Monday 28 May 2018

Day 32 Moving on. A Day Heading East

May 2nd, 2018

Hot and sunny

The tent is icy in the morning and I am grateful that I haven't camped on top of any cow pats. There are plenty around me and as I pitched the tent in the dark it would have been easy to hit one. A local farmer comes over and chats for a while before asking me to take his photograph. He does a strange pose and then walks off after instructing me to close the barbed wire gate on my way off his field.
I stop in the village to buy some drink and food. Yogurt, juice and a strange sort of thick set blancmange that is delicious make my breakfast, which I eat whilst sitting on a stanchion by a large steel girder bridge over a fast flowing river. A young bull is stuck with it's head caught in some square meshed fencing. There is no way that I am going anywhere near it, especially after last week's close encounter with his Dad! Leaving it to it's fate I am glad to see that it has managed to get free when I am about a mile away.
The road is dusty and dry and steep as it goes higher and higher. The rock formations to my left, a cliff of a soft, eroded conglomerate reminds me of Meteora in Greece. There the rock has made very tall stacks upon the top of many are monasteries. These used to be only accessible by being brought up in a basket tied to a very long rope but nowadays, as they want the tourist trade, there are steep pathways and steps. My daughter, Rebecca and I visited some of them back in 2011. Inside the churches there are fabulous frescoes depicting the death of saints, strange motivated men who wanted to be killed in order to show their love of God. Imagine a way of being killed and it is probably depicted there. Boiled alive? No problem. Chopped into tiny pieces from the feet up? It's there. Arrows in the chest, 180! Of course it's there. 101 ways of killing a man, all depicted graphically and colourfully.
Andean Tinamous walk across the road in front of me. Andean Flickers sit on rocks and watch me carefully as I pass. One group of them numbers eight, the largest flock of a woodpecker species I have ever seen. I do remember seeing five Green Woodpeckers on one dead gorse bush near Lyndhurst, New Forest many years ago when I was hitch-hiking and walking in the area when I was twenty two years old. Strange how bird memories stick with you.
A fossil of an ammonite beside the road grabs my attention. I am over 10,000 feet above sea level and this died deep beneath an ocean hundreds of millions of years ago. I muse about how if the land rose a centimetre a year then it would be higher than Everest within a million years.
On reaching the highest point of the road the views are stupendous. From here I can see for miles and miles. I can see massive snow-capped mountains in all directions and an uncountable number of mountain peaks. A motorcyclist passes and on the back is a dead sheep.
Descending once more I reach a small village. Asking whether they have a hostel, I am invited to join a small group of villages for a meal of potatoes, corn and a lump of some sort of gristly meat. With hot herbal tea as well I sit and chat with the various village members; two young men, three old and almost toothless women and an old man who speaks some English. He tells me that he lived in the US many years ago, in Ohio. The offer of money for the food is refused and I say goodbye to the group. There is no hostel and after a few miles of pushing the bike uphill once more, I find a flat area of grass that is too perfect for camping to refuse. Once more it is dark by the time I have erected my tent.

Green Year list : 184 birds average new birds to list per day : 5.75 birds

Distance walked, pushed and cycled : 16.14 miles

elevation : up 1,511 feet, down 1,172 feet

altitude : 14,500 feet

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