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Ladron

September 2, 2012

Leaving Huaraz we drove down a good road to the coast – albeit after climbing to over 4000m, on our way towards Lima. About 100km before getting to the city we stopped for the night at Lanchay National Park which is only a couple of KM’s from the PanAm. As you climb away from the desert at the coast stunted black and vivid green vegetation appears which was shrouded in fog/ low cloud. We spent a very quiet night in one of the campsites before leaving early the next morning.

We had decided to skip visiting Lima as it didn’t hold a lot of interest for us but we still had to drive straight through the city as the PanAm goes straight through the middle. The traffic was bad and pretty crazy but we got through and continued South.

200km past Lima we stopped at a town called Chincha Alta to restock the cupboards which were starting to look a little bare. The car park was too small so we parked in the street right in front of the gate – visible to the car park attendants.

When we returned to the truck we realised that the driver’s window had been smashed. Luckily the window was still held together by the tinted film that we had put on it in California and thankfully the thief had not managed to get in.

At this stage we didn’t realise how difficult this would be to sort out.

The first thing we did was talk to the car park attendants and ask if there was anywhere in town to get the window repaired. One of the guys offered to show us where and ended up taking us to 3 different shops, eacb one saying it wasn’t possible to replace, until finally one told us to come back the following day 11am.  Result, we naively thought!

We asked Jose (the friendly car park attendant who we were now on first name terms with) where we could park safely for the night and he kindly said we could park in the supermarket car park. We drove him back and spoke to the manager who agreed that we could park there but not until closing time (10pm). We parked in the street where the window had been smashed until then – with one of us sitting in the cab at all times

After driving in and settling down for the night around midnight there is a knock on the door and the manager is standing there.  Apparently there was some confusion, we could park the camper there but we couldn’t stay there ourselves!  It took quite a bit of persuasion as well as in inside inspection and copies of our driving licenses to convince him to let us stay but eventually he took pity on us and agreed (probably because when he came inside to take a look, Sarah was lying in bed half asleep!)

The next day we drove back to the shop that told us to come back at 11pm.  Having been in Latin America for some time now we knew that 11am probably meant 11.30, maybe 12pm but by 12.30pm the guy still hadn’t appeared so we decided to try our luck and drive to the next big town about 100 kms away, called Ica.

After driving to Ica we asked at a few petrol stations where we could get a new window and after 3 or 4 attempts a truck driver gave us an address for the next day. We spent the night in a hotel car park and the next morning found our way to the Vidriria (window shop) and arrived for opening time. The lady in charge was very positive and told us of course they could fix our window – however they didn’t have Toughened glass only normal glass. In our naivety we told them to get on with it.

After about half an hour we had a pane of tinted glass installed in the window.  Fantastic!  We hopped in and closed the door and heard a loud crack, the window had split right down the middle.  The guy who installed it got really arsy and said it was our fault for slamming the door too hard.  This was not going well.  We talked to the lady in charge who was far more co-operative and asked for them to try again, this time with the thickest glass they had.  On the second try we closed the door gently and all was well.  We were on our way again, or so we thought.

Five minutes down the road we stopped for lunch, closed the driver side door and all was fine.  Phew!  We then closed the passenger side door and there was a cracking noise, the driver side window had broken right down the middle again.  Oh dear (were not the words that were said at the time) – time to head for Lima and try to get a proper replacement. I duck taped the window and off we went.

After stopping for the night in a petrol station we drove into Lima early in the morning and as luck would have it about 30km outside town noticed a building with three DAF trucks parked outside. We screeched to a halt and went to investigate. This was DAF’s Peruvian dealer and they could help us. But of course after the repairs manager was on the phone for half an hour he worked out that there was no replacement window in Peru.

Toughened Auto Glass cannot be cut and has to be shaped before the toughening process. We had two options: 1) Import a window which would take a month or 2) have one made for us which would take 2 weeks. So we opted for the quickest option.

The repairs manager arranged for us to go to the only company in Peru that could help, Miyasato right in the middle of Lima, next to the national football stadium. The only snag was that we had to go the following morning first thing.

Another night in a petrol station ensued before setting out for central Lima – and getting caught right in the middle of crazy rush hour traffic. This was probably the worst traffic we had come across so far with really aggressive driving. We spent 5 minutes stuck in the middle lane of a three lane road trying to the exit with cars just flying by.

Eventually we reached Miyasato, over an hour late, so pretty much on-time in Peruvian terms. It wasn’t in the greatest area but at least there was a policeman standing right outside. They immediately told us they could help but they’d need to take the opposite window to copy. There were two bits of good news though. Firstly it would only take 7 days and secondly they could put temporary Perspex windows on both sides to give us a modicum of security.  After an hour they had both windows out and told us to come back in a week. The work was done by a really professional guy, and his co-workers delighted in telling us that he was nicknamed – Shrek !

We decided to head back to Huanchaco to wait out the week in the very nice campground there, with a pool and half decent weather as the plastic windows didn’t roll down (a real pain with all the tolls and police stops) or give us much security – you could basically push them out with your hand. Huanchaco was a full days drive away so we set off and arrived at midday the next day.

A week later we were back on the road to Lima. We stayed the night at Lanchay again  – this time in beautiful sunshine and got to Miyasato around 11am, after a slightly later, therefore slightly better transit through Lima.

The window was ready and they reinstalled both in a couple of hours, even tinting the window to match the other one.  When this was finally done we breathed a sigh of relief as we could now get on with our trip again.

We had had no idea that a broken window would be so hard to fix.  We’ve also learnt how good the tinting film is at preventing a break in and would highly recommend it.   All in all from start to finish the whole process took us 13 days – our Spanish in relation to windows is now much improved!

We’ve since heard of three other trucks that have had a window smashed in Peru. The supermarket in Cusco is a prime spot apparently. So if you are in Peru be very careful where you park and consider when there isn’t a guarded car park having someone stay in the camper while you do your shopping.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Colin permalink
    September 2, 2012 8:44 pm

    It’s true, duck tape can fix anything….

  2. jeremyandpaula permalink
    September 4, 2012 12:54 am

    hey you two. Sorry to hear about what happened. We totally empathise with the general running around you have to do to get anything fixed! We’re currently searching for a few wee new parts… it’s a great test of your resolve and patience. Grr!

    • September 16, 2012 1:04 pm

      Sometimes its so easy – other times really hard. It always amazes us what you find when your not looking.

  3. October 13, 2012 5:08 pm

    Not sure how I missed this post, Glad to see you got the window back together. Hunting down parts is always an adventure. Looking back its always a good story, at the time though.. Its a nightmare

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