After our tenth night in a row sleeping in our tent, it was time to let everything get some fresh air! We are really wondering how long we will be able to continue this camping spree, because we have been sleeping really well in the tent the last nights. Only if it starts raining somewhere we may opt for a room again – or if we don’t find a campground.
We met up with the people from Dragoman on the campground. They are a group of 20 people travelling in a truck and camping wherever possible. You can buy a ticket to join them and hop on and off where you want. They told us about mummies nearby, and as it’s Halloween we let our dark side take over! We reached the necropolis of Chauchilla and wandered through the desert looking at skeletons!
We continued our drive along the Panamerican Highway south. The best driving directions we have received so far is “as long as you keep the ocean to your right hand side, you are going the right way”. We parked Rodrigo on the beach at Puerto Inca – the ancient port used by the Incas. The Dragoman group stopped there as well, so we joined them for a game of volleyball and we grilled our sausages on their barbecue. We went to sleep to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach!
Do you want to go to the seaside?
I’m not trying to say that everybody wants to go
I fell in love at the seaside
I handled my charm with time and slight of hand
We left our desert oasis in the late morning, stopping for some grocery shopping. We had lunch by the side of the road on a hill overlooking the green pastures.
On the other side of the hill, we reached the mysterious Nazca lines. There are lots of theories surrounding these lines, ranging from fertility calendars, star signs and UFO landing strips. Anyhow it is amazing how these lines are preserved – they are exposed to the desert all the time. They were not really investigated until about 50 years ago. It was very dry and quite windy on the desert plain. We climbed the metal outlook tower to get a better view of 2 figures (‘the tree” and “the hands”).
A short drive further we stopped at a hill and climbed it to have a different view. We could not see any new figures from there, but we could see the lines that run across the desert – almost to the horizon!
We found a camp site in Nasca and parked there for the night. In the middle of the desert it’s a very pleasant 31° Celsius – so the swimming pool was a nice addition to our day!
Though I’m past one hundred thousand miles, I’m feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her very much, she knows
Ground control to major Tom, your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong
Today we went out to explore the desert oasis in Huacachina. We left Rodrigo in the secured parking lot of the hostel and set out on foot to the lagoon. According to the legend, the lagoon was created when a princess was seen bathing by a young hunter. She fled, leaving the pool of water she had been bathing in to become the lagoon. The folds of her mantle became the surrounding sand dunes. The woman herself is rumored to still live in the oasis as a mermaid and to claim one life every year. Although that could also be because Peruvians are bad swimmers – according to our guide book.
The top activity in town, however, is sand boarding. For €1 you can rent a board and you get a piece of candle wax (literally, they break a candle in two and give you a piece) to smoothen the board. Then you can have a small heart attack climbing up a dune in the desert sun. When you’ve recovered, you strap yourself to the board, find your balance and slowly glide down. On the way down you can contemplate about how this is nothing like snowboarding and wonder if it will ever be an Olympic sport. Most of all, you can be a bit disappointed that there is no lift so you have to walk back up again if you want to try it a second time!
We figured out that having lunch is a better way to spend the early afternoon and we headed to a hostel near the lagoon. We had a burger and a sandwich as part of the lunch combo – it only cost us €7 for 2 people and it was really good too.
We left ourselves plenty of time to sit by the pool in our own hostel as well, of course! Tomorrow we are heading further south to Nasca to see the famous lines in the desert!
After two days, in the desert sun,
My skin began to turn red.
After three days, in the desert fun,
I was looking at a river bed.
And the story it told, of a river that flowed,
Made me sad to think it was dead.
After yesterday’s culinary adventure – and a quiet night on the restaurant car park – we had a small breakfast and fired up Skype. Patrick was very happy to speak to his godson Lennert on his 5th birthday party. We settled in the car for a short 2 hour drive to the Huacachina Oasis. The road actually passes the route from the 2013 Dakar Rally, which went from Lima to Santiago in Chile.
When we passed through a toll booth about half an hour before reaching our destination, we were pulled over by the police. The officer went over to the front of the car and took a picture with his camera phone. He then came to the driver side and said that our headlights were not bright enough. We knew that In Peru you need to drive with your headlights on – and for sure we had our headlights on. We’ve dealt with police a lot on this trip and we knew that this was about getting a bribe from us. We have learned to take the initiative in that kind of situation and we explained which garages we had been to and which police and customs offices we had visited for car checks. I’m not sure he believed us but he got bored of us after 10 minutes. He asked us in the end if we had money for a soft drink for him, but we refused. Patrick said we didn’t have money in the car – despite the fact that we just got change from the toll booth right in front of the police officer. Impressed with our act, we drove off to the desert oasis!
If we could go back to Nicaragua to the police officer who asked us for a bottle of water (without any bullshit about fake traffic violations), we would gladly buy him a gallon.
Upon our arrival in Huacachina a Landcruiser almost drove into Rodrigo – we were just driving behind a taxi . That sort of put us on guard for a city where you can go on crazy dune buggy rides. We have enough adrenaline from driving the roads here – so we’ll pass. We looked for a hostel in town but it didn’t really feel right. We drove back out and found a brand new hostel with a big gate and a smaller swimming pool just outside the centre.
We spent a bit of time on Skype to catch up with our family (it was a long time ago since we had internet). We’ll leave the exploring of the oasis for tomorrow!
This ain’t the first time this old cowboy’s been throwed
This ain’t the first I’ve seen this dog and pony show
Honey, This ain’t my first rodeo
The only objective today was to drive past Lima. The capital of Peru is notorious for pretty bad traffic jams, so we left with low expectations for a smooth drive. The first challenge was to get out of the national park in the thick fog. The narrow road led us down to the Panamerican Highway.
The traffic in Lima turned out to be pretty bad – even though it’s Saturday today – but we escaped without any scratches. The city stretches out over 70km along the highway, so we stopped for lunch as soon as we made it through. Two burgers from a roadside vendor did the trick nicely!
As we were driving along the coastline again and the weather cleared up, we went looking for camping options a bit earlier than usual. We stopped at a restaurant ‘Mirasur’ and Marijke asked if we could park and camp on their grounds. As they let us stay for free we returned the favour by having an early dinner – in the fanciest restaurant we have been to since Las Vegas.
Patrick had the ‘canchito al cilindro’… as pork roast seems to be the traditional Saturday dish around here!
Marijke had ‘chupe de camarones al estile sureno’… we are by the seaside after all!
We enjoyed the free internet, had a cool beer and when it started getting windy we retreated to the car…
The summer wind, came blowin’ in from across the sea
It lingered there to touch your hair and walk with me
All summer long we sang a song and then we strolled that golden sand
Two sweethearts and the summer wind
We left the campground early in the morning as we had 500km to cover. Believe me, that’s a very long drive here! You never know if you are going to hit road works (plenty of those around), road blocks (villagers putting branches on the road for whatever reason), car trouble (although Rodrigo is proving extremely faithful), deviations (our least favourite word in Spanish is ‘desvio’). We were on the road around 8:00am and we were greeted by sunshine in the desert! The surroundings lit up in bright yellow and blue!
In the afternoon we hit more fog coming from the Pacific Ocean with every now and then some sunshine. We had lunch by the side of the road and a police car stopped to check if we were not having car trouble. You see, most police officers are very friendly and helpful.
We reached our campground in the ‘Lomas de Lachay‘ around 4:00pm. The ecosystem – in the middle of the desert – is fed by the mist and for sure it is the wet season here now! We could see around 50m around the car, but not further. The chef prepared some noodles while it was still light outside and after dinner we went to sleep in our tent – for a record 6th night in a row!
As I walked along the supposed golden path
I was confronted by a mysterious specter
He pointed to the graveyard over on yonder hill
I paused in cosmic reflection confused and wondering
Sometimes you need to go with the flow. As our laundry had to dry in the morning, we couldn’t leave before noon. Since we had planned to drive 500km today we decided to take the day off and spend the day at the campground.
Whilst Marijke was reading a book, Patrick collected the coordinates of good campsites further down the road. At noon we indulged ourselves with a delicious lunch at a local restaurant. We had ‘ceviche’ and ‘mariscos’ with some of the best potatoes we’ve ever eaten – not really surprising when you know that potatoes are originally from Peru!
By the evening we were completely relaxed – apart from a small crisis-moment when Patrick could no longer find his credit card (false alarm!) – and enjoyed an episode of Breaking Bad.
Tomorrow we get back to business and start moving back on the road.
Took a ride to the end of the line
Where no one ever goes.
Today we tried to cover some distance. So early in the morning we left our campground near Tucume and headed for the next big city, Trujillo. Along the way we drove through beautiful sites. We saw plain deserts, sand dunes, rice fields, mountains and sugarcane fields. Unfortunately we also noticed that Peru has a lot of pollution. It seems that they are just dumping everything in the desert and then nobody looks after it anymore. It was difficult to make some pictures without plastic bags or bottles scattered in front.
Once we arrived at the campground we enjoyed the afternoon sun. We were not the only ones enjoying the scene as we got a visitor who came to say hello.
We also met a very nice Dutch couple who has been on the road already for quite some time, more than 3 years. They even ticked off China, Russia, South-Africa and Asia on their travel list. In the evening we went for a small dinner in a nearby vegetarian restaurant which is owned by a Dutchman and a Peruvian lady. Funny how small the world can be sometimes but it was also nice to be able to talk in our native language after such a long time on the road.
Run from the noise of the street and the loaded gun
Too late for solutions to solve in the setting sun
So run my baby run my baby run
With the car fixed and the new alarm fitted, we enjoyed sweet dreams in our roof top tent. We slept a bit longer than usual and had sandwiches for breakfast.
As we still had some questions about how the alarm worked and we wanted to change some of the configuration for opening the doors, we headed first back to the dealer. In the afternoon we drove to the pyramids of Tucume . The 26 pyramids in the Lambayeque valley were built about 1,500 years ago. The have suffered a lot from flooding due to El Nino, but is still is an impressive site in the desert!
Tomorrow we start driving south again. We’ve lost some time but we will still make it to Argentina in time!
Said woman take it slow and things will be just fine
You and I’ll just use a little patience
Said sugar take the time ’cause the lights are shining bright
You and I’ve got what it takes to make it
We won’t fake it, I’ll never break it
‘Cause I can’t take it
We spent the night at ‘Rancho Santana’ in our tent. We used some wire to lock the door in true McGyver fashion. In the morning we drove to the Toyota dealership in Chiclayo, about 1 hour away. In every country where we’ve taken the car in for some maintenance or check-up, the Toyota service has been outstanding. Again so today! Even though we did not have an appointment, we were helped immediately as soon as the workshop opened. The broken lock was removed and a little metal sheet was placed over the keyhole. Now the door cannot be opened with any key – only the remote control. The mechanic did a quick check-up of the car, inflated the tires and off we went. Total cost 30 sol… or less than €8. We asked about installing a new alarm system and we were guided towards an after-market dealership close by. While Patrick went to pay the bill, the mechanics grouped around Marijke to ask about where she came from. Some were a bit disappointed that we had driven without any issues from Canada to Ecuador and that this should happen in Peru. They gave us some guidance about which places to avoid in Peru and we will adjust our schedule accordingly.
We explained our problem to the car alarm dealership: somebody broke in to our car and we did not hear any alarm. For about €70 he installed a new system with new remotes. I won’t go in the detail of how the system works, but if anybody knocks on the door or tries any funny business around the car, the alarm goes off… big time.
It took a couple of hours to have the system fitted, but it left us with some time to go to a supermarket and buy more food and water – we had been running a bit low. The car alarm dealership had internet as well, so we could connect after a few days off-line as well.
Back at the Rancho Santana, we had soup for dinner and watched the season 1 finale of Breaking Bad.
Don’t you want to know how we keep starting fires?
It’s my desire
Danger, danger! High voltage!
When we touch, when we kiss