Touring by Bike South America, Africa and Europe by Bicycle

Day 14. Up at 4300 m. DSC_2252
Day 14. Puquio to Negro Mayo

Km today: 74
Km total: 766
Spanish world of the day: vuelta

I expected today to be a tough day and..it was. I left Puquio late, at 8.. after not having light in the room. when I asked about this, the hostal owner answered in a very relaxed manner: “yeah there is no light”.
I managed to climb at a good speed at the beginning, up to 14 km/h (for me, with a fully loaded bike this is good). admired the town from above . The landscape is very different from the desert I’ve been enjoying until now. However, after one hour something is not well with my head. I fear some blood vessels will go crazy, so I decide to stop for as long as it’ll be necessary. I manage to use the clip-ons (only the left one) and this feels good. 36 km after departure from Puquio, there is a place at about 4200 m. where some people are preparing cheese.  I’m offered a bowl with potatoes and cheese, I’m a little bit in a rush, but I accept it.

Playing With Alpacas

Playing With Alpacas

Day 14. DSC_2261

Up over 4000 m

Day 14. Up at 4300 m. DSC_2252I play with the alpacas and continue the climb. From here is supposed to be an easier climb up to Negro Mayo. The first slope is long, but I feel energized, probably from the cheese (or from the 20 minutes rest). However, soon after this is getting cold and windy, a cross wind to 120′, that’s not really helping. I notice locals hidden from the wind in the water drain aside the road. I can foresee the rain coming, so I just have time to put on some pants, rain pants on top, the rain jacket, and to cover the back panniers. no time to put on the shoes covers.
Soon the rain turns into an ugly ice, with thunders. I ignore it for a while, however is hitting me stronger and stronger. I find a weak shelter near a road sign; just to notice that an woman and her son are sheltering into the same place. They don’t have a rain jacket or rain pants, just a hat (I think women are born with a hat attached here in the Andes) and a blanket. I look at them with pity they look at me with curiosity. We don’t say a single world but I feel we are together in this survival experience. They look along the – now white – road, trying to hitch-hike a car (towards Puquio). I’m shocked by the fact that first car doesn’t stop. Yeah, is cool to drive a powerful car and don’t give a damn about an women and her 8 y.o. son freezing on this storm at 4000 m.a.s.l. After some 20 minutes, the thunders are fewer and further away, so I decide to leave. Also the hail is less intense now. I have 22 more km to Negro Mayo, the first 2 km are on descent, a dangerous one given the road cover by ice. But is too long to walk the whole way, so I ride the bike, with care. I’m pushing the bike while uphill; I calculate I should be in Negro Mayo in 4 hr., if there is no flat or downhill.
The rain soon stops, I’m freezing a little bit (wet gloves and wet feet), but I can only keep going. Of course I can pitch the tent, but is wet all-over, the tent and the sleeping bag are probably wet, I’m cold. So I prefer to reach the village and look for a better shelter.
At 6 km to Negro Mayo I find a small barn, however it has no door, is probably a shelter for alpacas. I decide to push on towards Negro Mayo, hoping for some better shelter there. I think it was a good decision, since the last 3 km are on descent. Is getting chilly and my bike gloves are wet.

One of the first buildings in Negro Mayo is a restaurant, I knock on the door, a guy opens and I ask for a tea. 30 seconds later I ask for a place to sleep. He tells me I can pitch the tent in the restaurant. He also tries to show me a small house in his backyard, however he doesn’t have the right key, so I take opportunity to insist on the “pitching the tent inside the restaurant” alternative – he agrees is the simplest way. That’s perfect; after a trout with rice (everything comes with rice here) and a coca “mate” I prepare the tent.
I fall asleep 5 minutes after going into the tent.

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