July 29, 2005 GMT
Darkest Peru

Still havenīt found Paddington, although Algernon and Winnie-the-Pooh have been trying awfully hard.

Peru is, otherwise, stuffed to the gills with RTWers and other long-distancers, both on bikes and in 4x4s. I met a German couple on Africa Twins a couple of days ago on my way from Cuzco to Abancay, and three German cyclists yesterday as we Wowed at the sunset on the drop 12,000 feet down from the Andes to Nazca.

Peruvian driving is an endearing mixture of Iranian and Chilean - like the Iranians, they have two speeds (stop and flat out) but this is tempered by a Chilean-like courtesy. And the roads can be a little odd, as the paved surface will suddenly give way to dusty, bumpy dirt at the entrance to a town (like Puquio yesterday) and just as suddenly resume at the end of town (tends to be the opposite way round in other places). This coupled with the vague or non-existent road signs makes life pretty interesting at times.

The road from Cuzco to Nazca has to be one of the Worldīs Great Biking Roads, both from the point of view of the riding itself and of the scenery.

The day from Cuzco to Abancay was only 120 miles (itīs 60 crow miles - very winding) but took most of the day due to big rockfalls and a bridge which theyīre in the middle of building.

From Abancay to Nazca was 300 miles (160 crow) and I didnīt arrive till after sunset. Thank heavens for the auxiliary lights I fitted. But if Iīd been earlier Iīd have missed the stunning sunset. The two big passes rise to 15,000 feet and necessitate numerous photo stops.

I was doing a bit of essential maintenance this morning in the hotel car park and was interrupted by an American on a Harley with his Peruvian wife. They live in Lima and have insisted I use their workshop for the bike if I need to when I get there (may be a chance to do the timing chain). And then there was a Peruvian family whose papa was very complimentary about my Spanish. Itīs improving - I can even understand taxi drivers now and have sensible conversations with people.

Unfortunately the shoulder isnīt improving that much. It had a bit of a battering in the last couple of daysī riding, and if you look carefully at the pix you can see itīs sagging lower than my left shoulder (Iīve checked in the mirror as well). But Iīm here for a couple of days so itīll get a rest. Iīll just have to see how it goes.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at July 29, 2005 07:19 PM GMT

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