T – Up and early today meant we would cover a bit of ground nice and early before the traffic started. Or so we thought. The buses and trucks were flying thick and fast southwards when we hit the road. So we sat over near the shoulder and stayed out of their way!
We passed through more desert and saw much more flood damage in the small towns as we went. Some of the rivers still had water raging through them. Crazy! Then we got to the back of a line of trucks. So we pulled out into the centre of the road and kept riding past them. And kept going. Past more and more trucks and buses. Eventually there was three lanes of them parked up on the highway with people everywhere. They looked as though they had been there a little while and there was a tone of takeaway food and drinks containers littered all over the place. Plus the smell of urine was strong enough to make my eyes water. People had been peeing everywhere and we dodged around all the suspect stains and puddles as we kept passing the traffic. At times the now cars, buses and trucks were so badly parked that there was no road at all and we resorted to riding in the drains to keep pushing to the front. We started to see a lot of police with riot gear after a while. Standing behind huge shields and staring at the crowds of people milling around. There was a very tense feeling in the air and as we rode through both of us started to feel very nervous. Probably at this point is the most nervous we have felt on this whole trip.
C – There was kilometres of the PanAm completely blocked up. We suspected this was due to a bridge failure, as some other overlanders had told us that we would reach a traffic jam of about 25km long. We assumed this was it and the feeling in the air was not pleasant. I could not believe the litter everywhere, but mostly, I could not believe that people were using the road as a toilet like that. There was plenty of desert on either side of the highway, but people were urinating all over the vehicles and the road, even as we rode past. I was already feeling a little nervous about the whole situation before we saw the riot police and that just cemented for me that we needed to keep pushing and finding a way through the hordes.
T – We didn’t want to get stuck here as it felt like something was about to kick off at any minute. So we squeezed through crowds, and sucked our bellies in as we slipped between vehicles. We didn’t slow down and just revved our bikes as bodies blocked us in, eventually they would move just far enough so we could pass. We could feel the eyes of thousands of people on us.
C – At one point, Todd slipped through a gap in the criss cross of cars blocking a whole intersection. As I attempted to follow him, a van tried to close the gap, staring at me – it definitely felt very deliberate. With Todd telling me just to go through the communicator, I squeezed through holding my breath. Accidently hitting a vehicle here was definitely not an experience I wanted.
T – We followed another couple of bikes as they cut through a farmers paddock of sugar cane and we swung past what we could only assume was a blown out bridge and then arrived back onto the PanAm and were faced with more parked up vehicles. This time all facing north and waiting to get through. Again there was heaps of people around and many police officers. The air was thick with tension so we hurried forwards. This time riding against the traffic. Ducking in and out of any spare space as we raced to get away from there. At one point we were hemmed in by trucks and they parked nose to tail so we had no way out. I started to think about taking the mirrors off the bikes so we could squeeze under one of the trucks trailers, I was by now feeling very nervous and just wanted out of here. One truck driver came to our rescue and got us out and back on the shoulder and off we went again.
Eventually we tore free and went sailing on down the road, keen to put some distance between us and the mess on the road. Without any exaggeration, there must have been 30 kms worth of standstill traffic, nose to tail. Trucks with trailers had driven sideways across the road at each end blocking other traffic from driving away in what we assumed was some form of protest at the lack of progress on getting the main bridges fixed.
C – It was nice to be out of there and experiencing some fresh air. We were both feeling a little ill from the intense smells of the traffic jams. It reinforced to us that we had made the right decision by staying away from the areas that suffered the most damage in the floods.
T – We passed through some more stunning desert and had to skip through a few other traffic jams at collapsed bridges, but nothing compared to that original jam. We rode hard and we rode long. Topping off the bikes tanks to ride more. We wanted out of here now. Peru is in a bad way at the moment and we just feel its best for us to keep moving.
C – As we were crossing the last makeshift bridge of the day, the water was still tumbling down the river at speed. We saw a truck, laying awkwardly across the river with just the roof the cab and trailer sticking out of the water. Next to it, lay someones house, slowly being torn about by the raging waters. We were both full of compassion for the whole country, whilst at the same time observing a distinct lack of order in the management of the emergency.
T – We made it to a small town with a small hotel and checked in. We planned on another early start tomorrow to try to get past the capital of Lima and on our way toward Nasca. We feel bad for Peru as it looks like Peruvians have a lot of clean up to do over the next few months.