Cruising the road into Peru put me into a dreamlike trance with visions of blue sky, warm weather and glorious roads.
My eye is still killing me and I think of that doctor in Quito — absolutomente — well, he is wrong. There is something in my eye. Last night my the pain and irritation ripped off hours of needed sleep, but these roads and good weather make up for the lost winks.
Passing through agricultural communities I was bluntly greeted with immense and blatant poverty for the first time during my journey. Homes hobbled together with think sticks of cane crawl up sandy and desolate hillsides as I make my way toward Chiclayo. Slowing down every 10-20 miles to pass through a small settlement, I pass dozens of three wheeled mini-moto taxis all parading the dusty roadside with hopes for a fare. Trucks hauling massive stacks of sugar cane, bananas and other agricultural products send my mind drifting. Where are they going? How much does it cost here. How much money do these people make.
The landscape turns into a desolate desert with the occasional flowing dunes to give my eyes a break from the bleak housing I continue to pass. Evidence of the status in these communities is the existence, or lake thereof electricity — even television antennas. The wind is extremely strong. Who would choose to live here? A lone leafless tree with its branches like bony fingers reaching into the sky is littered with plastic shopping bags caught in the wind. My goal is to make it to Trujillo by nightfall, get a hotel and make a break for Lima in the morning. The long windy stretch allows me to make time by increasing my speed. Occasionally the desolate desert is broken up by rich greenery. The ocean is not far to my right – west – I think this is what California must’ve looked like before the massive aqueduct was built in the 1930’s bringing water and prosperity to the U.S. gold coast. But here, scant irrigation efforts yield a few cash producing crops but no much else. This is far from the Peru I had envisioned for many years. I long for the Andes again, but am thankful for the break in the weather.
Peru will elect their new president in early 2006. After passing a couple signs touting “Alan 2006” i decide to try to capture a photo while riding by. Alan 2006 is a campaign slogan (hah) for Alan Garcia, a past Peruvian president who dragged this country into the depths of despair and poverty. I simply want the novelty of the photo even though he spells his name all wrong. But pulling my Canon S70 out of the handy pouch on the straps holding my tank panniers, I proceed to drop the camera going about 35 mph. A grab a handful of brakes and find the camera and battery separated but recover the necessary parts. Examining the S70 of its road rash, and it doesn’t look great, but doesn’t look bad. Throwing the battery back into the compartment the camera fires up, lens protrudes and bam — it still works. Amazing. A testament for the Canon PowerShot “S” series of cameras. I just don’t want to do that again.
I’ve been in touch with Jeremiah whom I rode with in November in Mexico. He bent his rims on those gnarly potholes of Costa Rica and is waiting on parts and repairs in Cuzco. His wife will fly in for the holidays and if I make there in time, we’ll travel to Lake Titikaka and into Bolivia then perhaps to Tierra del Fuego. I also look forward to connecting with my good friend Michael Paff’s wife’s sister (Charo) who lives in Lima. A reprieve from days on the road means a home cooked meal, a good bottle of wine and more time to practice my Spanish. Then onto Nazca and the legendary lines that baffled archaeologists for ages.