Gabe’s Ride on the Peruvian Wild Mountain Side: Post Rider Report #9
After riding the Peruvian dangerous road called 3N for a few days I ended up in a small village that I quickly noticed was very religious. I will explain later on below but let me walk you through my timeline. I use a great app and they don’t pay me to brag on them. I just love it because you can be in the middle of nowhere and find a great place to stay using the iOverlander app (http://ioverlander.com). You get to see the places with member’s comments and all the functions of hotels like do they have hot water? WiFi fast or slow? Ect ect! iOverlander is a tool, by and for overlanders, which enables its users to submit, amend and find information and opinions, primarily about places that are essential for the act of overlanding, and secondarily non-essential places that are of interest to a significant group of ioverlanders.
So if you need a hotel, gas station, hostel, restaurant, immigration or border crossing info the iOverlander is the app for you. Kelsey kept making fun of me and my dependence of iOverlander, but it really works. Its more than just a review of places its like the local guide electronically. You can also become a contributor by posting newly visited hotels, gas stations, hostiles, ect. I found a few good and inexpensive hotels along the way posting them with a review and pictures for others behind me to enjoy.
The next overnight location that I stayed at was found on iOverlander in Cabanas, Peru. Cabanas is a very small town that in the morning around 6 am they start ringing the bell for the town folks to walk and celebrate the virgin Mary by marching around the town square with a big ceramic statute of what they think she looked like. Then a young girl gets on the microphone singing in a native language other than Spanish. It is loud at 6:15 AM sounding like the Muslim call to prayer heard in all the town. This city or hamlet called Cabanas is very religious with its township dedicated to the Catholic Church.
Cabana is a small city in Peru. It is the capital of both the Cabana District and the Province of Pallasca in the Ancash Region of northern Peru. Cabana was founded on January 2, 1857, although human habitation there likely predates arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors. Cabana was founded in 1711 with the name of “Caguana” which means “To repair” or “to contemplate” in the Cully Language (former language of this region) according to an old legend. Cabanas was originally called Caguana by the locals at the time. When the Spanish conquerors arrived to Caguana, the name was mispronounced and started to say “Cabana” instead of Caguana.
When I initially pulled into town, I could not find the hotel, but I passed a police station with officers outside. I asked one of the officers where the Hotel Imperial was, and I was quickly directed half block away. As I proceeded to the Hotel Imperial Kelsey was just arriving behind me and started recording the town with his Go Pro but more specifically the young Police Officer that had just given me directions. The Officer started yelling at Kelsey that he cannot record police. Kelsey just pretended to be a dumb gringo that “No Speakie Spanish!” He saw me enter the Hotel lobby and he just pulled away entering the hotel behind me. Thank God the local SWAT team with the Virgin Mary crowd did not follow him into the hotel.
I found the owner in a little office that did not resemble a reception but rather a small desk with an antique computer. I showed him how I found him on the iOverlander app. He had no idea he was listed and with pics. Of course, I would add pics with a raving review. The prior review said this was the BEST hotel he stayed at on his trip in the region. I mean, the hotel was not Kelsey’s beloved Hilton, but it was safe for the bikes overnight.
The showers had a 220-amp water heater right at the end of the nozzle where the water came out. This way it heated the water as it was released on your person. Problem is that my shower heater must have had a few elements blown and did not heat that well. Safe to say that mountain water is way colder than city water and by the end of the shower my eyeballs were wide awake on their stems. The Internet was above and beyond the city and I am sure he is paying a lot for the service in such a remote part of the country.
Next to this hotel was a small store that offered hot food. It’s not a restaurant as your used to, but rather they cook for themselves and their families. The also cook a little more in case someone comes around hungry. They were more like a small low-end bodega with tables and chairs. Mr. Kelsey wanting for beer ordered a national beer that looked more like a big ole wine bottle. Seemed like Kelsey was not happy again so I stepped in to help him with the language barrier. Seems that they did not have cold storage for the beer thus they only had warm beer. Kelsey was not amused and with a flippant tone stated to me “Whatever!” He then tried to communicate that he would take it and asked for a glass. Kelsey must have thought he was speaking Spanish, but the poor old 70+ year old grandfather had no idea what he wanted. I let the old man know he would take it warm and that he wanted a glass. The old man smiled and stated, “right away…..sit down the food will be ready soon.”
After dinner I went to my room finding three local youngsters trying to look underneath my bike cover to view the bike. I was caught off guard by this since this was the first time I have had this happen. “Hey!” I shouted, “Don’t touch what is NOT yours.” One of the kids stated they were only trying to get a peek at the bike but it was late and not appropriate for them to do what they were doing. I scolded them and asked them to respect the bike that its not a toy, and again……don’t touch what is not yours. They seemed to blush ashamed but I am sure they don’t get people like me in their town much especially with a Harley-Davidson. Had they asked me they might have gotten a totally different response.
The next morning the older couple from the restaurant served us a simple yet satisfying breakfast before I headed down the road. The air was chilly thus I threw on my Klim Gor-Tex liner to keep the chills away. Kelsey looked at me and in an animalistic grunt of dissatisfaction let me know that I REALLY didn’t need the jacket. Everyone is different and everyone has they preferences and that day I put my Klim gear on. Headed out the city that had asphalt roads but once we were on the out skirts the single lane, dual traffic, rocky dirt road announced itself with a nice hole that had my ass in the air again!
Construction Headaches and Time Delays
Back on Carretera 3N heading North I didn’t even ride 15-miles until we reached a construction site that had us wait as they repaired the roads with earth movers. After waiting 45-minutes we passed the dusty repaired road as the crews continued working. The next construction stop had us waiting for close to 3-hours with trucks coming out with dirt kicking up a dust storm that had everyone coughing up a storm. Kelsey and I were in the front as some of the same group of vehicles that were stopped at the first construction stop pulled in behind us. The folks in the cages came out and they soon started talking with me as they learned I spoke Spanish fluently. Some were shy of me being a stranger from a far away land. Before you knew I was cracking Cuban jokes leaving everyone laughing as if it were a stand-up comedy show. Kelsey was pretending to play Joe Cool on his bike showing his irritancies of having to wait so long to keep moving. I on the other hand had an audience of 15-Peruvians. I pulled out ole Glory and they all started to take pics with me. We used all our phones and mine.
The young kids were especially in awe wanting to take a pic by the bike. As I may have explained prior to folks in the city don’t see Harleys that often and, in the country, they are lucky to even see one in a film on a pirated DVD. It was like being Rockstar everywhere I went with people wanting pics and on a dirt road with lots of dust kicked up was no different. One poor guy asked me if he could sit on my bike. I stated, “No guys allowed, but the children and the ladies were ok.” They all laughed, they all understood, and not taking insult in the way I replied to them. Finally, the earth movers made a path for the vehicles to pass safely. I continued onward only to find more construction and adventurous roads that laid challenges to my Harley-Davidson.
Santiago De Chuco
After being held up with so much construction blocks and being idle my riding partner wanted to ride into the dusk of the evening. I was against it especially having a good hotel with safe bike parking, hot water, and reasonable internet/WiFi available. I was convinced to move on into the night and my spidey senses were proven correct when it started raining making the dirt roads on the side of the mountain slippery and muddy. I dropped my Hog about 3-4 times that day and night. We finally got to Santiago De Chuco was mentally and physically exhausted wanting sleep. The elevation was about 11,000 feet leaving me short on breadth. Upon arriving in the town center I had everyone asking if they can take a pic with my bike. I had to scold a few not to get on my bike’s seat. I was looking for a hotel with decent parking and there seemed to be none. One hotel found on iOverlander at the town square I inquired, but they told me that there was NO secured garage parking in the whole town. Kelsey went to see where this owner wanted us to park and it seemed we had to roll over two 2X4 wooden planks into some open type garage with no security. Screw that I was not taking a chance on having my Road glide striped of its Farckles.
On the iOverlander app one of the prior travelers went to the police station for help in finding parking. I left the throngs of admirers behind after everyone told me there was NO secure parking in any hotel in town. I found some police officers that said we could park in the street in front of the station. I asked then to follow me to see my Farkled bike in person. They immediately concurred that it would not be there in the morning. By now there was 4 police officers scratching their heads wonder where they could take us. One remembered a new place that opened very small knit and family. I got a police escort down the street past the first hotel who insisted there was no gated parking to the hotel were there WAS gated parking. The owner just stared at me when I rolled by with my hotel $$$ in my pocket. I would have stuck my tongue out at her, but I was too tired. I always say God is good because at 10:30 PM and physically drained He provided me with a hotel safe for my motorcycle at Hospedaje Santiago.
I forget which big hair band sings every rose has a thorn, but here the hotel came with a few. There was NO WiFi available, the city was cleaning its aqueducts thus NO water, mattress looked like crap, and at 2:40 AM there was an 8.3 earthquake with its epicenter 50 miles from my hotel. The whole building was shaking like crazy. I stepped outside the room to witness people hanging on to their children in fear yelling it’s a big one. When I saw the owner run out from the 2nd floor to the main open air part of her property I said to myself, “Gabe, owner does not trust her own building……RUN!” By the time I got my wallet and headed down the quake stopped. The folks were very shaken up by the surprise quake. Next morning, I would hear news of the devastation.
I headed out for breakfast around 8 AM down the street to a different restaurant I ate the night before. The man at the cash register told me he got news from his family that drove to town that bridges had fallen, and buildings crashed on folks that are now believed to be dead. Many were without water or electricity due to the quake. The government was having trouble getting to the affected areas to bring assistance. The quake hit Cajamarca hard, a province in the Peruvian Andes, one of seven provinces where injuries and damage were reported. I was in Cajamarca just a few days before arriving to Santiago De Chuco. Like I said before: God is good!
I headed out of the hotel after taking a group pic with the owner and her family. The owner’s brother washed my bike for a sweet tip prior to leaving. I fueled up and started again down the single lane dirt-rocky road heading to the coast.