Sun, dry and Peru

Strong Peruvian sun and its signature on my body, oasis in Mancora and the oldest casa de ciclistas in Trujillo

It’s Sunday and the border town Huaquillas is alive. Tired from whole night in a bus (as usual without enough space for my legs) we find a place at the square for breakfast. The portion we get is really small – scrambled eggs from one egg looks like a leftover from last customer. Maybe it’s us who are the weird ones when we expect to get our normal “cycle breakfast” (scrambled eggs from 8-10 eggs for 2 persons with onion, pepper and tomato, plus at least 4 pieces of bread :)).

We buy first Peruvian souvenirs from a guy on the street and after looong time we take off long pants and in short sleeves and skirt/shorts we cycle through crowds of people on the market towards new country.

We take a picture of the Peru welcome sign but the policemen tell us that there isn’t immigration office here and this market-border is only for locals. We were actually in Peru already but now we have to go back and bike another 15km on new wide road to get to the official border crossing… filling papers, waiting two lines, stamp in passport and we enter 13th country during this our mini-trip.

It’s like to be in central America again – hot, dry, garbage along the road, no shoulder, flat and old cars. There is chaos on the streets of the first town we enter – the traffic lights don’t work but surprisingly the drivers can deal with that even without other traffic signs. After a while we find a working ATM (there is no electricity in whole town), we eat a tasty lunch for only 2.5USD (7sol) and continue to a beach town Zorritos.

After asking in many hostels we decide for one where they have a small dog – it’s a lot of fun with it. The town full of hotels and hostels looks like a ghost town now in low season – half an hour we look for some food and end in a pizza place. Disappointed after having the worst and most expensive pizza in our lives we return “home” and buy 2 beers on the way. After taking off my top and sport bra, they stay there – burned in my skin. Jan laughs and I cannot find a position when it doesn’t hurt.

The next day we are too lazy again and decide to stay one more day – we repair flat tires, write articles, visit market but despite the nice beach and sea next to us, we don’t go for swim because we’re too cold.

It’s morning … we pack the stuff, load bicycles, attach our poor mattresses (they changed to high-altitude ones: in 4000m over sea they are nice fat and comfy but at the sea level they are literally without air) and before leaving the town we go to return the beer bottles…

The old lady in the shop pretends that she doesn’t know about any deposit for bottles and doesn’t want to return us the 2sol. Jan sees somebody in the back of the house, but she argues there is nobody else here. After a while a younger woman comes and tells the old lady to return our money. But she is still not accepting this solution, changes the tactics and says she doesn’t have any money now. After another talk with the other women she opens a wooden box full of coins, takes out 1sol and gives it to Jan and tells she doesn’t have more… He’s looking at her surprised and argues that there are another coins… at the end, she gives us also the another coin. This situation is really comic and difficult to understand for us but we get on bikes towards 80km way to Mancora.

It’s a tourist town and after 45minutes passing different hotel resorts we are sure that without the invitation of a warmshower guy we wouldn’t even enter it here. Casa pelikanos is a complex of 5 cottages (cabanas) and the owner offers is out of season also to touring cyclists – for free.

We have our own cabana, garden with palm trees, two terraces, bathroom, kitchen, table football, gym machine and view to the sea… this is one of few moments when our traveling looks like a regular honeymoon :D. We spend evening with Carl – brother in low of the owner – chatting and drinking pisco (national alcohol made from grape).

First we planed to stay only one night but we stay 3 – during walk on the beach we see a big dead seal, we try paddleboard, make BBQ with Carl and prepare our harula food, we play with hairless Peruvian dogs which heal with heat but are really ugly, we visit next village (16km on bad dirt road) and we take a surfing lesson…

It’s in the center of Mancora – 45min by bicycle on a gravel/sand road with fully loaded bicycles. We swear why we pranged it this early and haven’t stayed in bed. Stressed that we are coming late we are welcomed by our cool instructors. We take on wet suits, get a fast theoretical lesson on the beach and get to the waves. Local guy Coco is in charge of me and Mariano from Argentina takes care about Jan. They wear flippers and push us to good waves so we are really able to surf – I slide 4 times a wave standing, Jan two. Disadvantage is that there are rocks close by and sometimes we land close to them which causes scratches on hands and Jan’s bleeding leg… but we are happy and surprised how much fun was it.

We spend whole day in Mancora and in the evening we nicely load our bikes to bus… we know that we are now like backpackers with bicycles, but the time is getting short now and it’s a good option to skip the 400km of desert to Trujillo.

Surprisingly there is enough space for legs and together with the possibility to spread them on Jan causes that we are quite fresh in the morning… but nothing can be perfect and the whole night a guy is snoring loud behind us which after some time wakes a small child, that starts crying even louder and wakes everybody else but the snorer…

We are in Trujillo, it’s 6:00am. This city in the northern Peru is known to all touring cyclist – there is the oldest casa de ciclistas here. Because it’s too early to go there, we stop for a juice and cake on the market. Everything is for 1sol (0.40usd) – this is a paradise! 🙂

The city center is neat, full of historical buildings, church at every corner and on the windows are beautiful metal works.

At the casa are many cyclists – guy from Colombia with a small dog; couple from Brazil making (18 months traveling + 6 more) – vegans (impossible for us to imagine to bicycle and not eat eggs, milk products or meat); French guy who came from Europe by boat and wants to continue to Asia by boat also; Ecuadorian guy making a round in South America who had already 2 accidents in first 2 months; and our friend Andy from Scotland who we met in Tumbaco.

Not including the brother of Lucho who lives here with his family and obviously doesn’t like cyclists, the atmosphere is nice. We sign in the visitors’ book with numbers 1923 and 1924 and we are 6th and 7th Slovaks here. Lucho (the owner) comes in the afternoon and when he realizes I’m a interior designer, I end up again painting the new kitchen… it’s OK to help but while I breathe the thinner the other IT guys take a rest (next time I’ll say I’m an airballoon mechanic :)).

Next day we go to visit Chan-Chan with Andy. It looks like a large sandbox with buildings but till 15th century a big civilization Chimu lived here till it was conquered by Incas (they cut their fresh water source) and later by Spanish (who were seen like a hope for the locals to help fighting the Incas). It’s almost impossible to imagine, that everything here was green before thanks to their perfect water system and thousands of people lived here.

Walls are decorated with squirrels, birds, fishing nets, moon or textures from clothes. In the middle of the town is a big water pool – it’s not known what it was used for, maybe for sacrifices and also for swimming. There are more smaller pools which were used for storing drinking water, many buildings used like houses for living and storing goods and everything is surrounded by 9-10m high wall.

On the way back we visit the museum and see the long mosaic on the university wall with pictures from history of Peru – the author was making it for 20 years.

In the evening we talk together with other cyclists about the experiences from our travelings. Like usual, we are too lazy the next day and together with Andy we stay one more day… we buy big cups (everybody else have big ones but we), we finish the painting of the kitchen, meet another cyclists – older couple from Switzerland (2 years traveling) and another couple from Belgium who came to build a memorial for a girl who died last year after a truck hit their tandem bike, her main vein on leg was cut and she bleeded out during the transport to hospital…

After this and another stories from Lucho (2 other dead cyclists) I fall asleep with a weird feeling about the tomorrow’s cycling…

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