My alarm blares in my ear. It’s 5:20am and I’m in Puquio, Peru. The segue from last nights chilling ride to this morning’s alarm was way too rough. I peer through the blinds out the window. It’s dark. It’s raining. And it’s foggy. Good god. Not again. It takes about 5 long minutes for the hot water to trickle out of the shower. At nearly 12,000 feet Puquio is cold and my guess always is cold.
I pack on the layers as the sunrise does nothing to brighten the day. Thick fog, rain and men and women slopping around the muddy streets. I dread these type of days. My savior is either racing the weather, descending to warm weather or praying for a break. Doc is temperamental this morning and takes several minutes to start. With a throaty echo of my exhaust in the garage I pull onto the muddy streets capturing the bewildered stares of locals bundled in blankets, boots and rough and warn faces. It’s almost 7am.
For the next three hours I climb through twisty switchbacks. I feel warmer than last night, but I don’t care. It will take all day to get to Cusco. And at this rate, maybe all night, too. With limited visibility and pelting cold rain I’m frozen in my position to my handlebars and seat. There’s no making time in this weather. Just waiting.
Patience prevailed finally. Climbing up past 15,000 feet I descended into vast pampas. The rain slowed to an irritating drizzle and the fog and clouds hung on the hills below me. In the distance glacial peaks peered through the clouds. The road was straight, long and easy. Occasionally rays of sun would wash hillsides or if I was lucky the road. Thousands and thousands of llamas grazing in all directions. I passed a construction crew painting lines on the road — by hand. I cranked up the speed. Relief.
Passing through the most remote villages I’d seen in a long time. Thatched roofs, mud brown stone walls surrounded by short brush with some fences holding sheep and llamas. No trees. The is the scenic Peru I’d imagined. The weather, or I should say Pacha-Mama ( the Quechua/Inca word for mother earth) decided to give me a break late this morning. Cruising high in the Andes hundreds of miles from anywhere I enjoyed my reward for braving Pacha Mama’s weather last night and this morning.
Soon I was following a raging wild river and passed through a series of small settlements. I gasped at the scenery of this small villages tucked into a tiny gorge when three men strutted onto the pavement leading a pack of 30 or so llamas. Soon I was cruising through the bustling university town of Abancay, through more scenic valleys, rivers and grazing llamas and finally through a long fertile green valley until I rolled into the great Inca and then colonial city of Cusco at about 4pm. It took a bit of negotiating the cobblestone roads and winding around the colonial plazas until I found the hostel where Jeremiah has been staying. We enjoy a reunion as it was in Oaxaca around Dias de las Muertas (October 31st) when we parted company.