Sandstorms and Soulvacation
I leave Trujillo and instantly feel the joy of being back in the saddle. It feels like I am flying through the nomandsland of Peru's coast. A coast, that isn't really a coast, because it is a desert and the ocean is either blocked by huge sand dunes or the sand in the air.
After 100 km I suffer up a neverending hill, 35 km more and I will reach the destination for today, Chimbote. It should be a walk in the park, the road is flat and straight. But then reality hits me in the face with heavy headwinds, that slow me down big time. I am pedalling hard, but it feels like I am not even moving an inch and the wind keeps hitting sand in my face. After 10 kilometers of fighting the wind I give up. I haven't eaten all day and it is getting late. I really don't want to find out, if Peru's coast is really as dangerous, as everybody says.
After several attempts to hitch a ride, a truck pulls over. It is filled with bananas and driving to Lima. The driver offers me to take me all the way to the capital. I look at the boring, surreal desert-landscape, that reminds me of Tatooine, and it's an easy decision. And so begins the 500km ride with Luis-Felipe, who has been driving for 11 hours, who keeps on refilling the stock of coca leaves in his mouth, to stay awake.
He tells me, that he does that once a week. 18 hour drive to Lima, one or two hour nap, while the cargo is being unloaded and then 18 hour drive back. He is making 250€ a month.
I am still digesting Luis-Felipes work conditions, while he is obviously fighting sleep. He rolls down the window, stuffs a few coca leaves in his mouth, slaps himself in the face and asks me to tell him a story. By the time we reach Lima, he has been up for 27 hours. At four in the morning I fall into a hostelbed, exhausted, thinking of Luis-Felipe who will start the drive back home in an hour.
After two nights in Lima I am cycling 20km through crazy city traffic to La Punta, a small peninsula, west of Lima. I am visiting Pochi and Vaughn, the parents of my friend Bibi from California. Almost exactly four years ago I had met Bibi, Jake and their daughter Emma. Via craigslist... Back then I was selling some bicycle stuff from my first cycling trip ever (Seattle - San Diego). And bicycle-crazy Jake had messaged me to buy my Ortlieb frontrollers. We had a really nice, long talk and somehow I must have awaken fatherly feelings, because when we said goodbye, Jake invited me to stay with him and his family. So I ended up spending four amazing days with Emma, Bibi and Jake.
Four years later I am standing in front of Bibi's parent's house and get the same warm welcome, with arms wide open. The warmth and generosity of Bibi's welcome hasn't fallen far from the tree. Pochi shows me the cute peninsula, it seems like everybody knows everybody here. And it definetly is a paradise for seniors. Bingo, handicraft classes, concerts, parties and most of all a huge sense of community. Vaughn and I hit the beers, while he tells me about the time when he was stationed in Würzburg, Germany. He also shows me the "Zona VIP", where him and his friends like to drink quite a few liters of beer.
I enjoy the time in La Punta, that feels like a vacation for the soul. With a happy and warm heart I get on a bus. I don't feel like cycling through 300km of desert to Nasca, from where I will start cycling towards the Andes again.