Section 3, part 5: Volcano Alley


Day 43: Trujillo to Guadalupito, 113k

We convoyed out of Trujillo, which I was thankful to have a guide through the traffic and many turns. We continued onto the Pan Americana Highway all day. The road was busy as we went through the suburbs and industrial plants of Trujillo. After 10k we had a tiny climb and traffic thinned out and the highway became lined with green shrubs and farm land. It was almost peaceful, especially hearing birds sing along the way and see the ocean waves a few kilometers to the right. We rode passed many mega farms that spread across hundreds of acres and employs many people. Lunch was set up at kilometer 75 and in the absolute desert, it almost looked out of place from the green farms we rode trough all morning. IMG_9614 2After lunch was a long climb and descent into camp. The wind picked up significantly on the other side of the climb, of course, and it was a very difficult flat 30k. I rode with Kim, one of the other women in our group, and we pacelined through the wind. Sometimes its better to have someone to share the frustration with.

Our camp for the night was at a water park. Bruce had arrived before me and had the tent set up when I arrived. IMG_2501 2He told me to lie down to decide with direction to set up out sleeping mat. I immediately passed out hard for over an hour while decyphering the proper set up, the wind literally took all my energy.

There was a very large group of people there having a party at the park. We later leaned that it was a company party for a local distribution center. IMG_1273 2I was awakened from my accidental slumber by a group of singers ramping up the corporate celebration. The speakers were for some reason aimed towards our tents which made relaxing impossible. We did get to watch the group play a game where everyone formed a hand linked circle around a dead tree planted in the ground filled with plastic bowls and balloons. Couples took turns chopping a machete at the tree trunk. Everyone else was circling the tree while holding hands and when the tree was struck they would rush the tree to knock it down. IMG_2010 2Then the machete would be passed to another person. This continued for over an hour while the same song played on repeat. Eventually, they were able to knock the tree down and people ravaged the tree for the plastic treasures in the branches. It was very entertaining to watch. I later found out that this is called the Yunza Dance

 

Day 44: Guadalupito to Las Gramita, 113k

Another day of riding between beach and desert areas. The first big town we rode through, we were rerouted off the highway through town to avoid a long tunnel on the highway. The detour consisted of riding up and over a mountain pass that had a rocky narrow “road” . IMG_2392 2It was also lined with trash so we assumed this was the city dump. We retuned to the highway in time for another large city. We were again detoured from the highway to avoid dangerous traffic. IMG_5217 2This was a nice break because we were able to ride along the coast line and through smaller neighborhoods. After lunch we made our way through another busy town. This time Bruce and I stopped on the plaza for an ice cream cone. While enjoying our treat and the crisp sunny day we noticed that the plaza was lined with several different ice cream shops. Must be a popular treat in town.

We continued on through desolate desert and reached our turn into camp. It was a long sandy road towards the ocean and a very small fishing village. IMG_4488We stayed at a small resort that is a popular place for weddings because of the beautiful scenery. We actually got to pitch out tents on the beach! Beach camping is a first for me, and the crashing waves were the prefect sleep aide.

Bruce and I played in the ocean to rinse off the sweat and cool down. I decided to forgo a shower and bask in the salty goodness of the waves.

We had a few hours to occupy before dinner so we walked along the beach to the village for a snack. Not many places were open, this is winter after all. We decided to stop at one house that had soda and water bottles lined up in the window with a few tables set up on the patio, the South American symbol for a restaurant. We discussed whether anyone was home when a shirtless guy popped his head out the window. We asked if he was open and could sell us ceviche and beer. He said sure! A few seconds later a sweet older women appeared in the door beaming and welcoming us. We ordered ceviche and beer, which she had to walk to the store three houses down to fetch us cold beer. Then went back inside to prepare the ceviche. After 20 minutes or so she presented us with beautiful plates of fish, boiled potatoes and fried corn. The flavor was excellent! I am not crazy about ceviche but this was delicious! With our bellies full we walked back to our camp just in time for dinner.

Day 45: La Gramita to Bermejo Beach, 126k

Everyone wished we could say another day at La Gramita, but we have to keep moving. The day continued with more beach views and desolate desert. The wind was much stronger today and we had more rolling hills. IMG_1587The last few days we have had more hills to climb, although they are not anything we ave climbed in Colombia or Ecuador, their are caution signs along the road to notify of an incline or descent, they the illustrations is a bit obnoxious.

The only town through the whole day had a modern gas station with a convenience store. Bruce and I loaded up on ALL the snacks. IMG_1598I love burning 3000 calories a day because I can eat treats everyday and still lose weight!

At 80k lunch was set up in a desolate area and I decided to stop my ride for the day and catch the SAG truck to camp. IMG_3736While waiting for the last riders to make it to lunch, I practiced speaking Spanish our new staff member who is Peruvian and speaks only a little English. IMG_0947He showed me the dirt we were standing on was flecked with gold. Most likely “Fools Gold” but it still was shimmery in the sunlight. I also noticed subtle flowers in the greenery around us, which made me appreciate the desert just a little bit that day.

Our camp was at a restaurant on the beach. However, the restaurant owners closed shop for a family emergency and left us the bathrooms to use. Or I should say, toilet with a water bucket to flush. And we also did not have access to showers, day two of dirt bagging. IMG_1615There was absolutely no one else around which was peaceful, yet boring. The wind was ferocious into the evening hours. I had set up the tent and kept the rain fly open for ventilation, but when I went to grab something 20 minutes later everything in the tent had a layer of sand. Awesome. We did get to witness a beautiful sunset to end our day.

 

Day 46: Bermejo Beach to Lomas de Lachay, 128k

Within the first few kilometers, one of the other riders realized he left his phone at camp and I stopped to help another rider with phone numbers to call.

IMG_1594

“La especia es la vida”

We were not able to reach anyone due to lack of cell service, so we decided to pace line until the bus passed so Angus could get his phone. It turned into me drafting for 55k. Which I was ok with because I went significantly faster than usual and I was not having any breathing issues. The terrain went from coastline, to desert to lush farm lands and several small towns. I started to get hungry so I stopped at 55k in a little town for a Coke as Angus continued. The woman in the shop came outside to chat with me while I enjoyed my snack. Asked where I was going, where I was from, the usual. I told her after Lima we go to Cusco, she grabbed her chest and gushed about the beauty of Cusco, she was very happy for me that I get go there.

After lunch I was still riding strong and feeling good. However, the never-ending inclines, semi trucks, desolate desert and chicken farms were soul crushing. I screamed profanities into the wind and cursed the horrific conditions. I seriously despise the desert without any type of vegetation.IMG_4420 It’s all dead. And I am not sure why chicken farms consistently have beach front real estate. It is the most bizare waste of land. I kept anticipating the SAG to pass me so I could hitch a ride into camp.

Our camp was at a national park where the mist creates a green oasis in the middle of the desert. Several kilometers away you could start to the see the greenery up on the mountains. When I finally reached the road to the Lomas, I was exhausted, angry, and done. IMG_1616Yet I still had 8k to camp. The road was gravel and all uphill. Drivers were coming up and down the road without any regard to me on the same road. After two kilometers I noticed a woman in a white dress with a man and two photographers, obviously wedding photos. As I passed them they waved and cheered me on and I could not help but be infected by their happiness. Unfortunately, the boost in attitude did not last because the drivers only became worse as the road turned into a one lane, but two direction sandy hill. The cars coming down the hill were not using their brakes and flying past, I would have to jump off my bike to avoid being hit. The sand was too deep in some areas I would slip around and have to dismount. I tried to focus on the greenery and flowers blooming along the road but it was always overshadowed by an asshole driver. One kilometer from camp, and a narrow switchback decent, the SAG passed me and asked if I was good. Because of the circumstances at the time I “might” have snapped at them, which I apologized for later.

The final descent was crowded with pedestrians who were almost as bad as the cars. Once into camp, there were many other groups hanging around but they were not camping at our site, thankfully. After I settled down, I realized that we are in a beautiful and peaceful camp. Surrounded by cliffs of green and enjoyed the peaceful relaxing evening. Even though it was day three without a shower and my skin was itchy with grime, rest day begins tomorrow afternoon!

Day 47: Lomas de Lachay to Lima, 70k

Leaving the Lomas was much easier than entering. No one else was there and it was mostly downhill. However, we had to go back through the desert and chicken farms. We passed through several small towns and farming communities. The fog was thick and did not let up, we even had a bit of rain. The crux of the day was a long climb over a mountain range. As we went up the more foggy it became. For most of the ride I could not see more than five meters in front of me. Which is a mental game, not being able to see the incoming ascent, but it also spared me from desert “views”. After the climb we descend into a large town and the fog dissipated. Lunch was at 70k right as the highway into Lima began to get busy. Luckily, the tour leader had arranged for a van to take us into Lima. Since the traffic is insane and it is midday, it was the safer option and I was more than grateful. Our van driver was very nice but drove like a bat out of hell, like every other driver here. I really thought were were going to crash several times. The drive to the hotel was a stressful 2 hours of surging acceleration and abrupt stopping.

Our plans for Lima are to relax and eat as much delicious food as possible. We have 2 days here and the hotel is very cozy. Its amazing what a hot shower and clean clothes can do for the soul.

Categories: bike touring, cycling, Peru, South American epic, travel

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