Chimbote, the town I avoided yesterday smells like fish.. Clearly there’s some money here, the construction seems very good. Concrete and fresh paint.. I discover the source of the smell.. as I ride past the harbor, I see the highest concentration of fishing boats altogether in one spot than I’ve seen in my entire life. They are so thick the masts almost look like a cactus floating on the water. As I continue past the harbor, the street becomes crowded with trucks, fishmongers and sidewalk vendors. It is a cluttered scene .. mostly food… they have colorful umbrellas and steaming cauldrons of something. I’m hungry anyway, so I park the moto at the end of the street near the last one. One fellow sits at the picnic table just as I’m getting off my bike. I sit next to him and then another sits next to me on the other side. Guy to my right orders a bowl of fish soup and I tell her I’ll have the same.. but the fellow to my left orders something else and it looks way better.. I switch at the last moment and get that… he calls it Estufa. She ladles three large spoons of rice onto a plate, and scoops out a chicken leg from another pot with carrots and broth…. some beans from a third. Best breakfast ever! I wish I had the time to stay.. I’d like to spend a couple hours walking around in this buzz of activity.. especially to try a couple more of these vendors. I’m really not that bothered by the smell… it seems to “fit” here. I have the energy to ride hard to Lima… I arrive on the outskirts around 3 o’clock in the afternoon and the traffic is horrific. I am terrified riding in this unbelievable crush. It’s impossible to know the safe place to be on the road.. people are weaving and bobbing in and out of their lanes.. centerline sees to be a popular place. no turn signals, Brakelights are the exception to the rule… not the norm. the fast traffic is moving within inches of my hardbags. Three other motorcycles in a little group weave in and out between traffic but they seem to be staying ahead of the thickest part so I get in behind them and I swerve around until I find a little gap and try to hold my position there. I wiggle and weave into Miraflores. It is an uber modern district of Lima with Chicago style skyscrapers and little shops.. hospitals.. everything… I stop at two or three places to find a decent room and I finally settle on a large hotel. It is it within walking distance of the Flypark. I walk to launch. My knee feels funny but I ignore it. I meet a few pilots, but the wind isn’t good.. barely enough for a tandem and a guy with a Gin Carrera to stay up… It is almost identical to Torrey Pines… smaller LZ.
While I’m there, one of the local guys hooks me up with the Pilot hostel. It is a cozy, well-appointed apartment run by a svelte, smart female paraglider pilot, If you need contact info, please E-mail me…. the place is also within easy walking distance of launch. I also get to meet with my friend from Valle de Bravo.. he is a delightful character.. his wife is from Lima, so he spends a month or two here every year.. I can’t wait to see him again in Mexico! I stay at the hostel..have dinner at a couple places in town.. the food really is delightful.. fresh, creative… expensive. (Seared tuna and cheesy risotto.)Well, for me. You can have a spectacular dinner with a cocktail or two for around thirty bucks US.. way over my budget right now… super affordable on the normal one… Most of the local restaurants are also very good. And cheap. You don’t have to have a bankroll to eat well here. Conditions are light again at the hill.. worse, my knee is extremely swollen and painful. I’ve no idea what I’ve done to it… still, I don’t want to risk a hard landing… or, one with a longer hike. I have to wait until I can stand on it well enough to support the bike… so an extra day or so is necessary. Even though I havent gotten to fly here, I love Lima.. I really hope I can come back for an extended stay.. perhaps I can find work here sometime.. yep. It’s that nice. Next stop, Paracas. It seems like a logical stopping place… maybe Pisco too. I see it on the map.. and it has a little site to fly, also. The ride is another dry desert roll and there are a bundle places selling Pisco… This is definitely the region.
My second stop is a ceviche place…It is as delicious as advertised! I ride around Paracas, find a couple different hotels and settle on the the Lonely Planet Backpackers hostel. It is well appointed with excellent wifi and hot water. I drop my bags and go to check out the flysite. It is a beautiful ride through a bird sanctuary and the vistas are awesome. I can’t fly yet.. though. it is too windy… Windy enough for kide boarders though!! There is a huge contingent of these guys here!! I hope tomorrow is somewhat better. In the evening, I return to the ridge.. with a fellow that wants to watch me fly. I futz around town, grab some breakfast, take a hot shower and go back out to the site. It is a beautiful day, and I hang out for three hours, play in the sand and have a fun, swoopy flight before it gets too windy.. I’ve overdone it though, and I can barely get my knee back over the bike when it’s time to leave.
I’m super glad that I got to fly here and I count this as another place I want to come back to for an extended time. It is peaceful, friendly and the food is fantastic. I got this plate of pasta with scallops and “popped corn” at the Paracas restaurant. The corn implodes rather than exploding. They serve it everywhere in Peru.
It is only a few hours to Nasca.. the famous Nasca lines. I pass by a tower that charges 2 soles to climb it.. its just a few cents and I don’t mind the cost. I snap a couple pics of my bike and some of the lines.. and carry on. Right before I get to the town, I am stopped by protests. Police stop me and tell me to wait a half hour. I do, but it goes much longer.. I ask the police what they are protesting… it is the mining. I find out the rest of the story later.. It pollutes the water. The Peruvians believe they should be able to drink clean water.. can’t blame ’em.. they have had some success with their efforts.
I show the policeman what route I want to take and he tells me the Southern Pan American is closed with the protests. I can take a northerly route, it will bypass the trouble. I change course and head instead to Puquio.
9 APR 19:00 Edit: This just in… I got a FB message from a gal that has more info than me.. here is the text: “What a cool adventure Wendy! Just a little note, Chimbote smells like fish because there are a lot of fishmeal (harina de pescado) factories. I thinks that’s the main reason…”
Makes super sense..