Feb 17

Day 73 – Chimbote to just north of Lima Peru

by in Field Reports

Up and out without breakfast again, a quick stop for Gasohol before heading back into the desert.

Company Uniform
(Both of the women working at this station were done up like this)

Around lunch time we were going around a roundabout when I spotted a restaurant with wooden chairs and a nicely lettered menu of the day, and a little voice inside me said “eat there!” so I listened to it, and passed on the word. We pulled in, I intentionally hopped off the wrong side of the bike, and slowly pulled it down after me.

*Kathunk*

I stared at it for a moment. Laughed, once again, at my idiocy, and Dachary and I lifted it back up.

In we went, and had one of the best lunches we’ve had in a while. Dachary had some roast beef, potatoes, and rice. I had chicken, potatoes and rice. Both plates were delicious and there was a wonderfully curry-like spice on the potatoes that left your lips numb without burning you. Mmmm

Back on the Panamerican the word of the day ended up being “Wooowwwww” because we just kept saying it over and aver. We’ve never seen landscapes like these, and we both felt so amazingly grateful for the opportunity to experience them.

Dachary in the Desert

Dachary in the Desert

Dachary in the Desert

Dachary in the Desert

Peruvian Desert

Peruvian Desert

Peruvian Desert

Peruvian Desert

Peruvian Desert

Another stop at a Gasohol station to fill up on “fuel” that was guaranteed to void the warranties we didn’t have. We pulled over to put a smudge more air in my tires and on the way to the bathroom I noticed the bins of frozen treats… “hmm. standing around for five minutes eating a frozen treat wouldn’t be bad.” Dachary wasn’t opposed to the idea, so 7 soles later we were enjoying a nice little break by the bikes. We’d been riding hard all day, and rarely take little breaks like that. It was nice.

Back on the bikes, and we encountered the two police checkpoints where Naomi warned us about corrupt cops trying to extract bribes. Sure enough, at the first one the cops lied and tried to tell us we were going faster than we were after exiting a toll booth, you know, where you’re supposed to be accelerating? The next one was after cresting a hill, there were four cop cars at the bottom of it, and I thought, with that many cops it’ll be less likely that they’re trying to get bribes from people, but sure enough, we were waved over by a cop standing on the side of the road with no radar gun or any other means of detecting speed.

Having been warned about these guys in advance I played extra stupid gringo with zero Spanish skills. At the first stop the guy was speaking so fast that I didn’t even have to pretend I didn’t have a clue what he was saying. He went to get his partner whom he thought spoke some English. He came over, attempted the same thing, and failed utterly at my dazed looks and “Sorry?” and “I don’t understand.” I didn’t even answer the question of “where are you from?” because that would have implied some Spanish understanding. I did give my fake license though because “licencia” is pretty close, and I don’t give a shit if he has it. After a minute or two of utterly failed communication attempts he waved me off with a frustrated expression.

The second stop was much like the first, except I actually understood the first guy, who went off to get someone else to attempt to communicate with me, and he wrote down “$150 Infractione” on the back of a ticket. “Ok.” I said in the “I have no clue what you’re on about, but please continue speaking.” sort of voice. He told me I’d been going very fast. I told him I didn’t understand a thing he was saying. He asked for my documents but used other words. I told him I didn’t understand. Eventually he said “documents para la moto” which was close enough, and I showed him my documents. He pointed to the “$150 infraction” on the paper again. I said “Yes?” He blathered on for a few moments, and then gave up and waved me on. As a note, whenever we’ve seen prices in Peru it has been “S./ some_number” and never dollar signs, so I’m pretty sure he meant US Dollars.

Soon, we entered the outskirts of Lima and started looking for a hotel, having previously decided it would be better to grab a hotel and attempt to find the dealer tomorrow since we’d never make it there before they closed. Dachary spotted one on the left but I mistook her hail for the one I’d spotted on the right with balconies, faux marble, and more all done up in a heavily european style. It stuck out like a sore thumb along the side of this busy road with crappy little single color one-story buildings.

(Dachary’s note: while Kay was enquiring about the hotel, I was standing with the bikes, as per usual, and a guy pulled up in a pick-up truck and seemed really excited to see the bikes. He came over and started asking me questions, and my Spanish isn’t as good as Kay’s, but eventually I was able to tell him the capacity of the bike, where we were from, where we were going, etc. He asked if he could take a picture of the bikes, and we told him it was fine (Kay had come out at that point and was standing with me) and he seemed really happy and excited about us and the bikes.

He shook our hands and then made to drove off, and as he was going by, he pulled the pick-up next to us and offered us some toffee. Apparently he made it himself. He opened a little plastic baggy and handed us each one, and then he handed Kay the full baggy, which had contained a total of 5 toffees. Normally I’d be skeptical of eating food some random stranger gave us, but he was so genuinely happy that we took them – I felt it would be insulting to refuse. We each had one after dinner, and ZOMG! They were amazingly good! I’m not even really a toffee fan, but these things were SO tasty. I had two, and Kay had one, and we still have two left. We’re saving them. Yay for random encounters with generous strangers who make good toffee!) – End Dachary’s Note

Turns out they’re not done with the building, but they’re really trying hard, and have done a good job. It’s also got real Jacuzzi tubs, although, it’s lacking enough hot water to fill them. When we asked about food around here the lady at the desk (on the second floor) said she could order us something. So, fuck it, we took it. Better than hunting around for more, and getting closer to Lima and higher prices.

Unfinished bust

Ionic column in the making...

Romeo, Romeo...

Bike Molester

Bike Molester

We paid for the room, asked about food again, and she wanted as much for the food as for the room. We were quite confused because it was an outrageous price for food in Peru, and told her we’d go find food out there. Then, magically, the price halved itself. Dachary told me later that the lady was originally offering us some sort of mixed platter with chorizo, chicken and a bunch of other stuff, which Dachary has seen elsewhere for quite a high price, so it turns out that the price wasn’t implausible. For half the price, it was still a bit much but within the realm of sanity and we didn’t feel like debating it any more so we said ok and went to the room. What we ended up with was tasty fried chicken on a bed of lamely done french-fries which she probably marked up 100%. I hope she at least tipped the delivery-guy we saw bringing it via the balcony.

We set up the iPad on the balcony, grabbed the headphones, and enjoyed an episode of Top Gear whilst we munched our meal. Afterwards, we remembered we were going to check Dachary’s air filter because she’s been having some performance problems, but it was dark, some disagreements ensued and in the end, the idea was abandoned.

I’m not sure what this means for tomorrow because I’m not comfortable with her heading into Bolivia and beyond with the bike acting as it is (sometimes she has the throttle pegged and we’re barely doing more than 60mph). It may be something more, as the bike is due for it’s 12,000 mile check-up, but it may just be that the desert has filled her filter, although if that were the case I’d suspect that my bike would be experiencing similar problems, but Horse is doing good, even with the crap I’ve been feeding him.

Side note: Gasohol in Peru is running us nearly $7 US a gallon and is continuing to give us shit mileage (45 mpg when we’re used to getting 65-75). We buy 95 or better whenever we can, but sometimes we get stuck with 90 because there won’t be any more stations for a while and there’s nothing better. Still don’t know what the numbers mean. Maybe it’s octane, but we’ve no clue what percentage of what we’re buying is alcohol. We are not happy.

Side note 2: Checking the air filter requires removal of six torx screws, the seat, the blinker, two long phillps screws (one of which is in a deep tunnel), and the snorkel. Once you get it out you have to do a lot of shoving and finger crossing to get it back in because it doesn’t really fit in the space provided. We love our bikes but hate everything to do with getting those body panels off. You need to remove them to access the battery, the air filter, the fuel filter, and to change the oil. Well, the oil also requires removing the filter and it’s cover down near the chain, as well as the sump plug under the bike. Actually you’re supposed to remove the oil tank thing near the top too but we never do since you can drain almost all of it just by having the bike tilted on the kickstand. Some of the design decisions on this bike are just fucking moronic.

There are far things in the world worse than corrupt cops. The cops in Colombia and Mexico were great, but so far Peruvian cops on the Panamerican are as bad as their Honduran counterparts. Peru is beautiful, when the natives haven’t covered it in trash and / or foul scents, but bad cops can sour the whole experience of a country for overlanders and that really sucks.

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