Cycling days 156-159: Macara to Chiclayo, Peru
Trip Start Apr 07, 2010
120Trip End Jan 19, 2012
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
We make the 12km of downhill to Macara and have a big breakfast – our last Ecuadorian meal for this trip. Going through immigration is no problem and we are even granted a 6-month visa for Peru, giving us plenty of time to bicycle through the country and climb tons of mountains. Very soon, our odometer reaches 10,000km – the distance from Los Angeles to Peru's northern border is such a big, round number! We ride along, happy to have reached these two milestones and enjoy the easy riding.
We have a good time waving and saying hello to all the nice people sitting outside their homes or passing us in their cars and motorbikes…until a few a-holes come along. Shirley spots a tuk tuk (3-wheeled taxi) driving up behind us and not moving over and giving us much room as it passes, unlike all of the other tuk tuks and vehichles, so she moves as far over as she can on the shoulder without going into the dirt…then SLAP!
We continue cycling, but now Shirley stares down every tuk tuk that passes by, traumatized by what happened. Yannick tells her to forget about it…it isn’t fair for everyone else that she is paranoid like this. An hour later, we pull to the side of the road for a break and she is still a little grumpy, but some cute kids set things right again.
At 5pm, we stop to wash off our sticky and sweaty bodies in the aqueduct, just as we have seen so many locals do today. Feeling clean and refreshed, we find an awesome spot to camp among some dirt dunes about 100m from the highway and protected from view. Still a little irked by today’s incident, we spend an hour just listening to music and gazing at the starts, helping us return to a tranquilo state. What a beautiful night.
Nights rarely get more perfect than desert camping under the stars. We take our time getting back to the road, but then we relish the cool, dry morning air as we make our way down the highway. As we approach the city of Sullana, we are sad to see huge amounts of trash accumulated on the sides of the road and scattered as far as our eyes can se.
Once we pass through to the other side of Sullana, the road conditions turns from great to sucky…the shoulder is narrow and full of debris and potholes, so we opt to ride just left of the white line. Some vehicles are fine with this…until there is traffic coming in the opposite direction. Rather than slowing down for two seconds for the opposing traffic to pass, they maintain their speed and squeeze through, almost forcing us off the road.
Eight kilometers outside of Piura, we stop at a small comedor and order the set lunch for 5 sols, which includes soup, a main dish with meat and rice, and a nice cold glass of limeade (about the same price, quality, and quantity of the meals we became accustomed to in Ecuador). We finish off the last kilometers to the city and ask around for a large supermarket – yes, this city actually has one! We are pretty tired of the limited selection at the small tiendas…we’ve been eating the same dried goods for weeks. But now, we’ve found a BIG grocery store with a huge variety of food! We spend about 3 hours outside the supermarket with Yannick making 3 trips inside to purchase food…oh, he’s like a kid in a candy store! He comes out with things we take for granted back home, but feel like treats here, such as cheese, a baguette, cold cuts, pears, cous cous, etc. After stuffing ourselves with fresh food, we finally get back on the road at 4:30pm, saying goodbye to our little sanctuary…oh, how we will miss you!
To exit the city, we ride through the expected crazy traffic and head for the desert…a 200km crossing to Chiclayo, the next sizeable city. We take the turn towards our destination and hit the open road again, but are very surprised by the number of settlements there are out here, nestled among the scrub brush and piles of sand. We are also impressed by how clean and organized the area is! Pathways are clear of tree branches, wood is neatly piled, animals have their designated places, and there is hardly any trash lying on the ground. We think Sullana could learn a lesson or two from these little desert communities!
At 5:45pm, we easily find a place to camp among the bushes, but it is hard work pushing our heavy bicycles through the loose sand. As Shirley stands there keeping the two bikes from falling over while Yannick chooses the perfect spot to pitch the tent, she starts getting attacked by mosquitos. She starts wiggling her leg around and slapping them off with her arms and Yannick walks back over to her and tells her to stop being paranoid…we’re in the desert for goodness sakes! Then, he start getting swarmed by the blood suckers too…who’s “paranoid” now? We scramble to put on some layers of clothing and spray our faces and hands with insect repellent, then hurriedly set up the tent and jump inside. We spend the next 5 minutes slapping the air to kill the mosquitoes that are trapped in the tent, giving us flashbacks of the horrible PCT days in Southern Washington and Northern Oregon where we were nearly eaten alive by the relentless insects. We had bought some pasta and gasoline with the intention to cook for the first time since Guatemala, but that’s not happening tonight because there is no way we are opening that tent fly again! We have some delicious cold sandwiches for dinner and are very satisfied. Good night mosquitos…we hope not to see you in the morning!
Day 158 (5/24/11): 109km
The mosquitoes NEVER left last alone night! These aren’t the normal dusk and dawn type 'o guys…they kept buzzing around the tent at all hours and got us pretty good when we had to step out to pee…aagh, it’s horrible! We can see hundreds of them outside the mesh of our shelter, waiting for their breakfast. We layer up to protect ourselves from the inevitable attack. We hear “zzZZzzZZ…”in our ears while we break down camp and move everything to the side of the road, then poof…they’re gone. We do some load carries and find it so strange that the mosquitoes are only hanging out among the bushes…but now we have the nasty little biting flies to deal with here…baagh!
We start loading the bikes and do an inspection of the tires for thorns and find plenty of little thorns, but Shirley’s front tube is the only one that has been punctured…it’s the one with the mountain bike tire and not as resilient as the others. We fix the flat, move 4km, then have to check the weird noise coming from her rear brakes…might as well change the splitting cable and brake pads while we’re at it. Ugh, now it’s 9am…there goes the early start to take advantage of the calmer desert winds in the morning!
The road is flat and straight, making it easy to travel at 20kph, but in the afternoon, our average goes down to 12kph against the increasing headwinds. We are really lucky the sky has been overcast all day or this desert crossing would be really brutal. Not only do we have to fight the elements, but we have to constantly be alert of the oncoming traffic – drivers out here really don’t care about us on our bicycles.
Let us rephrase what we said the other morning: Nights rarely get more perfect than desert camping under the stars…when there are no man-eating insects around. Last night was sooo wonderful in their absence! When the alarm goes off, the night felt too short though…we could have used a couple more hours of shuteye, but alas, we get up and slowly push our bicycles back the road.
A couples hours into the ride, Yannick suddenly stops and yells, “piggy!” There’s a little pink piglet on the side of the road and we try to call it over to us, but he runs away when we disembark our bicycles. Poor piggy probably won’t last very long out here in the hot desert…but then again, he might not last much longer back at the ranch. Hmm, at least he’ll get to roam the desert freely for at least a little while this way. We change our minds…run, little piggy, run!
An hour-and-a-half after leaving Morrope and having to defend ourselves from dump dogs several times (we now carry a few mid-sized rocks on our handlebars!), we arrive in the town of Lambayeque, where a lady selling warm churros gets our attention. We buy 10 and finish them on the spot…mmm!