Day Twelve in Pacasmaya is the first clear sunny morning I’ve experienced in coastal Peru during four trips here.
We start with a brief yoga session on the promenade followed by a surf. Hard to believe the man who scoffed at yoga six weeks ago is now encouraging his fellow bikers to give yoga a go.
Keep it up Richard, in six weeks you’ll be a convert too!
Before we head off for the homeward leg we pose for one final group photo in front of the hotel. James kindly took this shot. Left to right on bikes: Stuart and yours truly, Richard, Mark and Franco. Standing in back Carlos left and David right.
For some reason Franco then decides he needs another swim and heads down a dirt track to the lakeside at Tembladera closely followed by the others. Soon Franco, Mark and Stuart have stripped off (the latter two to the altogether) to swim while Richard settles for a paddle.
Then it’s back to revisit the Restaurant Campestre El Ancle for more chilli crayfish and chicken soup. This time besides the dogs, a homeless man, Señor Pablo, is in situ. The restaurant owner gives him a bag of bread but Pablo feeds most of it to the dogs. He doesn’t say much, just wanders about, sits and stares at the ground and into the distance. Just before Stuart leaves the restaurant he gives Pablo a five sole coin (AUD1.90). A brave move for him. Pablo immediately jumps up, goes inside and buys himself lunch. Win, win, win!
At the refuel stop Franco’s bike needs a new inner tube for a slow leaking puncture which delays us a while. Carlos shoots off in the truck to a nearby garage that has the necessary equipment to fix the inner tube and we’re off again.
Inevitably grey clouds move in as we start the climb to Cajamarca and soon there’s a slight drizzle. Perfect for precipitous mountain roads.
To add to the hazards two loose donkeys stray onto the road and a toddler walking with his mother looks set to test Carlos’ braking skills. The bikes are some distance behind us so we wait for them at a high point with an unobstructed view down the valley. The woman at the fruit stall is crocheting tiny pink wool spheres and two local boys sharing one bicycle watch us closely while they eat.
When the bikes finally do arrive there are three not four.
Stuart’s battery was flat when they tried to leave the service station so Franco swapped it for his and sent them on their way. Less than ten minutes later Franco pulls into view too and the four muchachos are almost in Cajamarca!
This is the most dangerous part of the trip from my point of view. The boys have plenty of riding under their belt and seem keen to push themselves on the last mountain stretch. There’s also some talk of who will pass under the Cajamarca sign first.
I breathe a huge sigh of relief when all four machines are safely in the forecourt of Casa Buenavista!
Richard and Mark have a five am start for their flight to Lima and then on home to the UK so we say our goodbyes before the seven men head into Cajamarca for one last Peruvian dinner together. This has been a life changing experience for Richard and Mark and there’s talk of a return for a Colombia trip with David and Co..
As the only woman on the tour I have been in a slightly uncomfortable position at times. The macho Latin culture rubs off very quickly on gringos.
By the same token the fellows have tolerated me well considering I don’t share many of their enthusiasms and am notoriously short on patience. On this final night I’m happy to leave them to their meaty meal, sangria and reminiscing.
Instead I cook a delicous vegan dinner which I share with Susan and Franco’s eleven-year-old daughter Sonja. We joke about language and Sonja and Susan crack up when I explain the difference between the English words ‘funny’ and ‘fanny’ (Fanny is a popular brand of Peruvian margarine). We get pretty silly. It’s good to see them laugh.
Sonja left and Susan right
Day Thirteen and Fourteen are chill out days in Baños del Incas taking the hot spring waters, shopping for and cooking a big vegan dinner for all of us with Susan, strolling into town and back plus a trip into Cajamarca for a grand lunch at Hotel Costa Del Sol, a country walk and a lunch visit to Hotel Laguna Seca, a hacienda style hot springs and spa hotel.
Northern Peru has treated us well. Apart from one sleepless night due to a funny tummy in Huaraz, a mass of sand fly bites on my legs courtesy of Casma, and a chunk out of my shin (caused by walking into a low stool I didn’t see because I had a helmet on) I’m in reasonable shape!
Similarly Stuart has proven to himself that at 63 years of age (next week), and despite close calls with a stroke and prostate cancer, he can still tackle new physical and mental challenges.
I couldn’t be more proud of him.
As promised I leave the last chapter of the Peru Motorcycle Diary to him then it’s on to Lima!