Monday, January 11, 2010

Peru Part....7


Bike Tour Over the 16,000 Foot Ticlio Pass
Our new group of twelve riders all arrived in Lima on schedule. We were joined by five Peruvian guides who would travel with us on the tour. Clara would be joining us from Cusco. Aracely and her mother Nayda would be reunited for a few weeks. Vioricka was from Iquitos and our van driver, Pepe, was from Lima. We were an assorted mix of ages and backgrounds. The ages ranged from ten year old Aracely to 70 year old Bob Kenner who is a retired submarine captain. Of our 17 people, eleven have toured in Peru with us before. Everyone had been warned that these Peru tours offer lots of unplanned adventures. A little adventure is nice but we all wanted to return home safely.

Our first day involved getting organized and driving in our van across Lima to the suburban town of Chosica. Lima is a sprawling city of nine million people similar in size to Los Angeles spreading almost 50 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the Andes foothills. Chosica was the location of our base hotel and the Chosica Girls Home. We discovered the Girls Home four years ago when our little friend Aracely moved there from the jungle. Aracely now lives there with ten other girls.

In the afternoon we visited the Girls Home and took all the girls on a shopping spree in the market. Each girl received $18 to buy new clothes. Members of our group escorted each girl as they window shopped and walked through the stores. After much comparing of styles and colors they would select the perfect item. It was an exciting day for the girls to choose their own clothes. Later that night we all met for dinner at a nice restaurant. This was a good day to introduce our group to the type of projects we would be helping with in Peru.

The next day we began the bicycle ride from Chosica up the slope of the Andes Mountains. At first glance it looked like an easy 35 mile ride. What wasn’t so obvious was that we would ride up a continuous seven percent grade all day and gain about 7,000 feet of elevation. This cycling effort is similar to jogging up a flight of stairs. The first hour was okay but as the altitude and miles went by this turned into a pretty tough day. We slept at a basic hotel in the town of San Meteo located on the mountainside at 10,000 foot elevation. Most of us took six hours to complete the day and we were feeling the grade and lack of oxygen that night.


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