Friday, August 19, 2011

Beggar's Canyon

August 18-19, 2011

Wednesday morning Penny’s maintenance guy Felix helped me bend the brackets back into place. It wasn’t too hard, and considering that it will probably fall many more times over the next six months, it was good practice to fix. I then headed back to the shipping office to pick up all my final paperwork. I found out that customs only gave me 3 months with the bike, so I have to leave Peru in early November and return. It will just be another adventure. Driving in Lima went well , it was good to get back on the bike. I bought gas for the first time in Peru, and freaked out a little. I bought 90 gas, which I assumed (correctly) was just like what I buy in the states, but it was RED. Hmmm, I thought I accidently bought diesel or something, but it turns out they color their gas so people don’t get screwed. 95 octane is green, and 98 is blue. Good times.

I spent the rest of the afternoon packing up and getting ready for an early morning departure.

Thursday morning was goodbye to Penny. It was such a great week living at her house. We had tons of tasty and interesting food, several bottles of wine, great conversation, and some good little adventures around the city. Thanks again for everything!!

Packed and Ready to Go

Goodbye Penny

The first half hour was spent battling morning traffic to exit Lima. To steal an expression from my friend Ross, it was like “swimming with whales”. There were huge buses everywhere. But I enjoyed it and soon it was highway freedom on the Pan American South. It was such a good feeling to know that I was finally achieving my dream of motorcycling across South America, and I’m even happier that I’m going to be at the dorm for the next four months. The first toll stop came up and I waited in a huge line. As I approached, a man started yelling at me and told me to go to the other side. There is a tiny little lane on the far right that motorcycles go through. No tolls for me in Peru!! By the end of the day the total I didn’t have to pay was around 30 sols. Nice. The first leg of the trip had the ocean on my right and the desert mountains on the left. I had already seen this on the way to Lunahuana, but this time I stopped for a picture of the green mountains. I stopped in Canete at a famous restaurant called El Piloto. Breakfast was chicharron and manazanilla tea. It was good, and the tea reminded me of Rustic since we drank it at every meal.

Green Desert Mountains

South of Canete the road started to turn inland and the sun came out! Lima in the winter has the exact same weather every day. It is overcast, 65 degrees, and light rain at night. Now, fall is my favorite time of year and I always wished to live somewhere where it was fall all the time. Lima is the place, except I didn’t realize how badly I missed the sun until I finally saw it after 2 weeks. Um, no thanks on living in Lima. The landscape became a complete desert with just an outline of mountains off in the distance.

Mountains in the Distance

My next stop was this cool little oasis town. I’ve always wanted to see one. Huacachina has huge dunes on all sides and there is a little lake right in the middle. I walked around the city and took a few pictures. I was going to try dune boarding, but I watched people trying and the boards were crap, no one was going anywhere. I decided to pass.

Desert Oasis

Yeah 10 Second Timer

On the way out of town, I headed through more desert straight into the foothills. It was awesome! The low hills were complete rock with the road cut right through it. I felt like I was in a podrace (yes, Star Wars reference) twisting through Beggar’s Canyon at a high speed. Finally, it dropped down into this beautiful valley and through a small town. Then it was back up to another flat desert plain.

Now, up to this point I had passed many, many police officers. I have heard all the stories of the corrupt cops and was nervous for my first attempt to not have to pay a bribe. As I neared Nazca, a cop waved me over. Oh man, this is it. He asked where I was going and I responded with Nazca. I quickly asked if there was a spot where I could view the famous lines. He smiled and showed me there was an observation tower just ahead. Alright, not only was there no problem, but that is exactly the info I needed. The Nazca lines are these famous shapes cut into the desert that only make sense when seen from an airplane. They propagate the theory that aliens were there, made them as a landing strip, and built the Incan Empire. I couldn’t justify paying to go up in an airplane just to see something I could easily see on Google images, so I started talking to a guy up there to see what he thought. It turns out he is a college student from Canada and is roaming around Peru for 16 days on his own. I think that is pretty interesting. I talked about my trip, and gave him a few tips on Machu Picchu. I felt pretty cool when he asked if he could take a photo of the Michigan license plate. (Not me, just the plate. Haha.)

Nazca Lines

In town, I grabbed some Chinese for dinner and it was actually really good (and cheap). Walking back to my bike there was Simon again! He had a late bus to Arequipa so I told him to try the Chinese. I checked to see if the couch surfer has responded at an internet cafe, and he hadn’t, so I had to find a place to stay. Now, Nazca is a city with a million one way streets, and ironically enough, they don’t go every other one. It is two or three in a row in the same direction!! And, several streets are completely torn up so getting around is difficult. Everyone who gave me directions told me to go the wrong way, it was no big deal. So now is a good time to explain what I learned in one day of driving. In Peru, motorcycles have no rules. They drive on the sidewalk, around toll booths, the shoulder of the road, the wrong way, and in other lanes along side cars. So there are plusses and minuses. The pros are that cars are used to and look for bikes all around them. The cons are that if you DON’T drive like a maniac on a bike, you get honked at and it is actually more dangerous. So in Nazca, I put that to use. Did I drive the wrong way? Yes. Did I weave in and out of traffic? Yes. Was this actually safer? I think so. I was careful but it is just a different way of driving.

I finally found the hotel and the lady told me to drive back to a door. Yes, a normal sized door. Hmmm, ok. My motorcycle fit with plenty of room for a piece of paper or two. Wow. I parked in the pool area inside. I had seen pictures like that on the internet and it is cool to have my own now.

Did I just drive through that door? Yes, I did.

I'm surprised no one was laying out by the pool...

So, it was 300 miles and a successful first day driving across Peru. Tomorrow is a monster day so I’ll be up at 6 am for what should be an incredible ride.

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