21st till 27th of April 2019.
Breakfast in bed.
What a coincidence, being born in ‘65 and turning 54 while Frank turns 65 the next day, being born in ‘54.
Our consecutive birthdays always make me wonder about the coincidence of a Dutch guy and Belgian girl meeting each other in the South of Belgium during a horse riding holiday and having their birthday with only one night in-between, but with 11 years difference in their day of birth.
I do wonder sometimes if it would be more fun to have more time in between as you can celebrate each birthday more in depth, have double parties, even if every day is a party!
Turning 65 was a milestone in the past , you would have your last working day, start to receive pension and join the pensioners club. How this is changing in Europe.
11 days of cycling ensured we earned 3 nights in the same bed. It was a challenge to find a place which had a ground level space to store the bikes and strong enough internet so we could post the blog. For the first time Easter and my birthday coincide. No Easter eggs here, but breakfast in bed anyway. An Easter fire yesterday evening and a short ceremony on the square in the morning. Easter here is celebrated for a whole week. where the Sunday is a day to rest.
Sunday is mellow, relaxed and I enjoy spending several hours wandering around the weekly busy Sunday market. The plastic across the street is to protect against sun AND rain. And also here they are supplying customers with pre-cut mix for soup.
Not only do I take photos from people, but people also ask if I can join them on a photo. They definitively don’t see a lot of tourists here. Shopping for fruit gives me the opportunity to chat and ask if I can take photos.
The sombreros are handmade, taking between 2 weeks and 1 month per hat. You can buy the raw material or half finished products.
Dried fish is transported each week from the seaside and the lady asks if she can take a photo from me and her son. Matt is 9, but disabled and spastic, looks like oxygen shortage at birth. He lays behind one of the stalls, on his back on the concrete floor, sun peeping in his eyes, only a carton box to play with. We arrange a photo, but I cant get him out of my head. I find a small squeeze toy and find him back. He loves the sound when it gets squeezed, try to let him do it but it will take some practice. We connect the toy to some rope so he can pull it towards him as he is not strong enough to hold it. The mother explains that people are ok around disabled children and that he even goes to school but any further support is not in place. What goes around in his head? You see in his eyes that there is more, that he understands things but that his body is not obeying to his commends and that he cant control his speech. You see the love between mother and child.
We find a great place to have lunch and it is even decorated for my birthday 😉. Strange, fun, beautiful birthday with tons of messages on facebook and whatsapp but missing the hugs and kisses, sharing food and stories, talking about nothing and life. Now everything is happening in my head and between the two of us because the fleeting contacts with strangers are too brief and they don’t know you.
Next day is Franks birthday and what better to visit on your 65th birthday than a cemetery. I have arrange breakfast with fresh bread and coffee (I never prepare breakfast!), and yes also here you have to stand in line as we have to do in Hoegaarden for freshly baked bread on a Sunday morning.
We are of with our own private driver and limousine to bring us to one of several sites with ventanillas (literally windows), which are pocking the vertical walls around Bambamarca. Frank needs to work on his birthday as he needs to push several times or prevent our limo from sliding up/down the mountain. Thinking of the people who prepared these graves. Were they living close to here?
Nice, steep hike up the mountain to have a close-up look of these pre-Inca burial sites. Seems that around here and 50 km down south more than 1000 different sites are discovered, but that all of them have been broken open, remains were destroyed and anything else, e.g. burial artifacts were stolen.
What a location to be buried. We try to find information about who, how and why people have been buried here, but there is not much information available.
This visit, at a location where almost nobody goes, only the two of us together with Walter, makes up for the 11 days biking in one stretch. Indulge in this small corner of North Peru. Spend time to look at history and enjoy the crowds on the market was a perfect birthday. Glamorous diner with hard pizza! We do find a late birthday gift for me, a rain jacket as my GoreTex leaks after 10 minutes of minor rain. I will keep it as a wind jacket.
Biking out of Bambamarca with a full heart and rested muscles. Straight warming up getting out of town and today only following back roads. First a beautiful ride, almost flat, following a meandering river.
Short stop in a small village where the athletics competition between schools just starts. Meeting Cynthia. We hope that all of you understand how important school is even if it is not always fun.
But then the hard work starts! Only going up, on average only 6% but with quite some 20%+ switchbacks and loose gravel force me to push.
In the afternoon my new coat comes in handy, only because of pushing the water still flows up my sleeves. The hail makes the water dance. When it is raining cats and dogs we at least know where to find our rain gear.
Frank is so sweet to help push at the really steep sections.
In the village of Yanacancha there should be a hospedaje. Because we are both cold, tired, rain is still pouring down and we have climbed from 2400 to 3400 we hope to find this shelter. We ask around in the village and Marlon, son of a local shopkeeper, brings us to his father who also works for the municipality. He opens the upstairs floor of a deteriorating building where we find some bunk beds under a leaking roof.
Downstairs we can use a toilet but that’s it. More and more rain is coming down and dinner is postponed due to flooding of the restaurant owners house. We sleep dry on our non-inflated air mattresses with our warm sleeping bags. Is this camping or hostal, definitively does not earn the word hostal. More rain came down and more is predicted for today. We decide to organize transport, as these roads are way to bad, to steep, there is too much rain and 70 km including a 4,000 m pass will never happen today. We try to find somebody to bring us to the top so we can bike down to Cajamarca but without any luck. This gives me the opportunity to visit the local, impeccable production of manjar blanco where they cook milk during several hours together with sugar to create a sweet topping for on bread.
And to follow village life, mothers with small children visiting the local healthcare clinic for their monthly check, the lady making school sweaters on her knitting machine for 6 euro per piece. And all the women are doing something! Most of them knit, crochet or make wool when walking.
After lunch we finally find transport and decide to catch the Naja till Cajamarca. Quick search for a decent hotel with warm shower with place for the bikes. For the first time we see European tourists, Norbert and Susan from Germany. We share great biking adventures. As we arrived still before sunset we have time to visit the church and museums and hike to the vista point. As suggested by Norbert and Susan, we have pasta in the evening at the bistro style restaurant OM-GRI. The owner lived in Belgium 40 years ago. I could have finished two portions.
Next day starts with the first time a real biking lane (after some dirt).
Goin’ to the party.
Followed with a paved road to San Marcos. Nice and warm with no big climbs makes us cover more than 60 km. Our bikes find a place in the living room while we have the luxury of a warm shower. While I was shopping for next day grocery and having a haircut for 2.50 euro, Frank chats with the local authorities and finds out there is a fiesta tonight. After awful pizza we find the fiesta place but it is a fair with terrible music resulting in a quick return to our quiet haven. You may have noticed we (Frank mostly) complain a bit about the music here. In all of Latin America noise levels are deafening and contemporary music sounds like it was recorded in a bathroom with washing pegs on the noses of the singers.
Starting at 2.200 m means a bright, chill morning but warming up with a slight climb on some of the thousands of switch backs Peru is rich.
Stopping at 11;00 for a second breakfast of fried eggs with bread. This area is much dryer than before, crops are less and vegetation is mostly grass.
Aim was to have a ½ rest day at Aqua Caliente but when we arrive there it is bloody hot and we don’t see the benefit of setting up camp or sleeping in a hospidaje as there seems to be no wifi and the area is also not so inviting to spend a full afternoon here. Swimming pool with hot water in an area which is +35 degrees scalding hot or the possibility to have an own cubic (enclosed) where you can spend private time in hot water.
No charm and we showered in the morning. We decide to continue to the hotel we have read about on iOverlander, just before Cajabamba. Nice, beautiful ride with last climbing at the end of the day. One of the more mellow rides until now.
The owner has lived in Switzerland and made a reasonable attempt copying a good hotel. We could have camped if we wanted but it is against our belief to camp in the garden of a hotel. Would you do it?
As we don’t feel searching for food we cook or own food on the balcony, still sort of camping.
Final day of the week brings us to Laguna Sausacocha. We follow the Inca Divide Race Track. The sweet smell of broom brings back memories of biking in Italy and Belgium. Did you know it is called broom because this plant is/was often used as a broom. As it starts to rain we oppt for one of the several basic hospidajes. As this one has new mattresses I fail to see that the bathrooms are shared and the doors are falling apart from woodworm, but we are the only guests, so what the heck .
Beautiful sunset at the pier makes us appreciate to have stopped here and not continue to Huamachuco.
In the evening we enjoy the fresh caught trout, just before 3 buses with 80 miners arrive and a power failure occurs.
Early evening so we can continue Sunday morning as also here there is no WIFI.
To a good life!
and we needed to share this. SHITabamba is a nice name for a village, but our favorite is the local version of the name Brigitte, written as Brishit.