The first image of Peru was very disappointing to us, after the green beautiful Ecuador. From the border south on the coast it's all desert, nothing really to see, just very poor villages and a whole lot of garbage everywhere. And it's not even the poor people to blame, since there is no one to pick up their garbage at the door, as we have in the developed countries, so they just dump it wherever, and from there the wind takes charge of it.
Another thing we noticed, all the domestic animals walk loose on the side of the highway, and they cross it as they please, so we have to be very careful. You can see anytime a dog, goat, chicken or even pig crossing the highway at leisure.
So as we finished with the border crossing around 1:30 pm, we decided to keep going. Well, we didn't have much of a choice anyway, since most villages/ towns did not have hotels. We arrived in Chiclayo around 9:30 pm, very tired after a few hours of ride in the dark and once there Vasile noticed that his fork was leaking, so he had to fix it right away. Around midnight we were walking around to find a place to eat.
They do not have a lot of cars in Peru, but they have lots of these little moto-carts
The next day we washed the bikes (they so deserved it after all that mud) and here they are all shiny. My bike didn't look this clean since I left Vancouver.
The next stop was in Huanchaco, a little town on the beach close to Trujillo. Here we met again with our riding friend Chris and his girlfriend, Stephanie. It looks like we will be riding together for a while, so we started with an evening with lots of fun and laughter.
As we went south, it started to look every day better. Chris suggested we do Canon del Pato (Duck Canyon), a beautiful road along Rio Santa, in north-central Peru. We are glad we did it, the ride was spectacular!
And here is where we camped for the night, in the middle of the canyon. It was the most amazing campsite we have ever camped in. We made a protective wall out of our bikes, since it was very windy and all was good.
The next day we continued our amazing journey through the canyon.
In some places the road was so high that I was getting dizzy, I could not look to a side anymore.
There were lots of man-made tunnels on the road, some shorter, some quite long and as you can imagine with no lights whatsoever. The tunnels were narrow and the traffic was both ways, so in case the traffic meets in the tunnel, it gets quite challenging, someone has to back off.
We passed by an old abandoned mine.
The people in Peru are more than amazing. You don't even have the time to say that you need something and they all jump to help with anything. And you can tell they help with all their hearts. Here's a picture with some beautiful people in one of the villages we passed by.
As we were riding up we stopped to drink some water and an old guy came to offer us fresh mangoes. Then he invited us to his house to have some more and to eat if we were hungry. So we made a short stop, we ate mangoes straight from the trees and we saw all kinds of different trees and fruit that they have here.
Apparently the guinea pig is the biggest delicacy in Peru. We were offered, but we politely declined
The canyon ended in Caraz, a little town in the mountain. We decided to go to Paron Lake, the largest lake in Cordillera Blanca, at 4185 m altitude. As I was feeling tired and we did not know how the road was going to be, we left my bike in town (we found a nice old man who let us put it in his backyard for 2 soles) and we went two up. And I was so glad we did this, since the road was about 32 km of gravel and very loose gravel going steep up, close to the glacier. At some point the road was closed by a gate, and there was no one to open for us. Later on we found out that you cannot enter a national park in Peru after 3 pm. So the guys had to squeeze the bikes by the gate, on a very narrow edge by the ravine.
As I only had the mesh protection, I was freezing by the time we got to the lake. But it was so much worth it. The lake and the glaciers lookes beautiful in the evening light.
Up there we were greeted by two local people who were working at the water station. They made us feel more than welcome; they invited us into their modest shelter and we shared some glasses of wine (except me, I was afraid that this would interfere with my acclimatizing), some veggie sandwiches and a good laugh. Despite the rides at over 3000 m that we've done in Ecuador, up and down, since we never slept at high altitude, we were all feeling dizzy when we got there, but by the time we went to bed I was having a headache already. Over night it just got worse, and I could not sleep at all. Vasile suggested to start descending, but I did not want to overreact, I thought it would go away. Plus, I wasn't feeling comfortable with us descending in the middle of the night, just the two of us, on that steep loose gravel*road. I was especially concerned about the gate passing, since it was quite difficult even in the daylight. But when I started to feel nauseous, I finally realized that there was no time to waste anymore, and we started packing up the tent and started the descent. It was around 4 am at this time.
The ride went pretty smooth down to the gate, but at the gate it became more challenging. Past the gate, on the other side, there was a big rock, which was making the passage almost impossible. Vasile struggled to go around it, but the bike fell and caught both his legs underneath. As bad as this sounds, I was glad that it didn't go the other way, which would have meant they would have been both, Vasile and the bike, in the ravine. I was trying to help, but I couldn't have done much even in regular conditions, let alone now light-headed from the lack of oxygen. Vasile managed eventually to free one leg, and to push up the bike. Luckily he got away with some bruises only.
The plan was to get under 2500 m altitude and find another place to camp. But there was no decent place to camp further down, so we ended up in the city. Of course all hotels were closed at that time, so we were incredibly happy when we found one open, and they had rooms as well. To say that the rooms were basic is too much said, but we were happy that we could rest. We fell asleep for a couple of hours and we woke up in the banging and squeaking of some workers who were renovating the interior patio of the hotel.
Later on that day Chris and Stephanie managed to track us down (they stayed until the morning up at the lake). It's funny, out of the four of us I was the only one who didn't drink, and the only one to get altitude sickness. I guess the secret is to have some booze
As Vasile and I were really tired and didn't sleep much we decided to stay there for the night while they were going to camp by another lake in the area. We got together again the next day to continue our awesome journey south.