October 10, 2003 GMT
Pisco y parties....

...On the ride down to Lima i was stopped by the police; first time since Nicaragua. I had heard stories about the police in Peru and wasn't looking forward...

La Tina is a very tranquil frontera, just me and a van load of nuns.
I was welcomed into the Aduana office and sat behind their desk filling in the paperwork. I find the Aduana lads are usually cheerier than their migracion counter parts.
90 days for me and the bike.
After the usual chat, about the bike and my journey, i was off down the mountain into the land of limones.
Tambo Grande is the lime capital of Peru, supplying other S.American countries as well. It smells like heaven. I've heard that a U.S petroleum company would like to "move" Tambo Grande! I've heard that the gov't of Peru thinks this is a pretty good idea....
Backtrack a bit north along the coast; nearly to the border! I needed a beach and Mancora was just right.
After 4 days the hostal wanted to put the prices way up for Semana Santa ($15 instead of 15 Soles). So i moved down to Huanchaco, near Trujillo.
Not as nice a beach but a nicer feel to the village; fishermen, surfers, tourists and the ever present jewelery sellers.
The fishermen make totora reed rafts, so they can ride the breakers. "caballitos de totora" Little horses of totora.
I hungout with some girls staying in my hostal: 3 dutch and 2 norweigian. One night 17 of us, travelers and peruanas, piled into a collectivo to go dancing in Trujillo.
Arnold's drive-in-salsateca. Another open air classic; a la Bar Club. A's is much more up market with mirror balls and waiters. And cars, of course.
I was turning into a vampire in Huanchaco -going to bed at sunrise. Great fun but time to say good bye.
A good friend in Oz mailed to say her daughter was in Lima for the weekend, so i went to meet her.
On the ride down to Lima i was stopped by the police; first time since Nicaragua. I had heard stories about the police in Peru and wasn't looking forward to being stopped...
Apparently it is illegal to ride with your light on. I pretended i didn't hear him mention the word payment...and just waffled on about my journey. That did the trick. After that the cars, trucks and buses kept flashing me. Yes thanks, i know....piss off.
Motos are exonerated from paying tolls. We sometimes have a paved lane; but more often must go through a rubbish and rock strewn path to the side. Once when it was too narrow, they still didn't let me ride where the cars do... made me cross the motorway to use the path on that side!
In Lima i also met Luis; the H.U. Community. Luis was sporting a plaster cast after breaking his ankle -an andean accident with his Africa Twin. He arranged for his assistant to escort me to a tyre shop.
Pirelli, made in Brasil, MT 90 for $60. We took it to Luis' mechanic; a typical road of shops side by side, using the pavement as a workshop.
The tyre was scootered away to be changed. Two young bucks in a rush to put the wheel back on. Had to kick one up the arse - he kept putting the disc face on the ground...i had warned him.
Lima is full of jeans shops. Just what i needed for the mountains. My tropical trousers barely came down past my knees.
First down the coast to Pisco, popular for boat trips to the seal colonies. I stayed on land and took a sunday ride out to the Paracas Ntl Reserve, holding my breath as long as i could past the fishmeal plant.
Desert pistes led away criss crossing the peninsula. Once i realized the sand was hardpacked i was off piste all over the place. A great place to have fun. Oh the seals and flamingos are amazing too.


Paracas Nat. Park

Riding up the Pisco valley was like being in Egypt. Strip of green along the river, brown desert hills and even a ruined temple/fort as well.
A slow climb to the pass through hail and rain. A bit of snow on the side of the road. The bike sucked. No more than 3rd gear to get over the pass: 4750m.
I spotted 2 viscacha. Rock rabbits, cousins of the chinchilla.
Back to the desert coast and the oasis hamlet of Huacachina. There is a tiny handful of restaurants and hostals, no i-net and no shops. Women taxi out from Ica everyday with their pop, crisps, fruit and chocolate to sell.
I settled into the hostal Rocha for 10 days, lots of pisco and dancing.
This is sandboard city. I resisted the sales pitch for a dune buggy trip for $10. After walking up a dune i was sold....surf down and get driven back up...oh yes please.
The drive out into the dunes was a screaming roller coaster ride. I was amazed at the extent of the dunes. Peru or Egypt?
A total lunar eclipse was coming. Karen-from Wales- and i were 'planning' a jeep trip into the dunes for viewing. The plan was to beg a lift...
We made a tour of the Tacama bodega and bought 9 bottles of wine. Listo.
The dune trip got bigger and they made 2 runs in 3 buggys, charging we don't know how much! (we weren't paying customers)
After so much riding in dune buggies and swinging in hamacas i thought i'd better get some excercise by walking the 5km into Ica. I was barely 500m out of the village when a taxi stopped and insisted i take a lift -he was going back empty anyway! Cheers mate.
I don't know why i have such luck with taxis.

Food in Peru is a nice surprise. The ceviche is delicious. (I had given up after Mexico). The soups are good too- although the cream ones tend to be Maggi mix! Papa rellenos- like a shepard's pie grenade, rocota rellenos- stuffed and baked hot pepper, rainbow trout, lomo (tenderloin) saltado and of course corn! - on the cob with cheese, in the soup, popped, and a drink; chica mora- purple and sweet, and an alcohol -chica.

Outside Nasca is a mirador tower, to view the 'Lines'. I saw a tree, a hand and half a lizard -it's tail was cut off by the PanAmericana- pobrecito.
For me the mummies were more interesting. The hair was amazing; rastafied, over a metre long and still attached to the skull. Back at the bike the usual questions and comments.
I turned the key and the light came on...ya ya it's illegal...they all point to the policeman standing in front of the bike.
I made a charade of reaching over to cover the light. "oh la policia de Peru son muy amable y muy simpatico!" (very nice, very sympathetic) Big laughs all 'round.
Back in town, while wandering the streets, someone called out ...hola British Columbia.
One of the lads from the mummies car park. I asked him to recommend where to get a good 'burger; he drove me over .... in his taxi!
On the way to Cusco, before Abancay, i made my first river crossing! No one to cross on foot to take the foto. (...that used to be MY job)
I knew it was the wrong weekend to hit Cusco: teachers striking and 18 heads-of-state from various American countries in town. All streets leading to the Plaza de Armas were blocked. My hotel is only one block from the plaza.
I was trapped on the wrong side of town. After an hour or so of picking my way through the maze of one ways and dead ends i finally got to the top of my street. Just to talk my way through the road block. A smile and a bit of peruana whining and i was in.
It's mainly the sales people of Peru who have the peculiar whine, and the face goes a bit scrunched in a painful, pleaful pout.
This is particularly exaggerated in Cusco. Plaza de Armas is crawling with sellers; postcards, watercolours, shoeshine, crochet finger puppets -of every animal you can think of, and Quechua toddlers, in their colourful pleated skirts and lampshade hats, holding lambs -"foto un sole".
"Por que no?!" .."Maybe later"...they whine. If they happen to see you later....."you said you would!" Tal vez nunca! (maybe never)
A state of emergency was called. Too many teacher and bus strikes. Riots in other cities left demonstrators injured and even one, in Puno, dead.
The demos in Cusco were quiet, real quiet - the marchers had tape over their mouths.
I made a visit with Jeffery in his Norton Rats Tavern. It has the perfect vantage point for all the parades and marches. You can be a lizard on the balcony and soak the sun into your cold bones.
A few days in the Sacred Valley. Ollantaytambo was my favourite, even over Machu Picchu.
Back to the clubs of Cusco then la vampira had to flee Cusco! And she was down with a cold.
Pulled over by traffic police in Puno; barely visible 'directing' traffic from his little box.
I said i was sorry, i didn't see him. He asked for papers; i brought out my crumpled phone book map and asked for directions. Said sorry again and was off.
Puno is the coldest place to fight a cold and i could only just drag myself to the plaza to soak up the afternoon sun.
By 3pm most of the benches are in the shade, so everyone is perched like pigeons on the base of the statue. I had to sit on the church steps. Too many people standing around; their shadows are freezing!!
Thank goodness for Pizza Buho and their cozy oven (and the best ever garlic pizza pocket).
I forced myself to push on to Boliva.
Migracion counted the days! ....88.



Posted by Jo-Anne Smith at October 10, 2003 04:47 PM GMT
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