Santiago de Chuco, Peru

It was such a beautiful sunny morning in Cajamarca I was tempted to stay another day. But I decided I’d continue south. I wanted to eventually get to Canon del Pato and Caraz so I mapped out a route on Peru 3N with a stop about halfway in the town of Santiago de Chuco.

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Leaving Cajamarca I quickly left the city behind and was one of only a few vehicles riding out of the valley on 3N.

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About a half hour into the ride I was coming around a corner and quickly realized my rear tire had gone flat. Sigh. I found a spot on the shoulder away from the corner and got to work.

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This was the second rear flat in three days. The flat the other day was on the inside of the tube. I thought there must be something wrong and a spoke is too far in and puncturing the tube. I got the tire off and tube out in less the 15 minutes. Being the first time I’ve done this entirely on my own I felt accomplished with the progress. I had planned on practicing tire changes before I started the trip but I planned to do a lot of other things too. (I casually spent my time before the trip started doing things like this)

The tube was punctured on the outside of this time. I was relived I didn’t have a problem with the wheel. No puncture in the tire that I could see or feel so once again, it’s a mystery flat. I used the patch kit and had everything back together and the tire installed in one hour. One nice thing to mention, many cars, motos, and the police stopped to check if I needed help.

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Tire patched and ready to ride

IMG_3956Back on the road it was slow riding as I went from switchbacks to small towns with lots of speedbumps.

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The typical transportation method for families.

I stopped in the town of Cajabamba to fill up on gas and instantly attracted a crowd. Everyone was taking photos of me and the bike with their smartphones.

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IMG_3958Riding above the treeline I had a perfect panorama of the region. I left the main highway and continued on 3N to Santiago de Chuco. The road from this point had some old unmaintained pavement but was mostly dirt.

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I came across a road construction crew, grading the road and digging draining channels. Having to wait at construction sites probably added an hour to today’s trip.

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I finally arrived in Santiago de Chuco at 5:30pm. I lucked out and found the hostal on the first street I turned on. Before I could make it to the hostal I found myself surrounded by a group of locals welcoming me to their city. “Amigo! Amigo! Bienvenidos! Aqui! Cerveza para ti” Guys young and old were pouring me cups of beer. This is all in the middle of the narrow cobblestone street. A truck was coming the other way, and they said don’t worry he’ll wait. I didn’t want to be rude so I took of my helmet shook the hands of the 8 people who welcomed me and had one of the small glasses of beer they offered me. I told them I’d return after I parked my motorcycle.

I checked into Hostal El Mirrador. Another 100+ year old building that’s been fixed up and turned into a decent hostal. Hostal in parts of South America means motel/hotel. It’s not the standard youth hostel, note the spelling difference. They are all private rooms and there’s hardly anyone else in ones I’ve stayed in. Hostal El Mirrador was 30 Soles, had easy parking, and hot showers.

I went back out to say hello to my new amigos. They were playing music on a small Chinese USB stereo, and of course it sounded awful. The Beatles never sounded this bad. They were all professors at the local institute and I guess this was their nightly thing. Buy a crate of beer, have one small glass that gets filled and passed around in a circle. While one drank from the glass the other drank from the bottle. The music went from the Beatles to Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”. I had to laugh. The whole situation was just too funny. 5 grown men standing on a cobble stone street sharing 1 glass of beer listening to Celine Dion. This was the last thing I would ever guess I’d be doing in Peru.

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Much to their dismay I left to get dinner and to find internet near the center. I knew I had long day the next morning so I went to bed early.

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Even in the city streets, donkeys are everywhere. While I was walking I passed a couple who had their donkey leashed behind them. They went inside their home and brought their donkey in. I guess when you live in the city it’s harder to find a place to put your donkey than park your car. I don’t know if they had an outside courtyard where the donkey stayed but the thought of the donkey sleeping in the living room is better.

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