While we were in Huanchaco, we received some devastating news. Neda's mom in Croatia had been complaining of a gradual loss of feeling in her arm for the last week. She checked herself into the hospital and had some tests done, whereupon she discovered that there were growths in her vertebrae that were pinching a nerve. She is a breast cancer survivor and there is a fear that the cancer has metastasized and spread to her bones.
Between Trujillo and Lima, the coastal plains are squeezed into the coast by the foothills of the Andes Mountains
We were galvanized into action, making plans to leave the next day for Lima, which is about an 8 hour ride south of Huanchaco. We thought that since Lima is the capital city of Peru, we should be able to make arrangements to get us and the motorcycles shipped out of the country. Our Temporary Vehicle Import Permit was due to expire in a couple of months and the medical situation was dire enough that there was no estimating when we would be able to resume our trip, if it was even possible. So it was decided that we needed to get the bikes out of Peru to keep from running afoul of the expiry dates since there would be huge legal and administrative headaches if the bikes overstayed their permits while we were in Europe.
This meant that Lima would be the end of our South American journey.
Trying to get past traffic on the Peruvian Pan American Highway
Neda was really worried and I tried to do my best to keep her spirits up. We pegged all our hopes on Lima having the infrastructure to get us and the motorcycles out expediently, and we optimistically told Neda's family that we would be in Croatia within the week.
Looking forward to being with her mom soon. Note to self: Pick up a new pair of gloves for Neda...
The scenery rises up around us
We've got an eyes-ahead focus on getting to Lima in as short a time as possible. Over the intercom, I try to keep Neda engaged, but I can hear the worry in her voice as she feeds me curt, obligatory responses. The land rises up around us as the road threads the edges of the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean, but Neda's mind is thousands of miles away.
Our stops are few, only when there's construction, or we need to drink or eat
The beautiful blue of the Pacific Ocean greets us as we ride south to Lima
Over 500 kms fly by in a single riding day. This is the most distance we've covered in quite awhile.
The town of Villa Estela, just north of Lima. Etched on the hill: "Christ Lives"
We book into a hostel in the west end of Lima, in the Callao district. We're here because it's one of the cheapest places we could find, but also it is 5 minutes away from the airport and all the shipping companies are in the same area. The next day we get to work, scouring the Internet for any companies that can ship our bikes out of Peru.
Hoping to spare Neda the majority of the work, I find an agent in the US that had experience shipping motorcycles in and out of South America. We opt for air over sea, and the price quoted was steep but we were in a rush and conducting business in English instead of Spanish seemed to be a plus, since I could handle the communications instead of Neda having to do so in Spanish. All the paper work was exchanged and we were on course to ship the bikes within the week.
However, the day before we were to drop the bikes off, the agent sent me an e-mail saying that there was a mistake with the quote and the price was now thousands of dollars more expensive. At the new price, it would be cheaper to set both our bikes on fire in Lima and just buy the same models in Europe. I was furious. Not just at the gross ineptness, but that we had wasted four precious days and would now have to start from scratch. To add further insult, Neda would have to perform most of the communications now, because it was obvious that we needed a local shipper, not someone working remotely from another country.
I felt useless. This was not what she needed.
We spent our days typing out e-mails to companies listed on the Internet that did not exist anymore. We made phone calls and left messages that were not returned for days. It was a frustrating time because we were now stuck for over a week in Lima with absolutely no progress and Neda's family was starting to ask why she was not in Croatia yet, which put added pressure on her. We decided that the minute we found a shipper, she would fly out immediately and I would stay behind to try to finish up any last minute work that needed to be done.
We were going stir crazy in that tiny room in the hostel, only venturing out to eat at the tipico restaurant downstairs or go grocery shopping down the street. I suggested to Neda that we go out in the evenings just to get her mind off of things, but she said she didn't feel like sightseeing, not in her state. So I suggested we try a nicer restaurant in town. We had to eat anyway, and Lima is world-renowned for good international cuisine. It was now our two-year anniversary on the road, so I found us a sushi restaurant to celebrate.
Blow fish sushi?
Two years on the road
With the future very much uncertain, we reminisced about all the experiences we had in the last couple of years and toasted our last days in South America. A bittersweet meal with Neda's mom's illness constantly looming in the background. I felt a sense of powerlessness, like nothing I could do or say could help Neda or her mom.
Back in the hostel we were making some progress. Air freight was out because of the costs involved, so we were now researching shipping by sea. We had found a logistics company in Lima and from talking to one of their agents, they said they had experience shipping motorcycles to and from Europe for the Dakar Rally. That seemed promising, so we proceeded with them, exchanging e-mails and phone calls over the next week. It was a tedious process because of all the communications they needed to quarterback between the cargo company and the fixers in Lima and in Europe.
Finally, I get to see Paddington Bear!
Because Neda didn't want to go sightseeing, I had to think of other things that she was amenable to, just to get her out of the room. She loves animals, so a trip to the Lima Zoo was met with her not-so-begrudging approval. There were lots of wildlife from all over the world, but we tried to spend our time in the pavilions that housed local animals.
In the picture above, the Andean Bear (or Spectacled Bear) is the only bear native to South America. It was the animal that Paddington Bear was based on, and was a lot less cuddlier and larger than what I remembered of the cartoon! Maybe he just needed a large, oversized Peruvian bowler hat?
Beautiful Amazonian Jaguar, the only kind of panther that exists in South America
Neda shares a moment with an Andean Llama
Looking over the moat that surrounds Monkey Island at the Lima Zoo
Chompin' on a yummy banana
Blue-and-yellow Macaws during feeding time
Two weeks since arriving in Lima and we were finally getting somewhere with the shipping. We had signed Power of Attorney agreements with the shipping company, so Neda was off the hook as far as having to be in town. Oscar, our designated fixer in Lima, took us all over town getting papers photocopied, signed and notarized. On our part, we had to unload all of our personal belongings off the bike and send them separately to Europe by courier because there had been problems in the past with Peruvian customs not allowing non-motorcycle items to be shipped in the same container.
Our bikes waiting patiently to be wrapped up and boarded up
Oscar led us to a run-down building where the bikes would be crated. It was a pretty sketchy neighbourhood, and over the intercom I expressed my fears to Neda whether this was a legit operation or not. As always, we just shrug our shoulders and go with the flow. The people helping us to crate the bikes were very helpful and professional and our minds were set at ease.
As always, Neda finds a four-legged friend everywhere she goes
Windshield, mirrors and bags off to reduce the dimensions of the crate,
then a few layers of plastic wrapping to make sure everything stays put.
After the cost of shipping, we couldn't afford plane tickets to Europe, so we found a cheap way to get Neda back to Croatia!