Day 72 – Chiclayo to Chimbote Peru
Packed up the bikes and headed out without breakfast again. We’re having trouble finding places in Peru that advertise breakfast. We don’t know if they simply don’t do breakfast here in restaurants or if they just assume that you know that if they’re open they do it. We’re leaning towards the former.
The morning started with desert with piles of garbage dumped from garbage trucks stretching from the road off to the nearby mountains. Sometimes they were being burnt. Sometimes they weren’t. The sides were littered with… litter as well. Soon there were more man-made fields of green sitting directly against the sand. It’s a testament to what humans can do, but it also seemed horribly wrong, especially the rice paddies.
Around 10:45 we were both starving and decided to stop for an early lunch not long thereafter. When Dachary pulls off her jacket she discovers this.
He’s alive and kicking, but has attempted to sting her coat. Unfortunately, he’s thoroughly wedged half-way in the hole of the mesh. We’re betting Rev’It hasn’t encountered this problem before. But it does give a good sense of just how much air can flow through the 3D Mesh on the Sand Jacket. Speaking of…. In this dry weather neither of us has felt overheated on the road even when the temps have been over 100. Both of our jackets have been doing an excellent job of keeping us well ventilated. It’s not terribly surprising with the Sand jacket, but the BMW stuff really doesn’t *look* like it would flow a ton of air, and yet it does. I’m still envious of the Sand’s chest vents though, but not enough to give up the incredible armor on the BMW Rallye Pro 2. (Dachary’s note: the dry heat of the desert is WAY easier to bear than the wet heat of places like Panama in Central America. Dry heat bakes you, but it’s not miserable like humid, wet heat. So give me Peruvian desert any day!)
We couldn’t figure out how to remove the bee without seriously injuring him, so in the end I pulled out the Leatherman, grabbed him around the middle, pulled, and threw him to the ground to give him a stomp and put him out of his misery. Poor bee. :(
The owner of the lunch place where we stopped recommended Pato (tasty chicken with an almost curry-like sauce) and ended up sitting down and talking with us for a while. He’d had some English lessons a couple of years ago, but asked us to speak a bit slower. Dachary says I failed miserably at this. Sorry. :(
We’ve totally forgotten his name, but one of the interesting points of the conversation was that he was doing fairly well for himself, he had a restaurant, he had two cars (we think he was saying there were taxis since he didn’t drive at all himself) and yet he only made $5,000 US per year. The conversation was such that I didn’t really mind when he asked how much I made, but I felt terrible revealing it. As a programmer in a big city with 15 years of experience I make good money, but there’s no way to convey that rent and taxes alone eat up over half of it, then add in all the other bills, and while yes, I have more disposable income than him, I’m not nearly as well off as my salary from The Man, would have him think, or that I’ll be quite lucky if I have enough money to survive for two months when we return.
Anyways, we got back on the bikes and headed out. I asked Dachary if she was ok with stopping to get some welding done today as the loop on my kickstand had broken off a while ago, and getting it out is very difficult without it. Also, the $32 “Large Sidestand Foot” from Touratech that we’d put on each of our bikes had each fallen off, probably when scraping in a curve, we’re not really sure. They required an hour of grinding each to make them fit in the first place, and then the layers split, and then they fell off. Fucking pieces of crap, but I digress.
Dachary was up for it, feeling somewhat guilty about the fact that I’d been dealing with the frustrating lack of a loop to pull out the kickstand for a while now. Plus, with so much sand and dirt in our future having a foot that was wide enough to not sink straight into the ground was probably a good thing. So, when we saw a welder next to a little lunch place with drinks and shade, we turned around a pulled in.
Showed him what we wanted, asked how long and how much. 30 Soles (about $12 US), and one hour, he told us. Excellent. We sat at a table and grabbed some drinks while he made a little cardboard template for the feet, which I modified somewhat to better not hit the center stand or drag as much during leans (we hope), and then he set to work cutting and grinding with his apprentice(?). I did the whole mega-tourist thing and brought out the big camera, taking tons of pictures of the whole process. Yes, cheesy, and touristy, but when am I ever going to do this again? Ok, there’s a decent chance I might, but hopefully not on this bike again.
When he was about to weld it on he looked up and told us we needed to disconnect the batteries before he started… “shit”. Fucking BMW and their pain in the ass designs. “diez minutos” I told him. He was a little confused by this, thinking we’d just need to take off the seat, but accepted it and wend back to grind some more. We set about removing the seats and undoing far too many screws.
In the end I was happier than a pig in shit. I kept looking over at Dachary and saying “I have a loop!” because I’m thrilled that I don’t have to dig awkwardly with my heal in hope of being able to catch and pull out a kickstand I can’t see. I’m happy about the foot too, but I don’t try and stand the bike on squishy dirt / sand nearly as often as I kick out that kickstand. Having that loop back is a little slice of heaven, and the whole experience was just a great part of the adventure.
Soon the welding was done, and it was time to head out. Sadly, today’s driving was filled with human towns, and almost every one stank, mostly from burning garbage and such. Plus gasohol exhaust smells worse than gasoline exhaust. Speaking of which… we came to the conclusion that we’d never see 97 octane “Gasoline” again and gave up and used Gasohol at the best octane we could find (95). When we filled up we discovered we’d only gotten 45 mpg, which is crap, as we’d been getting 65-75 for this entire trip. Yes, we were driving almost 60mph for most of yesterday, but at that speed we should have definitely been getting over 55mpg. So, we think the claims that the 97 “Gasoline” didn’t have any alcohol in it was pure crap. Later on in the day we found a Repsol station with 98 and even that wasn’t gasoline. We have come to the conclusion that there simply is not any pure gasoline in Peru. I don’t know why we never discovered this in any of the ride reports we’ve read before, but there you have it. Peru: guaranteed to void the warranty on any BMW motorcycle.
I don’t know what the negative side effects are of running Gasohol in a finicky BMW engine are, but we don’t have a choice. We’d need a support vehicle filled with jerry-cans of gasoline from Ecuador to do this without using Gasohol because Peru is big!
Anyway… more beautiful desert
When we got into town we started looking for a hotel that had a chance of having somewhere to put the bikes. The first one we found was a 3 star place by the water. Didn’t have high hopes for being able to afford it but… walk in, start asking the price for a room and the guy just starts shaking his head at me. Doesn’t even say a word. Just gives me a “we don’t want your kind here… smelly biker.” look. But, I got him to recommend somewhere else because Dachary needed net for work and I wanted to give BMW Lima a heads up about needing new dual-sport rear tire. He recommends a place down the road with one of the noisiest intersections known to man. It’s another 3 star hotel, but we’re both tired and I’m really not into hunting this city any more for places that’ll be cheaper but still have internet and parking so we pay the $35(ish) US. and take the room.
The intersection eventually quiets down, but we get to hear bad karaoke from across the street into the wee hours. Dachary is totally crashy at this point, barely articulating herself and staring blankly at everything as a result of only having had an early lunch. I convince her that yes, you need to go eat now, not attempt to do work, so we wander out to the corner, don’t see anything immediately, and I make the Executive Decision that she’s not mentally capable of wandering around town for food, so we turn around and eat at the fancy Chinese Restaurant attached to the hotel. Like the US it’s got lots of red lacquer with cheap looking jade and porcelain things behind glass. Each plate is intended for two people (oops) but you have to specifically ask for rice (weird). Also, we’re the only people in the place who ask for chop sticks, and we get the standard ginormous unwieldy plastic things that seem to be a universal standard in Chinese restaurants that don’t use disposable wooden ones. I don’t get it. They’re the worst chop sticks under the sun. But then, we each eat everything on our plates. Ok, I left a few pieces of crunchy white lettuce bottoms, but I don’t think either of us had any idea we were *that* hungry.
Back to the room and Dachary barely gets any work done before, sensibly, declaring that she’s too tired. We’ll get up early(ish) to finish that, and putting images in the last two posts. Takes about an hour every night to do these posts if you include the uploading and putting in the code for the images… Daily posting is not an easy task my friends.
Side note: can’t find an e-mail address for BMW Lima, but it looks like we may actually be able to find the place without playing follow-the-taxi. The plan is to go there try and get a tire since they’ll be the most likely to have one of the appropriate size I think. If they have one, great. If they don’t ask them where we can find tires in town (Damn I miss Colombia with all it’s motos and streets of moto shops) and go buy something there. I’m not going to be picky, just something that’ll be able to handle the dirt we’re going to encounter as we head farther south.
Also, Moto Adventure Gal took a dirt road I really wanted to see That went through the Cañón del Pato, passed through like 40 tunnels, by a couple coal mines, and had Laguna Paron just half an hour off the main road. I really wanted to see Laguna Paron, it looks so pretty, but it’d add at least a day to the trip and Dachary has convinced me that since neither of us want to give up the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia (dunno how much time that’ll add), or Machu Pichu here in Peru (adds about 6 day), we’re going to need to give up a few other things. We’ll still probably need to push pretty hard after the Salar, but there’s nothing we can do about our time limit. We’re both of the opinion that it’s wrong to go to Peru and skip Machu Pichu even if it’s totally touristy and expensive. Unless of course, you’ve already seen it, but we haven’t.
We got internet and I was disappointed to find that Naomi had emailed us (she’s the female half of the couple with the exploded F800GS engines here in Peru) and we rode right past where they were staying this afternoon! I’d thought they were in Lima because I believe their bikes are in Lima, so I thought we’d still have a couple of days before we’d need to figure out the details of meeting up – but it turns out they’re a bit further north, and we rode right past the town where they were staying this afternoon. Bummer! Stopping there for the day would have been quite early, but we always enjoy hanging out with other ADVers, and Kay and I agree that it’s a shame we didn’t get the email before then. We would have called it an early night and been happy to hang out. So sorry we missed you guys, and maybe we’ll meet again down the road!
Regarding Peru… I have a lot of mixed feelings about this country so far. The landscape has been otherworldly and beautiful… except for all the trash. So much trash. Trash lining the road practically the entire way. Open landfills beside the road – even in the towns themselves, right across the street from collections of shanty homes. It seems like such a shame to have all this trash everywhere, but clearly Peru doesn’t have anything resembling the infrastructure and organization we have in the States. I just keep thinking about that old commercial with the Native American guy looking at trash in the middle of a beautiful American landscape and the single tear rolling down his face, and I know that’s such a cliche image… but that’s how I feel about Peru. It makes me sad. I know that as a “rich American” I have no right to really find it sad, but I do. It saddens me to see the planet treated like a giant trash can. This is something I took for granted before I left, and now I know a bit more about myself. So there’s that.
Also, I’m having trouble with the poverty here in Peru. We rode by a big corporate farm thing (in the middle of the desert) at one point today, and there were probably a dozen big tour buses lined up outside of the place. Parked there. Kay and I figured those buses must transport workers to the big corporate farms. I started thinking about what it must be like to toil in these fields all day, under the desert sun, and take home what is basically pennies for an entire day of hard labor. Shortly after seeing these fields, we met the guy who owned the restaurant and was talking to us about his salary and life here in Peru. He took English lessons because he dreamed of going to the United States and work in a kitchen, but he said he never had the opportunity. In large part, I’m guessing, because he makes so little here and just to get to the US must require an amazing amount of cash for people here, and I can’t imagine how he’d adjust to the inflated cost of living in most of the US.
This has made me very thoughtful about the poverty we’ve encountered here in Peru. We’ve encountered poverty in many of the Latin American countries, but it wasn’t *all* poverty. Peru seems to have more shanty-towns, more sad-looking towns and while there may not actually *be* more poverty here, it certainly feels like there is. And I don’t know how to feel about that. Part of me feels like I should feel guilty that I make so much more than the people here, and I have so many more opportunities than they do. Most people here could never begin to contemplate a trip like ours. There simply isn’t enough money in a lifetime for the folks here. And I do regret that they don’t have the opportunity that we have in the United States. But I don’t want to feel guilty because I *am* American – it’s just a fluke of birth that I was born there and they were born here. And yet, I feel that there would be something inhuman in not acknowledging that we have it so much better than so many of the people here, and I hate feeling like a “rich gringo” taking an extravagant trip like this through their country.
The guy at the restaurant seemed shocked when we told him we paid rent for our apartment. He didn’t seem to get the concept at first, and then when he did, he asked why we didn’t just buy a place. We told him that we can’t afford a place in Boston (we might or might not be able to afford one there, but neither of us wants the kind of lifestyle that would be required to buy a place in Boston). But we could have used the money that’s funding this trip to put a decent downpayment on a home somewhere else, and we could have bought ourselves a lot of stability with this money. Except neither of us wants that at the cost of this. A trip like this is worth so much more to us than a mortgage and bills… and yeah, having a home back in the States is important, but neither of us wants to forego the experiences of traveling for the security and stability of a 9-5 job and the life back home. And yet, part of me feels arrogant and kind of wasteful that the people here would make so much better use of the money we’re spending, and it would offer them security and stability and being well-off for such a long time… maybe even a lifetime.
So yeah. Peru is full of confusing feelings and reflection on poverty and American consumerism and the way of life that I want for myself, and trying to reconcile all of these things. I have no idea what the outcome of these reflections will be, but I do know that it will make me a better, more developed, deeper person for having to face these thoughts and ideas.