Monday 28 May 2018

Day 43 A Ride to Quichuas

May 13th, 2018

Hot and sunny, no cloud and very hot

Packed and ready for the day, I have twenty or so miles to cycle to the next destination, a village called Quichuas further down river towards Ayacucho. The internet site I use for maps, mapometer, keeps telling me, as I plot my route, that the road doesn't go all the way to Quichuas and that I have to go over the mountains and many a mile to get there. That just can't be the case as I can see the road does exist when I look at the satellite image on Google maps. I wonder why? Maybe there is a large ford just as there was just over a week ago when no cyclist could get across. Mind you mapometer told me that that was crossable and it wasn't. Oh well, no matter, I will just risk it and see what happens.
The hotel owner wants photographs of me with the bike for some reason and after the usual self-conscious pose I bid adios and go to the village plaza. My favourite bread roll lady is already out selling here wares and so I buy four and a tin of tuna.
Over the bridge I turn right and I am off downhill. The road is mostly downhill but progress is slow because of having to meander through the myriad of potholes. The views are stupendous and the road follows the course of the raging river. Occasionally it goes uphill for a while but not for long. Three young boys are walking down the road, one carrying a large bundle of some sort of green plant. I stop and say hello and give them all of the fruit in my rucksack. They look as though they have a long way to go and will need it.
I reach a village where the tarmac is totally decimated and push the bike along the village's main street. There is a large, modern concrete and glass municipal building and a series of concrete pools empty of water built into a small cliff by it's side. When working the resultant cascades must be quite attractive but not today. The village has a large and colourful statue of a hummingbird feeding from a flower and a gold statue that reminds me of George and the Dragon. The houses look Spanish and at the far end of the village a large bridge takes me over the river. Just as I reach the end of the bridge I am passed by a motortaxi, the motorbike sort with a cabin and a trailer. Riding inside the trailer is a woman who waves and the three boys I gave the fruit to. Mum has picked them up. I wave back and laugh.
The potholes are relentless but I am enjoying the ride. I stop occasionally to photograph the hills and wonder how on earth the people can cultivate crops on some of the steepest slopes. Even near the summit of some of the hills there are squares of crops. Incredible and all done without recourse to machinery.
The valley opens out a little and avocado orchards appear. Small, waxy-leaved trees with bidding avocados on them, fascinating to see where they come from. After another village there is a more prolonged uphill section which ends with a tunnel. After another half a mile there is another tunnel. Maybe they are the reason why mapometer thought that the road was impassable. The river here has slowed and is a green colour. There must be a dam ahead. Two miles later I come across it and sit looking down towards it and have some lunch.
After lunch and having counted how many kilometres I have cycled, 40, I come across Quichuas. Brilliant. I had forgotten to see how far it was from Izcuchaca and am pleased in the heat to have reached it. There is a large crowd of people sitting around a football pitch and one team is warming up. I find a spot on the concrete bench that goes the whole way along the top end of the pitch and meet Juan and Fernando. Fernando supports the team in orange tops, Juan the team in blue. The match begins. The standard is quite good and I can see that the blue team has the slightly better quality. Mind you the orange team have an excellent player up front, aggressive and skilful. The blue team are playing towards us in the first half and score half way through it. The crowd to the left go bananas! Moments later the left winger in blue goes into the penalty area and does a spectacular dive. “Ronaldo!” I shout. The referee dismisses penalty claims.
Into the second half, after half time ice cream for the lads, the orange team's striker takes the ball from the right, goes past three or four defenders and bangs the ball in from a tight angle. What a fabulous goal! 1 – 1.
The second half seems interminable in the heat and after the blue team hit the bar and in the last minutes score from a free kick, I am glad to hear the final whistle. It has been a good game but sitting in the hot sun makes me want to move, I never was any good at sunbathing.
Down into the village itself there are three hostels and a hotel to choose from. The hotel has a Wifi logo on their sign but on accepting a comfortable room I am told there is no internet in the village. No problem, this is what I expected. I leave the bike in a storeroom, my other things in my room and head off downhill to look for birds in the mid-afternoon heat. Finding only a few Spot-winged pigeons and a fair number of hummingbirds; Sparkling Violetears, White-bellied and Giant, I return to the village. I am stopped by a young woman at the door of a small house. Answering the usual questions she tells a young boy with her to go inside and fetch something. He comes out with a plastic bag of beetroot and potatoes. For your meal she tells me and refuses the money I offer for it. Kindness to a stranger.

Green Year list : 191 birds average new birds to list per day : 4.44 birds

Distance walked : 22.80 miles

elevation : up 4,075 feet, down 4,917 feet

altitude : 8,842 feet

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