Desert to Mountains – Northern Peru

With such an easy border crossing into Peru I had a full day of riding in front of me. The sun was shining, no rain clouds in sight, and the weather was perfect for riding.  The roads were also perfect, kilometer after kilometer of prefect pothole free pavement. The road hugs the shore line and waves are crashing against the beach, how I love riding next to the ocean. Vultures circle in the distance, there are always vultures, a lone one at the road side looks at me. I think he is the same one that I gave the finger to back in Texas and has been following me ever since, just waiting for the final giant pothole. Not today bird the road is smooth.

There is a familiar smell, the smell of rotting flesh and I am immediately reminded of the dead buffalo on the Alaska Highway. I look to my right and see several dead Sea Lions on the beach, being picked at my vultures. Man they stink, but not as bad as the buffalo, I think the sea air helps move the stench away. I read once that smell is the biggest trigger of memory, why could I not have had a more pleasant smell, like mint. I accelerate down the coast leaving the smell behind.

The road turns into the desert. I am surprised by the desert conditions, I did see photos of it before but there is nothing like the real thing, reminds me a little of Death Valley in California. I don’t realize it at the time but I am beginning to dehydrate, not drinking enough water and I start to get a headache. One of my riding rules is this “If you don’t pee each time you get gas; you’re not drinking enough water”. I haven’t peed all day. I approach a town and decide to call it a day. Something about this place does not feel right; I get water and move on. “Trust your gut, follow your heart” was some of the best advice I have ever been given, my gut says “move on” my heart doesn’t care, its thinking of other things. The next town feels better and I call it a day.

Having enough of the desert I decide to head into the mountains for a couple of days and make the town of San Ignacio my destination.  A little bit more desert riding and then it’s over the mountains. The views are specular and like most of the roads here, very few places to pull over for a photo. My mind had been wandering a little but is now just living in the moment, this road is amazing, so much fun and so beautiful.  I come to a “Y” in the road and decided to ask for directions. There are a few “mototaxi” parked beside a café, wherever there is a “mototaxi” you can almost be sure of finding a guy napping inside. After some excitement over my bike and the usual questions I get pointed in the right direction towards San Ignacio.

This road, as with so many other things on this journey would be better shared. The mountains are green the road is smooth and not much traffic. I stop and take lots of photos and wish I could share this time, I will, on another adventure. I think how nice it would be to have a passenger today, which is until the road turns to crap. I had been riding on perfect blacktop since I came into Peru and now, without warning the road is mud. Mud and potholes and now I am glad I don’t have a passenger, it would not be fun. There is some construction up ahead and I ask the girl turning the sign if the road gets better, she said it did just ahead, she lied. The road just kept getting worse and worse and I considered turning back. There is a man standing beside his motorcycle at the road side so I decide to ask him how much further to San Ignacio. His bike has a flat tire so I decided to help. Unfortunately him I don’t have a patch kit for his tube, so my “help” ends up being in the form of “mototaxi”.  I didn’t want a passenger on this road and now I have one, I need to be careful what I think, maybe Ishould think about winng the lottery. He offers to pay me; I can’t explain “good karma” or “The kindness of strangers” in Spanish so I just refuse his cash with a smile. So many people have helped me along the way, expecting nothing in return; it felt good to return the favour.

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