Saturday, February 9, 2019

On the Road Again

It has been quite a while since the last installment. So here's to possibly getting back on track with somewhat regular updates. Last update I was in Iquitos. Turns out Iquitos was a very unique city. It is completely isolated in the thick of the Amazon Jungle. After the long boat ride to town, we enjoyed a few days checking the place out. The downtown city area wasn't too different from most bustling Peruvian cities. But once we wandered to the outskirts of town things became interesting. It became like one giant market. Down every street was just table after table of venders selling everythings. Shoes, clothes, trinkets, food. The food tables were topped with entire pigs, schools of live fish gasping for air, and crocodile tails. It was how I imagine a market in ancient Egypt.

Cocos and a machete. Recipe for disaster.

The Amazon River. City of Iquitos

They sell real crocodile legs in the gift shop here.

This place was not for the faint of heart.

Stairway back to town.

This part of town was also a bit edgy. On four or five different occasions we were warned to get out of the market. It was apparently not safe for white folks. They warned that there was an absence of police and we would surely be robbed. We remained cautious and stuck together, but we were three guys in broad daylight. We expected the odds of getting robbed to be fairly low. Once outside the market we entered into another strange place. The little wooden homes were built up on tall 15 foot bamboo sticks. It was dry season and the river was very low, but in the rainy season the water rises up to the floors of the homes. This was a crazy little stilted village. As we walked around gazing at all the architectural oddities we spotted something strange. Inside one home there was a group of three or four guys. One of them looked out at us with a lifeless glare on his face and mimed the slitting of a throat. Creepy. We took this as a our que to get back to the city.

High rise buildings of the jungle.

No it's not a criminal following me, just Tormod.

This place surprisingly didn't smell bad.

Authentic jungle gym.

Last photo with Patrik before he headed back to Sweden.

Iquitos was a bit too rambunctious for my liking so I booked a flight back to the more tranquilo Tarapoto. The boat ride aboard the cargo ship was fun and all, but I was not ready for 6 more days eating prison food. So aeroplane for me. The only catch was that I had left my passport back with my bike and other things back in Tarapoto. My fingers were crossed hard in the hopes that they would allow me to fly without it. When I arrived at the airport and presented one of the clerks with the problem they were far from impressed. I was politely told that it was no possible for me to fly without the passport, and to have a nice day. After some shaky Spanish pleading I got them to print me off a boarding pass. She warned that the boarding pass was not enough to board the plane and I would be stopped by security. Well at least I got past level 1.

When the water raises these beams form a walkway between the houses.

On to level 2 and the security guard was even less impressed. He said that my ID and photo of my passport were not enough. I needed the hard copy. I portrayed my sadness to him and give him some puppy dog eyes, but my attempts were futile. Soon the manager came out to put an end to it. He told me I couldn't fly without it end of story. I wandered back to the original clerk and asked her if I could get some sort of reimbursement for my now useless ticket. This time my wide eyed, sad faced approach worked. She marched down to the security gate pulled some strings and I was through security waiting to board the plane 5 minutes before the scheduled take off. It paid that I kept my cool.

Live snake.

Dead snake.

After I arrived back in Tarapoto I needed to get my bike fixed. The back wheel of my bike looked as if it had been run over by a hummer. Lesson learned, don't ride a loaded touring bike with another person on the rear bike rack. It's too much weight. The gear shifter had also snapped so I was stuck in 1st gear. Like a pro the bike repair man had it fixed as good as new in about a half hour. He went through and tediously tuned every spoke on the back wheel to straighten things out. When he was done he charged me a whopping fee of just under $3. This was for a cable replacement, installation, and the wheel tuning. Yes, Peru is cheap.

It's a snake, it's a worm, no its a caecilian.

I've seen these slimy amphibians on TV, but never saw one in person until now.

Water bottle refill station.

So much green.

Camping on a ledge.

While I was waiting for Tormod to catch up   I found out that he needed to visit the tooth fairy again. His tooth was really messed up and he needed immidiate help with it. He set up some appointments in Tarapoto and prepared to get things fixed. Hopefully once and for all. The whole procedure was set to take about two weeks. That was no problem for me though. I had found a local volleyball group that played games 7 days a week. They were very competitive here and most of the games were played for money. I soon became a legend on the volleyball court. The stands were filled with 50 or 60 people for every game I played. Everyone just called me Gringo. Even my own teamates. They knew my name, but they just liked the ring of Gringo I suppose. I think it helped that I was a head taller than everyone else. I was not the most consistent player on the courts, but they loved when I swung hard so I just went all out with my spikes. It was what the fans wanted. I went every day for about ten days straight. By the end of my career everyone knew me and cheered when I walked into the park. I think I left at about +$60 in winnings, that goes a long way in Peru. Not to shabby for playing a sport you love. It was a sad day when I announced my retirement from the Tarapoto volleyball league. Everyone asked when I would make a comback.

Couple of the Tarapoto volleyball gang members.

My friend Jerry taking my bike for a test ride.

High stakes money match.

Weekend visit to the lagoon with my friend.

Piranhas anyone?

Reminds me of cedar point.

After two crowns, a couple root canals and an extraction T's mouth was fixed and untraveled roads were waiting. On February 3, after 48 days in this little jungle town we finally rolled out. That was the longest side mission I've taken on any of my bike tours. It was well worth the stay, lots of unforgettable memories, but it was time to move on. Back on the bikes we covered a lot of ground as we made our way towards the capital, Lima. After the long break my body had to adjust back to riding as if it were the start of the trip. The butt was as sore as ever, the skin as pale as when I started, and my legs had lost muscle mass. After a few days of riding in what felt like an inferno we pulled into a tiny village just before sunset. We found a soccer field just off the road and decided to set up there.

I was riding down a little dirt road when the lady on the right spotted me, ran over to me, and gave me a big hug. She was so excited and speaking so fast I couldn't understand what she was saying. She took me back to meet her family. She prepared some food for me and hugged me at least 9 more times and smiled and thanked me each time. Her son said she was a bit mentally ill. I was happy I could make her happy.

Muddy roads ahead.

It's usually cloudy 'round these parts.

Looks like a large party is in the works.

The two of us went through 12 coconuts before leaving in the morning.

More landslides. This one was a bit bigger than usual.

Tormod bought some Romans. Dan Schmidt would be proud.

Before we could even unroll our tents a groups of boys spotted us. As curious as can be, they approached us and began firing off a bunch of questions. We were quite possibly the only Gringos they had ever seen and very likely we were the first ones they had talked too. They asked if they could help set up my tent. They helpfully walked around and pushed in tent posts. Once the tents were up the group of boys would flock from me to Tormod. I was fiddling with my brakes, they were all watching me. Tormod would pull out candy and they'd all run over to him. I got out my machete and they all ran back to me. It was quite comical seeing them switching between me and Tormod. They couldn't decide who was more interesting.

The three guys I'm holding were brothers.

This was Tormod's turn to be the center of attention.

Biggest cockroach I've ever seen.

King Dedede

Muy verde.

Taking refuge from the rain.

Only a few more days in the jungle. I will miss this place.

After I had shown off all my cool things I decided to play some games with them. One kid was attempting kart wheels in the grass so I showed him how to walk on his hands. They loved that soon the soccer field turned into a group of little boys throwing themselves onto the ground. After that I lined them up and we had a wheelbarrow race. That was a huge success and the kids loved it. Me and my partner won of course, again I had a bit of a height advantage. After that they challenged me to a running race. I beat all of them, but in round two they decided to up the ante. They told me I had to run the race with one of them attached to my back. This time I got second place and gave the dude on my back the ride of his life. The last game of the night they blindfolded me, spun me around 10 times, and told me I needed to try to tag one of them. This was a much needed game night.

The kids were stoked that I let them inside my tent.

Untouched rainforest.

They are pretty serious about the number of significant figures here.

Bath time.

The bridge was out for construction. We lucked out with the timing because we only waited about 15 minutes. It looked like the bridge had been closed for several hours.

Uphill battle.

These kids were a blast to hang out with, we really had a great time. Just before bed I let all of them draw a picture and sign their names in my journal. I had mentioned that I was leaving early in the morning the next day. They took note of this because they showed up outside my tent at 6 am. They repeatedly "accidentally" bumped into my tent. Or "accidentally dropped a rock on the concrete. This was my morning alarm and they were ready for more games. They had brought two coconuts for breakfast though. One for me and one for Tormod. We hung out with them for an hour or two before packing up and continuing the ride. Hopefully we left an impression on the kids and give them some lasting memories.

One of the coconut wake up crew.



The cloud coverage was nice so I didn't get burnt too much.

Blue skies!

Rubbish, rubbish everywhere.

The fun was not to last too much longer though. We arrived in a tiny town of Aucayacu on our way to Lima. We enjoyed dinner and dessert at a little ice cream joint before heading back to the hostal. We were already for another big day of riding in the morning. That was not in the game plan though. Around 1 am after tossing and turning for an hour or two I had to make an immediate exit for the bathroom. I was glued to the toilet for the next hour. I was dealing with my 4th case of food poisoning. It was not too much fun to say the least, but I was able to make it through the night in one piece. About an hour into my purge I started to hear loud vomiting sounds coming from Tormod's room on the floor below my room. "I guess it got him too." I thought to myself. He definitely got the short end of the stick. I heard him vomiting for the next three or four hours. Yesterday was a recovery day. Today we will hopefully feel up to the ride as we continue on to the coast.

Looking out my window wishing I felt well enough to ride.

Poison dart frog #1

#2 has all her tadpole babies on her back.

#3 is named Rana. That's the Spanish word for frog.

#4 The brightest and deadliest of all.

Biking bros.


  1. I just went on such a fun trip seeing all this!!! Keep posting!!!

  2. I do approve of the sandals! Enjoyed the story; hope y’all are feeling better.