Monday, February 25, 2013

The road to know where and back (Day 1)

This is going to be a hard blog to write since I don't even know where to start. The last few days have been the craziest, most fun and extremely challenging riding since I departed. 

I guess I will start by introducing the crew of this miss adventure. Meet the Four Skins from Canada and Thailand who decided to try and cross a mountain to get to the other side. 

The whole adventure started when we decided to go from Huanchaco to the mountain town of Huaraz. Sounds simple right but as I have learnt, nothing is ever what it seems in these countries. So off we head (7am) for what is supposed to be an easy five hour ride.

First delay was an overturned truck carrying mangos. The people of the nearby town turned out to pick  the free mangos off the highway.

The first route we chose started with beautiful scenery and paved asphalt.

This then soon lead to gravel at which time we were told by locals that there was an avalanche ahead and we would need to turn back to the nearest town ARGH!

So after a bit of a conference in the town of Santa it was decided to try another road that I showed on my paper map and Clive on his GPS. How hard can it be since it is supposed to be only 145km across.
 (it is now1pm)

So off we headed to try and cross the mountain again. Well the road hit us with everything it had from boulders, sand, desert heat and mud.

The road pretty much ended being an off road coarse through the desert that the Dakar racers would have appreciated. 

  Myself and Pete had some off road experience to handle the varied terrain, but Clive and Wim were not so lucky. And found themselves on a very steep learning curve.

(this is Clive thinking what the hell have I gotten myself into)

Bike drops became the norm for the day in the sand ( Unless you have ridden a 600lb bike through mud and sand you will never appreciate how truly hard it can be). Along with the bike drops it seemed Wim was going to be cursed with multiple flat tires. 

Flat #1 repair

Flat #2 repair

Waiting for flat #3 to be repaired. 

Notice the setting sun! We are not even halfway to our final destination. Instead we find ourselves on the edge of a village full of drunken locals. This is the last place we want to be stuck, so we need to get this flat fixed and get out of here. Luckily we find one lady who tells us the next village may have some lodging, if not we will need to wild camp. So off we head in the dark (and now rain) up a mountain pass road to find a place to stay for the night.

Welcome to the town of Santa Ana (population 50) which has not seen a Gringo in 100 years if ever. Because who would be dumb enough to come through here. So the first thing we did upon arrival was to try and find the local hotel owner and negotiate a deal. For the price of 5 soles each ($2.00) he could provide us with a roof over our heads (now you have to remember we were in the middle of no where and beggars can't be choosers). 

 So we all pulled out our sleeping bags because there was no way we were sleeping directly on the sheets and prepped our rooms. I felt like I was in a prison cell as the room was damp, cold and dimly lit.  I do not think anyone has stayed here in 100 years.

Now being the first gringo to visit in 100 years the buzz spread throughout the town and we became local celebrities. First stop was to the local tienda to buy some beer where we met the proprietors  and sat down for a chat.

After a few beers it was time to see if we could get some food. Seems there was one house that also acted as a restaurant so off we went. Our dinner consisted of more beer along with rice and eggs mixed together.

Pete and Wim enjoying a cold one.

They still cook over a wood stove the same as they did over 100 years ago. 

The family was having such a good time with us that they insisted on putting original Peruvian music on and making us dance. In fact they jokingly barred the door to prevent us from leaving.

As I once posted in a blog "bad decisions make for good stories" this proved once again to come true. We were in the middle of the Peru mountains interacting and staying with locals and having the time of our life. It also proved that you need to be extremely flexible and expect the unexpected when travelling as we do.

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