I went to Cusco for one reason – to visit my niece Genny and meet her fiancé, Fabricio. They were fantastic hosts and I had the time of my life. As luck would have it their friend Richard was visiting from the United States, he volunteered to bring my new DeLorme inReach from the USA to Peru. The four of us had so much fun. Unfortunately I was sick the entire time.
Sick and On The Go.
While I was in Lima I got sick. It wasn’t horrible, but I definitely had some kind of sickness that wasn’t getting better. I waited a few days and finally decided to push on. The ride over the Andes proved to be quite a challenge. It was cold and windy, the roads were covered in oil, the cliffs steep, and there wasn’t a lot of air to breath.
I’m currently sitting in a small cafe in Buenos Aires writing this post. I rode from Lima to Cusco, stayed in Cusco for a couple of weeks, and then made the rest of the ride across the Andes and down to Buenos Aires.
After much research, a lot of input, and many hours of research I’ve made my final decision about the route I’ll take over the Andes Mountains. I’m currently in Cusco, Peru and the ride from Lima was very educational; I encountered ice, snow peaked mountains, freezing temperatures, high altitudes, precipitous drops, and a very challenging ride. It was beautiful, but I don’t think I want to repeat it any time soon.
I’ve been in Lima just over a week now. I planned to stay for awhile so I could have some time and really dig in and get some work done. I’ve been working on my blogging workflow, I’ve hired a graphic designer to help spruce up the site and the videos, and I’ve spent a lot of time continuing my preparations for Africa. But most importantly – I’m trying to figure out how to get over the Andes.
Once I arrived in Lima I made a beeline for Touratech, Peru. I wanted to get my pannier repaired and I wanted to buy a few odds and ends for my bike: new handles for the side panniers, a new helmet, thermals for the cold weather. I also wanted to get some off-road training.
Once I left Cuenca, Ecuador it was just a short ride to Peru. The lush green mountains and twisty roads fell away and I entered a land that of dirt and sand, gusty winds, and a horizon that seemed to stretch out forever. I was facing the first of many days in the desert.
Seeing New Things
Arriving in Quito felt a bit like coming home. Almost two years ago to the day my friend Lex and I landed in Quito, we planned on staying in Ecuador for three days and loved it so much we stayed for three months. We spent a lot of time in Quito, Mindo, Baños, the Galapagos Islands, and Guayaquil. As much as I’d love to visit all of those places again I’ve decided to explore a part of Ecuador I haven’t seen yet, Cuenca – and if possible, El Cajas national park.
Manizales to Popayan
I left Manizales on a foggy wet morning. I’d gotten word from friends in the south that the Pan-American highway would be open for 36 hours. Now was my chance to get to Ecuador. The roads down the mountain where curvy but devoid of the normal onslaught of killer semi trucks. It was a beautiful ride that would only get better. In a short time I found myself on a two lane divided highway. I was actually able to ride at speeds above 100kmh. The day was absolutely spectacular.
Things are a bit sketchy right now. I’m sitting in a hotel room in Manizales, Colombia looking for the safest route to Ecuador. There are protesters blocking the Pan-American highway and there have even been reports of violence and a few deaths. I’m not sure how real the danger is, but I’m taking no chances. All of this is happening in the southern part of Colombia, down by Pasto, but that’s exactly where I need to go to make it to Ecuador.