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I like trucks.

Hola –

It’s funny. With this much time on my hands it’s easy to do a bit of writing and file keeping.

I cheated.

Wednesday morning Anton woke me up and announced that he was resting in Ica for a day and also wanted to get his stuff together. I persisted in questioning and it came out that he wanted to see how things would be solo and as I had been planning on going solo anyway it wouldn’t be a problem for me. So after breakfast together, I packed up my stuff, called David and my parents, and took off alone to Pulpa.

The first 20 miles or so went just fine. The terrain was sort of green and there wasn’t much wind at all. I passed a million and one fundos which I believe are farms of sorts. I cruised through Huancachina and then Santiago. Deciding that I would most likely be camping I stopped in La Venta to pick up some cooking supplies: pasta and oil and tuna fish and continued on. Crusing along, I ran into some Peruvian guys who were cycling to the Ocucaje turnoff. There were a few stands selling soda and a dog that nipped at my heels much to the glee of everyone – the highway police tried to make the dog go away, but to no avail. Even the handy dandy Dog Dazer didn’t seem to be doing much, so I just pedaled hard. Up over a little hill and then…NOTHING. It seems I had hit the desert.

So now it’s about 11am and all the fog (neblina) has burned off and it’s scorching hot. I am wearing my jacket and this Smartwool shirt (which is worth it’s weight in gold) and I have removed the pants part of my shorts. The cycling began to be difficult as the road was going, ever so imperceptibly uphill and there was either a crosswind or a headwind coming at me. I plodded along for about 4 or 5 miles and stopped in the shade of a road sign for lunch. Four or five miles is nothing but under these conditions with the long, gradual hills and the heats it seemed impossible. After the bananas and trail mix from home I hopped back on the tank and started pedaling again. Each time I crested a hill that took 20-30 minutes to climb I expected a little down hill at least, but no, there was not really any down, just the small curve required by highway design to start the rise of the next hill. After switching my jacket for the light colored pullover (I though I had lost my sunscreen) I started off again. This is when the truck stopped.

After getting the tank going again I rode up to the truck. There was a man who had walked around to the right side (the shady side) and was smiling. It was a nice smile that said “What the hell are you doing riding the middle of the day, alone and female?” I took it as a good sign and shook the hand that was stuck out at me. After some rudimentary conversation about where we were both heading towards, I made the decision to hitch a ride to Nasca in the camion. And what a good decision it was.

After taking off all my bags and storing them in the truck we lashed the bike to the tarp rope and set off. I’m actually surprised that the bike didn’t fall off. We drove on for kilometer after kilometer of desert where there were absolutely no water stands, no tiendas, no nothing but sun and sand. There was a huge descent into Pulpa, my original destination for the evening, and an even bigger climb out with another descent at the top. About halfway from Pulpa to Nasca things started getting green again, but the road was in no way flat as it seems from a comfy bus.

The ride with Miguel was a pleasant two hour or so event and we conversed in Spanish although I was talking in the present tense only and he was describing things using only nouns and baby sentences. It worked out just fine. He works for Gloria, which is a big company although I don’t know what the focus is. He was transporting canned or boxed milk, yogurt, and fruit punches. His route for this trip was Lima, Ica, Nasca, Arequipa, and Cusco. He did invite me to go the whole way with him as my final destination was Cusco, but I declined. It would have been fun though. His family lives in Arequipa: a wife and two children – one boy and one girl. I asked their names, but since I couldn’t spell them we will have no record.

Upon arriving in Nasca we were going to lunch together, but I needed to go into the center to find a hostel but the truck couldn’t go into the center. So we said our goodbyes with a handshake and off we went in opposite directions.

I got a hotel pretty quickly and set of to inform Anton of the conditions and to email David and the parents of my change in plans. On the truck ride to Nasca, I also made the decision to bus up the Andes until Abancay. It just seems to make more sense as I will not be able to make more than 20 miles a day going uphill at altitude. Abancay to Cusco will take me at least a week. I will deal with staying in Cusco, when I get there. See everyone, I told you I would be smart about this. While I will miss the ascent and the privilege of saying that I rode up the Andes I will still have lots of time riding around in the Andes under my belt by the time this is all said and done. I will stay in Abancay for two days to try to get used to the altitude – it is at approximately 4,000m more or less. I think that is about 12,000 ft. Also, the terrain, from what I’ve heard, is pretty dry up to Abancay and after that it is verdant. I don’t know about verdant but it should be green at least.

Today I did something that I have always wanted to do – fly over the Nasca lines. Alas Peruanas books flights for $40 USD which is a fortune here for a 35 minute flight over the major glyphs. I started talking to the people in the van on the way to the airport who were from Holland, Slovakia, and Italy and we hung out and chatted while waiting about an hour and a half for our 11am flight. No matter. It turns out that they were all speaking Italian in the van as the two women from Holland and Slovakia had both lived in Rome and the guy was Italian. Even with a year of Italian I didn’t understand much. That’s ok – they were nice enough to switch to English most of the time. I envy that ability. We had all taken motion sickness pills as we had heard how many people throw up due to the heat and the tight curves, but surprisingly, we survived without throwing up. The lines and geoglyphs are amazing if only because they were made so long ago and they are everywhere. There are straight lines all over the place and the shapes apparently have shamanistic meanings. The represent shaman imagery from all of Peru: the desert, the ocean, and the jungle. We saw: the whale, the triangles & trapezoids, the astronaut, the monkey, the dog, the condor, the spider, the humming bird, the Alcatraz, the parrot and the tree & hands. They are quite far from each other and you can only wonder how in the world they were made. By the end we were all feeling just a big queasy and were all red in the face (with our pale skins). Tonight we will meet for dinner and a beer and tomorrow I will set out to find a bus ticket to Abancay.

Things eaten today:
Two rolls with marmalade
A taste of chicharonnes (meat – maybe pork, onions, corn of sorts and onions - I’m getting it for breakfast tomorrow morning!)
A cup of instant coffee
Two more rolls
A yummy pastry sort of like short bread with dulce de leche filling – yum!
An orange
A few crackers
Lots of water

Comments

Heya Nif,

it's fun reading about your trip. I laughed reading that you ate chicharonnes, 'cause i have a song about them. I always thought that they were pork rinds.

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