There are several different ways to get to Caraz from Huanchaco. All of them involve going off road and up into the mountains – we couldn’t go wrong. We took the route from Santa (just north of Chimbote).
We haven’t mentioned it before, but we’ve been stopped by the police many times in Peru. I’d guess 10. We could have been pulled over another 10 times, but I’ve developed quite a skill of pretending not to see the officer and just keep driving through the checkpoint – so far no one has pursued. It’s the guys that step out into the road in front of the bus that get me to stop.
Most have been polite. They want to see our documentos, but it’s unclear how many of them really look at the papers closely. A few have them have been sticklers about seguro – insurance. It’s required in Peru, but it doesn’t appear that foreigners can actually buy it – the system is set up for Peruvian plated vehicles only (or so we’ve been told.) Some of the police are keen to this fact and eager (we hear) to catch a tourist without it. The penalty is impounding the vehicle, fines, etc. Or (so we’ve been told), some guys will forget all about it for a quick payment on the spot.
I can’t verify the last bit, as all but one police officer has seemed to have legitimate intentions. Still, when they ask we just show them our expired U.S. insurance. It’s worked so far, except for one guy really who gave us a hard time and wanted to impound the vehicle. Eventually he got tired of us and let us go.
Anyway, today we only got stopped twice. The first guy wanted to know where we were going and gave us some advice: don’t stop the car and don’t ever walk around anywhere. Muy peligroso. As always, the advice was appreciated, but would make for a very dull trip.
The next guy stopped us right where the pavement ended and wanted to see our papers and asked what we were up to. He held on to the papers and walked away for an uncomfortably long time, but eventually came back and waved us on.
As soon as the pavement ended, things started looking pretty amazing.
We followed the river Santa along a lonely mountain road for quite a while. Generally, the road was just barely the width of the car and made for some fun driving. Narrow rickety bridges. Narrow crumbling tunnels. Fun stuff.
When we finally saw a nice wide spot to pull over and check out the river, we pulled in and took a break. Although it was only 2 in the afternoon and we were only half way to Caraz, I was pretty much done driving. Bode was loving scrambling over all the rocks. Angela was ready for a book.
We spent the afternoon exploring and rearranged the bus to the perfect river-side spot for the evening. I slept like a baby.