Thursday, October 11, 2007

Peru Update #14

The following are some random updates that have been sent to riders going on the Amazon Cycling Tour next week. I hope they give you some insight into the conditions and people we will meet along the way.

Update #14

We have about two weeks to go before our tour in Peru. There are a few more updates you will receive concerning specific arrival plans in Peru.

I received some bittersweet news from Berny Menendez who lives in Tarapoto. He will be one of our van drivers when we travel from Tarapoto to Yurimaguas through the jungle. Berny said the government has almost completed paving this 90 miles except for 3 miles near the mountain summit. This is good news for us since 87 miles is now fast and smooth pavement suitable for road tires. You should still bring tires suitable for the rough 3 miles of dirt or gravel. The sad news is that this desolate jungle route will now be open to big buses bringing people nonstop 600 miles from the coastal city of Piura. Maybe next year this 600 mile route would be a good road bike tour.

Our main crew will be made of three people. One of them is Vioricka Rodriequez who lives in the jungle city of Iquitos. She is studying to be an air traffic controller at the airport. She had to learn Portuguese to speak to Brazilian pilots. During the tour Vioricka is responsible for making hotel and airline reservations.

Another crew member is Nayda Carhuamarca. I met Nayda 3 years ago when she owned a restaurant in the jungle. Her restaurant is where the following story took place.

In 2005 when our bike tour stopped at Nayda’s restaurant for lunch our group had ordered chicken. The grandfather took a five foot metal spear and tried to catch and kill a chicken below the restaurant. After 20 minutes of not catching a chicken he returned to report they did not have chicken today. He asked if we wanted fish. We said that would be fine. He then went and got his fishing pole and went down to the river. After ten minutes he had caught several twelve inch fish of various types. Nayda cleaned and cooked the fish for us on her open pit wood stove. This was a typical lunch at a roadside restaurant in Peru. The meal was never very quick but it was always entertaining.

While we are waiting and eating at the restaurant we we entertained by a cheerful seven year old girl named Aracely. She was picking us oranges from the nearby trees and showing us all her jungle pets of cats, toads and baby chickens. Even though she didn’t speak English we had a good visit and she had her photo taken standing with our bicycles.

After our group had eaten and was ready to go, the grandfather and Nayda pulled me aside and asked if I could take Aracely with me to the United States. I was a little confused by their request, but they said they wanted a better life for Aracely. I told them I could not take Aracely with me but we should keep in touch and write letters in the future. Later I learned that Nayda needed to move to Lima to clean house for the cost of room and board. Aracely lived in a girls home nearby with 20 other girls who’s mothers worked cleaning houses too. During the next two years we stayed in contact and Nayda and Aracely traveled with me last year across Peru.

During our tour Nayda and Aracely will be traveling with us again. Nayda is a strong durable person who always wants to help. Don’t be surprised if she grabs your handbag or backpack so you don’t have to carry anything. She only wants to help and she wants to feel that she is carrying her weight during the tour.

Aracely is a hoot with a quick sense of humor. She is very outgoing with a spunky personality. Don’t be surprised if she want to hold your hand while you are walking or wants to sit on your lap and read you a story in Spanish. I think she will be very entertaining during our tour.

At times we will have some other helpers joining us along the way. We will usually eat together with the taxi drivers and other people who are with us for each day. I know an assortment of characters who we will meet. For example: Walter works at the boat docks in Yurimaguas. He doesn’t know we are coming but I bet he finds us and wants to be our personal escort for loading our bags and gear bags in our cabins. Then he will want us to come over to his house and see his family. He lives in a shanty house similar to a two car garage with three other families. The conditions are very basic by American standards but he is extremely proud of his house and will want us to visit.

I am sure we will be meeting more charactors and future friends on this tour.

I will be sending more updates next week.



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