Monday 28 May 2018

Day 55 To Uripa

May 25th, 2018

Sunny in the morning and hot. Cloud in the afternoon making it feel cool in a t-shirt. Windless

Same as yesterday, up at six and packed by half past, I start the day with a five mile push that takes me over a thousand feet higher. The sky is blue and the Sun has yet to show itself above a high craggy mountain. It is cool, so cool I can see my breath. The road turns one way, then the other as it climbs out of Chincheros. I pass a construction that looks suspiciously like a new concrete bull ring. I am assured by the workers that it isn't and that it is a new football stadium.
The Sun is up and it is soon warm enough to take off one of my three layers, the red alpaca design woolly jumper. Two lads around sixteen years old on their way to school stop me and ask in English about who I will be supporting in the coming football World Cup. Vamos Peru!
An immature Mountain Caracara is a strange bird to see sitting quite close by on top of a large hay bale and it twists it's head around to watch me closely. I photograph the good luck arrangements that are on top of most of the houses I pass. In Cusco they would be double bull terracottas but here they are metal figures based around a cross. Some have condors or parrots, others have butterflies and flowers but all are topped by a small red and white flag of Peru.
There is the usual friendliness of everyone I pass, be they men chopping logs or ladies with small children. There is always a Hola! A Buenos dias, which may lead to the usual questions and handshakes. Such wonderful people. I wonder why the ladies wear those distinctive black or dark brown hats?
Passing fields I wonder why tall dead stalks of maize are left to go brown instead of being cut down.
Reaching Uripa I don't immediately plump for the first hostel or hotel. Instead I walk around a few streets. It is a town more than a village and very busy with lots of motortaxis and students in tracksuit school uniforms. There is a large golden statue of an Inca warrior in the middle of a traffic island. There is a big market building and construction on new school buildings. Eventually though I do choose a hostel, a rather dirty affair and therefore cheap, twenty Soles a night. I will stay for two.
Finding an internet shop, there are the usual big black boxes and monitors in a line along two walls of a dark, dingy room. The usual fee, one Sole for each hour used, I sit down and respond to emails, find out how England are doing in the cricket against Pakistan, not very well as they keep dropping catches and download all recent photographs onto Facebook. I feel better having done this as I don't want to lose any. I have them on my laptop and on memory sticks but those could be lost, stolen or broken.
Outside again, I need to find a small spanner for the bike. One of the bolts that tighten the brake blocks has worn too much for my adjustable spanner to remove it and I need to change the blocks in readiness for some serious hill descents. I also want to give away my camouflaged coat. It's waterproof qualities have been negligible and there is a large rip from where the bull got it with one of it's horns back at Huanza a month ago. Through the market and around the streets, I don't find any shop or stall that looks like it will have a size nine spanner. I will try again tomorrow before the big match. Oh yes, I haven't forgotten that Aston Villa take on Fulham at Wembley tomorrow for the match that will decide who goes up into the Premiership. The Championship Play Off Final, starting at 11:00 a.m. Peruvian time, will be worth £160 million to the winners!
Time for lunch, the waitress in a clean cafe thinks I want the toilet when I ask for the list of what food they offer and keeps laughing as she insists on showing me the Men's room! A gentleman sitting at a table already eating speaks English and he explains that all I want is food. We sit together, are joined by a female work colleague and talk about Peru, families sport and travel.

From the cafe and after having collected my camera, binoculars and notebook, I walk along a very long street that heads towards the Eucalyptus covered slopes of the hills to the north. A few hours birding, I turn off the street after passing a large church and find myself amongst small fields with shrubs, bushes and extremely tall Eucalyptus. I try to work out how tall one particular tree is and estimate one hundred feet, maybe more.
Rufous-collared Sparrows are common and there are a number of Chiguanca Thrushes. A Great Thrush, three Sierran Eleanias, a couple of Red-crested Cotingas, a couple of Band-tailed Seedeaters, a few Hooded Siskins, Cinereous Conebills, Yellow-billied Tit Tyrants and a White-browed Chat Tyrant are all noted down and an Azara's Spinetail is added to the Green Year list making that now stand at 202. The whitish throat standing out on this bird and warm rufous tail. The mantle seems an olive colour, which I do not expect on this species. Not many species seen in the afternoon but beyond this area of fields and trees there are just masses of Eucalyptus trees with practically no understory due to grazing.

Green Year list : 202 birds average new birds to list per day : 3.72 birds

Distance walked, pushed and cycled : 5.98 miles

elevation : up 1,460 feet, down 132 feet

altitude : 10,535 feet

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