Browsed by
Month: December 2016

Obstacles a Plenty!

Obstacles a Plenty!

What is shaping up to be quite the epic journey to Cusco in time for New Year’s Eve definitely continued today! We left Ayucucho later than planned as Sam and Linus were trying to sort out why Sam’s bike was making a high pitched jingling noise, thanks to the pot hole road from hell. While they were working I managed to find some street food breakfast sandwiches from a nice old lady so we didn’t have to repeat the lack of morning food mayhem that occurred yesterday, and I made sure that there was no mystery meat hidden anywhere for Linus. After feeling fairly confident they solved the jingling we got on the road around 9:30. In an attempt to direct us away from traffic congestion, google maps lead us through a maze of nasty rutted out and steep dirt roads through some questionable neighborhoods on the outskirts of town. We eventually found the main road, stopped to get gas and continued to fiddle with Sam’s bike that was STILL jingling. While I was hanging out waiting for them to finish, a Peruvian couple approached me and I put together that the woman really wanted to have a photo with me. This is becoming quite the pattern here in Peru! I was happy to oblige and even helped her to sit in my bike for a photo. Luckily Linus was right there, because as she hopped on, the bike nearly toppled over! We both steadied it, posed for the photo and she happily hopped off and thanked us without even knowing she almost hit the ground. Whew!

Linus happy to use his tools, Sam not happy about the noise
Linus happy to use his tools, Sam not happy about the noise

Finally, we were truly heading out of town around 10:30. The roads seemed to be in great condition and the scenery was, again, super beautiful as we climbed high above the valley towards more high plains. I was settling in nicely to the mix of gentle curves and hairpins when I thought I felt my bike wobble in a strange way, but I brushed it off and continued up to the next hair pin. It happened again but more pronounced, a feeling of loss of control and wobbling from behind. Luckily Linus was behind me so I pulled over to tell him about it, but before I could speak he said, “well, well, you have a flat tire back here!” New challenge! He pumped it up enough for me to drive a little further to a good spot to fix it and we got to work. Sam had been driving ahead and we figured he would eventually make his way back when he didn’t see us. Linus was very excited to use his invention from an old crutch to jack the bike up, and he had the rear tire off in no time. The culprit? A ginormous nail that did a decent number on the tube.

img_7525

I probably picked it up on our rough exit out of town and then the damage was done when the road got twisty. After almost an hour of working Sam finally showed up, thank goodness, just in time to help get the tire sealed around the rim which is the hardest part. It took another 45 minutes! SO, at 12:45 we FINALLY got moving with the annoying realization that we would not make our planned destination for today which would most likely land us in Cusco pretty late on New Year’s Eve.

img_6558

The roads continued to be in great condition, but a constant repetition of switchbacks up and down and up and down through the mountains. I guess this is why the Andes are so famous. It’s one thing to hear about them and something completely different when you actually experience the sheer scale of these mountainous roads. Jim Sherner, I now fully understand what you were talking about! An image that keeps coming to mind is that these roads resemble a handful of wet spaghetti noodles being thrown at and stuck to a wall. Between the road itself, the combination of insane Peruvian drivers, aggressive and suicidal dogs, and huge herds of livestock, you simply can’t move quickly. It takes an incredible amount of focus to drive on these epic roads! It’s turning out to be a valuable learning experience for my driving skills, though. I am starting to feel really comfortable and in control of the bike these days!

DCIM100GOPRO

We stopped in one of the tiny little towns along the road to get a few snacks for lunch. We all decided that we didn’t want to have anymore meat adventures at the moment, so we stocked up on various crackers, cookies, chocolate and some oranges from a little bodega and settled in some shade at an abandoned gas station to eat. It truly felt like we were deep in the remote mountains. All of the dwellings were built from mud bricks and were very simple, and the only two bathrooms in town were at the two eateries. We were running into more and more locals running herds of various combinations of pigs, sheep, cows and goats, and we were definitely getting a lot more curious and dumbfounded, open mouthed stares. For the most part, though, if we smile and wave or even try to speak a little Spanish, we seem to get a warm reception.

The afternoon drive took us into some beautiful and very high mountain valleys, so back on with the warm gear yet again. It’s crazy how the mountains almost resemble the swiss alps, super green and craggy, but then you see a bunch of yucca and cactus plants. And then all at once you are, once again, above the timber line driving through cold, wet air and brown scrub brush. All while looking out across a massive valley into red rock. It is simply dizzying. And then all at once you drop into an insanely chaotic little city where no one gives two shits about traffic rules and use their horns like oxygen, and won’t hesitate to knock you over. A word that comes to mind to describe Peru: Bipolar.

DCIM100GOPRO

Around 6:30, after only 146 miles for the day, and in the pouring rain, we arrived in our back up town of Andahuaylas to look for a place to sleep. Linus expertly guided us to a decent little spot with parking across the street. We checked in and spread all our gear out to attempt to get it dry before morning and set out to find a proper meal. Linus and Sam were set on hamburgers and I was so burned out and slightly culture shocked on the food that I had no opinion in the matter. I ended up with, you guessed it, a chicken sandwich. Ugh. I stomached half of it and had an inner melt down as I longed for a huge plate of fresh, raw, crunchy vegetables that wouldn’t give me the shits. We did have some good comic relief at the expense of Sam during dinner: as Linus was experimenting with various sauces for the french fries he managed to send some herby mayonaise sideways into a splattering mess all over Sam. It had clearly been a long day as Linus was laughing so hard he had tears streaming down his cheeks. Sorry Sam! We were all spent after dinner and passed out early, in preparation for the final haul to Cusco. Cusco or bust!!!

Day of mountain madness

Day of mountain madness

When we pulled out of the hotel garage this morning we realized why people were driving like idiots on the wrong side of the road yesterday night when we pulled in: It was a one way road! Not that we saw any signs indicating that, but in daylight it was obvious that no one was driving in the direction we had been.
We went by the pizza place from yesterday on the way out of town, where the waiter had told us they serve breakfast from 7.30. It was closed up at 08.00… We decided to press on and eat something along the road, as the morning traffic in the city was pretty insane.
Pretty soon we were out of the city and immediately started climbing the hills into the highlands again. No sign of any breakfast, so we had no other choice but to continue through rainy and misty high plateaus on an empty stomach. And here I had my second dog encounter, which turned out to be a more fatal one than the one I had in Colombia. A long haired golden lab looking dog was trotting out across the road from the left. As I approached it saw me and slowed its pace. I anticipated it would turn around and go back the way it had come so I aimed in front of it and slowed my speed. The dog then stopped and I sped up as I passed it. At the last second it, for some reason, decided to move on despite me coming at it and so I caught its head on my left side metal pannier at about 45 mph. I could just hear a metallic thud and saw the dog spin up in the air in my rear mirror before landing at the road side, trying to run for a second while lying down before suddenly turning completely still. Lise and Sam who were riding after me said it was still barking when they passed it seconds later but doubt it could walk away from that hit. The image of the dog in my mirror was hard to get rid of the rest of the day.
Around 10-10.30 we descended into a valley and the town of Las Pampas, and we decided to stop to look for something to eat. We drove up to the central square and parked outside a small panedera (bread store). Almost immediately we were surrounded by a group of kids carrying shoe polish blocks wanting to polish our boots. They were a little disappointed when we turned them down but they stayed around checking out our bikes and equipment and asking questions about this and that. Lise went to buy some bread in the bread shop while I went across the square to buy some fruits and things from a little supermarket. Overall people were staring and pointing a lot and we were a bit surprised that we would be the cause of so much interest from the locals. The only fruit looking good in the little dark hole-in-the-wall was a couple of apples, everything else looked kind of old and sad, including the attendant. I went back to add my apples and a bottle of water to what ever Lise had found in the bread store. She had managed to score some 4 days old bread and three cold papa rellenas ( a ball of fried mashed potato with mystery meat and small things in the middle). She had also been approached by three different groups of girls and women wanting to take pictures of her and them. We felt quite like celebrities.

Making new friends
Making new friends

Lise and Sam had already finished their papas rellenas and I dug into mine. Being a bit curious about the filling I took some small bites, and suddenly a piece of hairy flesh fell out of my potato. It looked like a piece of skin with inch long black thick pubic hair on it. After fighting for a moment not to throw up I quickly spit my bite out and dumped it in the trash. I was tempted to take a picture but I really didn’t want to take a closer look at the vile thing, so in the trash it went. And suddenly I wasn’t hungry at all anymore.
After saying bye to our friends the shoe polish kids, we set off again out of this little god forsaken town, and the road instantly turned into a little dirt road. We stopped and checked the map, and found out that the google map had sent us off on a detour, suggesting that we should take a little road that almost disappears instead of the main highway. The turnoff to the main highway that we wanted to be on was about 14 miles back on the way we had ridden on, and we had missed it partly because the rain had made us tuck the GPS away. This also explained why people were acting like they had never seen foreigners before. This might actually be the case, as this little town of Pampas was at the very end of the road.
An appropriate amount of cursing later we turned our bikes around and ascended back into the cold rainy mountains and backtracked for around forty minutes until we hit the right turnoff to highway 3S.
The road then took us down along the bottom of a canyon on winding roads, and the roads quickly dried up and the temperature rose. We soon drove through a little town on the cliffside along a railroad track. Here we saw some small stores and Lise and I decided to stop to see if we could find some snacks to eat. Sam was up ahead but we figured he’d wait for us up the road. The first little store I went into was full of flies and old fruit and an even older lady behind a dirty counter on mud floors. I quickly went outside and across the street to a cleaner looking shop. I heard some splash of water and figured someone threw their dirty water out on the street, luckily it missed me. In the other shop we found some crackers and chocolate cakes, the only trouble was finding the shop owners, as they were back in the restaurant part and not really in the hurry to sell us anything. Eventually they came around and soon we had a little stash of snacks to make up for our failed Pampas brunch. On the way back to the bikes I heard the splashing sound again twice, and realized that it was not someone cleaning or doing their dishes. Someone was throwing water balloons at us!! My suspicions were soon confirmed as we saw a couple of heads pop up and down from cover on a rooftop up on the steep hill beside the roads. Some kids with nothing better to do had made their hobby to throw water balloons at cars and travelers coming through this little village, and now they had found the perfect targets. They didn’t dare to show themselves while I looked at them though, so I kept my eyes on the little culprits until we were safely on our bikes and taking off down the narrow road. We pretty much directly ran into Sam who had turned around to look for us. Together gain we rode along the bottom of this canyon, and the road kept getting smaller and smaller. Soon we were riding on a paved single lane road hugging the cliff side with a drop off directly at the edge of the lane. Soon hair pin curves were added to the mix combined with traffic varying in size between compact cars and 18 wheel semi trucks. The correct way of conducting seemed to be honking before a blind turn and then hoping the cars around the bend would just evaporate into thin air. At numerous occasions we heard a honk and had to quickly find a little pocket of the road to dodge the oncoming traffic. The landscape was beautiful, though, and it was easy to get lost looking at the blue green river and cliff sides on the other side, until a honk quickly brought you back to reality.

Along the longest canyon
Along the longest canyon

At one point we had to pull off the road to let an 18 wheeler past. It was towing a small SUV that had obviously been flipped of the road. Behind the wheel in the smashed car was a man with his face torn up and bleeding, and in the backseat were a couple of kids. That’s enough to get your head spinning about what the story behind could be…

Someone had a bad day...
Someone had a bad day…

This road went on for about 140km (85 miles) and it literally felt like forever had passed when we finally landed on solid ground on both sides. The police blockade soon after felt like a breeze, the officers being very nice and just checking Sam’s papers as he was riding first.
Towards the end of the day we climbed up from the canyon onto the hill where the city of Ayacucho is located. Again, through the magic app of iOverlander, we managed to navigate through the dense chaotic traffic to a little hostel at the end of a narrow alley way. They had no garage but assured us that the bikes would be safe parked directly outside the hostel entrance, as they had cameras and a portiere keeping his eyes on them through the night.
We unpacked and walked downtown in search for something more food like than snacks to finally stuff our stomachs with. By chance we ran into a wood-fired oven pizza restaurant, like a sign from above. It turned out to be an excellent rustic looking little place, serving only pizzas and pasta dishes. We tried a few pizzas and a home made ravioli, and were very delighted! We then stumbled home and promptly passed out, exhausted from a very eventful and long day. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit shorter and easier…

Better Roads Make for an Earlier Finish

Better Roads Make for an Earlier Finish

We woke up this morning still feeling rather toasted from yesterday’s epic ride. We ate some mushy bananas and yogurt for breakfast and set to work loading up the bikes. While we were loading up a really strange parade passed us by. I have no idea what it was all about, but there were some really strange costumes, they were carrying what looked like a manger with a baby in it (assuming it was Jesus) and were playing a bunch of random instruments. Interesting activity for a Wednesday morning..

img_2017-01-01_18-17-07

Once back on the road we quickly climbed high above the valley in which Huanuco lays. Pretty soon the vegetation became scarce and it got COLD! It was quite beautiful driving above 4,ooo meters or 13,000 ft. I got to use my winter riding gloves and they definitely passed the test! The roads were much, much better than the day before and we were able to make great time cruising along at an average of 60-65 mph (100kph). That beats our average speed of 25 mph (40 kph) from the day before by a long shot!

Cruising on the high plains
Cruising on the high plains

We stopped  in a tiny town to warm up a bit and decided to try and find some lunch. I have to add here that since we have started moving through Peru, the challenge to find a variety of food options has become very difficult. Now I am starting to understand what people meant when they said the further south you get you will only find meat to eat. I AM SO TIRED OF POLLO Y ARROZ O PAPAS (chicken and rice or potatoes)!!!!!!!! And I refuse to eat guinea pig. Anyhow, we settled on a place that served something called Pachamanca. We weren’t quite sure what it was, but it seemed like some sort of dish with three different kinds of meat, one of which was chicken. Oh, and potatoes. What we ended up getting was a basket containing lamb, chicken and something really fatty and chewy, along with potatoes, some sort of giant pod thing and some corn bread cooked in corn husk. We noticed the meat was had grit on it that was not that fun to chew, and we realized that the food was cooked in a fire pit directly in hot coals, wood, and hot rocks. It was definitely an authentic experience, not sure I want to repeat it though…

So much meat
So much meat

 

Pit of roasting meat
Pit of roasting meat

We rode a few more hours after lunch and around 4:00 we arrived in the town of Huancayo. (There will be a quiz on all of these city names later)  We tried one hostel that Linus had read about, but there seemed to be only dogs there to answer the door. After knocking loudly and ringing the bell multiple times we gave up and took to looking for hotels. We found one several blocks away with parking, hot water, and wifi, and it seemed clean and decent for a good price. Once settled in our room we noticed, again, a big mirror on the wall next to the bed and an air freshener in the shape of the playboy bunny hanging from the lamp. Oh, and plastic on the mattress again… What’s up Peru? Too conservative? A need for hidden love affairs? There seem to be loads of these types of hotels everywhere! All that said, the staff was really nice and helpful, our bikes were secure and we slept very well.

Around dinner time we walked to a shopping plaza where we were told there would be cash machines (time to stock up again). It turned out to be a full on mall! Talk about a strange feeling! After traveling for 3+ months my daily activities and thoughts have been no where near a shopping mall. It was really strange to see the same type of zombie shoppers in such a different environment than the good old US of A. Shopping malls are definitely something I don’t miss at all. For dinner we settled on something as far from meat and rice/potatoes as we could find. Pizza. And warm beer. That’s another thing that seems to be difficult to find here: cold beer, cold yogurt, not a lot of refrigeration going on. No wonder we all got sick! I have high hopes that I’ll come out of this adventure with some awesome antibodies and a stomach of iron.

Back at the hotel, we played some more rounds of shithead and I actually won a few! Then it was hot shower time and bedtime. We will truck on tomorrow with another 200+ mile (300+ km) day. Operation Cusco for New Years continues.

Back in the Saddle!

Back in the Saddle!

During our stay in Huaraz both Lise and Sam had been sick and so it was my turn the last night. After battling fever and migraine under six blankets I woke up weak but okay. And so we packed up and got going planning to be in Cusco for New Year, the daily goal being Huanuco. The first stretch we had already ridden on our way to the glacier a few days ago, a winding road along a river slowly climbing up towards the high plateau. Soon we were riding on a great paved road along mountain sides with the high plains beneath us and stunning snow clad mountains in the distance. We then made a turn and rode across the valley into another mountain chain. Here for every turn the road got just a little smaller, and eventually we ended up in the town of La Union. The busy main street in this provincial capital was concrete but the side streets quickly turned to sandy mud. We decided to stay for lunch at a local comederia and got ourselves a huge soup and chicken lunch for almost nothing. On the way out of town we made a few circles before finding the one way out over a newly built bridge. From here and on we finally found ourselves on dirt roads. Or it was actually rather part dirt road and part paved road covered with potholes. The potholes were not big like in Honduras but they were plentiful and impossible to avoid.

Potholes and gravel, shake it like a polaroid picture
Potholes and gravel, shake it like a polaroid picture

And so we shook ourselves and our bikes through hours and hours of this turning gravely mess surrounded by a beautiful landscape with deep river gorges and mountains that we could barely see, as we had to concentrate on driving in order to reach a place to stay before dark. As we got closer to Huanuco and dusk we ran into roadwork. The workers happily told us we’d have to wait around half hour before they let us continue. We finally got waved through and drove through the “improved” road which was basically deep sandy dirt for another couple of miles before we got back on somewhat better roads taking us through small villages and a random police control.

DCIM100GOPRO

As we trudged on the sun went down and soon we were snailing our way down the hills in darkness. Eventually the road broadened and the pavement improved and we rolled in to Huanuco after driving for ten hours. We quickly found a hostel with a garage through the great iOverlander app, got a $1 dinner each at a chicken place next door and basically passed out in our rooms. I actually had to fix a few things on mine and Lise’s bike as the roads had shaken things off. Some screws and fasteners on her bike and blinkers that stopped working on mine.


 

Christmas in Huaraz

Christmas in Huaraz

Merry Christmas everybody! We ended up hunkering down here in Huaraz, Peru for the last few days. Sam got terrible food poisoning on Thursday night, so we decided to hang out here for Christmas and move on towards Cusco tomorrow. On Friday, Linus and I explored the downtown and market scene of Huaraz. We decided since we would be stationary for a few days that we would utilize the kitchen at the hostel, so we wandered the markets and stocked up on food for the next few days. At first it was quite an overwhelming scene but as always, once we got our bearings and came up with a plan, it was fun to shop for food in all the different spots. Fruits and veggies were found in street stalls, as were some dried tea leaves and beans and lentils. We found a grocery store for things like spices, oils, yoghurt, coffee and adult beverages. We decided to stick to vegetarian dishes since Sam got sick from chicken and, to be completely honest, the whole process of buying meat from street stalls was way too intimidating/disgusting.

img_7466

Dinner was rice and lentils and stir fried veggies. I really enjoyed doing a little cooking after being on the road for so long. And Sam was able to keep the food down. Success! After playing our nightly rounds of shithead (I’m still in last place) we went to bed fairly early. Saturday was christmas eve and Sam was feeling better but still not feeling much like riding, so we stuck with our plan of staying in Huaraz. We went for a walk in the afternoon to get a few last minute supplies for our little holiday celebration and the market scene was absolutely insane!! I thought the day before was crazy, but everyone was out shopping for christmas meals and last minute gifts. The vendors had pulled out all the stops! There were whole roasted pigs lining the streets and various plucked poultry hanging from doorways. I almost tripped over a live turkey that was tied to a post! It was an experience for the senses for sure.

img_7470

When we returned to the hostel we found that three more motorcyclists had checked in. Drew from California and Rich from Australia were on susuki DRs, and Geert from the Netherlands on a BMW. We had fun chatting with them and exchanging stories and decided to pool our resources and enjoy a christmas eve dinner together at the hostel. In between cooking, playing some serious cards, drinking, eating, and sharing hilarious travel stories I would say it was a great christmas eve in Peru! We also got to skype with our Swedish family and my parents and grandma grout, which was really nice. Just as we turned out the light, we got a huge Peruvian surprise. When the clock turned midnight the city went absolutely insane with fireworks. And I’m not talking about bottle rockets and black cats. It sounded like a full on war zone outside. As the madness continued to increase we headed up to the roof to see what all the fuss was about. I have never seen so many huge fireworks going off so randomly and in every possible direction. It was amazing if not a bit scary! I feel bad we didn’t catch any photo or video, but it probably would have done the scene little justice. I wonder how New Years in Cusco will be…

Unfortunately my stomach started acting up again (Huanchaco style) all night long, so when it was time to wake up and go on our planned christmas day motorcycle ride to the glacier with our new friends, I was in no shape to go. I was so mad! All I wanted to do was have a nice day trip adventure for christmas, and instead I was sequestered to the hostel keeping the toilet close by. I am really hoping my stomach adjusts soon. This is getting really annoying. Anyhow, after feeling fairly confident I had nothing left for the toilet, I headed out to at least try and do something with my day alone. I found a road to walk along that took me high above the city for some nice views of Huaraz and the surrounding mountains. After a few hours of walking I headed back to the hostel to try and eat something, and then found myself to be VERY tired, like someone had drained all the fuel out of me. I passed out for a good few hours and woke up to a nice thunder storm outside.

View above Huaraz
View above Huaraz

Around 4:00 the motorcycle gang returned with epic stories about glaciers and hail storms and beautiful roads. I can’t lie, it was a bit tough to hear their stories without feeling like I totally missed out. Alas, I knew I made the right decision based on the number of visits I made to the toilet and how tired I felt all day. Oh well.

moto-boys

We took a walk towards the city center to see if we could find anything to cook for dinner, but all the supermarkets were closed, and it was pouring down rain. We settled on a restaurant and enjoyed a mix of lasagna, burgers, burritos, and sandwiches. Linus ate most of my sandwich… We all hit the hay early, and I actually felt pretty good when I fell asleep. But this morning (monday) my stomach woke me up early and was even worse than before. Okay stomach, you win! Linus was super sweet and had a chat with one of the hostel owners and then went out to find some antibiotics she recommended. Meanwhile, I was feeling worse and worse and it became obvious we would be stuck in Huaraz for ANOTHER day. I spent most of the morning and early afternoon between the toilet and sleeping. Linus and Sam worked on the bikes, cooked lunch, played cards and enjoyed the Peruvian beer Cusquena. I was able to come up and join them to continue the card tournament, I ate a little bit, and even won a few rounds! As we played our last round of cards Linus starting complaining of being cold and shivery… He is now curled up in bed running a slight fever. I’m starting to think Huaraz is cursed!! If we want to make it to Cusco for New Year’s Eve we really need to leave tomorrow. If you take a look at the map, we have quite a lot of ground to cover! Linus insists he’ll be fine. Fingers crossed everyone!!

Shithead!
Shithead!
Back Roads to Little Cities

Back Roads to Little Cities

Linus has his morning work cut out for him as Sam shares my loathing for waking up early. As Linus crashed around the room this morning (I’m pretty sure it was deliberate) cleaning yesterday’s muddy adventure off of his panniers, Sam and I had our heads buried under covers. After some interesting street food for breakfast (quinoa in some sort of warm fruity syrup that you drink) and a sad and fruitless attempt at finding coffee, we rolled out of the strange little village of Huallanca around 9. Better time then yesterday, still room for improvement.

img_7433
Locals of Huallanca enjoying christmas panettone and cider in the town square

The boys really wanted to take a scenic detour that looked like a tiny zigzaggy mess on the map, and I really wanted to continue up the Canon del Pato. We discussed and decided to go our separate ways and meet up in two hours where the dirt road was supposed to spit them back out just above the main canyon. Linus and Sam took off up the side of the mountain from Huallanca, and I took off on the main road, that quickly switched back up another mountain. Welcome to Peru indeed! It is finally feeling like we are arriving! It was fun to ride on my own and the canyon was absolutely and insanely stunning. It quickly became very narrow, with  very steep drop to my left. The road was literally chiseled into the side of a rocky mountain and was simply one lane winding around through the dramatic canyon, in and out of tunnels with spectacular views in every direction, you can easily see the road used to be a railway track. You have to honk your horn before every tunnel and turn because there is barely enough room for one car!

img_7437
Can you spot the tunnel?

After about an hour of driving and enjoying the road, I decided it might be a good idea to pull over and check the map. I had a rough idea of where I needed to meet the guys, but just wanted to make sure. And sure enough, I had driven a good distance past where they were supposed to get dumped out. No worries though, It was just after 10:00 so I had plenty of time to mosey back down the road and find the cut-off. Around 11:15 after eating a snack, clipping my nails, and pondering various random thoughts, I heard the distant sound of the KLR and Susuki and looked up to my right WAY up high on the mountain to see two little helmets bobbing along on a tiny road pinned to the mountain-side. Right on schedule! We traded stories, their’s being a bit more exciting than mine.

1030073-01

Sam managed to lay his bike down as the road was a really exciting combination of dirts, rocks, mud, steep drop-offs and switch backs, with ginormous views. Everyone was happy!

woops...
woops, a little too much mud…

We headed down route 3A towards Huaraz. The plan was to see what the city was all about and make a decision about where to stop for the night. The rain continued to pick up as we drove and was pretty steady by the time we got to Huaraz, which turned out to be quite an insane little city. It’s a lot bigger than we thought, but surrounded by beautiful mountains on all sides and seems to be a good base camp for a LOT of outdoor adventure destinations. We were again reminded of the insane driving Peruvian driving habits that come with bigger cities. I can now confidently say they are the scariest driving conditions yet. We decided to find a place to eat lunch and regroup. While trying to negotiate through traffic and park our bikes in front of our chosen lunch spot I had a first happen to me. I was waiting behind an illegally parked car for a break in the traffic to move around the car, and there was a tuk tuk (3 wheeled motorcycle cab) to my right and slightly behind me. He honked and motioned for me to move, I motioned that there was a car in my way but would move as soon as I could. Before I knew what was happening, he had started to pull out and literally pushed me and my motorcycle over! I was so angry! Luckily everyone saw it happen, including the driver of the car parked in front of me who proceeded to yell at the taxi driver. Two policeman showed up and it seemed like the guy got a ticket. They made sure my bike was okay and said it was okay to park in front of the restaurant. Sheesh, now I have a new bump on my right shin, just as my left shin healed!

Outside of our lunch spot...
Outside of our lunch spot.. Who wouldn’t want to eat there?

Over lunch we decided with the rain steadily picking up that we would stay in a hostel tonight and come up with a plan for the next few days. Apparently there is a glacier at around 4500 meters or 14,500 feet! Hopefully the rain will slow down so we can get a night or two of camping in before we find a spot to celebrate Christmas. We even bought some silly decorations to make our bikes a little festive. Photos to come… Cheers!

Finally riding out of the desert

Finally riding out of the desert

We tried to get out of our hostel around 9 this morning, and after collecting our things and buying some food for an eventual nights camping we were on our bikes arount 11.30…
Happy to get out of this sandy flatlands we made some good miles down the highway towards Chimbote. The only thing that stood out on this strech beside the usual crazy traffic was a road toll where we were shooed of, had to turn around and ride back against the traffic and around a fence and ride outside the road on the sand past the toll. Not very well organized in my opinion.

Passing the road toll
Passing the road toll

About 30km before Chimbote we turned east on road 123, a dirt road to get up in the mountains and the renowned Calleyon de Huaylas and the Cañon del Pato, a beautiful strech of road in the canyons between high mountains.

Team riding through the desert
Team riding through the desert

The dirt road took us out to another very authentic post nuclear part of the world with craggy desert mountains and desolate plains, and then a green oasis around a riverbed down in a little valley before spitting us out on the asphalt main road 12. From there we rode through spectacular rocky landscapes with high mountains surrounding us and single lane tunnels leading to rickety bridges in an otherworldly fashion.

DCIM100GOPRO
There were plenty of signs encourageing you to use your horn before the many narrow curves and tunnels to alert oncoming traffic of your presence, and for understandable reasons. We watched a few times how cars and trucks had to reverse out of tunnels to let other cars through.

DCIM100GOPRO

And then suddenly we met a semitruck by a little waterfall. I was in the lead and decided to get off the road to give him a little extra space as it looked solid enough. Unfortunately it wasn’t, and my bike sank down in deep mud. And I couldn’t get out. I could hardly even walk away from the bike as the mud was so thick that my legs got stuck really bad as well. It was also so deep that I managed to sink down to my knees and was still sinking slowly when i managed to get my legs out.

Muddy workout
Muddy workout

Sam came over and we started working on getting th bike out of the mud, resulting in him discovering the sucking mud as well. After a few fruitless attempts we had to get som big rocks and put around the bike to stand on and we managed to lift the front wheel out of the mud. Once the front wheel was out we pulled and pushed while running the bike, and so finally we managed to get the bike out. And there was much mud covered rejoicing!
After scraping of the worst of the mud we continued on our road. Around five oclock we arrived in a little town called Huallanca.

Huallanca
Huallanca

We decided to stay the night in one of their little hostels as we hadn’t found any camping spots yet and didn’t want to be stuck in the dark. We found a nice room with three beds, had some streetfood, bought a few beers and went back to the room to play cards. Here we decided to start a Shithead (Spansk skitgubbe) League, that would keep going until the end of the trip. Three ponts for a win, one for second place and zero for the Shithead (third). The score after the first night was Sam 10, Lise 4 and Linus 3 (Humpf!).

Ghost Busters Reunited!

Ghost Busters Reunited!

Just as we were really starting to crawl out of our skin, Sam rolled into Huanchaco! Yipee! We will head up to the mountains of Peru towards canyon del pato tomorrow. Let the adventure continue!!

We spent yesterday and today killing time in various creative and non-creative ways… Linus made two trips into the less than savory Trujillo to look for tire/moto shops. The first trip proved to be unfruitful and frustrating, he even went as far as to say that bad memories of China were getting stirred up! Luckily, with a little more research, he was able to find the “motorcycle street” and bought a new front tire for his bike, which was much needed! He and Sam are now set to work fiddling with the bikes. It feels like some sort of balance has been restored in the world.

getting some work done!
getting some work done!

I have been able to catch up on some internet and computer stuff, cleaned about 600+ photos off of my phone and onto the computer. I didn’t realize how useful it would be to have the laptop, but it is so nice! I’ll probably say that a few more times… I found a place to do our laundry and will go to the market first thing tomorrow morning before we take off to get camping provisions. All three of us are really excited to finally put our camping gear we have been lugging along to good use!

I’ll probably enjoy one more walk on the beach and a cheap drink tonight and then it will be up and at em in the morning for the next chapter! Stay tuned for some hopefully exciting posts and fun photos. We will do our best to keep everything updated, but I have a feeling we may encounter less wifi for a bit here!

P.S. I finally beat Linus last night at the card game (called shithead) he taught me. We have had a lot of time to kill. I must be getting better…

img_7381
Deep in discussion about chains or sprockets or something
Maggie and Jackson came to Peru!

Maggie and Jackson came to Peru!

Hey all! So rather than agonizing over catching up with a post a day over the last little while, we have decided to do just one post for the time that Maggie and Jackson visited. We had such a great time getting to hang with them in the middle of our journey. It was crazy to all the sudden see them in the street down here in Peru!  They flew to Lima early on December 14 and then took a small plane to Trujillo and met us in the tiny northern Peru surf town of Huanchaco around 9 am.  We had already arrived the night before and so we quickly packed our stuff and moved two blocks to the apartment that Maggie had booked on Airbnb.  It was the wildest feeling to see them walk up on this shitty little street in Peru! But so so good to see some of our closest family and friends! We quickly got settled into our little place. It was a two bedroom, one bath in a bigger apartment/hostel type place. It also had a rooftop balcony with a hammock and a kitchen and a beautiful view of the ocean. It was a great place to recharge for a few days while hanging with Mag and Jackson. We were able to do a bunch of laundry, including our riding gear which was FILTHY. We also washed the bikes, which was very much needed.

Huanchaco is a very laid back surf village with a good mix of locals and tourists from all over the world. It seems like a great place to get stuck if you like surfing and seafood. We spent the first day exploring the town. We found a street market with wonderful organic coffee, and it quickly became Jackson’s happy place.  We also sampled some beachfront ceviche which was okay, but we felt there were better places to be found and that quickly became a fun project. Maggie and Jackson were pretty tired the first day, so Jackson spent some of the afternoon catching up on sleep.  Maggie was too excited to nap, so she and I walked around and found some really nice hand made jewelry that a super sweet couple were selling. I got some fun stuff for me and my mom.  We had dinner that night at the same place Linus and I had lunch the day before. It’s a hostel that serves great seafood, falafel, and curry dishes. We liked the place so much that we are staying there now.

coffee!
coffee!

The days that they were here sort of melted together, so I’ll do my best to keep this post organized… One of the days we spent a good amount of time exploring some ruins that are outside of the neighboring city of Trujillo. There are a two sites near Trujillo and we chose to go to the one further away called Huaca de la Luna. This is a Pre-Incan, Moche era site of different pyramids and structures that were accidentally discovered in the early 1990s by a professor of historic preservation and one of his classes. Apparently, they were hiking up a big sandy mountain to get a good look at the first ruin (Huaca del Sol) and when a few of his students sat down for a rest, some sand eroded away, a big brick under the sand shifted and exposed a wall of ancient paintings! Ever since then, they have slowly been excavating and preserving this massive site. The process is dependent on funding, so it has moved slowly at times. We were able to get a guide who spoke english and we spent a good two hours following her around the site learning about the different time periods and history contained at the site.  A lot of stuff about the god of decapitation and human sacrifice and such. Really cool stuff! Also, we were able to see a few of the infamous Peruvian hairless dogs that also date back to Pre-Incan culture.  At first glance they look like a sad dog with a serious case of mange, but then you quickly realize this is a normal hair-do for them. They were definitely not that interested in human attention…

img_7339

The weather in Huanchaco was actually a bit chilly and windy. I spoke with some locals and apparently it is the end of the cold season right now.  Summer is just around the corner! No worries, though. We did a lot of walking around town, practicing of Spanish, and had good old-fashioned fun of drinking wine and playing cards. Honestly it was so nice to see Mag and Jackson, I don’t think it would have mattered where we met them. One evening we found a delicious place for dinner that served incredibly fresh fish. It had literally been caught that day. We had delicious whole open fire grilled baby seabass and another plate of grilled mixed seafood. It came with delicious sides of veggies and fried yucca root. It was really nice! After dinner Mag, Jackson and Linus tried some street food of molasses doused deep fried bread.  I enjoyed taking the photos and laughing at them, but didn’t indulge as my stomach has been slightly iffy since we have arrived in Peru…

img_7320

 

street food desert
street food desert

We spent the afternoon on Saturday exploring Trujillo. Maggie had read that it had the largest indoor/outdoor market in the region where you could “find anything Peru has to offer.” We decided to give it a try. It was definitely a cultural experience, but not what we expected. It was a massive mess of mass produced products from clothing to housewares to electronics, and also had a huge food market. As soon as I saw the huge severed pig legs, I was ready to vacate. Alright, so that proved to be authentic in different way! We then walked to the city center and found the center square that was decorated for the upcoming christmas holiday. There was a big nativity scene that was crowded with locals waiting in line to take pictures next to it. I keep forgetting it is christmastime, so it has been neat to see the different ways people celebrate and decorate. I wonder where we will be for the actual holiday? For late lunch in Trujillo, we took a suggestion from a local and ate at a Peruvian/Chinese restaurant. It was fun for Maggie because she got to practice her chinese when she wanted chopsticks, Ha! The food was okay, and nice to have something a little different. After lunch we walked around some more and found a nice place for expresso and a shared desert of tiramisu.

Trujillo central square
Trujillo central square

Later that evening and back in Huanchaco, we found the best ceviche yet for Jackson. Mag and I had some seafood soup and Linus had a beer since he was seafooded out. We then spent the evening playing more cards, singing songs, laughing and drinking wine. Very relaxed and so much fun. Around 9:30 my stomach sent me to bed early (didn’t sleep much the night before because of it) and the others went out for a snack and a night cap.

Jackson and his ceviche
Jackson and his ceviche

Sunday was a beautiful day for weather. We had to pack up and move to a hostel as Maggie and Jackson were leaving later that day. While Maggie and Jackson went to the market to buy the yummy coffee beans to take home, we washed our bikes in the street. They were definitely in need of it, but not as badly as I thought. After we moved to the hostel, we spent the day hanging out on the beach chatting, watching the surfers and napping in the sun.

img_7296

Before their 10pm flight back to Lima we found one more round of fresh ceviche for Jackson and Maggie and a couple rounds of the infamous Peruvian drink called the pisco sour. We soon had to say our goodbyes to the lovely duo that had the wild idea that Linus and I needed to meet those few years back.  We wish they could continue down the road with us backpacker style and keep meeting up along the way. But it’s back to reality, for now anyways. Next time we meet will be for summer in Sweden!

pisco sours
pisco sours
Flat, Windy and Sandy to Huanchaco

Flat, Windy and Sandy to Huanchaco

Unfortunately, northern Peru has not had us nearly as stoked as Colombia and Ecuador. In fact, we aren’t really stoked on it at all. It’s been pretty flat and desolate the past two days, and when we’ve been in cities we have encountered insane drivers and zombie-like stares. I know this will change as we move south, and it is going to be totally worth the detour out of the mountains to see Maggie and Jackson!!

After fighting our way through chaotic traffic out of Chiclayo, we were almost immediately met with extremely strong winds. Probably the strongest we’ve encountered yet. The good news is that they were pretty consistently blowing from the same direction, which meant we just settled into riding at 45 degrees to our right. And thank goodness for earplugs!

As the morning wore on I kept thinking I should pull off and put my sunglasses on. I probably passed up at least five spots before I finally signaled to Linus and we pulled off at a tired and dusty service station. And guess who we found pulling in behind us? Our overland buddies in the VW that we met last week on the Quilotoa loop! Crazy! We chatted for a bit and agreed on our feelings about the lately encountered scenery compared to Ecuador. I remembered to snap a picture this time, but sill didn’t catch their names! Sorry guys! Maybe we can properly introduce ourselves if they catch his post…

img_7282

After that little pit stop we muddled through another 90 miles of wind and dust before our arrival to the surprisingly pleasant surf town of Huanchaco. It seems pretty laid back with a lot of little restaurants and hostels and hotels mixed in with local housing. It seems to be a pretty big surf destination for young backpackers. We checked into a cheap hostel for one night and will meet Maggie and Jackson first thing in the morning at an apartment that Maggie booked through Airbnb.

After we unloaded the bikes, we took a walk to find some lunch. There were a fair amount of places serving fixed lunches of ceviche and comida typica for decent prices, but we’ll save that for when Magson get here. We settled on some good veggie meals at a hostel. I had coconut curry and Linus had falafel. And REALLY nice, strong, and proper coffee. In real cups. Properly prepared. No baggies, extract or powder. I enjoyed it so thoroughly that I nearly cried.

We then explored the town and scoped out where the locals get groceries and such. We found a few things to prepare for a light dinner at the hostel later on and asked around about how to find the morning market. I am so excited to have a kitchen at my disposal for the next five days!!! We are definitely making popcorn. It’s going to be nice to have some time and space to spread out, work on the bikes, properly clean our moto clothes and hang with family before embarking into the next part of our adventure.

Huanchaco
Huanchaco