The longboard crew is on its way - the adventure begins
“What would life be without adventure? Simply boring“, say Franky, Stephan and Thomas, three students from the Upper Palatinate. So they take their longboards to go to Peru for six weeks and ride more than 1000 kilometers through the country.
After several weeks of preparation the time has finally come: Incredulously we are standing in Punta Hermosa, a little suburb of Lima. We have the boards in our hands and our backpacks on the back with 20 kilograms each. The taxi driver who brought us here ascertains for the third time, if we really want to follow through our plan. “On the Panamerican highway to Arequipa, with just those things?“. After repeated confirmation, still in disbelief, he leaves us to our fate. The adventure begins.
At last the moment of truth has come. After just a few pushes on the road to Arequipa we have to deal with the first disillusionment: The road surface is not exactly breathtaking and the traffic is getting on our nerves. Furthermore there is this noise that will follow us the whole trip through: honk, honk, honk.
The first kilometers on the Panamericana
For the first ten kilometers of our adventure we intentionally renounced to start on the Panamericana but choose a side road. After this acclimatization phase we change roads and welcome the Panamericana - our home for the following three weeks. The shoulder’s pavement improves tremendously and our skepticism is making way for growing anticipation. Unfortunately the surroundings have not much to offer since plastic bags and trash dominate the sandy landscape.
After 50 kilometers we have reached our target for the day and for the first time on this trip we are looking for a place to sleep. It takes some time until we find a suiting camping site which is not too far away from the highway and shielded. Besides a few visits from dogs and annoying headlights that keep shining on our tents, our first night in Peru passes off comparatively quiet.
The next morning starts with sobering news: after just one night our tents are moist because of the morning dew. The start into our second day is rather difficult: The basic motivation is on a low level and the annoying sounds of honking from afar does not improve the situation. But the god of streets does have pity for us and grants us 10 kilometers of wonderful downhill road, straight to the beach.
Meeting locals –“Crazy Germans”
In a splendid scenery we decide to have breakfast and to prepare for the upcoming stage. After a while we reach a beach resort nearby the street, which augurs a break from dust and trash. Despite our knowledge of Spanish the security guy does not understand us. This phenomenon will lead to several misunderstandings and problems on our imminent trip. Meeting three gringos on longboards on the Panamericana takes people by surprise: we are being stared at and regular conversation is not possible anymore.
There is nothing left to do but to continue our journey without a break. We pause at a restaurant in the next village on the way, to finally brace ourselves. Unfortunately there is no cooking and we have to be content with beverages. The owner’s initial incredulity turns into curiosity and we become the number one photo-object in the restaurant.
Peruvian women can be peacocky as Germans: To look taller the restaurant operator is standing on a chair for a joint picture. Who understands womenkind?
We continue our trip and after a short while we arrive at the ocean for the second time - this time, we can even enjoy some rays of sunshine. We get to know a Peruvian surfing couple and after some chitchat and “crazy Germans“calls, we hit the road again.
Interesting conversation and dangerous stories
This time we reach the aim for the day after 70 kilometers and pitch our tends on a meadow surrounded by reed. It is the perfect spot to inflame a bonfire and recap the experiences of the day in pleasant warmth. The sentiment rises - at least until bedtime, when a little mood killer occurs: Stephan’s inflatable airbed has a 15 centimeter slot which unfortunately cannot be patched. Over the course of the voyage this will lead to some short nights for Stephan.
Our breakfast for the following day consists of fruits and Inca cola for each of us. Like many others, the shop assistant cautions us to possible raids on the route and tells us about a Columbian that was attacked and murdered just a few weeks before. Stories like that raise the question whether it is all worth it, but we do not want anyone to run down our journey.
Uphill and downhill stages through barren scenery characterize our day. Like the days before, we stop at a little street sale. Talking to the young owner we come to know more about his actual job as a welder on a cruise ship in the Caribbean - the advantages of working in such an environment are obvious. Moments like these constitute traveling for us and let us forget previous horror stories.
After this conversation we continue our trip to Chincha Alta, our destination for the day. We are lucky and enjoy several downhill periods until we reach a little restaurant nearby the coast. As happened before, we are regarded critically at first, but after some time of initial gathering, welcomed with warmth and hospitality. Children play with our longboards while the adult keep asking about details on our tour. We get a lot of useful advices and tips, as well as information on the road condition until our next destination.
After a last uphill stage we reach the capital of the Chincha province.
Rolling and honking
On the next day, our 60 kilometers lap from Chincha Alto to Ica starts with sunshine and a lot of traffic. Panamericana’s initial four lanes reduce to two, which makes our project more difficult and dangerous. Fortunately more and more people start to motivate us from the roadside or even out of moving vehicles: Thumps up, honking, a broad grin or sayings like "Gringos locos" keep encouraging us anew. Switching to the sideline, by now solely consisting of sand, the first little accident happens. Stephan grazes his arm. Lucky for us, the reduction of the highway does not have any impact on the road surface and we manage the rest of our day’s stage without any further incidents.
As we look for a suitable camping site, we agree on a free area next to an alleged fruit plantation. This quiet sleeping place will soon emerge as our biggest adventure so far.
To experience what happens next read the third part of the "longbeard" crew's Peru tour.
These subject might also interest you: