Updated: Dec 12, 2020
The previous evening, Ken, Chip, Ed and I had gone out for dinner and had a great time. Ron was a no-show, he and Ed having gotten separated at some point in the day. He did not respond to messages, however I saw that he was online so at least we knew he was okay.
Ken and Chip had stayed at the hotel where I was, Ed having found a different place.
That morning, we three retrieved the motorcycles from the parking lot shortly after Ed arrived from his hotel. Ed said Ron was not responding due to their having parted ways the previous day. On the bustling streets in front, people gawked at the bikes as we packed them, and it wasn't long before the hotel staff were outside photographing the bikes and taking selfies.
The destination for the day was Chimbote. Saying goodbye to Ken and Chip, who were on smaller and slower motos, Ed and I headed off to find a gas station and work our way south. My bike had been pinging on every grade of gas since I left Texas, so I decided to splurge and fill up with 98 octane fuel available to the tune of $5 per gallon. Unfortunately the wind noise was so strong in my helmet I couldn't tell if the pinging had gone away. No matter what, that was the one and only time I would spend five bucks per gallon.
The coastal road South was a continuation of wind and sand, but the landscape had a certain epic quality to it, with distant dunes and mountains protruding from the plane. After a couple of hours we pulled off for a butt break and some coffee at a roadside restaurant. We had only been there a few minutes when I saw Ken and Chip come rolling up. They were making excellent time on the little DR 350's. Pretty soon our coffee break turned into lunch when we saw plates of fried chicken coming out of the little kitchen.
Ed stayed back with Ken and Chip as the road continued south towards Trujillo. At the bypass, I pulled over to wait and in a few moments they arrived, heading for the center of town to find some gasoline. The one thing I love about the GSA is the 8 gallon tank and the ability to ride almost all day without refueling. Ed and I teamed up again to go ahead, but my sluggish GPS caused us to miss a turn and have to retrace through an area, ending up directly behind Chip and Ken in the heavy traffic. I chuckled inside at the incident, because I think they felt like we were determined to ride with them despite saying we were on our own.
In trying to get through Trujillo, I was almost hit head on by a bus trying to pass another in the tiny streets. I had been warned about the horrific driving in Peru, getting texts from Christine and Jules and other Stahlratte riders that it was worse than any country, something hard to imagine. But now I faced it directly. The worst and most dangerous drivers I had yet encountered. I have been through some insane traffic in many countries, but mostly it's a dare game. Not in Peru, where they don't seem to care whether they kill you or not.
After the close call, Ed had pulled up next to me in a traffic circle with a big grin and showing about 2 inches between his fingers as to how close I’d come being hit by the bus.
Once back on the highway I nailed it for the small hotel we had pre-booked for the night. One thing about Peru that has been interesting has been the curiosity about the bike, with people honking and smiling. I have to admit honking seems to be the national sport here however. The congested cities and even roads are constant noise with the sounds of horns being tapped. One never knows if you're being honked at out of warning or out of excitement or out of anything, but they live on their horns.
Here and there along the route of blowing sand across the highway, one could spot glimpses of the Pacific. The sand and wind gusts were constant, even the sugary sand clinging to my visor in the wind. Eventually the town of Chimbote arrived at the end of the day. The long day of wind and sand had left me with a sore throat and a bit of fatigue. I rode the bike to the waterfront and sat on a bench looking out across the harbor towards the fishing boats anchored in the distance. After all the emotions and stress it felt good to just stare across the water at the pre-sunset sky.
When I finally hit the hotel, the guys had arrived a few moments before. Ed and I shared a room and I was informed Ron was having an issue with his bike and going to a different city to find a KTM dealer. That evening we strolled in the darkness to a local restaurant and had a meal of fried fish and cerveza.