Week 45 to 49 - Lima Part 1
We got to Lima at 6.30am and beat the traffic. Woohoo! Coming into Lima from the South is definitely way better than coming in from the North. My bike was sounding ok-ish but I wasn't happy with it, and I had that gut instinct that shit was about to hit the fan. My positivity about my bike was seriously waning. Anyway, we pulled up at the Hitchhikers hostel, a well-known place among overland travellers and we discovered why...super secure parking and a very chilled vibe at affordable prices in one of the most desirable areas of Lima. Ca-ching! Also being allowed to check in at 6.30am without paying any extra was a pleasant surprise, and we were greeted by the smiley Nataly on reception. Even better, we managed to get a large room where we could park the bikes right outside, and the showers were hot. Simple things! It would be our new home for the next eight days.
After getting ourselves sorted we went to find some much-needed food then returned to the hostel and met a fellow overland motorcyclist from London called Bryan. Not too much later we then bumped into Phillipe who was travelling in a 4x4 rather than his DR650 when we last met up with him. We all had a good chat, had an awesome lunch for about £3 and in the evening went to the local 'Vivanda' supermartet (totally awesome place a bit like Waitrose but cheaper) to buy some snacks and fresh cake...Mmmm mmm!
Not too far from the Hitchhikers hostal was the Malecon, a two mile boardwalk overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Bryan took us there as he'd been in Lima a while and wanted to show us the sites. We passed 'El parque del amor' with a statue of two lovers, and a green gardens surrounded by walls of romantic quotes scripted in mosaic tiles. We continued walking and found the best thing...Paddington Bear! I was one happy bunny. For those that don't know the story of Paddington Bear, he was a very polite bear from "Darkest Peru", arriving in England by lifeboat after surviving on just marmalade (his favourite). He then ended up in Paddington station and was discovered by the Brown family who took him in...the rest is history!
The statue of Paddington was above the Lacomar shopping centre which was quite an upmarket place, however we gave it a miss on this occasion and continued our walk to the area of Barranco...hipster ville! It is home to some awesome graffiti art, sculptures as well as an awesome ice-cream shop.
We also came across a British pub called Brewpub Wicks, however despite having cider (I was soooo happy about that), their food was meh and their service was shocking, so much so that we all ended up eating at different times and side dishes turned up after the main meal was finished. I'm not normally one to complain but on this occasion I did. Not impressed! Ice-cream was much needed after that.
Fortunately, we were able to find one totally amazing place to eat in Lima: Mantra Garden restobar, an awesome Indian curry house with such good food. We went there with Bryan and Phillipe, and although a little more than we were used to paying for food, it was a nice change from the normal 'Menu del Dia's'. Needless to say, we went back more than once during our extended stay in Lima.
Later in the week we also met a great Aussie couple called Sharon & Frank travelling in an awesome Landrover. Then we met three siblings (Aventura321) from Colombia on two BMW GS's. Sadly some arse stole their GPS while they were at a bike shop. Gutted. Last but by no means least we met an American guy called Brent on a DRZ400. He was a good bloke and we also got to meet his lovely girlfriend Anna who came over to visit him and go twos-up on his DRZ for a little while.
Brent actually saved our skin during our stay. I had booked my bike in to Touratech after several recommendations, however it was 11 km South of where we were staying. Brent decided to come with us incase there were any issues and to have a look around at the shop. Frustratingly, my bike brokedown on the way to Touratech (Brent must be psychic) so I hopped on Kelvin's bike and Brent on his Suzuki DRZ400 leg pushed Kelvin on my bike 9km, all the way through Lima traffic, with a few jousting matches with busses and lorries! It was nuts and I was very glad to not be the one on my bike! Big wimp I know, but Lima even on a functional bike is challenging enough with the awful Peruvian driving skills. We met Ivan, the manager at Touratech and he showed us all of the other travellers bikes he had there, nearly all of which were BMW's. He was a really nice guy with good English, however I wrote down the whole history of the bike's issues since Colombia in English and Spanish so that the mechanic could understand as well. We also managed to find some Pirelli MT21 front tyres at a local bike shop Direli (more about that later), so we dropped those off later. Simples...or so we thought. More on that later.
One of the highlights of our first week in Lima was dancing in Park Kennedy. Every weekend evening, the local oldies (and not so oldies) congregate in Park Kennedy where there's a small amphitheatre (Anfiteatro Chabuca Granda). We heard about this from Bryan and we decided to go along for a looksy. Almost straight away I got dragged into a dance by an mature Peruvian gentleman, and on finishing the dance and trying to escape I got dragged back in by another one! It was actually really good fun and everyone was having fun. Sadly, not long after the amphitheatre was taken over by rappers and all of the dancing stopped. The rap wasn't very good and I actually felt sad for the people who had got all dressed up to go dancing, only to be sabotaged by the local youth.
After the dancing was brought to an abrupt end, we bumped into Bryan and Nataly. We walked around the park and the best part was seeing all of the cats. Park Kennedy is like a huge sanctuary for cats, with local volunteers feeding them on a daily basis and caring for the cats by undertaking things like deworming, neutering, spaying, vaccinating, sheltering and finding them homes if possible. It was really nice to see and the cats seemed chilled out and healthy. From there we went shopping and I got a dress for £10! It was a good way to take my mind off my bike...good old retail therapy!
Whilst in Lima we wanted to change our front tyres (as I mentioned earlier), so we googled a load of places with motorbike tyres, pinned them and set off. The first stop was Socopur where apparently they had Mitas and Continental tyres. It was a large place with KTM's on the first floor, loads of clothing, boots and kit on the 2nd floor and tyres plus a whole load of Triumph motorcycles on the 3rd floor. This is where we met Felipe Maranzana a wonderful, larger than life character who spoke great English and greeted us with a loud "God Save the Queen!". Funny. Unfortunately for us, due to the recent influx of bikers for the Dakar Rally, all of the 50/50 tyres that would fit our bikes had sold out and it would be a good while until they would have anymore in. Bummer! Before leaving, Felipe invited us to his beach house the next day, and we decided that it'd be great to go so we made a plan.
Next up was a shop called Direli, not too far from where we were staying. It was a supplier of Pirelli tyres and an Indian tyre manufacturer called Timsun. Fortunately for us they had two Pirelli MT21's in stock that would be a perfect fit, and they were really cheap so we snapped them up straight away! Woohoo!
The next day we walked back to Socopur and met up with Felipe and we all head off to San Bartolo, a beach resort South of Lima. Just before we got there we stopped of for some amazing local bread that was flavoured with all different things like cheese or olives, and it was super fresh. Mmm mmm! Next we drove through Santa Maria, the 'Monaco' of Peru. It was home (or at least a weekend getaway) for some very rich people with some very expensive cars. We also bumped into the local Mayor riding around on his Triumph that he had bought from Felipe. After a short conversation we headed to an awesome restaurant where I had my first Ceviche experience...amazing! It tasted sooooo good. Then came the superb chocolate ice cream. Heaven! It was all washed down with fresh Maracuya (passion-fruit) juice. Felipe wouldn't let us pay and treated us to the meal, which was so kind of him. We all wombled out with full bellies and headed to Felipe's apartment which overlooked the ocean. It was very chilled and the view was so beautiful. We had some wine and beer, chatted about bikes, travel and life, then watched the sunset. After that it was time to head back to Lima. It was a great day.
On one of the evening's just before Brent, Anna and Bryan left Lima we went to Molly's Irish Bar for a yummy Thai green curry. We were also joined by Philippe. The food was lovely and we were chatting away when a guy came up to us and asked us if we wanted to take part in their pool competition. We politely declined, however when he came back five minutes later desperately in need of competitors, myself, Bryan and Philippe agrees to take part. 10 sol each, winner takes all. Having not played for years I resigned myself to the fact that i'd probably humiliate myself and be out in the first round. The other five competitors (other than us three) were from Peru, Ireland and the Dominican Republic. I was drawn against a Peruvian guy, and I got off to a great start...as I went to break the white ball flew straight off the table, narrowly missing some spectators. I think I went a little red. What a way to start! I tried to break again and it was very poor but passable, so the game started. Crazily enough I actually potted a few balls and before I knew it I was on the black. I then swiftly knocked the black in and won the game. Oopsy...the Peruvian guy was not impressed and I think I damaged his ego a bit. Oh well.
Bryan and Philippe did well and on the next round I was drawn against Bryan. We were well matched and the game was super close, but somehow I managed to win again. I couldn't believe it, and now I was in the final!
The final was me vs Jonathan from the Dominican Republic. It was really funny and he had a friend on What's App for a lot of it showing the game and that he was playing a 'girl' in the final. He started well, but then I had a bit of a potting streak and before I knew it I was on the black...again! Everyone was quiet and I know they couldn't believe that I may be about to win the tournament. Nothing like pressure. The guy running it all watched in anticipation, as did everyone else (except for the guy I was playing against as I don't think he wanted to watch). Luckily I didn't f**k up, and the black went down without the white following it! Woohoo! I won. I seriously could not believe it!!! Everyone wanted a photo and I got the Leprechaun hat, plus my prize of 80 sol. Awesome! Another good fun evening.
Anyway, enough of all the fun...back to my bike!
The day before picking up our bikes from Touratech we moved accommodation to a quiet AirBnB owned by a lovely Peruvian lady called Angela, who spoke great english. If you want a laugh, have a look at the picture below of all of the stuff we had because all of our luggage and biking gear was off the bikes and we needed to get a taxi to our new place. It was (and still is) A LOT of stuff!!!
The next day we took a taxi the 11km to Touratech...quite time-consuming when stuck in Lima traffic. Both bikes now had nice new front tyres, balanced and everything. Unfortunately, despite my huge written and verbal history, they just changed the oil and filter then re-calibrated the valves and told me the CAM was fine. I asked if they had opened the head and they said no, so obviously they inspected the cam psychically! Also I had said the problem would be resolved by calibrating the valves, then it would be an issue again in about 500km. I had explained that I wanted the bike fully assessed however they evidently decided to ignore me and it wasn't cheap. Ivan was such a nice guy, and I couldn't be bothered to complain but I just felt gutted and like everything I had said was a waste of my time and just fell on deaf ears. I think they are great at swapping out BMW parts, and diagnosing BMW faults with a computer however when it comes to basic manual diagnosis of other bikes then they weren't so great.
I contacted Felipe at Socupur who recommended a mechanic at Documoto. I contacted them and when I took the bike from Touratech I rode it straight there.
I met Peter Documet who owned the place and his mechanic Herney. They were both lovely, and although neither spoke english, we managed to get the story accross well enough. We also put them on the phone to Angel and Michelle from MotoHell in Quito. Michelle then relayed all of the information back to me in english and then went about ordering all the parts I needed as DR650 parts are next to impossible to get in Peru. We also got new cush drive rubbers and a few other bits for some general TLC. Herney then cracked on with re-doing the head, replacing the valve seats, guides and valves, while we waited for the additional parts. It was nice to feel like my bike was in good hands.
There was also another bonus to being in Lima...I happened to be there at the same time as a lot of other overlanders, most of whom we'd already met, and some new ones, most of whom I've mentioned earlier. I say I, as just before they all descended on Lima, Kelvin went home for two weeks. Unfortunately, it was snowing in the UK, however luckily his flight did leave and land ok. Apparently Heathrow spent £40 billion on equipment for such eventualities! There were two reasons for his return: one, we'd recently decided to extend our trip for another year and he had just received confirmation of his career break extension and we'd just told his parents and brother, so he wanted to go back and visit. Second, Rukka Motorsport had sent us a load of new kit to the UK for us (after all of the issues earlier - see Quito blog), and we needed other stuff that wasn't available in South America. Plus he could take loads home. Most of his time was spent with family or fabricating parts for the bikes, sorting out travel insurance etc. I'm sorry everyone...there were no social visits due to bad weather, time constraints and lack of transport.
In the mean time, after a few days on my own and already missing Kelvin loads, I contacted a couple of travellers called Neake and Paul (Two Bikes One Dream) as I saw they were going to be coming to Lima. We arranged to meet up in the evening, and the bonus was, that same day I got a photo from our South African friends Michnus and Elsebie (PikiPikiOverland), with their sticker stuck on a wall above ours...the wall of the Hitchhikers hostal! Woohoo they were also in Lima! That evening I met Neake, Paul, Michnus and Elsebie at the bull statue in Park Kennedy, and we all went to Molly's Irish bar for beer, cider and food...spot on!
We contacted Philippe who was also staying long-term in Lima and shortly after Caren and Louis turned up in Lima as well, who we'd met back in Ecuador in Cuenca and Vilcabamba. It was so much fun hanging out with everyone and most of us met up most days and went around Barranco (including Barranco Beer Company), Miraflores, the Water Park further north, and for lots of food in various different places, including good old Mantra Garden Indian, which everyone enjoyed!
We had arranged to meet Neake and Paul at Lucky lodge where they were staying, right next to Mantra Garden. We sat down with a few beers for a restaurant pre-drink and then we heard this voice. It was a 'Saffer' voice (South African) and Roy popped his head around the corner!! We hadn't seen him since the Dakar and I had no idea he would be here. He then got his wife who was really lovely and then we all went off for a curry. What an awesome evening!
As I mentioned before, we all met up at the water park one evening, before it got dark, and then stayed for the light show once it did get dark, which was quite cool. I also took Kelvin there when he got back as I thought he'd enjoy it to. It was quite a cool place to visit and only cost about 5 sol per person to go in (just over £1). There were a huge array of fountains, water features, water arches, sculptured bushes as well as a fountain people could play in! Watching everyone getting soaked was quite amusing, and the water was set to come on in different patterns, so people tried to stand in the bits without water shooting up and move when the pattern changed. Sadly one kid (see photo below) mis-timed it and got a strong shot of water straight upwards which shook him up a little. I tried not to laugh too hard!
On one of the final nights we were all together in Lima, Caren gave me an alfresco, street-side haircut. We found a perfect concrete bench and while everyone else stood around chatting, Caren got to work on my very dry and discoloured split ends. My hair was happy once again!
Soon, it was time for the others to all depart Lima, so we said our goodbyes. It was only about three days until I would have Kelvin back, which I was looking forward to very much. Also, it was time to get my bike back as well, which Herney had been working hard on, especially after I had picked up the spare parts from the Cruz Del Sur terminal and dropped them off for him, a big thanks to MotoHell for shipping the parts to me.
I was so glad to have my bike back and sounding good again. No more leaking valve seats! I picked up the bike and took it back to the AirBnB.
Our Lima experience continues in the next blog to be released including two awesome ride-outs!