|Not the last hairy tarantula I would be seeing that day|
|Mary keeping an eye on things on the way into Cajabamba|
|Cajabamba, Cajamarca, Bambamarca... they all start sounding the same and then they start running out of names...|
The place that the young police man pointed out for me to put up my tent was right beside two make shift wooden holding cells which were occupied. We also heard some scuttling up in the roof which he helpfully confirmed was likely a rat when I asked him. Nice. I took a shower, initially wondering to myself where the water went as there didn’t seem to be a drain. I soon found out that the water simply drains out onto the floor of the small room where I had left my clothes on the ground. Nice. As I walked back to my luxury camp spot I noticed a large hairy tarantula creeping towards my gear. Nice. An older police man dropped a large brick on him before I could get a photo of it crawling into my washbag. He told me that it is quite dangerous to get a bite from one and told me to move into a bedroom that they didn’t use with bunk beds. Considering where I thought I was going to have to stay this was like being upgraded to a suite in a five star hotel… no prisoners, rats OR tarantulas and my own bed. Nice!
|So that's where the water goes, out onto the floor|
|Underneath the brick in the upper right of the photo lies the flattened remains of a large tarantula|
|Did somebody have an accident..?|
|Eh no, it's not a prison cell it's actually an upgrade.|
|Jose wasn't proud that he couldn't play an instrument|
|It's the Fiesta Sanjapompa in honor of San Judas, that can only mean one thing... PARTY TIME!|
|Pot full of Cuy, the local delicacy of Guinea pig|
|Who's the guinnea pig, they love it but I could take it or leave it. Very low in cholesterol apparently|
|The boys love the annual festival|
|Sr. Coromoto, Br. Daniel and some of the rest of the gang.|
|Rocky road and not the kind I dream about|
|Don't use google maps in Peru|
|The bog down in the valley oh..|
The following day I managed to travel 14km in the space of the day. I use the word travel as I spent as much time pushing the bike as I did actually cycling it. I was kind of lost as the gps and maps on my phone were leading me all over the place except in the right direction. Guessing my way down a dirt track it eventually came to an end and lead into a field. I continued into the field. I wasn’t overly worried as I knew that there was a dirt track somewhere nearby and was enjoying the off roading. I slowly cycled and pushed my bike through the fields gradually making my way up to a ridge where I was greeted by a spectacular Middle Earth panorama. I propped the bike against one of the many boulders, sat down on the damp grass and took it all in. I was lost, miles from anywhere, not having seen anyone in hours, overlooking one of the most spectacular views of my life and I couldn’t have been happier. I think another reason for only managing 14 km all day was due to lots of stopping to take it all in as well as the bike pushing.
|It was well worth pushing my bike through the fields to the top of the hill to be greeted with this view|
|Camping in an abandoned stone house|
One of the days, having only passed two cars all day I had set up camp under a large plastic cover which was beside a half finished house. I reckoned it was fine as there didn't seem to be anybody around. Half an hour later as I was taking a few photos of the sunset along arrives some security guard with a riffle. Great, the only person I see face to face all day is holding a large gun and I'm literally in the middle of nowhere with nobody else around. Thankfully he didn't mind me camping there and had come down from the hill above to check out what I was up to. He was working as security for a near by mining company. He also gave me directions for the following day which was helpful.
|Lone gunman getting in the way of my sunset photo|
|"What are you looking at?"|
|So much for a short cut|
As I made it back to civilization the first village I hit was celebrating it’s annual festival. The second annual village festival in just over a week… that’s lucky or else they have these festivals on a more regular basis then they were letting on!
|Second annual festival that I stumbled on. I preferred Fiesta Sanjapompa because they gave me a free plate of food!|
Upon leaving Mollebamba I experienced what I think will be the most extreme example of dropping all the way down a mountain side on some impressive switch backs to the river at the bottom of the valley only to climb right back up on the far side. I descended 1000m in the first 20 km on a windy dirt road but thankfully the climb back up on the far side was paved and not the other way round. It’s obviously a lot slower trying to climb up an unpaved gravel road as I had been finding out over the previous week or so.
|Was chatting to these two ladies for a few minutes|
|Scary statue in the middle of Llapo|
|The friendly Policia in Bambas|
|Slowly does it|
|Some impressive woodwork on display in Tauca|
|These two bikers just stood and stared and stared as I took a breather in the shade|
|These kind folk put me up in their spare room one night|
|Juan from Peru, Maria from Grenada (Spain) and Marina from Galicia (Spain) kindly put me up |
for a night in the village of "La Pampa"
|Back to school.|
|An unnecessary sign considering most drivers |
keep one hand on the wheel and the other on the horn
One of the nights I stayed in a class room in the town of Huallanca which was almost entirely wiped out by a large earthquake in May 1970. The following day I must have passed through at least 30 tunnels as I made my way through Canyon del Pato which is a narrow canyon that separates the Cordillera Negra and the Cordillera Blanca mountain ranges. Thankfully there wasn’t much traffic as they were all one lane wide unpaved tunnels so a lot of dust kicked up whenever a vehicle passed. Not long after I passed through the last tunnel the road became paved. I felt like getting down and kissing the surface. Less than an hour’s cycling on the paved road and I had my closest call yet with a four wheel drive speeding around a corner leaving what felt like an inch or two between us (maybe it was 3 inchs). It gave me a fright and was a reality check after my initial excitement to be cycling on a smooth road.
|Canyon del Pato|
|A series of more than 30 tunnels are carved into the cliff|
By mid afternoon I made it to the town of Carhuaz where I spoted a fire staion on my way into the centre. It was the first fire station that I had seen in Peru so I didn’t waste any time in seeing if they would be able to put me up. They kindly agreed. Being in town a bit earlier than usual I visited the ATM, I had made it to Carhuaz with 2 Sol (EUR 0.50) to my name, treated myself to a coffee and sticky bun and got some supplies for the next few days. Even though I had made it back onto paved roads that day I knew that I was going to be returning to the dirt roads the following day as I headed into the Cordilla Blanca.
|Drying my cycling jersey at the fire station in Carhuaz|