02 October, 2012

Day 89, 496km: Mancora to Pacasmayo

Woke up in Peru! People here seem to speak faster or maybe less intelligibly, I'm having a really hard time understanding what I'm being told. "Favor de hablar mas despacio" has replaced "Hola como estas" in my phrasebook.

Windy
So I'm back with my friend the pacific. I like him, it's always cool being with him, which is very welcome under these latitudes and keeps the mercury down.
The landscape reminds me of Baja California. Dry, isolated and vast. But much cooler, at most 25C. So it's nice.

So it's actually a desert over here...
Again, superior planning, I had no idea I was actually going to drive across a desert in this part of Peru. Well, I like deserts. Although maybe I forgot that in isolated areas one has to be careful with gas as we shall see later in the day...

Rice fields!
There were a few rivers here and there, turning small portions of the wasteland into lush fields. Naturally villages were located nearby. Naturally people were living in these villages. Naturally lousy drivers were therefore highly concentrated.
In 3 months on the road and 25,000 km I flipped the finger to a single car, a taxi driver in Panama.
Well today it happened again as a pick-up truck cut me off (queue de poisson) I had to brake hard not to crash into him. So, second finger given.

Today's lunch break
I realized while stopping for lunch that my food supply was low. Still, that canned corn and canned tuna was the greatest meal available miles around, for there were no towns.

Told you, no towns
Just sand. Miles and miles of sand, dunes and windy roads. After miles and miles, I realized that I was on the reserve and therefore had at most 50 km left on my tank. I underestimated my consumption as the wind blew strongly. So I had 50km left on the reserve and the nearest town was 90km away according to my GPS.

That sucked. Well I have a gas tank, so I thought I'd just drive, pull aside when my tank is empty and hitchhike to the nearest gas station and back. I estimated I'd be refueled and at the next big town by 6 pm which was not that bad.

Still, sucks to leave the bike in the middle of the desert for an hour or two, I wasn't happy with that idea. Would I take the luggage with me? But then nobody would take me in their car ... many questions were had and plans made. There weren't many cars on the road either.
Eventually though there was a backhoe loader, busy moving a sand dune out of the road. I stopped next to him and walked to his vehicle. The place was extremely windy and I had to shout to talk to him. The guy had a hood and big glasses on to protect himself from the sand. I kept my helmet on for that purpose. That was a comical exchange.

Me "DONDE TIENE GASOLINA"
Him "A FTNTE KOMETROS"
Me "PERDON CUANTO KILOMETROS"
Him "VEINTE"
Me "VEINTE?"
Him "SI VEINTE"
Me "SEGURO?"
Him "SI SEGURO"
Me "OK GRACIAS"

Guess what?
I had precisely 20 km left on the reserve at that point. Made it with a few kilometers to spare I think. Man that would have sucked being stranded in that desert. Plus they even had octane 95 and accepted my Visa card. How awesome is that?
I guess someone up there was keeping an eye on me...

So I was back in the desert
Sometimes lined with trash
Sometimes day turned into night because of slash-and-burn
But eventually I made it to another coastal town, Pacasmayo. A pretty little town with a walkway along the sea and a few hotels there.


That reminded me of northern France beaches so much that I had to order French fries and beer to go with the view. There I met Igor who was on business trip. "My name is Igor. My father was a communist." He cracked me up. We had a fun dinner, then I was off to bed after a long day. 500km of driving in Peru is stressful.

A votre sante tout le monde,
Guillaume

PS: Oh and I gave the finger thrice today. First is described above. Second to a truck coming towards me who forced me into the roadside as he was taking over another truck and lastly to a mini-bus doing the same thing. I guess this will become an habit over here.

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