• Thursday , 14 December 2017
Playing tour guide in Peru

Playing tour guide in Peru

Over the past eleven months we have made many friends on our journey. At times we travel with other like-minded souls for a week or two then go our separate ways, never needing to say goodbye, only see ya down the road. In Peru we had the unique experience of having four friends fly in from New Zealand, rent motorcycles in Lima, and ride with us for two weeks. Easy peasy.

This is not a dead dog but is actually quite heathy. The Peruvian hairless dog, while not your classic beauty, is loved non-the-less all over Peru. The breed runs at higher temperature than normal dogs and the locals say they are the worlds best hot water bottle on a cold night.

This is not a dead dog but is actually quite heathy. The Peruvian hairless dog, while not your classic beauty, is loved non-the-less all over Peru. The breed runs at higher temperature than normal dogs and the locals say they are the worlds best hot water bottle on a cold night.

We were stopped for gas and this complex of sticks was clinging to the hillside next to the station.

We were stopped for gas and this complex of sticks was clinging to the hillside next to the station.

On the road to our campsite we had to cross a baby river but it was still a challenge keeping the "go to town" shoes dry. Caral Ruins, Peru.

On the road to our campsite we had to cross a baby river but it was still a challenge keeping the “go to town” shoes dry. Caral Ruins, Peru.

There are tour companies that, for a price, will lead a motorcyclist across a continent or from Alaska to Argentina, or even around the entire world. What a dream job, to lead an epic adventure to far off lands, getting to do a trip of a lifetime, and getting paid as well. WRONG. After our two weeks of guiding other motorcyclists we realize that leading groups in long-distance travel is hard work and can be stressful to boot. We will never again mistake these hardy expedition leaders as just having a lucky paid adventure.

Chris, Simon, and Tim getting the afternoon plan from the expedition leader. Shannon was like a ships's captain, dissent was not tolerated and her orders were law of the land.

Chris, Simon, and Tim getting the afternoon plan from the expedition leader. Shannon was like a ships’s captain, dissent was not tolerated and her orders were law of the land.

Miles of sand dunes surround the oasis of Huacachina. This was our second night as a group of seven and finding accommodations and secure parking proved to be a challenge.

Miles of sand dunes surround the oasis of Huacachina. This stop was our second night as a group of seven and finding accommodation and secure parking proved to be a challenge.

Some of the Nasca lines you can see from a platform next to the PanAmerican Highway.

Some of the Nasca lines you can see from a platform next to the PanAmerican Highway.

Nasca lines as seen from the cheap seats. The good seats involve an airplane and a fist full of dollars.

Nasca lines as seen from the cheap seats. The good seats involve an airplane and a fist full of dollars.

No one knows how very high altitude will affect them. The local remedy in Peru is coca leaf, either chewed or ingested as hot tea. Imagine raking the leaves in your yard into a tidy mound on a crisp fall day and then eating a large portion of that pile. Chewing coca leaves to get the same effect as a cup of coffee takes a lot of mastication and turns your teeth green. The novelty of the coca leaf experience ran its course with the gang by the time we got to Cusco.

No one knows how very high altitude will affect them. The local remedy in Peru is coca leaf, either chewed or ingested as hot tea. Imagine raking the leaves in your yard into a tidy mound on a crisp fall day and then eating a large portion of that pile. Chewing coca leaves to get the same effect as a cup of coffee takes a lot of mastication and turns your teeth green. The novelty of the coca leaf experience ran its course with the gang by the time we got to Cusco.

We met Simon in 1994 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and lived with him there for a spell. Over the years we met his friends Tim and Janine and we made a new friend this time around with Chris who joined the Kiwi contingent who flew into Peru from New Zealand. Clinton who we have ridden with from time to time in South America and is also from New Zealand was in Peru. We think Clinton’s curiosity got the better of him and he joined the posse as well. Plus he was actually from the same town as the visiting contingent.

Setting out, three of us were seasoned road veterans and four were fresh off a plane plucked from normal life and thrown into the clutches of unemployed, homeless bikers (us). Each member added to a riding group causes an inverse reaction to how much can get done in a day. Feeding, fueling, resting, pissing, and other shenanigans all cut into how many miles we could cover each day. A group of seven motorcycles is like steering an oil tanker in a crowded port.

Killing time at yet another road construction road closure. This one lasted a around an hour and a half.

Killing time at yet another road construction road closure. This one lasted around an hour and a half.

On the road to Cusco, the gang takes a moment to catch our collective breaths in the rarified air at 15,000 feet.

On the road to Cusco, the gang takes a moment to catch our collective breaths in the rarified air at 15,000 feet.

The high Andes are a cold and lonely place but people make a subsistence living grazing animals and growing limited crops that can survive the harsh climate at this altitude.

The high Andes are a cold and lonely place but people make a subsistence living grazing animals and growing limited crops that can survive the harsh climate at this altitude.

Some roadside stops are better than others. This pull-out had room to park six motorcycles, a view for the gang, and the bushes for Mike (who was battling a nasty gut bug).

Some roadside stops are better than others. This pull-out had room to park six motorcycles, a view for the gang, and the bushes for Mike (who was battling a nasty gut bug).

Still a day away from Cusco and the Andes are starting to look like the Himalayas.

Still a day away from Cusco and the Andes are starting to look like the Himalayas.

The final push to Cusco and the team is in high spirits as the day begins with donning warm clothes for the mountain pass we will soon cross.

The final push to Cusco and the team is in high spirits as the day begins with donning warm clothes for the mountain pass we will soon cross.

Our gang rode from Lima, down the coast to Nazca, inland into the Andes Mountains to Cusco, and finally rode as close as possible to Machu Picchu where we stashed the bikes in Santa Teresa and hiked the rest of the way to the famed Inca city in the clouds. Our two weeks together was an adventure in its own right. We enjoyed our time with friends and the novelty of riding as a group. We were proud of how well the visitors did. It is not easy being four novice vacationers thrown immediately into the routine of seasoned overland motorcyclists set in their crusty ways and already used to the daily shit storm of riding a motorcycle through rural Peru.

The Kiwi crew safe and sound in Cusco for a couple days of R&R before heading out again for Machu Picchu.

The Kiwi crew safe and sound in Cusco for a couple days of R&R before heading out again for Machu Picchu.

The charm and magic of Cusco has a way of getting under your skin.

The charm and magic of Cusco has a way of getting under your skin.

Original Inca stonework that the Spanish incorporated into their own buildings.

Original Inca stonework that the Spanish incorporated into their own buildings.

Many of Cusco's streets are too narrow and steep for motorized traffic.

Many of Cusco’s streets are too narrow and steep for motorized traffic.

Leaving behind the Sacred Valley on the way to Machu Picchu.

Leaving behind the Sacred Valley on the way to Machu Picchu.

The final miles before the Abra de Malaga pass were above the tree line and it got quite cold. There was snow on the hillsides.

The final miles before the Abra de Malaga pass were above the tree line and it got quite cold. There was snow on the hillsides.

Simon at the the top of the pass. When it was time to leave the cold, thin air at the top of the pass for warmer climets in the valley below, Shannon's bike refused to run.

Simon at the the top of the pass. When it was time to leave the cold, thin air at the top of the pass for warmer temperatures  in the valley below, Shannon’s bike refused to run.

The problem with Zippy was a bad wire connection inside the ignition switch. Mike and Clinton were able to manipulate the wire harness and hold it in place with a birds nest of zip-ties. It was enough to get us back on the road and eventually back to Cusco where Mike opened up the ignition switch and properly soldered the bad connection.

The problem with Zippy was a bad wire connection inside the ignition switch. Mike and Clinton were able to manipulate the wire harness and hold it in place with a birds nest of zip-ties. It was enough to get us back on the road and eventually back to Cusco where Mike opened up the ignition switch and properly soldered the bad connection.

Willing the bike to stay "fixed" so we can get on our way.

Willing the bike to stay “fixed” so we can get on our way.

In Santa Teresa, after returning from Machu Picchu, we were fortunate to witness the whole town come out for a parade. All the kids were dressed in traditional Peruvian outfits and danced their way around the square.

In Santa Teresa, after returning from Machu Picchu, we were fortunate to witness the whole town come out for a parade. All the kids were dressed in traditional Peruvian outfits and danced their way around the square.

The parade participants loved seeing their pictures on Tim's digital camera. The smiles and good cheer were infectious in Santa Teresa than night.

The parade participants loved seeing their pictures on Tim’s digital camera. The smiles and good cheer were infectious in Santa Teresa than night.

The last 15 miles before arriving in Santa Teresa is dirt track, including a bit of water to cross just to keep things interesting.

The last 15 miles before arriving in Santa Teresa is dirt track, including a bit of water to cross just to keep things interesting.

The Black Donkey grazing in an alpine field.

The Black Donkey grazing in an alpine field.

The Sacred Valley from above.

The Sacred Valley from above.

And, we are great tour guides. We didn’t lose anyone, we found a bed every night and secure parking, they had fun, and no one got hurt.

The brains of the operation with her loyal mechanic in tow.

The brains of the operation with her loyal mechanic in tow.

And, then it was done. We conquered Machu Picchu and the roads of Peru as a group of seven on six bikes. Fun!

And, then it was done. We conquered Machu Picchu and the roads of Peru as a group of seven on six bikes. Fun!

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