Plantains offloaded and Chiclayo toured, we were now heading down the Pan-American Highway towards Lima. Sea mist off the ocean diffused the bright sunlight, but the landscape was as arid as anywhere I’d seen. There’s no shortage of archaeological sites along the coast. While many towns and cities were abandoned 500 years ago thanks to the murderous invasion of the Spanish conquistadors, climate change also played a role in moving populations inland.
Promptly at 5am we pulled to a stop on Lima’s northern outskirts. We took photos and bid a bittersweet farewell to our traveling companions. Life isn't really about the destination, it's about the journey and the people you meet along the way. Between them Leo, César, and Cyrano had given us of some of the best things Peru has to offer, friendship, food, and adventure. And we couldn't thank them enough.
Still, we needed to get to Cusco by Friday night. Leo told us to head towards kilometre 58 where there was a mandatory inspection point for all trucks heading south from Lima along the highway. It was probably our best chance of another lift. A quick trip to the ATM and several photos later and we were off to do battle with Lima's chaotic morning rush hour. Our now dog-eared map of Peru had just enough detail for us to find our way across the city.
Traveling in a mototaxi is a piece of motoring insanity at the best of times. When we reached the highway I yielded the helm to Zaya and put my faith in the emergency services. Almost immediately a huge truck blasted its horn and came within inches of my left ear, leaving grit in our teeth and sweat on our palms. We wobbled, but didn't flip over.
At the peaje a rather fetching traffic cop thought we were crazy and stupid for even wanting to drive on the highway. Mototaxis were simply not allowed. Eventually, though, thanks to Zaya's persuasion and insistence, she understood our predicament, relented, and let us through. We still had to pay a three soles toll, though.