Crossing into Peru, the roads immediately got better. No more rutted gravel and steep 20% inclines, but a paved, nice and level ride to the town of Namballe. It was a small town with a few shops and a hostel, and it was hot, but we needed the rest after the dash to the border.
The following day we loaded up for the long climb to San Ignacio. The climbs were different here. In Ecuador they were brutally steep. In Peru, we experienced relatively normal hills. The climb to San Ignacio was 1,300 meters, but pretty steady over 40km. It was doable without being too tough, we were getting stronger. We biked alongside an incredibly powerful river and it wound its way through the mountains.
We expected San Ignacio to have the things we had gotten used to in larger towns and had been missing since crossing into Peru, namely a large grocery store. However, this wasn’t the case. Our favourite place to go was Supermaxi in Ecuador. It’s just a well stocked supermarket, but to us it was a safe haven full of all the things we needed, all the essentials, all the treats, everything.
San Ignacio didn’t have a supermarket, and we ended up going to four or five smaller corner store type markets to get what we needed, including an hour long hunt for the one and only person who sold almonds in the central market. We discovered a delicious new fruit called Lucuma. We got it as a milk shake all blended up which tasted like strangely like maple syrup. Really interesting to discover fruits you never knew existed.
By this time, we had heard from back home that Olivia’s Grandfather was not doing so well. The buses that were prolific in connecting every back town in Ecuador were nowhere to be found in northern Peru and the distances are much further. We were in the very north of Peru, far away from Lima or any easy way to get home.
We decided to push on a couple days further south to the city of Jaén, which had a regional airport. If we had to, we could get to the airport and fly to Lima, which would give us options to get home.
Jaén is a big city and we happened to arrive on the weekend celebration of its 198th independence. All weekend music and celebrations could be heard from 6am to about 2 or 3am.
We were making preparations to continue on, but a couple of days later the call came from Canada and we needed to go back home. Our South American adventure was over for the time being.
From Jaén (with our bikes tied to the top of a sedan with some rope) we flew to Lima, then on to Dallas and finally Canada. 33 hours of travel to get back.
What does this mean for the future of our South American adventure?
We’re not sure.
We’re taking some time to deal with our family matters now and will decide what is to come for the remainder of the year in the next couple weeks. There will be adventures one way or the other, and we couldn’t be more thankful or proud of our time in South America. The hospitality, kindness and interest we experienced in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru was unparalleled.
And thanks to you for coming along on our adventure with us. We hope you were inspired to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things.
Jeff & Olivia