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Corporate Runaways

Overland travelers and certified geeks, based in Vermont.


9-Minute Read

Day 71 – Talara to Chiclayo Peru

Last night did not go as planned. Dachary didn’t get around to the work she wanted to get done, but decided that since it was just a little revision work she’d do it in the morning.

Unfortunately, we discovered that there was a thump-thump-thumpitdy nightclub somewhere nearby, and none of the local drivers seem to give a shit about the fact that people may be trying to sleep in the town and continue to communicate with each other via horn until the wee hours.

Then, there were the mosquitoes. They didn’t bother me, because they rarely do (I’m lucky that way) but they like to buzz in Dachary’s ears, bite her repeatedly, and generally do their best to keep her up all night with itching, and biting, and buzzing.

So… she didn’t sleep much.

In the morning she typed up the rest of her revisions, I packed and pumped water, then, went to the International Casa de Cambio while she finished the rest of her packing and getting ready. Walk up to the guy, tell him “I have Quetzales and Limpiera and need Soles. Is that ok?” “Huh?” I repeat myself. “Yes, five minutes. Just wait there.” I do. Nothing happens. I wander off to the tiny competitor in the square. No, they just convert Dollars and Euros to Soles. I return and now whatever he was waiting for has happened. I go up to the window, pull out my cash, and both he, and the guy who was just at the window, get completely bewildered looks on their faces. “What are those?!” ….”Quetzales, y Limpieras….” “Dolares?” …”NO. Quetzales y Limpieras” …. more bewildered looks…. I hold up one “Costa Rica”, the other “Colombia”… (Dachary later informed me that I was horribly wrong and the Quetzales are from Nicaragua and the Limpieras from Honduras) They shake their heads…. “Pero yo habla yo tengo Quetzales y LImpieras y nessecito Soles” “Desculpe…” he responds.

Gah! I walk out in frustration. My initial conversation was very simple. “I have X. I need Y. Is that ok?” and he said yes. Grrr

We hit the road without breakfast and start driving farther into the desert. Long plains of brown with bumpy brown sides that have somehow funneled enough water to repeatedly wash out the road. Past virulently green fields engineered by humans against all the laws of the desert with signs warning that the water used on them is not safe for human consumption.

Desert Bird

Road’s been washed away
(click through on that one to see how badly the road’s been washed away in the middle)

Road Obstruction
(giant piece of paper, but is it empty?)

We made it to Piura where we planned to fill up before the 200k of desert but… wait, “gasohol” Nonono. Not Gasohol…. Next place… Nope. Gasohol… “Donde esta una bomba con gasolina? No Gasohol.” “en *uninteligable bit* 15, no twenty minutes down the road. ” Oh my….

It’s a big town, so we keep looking. Eventually pulling into a station that appears to all be gasohol too. I ask. “Yes this is gasoline” “With alcohol. right?” “yes. gasoline and alcohol” “I need gasoline without alcohol” He seems to be saying that it’s all gasohol in Peru…but that can’t be right. “Hold on.” he runs back to finish helping people at the pump, comes back, explains some more, helps someone else, comes back… then a guy on a little 50cc scoot with his girlfriend riding pillion joins the conversation, understands the problem, and starts giving me directions to where we can find actual gasoline. Then realizes the directions are too effing complex before even finishing them and tells me to just follow them. So we do.

Eventually, we come to a gas station (after passing a few others) where he converses with the person there and it is determined that yes, the “97” is pure gasoline. Then they make sure we know how to get back (yay GPS tracks) and the girlfriend tells us where we can find tasty lunch. We thank them hugely, and they ride off into the city without asking for anything. We’d have happily given them money since they went out of their way and drove us half way across the city, but it warms our hearts to know that they did that out of the goodness of their hearts. I hope I can return the favor for someone back home.

On a related note, we may have inadvertently used gasohol the other day (it didn’t look quite right), because the bottom of the pump said “gasohol” but the part by the levers said “gasoline” and looked to be newer. The bikes didn’t complain, but considering how picky BMW’s are about gas neither of us is willing to risk putting gasohol in there. Also, WTF do the numbers mean if the gas is mixed with alcohol. An Octane rating is related to the number of carbon atoms in the molecule. WTF do the numbers mean if you’ve got two different molecules floating around in there?

We escape the city, and head deeper into the desert, past stick houses teleported from Africa, past warning signs for dunes that might creep across the road, and then…. nothing. Eight meters below sea level and there’s a flat plain of… nothing.

We had to stop and take some pics.

Stick houses in the desert
(African stick houses in Peru)

Zona Urbana
(A bad photo, but I love the juxtaposition of stick houses and the Zona Urbana sign)

Sand Dune

Flat, empty, desert.

Flat, empty, desert.

Flat, empty, desert.

Flat, empty, desert.

Flat, empty, desert.
(Dachary and some sticker-love for the Revzilla guys)

Flat, empty, desert.
(gotsta have our own sticker-love too ;) )

There are more pictures of us stopping at the empty desert spot in our Peru set on Flickr.

Back on the bikes we continue down the straight straight road. Maybe one turn in two hours until a voice comes over my headset. “I think there’s something wrong with my motorcycle” “Do you want to pull over?” “I’m not sure what good it would do?” “Ok”… A minute later. “Let’s pull over. I think I have a flat.”

So we do. “Yup. I have a flat.” she says.

It’s the rear of course. Couldn’t be the nice easy front. We pull it off and I spin it, looking for what could have punctured it… I don’t see anything obvious, but I do notice something suspicious. These water patterns shooting out from under the bead at points all around the wheel. That can’t be good. The only thing I can think of that would have caused that is the entire tube blowing catastrophically. But, that couldn’t have happened. I keep my thoughts to myself.

Fixing the flat

We’ve pulled everything we need from the panniers. I open up the BeadBreakr and hand Dachary the instruction sheet. She’s always better at interpreting instruction sheets, probably because she used to write instruction manuals in a past life. Tab A, Slot B… this way on the tire and voilla! easiest bead break ever; like trivially easy. That can’t be good. The F650GS has one of the hardest beads to break, and none of the previous times has it ever been “trivial”. The BeadBreakr generally makes it pretty easy, but not…. Oh my.

That’s … not good.

and, oh… that’s … that’s really not good.

Fixing the flat

Fixing the flat

Fixing the flat

Fixing the flat

Fixing the flat

Turns out, something had been “gradually getting worse” on her bike for nearly ten minutes before she mentioned it to me; not that I would have known what the problem was from my bike in front of her. I suspect that riding it for that long with way to little, and then no, air built up so much heat that the tube simultaneously disintegrated and melted to itself. The pressure from all the weight of the rear end of the bike on the flat tire caused the inside of relatively new treads to bend the carcass and crack it along the grooves.

The tire is shot. We’re keeping it for the moment because while it may be fucked it’s at least usable in a pinch if one of our rears somehow gets a big rip in it. We’ll try and get internet soon so that we can e-mail the BMW dealer in Lima and see if they can get a tire in stock for us before we swing by. I wouldn’t mind being back at the hotel in Ecuador with Joe and Vern though… just down the street was the moto district with a bunch of tire vendors and while our front tire may be an uncommon size, I’m pretty sure our rear isn’t too hard to find.

Anyway. We grabbed the spare I’d been carrying for myself and put it on her bike. The spare, which I still had, thanks to the advice of Joe and Vern, who suggested I could probably get another 2k out of my tires if I needed to, and that they’d consider it piece of mind to have a spare “just in case”. Always listen to your elders kids. Especially when they’ve got nearly a hundred years of motorcycle riding experience between them.

Dachary says we changed the tire in an hour and a half, and then spent thirty five minutes picking up our crap. I’m not sure how we managed to spend that much time cleaning up, but I think an hour and a half isn’t bad considering we weren’t trying to rush it. It was nice out: about 80 degrees, good breeze, plenty of sunlight left…

There wasn’t much sunlight left though, and as soon as we found a town big enough to have a hotel / hostel / hospedaje we opened our eyes and pulled into the first decent one we found. 40 Soles, a parking spot with a big door behind the place and a restaurant three doors down. :)

Dachary’s note: the flat was actually a fairly trivial thing. I think we’ve been traveling long enough now that we didn’t panic or get upset when the flat happened. We were just grateful we had enough light to fix it, and proceeded to do so without drama. And honestly, it was kind of cool to get a flat (and fix it!) in the middle of the Peruvian desert. Like somehow now we’re “real” adventure riders. “Remember that time we got the flat in the Peruvian desert?” “Yeah, that was cool.” I’m just annoyed with myself that I didn’t pull over immediately when I noticed something was wrong, because we might have been able to save the tire. Finding a new rear for Kay may be a bit more of a quest than we’d bargained for, and I’d like him to have a new rear before Bolivia.

But yeah. Adventure, here we are!

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A couple with 2 dogs and a thirst for exploring the places in-between.