I was not feeling well. I was without energy. My body was aching and I had a slight fever, but decided to proceed anyway. I had a few days of rest in Caraz. I decided that it was time to get back on the road.
I traveled on a road that ran between the two Cordilleras. The view was fantastic! As I traveled southeast, on my right I could see beautiful snow capped mountains, and on my left I could see the rugged desert mountains. I noticed that the elevation was slowly climbing. When I reached the village of Conococha I had reached an elevation of 13,500 feet.
Sheep herding seemed to be the major occupation in this part of the world. From photos I had seen in magazines this area reminded me of Mongolia with grassy fields high above the tree line.
I proceeded to travel down the mountain toward the Pacific Ocean and the Pan American Highway. With good road conditions this would have been a fun, fast, and enjoyable ride. However, road conditions were very poor with lots of construction. In some sections of the road there was loose gravel which made negotiating curves very difficult. In some areas the gravel was four inches deep and this continued for approximately 100 miles. Needless to say, it took me a long time to get off the mountain road onto the Pan American Highway.
Just prior to reaching the Pan American Highway I was pulled over by the Peruvian police. The officer wanted to see my passport. He seemed trustworthy so I handed over my passport. He looked at it and handed it back to me and told me I could go. I had not traveled 10 miles and I got pulled over a second time. This time I decided to engage in conversation first. I asked the officer how his new year was going, etc. He started chatting and never asked me for any documents. Finally I made it to the Pan American Highway and started my travel south towards Lima. After traveling no more than three miles, I got pulled over a third time by two officers. One told me that I am speeding and that they need to see my documents. I handed over a copy of my driver’s license and asked them to tell me how fast I was traveling. They told me I was doing 68 klm in a 55 klm zone. Really!! How did you determine my speed, I asked. One of the officers pulled out his cell phone and told me that it was his radar. He pointed it at traffic and says, see the limit? I said to him, “Come on now. If you are going to lie to me please come up with something better than that.” Then the cell phone rang. So after a stare down with them they finally give me my driver’s license back and I was on my way. Being extra careful not to speed, not to cross double yellow lines, or not to violate any other traffic laws, I finally made it into Lima.
Lima was what I expected – a large city with lots of bad traffic and trash everyplace. I was trying to locate a section of town named Miraflores. It took me two hours to find the Miraflores area. At this point I just wanted to get off the GS and get into a nice comfortable bed. While at a stop sign I asked a guy for directions to the center of town and he told me to go four more blocks. Great! I think to myself, I am almost there.
At that moment a motorcycle policeman pulled up next to me and asked for my documents. This was the fourth time I was stopped on this day. The officer took my license and took off. He stopped about a block up the road and I followed him and I stoped as well. He told me that he was going to give me a ticket for having mud (of all things) on my license plate. The numbers could not be read and that was against the law. I tell him of my travels on that day and the road conditions and that I had not had time to clean my license plate. The officer said he was sorry but he still needed to give me a ticket and that he needed to keep my driver’s license until I paid the fine. I said, “Give me the ticket I will go and pay it.” He then told me that it will take as long as two weeks. I replied, “No problem. I plan on being in Lima for thirty days. I have time.” He was trying to get me to cough up some money, but I would not go there. As I had indicated, my day started with me not feeling well and now I was to the point of feeling really horrible. But I decided to turn the tables on this officer. I proceeded to lecture him on the nasty way the Peruvian police treated tourists and travelers in Peru. I also told him that it was a shame. My lecture lasted a few minutes and he then had a change of heart. He gave me back my driver’s license, shook my hand, and told me to have a good day. Then he rode away.
To this point in my travels, Peru was the worst country in Latin America when it came to dealing with the police. I knew that the Peruvian police had a reputation for being on the shady side but it was much worse than anticipated. I believe that if I had not been used to dealing with these shady cops I would have given up a lot of money. It is a shame that Peru is this way. It is such a beautiful country.