(June 24 – written by Dave)
First up, rumours of our demise are greatly exaggerated. We had a good sleep and feel much better today after just hanging most of the day. We re-met fellow cycle travellers – Philipp and Kathrin from Germany. We met them a week ago in El Tambo, Ecuador and have been passing them tips about the road. They happened to pull up at our hotel, just to eat around lunch today. We joined them for lunch and the rain talked them into staying put for the night.
Yes, that’s right rain. Sure glad we picked today for a rest. It was pretty wet all morning. It’s hot here however. We are at only 1,200 meters, having dropped out of the big mountains. It feels pretty tropical and we are both getting bitten now by mozzies. No complaints from us though – it’s nice to be warm again.
WARNING: Bike nerd paragraph follows.
And on the big picture side of things, my bike doesn’t seem to be broken. I’m pretty sure that the chain was causing all the noise. We cleaned the bikes after some trouble shooting. We couldn’t make my wheel generate any noise on Nancy’s bike, meaning we think the wheel is fine. And we got a little noise from her wheel on my bike, meaning the issue was either the chain, bottom bracket or crank. My bottom bracket and crank seemed fine – nothing loose. My chain was filthy and dry. We’ve had chains cause these sorts of issues previously on this trip. I guess it’s just a fact of life with a Rohloff and fixed chained. So, the bikes are cleaned and tomorrow, fully loaded, we’ll do a proper test.
This afternoon the rain let up a little so we hit the town. We had a list and struggled to find some of the items on it. We haven’t found a replacement immersion heater yet – not sure they exist here. We need to replace ours because it is 110v and the power here is 220v. Ours will work until it burns out. The power plug here is the same, just different voltage and the immersion heater is something we use almost every day to make hot water for coffee and oatmeal in the morning and tea at night. We found bread, milk and water but this was harder than it would seem. Stores are small and not as many are open on Sunday – make a note. We have Peruvian money but haven’t figured how to count it yet – no worries, this always takes a day or two.
Lastly we got a Peru SIM (or chip, as they call it here) for our phone. This took some doing as we learned (we think) that foreigners are not allowed to buy SIMS. You have to get a local to buy in their name and then you can recharge all you want. We found a kind worker in a Claro store who would be our friend for an hour and got that sorted – kind of a silly rule if it’s that easy to work around.
San Ignacio is full of moto taxi and tuk-tuks – actually we have been seeing lots of them since we crossed the border. In fact, there are very few cars and at least where we walked today, no buses. The people seem to be friendly but like Ecuador, if we don’t say hello first we do get a lot of stares – no issue, we just say hello to everyone. The kids so far do yell out “gringo” to us a lot but it is far from offensive. It’s more like they are yelling “hey, there’s a stranger” as they are almost always smiling as they yell. We are taking it as positive and so far it’s been nothing but smiles and giggles – fun.
From our ride yesterday, we know that there is a lot of coffee being grown here (and dried on the road). But we didn’t find any yuppie coffee shops and today at breakfast we were served a small little carafe (very small, like a cream jug) with strong coffee to share and a larger pot of hot water to mix with it in each of our cups. We ended up asking for a second serving of it as it was not a lot of coffee but it did taste good. So, it is yet to be determined if Peru will be like Colombia where the locally grown coffee is exported to the richer countries. More research is required.
We also learned (via the internet) why there were so many military bases near the border. It turns out that the Cenepa War between Ecuador and Peru was fought in 1995 with peace being formally agreed in 1999 (yeah, I’d never heard of the Cenepa War either). They were fighting over the formal border in the region we are riding so we are happy that they sorted things out. As of today, this war was the most recent war over borders in the Americas. Over the years, the broader conflict was called different names but it’s been going on since way back in 1941 and was one of the longest running territorial wars in the Americas. Who knew…?
The forecast is better for tomorrow and the skies have been getting lighter all afternoon so fingers crossed that our clean bikes can stay that way tomorrow. We have a longer day planned – 110k to Jaen. The bike packers are there today and we are hoping to get a report on hotels and bike shops. Jaen is a bigger town, the biggest one we’ll see for some time. Fingers crossed we can find an immersion heater there and maybe even some more peanut butter.
Off to dinner now with Philipp and Kathrin, followed by an early night…