Friday, 13 April 2012

5 days on

Hi folks just some more info and an update on the 9 lives of David. I cannot have many left.

I am now back in the UK, have been looked at by the hospital and now trying to find something to relieve the boredom. Unfortunately for you I have decided to give a full account from the crash day to now. In other words standby for War and Peace and I will make it as non melodramatic as possible.

So how did last Saturday start? Very well thank you! Woke up and started to get my kit together since I was going to head towards Trujillo with David and Eva my riding buddies from South Africa. I wheeled Daisy out of the hotel courtyard into the access alleyway and piled up the baggage about 5m behind the bike just inside the courtyard. Having done it a dozen times the whole operation of packing Daisy was quite slick but when I turned to get the tank bag it was not there. WHAT? WHERE? HOW? Some bar steward had walked into the hotel lifted my bag and walked out. Disaster!!! On a motorbike there is no room for 'extras' so everything is essential. Visions of what I would do to the thieving gypsy flashed before my eyes and they would make Saddam Husseins head interrogator look like a saint.

After calling the police, searching nearby rooms and glaring aggressively at anyone who was male, had 2 legs and a nose I departed for the Police Station to make a statement. A number of trips between the hotel and police station followed as the head honcho tried to decide what to do. Fairly snuff except that time was marching on and we needed to be on the road. Eventually they completed an A3 incident book by hand and then did the same on a solitary, sorry looking computer sat on a desk in the corner of the room next to the door to the 'we need a good clean and some air freshener' toilets. Not an ideal environment for trying to remember the contents of the tank bag. Consequently I missed out some items.

The whole process took a good 3 hours and understandingly D and E had decided to head off towards Trujillo in an attempt to get there before dark and before the predicted rain set in. I was hoping to meet them a couple of days later.

I eventually got on the road about 30minutes after D & E and looked for the road towards Casma which was the town before Trujillo. Since my map had been stolen I was relying totally oh the GPS. Not an ideal situation. The road that I had intended to take was dirt and being one of those people who has a fondness for staying alive I opted to take the long way round (hoping to see Ewan and Charlie) but the safer way due to it being tarmac. When riding alone if there is only one route and it is ripio then that is the way to go but in the interests of self preservation if there is a tarmac option then I will take that.

So I rode north going deeper and deeper into the Cordillera Blanca. The second highest mountain range in the world, after the Himalayas and the highest tropical mountain range on the planet.

So now we come to the carne of the story. I remember seeing a cow running diagonally onto the road, one lane in either direction, from left to right. I remember thinking s**t the only option I had was the gap to the right of the road between the cow and the edge and since this cow had clearly been training for the bovine olympics this gap was reducing at an alarming rate. The end result was that I hit the cow around the area of its front leg and I was thrown over the top of the cow. Unlike my other collision 10 years ago I actually remember hitting the ground and then everything goes blank. The assumption is that happened when my head hit the ground. A later examination of the helmet and clothing showed that my head had hit twice, that I had hit the cow with my left leg, which was very sore, I am sure my boots had stopped it from breaking and the right shoulder pad had also taken a heavy impact. The trousers were covered in cow shit but there was no sign of the offending beast except a patch of road covered in fur.

'Do you speak English? Do you speak English?' and as I open my eyes I realise those words are being spoken by Lacey. She and her partner Luis are 2 Californians and had been passing in their Land Cruiser. Fortunately Luis is of Venezuelan descent and so speaks fluent Spanish. I was a little delirious and I remember that I kept asking if this was a dream. How great would that have been? I had landed in a ditch right next to Daisy. The first people to have arrived were a farmer and his family since they were right there. My suspicion is that they had been herding the cow. Perhaps that is why it had entered the road like it was being chased Usain Bolt. Unfortunately they had not Googled 'what not to do if you find an injured motorcyclist' and had whipped my helmet off. A Peruvian guy and his young son then pulled up followed by Lacey and Luis, who were to turn out to be the best thing since sliced bread.

The contents of the panniers were spread all over the road and as I slowly got my head together I realised that Luis and the Peruvian guy were gathering up my belongings and sorting out Daisy whose front end was scattered to the four winds. The Peruvian guy then headed to the village, that I had passed 45 minutes down the road, in order to get help. I have no recollection how long I was sat there but Lacey and Luis got me into their LC and then Luis rode by bike very slowly to the farmers house about 400m further down the road.

The plan that we had hatched was that I would leave the bike there whilst Luis and Lacey took me to hospital. At that moment the Peruvian guy returned and unfortunately he had brought the police with him. Corruption is endemic in the Peruvian Police and these pair gave the impression of leading the corruption race. They would not give us their names and were very interested in the bike. When I asked if I wanted to go with them to hospital and no doubt to have to pay bribes so that they got me there or go go with my American Angels. The phrase 'is the Pope a Catholic' came to mind.

So I left Daisy feeling battered and bruised in a lonely mountain farm and Lacey, Luis and I then drove the 2 hours to the nearest hospital. Thankfully my head was starting to clear but my shoulder hurt like hell. It seemed like forever to negotiate the mountain road and finally arrive at the town of Barranca. It was dirty, seedy and a bit run down! The 3 of us concluded that perhaps we should drive onto Lima another 2 hours down the road.

Lima hove into view and we found the Hitchhikers Hostal and took their advice on which hospital to go to. Luis and I then grabbed a cab and were soon standing in front of the reception of Clinica Ricardo Palma. A quick once over by the admissions doctor who asked about what had happened and my medical history, an X-ray and then seen by the Trauma Doctor who assessed that I had separated the clavicle from the shoulder joint and he put some surgical tape on my shoulder. He would be a good Christmas present wrapper upper but he did not even mention the blow to the head or my previous brain injury and when we realised 3 minutes later he had already gone home. Fecal matter comes to mind when quantifying his abilities and I seem to remember getting similar qualifications from inside a Cornflakes Packet. Luis has medical experience with the US Marine Corps and his assessment was just as damning.

Back to the hostal a quick half a pizza and then bed. I actually slept quite well since the shoulder was not too painful and I was to later realise that the effects of the damage to crash at 50-60mph were yet to manifest themselves.

Between Lacey and Luis and 2 other overlanders staying at the hostal, Lizzy and Raul I was really well cared for. Can I just say thanks guys!!!! I hate to imagine what would have happened if you were not there to look out for me.

I managed to get a flight to the UK for the Monday. A long uncomfortable flight. Went straight to A&E where I was told that I might need an op but would find out when I visited the fracture clinic. I had that today and the separation is not great enough to warrant an op.
That said my whole body feels like it has been used as the rugby ball during Bath's scrummaging practice. I am so glad for the painkillers the hospital gave me.

What about Daisy I here you say? Firstly the crooked cops have probably stolen her by now. The keys have been left with Luis. No key, no way the bike can be started. It is hoped that a Brit who runs a nearby lodge might be able to find a use for her. In discussion with some locals, the cost of recovering her to Lima will probably be £1000 or so. Flying her to the UK another £2000 and then repairs £2k-£3k. Her second hand value would not be much more than that. So she will stay in Peru, illegally once the temporary import document expires in a month or so and I will not be able to enter Peru again.

I think that my adventure motorcycling days have come to an end. I cannot face the look of pain on my mother's face again. I think that I will buy a Transit or something, convert it and do some overlanding in that. Riding a bike solo under such conditions is a little dangerous and I have done that so perhaps it is time to move on.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

I saw it come but I did not see it go

Yesterday I was packing my bike with my kit in a pile about 10m behind me. When I turned back I saw that my tank bag was missing. It contained my camera, hence no photos, 2 mobile phones, Victorinox multi tool and a plethora of other things that I forgot to put in the police report. The couple that I had been riding with decided to go on and leave details of their location at the police station in the town we were heading for. After I eventually finished with the police I hit the road only about 30 minutes behind them.
About 2 hours down the road I have this vague recollection of a cow running diagonally across the road from left to right, me hitting it, flying through the air and then nothing. I awoke to hear an American voice saying do you speak English? This was Lacey, her and her boyfriend were overlanders who had been on the road for 2.5 years. They had arrived third on the scene after the Peruvian family who probably owned the cow and had removed my helmet. A big no no for motorcyclists involved in a crash. Another Peruvian guy had also pulled up. I was probably unconscious for 5 minutes or so. To cut a long story short the bike is at the farm of the family and will probably be stolen by the coppers who turned up. Lacey and Luis drove me all the way to Lima where a 'got my training from the back of a Corn Flake box' doctor diagnosed that I had separated my clavical from the shoulder. I could have come to that assessment from the X-ray.
I have no option to leave the bike where it is in the middle of the mountains, get a flight home tomorrow and get the NHS to look at my shoulder. I think my motorcycling days are over since from the state of the bike that has a missing front end and a lot of pannier damage I was very very very lucky. Perhaps I will convert a Mercedes van into a mobile overland home. There was no sign of the cow just a lot of fur on the road. I suspect it is in a lot of pain. Overlanders stick together one couple has offered me the spare bed in their room since there is no available room fo me.
Toodle pip until the next overland adventure.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Thursday, 5 April 2012

A memorable taxi ride

David, Eva and I left Huaraz at Crack o Sparrow and headed northish towards Yungay. This town had been completely devastated by the 1970 earthquake and was the start of the road to Laguna Chirancotcha a supposedly beautiful lake 34km away and high in the mountains. We had tried to ride there yesterday but had been beaten by the bike breaking severity of the road. The terra surface had been completely destroyed by tour buses that were also heading towards the lake. Our new plan involved leaving the bikes at a tourist restaurant and then catching a taxi to the lake. The drive up was stunning and surmounted the view of the lake which was ordinary and it proved difficult to take a photo without also snapping one of the dozens of tourists that started to arrive.
We think that we saw a cloud enshrouded Mt Alpamayo which is said to be the most beautiful mountain in the world and the symbol for Paramount Studios.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Harah for Huaraz

Nestled between the Cordillera Blanca and the Cordillera Negra, Huaraz has become a mecca for adventure seeking adrenalin junkies. Funnily I was going to continue up the coast but was drawn here.
Practically destroyed by an earthquake 30 or so years ago it is a fun, vibrant and pleasant city. It was
also a stunning ride to get here and the weather alternated between very heavy showers, zero visibility as you passed through the clouds and bright sunshine all mingled with a bit of adrenalin as you frantically dodged the livestock that seem to have forgotten that grass does not grow on tarmac roads.
Lunch was taken at a fruit stall by the roadside where I tried chiteimoya, the green fruit center picture that had a sweet/succulent flesh and pacae, that looks a bit like beaten up runner beans on steroids. Not quite as nice but never the less interesting.
At Jo's place in Huaraz I pulled up at the same time as 2 South Africans who ride for 3 months and work for 3. Unfortunately they had left their Moto Guzzi in Lima for 3 months and it had been stripped of everything that was not bolted to the bike. Riding kit, spares, tools etc etc.
Peru is the land of hats. I must have seen 5 different types as I have transited through the various tribal regions.