Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Day 191 (447km): Back to the desert

We gassed up before leaving Chachapoyas, where we had a chat with the local police. We were informed that the route was entirely paved, so that was the end of adventure, and that Bagua is really hot. Again I may have made a poor choice in riding clothing for the day. The road was smooth and followed the valley. Some of the corners felt like they were at an awkward angle for driving but it was fun. Also at some sections the rock formations hung over the road, which was kind of cool.

While en route we noticed a turn off for a water fall we had seen in a poster at dinner last night. The poster stated that it was the third tallest waterfall in the world so we had to check it out. We didn't bother riding the full length of the road to get to it but we did get a satisfactory view from where we stopped. Quite impressive.
Gocta waterfall
Overhanging rock
We thought we'd be passing through some more mountains but the road followed a valley and it was quite hot the whole time. We were in the jungle transition, which means everything was green; banana trees lined the road and the wonderful fragrance of orchids was wafting. Peru can be so amazing at times and this morning was one of those times.

We encountered a few toll booths and a new trend has been developing where the security-style police at the tolls booths direct us to the unsigned moto bypass. Such helpfulness has previously been unheard-of in our travels of Peru.

After one of the toll booths we stopped for a break. A pick-up truck we had passed then pulled over and stopped to say hi. Apparently they had been trying to chase us down since we passed them but weren't able to. About 12 people came out of that truck to take their pictures with us. So many randoms pictures of us floating all over Latin America. What becomes of these pictures?

One of the unfortunate side affects of following the valley all day was the heat and I still wasn't feeling 100%. We haven't been this uncomfortable since Central America and the uncomfortableness continued well into the next day unfortunately.
Beautiful sunny day
Things only got cold briefly when we had to cross some mountains. It rained a little bit then got foggy, but it was over soon and we had crossed our last mountains. We were back in the desert of Peru, but not quite. It was still partially green with lots of livestock roaming at the sides of the road. Also the humidity and subsequent heat was almost unbearable. I'm not sure how I survived Central America, I seem to have no tolerance for this type of weather again.
Interesting tire selection
We had started our search for a place to camp but we were not having much success. The sides of the road were fenced for all the animals so options were limited. We passed through a nondescript town and suddenly two police officers appeared from nowhere; rushing out to the road from wherever they were resting. Of course no day on the Peruvian coast is complete without a conversation with the police. It was getting late and we still hadn't found a place to camp so I suspect that, as well as previous frustrations, contributed to Alberto ignoring the police and driving on. By the time my turn came the police officer was in the middle of the road, and since I'm the calmer more sensible one I chose to stop. I started with my best H-ola to get things started. The police officer began to tell me that my friend was supposed to stop for police blah blah and that he wanted to see my documents. During his speech I made great effort to look confused, looking at him and his partner who remained silent. When he was finished I just said “Canada” and smiled dumbly with my thumbs up. The one who was doing the talking was stopped in his tracks. He made some exasperated gestures and then tried to ask me where I was going. I said Ecuador in my best gringo accent and it took them about 3 tries to understand what I was saying. The first officer again looked at a complete loss for ideas and looked back over at the second one. He was fresh out as well, so I just continued with my smiles and thumbs up. He sort of gave me this eye rolling expression that conveyed dumb gringa and let me go. I doubt this new method of ignorance would work on the more aggressive Lima district police but I'll certainly try to use it on any police outside of the super corrupt zone.

Shortly after the police fun we found a break in the fences and camped. It was disgustingly humid and hot. It reminded me of some of the terrible nights camping in CA and I wasn't recalling those memories with fondness. I made some dinner and we hid in the tent because there were mosquitoes. Our USB fan was working overtime today trying to cool us down in the tent. It was an uncomfortable sleep.
Our camping spot for the night

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