Once I left Cuenca, Ecuador it was just a short ride to Peru. The lush green mountains and twisty roads fell away and I entered a land that of dirt and sand, gusty winds, and a horizon that seemed to stretch out forever. I was facing the first of many days in the desert.
The first hours were filled with twists and mountains made of dirt and sand dunes. But as I rode south the earth became flat, the winds picked up and the temperature dropped. Minutes turned to hours and hours turned to days. Northern Peru is hundreds of miles of featureless sand and dirt, and in sections the road continues straight with no curves as far as the eye can see.
I think the motorcycle is best because it puts you so much in contact with everything. You experience much more closely the nature of the terrain and almost taste the cultures’ that you’re riding through, because it exposes you to the climate and to the wind and rain and it’s a much more complete experience. – Ted Simon
This is the experience I want. A difficult journey that tests my limits. A place where it’s just me and my thoughts, no external pressures; no Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, eMail, or WhatsApp. No Podcasts, Netflix, or iTunes. It’s solitude in the fierce landscape, the perfect temple to examine my life.
I spent the first night in Trujillo, Peru. Unfortunately my bike was damaged while I slept. I’m not sure how it happened, the bike was parked in a small storage area under the hotel, there was a heavy metal door that was locked and the bike wasn’t visible from the street. The hotel was undergoing some remodeling and the supplies were kept in the same storage area, perhaps some of the sheetrock fell on the bike, I’m not sure. Maybe someone wanted a photo with the bike and hopped on not realizing how heavy it is and tipped it over.
I didn’t even notice the damage at first. I realized that my pannier lid wasn’t closing easily but just thought I was tired or clumsy. I really noticed the damage when I stopped for gas on my way out of town – too far from the hotel to return and ask for an explanation.
The Touratech panniers are made to take a beating. There is a Touratech in Lima and I knew I could have things sorted out there. Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. I can watch the experts fix the panniers and then I’ll know how to do it when I damage them in places far from a Touratech shop.
Trouble With The Cops
Just north of Lima I had a minor encounter with the law. I’d accidentally turned onto a road where motorcycles where prohibited. I had no idea, what I did know was it was a beautiful road – it clung to a steep cliff that wound it’s way along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Fog was beginning to roll in and the scenery was just breathtaking.
Unfortunately I didn’t have my GoPro mounted to my helmet and was missing some great footage for my videos. I also wanted to take some stills with my Leica to properly capture the scene. I pulled over in a little spot just wide enough to get everything out and start shooting. And that’s when the police showed up.
To police officers stopped and told me I had broken the law. They asked to see my paperwork and ID. Then I was told they were going to be giving me a citation and a steep fine. I had a feeling I’d be paying the fine directly to the police officers. Paying a bribe isn’t uncommon (I’ve done it many times on this trip already) but I never get used to it.
I figured as long as I was going to have to pay these guys for their time I might as well get something out of it. So I asked them if I could take some photos of them. Suddenly everything changed. They insisted I capture them with the ocean in the background. They began to talk about the beauty of Peru and I agreed – that’s why I’d wanted to ride this road.
Soon I’d shown one of the officers how my camera worked and he took a few photos. Then they were happy to pose with the bike. I spent about 15 minutes talking to the police and in the end they allowed me to continue along the road. Unfortunately they didn’t allow me enough time to put on my GoPro or allow me to stay in my spot long enough to take any more photos. This is the only photo I captured of that amazing road.
After three days of traveling through the desert I’d made it to Lima. I plan to spend a week or two in Lima. I need some new clothes, the pannier needs to be fixed, and I’m hoping to get some off-road training to fill in the gaps with my off-road riding skills.