RobT: We reluctantly left our beach front "home" and headed down he coast. The road was nice and smooth for the first few hundred kilometers until we got to the coastal desert, where the wind howled across the road at such a fierce strength that my neck, as well as RobC`s, was getting quite the workout ... to the point where it hurt. We both joked about it afterwards when we found out that each of us had been pointing our helmets to the one o`clock position and looking out the corners of our eyes just to alleviate some of the fierce tugging and pulling. The wind was blowing sand across the road, so you did not dare raise your helmet visor for fear of getting your face sandblasted. On top of that, as dusk was setting, the oncoming traffic, i.e. trucks and buses, apparently forgot where their bright headlight switches were.
RobT: 400km later with 100 km to go we were flagged down by the police. Little side note: Peruvian police are notorious, or have been, for handing out fines for any little infraction. RobC spoke to them. After the conversation, he quickly took off in front of some traffic. I got stranded, but when I managed to get onto the road I could still see him and I raced around some vehicles to gain some ground, puzzled as to the urgency of his departure. Ahead was a 'Y' in the road and I thought I saw RobC veer right into the town, but I couldn`t figure out why, as we needed to go to Trujillo which was the other way. Our intercoms were out of battery, so he couldn`t tell me where he was. I approached the 'Y', looked to the right into town and didn't see him, so I figured he went left as I suspected so I needed to do some serious catching up. I accelerated and did my best to make up some ground figuring I`d catch up in a few minutes. I passed the next town without seeing him so, puzzled, I decided he must have turned right at the 'Y', so back I went. I rode through town but to no avail. Turned around and pulled over at the junction of the 'Y' figuring he would realize I wasn't behind him and back track. It was now 5:30 and as I waited I figured there was an hour left before sundown, no hotels that I saw in the current town and it was 100 km to our destination which I knew had hotels. I knew I may have to find a place on my own and then e-mail Rob with my whereabouts. I decided to back track further to where RobC had spoken to the police. You never know, right? One last shot. Sped back, talked to the police and didn't understand a thing. As I was getting nowhere with the one officer the other officer motioned to me as if he had something important to say, but how would I understand? He was on his cell phone and motioning for me to go back down the road and off to the left in one of those famous South American hand gestures that are suppose to help you understand which way you should go. He motioned to the right but shook his head no, then motioned to the left again and flung his arms in that direction. Off I went at full speed thinking I knew what he said but also realizing if I misunderstood, I still needed to get to Trujillo and find a place before dark. 120 kph ripping along the desert highway battling high winds and overtaking traffic. The winds make it a little unnerving as your balance against the wind is upset when you pass a huge semi truck. I passed a couple of other police check points where I noticed they were also on their cell phones and waving me on as I sped past at over triple the speed limit. (35 kph was the limit for a good stretch, 80 was max on the rest of the road). I was surprised none of them tried to flag me down. 20 minutes later an officer at yet another check point flags me down and as I slowed down I noticed, to my relief, that RobC was parked at the side of the road. What just happened?! ¿Qué pasó?
RobC: Here is my side of the story. The police officers who initially pulled us over told me excitedly that there were bandits on the highway who use a device called a "tiburón" (a shark) with sharp prongs sticking out, which they throw in front of vehicles, puncture their tires and rob the people at gun point. The cops told me that we should plan to arrive before sundown in Trujillo, and since there was little time they told me to drive as fast as possible.
I rapidly took off, planning to tell Rob later what the cops had told me, and saw his motorcycle lights behind a few cars in back. He is a good, and fast, driver, so I thought he would soon catch up with me. At that point I made a wrong turn into a small town and away from the PanAmerican highway. After asking someone how to get back to the highway, I maneuvered my way through the little town and onto the highway and figured that by that time RobT was now well ahead of me, so I drove at high speed trying to catch up with him. Then I was stopped by yet another policeman, who also proceeded to warn me about robbers. I asked him if he had seen a big yellow motorcycle pass, and he said yes. At that point I thought Rob had gone ahead to Trujillo and I would try to catch up with him.
To make a long story a little shorter, he was behind me and I was getting further and further ahead of him. Finally a policemen jumped into the middle of the road, waving his arms frantically. I stopped and he said that he had received a call from a colleague that my partner was behind me and that he was trying to catch up. Great, I turned the bike off and waited. About every 5 minutes the cop would come with another message from other policemen along the road, stating that my partner was getting closer. And finally Rob showed up (surprised and not very happy).
We learned a good lesson and this will not happen again, but it also drives home the importance of language and communication. Rob is at a distinct disadvantage by not knowing sufficient Spanish and I have to take more time to explain things. The other lesson is about the Peruvian police. One the one hand, they terrorized me by telling me about the supposed robbers, but on the other hand they went into action to bring us back together through the efficient use of their cell phones.
Another day, another adventure!