While I’m writing this entry, I’m asking myself one question: How? How am I supposed to describe the everyday madness, the amazement, the incomprehensibility of this country? It is difficult to describe all facets of the five months in Peru in three blog entries if I could fill an entire book with them. Provided I would find the right words… But at this point a few short stories and some pictures have to suffice, because we lost a memory card…
But back to Northern Peru, where we want to visit Marco. Two months ago the 70-year-old had invited us to return to the village festival in Yungay. We are late because the trip through the high mountains costed us a lot of time.
One evening we finally stand in front of the kiosk where Marco watches the news on television every evening. We sit down at the table and see the surprise in his face. He hadn’t counted on us anymore. The joy is huge and it is nice to be here again.
A grunt next to the tent
We missed the festival in Yungay, but in three weeks there will be another one in Rayan, further up in the mountains. It is matter of honour that we stay with Marco from now on! The tiger and our tent find a place in Marco’s front yard. We share a small area with Daniel, the black pig.
Marco lives alone and modestly since his wife left him and went to Lima with the rest of the family. His hut consists of two rooms, each with a tiny bed and a chest of drawers. Shower and toilet are outside in the garden. Marcos most precious possession: a small radio. His old mobile phone was recently stolen because he had left it outside on the dining table. Even the little dog he once owned was taken away one day. Nevertheless Marco is very proud of his homeland and shows us everything that Yungay has to offer.
Every morning he prepares us a delicious breakfast with fresh rolls from the market, avocados from the garden and regional wild honey. We invite him in return for daily dinner. Together we spend many beautiful hours chatting about anything and everything… Oh, Peru!
Reunion with friends
It goes on to Huaraz. Here we meet Antonia, Iv and Matilda from Berlin, whom we met before in Peru. It is a very warm reunion and the days go by much too fast with excursions, games evenings and good conversations. The 11-year-old Antonia even puts on my motorcycle helmet and rides through the mountains with Moe. Meanwhile I enjoy a day among women. The farewell is really difficult, but soon we will see each other again…
And then it’s time for adventure again: we go on long-distance hike in the Cordillera Huayhuash. The stories and pictures can be found in the next blog entry.
After eight days of hiking we make it back to Marco late in the evening. Just in time to leave for the village festival in Rayan the next morning. Marco is so happy about our timely return, I think he didn’t believe in it again. We may always be a bit late – but: we always come!
Then it’s time for the party in Rayan. The taxi ride to the remote village alone is a highlight. On an adventurous road it goes high into the mountains. And since everyone from the surrounding area comes together today, everyone standing on the side of the road is taken along. Ten people in a small car, a new record! Fears of contact are misplaced here.
The road is now completely congested because it is not accepted to allow others to pass through. As soon as a gap is free, it will be filled immediately. For twenty kilometers we need about two hours, because someone has to be persuaded to make some space. Temperature in the car: about 50 degrees.
In the shadow of Huascarán
At the top there is a procession and a big free lunch for everyone! And on this special day they serve the speciality of course: guinea pig, coming from huge pots. Moe nibbles off the bones as good as he can, but the granny next to us is still not satisfied: “There’s still something to it”, she announces, while she steals the last bones from Moe’s plate.
We are the only Gringos here and of course this is noticeable. Some pictures are taken with us and of course there is dancing too. It is impossible to avoid it, because nobody stands still – no matter how young or old! They even rock off with children in a sling on their back. Oh, Peru!
We’re dog-tired when we go back way home. We gladly accept the offer when Marco suggests that we sleep in his bed instead of setting up the tent.
New travel companions
The next day we say goodbye to Marco with a heavy heart and ride to Caraz, from where we want to leave for Laguna Paron.
However, it comes again differently than planned, when suddenly a terrible itching torments me and I discover hundreds of bites on my back, arms and legs. Shit, now they got us: Bedbugs.
These nasty little critters are very common in South America and are known to be extremely persistent. We have always searched every bed for them. Only this one time not… Oh, Peru!
The best thing to do is to wash all your clothes extremely hot immediately – here an impossible task because even in the laundry the machines run with cold water. The problem can only be solved with concentrated chemistry and it would be an understatement to say that these pesticides are hell. At least we can get the plague under control.
After this small fight the journey can continue. We ride over a nasty gravel road to Laguna Paron, an outrageous turquoise lake with the “most beautiful mountain in the world” in the background. The Alpamayo was awarded this title in 1966 because of its shape, later it became the logo of Paramount Pictures. Oh, Peru!
To pitch the tent here – that sounds incredibly romantic! But it’s so windy and cold up here that we have to put on all our clothes, including the motorbike suits. Like the Michelin-man we sit at the campfire and are still frozen.
We head back again through the spectacular roads of the mountains in Northern Peru. As decribed in our last post this is really exhausting, but also very rewarding.
A memorable farewell
However, even the last days in Peru can not be mild. At last, this country has a very special fun in store for us.
We have to say that it is really our own fault. Since months the GPS on our mobile phone doesn’t work anymore. Therefore, we only ride by map and usually arrive at our destination.
Only once we manage to get on the wrong of the two roads and notice this only 50 kilometers too late. “I think we have to ride everything back again – or wait, I think there’s a shortcut on the map…” Words I will regret later.
To reverse would also be an option
You already suspect it: Taking a “shortcut” in Peru is basically a bad idea. But somehow Moe manages to convince me that it’s a good idea. “Turning around now certainly takes longer. We will be able to cover the 28 kilometres”
Well, turns out that these are veeeery long 28 kilometers. Because the road, which was initially quite passable, is increasingly developing into a muddy dirt road. I ask Moe three times if we should turn back. He remains hopelessly optimistic.
Help when you need it
The mud, the thick stones, many water crossings – on a light machine without luggage this would be quite demanding. Again and again I have to dismount and support the bike. A man on a small motorcycle is obviously confused about seeing us here. Surely no one has ever been so crazy to take this “road”. Spontaneously he decides to accompany us for a while. He waits and helps us with the most difficult parts. What an angel!
When he finally reaches his goal, we must go on alone. He wishes us much suerte, luck. But it doesn’t get better.
It always gets worse
We are sweating bullets, in addition there is the fear of the soon arriving darkness. We are looking for a place where we can pitch our tent. However, this is not possible with the gradients. Although Moe is already completely exhausted, the road continuously surpasses itself in terms of difficulty. I better avoid saying “would you rather have listened to me” because I don’t think it necessarily contributes to the mood.
We drop the bike twice, but we’re fine. It already dawns when Moe brings the Tiger down the last meters. This “shortcut” costed us three and a half hours, some “holy-shit” and a lot of strength . When do we finally become reasonable?
Not paying attention
Few times we were so happy about asphalt. Now everything will be fine! We just have to find a place to stay.
But then one of these water crossings comes in a concrete bed and Moe rides over it much too fast. While I am thinking that this won’t end well, it tears us to the side once more. We lie on the ground and look after the Tiger, which slips away in circles.
The first thought: Hopefully everything with the motorcycle is in order! We both run immediately to our baby and inquire later if everything is ok with the other.
It’s a little miracle. We do not have a bruise and also the Tiger has survivedthe flight surprisingly unscathed. Only the hand protector suffered a little. Well, that could have turned gone out also completely different…
Somehow we have to end time with something positive. So we arrange to meet Gian of Couchsurfing, who spontaneously invites us to a family reunion on Father’s Day. Once again it is wonderful to experience the Peruvian hospitality.
At a later hour there is more and more beer and we have to toast with Gian’s father several times that we will also will be a dad and a mum in the future. Family is very important here.
Oh, Peru! One thing is for sure: you will be remembered!