From the desert to the tropics
First of all: We are a bit late with uploading because we could not find any Wifi on our way. We are deep into the jungle now along the amazon river. The boats have no internet (surprise) and the citys are full of cybercafes, with own PCs, but no wireless connection. So, here you go, we will post everything from the last update to the start of our river cruise now and add a second update a bit later which will cover the Amazon region.
With 450km ahead of us from Nasca to Lima we started again by bicycle. The first stop was the oasis of Huacachina, near Ica, after 150km. We covered that in just one day and arrived in this interesting little oasis in the evening.
A virtual copy of what all of us image a oasis to be: Surrounded by gaint sand dunes Huacachina is a little lake fringed with palm trees. The place was supposed to be a resort place for rich Peruvians 40 years ago, but now the backpackers have taken over. A nice promenade along the lake, cafes and restaurants share the place with hotels and hostels. Another big draw of this place is the sand itself: Sandboarding and buggy tours are the main past time of the visitors. Or going onto the lake on a paddle boat... ;)
We stayed two nights in a very cozy hostel, complete with hammocks and a pool. After the heat of the desert this was a welcome luxury. Speaking of luxury: While cycling a black Humvee stopped besides us... a window was lowered... and we got two very delicious ice creams from the driver :) A really nice surprise.
The two days we spend with walks along the dunes, searching Couchsurfer in Lima and visiting a weird museum in Ica, full of mummies and shrunken heads.
The road to Lima was another 300km, up and down hills along the deserted coastline, through valleys and the occasional little town. It took us two days to cover this distance and beside the usual experiences we had something new as well: An earthquake. One day after we left Ica was hit by an 6,7 earthquake that we felt strongly even being 100km away. We were just sitting in a little ice cream shop taking a break from the heat and the solid concrete construction began to move underneath us. All the locals were running around in panic, which seemed a bit exaggerated to us, we just sat there and enjoyd our ice. Another earthquake hit in the evening, same reaction... after 170km on the first day we spend the night in a town called Cerro Azul (Blue Mountain) and had just 130km left till Lima.
The closer we got to Lima the more traffic we had to master. More and more trucks, cars and tuktuks made it harder for us to make progress. While cycling my eyes wandered to a ice cream shop and suddenly I was lying on the ground. I hit a single fist sized rock lying on the shoulder of the road and managed to crash my bike. My left leg was hit by the bike and my left elbow hit the ground, both taking on a blue-green-yellowish color after that. But hey, what do we have a first-aid-kit for ? ;) Martin patched me up a bit and we did continue. Cycling uphill with a beaten up leg was not one of my most favorite experiences, but it got better the longer we cycled.
In Lima we had to fight the traffic and fnd out where the hell the Barrio Barranco was. We also saw a newspaper stating that the earthquake, that we felt as a little shaking did level over 150 houses in Ica... wow. We cycled through Lima till we found a road that had a similar name to the one we were looking for, but was in the wrong barrio. Apparently there are at least two streets with that name (and 25 streets named 28. June, no joke) and it was dark already. But an older gentleman on the way home saw that we were a bit lost and wanted to help us. He lead the way on a little gear and brake-less BMX bike and went all the way with us till we found the address we were looking for. Thank you, nameless hero :)
The Couchsurfer that wanted to host us, Nicole, was not even in Lima at the time, but climbing mountains in Arequipa. But her husband, Trent, took us in for two nights anyway, and in the evening another pair of backpacker arrived, fresh from the USA. Next day all of the went rock climbing, so I (Diana) could stay inside and relax, read Mangas, train and try a new little recipe.
The rock climbing was near a archeological sight outside of Lima, and in total we were about a dozen people. With overhangs and preset routes it was a nice and easy experience, although I (Martin) had to go first and build the toprope for the rest of us. Congrats to the American girl, who was the only one who got up all the routes as well :)
The next day we moved to the city center, to a hostel next to the main square. Our first visit was a Franciscan monastery, with a huge crypt underneath. A free graveyard for Lima in colonial times it is filled with more then 70.000 bodies. The graves have been studied by scientists and the bones artfully placed back. What used to be a rambling pile of bones is now a nicely sorted mosaic made of human remains. Because of stupid tourists taking pictures with flash (and damaging the paintings) all photography is forbidden, but we managed to sneak in a photo or two ;)
The hostel we stayed in was a former villa, full of white statues and paintings, golden railings and even a peacock as a pet, running around free on the rooftop garden. All that for a mere 5 Euros a night. But we only stayed two nights, since we were curios about the jungle. Our next move from Lima was taking the bus to Pucallpa. Now that decision requires an explanation: We wanted to go by bike, but the road from Tinga Maria to Pucallpa is the most dangerous in Peru and famous for robberys. So no cycling there. But from Lima to Tinga Maria we would have to climb up the Andes again. Cycling uphill and then taking the bus downhill ? No thanks, we rather take a long night bus and go all the way. ;)
The weather was radically different from the coast, a humid 25-30°, tropical weather without normal seasons, only wet/rainseason. 90% humidity is awesome for cycling, but better than the cold in Germany right now ;)