The Real Peru
We bail out of Cuzco with grand plans to boost all the way along the next-leg but man the stop-worthy-photo-worthy-scenery is just killing any hope of making Ayacucho today so we pull into Abancay on the way instead, a rather unassuming place for a night, until we’re dragged out by 6 nursing students to a local’s nightclub where we are absolute rockstars to everyone in there it’s unbelievable, you’d think they’d never seen a hammered gringo before.
So that place we’d hoped to make from Cuzco in a day, yeah it takes us three days, through the Andean countryside’s twisting roads then dirt twisting roads and tidy cultivated steppes from pre-Inca times. On the way we pull over at a family “restaurant” for a coke where it’s three sisters and a zoological-park of pigs, cats, chickens with shoes on (WTF?) and then the sisters put on an impromptu fashion show for us of Peruvian-national-dress complete with bowler hats and peacock feathers. We arrive in Andahuaylas a mere 180kms from the last overnight town but a notable achievement when we’re all very nearly too hungover to balance upright on a bike.
When we eventually do make it to Ayacucho (all these places starting with A, goddamn, there are other letters people) it’s just fantastic and we score heftily with the Hotel, right on the town square rivalling Cuzco’s but without any of the hordes of tourists wearing alpaca, the ‘dorm room’ is split three-levels and unoccupied so we have a floor each thank-you and there’s a kick-ass-restaurant attached with a balcony hanging over the whole central-scene. And we rode our bikes from the square up the footpath through the foyer to park them in the downstairs courtyard. So what’s not to like? So let’s stay three days.
Eventually though you feel that the mountains are cool and all but let’s make a run for the coast. And while we aim to drink Pisco in Pisco that evening we pull into the outskirts and the place is just a dump unfortunately as it’s still recovering from the earthquake three years ago so you can’t begrudge them that and we pop down the coast a bit and stay on a pleasant boardwalk town. Which is still pleasant in the morning for breakfast right up til about 10am then blam! The gringo-hordes descend, the alpaca-salesmen and pipe-music gets rolled out and we pack-up and roll. That is to say, we just need to jump-start Josh’s bike first. Like we also needed to yesterday afternoon when it wouldn’t start at the gas-station and we couldn’t push-start it because it is very, very, suspiciously difficult to get going. So while there are sights to see down here on the coast the adults among-us are beginning to think that if we do actually get Josh’s bike started then it would be a wise-choice to bomb-up the Pan-American Highway and get it to a big-city-mechanic.
Peruvian Hospitality Will Kill You.
We make it to Lima just in time to plough headlong into metropolis traffic which serves to heat up Josh’s bike sufficiently that the plan is changed from finding the hostel first to finding the mechanic immediately. Through some grace and map-reading so good I must have been a helicopter pilot in a previous life we find the motorbike store and workshop and who is the first person we bump into there? Local-dude Fernando! A fellow motorcyclist Doc Paul rode with down on the Salt Flats in Bolivia and who we caught up with for a night downtrack in Puno. We stash the bikes in the workshop for tune-ups and new tyres for Paul & I and some serious starter-motor engineering for Josh and then Fernando drives us and all our gear to the hostel and then we're out! For a Local’s Tour of Lima which includes awesome-grungy-dive-bars from the 1930s and then the hippest renovated old casa in town where we sip Pisco til our heads cave-in. That is to say, Doc and I call it good at gentlemen’s hours, but young-fella Josh and Fe-fe push through. Which is why we don’t see Josh again til after lunch next day and why when we’re in the cab back to pick up the bikes Doc is holding Josh’s head out the window while he’s yawning chucks like a champ at 5 in the afternoon. That a boy.
Back in the hostel we’re slowtime recovering and chatting to the German-couple staying here who’ve been riding their BMW 650’s round the world for three-years-so-far-and-counting including from Europe to Asia (my next trip – did I tell you?) all around Australia & New Zealand and even East Timor. What a dream-ride, Legends. Why do people even bother with normal jobs? Why did I? And what took me so long??
Next day Fe-fe picks us up for a barbeque round his family’s place. So. We start around 3pm. We finish around 3am. The whole time Fe-fe’s mum’s bringing out delectable meats off the grill and brother-Oscar is mixing a mean Pisco-sour that is Getting. Everybody. Loose. To our amazement we’re shown around the family’s private Museum collection which is not limited-to dozens of recovered muskets and rifles from the Chilean-Peruvian War, the preserved head of a Spanish Conquistador and rock paintings from around 5000BC. It’s a staggering achievement by one family. It then comes as less of a surprise when they show us pictures of how they recovered an unknown combatant from the War and were then responsible for orchestrating the National Memorial Parade of the Unknown Soldier. All this and much more in one evening in one Peruvian Family’s House in Lima. We don’t do much the next day.