It’s all part of being travelers. Sometimes things don’t turn out as expected. The day began beautifully; a 300 meter climb, on pista (pavement) for a change. Sunny, lazy dogs, Zippy behaving, and a change of landscape over the top. Our legs felt good. It was to be a short day, 40k to a village just big enough to have accommodation and food. We found the food, but wasted an hour looking for the hospedaje, and failed to find it, after being pointed to all corners of the village.
We decided to tackle the following 600 meter climb, hoping the end of the pista wouldn’t mean another shoulder and butt wracking ride. The climb went fairly well, though the fist sized imbedded rocks made the effort much greater. We began looking for bush camping spots at the cold summit. As usual In Peru, there are people living and working everywhere, and the rough hillsides are much too steep to pitch a tent. If it’s too steep to farm, it’s too steep to sleep on.
The descent was difficult, rockier, narrower, and with heavy afternoon traffic. A couple of interactions with vicious dogs didn’t help. After a ten kilometer descent we were exhausted, and asked for a hospedaje in the village of Cruz Conga. No. We asked about setting up our tent in a bosque (small forest), and were refused. The idea of private real property is very strong in Peru. The woman we’d asked indicated she did have an unused room. Claire returned with the news that it was, “Pretty basic.” We paid 20 soles for a dirt floor, bare mattress, on a slope, wandering pigs, dogs and chickens, scraps of trash, animal feces, a shared outhouse, and the lack of a door. I collapsed on the bed, shoulders pounded tender by the rocky descent, chilled by the effort and the altitude. We ate cookies and saltines, to save the dried fruit for breakfast.
Claire set up a booby trap using fishing line and an empty water bottle. The effort, the altitude, the cold helped me to sleep soundly for twelve hours. The next morning was more of the same for half a day until Celendin, where we were greeted with a wildly celebrating populace anxiously awaiting the afternoon’s bull fight, and a concerned night with Claire’s second cold in three weeks, this one really bad. Another story.