Tourist, traveler, adventurer. It’s all a journey, just depends how you approach it.
As I started my well planned journey down south. The plan was to be in Lima in a week. 2518 kms in seven days is not too much, yet I couldn’t afford many delays. 2 border crossings and half of the way was through the Equadorian Andes. Easy peasy I though…
BUT, when I started to plan the days a bit more carefully, checking the road conditions etc., I learned that there are serious floods going on in Ecuador and even worse in Peru. Big part of the Panamericana in Peru was completely submerged and more than 200 bridges throughout the country. Not great news at all.
So the first days were mostly just wet. Then started to get wet and cold. I crossed the Equatorial line. Who would think that it’s so cold on the equator. At this elevation it was to be expected, but I was still hoping for an equatorial miracle.
Got into Quito freezing cold, wet and with no motivation to do anything but sleep. However, riding through the city center filled me with energy. What a beautiful city! I spent the evening and next morning exploring, stuffing my face with chocolate while burning all the calories immediately from all the walking I did.
In the mean time, the situation in Peru was getting worse. Every time I checked the international riders forum (MAI) there was news of more landslides and collapsed bridges. I had to change my route drastically. Instead riding on pavement on the coast, I had to take the road through the selva (the jungle) with stretches of dirt (in my case mud) and what I yet had to discover, serious landslides.
My first leg of the new plan was to go south to the Peruvian border at La Balza. I thought I might get there in one day, but had to stop half way there, because I just had enough riding in rain and cold and I was getting angry. Checked into a nice hotel, with heating, ordered pizza and spent the evening watching tv. It was the best decision I took that week.
I could only imagine what is going to happen next, and I’d never imagine it will be that bad. Soon after I left Loja I got lost, of course it was raining which made things worse. The garmin maps are useless in Ecuador and it took me over a year after that to learn about openstreet maps. Donate money to this man. He’s our real saviour.
Back on the right track, sun started shining for the last time for the next few days. It actually got hot so I took off my rain gear. And as faith can be a great joker, right behind the corner the first landslide appeared. I was ready. My bald rear definitely not. I took the plunge. At one point I was engine deep into what seemed to be a very fresh landslide, going uphill and to this day I have no idea how I made it in one go. But I made it. The first of many. I had no idea back then. Following was an endless dirt road, as narrow as you can imagine, an army checkpoint in the middle of nowhere and then finally a village. Another checkpoint and more dirt, up and down. It was fun.
I reached the border crossing. Hot, hungry and ready to finish the day with a nice cocktail. Yeah right. The Ecuadorian border was reasonably fast, the officers were nice if not effective. Couple of jokes, a picture and off to Peru. The other side of the bridge was a total of a couple of houses less than just a few houses on the Ecuadorian side. 6 I’d say, but I never took the time to count them. Once I was through the immigration it was time to get BC1 into the country. I knew I had to be really careful, since if there was any mistake in the paperwork I might have problems fixing the cancellation of the temporary importation and/or leaving the country when I return. So I was extra careful when the old man entered all the letters and numbers he had to put in. One character at a time, as a man of his age is expected to do. Of course mistakes were made and I politely pointed them out, till at some point, the man just leaves, telling me that I should do it. I didn’t know if it is a joke, but he returned and rushed me to his desk. It was real. I was importing my own bike into Peru and I was terrified. If he doesn’t know how to do it, how would I? Just a Slovenian boy, looking for what’s the further he can get from home.
I did it, the bike was in, no insurance, because none of the few houses was selling it and well… it was something I should get, because it’s compulsory. In Jaen I could get it. That was the last thing that the old man told me, before he returned behind the TV.
It was a long ride to Jaen. More dirt, with stretches of very good road. So good it would put many roads in Europe to shame. Once I got there I all but forgot about insurance, but exchanging money and getting food and drinks were a priority. Mañana.