Monday, December 05, 2005

Lima to Nasca

Hostal Camiluz, Nasca, Ica, Peru


$20 for a very large room in this quiet hostel, recommended by the Arizona travelers I met at "El Carmelo".


Up at 8:00 this morning, but still not feeling great. Carolina crawled in a bit late too – she wasn’t well. Had some breakfast (which has improved from the basic "continental breakfast" offered when I first came. Now I also get some eggs scrambled with ham and cheese!) Gave $20 tips to both Carolina and Manuel for all their help during my stays. It was difficult to leave!

But before pushing off, I lay down for a nap from 10:30-11:30. (Is it psychologically-based, this illness? I'm beginning to wonder!)

Left “El Carmelo” around noon and stopped at the bank for some cash before getting on the "Pan Americana". Interesting: no ATM card! It's funny that I had just written recently how easy it is to forget an ATM card in some of these machines. Tried to recall its last use: I believe it was with Marc and his friends the other night.

Returned to the bank where we had stopped (at least I thought this was it.) If I left the card in the machine, they cut it up, I was told. But then the woman said, "this is a 'Visa' machine. It doesn't take 'Mastercard'", which my ATM card was. I didn't think I had gone to the bank a block away, but maybe I had! I walked there and inquired. One of the officers opened a drawer and pulled out a stack of cards, thumbing through them. They were all "Visa" cards. He said their machine was also a "Visa" machine. Well, I know it was one of these, and I was fairly certain it was the first bank.

In any event, it was gone, and I wasn't about to let this stop me from moving on. Lost an hour with this little episode.

At San Clemente, I turned east on highway 24, heading for the "World’s highest drivable pass", at 5,059 meters above sea level. Drove about 60 miles into the mountains, reaching Huaytara, but saw no place to camp, and my heart wasn’t in it. It seemed I was doing this just to check it off the list: “been there, done that.” What's the point?

Got up to about 9,000 feet, then turned around. The bike was feeling pretty light on the front end. Could just the addition of the tire high on the back end be enough to create this instability? Hurried back down the mountains, wishing to put as much of the debris-strewn canyon highway behind me as possible before dark.

As night fell, this ride recalled the Trujillo-to-Lima marathon: passing all the parked Highway Patrol cars at each town, frequently being targeted by their flashing roof lights, spotlights, flashlights, whistles and even sirens. My attitude that night was "what do they want? I’m not stopping. They’ll have to chase me.” But none of them bothered to move. I actually began to wonder if they consider it too much of an expense to drive these cars? (Now I believe that, had I stopped, I would have been asked for further "regalos". Again tonight, I had no intention of stopping, unless forced to do so.

The Pan Americana south of Lima was in pretty good shape and I maintained 70 to 80 mph on the open highway after dark. Until I came to a series of hairpins approaching Nasca. That caught me by surprise!

In Peru, motorcycles are waved around toll booths, but unlike Colombia, there's usually no lane. You just have to figure out how to get around barriers and fences without triggering their vehicle counters.

A very chilly evening. I think it was about 10:00 when I rolled into Nasca.

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