Sunday, 30 November 2008

into the hills - peru

1 Four nights in Lima and out. Jeffs on the missing list again. Matters of the heart this time. Eros uses a lot of arrows down here. missing me at the moment though. A good thing, coz of my time schedule. Mikes hungrey to get going. We all decided to ride together till The ends of Bolivia. We have different agendas from there. Lima is huge. A long city of different shades. I stayed in the miraflores light part. Walked miles around the darker centro. old colonial buildings again. mostly grey and peeling. smells of beef heart skewers in the smokey air. People all over. weathered smiles or cracked stares. Its all a lot to take in. Riding out took an hour or so. Follow the coast and ya cant go wrong. Back into the desert. The day is long and we do good miles. An hour before the notorious dark gets us, my clutch cable snaps in 2. Oh ! mike and i try all sorts of naive bodge jobs. nothing works. Ica, a historic town is only 5 or so miles away. A man and his mate pull up and mike asks them if they wouldnt mind sticking my bike in the back of their truck and take us to a mechanico in Ica. They agree, with a payment of 20 dollars. im happy with that. its that or i dont know what. After cramp in all limbs from staying stiff trying to hold the bike on the truck we get to a tiny mechanics whole in the wall, with a self painted honda sign above. a new cable and im away, in the dark to sleep at a parratt infested oasis named huacachina. sand dunes like sky scrapers circle this lagoon, where dune buggys fill peoples days with nut case driving and rolling, along with sand boarding and discos forever. Nasca isnt far now. we get there deciding not to fly over the lines, coz of the steep cost and after being told by loads that you cant get a decent view anyway. turns out thats a matter of opinion. I climbed a viewing tower and saw some sort of pattern in the surface . it dosnt matter what people think of them. this is a vast plain of dust with mysterious carvings covering that dust. Let the theories rain forever. mind you, Why would Aliens need a landing strip. surely if they managed to navigate here from 15000000000000 light years away, they could find away to actually land ! At Nazca im chuffed to see the road to cusco turns east up up and away again. the road is deserted. it carves its way around the yellow dunes soon to become yellow and brown rocks. vegitation shows up again, in stark cactus. straining for life. We roll high now, looking back at the pacific in the dusty distance. in the forground those dunes darkening by the falling sun. the direction we go is straight up. i know im above 4000 metres these days coz my moodyness shows up and i struggle to even get off the bike at a stand still. Im well low on gas now. a village turns up with the 5 local inhabitants all sitting on their steps. Gas comes from a shed in a lemonade bottle. its 84 octane but im pleased as a fat fish to see it, in all its dark brown wrongness. 10 miles up, the bike chokes to a stop. sheeeeet ! im stuffed now. we are very high. its freezing. breathing is very hard. But as luck would have it again. this isnt quite exactly the middle of nowhere. 3 buildings 100 yrds on the left . one large official delapidated building 100yards to the right. I cant believe that in one of these buildings is an old lady on her own and she has 1 gallon of 90 octane for me to buy. the universe works for me again ! one of the other buildings is ruined , no one home and the other has a charming mum and daughter outfit that sell everything a man needs in this raw place and likes to laugh at this soppy englishbloke, without a clue. I wish i could remember their names. mum is hard as rock, but can laugh like a banshee. daughter is only 6 i guess but isnt sshy and has had to grow up fast up here alone with just mum. She lights a parafin lamp after climbing chairs to reach it. These grubby cheeked kids i meet, have got right to me. lovable laughing interested little humans, who all grew up to quick. its too late now to move from here. this andian plain gets very impossible dark and even colder in the evenings. After coca teas we land at the official looking place opposite. it is a hostel of sorts. mike and me end up in this dark room, that resembles pure horror film. bats included. we screamed once and shivered the night away with almost sleep. What a sunrise. the land is all golden glowing felds. the sky is so so big blue and white. Alpacas blend in with the terrain and scare ya , sticking their necks into the roads, followed by a charge , just when a motorbike is on them. The road rises higher over the clouds then back down into the valleys. All climates today. ending up a night in abancay. a large town spread around a mountains curves. Cuzco tomorrow and machu picchu awaits. This road is one of the best riding i have ever ridden.

I met this bird right !

Huacachina parrat

.mum and daughter help me be a laughing stock up here very high altittude, syphoning dodgy 84 octane out. The bike has a real struggle above 4000 metres with teh lack of air. so when ya put low grade petrolin the poor beast hasnt a chance. i got lucky again up here to find the 90 i needed. was a pleasure spending a night with these 2 and this atmospheric land

next morning coffee and goodbyes.

Puquio - peru

the high plains . dont blink though coz this vast nothing can become a jagged high something in a flash of flame

looking down on the weather. not beng part of it yet.

desolate high andes

lalalalallammas, could be alpacas. im not sure yet.

Peruvian andes
the villages are all over and at any altitude

cusco suburbs

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Into Peru

The northern deserts of peru. Hot isolated and ancient.

A brief lesson in how to go very slow in a desert. best stick to the road simon !

Huanchaca beach. north of trujillo.

Through Aldo and Jeff we managed this TV interview in Trujillo. Jeff kindly translator again.

trujillo at just before dusk. a stunning colonial city.

trujillo colourful

me, mike, jeff, aldo, rosa maria & rosa maria jnr. A wonderful generous family. we had laughs and great food. i wish them all the best for future ventures

into the dirt east of of the pan american. these gents help us on our way in a right direction

rascal tarantula


the road up and up to pamparomas

leaving the hospidaje in pamporamas


pamporamas from above reaching into the 44oo metre zone

jeff of the andes

the road up. the villages and people change to the days of old

starting to strain for breath and control the strop`s

at the highest point and very slobbery knackered

its hard to get better than this.
oops. got cocky on the dirt. the back locked up in a corner. i danced with a ditch. alls ok apart from a split stomach from laughing

heading higher. the gravel is calmer here

up and up

cordillera blancas from huaraz

huaraz. the town were out on the streets.

Huaraz festivities

colourful and fun huaraz

These dogs are a common sight down here. apparently a favorite pet to the incas. no fur apart from a mohawk

blancas. high

coming down into the pacific once more

outside lima. they have made a road splitting the dunes

as above

the lima suburbs

Jeff has disapeared, his KTM taking him over the horizon into thin air. He had his own agenda for crossing the border. Mike and myself reached the border town of Huaquillas as dusk was setting in. The town was glowing with neons and live bands. People everywhere. the dust and sand of those pacific desert regions constantly dancing in circles, mini tornados. always in ya eyes and gumbs. No way was a crossing a good idea at that time. find a hotel till sun up. The hotel was in a dark part of town. we are told to get cabs if we are leaving the huge iron gates of the hotel. As it turns out the place was a pay by the hour lurvvvvve motel again. noisy all night, but i have got used to drifting in and out of sleep all and everynight. I met a friendly chap in the town that night, Santiago. A man very interested in the trip and in understanding fragile x syndrome. i chatted to him for hours, sittting on a curb side...... Sun up, we┬║re out and across a very busy border. no trouble what so ever. im used to borders now. no almost in tears stress. the peruvian aduana bloke was a laugh, we almost became mates. got ripped off with a moody 50 soles note. learnt that lesson early. the street cambio people are the rascals. The road south into northern peru is just a yellow orange, with a touch of hazy brown green vegitation here and there, kind of visual. roads that touch the horizon and seem to touch the skies limit. From the border to a city named Piura we rode, head down. angled into the strong cross winds and drifts. A new experience but one that lost its novelty quite quickly. Mancora came and went in its, surfers heaven way. wonderful hostels and hotels lining the pacific coast. A night in Piura, perus oldest city, then south again, through an even vaster desert. nothing here. yellow bleakness at its best. an odd house to the right or left, with an old car. men and women standing in the sand sometimes apparently nowhere near anything. they smile and wave. The only sound when stopping for a water sip, is the wind. teh heat is at its most and the haze covers all the horizon in wobbly waterishness.. Jeff is still nowhere to be seen. maybe he got a bad result at the border and couldnt leave ecuador. The bones of a cow lay by the road side. turkey buzzards watching for the next meal. Yellow villages line the way at 30 mile-ish intervals. houses , one square with 2 windows and a door. the kids run about laughing and terrorising the local dogs. A night passes in chiclayo, then off to trujillo, some say perus second city. Jeff shows up grinning red faced, eagerly telling mike and me that he is staying in a freind of a friends place and we are welcome to also. Aldo shakes my hand and insists i stay at his families home just down the road in trujillos old town. What a stroke of luck and generosity. The families home is a 3 story casa, with spiraling staircase up the centre. Green plants potted and hanging off everywhere. its outside inside. Aldo introduces me to his gorgeous family. wife, rosa maria, and 4 kids, jose, ricardo, the sweetheart rosa maria jnr and the new born tania sofia. We stay for 4 days. jeffs bike is a bit of a mess, so he sorts that out. As it turns out i hit the jackpot again. Aldos mate works for the peruvian TV station Canal 15. he has organised a TV interview. My first one of the trip outside the UK. We go eat with the families relatives in a new trujillo shopping centre. i cop out again and eat a big mac. we visit chan chan. A pre colombian ruin. a desert city, mile after mile. spread along the pacific coast. a ruin thats being preserved. built in 850 A.D. before the incan empire. Sacked and taken over by the incas in the late 1400s. A stunning place for an active imagination as the sun drops into the sea, throughing shadows over the ruins. After hard and thank you so much goodbyes, we left the stunning colourful old town of trujillo and aldos family to head south and bend eastwards into the andes and away from teh desert pacific. A few hours we chuck a left, off of the pan american straight lines. The map says its 114kms to the cordillera blancas, up and over teh cordillera negras. the blancas hold alot of perus highest peaks, snow capped and grand. the dirt and sand roads come quick. my heart is in my gumbs again, but after an hour my confidence builds. We pass up from arrid into damp lushness. the road gets steep and thin as it switchbacks its way high, where the airs thin and my strops get bigger. The altitude gives me a short fuse always. but i would rather that than a full on brain boldge pushing my eyes into golf balls. I meet my first tarantula in the wild . the little nutter was trying to hide scarpering across my path. the size of a box of matches, but im told highly poisonous. The views from these hills i cant begin to write about. i dont know how. the photos dont capture them either. the atmosphere is the same. I can say that i feel as contented as possible. Villages are splattered across the valleys. small villages filled with the andian people of colourful dress and tall refined hats that seem out of place. A history of these hats must be there, i have to find out how they came to be here. Farm fields are ploughed at impossible angles. Nights getting near. the dusk is daunting at this hight and the skinny roads, but all is ok and we land at 3000 metres in the andian village of pamporomas. a hospidaje is awaiting with fired pollo and chips. a whole pollo. the whole village comes to greet us. im stuffed, i go to sleep with ease. Next day its off higher up the road through the clouds and spirral back again. jeffs gps reads 4400 metres. i am exhausted getting off the bike and resting on a rock. we see more than one or two vallies below. thats where we are heading. in all it took 12 hours to do around 150 kms. Huaraz is that evenings sleep place. a lively town surrounded by the blancas and negras. A climbers fantasy town. Lima awaits though so we blast out of huaraz, after meeting ryan the cyclist, whos cycling from canada to ushuaia then boating across to africa and cycling up that continent ! nut case ! a great bloke, inspiring. Back down from the heights and into more air, my strops disapear, luckily for me, coz one argument with a track driver was enough, especialy as we both didnt understand each others harsh language. Huaraz to lima via a night in fishy Barranca, with hair dressers all desiring to cut and play with jeffs blond locks. Might dye my hair blond, well whats left of it that is. Lima is huge. it starts from a sand duned shouldered pacific race track tarmac and finishes i dont know where yet. as i write this i look out onto a grand garden , unlike the usual plazas i have seen. APEC are conferencing here right now. Mr Bush is in town. the city is humming, art is everywhere. a band are banging out hypnotic, sombre horns. I smell bacon from another part of the hostel.