(July 17 – written by Dave)
We departed Caraz this morning in a peleton one person smaller than we arrived a few days ago. Andi, the bikepacker from Germany is taking a slightly different route from there and not leaving until tomorrow. So Nancy, Kathrin, Philipp and I soldiered on for the team. I’m sure we’ll see Andi again on the trip as we are all headed in the same ultimate direction. Andi took quite a shine to one of our (ok my) favourite sayings – that is, “Teamwork makes the dream work”(shout out to Lyla, our youngest niece – she taught us (me) that great saying). Safe travels Andi…
We had 70k of mostly uphill to ride but all of us were pretty relaxed getting ready this morning. We didn’t leave much before 8:30 riding under yet another day of great blue Peruvian skies. We had a slight headwind at the start of the day with the wind coming down the canyon. By mid-day it had switched and became a tailwind heading back up the canyon – yeah.
We were still riding up the Santa River, meaning we’ve been riding up it for more than 170k. We picked the river up three riding days ago in Chuquicara way down at 500 meters. Today we finished our ride at 3050 meters (or about 10,000 feet). Even this far upriver the water is pretty brown, probably from mining runoff but there was also a lot of agriculture in the land around the river today.
We rode mostly due south and on our left, or the east, we had a constant stream of one Cordillera Blanca Mountain peak after another. Unfortunately the sun was also in the east and good photos were very hard to come by – way too much glare. I’m posting a few but it would have been fun to ride this route much later in the day, when the sun was coming from the west.
We had a lunch stop of sorts in Caruaz (not Caraz). Kathrin had been talking about having ice cream all morning so we found a heladaria right on the main square only a little off the 3N highway. By the time we got there, she’d lost the urge for ice cream so only Philipp, Nancy and I had it. Philipp got some bananas and a strange new fruit in the market near the square. None of us knew the name of it until I looked it up tonight at the hotel.
What he found was a banana passionfruit. He’d had them before so he knew how to eat it. You basically twist it in half and squeeze the fruit out into your mouth. It was quite tangy and like a passion fruit. It had the small black seeds just like a normal passionfruit. It’s actually a fairly common fruit growing in NZ, Hawaii and much of Latin America. It has heaps of names that vary by country. Banana Passionfruit is the NZ name. In Peru it has more names than I’ll every remember – tacso, tumbo, tumbo del norte, trompos, tintin or purpur. Looks like we’ll be pointing at the market if we try buying it again.
We arrived in Huaraz about 2:30 and made our way to our booked hotel. Philipp and Kathrin decided to try a few different places than ours. We didn’t end up getting the fancy place that Nancy really wanted but we did upgrade our room to a semi-suite with a nice balcony with views out over the Cordillera Blanca Mountains. Plus the wifi works and we got a nice hot shower (and a toilet seat). So everything is ok on the hotel front.
We searched this afternoon to find a bike shop and it took a good deal of time. Many shops exist but have the wrong address of map details in their online facebook or google listing. Eventually we found the one we were looking for and hoorah, they have the brake pads that we needed, a couple chains and they can clean/adjust our bikes for us tomorrow. Most of the bits that need doing I can do but there are couple where it’s nice to have a shop. And if they are going to have the bikes anyway, might as well let them clean them.
We had a nice dinner in town and more of a look around Huaraz. It is very climbing/expedition-oriented with lots of trekking shops and tour companies. This is ground-zero for trips in the Cordillera Blanca Mountains. We will do some more exploring of the town in the coming days and are not planning on departing until Saturday. We have a lot of chores to do but also want to give ourselves a good chance to get used to the altitude as we go higher from here.