The next day we changed plans: instead of going to the beach in Peru, we decided to go straight to Ecuador and find a nice place on the beach there and stay for a few days. We left Jaen around 10 am and we decided not to turn around to Hwy 3, 3N, but to take another road going north-west, towards San Ignacio. The road soon turned to gravel and we realized we were not on the right way; that road was not going to San Ignacio. We missed a turn somewhere. We asked the locals, but they didn’t seem to know more than us. So then we decided to take the road we knew, rather than finding new ones, as it was much faster, and we turned around back to the highway.
As we were going on the highway at some point the left lane was closed, they were working on the road. There was a big truck in front of me. After the lane opened again, I was preparing to pass it, but the truck changed lanes, it moved onto the left lane. I thought they were probably turning left or they were stopping there, maybe they were with the road work team, so I continued on my lane. And then suddenly the truck changes direction and cuts me off. By now I was on the side of the truck. I had one second to realize what was going on and I knew I could not come to a complete stop in one and a half meter to avoid the truck that was cutting me off, so I swerved to avoid it. I thought I made it, but then I heard a big noise, a felt a heavy shock and my bike went sideways. The truck hit the back of my pannier, on a side and pushed me. I didn't fall right away, I tried to gain control, and I went sideways a few times, and it almost threw me over the handlebar. But then I remembered my last crash, and all I knew was that I didn't want to high-side again, so I pushed back hard with my hands on the handlebar and then I low-sided. I slid on the road for a few meters and the bike went even further.
At the exact same time there were two police cars coming from the opposite direction, so they could see everything that happened. They came right away to see if I was ok. Luckily I got away unharmed, with just a few bruises.
Vasile was in front of me, he had just passed the truck, and he saw everything in the mirror. He turned around in haste and came to me. My first worry when I felt I was ok was to stand up quickly to show Vasile I was ok, as I knew he would freak out. And he kind of scared the shit out of the driver and the co-pilot at he started screaming at them
As Vasile had the go pro on his helmet, and police thought we were filming, they had to take action. So they immediately took the driver into their car, took their documents etc. Of course they asked me if by any chance I filmed what happened. I told them I didn’t (later on I realized I should’ve said yes), but in the meantime Vasile turned his go pro on. And I didn’t need to film as I had them as witnesses, and they were police, no? One police car took me to the closest medical clinic for a check, while the other was dealing with the paperwork. After a doctor saw me for a couple of minutes he confirmed that I had no major injuries. By the way, here if you wear a helmet, they rule out any head injury off the bat, they don’t even look at your head. Thankfully in this case it wasn’t necessary, as I didn’t feel like I hit my head or anything. But I appreciated the care the police guys showed by taking me to the clinic and back. Now what was the next step? We had to go to the “comisaria”. Well, we cannot, as my bike is not in rideble condition right now. Basically, as a result of the accident, the visible damage was: one of my side panniers was completely destroyed, my stuff were all over the road; my windshield was cracked open on one of the low corners; my handlebar was crocked.
After Vasile calmed down, the driver (21 years old) and the co-pilot, who was in charge of the truck (he had driven all night long, and now he let the kid drive for a bit while he was resting) dared to come to me to apologize and to come to an agreement. They seemed to be very sorry about what happened. And they were still scared of Vasile
. They said they saw Vasile passing, but they failed to see me behind him. And all they could offer us was $100. The damage of my bike (visible at this time) was about $350. So then Vasile and I decided that $100 would not make a huge difference to us, but it would probably make to them. We knew we couldn't sleep at night knowing we took money from these poor people, even though it was their fault. So we told them that we didn't want any money from them. They were incredibly happy and thankful and they invited us to have lunch on them.
As we took a lot of pictures, and we filmed, police felt that even though we came to an agreement, and we didn't claim anything, we still had to go to the “comisaria” to fill out papers and stuff. I tried to explain to them that after having an accident all I wanted was to go somewhere and rest, but no, the law is the law, we had to go to the “comisaria”. So Vasile had to fix the handlebar on the side of the road to make the bike rideble. Also, we moved the remaining pannier on the back of my bike and we tried to squeeze everything in that pannier, in the black bag I had on the back of my bike, plus Vasile’s panniers. Unfortunately we had to leave our jery-can there, as we had no more room for it.
Once the bike fixed (at least temporarily) we went to the “comisaria”, about 60 km from there. Once there, they asked me to sign a report of the accident. Luckily I can read Spanish, so when reading it, it was saying that the truck went very slightly wider to the left just so it could turn better to the right. I got quit mad when I saw this, and I told the policeman that that was not the truth, the truck was actually completely on the left lane. It was one of those short trucks, camion, so it did not need to go wide to the left in order to turn right, and there was a big wide space on the side of the road on the right anyway. The truck had completely passed a continuous double lane to the left, and then to the right, without signaling at all. And I reminded him that he was actually there, so he must have seen that. “But this is what I meant on the report, that it went to the left” “But it wasn’t “slightly”, it was completely on the other lane” “So then you refuse to sign? I will write here that you refuse to sign” “No, I don’t refuse to sign, I just want you to put the right story” “Well, I cannot re-do it now” “Why don’t you put a note then, on the side” “No, I’ll just put here that you refuse to sign” I think this was convenient for the guys, as the truck guys tried to convince me before going to the “comisaria” not to sign that paper. Apparently if I signed it, it had to be investigated etc.
While I was having that discussion with that policeman, a commissar intervened and told him to add that I didn't sign because I did not agree with that description of the facts. Anyway, as I wasn't going to make any claim, it didn't really matter; I just wanted to make sure it wasn't going to turn against me. By that description it almost sounded that I didn't have patience to wait for the truck to pull over on the right, and I passed it by its right side, which would have been my fault, and that was not true.
But that wasn't enough. We had to go to a “Juez de paz”, something like a public notary, and make a written agreement that I do not claim anything. We did that too, and around 6 pm we were finally done with everything. It only took 4 and a half hours from the accident. I don’t even want to imagine what it would have been if I actually wanted to claim anything. First off, I don’t think I would've gotten anything, anyway. Police would have written in their reports whatever they wanted (I’m sure they didn't do that for nothing), there would have been declarations over declarations and nothing actually solved. An accident here is a punishment even if it’s not your fault, let alone if it is. I was really lucky (if I can say that) that police was there when my accident happened, they saw what happened and they couldn't really lie, even though they did try to make things smoother for the locals. But if they weren't there, I am sure the fault would have been thrown on us, as it usually happens with tourists unfortunately. But most of all I was happy that I was fine and I didn't have any major injuries. As Vasile says, I’m unbeatable, nothing hurts on me
Just some bruises on my arms and legs, a slight ankle pain and some ripped pants
And after all the paperwork, at the end of the day, a horrible headache.
We were just thinking, earlier that same day, how incredible it was that we went through all these countries with crazy traffic and we didn't have any accidents! I guess it was too early to think about that.
I am just hoping that the driver learnt something from this. He did promise me to be more careful in the future. I, for one, learnt that I should honk all the time, as they do here, to make them aware of my presence around them.
Now I really need to get to the beach and spend some lazy days there