Sunday, July 27, 2008

Everything can be fixed, right?

Hello everybody! Yes, I am still alive and I am still out there traveling on my motorcycle Stybba. Right now we are in Cusco, Peru trying to recuperate from a streak of bad luck!

We got to Peru a couple of weeks ago at Lake Titicaca. Then we ended up in Arequipa for two weeks, where I took some Spanish classes. It was a wonderful time with good company, good food and a movie every once in a while. But after two weeks as a city dweller it felt great to get back up on the bike and do some riding. And the ride up to the Colca canyon was great for that. After Arequipa the road starts climbing and there are great views of the volcanoes Misti and Chachani. Before getting to Chivay, the city at the entrance to Colca canyon, it gets a little chilly on top of a pass at nearly 4900 meters. I had decided against staying in Chivay and wanted to drive the 58 Kilometers to the end of the canyon in Cabanaconde. I was hoping it would be less crowded there.

Sure enough there is hardly any traffic on the way there. It is a good dirt road and we were cruising along just fine. Then I thought I had a flat. At least the bike felt like I was having a flat. So I pulled over and checked the tires. But no flat. Strange? Must be the road or me not being used to dirt tracks anymore. So I drive a little further. No, something is defiantly wrong. I barley manage to stop without crashing and check the bike again. No flat tires, but the frame is broken and not just a little fracture, but seriously broken in more than one place right underneath the steering wheel. No way can I ride the bike anymore. It is still a good 10 kilometers to Cabanaconde and more than 48 Kilometers back to Chivay. And of course not another car in sight.

But then two Swiss guys showed up: Stephanie and Tobias. They were on a walk back from the Viewpoint. They said they would go to Cabanaconde and send a truck back. So I settled down, put all my clothes on and waited. It got dark and cold and the moon was just starting to come up behind the mountains. I had almost decided to pitch my tent when I heard a truck coming. Sure enough it was Tobias and Stephanie with the local police in a tiny Toyota pick-up. By moon-light we heaved the bike on back of the pick-up. It did not fit of course, but we tied it down as good we could. I stayed on the back of the truck with poor Stybba and we were in for a bumpy, full moon ride down to Cabanaconde. To my surprise we did actually make it. I was frozen solid but nothing had fallen of the back of the truck. For now there was nothing else to be done, but unload the bike, find a place to crash and wait for tomorrow.

Next morning I had a look at the bike and was convinced the trip was over. There is no way this can be fixed! Funny thing happened at that moment: I had been feeling kind of blue lately. Unsure as of what to do next and feeling sorry for myself, because I was traveling alone. But now confronted with a possible end to the trip, it was crystal clear to me, that I did not want the trip to be over. There had to be some way to get back on the road again!

Cabanaconde is a little place out in the middle of nowhere. There is not much there, but people dancing and singing in the street. There always seems to be some party going on. But I did find a welder and he was willing to come have a look at my bike. Nevermind all the parties and the fact that today was Sunday. He was convinced he could fix it, but he said the problem was binding everything back into a place so that he could start welding. In the end it took a big crowbar and tree men but eventually we did manage. At least it looked like it just might hold. I gave it a try. The bike still felt a little funny, but nothing I couldn't get used to. Things were looking up. I am still worried though. This is the second time the frame broke and not because I crashed, but because of metal fatigue. No telling how long it is going to hold this time and where it is going to break next. Having to worry about breaking the frame every time you start down a deserted dirt road, kind of defeats the purpose of the trip. So I think I will have to see about putting a new frame on my bike. But for now I think I can make it to place like Cusco, where this might be possible.

I stayed a couple of days in Cabanaconde to hike into the canyon and have a look at the condors before heading of in direction of Cusco. I had decided to take the direct backroad instead of heading back to Arequipa and the paved road to Cusco. But of course I was still worried about the bike. I can’t remember how many times I stopped to look at the welding to see if it was still holding. No problem there, but when I stopped on top of a pass with a good view, for once not to check on the frame but to get an orange out, I noticed that the bag with my tent was missing! No telling if it had fallen off, or if somebody had stolen it in Chivay while I was out shopping. The bag was gone! Shit! I drove all the way back to Cabanaconde looking for it, but of course in wane! No more tent!

Next day was a long day riding. I did make it to Cusco and was super happy to have made it here. On the campground I ran back into Thomas and Katharina, two bikers I had first met at the hot springs in Fiambala, Argentina. Also Helmie, the owner of the campground let me borrow his tent, until I can figure something out. Live is good! I hope for now my streak of bad luck is over. And after all, everything can be fixed, right?