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January 3, 2018

Day 52 [Wed 1/3/2018] - Casma to Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Day 52 [Wed 1/3/2018] - Casma to Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in a 1 bedroom apartment in the Miraflores District of Lima, Peru.

Starting Odometer: 13,427
Ending Odometer: 13,674
Distance Traveled Today: 247 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 9,071 miles [13,674 - 4,603]
Distance Traveled This Trip(in Km): 14,600 km

My ride today looks something like this.

Planned riding distance: 228 miles
Planned riding time: 5 hr 20 mins
Planned border crossings: 0

Casma, Peru - 73F Cloudy.
Lima, Peru - 72F Cloudy.


Like...every day on this trip is just an unimaginable adventure. It's really hard to believe that this is happening. That it isn't a dream. I'll try to share, as best I can, what today was like.

In the morning, the desert is cool and inviting. We ride down the coast of Peru. There is this. This road that follows the coast, carving out a path through the unforgiving desert where the peasants build mud huts into the hills. And indescribable, unbelievable level of poverty difficult to imagine in the United States. We have building codes. It's not legal, in the United States, to build a mud hut and live in it.

Trash lines both sides of the roads. The stiff winds off of the Pacific Ocean test the bikes, to see if they can be pushed off the road and into the desert sands. But somehow, we keep the bikes on the road. I'm not clear how.

Bulldozers and excavators struggle constantly to keep the sands from burying the coastal road, but it's a constant battle.

The winds carry dirt and sand and grit and you can feel it in your mouth and nose as you drive down the road. There's no escaping it.

Now and again, the road turns inland from the coast, for short distances. So that now, we are riding through the giant sand dunes. The signs say 'Zona de dunes'.

I don't go into the desert without food and water. I learned that lesson. Never again. I have food and gatorade for this trip.

Occasionally, we come into a town, but mostly, we're just riding through the vast Sechura Desert. It's sort of hard to believe that I'm here. That I'm doing this. That this is real.

Periodically, we do see other motorcycle riders with paniers, and always, they are from Colombia. I learned to recognize the yellow and black license plates at a glance. That's where 90% of the adventure bikes that we see are from.

Slowly, I understand that they're here for the Dakar rally, which starts in Peru on January 5th. So, a lot of guys are down here from Colombia for this race.

For some reason, David is not riding very fast. He's going like 50 mph or so, and I'm wanting to get on down the road. I'm thinking...lets go 75 mph, not 50, but he can't be persuaded to speed up, I'm not clear why.

After riding this way for some time, we stop at a gas station in Chepen, Peru, and it becomes clear to me what the problem is. He has a massive arrow-head shaped rock stuck into his front tire, and his front wheel is visibly bent. I'm thinking that his ride has come to an end, but Johan will have none of it. He pulls out a tire-repair kit, pulls out the rock, and jams his tire tool into the hissing hole, and seals it.

While he's doing this, another vehicle pulls up, and we talk to them some. They offer me a sticker that says "Dakar 2018" on it, and also has their names on it. And I'm thinking...how vain can people be, right? But...good enough....it's a Dakar sticker, and I immediately put it on my Honda's gas tank. Then, they get into their vehicle and leave.

Now, David and Johan ride just over to the other side of the gas station which, miraculously, has a tire repair shop beside it. They immediately start repairing the tire on David's bike.

All of this is really hard for me to follow. Finally, I ask Johan..."like...how did you know that there was a tire repair station next to the gas station?" (These are the things that it's hard for me to follow in a country where they speak only Spanish.)

"I asked them," he replied.

I really didn't shoot a lot of photos today. There are power lines on both sides of the road, and I really don't like shooting through above-ground utilities. It pretty much ruins the scenery for me. Also, the poverty is just unimaginable. It's not really anything I'm interested in shooting. It's too depressing.

I run over a dead animal that's been flattened beyond recognition in the streets. It's not really an uplifting experience. I've been to Peru before, but I don't remember it being this depressed, honestly. Difficult to grasp.

And then, you see the people on the sides of the roads. Desperation has a new name. People hobbling down the shoulder on crutches between towns. Not good.

I don't ever say anything about gas. I don't really have to. We all gas up at the same time (David, Johan, and me). So, I just ride and don't really say much. Sometimes, I'm in the lead. Sometimes, Johan. Sometimes David. It's all good. Sometimes we go 60 mph. Sometimes we go 80 mph. Always rolling south, through the unforgiving Sechura desert.

Now, we stop for gas, and I see another bike with black and yellow plates gassing up and I'm like..."did we talk to them? I think they have Colombia plates..." because their plates are black and yellow. But they're like...."He's not from Colombia..." To me, they look like Colombia plates, because they're black and yellow. But he's not from Colombia. So I go over and talk to this guy...."hey...where you from...where you headed..."

Turns out, his name is Dirk, and he's from the Netherlands. And he shipped his bike to Cartegena to start his adventure. And he's going to Tierra Del Fuego. I think it's like a BMW 650 or something like that.

So I'm thinking....OK. Now we're getting somewhere. He speaks English. He's headed to Tierra Del Fuego, on an adventure bike. Now we're getting somewhere.

"Well, we're heading to Lima. If you want, you can ride with us."

"How fast do you go?"

"Somewhere between 60 and 80 mph." I reply.

So now, we have a new rider with us. And we're rolling south across the Sechura Desert towards Lima. And finally, we come into Lima and, as soon as we get into the city, the traffic is just gridlocked. I think that's just sort of the way it goes down here. No one is in control. They don't have their traffic patterns worked out. And so we just sit in gridlock for nearly an hour. Finally, I can't take it any more, and I'm like...let's just go down the sidewalk. So, we're riding down the sidewalks, doing anything we can to start going somewhere...anywhere.

I see a road we can turn down...a blind alley. I look back at Johan, and he shrugs his shoulders. Like...anything is better than this. We've been parked for nearly an hour. At least now, we're rolling.

Unfortunately, we lose Dirk in this process. He was ahead of us, and now we're separated from him, in a city of 10,000,000 people. And I didn't have any contact information on him. Sucks.

Now, we stop, and Johan is interrogating a local kid on a motorcycle how to get around this traffic gridlock and to our hotel. Johan is very good at this. He identifies other motorcycle riders, and recruits them to his cause. I've seen him do this in many different cities. He's a genius at this part of the trip.

So now, we are folliowing his recuited guide through the streets of Lima, on an insane journey to get to the hotel, and force our way through the gridlocked city. My GoPro is completely discharged. Useless as tits on a bull.

We're going the wrong way down one-way streets, riding on sidewalks, just sheer insanity. But it's the only option. Either that or we sit all day in the city-wide traffic jam. The recruited kid is leading. I'm in 2nd place. And then David and Johan are behind me.

We're doing everything...passing on the right, on the left, on the sidewalk. Anything. Whatever it takes. This kid leads us around the city for about 15 minutes or so, and then says, words to the effect of, "you got it from here. Right. Left. Left. Right." Something like that. But I've seen this before, in Honduras. My momma didn't raise no fool.

"Here," I say, handing him a 50 Nuevo Sol note (about $16 USD). I need you to take us all the way to the hotel....none of this....you got it from here. I need you to take us to the hotel."

And with that, we're off. The smartest trick I ever invented. Sheer genius. Now, he's leading us through the streets of Miraflores and finally, after much difficulty, brings us to the front door of the hotel. Everyone agrees that it was much needed for us to keep the guide until he got us to the hotel. Best move of the day, for sure.

So, we lost our other traveling buddy from the Netherlands, but it couldn't be helped.

Now, we check into our apartment, and park the bikes in the secured parking area where they can't be bothered. And walk to dinner. On the way there, somone points out another adventure bike with paniers. And I'm like....Holy Shit! That's Dirk's bike! In a city of 10,000,000 people, we've actually accidentally, inadvertently, crossed paths again with Dirk, the guy we were riding with earlier today and lost. I immediately recognized the bike. And now, I walk up and I'm like..."Dude...I can't believe it's you..." And he looks at me and has no clue who I am, because I've showered and I'm not wearing my riding gear, or a helmet, and we're walking...and I'm like....Dirk....we were all 4 riding motorcycles today and we lost you. Now, he realizes who we are, and we all laugh, and now I get his contact information for WhatsApp, so that we don't lose him again. He says he sat in the gridlock traffic for 2 hours or so.

And now we're off to dinner.

After dinner, I go back to work on my photos and update my website, while they go off to hunt for SIMM cards for their phones.

I still struggle with the fact that we ran into Dirk by chance at his hotel with his bike. If he wasn't with his bike, I wouldn't have seen him. Why would his bike be oustide, on the streets, and with him by it? What are the odds of this? It has to be so improbably small. Why would he be on the streets of Miraflores when we happened to walk by?

Posted by Rob Kiser on January 3, 2018 at 5:04 AM


Great update, Rob. Especially the Section about your guide and re finding Dirk. Coincidence is God’s way of being anonymous. I bet you will be glad to see Lima in the rear view mirror.

Posted by: Steve Baldwin on January 4, 2018 at 5:58 AM

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