Huaraz… Again?

15 09 2007

Well we made it to Huaraz.

From Chao the Pan Americana heads south (and north if you want to look at it that way). The wind wasn’t so bad, but we left the bitumen after about 15km – so we didn’t give it a chance. The private road we’d been told about was exactly where it should be, and thank goodness. The short cut of 55km meant that we didn’t have to go south to Chimbote, and then back again (saving quite a few km’s). The private road is for maintenance of a canal that brings water from the other side of the Andes (the Amazon side) for all of the irrigation on this side of the mountain range. That’s quite a project, boring a hole through the Andes for water. But they make use of it – huge areas of sand support crops around Trujillo. Even some crops I didn’t expect – sugar cane, artichokes, asparagus, corn, grapes, and lots of others. All sorts are grown in what must be essentially hydroponic conditions. The sand is deep (judging by the depth of some of the sand drifts) and I can’t see that the crops get any sustance that isn’t supplied artificially. But back to the road.

Back on the public road we had bitumen again. Sometimes you count your blessings, and little things make it in, like a paved road. Now was one of those times. A short vertical distance later we were in a tiny little place called Chuquicara. A truck stop really. We ate in the restaurant, and took the room out the back of the petrol station. The beds weren’t too good, so we set up tents inside the room (I strung my hammock from the roof). For dinner I had chicken and rice, it was either that or rice and chicken – but I had that for lunch.

The next morning we headed further into the river valley, which is really a canyon. The road immediately changed from Bitumen to something out of a horror movie. The corrugations and rocks meant that the average speed was somewhere down in my socks. The going was tough. The clouds also cleared, and allowed the sun an unobstructed view of us. This wasn’t too bad, the traffic was light, and we even manged to get a jug of juice from a small restaurant when we were thirsty. Soon the restaurants petered out, the rocks stayed just as big (or possibly got bigger) and a passing car asked Rachel if she wanted a lift.

Rachel was clearly for the idea. I was intially against it, having begun the ride up the valley, I wanted to finish it. Despite having caught a bus down this valley already (a month or so before) and having seen all of it, I was keen to see it again by bicycle. However, we were travelling as a group, and it really didn’t make a lot of sense to torture our bodies and bikes given the state of the road. The option of riding while the others got a lift was quickly dismissed – the food and water had been planned as a group – I could have gone it alone, but I guess I didn’t really want to. So we piled our bikes into the back of the ute, jumped in ourselves and tore off. Tore off being the operative words. Turns out the driver was Peruvian; ie as soon as he got behind the wheel, he was a maniac. I think we all came out with bruised backsides. There were a few times where we almost came out of the tray altogether, after hitting larger than expected rocks! There was one particular spoon drain that almost claimed us all. Embarrassed the driver enough to stop and see if we were all right.

So we saw the Cañon de Pato, slightly faster than expected. The driver was actually quite kind, and stopped a few times for us to take photos. But it did chop 2 days of riding down to half a day, and an hour or so of hanging on in the back of a ute. We were let out in Caraz.

Caraz is a nice place. I can vouch for the two restaurants we ate (or possibly gorged) at and the icecream place. Since we had little else to do, we ate. So much so that I was completely full, possibly for the first time in a while. And the effect carried over to the next morning, I was still so full that breakfast was a non event for me, and I didn’t really need anything for lunch. Of course I was recovered by dinmner tonight and downed my fair share of pasta.

The road from Caraz to Huaraz was mostly up (the lift we got up the canyon helped with some of the altitute gain, but there is plenty more to go). But Bitumen the whole way. In fact this section was almost perfect, sun shining, cool air, mountains everywhere you look (some with snow), slight breeze, smooth road, swiss cyclists to talk to, and cars shooting past at ungodly speeds. Pity about the dramatic increase in traffic. And we had a run in with a farmer who seemed disproportionally upset with us taking a photo of the hillside. In fact it looks as though too many Gringos get to these parts – some people are still friendly, but many seem to have had enough of foreigners.

And now I’m back in Huaraz. We found a cheaper hostal in a much better location (I’m beginning to like the Footprint guide book possibly slightly more than the Lonely Planet). We’ll take a rest day here. We probabaly don’t need the rest as much need to acclimitise again. But there is lots of food here, and the road goes up (significantly) to the south.


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2 responses

17 09 2007
Richard

Ha, feeble threats from the other side of the world. With sticks and whistles you may not scare many south American bandits. Your progress appears circular. Some of the places you visit are imaginary, appearing in no atlas – you’re making it up, I know. Things may pick up a bit further south. Patagonia, which at the present speed I estimate you will reach in two thousand and ten, will be terrific. In the mean time I look forward to seeing you get a bicycle up Manchu Picchu. Will they let you past Cuzco with a bike? it’d be interesting to see how far you could go. Probably best to ditch the bike for a few days and walk the Inca trail.
We went on the winter ridge walk. Although shorter than south america it had incredibly bad weather, took ten hours. And I have helped set a rogaine. It’s incredibly good fun setting out all the controls. Though those vetters are a right bunch of kill-joys. Of course they couldn’t find my controls and made me tell them where I’d hidden them. Still the calm comfortable and deliberate infliction of exhaustion frustration and pain on hundreds of people is an opportunity not to be sneezed at..
Still no pictures of hot cyclists.
well, give my regards to Rachel (is she the one with the mace?)

17 09 2007
Steve

I’m uploading some photos especially for you Richard. Don’t know about how ‘hot’ they are – except from the jungle, it is warm down there.

10 hours for winter ridge. You must be getting faster. That sounds pretty zippy. Maritza and I are gone, who did you talk into going with you?

Good one with the Rogaine. Pity I couldn’t have enjoyed your no-doubt interesting control placements. You can set another when I return. If I escape from the mace and stick wielding Swiss.

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