Jaen, Peru to Yungay, Peru
Aug 21, 2014 – Aug 29, 2014
Respecting lunchtimeAfter several hours of riding dusty roads, we reached the tiny border post nestled in the mountains right at lunch time. What’s the big deal you ask? Well most administrations in South America tend to not function from 1 to 2pm. Nothing official of course but good luck trying to get any document stamped in that time frame. With nothing else to do, we sat next to our aduana officer, wished him a “bon provecho” and ordered a random soup.
Shortly thereafter he was back at his keyboard. Although given his abysmally slow keystroke per minute, one might question whether he really had ever seen a keyboard before, or for that matter, the form he was supposed to fill to let our DRs into Peru. Several hours later we found ourselves riding into country #12, Peru. We happily discovered a nicely paved road. Little did we know that the introduction of pavement would mean roadworks. Many miles of roadworks.
Not just another mountain road
Our first mountain town was the uninspiring Jaen. It offered us little more than a giant nail that deflated the Zebramobile’s rear shoe overnight. From there we aimed towards Chachapoyas. We reached the turn off to the capital of the Amazonas region early in the day and decided to push a bit further to Leymebamba. We followed a narrow strip of asphalt that dove into the Utcubamba river before fighting the rocky mountain side to carve a path at its side. The long trail to the Kuelap fortress looked like too much work and we instead visited the Mummy Museum where we learned more about the ancient tribes of this region. After a good night sleep, we went looking for gas and discovered what would become the norm for gas stations, an old man with a funnel and a 1 gallon jar, refilled in the dark recesses of his hut, hopefully with actual petrol. Our DRs did not seem to mind and we begun our climb to Celendin. It took us forever! Not because the road was bad, but rather because it was so beautiful that we stopped every few minutes to take more pictures. This was quite possibly the most dramatic stretch of road from the whole trip.
Down the mountain, up the mountainA jug of Chicha Morada later, the traditional drink make of fermented purple corn, we were off to Cajamarca. The town is the capital of the region and features gorgeous Spanish buildings. Our favorite was a small motorcycle shop where we found two Pirelli tires for less than $70/each, yes, we are bike nerds. We left the town early morning heading for Santiago de Chuco via Cajabamba. The dusty road took us over mountain crests and down narrow valleys, daring us to enjoy the breathtaking views at the risk of missing a turn. We compromised by switching the bikes off and freewheeling down the hills, enjoying the sound of our tires crunching through the sand and stones. It was dark when we reached Santiago de Chuco, with the now slick rear tire of the Zebramobile skidding around like it was in a supermoto race. We followed the fancy pick up trucks of construction workers towards the only hotel in town and promptly put the Wolf to bed. He was feeling poorly and quickly started shivering despite the warmth of several blankets. His condition deteriorated overnight and by the next morning was curled up in a little ball in bed. For the first time since I’ve known the Wolf, he spent the whole day sleeping in bed, almost certainly the victim of salmonella poisoning.
Luckily sleep and water did the trick and he was ready to go 24 hours later. After changing the Zebramobile’s tire (never before did I wish I was strong enough to get the tire changed on my own) we set off for Tauca.