I’ve survived in Peru for a week and it hasn’t been easy for me. All went well with the cycling until I got a few hundred kilometres South of Lima and had to deal with really hot desert regions and then a day of deserts and head wind. This had me miss my target of reaching the town of Nazca and having to pitch my tent in the desert not really knowing how short I was. Luckily I had stocked up on water but had no decent food for dinner (not a great night). Cheap though. It certainly made up for the 100 sole hotel the other night.
The next morning I was up and away by 6.30am and reached Nazca by about 7.30am. But had to get some food and supplies for the climb up the Andes Pass as I knew there was little on route and it was 100kms all uphill. Once I’d got some food and money I couldn’t find the road to the Pass (always the case when travelling where you don’t speak the lingo). Finally at 9am I found the correct road and started the climb. I could just tell that at a climb rate of 10km/hr. there was no way I would get this done in a day.
I have to tell you climbing into the mist and cloud up one of the highest passes in the world not knowing what’s up there and knowing you won’t make the first town on the map at 125kms is not a feeling I like. My options were give up the whole thing and going back to Lima or bite the bullet and do it. I had to do it but was very worried. So worried in fact that I collected water from spent bottles along the road in case things got desperate and I ran out of drink. I asked a couple of road workers for agua but they either did not understand or didn’t have any. By the time I had been climbing for 6hrs I came across a drink shack and dumped my road water and bought heaps of good stuff. Trying to talk to the stall holder I thought he said there was a restaurant up the road 1km? It sounded too good to be true.
|Climb to 4300m|
But sure enough out of the mist a restaurant appeared and I managed to order rice and fish. Decent food at last. I cycled on up, up, and up. But at least I had something in my stomach. I knew the top was at 4300m and at 3300m I knew I would have to look for a flat place to camp. It gets dark pretty quickly after 6pm. My second night in the tent with no real food as the sausages I had bought were disgusting. So it was buns and sweets for dinner. But I had plenty of drink.
The next day I was on the bike by 7am after trying to figure out during the night how I could end this nightmare and get back to my quiet life in Nelson. If Nazca had been a nice place I may have just cycled back down but it was no refuge for me. I cycled up for another hour and half and then the gradient started to ease. I couldn’t take advantage of it because I now had a headwind. But signs were encouraging that I had seen the worst of the Pass. By 12noon I was at the top!! Elation.
I had cycled up the Andes. I was over and dropped 20kms into green fertile valleys with pretty stone walls and cottages. Farmers were herding sheep and goats. What’s more the road is quiet with just the occasional truck. Truck drivers in Peru are very encouraging giving me the thumbs up, waving and tooting. They drive hugely loaded trucks but still have a smile and patience for other road users.
So far no sign of altitude sickness although I know I have to look after myself. The same can’t be said for my stomach with my first experiences of the runs. I t could be buggy food or too many grapes on the coast. We will see. I use my UV water treatment thingy on all the tap water.
|Then Down to Lush Valleys.|
Accidently bought baby food for desert tonight. Should be interesting. It looks like cooked apple?