Monday 28 May 2018

Day 45 To Mayocc . . . and The Villa!

May 15th, 2018

VERY hot and sunny, no cloud. Sweltering!

Out by seven thirty, I walk the bike through the village and watch as teachers and green uniformed track suited children make their way to school. The siren sounds and late children run to get there. Soon after a short downhill section of thinly tarmacked, potholed road and having gone around a bend, the village is behind me. Ahead is a day of more slow cycling and even slower pushing as the road once more follows the river and ascends where sections of major erosion is taking place.
After a couple of miles the road climbs via a double u-bend and on one bend there are a group of people selling avocados, oranges, something small and green that look like plum tomato shaped avocados and bags of what look like miniature cooked crab apples. I buy half a dozen of the strangely shaped miniature avocados and a bag of the apples. Try anything once. The family all love the characters on the bike and are as friendly as I have found Peruvian people to be.
A few miles further I stop by a house with three generations of a family outside the doorway. I stop because I have heard a parrot. I look all around, much to the amusement of the family members, Grandmother - Victoria, Mother - Arabella, Daughter - Joanna and brother, Daniel, but cannot see the bird. Then I spot him on the balcony chewing away at some corn that is spread out up there to dry. A Scarlet-faced Parakeet looks down at me and looks so small when so close. Daniel loves the bike and the women love my companions. I explain that they are for some children who live in the Manu National Park and name Gloria, Mariella, Diego and Junior as recipients. Arabella suggests a photograph and Joanna gets out an Iphone. Daniel climbs onto my saddle.
Another encounter with a family occurs when a motorbike stops as I am pushing the bike up a steep incline. Mum, Dad and sandwiched between the two on the bike, a toddler daughter, ask me to give the small one one of the toys. I go into overdrive about how they are for some children in The Manu and give them some money instead. How I wish I could give every child a toy! I wonder if I could ask people to do as I have done when I return to Britain. It would be quite simple. Buy cuddly toys from charity shops in one's town. Pack for a holiday. Weigh your luggage and take the weight up to the maximum allowed by your flight airline. Give the toys away on meeting a family. Simple.
In the past I have taken the usual pens, pencils, arts and crafts materials, colouring books, including the incredible ones that you can get nowadays but how much better I feel to give a large cuddly toy. I know my own children placed great store in their chosen cuddly toy. My daughter Rebecca had a large Bambi from Disneyland Paris. My youngest step daughter would never go to bed when young without her rather tatty, small grey seal. Sarah would cling to it as she went to sleep. Take a cuddly on your next holiday and give it away.
I stop at a roadside restaurant for breakfast which is taken on a back terrace surrounded by orange and mango trees. The friendly proprietor, who tells me on asking that his name is Doctor Hermano Juan . . . . a list of names speedily spoken and undecipherable by me, takes my order and a plate piled high with chips, rice and a stew containing peppers, green beans and small bits of some sort of meat arrives with a large cup of black coffee and a tin of condensed milk. Perfect. Whilst I am eating there is a strange chirping in a nearby bush and out comes a Squirrel Monkey! It is a family pet and free to roam around the orchard.
Small birds are at a premium as I proceed along the road. There just aren't any, not even Rufous-collared Sparrows. There are a fair number of Scrub Blackbirds, their calls and whistles accompany me most of the way but of the small passerines, well a couple of Black Phoebes by the river, a Bright-rumped Yellow Finch on a cliff and a *********** in some bushes close to a couple of Black-backed Grosbeaks. A few American Kestrels I see too but what there are lots of now is parakeets. Every so often I hear groups chattering away and stop to try to see them in the dense foliage of avocado or mango trees. It isn't easy. It is amazing how the green of the leaves hides the green of the parakeets. After yesterday;s abysmal photographs of flying parakeets, I am pleased to get some today that show red on the wings, Scarlet-faced Parakeets and others that don't, Mitred Parakeets. The flocks seem to be around the dozen mark but two flocks are larger with around fifty birds together. One such flock is high in trees with willow type leaes. Another flock is flying high, noisily disappearing over a towering ridge.
After midday the temperature gets unbearable and I am grateful when a French man from Arles invites me into his restaurant for a drink. He introduces me to his Peruvian wife, his mother in law and two Peruvian builders who are helping him build a soon to be impressive hotel next door to the restaurant. For an hour we chat, well we do after I finish my diatribe about how I hate bull fighting in Arles and argue back his 'but it is tradition' argument. Terribly I forget their names but for an hour or so we talk about Peruvian politics and how the business is going to grow, especially as lots of cycling tourists pass this way in July and August. The Frenchman takes me around to look at the hotel being built. All the walls are up and all they need are windows and plastering, floors covered and ensuites completed and it will be ready to open. Together we go onto the roof and admire the view. The land was a wedding present from the wife's father. They invite me to camp in their orchard but there is no mobile signal and definitely no internet. I decline because Aston Villa are playing the second leg of the play off match against Middlesborough. If Villa can hold onto their 1 – 0 lead from the first leg then they will be going to Wembley for the final. I say my au revoirs, adios and start for the village of Mayocc.
On eraching the village about ten minutes later, a pair of ladies are sitting outside a shop selling avocados. I stop and ask whether there is a hostel in the village and immediately one of them, an old lady dressed completely in black, takes me across the road to her hostel, not that you could tell it was one. Through the door with the biek, the downstairs rooms are demarcated by large curtains and upstairs there are three rooms with doors. The rest of the hostl is being built and the workers are hammering and sawing away. The lady tells me that they will be gone by the evening and she shows me a room. Twenty soles is expensive for what I find but I won't quibble. I am not the bartering sort. These people do not have a lot of money and what is the difference between fifteen or twenty soles? About a pound. I always find it disgusting when a tourist boasts about how they bartered down a product to the sellers lowest price. Arrogant greed overtakes generous compassion.
I get out my mobile and find the Aston Villa text feed on the match. Fifty one minutes gone and 0 – 0. Come on Villa. The next forty miutes are spent trying to relax as Villa go close again and agin and the goalkeeper makes great saves. I need to keep going back and forth on my mobile to get the updates and the whole process is agonisingly slow. I take videos of myself giving a commentary to stay calm. I desperately want the Villa to win, get to Wembley, beat Fulham in the final and get back into the Premiership. I may not love present day football with league position dependent on how much money is spent and nothing else but I do love Villa. A whole childhood spent going to every home game.
Into injury time, five minutes, Middlesborough have a free kick on the edge of the penalty area after the Villa goalkeeper handled the ball outside the box. Stuart Downing is on the ball, an ex-Villa player. He shoots and it hits the top of the bar and is over. So are Middlesborough. The full time whistle and Villa are at Wembley. I turn the video off on my camera after a moment of ecstatic screaming!
Opposite my half built hostel, which I find out has no running water, there is a shop and in it at the back I find an old big box computer. For one Sole I can access the internet. Turning it on a photograoh of the Selfridge's building in Birmingham, my birthplace, comes up just as it did in Salvacion in the Manu the first time I did the same there in 2014. I email my Mum and dad celebrating the Villa win and email my daughter too. I Facebook the same to friends.
By now the Sun is going down behind some hills to the west and I walk down through orchards to the river. I see only two small birds, a green and white hummingbird specie and a Bran-coloured Flycatcher. New birds may be coming at less than my desired average of three but at least they are still coming. Just wait until I reach The Manu!
Down by the river Montaro there is a Shrek and Donkey like bridge over the water, not over a mass of molten larva. I notice that all dusty footprints are down the centre of each plank and I walk the same. The long suspension bridge shakes as I proceed across. On the other side there is a bush with thirteen Scrub Blackbirds gathered to roost for the night Also four White-tipped Doves are feeding near some dense bushes. Otherwise once more there are no birds so I turn back for the village. Along the path back through the orchards, a young, stocky Peruvian and his four year old or thereabouts son are taking a wheelbarrow full of large logs up to the village. The Dad is wearing a Chelsea Football Club top and his son has a Chelsea badge sown onto his trousers. The young boy's jumper is fabulously knitted with rural scenes of animals and flowers, trees and birds.

Green Year list : 195 birds average new birds to list per day : 4.33 birds

Distance walked : 21.82 miles

elevation : up 3,954 feet, down 4,746 feet

altitude : 7,250 feet

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