Friday, October 19, 2012

Back to the sierra...again

Following Neil's advice, we went south out of Lima along the Panamericana (yeccchhh) until we hit San Vicente del Cañete where we turned east towards Huancayo. The ride turned out to be beautiful, as promised.

On the way to Huancayo
(winding 1-ish lane road much of the way)

On the way to Huancayo
(huge canyon walls)

On the way to Huancayo
(crazy canyon walls)

On the way to Huancayo
(interesting small towns along the way with tire eating troughs in the middle of the road)

On the way to Huancayo
("killer boots, man!")

On the way to Huancayo
(up to the high plains)

On the way to Ayacucho
(some stretches were more green)

On the way to Ayacucho
(this town right on the railroad tracks felt a bit like the Peruvian wild west)

On the way to Ayacucho
(we let the goats have the right of way)

On the way to Ayacucho
(the road ended up back at lower elevations with some dry desert scenery)

Leaving Huancayo for Ayacucho we passed a bicyclist from Minnesota who we had met in passing just crossing Huascarán the last time. The crazy part is that he had been riding hard everday to get through Huancayo, while we had dropped down to Lima from La Oroya, hung out for a few days, then worked our way back up to the mountains. Those bikers certainly have their work cut out for them!

Christopher from Minnesota on the way to Ayacucho
(Christopher on the road. It's nice to catch bicyclists with a smile on their face...sometimes they look a little more, uh, taxed)

Following the Inca Trail on the way to Ayacucho
(on the right path)

On the way to Ayacucho

We ended up going through a major construction zone before hitting Ayacucho, as well as after. It dramatically changed the course of some of our days...

Being stared at by the school kids in Ocros
(in the little town of Ocros we stopped for lunch, where we provided some entertainment for the school kids)

Waiting for construction in Ocros
(at the edge of town there was a roadblock for construction, which closed back down at 1:30. We, of course, arrived there at 1:45. The next time to pass was at 5:30. Shoot. We had even been asking about the road to Ayacucho and noone mentioned the blockage. So we were stuck)

The main plaza in Ocros
(we ended up staring at this tree for much of the 4 hour delay)

On the way to Ayacucho
(sun setting after our 5:30 departure from Ocros)

We stopped short of our planned destination, which would have been about 4 hours of riding, finding a small town just 2 hours down the road. But it still required lots of dark dirt riding through a construction zone. Un-fun. The next day was a nice day as we continued towards Ayacucho, where we stayed the night. Leaving Ayacucho started off with replacing 2 completely thrashed front wheel bearings. Not so bad except for having to weld a piece onto one of the outer races to get it out of the wheel. But ready to go after about an hour. We then proceeded to take nearly an hour and a half to find our way out of town on the correct highway. It should not have been that hard, but between the poor GPS map, a huge ravine with no way to cross, and Latin directions, it was just one of those mornings. To be followed by:

Mike in the Zone of Boom on the way to Abancay
(the zona de BOOM that kept us in one spot for 2 hours on our way to Abancay. I guess 2 is better than 4.)

Waiting for more construction on the way to Abancay
(And we got some entertainment by a municipality driver who tried to pull rank on the nice lady working the closure. What an asshole. But quite common for some of these small town officials (which may even be a stretch in this case) in Latin America. Poor construction worker lady shown here)

We finally started to feel like we were making progress to Cusco, though. After finally arriving in Abancay (we could see the town for what felt like hours as we worked our way down switchbacks on the other side of the valley) we found out we'd be back on autopista (=paved) to Cusco, after hundreds of km of carretera (= dirt) and unexpected construction.

On the way to Abancay
(some of the relentless switchbacks into Abancay)

On the way to Cusco
(the ride from Abancay to Cusco is about 4 hours and an absolute blast)

We rolled into Cusco as night set in, extremely happy to arrive at a location where we would stay for a few days. But of course, it was a bit of a challenge navigating the busy one way streets to find the hostel we planned on staying at, La Estrellita. Even so, it served as a good introductory tour of Cusco.

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