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Monday, May 5, 2014

Adios Ecuador y Hola Peru!!!

Sunday, May 4th...

After almost a month in Canoa, the time finally came to close that chapter.  I really enjoyed my stay at Canoa Beach Hotel.  Greg, the developer/owner/manager, has done a fantastic job of creating a real oasis amongst the bustle of the town.  I met a lot of great people at the hotel and around town.  Greg and I got on well, my new buddy Chris and I partied it up pretty hard a few nights, and there were several others that made my time in Canoa pretty phenomenal.  There were even a few discussions about potentially heading back eventually to take on a permanent gig at the hotel.  I thought long and hard about it, and am still doing so.  Canoa grows on you, and it wouldn't be too difficult to post up there for quite some time.  For now however, there is still a LOT of the world to see, ride, and experience.  So, onward I ride!!!  

The final week at the hotel was extra special, as Nina and her friend Helena arrived and were able to spend time there with me.  We had an awesome time, laughed, explored secluded beaches and caves, and Nina and I were able to have some quality time and long meaningful conversations.  I care for her deeply and it was an unforgettable week for sure.  We certainly met at an inopportune time, and continuing a relationship will be a challenge.  Her being in Germany, and me currently traveling with no end date in sight, and no clue where I'll actually end up.  Alas, we enjoyed our time together immensely, care for each other a great deal, and have agreed to continue communication to see where things lead in the future.  Only time will tell, but I definitely won't let her slip away from my thoughts anytime soon.  In fact, I owe her a message this evening, which I'll send over after finishing this post.  

Although I was busy with 'work', my time in Canoa provided a lot of time to be alone with my thoughts.  I didn't go there solely with this intention, but I was able to gain a lot of insight and feel that I gained some perspective, and real personal growth.  I met an older guy named David the other night in Cuenca, who has traveled solo via motorbike extensively through South America.  He read through my blog and sent over a nice message last night.  He said, "an observation from afar.  You seem to be exhibiting a very important quality (maybe the most important), 'basic trust'.  This allows moves in one's life that are not for security or to get something.  Basically, it's an attribute which allows one to think 'I'm okay, and a part of the world'.  'I will be okay, and will have enough of what I really need'.  This 'basic trust' allows great possibilities.  Little is lost in trying to construct a secure future, which was a dream anyway.  An interesting question one should ask often is what do I really need right now?, and what would it do for me?"  He followed this by talking about the 'negative' things that were drivers for my journey (i.e. job stress, stepfather's illness, divorce, etc).  "Nothing happens without stimulation.  In a way, one's worst enemy is comfort.  Comfort is fine, but it contributes little if anything to growth".  So much for dwelling on the past, time to move on and enjoy the grand adventure at present.  

I also met another nice gentleman in Canoa named Richard.  He and his family have been traveling through South America for the past three years in a nice retrofitted moving truck.  We had some long conversations about what really allows people to find happiness in life, amongst various other deep topics over several pints.  I'm not sure I can pinpoint it, but something happened to me in Canoa.  I am much more at peace with myself, my surroundings, my life at present, and the world in general.  I'm not as concerned about things 'working out' perfectly (whatever that even means), and haven't been as anxious or worried as I was before, and during the beginning of this adventure.  It's almost as if I was supposed to swing through and spend time in Canoa...  like some sort of kismet forced me there.  Whatever the reason, I'm glad I went, glad I spent as long as I did, and glad that I developed the friendships that I did.  It really reenergized me, and has prepared me for the next few months of travel.

So speaking of travel, I met a couple of guys at the hotel named Mike and Jack.  They are older expats living in Cuenca, and invited me to swing through.  I hadn't really planned to go there, but it turned out to be on the way to Peru.  I left on Friday and stayed for the weekend.  Mike's place is really nice and the hospitality was phenomenal.  Mike if you are reading this, thanks for everything!  That first night Mike, Jack, and I decided to head out for a night on the town.  We started out by grabbing some Italian food, then over to a German bar for our first mojito (of many) of the evening.  From there we ended up at a live music event (more mojitos), then over to a cafe/bar called Coffee Tree (you guessed it, more mojitos).  While there, we ended up meeting up with a few lady friends of the guys who invited us to a club for some dancing.  So that's exactly what we did.  Many (MANY) more mojitos later and we ended up stumbling home around 3am.  Seriously, those guys may be a lot older than me, but they know how to have a bender of a night out!  We had a real blast, and I enjoyed my time chatting and laughing with them both.  

The next day I toured around Cuenca, which turned out to be a pleasant surprise for me.  The town is absolutely beautiful, and has a very European feel, with tons of outdoor bars/cafes, galleries, history, beautiful architecture, and a blend of nationalities milling about.  Getting to Cuenca however was a different story!  When I left Canoa on Friday morning it was 87F and sunny.  As I crested the mountain in El Cajas Nat'l Park just before dropping into Cuenca, it was raining, 35F, and there was a thick fog restricting my vision to about 50ft.  It really was brutal.  In fact, as I was pulled over on the side of the road at one point, warming my hands behind the exhaust, it dawned on me that it was probably the most painful stretch that I've endured so far.  It was colder in northern Mexico, but I was dressed appropriately.  I wasn't wearing my cold weather gear, as I really didn't consider that within 5 hours the temp would drop 50+ degrees, and dump freezing rain on me.  I've said it once (or about 50 times), and I'll say it again...  you can't have the good without the bad!  As I reached the highest point in Cajas, the fog cleared and provided me with stellar views of rocky peaks, wildlife, beautiful lakes, and tundra as far as I could see.  Then before I knew it, I was down and away from the pain, and rolling into Cuenca.  

This morning I woke up early, and after saying goodbye to my Mike, headed out on my way to Peru.  I made it, which means that I've traveled close to 14k miles, have been away from home almost 6mos, and have been in 11 countries thus far on the journey.  The ride was long, but fairly uneventful today.  The most exhilarating part of the ride was dodging knuckle headed Peruvian drivers along the way (and I honestly didn't think they could get worse than Ecuadorian drivers).  The border crossing at Huaquillas was fairly easy.  I'm glad I read up on it though, as the Ecuadorian aduana is about 11km BEFORE the actual border.  When I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed an obvious fellow ADVrider and his KLR.  I had a brief conversation with Josh (, and although we only spoke for a bit, agreed to stay in touch to exchange info about people, places, and things north/south to see, and to avoid.  

I'm staying at The Point Hostel in Mancora Beach.  The property itself if nice, but a bit of a party palace.  If I were in the mood to drink, talk, and hang out with a younger crowd, it would be perfect.  Problem is, I'm not.  Doesn't matter much though, I just walked down the beach to the main area in Mancora (also quite the party) and had dinner.  Now I'm swinging in a hammock near my room, and will hop in bed for a solid 8hr sleep soon.  Tomorrow I'll wake up early and continue south to Chiclayo.  There is a small fishing village/beach called Pimentel that I've heard is nice and sleepy this time of year, which sounds nice and relaxing before I start my journey inland and then south to Huanuco (via dirt, back roads, Canyon del Pato, etc).  
Monday, May 5th...  

Well, the internets were horrid last night, so I didn't get a chance to post this until today, which means I have a bit more to add...  

I woke up this morning and hopped the bike south.  After an amazing ride through abandoned desert, I finally made my way to Chiclayo, and then slightly SW to Pimentel.  I'm staying at a hostel called Katuwira.  In most situations I can find a silver lining, but here it seems a bit different.  There is only one other guest aside from me.  There is parking within 'the compound' for the bike, which seems to be the only redeeming quality.  My 'room' (granted it's only $8USD) is missing a window, and doesn't have a locking door (or a door that even closes fully for that matter).  There is no electricity at the moment, and no running water.  Awesome!  Definitely a primitive environment.  If it was billed as 'primitive', I would be cool with it.  But it's not...  Anyway, it's only for one night, as tomorrow I'll continue on my journey and make my way to Cajamarca, which I've heard great things about.  

Today I ran into another ADV/overlander named Miquel Silvestre (  He is from Spain, had a beautiful bike (1200GS), and has apparently been traveling the world for the last six years via moto.  When I drove by him in the desert I almost crashed doing a double take.  There he was, off in the distance in a HUGE pile of trash filming and talking to himself, with his beautiful Bimmer in the background.  Turns out, he was filming a short bit for Spanish TV about the trash that blows through and plagues the deserts of Peru.  Like Josh (referenced above), he was headed north, and me south, so we only had a chance to chat for a bit.  We exchanged a few tidbits of info, and sent each other safely in opposite directions.  Miquel, if you read this, safe travels my new friend!  

Again, tomorrow I'll head to Cajamarca, which will start the inland journey south to meet my buddy Sam in Huanuco.  I've heard AMAZING things about the route that I'm taking and can't wait to get off the beaten path (i.e. PanAm Hwy, internet connections, Facebooks, Blogger, texts, WhatsApp, etc) and onto dirt, backroads, small villages, rad riding, and all that jazz.  Should be incredible (see pic of route below)...  

That's it for now.  I've found the ONLY internet connection in this small town, but apparently it isn't the place for a gringo to be wandering around in flip flops carrying a laptop.  So, I need to hit 'publish' on this post, slam the laptop closed, and hightail it back to 'camp'.  

I hope everyone is well back home.  Also, I hope everyone has a great Mother's Day!  I'll prob be without interwebs for the next few days due to the route, so I figured I'd throw that out there now.  

Chat soon...  Stay fresh, 

~ D

And a few add'l random shots from the past few days/weeks... 

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