Gabe Finally Leaves Peru For The Enchanted Country of Ecuador
Navigation Apps: GOOGLE MAPS Wins The day!
The roads in Peru are fun and full of adventure in its discovery. Although I rode Carretera 3N that was mainly dirt roads in remote places I feel that I missed out on a lot. There is so much to experience in the Peruvian countryside. The city aint bad to get supplies, comfortable hotel rooms with amenities, and use of that fast internet giving your roaming data a break. On Social Media folks ask me how I navigated the roads in Latin America. I used my Samsung 8 Active cell phone to access Google maps for 95% of the time. The phone is of military grade glass, shock proof, waterproof for 30 min under water, but the glass…..GOD BLESS THE STRONG GLASS! I tried other apps, but the mean big GOOGLE Maps worked best for me especially in the remote parts of the ride.
Google Maps would route my trip if I had data roaming or if I was somewhere with free WiFi. You would be surprised of the places that had WiFi available in Latin America. Almost all gas stations, restaurants, hotels offered WiFi. The only downside with Google maps was when you were outside of the WiFi signal. Every morning I would set my goal and shoot for a town “X” miles away. I had my phone on a mount facing me while I rode. Sometimes I would accidentally touch the screen, or an ad would pop up and I would shut off Google Maps by mistake. If you try to place the prior location without the WiFi in a remote part of the ride you get a message that states Google cannot calculate the Route. Google does offer a map download foreseeing that you will ride in a “Dead Zone.” As long as you keep the app open it guides you perfectly. It knows the lefts and rights the bike is taking including its speed. I kept it charged with one of those generic power outlets/cig lighter thingy’s.
FEDE Comes to The Rescue
My good Colombian buddy and Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge brother, Federica “Fede” Arbelaez who has traveled a lot on bikes in S. America sent me a link via WhatApp that I forwarded to Kelsey. The Google Maps link had us crossing into Ecuador through Huaquillas, Ecuador. Kelsey let me lead that day, so I clicked on the link to Ecuador and away we went. Throughout the city we were dodging a herd of three-wheel buggy mopeds that is a cheap form of transportation in Peru and Ecuador. Some of them were loaded down with harvested food from the fields going to market that early morning. The ride was beautiful and I knew it was going to be a hot day. I just kept looking at my Google Maps as I enjoyed the wrm air and clear sky. Fede suggested that I use the Waze app for its detouring capabilities in the traffic jammed cities. I never used it and did not want to learn Waze in the middle of my trip.
Kelsey and l were heading to the Peruvian/Ecuador border both routing the same location/city in our phones. Google Maps gave us two different routes to follow that day. Kelsey’s Google route took him west toward the ocean to enter through the small border town of Huaquillas, Ecuador. Mine had me going through El Alamor, Ecuador north and then looping west then to Huaquillas. I motioned Kelsey to keep going because my habit was to pull over, switch the gas pumps and valves, start the bike up and keep going. My front gas tank decided not to work when my auxiliary gas tank ran low as I tried to switch over.
I was stuck on the side of the road with my Aux tank empty and the main tank full with 6.1 gallons of much needed gasoline not starting. Kelsey and I had a rule that if we did not see each other we would turn around to see if the other is ok. I waited for about 20-minutes hoping Kelsey would turn around and loan me his hose off his Aux tank to siphon gas from one tank to another. Did I mention it was like 90+ degrees at this time? LOL!
This Ecuadorian couple on an adventure bike pulled over by me to render some much-needed assistance. He walked up to me and asked how I was doing so I explained everything. There was a woman about two blocks down that sold gas from her house. When we go there, they had run out but we borrowed a garden hose and an empty container. I was not used to siphoning, so he did it for me pretty quickly. I filled up about 5 liters of gas into the Aux and the bike started up nicely. As we exchanged contact information he stated that he ALWAYS pulls over to see how the biker is doing. He understands that we all have cell phones but maybe the distressed brother might not have water or a cell phone. He was quite convincing, and I could not disagree because he was right. We as extreme adventure riders should pull over and ask if a fellow traveler needs assistance. We hugged and departed down the road leaving thinking that I would actively pull over from now on to deliver forward the love this brother and his wife showed me broken down in Peru. The Bible says we sow what we reap or in laymen’s terms: What goes around comes around! If you help others than one day in your hour of need someone will come and save you.
I followed his advice noting there was a gas station about 10-miles down in my direction. When I arrived, I pulled up to see these two hot girls working the gas pumps. Now I always admire a beautiful flower, but being a married man in love with his wife I don’t pull these flowers from the soil for my pleasure. I know some of the guys in the American Legion Post 180 would have been asking for phone numbers and dates. In Peru like most places in Latin America you’re not allowed to pump your own gas. The girls started working on my bike as this weird 3-wheel moped ice cream vendor pulled into the parking lot with his super loud obnoxious pre-recorded ad on his loudspeaker that sounded distorted. He did like 3-loops in the large gas station parking lot annoying everyone within range. By then my head was going to explode and I noticed the chickees were also upset. I asked the girl pumping if she liked those chocolate frozen treats. Both nodded yes and I waived the guy over. “Hey! I will buy 2- bars if you shut that noise off cause you’re driving me loco!” I shouted at him. He laughed and agreed with the two choco frozen bars sold for about $0.50. I gave it to the girls and told them job well done and here is a tip for your fine services.
Gabe Meets ADV Brazilian Overlander
I asked the girls if they seen a gringo come by here and started to describe Kelsey. They said no one came by riding a bike like mine, but there was a “gringo” over there by the bathrooms. She pointed over to the corner of the lot and I said to myself, self… time to make new friends. I rode over shouting out in English, but I quickly noticed that their faces had puzzled looks thus I switched to Spanish. They spoke Portuguese that is close enough that we could communicate. Thank God I speak Spanish because if not I would have had a harder time in these countries. After a few minutes and exchanging rider stickers I whipped out the ole TV production crew inside my phone and started Vlogging on the spot. If you’re a subscriber to Screaming Thunder I am sure you may have seen this video segment before. This couple from Brazil were traveling two months working themselves to Alaska. He has a parasail business in Brazil that seems to make him some good cash. Eventually we said our goodbyes as if we have known each other since birth, gave hugs, exchanged contact info and I was once again back in the saddle. Like we say in the riding biz, “You meet the best people on a motorcycle!”
The day was hot as hell with temps up into 90’s and not a cloud in the sky. I got gas and met this wonderful Brazilian couple that took 2-3 months to ride from Brazil to Alaska. I don’t think he was going to Prudhoe Bay, but he was going to see as much as Alaska as time (and his wife) would let him. I found him when I asked on the two girls pumping gas if they had seen a gringo ride by here. They pointed to the public restrooms and said there is a gringo over there. I went talking English and discovered the two Brazilians. We talked in Spanish and Portuguese understanding each other with no problem. He says he wants to come to Miami soon, so I gave him my digits and hope to meet up with him soon to hear the tales of his Alaskan adventure.
Gabe Goes Down in River Run Off
Rolling toward the Ecuadorian border I exited the city from where I fueled up entering the remote part again. The roads were alright in quality except for those potholes that I avoided that would have had my ass in the air holding onto my handlebars for life. I drove by a restaurant noticing my road side savior and his wife eating in the open air under cover eatery. I beeped and waived as they waived back. I should have pulled over and hung out. I wanted to catch up with Kelsey and see what he was up to. I traveled for about 45-minutes until I saw a river run off in the middle of the road with what looked like an inch or two of water. I thought to myself what a way to cool the bike down as well as myself. I was jamming to some southern rock about to enter a new country with untold adventures, so I was emotionally up there in good spirits. Like a little kid playing in the water I was going to splash my way through. I gave it some gas to see the water wing to the side of the tires as I plowed through the water. I quickly found my self in a sense of extreme horror doing side-way donuts in a 360-degree fashion.
I learned a valuable lesson as the rear tire slide from underneath me causing the bike to twirl on it side and my right saddle bag opened with its content spilling into the nasty slippery green muddy water. First word out of my mouth was “SHIT!” Next words out of my mouth were…..”My Cigars!” I jumped up in shock and embarrassment picking up my crap and laying it on the bike. I had a half empty wine bottle that I threw into the bushes out of anger. I patted my self on the back for packing my gear in zip-lock-bags keeping my gear and cigars dry.
After waiting 30-min with no one coming by I wished I had the half bottle of bad Spaniard wine. I tried to life up on the handlebars only bending it about 2 inches or so. About an hour a couple of guys passed by on a 100CC Jap bike. They noticed I was in trouble and would have kept going had I not yelled out for help in Spanish. The three us of tried, but the Machine was too heavy. A fourth guy stopped as we attempted to pick up the Hog up only for the rear tire to slide around the slimy bottom despite our best efforts. He placed his foot at the bottom of the tire and bam!! We got the bike out and onto the dry part of the road. I was told there was another river run-off about 1-kilometer down the road. I was to go on the sides not the middle because it was too damn slippery.
Gabe Goes Down Again
As I waived good by thanking these kind sirs, I lit up a cigar and chilled for the moment. I then saddled up firing up the machine and headed north coming up on the fore-mentioned river-run-off that seemed like a twin to the first river-run-off. This time my foolish self was NOT going to fall for that trap again, so I slowed down and looked for my safe passage. The right side was full of water and wet slick thick mud so that was a no-no. There seemed to be drier mud on the left with some tire ruts that I decided to ride through. Damn, I was not even five seconds going through the mud the damn bike came from underneath me again! Saddlebags did not open up and throw out my gear this time. I actually yelled out at the top of my game loudly, “FUCKKKKKKK!!!!!!!” I was having a bad hair day this day I tell ya.
This one skinny kid about 20-years old rode by asking if I needed help and I replied in the positive. Believe it or not we both got that 1,200 pound bike up on the kickstand by ourselves. Feeling very appreciative and stupid at the same time I gave the guy a $20 bill in gringo dollars. You could imagine how he felt holding that greenback in his hand. We exchanged goodbyes and just like that I was riding down this lonesome road in the middle of nowhere heading North with the expectations of meeting up with my absent riding partner. I would later find out that the border crossing into Ecuador was much closer than my final border destination of western Ecuador border crossing.
Why am I Being Stopped Again?
The road became screwed up again with massive potholes, cracks and partial tracks of dirt or gravel. There were extremely few travelers on the road except for these workers on what seemed to be 100CC Chinese motorbikes that absorbed the potholes better than my Road Glide. I saw in the horizon a small dirt hill with a little police checkpoint shack ahead. I headed up that small dirt gravel hill spitting rocks behind me only to have these two female officers yell at me to pull over. “Oh God now what?” I thought to myself as I was motioned where to park the bike. I yelled out in Spanish, “You all just pulled me over because you wanted to see my bike.” They laughed and asked me where I was going so I replied, “Going to Alaska…why do you ask?” No no no, what is your immediate destination? I answered jokingly, “I am going to Ecuador why?” A male officer just walked up to us and said in a very authoritative tone, “We need to cancel your vehicle permit.” I was with this look that screamed SAY WHAT? “Five kilometers down the road is the immigration office.” I looked at his patch and for the first time I realized that these were not police officers, but rather Peruvian Custom Officers. I missed that but I blame it on the toxic river water I fell into…TWICE!
I was invited into the steamy hot government shack that had modern computers, printers and internet fueled by electricity coming from a flimsy electrical pole barely standing up behind the shack. I asked to use the bathroom and after seeing it I thanked God I did not have to sit down to do my business. I thanked God for being born a man as I walked out of the fly infested feces smelling bathroom. When I returned to the official shack my paperwork had been processed and I was free to go to the joint Ecuador/Peru Immigration Station that was down the road.
Heading to Ecuador Border
I hanged around for a while longer running into this American Engineer that had been living in China for 10-15 years working for a computer company. We spoke a bit and he later took off to the border as I was hucking it up with the customs officers at that point. The Customs officers were inquiring why I would leave my firm for 2.5 months to ride a motorcycle. They were extremely interested in what I thought of Peru of which I complimented them on there roads especially 3N. Again, I was cracking the same ole stale Cuban jokes that always gets laughs from the crowds. Towards the end they wished me well and patted me on the back. At least I speak the lingo although there are many words I miss due to the accents and cultural differences. They have a lot of words tied to their culture that Peruvians use. “For example, Peruvians use the word “Cochera” to describe a garage where Cubans use “Garaje,” and other countries use “estacionamiento,” or “aparcamiento.” So if your learning Spanish to travel abroad get ready for the baptism of linguistic fire as you will soon find a buffet of words that mean the same thing.
As I pulled up to the border, I stopped my bike and took some pics with the Ecuadorian flag in the background and the welcome to Ecuador sign. This is a staple pic for all overlanders carving a niche out on their nomad travel gun belt. As I pulled in I saw the American there at the window trying to get his finger print but the old and abused device that scans your fingers was not cooperating that day. He was there 15- minutes just for one finger and when it was my turn it took longer.
I think I am going to stop here and pick this up in the next installment of my Post Operational Rider Report (Reporting way after the fact).