Are you seeing a pattern here? Welcome to South America.
At one construction site I stopped and imagine my surprise to see a clone of my bike... same model, same color, same panniers: A true twin. Now, most of us doing the South American loop on a motorcycle tend to have something of an idea about who else is on the road through various web sites. We use these to give and get information, and meet up with other riders. So I was somewhat shocked to see a tall gringo woman that I hadn´t heard about standing next to the bike.
Sylvia Owen is a dermatologist from Montana, and had left Montana at about the same time I left Panama, so she was really hauling! When the construction site opened and they motioned us to continue, on we rode. Unfortunately, they had jumped the gun a bit and there was a string of dump trucks backing up on the one- lane road. We pulled over, a ditch and cliff to our right and trucks to our left, to let them pass (missing by inches). It was fine for the trucks, but then came a flatbed loaded with a bulldozer.
This caught Sylvia´s bike and I could hear her screaming in fear that she was going to be pulled under the truck. I was stuck and couldn´t do anything but blast my horn until finally the truck stopped after dragging her about 10 feet. Needless to say, she was more than a bit shaken. I persuaded her to come with me to Vilcabamba to ¨decompress¨, and on we rode.
Vilcabamba is a small village noted for the longevity of it´s people. It is a beautiful, tranquil place in the mountains. The hotel (Hotel Izhcayluma) was excellent, and the German owner Peter does a great job. I´m not a super fan of German food, but in this case the fare was excellent.
We also met Joseph and Doro, a German couple driving the most outrageous vehicle I have seen. Their ¨camper¨ was obviously made by the same company that made Rommel´s tanks, and they had driven it around the world for the last three years. I ran into them again in Peru... it´s hard to miss this thing.
Sylvia left after a day, and I stayed on. I´m getting really good at decompressing... not easy for what Karen calls a super-type-A personality. Oh well, I´m trainable, although I did have a bit of bike repair to keep me busy.