Sunday, 7 August 2011

THE PACIFIC DESERT COAST











So, I`ve reached the Pacific coast and the foggy/dusty big desert-city called Lima (population around 9 million). After my last report from Nazca I wafted North through the desert, camping a few times with a dry bush or so for shelter from the pm breeze. I made a turn in the first coastal town (the touristy Paracas), after giving Huaracina a miss (this sand-dune oasis was overrun with locals at the start of a fiesta long-weekend. Along the road going the other way I met 4 bearded Russian cyclists, and cyclist Chang from Taiwan (cooking his lunchtime noodles at a bus-stop - see pic). That lot obviously had as much info regarding Peruvian holidays as me, so nobody warned me about the booked-out accommodation (the dunes around Huaracina looked like piles of sugar infested by ants). Later I also met Hector from Columbia cycling in the opposite direction, with heavy bike and trailer! In Pisco it was good to meet up with Jack from San Francisco - he is voluneering in the earthquake rebuilding effort (Leana and I had met him just before leaving Rio De Janeiro, and now I re-connected with him for dinner and a drink, poor-man style of course). Things tend to repeat themselves as I travel, and this Pacific coastal region is quite similar to Egypt (a long way off!). Firstly the road along the desert coast since Nazca has been similar to the highway in Egypt along the Red Sea coast (a major difference has been the breeze in my favour here). At this time of year (winter/dry season) there is a continuous dusty fog, and I pack up a wet tent every morning after camping. In Lima, instead of going to the Gringo Backpacker district of Miraflores, I opted for the historic city centre of Lima (still plenty of Gringo`s). The city is not a High-rise affair, with mostly colonial-style "heavy" buildings around (only a few scattered modern towers). Even the Hostal where I have a tiny 3rd floor room off the open vined deck is a bit of a museum. The walls downstairs are adorned with heavy paintings and statues. One can find everything here, but I`m still searching for the promised hot shower. Another similarity with Egypt (and Cairo in particular), is the fog, and it is an easy place in which to get lost - "non-rectangular" street patterns. The gloomy sky and uncouth traffic didn`t make me feel particularly welcome as I made my way into the city, but I felt a bit better when a highway patrol car made a welcoming announcement and waved at me - this happened again a few k`s later (not the same car!). Since I've been here I bought new tyres for Old Saartjie (much needed), and tomorrow I`ll proceed North. Daily distances I`ve cycled have been as follows: Desert Camp 87 km; Guyadalupe 90 km; Paracas 60 km; Pisco 17 km; Cerro Azul 109 km; Lurin 100 km; and Lima 46 km. The total distance I`ve cycled in South America so far is 14 391 km. Total on this trip is 80 878 km.