27.08.2012 - 31.08.2012
27th August Rest day in Huaraz
I like to wander without a map and see what I find. How do I always find the fresh food markets? Sure, in some little pueblo of 500 people, it’s about all there is, but Huaraz is a city of 100 000. As you would expect of me in a food market, I took lots of photos.
This was in the floor so that you knew it was the pork section, just in case the pigs getting chopped up all around you, or their heads looking forlornly at you wasn't enough of a clue.
I could say that this photo is aMAIZEing, but that would be corny.
Sorry this photo is so cheesy.
This one was undercover and the vendors were professionals, as opposed to the Sunday markets that filled the streets of the town we passed through yesterday. There seemed to be many shops selling pollo/chicken and they all hang the chooks up in the open air.
The Fanny above these chickens is a Peruvian brand of jam. Love it.
There were many people just selling their wares on the street, making for photo opportunities.
After lunch I had a little shopping to do in the arvo. I wanted to buy a roll mat to go under my dysfunctional airbed. I had a relaxing day and caught up on my blog for you guys. Internet was slow and erratic, but I got there. After seeing someone else with one, a pillow purchase followed. I went for another walk in the arvo in a different direction and found another smaller plaza past the main big one.
Some people raided the little bike shop in town and went to work pimping their ride. I’ve already added handlebar ends to give an extra hand position on long rides and others did so here. I’m still trying to score a front mud guard. Fortunately the weather has been kind so far.
I’m feeling crook in the guts tonight, so didn’t go out for dinner with everyone else. A parade went down the street in front of our hotel and who should be playing music, but the band from yesterday!
What's with this burger joint I found?
28th August Huaraz to camp outside the Huascaran National Park 57km / 1210 climbing
Our bikes were on the hotel roof. That’s right. When I’d arrived and asked where to put my bike I was told I had to carry it up 5 flights of stairs. I thought Richard was being funny but he wasn’t. Of course, the hotels don’t have lifts. What would you want one of them for?
There was a vendor lady opposite the hotel and when word got around the group that she was selling coca sweets, she sold out in no time at all. Christine calls them cocaine lollies.
My crook guts last night meant something as I was up to the loo during the night. Today wasn’t far, being only 57km, so I thought I’d be okay, but we do go from 3200m to sleeping at 4300m. It was paved until lunch. I saw some llamas, but they were of the topiary variety.
How's this old Renault with the engine in the boot. It's even still got the rego plates. "Restorer's Dream?"
The road was undulating so I didn’t notice the climbing. I felt sick, but wanted to keep going as it was ‘only’ 15 more kilometres but as you can see from the profile pic, as Yazz and her Plastic Population sang, “The only way is up.”
With hindsight, I shouldn’t have ridden after lunch. Here are some photos from the lunch stop.
I got sicker as time went on and in the end I couldn’t ride up any inclines and it was all inclines. I just had zero energy and I wanted to curl up by the side of the road and die, but I had to keep going as the truck had passed, so I just plodded on walking. I was the last one in and I’m sTuffed with a capital ‘T’. Someone helped me set up my tent and I went to bed at 4pm. I heard people saying it was a nice sunset, but I couldn’t find the energy to get up and look. I didn’t have dinner. The landscape is beautiful and here are two photos from my afternoon of plodding.
29th August Bush camp to bush camp through the Huascaran National Park
I dragged myself out of my sleeping bag at 6:30. Got dressed and packed my bags. Then I threw everything out of the tent so I could pack it too. It was freezing cold and no one else was around. Strange? Isn’t brekkie in 10 minutes? Despite sending my apologies for dinner, no one thought to tell me that we were leaving an hour later today to allow the sun to be up and it no be so cold. How cold? There is frost on the tables and a layer of ice on the pond so it’s safe to say it’s below freezing! I could still be in my tent. Bugger! At least I had this view before dropping my tent.
If I had to describe today in one word it would be ‘sick’. I spent 14 hours in the tent last night, but didn’t sleep that well and then had toilet runs, no pun intended. I did appreciate my roll mat and pillow purchases though. It would have been worse without them. I’d really hoped to be better today, but I’m not. I optimistically put the bike on the truck hoping to feel better and ride from lunch, however by lunch I was worse and I just lay down in the truck and wanted to die. Riding was not an option. It is so frustrating as I came here to ride. Seeing the mountains from the truck is not the same. This afternoon there were 5 of us, including our cook, in the truck all feeling sick. I felt nauseas, achy and had a fever plus I’m still too scared to fart. On arriving at camp, all 5 of us got out of the truck and just lay down on the grass in the sun. It might have looked funny, but we weren’t laughing.
The scenery today was stunning. When you get into the middle of mountains, looking around us in all directions were hundreds of peaks, the higher ones with a white icing of snow. We slept at 4300m last night and went over a mountain pass today at just under 4900m. Tonight we are at 3800m. The cyclists had it tough until halfway as it was all uphill and unsealed, then it was downhill and mostly paved. This national park is home to a rare bromeliad that lives for ages and then sends up a massive tall flower and dies. I’m told they’re only found here.
We also saw some rock art under a cave that was right next to the road, so we didn’t have to even get out of the truck. How did they know to put the art there all that time ago?
I’ve set my tent up on some soft grass tonight. Some call it a swamp, but I prefer to think of it as a water bed. I am planning on a soft night.
It’s amazing how little energy I have. Even setting up my tent was a big job that I lay down for 15 minutes afterwards. I had a good rest this arvo and Didier gave me some antibiotics and by dinner time I had an appetite. MMmm! Pesto chicken pasta with broccoli, snow peas and asparagus on the side. Glad I didn’t miss that one. Kirstin does a great job feeding us. Here’s hoping I have a good night’s sleep and feel ready to ride tomorrow.
I'll finish today with some photos for you. As I said, spectacular part of the world. Shame there are so many and only one lifetime.
30th August Bushcamp – bushcamp 58km / 428m climbing
Hmmm? My tent was wet today and so were some things in it, but hey, at least I did have a good night’s sleep and that’s what I needed most. Wet things can dry.
I’m feeling well enough to ride today and the 40 km downhill to lunch made it easier.
I stopped for a fresh juice on the way.
The lunch spot was next to hot spring that had been developed into a bathing house and compartmentalised into individual baths as well as a communal pool. I enjoyed my hot bath, even more so as we’re between bush camps. This nice hot soak was better than many of the cold showers I’ve had in hotels so far. I took the children photos at lunch too.
After lunch was the one climb of the day. The nausea returned, reminding me that I’m not as well as I’d like. We all met at the top and stopped for an Inca Cola.
The 10km steep downhill to camp was a thrilling end to a great day. Different to the wide open Pan Am downhills of Ecuador, this one was one lane wide and wound through clusters of houses right on the road or at other times there was nothing but a massive drop on your right, and no guard rail of course. The other hazard was animals on the road. I came flying around one bend only to come face to face with 6 pairs of cow horns. The next bend had a herd of sheep, two donkeys and a goat waiting!
I arrived at camp with plenty of sun left to dry out my sleeping bag and tent and then got stuck back into my book. It’s nice to lie down. I’m getting better and ate dinner again tonight which was vegie curry with chickpeas and served with rice and quinoa.
31st August Bush camp to Huanuco - 100km / 1280m climbing
The perfect profile that’s not all downhill? Maybe? Get the climbing out of the way and then after lunch, when you’re tired, ride downhill.
The morning was a solid climb and took 4 hours riding. The scenery has really changed in just a day from mountainous and almost people-free to remote rural when people’s subsistence farm plots form a patchwork over even steep mountainsides.
People build their houses on the edge of a sliding mountain and then wonder why their bedroom wall disappears one morning!
Like every day, today had some surprises. I passed not one, but two fiestas with people dressed up in elaborately embroidered costumes and dancing to a band. I was happy to, but any other traffic on the one-lane road just had to wait.
People in this region hang interesting things from the eaves of their houses. Corn/maize is not so unusual, but pigs (whole and in pieces) and cows? The head would be first, with vegies stuffed in it’s mouth and nostrils and then the rest of it in pieces. I’m not sure if this is connected with the celebrations today or is a seasonal thing to slaughter and dry some meat.
The mountain pass today was 3900m and it was cold. Lunch was there in the wind. With 50km uphill done, it’s a 2000m loss of altitude now over the next 60km all the way to Huanuco. Should be fun hey? Not as much as it should have been. It was steep, with narrow pot-holed roads, blind corners and a deadly cliff just a metre away with no guard rail – of course. It was really hard work, even if more mentally than physically. You had to keep both hands on the brakes and read not only the road for pot holes, rocks and random bits missing, having slidden away down the cliff I’m trying to avoid going over myself. This was very different downhill riding to Ecuador with it’s wide open new paved roads where hitting nearly 80kph was not unsafe. Speed today was something I kept having to restrict. Blind corners could reveal; an unmarked hairpin bend, a herd of animals – take your pick, rocks or holes, or worse still a vehicle coming at you on your side. Can you see why it was more dangerous than fun? It wasn’t all bad though. Not pedalling is certainly easier than a tough climb and when you could read the road ahead and see there was no traffic and where it was going, you could let go of the brakes and the bike took off. It was also a bunch of fun, but I arrived in Huanuco more tired than I thought I would be. I did take a couple of pix for you though.
Finding the hotel amongst the crazy narrow streets full of motor tricycle taxis was a challenge, but tonight we’re staying in a real hotel, or should that be the Real Hotel. My room smells of sewerage and the hot water tap isn’t, so I’m not sure what the real stands for. Real noisy? Our room overlooks the Plaza Amas, the central plaza of Huanuco.
I wish it didn’t. It’s so noisy and we have louvre windows. Remember them? They’re not even airtight, so noise will waltz on in. I need the Walkman in my ears in the room just to block it out! Dinner tonight was in two attempts, neither of which were good. We were meeting for farewell drinks with Lucho, a cyclist from Trujillio who’s ridden with us since then. (He’s a friend of the owners, having hosted Rob in his house when he first scouted this route in 2007.) I had a deadline, so thought a quick fried rice in one of the many ‘chifas’ (Chinese – kind of) would suffice. There was a whole menu section on duck, so after checking that they actually had duck, I ordered duck with tamarind sauce. I got served beef with flavourless red water. I called the kid over – it was a family thing – and asked, “Is this duck?” and also made a quacking sound. When he assured me it was, I assured him it wasn’t and walked out. I think most people can tell the difference. I now had no time to go elsewhere, so joined them in reception. When they decided to stay there for a drink before heading out, I took my chance and went out for dinner #2. Another Chifa and all I wanted was fried rice. They had it, with duck! Yes! This time it was duck. All good. The children’s playground taking up a quarter of the space proved to be a problem. Screaming kids do not an enjoyable meal make. There’s a reason that 1) McDonalds put the playground OUTSIDE and 2) I’ve had the snip. I met up with the guys again and said my farewells to Lucho. I’m still getting well, so with them only heading to the discoteque at 10pm, I’ll save my partying until next time and left them to it. I think some of them will be very glad tomorrow is a rest day. I'll begin my next blog with that. Not sure how restfull such a noisy place will be?