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16.1. Sat (556) Abancay Andahuaylas

Four star hotel in Abancay.
And another view.
As my location was very close the east side of my map, I had to get a new one. I was going soon out of my map area. In Abancay there were three paper shops 'papelerias', but only one had maps. And their Peruan map was the model 'wall'. I bought it immediately and rolled.
From the nice Abancay I continued forwards North, along a stony and curvy mountain road.
I met three Colombian bikers!!
Three Colombian bikers!
Those guys had started from city of Medellin and they were doing a South American tour. Splendid.
Slowly I headed towards North-East. I got only to Andahuaylas. There two friendly MC cops guided me to the front of the best hotel in town. It was a three star hotel. With the personnel I negotiated the price first (30 Soles = 9 USD). Ok.

Oil change was needed to be done too: the previous engine oil was quite black, it had been used for 1500 kms. Mineral oils don't last very long. Castrol GTX2 cost 11 Nuevo Soles per quarter gallon (=0.95 l). Quite inexpensice.
I could ride my bike into the hotel reception! Because of security reasons it is necessary to put bike inside for the night. But they didn't have a garage. But it was a bit problematic to put bike in, as in the entrance there were five stairs (entrance about one metre higher of street level) and had to beware of the glass doors!
They gave me a long and strong board on the stairs and rode the bike in! Excellent customer service!

17.1. Sun (557) Andahuaylas Ayacucho

It was much, much easier to push the bike out from the reception! The hotel personnel had been very friendly. They also helped me in carrying the luggage down from the room.
Travelling in the rural roads of Peru was slow. Firstly, because the road surface was rocky. Secondly, the gravel roads were very curvy. You just couldn't see, if there was a truck or a bus oncoming behind the curve. I had to slow down and use the horn. Almost in every curve. 4 km above sea level
On the other side of the track was a steep mountain wall and on the other a cliff. If rode out of the road, one would have needed a parachute! 100-200 metres free falling... And many times sceneries were beautiful, that had to take photos! So, my average speed on those roads was moderate 35 km/h :)

In Andahuaylas there was sunshiny weather when I arrived, but in 10 minutes it changed to a sandstorm. Air full of dust.
"I felt like a rock star" :-) :-) (Comment borrowed from some article). When I arrived to the town, dozens and maybe hundreds of people were staring at me, they were just surprised.
Ayacucho is a small town, but there are as many as 33 churches! When I arrived to the central park 'Plaza' of Ayacucho, for a moment I thought I had made a time-jump at the speed of light, 800 kms back to Cusco! :-) :-) The central parks, plazas resembled exactly each other.

18.1. Mon (558) Ayacucho Lima

Tour goes on. First had to get money. In the center there were 3 ATM's. One didn't accept VISA card and two didn't function. Anyway, in the bank withdrawals were possible.
As in Peru, in smaller towns and also in the countryside there is mainly 84 octane gasoline available. In Ayacucho they had 95 octane. Excellent.
By the way, the DR800 has proved to function well also with gas of 84 octane, and in high altitudes and ascending - bike carrying heavy luggage - without any problems, but it's good to use the best gasoline (and oil too) that money can buy.

The road went sometimes 4,700 metres (15,400 ft) above sea level. Air was so thin.

The road started to descend. Air became thicker and warmer. I was going towards Lima. I had taken a wrong road. My intention had been passing it as it's an enormous city. About 10 million inhabitants. More people in one city than in whole Finland. Now the road lead directly through Lima.

I entered Lima in the night. Bad timing indeed!! Riding among the intense and dangerous traffic through the big capital city. And my bike's front lights refused to work properly! Really Murphy's Law again!!

It took two hours to pass the city, as it was sometimes difficult to find the way. But the center of the city was beautiful. Maybe the most beautiful that big city I've seen.

When I'm travelling intensively (= 'eating kilometres') usually my style is to pass a big city or at least check the outgoing direction in advance, so then it is easy to continue next morning. I did that also this time.

19.1. Tue (559) Lima Trujillo

Carburetors were adjusted for high altitudes in Chile, I had to restore the adjustments. Continuing riding with carburetors' mountain settings would mean overheating of the engine, which would be hazardous for the engine.

Towards North, along Pan American highway. On a excellent highway (two lanes to both directions) in the desert MC cops stopped me. Why?? They said there was 60 km/h speed limit! I had ridden 120 km/h! I refused to believe there was that low limit, as it was a real highway and long distance to next town, no crossroads, no houses, etc. Just desert.

A bribe was in question...
I was about to get 360 Nuevo Soles traffic ticket. I refused to pay that much (110 USD). Police told me: "Show me all your money you've got!" After 10 minutes negotiations the 360 Nuevo Soles traffic ticket became 50. I got 'discount'. Other possibility would had beed paying in the nearest town administration, 65 kms back, and then returning. Ridiculous. Locals paid 10 Soles 'fines'. A 'gringo' had to pay paid five times more.

30 kms later: on one big bridge there was a roadblock! Hundreds of cars, mostly buses and trucks, on both sides of the bridge. Hundreds of people.
The reason for it was a strike: Peruan government hadn't paid salaries for the road maintenance units and then they decided to block one of the most important bridges of the country. TV and the press were present too.

After an hour one cop said I could pass the angry crowds. A bit dangerous, but nobody attacked me, when I pushed my bike through.

20.1. Wed (560) Trujillo Piura

Now I was 500 kms North of Lima. Weather started to become really hot, as I was approaching the ecuator. Heat maybe 35C. Road was a good tar road to ride.
After some 500 kms ride in the heat... In Piura almost all of the hostels were full. Only the most expensive ones had rooms available. I asked at every possible motel. I didn't want to pay 20-30 USD for a night. Equally, I don't expect luxury. Staying overnight in expensive hotels only raises the travel costs. Only in special cases it makes sense. I was thinking to continue towards Ecuador, but the afternoon had turned to evening. Continuing didn't make sense, either.

The one, which was located near bus station had rooms. And that was also the cheapest in town (4.5 USD). The boss told the receptionists to carry my luggage to the room. Great service. Bike was pushed to the corridor, to safe place. Piura was a nice small town.

In the center there was an internet cafe. They had opened the business that day. As I was one of the very first customers, they let me surf one hour for free. Nice!

21.1. Thu (561) Piura, Peru Ecuador

Klick to hear the national anthem of Ecuador
General information about Ecuador.

Peru is a big country. Town of Piura was very near to the Ecuadorian border, but it took till afternoon to arrive there. Almost full day's riding. Arrival to the border 4 pm. We observed the border formalities in many offices. The border at Peruan side wasn't well organized. Trucks, bicyclists, hawkers etc. using the same, narrow road. What a mess.

On the Ecuadorian side the border road ended to a marketplace! Shopkeepers wanted the money of the arriving tourists. I had to pass that area one-two blocks away.

Towards North. It became dark. I was out of that my new Peruan wall-map again. Great... Only what I could do, was to ask road & directions from local people. I asked mostly from shopkeepers, as the fruit and vegetable shops were still open. In the dark night(!) - and rain - there weren't other people. After one hour's riding in the darkness, I found myself in a town called Milagro.

All the reasonable hotels were full. Milagro seemed to me was an unclean, small town. I decided to continue. I got pieces of advice again from some friendly people. One drunken taxi driver adviced something too... Some people adviced me to ride to Babahoyo, next town 25 kms away.
Police checkpoint. They checked my papers: driving licence and carnet (CPD). Everything was ok. I got advice: first thing to do is to go to the next town and find a hotel! There can be armed robberies on the roads in the night!!!

Also five minutes before three (3) trucks were oncoming! Huh! Road full of trucks! Ecuadorian traffic was dangerous. The truck drivers didn't much respect life.

From Babahoyo I found quickly a good motel. It cost 3000 Sucres (5 USD). With the receptionists we washed my bike on the street (in the night) as I didn't want to push a very dusty bike into their reception. I couldn't ride it in right away, first I had to ride it around the block - on the sidewalk!
Again, a safe place for my bike! :) And I had a bit of good luck too, again.

22.1. Fri (562) Babahoyo Quito

I was very tired of the last day's (and night's) travelling. Before afternoon I headed towards the Capital, Quito.

The road was't the biggest main road, but a basic tar road. On the way I saw a couple of guys having an expensive and (dangerous) toy: a vehicle for transporting valuables. They drove that 5-ton-vehicle much faster than 100 km/h on that curvy, bad tar road. I was sure, I was going to be a witness of a disastrous crash of an oncoming bus and the vehicle!! ...there was some 10 centimeters free space. Those two vehicles (the car and oncoming bus) had some 250 km/h speed difference!!!

I arrived to a bigger town, there my intention was to change the Peruan currency, Nuevo Soles to local Sucres. No way. They said: maybe in Quito or in the Peruan border. At least there was an ATM, where was possible to withdraw some money. At least I could buy some gas now. Good. One gallon cost 10,400 sucres (= 1.4 USD) Cheap!

The road went higher and higher. In the mountains the climate was colder and rainy. Arriving in the evening to the capital. I searched a hostel area and in 20 minutes found it. A good hostel called "Alpa Aligu" was in Calle Reina Victoria (Queen Victoria Street). 5 USD/night. Very friendly personnel there too.

23.1. Sat (563) Quito

As Quito is located in the mountains, at 2,800 m above sea level, therefore the climate is colder than in sea level. On daytime barely 20C. Ecuator just 45 kms up North. Not much to go to the Northern hemisphere!

Although Quito is the capital city, I had problems in changing the Peruan nuevo soles to sucres. It was impossible. There were lots of Forex bureaus and banks, but there you could change only dollars to sucres or vice versa.

(I had trusted too much to my luck, again...) Changing the money might be possible in Peruan embassy...

25.1. Mon (565) Quito

...Peruan money exchange was possible "only in the Peruan border". I had Soles worth of some 50 USD. To the border was too long distance, maybe 500 km. I decided to try my luck, if in near future I'll meet some tourist going to Peru.

26.1. Tue (566) Quito Tulcan

My stay in that hostel was a very pleasant experience. The personnel had been so friendly and helpful.

I rode towards North. This time I didn't have a slightest interest of doing a border-crossing like to Ecuador: in the night! This time I did it so that: approaching close enough to the border and then next morning early the crossing. This way, because the next country, Colombia was dangerous. No riding in the night!

I rode to town of Tulcan, it is some 20 kms from the border. There I did there oil change too. The gas station personnel warned me not to ride in Colombia in the night.

27.1. Wed (567) Ecuador Colombia!

Klick to hear the national anthem of Colombia
General information about Colombia.

Thoughts before entering Colombia: Colombia may be the most dangerous country on my tour. I felt a bit scared to go there. But avoiding going there would be difficult too. Through the jungle tracks of Brazilian Amazonas wasn't an easy option. The pieces of information the Swiss biker had given me in La Paz, were precious.

In the border formalities in Ecuadorian side we didn't waste much time. The officer saw my papers:
- "Ingeniero. Civil? Electronics? Sistemas"<
- "Si."
- "We have a problem with our printer. Do yoou have two minutes, can you help us?"
- "Okay, I'll take a look."
(all in Spanish...)

The border office's dot matrix printer didn't print one line well, so the characters lacked one horizontal part. I adviced them to make a telephone call to Quito and ask does the importer, etc. have a spare head for it.

Simple situation, but they were happy to get help. Also border formalities in Colombia were over in five minutes. Day was sun-shiny, so on the road! Nothing bad can happen to me :)

The road was supposed to be the Pan American Highway, but it was so curvy and last days rains had washed some soil & stones on the road from the mountains. The other lane was sometimes blocked of mud. The biggest stone I saw, was of size of a car!! ...and in the middle of the road. Riding in the night time would have been dangerous.

120 kms after the border having lunch at a cafe-restaurant. The personnel was lovely. I had marvellous two-course lunch. Then the manager woman decided to donate me a Colombian map! She ripped the pages off from her book for me. Generous! Now I had a map. She gave also the telephone yellow pages containing information on accommodations.

And I got some warnings too: "Don't ride in the night... at 5 pm you have to have an accommodation..."

Lovely people!

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