Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.






Peru: Day 10

by Kathy 7. December 2009 22:16

<< Day 9:To Chachapoyas, Why We Ride | Day 11: To Tochache, Rocking Out >>

 

To Tarapoto, It’s Raining It’s Pouring

 

Our original schedule for today called for us to drop down from the “cloud forest” of Chachapoyas to the tropical city of Moyobamba in the lower jungle area. We would be twisting up and over several mountains, and our maps had indicated miles of dirt roads. Guy had talked to various people in Chachapoyas, however, and discovered that the roads were now paved. He suggested that we extend our ride further east, deeper into the Amazon basin, to the city of Tarapoto. Ben and I enthusiastically agreed.

Leaving Chachapoyas this morning on our bikes, we passed several children in their school uniforms leading a donkey loaded down with wood. (I didn’t get a photo, but I can still see them clearly in my mind.)

We would be riding north for about 30 miles before turning east.

The road tracked along beside of a river, with towering rock faces on either side.


Sometimes the road would be carved out from the bottom of the cliff—like a tunnel with one side open. There was nowhere to stop safely and get a photo of the intense section where the rock ceiling wrapped over the road completely—for me, it was more freaky than riding through a tunnel, probably because the massive weight of the ceiling was completely unsupported on one side.

Here I am riding past some snippets of overhang:


Some adobe brick houses by the side of the road:

This house had a bunch of chickens roaming free in the yard:

A popular mode of transportation along the road was the “moto-trike,” with a motorcycle front end and a bench back seat. They were not very speedy, and the owners would park them partially on the road when finished driving.

Many of the homes that we passed today had horses or donkeys outside with blankets piled on their backs, ready for a ride. This couple appeared ready to use a plastic stool to assist in climbing onto their donkey.

This small village had a beautifully painted church and plaza.

Along the road were various types of educational signs that had been placed by the government. This one reminded people that water was life (agua es vida) and said, “Let’s not contaminate it” (no la contaminemous).

As we followed the river north, we gradually dropped in elevation. The vegetation around us was becoming more dense, with banana plants and lots of greenery.

Even the mountains were covered in green—I couldn’t call them my “chocolate mountains” anymore.

We stopped at a junction so that Guy could lube our chains.

Here I am:

Some of the buildings nearby had the unfinished top floor that was so prevalent:

I watched the big trucks roll by, heading east where we were going:

Here is a view in the opposite direction:

About forty miles west was the Amazonian town of Bagua, which had been the site of much violence this past summer. Some of the indigenous people were staging a peaceful roadblock in protest of imminent oil drilling on their land. (The oil companies had not consulted them about the drilling, which they believed would detrimentally impact their way of life.) The government called out the police to break up the road blocks, and the officers shot the protestors from helicopters, killing about ten and wounding many more. In retaliation, some of the protestors killed about 24 of the police officers. Eventually, the plans to drill in that portion of the Amazon jungle were put on hold.

Ben and I had watched the news carefully before our trip to see if the conflict had heated up again. As a rule, we don’t want to put ourselves in an unnecessarily risky situation while traveling. But there didn’t seem to be any direct danger to us—the conflict was between the native people and the police/oil drillers. The native populations here, as in Bolivia, generally stage very peaceful protests; it seems to be the government that injects the element of violence. (However, we are well aware of the widespread death and “disappearances” of over 30,000 people under the brutal Shining Path movement in Peru that ended less than 20 years ago.)

In any event, we had not initially planned to visit Bagua, and all seemed quiet in that direction today.

We continued onward, and soon a thin fog enveloped us in a milky haze.

More moto-trikes and buildings:



The road ahead:

Some of the wooden homes had an indoor/outdoor living design, with the dining area under a covered outside area.

Guy had heard that the weather would be rainy today, so he had worn his thick rain gloves. While the air was damp, it was not raining, so he pulled over to switch gloves.

The view from our resting spot:

Five minutes later, the skies opened up and dumped buckets of water on us. The rain was relentless. After about 10 minutes, Guy pulled over to put on his full rain gear. Ben and I kept riding. Ben’s rain gear had melted on the first day of our ride, so he had none to put on. I was wearing my enduro jacket; and I also had waterproof riding pants in my bags, but they weren’t the kind that slipped over existing pants, and there was no “private” place by the side of the road to change clothes.

The road became very narrow as it snaked up and down a mountain. I kept looking for a “dry” place to pull over, but didn’t see any. On the mountain, I passed a local motorcyclist who was keeping dry under a rock overhang. I thought briefly about joining him, but my instinct said to just keep going—I figured I couldn’t possible get any more wet, and the rain didn’t look like it was going to stop any time soon.

As we dropped down from the mountain and entered a small flat valley, we spied an open-air café and stopped.

In the above photo, the woman that you can see above Ben’s bike is the café owner, who was very accommodating and didn’t complain about us dripping lots of water onto her cement floor as we made our way to a table. The man in the doorway was a Peruvian tourist who had driven from Tarapoto this morning; he told us that it had rained the entire drive and that the rain was expected to continue for at least another day.

My bike:

As we shared some black coffee and coca tea, the sky looked like it was getting lighter. We were optimistic.

Views across the street:


This sweet girl was the owner’s granddaughter.

After walking around us quite a bit, checking us out and giving us smiles, she settled into a chair near us and started playing with her deck of cards.

The intensity of the rain was diminishing gradually as we lingered in the café. Neither Ben nor I were eager to re-drench the clothes that had already started to dry out.

The rain continued as we made our way over another mountain and down into the jungle area, where it finally stopped.

I was still very wet and cold. I had chemical hand warmers in my gloves, as well as two chemical body warmers inside my jacket, but my teeth were still chattering.

The nearby town of Rioja looked like it was undergoing some revitalization projects. Near the main road was a beautiful sculpture of a woman weaving a hat.


We soon arrived at the city of Moyobamba, where we quickly found the main plaza with its groomed trees.

Across from the plaza was a restaurant, where we had lunch.

There was a constant stream of moto-trikes roaring around the plaza.

This driver and his passenger both turned to look back as I snapped their photo:

Moyobamba has wide streets, and the city is spread out. I didn’t see anything that made me regret our decision to continue riding to Tarapoto today.

Moyobamba is known as the city of orchids, as over 2000 types of orchids are native to the surrounding valley. There is a sculpture of an orchid in the middle of a traffic circle off of the main road that flows past the edge of town; however, Ben’s camera lens didn’t open all of the way when he took a photo:

I did, however, find a photo of the orchid sculpture using Google:

(Thank you to Rafael Benzaquen, who posted this photo at http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/5437209.jpg)

While we were at the main plaza, Guy stopped a local motorcyclist on an XR650R and asked for the best route out of town. The man generously offered to guide us out, and sent us on our way with big waves and smiles when we reached the orchid traffic circle.

The dense green foliage around us let us know unequivocally that we were in the jungle area now.



The road was very smooth, with no potholes, and it had a large, cement gutter on one side to catch all of the water run-off.

(Later in the trip, when we were riding around lots of big trucks, and I would round a corner to find a big truck coming at me in my lane, I would start mentally preparing a plan involving the best way to launch myself into one of those cement gutters and survive.)

One section had a loooonnnngg line of stopped vehicles.  I hesitated at the back, and some men waved their hands and motioned that I should keep riding to the front.  There, I found that the road was temporarily blocked due to road construction.

The road ahead was being carved into the hillside, and there had been a landslide. A single dirt lane was open occasionally to through traffic. We waited about 20 minutes.

Me:

We were parked next to several taxi drivers, all of whom were determined to be the first one through the winding dirt section. (We found that the most dangerous drivers in the jungle areas were in the small taxis.) When the construction worker gave the signal that vehicles could pass, the drivers floored their gas pedals and began the mad dash through. One driver cut me off and almost ran me off the road in his rush to be in front of me; he had to slow down for some bumps, however, and I slipped around him easily.

Here are two fuzzy pictures (taken while riding) that show the grass roofs that were common here. The first shows some houses, as well as the laundry that was hanging outside of almost every home.

The second shows a car-port for a moto-trike.

The recently paved road had a fair share of “public education” signs. We think this one was aimed at erosion control, as it instructed people not to cut the vegetation on the slopes.

These two homes looked fairly new; the one on the left had a nice wooden door and wooden window frame.

On the outskirts of Tarapoto, we passed many moto-trikes on the side of the road.

In Tarapoto, we stayed in a hotel (La Pousada) that was a block from the main plaza. We had a large room facing the street, with a small balcony where we dried our boots and wet clothes in the remaining sunlight. We also had hot water in our shower!

Outside our room was an open patio area with a large wooden staircase that led to the first floor of the hotel:

The view from the patio looked out onto the nearby rooftops:

The street in front of our hotel had a steady flow of bikes, scooters and moto-trikes.

Ben and I walked around and found an ice cream shop on the main plaza.

The center of the plaza:

Bikes and scooters were parked along one side.

There was also a church with modern architecture:

A side street:

Guy joined us for dinner tonight. My guidebook had recommended a certain restaurant for the “best pizza in town,” and we thought we’d try something other than traditional Peruvian food. After walking about 8 blocks, we found the right corner with a different pizzeria on it. A sign on the wall, however, said that it was voted “best pizza in Tarapoto.” We gave it a try! The restaurant didn’t offer any salad or fruit, just pizza--which turned out to be relatively good. The restaurant walls were open to the street, which had non-stop moto-vehicles buzzing by very loudly. It was a good thing that we love motorcycles!

After dinner, we had delicious desserts at a bakery café near the hotel. Yum.

Neither Moyobamba nor Tarapoto fit my idyllic, romanticized image of a “jungle town” (silly me!). I suppose I had been expecting the energy to be a bit more tranquil and peaceful, and the towns to have more visual charm.  With the hoards of people on motos zipping around, and the ever-present rev of small motors, the energy seemed a bit frenzied and definitely not relaxing. Ahh, well. We would be back on the road tomorrow, contributing our own “music” to the motor engine symphony.

 

<< Day 9:To Chachapoyas, Why We Ride | Day 11: To Tochache, Rocking Out >>

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Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

Bhutan
   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Kanglung
   Mongar
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Thimphu
   Tongsa
   Wangdi Phrodrang

Bolivia
   Caranavi
   Guanay
   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Llica
   Potosí
   Queteña
   Rurrenabaque
   Sajama
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sorata
   Sud Lipez
   Tupiza
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

Canada
   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Chetwynd
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Isle-aux-Coudres
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Montreal
   Niagara Falls
   Ottawa
   Quebec City
   Quesnel
   Thousand Islands
   Toronto
   Vancouver
   Vancouver Island
   Victoria
   Watson Lake
   Whistler
   Whitehorse

China
   Beijing
   Datong
   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   HuaShan
   Lijiang
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Xi’an
   Yangshuo
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Quepos
   Sarchi
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves
   Zarcero

France
   Paris

Ecuador
   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Quito
   Yasuní National Park

India
   Bagdogra
   Darjeeling
   Delhi
   Gawahati
   Jaigaon
   Kalimpong

Mexico
   Baja California
   Crucecita
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Huatulco
   Marietas Islands
   Mazunte
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Patzcuaro
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Sayulita
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotihuacán
   Teotitlán del Valle
   TzinTzunTzan
   Yagul
   Yelapa

Namibia
   Caprivi
   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Katutura
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisfontein
   Seisriem Camp
   Sossusvlie
   Swakopmund
   Treesleeper Camp
   Twyfeltein
   Windhoek

Peru
   Balsas
   Barranca
   Cajabamba
   Cajamarca
   Caraz
   Cañón del Pato
   Celendín
   Cerro de Pasco
   Chachapoyas
   Cusco
   Huamachuco
   Huánico
   Huaraz
   La Oroya
   Leymebamba
   Llanganuco
   Lima
   Machu Picchu
   Moyobamba
   Nuevo Jaén
   Pallasca
   Pampas
   Tápuc
   Tarapoto
   Tarma
   Tingo Maria
   Tocache
   Yungay Memorial

Portugal
   Burgau
   Coimbra
   Evora
   Lisbon
   Marvao
   Nazare
   Obidos
   Portimao
   Sintra
   Sitio

South Africa
   Johannesburg

Spain
   Barcelona
   Bilbao
   Hondarribia
   Madrid
   Montserrat
   Nerja
   Rock of Gibraltar
   Ronda
   Santillana del Mar
   Tolosa
   Zaragoza

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.


Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin