Day 494: Adiós Ecuador! Hola Peru! Country no.25
Machala, Ecuador to Zarumilla, Peru
Distance: 84 km
Time on board: 5 hours 37 minutes
Average speed: 14.9 kmh
Cumulative distance: 16,715 km
The world cup is on. Since I am fast on the coast now, could afford the time to start later and catch few matches. Missed Portugal’s only goal scored by no other than Ronaldo by 5 minutes when I woke up late. After the match ended at 9 am, only then I can begin my exit towards Peru. The hotel was located in Centre and streets was jam packed with vendors selling food and stuffs. Cars could only move an inch at a time. My Motorola phone doesn’t have a compass. As result, I have difficulty finding my way out. My next phone, always check for compass before purchasing. I have to move few hundred metres before checking whether the dot is moving in the right direction. Once I found the main road to exit Machala, I am back to business. Took the auxiliary road which was a short cut. Naturally, the auxiliary road wasn’t well maintained. Still, managed to skate at a decent pace. My legs was sore from yesterday. Haven’t skate that much and fast since the Andes mountain. Soon, my legs got back to shape after a while, my pace picked up. The auxiliary road goes through acres of Banana plantation. Now I know where all the bananas come from.
18 km later, connected back to main highway E25. Straight road and bland scenery made focusing much easier to enter into the zone. Rolling at 17-19 kmh, until Santa Rosa, where i stopped to catch the 2nd half of the 2nd match Uruguay Vs Saudi Arabia. By then I already covered 35 km. No point for me to order lunch at the restaurant just to watch remaining 30 minutes. Ordered a litre of Powerade and some pastry to fill my stomach. Though today’s weather was cloudy and cool, nevertheless I perspired profoundly. The difference that in hot sunny day, my sweat will dry rapidly when I paused. In the cloudy day like this, my sweat never dries and instead adds on to the chill factor. In was shivering from my sweat in the restaurant. Once the match was over, I resumed skating to the next town arenillas. I calculated I have 12 km to arenillas, a hour before the next match Spain Vs Iran, more than sufficient time.
The road gradually transformed to more rolling hills. Still, it was just a bump from what I have been through in the Andes. Enjoyed the transition. Downhill, I could safely skate down at 30 kmh without having to worry about dying. This is the most ideal road for my touring. Not too flat boring or too hilly that I have to walk.
Arrived at the junction of access road to Arenillas but it was badly maintained as expected. Therefore, I continued on the main highway, longer but smoother. To enter into Arenillas, I have to climb a short but steepest slope ever. Even walking at 2.5 kmh, drastically reducing my average speed. I was late for the match, already 20 minutes into the game. Sat down for a long lunch till the match finished at 3 pm. By then, my body already cooled down after the 2 hour break. Restarting my engine was tedious. Took a while to regain my momentum. Last 23 km to Peru. At 60 km, Benjamin and Charlie from France caught up with me when I stopped midway to chase after a dog which chased me. Now I turned Predator, no more weak prey for dogs. The French cyclists started from France 9 months, crossing through West Africa before taking a sail boat to cross over Atlantic ocean to South America. They thought they would arrive at the border first. Instead, with my newfound pace, trained from Andes mountain, I was matching their pace. For a distance, I was riding with them at 21 kmh. With companions, I was motivated to ride faster. Wasn’t that hard to ride with them. If I spent longer in Andes mountain, I would probably overtake cyclists. Pacing the cyclists was a piece of cake for me now.
We bypass the Ecuador border town Huaquilla, instead we went straight for the border control. My original plan was to stay in Huaquilla Ecuador for one last night before Peru. Instead changed my plan when I met them. The border road haven’t any traffic. We occupied the entire 3 lanes like it was our grandfather’s road. However, the decision cost us dearly. Missed the Ecuador border point which was on the opposite side, and were forced to turn back 4 km at Peru immigration office to return to Ecuador office for our exit Stamp. In total another 8 km added to my distance. In a day, technically we entered and exited Ecuador twice. At both immigration offices, the officers didn’t know where is Singapore and whether Singapore is a country and require a visa for Peru. They had to call headquarter and checked the internet. My country spent 20 million dollar to host most important peace talks ever between Trump and Kim. All this goes to waste when immigration officers still wondered what is Singapore. What is the point of having the most powerful passport in the world where nobody knows Singapore. After moments of delay, I officially entered into Peru, my 25th country. There was a bomberos 4 km away in Zarumilla. Together, we rode to Zarumilla. Cairo, the volunteer in fire station welcomed us and even brought us around to find an ATM or money exchanger to get Peruvian currency Soles but to no avail. No one seemed to want USD. We have to ride to next town Tumbes 23 km away to get Soles, when it was already too late. With no soles to buy food, Cairo treated us to dinner. Though I was famished, but embarrassed to order more since Cairo was treating us. This was the first time that Benjamin and Charlie slept in a fire station. They have been wild camping or sleeping in roadside restaurants. Looked like I opened up a whole new world for them.
Tomorrow is the France Vs Peru. Every Peruvians we met was excited when they heard they were from France. We will start late to catch the 10 am match. Since in Peru, I definitely have to support Peru. I don’t want to die in Peru yet. I will ride to Tumbes 23 km away to catch a bus to Lima, skipping the northern Peru. Read reports that this area is notorious for robbery on cyclists passing through. Statically speaking, robberies happened one in every hundred but that is one too much. Enough to convince me to bypass this region. Better to miss it than risking the chance to get robbed and ended my trip prematurely. Furthermore, I planned to reach Patagonia by end of the year, only made possible if I bypassed. Anyway, I am in PERU!!
Day 495: Vamos Peru!
Peru : Zarumilla to Tumbes
Distance: 23 km
Time on board: 1 hour 27 minutes
Average speed: 15.6 kmh
Cumulative distance: 16,738 km
Today is France Vs Peru. Since in Peru, of course have to watch the game and support Peru. I don’t want to get killed here. The 2 French cyclists Benjamin and Charlie joined me for the game at a restaurant surrounded by local Peruvian crowd cheering for Peru now. The French couldn’t cheer loudly when France scored. Peru was unlucky not to score a goal. The match ended in France’s favour. We stayed on to watch the next match Argentina Vs Croatia. The Messiah Messi couldn’t lead his team to glory as Croatia shocked the superstars Argentina 3-0.
We left at 3 pm with just 23 km to next city Tumbes. I drafted behind the guys easily at 20 kmh and mostly at 18 kmh. Less than a hour, we arrived at Tumbes. The fire station in Tumbes was empty. We approached the church awaiting for the evening mass to end or we will sleep in the park tonight. Tomorrow, I will take the 20 hours bus ride to Lima while the guys will end their journey in Piura.