Friday, August 26, 2011

Off the Map

August 23, 2011

Tuesday morning Alex and I walked to get gas for his motorcycle, it ran out just as he pulled in the previous night. We also stopped to look at buying one. They are cheaper there than anywhere else in Peru, and it would really help Alex get around to the dorm and all the villages the girls come from if he had his own transportation. After finding a few leads, we headed back to the hotel, picked up Gabe and took off to find this lake.

First, we had to cross the river on a ferry. Haha! They were just little barges big enough for two cars or a half dozen or so bikes. They were powered by weed-wackers with propellers instead of string. Awesome.

Loading on the ferry

Alex was put on a different ferry

On the other side we followed the paved road for 30 minutes until we saw a dirt road on our right, that was it. We stopped for drinks and chatted with the locals. They warned us that the road was out and we had to take a tiny trail through the jungle. They also told us it was about a 4 hour drive to the lake. We didn’t believe them (dumb) since it was only 29 miles. My GPS didn’t show the road, so I shut it off and we set off.

Probably should have listened to the locals

The first 20 minutes was a solid dirt road that was easy to navigate over small wooden bridges and through herds of cows. I saw a trail off to the left and stopped. I asked Gabe and Alex if they thought that was our turnoff. “Naw, it can’t be this soon, let’s keep going.” And thus began our decent into motorcycle hell. Massive semis carrying trees had used the road when it was wet and created 1 to 2 foot ruts filled with water. We had about 6 inches in between ruts to balance our heavy machines on the only solid ground available. Either shoulder was soft mud that would swallow a motorcycle. I have driven some tough trails in Michigan with Jeff, but nothing compared with this. Alex and Gabe both dumped their bikes in the mud, and we had to work together to get them out. Finally, after battling through a herd of cows that would not let us pass, we gave up. It was getting too probable that one of us would get stuck beyond saving. One the way back to the trail (yes, that was it) I got stuck in a rut too, but we got it out alright.

Road was okay at first, except all the cows

Waiting at the trail we did not take...

It got ugly

Stuck again

The passable jungle trail looked just like the MCCT trail that Jeff took me on in Michigan. It was fun at first, and if I didn’t look too close at the dense jungle plants, I almost felt like I was back home. But the road deteriorated again, and I dumped my bike in a huge rut. Exhausted, we stopped in an open field and turned around. It was getting late and we were traveling at less than 10 miles an hour. We headed back to the ferry station. But first we had to stop at a gas station for an hour to wash off the thick mud that covered all our motos.

Passable jungle trail

Time to turn around

Dinner was a huge portion of rice, fries, and grilled chicken for $1.40 from a roadside stand. We hopped back on a ferry just as the sun set over the river. Gorgeous. Then Gabe and I went to look for a new rearview mirror for his bike that had shattered on one of the crashes.

Sunset over the river while crossing back on the ferry

That evening we cleaned up and headed out. We spotted a karaoke bar, oh yeah, time to impress (or not) the locals with our talents. Honestly, it is the nicest karaoke bar I have ever seen in my life. They had little groups of soft couches with numbered tables in front of them to keep track of whose turn it was. There were many small screens and one big one in front. The microphones were nice, new, and sounded great when you sang into them. The song selection was ridiculous. There must have been 10,000 songs in Spanish, 5,000 in English, and 5,000 in Portuguese (we were only about 100 km from Brazil). Every song we wanted to sing was there, that doesn’t even happen in the states with only English songs! Alex and I definitely embarrassed ourselves, but we did throw down good versions of Under the Bridge and What I Got. It was fun. After that it was a short stop at the discotech and we headed home. What a day!

Bridge under construction at night. Why is it blurry?

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