Cycling Days 169-174: Barranca to Lima

Trip Start Apr 07, 2010
Trip End Jan 19, 2012

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Flag of Peru  ,
Friday, June 10, 2011

We are doing well and have mentally recovered relatively well from the shooting incident. Thank you all very much for your support through has helped us tremendously. Our bicycles are now in storage in Lima, Peru and we are starting a 3-month climbing "vacation"...yeehaw! We'll resume cycling South from Lima in early September...we just hope our bicycle muscles don't deteriorate too much by then!

We are in Huaraz, Peru now...our base camp for the next month. Unfortunately, we left our hand-written journal and photos for this "Barranca to Lima" entry back in Lima, so Shirley is re-writing this from memory and we´ll have to add the pictures later. Happy reading...  :)

Day 169 (6/4/11): 90km
We wake up at 5am, but stay in bed falling in an out of sleep for the next couple hours. At 7am, we listen to the policemen having roll call in the courtyard and go over announements. We finally drag ourselves out of bed when we can no longer ignore the complaints of hunger coming from our stomachs. As we step out of the police station and make our way to the marketplace, we can't help but look at every young man we pass with caution. We feel better when we enter the busy Mercado and turn our attention towards quinoa tamales, fresh bread, fruit, and ceviche. 

We head back to the station to pack up our things and resume bicycling to Lima. Thoughts of ending the bicycle tour or taking a bus to Lima crossed our minds, but we didn't want our trip to end on a bad note...and always live with this fear for the rest of our lives. We know there are more wonderful experiences out there to be had on our bicycles and know that the best way to conquer fear is to face it. At 10am, we leave the Barranca Police Station with a motorcycle police escort. As we make our way back to the Panamerican highway, Shirley fights back tears as she looks at Yannick pedal his bicycle. She stares at the dent in the top tube of his bike from the bullet impact and sees how his left thigh passes in front of the bullet's path more often than not. His leg just happened to be out of the bullet's way at the perfect time. We still can't believe we got through that shooting without a scratch on us.

The policeman accelerates ahead of us and we see him stop in the distance. When we approach, he starts his motorcycle again and disappears in the distance. As we near the next city, approximately 10km away, we see him pass us in the opposite direction and wave goodbye to us. We bicyce on alone for the rest of the day, being very aware of our surroundings, and feeling a little safer each time we see a police car pass by. We find ourselves more at ease as we ride through the desert, but become paranoid each time we approach a city. Being back on the bicycles, we feel much better than we expected we would, but also know it will take some time for us to get over our traumatic experience.

By 5:30pm, we are riding through some small settlements and can see open desert ahead of us with limited camping options. We want a secure place to hide for the night, so we decide it would be best to just knock on someone's door and ask to sleep on their property and out of view from the highway. Jorge, Maura, and Jorge Jr. invite us into their home and make us feel very safe and welcome. We arrived just in time for the feeding of their 200 cuyes (guinea pigs) and rabbits they raise to sell at the cute! We are just as interested in the way they live as they are in the way we travel. When they ask what we eat, we try to explain how our stove works, but it's too hard to explain, so we end up pulling it out doing a demonstration. We make pasta and cous cous for them, then they give us some rice and vegetables. We follow up with cookies, so they bring out a traditional dessert and some bread...which goes great with our honey. We spend the rest of the night feasting and answering each other's questions. It's getting late, so we are all ready for bed. Jorge invites us to sleep inside their home, but we don't want to impose, so we go pitch our tent next to the guinea pigs and rabbits. What a wonderful evening...and great contrast to yesterday's experience.

Day 170 (6/5/11): 108km
We wake up to the sounds of little cuyes squeaking...when we stir in our tent, the donkey outside hears us and calls to us to get some attention. We join the family for breakfast, but Jorge has to leave in a rush when his carpool arrives -- it's election day here in Peru and everyone is required to vote. We take off around 9am and ride into the desert...there is a marine layer and a bit drizzly, giving today an eerie feeling. We ride passed so many villages that are completely deserted, making us wonder if this is normal or if all the people have simply gone to the city to vote.

Around noon, we make it to Chancay, which is one of the larger cities actually marked on our map. What a happening place! The streets are crowded with families, motor taxis, and street feels like the county fair. As we ride through town to search for food, we realize all the resaurants have doubled their prices to make some extra money because of the large influx of voters, so we decide to get some cheap street food instead. When we exit town, quite a few people chant, ´´Keiko, Keiko, Keiko...´´ as Shirley rides by. There is a Japanese woman running for President and people find it very amusing when we beat them to the punch and introduce Shirley as Keiko´s sister.

Several more hours of riding and less than ideal camping options bring us to the edge of Ancon. We didn´t expect to make it all the way here today and are a little worried to be entering this big city at dusk. We are very paranoid about being targets again, so we ride quickly into the city and straight to the police station. Unfortunately, the police tell us it is too much responsibility to have us sleep at their station and turn us away. We are disappointed, but figure it´s okay...the police station is in a noisy part of town anyway. We go try our luck at the Fire Station next. As we ride down dark streets to find the location, we get a little sketched out by two overly friendly guys in their early 20´s. We eventually figure out that the big red metal airplane hangar is the fire station, but we have trouble finding the door. The two guys seem like their on a happy high and end up buzzing the doorbell for us, but we are still nervous about them. Carlos opens the door to the firehouse, sees the look on Shirley´s face, and immediately lets us in. Aaaah, safe at last!

Carlos gets permission from his boss to let us stay the night and even gives us a couple beds to sleep in. The firefighters are so nice to us and treat us like we´re part of the family...we are happy the policemen turned us down because it doesn´t get better than this!

Day 171 (6/6/11): 0km
Shirley is having stomach problems, going to the bathroom 5 times this morning, so it´s a good thing we only have 45km and a whole day to get to Lima. And because we are taking it easy, we can´t refuse when the firemen ask us to delay our departure to have breakfast with them. It is a delicious breakfast of fresh meats, cheese, bread, and jam...too bad Shirley ends up vomiting after she has her fill. Ricardo asks if she wants him to run out and get her some medication, but we don´t want to abuse their hospitality and don´t take the offer.

As we finish packing up and Shirley sits in a daze, the topic of MedShare comes up again. We explained MedShare´s mission and our fundraiser to some firemen last night, but Richard seems to have more knowledge of the medical field and is particularly interested. We tell him that MedShare is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to gathering medical supplies and equipment from hospitals that would normally be discarded by standards in the United States, then redistributes these materials to hospitals and clinics in developing countries. Not only does this improve healthcare in these countries, each shipping container of medical supplies and equipment that is shipped diverts 6 tons of material from ending up as trash in landfills. All of this is free for the recipients, it just costs about $20,000 to ship a full container of supplies -- the monetary goal of our fundraiser. 

We show Ricardo the samples of medical supplies we've been carrying with us on our bicycles since we left Los Angeles and tell him he can have them. He is even more impressed now, but only takes a few items that he knows he needs, then gives a call to a doctor affiliated with the Fire Companies in Peru. Yannick spends the next half-hour explaining the applicant process over the phone, then another hour writing directions for using MedShare´s website and live inventory available medical supplies in an email...all of which Yannick does in Spanish!

In the meantime, Shirley has gotten more fatigued and thrown up a couple more times. She falls asleep for a few hours and doesn´t wake up until 4pm. Being too late to leave for Lima now, the firemen insist on us staying another night and make chicken soup for Shirley´s dinner. We can´t believe how generous these people are...again, we feel blessed to have met them.

Day 172 (6/7/11): 50km
Shirley is feeling much better this morning! We join the firemen in a flag raising ceremony (some kind of national pride celebration going on today in Peru), then make our way to Lima. It is non-stop city and settlements all the way to the country's capital. The Panam turns into a major traffic-jammed craziness and we take the first exit we can to get out of the mess. Somehow, we end up among beautiful building whose architecture looks Spanish influenced. We ride through the city feeling a little better riding among local traffic -- the well-marked streets, traffic lights, and lanes brings organization to what could be chaos. We pedal down the bicycle lane (very cool!) on a major street and make our way to Steve's house. He and his family welcome us in and immediately make us feel at home. Steve is doing us a HUGE favor by letting us store our bikes at his place while we go climbing. We relax, eat pizza, and stay up late watching a movie. Aaaaahh...

Day 173 (6/8/11): 10km...running
Steve wakes us up at 5:30am and we go for a conditioning run. Halfway in, we can already feel that we'll be sore's amazing how we feel so out of shape just because running uses such different muscles than bicycling! The rest of the day is spent cleaning up the bicycles and re-organizing our gear into three categories: 1) take to the mountain, 2) leave in storage for bicycling, and 3) useless things we've been carrying around for way too long and want to send home.

Day 174 (6/9/11):
Our climbing partner Kevin arrives in Lima today. Steve takes us to the airport to pick him up, then rushes all of us to the bus terminal to try to catch the 11pm bus to Huaraz. We make it just 5 minutes before departure time and are off to the mountains for some awesome climbing!!!

Thank you so much for everything, Steve!

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Frank Pineda on

Woah.... that's the life eh !!!!!
have fun climbing !!

Heather and Graham on

Hi Yannick and Shirley! You may not remember us, but we spent a few hours talking in the sunshine in Cuenca. It was inspiring to meet you both and we're so glad you're ok after the experience in Barranca. We look forward to reading as your adventures continue. Have a wonderful time climbing in Peru. Thanks for the great stories and inspiration!

Selene on

Yes...time for Climbing! Post pics whenever you can. Be safe!

Iris Gitlin on

The Gitlin boys say "good job" and "please post pictures"

Have fun climbing!!!

boiler on

What an unbelievable trip. Keep up the great adventure. Peru is still probably my favorite country but be very careful. I was also assaulted in Peru by kids with a handgun (luckily they didn't fire any shots!). And a handful of people were wiped out by avalanche on Alpamayo when I was in Huaraz. Prayers for you from Malaysia!

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