Monday, May 28, 2012

Learning a Third Language

They say the only part of a Peruvian automobile that needs to function properly is the horn.  In the land of noise, Peruvians might just be the most horn-happy people we’ve met.  And so, upon entering Peru we’ve found ourselves having to learn a new language … the Peruvian car horn.  Here are five of our first phrases:

1. beep ba ba beep beep … beep beep – Welcome to Peru!

Welcome to Peru, and the easiest border crossing in Latin America.

Crossing what must be the easiest border crossing in Latin America.  No traffic, no money changers, no fees, and friendly border guards!

Our first days in Peru, we’ve been welcomed with open arms, by foreigners and Peruvians alike. 

IMG_0594 Camping on the beach near Zorritos, Peru.

Camping on the Pacific for the first time in months with some new friends from the Peace Corps near Tumbes, Peru.

Sadly poverty is also quite prevalent here.  We have also been warned by foreigners and Peruvians alike that the suburbs surrounding any town in the coastal region are not a place we should linger if we want to leave with our belongings.  This has left us a little worried and on guard.  Warnings from other cyclists actually prompted us to take the bus through the town of Paijan due to the targeted robbery of cyclists there.


Enjoying the wonderful hospitality of the best Casa de Ciclistas (Cyclist House) of Latin America in Trujillo, Peru.  Thank you to the family who runs it: Lucho, Aracelly and Lance (named after guess who?).

2. beep beep …. BEEEEEP! – Look out, I’m about to do something crazy!  This phrase is most often used by…

Peruvian mototaxis.

… the mototaxi. 

Party in the front, business in the back!  A slightly homemade combination of a rickshaw and a motorcycle which is driven at top speed through city streets by unemployed 10 – 65 year olds everywhere.  Thankfully there is a whole lot of nothing in between cities, where no mototaxis dare venture.

Riding along the Peruvian coast towards Mancora.

Riding along the Pacific with German cyclist Andre towards Mancora, Peru.

The beach in Pacasmayo, Peru.

Arriving in Pacasmayo, a surprisingly nice, little unknown surf town.

3. beep (as close as possible to the cyclist) – Hey, look at that: gringos on bikes in the desert!

Coastal Northern Peru is mainly desert.  And some of it is the most barren desert that either of us has ever seen. 

206km of desert between Piura and Chiclayo.

There weren’t many services on this stretch of the Sechura Desert from Piura to Chiclayo.  We covered it in a day and a half thanks to a numbing headwind.

Entering the Sechura Desert in Peru. A whole lot of nothing in the Sechura Desert in Northern Peru.

Riding through dunes, sand, and a whole lot of nothing.

Sunset in the Sechura Desert in Northern Peru. Campspot in the Sechura Desert in Northern Peru.

Finding a campsite as the sun sets.  Definitely don’t want to be out on these roads at night.

Thankfully we found a good spot before we started seeing these signs:

Don't worry, we have no intention of leaving the road!

Peruvian Air Force … bombs thrown from the air … danger of death … the air force is not responsible … Don’t worry, we have no intention of leaving the road here anyways.

4. BEEEEEEEEEEEP BEEEEEEEEEEEEP! – A warning usually used when there is insufficient space on the road for vehicle and bike meaning “get out of the way, or it’s your own fault if you get hit”.

Moving the ark into position.

Noah’s ark being repositioned in the Sechura Desert. There is definitely not enough room for us next to this behemoth.

5. BEEEEEEPPPPPP! – Look at me!

This one is a constant cause of concern and headache, but thankfully we are getting used to it.  Besides, they are right, there is lots to look at and enjoy here despite being far removed from the beauty of the mountains and their living Andean culture.

Peruvian hairless dogs ... ugh.

Peruvian hairless dogs.  They evoke a certain tenderness as one can’t help but pity their ugly fate.

Ceviche feast in Chiclayo. Inca Kola ... the pride of Peru.

Ceviche: the pride of northern Peru.  Best when washed down with some neon yellow Inca Kola.  Yuuummm!

The museum in Lambayeque in Northern Peru. The ruins at Chan Chan, Peru.

World class museums and ruins abound in this area inhabited by various highly developed cultures before being dominated by the Incas.

The ruins at Chan Chan, Peru.

From here we head back into the mountains via a popular, but remote and undeveloped route through the Canon del Pato (Duck Canyon) to Huaraz, in the Cordillera Blanca.  The riding will be beautiful but difficult and at the end we have a great event to look forward to: a visit with our friend Maria and her dad, Val, who have invited us to do some trekking with them in this magnificent and stunning landscape.


  1. Great entries and in honor of the "Road Runner" ... beep beep. Ah, you guys do know the cartoon character Road Runner? Well just in case you don't ...

    Take Care! JPP/Vicki

    1. Road Runner would thrive in Northern Peru. However, I think Wile E Coyote would more likely be run over by a mototaxi than fall off a cliff here!

  2. Looks like there is a lot of cyclists on the way !
    I love the sign for the bombs ... :)


  3. I love your comments on the dogs and the ark. Those dogs have one leg up on this one though!

    Found him guarding a shop in the Haight district.