Cycling days 160-163: Chiclayo to Trujillo
Trip Start Apr 07, 2010
120Trip End Jan 19, 2012
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We do laundry while we wait for the school gate to be unlocked, then ride a short distance to a gas station with showers. Somehow, Shirley pulls her neck muscle while washing her hair (this strained neck pain is a recurring problem for her), so now both of us are walking around like old people.
Just before noon, we stop in a small pueblo to have lunch at a restaurant and find another touring cyclist inside. Alvaro is also heading South, so we ride together for now (we’re on different schedules, so who knows how long we’ll stay together as a group).
Next stop: panaderia where we purchase break and have it with our honey…delicious. In addition to improving our Spanish by being with Alvaro (he’s Colombian), we’re having a good time with him…every time he asks what to do next, Yannick replies, “we need to buy more food.” It becomes a running joke: we eat, he drinks Coca-cola. We stop in the city of Chepen, where Alvaro is contemplating stopping for the night, but after we ride through the city, it’s too busy and unwelcoming (and it’s only 4pm), so he agrees to push on a little further.
The wind gusts against us, but we make it to Ciudad de Dios, 30km down the road, by 5:30pm. We get permission to stay at the police station, then go on a food tour of the smaller, more peaceful town. We find out there is a circus, so we go asking around about it and Alvaro talks them into giving us free admission, saving us 8 sols each. The show starts at 9:15pm, much later than the expected 8:30pm. We sit and watch jugglers, dancing little people, and clowns until 11pm. It’s only intermission, but we decide to this as an opportunity to leave…the show isn’t that entertaining and we are so sleepy! We go back to the station and crash in our tents.
Day 161 (5/27/11): 76km
As usual, we wake up as the sun comes out, but we don’t hit the road right away. Alvaro is hoping to talk to the press about animal rights, so we go hang out at the panaderia as we wait. He doesn’t get his interview and we don’t depart until almost 10am, double fail. We pedal for a couple hours and battle more headwinds until we make it to Pacasmayo. We make a stop at a photo shop to print some of the pictures Yannick took of Alvaro, then go look for the city hall – Alvaro can’t get an interview there because he’s wearing bicycle shorts, so we return to the highway. We get a little confused about what road to take out of town, so Yannick asks for directions – the man in the car turns out to be a Congressman and is impressed by our stories and appreciates the work we are doing for MedShare.
We find our way back to the Panam and take a leisurely pace because Alvaro’s thighs keep cramping. We joke with him and say this is the reason we eat so many bananas, which are better energy and nutrition than the Coca Cola diet! Along the way, we pass a police car that begins to follow us for a couple kilometers, then pulls up to Shirley and asks what countries we are all from. That is their only question they ask before falling behind and trailing us from a distance for a few minutes, then speeds up and passes us. We see the police pull over onto the side of the road and it waits there for us to pass again – we proceed to leap frog one another for the next 10 km. We had heard from another touring cyclist heading North that this area is dangerous and the police insisted on escorting his group of five riders – we figure this is the beginning of our escort.
We see the police stop at a fruit stand, so we park our bicycles to buy some too. They think we’re done for the day and freak out, “You can’t rest here! You have to go into the city…to the police station. You can rest there where we have bathrooms and showers…just don’t stop here, it’s dangerous!” We’re a little confused at first, then we explain that we just want some food – we just rode about 45km with barely anything to eat and Alvaro is suffering. The police calm down after they realize we will continue on.
We wake up at 6:15am, but again take a late start. We have breakfast at a restaurant across the street from the police station and the three of us agree that it was relatively expensive for what we got (a plate of rice, potatoes and barely any meat for 5 sols). At 9am, the police are ready to escort us to the next city, 10km away. When we get within a few kilometers of the city, we see the police car slowly disappear behind us without saying a word. Ah, we feel free again! We make it to Chichlin and fill ourselves with bread, honey, and bananas to prepare for the 30km stretch of open desert to Trujillo. Alvaro’s thighs are still cramping and sore, so we take it easy 00 we’re done for the day once we get to Trujillo anyway, so no point rushing to get there.
We make it to the city and fall in line with the cars and buses, but staying on the shoulder of the Panamericana. We’re riding single-file with Yannick in the lead and Shirley bringing up the rear when a bus comes up next to us and suddenly pulls into the shoulder, making Shirley brake hard and the two boys swerve to the right, coming within inches of Alvaro. WTF was that!?! We were in the shoulder and absolutely not in the bus’ path and the driver deliberately tries to run us over?! Alvaro starts yelling furiously t the driver and tries to catch up to the bus, but it speeds off. In a few minutes, we see the bus pull over to a dirt lot to drop of passengers, so Alvaro picks up the pace to have a word with the bus driver. He rides in the shoulder, alongside the bus as it returns to the highway, but the driver doesn’t care if a cyclist is in his way…the driver merges back onto the road, pushing Alvaro out of his way.
A couple kilometers later, we turn off the main highway and onto a side street to find that the vehicles are a little tamer here. We make our way to the Casa de Ciclistas without further incident, where Lucho welcomes to our “home.” Ah, a haven amidst the madness.
Day 163km: 0km
Rest day in Trujillo!