04 October, 2012

Day 91, 368km: Into Lima

Today there will be an avalanche of photos. The views along the coast from Casma to Lima were really breathtaking.

A wall of clouds announces that the sea is around the corner.

My view for most of the day. Sunny and cold, around 20 to 25C. (That's cold if you live in Thailand!)

The most precious resource in town, water.

There was a protest for/against "something" that I didn't understand. They were blocking the bridge at the entrance of a city. Protesters were pretty cool and pointed me to a small dirt road that went around to another small bridge so I could continue on my way.

So there are tollways in this region. About every 100km or so there's a tollway as the one pictured above. And all of them so far have been empty. No one in the booth to collect any money if you're going south. If you're going north on the other hand, you have to stop and pay. I don't really get it. A tax for people returning from Lima? Why not have people pay in both directions? Not that I mind free highways though.

Spectacular views along the way, we were perhaps 30km from the nearest town and there you find this absolutely empty beach surrounded by lunar-looking dunes and cliffs.

Nearing the town of Huacho fog appeared and colored the mountains with subtle shades of green. Flora again! That was a refreshing -although short-lived- sight.

Just as I passed the city, police officers were waiting on top of a hill. I'm usually very careful near city entrances/exits and pay attention to every traffic law, lane and signs so that I am not stopped by police officers. So usually I'm simply waved through. Well this time I didn't pay enough attention and crossed a continuous lane to take-over 2 trucks on that hill.
Naturally I was stopped.

The two officers looked like "good cops" (if that means anything) so I felt relieved that I wasn't going to have to deal with gangsters. Still I wasn't happy as I knew this would end up with monetary arrangements of some sort.
The conversation went in Spanish but I can't quite recall it in that language so here's an English transcript instead.

Him "Hello sir, how are you?"
Me, silently taking off my helmet and gloves - I was pissed
Him "Feeling hot?"
Me "No it's cold in your country!"
Him "Do you know there was a continuous lane where you passed these two trucks?"
Me "Yes I'm sorry."
Him "So we will have to do the paperwork then ..."
Me "I guess so, do you need my pen?"
Him "Well it will be expensive to do the paperwork, you know."
Me "Oh really, how expensive?"
Him "Well, where are you from?"
Me "From France"
Him "France oh that will be 200 Euros I'm afraid."
Me "Oh that's a lot of money, I'm afraid I don't have 200 Euros."
Him "Oh well that's a problem."
Me "Indeed, is there another solution?"
Him "Well you could make a donation."
Me "A donation? Great I would be glad, what amount do you suggest?"
Him "The donation is up to you."
Me, looking down my wallet and lying "Well sir I have only $10. Do you take donations in Dollars?"
Him "Certainly"
Me, handing over the money "Here is my donation to your cause sir."
Him, patting my back "Well thank you sir and wish you a safe journey."

So that what a very gentlemanly, surreal kind of police officer corruption episode.

Back on the road, it became really windy. And cold. The wind was really strong and I had fun looking at my instant gas consumption. At 100km/h, with the wind hitting me by three-quarters (NE) I was at 7.5L/100km. Without wind I was at 4.5L/100km.
So I started to try and estimate the wind speed based only on that information.

We know that the energy required to move the bike goes with the square of the speed.
We can estimate that the energy delivered by the engine goes linearly with the gas consumption.
Without wind the bike is moving through the air at 100km/h.
With wind hitting me NE, the bike is moving through the air at 100+headwind speed. Where headwind speed = windspeed * cosine (45deg), cos(45) ~ 0.707. Windspeed being what we are trying to calculate.

So assuming all else remains constant the energy ratio (7.5/4.5) equals the square of the headwind speeds ratio, ((100+windspeed*0.707)/100)^2.
Which gives a windspeed of roughly 40kmph, seems reasonable. Actually that isn't very windy.

Maybe the calculation is off since the drag coefficient is different with the wind hitting me NE.
I will try to do the same calculation when the wind hits me head-on that should be more accurate.
Plus I'm sure everyone is interested in that.

So back on the road on this wonderful cliff covered with sand by the seaside. Great views over there, 50km north of Lima.
Made it into town eventually! Checked-in at a small hotel in Miraflores (really a cool district by the sea in southern Lima) and went to meet Roberto, the uncle of Mathieu, a university friend.
Thanks to both of you and special thanks to Roberto who took me around the old town all the evening! That was a great welcome a fun time!

Plaza San Martin. San Martin being the first president of Peru, who happened to have died in Boulogne-sur-Mer (France) the city where I grew up. The world is small.

Nice building and architecture in the historical district. The above looks like a caravel's cabin.

I was surprised to see that! In the north near the border with Ecuador I saw many pilgrims, wearing purple shirts and walking in the desert with statues of Mary. Now I understand what they are ... pilgrims of the Senor de los Milagros.

After a great dinner we came back walking through the city. That was a great way to see the many beautiful historical buildings that are still standing. Lima is definitely a pretty town. Massive (10 million people in a 30 million country!) but pretty.

Then I was off to be exhausted by that long but rich day. Thanks again Roberto!

Cheers everyone,

PS: This image isn't from me as I don't travel by helicopter but gives an idea of what Miraflore's seaside looks like.


  1. Do you ever wonder if cops in North America or where you are from would EVER ask for donations without a public cry? Just makes me sort of ill to know these "cops" do this...I wonder how much they would charged an American? Canadian? Etc....love your pictures and of course your story. You going to write a book?

    1. Well I guess street cops don't do it but sometime things must happen at higher levels of the hierarchy where things can be properly hidden... Good question on the price haha, I simply assumed he asked my nationality to pick the proper currency but you're right gringos might be asked for more ;-)

      Thanks for following! I plan to make a small photo + text book for my family, I don't think my ramblings deserve further publishing :-D