(August 14 – written by Dave)
We had a very short day planned today so we got to sleep in and have a proper brekkie at the cafe across the street from the hotel. The cafe is really out of place in a small Peruvian town, fancy coffees, nice bread and even an American breakfast on the menu. Very few people seemed to stop there and there were even a few gringos. Oh well, it worked for us. We were so leisurely this morning that I even stole up to the Plaza de Armas for photos. We didn’t get out of town until almost 10AM – wow for us.
It was warm already but we still put on a couple layers because we were riding downhill for the first 15k. Or at least that is what we thought. Nancy had her heavy rain coat on and it lasted about 1k before it had to come off. By the time we’d reached the bottom of the descent, we were all down to shorts and short sleeves.
The mountains we saw yesterday made another appearance again this morning, in slightly different light. We had to stop several times on the way down for photos –and I was not the only one stopping. We’ll have to consolidate all of these mountain photos one day. We stopped near the bottom at a fruit stand – the region is famous for a hybrid mandarin that we had to try – they were great.
All the stopping had one negative side effect – the bloody sandflies. Wow, they were out in force in the Rio Blanco canyon. We all layered up with the bug spray but it didn’t seem to matter. All of us have legs that look like we have the mumps. Thankfully we are slightly higher tonight and they don’t seem as bad as they did down on the river.
From the bottom of the river we had about 16k to ride up to reach the town of Limatambo. It was hot and the flies were bad but as long as we kept moving they stay mostly away. We had a quick stop for a cool drink but we didn’t linger. The last part of the climb was easier than the bottom and we reached town just after 1PM to start the hotel search. And what a search it turned out to be.
Somehow we missed out that today was the 482nd anniversary of the founding of Limatambo. Yeah, it’s beyond me how we missed that in our planning. There is big festival in town and all of the hotels/hostals are full. Tine and I knocked on every single and no one had any room. Lost for what to do, we went to the municipal office. They were really busy and didn’t really have time to deal with four touring cyclist. So off to the police station we went, where we got a much more positive response – they gave us options of staying in the stadium or the local pool.
While Tine and I checked them out, Philipp and Nancy continued to hang out in front of the local school. Philipp happened to engage a couple of teachers and was eventually directed to the school director who was more than happy to offer his massive schoolyard for us to camp in. Now suddenly we moved from nothing to three options. We decided on the school because it seemed safest and they were really nice. There are no showers and the bathrooms are dodgy but we have the whole yard, water and power available.
While we were eating dinner in rolled Sarah and Andy, two Brits who are also riding Alaska to Argentina – we last met them in Caruaz almost a month ago. Everyone is heading for Cusco and really excited to get there tomorrow. Everyone gets to have some time off the bikes there. We have to be out of the schoolgrounds by 7am tomorrow morning before the students start arriving so it will be an early night and an early rise in the morning. Thankfully it looks like clear skies and the festival doesn’t sound like it will get to wild so we should get some sleep.