A false start in beautiful Peru

After the second dance, Paul and I get back on our bikes. We want to ride a bit more and then camp at Lake Titicaca. Paul is not making much progress today, I have to hold back to let him come back to me. Bad legs? You get that sometimes. ‘How far do you want to go?’ he asks somewhat plaintively from behind me. Who knows… I think, we’ll decide that together, right? Paul is clearly feeling weak and we decide to look for a camping spot as soon as we reach the lake. Dark approaching skies are a motivation to keep up the speed. But that speed is nowhere to be found… We won’t make it to the beach, so we ride along a path in the fields. While the clouds cover the sun, we choose between three less than ideal camping spots. The moment I spread out the groundsheet on a spot next to the path, it starts to drizzle. Paul is feeling pretty bad by now and I can smell that he is really annoyed by this situation. Within half a minute, a cloudburst occurs from which large sharp hailstones rush down with force. They land painfully hard on my body, dressed in a t-shirt and cycling shorts. Like idiots I put up the tent and throw all the sleeping gear inside. Luckily it is not soaking wet inside. I blow up the mats and roll out the sleeping bags while Paul sits next to me shivering violently. Once he is under his sleeping bag, with all his clothes on, the shivering does not stop. He breathes as if he is fleeing from a snow leopard on Mount Everest and his forehead soon feels sweltering hot while he lies shivering from the cold under two sleeping bags. This is not good! Poor boy. His stomach is starting to hurt quite a bit and his intestines are rumbling like a chemical lab. It is precisely the terribly smelly farts that reassure me a little… this has to do with eating the wrong food or something, so that his whole body is upset by it. Eventually I get some sleep. For Paul, however, it is a disastrous night. In the morning there are a number of fresh ‘cow’ pats around the tent and Paul has had the necessary fever dreams. I pack everything up to drive to a village 2km away where we can take a room in a hostel. Once we arrive in the village, the hostels appear to be full or closed. Paul hangs his head, he feels awful. The next (larger) village is 20km away, an impossible distance for him now. Eventually I convince him to take a diarrhea inhibitor, load our bikes into a much too small taxi and drive to Juli anyway. To my great relief I find a clean, new and affordable hostel there. After a long hot shower, Paul crawls under the covers and sleeps for a few hours straight. No matter how the next few days go, we are at least under the roof.

I map out a route through a valley, over a pass of over 4800 meters high and along four lakes with the first ‘destination’ Písac, where an Inca ruin is located that beats Machu Picchu in terms of size. We don’t know what to expect of the surroundings, but we are pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the valley. At this altitude there are no trees so we look out over endless plains, valleys and hills of yellow-green grass. Not grass to lie down in, but calf-high and razor-sharp (we regularly experience). Here and there is a village and a clear river runs through the valley. We also regularly see a kind of wadis. Lakes that are created by the rain that falls here about 16 days a month in the summer. Another reason why we are in Peru now, the dry (winter) season starts here in April. The weather is perfect for our liking. During the day we cycle in short clothing without overheating due to too much heat, the nights are cold. However, the days are short. The sun rises around 6:00, but with the many mountains here it often takes a while before it is on the tent and warms things up a bit. Around 18:00 it gets dark, but (again thanks to the mountains) the sun often disappears behind the mountains quite a while earlier, which makes it cool down considerably. We often eat a hot lunch at a market or in a simple restaurant. An ‘almuerzo’ that usually consists of a well-filled clear soup (with large pieces of potato, yuka and rice or quinoa) and then a very full plate of rice, potatoes and meat and a little vegetables. I usually have enough with such a plate of filled soup. When we crawl into the tent around half past five we make sandwiches with cheese, avocado and tomato.

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