Finally back in the land of the Incas after last year´s accident. Now I feel ready to pick up where I left off. It took 10 months of rehabilitation - belated surgery on the collarbone and plenty of physiotherapy to get the body in shape.
I´m cycling with Judy, my trusty pal. She had planned to meet me in Cuzco last year a few weeks before my catastrophic fall from grace. She is the down-to-earth Sancho Panza on her donkey trailing behind the mad and foolish Don Quixote on his crippled nag, Rozinante.
Actually I´m riding on a new frame (built again by Tim Stredwick aka ´Velosmith´- see link). It has sliding dropouts on the rear wheel for chain tension, instead of the eccentric bottom bracket. Also ditched the problematic Velocity Cliffhangers in favour of Sun Rhyno Lite rims - extra wide with strong sidewalls. But mostly the same gear as last year
Judy and I are now in Huaraz after an eventful 2 weeks.
Arrived at Sydney airport to find our flight to Buenos Aires had been delayed for 10 hours. Not too bad as they waived our excess luggage (saved us $500, although Virgin hit us for $120). Another delay in BA, put up in hotel and then onto Lima. Arrived jaded after 50 hours on planes and in airports. We were met at Lima airport by David Herrera and his daughter Jely. David and his family and friends kindly helped me out when I had the accident in the Peruvian Andes last year and again they showed us warm hospitality. This is the clan - the Herrera Castillo family and friends.
And the Soto family up the road. Isaac, originally from Cuzco, has a passionate interest in the Incan civilisation and is a wealth of knowledge.
David and his mates have started an organisation called UFIS Peru. They promote health, fitness and environmental awareness and organise sporting events like athletics, marathons and long-distance walks. Here is their logo and philosophy.
EN ESTA PORCION DE ESPACIO Y TIEMPO
EN ESTE MUNDO QUE VIVIMOS, CON UN DETERIORO ACELERADO DEL ECOSISTEMA Y DISMINUCION DE CONDICIONES PARA LA PRESERVACION DE LA BIODIVERSIDAD, EN DONDE SE HAN PERDIDO LOS PRINCIPIOS QUE NOS ORIENTAN Y LOS VALORES QUE SE BUSCAN, UN MUNDO DONDE NO DAMOS SENTIDO A NUESTRA VIDA, UN MUNDO EN QUE SIN RAZON NOS ENZAÑAMOS A EXTERMINARLO, EN ESTAS CIRCUNSTANCIAS NACE:COMO LA UNION COSMOPOLITA DE NUESTRA FUERZA E INTELIGENCIA PARA ALCANZAR UNA SALUD MENTAL Y FISICA ADECUADA PARA CON ELLO ENRUMBARNOS A ENCONTRAR LOS VALORES MAS PRECIADOS DE LA VIDA, SER UN UFIS ES TENER LA VOLUNTAD DE CAMBIO PARA GIRAR HACIA EL CAMINO CORRECTO, TOMAR UNA DIRECCION DONDE PRINCIPIOS Y VALORES SEAN GUIAS DE ESTE CAMINO INFINITO. SOLO ASI ESTAREMOS CONTRIBUYENDO A LA PAZ EN EL ECOSISTEMA QUE VIVIMOS PARA LA PRESERVACION DE LA BIODIVERSIDAD.
I met David, Isaac and Carlos Bravo in the sierra last year and they promised to show me the remote corner of Ancash province (David´s birthplace) when I returned. So after 2 days catching up on sleep and getting over a prolonged fever (not the swine variety), we were off to Cabana on an overnight bus. Climbing from sea level to 3200m. was a bit dizzying.... then next morning a climb onto the puna and to camp at some alpine lakes at 4300m (more breath-taking altitude sickness).
Cabana to Lagunas Pusacocha Carlos, Judy and Willy (David´s nephew and arriero, or mule-driver)
Lagunas Pusacocha or `8 lakes´ (in Quechuan)
Lagunas Pusacocha - red flower (tola in Quechuan)
David and caballo, our packhorse from the lakes to Conchucos
Hot spring perched on a ledge above Conchucos valley- a wonderful spot high in the sierra. David, Carlos and kids.
View above Conchucos village 3200m
On the way along the royal Incan highway (El Camino del Inca or Inca Nani) we visited a small isolated village, Tauli. Carlos, a champion marathon runner, demonstrating the values of health and fitness to a captivated audience.
In the classroom we met sweet little Beti, at 3 years old, the youngest in the class.
Pelechuco - Incan tambo or storehouse. Our campsite at 4300m with panaromic views to the east.
Well-preserved sections of royal Incan road. We followed this road for almost 30 kms across the bare puna. As wide as 7 metres in places with stone benching a metre high.
Julian, our guide and arriero with el burro at Incan steps and plaza at Pampa de Shahuana.
Niña with her family shearing sheep
Quechuan women at a protest rally in Huaraz
Campesinas at Chancos hot spring selling papas
Putting bikes together at Jo´s Place, Huaraz.