Monday 28 May 2018

Day 52 Up and Down to Chumbes. An 8,000 feet elevation!

May 22nd, 2018

Sunny and radiant heat is hot. Little cloud. Cool breeze.

Up at six in my small tent, I eat a banana sandwich for breakfast and pack. On the road by seven, I have another day of pushing the bike up the steep road. I figure I have another ten miles before I reach the plateau. I put my earphones in for the MP3 player and listen to Frank Zappa as I pace.

Soon beyond the tree line, the road twists one way and the other as it climbs. Mountain Caracara, four of them pass quite close.
On reaching a summit the road stays almost at one level as it circumnavigates one large valley after the other. Sections of downhill are met with corresponding sections of get off and push. There are birds here too. Both Cincloides species, band-tailed Sierra Finches and Andean Flickers. A long circular road passes a number of high altitude lakes and as I push the bike once more, a motorcyclist stops for a chat. He is from The Netherlands and has hired a Honda 250CC to carry out a tour of Peru. 

He has already been to Machu Picchu and is now on the way to Ayacucho, Ica and Nazca. He kindly gives me some water, desperately needed and a bag of nuts, raisins and seeds. The kindness of strangers.
I continue on and the next bend gives me hope that I have reached the true summit of the road and that from here on it is all downhill. For three or four miles I go steadily down but when coming around yet another bend I come across a huge valley where I can see the road meandering down before it ascends once more across the valley's plain and up the south side. 

The descent is quite steep and is quickly accomplished. The ascent on the far side takes over an hour. The breeze always seems to be in my face as I walk steadily along the road. The road over the hill is long, creating huge circles on the plateau. It passes Llamas penned in by a long and high fence. Outside Vicunias are in small family groups and I don't see any group larger than four.

Reaching Laguna Parionacocha, I am greeted by a flock of ten Andean Flickers pose on rocks beside the road and twelve Puna Ibis land by a nearby pool. Three dogs here belonging to an Incan lady shepherdess, charge at me barking loudly. My equally loud shout back at them stops them in their tracks and they return to their owner.

One of the pools has a Greater Yellowlegs wading in it's waters. Fabulous to see what I think of as an American wader so high up here in The Andes.

The true descent begins after a few miles. This time the road is white knuckle steep and my brakes are constantly employed/ The road covers every hills side as it twists and turns, doubling back on itself in places. The drop is immense and my arms ache from the strain. Ten miles goes by quickly.

Landslides adjacent to the road are negotiated carefully and I reach a pueblo. Not seeing the size of it until I have passed it I continue on my way down. I pass a large distance notice but am startled to see that Abancayo is now 296 kilometres away. The sign seen at midday had stated the distance to be 246! I think they have put the signs up the wrong way around as it must have been about fifty kilometres between the two. Andahuaylas suffers the same fifty kilometre anomaly.
The road becomes a platform along a massive cliff in one section and here there are piles of stony debris almost blocking the road in places. A few more miles and I reach my hoped for destination pueblo, Chumbes. The first hostel I see I stop at and knock on the large steel doors. Soon inside, Mariabella, the owner, takes my passport details and offers rooms at 15, 20 and 25 Soles. I take the latter as they don't seem to have much custom.
Just past twenty past five and as I sit on the double bed in my twenty five Soles room I can't stop shaking. Is this from the rapid thousand feet drop that I have just completed? Is it from the temperature drop when the Sun went behind the mountains for the night or am I suffering something? Time will tell.

The village is quiet and the immense steep face of the mountainside faces my window. Taking my new boots off and my socks I find two large blisters and a large toe nail going purple. I am going to cut the shoes with a sharp pair of scissors and try to find larger ones when I get to Abancayo. My feet are a 46 in size yet these are only two sizes smaller but they are crippling me!

Green Year list : 196 birds average new birds to list per day : 4.26 birds

Distance walked, pushed and cycled : 53.29 miles

elevation over last two days since Ayacucho : up 8,304 feet, down 8,045 feet

altitude : 9,296 feet

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