Friday, January 16, 2009

Crossing The Equator

We have come over 8000 miles now. We crossed the equator on January 14, 2009. Only another 54 degrees south latitude and 8000 miles to go. Think of it this way. It is as far to the tip of South America from the equator as it is from the equator to the Canadian border.

We no longer measure distance in kilometers or miles. Time between points is the standard. There is “bus time” and moto time. When we ask how long (far) it is to a destination we usually get “It’s about 5 hours, but on the motos 4” as an answer. We always ask what it takes the bus, because we find that to be more accurate. For those of you living in the USA when you see a map with mileage between points you can pretty well estimate the time of arrival figuring the speed limit. Not here. It does not matter what the speed limit is. The average speed on even the best roads is usually less than 30 miles per hour. So on a good day we can make 250 miles. There are not many good days.

The other thing is top speed. Sure the bikes can go 80 all day long, but we feel fortunate to keep things at 60 for any length of time. It is a constant acceleration and deceleration. But up here in the Andes we are happy to have fuel injection. The machines still have punch at 12000 ft.

So let me bring you up to date. Last Saturday we rode into Cali Colombia. We stayed at the Hostel Casa Blanca operated by Danish national Mikkel Thomsen. Our roommate John was a yacht delivery captain from South Africa. Mike has immigrated to Colombia and runs a very nice hostel. The place is spotless. The rates are very low, and secure parking for the bikes was next door.

Cali was not hopping because it was a national holiday, and the town was quiet because most people had gone to the beach. We both loved Colombia and would like to have spent more time. It is a great place, but I do understand what all the fighting is about. There are really about 6 Colombia’s. Northern Bogotá is very European and wants to impose centralized control. Southern Bogota is like most other large latin cities. Basically the attitude is that the rest of the country exists for the benefit of Bogotá. There are also landless farmers who object to this. Then there are the paramilitaries who are basically private armies for the landed class. Add a little drug money plus a couple of cartels and this creates real problems. So the main towns and highways are controlled by the central government, but things are still unsettled in the countryside, especially down on the Ecuador border. Still, I would return and tour more if I had the chance.

Monday we rode to Pasto Colombia, and Tuesday we crossed the border to Ecuador. The border crossing was not difficult. Just time consuming. We waited in line for hours to clear immigration. Then we waited again to clear customs with the bikes. After 4.5 hrs we were free to go. Then it started to rain. Real rain. We just pushed on and found a good room in Ibarra Ecuador that night.

So now we are getting ready to ride to Peru. We left Quito this morning and the roads were great. Then we hit fog at 10,000 ft and it started to rain again. We gave up at 3 pm and found a hotel because we could not see. We have no itinerary except to visit Machu Pichu and maybe drive the world’s most dangerous road in Bolivia.

I will try to get pictures posted as soon as I can. By the way—Marty and I purchased our Panama hats and we look very studly indeed.

Fritz

1 comment:

Jordan said...

Marty--Martha and Maury at are my Mum's to celebrate my birthday (like last year). Enjoy Peru...Martha and Maury were there in April of 2007 and had a fantastic time. OK, be safe and enjoy the ride. Thanks for the info so that I can stay with your Mum on my trip. I'll also stay with Mary Gibson :)

Peace: Jordan