a place to change my oil. The receptionist recommend I check out this motorcycle place two blocks away. She showed me the location on a small map that is used for giving directions to tourists like myself. I walked over there just to see where it was. I went to bed.

Replacing the Brakes With a Loud Audience - 11 February 2018

11 February 2018 – I got up and went downstairs to pay for another day. Guess what? This is a love hotel. I saw at least three couples use it for that purpose. They were very young: late teens, early twenties. Anyway, I had a bigger issue to worry about…my rear brake. I got it cleared through the man of the house that I could work on my motorcycle. He backed his van out and I pushed my motorcycle up into the daylight where I could see what I was doing.
I removed my right saddle bag / pannier and dug out my tools. I got out my metric Allen / L-wrenches and removed my break caliper. Sure enough, the brake pads were worn down to the metal. Typically, these pads last 10,000 Miles / 16,000 Kilometers. These pads only lasted 7,000 Miles / 11,000 Kilometers. I attributed this to all the mountain driving I have been doing. Lots and lots of braking in all those mountain switch backs. I went into my spare parts bag and pulled out a new set of rear brake pads. I was carrying two sets of them. I also have them for the front disk rotor. I got out my file and flat-filed off any welded on globs of steel on the rotor. I also noticed some work hardening on the outer diameter. I don’t think that will be any problem. I roughed up the pads, cleaned up brake caliper, the disk rotor and caliper mounting arm. I dipped my rag in the gas tank and wiped all my parts clean with the gas rag. It works pretty slick. I showed the owner of the hotel my worn out disk pads and he kind of shook his head. Both he and his wife were giving me this look……Can this Gringo get this motorcycle put back together? They were worried and I kind of smiled.

Well, I put everything back together and Loctite the bolts holding the brake caliper to the brake caliper mounting arm. I pumped up the brakes and tested the brakes. They were holding and releasing when I took my foot off the brake pedal. I re-installed the right saddle bag / pannier and put everything back into it. I tested the rear brake again and everything was still working. I backed it farther back into the garage so the owner could get his van back in. Everybody was happy. The Gringo was going to be leaving.

All the time I was working on my motorcycle, this little dog with a loud bark continued barking non-stop. He also riled up the other dogs in the neighborhood with his / her barking. Well, I went to my room and the barking continued all afternoon while I was planning my route around Lima, Peru. I got Blanche programmed to go around the city as best I could and was feeling pretty happy about it. Then I got to thinking I should purchase some Yamaha 20w-50 engine oil. I looked up on the internet to see if there was a Yamaha Dealer Lima. There is one, but it’s in the inner city. I thought to myself if I’m going to be driving up to Cuzco, Peru – Machu Picchu – through all those mountains, I should change oil. There will be a lot of shifting and clutching. It will be best to have new oil in the engine. So, I programmed a route into the city to the Yamaha Dealer. I got that done before 9:00 p.m. Blanche was all tuned up and ready to go. I had my hotel picked out in Nazca, Peru for tomorrow night. Things were looking up. The little dog was still barking. How could a dog bark that much? He was going on 12 hours of straight barking. I went to bed listening to the barking dog. I woke up sometime after 10:30 p.m. and the dog was still barking. I went back to bed.

No Brakes! - 10 February 2018

10 February 2018 – I departed the City of Viru and successfully navigated through the city of Chimbote on my way to City of Ancon. I was planning to stay the night there. En route to Ancon, I needed to eat something bad. I stopped in this gas station that looked like it had a working restaurant. I parked and walked in. Oh, this place looks a little dirty and all the Christmas decorations are still up. That’s funny. The lady comes over and asks what I’d like. I can order pretty good if I have a menu. So, I asked for a menu. The lady writes it out on a napkin. Through my cell phone we sorted out what I just ordered. The lady disappears for over 20 minutes. Eventually she brings out my food. It looked so good to a starving guy. She brought me chopped up meat, french fries, rice and a bottle of water. That so hit the spot. To top it off I bought an ice cream bar. All the while I was waiting this little black cat was walking around the restaurant. She or he was a younger version of our black cat Hissy right down to the yellow eyes. I would have sent him or her home to annoy Hissy if that would have been possible.

I continued on to Ancon, and the Pan American Hwy parallels the coast line. In one particular area I was being hit by 35 to 45 Mph / 56 to 72 Kph side winds off the ocean, maybe more. This wind in turn was blowing sand like it was snow. It was drifting just like snow. It was blowing across the highway in straight and swirling patterns. When a car or truck drove through this drifting sand, they would kick up in the air and back in your face. The fence line alongside the road was about buried. The fence posts stuck out 6 Inches / 15 Centimeters above the sand. If you all can remember snow fence alongside the road and how the snow would cover the wood lathes to the top and all you could see would be the tops of the steel posts.

That’s the way the sand was built up on the fence line along the road side. In some areas the sand had drifted on to the road where you had to drive around it. They brought out graders and end loaders to push back the sand. It was an endless battle with mother nature. I was riding, give or take, around 50 Mph / 80 Kph, and when that sand hit any bare skin it had a pretty good bite to it. I had to zip up tight to keep the sand out of my riding suit. That all went on for about 1-1/2 hours. I was worried that the visor on my helmet was going to get etched / scratched by the blowing sand.  I was sure glad to get out of it. I sure wouldn’t want my car being driven in that sand storm. The wind never totally went away but the blowing sand did. It was pretty much barren brown ground / sand. Endless drifting sand and no water. Pretty much desert. On the bright side of all this negativity is there is miles and miles / kilometers and kilometers of pristine beaches. No overcrowding here.
I stopped once for gas and ate some more. I left the gas station and took the wrong route out and ended up on the wrong road. I went to hook a u-turn and get back on the Pan American Hwy and stepped on the rear brake. I heard this keeersh sound. A metal on metal grinding sound. The last time I heard that sound was in Walnut, California when I installed the new brake pads incorrectly. I parked and jumped off my bike to inspected the rear brake rotor. Sure enough, the brake pads are gone. Steel rubbing on steel. This is not good. Fortunately, the steel on steel rubbing maybe took place in the last 3 yards / 3 meters. Some friction-welded globs, but very little damage to the brake rotor. I pushed the brake caliper apart to give it maximum clearance for the brake pads. I had 40 Miles / 65 Kilometers to ride before arriving at my hotel where I could work on my motorcycle. It will be hard to resist stepping on the rear brake. It runs my stop light and hill brake. 

But I can’t fix it here, so off I go to the hotel with just the front brake. I really hope I don’t have to perform any panic stops with only my front brake. Panic stops are not at all that uncommon when driving city traffic in South America.
I used GPS coordinates to find the hotel and came up short again. I was a few blocks away with no hotel in sight. I enlisted the help of this young guy walking by. We walked over to the hotel so I knew where it was, I thanked the young lad for his help and then walked back to my motorcycle. I rode it back to the hotel, got checked in and my motorcycle put into secure parking. I went out for pizza that night and then to bed. Tomorrow I have to check on the full extent of the damage to my brake rotor and caliper.

La Cucaracha - 9 February 2018

9 February 2018 – Well, no great surprise here. The alarm went off and I went back to sleep. I woke up about 10:30 a.m. I slept almost 12 hours and I felt good. Some of those pressure points that kept waking me up during the night while I was sleeping on the concrete are still a little sore yet. I worked on my blog most of the afternoon and did some route planning.

I found out today when I went to pay for my 2nd night at this hotel it was a love hostal. I always laugh about that. You all are probably thinking working girls are walking in and out pretty regular and they might be. But if you think about it…… many 18 to 25 year old people need a secluded spot to have some fun? Most young people can’t afford a car or an apartment that they can sneak off to. Houses are small and parents are always around. So, unless one your friends has an apartment and is willing to lend it out, you’re pretty much out of luck. Hence the cheap hotels that rents out it rooms by the hour. It’s a business and nobody cares as long as nobody get hurt……

This particular hostal was some distance from downtown where the food is. I spent the whole day being really hungry. I finally resorted to buying some cookies from the hotel. They just kept my stomach growling to a mild roar. Later I had a guest show up that I never seen before in all the hotels I have stayed in. A cockroach. The first time I tried to swat him with my shower shoe, I missed. A couple hours later I saw him again. I swatted at him the second time and I missed. He found a hiding spot under the bathroom sink. I wiggled it around some and he came running out. Bad move on his part. My shower shoe didn’t miss the third time. I left him laying out where housekeeping will find him. I’m sure they know they have cockroaches but now they have proof.

Making Up Time - 8 February 2018

8 February 2018 – Just before 7:00 a.m. the gas station attendant came over and woke me up and said it’s time to go. In a nut shell it came down to this. I can’t have you laying around here when the boss shows up. So, I got up, ate a Snickers candy bar, aired up my tires, gassed up and then worked on my route through the City of Lambayeque. It was only a minute or two after I left the gas station that I was driving through the small town with the horrible streets. Most people wet down the road in front of their houses or businesses to hold down the dust. It’s bad. How they live with the racket of the highway 2 Yards / 2 Meters away from their front door amazes me.

I continued on through the day, passing through several cities which Blanche gave me a tour of their downtown because it was the shortest route. Everything worked out smoothly. I drove through an area where the wind blew off the ocean across the sand. This sand blew across the highway and ever so occasionally it had to be shoveled or graded off the highway. I arrived in Trujillo and navigated my way through it, hoping to stop in Chimbote for the night.

I just broke free of Trujillo and the fog was rolling in off the ocean. I haven’t forgotten that bad fog in the mountains a week or so back. Just out of the blue, a hotel pops up out of the fog and I pull in for the night. I had enough thrills for the day and it’s right on Hwy 1N. It had secure parking and a room rate of $16. My kind of hotel. After checking in, I worked on some more routes I need to get through the next town. I also talked to Mary. She’s in Tucson, Arizona this week with her boss. I plan on leaving in the morning and it’s already past 11:00 p.m. I need to get to bed. 

Gas Station Bed - 7 February 2018

7 February 2018 – I wrote in my blog and loaded up and left the Hostel. I had my route planned out of the city. Blanche was cool with everything. I was going to make my third turn to pick up a major street to the Pan American Highway. It was closed down due to road construction and the traffic as a result of it was a mess. I ended up in the downtown marketplace, which was wrong. I eventually got on the Pan American Hwy and was relieved I eventually got out of that mess. About 6 Kilometers down the road I saw a 1N sign saying I was going North. I had to turn around and head back into the city and find the south bound Pan American Hwy 1N. Back into the fray I went. I didn’t have a clue how to find any major thoroughfare through the city. All I knew was I needed to be traveling south. I had Blanche on a route to the next city but she could only find the road under construction. After 3 hours of weaving back and forth through the side streets and alleys I found a major street out of the city which hooked up to Pan American Hwy 1N. Once I cleared the city pulled over and doubled checked that I wasn’t going in any direction but South. From all the tests I preformed I was going in the right direction, and South.

I wanted to stay the night in Lambayeque. Everything was moving along quite smoothly. The roads were good and I should arrive at the city limits around 5:30 p.m. I came into this small town and the traffic was stopped. I peeked around the cars to see what was the hold up. A small parade was forming up and stopping traffic. With a little creative driving I was able to get by all the stopped traffic and the parade people, and continue on my way. I bounced my way through that town and continued on to the next. I felt fortunate I was able to get through that. As I continued to the next town, the road was again full of parade participants dress in a variety of costumes. Mostly a derivative of black with masks. I would say their numbers were over 300 young and old people. They almost looked like Mardi Gras participants. It was the same thing again. The traffic was stopped on the edge of town and this time the parade was marching and dancing. No way could I get through that mass of people. There were the parade people and the people watching the parade on the shoulder of the road. I parked my bike and got off.

I watched the parade as it passed. It was religious driven because they were carrying the Virgin Mary on their shoulders and the dancers were in front of her. It was already 6:00 p.m. and I knew with how slow this marching parade was going, I was never going to get into the town of Lambayeque for the night. In 30 minutes the parade had moved maybe 400 yards / 400 meters. It would march and stop and dance then march and stopped and dance. They repeated that for the next 3 hours. I watched for about 30 minutes and then drove the shoulder until I couldn’t anymore, and re-joined the line of traffic.

I was in this line for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours idling my motorcycle. I went from being dry to soaking wet inside my riding suit. It was nothing but push and shove in that traffic. If you gave an inch the drivers would take a foot. I must have sweat off a 650 mil-Liter of water. It was the heat of my motorcycle and heat from all the vehicles surrounding me. The sun was just about down and I saw an opening and I bailed out of that traffic. You would move half a yard / 1/2 meter and stop for 2 or 3 minutes. Then repeat that again. The traffic going south was 4 cars wide and it was a two-lane road. One horrible mess.

Just after I got out of the traffic I heard an ambulance arriving. That gummed up the traffic even worse. The ambulance had great difficulties getting through all the vehicles. I supposed somebody passed out from heat exhaustion. All the shoulders of the road had vehicles setting on them. I pulled into a gas station and shut off my motorcycle. I threw off my jacket to cool down. I walked over to the gas station attendant and asked him if I could wait here until the traffic cleared. He said, it was ok. I drank some water, ate an apple and a snickers candy bar. I walked around a bit and finally laid down on the car washing ramp.

I woke up at 9:00 p.m. and traffic was showing signs of moving. It would move 30 Yards / 30 Meters and then stop. All the while I was resting on the car ramp people were coming in to use the rest rooms. Mostly women. That’s how long people have been waiting. I woke up again at 10 p.m. and the traffic was flowing smoothly or going like hell to make up lost time. I got up and walked around some. That concrete was pretty hard to lay on. I had to decide whether to continue on or stay the night in the gas station. I decided to stay night in the gas station because of the bad roads that go through these towns. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was a wise choice I made. I slept most of the night on the ramp, waking up whenever I needed to roll over, giving some aching hip or joint a break from the hard concrete. The concrete was warm from the heat of the day so I never got cold all night. Some of the mosquitoes were annoying but they were pretty few and far between.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Border Crossing Ecuador to Peru - 6 February 2018

6 February 2018 – I broke my motorcycle out of jail / secure parking. It was a small parking area and a car had me trapped. I had the guy who was on duty get a hold of the individual who owned the car and move it. It was after 7:00 a.m. so I didn’t feel too bad about it. I moved my motorcycle to the front of the hotel where I could load it. I was on time for breakfast and ate a Breakfast Typical, as it’s called here. I finished loading my motorcycle and departed the hotel.

For some reason Blanche was having trouble finding satellites today. I think it almost took her 5 minutes to find the satellites to get to the border. I was only 3 Miles / 5 Kilometers and she was being a pain. I drove myself back to where I came into town to get myself orientated and refresh Blanche. She was still having problems finding satellites. I was miffed. I started driving toward the border and Blanche’s screen goes black. Here we go again. I thought she died for good. Right as I was driving, her screen goes black. My heart sank again not knowing what the problem was. By this time, I was at the border. I was directed to Immigration and Customs. It took all of 10 minutes to get out of Ecuador. I was still very concerned about Blanche. I tried to fire her up again and she was having none of it. I had an idea that if I removed her from her docking station, removed the battery, took out the Ecuador Maps S/D card and put in the South America NT S/D card she might boot up. I did that and put her back in her docking station. I turned on the key and she fired right up. I typed in several cities in Peru which she found quite easily. I breathed another sigh of relief. I thought Blanche was dead forever. Much as she ticks me off, I need her. 

I drove over to Peru in a much better mood and was directed where to park by the Customs Officials. I was off to Immigration when a mini-van full of people unloaded and raced over to immigration to get ahead of me. I just waited my turn and then went to Customs to have my motorcycle imported into Peru. I also had to purchase a minimum of 30 days insurance. The whole process took about an hour and I was done. Just when I was about to leave another motorcycle rolled up. It was a Yamaha Sport Touring Motorcycle. I saw that the guy was more than likely an American. And he was. He answered me in English. Get this…..he was from Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. He lives about 400 Miles / 650 Kilometers from where I live. We talked some about the roads we traveled and those blasted speed bumps. Peru uses them instead of speed limits. They slow you down. I would put his age somewhere between 29 and 35. His name was Russ / Russel. I asked him how his motorcycle liked the roads. He replied it wouldn’t be his first choice in a motorcycle to ride these roads again. He also suffered from the same problem I have. His bike is too wide to sneak through the traffic like all the smaller bike do. So, you sit in traffic and wait. We swapped cards with our e-mail and blog addresses and I was off.

I stopped along the way to put all my paper work back into my top box which proved to be a bad decision. I had to pass through a check point and Policia wanted to see all my paper work. I had to undo all my locks etc. etc. to get everything back out. Everything checked out ok and they let me go. I drove by a dead horse laying on the side of the road. There was about a 1/3 horse left. Mainly the hide and skeleton. It was a clear example of what happens when you fail to look both way when you cross the road. I should have taken a picture of it. It seems like most critters are pretty smart about not getting hit on the roadways. I always give them plenty of room when I pass them. I would hate to spook them and have them run out in front of me.

I drove through one city and I said to myself, man this is a dirty city with the dirt blowing around and the traffic dust. Well, it’s not the only city like that. Now I’m in Piura and it has the same dust blowing around, same traffic dust and, of course, the speed bumps, pot holes and broken pavement. Some of the potholes are 12 Inches / 30 Centimeters deep. I watch out for all the pot holes because they unsettle my motorcycle.

I couldn’t believe I found the hotel I was looking for. Blanche navigated me right in. I ate in an Asian restaurant tonight. I ordered chicken fried rice. I came in the correct amount and tasted really good. Get this,  they had me park my motorcycle inside the hotel at the bottom of the spiral staircase. If that motorcycle would have started on fire no person from the 2nd or 3rd floor could have escaped. I’m sure there is another set of stairs out of the building but I don’t know where they are. What do you think a Fire Chief in the U.S. would do if he saw that? I’m sure it would be a large fine. Back home, the fire department seriously chastised me for having my 1941 Harley-Davidson gas tank in my apartment. I had to remove it and the fire department came back in a week to make sure it was gone or be fined. Anyway, I worked on my future routes around these larger cities and looked for hotels along my routes the rest of the night. I mostly was building routes in Blanche to get around the outside of these larger cities. I didn’t finish mapping around Trujillo because Blanche ran out of battery. I went to bed.

Spitting, Really? - 5 February 2018

5 February 2018 – I woke up at 5:30 a.m. I went back to sleep till 7:00 a.m. I should have crossed the border today but I wasn’t prepared. I went downstairs to get something to eat. It was 8:45 a.m. The girl told me breakfast was over at 8:30. Well, that set the day off on the left foot. When I was setting in the eating area of the lobby a guy, either a hotel guest or a security person was setting on the couch in the reception area. He started coughing and then he cleared his throat of phlegm. No big deal, but then he spit his phlegm on the reception area floor where everyone walked, like that is what everyone does in this hotel. I’m thinking the guy was clueless.

With that appetizing picture in my mind, I went back to my room ate an apple and then at 12:00 noon ate some of my secret stash I keep just for instances like this. I searched out two hotels in Peru, got Blanche’s routes programmed and got my paperwork in order. I also checked out the Mercado down the street. The receptionist told me where I could buy some hamburgers yesterday so I walked over to the joint and ordered two of them. It took me a bit to find the place. My kind of place: point at the sign and say two / Dos. There was not a lot of meat in these hamburgers but they have lettuce, tomato, and eggs with the meat. In the process of locating the hamburger joint I lost my way back to the hotel. I did some hiking before I got myself re-orientated and back to the hotel. The people of the town were picking up on the fact I might be lost. I plan on getting everything packed and get to bed early. I want to get an early jump on the border tomorrow.

Risky Photography - 4 February 2018

4 February 2018 – I got up and took a shower before heading down to breakfast. I met this woman during breakfast. Her name was Elizabeth.  She was pretty much my age or older. She was Canadian from Ontario. For the last twenty years she has traveled. She mostly does volunteer work all over the world. How she finances that is what I’d like to know. Anyway, she was quite unhappy with the hotel. She wanted quiet and a garden in the back yard. Well, the hotel was next to a road maintenance facility with all kinds of truck traffic, air impact wrenches and hammering. She was going to stay two days but decided to leave a day early because of the noise. She had a lot of stories to tell and I needed to get going. We probably talked the most about our travels. She invited me to a nice resort town in Peru on the coast. I know I’ll never go there because of all the distance I have yet to travel. I have a long way to go.

Today I will be riding to Macara, Ecuador on the border of Ecuador and Peru. It is about 120 Miles /180 Kilometers and an easy day’s ride. I kept watching the sky because the clouds were dark up on the top of the mountains. I decided to wear my rain suit out of town. What should have been a 15 minute ride out of town turned into 45 minutes. I should have known when Blanche was having trouble finding satellites this could happen. While waiting for her to her to locate satellites I took the picture of the native guy and girl statue. Blanche got her wires crossed and that’s where the adventure started. Finally, I drove back to the hotel and started my ride out of town all over again. All this time setting at the stop lights made me start to sweat inside that rain suit. I was soaking wet before I left town. After the practice run, Blanche successfully navigated me out of town from the hotel. I stopped for gas and was on my way.

The next six hours were a repeat of yesterday. Up the mountain into the clouds and down the mountain out of the clouds. Again, I had to lift my visor and take off my glasses so I could see. Something about the road today was, the road was littered with small stones, from marble size to 2 Inch / 5 Centimeters. I tried to miss them all. All day I had been wanting to take a picture of the road sign Hwy E35. Finally, one came up. I got stopped about 3 Yards / 3 Meters past the sign. I backed up to where I could take the picture. I pulled out my trusted camera and zoomed in the sign. It wouldn’t take the picture. I’m setting on this tight curve fighting with my camera. It stopped working, exposing me to more danger than I like. I finally pulled out my cell, booted it up and took a picture. This all took over 10 minutes. Can you imagine dying for a picture? That’s what I was thinking all the while I was taking this picture.

Just before I entered the town of Macara I was stopped in a Policia Check Point. First problem: uneven pavement. I can’t put my kickstand down. Fortunately, 3 yards / 3 meters forward was a flat piece of concrete. I was able to get my kickstand down and put my stick under the right foot peg. I left it in gear so it didn’t roll off the kickstand. The person in charge came barking at me wanting something. Finally, he asked for my passport, which he took pictures of and scanned through looking for all the appropriate stamps. A custom representative was there also. Finally, whatever they saw satisfied them and they gave my passport back and told me to leave. While I was off my bike I did some stretches to loosen up some and give my butt a break. I’m sure those police were wondering how this gringo got this motorcycle this far into Ecuador.

I drove into the City of Macara and entered the GPS coordinates into Blanche for the hotel I was supposed to stay at. Blanche accepted them and when I pushed the enter button, it said my destination was in 52 Miles / 85 Kilometers away. Well something was goofed up there. I switched to Blanche’s list of hotels and picked one and was off. With some help I found the hotel. I got back up against the curb and my motorcycle stabilized. I went inside. They had a room with air conditioning and had secure parking. So, I was good for the night. A young guy in the hotel helped me carry my bags to my room. I tried to get them to order me two hamburgers but they wouldn’t do that. I talked with Mary and some of the people she had at her Super Bowl party. All the people I know. I ate an apple and a Snickers candy bar and fell asleep.

Mountain Accident - 3 February 2018

3 February 2018 – I was up by 6:00 a.m., knowing I had a long day’s ride ahead of me. I found my way onto Hwy E35 traveling south, just fine. Traveling through the city went well for the most part. Blanche obediently followed her route and I turned onto the correct streets at the correct time. We were working together quite well. As I neared the center of the city, I started seeing more cows and pigs in the back of trucks, all going in the same direction. It wasn’t overly alarming but I was wondering what’s up with this. Today is Saturday, and sure enough all these critters are on their way to market for selling.

The nearer I got to the outskirts of the city the more congested it was getting. Finally, you guessed it, the traffic stopped dead. I’m setting there wondering if I should wait or push on. I probably waited five minutes and then some other motorcycle riders pulled in with me. They hung around for a minute and surveyed the situation and then moved on. I decided to just follow them as best I can. They were weaving in and out of oncoming traffic and slowly moving on down the road. Those kids weave in and out of traffic like it’s no big deal. If they miss a car by inches, no big deal!  As long as you’re not hurt or injured, it is no big deal. I would say this was going on for a least 1.25 Miles / 2 Kilometers, maybe more. It’s hard to keep track of distances or lengths when you’re driving the center line or the shoulder of the road with traffic only Inches / Centimeters away from you. Eventually I and the other motorcycle riders did reach the end of the line of vehicles. It ended with most of the vehicles making a left turn in to market. I don’t know if the live cattle and pigs were to be slaughtered; they maybe were there just to be sold.

Once I got to the head of the line I was free of traffic. I was planning on being in Loja, Ecuador tonight. The day started out as a bright sun shiny day. I filled up with gas when I left Riobamba, Ecuador so I would be good on gas for all day. I was well passed the city when I entered the mountains. Probably for the next 10 hours I drove straight mountain roads. I believed I crossed five or six mountain peaks and passes. The first couple of passes weren’t too bad. I was in and out of the clouds with no visibility problems. By the third pass, I entered the clouds and they never went away. The next three mountain passes were socked in with fog and you could barely see 17 Yards / 16 Meters in from of you. I was in the 9,000+ Feet / 2700+ Meter height range. The fog was so heavy that the visor on my helmet instantly fogged up. The only way I could keep driving was to lift my visor and take off my glasses. My glasses fogged up just as fast as my helmet visor. I then drove probably no faster than 20 Mph / 32 Km/hour. I also turned on my left signal light so trucks, semi-trucks and buses could see me. I mostly guided myself through the mountains using the white shoulder line. I continued to drive like that until I got to the lower elevations and the fog went away. All the best scenery was masked in fog.

I broke out of the fog coming down one of the mountains and I met another motorcycle rider. He was just waving a lot. He was an Ecuadorian rider and I thought to myself that was odd. Local riders do wave a lot. I suspected something was amiss up front and he was giving me a heads up or a warning. So, I kept my eyes open just in case. I was just coming out of large curve and there were 6 or 8 vehicles….cars and trucks stopped on each side of the road. I slowed down, not knowing what might jump out at me. I passed through the accident scene and in the oncoming lane was a man lying on his side. Two or three people were kneeing by his side. If I had an opinion I would say from his clothes and the fact that he was laying in the road that he was a pedestrian struck by a vehicle. The reason I say that is, people, horses and cows are regular walking travelers on the major highways in all South American countries I’ve been in. I said a prayer for him and wished him the best of luck. I continued on down the mountain and in 10 minutes I met the ambulance coming to accident scene.

Like I said, all day I drive up one side of the mountain and down the other. When I was in the higher elevations I was in the fog. You know, when it was that foggy I met vehicles without head or parking lights on. I know that fog here is not a once in a year thing. It’s probably pretty regular depending on the weather. I was wondering how the mountain folks keep that dampness out of their homes. I know what it is like inside my tent on a rainy / foggy day. The kids and people seem to be undaunted by it. They’re standing around in short sleeve shirts and skirts.

I was coming down my last mountain in the fog about 6:00 p.m. It was still daylight but it was getting dark fast. I was hoping to break out of that fog soon because I was entering the lower elevations. I was probably 12 Miles / 20 Kilometers out when I broke out of the fog and could see the lights of the Loja City. I continued driving until I was on the outskirts of the city. I then stopped, put on my glasses and looked for my hotel in Blanche’s lodging memory. Sure enough, it was there. Good thing. 

So, off we go through a policia check point. They weren’t interested in me. I made all the correct turns but missed one near the hotel. Blanche had a hard time recovering from that. After several recalculations we ended up in the right place. They had a vacancy for $15.00 dollars a night. My kind of hotel! I started things off real smooth and locked my key in the room. The receptionist looked at me like “you got to be kidding me.” They had to do a major dig to find a spare key. Well, I got unloaded, got my bike secured and ate a Hawaiian pizza for supper. I couldn’t eat sitting down because my butt hurt so bad.  After the pizza, I called it a night and went to bed. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Yay For Strong WiFi - 2 February 2018

2 February 2018. – I cancelled my travel plans for today. The wi-fi signal is good and strong here so I should have no problems sending my 31 pictures. I don’t know what the next few days will be like, I mean as far as wi-fi goes, so I need to take advantage of the strong signal today. I may stay in some cheaper hotels and they will have wi-fi but you can’t use the internet, Skype, and you for sure can’t send pictures. Anyway, I’m going to scout around for an ATM so I’ll have some dollars to change when I get to the Ecuador / Peru border. There are no guarantees of anything to be available when you cross borders.  

I Almost Ran Her Over - 1 February 2018

1 February 2018 – I typed yesterday’s travels and planned on getting out of Quito today. My buddy the dog was back this morning. She was trying to kiss up after chewing on my tube of blue Loctite. She was trying to be overly helpful again and being a silly hound. I found out she had another buddy, a cat which she tormented. The cat boxed her back when she got out of line. I said goodbye to my buddies and headed out of town.

Leaving Quito went quite well. At the first roundabout, I took the wrong exit. That cost me some extra time. I had to drive back into Quito about 3 Miles / 5 Kilometers, turn around, and then drive back to the roundabout where I took the wrong exit. Blanche followed her route without a flaw. I really don’t know how before GPS’s and cell phones, people got through these cities. Even now there are very few signs. You put your blind trust in your GPS or cell phone.

So far, the roads in Ecuador have been really good. I can’t complain. I spent an hour or so driving 62 Mph / 100 Kph. My motorcycle didn’t know what to think about that. I entered the city of Ambato and it looks like about 100,000+ person city or more. There were a difficult couple of turns in this city which Blanche had problems with. Either I goofed up Blanche’s route or she didn’t like the route and deviated. Whatever the reason, I spent more time in this city than I would have liked. I staggered around being a pain to all the other drivers trying to figure my way out.

I eventually located a sign pointing to the city I was driving to: Riobamba. I almost hit an 18-ish year old woman when she stepped out in front of me. I was driving alongside of a bus when she stepped out from in from in front of the bus. I had to swerve into the ditch to avoid her. I could have done without that.

Once I found my way out of that city and got back on Hwy E35 it was pretty much straight driving to Riobamba. I arrived at the hotel I was planning to stay at. I was met at the door by a gentleman who said the hotel was full. Great. He spoke English which was helpful. He offered to lead me over to another hotel. That was nice of him. He also spoke to the receptionist which was more helpful. The hotel had nice rooms and a really nice strong wi-fi signal. Good parking security. I had the receptionist order me 2 hamburgers to arrive at 7:00 p.m.

It was after 7:00 p.m. and I went to check on my hamburgers. Low and behold they just arrived. The receptionist wrote the price down on a piece of paper. I read it. Huh $1.25!!! That not bad. I go get the money with a tip. I give it to the delivery man and he gives me this…what do you think I’m stupid look. I standing there saying what? The receptionist realizes I misread the price and then re-writes the price. it’s $7.25. I went oh!!! I went and got the rest of the money. I misinterpreted her 7 as a 1. They both were standing there thinking “Loco Gringo”. I spent the rest of the night planning my route out Riobamba to the border of Ecuador and Peru. It was quite a fight with Blanche but I think I got it completed without any glitches. It was after midnight before I got finished. Let’s hope everything works in the morning. I went to bed.

Equator Letdown and Ring Around the Collar - 31 January 2018

31 January 2018 – I was mostly organized last night, so getting my bags ready wasn’t a big deal this morning. I took a shower and then checked with the receptionist to find out how to get my bike out of secure parking. I also asked him if I had to pay to get it out. He said no, that was part of the price of the room. So, off I go to fetch my motorcycle.

I’m standing in front of a sheet metal steel gate that you can’t see through. I knocked on the fence hoping for a response. Nothing. Then it occurred to me maybe they had a bell. I started looking around and found a push button similar to a door bell button. I pushed it two or three times. I waited about 3 to 5 minutes and sure enough a lady showed up and let me in. She unlocked the gates and I went to re-claim my bike. I put my Spot up on top the wall and let it run while I was removing the cover off my bike. I backed it down the small hill it was sitting on to some more level ground. I put the kick stand down and the stick under my right-side foot peg. The stick keeps it from falling over to the right. I started it and let it warm up some. It was 54 Degrees / 12 Celsius this morning. After it had warm up, I grabbed Spot off the wall and drove back to hotel. I hope Spot had sent a message. I can’t tell for sure.  I loaded my bike and check out of the hotel. Another guy walked up and told me in broken English how much he like my motorcycle and would like to take a motorcycle trip similar to me. He took my picture and I gave him a card. He was happy.

I was off and Blanche was navigating. We got out of town just fine. I drove by a gas station, hooked a U-turn and went back. I pulled up and they said they couldn’t sell gas to me. I never did understand why. Then security told me no gas and to go back into town to buy gas. The cars there were filling up with gas. I was mystified. I went back into town looking for a gas station and I ended up back at same gas station with no gas. I saw a couple of guys and they recommended I drive to the next town. I was just hoping there wasn’t some weird gas shortage / problem where they weren’t selling gas to motorcycles. About 20 Miles / 32 Kilometers down the road I found a gas station and filled up.
I drove Hwy 35 most of the day. It was mostly four lane and relatively new pavement. It was a little bit of heaven. While I was enjoying the ride, Blanche deviated from her route again. I caught the mistake in about a mile. I was going to turn around but then just drove the 37 Miles / 60 Kilometers on the two lane. It was a nice road and hooked up again with Hwy 35.

I was excited because I knew today I was going to be crossing the Equator and was looking forward to taking a picture of myself by the sign. I crossed the equator and there no sign or buildings showing that I just crossed the Equator. I was really let down. It was going to be one of those memorable moments in time.

I eventually arrived in Quito. Well, just short of it. My hotel is about 7.5 Miles /12 Kilometers out of the city in something like a suburb. Blanche navigate to it….almost. The coordinates were about three blocks off. I asked lady I saw and she told me where it was and then when I didn’t find it, I asked a police officer. He verified what the lady said. It took a bit but I found the place. I was just hoping it hadn’t gone out of business like one other hotel I stopped at. I parked my bike on some level ground and walked back to the hotel. The hotel is on street that is a hill. I reach for the door handle and it was locked. Oh God, it went out of business. Then I thought maybe it has a bell. Sure enough, there it was bell / timbre.

I pushed the button and a receptionist came out. They had a room and secure parking. I checked in and they had nice rooms. Just out of curiosity I asked if I could get my clothes washed and they said yes. So, I unloaded my bike on another piece of level ground and then drove it into the secure parking area. It was a nice green lawn with a young dog who instantly was my buddy. I parked my bike. I removed all my clothes for washing and put on my riding pants. I put Spot out to mark my location and adjusted the counter balance chain in my motorcycle. My buddy the hound / dog was being very helpful being in the way. I was on one side and she was on the other. I didn’t see it when she stole my tube of blue Loctite. About 5 minutes later I saw she had chewed on it and poked holes into it. I was not happy. Then she thought she was my best friend and started laying on top my tools and stuff. I had to forcibly remove her from my work area. Finally, she got the message and stayed away.

While I was in Tulcan, Ecuador I couldn’t receive Mary’s texts and today once I was hooked up to the internet they came flooding in. By the time I got all my tools put away the lady had my laundry done. I was nice to have clean clothes again. I had some bad ring around the collar on my shirt. I then worked on my route out Quito heading south. I got that pretty much finished except loading it into Blanche. I took a break and went and ate supper. I ordered about a 10 inch / 25 Centimeter Hawaiian Pizza. It was really good and it filled me up. I walked over to a nearby store and bought myself a small container of ice cream. While I was at the store there was a GMC Jimmy parked there. It looked in real good shape. I’m thinking it was a 1975 / 1976. I couldn’t tell for sure because it was dark and I couldn’t see the number on the taillight. For those of you who know him, it looked a lot like Bud Wagner’s 1975 blue Jimmy. I know it was worked over several times but it still looked good.

Anyway, I came back to the room, ate my ice cream and programmed Blanche. The route looked good except for one deviation. I think I can live with it. All I have to do is keep riding the route and ride right thru her goofiness. She’ll catch on and get back on track. I think in the future I will build a series of shorter routes instead of one long route. That way if Blanche decides to deviate, I can fix the shorter route easier than I can fix one long route. Just food for thought. I went to bed after Skyping with Mary.

Child Bride and Snickers - 30 January 2018

30 January 2018– I worked on my blog all day today. I took two breaks; one of them was to go looking for apples and Snickers candy bars. I found the apples but not the candy bars. When I bought the apples, the guy I paid told me I should marry his daughter. She was about 18 years old, maybe. I wrote on my cell translator that she doesn’t want on old man for a husband. Both the mother and the father said that doesn’t make any difference. I wrote back that she would much prefer a nice young man over me and left to end that conversation.

The second break I took was at 6:00 p.m. to go eat a hamburger and French fries. It wasn’t bad. The lady making the hamburger was pretty chilly though. I ate my hamburger and left. I stop into another store to buy some water for tomorrow, and low and behold they sold Snickers candy bars. I bought four of them to have one for tonight and three for tomorrow if easy food wasn’t available.

Today was the first day I saw blue sky in weeks. For the most part since I arrived in Bogota, Columbia the skies have been mostly cloudy. Once I saw a night sky with stars. Tomorrow I got to get my motorcycle out of secure parking about a block away from the hotel. I hope that’s not going to be another adventure I have to deal with.

I found out how people know how to put their trash out for collection. The trash truck comes slowly driving down the street playing a certain song on a loud speaker. That alerts the people that it’s trash day. So, they dash into their homes / businesses, grab their garbage and set it on the curb for the trash collectors. That’s what I observed while I was eating my hamburger. I programmed Blanche to navigate me out of here and into Quito. I also typed in the GPS Coordinates of the hotel I’m planning on staying in. I tracked Blanche’s movement against Google Maps. She was right on locating with Google Maps. I think Blanche will be ok for the rest of Ecuador. I’m going to try and rise early tomorrow. I want to stop at the Equator and also get to the hotel before the sun goes down. Well that’s my plan anyway. DaveR out

Where is Ecuador? - 29 January 2018

29 January 2018 – While I was waiting for Mary to get back to me I have been working some on my blog but mostly I was worrying why I hadn’t heard from Mary all day. So, I got on a chat line with Garmin and typed in all the symptoms Blanche was exhibiting using maps City Navigator – South America NT 2017. Within 5 minutes I was chatting with Lynn. She was quite pleasant and after reading my tale of woe, she replied back that City Navigator – South America NT 2017 did not include Ecuador Maps. She provided a link which showed all the maps covered by South America NT 2017 and Ecuador was not there. Now don’t I have egg on my face.

Mary finally e-mailed me that I haven’t replied to any of her texts. I replied, I haven’t received a text from her since I was at the border. Today I found out Mary can receive my texts but I can’t receive her texts. Well that answers a few questions. With that knowledge, I jumped on the internet looking for Ecuador GPS maps compatible with my Garmin ZUMO 660. I found a maps at GPS Travel Store. I also made a mad dash to an electronics store to purchase a micro s/d card to load the Ecuador Maps on for Blanche. It was fairly reasonable, $8 USD. I went shopping looking for more food while I was out.

When I returned, using Skype, Mary and I purchased and downloaded the Ecuador Maps onto the micro s/d card. It looks so easy but I struggle with downloading and that’s why Mary was helping me. I would say by 8:00 p.m. we had the maps loaded and tried out in Blanche. When I put in the S/D Card all of sudden I had streets, gas stations, grocery stores, hospitals etc. etc. The South American NT 2017 maps literally stop at the Columbian / Ecuador Border. Blanche was mindless once she crossed the border and it was very obvious. Once I tried out the maps and Blanche seem to working again I breathed big sigh of relief. I went bed feeling like a weight had been lift off my shoulders. I went to bed and slept well.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Border Crossing, Columbia to Ecuador. I’m Popular with the Ladies....I Think – 28 January 2018

28 January 2018 – I back tracked my way out of town to the highway which took me to the border. Blanche took me right to the border and it wasn’t more than 4 Miles / 6 Kilometers away. I was motioned off to a side parking lot. Customs / Aduana wanted to talk to me. I exchanged all the Columbian Pesos for American Dollars so I was good to go there. I got my papers and headed to the Customs / Aduana. I gave the guy all my paperwork. He was shaking his “head wrong papers, wrong papers”. Finally, he gave up. He told me to go to Immigration and get my passport signed. So, I walked around the building and what I saw made my eyes pop out of my head. The line of people waiting to go into the building was something I’ve never seen before. Conservatively speaking there must be more than 300 people in front of me and growing. Unbelievable!

I went to the end of the line thinking this will be a 3 or 4 hour wait. I was standing in line for about 30 minutes and this young woman came up to me and said that people 65 years or older can go to the front of the line. Wait, you mean there is something good about being old? But this didn’t just happen: there was a lot of cell phone translating go on. Eventually, a man offered to show me where to go. So, I followed him and he showed me the door to enter. Security asked to see my passport. After he did the math he let me in the door and showed me the window where to get my passport stamped. I felt sorry for all those people still standing and waiting in line. I went back to Customs / Aduana and they told me to wait while a decision is made. Uh oh. Actually, they were quite nice. Nicer than I thought they would be. 10 minutes later the door open and I was invited in. Imagine being invited in to Customs / Aduana.

They asked to see my passport and all my paperwork. I spread it out on the table and the new official looked at all of it and then went to his computer for a second or two. He turned around and said I could go! I was expecting him to say go back to Bogota, Columbia and get the right paper work. I quickly gathered my paperwork, shook the guy’s hand and got out the door. I wasn’t waiting around for him to change his mind. I don’t believe I spent more than 2 hours at Columbia’s border. I went back to my motorcycle and pulled off my sweater in case I have to do a lot standing in the sun.
I left Columbia and entered Ecuador. I stopped and took a couple of pictures of the Welcome to Ecuador sign and continued on to Customs / Aduana. I was motioned off to the side and told to park. I took a look at the line waiting to get their passports signed. It was again unbelievable. I was on the side that went in to building. Then I walked around end of the building and continued walking along the other side of the building to almost the end. I was mortified. How long will I be in this line? It was a giant fish hook. I believe I stood in that line 5+ hours. I didn’t know at the time but my face and ears took the worst sun burning in 30 years. I forgot I didn’t have hair covering my ears. I was pretty red by the end of the day. I was thankful it was a cool day because I didn’t have any water and I had my red AeroStitch suit on. It would have been quite a sauna if the temperature had been hotter.

I met a family from Arkansas who were missionaries. It was a husband and wife and two sons. I put the age of the boys at about 6 and 12. I figured if I needed to use the latrine or get some water, I’d ask if their oldest son could stand in my place while I was gone. I never needed that, thank God. They were very nice. Another guy sought me out. I was surprised. He was driving a newer Kawasaki KLR 650 and needed a rear wheel sprocket. He said he didn’t have any teeth on his rear sprocket and was wondering if I had a sprocket to give him. He probably looked at my motorcycle, saw the spare tires, and figured I might also had spare sprockets. So, I asked myself this: if the rear sprocket didn’t have teeth on it, how could the chain or the front sprocket be any good? I didn’t give him my sprocket and felt guilty about not helping the guy out, but I brought that in case I need it on the trip, and there was no way to get another one.

I was about half way to the door to get into the building when an Immigration Official came around and was writing numbers on everybody’s wrists. The reason for that was people where cutting in line in front of people who had been standing for hours. Your number was checked as you entered the building. If you were out of sequence or had no number, you waited your turn. As fate would have it, I eventually did make it into the building and while waiting to get my passport stamped I took a couple pictures of the people who were still 5 or 6 hours out waiting on the opposite side of the building. It was a horrible wait.  I got a drink of water from a guy from Venezuela. His name was Alex. He spoke some English and he did some translating for me. A nice guy. We parted ways after we got our passports stamped.

After I left Immigration, I went to Customs / Aduana to get my motorcycle processed in to Ecuador. Guess what…….problems right off. My passport was stamped incorrectly. I had to re-enter Immigration and get my passport stamped correctly. Can you imagine that? I asked myself whether it was intentionally done or was that an honest mistake. I walked back in to where I had gotten the incorrect stamp, and before I said anything, the woman who stamped my passport was motioning me to her window. She fixed the mistake in ten seconds and I was off. I went back to Aduana and the lady there was now happy. 

She proceeded to fill out my paper work on my motorcycle. She must have been interrupted 5 times by the same guy with some kind of problem. She typed in all my info online and took a picture of my motorcycle and license plate. She printed out a form with all my motorcycle info and asked me to double check it. I went through it all and in the VIN number, there was a mistake. I showed her that and she fixed it and printed out a new form. I double checked that one and signed it and another form. Whew, I was done with Customs and Immigration / Aduana and Migration. Free to enter Ecuador. Praise the Lord.

I immediately headed to the bathroom and got a drink of water. My stomach was screaming for some food so I walked over to the nearest ice cream stand and ordered an ice cream bar. That soothed my growling stomach. I went back to my bike and a guy from Whistler, British Columbia, Canada wanted to talk to me about my motorcycle. We had a fun talk about our experience riding the Pan American Highway. I then typed in the GPS Coordinates for Hotel Lumar in Tulcan, Ecuador. No problem; Blanche accepted them. While I was doing that there was a growing ruckus with the people in front of my motorcycle. First someone tried to talk to me in Spanish about my motorcycle. I told them I didn’t understand. They were laughing about that. Then a guy who spoke English asked me about my motorcycle and I answered all his questions. Then he told me that one of the girls in the crowd wanted to travel with me when I left. I told him to tell her I would love to have her come with me on my motorcycle but she would have to ride on the handlebars. He told her that and the crowd erupted in laughter. So I started my motorcycle and all the guys wanted to listen to it. I let them listen for a moment and backed out. The girl was watching me real close and I kissed my hand and blew her a kiss. The crowd again erupted in laughter and I drove away.

I headed up the hill toward Tulcan, the city where my hotel was, and Blanche was acting weird. I pulled over and re-entered the GPS coordinates of the hotel. She took them without a problem, but something was wrong. The screen was orange brown. I was mystified. I continued to follow Blanche’s direction and she took me right downtown. I was lost. I parked my bike and asked two guys sitting there under a canopy with a computer. They knew where the hotel was but I didn’t understand Spanish. So that was no help. Finally, one of the guys said I should get a taxi and have them show me where hotel is. So that’s what I did. The taxi cab driver requested to be paid in advance. I paid her and asked her to drive slowly so as not to lose me. She agreed. So off we go and she showed me the general location. I was probably 100 yards from the hotel when she took off. Another taxi cab driver showed me the hotel as he was driving by. I thank him for that.

I parked my motorcycle and feeling somewhat tired, I headed for reception in the Lumar Hotel. There was a room available with secure parking. It was a nice room, with hot water and good wi-fi. I unloaded my motorcycle and asked the receptionist if he could show me where the secure parking was. He walked down the street and he pointed out the location for me. They were waiting for me when I arrived. I parked my motorcycle, marked my location with Spot, and covered my motorcycle. I talked to the lady some with my cell phone translator and then left. I walked past a small grocery store and bought a few items to eat for the night. I came back and ate 5 sandwiches, with meat and peanut butter. The day all of a sudden started looking up.

I talked to Mary later in the evening and told her Blanche is acting up again. I told her the screen is orange brown and the cities have no streets, no hotels, ATM’s or gas station. Something is amiss with Blanche. Mary told me she would check into it tomorrow. I took some pictures of the screen of Blanche showing the colors, cities and route completion flag. Also, the container the S/D card came in with the part numbers, SKU numbers and the receipt of purchase. I also gave her Blanche’s identification number for when she calls Garmin. 

Now it’s a waiting game to see how Garmin will react to how Blanche is acting up.  Will they be able to solve my problem? I went to bed being glad everything went well at the border today and worrying how will I navigate if Blanche is on the fritz.