Friday, 17 July 2015

Profession - Biker!

Back on the road!
I hadn't actually planned to stay in a brothel. I had just gone for cheap digs and aside from the constant wailing of women who only make that much noise if they're getting paid to do so, I would stay there again.  The place was clean, it was cheap and they did beer room service (nothing else)! Quite pleasant if I turned up my music!

I was back on the road and it felt good!

Thanks to Honda Peru for looking after Rhonda!
Now that I had all my bits and bobs in one place again, I realised that I didn't have my Temporary Import Document for the bike. The piece of paper I had been guarding all this time, turned out to be the paperwork from Bolivia! This should have been taken off me on exit and a new form issued on entry to Peru. Had I
lost the form or had I just never been given it in the first place? It didn't really matter now. The important question was "What now?" What would happen when I tried to take the bike out of the country? When asking various people, the common answer was that I would probably be looking at a big fine at least. Perhaps I'd have to pay the duty or I might have to bribe my way out. I decided the best course of action was to ignore the problem. There was nothing I could do until I got to the border. There I would do what I do best. I would wing it!

Heading for a hike at first light
Riding Rhonda again was wonderful and despite my original plan to head for Ecuador via the Pan American highway, I could not resist one last ride into the Peruvian mountains.

Leaving my luggage behind in Huaraz, I spent a day biking and hiking. 12 miles up the trails on Rhonda and then a further 3 hour climb on foot to Cherub Glacier Lake at 4600meters.

Trails in Peru are wonderful!
The hike was not an easy one. It was steep and I had not given myself time to acclimatise to the altitude. I stopped after 40 minutes and took a seat on a handy rock. Taking in the view I debated walking back down again. Maybe not push too hard on my first day! That's when Sebastian appeared over the ridge. "Ola" I said "Ola" he replied. "Do you speak English?" I asked hopefully. "Oh yes" he said. "I don't actually speak Spanish". Hooray!  Sebastian turned out to be from Germany and on a 3 week vacation "You must be the biker!" he said. I was a little confused.
"How did you know that?" For a second I wondered if I had inadvertently left my helmet on! He laughed. "I signed in after you (you had to sign in before taking the climb) and you had put your profession as BIKER!!" I had forgotten. I always put that when signing in anywhere (hotels, border crossings etc). It sounds more interesting than "unemployed" or "on a break"! I doubted anyone read these things anyway but if it was to define me then "Biker" seemed appropriate!

Lake Cherub
If it had not been for this chance meeting I never would have made it up the mountain. My brain was already convincing my legs to turn around at the sight of what lay ahead. However, this random stranger from Germany was having none of it. "I hate you already" I said after another half hours scrambling. "But you will love me at the top"! I allowed myself to be led up the mountain and he was right. It was worth the effort. The lake and the towering glacier that rose another 1000 feet above us was the perfect lunch stop. We spent two hours sitting by the lake and just taking it all in. It was deathly quiet and only the two of us up there for the most part.

From Huraz I rode along the edge of the Andes via Canyon Del Pato to Chimbote. This road is awesome. I have ridden it before with a group around 2 years ago. This time I was on my own and it was very special. Riding into the dark uneven tunnels - of which there are 37 - is quite exciting. You drive straight in to a black hole with no idea of how long you will be in there. There is no electrical light and as many have corners you get no daylight from the other side. It's fun and the surrounding scenery is craggy and dramatic. A great road to ride.

Entering one of the many tunnels
You smell Chimbote before you arrive. It has a certain stench of fish about it! I had planned on staying just one night but after yet another night of chicken and rice, my stomach finally decided to go on strike. I have not had any stomach bugs or food poisoning throughout my trip and I had been proudly bragging about my strong digestive system to my friends when I was home! That was a big mistake!

After 3 days of sitting on the loo and throwing up in the bath, I decided to risk a short 150km up the Pan American Highway to Huanchaco, a small surf town that promised tourists. With tourists come choice of foods and nice coffee not to mention English speakers! I would head there and finish my recovery in comfort. There I happened to meet up with Claire again. The Yorkshire lass on her Tornado that I had spent my birthday with back in March. She was still going and had decided to head for Mexico. We also met a lovely guy called Richard who had an apartment nearby. He had rented it for the grand sum of £100 a month. His sole mission was to stay there for a year and try to learn the Piano! Richard had a car and so together we drove to the nearest town and went on a mission to find me some chain lube for Rhonda! Not as easy as it sounds but with Richard's perseverance and grasp of Spanish, we eventually succeeded!

This one had windows! 
Suitably rested, I continued North to the border along the dusty and dirty Pan Am where I would have my fate decided by the border control. It was roughly 600km which I did in two days. Head down and crack on. The Pan Am is dull along this stretch. The only interesting bits are the small towns you pass through where you have to do battle with the Tuk Tuks as you weave your way through the traffic. Otherwise its always windy and you are often run off the road by on coming traffic as it overtakes, flashing you to move out of the way. COMING READY OR NOT! It passes the time!

I had decided to head for the Macara border. It looked like it would be quieter than the coastal one which I had been told was very busy. If I was going to have problems, I felt it was better not to present myself to a busy official with a queue of other people to deal with.

I was right. There was only one Equadorian family there when I arrived and as luck would have it the son spoke very good English. After a quick chat, he was only too happy to help and translated my predicament to the official while his proud mother looked on! The first reaction of said official didn't look good. He seemed angry! He waved his hands around and kept asking me where the missing
Heading out of the hills
paperwork was in Spanish. He didn't seem to understand that I did not have it and no amount of shouting or repeating would help. I just kept apologising and saying I didn't know where it was! I was at his mercy!

The family left me with my angry official and went on their way. There was nothing more they could do except invite me for dinner as I passed through Loja in a few days time. We exchanged numbers and they left. Now the officer was tiring of gesticulating. He mimed using the phone and said "Chief". I took my jacket off as he left to make the call and pulled up a chair, preparing for a long wait. Within 10 minutes he was back and checked again that I did not have the required paperwork. I smiled and shrugged my shoulders. "Sorry! Still don't have it!". He parked himself in front of the computer with a sigh and started typing. The header said "Declaration" and some other Spanish word. I got my phone out and started tapping in to Google Translate. The first translation that came up was "she is cursed". I was a little nervous at that! I looked further down and found alternatives. Its seems I was going to have to promise something.

Stopping for fuel on route to Chimbote
As he typed I continued to pick out random words and translate them quietly over his shoulder. "Trespass" was one of the words but otherwise it seemed I was to sign a declaration to say I had lost the paperwork and that was that.

When he was done. He looked at me with a smile and began gesturing again. This time I got the distinct impression he was light heartedly taking the mic in a "what are you like" kind of a way. Despite the distinct lack of a mutual language, we managed to share a few laughs together. I signed the document and even had to provide a fingerprint next to my signature before he shook my hand, wished me luck and came out for a photo next to the bike before sending me on my way!

I was in Ecaudor! No fees or bribes and bike still in my possession! All was well.

Now it was time to find a beer to celebrate!

Just 14 days left until we draw the winner of the onestephbeyond competition. Click HERE to get your tickets!

Made it across the border!
Rhonda parked up in a shop in Huaraz


  1. Great read again. Enjoy your day, Steph :) !

  2. Yep, keep 'em coming, very interesting, best wishes, Pete

  3. Always enjoy your blog, great advice, even if it's not your intention! Keep going.

  4. A few more nights in the said hotel and you could have earned enough money for the rest of your trip PMSL. hope this next leg of the trip is as good the first. after coming home for a short while I thought you might find it hard to go back, it has not. good luck xxx

  5. A few more nights in the said hotel and you could have earned enough money for the rest of your trip PMSL. hope this next leg of the trip is as good the first. after coming home for a short while I thought you might find it hard to go back, it has not. good luck xxx

  6. Hey, great adventure you have going! Reminds me of earlier in life...I did some travelling and by dual purpose too. I'm jealous! My name is John and we live out in the country in the Niagara Peninsula, about 45 minutes away from Niagara Falls, in Ontario, Canada. If you happen by, we can find a nice place to sleep, a hot shower, and some free meals for you. I would love to chat and you can give me needed inspiration to get another bike as I would love to do something like this in the future. I don't see the option to log on with facebook so I'm commenting as "anonymous." I'll give my website here and you can contact me via that website. (don't like posting personal info all over the web.)

    It would be great to have you over in southern Ontario! Our website is: