Thursday, January 21, 2010

Huaytara-Ayacucho The high-way.

Huaytara is a town that has recently gained popularity as being an important archeological site. In the area, (from what I could decipher in spanish) there are several statues carved from rock outcrops on one of the near by mountains. As well, in the town site itself there were Inca bath pools made of stone maisonry. When we wandered up to see them we realised that the local church had been constructed on the site, thus combining some of the Inca work with the modern church archetecture.

We loaded up the bike at 10am and continued up the #24 highway toward Ayacucho. The evelation was reaching heights well above 3000 meters and the bike began to sputter and I noticed a significant loss in power. I was wondering where we'd buy gas when we encountered a black plywood sign on the road that read "gasolina". We pulled in and a girl came out to ask how much gas we needed. I asked for a gallon and she went back inside her house only to appear with a bucket of gas. I have no clue if it was indeed a gallon or not, however, who was I to complain. I dumped the brown colored gas into the tank cringing at the thought of water, rust and dirt contaminants that I was adding to the tank.

We continued to ascend further and Julie needed to put on extra layers. My hands were frozen to the handle bars and my feet were as cold as ice. We were forced by the lack of oxygen to ride in only 1st, 2nd, or 3rd gears between the range of 3000-4000RPM. Any less and we'd bog down and any greater and the bike would sputter as the fuel to oxygen mixture was too rich.

As we neared the summit of the mountain pass at 4700 meters it began to hail on us just to add insult to the cold mysery. Of course I had warmer gloves and clothes, but that would mean having to unpack it from the bottom of the dry bag....why that would have taken 5 minutes! Instead I suffered through it for about 3 hours convinced that we'd descend at any moment now. At one point we saw snow capping the summits of the near by mountains.

The land was barren with rocky outcrops and boulders which stood out as white speckles of varying sizes embedded in a brown and green backdrop. The scene was tranquil, and there were signs of people past and present who made a living planting and farming this harsh land.

We finally began a true descent into Ayacucho and again only about 5km from town the tank ran dry. I turned the petcock valve to reserve and we rolled down hill to the first gas station. The bike seems to be chugging fuel at these higher elevations, or the gas here is terrible... I don't know the answer.

Ayacucho claims to have 33 churches (pretty much one on every street), one for every year that Jesus lived. There are way more than 33 however. We found a hostal that let me ride my bike right into the courtyard up some 2/4 planks to clear some of the high steps. Julie and I walked around town and followed the guide books advice as to where to find the best pizza in town.

After Pizza we walked through the streets after dark on our way back to the Hostal. Everyone seemed to be out and about doing their own thing, talking to friends, selling stuff, or just walking around. We hit the sac early and I listened to crying babies and barking dogs for part of the night before passing out completely into never never land.

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