From the oasis we went first to Lima to find a rear tire for Vasile. We found the KTM store (another one, not the one we went to on the way south) and Vasile was impressed. The shop was huge and they had everything in it, so he found a Continental Attack tire for $180 USD. He is incredibly happy with it, and he’s glad he didn’t buy a tire in Iquique. We were now regretting actually that we got a tire for my bike, as we got a Heidenau K 60 Scout 150, and we paid $300 (we traded in my used tire for $20) and I have to admit I am not very happy with it. It is a very good tire for off road, but on road it’s not too great. My bike vibrates now at low speed, which is not big deal and I got used to it, but it just feels weird, and it also makes my bike a bit lazier.
Now all set with new tires, we headed to the Amazon jungle. The ride was incredible, on twisty roads with pristine landscapes, going up to almost 5000 m altitude.
The road was mostly paved, but most of it was in very bad condition, full of big, deep potholes. There were so many that there was no point trying to avoid them, so we were just going straight through them. There were also stretches of gravel here and there. But the thick green jungle on both sides with beautiful colourful birds and butterflies was making the road not to matter anymore. We were so amazed and excited that we just felt we were in no rush to go through it.
From time to time we were stopped by groups of local volunteers who were protecting the road, for a donation. As it was for such a good cause, we always contributed (I think we had about 5 of them each day).
The locals were telling us that the road through the jungle used to be very dangerous due to road robberies and hijackings so now they have these volunteer groups who leave off donations and since they operate the roads are a lot safer. Not very safe, but better. After we heard all these stories, Vasile was never driving too far from me, not to lose sight of me.
And then the pavement ended. And Vasile decided to make his boots shinier with some boots cream
(we had just passed through some really deep muddy puddles).
We stopped to buy some fruit, and we bought “grenadinas” some really tasty fruit that we have never had before, and we were stuffing our faces with them right there. When he saw how much we liked them, the boy who sold them to us gave us a whole bag of that fruit at no charge. That was really nice of him.
As there were no gas stations on that gravel road, we bought some gas at a “grifo”, some very small gas station, but they only had 85. They had 90 in barrels. Good enough. Or maybe it wasn’t good enough: the gas had a very dark colour.
Further up, the whole traffic was stopped. There were some big landslides (no wonder with so much rain there) and they were working on fixing the road, therefore there was only one lane working.
We were told that the road would open at 6 pm. So we had to wait a bit over an hour. Surprising enough for Peru, at 6 sharp they opened the road. The landslides were bigger than we imagined, and for a long distance. We went for kilometres on damaged road, with mud and rocks. In the meantime it got dark. And it’s not a good idea to ride in the dark in Peru, especially not on a gravel road in the jungle. But we had no choice, and we were close to the next city, Juanjuy. And we did get there after only about 30 minutes of riding in the dark. We stopped at the first hostel (here hostel or hotel is the same thing, there is no difference) just to ask the price, thinking that maybe we would go to check some other ones too. And surprise: it was the best hotel we have stayed at in the whole trip! The price? 70 soles (less than $30) with breakfast included! It was the best value for the money. And it was a three stars hotel, incredibly nice and clean, decorated tastefully and with very good internet too. We could not believe it.
The owner recommended us a good restaurant, and even though it was just a few blocks away we decided not to walk, but to take a moto-taxi, just to help the local economy. The food there was more than incredible. I had the best beef I’ve had in my life, without exaggerating. After all the rough ride through the jungle was well worth it, we were pampering ourselves now.
The next day we rode to Tarapoto. We decided not to stay there, but to keep riding, and just explore the places, while we ride back towards the coast, on the north of Peru. On the way there was a road collapsed, and the traffic was deviated on a side.
We saw this guys doing free climbing on that rock. And then once at the top he tied a rope.
We got stopped by police three times in 15 minutes. Nothing major, just “Where are you coming from, where are you going, how was your trip so far, drive carefully and make sure you don’t drive at night”. Once they checked my papers too. We’ve seen a lot of police throughout Peru, but they never stopped us so many times. I guess there was a reason why there were so many of them on that road. But I have to admit it made me feel safer.
In this area the main occupation is agriculture. Lots of green rice fields on both sides of the road.
As there was no big town in our way and it was late, we decided to go out of our way about 17 km, to Jaen, and find a hotel.
And in our hotel room, I found another little friend, a blind one this time.
I have no idea how this bat got into our room. I opened the window, but he was flying around in panic and he didn’t find the window. So when he stopped exhausted and scared on the floor, I had to actually grab him and let him out the window.
Tomorrow we are planning to get to the coast and rest on the beach for a few days.