Running The Gauntlet
To plan our next move out of Lima we hold a team planning meeting and opt to head back into and across the Andes in order to get to the jungle and catch a riverboat down the Amazon. That’s all easily enough said we’re all thinking, as we soon find ourselves pressing into hour number 5 of 8 in the saddle and riding through stinging hail and rain up puffing at 4000 meters, frozen, with still a looooooong way to go to the day’s destination.
Commence evening arrival routine; Negotiate through throngs of moto-taxi traffic, become separated, rendezvous at the main-central-square, look in the Lonely Planet guide for a hotel, ride round growing circles of one-ways looking for a place that will take us and the bikes, unload gear, shower, eat, crash. Commence morning departure routine; Get shaken awake by Doc at 6am, pack, breakfast, load the bike, top up with engine oil, lube chain, tighten loose nuts and/or other maintenance various and either create sweet work getting outta town with the map or pay a taxi to path-find for us as we scream through dodgy-traffic-gaps to keep up with the driving of the maniac at the wheel.
At fork in the road Tingo Maria it’s decision time folks, do we run the dodger road or don't we. Over pisco-discussions with Fernando’s family a few days ago we were warned to avoid this part of the country we are seriously considering riding through due to the narco-traffickers and terrorists who still hide here in the valley making blow. So being responsible-travellers we ask around local cops and canvass just how mad-are-we-in-fact for even entertaining this? But it all comes back pretty positive really, cautious – I mean yeah a few kidnappings here and there - but nonetheless positive. And this direct route to the jungle saves us the Option B 1500km detour and who knows how long. While in Tingo we do get a wake-up-call though. A Spanish guy travelling alone staying at our hotel was on his way to the same waterfall for a swim that we went to, on the same day, and while in the moto-taxi 3 armed guys Robbed. Him. Blind. Passport. Cards. The Lot.
So it's Big Boy’s Rules. Weigh the risks, and we decide to run it. Sorry Mum.
Bike’s loaded and early start we’re off and racing, through one police check point, two, past pick-ups bristling with government soldiers toting AKs and hand-cannons and it’s turning into quite a lovely day’s ride really. Nevertheless vigilant, eyes-out for the absence of the normal or the presence of the abnormal, and maybe because of the heavy police presence there’s nothing untoward going on today and after a long, very long day in the saddle we get through our arrival routine and get settled into toasting Doc Paul clocking up his 10,000th mile this trip, us not getting robbed or taken hostage by narco-terrorists, and another good story to tell the grandkids.