(July 23 – written by Nancy)
Last night we were so shattered after our long day we both thought there was no way we could do today’s intended ride to Chavinillo. Our Komoot map showed it to be about 86k with over 1600 meters of climbing. We met our German friends Philipp and Kathrin in Huallanca – they had ridden from the Pastouri glacier in the park yesterday and were also pretty tired. Huallanca didn’t seem to offer a lot for a day off, and our hostel was not terribly inviting so we all decided we would hit the road today and just see how far we felt like riding.
We left the hostel about 8:30 and had a decent downhill to start the day – almost 30k – which gave the body some time to warm up before hitting the hills again. We stopped in the bustling little highway town of La Union for a look at the market and came away with lots of bread rolls, bananas and avocados to supplement our dinner if we ended up camping somewhere along the way.
We rode the whole day through canyons, following rivers. Unfortunately following the river doesn’t mean staying down at the river in Peru. It usually means that you end up riding down a canyon to a river crossing and then up the other side of the canyon, where you can see the same river far below you. Despite the tiredness from yesterday and the climbing today it was a nice ride and when we stopped for lunch break about 12:30 just at the start of the second climb we decided we could make it all the way after all. The weather was good, the climbing wasn’t too steep and most importantly we had a paved road! Well, we did have about a 10k section that was hard dirt but thankfully it turned to pavement again before the steeper part of the climb started.
We rode through lots of gum tree forests again today – the smell of the trees was very nice and reminded us of riding in Australia. The road was essentially a one lane road and there was a bit more traffic than we have seen the last couple of days so there was lots of honking as cars went around the blind corners. At one point we came upon a huge rock blocking one half of the already very narrow road. There was a small tape face around it and a guy standing on top of it with a jack hammer. I am not sure what he was going to do when he got far enough to break a section of the rock off, as there was no place for it to go other than on the clear section of the road!
It is corn harvest season in these parts. We saw heaps of corn cobs tied together hanging from the eaves of houses. We are not sure that if the corn is for humans or for the animals but clearly they’ve had a good crop as many houses had corn hanging from every possible location.
We finally made it to Chavinillo about 4pm and checked out a couple of the places offering accommodation. The first place, Hotel Casio, had some okay rooms but to get to them you had to climb multiple flights of stairs, including some very rickety ones that took you out on the roof and then back down to where the rooms where. It was all very odd but it appeared that the regular entrance to the hotel rooms was blocked off as there was a part of it being used for preparation for elections in October.
The second place we looked at was the Hostel Central and while the rooms where not much better access was a lot easier so that is where we have landed. Both places have shared bathrooms (no toilet seat, of course, and bring your own TP) and unfortunately Hostel Central does not have any hot water so we had to do without a shower today. It’s a bit like camping but in a hotel… We’ll survive the night, I am sure, though I may have to limit my ‘middle of the night’ trips to the bathroom.
We rested a bit and then went out to walk the town and find something for dinner. One of the locals recommended a restaurant so that is where we headed. There weren’t any customers in the place when we arrived but by the time we left it was hopping – obviously the place people come to eat. Dinner was decent – we both had Arroz Cubana, which is essentially rice with an egg on top and fried bananas along the side. Fresh squeezed orange juice hit the spot as well.
Tomorrow we ride into the bigger town of Huanuco, where we will take a day off. There appear to be lots of accommodation options in town so hopefully we can find a nice place to relax – perhaps even with our own bathroom that has a toilet seat.