6 February 2013

Peru - February 2013

01/02/2013

Up and out of the door at 05:00. Today was going to be a long cycle and there was some more climbing to be done before I got started properly. The first two ours of the day wasted while climbing another 600m. My body is hurting on these climbs - I have done quite a few recently, but my mind is starting to quit the battle. How much longer I am going to be able to face the mountains is debatable.

Clear the climb just after 07:00, two hours of cycling to gain 15km’s - not the start I was hoping for. The next sector was relatively flat and the wind would not play much of a part. The hard shoulder deteriorated, meaning I either had to bounce and bump along or play chicken on the live highway. I did both depending on how I felt and how clear the roads were. I felt much better after cracking out 20km’s in less than an hour. Time for breakfast - at which point muggins realises that he has bought no snack foods... So breakfast would take a little longer today - would get out the stove and cook some noodle soup. I am in the desert, but it was certainly not hot yet - cool enough for soup. Then the problems started, the gas bottle pump was leaking. So I could not get any pressure into the bottle and I sure as hell wasn’t about to light the burner with petrol leaking all over the show. Briefly attempted to problem solve but have no luck. This must be related to the petrol leak I had in the mountains - pressure differential probably blew a seal.

No breakfast for me then. Pack everything back onto the bike and head off - hoping there may be a village or something similar along the way. There was absolutely nothing until the 50km mark. When I say nothing - I mean not even a human sign barring the road it was that barren. The best I can find at the roadside stall are some biscuits and very cold Coka Cola. There is a transmission station nearby which offers a foot of shade next to one of it’s walls. I take refuge there and relax for a 10 minutes. I’m not on my own though - flies of plague proportions keep me company, as long as they stay off my face - they can do what the hell they like. Trying to swat them of all parts is a mission in futility. 

Back on the bike and another quick 20km’s has be taking another stop under a tree. The desert has finally given way to a wide river valley full of Acacia trees and some human settlement. I have no sooner sat down when Jean cycles up. Jean must be in his 40’s, a short, scrawny Frenchman - it is not impossible to think that he has been on the road all his life. We sit and chat for half an hour - an inordinate amount of time for cycle tourists heading in opposite directions. Chat over, I think I have another 20km’s to Ica - numbers I am now counting with the sun and bloody head wind in abundance. I’d love to know how the wind is a permanent southerly - except when I get on my bike and it becomes a northerly!


It soon becomes apparent that I have a little further to go. I stop at a service station and have a tub of ice cream to cool me down and give me a little more energy. Despite yesterdays lethargy, I have cycled like a champion today. I enter the city of Ica, cycling the outer ring road and turning left to the small desert oasis of Huacachina instead. Yes, it is a gringo town - but I am actually looking forward to hearing English spoken and having some western food. I have been in Peru almost 50 days now and have had my fill of ‘local’ for the moment. One hostel full, a tout shows me a decent new hotel for a reasonable rate. I check in and get my gear stowed away. Try a few times to connect to the WiFi - I can connect, but there is no internet. The receptionist says that the internet signal comes and goes. Then I notice that the router is plugged into one of those USB modems. Sod that I think, back to my room and wheel my bike back outside. I refuse to pay on arrival now, not until I am satisfied with WiFi capabilities. This is the first time I have walked out though. My tout has a worried look on his face when he sees me and dashes about to find me another hostel with proper WiFi. This found, I see the place full of tourists tapping away at laptops and other devices - this will do then. It is the weekend and most of the places are quite full, so I am happy to have been able to find a bed. Shower, WiFi, food and beer.

02/02/2013

Today is spent relaxing while working on my birding plans for the upcoming months. Eat lots of food, drink lots of milkshakes and generally don’t move very far from the table.


03/02/2013

Pretty much the same as yesterday. Sit on bum, plan stuff and fill my body with food and drink. In the late afternoon I replace all of Chanchos cabling - brakes, gears etc. There was no particular need to do this, but since I had replaced most of the other parts subjected to wear and tear, I figured it was good form to do them too. The cables were a little worn, but would have carried on working just fine for another 5000km no doubt. Pack my gear and get ready for the final push. Tomorrow I will reach the Pacific Ocean - where I intend to dive in and savour the crossing of a continent. 

04/02/2013

Today is the day, barring a fatal accident - I should finish the last leg of a trans-continental cycle. Cycling back into and out of Ica is taxing, the road rough and the traffic displaying the usual crap standards of driving. I take my first break of the day a little out of the town and fill up on fluids and few biscuits for the trip. The next 30km disappear in one sector - not that I planned on cycling this far in an hour, the conditions simply allowed for it. More barren sand dunes interspersed with the odd wattle and daub style house. 

I take one last break before the final stint - the turnoff to Paracas is just over 10km’s to the sea. I lose my hard shoulder, but traffic is light. Despite the wind, I pump my legs to - the distance going by much slower than I had hoped. I kept looking for the sea just like the Vaalies (people generally from Johannesburg, which is located in the former Transvaal Province) used to do when coming to Durban. The early morning cloud obscuring any distant views. As it happened, I could barely see the sea even from a kilometre away. The road took a last drop just prior to the town of Paracas and right now this was blocking my view too.

Then it appeared - not a grand vista, the Paracas town sits in a quieter section of the bay formed by the Paracas Peninsula. What a stark view - I have seen coastal towns, beeches and the likes all over the world, but I have never seen one located within a desert. I have never been to Namibia, but I imagine that this is what it looks like. Barren sand dunes of varying yellows and reds interspersed with precipitous cliff faces. The sea was not the deep blue I had been expecting - perhaps the placid shallow waters and the now exposed sun were against my imagination in producing a light, aquamarine to silver spectrum. 


Perhaps I make that all sound disappointing - I wasn’t, but I had been thinking about this view for weeks now and it just looking much different to the lonely, coarse sandy beech with deep blue waves I had been expecting. I posed for one quick self-portrait before removing my shoes and socks - I was going for a dip in the ocean. Despite all my travelling over the years, I cannot honestly be sure if I had ever seen the Pacific Ocean before. I recall driving past a large body of water, certainly a lagoon in Costa Rica - whether I saw the sea or even thought to look I don’t recall. So for me, this was my first view of the worlds largest ocean. While I have never been all that interested in swimming, I have gone for a swim in every ocean and sea that I have visited. So off I went, head first into the quiet water of the Paracas bay. Full of litter, dirty boats and who knows what else. Probably not the prettiest or cleanest place to have made ones introduction to the Pacific, but I’m sure the views and quality will improve in time. 

Sat down for a quick bite to eat and some coffee. Posed for photos with a local family who wanted to put their 3 year old on my saddle. (Maybe it is the desert heat, but I let them...) Found an economical hotel that even had Wifi where I dropped my gear, had a quick shower and headed out to see what birds I could find. 

The harbour was full of seabirds, taking full toll of the busy fishing boats and restaurants who dumped all the fish guts out on the beach every now and then. Sat quite intrigued with the Peruvian Pelicans. They are not very quick on land - a very displaced, slow waddle to get anywhere. However, when the latest 8 year old kid comes running out with 3 bags of fish guts - you do wonder if the pelicans are only looking at the fish guts as a potential meal. The whole bag gets emptied and pelicans are there - normally the first one on the spot nails the entire lot. They turn their head sideways and scrape their gigantic bill along the sand, hoovering everything up into their large pouch. Then it is much like drinking shots, head gets thrown back and the lot disappears as quickly as it was engulfed. The gulls stand about whinging and hoping for the odd scrap to fall their way, but pelicans are not messy eaters and nothing leaves their ‘scoop’ once it has been engulfed.

Leaving the pelicans, I continued a little further down the beach adding a number of gulls, terns and other seabirds to the list. I was quite stuffed in the heat, even though I was only out for about 45mins. With Stetson on, I could not feel the impact of the sun - I have been remembering the stupidity every since for my arms and shoulders got burnt to a crisp. The sun is just as savage down here as it is at altitude. Spent the rest of the day editing photos, fiddling with spreadsheets and aimlessly watching old episodes of House, CSI and L&O. At least there is something to watch in English, even if I am mostly listening rather than watching.

Dinner was a poor attempt at pasta, they also seemed to forget that it contained chicken. I was in no mood for arguing or getting excitable so went back to my room for a sleep. Tomorrow was another early start to get out onto the Paracas Peninsula.

05/02/2013

Up and out of the hotel at 05:30 for the cycle to the Reserva Nacional de Paracas. This is more of the same in terms of habitat - desert, cliff faces and sea front. However, it holds many species that may not venture close to the bay. For some or other reason I thought that the reserve was much closer and smaller than it ended up being. I found myself cycling much further and harder than I had expected to do. Up and down some horrid little climbs before I came to the first small bay filled with ‘peeps’ (little brown grey wading birds that produce a constant litany of quiet peeps as they go about the job of eating). There wasn’t anything new in terms of lifers here for me, but they were all new birds for the trip list. My first lifer of the morning was not long in coming though, the rare and endangered little Peruvian Tern. Diving for fish and then flying off into the desert where their nests are located. 

Then it was time for some dirt road cycling - the main area of my interest lay to the southern part of the reserve. More up and over along the dirt roads through the sand dunes. I made a number of stops, the bird list ticking over nicely with such cracking new additions as Peruvian Seaside Cinclodes, Blackish Oystercatcher and Wandering Tattler. I reached a small fishing village which had received some excellent reviews of the local beach side restaurants. However, this was not a friendly place - the boats had not returned from the their days fishing yet and the harbour was packed with trucks and their drivers. These were not the friendly drivers of the big artic vehicles that I often refer to. These were delivery van drivers - and there was an antagonistic air to them which made me feel decidedly uncomfortable for the first time since I have been in Latin America. I don’t respond very well to people shouting, “hey” at me. Normally I just ignore it, but this lot were  quite insistent and I caved in eventually, responding with my most gutter Dutch/English vocabulary. I decided not to stick about and headed off sharpish.

Up and over one last killer of a hill where I decided to leave the bike rather than freewheel over down the other side. I’d rather walk back up and have have the downhill to start the return journey. I was drawn to what looked like a small shark swimming in the shallows, until said ‘shark’ came up for a breath of air and a look about - a Marine Otter. Young or old, otters are seriously cute and this one was no different despite the distance form me up on the cliff edge to it in the shallow waters. In all my excitement at seeing the otter and previous birds, I had forgotten that I was still missing perhaps the most attractive tern on the planet. Luckily for me, there was a breeding colony at this site - hosting a few Peruvian Boobys, but mostly a huge number of Inca Terns. A number of photos snapped, I proceeded to walk around the rocky bay looking for the few remaining ‘sticky birds’. 

Everything was falling into place today, as first a single Surfbird and then a small flock of them showed up just as I was starting to despair of finding them. A few more mammals in the way of South American Fur Seal, South American Sea Lion and Long-nosed Common Dolphins. By the end of my walk I sat to study the species I was still missing - the most glaring omission remained the Red-legged Cormorant. While it is perhaps not a common species, this is one of the best places in the world to see it. Despite there being many cormorants (Neotropic and Guanay), I could not find the Red-legged. I kid you not, I picked up the bins and scanned a small rocky island in front of me that had a handful of Peruvian Booby and some Neotropic Cormorant - and there it was. White spot on the side of the neck, red facial patch, and red legs. Well, that only left the Humboldt Penguin which I didn’t think I had much chance of seeing at this time of day (they leave in the morning and only return in the evening). I planned to give them a better go in Pucusana further up the coast in any case. 

With birds seen and the sun starting to emerge I made a dash for the town. I arrived shortly after midday, having seen my fill of birds and still having cycled over 50km’s. I was hungry and had something specific on my mind. So I was rather disappointed when I arrived at my restaurant of choice to find that they had no more chocolate brownies and ice cream. I have been here long enough now to know that restaurant never stray from their menus, they won’t even replace one ingredient with another. I tried anyway, all I wanted now was a crepe with ice cream. None of the restaurants that served crepes were interested in adding ice cream though. I found a small restaurant off the esplanade, and they served crepes with Duche de Leche! They also had an ice cream freezer, so I had a pancake and bought a separate tub of ice cream. I was going to have crepes and ice cream regardless of the many restaurants myopia or obstinance. 

Spent the rest of the day relaxing and updating the lists. In fact, I spent many more hours -until 01:00 the following morning working on my spread sheets. I am now getting quite good at working with Apple’s Numbers program - progressing from columns of summed numbers to writing intricate algorithms to do the same thing without the need for plenty of columns laboriously filled with ‘1’ to be summed. All was going well until 23:00 when I got stuck with one particularly tricky entry. I was trying to get the algorithm to add the quantities of one column with a specified date range dependent on a specific location. Normally when I struggle to formulate the equation correctly, I use the various Help options  or the various Mac forums for similar answers. Nothing much was helping me, but two hours or fiddling finally cracked the bugger. Problems solved, I hit the sack - no pressure to get up on time. In fact, I needed to waste some time tomorrow as the trip to Pisco was only 20km’s and I didn’t want to try getting accommodation at 08:00 in the morning.

06/02/2013

Of course, having no pressure to wake up early means that I am certain to do just that. Bright and curly tailed at 06:00. Doze for an hour before heading upstairs for a continental breakfast. I have ignored the blog for the last week, so spent the next hour furiously knocking out some paragraphs. By 10:00, I decided it was time to go. Packed and set off along the increasingly rubbish road. Much of Paracas and Pisco were levelled in a huge earthquake circa 2007. Paracas is mostly rebuilt now, or at least the tourist sections are - but I think the roads suffered too and at present they are just about doing the job. The large number of tanker trucks hardly helps the roads condition though. 

Then I had the most unreal experience I am ever likely to have in the desert - it rained. This was nothing torrential, it wasn’t even strong enough for me to cover my bags - but there was enough to wet the roads and the surrounding desert sand. More interesting, there were no thick, angry grey clouds either - just a very wispy piece of fluff! This was novel and it kept me rather cool for most of the journey. I reached Pisco easily enough just over an hour later. Hostel found quickly enough, I dropped my stuff and immediately headed out for the local Pisco wetlands. Unfortunately, large sections of the wetlands are under piles of rubble - you do get a clearer picture of just how destroyed the town was when you see the quantity of rubble here. Either way, there was not much of a wetland - found a few of the birds I was after before cycling on the rocky track as far north as I could looking for some ponds of water. There was nothing here though - perhaps the earthquake changed the geography enough that the ponds have now disappeared. There is precious little water in the ‘river’ - more like a small drainage ditch.

Back to the hostel before walking into town and buying some new clothes. I have lost a few pairs of underwear and a shirt in Cuzco, my favourite blue and white checked shirt’s collar fell off before I realised it needed changing. I also needed another pair of short trousers - it has been over a week since my only pair has been in the wash. So a nice bright blue shirt (I can do colour some times) and a hideous pair of Burberry style checked shorts. I really cringed when I bought the trousers, but they had a span of pockets which is my main requirement, otherwise it was more trendy swimming trunks - but what use are they. There was a well camouflaged pair of very dark trousers, but they were a 34” waist - I could jump through them without touching the sides. The next best was a 32” - got back to the hostel to find that I need to put the belt on for these too - my waist is comfortably 28” now. I was hoping to have found a shop catering more for the locals, as our body sizes would be similar - but that was it. All the clothes shopping I’ll be doing for another few years.


07/02/2013

Woke up a little later than planned. Worse, there was no early morning fog cover to keep the sun away - it was blinding bright at 07:00 already. Sod it, I decided to spend another night here and do some more work. So I spent the day checking and critiquing the work that is being done on Global Twitcher, a listing website I use for all my checklists. Currently much work is being done to allow users to use either of the worlds major bird nomenclature authorities (IOC and Clements). You’d think that in a science dominated by DNA that all lists would be the same, but this is not the case. Personally I am very pro IOC for reasons previously mentioned and perhaps beyond the scope of boredom for me to explain in detail. That was my day.

08/02/2013

Today I was up early for departure. Again, the fog was non-evident but I pedalled onwards none the less. It soon became apparent that Pisco sits in a ‘fog hole’, for the fog cloud soon filled its usual position providing cover from the incessant heat. Cycling progressed at a decent pace today, perhaps I am cycling a little harder as I get closer to Lima and thus closer to finishing this punishment. With some surprise I entered Chincha at the 40km mark, at least 20km sooner that I had expected (Google again...)

Chincha is a right hole and I saw no point in stopping when I was cycling so strongly. This now put the resort town of Cerro Azul in my targets. It was going to be a much longer cycle than the 60km’s I had planned on, closer to 100km now. Getting to Cerro Azul today would save me a days riding though and it would undoubtedly be a much nicer place to spend the night than Chincha. 

No further convincing required. Another enforced break at the 55km mark as yet another front tyre punctured. Am seriously sick of these tyres - very nice to cycle on when they maintain their pressure - but they puncture awfully easily. If I had had much further to go, I would have sourced some thin plastic tyre inserts.

I cycled so strongly that I rolled into Cerro Azul just after 13:00 having covered fractionally over 100km’s. Looking at the time splits - I’d have finished among the peloton if this had been a TDF stage - loaded touring bike and all (perform ‘head wobble’). Yet another gorgeous little beach town - very clean and well organised, the deck chairs and umbrellas must have been set out by a German. I found myself a decent crash pad and decked myself out for a little Mac work before almost falling asleep at the keyboard. 

09/02/2013

Up and out early again, today was an 80km stretch to get through in order to reach the last of my birding destinations before arriving in Lima. Again I set off like a train, shifting along at TDF pace for the first 60km’s. The arrival of some horrid hills and head winds soon had me ‘treading water’ before cutting east towards Pucusana. More damn hills and the sun was now out, pounding me with all its radiation. (I have a terrible leg tan as a result)

The final stretch contains a very steep descent, something I was rather conscious of having to cycle back up when I left. That was a problem for another day though. Pucusana is another of those beach resorts, a very popular one by comparison to everywhere else I had been - but it is not very pretty, built around dirty fish docks. The standard of accommodation is equally crap - a massive disappointment given the places popularity, I had been expecting much better. It was what it was, and this was my last chance to find the much sought after Humboldt Penguin.

I checked into the what must have been the dodgiest hotel in town, but it was cheap at least. Nothing else I looked at seemed any better. Pucusana also has water restrictions - so one had to make a dash for the showers at certain times of the day, something I was not aware of initially. So after a long and very sweaty cycle, I entertained myself with a large bucket of cold water. Shower sorted, I was out for a spot of lunch and to find a cash point - I had all of NS20.00 left. Despite promising not to let myself run so low on cash again - especially when the town I was leaving had accessible cash points, I had done it anyway. True to form, the only cash point was not working. NS20.00 was not going to get me far, so it crossed my mind that I might have to check out the following day instead of staying for the planned two days. Most of the restaurants accepted cards, so perhaps I could work things that way instead. I didn’t even have my normal supply of emergency US dollars having used them weeks ago in Chalhuanca without replacement! Idiot.

Later in the day I tried the cash point again and much to my luck it was working. Now I was at least sorted for cash. While I had only planned to go looking for the penguins early the next morning as they departed their roosting site, I decided to go for a preliminary scouting route to see where everything was. This involved a steep climb up a rocky hill that ended with a vertical drop into the ocean on the other side. I sat for about half an hour and just watched the common birds go by. Whereas I had struggled for two days to find Red-legged Cormorant in Paracas, here they were the commonest of all the cormorant species. While scanning the foamy littoral, I noticed some porpoising movement in the water far below. Upon closer inspection these turned out to be a small number of Humboldt Penguins, an adult and a few immatures. Despite only taking my eyes off them for a few seconds to get my camera, I was unable to relocate them. A few minutes later they showed again, but ducked back under the water before I could get any photos - and that was the last I saw of them. 

Target bird twitched, I no had a free day tomorrow. Mini parrilla for dinner - small metal BBQ, hot coals and a grill cooking your selections of steak and chicken. 

10/02/2013

Nothing much happened today. Spent some more hours working on the Global Twitcher website before compiling and writing the ‘American Blog’ piece which I published last week. Sat and looked out over the small beach for a while after lunch. A quite disgusting place full of feral dogs running around, shitting all over the place and fish heads floating in the wave wash. There was even a sign at the top of the road forbidding people form bringing dogs to the beach - but the authorities cant/won’t even deal with the all the feral ones. People and kids run about in amongst all this crap - no surprises when they get sick as hell then.

Dinner at the same place as last night - it was also the only place that I could get WiFi access. 

11/02/2013

At least I was leaving the shithole of Pucusana today - or at least I was supposed to have left early. Today I was greeted with a rear wheel puncture despite having checked that the tyre was fine last night! Yet again, I could not find the course of the puncture - hopefully it would be the last one I would have to deal with for a long time to come.

I had all of 65km’s to get to Lima today. The conditions were not great for cycling, but I made decent enough time. By 10:00, I was already entering the southern outskirts of the city. A small wrong turn meant I had to make a detour, but it was not all that long before I had the coast in sight again. There was even a cycle lane on the sidewalk for me to get onto. Not that anyone paid the lane much respect as cars were parked all over it, taxi drivers used it as a drop off and pick up site and pedestrians struggled equally with the concept. How odd then that after almost 8000km of cycling, the closest I came to being knocked off my bike by another road user happened here off the road, on a bloody cycling lane. Despite driving past and front of me, the dumbo taxi driver then open his door on me. Much to his surprise (?), he received loud and vicious verbals from me - just enough time to shut his door such that I could give it a good punch as I went passed. I really do hope that the window managed to give him a decent thump on the head - but I doubt it would have had a lasting impression.

He wasn’t the only one to get a whack today either - another moronic pedestrian walking in circles while remonstrating wildly with someone on his mobile. Despite having circled numerous times in my direction, the muppet continued to walk in aimlessly - probably expecting me to stop my bike and wait for him to finish before moving on. With some delicate timing, I managed a perfect and satisfying head slap as the prick turned around for the umpteenth time. I didn’t stick about to see whether he needed a change of underwear or if he just carried on shouting at his phone.


There has been a noticeable and progressive lack of respect for other road users as I have gotten closer to Lima. What is it with city people that they think their lives are so much more important than everyone else’s. They are the only road users (the world over) that go into this aggressive bubble when they get behind the wheel. They don’t give way, they positively aim at pedestrians, cyclists and motorbikers. What I would give to have a paint ball gun or better when cycling or running in city traffic.

I eventually reached the upmarket neighbourhood of Miraflores. This is Lima’s version of Chelsea/Knightsbridge or much of coastal Cape Town. The views are incredible over the Pacific Ocean, the infrastructure and buildings all modern and all capable of withstanding strong earthquakes. Much of the lower beach road is a Tsunami zone - with numerous signs and exit points to the higher ground just above. I am not a shopper in the slightest, I hate the inconvenience of congregating with large numbers of mindless sheep, but I might say that the Larcomar shopping mall is the most beautifully situated in the world. 

12/02/2013

Today was a sit back and relax day. Spent some time researching the various motorbike shops and put together my plans for the next few days.

13/02/2013

An action packed day running around Lima looking for and at motorbikes. The first place I went to was called Barbacci Motors. I walked in, had a look about - a helpful assistant answered a few of my questions and offered to quote me on the bikes I was interested in. Quotes in had, there was no hard sales pitch either. I’m not sure why I bothered going anywhere else, I was already set on a specific bike and the non-sales pressure had further convinced me that I really liked this place. I rather resent strong sales pitches!

Anyhow, I carried on to a few other places looking at some Honda and Suzuki bikes. They were certainly nice, but way above my budget. So even though I was already leaning towards Barbacci Motors, I was now settled on them. I tried researching the model of bike, but could find nothing on it. A little concerning, especially since this was some Chinese model. However, I figured I didn’t really have a choice. I further consoled myself with the knowledge that the Chinese had in all likelihood nicked the Japanese patents - so this was probably as near enough a decent Honda without the badge.



Just to be certain I decided not to make any purchases today, I would sleep on it for the night first. 

14/02/2013

First action of the day was to head off to Barbacci’s to start the buying process. The lovely sales assistant from yesterday was on hand again to help me out. Despite my lack of Castellano and her lack of English we managed to get most things sorted out before resorting to Google Translate for some of the finer details. A painless process that lasted no more than an hour. I would receive the bike this afternoon and then have to sit tight until my ownership papers came though in about 10 days time. 

So, with that sorted I continued the process of trying to ship my bicycle back to South Africa. At least the cost was starting to reduce - it started off at way over US$3000 and had now come down to around US$800. Still way too much for it to be viable. However, I had not actually boxed the bike up yet, so the volume might reduce when I had.

Walked to the motorbike store to take delivery only to find that I was supposed to take collection at my residence, not the garage. Quick taxi ride back to the hostel where I signed some more paperwork and received a whole span more. For some reason or another my panniers and helmet had not made the journey. Another walk to the garage to collect my gear and ask some more questions. The lovely Tania sorted out my questions and gave me her email address should I need any more help with the licensing process. This was all going too smoothly for my liking, there would have to be a catch somewhere!

Legged it all over town trying to find boxing and packing material. After many kilometres, I came across an entire street of merchants selling boxes, bubble wrap and other assorted gear. Bubble wrap and boxes sorted I set off for the hostel, a good 3km’s away. The flat pack boxes were too heavy and unwieldy to carry - so they got the African treatment and were placed on my head. This caused much entertainment and laughter for the locals as I walked home.

Now came the task of breaking up Chancho and boxing him. What started off as a plan simply to remove the front wheel turned into an entire demolition job stripping everything into component form. Chancho in pieces along with the panniers and other gear of no further use was boxed up with much difficulty - the boxing tape rather weak and useless.

I now had a box much smaller than what I originally thought - so new dimensions sent to the agents - am still waiting for an updated quote from them.


15/02/2013

Not much on the agenda today. Spent most of the day sorting out the final few errors on the Global Twitcher site before the Admins were to launch. It must be noted that I could only report on the errors with respect to my own list - so hopefully they were generic. The list goes live in a few days, I just hope I have managed to help enough that there are not a large number of problems to deal with. 

16/02/2013

Boredom finally got to me today. I decided that I needed something to occupy myself so set off looking for running shoes and a Nike+ chip. The shoes were easy enough to find - they are seriously bright but they also had a big discount and I really didn’t want to be spending too much money on them. The Nike+ chip was a little more problematic, but I did eventually find one in an Apple shop. The staff had no idea what it was called or even what it was for, but recognised the picture I showed them thankfully. 

Running gear sorted, I had one last item on the list to arrange - getting my lip pierced again, this would be the 4th time that I have had said piercing put in. Found a decent spot, good hygiene and processes - so felt comfortable enough with the pre-piercing process. I have had my lip pierced so many times that there is a fair amount of scar tissue - which makes the piercing process more difficult on every subsequent occasion. It also make every subsequent piercing more painful than before. Tears streamed down my face, not just when the needle was pushed through (which took a few shoves), but also when the piercing was put in. Normally a straight slug goes in with the needle, but I don’t like them all that much - so instead of waiting for the hole to seal and then replacing with a ring, I had the ring put straight in. This necessitated some more twisting and pushing as well as many more tears. The staff thought this was really funny - so did I actually, but they were quite involuntary.
 
Later in the afternoon I put my trainers on and headed out for a run along the escarpment overlooking the ocean. The first few kilometres felt just like the old days, but it was soon apparent that this was not going to be as easy as I remembered. My pace dropped off, the legs and arms got sore - and generally I felt rather crap after 3km’s! There was no way I was settling for such a short run, the mind took over and simply instructed the legs to carry on. I managed 10km’s before deciding that I had done enough for my first run in 14months. I may have cycled thousands of km’s, but the muscles are used in a different way and it was not much help to my running.

17/02/2013

Legs barely wanted to move today - absolutely shredded from last evenings run. They would have to sort themselves out, for there would be more running later today. A lovely US motorcycling couple (Tonia and Dell) have arrived at the hostel for a few days. Going to plunder their brains for idea and tips on the motorbike as well as the route they have travelled to date - all the way from Delaware through central America to Lima.