En Route: Pedro Ruiz/Bagua/Chiclayo/Mancora

Departed Cuispes and Pedro Ruiz Feb 14th and proceeded onward through  Bagua Grande (one more ‘collectivo’ (van) ride) to arrive in Bagua (Bagua Chica to the locals).

P1130419The collectivo (van) service office in Pedro Ruiz

P1130431View of the two main hostels in Pedro Ruiz from the collectivo office. (Gas station sign to right of photo)

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P1130447Normal, everyday rock slides along road from Pedro Ruiz to Bagua Grande during the rainy season Dec-April. Nearly all roads in the Andes run parallel with a river… this one; the Rio Utcabamba.

Spent three nights in Bagua. Severe asthma symptoms showed up. It is significant to mention that there are more pharmacies in Bagua center than there are restaurants. I heard several people hacking and coughing. The roads are mostly torn up and there is dust everywhere and on everything… including plants. The smell of burning plastic filled the heavy, hot, dusty air. People dispose of their garbage by burning it.

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P1130499Bagua streets are under construction, dust everywhere… including the lungs of the inhabitants

Thought it wise to re-think my original plans of proceeding North to Sarameriza  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarameriza_%28Peru%29 with the goal of seeing  the Pongo de Manseriche… http://www.dendrobates.org/captivus_trip1.html         http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pongo_de_Manseriche

Following that, had planed to descend this remote section of the Rio Maranon to Lagunas; then upriver on the Rio Huallaga to Yurimaguas.

Because of the health issues I chose to not pursue that plan at this time. Didn’t want to get ‘stuck upriver without a paddle’… In other words was concerned about my health issues and the possible lack of services… pharmacies.

Came up with a new game plan… visit the Northern coast of Peru. To get to the coast from Bagua (on public transport) one must first go to Jaen. From the map it looked like there would be a direct service to Talara from Jaen. That is not how it works.

Rode a bus from Bagua to Jaen. Spent one night in Jaen.  Inquired about direct service from Jaen to Talara at terminal in Jaen. Was informed that one must first go to Chiclayo… a considerable distance South of Talara. (Later found out that there IS a service going direct from Jaen to Piura… would have taken it had I been informed of it’s existence. The ‘new service’ is with Moviltours… Jaen to Piura and vice versa)

Sounds complicated doesn’t it?  It is a bit confusing and frustrating. That is what life is like in parts of Peru. The most ‘civilized’ parts of Peru tend to be on the coast. Lima being the capital. Obviously, it is easier to build roads on flat terrain  (the coast) than in the mountains. Peru is a large country. 80% or more of the population live in the major cities… Lima, Chimbote, Chiclayo, Trujillo, Tumbes, Arequipa; all on on very near the coast.

Bus from Jaen to Chiclayo took six hours. The bus passed through mountainous terrain, back and forth, up and down,  along a road carved into the mountainside, following the natural river canyon features.

P1130542A picture says a thousand words: These plastic chairs are chained together in the bus station in Jaen.

P11305465 hours of this (and on much steeper/curvier areas)  before reaching the lowlands. 6 hours total Jaen to Chiclayo.

By the time I got to Chiclayo I was tired, frustrated, hot, and still not feeling well. The bronchial issues remained. Inhaling Bagua’s burning plastic fumes and pulverized dust that sometimes is wet with tropical rain where chickens, vultures, rats, insects and who knows what manner of bacteria, mold, dust mites live… is not conducive to promoting good bronchial health.

I am sure Chiclayo has many wonderful things to see and do. I didn’t do or see any of them. Stayed three nights in a small hotel near the bustling center. I walked no more than  ten blocks from the hotel my entire stay, emerging from my room only for meals.

My new game plan: 1. Get to the Pacific coast and breathe clean sea air and eat fresh seafood.  2. Get rid of the bronchial issues. 3. Visit the place where, in 1532, Francisco Pizarro planted the first ‘christian’ cross in what became Peru just before he and his handful of brutal mercenary thugs went on to plunder Incan gold and slaughter thousands of Incas. 4. Visit where Papa Hemingway watched as the film version of his ‘The Old Man And The Sea’ was shot… he caught a 750lb. marlin while there. 5. Visit the Westernmost point in South America.

Had to do more ‘boots on the ground’ investigations as to how to get from Chiclayo to Mancora.  Had a taxi take me to the various bus lines in town and inquired in person. The company: Transportes Chiclayo offered the best service to Talara.

Checked out of my Chiclayo hotel at 6AM after my third night. A cab delivered me to the bus station by 6:30AM. Was  enroute to Talara  at 7:05AM.

P1130576Typical scenery Chiclayo to Piura

P1130596Counted 30 (or so) very large windmills near Sullana

The road to the North coastal region from Chiclayo does not go inland.  It sticks to the lowlands. It is mostly flat and straight… therefore much faster than the Jaen to Chiclayo route.  First major city is Piura… 3 hours from Chiclayo. Next: Piura to Sullana… about 45 minutes. Next: Sullana to Talara… about an hour.  Had to change buses in Talara to get a different service (Eppo) from Talara to Mancora. Several small stops along the way… an hour and a half.

Arrived Mancora Saturday, Feb 21st. One full week later from departing Pedro Ruiz.

By the time I checked into my hostel in Mancora it was about 6PM. Had been up since 5AM and traveling the whole day.

Needless to say, I was beat.

Next blog post: Mancora