13th October 1991.
It's possible! If I had to get from where I was to where I am, I would do it again but I'd prefer to find a reason not to need to get from where I was to where I am.
This one set a new standard for the worst road I've ever been on. It would be difficult to get a worse one. I can't believe the trucks can physically manage it but the tyre tracks are there to prove it. English "truckers" are a right load of cissies compared to this lot. As the road got worse and worse I kept thinking it could only get better but it got worse still instead. Some of it was literally just two ruts through the jungle. I asked everybody I could if I was heading to the right village - I had the names of four or five on the way as I could theoretically just about do it on a tank of petrol but the distances were different every time I asked someone. However, nobody said you can't do it when I said where I was going. In fact the further I got, people would say to me "going to Peru?" The borders of Brazil, Bolivia and Peru meet at the junction of two rivers and you can cross to whichever one you want, as long as you walk through the river. The tyre tracks went into the water on both sides and I wasn't about to go back so I started walking around in the water to check the depth. A local was telling me to go straight through where I was but I didn't know whether he was genuine or looking for a good laugh. He was genuine and I rode through no problem. I stopped on the Peruvian side, stripped off, got out the soap and shampoo and swam to Bolivia and back to Brazil for a while. The policeman in the village knew what a Carnet de Passage was and delighted in stamping it for me even though it should be the customs - not the police. I figure any stamp is better than no stamp as long as it looks official. An entry stamp is essential in the passport but it's not possible to get one 'till Puerto Maldonado - 150 miles.
I found an hotel for the night in a small town called Iberia but hadn't been able to change any money and nobody wanted Bolivian or U.S. dollars. I tracked down a shopkeeper who supposedly changed dollars but nobody had bought anything so he had no money. I eventually managed to persuade him to change 10 dollars which lasted me to Maldonado (including hotel, beer, etc etc). Iberia was quite civilised; although the buildings are wooden they have corrugated iron roofs instead of palm leaves and have electricity from a generator from 6.00 P.M. till midnight. The military post has an airstrip - quite a metropolis.
Next morning I set off at dawn to avoid the heat but after two hours had only done 15 miles and the heat was starting. Then I came to a river with no bridge and no ferry. It was too deep to ride through but the tyre tracks were both sides. I hadn't noticed the rafts! Two locals appeared and helped me load the bike onto a small raft made of six or seven logs tied together, with planks on top. Then they waded across the river pushing the raft. We had to do a second trip for the luggage, as there was too much weight. As it was with me and the bike the water was just lapping around my feet. They EVEN had a big raft, which can take a truck. Then I hit a new gravel road and was drifting along at 50 or so thinking life was wonderful when it finished again and the original track got worse and worse. There were half collapsed bridges, one with only two big tree trunks remaining, at truck wheel distance apart. That was dodgy as they were tree shaped -round - and I had to cross without slipping off the top of the curve. Luckily it wasn't too long. Then the track got so bad I thought I must have missed a turning and taken the wrong one, except that I hadn't passed a junction and the tyre tracks were still with me. Also, the sun was in the right place and I was heading due south, which was correct. I didn't have enough petrol to waste any on back tracking so kept on going. I lost it on one steep descent when I slipped off the ridge into one of the ruts. First time I've fallen off since Alaska. The way the bike was lying with the deep ruts I couldn't pick it up until I'd taken all the luggage off and I could smell petrol. I haven't moved so fast for a long time.
It gradually got better towards Puerto Maldonado but there was one last heart stopping river crossing to the town itself. I had exactly enough money left out of the ten dollars worth of Peruvian for a beer. Had to find a gold shop to change more for the second and third (this is also a gold rush area). It was Saturday and I couldn't get the passport stamped 'till Monday so I found a nice clean, safe (for the bike), 2 dollar hotel and then got pissed. Everybody in Maldonado has a Honda 70 step-through, I've only seen 4 cars but literally hundreds of Honda 70's and Honda 125 three wheel taxis and it's wonderful. I seem to be like some sort of god from another planet on the Tenere. I'm a celebrity again. When I eventually leave here, it's 300 miles of gravel to Cuzco where they have tarmac. The road goes from 250 metres above sea level here to 5000 metres then back down into the valley to 3300 metres. Inca territory. The trucks take 5 days mostly in bottom gear but I'm told I can do it in 8 hours. Pinch of salt needed there I think. Time to go out and eat (one dollar) with a nice Peruvian lady I met last night.