Saturday, 19 October 2013

Argentina ... Al final del viaje

Caminante, son tus huellas el camino, y nada más; caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar. Al andar se hace camino, y al volver la vista atrás se ve la senda que nunca se ha de volver a pisar. Caminante, no hay camino, sino estelas en la mar.”     Antonio Machado, Campos de Castilla

Rested, but still buzzing from the ride across the Paso de Jama, I set off the following day towards San Miguel de Tucuman. Having dropped down into Purmamarca the road then followed a valley south-west across the north of Argentina, passing Jujuy and Salta. Pulling into a petrol station I met some Colombian riders on a two week tour on rented BMWs (does anybody ride anything else ?). They were from Cali but staying with family in Buenos Aires, they told me about a hotel in Tucuman and invited me to join them for their ride, they were off into the hills. I thanked them for the offer but declined, the ride over the pass had provided me with enough 'curves' for a few days, we shook hands and I rode on. I pulled into Tucuman later that day and found a motel run by the Automóvil Club Argentino, I couldn't pass it up. As I was unloading a guy pulled in and came over to talk, Carlos Tear (his grandad had emigrated from Ireland), Malvinas/Falkland vet and just a pleasure to talk to..  

Carlos Tear, 'I'm Irish'
Carlos was working for the motel but also produced tourist maps of Argentina, he gave me one for free, a good move as I was using a poor detail 'whole of Latin America' map by this time. Needless to say we got onto the Malvinas discussion, Carlos had been a 3 month conscript and found himself out on the islands. He related their biggest fear had been the presence of British nuclear submarines, they feared if it went bad for the British they would use nuclear weapons. He asked what I thought, well I said it had been 'bizzare', he laughed and said 'you thought it was bizzare', I got his point. He was no friend of the generals and had seen it for what it was, a 'distraction' from domestic issues, he didn't like Margaret Thatcher either, we got on well. It was interesting talking with locals about that era, the subsequent democracy, the economic collapse in 2001, the economy and politics in the country now. Most people I talked to were well informed, not just about South America but very up to speed with Europe and the UK, could name our Prime Ministers, in fact they seemed much better informed than most Europeans/North Americans, President of Argentina anyone ?
I rode on towards Cordoba the next day, had breakfast before I left with Carlos and swapped contact details. He gave me his phone number, 'any problems, breakdowns, then call'. After a long day in the saddle, strong side winds (my absolute favourite) I reached Cordoba and went into a hotel to be told there were no rooms, the first time this had happened on the whole trip, there was a convention on. The receptionist was really sorry, so sorry he began to call all those who and reserved a room that night to see if they were still intending to stay, amazing. No luck, everyone was coming, but he told me about their sister hotel just outside the city in Carlos Paz, he drew me a map. When I arrived I got a great welcome, the receptionist had rung ahead. I chatted with the manager, he was asking about the journey and what I thought of Argentina, I said it was a great country from what I had seen and told him everybody I had met had been helpful, interested and very welcoming, he replied 'well, you pay my wages so I have to be nice, however, I am also a nice person', couldn't have put it better.
The next day, with more wind at my side, I rode off towards Rosario along Ruta 9. I had continued emailing Javier and Sandra at Dakarmotos, they said if I could make it before 11am on Saturday I could have a bed at their hostel, today was Friday, I needed to keep moving.
Coffee stop on Ruta 9, heading for Rosario
I arrived at Rosario, found a hotel and wandered the streets, had a haircut and settled in for the night. The forecast for the ride to Buenos Aires was not good, thunder storms moving in. I could wait here until Monday and ride down or get up early and chance it, I went for the second option. Leaving Rosario in the dark I could see the lightning on the horizon, this would be my last long ride of the trip, it could be fun. As the rain began to fall I began to increase my speed, suddenly I lost power, this had happened before, where's my chain ? I pulled over to the hard shoulder and got off the bike, looked down and saw the chain wrapped around the chain guard and swing arm, the rain got heavier. Out came my new spare chain link, I unwrapped the chain and began to feed it back onto the sprockets, I was an expert at this, slipped on the new link and rode away, slower. I had to be at Dakarmotos by 11, could I now make it ? The road was awash, pouring rain and now more traffic as I reached the outskirts of the city, I had Javier's directions in my head, I just needed to be able to see the road signs. It all went well, I pulled up outside dakarmotos to be greeted by Ryan, a Canadian rider who was staying at the moto shop/hostel, relieved ? it was a two cigarette moment. 
Dakarmotos, heaven for riders, bunks just behind the curtain.
Place your mark on the wall, a history of those that had been before. Ryan, in action.
Javier, big man, big heart
With Sandra outside Dakarmotos, nothing is too much trouble
Javier turned up and we sat and had coffee, I was in Buenos Aires, it felt good and I was here for the next 10 days or so. Javier and Sandra, both spoke excellent English, were great, could not have been more helpful. Sandra sorted the bike export, Javier checked over my chain and gave it the thumbs up, for now. I sorted my flight out and changed my dollars on the 'blue' market for pesos to pay for the bike ( There are tight restrictions on foreign currency in Argentina, official exchange rate for the peso/USD was 5.7, on the 'blue' (read 'black') market it was 9 pesos to the USD. I changed some with a local shop owner and the rest at a pedestrian street in the city, Calle Forida. As I was paying for the bike shipping in pesos this saved me around 700USD, crazy but true.
Central Buenos Aires, very European
Sunday market along La Defense, great atmosphere in a great city.
So, my last ride of the trip, from Dakarmotos to the cargo terminal at the international airport, about 40 K's. As I rode down the motorway a car pulled alongside and paused, I had got used to this as it happened fairly often on the journey as people looked at the bike and probably tried to guess where you were from. Today, the car slowed, came along side, paused and then the driver 'beeped' his horn, giving me the thumbs up, a great send off. All went well at cargo handling, I rode onto a pallet, took off the front wheel and stashed my bike gear, took my tank bag and got a lift back into the city.
The final ride
Bike packing
That last, magic touch.
I still had a couple of days to kill roaming around Buenos Aires with Ryan before my flight, he was due to meet his sister who was joining him from Canada for a few weeks. Ryan, who helped me understand the 'blue' market (thanks for his patience) also showed me the sights, he was 18 months on the road already from Winnipeg, a true traveller. His plan was to ride to Ushuaia when it warmed up enough later in the year and then fly out to Australia before Christmas. After this he was planning to ride through Asia and Europe, he reckoned on another 2-3 years on the road, his trip was still on.
For me it was the opposite, my trip was at the end, the trip completed. Any final thoughts ? well, it's about people. I couldn't have done this without their help, from Joan and Chris in Canada to Javier and Sandra in Buenos Aires, to all those I met along the way, in hotels/hostels, shops and cafes, at borders, in petrol stations and hairdressers, many thanks. To Robin and Ruth, family and friends, including colleagues at work, who supported me and believed I could do it, many thanks. Finally, special thanks to Deborah, George and Jack, who let me go, worried about me along the way and welcomed me back, much love.
So, off to Australia.
El fin del blog, muchas gracias y adiós
and now, it's time for a song ...

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The Paso de Jama ....

I woke early in San Pedro and made my way to the customs/immigration post, already there was a tourist bus there with it's occupants waiting in a queue to sign out of Chile. I joined in. As I was waiting I noticed two other guys dressed in motorbike gear, they had cleared customs, where were their bikes ? I watched them walk across the road and get onto two Vespas crammed with gear. Amazing, were they going to cross the pass ?

Aduana and migracion, San Pedro
I got signed out of Chile, had a chat with the customs/aduana guy about the difficulty in pronouncing 'th', as in Southampton, Plymouth and Portsmouth, put my gear back on and headed towards the pass. I knew it was going to be very cold high up in the pass so I had put on layers under my bike gear, first time since the UK I needed these. You turn left after the border post and start heading up, and up, for 160 Kms. Just a great ride, perhaps the best of the journey so far, not a cloud in sight and those mountains just getting bigger and bigger until they surrounded you, snow and black ice at the top. I passed the two Vespas after about 20 minutes, gave a wave and 'beeped' the horn, they waved back and then, nothing, no more vehicles until I reached the Argentine border post. Windswept and remote, the few buildings had heavy doors to keep out the cold, I was the first through that day. The staff were great, I got stuck importing the bike as the bus full of tourists arrived and started channelling through. After a while I had the bike stamped in and wandered outside, I was in Argentina ....

Suddenly, a guy in bike gear ran up and grabbed my hand, it was the Argentine BMW riders I had met in Northern Peru, they were heading home. Amazing, what were the chances of being at the crossing at the same time ? As we stood chatting the two Vespas pulled in, we all wandered over. They were from São Paulo in Brazil doing a circuit of South America on those machines, great story. They handed me a sticker from their club and videoed me telling the story of my ride, I reckon they should be videoed, all that way on two scooters, great stuff. I stayed with the Argentine riders and the two Vespa boys while we all cleared customs and had a chat about the next part of the route, I was assured it was 'beautiful', I shook hands and thanked them all for their help and advice and moved on, feeling great about the world.

All that way, from São Paulo on a Vespa, time to start waving at those scooter riders
Back with the BMW boys at the Argentine border
I sat on that bike for the next 300 + Kms, not feeling tired, not feeling sore, it was just an amazing ride. I felt like I was flying. The landscape had everything, mountains, valleys, flat plains and even salt flats. Lamas, Vicuna and donkeys wandered along side, and on, the road. A couple of the BMW riders caught me up and rode out onto the salt flat, waving as they went.  The colours were ever changing, brown, greens, dark mountains and then, as you got past Susques and closer to Purmamarca, the rock went multi-coloured, pastel reds and pinks. Just when I thought it could not get better I looked up to see the road twist over a mountain in front of me, going up was fun, coming down the other side took some concentration. Deep valleys masked the road, as you looked down you could just see bits of the road ahead, it looked like there were lots of roads going in different directions, but it was all one. Half way down I passed a car transport truck on it's side, the driver sat out front on a chair, drinking mate. Below, I passed the cars that had been on the truck, all smashed up and lying on the road, 'poor bugger' I thought and then had to concentrate as the tarmac broke up and turned to dust for a couple of turns. As soon as I reached the bottom I stopped for the first time, what a ride.
Heading towards Purmamarca
Looking back down the road at the mountains I had just crossed, a fantastic ride.
I pulled into Purmamarca, found a hotel and went for a walk around to see the village, I stopped at a local eatery and had a Lama steak, I figured it was the thing to do. Being out of season I was the only guest at the hotel, it was quiet, restful and the scenery stunning. I was a lucky boy, what a great day and what a welcome to Argentina. Buenos Aires, here we come.
The sun rising over the village
The hotel in Purmamarca

Monday, 14 October 2013

Chile ....

I woke in Tacna and heard the bands firing up, after a quick breakfast and 'check out' I hit the road south towards Chile. Dodging the marching bands I had a 30 km ride to the border. Again an easy pass across into the next country, very helpful staff, they checked my bag and panniers for contraband and wished me well. Unlike in Central American there were no money changers on the border so I rode into Chile with no local currency but Arica, the first city, was only a few K's away. I found a hotel on the coast, changed some US dollars with the receptionist and settled in for a few days.

Outside the hotel, still in the desert.
I needed to plan my next move, Argentina was not far away. I had made email contact with Dakarmotos in Buenos Aires ( a year a go, I had heard great things about Javier and Sandra, the husband and wife team who run the show. It had always been my intention to stay at Dakarmotos at the end of the trip and use their knowledge to fly the bike back to the UK. I emailed from Arica to tell them of my progress and ask about the weather further south, most importantly the border crossings across the Andes. They emailed me some links to Police websites which listed which border crossings were open. It seemed that snow and ice were a real problem, further south in Patagonia it was really cold. I had some big decisions to make, it looked like getting into Argentina was going to be difficult never mind reaching Ushuaia. I spent sometime chatting with Deborah back home in the UK, she was due to fly down to Australia later in the year to visit our son George, 'why didn't I come ?' Why not indeed. It would mean missing southern Argentina but then I hadn't started in Alaska either, the 'classic' north to south route along the panamerican. I could do Oz instead, be back with the family (except Jack who was in Istanbul) and still see much of Argentina, it was an easy decision really, Oz it was. I focused on getting across them mountains.
The Paso de Jama crossing, advised by the riders I met in northern Peru and said to be open most of the year, was, ummmm ... closed ( A freak weather event had brought snow to San Pedro de Atacama, the start of the pass on the Chilean side, the first snow there for 30 years, it made the national news. Given the uncertainty about weather further south I still felt the Paso de Jama crossing would be my best bet, not knowing when the pass would open I decided to head south to Iquique and keep an eye on the Police websites. I changed more money in Arica and got some Argentine pesos. I also bought a petrol can, there was the Atacama desert coming up.
The Atacama, extra fuel on board.
The Andes in the distance, somehow I have to get across those.
Still love it ...
You reach the edge of Arica and then head out into the desert, another amazing ride. Iquique was over 300 + K's away, nothing much in between. The journey was broken by road construction, I sat in a queue for about an hour watching the workers dig into the dunes by the side of the road, big JCB's at crazy angles hanging over a valley. The road turned to gravel for about 30 K's, winding it's way down hill, dust everywhere. This would occasionally happen in Chile, the tarmac would end and 'off road' you would go, just added to the adventure. I left the panamerican and headed the 40 or so K's to Iquique and back to the coast. I reached Alto Hospicio on the hill above and after finding the road down I was greeted by a view of a city spread along the pacific coast, a great ride down.  
Coffee in the square at Iquique, a lovely city
The sea front at Iquique, the sun not out, the hills guarding it's back.
A great place to stop ..
I checked into a hotel and walked into the city centre, found the main square and had a coffee and some food, felt like a 'real' South American city, I loved it. There are two routes south from here, along the coast or back onto the panamerican in the desert, I decided to try the coastal route so set off the next day, in no rush, that border crossing was still closed. I aimed to spend a night further south at Tocopilla. Well, that 'freak' weather event that brought snow to San Pedro had also sent rain to the coast, it caused a landslip which had cut off the coast road. It took me 150 K's to find this out, I was stopped at a customs check. Chile is split into different regions, when you cross from one to the other the Police and customs check your papers. As I tried to exit Region One I was told the road was closed, the Police were really helpful, showed me alternative routes and wished me luck. I decided to head back to Iquique and spend another night there. To get to Calama, my target for the following day, would have meant a long old ride. Can't mess with El Niño and I liked Iquique. After another night on the coast I re-traced my steps back to the desert and headed for Calama.
Back on the moon, look at that sky
The return of the tarmac covered rest areas, first since the good old US of A, thank you Chile.
I was still watching those police websites, the Paso de Jama was still closed but there had been no further snow. Assuming I could eventually get across I decided to hatch a cunning plan to help me acclimatise to the altitude, the pass peaked above 4000 metres (Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK is around 1300 metres), first stop was Calama, a big mining town, for a night. Turning off the panamerican and heading for Calama was a bit of a moment, I was going east, not south for the first time. After a restful night I took a steady ride to San Pedro de Atacama, a small town well known as a base for exploring the Andes. Checking into a hostel I asked the receptionist about the Paso de Jama, he told me it was still closed, snow on the Argentine side. I smiled and walked to the local Police station, 'El paso está abierto', I was on my way.....
Heading towards San Pedro de Atacama, getting close to them mountains.
Drinking coffee in San Pedro
I stayed in San Pedro for two nights and felt no ill effects from the altitude. I knew that the immigration and customs post on the Chilean side of the pass was here in San Pedro, this was about 160 Kms from the actual border with Argentina. You signed out of Chile and then rode for those 160 Kms up into the mountains to the border and the highest part of the pass. The Argentinian border post was about 30 K's further on. After that there was about 300 + K's to the first reasonable sized town, Purmamarca, a sort of mirror of San Pedro. With the paperwork, it was going to be a long day, I had also heard that ice and snow was still covering parts of the pass. After the all build up and the fear that I wouldn't be able to get into Argentina I went to bed strangely calm, it was my 14th border crossing, 'what the hell' I thought, it was going to be one amazing day ...... 
This is what it's all about. Approaching immigration/customs at San Pedro, after this a day crossing the Andes into Argentina, what's not to like ?

Monday, 7 October 2013

Peru ...

" .. these Are The Days That Must Happen To You." Dan Walsh

Well, I had been on the road sometime and was very much into the groove now. I had seen some amazing sights and met some wonderful people, I hadn't become blase but I figured there would be less and less that would surprise me and provide those 'wow' moments, but no. From the highlands and mountains of Colombia and Ecuador I found myself entering a completely different landscape, the deserts of Peru, I loved it, it was not just a complete change it was perhaps the most amazing landscape so far. I rode down through Sullana and into Piura for my first night. Dust and sand everywhere, the cities were more developed than what I was used to but still managed to provide some interesting roads.

Along the main highway businesses were protected by high walls, they looked like mini fortresses, there was often rubbish flying about and backed up in corners but I just loved it, Peru really gets under you skin. After a good night in a friendly hotel I set out to drive across the desert, around 250 + kilometres from Piura to Chiclayo with nothing in between. On the outskirts of the city I saw a group of riders on BMW's in a petrol station, they waved and I stopped. They were from Argentina on a ride through Chile, Peru and up into Ecuador for a couple of weeks. Welcoming and keen to talk it was a great way to start the day.

Argentine riders, firing up the mate (
My first try out, it's like tea but different
After swapping stories about roads and border crossing I left the riders and headed south, they were crossing into Ecuador that day. I was becoming aware that the weather further south was closing the border crossings across the Andes between Chile and Argentina, I was now in the Southern Hemisphere and in winter heading into early spring, snow and ice was a concern in those high passes. The Argentines showed me the most northerly crossing between Chile and Argentina, the Paso de Jama, they advised this was open most of the year, I made a note. 
The road to Chiclayo, I stopped to take these photos but left my engine running, it felt so remote I didn't want to risk being stuck.
I loved this landscape
I got to Chiclayo with time to spare so decided to carry on to Trujillo and stay at Huanchaco for a few days. I had seen a few programmes on TV about Huanchaco, in particular the reed boats the fishermen use, the first 'surf boards'. It was a bit on the tourist side but was a great place to check over the bike, riding gear and feed up.
The best park of the trip, right outside the door at Huanchaco
Reed fishing 'boards'
Main street Huanchaco
I moved on after a few days towards Barranca, more amazing landscapes and easy miles along straight roads. There is plenty to see here, I don't subscribe to the view that deserts are boring, often you would have the sea on one side and the mountains off to the other, huge dunes which you would ride over and along, looking down hundreds of metres to the coast below. In more remote areas the sand would blow across the road ensuring you kept focus on corners.
On route to Barranca. Like birds heralding land when you are at sea, three wheel mototaxis start appearing as you approach a town, you share the rest of Peru with trucks and buses, occasionally.
I rode into Barranca, the roads between the highways and towns are often in poor repair here, not sure how the funding is worked out. Unlike Huanchaco, Barranca was pure Peru, a local town. I found the hotel with the help of a mototaxi and settled in. All through Peru you ride by ancient forts and archaeological sites, often signposted, pre-inca civilisations. It fascinated me that humans decided to populate this area, desert and not much more. Irrigation helps and you often round a hill to find yourself in green farmland which abruptly stops a few Kms further on.
When in Rome .. 'sweet' doesn't quite cover it
The hotel staff really took an interest in the ride and made me very welcome, often the way when you're away from the tourist centres. Next challenge, ride across the capital Lima and get clear out the other side. I set off early hoping to reach the outskirts of the city just after rush hour, plan worked (I think) but madness still in evidence. If there's three lanes that means at least 6 vehicles can get in that space, it was a fight for every square cm of tarmac. I had got used to all sorts of driving on this trip, even so I had to say the coach drivers surpassed all others in Peru, I lost count of how many times I had to exit the road as a coach overtook slower traffic by coming over to my side. All that advice you get in the UK about maintaining your 'bubble of safety' and 'utilise all your lane' goes out the window. Keep focus, expect the unexpected, watch out on blind corners and keep right over to the edge of your lane. In some respects you can understand it, most bikes here are 125-250 and can't keep up with the traffic so sit on the sides of roads, bigger bikes like mine which can keep up are rare, they don't expect you to be there. In Ecuador, when behind slower moving traffic waiting to overtake, you always had to watch behind you. Cars would just pull up alongside and push you off the road, they had no sense you had the power to overtake, you were in the way. One day a guy in a Toyota did this to me, most of the time I just slowed and let them go but today he was about the 10th to do this, he needed teaching a lesson so I ..... 
Anyway, I survived Lima and stopped for a coffee to celebrate, I was on the route of the 2013 Dakar rally (tarmac, obviously) and the services had been updated.
'Eight thousand kilometres, without toll'  Pretty close .. you think ?
I spent the night on the coast at Paracas, heading inland the next day towards Nazca and the world famous 'lines' ( I had plenty of time to stop and run up the tower to have a look beside the road, I chose not to fork out for the aeroplane ride. As interesting as they are I have to say the landscape was far more interesting, the snow capped Andes in the distance and just amazing dunes, hills/mountains and valleys.  
I love this stuff, irrigated valley in the distance, you can just see the dark line of the road heading down.
All the roads here in great condition.
Up the tower at Nazca, the lines can be seen if you look the other way, I'm just in awe of this landscape. Nice bike.
It's a fish with a fork in it's mouth .. no I don't know either
It's a ... to be fair they are amazing, all the history, both ancient and recent makes them fascinating.
Nazca, the town, provided a good choice of hotels and the opportunity to take in all I had seen over the last few days. I'm a desert sort of guy. I planned the next part of the trip, Arequipa looked a good 8-9 hours ride away, there is not much in between. I decided to see how it went, there were a couple of towns which may have hotels so I filled up with fuel and started early. Again, I'm sorry for this, I was amazed at the landscape, at times the road was covered in sand being blown by winds coming off the sea, it rose up high along cliffs and then down again. I stopped in a small village to find some fuel, the guy was dispensing out of a broken toilet block, he used a plastic bottle with the bottom cut off to scoop it into the bike, who knows what octane it was, but it worked. So did the toilet. The bike really handled the low octane fuel and altitude very well, it ran slower but never let me down, great machine. I made good progress and decided to make Arequipa. After coming off the coast at Camana I began to climb, eventually heading in to dense fog/mist, after this cleared I ran onto a high flat plain and rode into Arequipa after a few switchbacks. A taxi driver helped me find a hostel in the old centre (Spanish Colonial) where I sat and ate outside a restaurant, I was back above 3000 metres.
Heading out from Arequipa
The next morning I set off in good heart and headed back into the mist of the previous day. I was riding towards Tacna, the last big town in Peru before Chile. If I made good time I could get over the border the same day, Arica in Chile was only 20 or so kms the other side. The mist was soaking the road, me and the bike, I began to head into ever tighter hairpins as I dropped back to the coast, 'to the coast ?' I thought, I should not be this close. Somewhere in the mist I had taken the wrong fork in the road, left the Panamerican and found myself in the port town of Matarani. I chatted with some locals who advised me to stay on the coast, I took their advice but further along at La Curva the road was blocked and I was channelled back up to the Panamerican, I had lost a couple of hours and thought my chances of getting to the border in time had gone. But, the road was good, straight and so I decided to up the pace and make up time. I stopped at Moquegua for fuel and carried on, there was nothing about, amazing long views and the odd car.
Suddenly, I had no power, the engine was revving but I was slowing, I glided to the side of the road, onto the dust and sand. I killed the engine, put the bike on it's side stand, got off and had a look, no chain ... no chain ? Time for a cigarette. Most importantly, I was lucky, dropping a chain when running at 120kmh can be dangerous to the rider and destructive to the bike, I was OK, the bike looked OK. I had a spare chain link .. eureka .. now I needed a chain. I wandered back down the road and saw a 'snake' lying in the middle of the lane, just at that moment the only car I had seen in about 20 minutes headed towards that chain, he passed over it, then he waved, I gave him the thumbs up. I collected the chain, saw the old link had gone, shook off the dust and headed back to the bike. I was lucky, I threaded the chain back over the front sprocket and got out my spare link, it was too small ... not so lucky. I guy suddenly pulled up on a small Honda bike, Ren, his job was to 'sweep' the desert, looking for rubbish on the road and stranded gringos, he had got both. We worked to try and get the link on, rocks, tools, no joy. Another biker stopped, he said he would pull into Moquegua and send a mechanic in a taxi. Then Ren said his friend was a moto mechanic in Tacna, about 1 1/2 hours further down the road, he rang him and after some negotiation he agreed to come out. Ren and I chatted using my Spanish/English phrasebook, it was a slow conversation. His mate arrived after a couple of hours, had a chain link which fitted (I bought two more off him) then he followed me into Tacna to make sure I made it. I gave Ren some 'beer money', he had earned it.
'god damn gringos ....' Ren has a moment, first aid in the desert, an amazing guy.
So, no border today, stayed in Tacna and watched as they prepared for a celebration the following day, marching bands and flags, I would have missed that if the chain hadn't broken. That chain link had held since Guatemala, it had more than done it's job, with another link on I decided to keep my speed down to around 100kmh from now on.
One of those trip things, from 'how am I gonna get out of this ?' to meeting a couple of bikers, the mechanic and his mate, celebrations in Tacna ... great people, very patient, so helpful. I like Peru.
Chile tomorrow then.