Monday, 30 September 2013

30/09/2013 Stage 35 Sicuani - Pocara

2013-09-30 click on date for more
30/09/2013 Stage 35 Sicuani - Pucara by malcandmarjetpatterson at Garmin Connect - Details

30/09/2013 Stage 35 Sicuani - Pucara
Cereal and coffee by the roadside

The 40 kilometre climb was much tougher then we had anticipated. The road surface was good and the incline not bad so I blame the altitude. We topped out at 4350m wher we were greeted by a coach-load of tourists who were more interested in taking photo's of us and cheering than taking photo's of the surrounding scenery. At the top this time I wasn't ill but just felt a bit weak and breathless. Gone are the really tall snowcapped mountains. Once we started going down the landscape stayed much the same for the rest of the day and we remained over 3850 m. The road was quite straight so you see the same view for a long time. Even at this altitude there are lots of cows. And of course dogs! Luckily today they were too sleepy or too nice to chase us. I even got into giving them a bit of my lunch. Fried eggs and tomatoes again. Our little stove is amazing. At this altitude it takes no time at all to boil water for a cup of coffee. So far we haven't had to resort to using petrol as the fuel because we have managed to buy the gas cartridges. In the evening we bumped into Thomas and Paul, two cyclists we had previously met in Cusco. We had a meal together which cost us about £1.25 each. Sadly there wasn't enough to feed a sparrow never mind a hungry cyclist. We had been on the road for over 9 hours to cover the 140 km We will make up for the lack of food when we have a rest day. 
In many districts of Peru we find these 'blue toilets' We think they must be part of the governments sanitation programme.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

29/09/13 Stage 34 Cusco to Sicuani

2013-09-29 click on date to see more pictures

29/09/13 Stage 34 Cusco to Sicuani by malcandmarjetpatterson at Garmin Connect - Details
29/09/2013 Stage 34 Cusco – Sicuani
After the days off in Cusco we were both looking forward to getting on the bikes again. I think we like the simplicity of it. You just get on and go, no hassle nothing. There was only one worry. Our legs felt as if we had just run a marathon. The thousands of steps up and down Machu Pichu Mountain really played havoc with them. Walking downhill was a torturous affair and going down stairs could really only be contemplated backwards. If you had seen us hobbling to the bathroom in the night you would have thought we were in our eighties. However! We managed to cycle 140 km today with an ascent of just over 1000 meters and we hardly broke into a sweat. It must be different muscles but my legs did just fine. It was a lovely ride on good surface and for most of the way a big hard shoulder and not too much traffic. It makes an amazing difference in the distances you can cover now that we have left the 2000m plus straight climbs behind. The road is now undulating as we head for the altiplano ( the high plateau). Over the next three weeks or more we will be staying over 3500meters and our worry will not be with big ascents but about road surface and wind strength and direction. Today it was all good! The scenery was still nice if not as breath taking as it has been before and there is some satisfaction in covering the miles for a change!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Macchu Picchu

macchu click to see more
macchu french clickto see more

25,26,27,28 September 2013 Cusco and Machu Pichu

After gleaning lots of information from other cyclists we decided against embarking on an expensive trek into Machu Pichu on the Inca Trail because although beautiful it is also extremely busy. Instead we opted for the cheaper package which involved car journeys, hikes, a bus and a train journey. Yet another strike dictated that we left the hotel at 2 am instead of 8 am. This time the strike worked in our favour because it meant we had more time in the day to look around. We met up with a lovely French couple Julian and Marlene who were wonderful company and an excellent source of information. We started the hike at 4.30 am in order to arrive at the gates for 6 am and it was magical to see the sun come up over this amazing place. Due to the strike it was very quiet and there were only 2 other people apart from us on Machu Pichu mountain and the sight itself seemed deserted until the train arrived at 10.00 and hordes of people arrived. After a scary journey back with a 3000 meter ascent (boy was I glad I wasn't cycling that one!) through thick clouds we went out for an absolute gourmet five star meal on the advise of Julian. Probably the best and poshest meal we've ever had for a pub meal price . Must repeat.
 Today we struggle walking down stairs. Our legs are aching after the more than 1000 meter ascent on what seemed like thousands of steps. Hope our legs will be fine for cycling again tomorrow?
One kilometre up on steps

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

24/09/2013 Stage 33 Limatambo - Cusco

2013-09-24 click on date for more
24/09/2013 Stage 33 Limatambo Cusco by malcandmarjetpatterson at Garmin Connect - Details

24/09/2013 Stage 35 Limotambo – Cusco
drying off the tent inside the hostal

The tent dried beautifully inside the hotel room and we quickly packed it away in the morning. We were on our bikes by 7.30 and made very good progress. The climb was just over 1100 meters but the gradient was good, the road surface excellent and there was quite a bit of cloud cover so the temperature was perfect. Before we knew it we had reached the top and there followed a gradual descent before a final 350 meter climb into Cusco. The landscape changed quite a lot. We are no longer surrounded by snowy peaks. Instead it is quite flat and agricultural. We met a friendly Brazilian cyclist Roberto who hadjust come from Cusco and recommended a cheap and cyclist friendly hostal' Estrellita'. It is indeed a very nice place and is frequented by mostly cyclists and a few motor bikers. Malcolm and I are by far and away the least travelled cyclists here. The minimum length of time on the road it seems is a year. There is a fantastic opportunity for exchange of information. Actually we are the sponges not the once handing out info. Cusco is amazingly different from anything we have seen so far. After weeks of barely seeing any tourists we are suddenly inundated with them. There are high rise buildings, very posh shops and we even spotted the first MacDonalds since we have been here. There are prices to match the number of tourists but you can still find cheap places as well. We are filled with idea's of things we want to see and do. It is all very exciting!
Arriving in Cusco

23/09/2013Stage 31 Abancay Limotambo

2013-09-23 click on date formore photo's
23/09/2013Stage 31 Abancay Limotambo by malcandmarjetpatterson at Garmin Connect - Details by bus
23/09/2013 Abancay - Limotambo part 2 by malcandmarjetpatterson at Garmin Connect - Details  by bicycle

23/09/2013 Stage 31 Abancay – Limatambo
We had a very relaxing start to the day with a cup of coffee in the hotel and then a 37km bus ride to just shy of 4000 meters. Travelling with the bikes on the bus seems to be no problem at all. A lot easier than in the UK it would seem. We were met with a great deal of interest by the locals who tested the weight of every bag and bike and were suitably impressed. Then followed another long downhill to less than 1900 meters and it got gradually warmer and warmer until we crossed the bridge and an 800 meter ascent started. Once again the scenery was stunning and luckily the climb was partly in the shade which made it a little easier.

Tomorrow we will be heading for Cusco where we will be taking some time off from cycling. We want to go to Machu Pichu hopefully on a trek or if that is not possible by train. We'll see. In case you all think that cycling about in South America is one big paradise I'll just present you with a few less appealing facts!

Sometimes it gets unbearably hot. Malcolm especially finds the heat hard to deal with. When we descent below 3500 meters we get attacked by little black midges the minute we stop (or if I cycle too slow). They don't appear to sting but leave long trails of extremely itchy bumps that have to be scratched until you draw blood. We did bring a bottle of deet insect repellent but somehow it emptied itself inside Malc's bag. We bought another bottle locally but despite diligent applications the midges take no notice! Sometimes it is depressing to see the extremely poor living standards ( at least in the view of a European) children who often seem to be working in one way or another, older siblings in charge of younger ones. It all seems a very different world to back home. Because we mostly travel by bike it forces us to stop in very remote places. I would not miss the experience for the world but it does mean you eat what the locals eat and sleep as the locals do. At times that is not comfortable. Finding chicken feet in the bottom of your bowl of soup when you are hunting for a bit of meat is not nice! We can not quite work out why in a country that seems to have an abundance of wonderful vegetables you rarely get served one on a plate. Extremely grubby blankets in filthy rooms,no running water,toilets that make you run for a bush if only you could. It is all part of the picture! I don't mean this to sound depressing. As you know from the rest of the blogs we are having the most amazing time. I keep blabbing on about the scenery and today was another stunningly beautiful day and we are just so glad to have this opportunity to experience it all.

Monday, 23 September 2013

22/09/2013Stage 30 Bushcamp -Abancay

2013-09-22 click on date for more photo's

22/09/2013Stage 30 Bushcamp -Abancay by malcandmarjetpatterson at Garmin Connect - Details

22/09/2013 Stage 30 Eucalyptus bushcamp to Abancay

Marjets air mattress suddenly deflated at 2 am but fortunately it never got too cold and we both slept well [oops Marjet says she didn't sleep well at all, I did offer to share honest ]. Hopefully the included repair kit will be sufficient to get it bac in action again .
We continued the descent to Abancay (Which we saw in the distance just after lunch yesterday) on the same rough track which slowly deteriorated making progress slow and three hours later we finally reached the valley floor. We had started the day with jumpers coats and gloves but crossing the bridge at the valley floor the heat was stifling. Yesterday setting off from 2800m we managed 550m before stopping for a break easily but I begin to struggle when it gets really hot (see temperature graph on the garmin track)and was looking for a coke break every 200m up.
This was only a tiny part of the 1800 meter descent
Am I addicted to coke now ? It certainly feels like it.
During the descent we saw several posters offering 1000 (£250-)sol for the return of a Polish cyclists bike,bags and passport. He had apparently been camping in the same forest as us 2 days previously and was robbed overnight whilst he slept. We're pretty careful and use two locks and put all the bags in the tent but nonetheless it was a good reminder to be ever vigilant. We also felt pretty bad for him.

Abancay is a fairly standard town surrounded by mountains but I much prefer the views from on high and look forward to being back at 4000m once again tomorrow. Marjet seems to                                                                                            be able to cope with the altitude now which
                                                                                       makes life a lot more relaxed when high.
Yet more roadworks ,cycling on hot tar, nice.
Grateful for every paved inch though!

21/09/2013 Stage 29 Andahuaylas - Bushcamp

2013-09-21 click link to see more photo's

21/09/2013 Stage 29 Andahuaylas - Bushcamp by malcandmarjetpatterson at Garmin Connect - Details

21/09/2013 Stage 29 Andahuaylas -Bush camp in Eucalyptus Forest

I can not begin to explain how absolutely amazing it is to cycle day after day through such stunning countryside. It just makes you feel so good. That is not to say that we are in heaven all the time. There is plenty to moan about as well but you kind of forget about that when the scenery is so breathtaking. We thought we might be able to buy some food on the way up from 2700 to 4200 but unusually there was nowhere to eat so we were lucky to find some eggs and fry our own further up the mountain. It was a relatively easy climb and we stopped for lots of pictures going along the top. The three hundred meter climb in the afternoon however proved to be a lot tougher as the road surface changed to poor ripio. Without a single shop for 75 kms we were out of fluid before getting into camp and had to fill up from a fast flowing and hopefully clean stream, if boiled it should be OK.
At about 3800m the road took on an odd appearance with lots of brown mud filled potholes and further on we met some boys asking for a propita or small tip . This was repeated later on by several groups of young children who would pull a string across the road to slow you down and then ask for a propita. It then dawned on us that they were filling in the potholes and asking for a donation . Fair enough . Very entrepreneurial.

Luckily we found a lovely camp in amongst some Eucalyptus trees and managed to put the tent up just before it started to rain. 

Friday, 20 September 2013

19/09/2013 Stage 28

2013-09-20 clck on date to see photo's day off

19/09/2012 Stage 28 Ahuayno – Andahuaylas + day off

2013-09-19click on date to see more photo's

Untitled by malcandmarjetpatterson at Garmin Connect - Details Part 1 on the bike
Untitled by malcandmarjetpatterson at Garmin Connect - Details Part 2 by taxi
Untitled by malcandmarjetpatterson at Garmin Connect - Details Part 3 on the bike

Marjet trying to hide from the mozzies in her sleeping bag liner 

We ended yesterday by eating out in the road construction workers canteen where we bumped into Miguel again who had previously helped us when we were in Chumbes. This time we spent much more time chatting and discovered that he is a real goldmine of information regarding the distances ,heights and road surface types we were likely to encounter on our way to Cusco which is where he lives . Additionally he gave us great advice about what to visit whilst in Cusco .A real star We're obviously going to need more in Cusco than anticipated.
We set off from Ahuayno intending to reach Chincheros after 800 m of climbing and if feeling OK we might push on an extra 400m to Uripa . The usual breakfast of two fried eggs was found in Chincheros where the locals were very keen for us to stay and not to go to Uripa which they described as being commercial and full of thieves .Nice We pushed onto Uripa and arrived at 12.30. It has to be said that Uripa didn't have a lot going for it but the next stop would be Andahuaylas ,84 km further and with a 1000m climb .There wasn't enough time in the day to tag this on so we found the perfect compromise by paying a taxi driver £9to take us 22km 45 minutes uphill to the beginning of the plateau . There then followed a beautiful rolling plateau with llamas in abundance and a huge decent into the valley in which Andahuaylas lies .

Approaching Andahuaylas we passed several kms of road surface blocked by boulders and stones and on getting into the outskirts of town we were stopped by a friendly Spanish lady who warned us not to go into town as there was lots of broken glass and another protest with many shops closed. Having survived Quito and Huanuco we felt confident to push on and found some evidence of broken glass but nothing too concerning .
A quick search found a good hotel with wifi and it even had a Polleria [ chicken and chips shop ] next door with a supermarket on the other side. Success .

We were undecided about the next few days and decided to stay in Andahuaylas to sort out what we were going to do but on waking up late we realised we had already decided to carry on heading for Abancay which might involve a nights wild camping [ although we suspect there may be a small village with a hospedaje despite there being nothing on the map or even Google maps] .It was too late to set off by this stage so we elected for a day of sightseeing in the markets and town centre. The markets are always a big draw because they are so colourful and there is often good food to be found at bargain prices.

18/09/2013 Stage 27 Ayacucho - Ahuayno

2013-09-18 click date for more photo's

The good days just keep on coming at the moment. Just a slight hiccup at the start when Malcolm realised he left a bag at the hotel. We had decided to take the bus to avoid a five hour climb to the top at 4100 m which was followed by 40 km of slightly undulating plateau. 
with the bus gone it seemed a big lonely place
 Unfortunately it took us nearly 20 km to persuade the bus driver to let us out. I don't think he could understand why we might want to get off the bus. After the bus drove away and we were stood there with our bags and bikes I understood why, it suddenly seemed a very lonely place. There was just miles and miles of nothing unless of course you count the vicunas ( the high altitude cousin of the lama) I don't know if I have got used to the altitude or if it was due to the acetazolamide but I felt ok. Just shortness of breath l. It was beautiful undulating riding and soon we started an incredible descent.
More than 2200m of downhill without a pedal stroke on mostly excellent road surface with very sporadic traffic. The gradient was perfect, very little braking even for a down hill chicken like me. And most importantly the scenery was yet again breath taking. We had intended to stop in Chumbes but is was only just gone 2 pm and we were lucky enough to find a very knowledgeable man who could tell us exactly how far it would be to the next village. The maps we have of rural Peru can be fairly useless. Sometimes towns go by a different name than the one on the map which can cause confusion or very small villages are mentioned on the map yet bigger ones are missed off all together. When we ask locals for directions they very often have no idea beyond the very next village.
We eventually descended to the valley floor and crossed the Rio Pampas and followed the river upstream to Ahuayno where we eventually found a nice hotel and were greeted by by three locals offering us beer, who could refuse.

The price for the huge descent will have to be paid for but it was brilliant.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

16/09/13 Stage 26 Huanta -Ayacuho

2013-09-16 click date for more photo's
16/09/13 Stage 26 Huanta Ayacuho by malcandmarjetpatterson at Garmin Connect - Details

2013-09-17 click date for more photo's

16/09/13 Stage 26 Huanta to Ayacucho and day off

The first 8 kms from Huanta were unpaved and the oncoming traffic appeared to rather oddly be coming through in spurts , nothing for 15 minutes and then solid traffic for a few minutes .
Further on we found the explanation as the road was being closed for 20 minutes at a time to allow the earth movers and rollers to do there work. There is something very satisfying about passing a long queue of traffic, getting to the front and being told that you and not the others could go through. Having to time your run to get past the large machinery was exciting but all the workmen appeared welcoming and encouraging .
As on so many occasions before, any chance to make a profit was pounced upon and even the traffic queues in the middle of the countryside were accompanied by yet more street vendors .We were only prevented from going straight through the roadblocks on one occasion by a policeman who just wanted a chat really and once we'd concluded he changed his mind and allowed us through .
Having done more than necessary yesterday we had a relatively easy day getting into Ayacucho and were settled in our hotel by 12.30 after a 8.30 start . Just as well as the afternoon weather changed and we had a downpour that would have been unpleasant to cycle in .
The next few days were going to be hard if we followed the route all the way and we decided to have a day off to sort out alternatives .
The following day we wandered around the town and its market and found a bus company who would allow us to take a coach to the top of the mountain and take our bikes off at the top in the middle of nowhere . We had some difficulty in explaining this , mainly I suspect as they couldn't understand why we would want to get out into the cold at 4200m with nothing in the surrounding area .
Having tried the coca leaves Marjet seems to have taken a bit of a shine to drug usage and we eventually found a Farmacia where they sold us some acetazolomide for her across the counter [ normally prescription only in the UK ]. Hopefully no more altitude sickness tomorrow.

Another cyclist described the problem with altitude is as if you are breathing through a straw and that is a very apt description if you ask me (Marjet)

15/09/2013 Stage 25 Quichuas - Huanta by malcandmarjetpatterson at Garmin Connect - Details

15/09/2013 Stage 25 Quichuas - Huanta by malcandmarjetpatterson at Garmin Connect - Details

15/09/2013 Stage 25 Quichuas – Huanta
Political slogans painted on walls and houses are very common.
We joined the village party for a while last night and sampled the food from the stall.
Didn't have the nerve to cycle this bit. 
Hmmm The dogs did quite well out of that. Over time we have noticed that the Peruvians on the whole show great tolerance to the 'village idiot or drunk' and they nearly always give something to beggars and it was no different in Quichuas. Sadly the loudspeakers were of a rather good quality and the music kept me awake until 2 pm. There was no running water in the hostal so it didn't take us long to be on our way in the morning.

We continued following the same river as we did the day before and it was just as beautiful. It was truly lovely cycling. We found ourselves in Mayoc the place where we had intended to spend the night by 2.00 pm. It was still way to hot to put up a tent, the local hostal looked even less appealing and when stood still we were eaten alive by sand flies so we decided to push on to Huanta. It was a tough call as we knew we might not get to Huanta and would then have to find somewhere to camp but on the other hand Huanta would have the comfort of a proper hotel. We knew that it was going to be off road and about 30 km and we decided to push on. The locals all told us it would be 'plano' ( flat) so it shouldn't be too difficult to achieve. Well, I suppose to a Peruvian a height gain of 460 meters (actual meters climbed 660) is flat. When you are surrounded by mountains of more than 6000 meters it is not worth mentioning. To me, who was expecting a flat ride it was quite a shock and when the final bit proved to be exceptionally steep Malcolm got his head bitten off when he was trying to help me [she'll pay for it ]. To be fair the off-road surface was very reasonable and the gradient overall not too bad. It was also very beautiful in the late afternoon sunshine. It was nearly 6.00 pm when we found a hostal and we had been on the road since 7.40 so a long day all in all. There was no electricity until about 8.00 pm in the whole town because of maintenance works but that didn't stop anything. All the restaurants had candles on the tables and managed quite well so I guess it is not an unusual event. Another beautiful day riding.

2013-09-15 click on date to see more pictures

Monday, 16 September 2013

14/11/2013 Stage 24 Huancayo - Quichuas by malcandmarjetpatterson at Garmin Connect - Details

2013-09-14 click on date to see more photo's!

14/11/2013 Stage 24 Huancayo - Quichuas by malcandmarjetpatterson at Garmin Connect - Details

14/09/2013 Stage Huancayo – Quichuas
I think today was my happiest day cycling so far. Everything was right about it. With the help of the open street maps (free maps for cyclists available for just about any where in the world) on Malc's phone we quickly left Huancayo behind. The road and hard shoulder were in excellent condition and there wasn't much traffic anyway.The overall ascent today was less then 1100 meters and the first climb took us up to 3900 but the gradient was easy and it was a lovely ride up followed by a fantastic 30 km descent. Lots of friendly shouts of encouragement from people who saw us going by until we were more or less ambushed by a party of men .When we asked , they said it was a fiesta which occurred every Saturday and from what we could see it consisted of drinking spirits , beer and chewing coca leaves We were not allowed to leave until we drank the measure of spirit that they offered us along with a large mug of 'god knows what' , but it wasn't tea and looked remarkably similar to the colour of the coca leaves. 

 Then came the leaves and we were given instructions not to chew them but to keep them in our cheeks. We both ended up with handfuls of them! In the meantime there were speeches and fire works and eventually we left them with a handful of sweets and managed to escape. Speedily ! Very friendly people .

I never did find out why there were no women present. Malc and I have both noticed that you don't see a lot of people smoking. It has just dawned on us that the cacao leaves are the substitute! After leaving the party we decided it would be prudent to stop for some lunch before we tackled the final 40km or so of today’s 105km ride. We were very relieved to find that against expectations the road was tarmacked all the way. It followed the river downstream but with some sharp rises into the mountain at times. Glorious riding, not too hard never the same for very long and again some fantastic views. Not as awe inspiring perhaps as the Corderilla Blanca but none the less a real delight. We ended up in a small village called Quichuas. Every village no matter how small or poor seems to have a square where everybody congregates. When we went out to find some beers we realised that the village is preparing for the Saturday night festivities. Some massive speakers were brought outside blasting music. And no it isn't the kind of music I keep on my Ipod but hey ho when in Rome! We might have to join the gathering shortly this time protected by long sleeves and mosquito spray. There appeared to be a lot flying beasties about and my legs still haven't recovered from the last onslaught. 

Saturday, 14 September 2013

13/09/2013 Huancayo

September 14, 2013
Another day of lazing about. This morning we ventured out to watch a parade commemorating 70 years of the district. The only interesting thing about it was the military style marching by all who took part. We were veryrelieved this afternoon to be be in a hotel room because a big thunderstorm and torrential down pour broke out.The first time we have had bad weather since the start. Hope it will all have cleared by the morning because I'm looking forward to getting on my bike. Apologies if I keep sending you lots of duplicates. We are still learning how to use the website and are none too quick about it!

Friday, 13 September 2013

12/09/2013 Huanuco - Cerro de Pasco - La Oroya- Huancayo ( by bus)

2013-09-12 Click on  this date link to see more photo's 
12/09/2013 Huanuco – Cerro dePasco – La Oryla -Huancayo (by bus)
 We woke up to all of a sudden very busy streets in Huanuco. The strike, road blocks and demonstrations had finished and and the moto taxies were buzzing around like crazy. We decided to travel by bus to Cerro de Pasco partly to make up for lost time but mainly because we didn't fancy the 2400 meter solid climb. It would have taken us every minute of daylight to cycle it. So we just cycled out to the outskirts and found the right bus. Being able to speak some Spanish did                                                                                   help! 
Within 15 minutes of arriving our bikes were loaded on top of the bus along with sheaf's of corn, sacks of maize and all sorts off outside luggage. Our panniers went into the hold of the bus without problems. We had intended to take all of our valuables on the bus with us in a ruck sack but it all happened so quickly we forgot. To our surprise all passengers on the bus ad to give their name and identification number even children but when it came to our turn we couldn't provide a passport number because it was in the hold. Luckily this was accepted. The bus left when it was full. Many seats carried an adult plus child but we continued to pick up more passengers along the way who filled the aisled. It was not a bad journey though .The seats were quite comfortable and the three and a half our journey passed quite quickly. Cerro de Pasco turned out to be a big mining town and like most mining towns it wasn't the prettiest of places. Many houses didn't have windows and it looked a very bleak and depressing place. ( apart from an astro turf football stadium with all the trimmings) On arrival at the bus station we spotted a bus ready for departure to Huancayo , we didn't hesitate for long. We knew from reading blogs that we weren't going to miss out on any fantastic scenery or riding so we quickly purchased some tickets for the next leg of the journey. This time our bikes and bags had there own private compartment underneath the bus. We needn't have bothered buying supplies at the bus station because at every stop people came on board selling food and drink. We were entertained by people giving speeches, singing or giving sales pitches and the journey passed quickly. We are now in Huancayo a huge city with a very modern centre with everything on sale you would expect to find in a city in the UK. The contrasts in this amazing country are quite hard to grasps. Both in terms of the country side which ranges from the absolute awesome to a dump and the stark difference in living standards. Not just between different towns but also between people living almost next to each other.
The next few days promise to be very tough but beautiful riding so we will take our time and see how we get on

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

09/09/2013 - 11/09/2013 and more days off in Huanuco
Well. Here we are more  rest days. None of it planned but there is a strike going on and the roads are blocked. Stones and demonstrations and burning tyres and broken bottles in the road. We could maybe get through but have decided to go with the flow and just relax. It actually feels really good. After a month on the road we realise there is more than cycling and we don't have to cycle every inch of the way in order to get a taste of South America. In fact we have realised that four and a half months is not nearly long enough and that we want to be able to spend some of our time trekking and exploring as well as cycling. It feels strangely good to just hang out. This break has been forced upon us but we hope to have more! We were very lucky that we got stranded in a place with a clean hotel and lots of good restaurants and a (relatively) big supermarket with lots of goodies. Sometimes when on the road the food is abysmal and you really just shovel it down because you need the calories but here in the big town we are making up!

Guinea pig speciality!
We obviously eat the local food but have not knowingly chosen guinea pig of the menu! My favourite is still Ceviche. Once we saw some one dressed up in a guinea-pig suit to attract customers to the restaurant but I promise we gave that one a miss 

08/09/2013 Stage 23 Tingo Chico- Huanuco

08/09/2013 Stage 23 Tingo Chico- Huanuco by malcandmarjetpatterson at Garmin Connect - Details

08/09/2013 Stage 23 Tingo Chico- Huanuco
We didn't dare to stop on the steep drops1
After a not very peaceful night sleep with lots of noise and fear of creepy crawlies we got off to an early start getting up at 6.30. I was very grateful I had my sleeping bag liner which I could pull completely over my head to fend of insects. We decided that on balance it would be better to sleep in a tent that is pitched at an angle rather than such a noisy filthy hostal. But I expect we will see some more because some times it is very difficult to find a spot to pitch a tent. Even a free standing one like ours.
It was another beautiful ride peaking eventually with a very distinctive rock formation , the "Inca Crown"
.Just past the very to the locals were playing a very serious game of football with a large crowd . The pitch couldn't be rectangular , was on a slope and had ramshackle posts made from branches and I wondered how many balls disappeared down the hill .
 Very different and a more benign landscape followed. Even though the road wasn't! Time and again there were sheer drops and it would be certain death if you fell. What with oncoming traffic on the wrong side of the road and sometimes very sudden bad road surface it was quite hair raising.  At one particular stretch there was a warning sign which we hadn't seen before " Zona Abismo " , the road at this point was just wide enough for a car and the edge ended abruptly and bits had crumbled into the abyss hundreds of  feet below . You know your not going to fall off but fear makes you hug the wall and then you're on the wrong side of the road .
As is often the case you're either going up or down and the descent continued for 60 kms to Huanuco where once again the road broadened and had a welcome hard shoulder .

As we descended down to 2000 meters the mountainsides became much
greener again.