Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ecuador to Peru - Montezuma’s Revenge, Chicken platters with Vengeance, Midnight Call Girl, Corrupt Cop, Best Hostel in the World, Ruins of Chan Chan- Peru

The road to Vilcabamba was beautiful.

Once again no GPS, so I let instinct guide me to the place, lucky for me that doesn’t run on batteries like a GPS so it’s always available.

As I arrived at what I thought to be Izchetel, the famous hostel, it wasn't but it was still awesome.

Awesome view from the hostel

I saw a BMW parked. So I parked next to it and started to chat with the gentlemen that owned it.

Turns out he was from Loja, just an hour away and was on a Sunday joy ride visiting his friends aka the owners of the hostel.

So the owners invited me into their family circle of over 8 people having a Sunday lunch, handed me a drink and we chatted all afternoon. They gave me some great information on routes that were currently closed, under construction and what to avoid and see in Peru.  Each family member gave me there favorite and best road in Peru they had driven, I thought, great I’m going to have to go see each and every one of those roads to make sure I continue my search for the world’s best most adventurous road!

They even poured me some sugar cane brandy or whiskey, I don’t know the difference as I don’t drink, but I took a few sips and pretended I liked it like a good guest should do.

After some good negotiation on the price of the room I was off to bed.

My habitation for the night

I saw the place and it was nice, but not the best in the world like the guy that had a friend said. So I looked over my shoulder and saw that 50 meters always was another building on a hill. So I walked over to investigate.

And what I found was possibly the best hostel I’ve ever seen as well. Pools tables, ping pong tables, a view of the valley, $10 beds, bar, laundry, restaurant, the works! So check out the Izchetel hostel in Vilcabamba if you’re ever in the area, it’s a jewel.

The next day I was off to Peru.

Going through this massive mountain range that extends from the top of South America to the very bottom called the Andes, is tuff. One minute it’s nice and warm, and the next your 13,000 ft above the clouds in fog, rain, freezing, and it’s hailing! The worst part about it is that apparently seasons are reversed from the mountain region to the coast. So in my planning to travel in the summer down here is actually the winter and rainy season in the Andes! Always an adventure.

Finally soaked, battered from the hail and exhausted I arrived at the border. The entrance and exit of each country was easy.

Crossing 3 South America counties I can tell you that it will probably continue to be this painless the rest of the way, and I’m very happy about that.

I am reminded of my experiences in Central America at the borders. Each time you get into a new country in Central America you are bombarded by a mass hoard of people wanting to help and facilitate your crossing for you for a fee, exchange your money for a fee or sell you insurance for a fee. Central America countries also charge you vehicle importation fees and visa fees to get in, not to mention the 15 copies of your passport, vehicle titles, driver’s license etc. they require you to give them etc. . . . It’s a massive money robbery from tourists is what it really is.

I’ll take this moment to compare driving and importing your motorcycle through Central America like an initiation to a fraternity; it’s a spanking and a rite of passage into a special club, in this case to get into South America, as most every Central America country takes advantage of you as you cross with massive robbery on a legal level. But hey it gets you to South America, the cool fraternity everybody wants to be in, where so far everything has been amazing. No fees, no lines, no robbery, just a quick hello, a quick question of where you are from, friendly chats, a sturdy hand shake, some fast paper work with no lines, and your off! No crazy lines, no crazy fees, no massive amounts of copies of legal documents, just simple and to the point. You see Central America; you can learn a thing or two from South America.

So now in Peru, and I’m hungry. I’ve heard the food in Peru is amazing. So I exchanged some money and bought myself a chicken platter right next to the border crossing. I thought nothing of it, but little did I know that Montezuma’s revenge was in my future.

So upon entering Peru, wouldn't you know it, desert, it looked just like home. For the first time in this trip I felt the missing of home a bit, but also felt the warmth and invisible hug the desert gave me reminding me of where I come from. This area also had the resembelance of Mexico, there were shacks and such.

So onward I pressed until the town of Piura, I was going to stay one hour north in Sullana, but heard from various people that was like Cd. Juarez of Mexico, the most dangerous city in the world. So after I had more than one person tell me they were robbed straight out of a bus window along with everyone else on the bus the day before from there, I knew I was by passing that place quickly.

My directions from the border were to find this and turn right

Alex's hero for the day are these guys

How many Peruanos can you fit in a moto taxi? a lot! 

So I arrived in Piura, and had another delicious chicken platter and off to bed I went.

The next day I woke up with some pretty bad stomach cramps, I thought, I’ll get over it.

So I pressed onto Trujillo.

An hour into the ride and my insides felt as they were turning inside out. If you’ve seen the movie “Braveheart” with Mel Gibson, there’s a scene in the end where they put him on a table, cut into his stomach and start pulling his intestines out of his body while he’s still alive to torture him. Yeah…. that’s what I felt like for the next 6 hours while driving down the road. I believe I got a small dose of the pain and discomfort women face with their menstrual cycle, and I salute every single one of you for putting up with that, it is no easy task. I can’t even imagine giving birth!

Every 15 minutes I had to pull over to open the shield on my helmet to puke, then ever 45 minutes I felt Montezuma’s revenge and had to find a place to unleash the……. Well I’ll leave the rest of that sentence to your imagination.

So for my advent readers, if you read about my adventure of food poisoning and being sea sick at the same time crossing from Panama to Colombia, and here’s the link for the new crowd….   I can tell you that this sickness ties that experience, I believe that both chicken platters I had the previous day, both delicious, had a different strain of bacteria and/or virus from one another, and I was being attacked on an internal level from two different points, it was miserable! To top it off I was driving through the dry desert dehydrated and with a fever, I don’t doubt some neurons were lost that day from the heat, internal and external.

I thought, hey, I climbed a 19,000 ft volcano the other day, how much harder could this be.

About half way through the day I was lying on the side of the road face first into the sand hoping a truck would come by and take me out of my misery.

Just kidding, I was far enough from the road for that not to happen. But I did take a nap for an hour next to a rice field, and as I woke up I was welcomed back to the world by a group of kids standing in a circle above me saying in Spanish, “do you think he’s dead?” They were obviously frightened when I awoke and stood up, alive.

I laughed and said, “Yup, still breathing”, hopped on the bike and kept on going.

Still alive!

I continued down the road puking. By this point I’d engineered an intelligent way of puking from the inside of my helmet to the outside while driving without making a mess, I hate not being productive and covering some distance due to excessive stopping.

And what do you expect in the desert, thats right, rice fields.

Further down the road I was stopped by a police man. Just like in Colombia and Ecuador there are tons of police stopping vehicles, asking for documentation and such. Only difference is that in Colombia and Ecuador they never stop motorcycles, here in Peru I heard the police are just looking for bribes, and I was stopped immediately once the guy saw me.

So I was asked for my papers, then my license. Then he looked at me and asked for my insurance. Well upon entering I was informed that insurance wasn’t needed, so I knew this cop was looking for an excuse to cite me and get some money.

Luckily I made friends with the guy at the border crossing at Customs, he gave me some nice unasked fatherly advice about not getting anyone pregnant during my stay in Peru and also gave me a nice story to use on the cops in case I got pulled over, so I thought I’d try it out, the cop story that is.

So I handed the cop my insurance from back home, in English. He was confused by the paper, and before he had any time to think, I told him it covered me throughout South America and it correlated with the national insurance company of the country of Peru called Pacifico. He gave me a funny look, so I proceeded to tell him if he had any questions he could call the number the paper or Pacifico to confirm my policy. So here I was in Peru, lying completely to this cops’ face, I was getting tired of bribes and wasn’t looking to lose any more money, it was all fun and games the first few times but no more. So I started at him straight in the face, gave him a determinate looked and finally he said, “Very well, safe trip”.

All I was saying to myself was, I hope he doesn’t call in to base to confirm that fake number! But luckily a strong affirmative voice and tall presence of a man dressed in all black persuaded him to just leave me alone, I’m sure he saw I was on top of my game and wasn’t getting any money from me, I was no stupid tourist! So in this case speaking Spanish truly helped.

Many people have commented to me how I should approach the police, which I dislike by the way as they just shove it in your face without asking, but many say to speak Spanish to them and others say to talk to them in a foreign language. Just like people have different opinions on brands of tires and which is better, each person once again has their own opinion on how to handle corrupt cops. I can tell you that I believe it depends on the situation and circumstances. Sometimes it better not to speak a word of Spanish and sometimes it will save you if you speak Spanish. I have done it both ways with both success and failure, and can tell you that is truly the case. But either way it’s no easy business surviving a corrupt official and anything can happen.

So after many nauseous hours of driving I finally arrived at Chan Chan outside Trujillo. Chan Chan is a civilization that lived long ago, it’s the oldest civilization in all the Western Hemisphere and the United Nations has said it’s a marvel of human civilization everyone needs to see.

It was nice to see a culture focused on using adobe and sand to construct their buildings. After seeing only piles of rocks and buildings falling apart throughout Central America and Mexico, it was a nice change.

What it "used" to look like

This civilization is truly old, lots of the walls and such had been reconstructed and many of the sites were not original, despite a few exceptions.

It had some unique and cool stuff though.

Sacraficial area

A nice picture next to the ruler’s burial temple.

But just another location decimated by Mother Nature, it’s a shame that most ruins today have little to nothing left that’s original. It’s all mostly reconstructed and fake. I guess you can’t expect much from such things, but I get the feeling that it takes always from the true authentic experience.

what it really looks like when its not restored

So I arrived in Trujillo and bunked down for the night.

So food poisoning was still in my system so at around 6pm I went to sleep, I hadn’t eaten anything the entire day and anything I did came straight back up. I was also severely dehydrated and it seemed I was a little delusional as well.

Later on in the evening there was some loud knocking at my door, I shrugged it off but still it continued. I finally got up and answered the door half asleep without a shirt and in underwear as I had no strength to put anything on and wanted to shut up the knocking to go back to sleep.

Outside my door stood a very nice looking young lady, hair pressed, make up on, super short skirt, upper body very exposed, and high heels and with a big smile. At first I thought I was still asleep and dreaming, perhaps delusional from the severe dehydration, but I soon realized this was real.

She said she was from the agency and gave me a huge wink I said, “Agency?”.  She said yes, the agency. My delusion head was trying to make sense of what she just said, but I was certain I was asleep the past few hours and didn’t call any agency. She saw I was severely confused and looked pretty terrible fighting the food poisoning and finally said,” your Luis right?”, I said no. She said but this is room 201 right?, so I looked at the door and said “yes, it would appear so, but I’m still not Luis”.

By this time I asked her what kind of agency she came from, my tired body didn’t quite put things together until she said, “Escort Service, and anything else you want”, and winked again.  So I laughed when the light bulb in my head came on and put it all together, and told her I did not call an Escort service and she was mistaken. She still couldn’t believe it, I’m sure being without a shirt and no pants didn’t help convince her. Finally she saw I wasn’t her client, but she started to chat with me.

Personally I just wanted to go back to sleep and puking, but she wouldn’t leave! Seeing her boss made a mistake, she was probably thinking she was losing money. So she proceeded to compensate by trying to sell her “services” to me. I just smiled, shut the door, puked some more and went to sleep hoping her pimp or whatever wouldn’t come in slamming the door in the middle of the night.

10 hours later the next day I woke up, my first thought was the funny story of the midnight hooker that came to my door I would have for the blog.

So I was told by a good friend that Trujillo has great food, and he was right. For $2 dollars I ate a vast quantity of Chinese food with left over’s. The Chinese food here was exactly like the Chinese food I had when I was in Taiwan, fantastic it was!

So onward I pushed on to my next destination, a random route that was said to be incredible by a member of the family I chatted with in Vilcabamba.

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