We made a huge effort from Nazca to Aeroquipe. In total about 380 miles, the last 50 or so being made in the dark(yet again !). We arrived at 23:00 after driving round the town again and again and again with ever changing directions to the part of the city we wanted to be in. (Peruvian direction giving reminded me of a magic robot game I used to have where the robots arm would vaciliate between one answer to another for a while!, albeit theirs often didn´t stop!) Phil had reserved rooms in a nice Hostal and we managed to find Pizza place still open at 23:40 !! Cable TV in the room and a comfortable bed....ahhhhhhh. This is the life !........
On the road from Nazca to Aeroquipe...the sand was blowing everywhere.
John and I´s three-handed display team ...I did suggest going for the four but I could see John whitening in my mirror !
Another outstanding view from the Pan American.
I found some of the hairpins a bit scary at times with the wind coming at me from all directions..and I was tired.
An incredible sight to see having travelled through a lot of desert.
...the following morning though we are all shattered from yesterdays efforts. We all took a slow start to the day and generally had a relaxing day. We visited a monastory which had been hedonistic for the first 300 years of operation. The Nuns had to pay to stay there and were allowed to take servants with them….not quite the Christianity of The Bible. When finally the possibility of a biblical Mother Superior became likely some of the Nuns tried to poison her, fortunately she was aware that something was afoot and gave the poisened milk to a cat which duly died.
View from Aeroquipe.
Mount Misti...(I think), seen on leaving Aeoquipe.
When we went out for dinner in the evening none of us were that hungry and as we walked around the main square we were beckoned in by many restaurants, however one caught my eye as it was soley traditional Peruvian food served from wooden bowls and wooden spoons. We were invited to see the kitchen, an offer which I accepted-John and Phil complying with the typical male stereotype, “don’t need to see how it’s done, just want to eat it !” I got brief introduction to their kitchen and cooking techniques, which included seeing a guinea pig in true road-kill position on a huge heated and polished stone !
The following morning we set off for Chivay, a point near to Culca Canyon, but had real problems finding the road out of Aeroquipe......which was frustrating. We ended up trailing from one dust road to the other with an ever changing set of vague directions from the people that we asked.(Back to my Magic robot and its wavering arm again !) Finally we made it and got on with the rough track that presented itself to us.
The track from Aeroquipe......Awesome ! (it´s Phil for those wondering.)
Tourist road signs-Peruvian style !
On the track we meet two English ladies, Pat & Shaunagh, and stopped for a brief exchange of biking stories. They had already ridden where we intend to go in the south of South America so it was nice to get some first hand travel experiences from them.
Our meeting with Pat & Shaunagh.
Phil on rutted track we find not long after leaving Pat & Shaunagh.
Scenes on the way to Chivay were incredible and we reached an altitude of 4800m which was literally breathtaking in both senses of the word.
Our lunch stop...in a very cold wind. We tried to shelter in some rocks..didn´t make for a top resting spot !
At about 4,800m, this was the highest we´d been so far. Our heads were wandering a bit but we managed to keep it together.
These piles of rocks are apparently "prayer" mounds where people will build them and then offer their prayers.
Still at a similar altitude, our bike were struggling to make 65mph with the throttles fully open !
Our approach and first view of Chivay.
"City" limits at Chivay...warranted a tourist tax of $6 or $7. We were a bit miffed but hey, this is Peru !!
The temperature dropped sharply as the day was closing in and by the time we arrived in Chivay, we were decidely very cold, so we drank a coffee or two once we´d found a Hotel for the night, and took turns to shower whilst the other two played pool. The shower was good(a point of note here in South America !) and we ate dinner at the Hotel to save getting colder again, but the combination of cold in the Hotel and our triedness put us in bed by 21:00.
I have an awful nights sleep for no apparent reason and wonder if the altitude has got ot me so I ask for a cup of cocoa leaf tea which is a famous altitude rememdy. I think it helped a bit but no sleep is no sleep !
The boys join me for breakfast and as we have an easier ride ahead of us I am less concerned than I might have been. We aim to stay at a village near Culca Canyon, a famous viewing point for Condors. On the way we do actually stop at the actual viewing point but do not expect to see any Condors as there are two principle times in the day when they soar, so we just relaxed looking in the canyon and chatted. As we waited we were approached by two Peruvian ladies selling various wares.
The Peruvian woman who brought their wares for us to buy. Very prettily dressed in National costume which they were happy to display.
We are resolute in only buying what we needed. I ended up with a Sherpa style hat for John and I´s up and coming 4 day trek to the Matchu Pitchu, and John and Phil end up with some Condor finger puppets.! John’s reason(excuse) was that they were for his Nieces , however Phil had no such alibie and we’re still wondering now what has happened to his one to this day.(John suspects though that "Condor" might be Phil´s "Wilson" for when John and I are away for any period of time....visia vie Tom Hanks in Castaway ) :teddy
Me in my new hat ! ....John and Phil distanced themselves after this for a while...I could still hear the whispers of " Has he no shame ?!" though.
Phil though was very inspirational though in preparing us for the Condor viewing we did eventually see. In fact, we actually do see a few Condors in flight this afternoon but they are quite a long way off.
Phil helps set the tone for the level of maturity and seriousness with which we will observe the Condors!
The boys also oblige in helping me prepare for the real-thing.....both in opposed flight......
...and when in their co-ordinated display routine.
Some of the incredible terracing we saw on the way to Culca Canyon.
As the day starts to close in we head into the only decent Hotel in this predominately market village. We also manage to get our bikes into the Hotel lobby courtesy of two large stones and Phil’s sleeping mat to get us up the 18 inch curb. We ate dinner in the Hotel and struggled to stay up past 8 o’clock again but finally grit-it-out until 9 ! :cockeye
The hotel turns out to be one of the quietest places we´d stayed and so we all got a good nights sleep, and even though we get up before 06:00 to see the condors, we are refreshed enough for the long day ahead. We get to the Condor viewing point for about 7:30 and are not disappointed by the many viewings we have of the Condors in flight.
Some of the many sightings we saw whilst at the Canyon.
This morning John and I are due to part company with Phil so that we can return to Miraflores to pursue the release of Johns bike from customs. We say our temporary farewells and head off to complete the remaining 100 miles or so of rough track to complete a 200 mile loop we started at Aeroquipe.
The first 5 miles or so though prove quite daunting and I am slowed to only a few miles an hour as I pick my way through many rocks and boulders littering the track. Finally this gives way to a “normal” rough track and we are able to cruise at about 25mph for longish stretches, peaking at 40mph at some points. The scenery was great and we end up being at very high altitudes again which ensured excellent views of snow capped mountain ranges.
Another incredible view from high up on John & I´s rough track after leaving Phil.
A small sand storm we witnessed right in front of us on the bike.
In the end we rode 110 miles on rough terrain, with the last 3 or 4 miles being on varying thicknesses of sand, with varying degrees of fear commensurate with the front wheel choosing its own direction. This is then followed by a further 50 miles to get to Camaña, the first largish town on the Pan-American. It was now dark(again!) and we set about finding accommodation for the night and find a side-street Hostal having large comfortable beds with cable TV for not-much-money. We also find a reasonable restaurant in the town.
The following mornibng we got up fairly early and were on the road for 09:00. Found a nice restaurant for breakfast after two hours unexpectedly in an otherwise grubby town. Just as we were leaving, we met Pat and Shaugnah again. They were on their way to Nazca and we ended up travelling with them for about 40 or 50 miles. They certainly didn´t hang about and left me pushing the Dakar hard through the ever increasing series of bends that presented themselves to us. After this 40 or 50 miles the ladies decided it was time for a rest but as we were only just half way through our riding session we stopped for a quick chat before pushing on. Amongst other exchanges we advised them of a reasonable hotel in Nazca and said we might meet them there later. We said our temporary farewells and set off again. An hour or so later we stopped for a sandwich and saw them sail by.
The Pan American through the desert.
Another view from the Pan American on the return ride to Nasca.
Originally our plan for the day was to reach Ica, about 2 hours north of Nazca but we decided that the prospect of some different company and not pushing to Ica was preferable and so headed for Nazca and found the ladies outside the Hotel. Apparently they´d only just got there themselves. We agreed to meet up for dinner in the evening with a Canadian chap we’d also met on arrival at the hotel. We spent an enjoyable evening with them all, and in fact managed to stay up until nearly mid-night !, quite an achievement after the past few days !
The following day we planned to move onto Ica but tiredness and the knowledge that we would be servicing John & I´s bikes, not to mention getting the temporary import papers sorted out amongst many other things persuaded us to stay at Nazca for another day.
Finally we do leave, getting up fairly early to ensure arrival at Miraflores in the light. We order breakfast for which the menu included 2 types of egg, fried or scrambled. The fact is whichever you ordered, it came back as a few eggs that had been partially mixed and then fried in an omlette style, and they weren’t particulary nice. I explained that they weren’t one thing or another and the manageress confessed that she didn’t really know how to cook so I gave her a basic British recipe for scrambled eggs, a recipe endorsed by Shaugnah as she heard me detail the ingredients and process.
Finally we leave and get on the road. The ride back to Miraflores was pretty uneventful, and as overcast, not even the desert could inspire us as it had on the ride down. The Police tried to wave us down at one check point but I had resolved not to stop anymore unless they stood in the road in front of me with their orange batton. In this particular event, the car behind me pulled over instead. The batton was meant for me, but as I say, I wasn´t prepared to stop anymore.
We arrive back at La Casa Nostra to the happy greetings of Freddie and Jaquin.