Below is a map of our journey, and it's pretty much a straight line through the mountains from Cuenca, Ecuador, through Loja, down to the Peruvian border (straight is a relative term since it actually zig-zags through the mountains). On our first round, we made it all the way past Loja, past Vilcabamba, until we came into Podocarpus National Park, where both the road and weather turned for the worse and the rain and mud made the going quite difficult. But we were able to get through a good part of it until we heard a snap from underneath us, and knew that something had gone wrong with the bike.
We were able to still ride the bike to the next village, somehow get it into a truck bed, and paid the kind driver to take us all the way back to Cuenca where there was a KTM dealership. It was a five hour journey, but we safely got the bike and ourselves to a place where things could be fixed. And for a moment, we thought our troubles were behind us.
So the next day we headed back up north to a large town called Loja, hoping they would have some of the right coolant in one of their many motorcycle and mechanic shops. We searched the whole of Loja, and finally learned that they don't. Luckily, we called the KTM dealership in Cuenca and they had some that they used for their large bikes, such as ours, but of course that was back in Cuenca.
Fortunately, someone in Loja knew someone else who was coming back from Cuenca the next day, and he would be able to bring us the special coolant that we needed. We thanked our lucky stars, and knew that we would only have to wait another day before we could be on the road again.
The bike wouldn't start again, and Tim quickly realized that our young mechanic friend had not properly hooked up the gas line to the tank. A simple fix, and soon we were on our way, back to the hotel, when Tim was trying to pass a truck and the bike died again.
Once again, we found ourselves on the side of the road, sadly standing beside a dead bike, and I couldn't help but think, “This is a curse. We're never going to get past this point." Tim thankfully did not share my doom and gloom philosophy, as he reattached the gas line to the tank, this time getting it connected just right with a reassuring “click".
And so once again we were standing on the side of the road, this time watching the air hiss out of our new back tire. But again, due to Tim's skills, he plugged the hole like an expert, and within ten minutes we were on our way.
It was tough going, but we've made it through what has been perhaps the most difficult section of our trip so far. In all honesty, despite curses and road demons, we have been very lucky.