Archive for the ‘Peru’ Category

Cusco to Bolivia

Posted: January 4, 2012 in Peru
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I made it to that super touristic place everyone goes to in Peru, Cusco. It’s a pretty cool city that actually has a clean center for all the foreigners to promenade around. After looking for ever for a Hostel that would be within my price range and with a garage for the bike, I found an Israeli one that was supposed to be a 2 star hotel. Well, it was kind of a dump, but who cares, the bike was safe and I was close to the city center. I think that I was the only non Israeli in there though.

Here’s the city from the top

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And from downtown

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Besides walking around and admiring the same buildings everyone else did, I found an electronic market where I got my other iPhone fixed. Changed the battery, the back cover, the bottom charging piece, the top headphone jack and power button, and a couple of other things for about 70$. All the parts were taken out from what I believe was probably a stolen iPhone that got locked. Either way, I had a working iPhone again. The guy tried to fix the usb port on my GPS as well, but didn’t succeed. I just bought a universal charger for it and charge the battery on it’s own.

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After the work was done, I had no reason to spend more time in this tourist zoo so I left towards the Bolivian border. On the way, I found this cool little town that had an old school church.

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More mountains…. I actually got lost in the mountains for a bit as I took the wrong way. Lost about 200km but had some amazing scenery.

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Natural Hot springs… but a bit too hot to bath in.

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That sign on the right says… 10km of motorcycle heaven

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Last town before the border

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Bolivia is next

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Choquequirao (Choq’ekiraw)

Posted: January 3, 2012 in Peru

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About 99% of the people visiting Peru will go and check out Machu Picchu. Even though it’s a gorgeous sight, I’m sure, the 2500 tourists going daily have made out of these ruins an international zoo. So what to do? Well, Warren told me about Choquequirao. These ruins have been discovered somewhat recently and are still being excavated. They are similar to Machu Picchu, although larger in size once fully discovered, but only receive about 1-10 tourists daily. That’s at least for now as the Peruvian GVT is thinking of building a cable car in the future. The walk is far from easy. You descend from about 3200m to 1500m and then go back up to about 3200m on another mountain, and all that on small poorly maintained trails. On the way back, you have to do it again. It takes about a total of 4 days (50km) to do all the walk or 5 days if you want to see the lower part of the ruins as well as the top part.

You can hire a guide with a mule or horse through a travel agency but it will set you back anywhere between 70-100$/day/person. Pretty steep for the budget traveller! The best way (and cheapest) to do it is to go to a small town called Cachora. If you have your own way of transport, it’s pretty easy to get there. If not, you will have to figure out a bus + taxi combo… or you can just hitchhike. Once you get to Cachora, go to Hospedaje Mama Queta. The owner is super nice and the price of the room is as cheap as you can get. He can also call for you a guide and everything else. If you have a motorcycle, there is a safe place there to store it and he wont charge you anything to store it while your out trecking. There are a few guides that do the treck and the going price is 25 soles (10$) per day for the guide. If you are 2-3-4 people it doesn’t matter as the price for the guide is still only 10$ for the day, it’s not per person! To rent a horse, it’s also 10$ and for a mule 10$ as well. I strongly recommend renting a horse as you will be able to climb the mountains on top of the horse. Only going down you will have to walk as it’s too steep and dangerous to descend on the horse. A guide is also not 100% necessary! There is only one trail going to the ruins so you can’t get lost! You will also need to buy food in town. Get enough for all the days you are going for. If you go with a guide, get enough food for the guide as well since he wont bring any. Also, if you hire a guide, he will cook for you every night and every morning and he will set-up your tent and stuff for you. So maybe ask the guide what food to buy and what he would like to cook.

A good guide to get is HUGO! He is super knowledgeable and cooks really well. The agencies use him but like I said, with an agency you will pay 70-100$ per day per person! If you go and hire Hugo directly from the town, he will charge 10$ per day (per group) and then a horse will be another 10$ and food just under 10$/day depending what you wanna eat each day. Lets just say that the agencies are robbing you and the town straight up as they don’t pay the guides a penny extra. If Hugo is not available, you can talk to Jesus and he can get you a horse, mule, guide or anything you want. There is also a small tourist center in town. The info center will give you the next guide available as they take rotations.

There are camping sites along the way. They cost about 1$ for the night. You can find water there, some food if you don’t have enough and sometimes even beer. Prices will be of course about double from those in town. If you have a mule or horse, PACK IT UP from down in town!

So… pictures…

Here is what the streets look like in the town of Cachora.

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The hostel

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Here is my giude… Jose. He isn’t one of the more experienced guides. He didn’t tell me what food we needed before leaving or anything at all really. He also doesn’t talk much. Try to get a different guide if you can… 😉

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Some guy living in a shack along the way. He has a mini market without much in it.

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Ingenious recycling idea…

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A camping site. I met another swiss traveller, Thomas, and his guide Hugo just before setting up camp here. We walked together for the next few days.

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If you look closely, you can see the trail on the lower middle part of the picture going in zig zags.

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A camping site right before the entrance to the ruins.

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And this is a mini store…

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The entrance… when you see this, you’re still a good walk away from the actual ruins.

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The bottom part seen from far.

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Hugo on the left and Jose on the right

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Incredible views all around…

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A couple of French guys who were hiking on their own. They weren’t just super fast, but one of them was reading while walking as well. They really made us look like old out of shape clowns.

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The trail

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The night before heading back down.

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Here is Thomas, the Swiss guy…

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The trail can be seen zigzagging from top to bottom

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And finally we made it to the white house. From there we cheated the last 8km as there is a small dirt road and we called a taxi to get us back to town.

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The whole walk there and back is about 50km, but you can cheat 8km on the way there and 8km on the way back if your lazier like us. We only cheated on the way back.

I could tell you lots more about the hike, such as where the camp grounds are, how to manage your time, etc. but that would just take away too much from the adventure… 😉

I hiked it all in running shoes I got in a market for 10$ and all I will tell you is that you DO need good hiking shoes. After the first 3 hours of hiking, I was already bleeding. Now, after 4 months or so, there is still a scar on the back of my foot…

Lima to Cuzco

Posted: January 1, 2012 in Peru

After that beautiful mountain range, I ended up in Lima. My plans were to spend a couple of days and check out the capital but after riding through the streets for a half an hour or so, I decided to check it out from above and get the hell out of there. I met some cops who advised me to get out of the city as well if I had nothing special to do in there. They told me that it’s not unusual to get robbed at gunpoint in full daylight. The buildings were old and run down, and the whole city kind of looked like a dump…

I went up to the mirrador and here is the city in a nutshell…

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After riding down on the beach side, I sat down at a restaurant to have a nice warm meal. I met there Warren. He is a Parachute specialist training military people. We talked for a while and he generously invited me over to spend the night at his place. Thanks again Warren! 🙂

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He also told me about some cool places to visit on my way down in Peru. The first one was Paracas to go and check out the Isla de Sangayan.

There are a few cheap hostels there and people to go check out the island. A boat ride I think is around 10$ or 20$. Super touristic though and they treat you like sardines in a can… but worth the visit. They call it the “cheap” Gallapagos

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Did I mention that it’s all desert down here?

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I met this cool Japanese cyclist but I forgot his name. He’s heading down towards Ushuaya too so maybe I’ll see him down the road…

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And here are the popular Nazca lines. Most people take a plane to see them, but it costs about 120$ for a 30 min plane ride and these days you might not even see much anymore. Better check them out on Wikipedia and save yourself the $$$.

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Crossing the deserted mountains towards Cuzco

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This is Wally. He is from Venezuela. We rode together for a while. My KLR had a hard time keeping up to his BMW at those altitudes. If only it had an adjustable carburetor?!

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And more mountains

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I had to wait for about 8 hours to catch the 7PM bus to go back to Tarapoto. I saved a few $$ by paying the driver directly instead of buying an actual ticket. From the outside, the bus didn’t look too bad, but inside it was OLD, and there was no legroom. The suspension was done and we had a few hundred km of bad road ahead. The whole bus ride took 23 hours. We even had one tire that blew and afterwards no more reserve tire. They moved some tires around the bus as they were all old and worn so the driver was really scared that we might have another one go and then without a reserve we might be stranded in the middle of nowhere for a couple of days.

Here is the type of Ferry used for river crossings.

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But we got to walk on an old bridge that was hardly standing.

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The bus somehow made it across ok.

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Back at the Hospedaje Misti, my bike was waiting for me still in one piece and well cared for. The lady in charge only charged me 10$ for the 2 weeks of keeping it safe. Super nice people working at the hostel. I highly recommend it!

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From Tarapoto I had to take the same road down with the bike as I did with the bus going back. A few hundred km of dirt and bad rocks.

On the way I stopped in a small town to buy a cool drink and talked to the owner who was drying up cacao. Here is how they dry it up. The selling price is about 4$ if I remember correctly for 1KG of pure coco.

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He even had a cute pet…

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Here I am crossing the same rivers we did with the bus but backwards

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And shortly after the few hundred km of dirt, the mountains started…

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I don’t remember the altitude here, but I was pretty high up. Somewhere around 3000m I think?

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And then I got to this park. Some really cool rocks. It’s on a side type of road going towards Lima. The main road was closed anyway and the traffic on the 2nd road must have been aweful. So I took the 3rd one and it was a great choice.

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The paved road soon became a dirt road but in good condition.

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I felt a bit high…

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And so did they…

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These 2 cars you see below are a couple of families I met at the entrance to the road. They told me they always come through here because it’s the nicest road to go to Lima. Besides them, it was only me and mining trucks.

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Hopefully no cars coming from the front?! There is hardly enough room for one car.

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Beautiful, isn’t it?

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Now that you have seen the beauty of the mountains, time for the bitter! This part of the mountains, although it’s one of the most beautiful sights in the world, it’s also one of the most polluted parts as well. You wont see the pollution, you might not even smell it and god forbid if you try to taste the water in the lakes, you might not even taste it. I have passed quite a few mines and had to go around huge mining trucks all the time. The whole region is just filled with mines. I found out a few days later that it’s one of the most polluted regions of the world.

The sad truth is that it’s not even local mining companies. If they were Peruvian owned, I might understand that the technology used might not be up to date… BUT they are North American owned, Chinese, Japanese… etc. These large companies that you know so well locally in your own countries go out internationally and in order to save MILLIONS of $ they cut down on filtration technologies which in return destroy the same planet we all live on. How do they do it? Really easy… with little corruption $$$. No need to name any of these companies, just look at the larger names out there and you will find them down here. If I were to go and take a big stinky poo in your back yard, you might come out angry at me, right? Well, that poo will be washed off by rain, biodegrade within days and fertilize your plants, while the pollution these guys are causing in the backyard of Peruvians will last thousands of years destroying their water, poisoning their animals… and lets not forget that waters connect this planet and these chemicals will be part of your beaches in your own countries. Think about that next time you buy something made out of gold… 😉

Ahyawaska in San Francisco, Peru

Posted: December 22, 2011 in Peru

I believe we left off with Pucallpas. It has been over 3 months since I was there but I will try and remember all the details.

So from Pucallpas I took a small collectivo taxi to San Francisco which is about 30 minutes of drive away. Not sure if you all remember but my motorcycle was still in Tarapoto.

To get to the collectivo taxi, I had to take a mototaxi. What I didn’t realize was that my iPhone had slid out of my pocket in the mototaxi. I only realized it was missing about 30 seconds after getting off the bike and by then it was long gone. I couldn’t even tell which mototaxi it would have been since they all look the same. I was a bit upset but oh well, it’s just a thing. I had another iPhone with water damage that I just had to fix somewhere down the road. The problem was that I had no lock code on the phone so whoever found it could read all my e-mails and personal info. Live and learn, lock your phone!

In the collectivo taxi cab I asked if anyone knew Eduardo in San Francisco. His name was given to me by my good friend Alejandro from Argentina. Eduardo is a herbal doctor. His father was actually a Herbal Doctor really well known internationally. The knowledge got passed down from father to sons so I decided to go see Eduardo. It turns out that his brother was sitting in the same taxi as me. So when I asked about Eduardo, right away I had someone to explain the taxi driver where to go. Coincidence?

What you see here are cabins used for people staying for a while to do the whole diet.

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And here is the ceremony temple. The ceremony is done inside the gigantic moskito net.

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Here is Eduardo’s mother. She is in her late 80s I think. His father died around the age of 90 after drinking Ahyawaska and other strong medicinal plants throughout his life thousands of times.

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Shot glass, Ahyawaska bottle, puke bukket. A few other items were added later on, such as the perfume that they use, cigarettes and I’m sure I’m missing something.

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Eduardo’s older brother who also joined in on the ceremony.

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And here is Eduardo.

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So how did this ceremony go? Well, it was quite different from the first one. Eduardo is not a Shaman, he is a doctor and therefore he is there to cure you. I just wanted a good Ahyawaska cleaning. Back when I was younger, I did some substance abuse and well, I drank quite a bit too. With all that, I had some bad energies that had accumulated and I wanted to clean them out as much as possible.

Before the ceremony, Eduardo and I had a talk about what the problems where and what I was looking for.

The night came and it was full moon or almost full moon. Just like the Shaman, Eduardo and his brother talked to the Ahyawaska before we drank it. They said something that looked like prayers. They both had a shot while they made me drink 2 shots. We relaxed for about a half an hour.

After about 3o-60 minutes, the effects started to kick in. Eduardo and his brother started singing. They were actually speaking in the old indigenous language in the form of songs. Really beautiful songs. They were telling the ahyawaska what to do. I layed down and closed my eyes. I could see snakes everywhere. I could also feel the medicine going through my body. This time it wasn’t a strong spiritual experience. I didn’t go into the other dimension. It was relaxing, smooth experience similar to magic mushrooms. The medicine was infiltrating but it was having a hard time gathering all the energies. After about an hour, Eduardo looked at me and in a joking manner, asked me if I wanted another shot of the medicine. I said yes and he looked really surprised but poured me another shot. Before the ceremony he told me that 99% of people only drink one shot. I started with 2. This was the 3rd one… and well, this last one did it’s work. I felt it strong, going through my body, gathering energies along with some of the work done by the first 2 shots. About 30 minutes later I took the bucket and it all came out.

What a great feeling! I felt like I was reborn. I felt relieved! I felt cleaner. Eduardo and his brother continued their singing for a little while and then we all laid down on our own matts and tried to sleep. They were able to sleep but I wasn’t. Between the light of the full moon and the after effects of the medicine, I’m not sure if I was able to catch an hour of sleep.

The next morning I had a bit of a headache like the first time I drank Ahyawaska. They offered me some rice to eat and then I was on my way back to Pucallpa from where I had to catch a bus to ride back to Tarapoto where my bike had been waiting for me for 2 weeks or so.

So did it work? For about a month after the ceremony, I couldn’t even look at alcohol. The smell, the taste or even looking at it made me uneasy in my stomach. I pretty much had to force myself after a long while to have a beer or a glass of wine. These days I have a glass here and there or a beer, but just really randomly.

I haven’t posted anything on the blog for a while since I have been having problems with the macbook. Turns out it was an easier fix than I thought.

Here’s the story…

Towards the end of Peru, from the vibration on the bike, one of my regular RAM slots broke and the computer kept freezing up all the time even if I would move it even 1mm. Something fractured in the slot. I found out about a month later that it was the actual memory slot that was bad after Sebastien lent me a small screw driver and I took the whole laptop apart in Assumcion Paraguay. For over a month I kept doing hard resets from the power button, sometimes 3-5 times an hour. Then, from all the hard booting, I guess the PRAM got corrupted but I was sure it was an OS problem because of the symptoms. The laptop would take about 10 minutes to turn on and it was practically impossible to do any hard tasks such as editing pictures. It took me about 2-3 months to find a copy of the Snow Leopard OS from a guy that had it on an external HDD. Then I had to find some dual layer DVDs which took another 2 weeks or so to get my hands on in Chile. Then I didn’t have electricity for about 10 days as I camped on beaches and sides of the road. By the time I got here, Bariloche, southern part of Argentina, the 2 blank DVDs were already scratched from the vibration but I was able to write the OS on one of them. Took for ever to even reinstall the OS as it kept freezing. I’ve been here for 2 days now and since it’s cold and raining I decided to try and fix the computer and finally got it running after resetting the PRam after trying everything else. I’m still only running 1GB of ram instead of 2GB since one of the slots is fractured, but I should be able to edit pictures in Aperture slowly and get this blog back up and running. In Buenos Aires I might try and find a 2GB chip but for this old thing it might be hard. If any of you have a 2GB DDR2 SDram chip that you don’t need, I take donations! 😀

So if anyone else is having similar problems where the computer takes for ever to boot up and seems to just stall for no reason, here is the PRAM procedure described on APPLE’s website.

A small amount of your computer’s memory, called “parameter random-access memory” or PRAM, stores certain settings in a location that Mac OS X can access quickly. The particular settings that are stored depend on your type of Mac and the types of devices connected to it. The settings include your designated startup disk, display resolution, speaker volume, and other information.

To reset your computer’s PRAM:
Shut down the computer.

Locate the following keys on the keyboard: Command, Option, P, and R. You will need to hold these keys down simultaneously in step 4.

Turn on the computer.

Immediately press and hold the Command-Option-P-R keys. You must press this key combination before the gray screen appears.

Continue holding the keys down until the computer restarts, and you hear the startup sound for the second time.

Release the keys.

I know it has been a while since I posted but I still haven’t been able to fix my macbook. I just realized though that I still had some pictures uploaded on Flicker so I’m able to use those for 1 or 2 more posts from Peru.

Last post was about Iquitos, this large city in the middle of the Peruvian Amazon separated by water and jungle from all other civilization. After spending a couple of days there, I got on another boat to ride down another river for a week to Pucalpa where I was going to meet an Ahyawaska doctor. Not another Shaman, but this time a healer who uses this intriguing plant.

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This boat was bigger and cleaner than the last one. It also had better toilets and showers.

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I had the best spot in the house this time. From my hammock I could see the back of the boat and both sides of the river.

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The lancha was called the Henry 10 and it had some sweet graphics.

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But who cares about the graphics when you have these views?

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It’s forbidden to pee overboard

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More small towns where we would stop to load and unload along the way.

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These guys were working on the ship

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I wonder if these guys were on the passenger list? They were going to be sold to a restaurant to be cooked. One of the guys got bit taking them out to show them to me. Lucky they were not venomous! I ended up getting them back into the bucket nice and easy by holding them by the tail. The guys were looking at me as if I were crazy, but it was a small trick I learned on TV… weird that they didn’t know how to handle snakes better than that since they were supposed to be “professionals”.

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Nightfall and I am prepared for mosquitos. I bought this net cause I knew the river was going to be low and we’d stop over night in a few places.

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We were “prepared” in case we’d get uninvited visitors over night.

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Finally we arrived in Pucalpas. I met some guys on a boat and they told me about a super cheap hostel in the city. I believe the cost was about 3$ for the night. I didn’t get a picture of the room cause the camera might have got scared but I did take a picture of the wiring and the guard dog.

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The owner’s wife made some of the best Chicken soup! And super cheap too!

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And here is the owner of the “hostel”

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This is the guy who told me about the hostel on the boat. He was staying there too.

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The next day, I went to San Francisco, a town close by in order to see a Herbal Doctor called Eduardo. One of my good friends, Alejandro from Argentina told me about him and since I was around the corner, I thought it might be a good experience. More on that later…

Iquitos, Peru

Posted: September 14, 2011 in Peru
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From Lagunas I caught another lancha towards Iquitos. The thing is that in these small towns you never know when the lancha (boat) is going to show up since timing depends on when the lancha left from Yurimaguas, on the speed of the water and the height of the water. During dry season, sometimes the lanchas stop during the night and only navigate during daytime but that all depends on the captains. Either way, I was ready to leave at 10am but the lancha showed up around 8pm.

This lancha was a lot bigger than the one I took up to Lagunas. It had 3 levels, better bathrooms with showers and also serve to it’s passengers 3 meals a day which were included in the passage price of around 30$. The thing is that the lancha was so packed that I had to set-up my hammock on top of some stairs and had to climb a metal guard to get in and out every time.

Here is some of the cargo at the bottom of the boat. The first floor was for food and animals such as cows, pigs, chicken…

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And more awesome sunsets…

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This is what the 2 in 1 toilet\shower looked like. It was actually pretty clean…

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Arriving into the Iquitos port

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And here is Iquitos…

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Like in most towns\cities of Peru, you will find thousands of mototaxis…

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The main and best part about Iquitos is the market. Some awesome ceviche I had there…

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The market in Iquitos also has one of the best witches sections. You can find here some of the most powerful plants and drinks from the Amazon and beyond. You can find perfumes that are especially designed to drive the opposite sex crazy, you can find spiritual plants, drinks for good luck, drinks for bad luck… etc… You can zoom in on the pictures in Flicker to see all the labels and try to google them up if you want.

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Especially designed perfumes to drive men\women crazy…

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Bones, skeletons and other tools with all kinds of different energies that Shamans use.

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Ahyawaska and San Pedro in powder

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Other roots and plants

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None of these remedies are FDA approved… 😉

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Here I bought some Guarana (main ingredient in Red Bull and energy drinks), some Maca and some magic mushrooms along with some Toe.

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While walking through the witches part of the market with my buddy Gianni we met this Shaman that was reading cards. He gave us a deal at 3$ each so we thought it could be fun. It turned out that he was actually really good. During his readings, he kept drinking small sips out of a special cocktail that contained ahyawaska. He was somewhere between our world and “the other world”. He could see into the future and the past. He told us dates and numbers that only we knew and he had no way of knowing. I tried to find him the next day for a more in depth reading but he was gone.

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He offered me to buy this amulet to keep me safe but I refused at the time. I wish I would have bought it.

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Anyone wanna cook some monkey meat?

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We bought some locally made Puma shoes for about 12$. Right away we had to take them to shoe repair guys to glue the sole in as the inner part of the sole doesn’t come glued out of the factory. Less than 1$ for the work was money well spent.

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We talked to the shoe repair guys about Belen, the poorest part of Iquitos and like everyone else, they told us that it was WAY too dangerous for us to go wondering in there by ourselves. So the solution to that was to go and talk to the chief of Police for the region and ask for help. The Chief hooked us up with a couple of his guys to give us a tour of Belen. How cool is that to have our own body guards?! This gave me a chance to pull out my Nikon camera and shoot tons of pictures in an area I would never dare to bring in electronics to.

The first part didn’t look too bad…

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This older gentleman had his cell phone stolen and was happy to see some police in the lower part of the city. The 2 officers told him that they were busy guarding us and that he should just go to the office and file a report.

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The streets started looking worse and worse. As you can see, we were able to walk there now but during the wet season, these streets are flooded and can only be accessed by small lanchas.

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Garbage, garbage and more garbage. Once the water rises, all this gets washed into the river.

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The homes are built to float

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The small covered up cubicle looking things are their toilets. They are a bit smaller than North American cubicles, but they do have access to natural light and fresh air…

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Remember, houses are made to float

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Trying to catch some dinner

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We rented a small motorized Kayak from a local for a ride around on the river

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Remember their poop cubicles? Next to them they bathe, wash their dishes, wash their clothes…

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Their church

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Guys playing by a floating bar

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And if you thought that all that garbage was the main reason for the pollution in the river, you were wrong.

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Signs of the Amazonian deforestation can be seen every few dozen meters. Wood is cut, treated, shipped and not a single tree is replanted. Most of it is done by foreign companies from countries that have laws against deforestation without replanting… but somehow the Amazon is part of a different planet and the same laws don’t apply.

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Here is the water treatment plant that “purifies” the water from the river

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The 2 cops that rode along with us. Funny thing is that the Shaman in Lagunas told me he could see 2 cops with me in Iquitos. He told me not to go alone in Iquitos and to ask help to the Police. I didn’t know what he meant back then.

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Gianni tired after a long day.

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The next day, I got on another boat heading to Pucallpas and Gianni was headed into the jungle for a few days. I hope that everything went well since the Shaman in the market told him that he’s gonna get robbed during the exact time he was headed into the jungle for.

Ahyawaska in Peru with a Shaman

Posted: September 9, 2011 in Peru

(image copied from internet)

After my canoe ride in the reserve, I went back to my wood-board bed to relax before the ahyawaska ceremony. My host walked me over to the Shaman’s house around 8pm after we stopped on the way to purchase some items: pure tobacco, brand name tobacco, and some home made super strong alcohol. We looked inside the house through the opened window and said hi, but the Shaman kinda ignored us as I don’t think he realized who we were. Finally he opens up the door and lets us in. He is just laying in his hammock like a lazy bum. Then we start talking and he keeps bringing up women and how much he likes them. His house didn’t look like much and with him talking about all these subjects I am starting to think that he is quite unprofessional. There is another fatter guy there too. Turns out that he is from Lima and he’s learning to become a Shaman. He will be joining us in the ceremony as well. I am thinking that the house is not that welcoming to perform a ceremony in there but after about 30 minutes of useless talk, the Shaman invites me to go outside in the back yard. He puts wooden chairs and benches in a circle and lays out all his tools on the floor. There is the bottle of ahyawaska, a perfume, a pipe that he packs the pure tobacco into, the bottle of alcohol, a necklace and a thing made out of leaves. We wait for a bit and more people join in, his brother and 2 more local guys. It is normal for another member of the family to join in so that the control energies gets stronger. It’s usually brothers that run the ceremonies as the knowledge is passed down for centuries from father to son.

The shaman packs in the strong pure tobacco into his pipe and starts talking to it and blowing on it. Then he does the same to the bottle of ahyawaska. He lights up the pipe and uses the smoke to “bless” everything and everyone. After a few minutes of this, he pours ahyawaska into a half a small coconut shell. He hands it to me to drink it but does advise me to ask the ahyawaska what I want it to show me. Before you drink the plant, you need to ask for what you want it to show you. You can ask to see the future, the past, a solution to problems, etc… I think for a minute and then I drink it. Everyone drinks the same amount in the circle, including the Shaman himself and the apprentice. Then he tells me to relax while him and his apprentice start singing. I am waiting and nothing is happening. The backyard is pretty quiet while the only sound that can be heard from the outside is a disco a few streets down. Probably about 30 minutes pass by till I start feeling a bit different. When I close my eyes, I can see hundreds of other eyes in a really colorful scheme. When I open my eyes, it looks like our circle is within some kind of a room, although I know that we are outside. The shape of the trees in the dark form the walls and the ceiling. I close back my eyes and lay back. The hundreds of eyes are there and I have to get passed them. I keep going through them although they seem to be friendly eyes that just want to guide me. The Shaman and his apprentice keep singing. Their songs are relaxing and somehow they seem to guide me in my “trip”. There is also a lot of smoke in the air from the pipe and a mist of alcohol from the apprentice taking it in his mouth and blowing it up as a mist in the air. The senses are all challenged. Meanwhile I get passed the hundreds of eyes staring at me and end up “there”, that other dimension. I feel like I am out of my body, floating in the air, seeing everything from above. I feel like everything is one, all at the same time. I see our world, our universe, our planet and the people all at once. I have been in this place before. It’s not that new really. I have been there for a really short period of time when I smoked Salvia Divinorum. It feels nice to be back. I start looking into issues facing us, from natural disasters to wars and death. When looking at the size of things, none of these issues actually have any value or importance. I start talking… 6 languages it seems out of which one was an old version of Hebrew. The thing is that no matter how much I was trying to concentrate, I couldn’t tell which language I was speaking as it seemed to me as one universal language. In other words, I could be talking English or French and I wouldn’t know as it all sounded the same. I know it’s hard to understand since even when we consciously think, we do it in a language that we are most comfortable with.

Now how to explain that other dimension I was in? Many religions talk about it, even temporarily dead people who return to tell their stories. It’s the dimension that our universe sits in, therefore making everything in ours one. How is that possible? It’s kind of like in the Matrix movie. You could also look at our current technology to try and better understand the concept. You can take a memory stick and put a bunch of movies on there. While the movies are on there, they exist all at the same time, from beginning to end. If you decide to watch one, then you create a time line depending on the duration of the movie, but even then, the other movies exist on that memory stick and any part of them can be accessed at any point in time. This is why ahyawaska shamans can see into the future and the past. While you’re in this other dimension, the future and the past are there at the same time. All energies that make up this universe can be seen and understood. The interesting part is also that the Shaman enters this same exact place with you. If a person is hallucinating, what are the chances of another one having the same exact hallucinations? Also, different people from different parts of the planet (or universe) can see each-other and talk in this 4th dimension. Makes you wonder if the Incas were really visited in the past by other forms of life and if the ahyawaska was used as a form of communication?

The shaman and his apprentice are singing while I’m doing my traveling. I am also feeling cold. He puts a shirt on me. He shortly after hands me the pipe and tells me to take 3 big puffs out of it. I try to take one and I feel like I can’t hold anything in and that I’m going to throw up. He tells me to take another one. I take it and right away everything comes out. What a normal person would have seen would have been most likely me throwing up. What I saw was a bunch of energies coming out of my mouth, mainly bad ones and in the shape of snakes. More alcohol is blown into the air, and some of that special perfume. I feel better and relieved. It felt good to have all that come out. Needless to say is that before doing a ceremony, you shouldn’t eat for 12 hours. I only had a light breakfast that day and only water afterwards. One of the many uses for ahyawaska is for cleansing.

I go back into the other dimension shortly and slowly the effects of the plant are mellowing down. A bit of disorientation is present and the feeling is similar to the effects caused by magic mushrooms. The shaman is still singing and shortly comes by each person and one on one tells a short part of the future. What to look out for, what might happened and who to watch out for.

Shortly after, we move into the house to relax and to wait for the effects to wear off. At around 1am, the guy I was staying with was supposed to come and pick me up but I think he fell asleep. The Shaman hands me a lantern and kinda explains how to get back. I am still a bit off from the effects of the plant but I start walking back, or where I think is “back”. It is dark and quiet. There are no street lights and everyone is sleeping. All the houses look alike and I am totally lost. I try to find the only paved road in town since from there I know how to go back. I think it took me about an hour to find that road and close to 2 hours to do the 10 minute walk back to the house.

The next morning I had a headache like if I were hung over. After taking a couple of advil pills, it was all better. I was ready to get back on the boat and head over to Iquitos.

Needless to say that it was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. I am not sure how powerful this shaman was compared to other ones since I can’t really compare. His father was supposedly a pretty powerful one and the powers and knowledge are passed down through generations which is why most of the time there will be a brother joining into the ceremony as well. Either way, what I have experienced made me look at things a bit differently and raises even more questions in my head than before.

Here is the Shaman’s house. What you see on the table is pretty much all him and his family owns. When you go to see a Shaman, you wont see usually too much stuff or a well dressed place. If you go deeper into the Amazon, you will see even lees. Usually a small hut and that’s about it.

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From the left, shaman’s daughther, wife, the shaman and on the right the fatter guy is the apprentice.

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If you google up images of Ahyawaska visions, you can see some really cool art by ahyawaska visionaries. Here are some cool examples

Welcome to Peru

Posted: August 30, 2011 in Peru

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After crossing into Peru, I slept in a small town called Jaen and the next day I headed over to Chachapoyas. In Jaen, I also bought a new rear tire, a Pirelli MT 21, which happens to be my favorite tire and got it at a killer deal from the Honda dealer for 52$ or so.

On the way to Chachapoyas, the road looks something like this

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While in Chachapoyas, I didn’t visit much of the ruins or the big water falls. Seen soo many water falls all over the place that I didn’t care that much anymore. I just spent a couple of nights to relax. Right above the city, there are these tiny ruins though.

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And a view of the town

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I also had some of the best seafood of my life

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Look of the town center

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Back on the road towards Tarapoto. I had no idea what I was going to do there and the road from Tarapoto to the south wasn’t too clear. Some said that it was dangerous, others that it was bad, others that it was ok. Something about the amazon was calling me so I was heading over as close as possible without a real plan.

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I spent a couple of nights in Tarapoto where I met Adam who had just come back from the Amazon. Went out for a few drinks and exchanged some stories. His was quite interesting as he had been bitten by some bug that laid eggs under his skin on his legs. The eggs had hatched and there was larva in there. The doctors tried to get it all out and gave him a tone of medication without knowing exactly what to do. Lets just say that you don’t wanna end up having to go to a hospital here. Better look up information online, buy your own medication and maybe do your own surgery too. So yeh, he had eggs and larva under his skin with infections. The jungle started to sound interesting.

After talking to the nice lady in charge at the hostel and buying a Peru map, I found out that you can take big boats down the amazon rivers for days at a time to go pretty much anywhere you want to. She offered me to look after my motorcycle in the hostel’s parking lot while I would take up on a journey for a couple of weeks through the Amazon.

Here was the plan: First go to Urimaguas with a “bus”, then to Lagunas with a big lancha, from Lagunas to Iquitos with an even bigger lancha and then maybe return with a plane or go to Pucalpa with another boat. It was kind of an opened plan.

I tried to find a bus that goes to Yurimaguas but it turns out you gotta take a collective taxi for 20S (about 7$) or a collective truck where if you wanna sit in the back of the truck it’s 10S (3$) or in the front for 15S. I sat in the front and was able to watch the crazy truck driver go all over the place. Once I got into Yurimaguas, I quickly caught a moto taxi to get to the port just to see the boat leaving. Oh well, gotta spend the night. I took advantage of the extra time to buy water, rope for my hammock and a couple of other things. Meanwhile I got approached buy a guy trying to sell me on buying guided days to go into the reserve which starts in Lagunas. At 60$ I found it quite steep for my budget so I declined nicely. While talking, the Shaman subject came up and it was something I was a bit more interested in than doing the tourist stuff. He said he knew a guy that would do a ceremony for 80S (About 28$) and he could arrange everything, even a free place for me to stay at his friend’s place. Cool, that sounded pretty good.

The next morning I got up early and went to check out the boat I was going to spend about a day on. Here it is:

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And some other examples

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For these boat rides, you need a good comfy hammock! It’s the best way to travel!

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Here’s mine

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Picture of the fancy port when looking from the boat

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So relaxing riding on these boats! Oh, and I forgot to mention that I also scored some green herb from the guy in Yurimaguas for 20 soles. At about 2.8 to 1 exchange rate, that’s about 7$. Money well spent! It’s pretty much a must have in order to travel around the Amazon on these boats for days at a time.

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Another boat we passed

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Loading and unloading stuff and passengers

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And then this happened! I have seen sunsets, but noting like in the Amazon. I couldn’t stop taking pictures…

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Finally in Lagunas. The guy that I was going to spend the night at was waiting for me and somehow I can’t remember his name anymore. Super nice guy! I’m just horrible with names. Bought myself a booklet and a pen now to write them down. Anyway, It was already dark so it was nice to have someone there. He brought me to his house where he offered me a room with a bed. No mattress though so I was sleeping on a piece of wood but I guess that’s how they sleep there. I didn’t bring my inflatable insert for the sleeping bag either so it was a bit rough. Good for the back though? Anyway, the next day I had a whole day to spend before the ceremony night with the Shaman so I decided to check out the expensive reserve for a day. Took a moto taxi there that cost me 15S (6$) then paid 40S to enter the park where I got screwed cause it’s only 20S and paid a guide 40 more Soles for a few hours of rowing.

Here is the entrance to the reserve. You can only go into the reserve by lancha.

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And here is my guide with the “lancha”…. notice anything strange?

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If you go into the reserve for just one day, it’s kind of a waste of money cause you wont see much. In order to see animals and big birds as well as mammals, you gotta go in for at least 4-5 days. At 50$ or so a day, it can be expensive! I still shot a few shots of the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve.

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Oh yeh, if you hadn’t noticed, the strange part was the rear part of the lancha that wasn’t really there… but we made it back ok and I gotta say that the old man had some strength. He rowed for about 5-6 hours out of which 3-4 were against current.

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Some kids at the entrance to the reserve.

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I went back and rested for a bit while a bit excited and really nervous about what was waiting for me that night with the Shaman. I was going to drink ahyawaska for the first time in my life…