2 Wheels To Adventure

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Alaska/Canada Trip--2006
Two "Adventure" Bikes

Ride boldly, Lad,  fear not the spills! (From "The Man From Snowy River," by Banjo Paterson) 
I'm not the man I used to think I was. (RBW)
"Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!"
(William Butler Yeats)

For a looong discussion on motorcyling in general and Adventure riding in particular, see the archives (or scroll down) for the first post on September 28, 2006.
It gives some opinions and ideas, along with a bit of philosophy; one (old) man's view of the world of 2 wheels.

New Scooter---2014 R1200RT
Cap'n Ron in the Straits of Georgia
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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Patagonia Is Not Just An American Company That Manufactures Sportswear (Nor A Town In Southern Arizona)
Patagonia, at last! Well,it`s Northern Patagonia, but Patagonia! 
We took a detour through San Martin de los Andes Park, which is a reminiscent of Banff, Canada. It is beautiful country, with mountains, trees, scenery beyond description, and many tourists. The road was very good for the most part, with many sweeping curves and very good pavement, but after about 50 miles, it turned to gravel, dirt, and a lot of dust, with more traffic, and stayed that way for over 30 grueling miles. We were pleased with the dust, I might add, because dust means no MUD, and for that we were thankful. Besides, the gravel gave us a taste of what we might expect on La Carretera Austral in Chile, and later on the southern reaches of Argentine Ruta 40. This was a good gravel road, and we are hoping for more of the same later, with NO MUD!
We are now in  world-famous Bariloche, a nice town filled with the ubiquitous tourists (yes, we are among that group). We have decided to languish here for a couple of nights before back-tracking into Chile toward the towns of Osorno and Puerto Montt, where we will encounter the ferry to begin the Austral. That will probably be on Wednesday.
It is beginning to look like Tierra del Fuego is actually within reach! We are praying for sunshine and no rain, NO $%&$(=?"! MUD!
5:21 pm mst          Comments

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Don`t Cry For Me, Argentina
Saturday, January 27, 2007 Day 76 ZAPALA, ARGENTINA
I finally got out of Santiago (I really did hate to leave) about 0950 on Friday, and had a very nice ride up the mountain to Portillo, the famous ski resort and the Argentine Border. The road gets very steep near the top, with lots of very tight U-turns and plenty of truck traffic.
The border is very efficient, as the Chileans and Argentinians have cooperated with a huge processing building that is capable of holding several queues of automobiles and busses. You enter at one end, and there are 4 kiosks, two Chilean for departure from that country, and two for entry into Argentina. They stamp your exit visa, pass you on to the Aduana, where your bike is processed out, then you go to Argentinian Immigration, where they stamp your entry visa, and on to the final stop at Argentinian Aduana, where you get your bike papers stamped. They also give you a paper with places for each kiosk to stamp, so that when you are through, the control post only needs check that paper to see that you are completed, rather than make you riffle through everything one more time. Then, about 30 or so clicks down the road, there is a final check post, where they take that four-times stamped paper, and wish you a happy and safe trip. Very efficient, and it took a total of less than an hour. The final person to check me before the control post was a young woman who very pleasantly and sincerely wished me a pleasant trip. Try that at your local US customs and immigration! Not likely!
I made it to the town of San Rafael, Argentina, about 150 miles south of Mendoza on Argentine Route 40, which is the main route in Argentina to Patagonia, about 1800. I checked my e-mail, and Ian had sent a message as to where they were in Las Leñas, but that it was 2 1/2 hours from San Rafael, so I decided to bag it and spend the night there instead of trying to push ahead and risk arriving in the dark.
I found a very nice hotel, probably the best one in town, and checked in. San R. appears to be a very nice town, and is a tourist center hereabouts. A lot of people come here from Buenos Aires to see the local sights, such as their mini-Grand Canyon, and Lake Diamond.
They had WiFi, so I started a blog for the day, but my batteries were low, and I couldn´t get reception from my room, and the lap-top quit before I could get the blog posted. I returned to my room, and was ready to hit the pillow at about 2230, when I heard some noise outside, and then some very alarming crashing against the window. I opened the curtains and beheld a very fierce thunderstorm that was ejecting hail pellets the size of golf balls. Downstairs in the lobby, the guests were  watching as the street in front filled with hail and blocked the storm sewers, flooding the street from curb to curb in a fast-moving river. This storm kept up for nearly an hour, and was the object of much interest. People said it was quite rare to have a T-storm there at such a late hour.
My batteries had charged, but alas! The internet was out of order, and I had to content myself to watching the goings-on with the other guests in the lobby. Big excitement!
Today, I caught the two Canadians on a very dusty and gravely road south of San Rafael about 75 miles. We teamed up, and rode to our present digs in Zapala, Argentina. We are about to launch for some dinner. Things are looking very good for the moment....
5:52 pm mst          Comments

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Some New Pitchers

Wednesday, January 24, 2007 Day 73 SANTIAGO, CHILE

A nice day in Chile. It is summer here, and the sun does not set until about 2045, so it stays light until half past nine. The days are warm, but not oppressive, and the air is pretty clear, for a big city fraught with the usual traffic.

I spent the morning getting my laptop down to the Apple Technical Center for some attention. The expert there did a mumbo-jumbo move, and tried to explain what is going on, but I could not get it. I think he said that the problem is solved, and that I need to have the battery well-charged or be plugged in to AC, or it will not boot up properly. I think that is what he said, but at any rate, it is working well now, and I am on Wi-Fi here in the hotel, with some time on my hands, so I will add some "pitchers" that may be interesting.

I ran into two Canadians this morning in the hotel at breakfast whom John and I had bumped into in Puno, Peru one evening. They are headed south on a pair of R1200GS, and stopped here at the same Beemer shop as I for new tires. Their bikes will be ready tomorrow, and they are heading across the Andes to Mendoza and a ski resort north of Barriloche that David wants to check out. They have invited me to join them down the road, and I may be able to do it after I get Der Klunkenschiffter out of hock. It would be comforting to have some ready help should I dump again on La Carretera Austral. That is a definite likelyhood, as it is a gravel road of about 1000 Km, much of which is single lane. If there has been a lot of rain, it could be mushy, and Route 40 in Argentina, which we will take later on also has a lot of "unpavement" and I hear it can also be nasty. So, this may work out.


1:59 pm mst          Comments

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Alone Again, Naturally
Tuesday, January 23, 2007 Day 72 SANTIAGO, CHILE
I awoke in my bright, sunlit hotel room above the mall in La Serena at about 0715, and when I went into the dining room for breakfast, the desk clerk handed me a message from John. He had left a couple of hours earlier, and said that he had decided to ride on alone for reasons of his own.
I saddled up and rode the 240 or so miles here to Santiago, where I left my bike at the BMW dealership for some new tires, brake-pads, repair to the brake line, repair to the right turn signal light, oil and filter change, valve adjustment, and general inspection and cleaning. The will have it done sometime Thursday afternoon late, so I will have a couple of days to wander Santiago, planning to leave for Puerto Montt or other southern site on Friday. P. M. is about 1000 Km, so it will likely take two days, although the roadway all the way from La Serena is divided freeway, and it is easy to make good time.
I shall miss John, as he has been a great help in many ways, and I would have had a harder time without him. Of course, so would he have had a bit harder time, such as running out of gas three times in three days, but, such is life, and we will both make it on our own. Things happen, and it was a good time while it lasted. Happy trails, John!
It is quite warm here, as we are quite a distance inland. The road changed character yesterday and today, becoming less barren as I progressed southward, with fewer pure sand and barren hills, and some green vegetation and even some small trees, or perhaps I should call them bushes, beginning to show along the way. The topography and growth are remotely similar to parts of the California Coast up around Big Sur in spots. Other parts look a lot like the Intermountain West---Arizona, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Idaho, parts of Montana and Oregon. There are plants that look a lot like sagebrush from a distance, and they dot the hills just like home.
There are lots of orchards, vinyards, and agricultural plots along the way from La Serena south, and it looks quite prosperous.
What I have seen so far of Santiago also appears quite modern and vigorous, and the prices are reflective of this advanced area´s economy.
So, I continue "Alone, Unarmed, and Unafraid," as the old Reconnaissance pilots´ saying from Vietnam days goes. I am not so sure about the last part, but the alone and unarmed parts are for sure. Fear rides not too far behind...
2:22 pm mst          Comments

Monday, January 22, 2007

Long Ride, Little Adventure
Monday, January 22, 2007 Day 71 CAÑARAL, CHILE
It has been fairly uneventful since leaving Coroico, Bolivia, if you don`t count the sea of mud we slithered into and through. There was an enormous mud slide on the main road to La Paz on the morning we left Coroico, and I managed to slip and slide off to the left and into knee-deep black goo. There was der Klunkenschiffter, on its left side in this gunk, and me standing to one side almost up to my knees in it. John started through, and made it with me helping stabilize the bike as he paddled and inched his way to the other side. Then he came back and we got her on her wheels and I bucked and snorted through to dry land. We were a mess, and there must have been twenty pounds of mud on the bike and equipment as we breezed the rest of the way into the city.
John did a fine job of navigating through La Paz and neighboring city, El Alto, and we were on the road toward Chile. We made the border at Tambo Quemado, Bolivia by about 1500, and were across at Chungara, Chile by 1630 and on our way  to Arica. We made it there just after dark, and found a pretty good little hotel just off the mall. Rooms are much more expensive here in Chile, as is just about everything else.
The next day was uneventful, and we stopped in Tocopilla, a small industrial town on the coast.
Most of the ride was very pleasant, hugging the coast, with lots of pretty seascapes. The terrain here is mountainous and desert, if you can put the two together. There are high hills and steep escarpments, but there is almost no vegetation at all. Everything is barren and brown.
Leaving Antofagasta, we also left the coast and rode for 150 miles or so through desert. I think this is part of the Atacama Desert, reputedly the driest desert in the world. It was hot and dusty, and we arrived at our present port of call, Cañaral, Chile last evening at 1900, still quite light.
Today we head for La Serena, about 300 miles down the road, and hope to arrive Santiago tomorrow evening, another 320 miles or so. There will be a few days rest there, while we get our bikes worked on and take in the big city.
Happy days!
5:24 am mst          Comments

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Road Less Traveled
Thursday, January 18, 2007 Day 67 COROICO, BOLIVIA
We had a nice ride yesterday from La Paz to Coroico, which is about 60 miles northeast of LP, a side trip on a highway called "The Highway of Death," and definitely over-hyped. It is just another mountain road, although quite beautiful and worth the trip. We are in a hotel overlooking a beautiful valley, and it is charming. If by chance, you have seen pictures on the internet showing this highway and its narrowness and peril, forget it, because if that highway ever existed in Bolivia, it certainly no longer does.
We got lost, of course, on our way, and got onto what appears to be a very old, cobblestoned single track road up to Coroico. This road was pointed out to us by some highway repair men, and they said it was a shorter route than the "main" road.It was steep and rife with tight curves, but the going was OK until after about 8 miles, we came upon water on the road, then mud, then slimy, slippery, can`t-stand-up mud.  I managed to slither through the worst of it, but the tires were extremely slippery, and I was on a sheet of thin, slippery mud, and yes, of course; I slithered off the road and got the front wheel into a concrete culvert that ran along side the road. Der Klunkenschiffter was down and out. I was only making about 10 MPH, so no damage, but it was going to take a lot of strong young men or a winch to get me out.
John was 5 minutes or so behind, so I sat down to wait. Pretty soon, I heard the distinct sound of his KLR; putt-putt and Brrrrrp! As he came up the road. The worst of the mud that I had lucked my way through was just around a curve below me, and I heard him when he got into it. The KLR was putt-putting along, and then there was a loud Brrrp! followed by silence. I knew what had happened, walked down around the curve, and there he was, down in the middle of the single-track, mud-covered cobblestone, pre-Spanish camino.
We got him back on his wheels, and he headed up the road toward Coroico and help. He was gone only 5 minutes, when he returned. The road ahead was a sea of mud, and someone had placed tree branches in the road to indicate that it was closed.
What to do? There was no one around, and we had passed no cars on the way up. We unloaded my bike, strap-ons, cans, tail box, and all, and struggled her onto her wheels, with the front wheel still in the culvert, but at an angle due to the narrowness of it, about 5 inches wide, not wide enough to take the wheel at right angles. We then heaved and slewed the rear of the bike so that it was at right angles to the road. It took some sweat and swearing, stewing and spewing, but Lo! We got the monster out of the culvert and back onto the road.
It is amazing what necessity can accomplish! We were initially resigned to needing help, for it looked like a job for many muscles, or even a tow out of the ditch. We did it alone, and rode back down to the main road, eventually finding the right road to Coroico. It is all part of the journey. One always needs to remember: IF YOU CANNOT KEEP YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR, YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE SIGNED UP FOR THE TRIP.
After another inexplicable separation, wherein I back-tracked to see what had happened to John, missed him, and continued on to Coroico, we reunited. We still don´t know how that happened, because I was back-tracking on the road he was traveling, it was a single lane road, he did not stop or pull over, nor did I, yet we missed each other. He traveled on on the wrong road to the end, and then returned via the way I came, and we met in the town square here in Coroico. I will wonder for the rest of my life how we passed and missed each other.
Here we stay, today and tonight, leaving on the morrow for Chile. We now think we will head for the coast and Iquique, then down across the Atacama Desert (driest in the world by reputation) and Santiago.
We are now relaxing and enjoying the little town of Coroico.
¡Otro buen dia!
10:09 am mst          Comments

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tying Up A Loose End

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 Day 65 LA PAZ, BOLIVIA
There a couple of things about Lake Titicaca I failed to mention. The name comes from the Indians, and means "Gray Puma." "Titi," in that tongue, means puma, and "caca" means gray. Now, there may be some who would find different meanings to these two words, depending upon their language of origin. English speakers, would, of course, find "titi", well, amusing. Spanish speakers, on the other hand, do find "caca" equally amusing, and often the Peruvians say that, since the lake is about 60% Peruvian and 40% Bolivian, that they got the Puma, and the Bolivianos got nothing but "caca." If you don´t speak any Spanish, you might want to ask someone who does about the word.
Furthermore, the lake itself has a shape that is interesting. If you take a map of the lake and invert it, use a slight bit of imagination, you will see a puma about to take a bite out of a rabbit. I have posted a few pictures, but have not been able to figure out how to invert my photo of a map of Titicaca, so that you might see the puma and rabbit. How`s your yoga? 
Now, the question is this: How did those Indians who named the lake know that it was in the shape of a puma about to eat a rabbit? They never were in a postion to see the entire lake, as in a map or from the sky, so if they did not know, how did they come to name the lake for a puma in the first place? I have it! Aliens from outer space. There simply is no other explanation...

12:15 pm mst          Comments

Monday, January 15, 2007

I Cannot Fully Express Just How Happy I Am To Be Here
Monday, January 15, 2007 Day 64 PUNO TO LA PAZ, BOLIVIA
Sunday was not yet over. John and I met the Dutch couple for a nice evening meal on the mall in Puno. They offered a drink after dinner, but John had writing to do, and I wanted to call Ruth and check in, so we said our goodbyes, exchanged e-mail addresses, and parted.
After my call, I wandered back to our Hotel, The Zurit, on a fairly busy street, which is quite well-lit. It is just across from the central mercado, which by this time of night, approaching ten O´Clock, was closed. I reached the hotel, but decided to go to the end of the block looking for a ramp from the rather high sidewalk upon which I could ride when we left the next day. At the end of the block there was a ramp down to the street. Good. I decided to check the corner nearest the hotel. The corner was just thirty or so feet from the front entrance. There were some cars passing now and then, and some scattered foot traffic.
I reached the corner, and sure enough, there was another ramp, down which I could ride my bike, avoiding the 12 or so inch high curb. I turned to my right to return to the hotel, and suddenly, a bare forearm slid quickly in front of my throat, and I was pulled backward.
Many times I have thought what I would do in a situation like this. Go suddenly limp, throwing the attacker off balance was one. Another was to give him a very hard jab in the abdomen with an elbow. That should do the trick.
I did neither. Instead, I instinctively reached for his arm, trying to break the crushing pressure. I tried to yell, but no air and no sound resulted. I got both hands on the forearm, and pulled outward, making a bit of progress, and managed a weak "Help." Nothing more.
Lights, bright, almost psychedelic lights. I am dreaming. They are flashing and flickering. Neon! Light bulbs! Not a dream. The arm! The choking grip on my throat. I am on the ground.
I came back quickly, somehow found my glasses and got them back on, got off the ground where I lay flat on my back, and lurched several steps to the left, then to the right before regaining my equilibrium. I looked down, and my leather purse, with my wallet, passport, credit cards, everything was gone. I reeled the thirty or so feet to the hotel and banged on the glass entry door, locked at night for security. The desk clerk came quickly, and I told him I had been robbed, and to call the police. He picked up the phone, dialed, and rattled something off in Spanish. Then, he pointed out the door across the street. There were two policemen, who had arrived just then in pursuit of their regular rounds.
I burst through the door and shouted to them that I had been robbed. They came over, and I told them that what I thought was three men (I vaguely thought I had seen two male forms as I struggled with the attacker) had mugged me (How do you say "I´ve been mugged" in Spanish)?
They told me I had to go to the Police station at the Plaza de Armas and make a report. I got John, and we went to the station, where the duty officer was most solicitious, but really unable to be of any real help, as one might expect. I had seen no one, and had not the slightest description. He and another officer showed me a mug book, but there was not the slightest thing I could do to provide any descriptions. They took my passport number, and a list of the things I had lost. In my state, probably a bit of shock, I forgot to mention my leatherman and flashlight, my ball cap, and my electric Franklin Spanish-English translator (hated to lose that). I also had my bike keys in that leather purse, also gone. Fortunately, I have extra keys for all locks hidden on the bike.
The passport was the major problem he said, and I agreed. There was no American Government presence in Puno, and the nearest consulate was in La Paz, over there in Bolivia.  How does one cross a border without a passport? He advised me to go to the Immigration Office just down the street in the morning and see what they could do, and then return to his office to make an official report.
We returned to the hotel, and I tried to get some sleep. The problem was not the end of the world, but it was large. I might have to go back to Cuzco where there is an American Consulate. I had no bank card, no drivers license, none of my credit cards, and of course the passport was also a goner. I lay awake most of the night, tossing and turning, gnashing my teeth, wondering, figuring, doubting.This was a Hell of a mess. These guys had nailed me so easily it was embarrassing. I was a real easy target, and I played right into their hands. I lost all of these valuable items in addition to about $75 US in cash, not a big deal. The trip had come to a screeching halt, and the immediate future was not bright. I tossed and turned.
0430: Was that a knock at the door? There it was again, a light tapping. I jumped up and went to the door. There was the desk clerk. "Señor, la Policia are below, and they think they might have recovered your passport." How unlikely is that?
I went down, and there were about 5 or 6 policemen on the curb waiting to see me. One of them had a passport in his hand. It was mine! I could scarcely believe it. He was assigned to street patrol in another part of town, and was checking things out in  San Juan Park, when he came across a pile of documents and a set of keys. All of my credit cards, passport, keys, Military ID, and just about every scrap and jot of paper I had had in that wallet were there. Unbelievable, that in a city of over 100,000, this cop found my stuff before any passersby, and that he somehow got to talking with two of his acquaintances who had just happened to hear my cry for help outside the hotel, and they just happened to say that they might know the person who had lost them.
I got my stuff back, and gave the savior a $20 thank you, for which he seemed very pleased.
These guys were really nice, helpful, and courteous. I cannot believe my luck. I am very pleased to have my things back, thankful that I was not killed or injured, and Very Happy To Be Here.
 I slept very well from 0500 until John knocked at 0800.
 I was not hurt in the attack, although my voice was hoarse for a time, and my neck is now somewhat sore from the pressures. These guys could have killed me. I know luck when I see it.
There are no bad days. This was not a good day, but a Very Good Day.
We got on the road at 1030 and made the border at Desaguadero )Sp?) by 1230. The border crossing from Peru into Bolivia took us about 30 minutes, and was one of the easiest we have yet made.
Life is good, but no more "adventure" if you please.

5:42 pm mst          Comments

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Night In The Boonies, Edited, Corrected, and Finished

Sunday, JANUARY 14, 1007 dAY 63 PUNO, PERU
We took another boat ride yesterday, this time across Lake Titicaca to visit some local people and see how they live.
First, the lake. It is the highest large lake in the world, at 3,800 meters (12,540 feet) above sea level. It is 80,000 kilometers in area (49,600 Sq. miles), and the water temperatures run about 50 degrees, F. Brr!
The lake is famous mainly for the reed people, who live along the shores. They make boats out of reeds, and actually live on large islands, known as the Uros Islands, made of the same material. We stopped on our way to our overnight destination, and spent a couple of hours visiting them and learning about their way of life. The President of the island where we first stopped, told us that he had lived there for 35 years, and was born there. The island itself is 40 years old, and I would estimate it to be several acres in size. The "ground" under your feet is woven reeds, and quite resilient to the step. It is not bone dry, but your shoes do not become wet from their treading there. They live in habitations made of the same reeds, and the originals are shaped quite like tepees that we know from the indians of the Great Plains. They have made some concessions to modernity with other houses shaped in rectangles, with roofs of tin, covered with reed matting. The president told us that these houses are lined usually with modern plastic sheeting.
The boats are also fascinating, and quite elaborate. Rather than attempt a description, I will post some pictures for your pleasure.
The second island was quite a bit larger, and included hostel lodging in tepee huts, a trout pond, restaurants, and, a telephone booth, powered by solar panels! While John and I were standing in an open area, secretively photographing a indian woman dressed in traditional garb, the ground beneath our feet began to undulate. It was a very eerie feeling and sight, to see the reed matting moving up and down, slowly rising and falling at the action of the water beneath. It was quite subtle, and most of the people milling about missed it entirely.
The boat ride lasted a total of 5 hours, and was quite pleasant. It was a 40 foot cabin boat, powered by a Toyota gas engine, and it made about 6 or 8 knots. It had a cabin, and we were a contingent of about 15 people, some locals, but mostly tourists out for a look at local life.
When we arrived at Isla Amantina, we were met by local family representatives, and led to our accomodation for the night. A small girl was our guide, and she led us up the hill from the boat dock through a maze of paths and streets to our overnight "home."
I was taken by the enormous number of stone walls at this village and on the hillsides all around. They were everywhere, large and small, mortared and free-standing. Each wall has its own "personality," depending on the builder and the material available. Stone walls are fascinating, and have captured my attention for many years, ever since on of the first visits Ruth and I made to Ireland, where the stonework is rampant and wonderful.
The ama de casa met us, and we were welcomed. She was a middle-aged indian woman, about 5 feet tall, and nearly as wide, wearing a traditional brightly colored skirt, leggings, and a brocaded blouse. This was topped by a shawl, black alpaca or wool, which she often put over her head. At times, later on, she donned a traditional Peruvian cap, the type with the ear flaps US skiers have been copying for years.
She led us to our room, up an outside concrete staircase. The entrance was low, about 5 feet, causing even me to duck as I entered. It was sparse, with three beds, a table and two chairs, a mirror, and a couple of hooks on the wall. The room had three windows, each of which had a center pane which could be opened. The window adjacent to our table overlooked a sheep cote, where John was able to observe the three young daughters and wife of the neighbor assist a ram in attempting some mating procedures with a couple of the ewes. There was a mirror on the wall, and a light bulb hung from its cord over it. The floor was rough planking, but swept clean (well, pretty clean). The beds were manufactured bedsteads, with reed mattress and support. They had sheets, and a heavy wool blanket, all covered with a bright bedspread.
Shortly after our arrival, Isabela, the ama, appeared with two bowls of piping hot soup. It was a rich broth, with potatoes, carrots, and a base meal of quinona. Very tasty, I polished mine off in short order, after which she came in with the comida (meal) consisting of a piping hot boiled egg in the shell, boiled, peeled potatoes, a slice each of cucumber and tomato, and a piece of cheese. It was all hot, and quite good. Topping it was a cup of tea, brewed with sprigs of the plant it came from. It was quite like mint tea, but had a local name, and was not the same herb. It was delicious, without sugar, which was supplied, along with some salt for the meal.
We took a walk, took some pictures, and exchanged pleasantries with the local folk we met along the way. Returning to the room, we sat and chatted for awhile, wondering what the evening might be like. It was about 1800 by then, and darkening quite rapidly. We tried the light switch to no avail, and sat in the growing darkness, contemplating the life these people must lead.
There was, as it turns out, no electricity. The baño was down a path and at the edge of a bean field, and there appeared to be no running water in the house, although there was a cold tap outside the kitchen, down on the ground floor.
Before complete darkness, there was a gentle tap on the sheet metal door, and we welcomed the man from next door, son of our ama de case, named Urbano. He lived next door with his wife and three daughters, those of the somewhat abortive mating game, and one of whom was our greeter and guide at the dock. He told us he was an artisan, and worked most of the time in Juliaca, which is about 65 miles north of Puno. He worked in weaving, making art objects such as rugs and wearing apparel out of alpaca wool. He was gone for three or more months at a time, and life was good except for the usual shortage of money.
About 2000, another knock at the door, and dinner was served. More delicious soup, this time without the quinona but loaded with yummy vegetables, the ubiquitous potato, beans, carrots, some local veggies, and a a rich chicken broth, but no visible flesh of any type. More delicious tea resulted from the hot water supplied in a thermos and the green herb gracing our cups. A tall candle provided sufficient light, and the meal was quite filling, and savory to boot.
Later, we were invited to a dance at a community hall, the only provision being that the men had to wear a poncho and a Peruvian hat, the women a skirt and colorful belt.
We had met a very engaging young Dutch couple on the boat ride over, and they were staying the house next door, so the three of us went. John stayed in the room and did some writing by candle-light.
The dance was not so very different from dance halls at home. There were people sitting around the perimeter, and when the music began, the men and some of the women moved quickly over to the other side to select a partner. I was grabbed shortly after we came in by a very short woman of indian heritage, dressed in traditional dress and cinch, and we twirled wildly about the floor, with her leading most of the way, and me hanging on for dear life, with no idea of what to do or how to do it. The music was Peruvian, with a lead flute, but it was pretty contemporary for the most part, and the dancers had a grand time. I was struck by the similarity between a Western Dance in Texas and this one down here in the High Andes. There were a good many europeans or Americans in the group, but there were a couple of Andean gents, with their traditional fedora hats, white shirts and ties, who were as confident and aggressive as any Ten Gallon hat wearing cowboy in Marfa ever was. These particular fellows were about five feet tall, and the picture of one of them dancing with a 5 foot 10 Swede or Dutch woman was one I shall ever regret not getting.
We wandered back to our respective abodes in the dark, led by the lady of the Dutch couple`s house and a couple of flashlights, and hit the sack. I slept like a baby for the first time in several days.
On the return trip on Sunday, we stopped at Taquile Island, a little more upscale than Amantina. There is a very steep climb of at least one thousand feet vertical from the boat docks to the top of the hill where all of the facilities are located, including the house in which tourists may stay. It was interesting, and we spent about two hours there before returning to Puno, where we arrived at about 1530.
It had been a very nice day, but, it was not over yet...

4:20 pm mst          Comments

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Another Very Good Day
Thursday, January 11, 2007 Day 60 CUZCO TO PUNO, PERU
Awoke to rain, light but fairly constant. Got Der Klunkenschiffter loaded by 0645, then woke John, and headed to Jack`s Restaurant just up the block for breakfast. John came along in a few minutes, and we had coffee and breakfast, after which John went to the parking lot to retrieve his bike, and we were under way about 0900. The ride to Puno is only about 245 miles, and we were in no great hurry.
It continued to rain for several hours on the road to Puno. We climbed fairly steadily until reaching the mountain pass summit of 4,838 meters, where it was quite chilly, and I was glad I had put on my electric vest. I left if turned off for an hour or so, but then was quite ready to turn the thermostat onto a setting of about medium. Toasty! By the time we were in Juanicia (this is wrong, but the best I can remember at the moment), it was spotty sun and the rain had gone somewhere far, far away.
We got to Puno about 1500, and just as we were entering the main part of town, John pulled over to the side, and I could see that he was looking down toward his left foot, and  fiddling with something there. I pulled in behind and waited. Then, he shook his head and dismounted. He flipped up his helmet chin-piece and gave me a look of despair. I saw that a piece of metal lay on the ground at the left of his bike. I got off and came over. It was his shifting lever. It had sheared.
KLR owners and former owners, raise your hand if this has happened to you. Unless you left it parked in the garage, it probably has. Most long distance experienced KLR hands carry a spare shifter along for just such an occurance. I have never tried it, but the tell me standard sized vice grips will do in a pinch. It happened to Bob on our first trip to Alaska in 2005, and he was able to buy a new one in Fairbanks, but it is not a rarity on KLRs.
I told John to relax, it is no big deal, and to get his bike up on the sidewalk while I got my tool kit. In the meantime, a couple of youngish Peruvians on the standard 125 cc bike pulled up and inquired as to what was the problem. We told them we needed a welder, and they said, sure, we can take you to one. We spent about 15 minutes getting the  rest of the lever off the shifting pin, and I jumped on my bike and followed the fellows through a maze to a welding shop.
While the welder was doing his thing, a bunch of fellows gathered around Der Klunkenschiffter to ooh and aah. They were impressed, and piled on the questions, including the inevitible, "how much do these bikes cost?"
The part cooled, and the 4 Soles ($1.25 US) paid for beautiful work, I followed the same two guys back to where John waited with his bike. They had told me what street John was on, and discussed whether I could find my way back. I said I could as long as I knew what street to ask for, and they rode off. Before the part was ready, though, they came back and said they would lead me back.
Back at the bike, I thanked them, and asked them if we couldn`t do something for them, like buy them a beer or something. They thanked me, and said no. Then one of them said, in English, "Welcome to my city." I was, and am impressed. They rode off, and I was left with reinforced impression about the amiability and kindness of people in these parts. Speaking of parts, the shift lever was as good as, or better than new, and I wasted no time in telling the welder how good a job it was. The entire incident, from start to back on two wheels only took about an hour and a half.
So, I repeat, another very good day. The shift lever could have dropped off along the road somewhere, we could have been at the height of the road at nearly 15 thousand feet and freezing our butts off, and it could have been a real long day.
We found a hotel a block from the  main square and three blocks from the Bolivian Consulate, which we will hit early in the AM to try for visas.
The hotel did not have parking, but invited us to put the bikes in the lobby, along with a Honda ridden by a Brazilian. Pretty cool.
By the way, my rear brake works just fine, and I am getting used to the brake warning lights flashing constantly. We will be in Santiago in a week or so, and I will get the system fully restored there.
¡Que buen dia!
6:23 pm mst          Comments

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

No Mo Crisis Fo Now

Wednesday,January 10, 2007 Day 59 CUZCO STILL, BUT LOOKING AT A GETAWAY
I got up late, anticipating the worst, and sure enough, when I stepped outside to check the JB Weld, in light rain, no less, it was almost as sticky as when I put it on. Boo! I went to breakfast, and mulled it over coffee, scrambled eggs, toast with lingonberry jam, orange juice. John came along. We discussed. I decided, along with John`s concurrence that it might be a good idea to call Bob for some advice and counsel.
Bob suggested going to a junkyard and getting a brake line from a wreck. Must be plenty of them. I asked the hostal dueño, and he said, no, there are no car junkyards here. The people drive the wheels off the cars, and when they finally give it up, they are trucked to Lima for salvage. So much for that. I decided to return to the brake shop. The lady there, who had been so kind yesterday said we could get one made out of steel tubing instead of copper (Bob e-mailed later cautioning against copper: too soft and won`t hold the pressure). She said, "follow me", and we took a cab 5 or so blocks to another shop, where they make things. They said, sure, but what kind of receiver does the motorcycle have? She said she would go back to the shop and look, as I didn´t have a clue. She told me to wait until she called with the information so they could make a new brake line. She called in a few minutes, and in about 10 more, I was on my way back to the shop with a brand new fabricated steel brake line. I put it on, and decided to ride back to the hotel to bleed it. I asked her how much. Now, she had paid for the cab fare to the shop, paid her own way back, and paid for the fabricated line also. This cost around 10 Soles ($3.00), but still, these people are not exactly fortune 500 folks. She told me there was no charge, and wished me a feliz viaje. She would not take any money. What more can I say about the people I meet on this trip?
I bled the brakes, with John`s help, and remembering Bob`s instructions that the brake is best bled by taking the caliper off the disc and holding the brake pads apart while bleeding. If you do not do that, the piston moves just enough to allow air to be re-introduced.
Voila! The rear brake works. It is not as good as before, because it is now an un-powered brake, and compared to the very effective and powerful front double disc, which is still powered, it seems weak and ineffective. But, I can skid the rear tire with it, and that means I have a good brake. I now have a rear just like about every other disc brake motorcycle ever built: no ABS, no power, but a good hard push does the job. Ever had the power brakes go out in a car? The first thing you think is that you have no brakes, but pressure on the pedal does the job. Same-oh-same-oh here.
It looks like tomorrow will bring a fond goodbye to beautiful Cuzco (Cusco, I cannot keep the spelling difference between English and español straight). Puno, here we come!

3:53 pm mst          Comments

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Breaking The Brakes
Tuesday, January 9, 2007 Day 58 CUZCO, PERU, YES, STILL IN CUZCO
So, maybe the mechanic wasn`t so swift after all. We went in to pick up the bikes yesterday at about 1600. He told me my front pads were OK, and he had not changed them, but he did put on the fabricated rears. Fine. I paid, a rather nominal fee, mounted up, and rode up the street. The fact that my brake warning lights were flashing was of some minor concern, I must say. I got to the corner, coasted to a stop, and waited for the light. It came, and I started out, then had to slow slightly faster than normal, and applied a tiny bit of rear brake. Nada. More application. More nada. I had no, but not any, rear brake. Back to the shop.
Ah, I will bleed the brakes, señor. Now, here I have to add that during the lead in to getting the bike, I mentioned that the front pads were good due to the probability that because I usually shift down, using engine compression to slow, I use the brakes less than some folks. He replied that that is not a good idea, because that is too hard on the engine and running gear. Really? I had never heard that before, and I could be wrong, but I have always done it, and always believed that it is easier on the brakes at no cost to other components. OK.
Now he started to bleed the brakes. First, he started the engine. Started the engine to bleed the brakes? That`s a new one too. Then, he took the 9 mm box wrench and put it on the bleed adjustment valve on the rear caliper and started pumping the brake pedal as he cracked the valve. Air came out of the line, of course, and some drops of fluid, flying all over everything, including the tire and wheel, the brake caliper, the drive shaft, the muffler, and anything withing two or three feet. For those of you who have never bled brakes, it is customary to use a clear plastic hose forced tightly over the brake adjustment nipple, so you can see when the air and bubbles stop and clear liquid flows as you depress the brake pedal. You have to coordinate the opening of the adjustment nut so that you close it before you reach the bottom of the pedal throw, or you risk re-introducing air into the system. He did this interesting technique for several minutes, and I stood watching. After all, he is the mechanic, and I am just the iggerunt pilot.
Finally, I suggested it might be better to use a bleed hose, as described above. He left, and came back in a few minutes with a rubber tube, black in color, and clearly unclear. You cannot see hydraulic fluid or anything else through an opaque hose. I began to suspect that he does not know how to bleed brakes. I said I would be leaving, and I would bleed them myself back at the hotel. He brought water and cleaned up the spattered wheel, rim, etcetera, and I left.
I bought some DOT 4 brake fluid and a clear plastic tube small enough to fit tightly over the nipple, and went back to the hotel to bleed the brakes.
They would not bleed. These brakes are "integral," and are interconnected, front and rear, through a control box or computer located under the fuel tank. They are not physically connected, as they do not share fluid, but through the box braking is metered to the rear brake whenever front brake is applied. This is a fairly new innovation of BMW. The reverse is not true; when you apply rear brake, you only get rear brake. The box also manages the ABS system. I decide that the rear brake would not bleed because of this integral lashup. Last Summer, with a similar problem, my riding partner, Bob Brunson, a mechanical whizz, especially for a pilot, short circuited the system by buying a brake line from NAPA auto parts in Dawson City, Yukon. He put a line directly from the brake pedal to the line leading to the rear caliper, and capped the two disconnected lines that run to and from the magic box. It worked like a champ. I had no integral and no ABS, but bikes have been like that and continue like that. No big deal.
Here in Peru, it is a bit different. I spent the entire morning trying to find brake lines a la NAPA, without success. I finally found a brake shop where they cut a length of copper tubing, put a fitting at each end, flared each end, and that was that. The disconnected lines had to be capped, and of course, no one had capped 10mm nuts. The machine shop next door fashioned a couple out of four 10mm nuts, two each, and welded a cap onto them. Cool. I put those on, and rode the bike, still with no rear brake due to no bleeding as yet, back to the hotel, where I proceeded to "bleed" the rear brake. Tilt! The copper line leaks, as the flanged end of the copper tube was not flanged to fit the female part of the fittings, the ones on the bike itself. Crap! Now what? I dug into my tool kit and came up with a tube of JB Weld, and applied it to the leaky fittings, hoping that it will harden and stop the offending leaks. We are waiting for it to dry, and may have to wait another day. This stuff can take a long time to dry, and is still sticky 8 hours later. We shall see tomorrow.
What puzzles me most is how the rear brake got air in the lines in the first place. You do not open the brake lines to change brake pads. It is quite possible some idiot pushed the rear brake pedal when the caliper and pads were removed, causing the pistons to extend too far, and when they were pushed back into the correct position, air was introduced into the line. Whatever. I have no rear brake, and it remains to be seen if I am deducing this problem correctly. Thanks, Bob, wherever you are, and where the Hell are you when I need you?
Cheers and Hurrah for now. Mo latuh.
8:00 pm mst          Comments

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Of This and That
Sunday, January 7, 2007 Day 56 CUZCO, PERU
We have decided to stay on here until Tuesday morning. We have both bikes in a local shop for brake pad replacement. I checked my rear pads yesterday morning, and one of them was almost gone. I checked at the shop we took John`s bike to, and the chief there told me that parts to fit a BMW are very hard to come by, and the closest place to get brake pads would probably be Santiago, Chile. But, not to worry, because he can take the old soles and pads, and grind off the old lining, then bond new linings to the sole as a temporary solution. He said they might last as long as original pads, but would at least get me to Santiago. He is a very innovative fellow, but he is not unique to the Southern Hemisphere, nor Central America and Mexico, for that matter. These people are good mechanics, and have learned how to fix things without the proper parts for many a year. I do have one set of front pads, but another set that I had strapped on fell off somewhere between there and here. He will fabricate the ones I lack, front or rear.
So, we will pick up the bikes tomorrow, and do a little more sight-seeing, then push off for Puno and Bolivia (maybe) on Tuesday. Bolivia may be a problem, because as of the first of the year, we Americans can no longer get visas at the border, but have to go to an embassy first. We are hoping that the Bolivian Consulate in Puno can and will issue the visas. If not, we bag Bolivia and head straight to Chile.
Speaking of sight-seeing, this morning, I was again sitting in the Main Plaza, and an elderly gent, even elderlyer (sic) than I, struck up a conversation. John was off wandering somewhere, and I had a nice chat with this man, who turned out to be an 84 year-old retired professor of Incan History. John wandered back, and I told the gent that J is an architect. He then offered to show us around the square, and to point out the different kinds of Incan architecture (there are 7). He spent nearly half an hour with us, showing us the famous Incan and Spanish walls that are found all around Cuzco, and especially within a rock`s throw of the plaza. These walls are well known, but fascinating. The contrast between the Incans and the Spanish is profound, as the former used no mortar, and their stones fit together like hand in glove, with no room for even a sheet of paper. The Spanish, by comparison, were slap-dash, using lots and lots of mortar, and coarse stones wherever they ran out of looted Incan stonework, stolen from ruined temples.
We saw the famous 12 Angle Rock, and the Stone Puma, both remarkable works. Some of these stones in the famous Polygon Wall have multiple sides and even curves that once again fit together with barely a crack to separate them. How did dey doo dat? I will add some pics later, but right now my camera is locked up in my tail bag, which is in my room, and the keys? I stupidly left them at the bike shop. Great planning, once again.
The professor was very knowledgeable, and spoke to me in clear but almost inaudible Spanish, most of which I understood (when I could hear it). It was a most enjoyable encounter, and was a gesture of good will on his part. He departed, late for an appointment, saying that perhaps we would meet again tomorrow. It is but one more example of the amiable and kind people we continue to meet.
This trip is proving to be all I hoped for, and more. Every place we visit seems to be another place we leave only reluctantly. That is a wonderful way to travel. You are anticipatory of the next stop, but saddened that you are not able to spend more time at the present site.
11:52 am mst          Comments

Saturday, January 6, 2007

La Paz en Cuzco
Saturday, January 6, 2007 Day 55 CUZCO, PERU
I wandered over to the plaza this morning, and went upstairs to the Restaurant called "Yaku Mama" for a continental breakfast. I sat on the small balcony overlooking the square and partook of bread and butter, lingonberry jam, good black coffee, and a small pitcher of freshly squeezed orange juice. Opposite me, on the far side of the square is the great cathedral, with its gold interior and massive doors. At the side is another cathedral, smaller, yet imposing in its own right. The square is quite large, at least 100 meters by 120 meters. It is open, with only a few small trees, and interior gardens of grass and flowers, surrounded with square terrazo tiles set closely together, dominated by a beautiful fountain in the center. The morning sun shone brightly, warming the face and arms with a yellowish glow.
Plazas take on their own personalities, and John, ever the architect, says that this one lacks the intimate nature of others, such as Antigua, Granada, Nicaragua, and Cartagena. This is an opinion with which I agree, yet this one is still inviting, with its bright green benches that seem to beckon and offer rest and relaxation.
It was still quite early, but as I savored the rich coffee and breads, I watched the pace pick up slowly, and even at 0800 there were children, families, dogs, and a general sense of peace and tranquility. Traffic increased, but even with the rattle of taxis, the occasional beep of a horn, and the tweetering of the lady traffic cop directing the flow, it was relaxing and serene.
I sat and watched, and it suddenly occurred to me that this contrast, what I was observing, and what was happening in Iraq at that very moment, was indeed surreal. Here I sat, seeing the world as it perhaps was meant to be, while at the same time, chaos and violence reigned over there on the other side of this earth. No matter what your views on the situation there and how it came to pass, one must ask, "Is this the world in which we wish to live? Are we dead certain that our actions have and will continue to bring improvement to the Iraqis or to anyone, for that matter? Are we so sure that what we did there was the last resort, and the only alternative open?
Sartre said that we have choices. There is no such thing as "I didn`t have a choice." There are always options, even though those choices may be less attractive than the one taken, we always have them, and it is no excuse to claim "no choice." We had options in Iraq in March of 2003, and we, nationally, made a decision, the results of which we now confront.
I merely ask the question, "Was it the best choice?"
5:34 pm mst          Comments

Friday, January 5, 2007

Tick Off Machu Picchu
Friday, January 5, 2006 Day 54 CUZCO-MACHU PICCHU-CUZCO
As the Brits say, "Tick that one off, Dearie, we`ve seen it." Been there, etc.. It was well worth the trip, though, and is not to be missed. I booked a tour with a local firm, and was picked up at my hostal at 0630, taken to the bus, (an hour and a half) where we rode to Ollantaytambo, got on the train, and rode to Aguascalientes (an hour and a half), then transferred to buses for the winding ride up the dirt road to the site itself (half an hour). Our guide took us through all of the major sites, pointing out the things of greatest interest, and we all took thousands of bad photos. I elected to stay with a Spanish-speaking guide, and surprised myself by understanding a great deal of what he said. MP was "discovered" in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, an American professor who was searching for the last Incan Capital. He did not think MP was it, but certainly realized that it was of major importance. It turns out that it was the last capital, the other being Villacabamba, which the Spanish Conquistadores thought was the last one, and stopped searching. That is the story I understood from the guide, and its veracity is subject to some pretty hazy Spanish comprehension on my part, so, do not go to the bank with this account.
The weather was grand, and it only sprinkled a little. The sun shone brightly most of the day, and a grand time was had by all. There is a spectacular climb that most people avoid, up to a temple that was a special place for the Incans, accessible only by invitation. It sticks up several hundred feet above the general site, and is scaled by stone steps that switchback to the top. I ordinarily do not avoid such challenges, and am alway compelled to give them a go, but today, I was either fortunate or unfortunate enough to miss it, because you cannot start up after 1300, and by the time I found that out, it was 1320. Drat! And Dang! I have mixed feelings about it. Would loved to have done it, but I was getting pretty pooped by 1300, and would have had to force myself...
Machu Picchu is one of the truly fantastic sites in the world, and I highly recommend it.
I forgot to say that on the way from Lima, we also passed the famous Nasca Lines. This is the spot in the desert where the Ancients drew figures and straight lines on the surface, seen only from high vantages. There is a tower about 100 feet high alonside the highway, and one can (and did, of course!) climb the steps and see two of the hughe figures, a "hand" and a "tree." It is unknown just what was the purpose of these lines and figures, some of which are 200 meters long, but the UFO crowd, urged on by Erik Van Danneken (Spelling?) think they were guidance for aliens from space. I doubt it.
7:52 pm mst          Comments

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Getting High In Peru

Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan 2 and 3, 2007 Days 51 and 52 LIMA TO CUZCO

We left Lima about 0830, and rode directly out of town without a misstep onto PanAmerica Highway toward Nasca. It is a very good road, along the coast, and still among lots of sand dunes and occasional farm country. After Nasca, we turned hard left and headed toward Cuzco, some 550 miles away, high in the Andes.
The road starts up pretty quickly from Nasca, which is about 2000 feet MSL, and we were soon breaking out the heavier coats. We made it to Puquio (elevation 10,500') for the night, and found a nice little hostal just off the main square. Puquio is a real Peruvian town, with lots and lots of Inca people, and not many european-appearing folks. We had dinner at a streetside restaurant, and the woman there took a shine to John. She is a single lady, about 45, plump and short, and found out that John is single too. But, we were able to escape town this morning, avoiding an encounter with "Sabrina."
Although we got pretty high on the first day out of Lima, today's ride took us from Puquio up to the higher elevations. We topped out, according to my hand dandy GPS, at 14,979 feet above sea level, and both bikes ran very well in that thin air, although whenever we stopped, both John and I huffed and puffed at the slightest exertion.
The road is excellent, with some very nice sweeping curves and very good pavement most of the way, but the sheer walls on much of the road are shedding rocks aplenty, and the road is littered with them, large and small through the entire route. There wasn´t much traffic though, and we were able to make pretty good time, considering. For the entire 680 miles from Lima, our driving time was about 19 hours, an average of 35 MPH, not considering time stopped in Puquio overnight. The last fifty miles or so were pretty steep, with lots of "U" turns down the mountain to a low valley at 7500 feet, and then a winding climb back up to our destination.
We arrived Cuzco in a moderate rain, found a hostel near the city center, and settled in for the night. We tried a restaurant nearby, a pretty high class place called La Cueva, and ordered. I had a traditional Peruvian dish called K'apchi. It is made with potatoes and cheese in a cocoanut white sauce, and is quite good. It should fit the vegetarian requirement nicely, as I located no meat. The service was excellent (this place had linen tablecloths, and waiters dressed in immaculate white shirts and black ties. It was a very good meal, and for the two of us, along with a glass of wine for John, cost 113 Soles, or about  $35 US. Oh yes, coffee and Creme Brule for dessert.
Lots of beautiful scenery today, and we did see many llama and alpaca grazing by the highway, along with sheep, goats, cattle, horses, pigs, and donkeys. In the highest parts of the highway, we were well above any tree line, and the country looks a lot like northern Canada; rolling hills, with high, snow-covered mountains in the background. There were lots of indigenous people along the way, herding their stock, tending their plots, and generally living their lives. Peace and quiet, and a hard life for most of them.
Tomorrow, chilling in Cuzco, and off to Macchu Picchu on Friday. We plan to ride south on Sunday.

7:15 pm mst          Comments

Monday, January 1, 2007

Coinkydink After Coinkydink

Same Day, Same Place

John and I met a fellow at the Marlin Hotel in Cartagena when we were there, and had long talks with him. His name is Dave ________, and he is a guy in his early forties, a former stock-broker who chucked it all several years back, and has been living the unattached life quite well ever since. He recently spent a year or so in Sucre, Bolivia, and talked of whether he wanted to go back there for a stay, or to proceed north into Panama. We had dinner together several nights, and got on pretty well. He was an interesting guy, and spoke pretty good Spanish. He was well traveled, and no knew his way around. We said our goodbyes, good lucks, and departed as previously noted. I had planned to e-mail Dave, but had not yet done so.

Tonight, John and I left the hostel around 1800, and went down to the corner e-mail/telephone exchange where I made a couple of phone calls home, including one to my Boise State University football fan fanatic son, who is in Tempe to watch his team in the Fiesta Bowl, facing the Big Time in Oklahoma (U or State, I do not know---I am not a big football fan). My dear boy, a mere tad of 46, was nearly incapable of being understood, as he had already lost his voice due to screaming the previous night at a Pep Rally. And the game had not even started! He was having a great time, of that there is no doubt.

We left the phone exchange, and stopped at an outdoor cafe facing the square and park here in Miraflores. We had barely sat down, and I just happened to look to my right as Dave _______ walked by, within a foot or two of my chair, strolling the sidewalk with a friend. Another of those "unusual" and "rare" coincidental meetings some find so mysterious, but which I now even more strongly suggest happen much more often than we can ever know. Had I not turned my head at just that instant, I would have missed him. Now, there are those who would make of this something fateful, spiritual, eerie, or God-like. They are welcome to those feelings, and that is all they are; feelings. There is no evidence that these chance encounters are anything more than chance, coincidence, or oddity. I believe in evidence and fact, and there are none of those to suggest mysterious machinations that bring people together like this. Summation: Stuff Happens, and I think this kind of thing happens more often than we know, but we just miss observing many of them. I could have missed Dave, and that would have been that. We would never have known how close we came to bumping into each other. Who knows? I sure don't, and I await evidence that refutes my thesis. And, if this encounter with Dave was somehow directed by mysterious forces, I am compelled to ask, "To what end?" Now, had this been an encounter between lovers, there are those who would interpret it as something "meant to be," but in this case, I guess the mysterious forces were only being whimsical. You decide. I already have...

Dave and his friend joined us, ,and we learned that he had been robbed during a bus ride through Ecuador (so much for the dangers in Colombia). He was apparently drugged by a woman sitting beside him, and was relieved of his laptop, an expensive SLR Digital camera, considerable money, and other valuables worth around $4000 US. It makes our $75 loss insignificant by comparison. She took everything but his watch, his passport, and $50 he had hidden where she didn't find it. Since she left him knowing the time as well as with proof of who he is, we decided she was a thief with a heart!  Poor Dave. But, he said, the good news is that he still has both kidneys, and his luggage is now much lighter. You see, there are no bad days. Attitude is all.

9:16 pm mst          Comments


Monday, January 1, 2007 Day 51 LIMA, PERU

(I finally have the time to move some of the pictures to the SA Trip Pics page, and minimize the clutter and scrolling to get to the daily text. I will move the current pictures when I load new ones to go with the new text, and the old pics will be stored on the SA Trip Pics page.) 

The New Year has dawned, and let us all hope that it brings peace and an end to the slaughter in Iraq. It is time we alter the course and do something toward ending it, and ending it soon. That is all l will say about it, as I am accustomed to taking off on a rant that profits nothing, changes no thinking, and is futile.

Last evening, as I came back from dinner (I had cabrito in a restaurant that caters to tourists, just off the square here; it was not very good---mostly bone), I nodded to a young anglo couple sitting in the foyer, and said, "Buenas noches." They responded somewhat perfunctorily, and I turned to the desk to retrieve my key. I was wearing my "Big Twin" ball cap from the Beemer dealer in Boise. On the back, just above the adjustment strap ("one size fits all"), it says, in block letters about 1/4" high, "Boise, ID."
I heard the woman say, "Boise, Idaho." I turned around and responded, "Yes, Boise, Idaho."

She smiled a small ironic grin. "We're from Boise," she said quietly.

Yes, it is a big, wide, wonderful, small, even tiny, coincidental world we live in. How many times in a day, a week, a month, a year, or a lifetime do we approach these situations and mutualities, then draw apart, never knowing how close, yet how far we were? What are the odds of such occurrances? Perhaps far greater than we can ever know.

Had we, the couple and I, enough time, perhaps we'd have learned that we have at least one mutual acquaintence in Boise, but they were about to leave for the airport and a red-eye flight home. Ships, passing in the night...

This is a charming little hostel (hostal, en español) where we stay, but I just changed rooms for the third time in as many days, and will spend the last night in a double with John. The good news: it is $10 cheaper; now $20/night. It seems the place is popular with the "backpack" crowd, and is booked. Since we originally reserved a double and only got singles on a space available basis, we are once again "roomies." We will take a taxi a bit later down to the "real" Lima. The section we are in is "Miraflores,"  an upscale district, with nice shops, restaurants, and the like. Yesterday, sitting outside at a sidewalk cafe, I remarked that we could have been in  New York, New York, and John agreed.

I do not think I have said lately just how happy I am to be here. I mean here in Peru, yes, but beyond that, I am very honored to be here on this blue ball, drifting--- or is it hurtling---through space. It is a privilege to be able to continue this life, experiencing the joys and the sorrows (these are minimal in my little life, the horrors of Iraq aside, if it is possible to put them aside), the experiences, and the people.

May this year bring joy and pleasures, great and small, to you.


9:44 am mst          Comments

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