Colombia start of Stage 3
El Tapon or The Darien Gap forced us to find another way to travel from Panama to Colombia. Thick jungle and no roads connecting Central America to South America has always been a challenge for any traveler. The start of a new ferry connecting the two countries had been roomered for several moths, but unfortunately this has yet to happen so we opted to take to the air to move the group and bikes.
In Bogota we met new members to our tour, some new to GlobeRiders and some veterans. In so many ways this was a new start to the journey that now had lasted for one month since we left LA with two more months to go to Ushuaia.
Unfortunately clearing the bikes that came from Israel, Los Angeles, New Jersey and Panama took most of the three days we had dedicated to the capital city. The bureaucracy was as bad as it gets and for that reason some of us never really had the chance to experience Bogota. What a pity to waste time with red tape when one could have had a great time exploring the city, but that is some times the curse of traveling.
Fortunately I had the chance to have traveled in this great country in the past and it was good to be back to Colombia despite the circumstances. As much as the customs system was a terrible ambassador for Colombia my Colombian motorcycle friend Luis was the best ambassador for his country as you can find. Out of pure enthusiasm for our journey he spent literally days with us getting through customs, arranging service for the bikes, tire change and being a super host.
When Luis followed us out of Bogotá on his BMW R1100GS I am sure that he thought that his host services had been concluded. Well, it did not take long before we desperately needed his help once again. Dan, riding his aging BMW R1150GSA, ran in to an issue with his bike and got stranded in the mountains with what first looked like bad gasoline, but ended up being a dead fuel pump. A new miracle was pulled off when the next day, a Sunday mind you, a BMW service man reported to our modest hotel to replace Dan’s bikes fuel pump. Luis pulled off another huge favor and we will forever be grateful for your friendship, thanks so much amigo.
Having endured the grueling border crossings of Central America we thought it would get easier in South America. Well, if the border crossing between Colombia and Ecuador was any sign of what was to come it was not much better. The issue on this border was a new insurance sign up system that was based on an online system that had issue with the number of days in February and for that reason would not process our policies. We eventually made it to Quito, the capital, a very interesting city divided in to the new and old part, we stayed in the old part.
Ahead of arriving in Ecuador we had been warned that a new law would automatically put a driver that exceeded the speed limit with more than 15Km/h in prison for 3 days. For that reason we were all a little paranoid about our speed, but we never did see any radar traps as long as we traveled in Ecuador.
Leaving Quito we were now traveling in the southern hemisphere as we headed for Peru. Our tracks south lead us off the Pan-American Highway and high up in the mountains. We enjoyed the new concrete road that had recently been built following beautiful green mountains and deep valleys all the way to the border of Peru. That is where the change started, at the border; we left the mountains behind and entered the coastal desert of northern Peru.
The change from Colombia and Ecuador was striking and in so many ways disappointing. Litter and garbage along the road and large dumps of garbage all in the open outside of towns made for a rather unpleasant smell and sight. The road was good and invited to higher speeds. We were now back on the Pan American Highway where big busses have the right of way even when they are passing trucks and you happened to be in their paths coming in the opposite direction. But perhaps the worst traffic of the journey so far was as we entered Lima on the way to our hotel for two days.
As many of you know I have been associated with Touratech since the early 90’s so it was with great enthusiasm that I met up with the local Touratech representative for Peru. Ivan had started to import Touratech parts just a couple of year’s prior and now he is the official representative for Touratech in Peru. Full of enthusiasm for motorcycling and adventure touring I enjoyed Ivan and his wife’s hospitality very much as they proudly showed me their property with the Touratech shop. Plans for the future involves a larger shop, repair facilities and even a B&B for international bikers passing by.
If you ever find yourself stranded in Lima in need of help do not hesitate to call on Touratech and Ivan, he is a tremendous resource always willing to give a helping hand.
As it happened in Colombia when we had to call in another favor after leaving Bogota from our friend Luis, not long after leaving Lima we had to call on Ivan’s help. This time it was Kainan that were in need of a seal for his output sprocket on his KTM 990. As a miracle Ivan had the part on a airplane to Cusco before we even had made it half the way to Cusco. Thanks so much Ivan and best of luck with Touratech Peru.
As we entered South America our group increased to 10 bikes and 13 people with 4 nations represented. Best of all we now had a woman on the team, which I always see as a great plus for the dynamic of any groups. Shiree and her husband Kainan had come all the way from Israel to join the tour. Shiree would travel in the chase vehicle while her husband would be the only KTM rider in the group of BMW GS riders with his well-outfitted KTM 990.
In our new chase vehicle we had Adolfo from Chile join us in Bogota and he were to work with us until La Paz, Bolivia.
Enjoy the pictures from this chapter one of South America; they might give a little more insight to what there has not been time to be writing about in this story.