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SUPER STAR!

We are proud parents of a wonderful dog named, Bentley. He  has been the most loyal, loving, trusting dog we have ever had. He is loved by so many people around the world. He has brought smiles to many faces and joy to many children. His presence has attracted people to us that would have never approached us otherwise.

I can not think of a better tribute to an amazing dog than this!

Please enjoy this clip of Bentley’s interview for a T.V. show on pets in Ecuador. 

http://www.ecuavisa.com/articulo/mascotas/81408-bentley-perro-que-viaja-motocicleta

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ADIÓS AMIGOS

All good things must come to an end!  With much thought over the last month and a review of time and cost we have decided that this is the end of the road for now. The considerations were due to a number of things. Since we really took a lot of time exploring each country, we are unable to get to the southern tip of South America until some time in December. Scott´s goal was to look for a place along the way to live that would be in a clean and healthy environment away from the political mess in the U.S. For me, in my heart and soul, I must come home.  My momma is aging and I want to spend every moment I can with her while she is here.  I want to spend more time with my Grand babies.  So for those reasons, Scott is going to stay here in Vilcabamba, Ecuador and apply for his residency visa and Bentley and I are going to fly home.  We are going to explore living a “long distance” marriage and try to visit as much as possible. Eventually, I will join him.  For now, we will work on making it work. Vilcabamba is an incredible place that is full of beauty all around you.  It is tucked in a valley that is protected from bad weather and has even temperatures year round. It is a very small town with the city of Loja only 40 minutes away. We have rented an apartment that has a studio apartment downstairs and a one bedroom upstairs with a full view of Vilcabamba and the surrounding mountains. 

I will be flying out of Ecuador on September 17th. For those wondering about the health of Bentley flying, I want to assure you that I am going to make it as easy on him as I possibly can.  We are going to fly directly, nonstop from Ecuador to Atlanta, GA (5 hours).  There will be no plane changes for this boy! There I will be meeting my youngest son, Aaron and we will rent a car and drive 4 hours to Savannah to visit my oldest son, Christopher.  Am I super excited about that!  OH YEAH! After ten days, we will drive back to Atlanta and have another 5 hour direct flight to Portland.  Then the adjustment of the new changes for us will begin.

We crossed into eleven countries in almost 10 months of traveling. The last one being Peru. We went as far as Lima to get our new back tires. We decided to forgo Machu Picchu this go around. It would have put us on the road for another month and we were ready to settle down for awhile before I have to go. We feel very accomplished and proud in making it this far. All the beautiful photos made this trip look easy.  For this “girly-girl”, it was tough more than not, but I have no regrets.  It was an amazing journey, a trip of a lifetime.We have learned many things along the way about ourselves, each other,  the different cultures and seeing the beauty that lies beyond the United States. We have pushed past fears, (and believe me, there were many), pushed passed judgments, made amazing friends and met amazing people. We have learned to be more tolerant and more patient. We got to experience amazing food and mostly not so amazing food.  In Colombia, we got to experience more exotic fruits than you could ever imagine.  Every country, we experienced the nicest people who were always willing to help us. The best part of this trip was taking, Bentley. Everywhere we went (and I mean it when I say, everywhere) he would draw people to him, to us.  Kids, people who were afraid of dogs, the elderly. We were stopped constantly and approached by people who would probably never have approached otherwise.  We would constantly hear, OH, QUE LINDO, (cute) PELUCHE (teddy bear). Taking him, was easy.  He is such an incredible dog. He got to explore more back country and sniff more smells and than any dog I know.

Thank you all so much for your love and support. It helped in so many ways, from getting through homesickness to staying connected to friends and family.

We will put more photos together and videos to recap our adventure. So stay tuned……

 

Hanging out at the border to Peru

The road to Huaraz, Peru

Lima, Peru

A very special thank you to Motoviajeros Perú  for helping us out with our tires!  They were fantastic, accommodating and went above and beyond for us.

Lima was a big city, full of traffic.  We heard over and over that it would be awful riding through the city. Although it was true, for me, nothing compared to Bogotá, Colombia!

We also got to see our dear friend, Jeffrey once again.

 

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Ride from Trujillo to Huaraz, Peru

First couple of days riding in Peru was through the desert.  Miles of sand with no life.  As we passed through the little dusty villages, I could only imagine how tough life is here. The only animals were goats, and lots of them. TONS and tons of garbage, I think the most out of all the countries.  We had just left two countries that were so beautiful and green.  As we were riding for miles and miles of this, we wondered if it would get better….

We found a great ride to Huaraz on gravel roads with the river in the canyon for miles and more tunnels than we could count. 

Make sure you go to settings in youtube and put it on HD. 

Enjoy!!

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WHERE ARE WE NOW???

ECUADOR! We are now all the way through Ecuador and I have not made one post since we crossed over from Colombia! So sorry! There has been a lot going on this last two months and between poor internet and a few other things, it didn’t happen. Since we are crossing into Peru today, I thought I should probably get this up to date. This is going to be a long one, so get your coffee, or your wine or whatever, have a seat and enjoy!

OTAVALO, ECUADOR  Famous for its market and surrounded by incredible volcanoes and mountains. We stayed at a beautiful place called, Hosteria Rose Cottage.  Perched on top of a hill at approximately 9000 ft, with the most incredible  views. We spent 6 nights there. (buy 5 and get one free)

While in Otavalo, we went on two amazing hikes. The first one started at Mojando Lake, which was approximately 12,450 feet. We climbed to the top of Mt. Fuya Fuya, two kilometers straight up to almost 14,000 feet. For Scott and Bentley, they sailed up the mountain. For me, it was a sore reminder of my smoking days as I was trying to breath. Every 50 feet or so, I would have to stop and get my heart rate down to continue. Step by step, I eventually made it to join them at the top. WOW, the view was incredible.  I would say, it took my “breath away”……..okay, that was stupid, lol.

Cuicocha Crater Lake, similar to Crater Lake in Oregon with the Island in the middle, is approximately 10,000 feet which we hiked the very next day! My thought, as I was hearing my trainer/friend, Mike Leboss; “it would be good to hike the next day to break up the lactic acid build up in your muscles from the first hike”….Wow, not so much! The trail around the lake was beautifully maintained and the views were spectacular!

QUITO, ECUADOR. Hosted by a wonderful couple, Alfonso and his wife.  Alfonso was trying to get as much information and photos about Bentleys cage to have one made for his 1200GS and faithful yellow lab, Willow. They showed us around the city and fed us incredible meals. We, of course, had to visit the “Equator Monument”. We didn’t come this far to miss that! We know it is not the actual line, but didn´t care.  We were there!

CANOA, ECUADOR. One week of sand, sea, sunshine and Español. When we arrived, we were surprised to find adventure moto rider and friend we made along the way, Cory and his girlfriend Andrea. 

AYAMPE, ECUADOR. Still needed more of the Coast and school and heard this was a good place to do that. Stayed one month. We had two nice surprises during the month.  Our “pal”, Jeffrey stopped by on his way through and we had a great breakfast together.  Then at the end of the month, our friend, Johnny came. We had some nice visits with him and we all went on a whale watching tour. That was incredible.

GUAYAQUIL, ECUADOR. We would have bypassed the big city of Guayaquil but we were invited to come stay with a super nice couple, Gabriel and Margarita. Upon our arrival, I was hit with a whopping cold that had me down for a couple of days. They gave us a great tour of the city, took us to Playa. (more beach time) We went to another amazing beach town called, Engaboa.  Great surfers paradise. 

BAÑOS, ECUADOR. We decided to ride West to this little town with Gabriel and Margarita. Famous for their mineral baths.  It is tucked in this little valley and off to one side is a massive and very active volcano. Along the way we stopped to tour Ingapirca ruins.

Just a silly little video of our very, very small room in Baños

CUENCA, ECUADOR. Gabriel and Margarita rode with us and stayed one night before heading home. We stayed in the most luxurious hotel that was $48. a night on Booking.com called Forum Hotel.  It was probably one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed at.  We had all our heavy bags, tires, helmets etc. taken to our room.  We were given a nice little hot drink upon check in. Hot water bottle under our sheets at night and chocolates.  Hot shower! Bentley was treated like “one of the guests”. We had the BEST breakfast included in our fee was unlimited Americanos, eggs, bread, yogurt and granola and fresh fruit, topped off with a tall glass of juice. Incredible. We seriously did not want to leave!

On our ride to Vilcabamba, we had a little stop for lunch.  This is typical for small towns throughout Ecuador.

VILCABAMBA, ECUADOR. Known to be the “Valley of Longevity“. People are documented to live over 100 years old here. It sits in a valley surrounded by mountains.  It is green and lush and an even warm temperature all year long. We absolutely loved it.  There is a nice little “expat” community here, nice little restaurants and nice people.  We stayed in a place up the hill from town called Izhcayluma. Our little Cabaña had a great view of the hillside and yoga studio that offered free yoga every day.

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MORE COLOMBIA

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HEADING SOUTH OUT OF COLOMBIA

From Bogota we went North a bit to Medellin. We didn’t have a place lined up (which was unusual for us since we are traveling with Bentley).  We went to a popular place where adventure riders go called the Shamrock Irish Pub, hoping to see if they would help us find a place to stay. When we arrived we were greeted by a man, Glen Short, fellow world traveler, http://www.madaru.net who we had met briefly in Cartagena. We were also greeted by Andrew Lord.  I had been facebook friends with Andrew since we rode to Mexico in 2012 only we had never met. I had no idea that he was there.  It was a great surprise and furthermore, they rented rooms above the bar and had one room left.  All was well. 

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We rode South to one of my favorite places on the trip called Salento.  It is in the Coffee region and absolutely beautiful. We stayed at a Hostel, La Serrana in a private room with private bathroom for $45. a night.  It was one of three rooms in a house with a living room with fireplace and a kitchen.  We felt like we had the whole house to ourselves.  The view was incredible and we hated to leave!

We hiked to the Coffee plantation for a tour with fellow world travelers, Gary and Elizabeth Gray  www.capepacific.com

We took a four hour horseback ride to a beautiful waterfall.  Our guide was the sweetest man who loved and cared for his horses. We did a very tough ride through mud and rocks and several rivers that had big boulders to get through.  We scaled the steepest trail I have ever been on that had huge rocks, concrete on the super tight switchbacks and lots of mud. Those horses were incredible.  Didn’t even break a sweat.

Cali, Colombia

As we rode into town a cab driver pulled up next to Scott in very heavy traffic and quickly handed him a note. When we got to the Hostel, this is what it said….

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We met a nice couple in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico way back in the beginning of our trip, Maria and Henry. They live in Colombia and go to San Miguel every year for three months.  So when we got to their town, Popayan we met them again.  They had us over for a wonderful dinner and the next day a tour of the city.

The Hostel we stayed at was right in Parque de Caldas, in the main square  of the town.  We had the best room that had big windows that looked out into the park.  The Cathedral was right next to us and on Sunday morning we were blessed with beautiful singing wafting through our open windows.

We left Popayan for one more overnight stop before crossing the border to Ecuador.  I would not even mention the place, however, like everywhere we have been there are so many really nice people and in this town called Pasto, we again, met an awesome couple.  

As we were packing our bikes to leave a nice man stopped to talk to us.  His name is Jaime and he rides a V Strom.  As we were getting ready to leave we noticed that I had a flat back tire with two nails in it. Jaime says; “I have a gas station 300 meters from here”, so off we went. We arrived and were greeted by his lovely wife, Angela.  We had a great visit while the guys fixed my tire and upon leaving they surprised us by buying our gas!  Amazing, kind people.

One more stop we had to make before crossing the border was to visit an incredible Cathedral called Santuario de Las Lajas in Ipiales.

GOOD BYE COLOMBIA.  Thank you for showing us the flavor of your amazing country, the people and the food!

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CENTRAL COLOMBIA CONTINUES…..

On our way to the big city of Bogota, we stop in a little town called,The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá (Spanish: Catedral de Sal de Zipaquirá) It is an underground Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine, 200 meters underground. The temple at the bottom has three sections, representing the birth, life and death of Jesus. It was awesome.

We continued on to Bogota,  a gigantic city with motorcycle riders EVERYWHERE, weaving in and out of traffic from all directions. Wherever there is a spot to get around cars, that is the spot you take.  Left shoulder, right shoulder, in the middle, on the sidewalk……(okay, the sidewalk part is semi true) I found myself watching out for the motorcycle traffic as much, if not more than the cars! It takes “lane splitting” to a whole new level.  One day, riding with our friends, Salvador and Jeffrey; I was overwhelmed by the traffic.  I told Jeffrey, this is so hard and it is freaking me out.  He said in his “Zen” voice….”it is the Colombian way”.  If they want to Tango, I tango. If they Waltz, I Waltz. I love that man! So…I did the Tango! LOL

We just arrived in Bogota and these girls were so excited about us they wanted to sit on my bike and get a photo

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We heard from a lot of people that they didn’t really care for Bogota. We were told just about every day by someone to “be careful, it is dangerous”. We are not usually parcel to big cities, but we really enjoyed this city on so many levels.  

First of all, we met some amazing people.  Joan and Luz who were in charge of the wonderful Hostel we stayed at,  called Explora. They did not allow dogs, but when they saw Bentley they couldn´t resist and snuck him in.

We also met Salvador and Paulo, who live in Bogota.  Salvador saw us from his apartment window and being a KTM rider and a motorcycle adventure enthusiast he did some research and found us on a blog through ADVrider and sent us an email wanting to meet us.  Awesome couple and have turned out to be really great friends.

 We met up with some of our friends from the Stahlratte, David (somedaynevermaybe.com)  and Nina and my pal, Jeffrey Polnaja (rideforpeace.net)

We were able to really enjoy the amazing “traditional foods” from this country and super cheap.  Anyone going to Bogota, try Mama Lupe’s,  they served incredible soup called Ajiaco which is traditional from Bogota and the best Arroz con Leche ever! (I can hear my friend, Paulo laughing right now because all of our conversations seemed to have Mama Lupe in it).  This city has some of the most incredible museums and the Museo de Oro (Museum of Gold)  is the most beautiful one I have ever been too.

 

We took the tram up (and hiked back down) to Monserrate, a mountain that dominates the city where there is a church with a shrine that was built in the 17th century.  It was awesome and it overlooked this massive city.

 

We took a wonderful morning hike with Joan from Explora Hostel and after, she took us on a private tour of one of the fruit stands and showed us all the beautiful exoctic fruits of Colombia.

Scott had a fantastic ride one day with “just the boys”  David and Jeffrey

Salvador, Jeffrey, Scott and I went on a ride to the only race track in Colombia to see a famous Motogp rider, Jorge Lorenzo. He was there to release the new Yamaha motorcycle.   We got there pretty early and the only entertainment before his arrival was Moped races (I am serious)  or on another track there were kids racing go karts, which had our interest a lot more! We got bored and decided to leave on  a beautiful ride instead and of course, we passed Jorge as we were exiting the gate!

  We left on our final ride out of Bogota with Salvador and Juan as they rode with us all the way to Mariquita. It was an amazing ending to our time in that amazing city!

   We got a lovely invitation by Joan from Hostel Explorer to stay with her in her vacation home, halfway to Medellin, which was our next place to visit.

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CENTRAL COLOMBIA

Heading south, we stopped in San Juan del Cesar. We knew that our friend, Johnny (who we met on the Stahlratte), was staying in that town, but we did not know where. When we arrived, we pulled over to try to find a hotel and this nice man (Edward) came over to ask us if we needed help. (This is a common occurrence in just about every country that we have been in.) We told him we were looking for a budget hotel, so he gets on his bicycle and says; follow me.  He takes us to a hotel and who comes walking out, Johnny.  It was amazing that out of all the hotels, he takes us to that one!

One of my favorite things from this town is realizing that in Colombia it is very common to have soup with your breakfast.  I happen to really love soup. We ordered a breakfast of eggs and she brought out two big bowls of lovely soup.  At first I thought, did I say Huevos wrong….then shortly after, she brings out our eggs with yucca. (another very common food here)

We typically get surrounded when we stop by curious onlookers. Here we are buying gas from a road side vendor.

I love this moment. We are at a station getting gas and this sweet man comes over and wants to know where we are from, curious about Bentley, and if we like Colombia. As we were getting ready to leave, I handed a “Bentleys Big Adventure” sticker to both him and the attendant.  That sweet man smiled ear to ear and was so grateful that before I knew it, he had me in his arms giving me the biggest hug ever! Then we are hugging the gas station attendant too! FANTASTIC!!! Life is so great.

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Barichara, Colombia. A sleepy little village nestled atop a plateau. No one is in a hurry here. Lovely little shops of local artisans and a beautiful church at the top of the hill. Once again, we stop to try to figure out where we are going to find a place to stay and the nicest man came up to talk to us.  He spoke perfect English, his name is Oscar. He pointed us in the direction for hotels and we were soon to become friends.  The very next day, Oscar and his lovely wife and two children took us on a walking tour of the town. and on the second day, Oscar took us on a hike on the “historic” path to a small village called, Guane. He said that we must go early in the morning because by afternoon it is too hot.  In the early morning hours, he said; that is when it is “delicious”. I just love that! He was right, it WAS delicious.

Our final stop before the big city of Bogotá was Villa de Leyva. Oh, how I loved this little town. First of all, we had been traveling in 90-100 degree weather since El Salvador.  Long time! We got to within 40 miles of the town and it started to rain.  First time since Guatemala.  We arrive at the most beautiful place to stay up on the hill above the town called Colombian Heights/Hostel Renacer. We camped for the first time since the beach in Mexico. It felt so good to put on warm clothes for the first time in months.  We also met back up with our friends from the Stahlratte, David and Nina.

This little gem of a town was where we really got to taste the amazing “traditional” foods of Colombia. Lot´s of beautiful soups, wonderful little rolls made of corn and cheese and the most exhotic fruits in the world. Of course, I can´t forget to mention the best coffee in the world.

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STAHLRATTE: ARRIVAL TO COLOMBIA

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NORTHERN COLOMBIA

Okay, we are now in Medellin.  Behind on our blogging again and with some prompting from our really great new friend, Salvador in Bogota to get busy, I am at work. This our route up to date.

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Cartagena is the first city we arrived to in Colombia.  COOL, cool, super cool city! So interesting from the Cities history to the buildings to the wall that surrounds it. I won’t go into the history of why the wall was built, but it is a quick read in Lonely Planet and very interesting.

We stayed outside the walled city in Bocagrande.  A good long walk or a quick taxi.  Due to the intensity of the heat, we did a bit of both! We stayed in a great old (budget friendly) hotel above a mall called Hotel Pueblito Playa.

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The owner, Brian was so accommodating and helped us with anything we needed. Before we even got checked in, Brian brought Bentley a big ol bowl of water.  The hotel was a work in progress, but clean and we had a great breakfast every morning.

 After a few days we moved out of the busy city to the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Paso del Mango. The road to get there was a bit hairy the last 100 meters. In Colombia, they have “moto taxis”, which is a little motorcycle that you get on the back of and they take you on all the roads that a vehicle can´t go on. It´s pretty genius! It turns out that they have them in many towns and cities in Colombia. We arrived at  a  wonderful, most peaceful, most relaxing place called Ecolodge La Bonita. This is where we had the BEST food of our trip so far. The owners were gourmet chefs and we were graced with their great food, delicious wine and fresh colombian coffee delivered outside our door every morning.  It was so hard to leave!

  We had one more stop in the Northern part of colombia before heading South. We needed to get to the beach, one more time! We were told about Finca Escondido. It was not a farm but a hostel on the beach. They offered camping and for the first time since Belize, we set up our tent. It was a pretty nice place until the second night they had a band play from 10pm until 3am. That was a rough night!  Needless to say, we left the next day. 

We now head to Bogota with a few stops along the way……..to be continued………

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