Friday, December 3, 2010

Day 50 - Huaráz to Huánuco, Peru

RobC:  Small aside. Those of you who are following us closely by way of this blog will realize that we are always a couple of days behind in our postings for reasons of available time, Internet connections, video uploads, etc. The last few days we have actually been in the big city of Lima, Peru, with my daughter, Lisa, and family. We have been using our time to get some needed rest, working on the motorcycles and our stuff, as well as getting new tires (no easy task for our types of machines) and bringing our calorie and cholesterol levels  back to normal.  :-)  I will now try to finish RobT's fine blog work on the last couple of days of riding before we got to Lima, which are actually some of the best/most exciting two days of riding of the whole trip.

RobT:  Today's ride was only 320 km (210 miles), but it would take all day.  One thing I have learned is you don't judge your ride by the kilometers or miles you need to travel, but by time.  Everyone in Peru always gives you a time to get somewhere when asked where a place is, never a distance ... oh, and the infamous wave of the hand or arm in the general direction of travel.

Today we crossed over 2 mountain ranges, the Codillera Blanca "white mountains" and the Cordillera Negra "black mountains" heading for city of Huánuco on the eastern slopes of the Andes.

The snow-covered Cordillera Blanca.

High plains - Altiplano - living.

The Cordillera Negra - Black Mountains.

Spectacular scenery!!!

The last 170 km (110 miles) through the Cordillera Negra and down the eastern slopes of the Andes took us almost 4 hours!!  In the recent past, it was a single lane dirt road but now it is paved (according to locals) ..... where they are not working on it (or where sections are missing), which the locals neglected to mention.  It looked like someone simply squashed the asphalt on top of the original dirt road and loosely painted some helpful white lines on both sides of the road.  The highest elevation was 4,650 meters (15,250 feet) and the coldest temperature was 5 Celcius (41 F), but the views!!!!  WOW!  We dared only take a look during the short straight sections of road ... there weren't that many.  This road has been one of the wildest for curves, views and type of road surface, i.e., two-way traffic, single-lane asphalt.  If it were gravel I would have had white knuckles all the way!!  You had to use your horn around every blind corner to warn oncoming traffic and nudge to the outside edge of the road to make room ... just in case.  The sheer drops were staggering, 3,000 ft, no guard rails and very little shoulder, if any.

See what I mean about squashed pavement and meandering lines?  This is about the width of a truck ... barely.  The grassy spot is used for a vehicle to pull over so another can pass.

RobC in the distance, negotiating mud, water, rock and gravel in one of the many hairpin corners where there was water runoff.  Yeah, you can see him if you squint, just entering the turn.

That road is barely a car width wide here as well.  Too bad the picture does not show a car or truck or bus for some perspective.

We passed some very small villages.  This is Quechua (Inca descendants) country.  Women are dressed in their indigenous clothing going about their business, working around their homes or out in the fields.  The buildings are made of adobe mud bricks and the roofs are thatched or made of corrugated tin. One small village had an adobe church that was apparently built without a plumb-line or level. Looked like something out of a Dr Seuss book, angles of all sorts.

RobC:  The Quechua people can be found in the Andes from Colombia on down to northern Argentina, but they are most numerous in Peru, where the center of the Inca empire was located (in the Cuzco area) until the Spanish conquest. The Quechua people maintain their agricultural way of life, their language (in its different regional varieties), their dress, looks and customs. Many Quechua people have also migrated to the big cities, especially to Lima, where they eek out a living and often live in precarious housing in the desert hills surrounding Lima. Of a total population of 28 million Peruvians, about one-fourth of them are Quechuas and the rest are mestizos or belong to other indigenous groups, Europeans, Asians and African descendants.

RobT:  We arrived in Huánaco in the midst of a soccer victory celebration.  (RobC:  The local professional team had payed a tie against a team from Trujillo, thereby classifying for the play-offs. This is as big or bigger than any baseball world series in the US.) We entered the town and were soon riding our packed motorcycles in a huge parade of people and musicians. When we got quite stuck in middle, we pulled up alongside a Jeep and RobC asked how to get to the central plaza.  It so happened that the 2 guys in the jeep were police officers and they escorted us through the traffic to the plaza, where even more people were celebrating.

RobC:  Our hotel of choice was right in the plaza (stayed there several times before). We barely found a spot to park the like us. The live music (quite good actually) went on well into the night. We felt safe and good at this great hotel and for a moment we felt like celebrities riding into town amidst parades and music until we found out what was going on.  :-)

RobT:  Sorry, mostly pictures of the roads today, but that was what today was about. No pictures of the celebration, as it was night time and not exactly the kind of environment to go walking around with a big camera. (RobC:  That reminds me to get a small point and shoot camera.)


  1. Rob x2,

    On "Around the Block 2010, part 'B', we left Huanuco only to find out that they had the paved road to La Union closed! But we were told that there was an "alternate route" to the east via Margos and Rondos. Well, it DID exsist, but it was mostly a donkey at times and it took us 'til 2 pm to get to La Union. Then we STILL had to cross the cordillera Blanca. For that portion, we took the gravel route past the Pastoruri Glacier... WOW! It was amazing... we arrived on the pavement some 60 km south of Huaraz at dark. REALLY a long day! But one of the best of the 6 week trip!!

    Do you realize that you have opened up a whole new route for the Prudoe Bay to Tierra del Fuego folks??? What will the corrupt police at Barranca and Huacho do now????

    Cheers, Toby

  2. Toby, Yes, I remember you had to do an alternate route from Huánuco to Huaráz. I am glad we got to drive on the new stretch, otherwise we would have been in a serious time crunch. Now it is an easy 8 hours from H to H.

    I remember your disdain for GSs staying on the Panamerican - that's why we have been doing all the zig-zagging. :-)

    By the way, please look at your e-mail. I nee3d to know where to get a 2-day MP hike for RobT.

    Best, Rob