Today was a full day on the Pan American Highway in Peru. What a variety of experiences that meant! The first 45 miles were crowded, two-lane roads with every type of vehicle competing for the same strip of pavement. Donkey carts, 3 wheel moto taxis, overloaded trucks ranging in speed from 10-50 mph, and a few pick ups and SUVs that had taken driving lessons from aggressive North Americans. At least, unlike other days where dogs regularly chased our bikes, today they chose to relax.
After working 10 years in the sign industry, I really notice signage, and lack there of. Huge cut outs of political candidates and soft drink bottles were placed so close to the highway, I found them to be very distracting.
Discover Our Earth is the name of our expedition. Today I came to the conclusion that some parts of our earth may warrant discovery. After that, safe escape is the best choice. Lima traffic is one of those elements. One would think, that with a name as impressive as “Pan American Highway,” the road would be wide, organized, and beautiful. Some sections are but not in and around Lima. There is no limited access expressway for getting through or around this city of 8 million. Thousands of buses, taxis, 3-wheelers, trucks, cars, bicycles, and foot vendors clogged the streets. The vendors were going car to car selling everything from cold drinks to inflatable beach toys.
I became hopelessly lost trying to follow the Pan Am and wound up on a never ending loop of one way with no way to reverse direction streets. Also, the temp was near 90 degrees. It’s good that most of the residents could not understand English since I was emitting a few, choice words during the experience. Finally it was time for extreme action. I saw a pedestrian/wheelchair crossing of a grass and treed median. When traffic slowed, I made a quick left up the crossing, scaring the living daylights out of the 2 people visiting there. After asking how to get to Pan American Norte, all I got were toothless grins. Illegal U-turn completed, I pulled up along the side of a motorcyclist and asked him. He got me going the right way.
Heading north of Lima, I saw many very humble homes about which my late Grandma Ruby would have said, “She married for love.” At least the road was beautiful four-lane so I could appreciate the scenery.
Barranca, our evening’s destination, is the antithesis of a tourist trap. I was able to enjoy 40 minutes in a beauty shop chair getting my hair cut for less than $3, including tip. Along one city block I saw shops selling bakery, toys, seed corn, clothes, veterinary supplies, eyeglasses, and even caskets. A delicious chicken dinner and I was ready to rest.
23-Feb Paracas to Barranca 290 miles
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