Monday, January 11, 2010

Peru Part...8


The summit was still 25 miles away and 6,000 feet above us. The following morning we departed early to beat the bad weather that blows in at Ticlio Pass in the afternoon. The road climbs through the gorge with steep rock walls towering 2,000 feet around us. I expect some sections of road only see the sun a few hours at mid day. At 14,000 foot elevation the jagged ridge of mountains along the summit become visible. These peaks are about 18,000 feet tall and they make you feel very small as you ride toward them. The final miles to Ticlio Pass meander through a gap at 16,000 feet. The snow covered peaks are still towering tall above us. It would take a serious mountain climber with ropes to reach the top of these pinnacle spikes.

We reached the summit around twelve noon. Right on schedule the weather changed from sunshine to a cloudy splattering of rain and hail. Everyone scurried to layer on more clothes before coasting down the other side. In a few minutes everyone was wet and chilled. Our hotel was 25 miles down the grade at La Oroya located at 12,000 foot elevation. We arrived there ready for a hot shower. Of course there is not hot water in these basic hotels except for a couple hours in the evening. Fortunately we had dry clothes waiting for us. It had been another tough cycling day and harder than most riders expected. The grades and elevation almost double the amount of effort needed. The next three days would be easier as we continued to drop an average of 3,000 feet each day into the jungle elevations. We were in the routine of traveling in Peru and seeing the country in a way few travelers have.

On our fifth cycling day we stopped at the jungle town of Yurinaki. This was Aracely’s hometown and her grandfather was working at the family roadside restaurant. Her old house was made of simple wood boards and a grass roof. We ate an assortment of jungle foods such as giant lima beans and fish roasted in banana leaves. Since it was Saturday the local school was closed today. The director came to the restaurant and we gave him four big boxes of books and school supplies as part of the Anne Marie McSweeney School Book Delivery Project. We made plans to visit the school the following Tuesday on our return trip home.


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