Monday 28 May 2018

Day 40 On the Road again . . . Push and Plunge to Acostambo

May 10th, 2018

Hot, sunny, a little cloud and almost no wind

Awake at 5:30 a.m. I am packed and ready for the off, ready for the long uphill struggle to Acostambo. Norma is up at seven and presents me with dinner! Breakfast today consists of a huge plate of chips drizzled over with some sort of chicken and pepper stew. It is delicious. Luis had told Norma to feed the 'boy' up before he leaves in the morning so this plate full was never going to be enough in Norma's eyes. A large mug of porridge arrives next and a cup of coffee, some fruit and a bowl of bread. Finally a blue paper bag arrives within which are two egg baps and two oranges.
Leaving at 8:30 a.m. I am soon on the main transit road amongst the morning traffic. It doesn't seem to take long to cross the city, despite the numerous public transport minibuses, from which passengers alight in front of me or people dash in front of me to mount.
Soon I am in the outskirts of the city, an area called Chilca where I find the road out of the city south. After a change of heart over whether I am actually on the correct road and after having pushed the bike up a steep hill on a dirt track to get to what I feel is the right road, I find a beautifully tarmacked road and cycle for a few miles. Just after a police checkpoint, which I pass unchecked but waved through, the ascent begins. Now the map found the previous evening showed that today's route is practically all uphill and so the day's long push begins. The valley floor with it's patchwork of crops drops away and I am reminded of the road north of Lerwick on Shetland, North Scotland. The heat, the cacti, the Incan farmers and an American Kestrel persuade me that I am pushing my bike up a steep road in Peru. The whole way up has the sound of countless Rufous-collared Sparrows singing. I say singing, their song is more a few scratchy notes followed by a brief rattle.
Through warm brown, mudbrick villages I search on their garishly painted front walls for family and football related names. I feel happy to find Angel, my daughter Rebecca and Vila, my football team even if misspelt. Dogs, the bane of my Peruvian travels, soon notice me and three start an attack as I push by. This angers me and I scream at them. They retreat. Have I found a new tactic for dealing with those dogs of vicious intent? No, almost the next dog is a ferocious beast with evil in his eyes and I am lucky that I have found a flat section of road on which to peddle like the clappers away from him.
The long climb continues and hours pass. The scenery changes as the crops on the hill's slopes and in the valleys change to being surrounded by embankments of loose stones. I imagine that over the decades countless farm workers have picked up stones in their fields and deposited them around the outside to demarcate the field and allow easier ploughing. One field has eleven people bent double picking up potatoes and putting them into large red sacks. This field is unusual though for it is the first field where I have seen a tractor being used. A twelfth person seems to be an Incan dressed, wide black-skirted lady who seems to be instructing and watching the others for slackers. Five dogs with this crowd start to run towards me but stop before reaching me, luckily. I couldn't cope with five.
A section of road goes through a place where the valley narrows and Eucalyptus Trees grow high. Some roadside crash barriers need repairing but not afternoon. I meet three workers, all wearing florescent hi-vis jackets, who are resting beneath a tree. They ask the usual questions of 'where are you from? Where are you going?' The next group of three workers are all fast asleep beneath a bush. Siesta!
By now it is just past three in the afternoon and I feel well jiggered. I look for a camping place despite Norma and Luis' instance that I don't camp. Down below me along an old Incan route I see a quadrangle of trees and flowering bushes behind which I imagine I could camp unseen. As I contemplate my own afternoon siesta within my hidden tent, an old Inca shepherdess with around a hundred greyish sheep and two sheep dogs comes along the old route and sits down just by my sanctuary. I continue along the road.
About an hour later I pass through a toll gate. I don't have to pay of course but all other vehicles do. The three attendants like my companions and laugh at their names. I have changed Albert the Albatross to Alberto, Tigger to Tigro and Oscar to, well Oscar is Oscar.
About a mile or so later the summit is reached and surprisingly to me the next five miles is a wonderful downhill plunge through beautiful limestone capped scenery. I pass through two beautiful villages and finally reach my aimed for destination, Acostambo. Finding a shop I ask whether there is a hostel and I am soon in a small, very basic bedroom adjacent to an enclosed courtyard for the grand price of fifteen Soles, around £3.40.

Green Year list : 185 birds average new birds to list per day : 5.94 birds

Distance walked : 28.37 miles

elevation : up 2,883 feet, down 1,832 feet

altitude : 11,818 feet

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