Thursday, May 3, 2007

Day 65: A new helmet for Kevin and new hope for Peru!

So, yesterday we left the city of Piura, Peru looking for better luck as we head south toward Lima.
We woke up early and found Kevin a new $5(US) helmet, then hit the road around 9:30am. However, we did not get very far. By 11:00am we had only been able to get about 5 miles down the Panamerican highway because every mile or so, we had to stop at makeshift tree roadblocks put together by the local farmers who were protesting the high prices of the farming equipment and chemicals they have to buy and the low prices they get paid for their crop. At each roadblock, I would have to approach one of the farmers and ask to be let through explaining that we were tourists and although we had nothing to do with their conflict we supported their struggle but were eager to get to our destination. This tactic worked at four blocks where we were allowed to go around the blocks through the sand embankments, but our luck ran out at the fifth and largest roadblock where there was no way around and the farmers refused to let us through.
We decided that the best course of action would be to go back to Piura and wait for the demonstrations to be over. We went back through one block and stopped. As Kevin and I surveyed the map and reviewed our options for travel for the day, the national police showed up and told us to be patient while they cleared the road of demonstrators and debris. The police convoy passed us and began to clear the roadway by dispersing the farmers with tear gas. Unfortunately, we were downwind and the gas reached us before we had time to react. In no time, Kevin's eyes were red and he could barely see. My eyes were protected by my full-face helmet but my nose and throat began to burn. We quickly turned our bikes around and headed away from the gas. WOW, no wonder that stuff is so effective, it is really potent and fast-acting!
By 11:45am, we had followed the police through the clearing of the two final roadblocks and were finally on our way.
We drove for about 5 hours through the desert fighting a mighty and unrelenting wind, stopping only for lunch and two pictures in order to make up for lost time. By the time we reached the city of Trujillo my arms were tense and tired from holding on to the handlebars for dear life in order to prevent from being blown right off my bike. We reached the central plaza of the city only to find a different group of demonstrators blocking one of the main roads. I'm all for free speech and the right to gather and voice your differences, but really at that point I had had just about enough of the revolution!
Today, we woke up well rested and after Kevin worked on the internet for a couple of hours we headed off to see two sites of interest: the ruins of one of the largest sand cities in the world and the pyramids of the sun and the moon.
The sand ruins are known as Chan Chan and they were impressive in that they are unlike anything we have seen so far. There are nine complexes built by the Chimors beginning in the 9th century A.D. but only one of them has been excavated and restored so far, the Palacio Tshudi. The temple of the sun and moon are at the opposite end of Trujillo. The official excavation and restoration began only in the 1990s and although they have uncovered a lot they still have a lot of work to do, including the whole of the temple of the sun!
Today was a good day and it helped improve our morale as far as our view of Peru is concerned. I'm hoping that with each day that goes by in Peru, the damage of the first couple of days fades and we can chalk the bad experiences up to bad luck rather than common occurrence.
Finally, I would like to mention that this region of Peru has the ugliest dogs I have ever seen!!! However, though unquestionably ugly, apparently these dogs have healing qualities have because they have a very high body temperature that makes them helpful in the treatment of several body ailments including arthritis. Sometimes the cure is worse than the ailment indeed!

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