The Tatonka longboard crew struggles through
In transit on the Panamericana our "crazy Germans" cruise through Peru on their longboards. The three guys from the Upper Palatinate, who call themselves "the longboard crew", got to know the country and its people as well as foreign cultures. Enriched by new impressions and experiences they defied every obstacle on their way, be that narrow road conditions, large drops, constantly changing weather extremes or even shots of a pump gun: there has not been a thing that could impede the three adventurers. Kilometer by kilometer they get closer to their big aim: the Peruvian city Arequipa. Will they really succeed or will something crop up after all?
Being back on the road again
After three days of rest we feel like heading back to the streets. From Nazca we set for the coast. Unfortunately strong headwind exacerbates longboarding and makes it almost impossible - again. The climatic conditions and the forlorn landscape also keep oppressing us and so we have to bite through and hope for better weather.
We reach our daily goal of 50 kilometers in the late evening. We stay on a camping site near the road where is pretty wet. We still try to make ourselves as comfortable as possible, which due to the coldness of desert nights is difficult to implement. Since the conditions have not changed on the following morning, our motivation keeps decreasing. Meanwhile longboarding is not an option anymore. The unusual stiff headwind and the second and strongest sandstorm of our trip dispenses with any efforts. Again we are reminded of the movie “Mad Max“. We hit the road by foot and for the first time we think about hitchhiking. After 15 kilometers of march these thoughts become a decision: On an old piece of paper we write down “Jahuay“- the name of a town that according to our map is located at three quarters of the route to Puerto Lomas.
Through the desert by foot
After a short time hope germinates as a little transporter stops at the roadside. But our elation quickly vanishes, since the driver cannot help us, besides encouraging words and three oranges. Again and again sandstorms arise and temper us and our physical and mental inventories are used up. At this point of the journey we merely function.
Another 50 kilometers later - throughout the desert by foot - we arrive at a little town where we are promptly appealed by an truck driver. He offers to take us to Arequipa but we decline with thanks. Stopping by at a restaurant our assumption to be in Jahuay is corrected: We are already in Puerto Lomas. We realize that we marched through the desert for 65 kilometers with sign on our backs asking for a town we already passed. This reminds us inevitably of the taxi driver in Ica: Has his sense of orientation rubbed off on us?
Change of plans due to the wether conditions
In a further conversation with the young owner of the restaurant we get to know that this year’s difficult climatic circumstances are a result of the climate phenomenon El Niño. It provides extreme headwinds along the entire Peruvian coast. So we decide to change our original plans and continue from Camaná, as the headwind is supposed to drop there.
On the bus ride to Camanáwe realize that our decision was right: Riding a longboard dimly seems to be impossible under the prevailing circumstances. It is extremely windy, the road conditions are really bad, there is busy traffic and impossible up- and downhill stages.
Up- and downhill slopes in the interior country
As predicted by the locals the weather actually improves and for the first time in four days we are able to properly ride our longboards. After a short stage along the Pacific Coast the time hast come: The last leg of our journey leads us in the interior country of Peru. Our previous opponents have been the strong winds and sandstorms. Now we are challenged by altitude differences of 2400 meters as well as emerging fog and rain. Why are we doing this again?
After 1000 meters of altitude difference, we reach a foggy plateau, where the visibility decreases to less than 50 meters. Our previous efforts are suddenly rewarded by two beautiful downhill stages, what we obviously did not expect. The plateau spreads for another ten kilometers straight ahead but quality of the road surface declines. On this stage the second and last accident happens: Negligence is responsible for Thomas (and his backpack) going down. Fortunately his only injuries are little cuts.
Perforce we have a longer break at a little kiosk. By his own account the owner has never seen a white person before, besides the constantly passing ones who never pull over. Some locals stop for us to give us an avocado and talk. Surprisingly we time and again meet people who have already heard about us. Leaving the kiosk Stephan is asked by the owner to sign a Peruvian football jersey - crazy Peru!
By now the sun has chased away the initial fog and rain and after a short time we reach Majes - one of our last pit stops. The final destination Arequipa is just 40 kilometers away.
On the next morning we reach an impressive canyon: a nice and long downhill stage, followed by the same distance uphill.
The last kilometers
The lift offers accumulate. Besides regular car and truck drivers we frequently get ride offers by the Peruvian police, which we decline with thanks. Exuberant euphoria arrives as we find ourselves on the last kilometers of our journey. This mood even increases due to the unbelievable openness and hospitality of the Peruvian population. People seem to be exited about our trip and show this affection again and again. For example we get a complete meal for free with the words “You look hungry“. For the last time we are papped and our longboards still seem to be very interesting - especially for the children.
The last ten kilometers of ups and downs extent but on Saturday August 22th ’15 we reach our goal. For 732 kilometers and 20 days on Peruvian roads we have been waiting for this moment to come: Finally we can read the relieving words "Bienvenidos a Arequipa“- on a less spectacular sign than expected.
Honestly it is quite difficult to find the right closing words. While formulating this travelogue anyone of us is able to completely understand what happened in the last six weeks: all the difficulties we had to deal with, all the nice people we met, all the beautiful sceneries and landscapes that belong to us in our memories.
The longboard crew goes…?
There is one thing we were sure about, since the first day of our trip: Without Tatonka’s help in terms of three backpacks we could not have done it. None of us was in the possession of a backpack that was even slightly suited for such extreme conditions. Due to limited financial resources we probably would have headed out with cheap backpacks if Tatonka would not have helped us. With this we surely would have been put in our places within the first few days. But the three “Yukon“backpacks not just served their purposes. Day after day they accompanied us as loyal and - despite the 20 kilograms - comfortable companions.
We are aware that this looks like badly placed promotion. But after our journey we are simply impressed and thankful for Tatonka’s confidence and support. Thank you so much!
To occlude there is just one thing left to say: We are sure that this adventure was not the last longboard tour for us.
The longboard crew goes…?
Have you missed the first episodes or do you want to witness the whole journey of the longboard crew once again? In the following you can find all their travelogues: