Monday 28 May 2018

Day 53 23rd May 2018 A Low Point but not in My Soaring Spirits

May 23rd, 2018

Sunny and very hot. Little cloud. Windless. Cold descent as Sun is behind mountains.

It is cold when I wake up at 5:30 a.m. There is no cloud as the light of dawn grows brighter and not a breath of wind. Thick condensation on the windows. How different to the last week. Back to the mountain climate once more.
The usual heralds for a new day, dogs, are announcing it's arrival. Looking at a map of the route, which follows the 3S road all the way to Abancayo, I can see that today will be more of a plunge into this deep, steep-sided valley. Tomorrow, well that's another story and will involve two to three days of pushing the bike up the 6,000 feet ascent. I will try not to think about that. Hey, come on, be positive Gary! You did just that on a dirt track a month ago. Yes, I did, didn't I? Barba Blanco to Huanza Similar height difference, similar distance and this time I will be doing it on a smooth tarmac surface. OK, point taken.

I take a look at my feet and decide that some alteration is required to the boots. My left big toe has blood and lymph coming from underneath the nail and is painful. The front toe area of the shoe is going to have to come off. I have seen fast bowlers such as Flintoff and Broad do this. There is a large blister on a smaller toe. Memories of my daughter, Rebecca's wonderful blister on the little toe when we travelled around Italy together in 2005. She named him and I have a photograph of it with a small blue butterfly sitting upon it whilst we waited for the sensational Palio event in Sienna one extremely hot day. Nothing I can do about this one. I'll leave it be. The right big toe has a cut across the knuckle joint and here I cut the leather of the shoe to allow it to give more room to this area. Alterations made, time to pack and get ready to move on.

Mariabella and children are on the steps as I come out. Adios to them all, I am off down their dirt track road to the nearest shop where I buy two large bottles of orange juice. Everyone in the shop wants to know about my companions so I tell them.

Downhill for around ten miles as the road meanders amongst fields and trees. The larger trees have cloud forest moss dangling down from every branch and twig. The first straight road for many mile still has a steep angle of descent but has a small pueblo along it. As always everyone waves or says Buenos Dias, Hola!

Through another small pueblo, the road curves and descends down to a large river plain. The stones and gravel are a pale grey and there is a large bridge over the fast flowing waters. Two Great Egrets fly over me as I cross it. The road now follows the river course but goes up and down causing me to push more than cycle. 

After about five miles and after having refused the offer of a hostel in one village, the road leaves the river and starts to climb. A steep road takes me past avocado orchards, fenced off with padlocked gates. By now it is 11:00 a.m. And it is very hot and sunny. No breeze like yesterday to keep me cool. I can feel my upper arms start to get sunburnt.

I stop to cut the shoe leather some more. Both big toes are very painful and I don't dare take my socks off to have a look at the damage. Shoes back on, I carry on. 

Birds are scarce in the heat. Scrub Blackbirds are back, as are a couple of Black-backed Grosbeaks. A flock of parakeets fly over, around twenty of them, Mitred. The usual butterflies are to be seen as I push hard up the hill. A dead tarantula species shows me what could be found in the roadside scrub. Watching the cliffs and roadsides I spot a large cat, about lynx size making it's way across a well vegetated cliff. It only allows me a few seconds to watch before it disappears into the undergrowth. Now what sort of cat was that?

The road passes parts where there has been substantial landslip and debris covers an area of road on numerous occasions. My feelings tend to be a tad nervous when I am pushing past such areas of high erosion and I imagine an earthquake occurring and burying me. It's one of those hard days when I struggle to stay as positive as usual. They happen every so often. I am human and must fight step after step. Maybe I should have had a rest day at that hostel a few miles back.

The kilometre posts number my progress, coming in twos. It is really useful to have these black and white posts, either every kilometre or every two. They have 3S on the top of each one yet the S is laterally inverted, as if it is seen in a mirror. At least I know I am on the right road and I like to know how much distance I have travelled and how far to the next destination I have to go.
Speaking of the next village. I pass the hundred and fifty kilometre mark since leaving Ayacucho and wonder where the village marked on my list has got to. Chincheros should have been here by now according to my figures but it isn't. The road seems interminable with it's dog leg turns and steep angled ascent.
After stopping for some lunch, banana sandwiches again, some dried corn and juice, I continue for another mile or so when I come across a grassy bank that looks to lead up to a small grassy field. It does and is a perfect place for to camp. It is 2:30 p.m. and the heat is oppressive and debilitating. I decide that as the bushes to the side of the long, green grass is creating some shade, I will camp up and give my feet some rest, as well as myself. This perfect spot cannot be seen from the road. Cicadas serenade my afternoon siesta.
Looking at a Mapometer map, showing my route between Huancayo and Ollantaytambo, I note that I am half way. The route shows 500 miles and I have just past the 250 mile mark. There, that's a reason to be cheerful. All done in thirteen days. If I can do the next half of the route then I will arrive at Ollantaytambo around the sixth of June, a very important date in my life. It was on that day, back in 1994, that I met my wonderful, so beautiful, green eyed late wife, Karen.

Green Year list : 196 birds average new birds to list per day : 3.70 birds

Distance walked, pushed and cycled : 28.37 miles

elevation : up 4,328 feet, down 5,422 feet

altitude : 8,153 feet Low point of the day when crossing river . . . 6,404 feet. I haven't been this low for over a month!

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