After Arequipa we spent a few days navigating the vast, hot, dry desert. Every couple of hours we would cross lush green valleys and then we were back to riding through dry desert mountains, hugging the coast where possible and stopping in pueblos or truckstops to pick up supplies or find a place to sleep for the night. We preferred the cheap motels as oppose to camping because we would arrive late, hot, tired and in need of food and a good nights sleep, one night we paid just five pounds for both of us, it might have been a brothel but we were out of there by 6am anyway. We haven't seen another tourist for a while now and it feels nice to be making our own way through this country.
We decided not to go into the mountians in the South as originally planned because so many people had advised us that rainy season had hit the area and that travelling on motorbikes could be tough as roads are prone to flooding. We were pretty gutted because we knew that the riding would be amazing. Instead we promised ourselves to head inland into the Huaraz region further North. At least two other riders (thanks Matty and Kelly) we had spoken to on the trip had stressed the need to visit this area above all others and the hope was that we would get lucky with the rain and cold, we are wildly underprepared for cold weather. Instead we pressed on to a beach called Cerra Azul, a group of Brazilians travelling in a VW Camper had told us about it and guaranteed that we'd like it. We arrived hot and sweaty to a beach town packed full of holiday makers spending their weekend away from Lima. The beach itself was flooded with people and although the wave looked good, everywhere we turned someone wanted to charge us for something. The biggest issue was that we couldn't get the bikes on the beach and there were signs everywhere telling us that we couldn't camp. This was not what we had expected from Peru and it was pretty late and we were feeling disheartened. We had this naive idea that all the beaches would be empty and everything would be cheap. After asking around we were assured that this was a weekend thing aand that prices would drop come Monday. Also that being so close to one of the largest cities in the world meant prices were higher and crowds guaranteed.
Although it was late and we had already done a long day's riding, we decided to press on to Punta Hermosa, another 90km North on the Pan Am. Everyone had assured us that things would be cheaper here and that the waves were in abundance. Arriving to the beach town in darkness we were surprised by the number of police and security guards. We headed in the direction of the beach and had to be allowed through barriers. In the darkness we weren't sure what was happening but the next day after locating the cheapest hostel in the pueblo above, we realised that the beach was basically a huge gated community, complete with white washed condos, flash cars, expensive restaurants and rich looking kids driving round on quad bikes. What the hell had happened to the Peru we had been dreaming of (and seen in the South). Go North, go North is all everyone kept saying so after two days surfing a pretty average right hander with some really lovely locals we decided that though the people were lovely, this place wasn't for us. We wanted to camp. We wanted point breaks, quiet and were determined to press on.
Just as we were planning our next move, happy to be on the road but a little dissapointed with the waves, a French guy talked us through some spots he had just been to and he was stoked, his enthusiasm rubbed off on us and we felt really positive about what was to come. We decided to take a chance on a spot he liked, mainly because he said we could camp there. Very little was written about it online and it was deep in the desert but sort of on our way. We weren't too hopeful but we decided to ride there anyway.
To get there however we first had to pass through Peru's capital city, Lima. We planned the route as best we could to avoid as much of the centre as possible but as we started to hit traffic the defined Panamerican Highway dissappeared from the Garmin and Tom was left trying to navigate the city without GPS. Oblivious to this and convinced Tom knew exactly where we were going I stayed as close to him as possible, pushing through the hoards of traffic, determined not to lose him despite being cut up from all angles. I couldn't believe how he was managing to navigate these crazy back streets, taking us through one way streets and down town markets. Eventually I had to ask to ask him whether he was lost and was dismayed to get a nodded response. The city is home to nine million people, the roads make no sense, it's surrounded by fog and pretty terrifying on a bike. Luckily we spotted a sign stating 'Pan American Norte' and couldn't have got out of there fast enough. I'm sure the city is great but we had no interest in stopping.
Back on the highway we travelled for another three or four hours before we found the turn off as promised by our French friend. We rode about 4km down a sand and dirt track. In the distance was a rocky headland and it sort of looked like there was an offshore left hand point break running down it. We hadn't stocked up on any food, nor had we eaten since the morning but we headed straight into the water. It was incredible, so perfect; head high, 2-300m long lefts, everything we had been waiting for.
After a quick surf, Tom got back on the bike in the sunset and raced towards the nearest town (40km away) to get some supplies whilst I set up camp in crazy offshore wind. Tom had a bit of a disaster and came back with devastatingly little, the shops in the small twon had either been closed or had bars up forcing him to shop blind and attempt his spanish. As he was loading up what little he had he got warned by the police to move on quickly as the town he was in wasn't safe. It's always worrying when one of us heads out without the other and to be fair to Tom it's usually him. I sat at the camp waiting and worrying and when he got back I didn't like hearing that he had been somewhere unsafe. We had a delicious meal of cous cous and soya mince, no salt, no flavour; nothing, it was truely grim but it was fuel to tide us over until we could go to the big town the next day.
For the next five days we barely moved from the beach, getting up early to surf alone and making sure we surfed until last light. To keep the camp safe we took turns in the water and actually got the chance to watch and film each other surf, this is something we have rarely done in the past and really enjoyed it. Neither of us have ever scored waves so clean, with such a good size, offshore conditions that didn't close out and we can't possible explain how happy it made us feel. When the weekend came and the swell dropped off, we decided that all good things had to come to an end; we were sore, sunburnt, everything was full of sand and we had run out of supplies. We packed up with the weekend crowd from Lima all hassling each other for waist high waves, grinning to ourselves about how we had it head high and alone.
As promised we decided to head into the Huaraz region, excited to get out of the desert for a few days, perhaps even feel some rain. We rode up through the Black Mountians, huge landscapes and dramatic backdrops everywhere we looked, the Lake District on crack. I'm not sure I have ever seen anything so beautiful and we haven't even made a dent on the area. We wound our way up to nearly 4,000m; passing through scenes straight from the pages of a National Geographic, lush green mountains and vertical black cliffs, quaint Peruvian villages full of colour and of course nutcase dogs desperate to bite our ankles. Eventually hitting what I could only describe as the 'tops'; reminincent of our beautiful Yorkshire Moors, topped off with a thunderstorm to really transport us home. Twenty five minutes of Yorkshire Dales style downpour ensured we were soaked through with numb, cold hands - the first real rain we had had so far. When we pulled into the city of Huaraz, we found a cheap clean room and headed to the market for some food.
The next few days we are going to explore this area. The draw of the coast is strong and with a good south swell on the way it would be stupid to not go back down to our perfect point break before battling the desert North to the Chicama area.