Thursday 19 April 2018

On The Road Again . . .

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April 16th, 2018

On the road at last

Hot, 28 Celsius, sunny with very little wind, if any

So the time has come to leave Lima, to leave my friends and start the lonely trek. The bike is packed. I would say it is packed. It has seventeen cuddly toys, The Lads & Lasses on it! Everything I think I will need is packed into the four panniers and the back rack holder. On top of this latter item there is a sleeping bag, a tent and an inflatable mattress. The front box mounted on the handlebars has tools and talcum powder for my poor feet.
The stitches from the nasty tooth extraction have been removed this morning and there is no excuse to delay other than procrastination. It is incredibly hot and the thought of Lima's traffic and unknown roads does tend to have one searching for any excuse not to start pedalling.
Staff from Mani and Katia's office come out to take photographs of the Mad Englishman, about to set off in the midday sun. Smiles, handshakes and the opening hatch, as of Avatar's craft arrival or Saving Private Ryan's landing craft opening, and I am on the bike cycling along quiet, tree-lined roads.

Five miles later, after crossing major highways by pulling the too heavily laden bike up stairways to access bridges, the dual carriageway that is the planned route stops being just that and the next three miles has me negotiating packed streets and road works. Mamma Abuela, Manuel's wonderful Mother, had told me to be careful in this area of Lima. “Cycle through it and don't stop”, she had had said looking extremely worried. Now here I was with no road to cycle along, just a long slog of crowded streets.

I give the first cuddly toy away to a small boy who looks bemused but whose Mother gives such a delighted face at the gift that I understand exactly why I love to do such things. Goodbye Sam the dog, a rucksack, now with a better owner than someone who would have him suffering the heat from  on front of a bicycle.

The road, once it becomes free of the extensive roadworks, is straight and very busy. Almost constant car horns blast as cars, buses and large lorries all head the same way as me. The road is constantly but steadily uphill, a slight incline means that my calves receive the exercise they have lacked recently.

I stop at a hostel late afternoon, Sunset Hostel, which has a poster saying rooms are 20, 25 or 30 Soles; about £7.50 for the most expensive room. I take one after the bike is stowed away in the family owner's kitchen and find a basic room with en-suite shower and seat-less toilet. A large double bed is overlooked by a large flatscreen TV, a fan that works and a large mirror. Something tells me that the clientele of this particular establishment have things other than sleep on their minds! 

An advert for sex TV channels attached to the Wifi code for the hostel seems to confirm suspicions.

12.72 miles 1,055 feet ascent 39 feet descent Actual elevation 1,351 feet

17th April, 2018

Very hot, cloudless and windless

Up and out early, the cycle to the next town, the first place where I will be stopping to bird the area, Chaclacayo, seems to pass by extremely quickly. 

A stop at a service station for coffee helps break up the nine mile uphill trek in the early morning heat. How come sweat pours out of one once inside a air-conditioned environment. Rose, the lady behind the counter, is amused at the bike's occupants and makes a superb creamy cup of coffee and presents it in a large paper cup and all for less than an English pound. No plastic tops to waste here. Horrific to see Starbucks in the news for having two black men arrested for doing nothing in Philadelphia, USA.

I find a hostel in Chaclacayo, one that is twice as expensive than last night's salacious abode coming in at sixty five Soles. I book for two nights and wheel the bike into my beautiful double room. Same arrangement as last night's room but better quality and there is a toilet seat. This has a banner on it saying 'disinfected.' It'll doo!

Still earlyish, mid-morning in fact, I head off to explore the hills to the north. I notice that a zig-zag road ascends the dry, dusty, stony hills and decide that that is where I will go. I don't know why but whenever I see hills I have the urge to climb them. I cross a large, noisy river and find some waste ground beside the road that has a few butterflies on scrubby flowers and a family of six Groove-billed Anis. Two dogs make me feel unwelcome and dust kicked in their direction tells them that bare teeth aren't welcome either.

Through a steep-sided village and along the dirt track road, I ascend the hill and see exactly no birds other than the occasional feral pigeon and Black Vulture. A couple of small lizards are on the rocks and the road has no vegetation, no grass, no flowers just stunted and dry pine trees and ubiquitous Eucalyptus.
The views of the valley are long and smoggy and the road eventually is barred by a large barb-wire topped gate with Privado signs. Beyond is a pipeline leading into a hydro electric power station far below.

I walk down again after sitting and contemplating and stop at a dirty water tank which has some flowers and vegetation. Butterflies, dragonflies and a couple Southern Beardless Tyrannulets are here and a small lizard hunting along a bushes twigs. A bird new for the Green year list, a Collared Warbling Finch is in a small tree.

Through the village again and down to the river. Across a footbridge and back to the hostel.

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