I had been in Peru for no longer than two minutes when I bumped into my first cyclist, a
Scottish chap who was living close by and was keen a cyclist. Before I could get the chance to to talk about being in Peru and my excitement of seeing the country, he confirmed that I was 99.5% likely to get robbed on the road and Peru was the worst country to cycle in. Brilliant news. He was a lovely chap and just trying to help out but really wish people would be a bit more positive about south American countries. I peddled on trying not to stand out in my colurful Lycra and smart bike and hoped that my Nobby Solano shaped nose would help me blend in…..
After some bruising days in the saddle cycling through empty desert I made it to the town
of Trujillio, this place is famous for having what is known as a ‘Casa de Ciclista’ run by a former bike pro called Lucho. It is basically a place for cylists to rest as they pass through the town. Lucho, the owner, has let over 2000 cyclists stay in his home for free over the years and expects nothing in return, an incredible place. In the house I met two lads from Sweden and a couple from Cuba. Luckily the Cubans were heading south and I would join them for safety. The Swedish lads told me how the other day a guy from Argentina got knocked off his bike and held at gun point near a town called Chimbote, this was my next destination so made sense . Being on the
bike for hours on end, day after day, I often think about how I would react if I got robbed out on the road and held at gun point, ‘would i fight back?, would i get my little swiss army knife out to scare them? Or would i just shit myself and run?After much thought , I came to the conclusion that I would probably put up as much fight as a Newcastle United starting eleven.
I thought the road would get easier ahead but it just got less and less populated, with more and more sand…..I felt like I was in an old western with long straight roads surrounded by moutains and sand. The Cubans were great craic and I was enjoying having
some company on the road. They also had the incredible ability to smoke pot and still cycle in 40 degrees heat with big climbs through the moutains. On one particular stop in the middle of nowhere with just us and the empty desert, while I tucked into my banana for some energy, the guys tucked into their pipe, using a piece of glass and the sun to light their hash. Out of nowhere a police truck pulled up, while I panicked, the Cubans casually got the last out of the pipe before popping it back in their pocket. The police ushered one of them across, I tried to look innocent and English and was convinced we were in the shit as I looked on nervously. Ten minutes later, the Cuban returned with three cans of tuna, 5 bread rolls and a bottle of water, smiled at me and said, for the munchies, yes…..
I parted ways with the Cubans the next day as needed to kick on if I had any chance of
reaching Rio and the World Cup. The next few days were brutal, the headwind was so strong I rarely got over 10kmph as I plodded on through the Nasca desert. With little to no interaction for a while now, I had the bizarre situation where a van pulled up out of nowhere, three men jumped out, and with little said between us, one thrust a camera infront of my face and the other a microphone. For the next hour I had the bizarre scenario of doing some filming for a German TV channel about travelers along the pan American highway. There was lots of shouting, moving about, being told off for looking at the camera and off course being German, many takes before everything was perfect. Then again with little said gave me 150 soles, jumped in their van and sped off. The Germans, a strange breed….
I am now in the town of Nazca and tomorow head back into the Andes, where I there is little to no towns on route so can look forward to nights in the tent at zero temperatures and not much grub, however planning ahead i did a shop at the local supermarket where I picked up a cut loaf and some fanny jam so should be alrite…