Huamachucho -> Farm Near Santa Clara De Tulpo -> Angasmarca -> Cabana
Total Miles Covered So Far: 3400
3/18/17 - 3/24/17
Bike Breaks down in the middle of nowhere and I get standed on farm
I headed out for a town called Cabana which the hitchikers had recommended. Pretty early on the trip I hit some dirt roads and it started getting remote. I checked Gmaps again and decided it seemed ok and that I almost defintely had enough gas as the next town was only 30km away. Well an hour and a half on the dirt roads going really slow over terrible terrain and it said I still had 20km left and I was eating up a lot of gas and I started to realize that I could get into trouble. This area was unbelievably beautiful though.
About 4km later the road just stopped and there was a little one and a half foot wide aquaduct going through it which the bike couldn’t cross. I looked at the map and decided I had a decent chance I’d be able to make it to then next town if I could cross as I only had 15km left and there was a little plank of wood there which made me think other people had crossed on bike there as well. So I made a little bridge with the plank and some rocks (pics above). As I was doing it I was thinking that it was probably the worst idea of my entire life but I actually thought it was safer than heading back and running out of gas so I crossed it and actually got over with no problem. There was 100% no way to cross back the other way though so I had no choice but to keep going in this direction at that point.
Right after this was an incredibly steep and shitty rock trail that I managed to ride down with no problem but then about 5 minutes later I hit a pretty deep water crosssing. My socks were alread soaked from other water crossings so I decided to go for it but the stream bed was really loose and rocky and the water was really deep and the bike got stuck and I dropped it in the stream. I picked it up quickly but at this point the bike was pretty stuck so I had to keep going full throttle and dropping the clutch until it forced it’s way out and white smoke started pouring out of the exhaust. I made it out and kept going but i could feel that the bike was riding weak. Then 5 minutes later I hit another stream that was twice as bad and just realized that I was fucked. I hadn’t even gotten a kilometer since passing the aquaduct. By the time I got to the next stream my bike was only running in first gear at very low power (which was pretty easy to figure out was some kind of clutch issue since the engine was revving fine and staying on).
I was pretty much in the middle of nowhere. I could see there was a huge mine way in the distance but there where a couple farm houses spread out around the hill side and as I walked towards one of them I saw a person. From the little bit of Spanish I could understand he told me there was another town about 10km away on a fork in the dirt path to the other side of the stream crossing where I dropped my bike. I told him my bike was broken and that I didn’t think I could make it and he kept just telling my to go try. So I went and tried and the bike just got worse and worse (I recrossed the stream and then recrossed it again to get back to the farm) and I barely got the bike back to the farm. I asked him if he could call town and get a truck to come down and he called someone and said someone could come for 250 soles which is about $80 dollars which is an absolutely stupid amount of money out there (a meal might cost a dollar or less in this area, so that is probably the equivalent of about $300 - $400) for a truck to drive 15km so maybe an hour of help. Even though I was in a pretty bad situation I was pretty pissed that they were clearly trying to take advantage of me and I bargained it down to 150 soles.
They said the truck would come in a couple hours and so I just kinda sat around waiting. After that truck never came I pressured them to call again so they called and said the truck was coming. About two hours later and it was pretty clear it wasn’t so they called one more time and they said the truck would come the next morning. They made a pot of boiled potatoes for dinner and we sat around a table eating them with our hands.
I actually called my mom and my friend Cansu at this point to see if they could get a contact number for the local police station through the embassy which I really ended up regretting because I wasn’t really in any danger and it just made everyone unecessarily worry
It turned out this was an off season commercial farm so they had a huge canvas tent with maybe 10 empty bunkbeds in it so sleeping there wasn’t a problem. I went to bed around 8pm and slept till almost 8am. When I woke up they told me the truck wasn’t coming and they were going to another farm to do some other work. They pretty clearly didn’t care about my situation unless they could make money off of it so I offered them the original 250 soles if they could take me home and then magically one of them said he had a motorcyle which they had told me multiple times they didn’t. So I said ok but that I would only give them 150 soles before we got to town and 100 after and they said they wouldn’t do it. These guys were clearly sketchy as hell and I wasn’t giving them everything upfront after they had failed to come through on 3 other promises so I got into a shouting match with them in Spanish and they just drove off. I still think this was the best move because all i had left was the money in my pocket and if I had wasted it my situation would have been worse.
So I was sitting there by myself and I decided my only option was to hike back to town. I unpacked both of my bags and put everything of value in the bag I could carry with me and got ready to walk the 14km back to town. I left a bag of things I could afford to lose with the broken bike and started walking. Literally about 30 seconds later I see another guy walk out of the only other farm that I could see. I shouted out to him and ran over to him. I explained my situation as best as I could and he said he had a moto and I offered 50 soles now and 100 in town for him to help me which he said yes to right away.
So I got on the bike, we passed the mine which turned out to be a massive out of commision gold mine and we made it to Angasmarca an hour later, the little town they were talking about. There is absolutely no way I would have made it with my barely working bike because the roads were terrible. I doubt I even would have found it on my own anyway.
I got food, and then found a little hospedaje and went to sleep. The next day I started talking to truck drivers about getting the bike and talking to the repair shops about how much it will be for a new clutch I got quoted $20 including labor (which puts into perspective how much those other people where trying to take advantage of me). There were a bunch of truck drivers there but the trucks were too big to make it through the single lane mountain passes back to the farm. Someone recommended I talk to the police, so I went there and they said they had a pickup and could help me. I went out with the police that afternoon, and they pick up some old guy who is unbelievably drunk to come with us who kept talking to me even though I wasn’t responding and drooling on himself. They drop him off about 20 minutes in and then we head up to the mine but once we get there we find there has been a huge landslide and the road back to the farm is impassable.
So we head back and they say we can try again the next day. I sat around in the police station for three hours the next morning and then we finally head out. The landslide was cleared and the roads were much better. These roads are terrifying in the truck as they are maybe a foot wider then the wheel base and have no guard rails but they seemed to be ok with it.
As we start to get close the guy who drove me back to town originally passes us and says he moved the bike and all of my stuff to his farm which makes absolutely no sense becuase he had no way to turn the bike on and I had not seen any trucks out there but sure enough the bike is at his farm which saved us about 30 minutes. We load the bike and head back.
There was no ATM in this town and I had payed all of my money for the first ride to town but I knew the cops were going to want money. I did have $160 hidden in my bag for the entrance fee to bolivia and any bank in South America will exchange dollars so you can pretty much spend them anywhere even though the rate will be shit. I had $80 in my wallet but I had hidden $40 dollars in my cargo pocket because I knew they were going to try to take me for as much they could and I thought $40 was fair.
When we got back to the station they asked for 300 soles but I opened my wallet and showed them that all I had was two 20’s (worth about 60 soles each) so each officer took a 20 and said I could go.
I got the bike to the shop and they looked at it and said the clutch was fine, the clutch cable was just loose so the guy turned a wrench like 5 times and my bike was fixed which sucked becuase I had a wrench so I could have just fixed it myself and avoided all this bullshit but at this point I was just really happy to be back in civilization with a working bike. I probably did almost kill the clutch too though because it ended up shitting out later in the trip way prematurely and I did end up having to get it replaced.
Also, on the way back from picking the bike up with the police we had seen a french couple probably in their late 40’s or 50’s just hiking out of the mine. We picked them up and they said they had done the same trip as me but on foot over 5 days. We realized that a tent that I had seen right before I crossed the aquaduct 2 days ago was actually them.
I got dinner with them and we got a bottle of wine and traded travel stories and then I went to bed with the plan of heading out early the next morning to Cabana.
I had one last adventure left before I left Angasmarca though. When I went to pack in the morning I realized that all of my stuff that I had left out with the bike had been gone through and anything that looked like it had any value at all was gone. After all I had been through in the last couple days I got pretty pissed and I thought because the guy who had given me a ride to town had been touching all the stuff when he moved it he must have gone through it and taken some of it. I walked outside the hotel figuring I might see him in town and he was right there. I yelled at him outside and accused him of robbing me and then walked away and packed my bike up and left.
About an hour later as i was riding to the next town I thought through and realized it made no sense that he had taken my stuff. He had moved my bike to try to protect it. It was almost definitely the sketchy people from the first farm who had refused to help me that had robbed me. I felt really bad and decided I would try to send an email to someone in the town for him to apologize.
Trying Not To Die on the Way to Cabana
I had talked to people in town and they had assured me I should have no problems getting to Cabana and that the roads were fine.
About an hour and a half into the trip I saw some of the craziest mountain switchback roads I had seen in the trip and when I got to the bottom of the mountain there was a bridge to cross a river to get back up the other side that was totally destroyed.
There was a really nice Kechua lady who was standing by the broken bridge and asked me for a ride a couple minutes back up the road so we somehow managed to get her on the back of the bike between all my gearand gave her a ride in the other direction. When I dropped her off I asked her how I could get to Cabana and she said the fork in the road we were at went all the way over the mountains for 4 hours and then ended up on the other side of the bridge we were standing in front off.
After my adventure just a couple days ago I was very nervous about this but decided I didn’t really have another choice and I thought I could see the route on google maps. So I went for it and ended up getting lucky with some really good weather and the road was reasonably easy to follow.
This route twisted through the Andes the whole way and was unbelievably beautiful. There was a tiny town called Pampas in the middle of the route in the middle of the mountains where I stopped to get gas(you get gas out of plastic bottles from tiendas instead of gas stations once you are this far out.) When I pulled into the town, someone yelled out to me in perfect English to come over. I hadn’t heard English since I left Cajamarca about a week ago event in the bigger towns so this was a huge surprise. The guy’s name was Andy and said he’d grown up in Georgia all though he was Peruvian and had moved back out to Pampas recently. He gave me some tips about the route and a list of all the villages I would pass which was very useful and I said thanks and rode off. I still had no cash left besides about 80 dollars and there was a bank in town so I was hoping there would be an ATM too but there wasn’t so I headed out.
As I kept going on this route I saw the absolute most impoverished places I had ever seen in my life. About 80% of the buildings in any given village were totally demolished and unusable. I never saw a store or anywhere selling anything in any of them. Most of the central squares had feet of grass in them and just a couple of people loitering around in them. They seemed pretty shocked when I came through and asked them for directions in broken Spanish.
I was really scared all day that I would lose the trail or the bike would have an issue and that I would get stuck in more nowhere than the other day but everything worked out fine and I got back to the main road after about 4 hours.
I got to a small town called Pallasca that looked really dingy around 3pm and someone in town told me it was 1.5 more hours to Cabana. It was pouring rain but I just decided I was ready to get it over with and kept going. It was pretty easy driving but right in the middle of the trip I hit a road that had turned into a pond. This guy on a horse came up while I was trying to figure out what to do and pointed out that there was a gulley with a bridge nearby and that I could use to cross. The hill out of the gulley was super steep though and I dropped the bike trying to get up. The guy got off of his horse and helped me pull the bike up the hill and I was on my way. About 10 minutes later I had to stop in the pouring rain for about 30 minutes for some road work where i took a picture of this really creepy looking bean stalk in the fog(pic above) and then made it to Cabana about 20 minutes later. There was a decent hotel there in the Plaza De Armas and another amazing sunset. I got the first decent food I had eaten since before I got stuck at the farm and checked out route information with people in town. I got some awesome news that a road which looked like a really long route was actually a huge shortcut and was hours quicker than my planned route to Huaraz which meant I could make it to Huaraz the next day. That route also took me through the super famous Canyon Del Pato which is considered to be one of the most dangerous roads in South America but also one of the most beautiful and really those kinds of mountain pass roads aren’t that dangerous for motorycles becuase you aren’t going to accidently fall of the edge like a truck might.
I went to bed early and got ready for what I thought might be the last ride of my trip which seemed like it was going to be amazing.