Friday, September 21, 2012

Meeting the Beast

The last few days have been spattered with touristy activities. A bike tour around the neighborhood of Miraflores gave me the impression that Lima is an endless row of little parks and green spaces connected by quaint coffee shops. Which it isn´t. Wandering around Barranco, Lima´s bohemian barrio, afforded the opportunity to make an abstract photo essay. At the sure hands of a new friend, Juvenal, we toured Lima´s city center and saw signs of revival everywhere. Peru´s economy seems to be doing pretty well, certainly if the numbers of Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets is any benchmark of progress. But all that was a side show leading up to Piura and meeting the beast.

With a last minute venue change from the University of Piura to the National University of Piura The Adventurists gave teams an opportunity to test their cartographic interpretation skills. An email from the director of crap maps with two Google satellite images of a large playing field was as useless as the lack of directional signs when we got there. Poking around the grounds of the university with the help of a charming administrator looking for the Mototaxi Junket meeting point, we eventually found our way to the dusty back side of the engineering department. There Duncan went over some basics, "These mototaxis really are terrible! They are going to breakdown.", and handed out vehicle assignments. Patrick, the Adventurists´ extremely patient support crew, did his best to get the recalcitrant mototaxis to start and guided beginners in their operation

It´s not that the mechanics of the thing are particularly difficult. Having completed my basic (motorcycle) rider training earlier in the summer, I found the clutch, gear shift, brakes and horn all in their expected places. It´s more that the mototaxi is a beneficiary of monumentally crap design. The motorcycle engine drives only the left rear wheel. Simple as this concept is, there is no need for a differential, it means the sodding thing continually pulls to the right, bogs down in sand as soon as it can, and tips over with remarkable ease. Muscling it around corners the driver is exposed and passengers terrified for their lives. Underpowered with no protection, the conversation over beers later turned on the question of helmets - yes or no? Seems like helmets for both driver and passenger would be sensible, but if you´re going to be mashed at high speed by a huge overladen lorry what earthly difference would it make? Decisions, decisions...

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if one of your arms (left perhaps) will be stronger from this experience from having to pull the mototaxi straight? Sounds exciting!!! Have fun and be safew.