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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Does a Life of Comfort Keep Us From Growing???

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Heads up, if you came here strictly for moto/travel related tips and tricks, skip this and come back soon.  That said, let me wax philosophical for a moment based on my internal findings over the past few days/weeks.  I'll start by saying, 'being comfortable with being uncomfortable' is well...  uncomfortable.  However, I've come to realize that a life of comfort is a slow, silent killer.  Let me explain.

As you know by now, I gave up a very comfortable life to be where I am now.  I was married, had what many would consider a great job/career, owned a beautiful home in a beautiful city, and was able to participate in many activities that made me 'happy' outside of work.  I'm not sure where it came from exactly, but it was engrained in me that I had to do/achieve/have all of these things in order to live a productive life or be, well, happy.  Turns out, I was there and found that none of it had much to do with my own personal growth and happiness.

Over the past few days I've been struggling with some depression and found myself at a bit of a 'low'.  At first I chalked it up to a combination of being on the road for almost seven months, having my friend Sam around, which was a reminder of my life and responsibilities at home, bike/mechanical issues that have cropped up, and a general lack of direction on where I'm headed next.  In addition, I let those negative feelings marinate enough to where I started to look back on my past life, and yearn for the comforts of what was, and even mourn the loss of it.  I spent a LOT of time over the past few days thinking about this.  Why, when I was unhappy then, would I ever want to consider backtracking down the same path?  It became obvious that it wasn't the past that I craved or wanted, but it was simply the comfort it provided.  

I'm at a point in the trip where I'm struggling for comfort.  I have a fairly major issue with the bike that continues to rear its ugly head (fuel pump/cutting out/stalling).  Couple that with several other 'issues' that I've been dealing with and resolving over the past few weeks (i.e. bent rear rim, shot rear tire, front wheel bearing and chain/sprocket replacement, blown fork seal, etc) and it has been tiring getting everything dialed with the bike.  In addition, I've had a friend traveling with me over some rough and exhausting routes, which while it has been absolutely amazing, having him here has also been a close reminder of my life back home, how I need to eventually head back, where exactly 'home' will end up being, what the 'F' I plan to do for work when I get there, and whether or not I've gained enough from this trip (i.e. personal growth, insight, etc) to make the whole thing worthwhile.  Needless to say, when we got to Lima I was in a bit of a funk.  I certainly craved comfort.          

This morning I woke up very early, unable to sleep.  Then and there I decided that I could continue on in that grey mood, or I could make a conscious decision to get over myself, and enjoy this absolutely amazing city, and the remainder of this spectacular journey.  I chose the latter, and decided to celebrate the beginning of my day with a run.  As I was jogging along the beach enjoying the crisp morning air and beautiful scenery, it made me extremely happy that I'm in this uncomfortable time in my life.  I'm growing as a person, I'm seeing and experiencing things that others dream of, and I'm becoming comfortable being uncomfortable, which for me has been very, very challenging.  When I got back to the hotel a bit ago, I immediately reread a quote by T. Harv Eker that has stood out for quite some time...  

"Nobody ever died of discomfort, yet living in the name of comfort has killed more ideas, more opportunities, more actions, and more growth than everything else combined."  

Maybe I was high on the much needed endorphins from the run, but after reading that quote I had an immediate sense of elation and remembered why the hell I decided to take off on this crazy adventure in the first place. 

Another thing that has crept into my mind over the past few days is...  when and how the hell am I getting home?  Originally I thought I'd ride back, then thought I'd ship the bike or sell it. Well, it turns out selling a motorcycle in South America is quite a challenge due to import restrictions, and shipping can be quite challenging and expensive, which added to my discomfort.  When I started feeling down, I immediately thought, "maybe it's time to call this whole thing and start formulating my escape plan".  Due to the discomfort, I guess I instinctively looked for an exit strategy (i.e. a return to a life of 'comfort' back home).  Almost as if I was choosing to avoid any pain and/or discomfort that may come up if I continue this journey.  I thought about another tidbit I'd read recently in a book called The Tools, so revisited that...  

"Avoiding pain wouldn't be a problem if we did it once or twice a year.  But for most of us, it's a deeply ingrained habit.  We barricade ourselves behind an invisible wall and don't venture out because beyond the wall is pain.  The safe space is called the Comfort Zone...  The Comfort Zone is supposed to keep your life safe, but what it really does is keep your life small."           

Again, a shot to the chest.  Granted, some would say this entire trip is a bit outside of most people's comfort zone.  However, it would be easy for me to consider the issues of late as a journey outside of my personal comfort zone (current comfort zone being - riding with no issue, perfect weather, having an idea of where I want to live and what I want to do, no crime related issues, having an income, etc).  This morning I looked back on previous 'outside the comfort zone' moments in life.  I thought long and hard about some of them, and was reminded that while challenging at the time, "at the end of the comfort zone, life truly begins".  That said, I'm not ready to hang this journey up just yet.  In fact, I feel like it's just beginning.  I know as soon as I'm done I'll long for the freedom and adventure that I'm experiencing currently.  I don't want to take that for granted, I want to soak in every moment.  I know I'll look back on the 'issues' that arose and smile.  I know the hard parts will be the most memorable, and the moments where I learned the most.  

After working with several companies and people over the past few weeks, I've gotten the bike back up and running.  As you read in the last post, although difficult, the issues as of late have been resolved.  Yesterday I spent the entire day at the BMW dealership here in Lima trying to solve the final outstanding problem with the bike (stalling/cutting out at low speed - stuttering/surging at medium speed).  While we didn't get it fixed entirely, we did rule out the fuel pump/fuel filter as the issue by checking fault codes and cleaning the entire assembly.  Today Sam and I went to work removing the charcoal canister on the bike, which is a U.S. only feature to trap evaporative fuel vapors from the tank.  However, if this gets clogged it can cause venting issues with the bike. So, we performed a 'canisterectomy', and I'm happy to report that both owner and bike are doing well after the surgery (note - we did find that there was a venting issue, and the can was full of fuel, gunk, and liquid).  In addition to the removal, I've reset the EFI, changed the air filter, checked fault codes, cleaned entire fuel pump/filter assembly, and took apart, cleaned, and replaced the fuel cap assembly to check for vent leaks.  I also bought some injection cleaner today here in Lima and will cycle that through the next few tanks of gas.  Needless to say, I'm hoping I've resolved the last of the issues.  It's one thing to venture slightly outside of the 'comfort zone', an entirely different thing if the bike stops running in a remote/isolated area of Bolivia...  That my friends could be considered (in Archer voice) the 'Danger Zone'!!! All jokes aside, I'm headed into the most isolated/tough part of the trip, so I need to ensure that the bike will run reliably.  

Now that the bike is semi-buttoned up, I'm ready to continue the journey south.  I'll leave here Monday and head through Arequipa, Colca Canyon, then cross into Bolivia after exploring Titicaca from both sides of the border.  In Bolivia I'll do the Yungas region (Death Road, etc), and will then head south for some very isolated rides all the way to Potosi, the mines, and to/through Salar de Uyuni.  After all that, I'll cross into and explore northern Chile and Argentina, and will then shoot down to Buenos Aires.  I've done a lot of research and will probably utilize Dakar Motos to assist with shipping the bike back to the States.  However, before that happens, I have a lot to explore, and I'm sure PLENTY of opportunity to become very uncomfortable.  Something I'll do my best to learn from and try to enjoy.  

A life of comfort is appealing.  This is why people stay in jobs, relationships, and situations that they aren't happy in.  Unfamiliarity (i.e. being uncomfortable) scares us, and this fear of the unknown is what limits growth.  For some reason society thinks that personal comfort is the meaning of life.  I for one won't forget the importance of being uncomfortable.  Because for me, that's where the gold is.  That said, it's time to flip the lid closed and ride on!!!  

Thanks for reading, 

~ D

***Post edit*** - I'd like to say that I don't under appreciate how incredibly fortunate I've been throughout my life (both past and present).  I know I've had many, many opportunities and good fortune along the way that has allowed me to live a lifestyle that many would envy.

I don't want to come across as selfish when I talk about my 'past life', like I don't realize how amazing things were (or are for that matter).  I just want to stress the point that, without constant effort/change/lack of fear to branch out, a life of comfort and monotony can seriously limit personal growth and well being (in my opinion - which may not even be worth $.02).  

Also, I'll share one final thing.  My father wrote a few notes to me the other day.  I love and cherish receiving advice from him, and respect most everything he says.  Figured others might get something from it as well.  

Wisdom from pops (my personal zen master)...  
  • There is nothing bad about comfort, or desiring comfort.  Be grateful that you have comfort.  Enjoy the comfort that your education and hard work afford you.  Just stay awake, don't take it for granted, and don't be lazy.  Invest excess energy in your family, hobbies, volunteer work, job, etc.  
  • Don't chase 'happiness' as the goal.  Happiness will come and go.
  • Do look for jobs, hobbies, and relationships that are compatible with your personality, goals, and your gifts.  This is where satisfaction comes from. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Machu Picchu, Cusco, Puquio, Ica/Huacachina, Lima... Phew!!!

***Edited to include video....***

Tuesday, May 27, 2014
First off, thanks Stephanie B. from Omaha.  I'm glad you are enjoying the blog, and the donation will keep the wheels rolling just a little bit longer, which is much, MUCH appreciated.  

I last wrote from Cusco, which means there is quite a bit to catch up on.  Cusco turned out to be one of my favorite cities on the entire adventure.  It's clean, full of history, beautiful architecture, friendly faces, enough of a party if you want one, and of course one of the best bars around (Norton's - thanks again Yahira for the pint the night before we left).  I had a blast hanging and exploring the town (and nightlife) with Sam, and my friend Caroline (my beautiful and fun Irish friend I met in Granada, and randomly linked up with in Cusco).  Not to mention it's the stopping point before Machu Picchu, which was amazing.  I know, I know...  Thanks Captain Obvious!  It really is a special place, and I'm sure everyone knows everything they need to know about it, but don't miss it.  Definitely worth the crowds of people and challenges to get there.  Due to the bike issues, we ended up not doing the hidroelectrica route unfortunately, and took the traditional gringo cattle route via bus, train, then bus.  Not bad, but a bit much to squeeze/do in one day. 

Speaking of bike issues, I have a couple of 'thanks' for getting those all buttoned up.  First, the folks at Motoviajeros in Lima.  Ivan, Johaan, and Inés all helped in getting a new Heidenau rear and fork seals shipped two-day to Cusco via Cruz del Sur.  They were incredibly helpful, provided a fair cost for the parts, and kept in touch frequently to ensure everything went smoothly and arrived.  I'm not sure if it's standard for them to ship parts like that, but if you are in need of anything for the bike, please look them up.  They are also a Touratech distributor, so if you need any accessories while in Peru, they're the ones to see.  

The other major 'thank you' goes to Alex at PeruMotoTours.  Alex helped communicate with Motoviajeros, drove me two-up over to Cruz del Sur once the parts arrived, and allowed the use of his shop to get the bike fixed up.  Again, all at a very fair cost.  We ended up straightening the rear wheel, putting on a new chain and sprocket set, replacing both fork seals, and spooning on the new rear tire.  The only issue, we found that my front wheel bearings are shot, which is another story.  Basically, we got everything back together, but left two things for Lima.  The fuel pump issue, and the newly discovered front wheel bearing problemo.  Regardless, we took care of the pressing items, and I'm writing this from a cafe in Lima, which means that I arrived with no issue.  Thanks Alex!  If you are in Cusco and want route info, bike repair, moto rentals, and/or very fairly priced tours, look no further.  

Sam and I had amazing rides from Cusco to Lima on both paved and dirt roads.  The route from Cusco (back up and through Abancay) to Puquio took us up and over mountains, around thousands of curves, by beautiful high altitude lakes, huge groups of llamas and alpacas, and loads of scenery that I'll never forget.  Not to mention sunshine the entire route, which is a rarity as you near Lago Yaurihuiri from what I understand.  The next day was the highlight of our riding together for sure.  We left Puquio around 8am and immediately found ourselves climbing higher and higher on 26A.  Before we knew it, we entered Reserva Nacional Pampa Galeras, which was stunning and full of vicuña, which are slightly smaller and more skittish versions of llama/alpaca.  Apparently endangered because of their sought after fine wool, with numbers down to ~6k in the 70's, the vicuña have made a comeback in/around the reserve with numbers around 350k currently.  From there, with frost, snow, and temps around freezing, we descended into the desert (by way of Nazca) and ended the day surrounded by some of the biggest sand dunes in the world (after f'ing around making fresh tracks in the desert along the way).  We parked the bikes and slept in Huacachina for the evening, which is an oasis in the desert, and can be seen on the back of the 50 Peruvian Nuevo Sol note.  And then this morning, we dusted off the bikes and made the ride from Huacachina all the way up to Lima.  

I've had a blend of emotions over the past few days.  Mostly elation and extreme happiness, but also tough and challenging moments due to bike issues, and a number of other things.  Having Sam around has been a nice reminder of home, and I've had an amazing time riding through parts of Peru with him.  I love sitting back and hearing him talk about his adventure here, and am glad I could be a part of it.  However, and in no way is this his fault, having him here has been a bit of a reminder that I do have a life back home that needs tending to at some point.  Great conversations with him, and others over the past few days, have brought up several negative thoughts/emotions/reminders of my past life, the way things 'were', the way they are 'now', and several fears looking into the future (what the hell is next?, am I being selfish/reckless with this whole adventure?, etc).  I feel a bit hypocritical as I gave a nice girl advice the other day that she thanked me profusely for.  She was telling me that she wanted to travel more, but was concerned that her future career would limit that (keep in mind she was telling me this in Peru, whilst traveling).  I found myself explaining to her that she can't forget to "appreciate the now", and that she "can't worry about a future that doesn't even exist".  And now here I am doing the exact same thing.  Oh the perplexities of life...  Interesting, you strap a helmet on and it all seems to come rushing through the head.  Anyway, like I said it has mostly been mint, but it can be trying at times (at least for me).  I met a guy today on a motorcycle that drove down from Los Angeles.  His intention was to make Tierra del Fuego, but said he was currently working on the bike because he was going to sell it here in Lima.  I asked him "why the change of heart?", and he simply said, "I'm tired".  Needless to say, I understood exactly what he was saying.  However don't get me wrong, I'm still having the time of my life, and I'm not ready to stop the grand adventure just yet!  I will say taking this trip makes me appreciate the folks that I've met along the way that have been at it for 2, 3, even 6+ years (Jeffrey P / RideForPeace)!!!  

Tomorrow I plan to wake up early and go for a jog around Miraflores and the beaches nearby.  After the MUCH needed exercise, I'll be driving the bike over to the BMW dealership here in Lima.  I'm hoping that we can pull the fuel filter and pump, and that they'll magically assess and be able to repair the issues that I've been experiencing with the bike.  I'm fearful though as I'm wary of dealerships, and I've heard mixed reviews of the one here.  Then again, maybe I should heed my own advice (AGAIN), and quit worrying myself to death about it (the future) until the time comes.  In any event, the problem needs to be resolved as it continues to get worse.  Sporadically, and more frequently as of late, when I come to a stop the bike will die.  This happens in neutral and first with clutch pulled.  I'll start it, run for a bit, come to a stop again and...  cuts out.  I can tell when it's about to happen as I can feel it surging/stuttering when lightly on the gas.  Sounds like a new fuel pump is in order, and I'm hoping it's just that simple.  I guess we'll see tomorrow.  It has gotten more and more frequent, and more severe over the past week.  I changed the air filter, reset the EFI, and have received advice to reverse polarity to the fuel pump.  Haven't checked venting in fuel cap assembly yet, or looked at fuel pump/filter.  I'm hoping we can all do this tomorrow together at the dealership.  Having experienced watchful eyes over me while I do mechanical work is always a good thing.  I'll be sure to report my experience at the dealership after we're done there.  

Let me fast forward to the future...  yeah yeah, I know...  doesn't exist yet.  Anyway, Sam flies out on the 30th, which gives us a couple more days together.  We'll explore Lima, and then once he is gone, and assuming the bike is all dialed, I'll continue the journey south.  I'm still planning on Bolivia, Chile, then Argentina.  The remainder of my route through Peru should lead me through Colca Canyon, Arequipa, then into Bolivia around Titicaca.  I have a rough route planned, but any advice is always appreciated (i.e. choice roads, small towns, good lomo saltado, whatever).  All that can be sent to my e-mail address -

The riding and scenery here has been absolutely spectacular.  I crossed paths with a girl a couple of days ago who is running the opposite direction I am (she south/north, me north/south).  She was telling me about some things in Bolivia she had seen that sounded unreal.  I can't wait to experience them.  That said, I'm gonna slam the laptop shut and enjoy the present here in Lima with Sammy.  I think we're off to gorge ourselves with yet another massive Peruvian hamburger.  Did I mention that jog tomorrow is long overdue???

Hope everyone is well back home...  Chat soon, 

~ D

Monday, May 19, 2014

Enjoying a Pint @ Norton's | Cusco, Peru...

Monday, May 19th, 2014

First off, let me start by saying RIP to Jeff Powers, founder of Norton Rat's Tavern in Cusco.  I've read about this place for years, and have looked forward to the day where I would ride up and enjoy a pint.  Well here I am, bike parked outside, having said pint, and figured it would be a good place to post an update.  Jeff opened Norton's 17 years back, but was unfortunately killed in a motorcycle accident this past November near his home in Tarapoto.  I didn't know Jeff, but after reading for years about him and his pub on ADVrider and various other sites, know he was a special man, and someone I would have cherished to have met.  Here is a touching memoriam written by a fellow ADVrider.  

I feel like an absolute idiot.  I struck up a conversation with the bartender, and her name is Yahira.  Turns out, after several minutes, it dawned on me that she is Jeff's late wife.  After apologizing profusely for drudging up past memories, she told me to "stop", and insisted on helping me find assistance with my current bike issues (fork seal, rear tire, bent rim, etc), and we chatted for some time.  Seems that the inviting, motorcycle friendly vibe lives on here at Norton Rat's Tavern.  For those who haven't been here, please make it a stop when in Cusco.  It may sound silly to some, but it was equally important for me to be here at Norton's as it is for me to take the trek to Machu Picchu while in the area.  Signing the bulging guest book, that dates all the way back, was a real honor and pleasure.  And the food ain't bad either!  

So yeah, we made it to Cusco...  and boy are my arms tired!  And legs, body, bike, and spirit.  But, I'm excited to be here and happy that I've come this far.  Yesterday marked six months away from 'home', and the ride couldn't have been better to celebrate the day.  The road from Ayacucho to Abancay was long, but full of beautiful scenery and fantastic dirt roads.  We intended to stop before Abancay, but were making good time, so pressed on.  I will say the last hour was a bit of a slog, but who can complain from the back of the saddle? My bike continues to hiccup from time to time (hoping as easy as a replacement fuel pump, which I'll sort in Lima), and the other 'issues' are becoming more of a concern.  The fork seal has really gone, the rear tire I'm sure won't last until Lima, and although working and holding air for now, the bend in the rear continues to be top of mind while riding.  I have feelers out with several people to take care of the issues over the next few days, and have trust that it will all work out just fine.  That leaves me with comfort and a sense of relaxation, and I'm looking forward to setting up a home base here in Cusco for some much needed R&R, and exploration of the city, Machu Picchu and the surroundings the next few days.  

We'll be here for three or four days, and will head south/southwest/west through Puquio, Nasca, Ica, Pisco, and then finally Lima.  Before all that, and assuming I can get the issues buttoned up with the bike, we'll take the route N/NW and will park at the police station for the hike into M.P. from the back.  Any recommendations on that, and any other routes near/through the Sacred Valley are much appreciated.  All that can be sent to my e-mail address here: 

So that's it for now.  Figured I'd keep it short and sweet, but will post a few pictures, which everyone seems to be enjoying.  

Ciao for now, 

~ D

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Mountains, Friends, Crashes, & Kicking Taxi Mirrors in Peru...

Saturday, May 17th, 2014 | Ayacucho, Peru

Six months away from 'home' tomorrow...  

First off, a HUGE thanks to Ed S. from Denver.  He read over the entire blog in one sitting, and sent over a very generous donation this morning.  I don't fancy myself a good, or even decent writer by any means, but apparently I gave him some inspiration (a "kick in the ass" as he put it) to make some changes, and fuel to continue planning his own adventure beginning next year.  Anyway, thanks Ed!  That, and the few add'l donations from others (Tyler G, Peter E, etc) will keep me rolling for a few more days...  ;)  

Let me start off by saying that I have a LOT to cover since I last wrote.  I believe the last entry ended just after Cañon del Pato, which means that I've ridden through the following. Huaraz, Huanuco, Oxapampa, Huancayo, and Ayacucho.  The riding has been incredibly arduous, but now that I have my mate Sam here the days go by quickly with much laughter, fun, and antics.  

However, It's not all roses at the moment as I've developed some bike issues that require attention.  My rear tire is shot, which is interesting as I spooned it on in Bogota.  The first set of Heidenau K60s got me almost 10k miles.  This rear has lasted just over 2k and looks like $hit.  Granted, I've been riding like a maniac, and the roads in Peru have been mostly rocky dirt.  I think I'm running the pressures too high as well, which may not have helped matters.  I thought running around 38'ish in the rear would help the notorious K60 flattening.  Not only is it flatter than a tractor tire at this point, I think the higher pressure is hardening the carcass, which is wearing it out quicker.  Anyway, any recommendations for a new rear in Cuzco is much appreciated.  In addition, yesterday morning I woke up to a flat rear thanks to a HUGE nail.  Sam and I went to work and were able to get everything buttoned up rather quickly.  

The fuel pump (I think) issue continues to plague me.  There is no rhyme or reason to it (i.e. full/empty, low/high altitude, cold/hot temps, etc), but the bike is cutting out when stopped or at low revs on occasion.  I've swapped the air filter, reset the EFI, and checked for venting issues within the fuel cap assembly.  The only thing remaining to look at is the actual pump itself.  

Another issue that came up during the ride yesterday was that I now have a huge bend on the left side of my rear wheel.  I hopped a curb to get across a street, and the buttery soft, worthless stock Behr rim folded.  Apparently my f'ing F800GS ADVENTURE can't handle the exotic adventure of a small curb hop.  Awesome product BMW!!!

Finally, as we were riding yesterday I felt something 'off' with the front end/handling.  The bike was tracking unusually through turns, small bumps felt more severe, and at low speeds the front end wanted to wobble.  I pulled over, and as suspected, there was a problem.  The left fork seal had blown and was pissing oil.  I tried the fancy ole' insurance card trick to clean out any debris, which actually seemed to make it better, but after another severe dirt road the oil was dumping yet again.  So again, any recommendations of shops in Cuzco are VERY MUCH appreciated.  

As I've said before, Peru is equal parts pleasure and pain, beauty and ugliness, Heaven and Hell, etc.  It's amazing passing through dingy towns like Tarma, and then spending a few days in beautiful cities like Huaraz and Ayacucho filled with beauty, culture, cuisine, and character.  The roads are the same...  one minute you're stopped for hours at a landslide, fording a river like in Oregon Trail (hope I don't get dysentery!), spending hours to travel short distances over/through mountains, and dodging dogs, potholes, speed bumps, and crazy drivers.  Then you suddenly find yourself on pristine smooth gravel overlooking epic countryside or carving down a perfectly paved/clean valley road.  It's wild here!  Exhausting riding, but amazing.  And at the same time, a miserable journey at times.  Confusing for sure.  

Although the riding has been challenging, and has made for some very long days, the scenery has been diverse and amazing.  After Cañon del Pato, I didn't think roads could get much better.  However, with help from Toby (Around the Block Moto Adventures - Huanuco), I've been able to piece together some amazing routes.  For example, the road between Huaraz passing over Parque Nacional Huascaran was unreal.  Almost entirely dirt, before I knew it I was at 16k+ feet staring at wild horses, indigenous farmers living in grass huts, heavily snowcapped mountains, alpacas and other wildlife, and never-ending deep valley vistas.  The diversity is astounding as well.  Just days ago I was freezing cold, and yesterday Sam and I were riding through Arizona-style desert overlooking sage, cacti, and sweating our tits off.  The variety of everything here is full for sure.  

As with everything else here, my moods and emotions have been rapidly changing.  I've shed tears of joy at times, and have been miserable and pissed off as well.  For example yesterday, after a flat, blown fork seal, engine issues, worn rear, bent rim, $hit drivers, and not much sleep/rest, I couldn't be bothered to chat with locals asking the same questions over and over (where are you from?  what type of bike is that?  how expensive is it?  how fast?).  Normally I'm very chatty, take pics with the young girls (Sam and I feel like a celebrity at times), hang around and chat, share some candy, and ask questions and take pics for myself.  Yesterday was a different story.  

Another interesting thing happened yesterday.  I'm hesitant to tell this story as some might judge it as hot-headed.  Anyway, as we're leaving Huancayo pulling through a large intersection, a taxi driver decided he had to turn right at the last minute from the far left lane.  Not only did he swerve and cut off a car, but he cut off Sam, and then just barely missed nailing me as he cut me off as well.  I honked and gave a one finger salute.  I was gonna brush it off, but he gave me a 'salute' back.  I was already hot and fuming after the flat, so I thought to myself, "I'm not letting this one go".  I kicked the bike down a gear, whipped it right, and fired myself down the road.  I pulled up next to him and gave him a piece of my mind in broken Spanglish.  That would have been enough, but he waved me off nonchalantly and then swerved over towards me!  Well, I'd had enough, so I rolled off the throttle, kicked my right leg up, rolled back on the throttle, and allowed my Sidi boot to clear right through his left side mirror.  As I made a U-turn and made my way back to Sam and the main road, I noticed a cop and several guys standing outside a tienda.  They had seen the entire thing and were laughing their asses off and giving me thumbs up.  Score one for the gringos I guess!?!?

We made our way to Ayacucho yesterday with the intention of staying one night.  However, we arrived at sunset and it took some time to find a hotel with parking, which was exhausting.  We are well over budget at Internazionale Hotel, but it has secure parking, really nice rooms, and we've decided to camp a couple of nights coming up to offset cost.  After hitting the town last night (read - metric $hit tons of Cusqueña cervezas, fun conversations and dancing with locals, and bar hopping all over town), we both woke up this morning and immediately decided to stay another night.  It's not a bad place to post up for a rest day as the city itself is beautiful.  It has a confident, but relaxed vibe, and the locals are all very chill and friendly.  Apparently, this was ground zero for Shining Path back in the 80's/90's, so tourism here still isn't at high levels.  In fact, we've only seen one other 'gringo' around town since we've been here, which is quite nice actually.  Then again, being stared at like an alien (or celebrity depending on your mood) can get a bit old.  I didn't do much research on Ayacucho before getting here, but after seeing the countless number of beautiful, grand churches, some of which were built in the mid 1500's, I've fallen in love.  In comparison to most other cities I've visited in Peru, I don't even feel like I'm in the same country.  Make this a stop if you find yourself traveling through Peru for sure.  

The next few days we plan to work our way east to Cuzco.  Most likely through the usual stops, which are Andahuaylas and Abancay.  Once in Cuzco we'll probably ride around a bit, explore the city, then ride north, park at the police station, and take the trek down the railroad tracks to hit Machu Picchu from the backside.  Hit it from the back!!!  (Sorry, I'm a bit delirious today after last night)...  Anyway, I think that's all for now.  We're gonna head out and grab almuerzo (lunch), and then do some exploring around town.  

Again, if anyone has recommendations for places to get the bike worked on in Cuzco or surrounding towns, please pass along here -  After exploring for a bit there, we'll be making a huge loop back southwest, west, then northwest, then north up the coast where we'll end in Lima.  From there Sam flies back Stateside, and I continue my trip south through Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina.  

Ciao for now amigos.  Keep the rubber side down, and always remember, you can't have the good without the bad!  

Stay fly, ~ D