Friday, April 17, 2009

Blood on the Streets

January 26th

We leave Cerocahui just as the daily commute gets in to full swing…



Again we are delayed on the road, and not just by the terrain this time… killer mutant chickens, grown huge and mean; attack on sigh. This guy really did go for us - a cross between a turkey’s rage the week after Christmas, and scrap-yard attack dog…



And a 2 minute stop in Bahuichivo sees us mobbed by local school children…



Two minutes later the word is out and the crowd has grown exponentially…



All of which means we come this close to catching the train that would make all the pain go away…



Not that I would have let Sue catch it.
I keep telling her - this is cycle touring and it’s not supposed to be fun.

And the pain does keeps growing. Sue takes a tumble as she brakes hard on a descent and the road dissolves under her tyres. I turn medic and break out the antiseptic wipes as her arm and leg leak the red stuff. Amazingly she questions my bedside manner when I offer to take pictures and use duct tape on her bandages. This is the road that got her....



All the while the next train rolls by mockingly close to the “road”….



This is the last in a series of switchbacks we have been climbing for 700 vertical metres - half a mile into the sky...



Back in Cerocahui, a local guide told us once we finish the climb, make sure not to miss the right turn down to San Raphael, it’s not signed and looks like a minor road heading 2 miles in to town. If we miss it, we make a loop and end up back in Cerocahui - a sort of cyclist’s Groundhog Day. This is something to avoid.

So we make a turn down what is a minor looking road. Which becomes ever more minor, descending steeply, and then turning to deep mud until we dead end at a village of maybe 20 souls just as the sun begins to set. It’s freezing at 2300 metres (7600 ft) of altitude and we are just thinking about pitching the tent for a cold night, when a local turns up looking bemused. Why don’t we just hitch a ride back up to the road, he inquires, as if asking the obvious question. I explain we have seen no traffic all day and I am questioning my Spanish when (I think) he replies there will be some along any minute. The cycle gods do intervene once again when a convoy of lights emerge, as if on cue over a hill, and a passing construction crew of diggers and backhoe loaders approach. Acting as if cyclists needing a ride wait at this very spot everyday, they stop, throw the bikes in the back and drive us back up to the main road. They recommend the orangest hotel in the world….



And we have finally made San Raphael. The land where roads turn magically from rock and stone to tarmac!


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