Archive for the ‘South America’ Category

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… 😉


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…

I would like to say HUGE thanks to Kawasaki and Metalcar Paraguay for helping me with the repair of my KLR 650! They have got me back on the road here in Paraguay after an adventure ride on the Paraguay’s Chaco with a piston ring problem. It seems that dust got into the motor in large quantities and ate it up. This was my first big repair of the trip and if Kawasaki along with Metalcar wouldn’t have helped, it would have been also my biggest expense so far on the bike.

So where to start the story? I guess the best place would be at the border between Bolivia and Paraguay. There is a long dusty dirt road of about 100km. I had fun on that road using the bike at it’s maximum potential at it’s current weight of 280-300kg and made it to the border… well, the first part of it which is the Bolivian immigration. Then, had to ride another 60km or so to the Aduana where I had to wait a bit. While waiting, I decided to check the oil level on the KLR. I tilt the bike to straight position and nothing shows up! I thought the oil would be just under the normal level and since I had a half a litre with me, I poured it all in there. Tilt the bike straight again and… NOTHING shows! Talk about getting scared at the border! I thought that it still couldn’t be that low but there was no oil available for another 120 or so km. I have never had it this low before though. No choice but to ride 120km on whatever was in there. There was almost no smoke coming out so I thought I should be ok. I got to that police point and with the litle money I had, I bought a litre of engine oil. Poured it into the bike and… still nothing showing! Now I was starting to get REALLY worried. So I bought another litre and only had 5000 Guarany (about 1.10$) left after buying the 2 litres of oil. I had to pour 0.5 more litres into the bike till it was at level. So if we do some quick math, at the border where I checked the level, I should have had about half a litre or so of oil out of 2.5L in the bike.

I camped at the police station next to the gas station from where I bought the oil and the next day I was back on the road with the bike full of oil. I had about 120km to go till the immigration office which is more than 200km from the border. I had enough gas in the bike and my jerry cans left to make it there and even further. On the road to the immigration, I had a flat front tire. Parked in the shade, patched the tube, put the wheel back just to realize that I pinched the tube while installing the tire so had to do it all over again. Meanwhile, I looked at the oil level and realized that I was in deep trouble as it was lower than the glass on the bike. Added the other half a litre and it helped a bit. I could see some oil level, but realized that I was eating about a litre of oil per 100km. I get to the town before the immigration and see a bike shop there that sells oil. I look in my wallet and still have 5000 guarrany, a couple of dollars and some bolivianos. After calculating, I was still short by 5000 G (just over 1$) but the guy was really nice and sold me the oil anyway wishing me good luck. The Aduana was closer than the immigration so I stop in to do the paperwork on the bike. They give me 90 days and cost is 0$. I get to the immigration and the guy there is super nice and says it shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. I am thinking NICE, another easy border crossing. When he types in my nationality, Canada, the computer doesn’t agree too well and asks for an embassy visa. It turns out that us Canadians need a visa in Paraguay. So he tells me that I have to go back to Bolivia to the Paraguay embassy in Santa Cruz. I explain to him that my bike wont make it. He talks to other people there who talk to other people and finally come back and offer to give me a 72hr transit visa. This means that I have to make it in 72hrs to Assuncion, 600 or so km away and cross over to Argentina where there is an embassy 3km from the border. It’s my best choice. So I thank him for his help and decide to try and make it with the bike. Meanwhile, in my folder with my paperwork, I find just over 100$ that I had put in there for emergencies.

I exchanged the 100$ for guarranies at the gas station there and bought 4L of oil along with a bottle of water. I was hungry but didn’t wanna waste $ on food. There were no bank machines for a few hundred km and had to calculate my gas and oil well.

Back on the road, now I had oil, some gas and a LONG strip of straight paved road leading me to Assuncion. On the way, I stopped at a store and bought one more litre of oil, some bananas and some bread. The bike had started smoking just before the immigration and it was smoking more and more. I started to add about 1.5L of oil every 100km. The money I exchanged lasted me till Assuncion as I found some gas stations along the way further south that accepted credit card. In the 600 or so km, the bike had eaten about 10L of oil. Once in assuncion, the bike was running already on really low compression and stalling in idle. I had to make a choice to leave the bike there and take a bus to the border or ride the bike another 40 km and then another 40 to come back. Since I didn’t know how long it would take for the visa and if there would be any complications, I decided that I wouldn’t leave the bike in a country I might not be able to come back to.

I got the visa in Clorinda, Argentina within a day. It took only 2 hrs for the visa but I had to spend the night there since I needed 2 passport photos and all photography stores were closed between noon and 4pm while the embassy closed at 3pm. But anyway, the next day I made it back to Assuncion and although the bike was breathing heavily, it wasn’t giving up. Along the way, I met a mechanic and told him about the last 3 days. He said that I was lucky to have a Kawasaki cause most local bikes wouldn’t have made the 800+km with the piston rings in this condition.

In Assuncion, I went and set-up camp at the Botanical garden where they have the municipal camping. Inside the garden, in front of the Museum a gentleman approached me and asked me if I needed any parts for my bike cause there is a Kawasaki dealership in town called Metalcar. I had heard about it the day before when I entered the city and asked around. He said he knew the owner and called to have someone come and get me. Once I set-up camp, I didn’t want to wait and went to Metalcar as fast as possible.

At the service department, I was approached by the Manager, Jose. We talked a bit about my trip and about the problems with the bike. Jose was super nice and welcoming. He also made space right away for the bike and had it washed. I explained to him that I was traveling on a really tight budget and he offered right away to see if he could help me with that so he wrote an e-mail to his contact at Kawasaki explaining my problem and my trip.

Here in the story start the pictures. Sorry for the lower than usual quality, but my black macbook is on it’s last minutes as well and I can’t edit the pictures for now.

My welcome team at Metalcar. Jose is on the right.


After a couple of days, this is what the bike looked like…


Hard to see, but there was a huge gap on the piston rings!


I don’t think this picture needs explanation… 😀



My love’s guts all out…


When I went back to see the bike a few days later, Jose and Felipe invited me for a ride in the Kawi car. They had to go test out a Jetski by the lake in a really nice small town close by.


Jose and Felipe. We had some local doughnut like sweets, but I forgot what they are called. REALLY GOOD!


Unloading the Jetski


Jose testing it out on the lake.


The days were passing and I was enjoying the city of Assuncion.


Finally all parts were in. Brand new 0.5mm larger piston with piston rings. The cylinder was also bored out by 0.5mm at a local shop.



A few days later, this is what the bike looked like! What a great feeling!


Even though the bike was ready, Jose said to wait for a bit as he had sent out a list with the parts and labor to Kawasaki and to see what they would say. The next day, he called me to inform me that Kawasaki was sponsoring me on this work and had covered all parts and labor on the list. I only had to pay for the cylinder reboring which was done by a different shop. I couldn’t believe it! What a great surprise! I have my first big sponsors! 🙂



Big thanks again to EVERYONE!


I will post more pictures of Paraguay and from where I left off my blog but for now that’s almost impossible with the current condition of my Macbook. Soon enough though, I promise! 🙂