Bring on the Peruvian Desert


November 26th, 2011

I had read in Lonely Planet the Pan American Border Crossing between Ecuador and Peru was always packed, and rife with corruption and delays. Frommer’s wasn’t much nicer to it. When I did my route I had planned to swing back inland for a different crossing.

But I changed my mind.

I was running behind schedule and heading inland would add a day or so, so I decided to risk the Pan Am crossing.

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It was…packed. I guess. Took me maybe ten minutes. This was actually Ecuador, Peru had a few other people around, but I still had no delay. I think they were there for lunch.

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I stopped in town for some Neuvo Sols (Peru’s currency) before pressing on. The difference between Ecuador and Peru was apparent not long after getting back on the road. Ecuador was green, Peru much less so.

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Still pretty though, just in a different way. And, of course, my old friend the Pacific was back

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I stopped in Mancora, which is apparently the jet-set tourist beach in Peru, but I didn’t see anyone famous. I did meet a Swiss couple traveling on a round the world airline ticket.

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Reto and Louisa. They had been there for a couple of days and recommended the dinner location. They were leaving early the next day (on a bus) so the night was short.

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Easily one of the best meals I’ve had recently. And this place was down to back alleys, with a small sign on the road. I never would have found it.

My dinner companions got honey mustard chicken sandwiches, but being Swiss used a knife and fork to eat them. I’m not kidding.

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The hostel was nice, I‘d picked it because it offered camping but in the end I took a room for only a few sol’s more. In the morning I went to look at the beach before leaving.

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Back on the road I was headed for the city of Chiclayo, which is supposedly near the Sipan Ruins (a pre-Inca culture called Moche). The Pan American was basically straight and the desert rolled on by.

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As I was cruising along I spotted a group of bikes in the side of the road.

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It all started with two bicyclists heading north. Four motorcycles heading south saw them and pulled over. Then I stopped. I didn’t write down where the bicyclists were from (A mistake), but three of the motorcycles were friends from England (all on Beemers), and a Kiwi they had met further north (on a Triumph Tiger). We shared some route ideas, and we were all headed for Chiclayo (not the pedal bikes), but so far I haven’t seen them again.

I went looking for the ruins, but after wandering around outside of town for an hour or town I gave up and went looking for somewhere to stay before it got dark.

I rolled into Chiclayo and went looking for a hotel. There wasn’t much with visible parking so I ended up somewhere nicer than I had planned. They did have in house laundry, which was a nice feature. When I was checking on a friendly guy from Canada, who is a long time inhabitant of Peru, got into something approaching a shouting match over my room cost (I had been given a discount). He thought it was still too high, and wanted to take to the manager…but the manager was the guy we were talking to already (hence my discount). I managed to get a room anyway and went for a walk around town.

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First Christmas tree, mostly.

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Also I found a store selling moto-taxies. I had been seeing them everywhere since entering Peru (and saw them in Ecuador too, but not as much).

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It’s a 125cc, and the cost?

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That’s a little under $1900 USD. In cash. Not a bad deal.

Next I get to actually find ruins larger than your average suburban lot.

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