From Lima to Trujillo, we’ve gotten to know a different landscape and different people: La Costa. Between major cities, huge sand dunes and stretches of desert gave us a sense of uncanny solitude. Fortunately we were blessed with spontaneous hospitality and a building to sleep in every night.
After braving the smog and outbound traffic of Lima and arriving in Chancay, we were skeptical when a church member suggested checking at the police comisaria for a floor to sleep on. Michael was questioned thoroughly in a back room with the head sheriff and our passports were scoured for flaws (even officials at the border were called to validate our visas), but in the end we peacefully stayed in the upstairs game room. The sheriff really warmed up to us and later gave us candy and a large apple. Despite his friendliness, other cops kept questioning why two gringos were using the bathroom and walking around the police station. It was one of our safest stays, and we enjoyed Chancay’s pedestrian-only main street and Abe speaking Chinese at a small chifa joint.
The next night we met a pastor named Jesús Solis in the main square of Pativilca, another small coastal town, who invited us to stay at his house. We enjoyed chatting with Jesús and four other men who were staying at the house, training to be missionaries or pastors and teaching Bible stories to kids. Jesús recommended a friend in Chimbote, so we called up Javier Miller Regalado when we smelled the fish markets of this city, one of the biggest ports in Peru. We knew we were in for a memorable evening when Javier pointed across the street to a large poster of himself evangelizing. An enthusiastic proponent of his media ministry, Fuegos en las Calles, Javier was eager to show us his bicycle-powered advertising billboard and his websites in all of South America (peruesdecristo.com, ecuadoresdecristo.com, paraguayesdecristo.com, etc.). He had traveled on a missions trip to Paraguay, so it was interesting to swap stories. Although Javier’s energetic, evangelistic style didn’t quite match ours, it was an eye-opening learning experience of different expressions of faith.
During these days of coastal biking, the climate and landscape has varied more than we expected. Farms next to rivers are lush with tropical fruits and reeds for building houses, but there are also dry stretches of desert with gusty crosswinds. Sand whipped across the road in some parts with signs warning “Cuidado: Zona de Arenamiento,” or “Careful: Zone of Sandiness.”
-Abe failed to heed directions from a cop at a toll booth and was subsequently whacked on the arm by the automatic gate, setting off an alarm and leading to a firm scolding.
-For the first time all trip, we were waved to a stop at a police checkpoint. Luckily, it was only to chat about our trip.
-Throughout this whole trip, Michael has taken on the project of documenting different bikes in different countries. We’ve been particularly fond of the coastal bikes, especially fully grown adults riding souped-up kids’ bikes.
In Trujillo, we’ve enjoyed our stay with Abe’s Spruce Lake Wilderness Camp friend, Brent Frederick. Brent works here with Inca Link, a Christian missionary organization that sponsors a garbage dump ministry. It’s been excellent to hang out with an American guy our own age, and we’ve been inspired by his commitment to God’s call in his life. Spending a night with Brent’s young adult group and another night at his spirit-filled church were great opportunities to worship in Spanish with Peruvians.
Today we checked out the original Casa de Ciclistas, a safe haven for traveling cyclists from all over the world. One unique cyclist that we met there was a Korean named Mr. Kim. He is a Buddhist philosophy professor in Europe, but is now traveling the world by bike. The unique aspect of his 3-year long journey is carrying his twin sons in a trailer behind his bike. Mr. Kim greatly stresses the importance of introducing his kids to cultures across the world at a young age; the twins started traveling when they were 3 years old. In the beginning, Mr. Kim’s trailer was so heavy (200 kg) that his maximum speed was 5 km/h. After traveling from Korea across Asia, Europe, and Africa, he finally installed a motor on his bicycle in Paraguay, allowing him to cover more ground and cross over the Andes mountains. Surprisingly, his wife supported the journey from the Czech Republic, and Mr. Kim was going to spend another year traveling back to South Korea so that his kids could see the “father land.”
-Abe and Michael