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  • Lisa

Fuck Offroad

I wake up by the sound of rain, that keeps falling on the window of the hostel, that I have been staying at for the past three days. It is 3 a.m. I roll on the side and think to myself, that it will be okay. Three hours later I am sitting on my bike, leaving the city Cajamarca. Off to Huaraz! Off to the first real Dirtroad. I had read about Peru's dirtroads and was wondering, if I will enjoy those roads or not.


The first 50 kms of dirtroad between Huamachuco and Cachicadán are exhausting, but rideable, even though wet season has just started. Every time I pass the small villages along the way, people look at me confused. As always I smile at them and greet them. Which leads to them smiling and greeting me.


The scenery is amazing. When I reach the peak of second day's ride, I am overwhelmed by emotions. The view, the exhaustion, knowing, that it is 10 KM downhill to today's destination... tears of joy roll down my cheeks. But suddenly also rain is rolling down my entire face and it is getting stronger and stronger by the second. So I jump back on the bike and start riding downhill. It only takes minutes, until I am soaked. The wind is burning on my hands, that are carefully trying to manouver the bike around the steep, moddy the zig-zag road. Once I reach Angasmarca, my hands are that cold, that I cannot shift gears anymore, my whole body is shaking and I feel the consequences of not having had enough to drink all day. With the last bit of energy I reach a tiny Hospedaje. After a semi-warm shower, I am trying to warm up under the blankets for an hour, but the thought about my muddy bike wont let me rest. So I go downstairs and try to clean it up, while the whole village is watching me.

The next day the rain is waking me up again. Today's route includes a road, that I have been excited to ride on, for a long time. Between the villages Mollepata and Pallasco there is a windy road, that zig-zags down 20km and then zig-zags 20kms back up again. The best thing: it's all paved! After kilometers of bumby dirtroad, I cannot wait for a nice and smooth road.

One village before Mollepata my wheels finally hit the asphalt. But the joy doesn't last very long. All of the sudden there is a construction site and the rain starts. The construction site workers stop me and ask the usual questions. And then the nice and smooth asphalt turns into thick and slippery mud. The bumps of mud around the brakes and wheels keep growing bigger and bigger meter by meter. After the third curve the wheels are completely blocked.

A motorcyclist slides through the curve behind me. I ask, how much longer it is til the end of the construction site. "All the way over there!" he says and points at the top of the mountain on the other side.

Him and I are the only ones, crazy enough, to go down this muddy road.

I leave my bike behind and walk back uphill, to ask the construction site workers for help. "We are working until four o'clock!", it is one and I am willing to wait for three hours in the rain, to get a lift. "Are you going to Pallasco?", "We cannot help you."

Frustrated I walk back down to my bike. I sit in the mud and try to get the mud off the wheels, so I can move again.

I hear a vehicle coming down the hill towards me, when I turn around, I see the construction site workers, who honk their horn and wave at me. „Ayúdame!“ - help me! I reach the point, where I cannot be my own "positive mindset cheerleader" anymore and start crying.


But then a transporter is driving uphill towards me. I wave and the two young men, who turn out to be construction site workers aswell, stop. I explain my situation, they mumble something I don't understand and start laughing. My throat starts burning and I cannot hold back the tears anymore. They start driving and I fall back into the mud, devastated. But then I hear them opening the back of the car. 15 minutes later I am back in the tiny village Mollepata.


I am over it. I am giving up and willing to take a bus to Huaraz. "To get from here to Huaraz, you have to take a colectivo to the coast, to Trujillo first!". I am surrounded by the entire family of the guy selling the tickets. They look at me with pity. I am covered in mud, my shoes have turned into platform shoes, made of mud and my bike is one mudpile. The tiny bus to Trujillo is leaving at 1 a.m., it's 2.30 p.m., my stomach growls. I haven't had any food, since the three oreos at 11 this morning, but I am willing to just sit on the village's only bench and wait for the colectivo to leave.

But the family, that is selling the tickets in a little kiosk, also have a tiny, simply guest house. "We will give you the keys to one of the rooms, you can take a shower, rest, clean your bike and later take the bus. And don't worry, we won't charge you for the room. You're a traveler and one day you can return the favor to some other traveler, maybe one from Peru.

I start crying again, this time because of gratefulness.


A few hours later I am sitting inside the colectivo, trying to sleep. But my subconscious is on guard. We are backtracking the entire route I had cycled the past days, through the pitch black night. At some point the driver is taking a shortcut and we get stuck on a hill, in the mud. With screaming motor and spinning wheels he is trying to get us up the hill, while drifting off to the sides of the narrow, guardrail-less road. For the first time during this trip, I am really scared. The three men sitting in front of me, get off the van, to help the driver, but he keeps losing control over the car and we keep rolling backwards. It is 3 a.m. when they take off to get help. After an eternity they return, follower by a tractor, that pulls us out of the mud, up the hill.

Just when my heart rate gets back to normal and we are ready to go, the driver tells us, that the brakes are not working anymore. I am waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out of his hiding spot, to yell at me, that I just got punk'd, but nothing... This is really happening.

The three men rob underneath the car and start hammering, to fix the brakes. After what feels like forever, we start driving again, but I cannot relax at all. After a few kilometers the driver tells the guys, that only the handbrake is working, but we still keep going, zig-zaging up and down the hills, really slowly.

At some point we pull over, the sun has come out and I see, that the three guys are wearing mechanic's overalls. My heart rate relaxes a bit, while I watch them trying to fix the car. It takes them over an hour and quite a lot of swear words, until it's done. After 14 hours we reach Trujillo, normally it would have been a seven hour drive.


Life isn't always easy going, also when you are traveling. And it's exactly those moments, that make you grow. Even when your positive mindset is leaving you and you don't know, what to do, it somehow, almost magically, always goes on and a solution pops up.



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