Monday, January 15, 2007

Bike Ride in the Jungle

The next morning I began the 82 mile bike ride to the river town of Yurimaguas. The first fifteen miles I climbed a mountain road that was lined with waterfalls and ferns. Giant blue butterflies that were bigger than my hands fluttered beside me up the grade. The road was cut along hillside cliffs that gave expansive views of the jungle valley below. Patches of cool air drifted from the shadows of roadside canyons. At the top of the mountain I passed through a tunnel that began the descent into the lower jungle. The road was very rough with the remains of car size boulders poking their roof tops through the thin covering of loose stones. My bike shook and bounced like I was coasting down a continuous flight of stairs. My tape recorder bounced out of my shirt packet and landed in a mud puddle. I frantically tried to wipe it dry. I thought it was working again but later I listened to my recording and a found I had lost 20 minutes of tape. I did not have suspension on my mountain bike but I became a convert today.

I had started riding at 6:00 AM just when it was light enough to see. It was now 1:00 PM and I hadn’t been passed by any vehicles. For seven hours I was the only one on the road. I was really starting to think I was in the middle of nowhere. Eventually a car came up behind me. They stopped to see how I was doing. They told me the reason there was no traffic was that a truck had stalled going up the mountain and closed the one lane road. Gradually a dozen other cars passed me before I arrived in Yurimaguas. I still felt that I was alone most of the day.

Between all the bouncing on my bicycle seat and the three bottles of tainted fruit juice yesterday, my bowels were not feeling so good now. I had experienced the laxative effect of jungle juice on other tours and I knew I was in trouble today. Although my legs still felt strong enough to ride I now had to deal with the hourly urges of diarrhea.


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