Encroaching sand

Despite remembering that I'd promised you, the readers, that I'd stop at the viewing tower and take some more photos, it didn't happen.  It was extremely hot, even at 10am, and when I arrived at the tower, there were cars everywhere, the tower was chock-a-block with people, and with an extended queue waiting to climb up.  I didn't fancy standing around in my gear in the hot sun, so gave it a miss, and headed north.

It was still desert country - lots of rocky, stony mountains with skirts of sand clinging to the crevises, but occasionally there were a few twisty corners through the mountains, to break the monotony of straight roads.  But it is a beautiful feeling, to be riding high up above the colourful desert sands, in the clear, hot air.

All too soon, Lima appeared through the haze of smog, but this time I managed to stay on the highway wihout deviating and got through the city in very quick time. Stayed in a hostal in Chancay for the night, hoping to get on the road early in the morning in an endeavour to get through Barranca before the day was well under way.  I was a bit dubious about passing through Barranca, as I'd heard so many stories of corrupt police in and near this town, but there is no way around it, so I just headed through, fortunately without any difficulties or stoppages.

After a long, hot day of riding through varying types of countryside, I pulled into Pacasmayo and eventually found, after several circuits of the main shopping area, how to get to the hotel, which I could see, located on the boardwalk facing out over the Pacific.  It was delightful there, sitting out on the patio having dinner, watching the sun set, as it cast a rich golden, then stunning red, light over the city, and the large waves crashed onto the rocks just metres away from me. So peaceful, and relaxing after a long, hot day's ride.

Through more desert the next morning, desert in which I'd stopped on the way south to take photos of giant dunes falling into the ocean far below.  Coming from the opposite direction on the side closer to the dune, it was more difficult to get the same viewpoints, and I'd passed the giant dune (one among many) before I realised I'd done so, hence no more photos. There is an area along here where the beach sand actually encroaches onto the bitumen of the roadway, with the ocean just 20 metres or so away.  I'd hit a patch of the sand on the way south, and it was deeper than I'd expected, the back end of the bike moving around a bit as I went through it, so this time I went through very carefully, following some wheel tracks, and it wasn't too bad.

I was coming to the most northern areas of Peru, and my final night in Peru was in the large bustling city of Piura, the junction city from which I could head northeast to the Ecuadorian border crossing at Macara where I'd crossed months previously, or I could head northwest around the coastal highway to the border crossing at Tumbes.  Fearing that the less travelled road (as it is not the main highway) through the mountains beyond Macara may have been devastated by the recent rains, causing many more landslides than normal, I took the softer option and headed around the coast.

There was desert, and there was intense agriculture in patches, with vast rice paddies becoming more prominent among the crops.  This area had also suffered from torrential rains in the not too distant past, evidenced by the occasional detours around areas where the bitumen road had been totally washed away, creating gullies 20 metres in width and several metres deep where the roadway used to be.  I managed to get a photo of only one of these washaways, as it was unsafe to stop for photos, most of the time.

On my way south, an aquaintance had recommended that I cross from Ecuador into Peru at the Macara crossing, but didn't go into too much detail.  I innocently imagined it was because of the much better scenery through the mountains. I soon found out why - compared to the sedate, peaceful, rural crossing at Macara, the crossing at Tumbes is a shambles, to put it mildly!  As I pottered along the main street on the Peruvian side, through the surging crowds of shoppers, stalls and motos on what must have been market day, the Police barricaded the road - at 3pm - making me the last vehicle allowed through. I eventually came to the Migracion office, and managed to find a place to park opposite, leaving the bike under the watchful eye of a guy in some sort of uniform, possibly naval, but I'm not sure.  Uh Oh!  The Migracion officer wanted photocopies of all sorts of papers, so I had to push my way through the crowds to walk back several hundred metres to a photocopy shop.  I was sweltering in my riding gear, and it was very hot - not ideal conditions for going for a walk.

I did manage to spot, on the sidewalk, some tiny monkeys, although I wasn't sure if they were babies, or just tiny adults.  They seemed happy enough, not caged but under control of some sort, I'd imagine.  As I approached the Ecuadorian control point, I noticed another larger monkey, dressed up in her Sunday best dress, walking along happily, holding the hand of her owner.  In all my travels through South America, I'd not seen a single monkey in the wild.

Back to Migracion, where I was duly stamped out of Peru. Now for getting into Ecuador.  I rode on another 50 metres or so, and a yell from the sidewalk brought me to a halt outside an office.  In I went, but didn't have the right paper (of course, as I'd just entered over the physical border!) so the guy there designated a poor semi-crippled individual to be my guide to the Aduana office.  My guide did a shuffling run, while I rode the bike, dodging in and out of the crowds through several streets, until we reached the Aduana office. Luckily, I had a photocopy of the required paper from when I was previously in Ecuador, so the officer could just copy that, and I soon had a new current one, and was on my way to the Migracion office, after tipping my guide a few bucks.  Several km up the road, I came to the Migracion office, got stamped into the country, and headed off, bound for Machala for the night's stopover.