We were quite confused, those first couple of days in Peru.
I expected people with funky hats over their ears, high mountains, freezing weather, lamas, roasted guinnea pigs on sticks and Inca ruins.
But on our first day in Peru we didn’t see anyone with a funky hat. They weren’t even wearing ponchos! Also, we were riding in dry, flat, low lands. Not that pretty actually. On the second day of riding we even got to a desert. Pretty cool, very interesting, but, what the fuck. They have deserts in Peru? Confused looks were exchanged and we did the thing that we do best: keep riding.
Peru’s coast, which we didn’t find particularly beautiful.
We did make friends however.
This period of dry landscapes instead of gorgeous mountains was extended by taking a wrong turn and riding in the wrong direction for 70 kilometers. Too stubborn to turn back, of course, so we kept going. Just as the scenery was about to get good!
In one of those cities on the coast, we met these two lovely ladies while driving in traffic. We were lost, and they were showing us the way. I forgot the name of the lady behind the wheel, but we prefer to call here Jane Rambo anyway. Jesus, that woman can drive that scooter like mad.
Just a quick stop at a mechanic. Seems legit.
Speaking of legit mechanics, our bikes are starting to look better and better.
If a zip-tie can’t fix it, it’s broken.
This actually holds Julien’s gas supply in place.
And this conspicuous contraption should make certain things better.
But how could we possibly have missed a turn? It might be that we don’t have a GPS. We also don’t have a map. That good-looking compass that I mounted on my handlebars? Doesn’t work. And since Julien’s watch stopped working a few weeks ago, we don’t even know what time it is anymore. Sailing blind. Livedeleven.com is rolling.
But fear not, we managed to get back on track. After a day and a half of low-land dryness, the mountains finally started to get big on our horizon. Very big. Before we knew it we were at 4000 meters altitude, in the gorgeous, stunning, intimidating Andes.
These rapid ascents and descents cause an insanely quick change in climates. Over the course of just 2 hours we have been in 30 degree sunshine beach-weather, then to 5 degree rainy Dutch autumn, only to return to a Californian spring at 25 degrees.
Fartling – To emit wind from the anus, in response to feeling sudden shock or alarm
“This day went by so quickly. It feels like only yesterday that I woke up this morning.”
This whole coastal adventure wasn’t the last time we took a wrong turn.
We picked a route to Huaraz by looking at a map we found online and picking the most squiggly lines, in theory the best for riding motorcycles. This went very well, with staggering beauty being thrown at us from left and right. Until the road turned into a slow dirt road, which didn’t look like it was going to turn into pavement anytime soon. We found some cops, explained our not so carefully stippled out route, and they informed us it would take us, via that route, at least 6 days on the dirt to get to Huaraz. Ouch. That morning we had just made our peace with the idea that we maybe wouldn’t get there the next day.
Time to turn around and pick another route: past San Tiago and Cabana. This too, would take us a few days longer than expected. But the Andes can change one’s perspective on trip-planning.
Peru is painfully beautiful. The one amazing view, mountain, cliff, whatever, after the other. So who cares if you’re taking a few days longer to get to Huaraz?
And the roads get quite crazy
I’m not sure what’s more impressive about the Andes: the quality or the quantity. There is so much Andes. Fun facts: being 7000 kilometers long, it’s the longest mountain range in the world. It spans through seven countries in South America, from Venezuela to Argentina.
Sometimes I wonder if I can ever get enough of all this. And then I cross another mountain ridge for the next view and I realize that that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
And that’s what we did. Seems excessive when you haven’t driven here, but trust me, on single-lane roads with multi-way traffic and plenty of blind turns, this saves lives.
On our way to San Tiago we met some dudes that were drinking beer on the street, getting ready for a saturday night. They were happy to point out that if we took this certain dirt road we would get there within just 2 hours! Woohoo shortcut!
Of course, it didn’t turn out to be 2 hours. We spent the next 4,5 hours battling through hail, rain, mud, river crossings and sketchy bridges. All the while getting lost in a maze of dirt roads without any signs, deep in the mountains of Peru. And it was awesome. And how glorious it was to finally arrive in San Tiago by nightfall, after beginning to doubt if the fucking town even exists.
The river that got the best of us and made us go ‘nah-ah’.
Luckily, there was a hidden bridge nearby!
San Tiago! It’s real!
It’s funny how I eventually managed to crash.
We had just spend a day and a half riding on dirt, after which we finally saw some pavement again. Sweet, let’s go fast! After a mere 15 kilometers, an unexpected tiny patch of gravel, hidden in the blind corner of turn, was my downfall. Dirt is okay, as long as you expect it.
Luckily, I wasn’t injured and the bike was doing alright as well. A small crack in the frame supporting my panniers was all. And in Latin America, a welder is never far away. We found a hotel soon after the crash as it was getting dark. Of course the hotel’s neighbor was a welder and he was happy to work on a sunday evening.
Listo! As good as new. That will be 5 dollars please.
The welder’s wife happened to run a restaurant, where we had spaggethi with all of the family. We were challenged to show some dance moves to the local Peruvian music. Challenge accepted. Challenge completed.
Recently all this mountainous beauty came to its pinnacle, in the form of Parque Huascaran, featuring the highest point in Peru. I will say no more and let the photos do the talking:
Met some Belgians! Truly hardcore. They biked from Belgium to Poland, then from Tanzania to South Africa, and now they were on their way from Ushuaia, Argentina.
All this mountaineering was coming to end though, as Peru’s coastal capital Lima was calling us to finally change our tires. Just having passed our 25,000 km milestone, a replacement was in order.
While changing the tires, Julien noticed his brakepads were also totally fucked. So we went on the hunt for some new ones, which led us to Christian, the owner of the bikeshop Endurance Motors. An amazingly nice dude. He didn’t only sell Julien the brakepads, he also invited us to come stay in his house for a night and have dinner with him. Dinner took place at a restaurant where a meeting was being held for an upcoming bike race. So suddenly, we found ourselves at a biker meeting. Life is funny.
Aftermath of the bike-race meeting. We rode with these guys after the meeting through the crazy traffic of Lima, by night. They are racers, need I say anything about how hectic that ride was?
Currently, we’re on our way to Cusco, backpacker party town to the bone. We’ve been on the road for almost 2 weeks now, after leaving Montanita in Ecuador, riding every single day. It’s still awesome, the landscape is not tiring, but I have to say my ass is getting sour and I’m longing to stay in one place for a bit, make some friends and get fucking hammered.
Now let me close this blogpost by posting that wicked GoPro video again, for completion’s sake.