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Old 01-19-2013, 08:48 AM   #11
huzar OP
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Joined: Aug 2009
Location: Bellevue, WA
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013 Puquio to Chalhuanca to Abancay

In the morning, we wander off to “La Estancia” for breakfast. One of the items that intrigues me is the jugo especial. Upon being told that it is leche and cervesa and huevo and some fruits, I go for it. After all, it sounds like a balanced meal. It comes out a faint brown or tan, a pretty unappetizing color. It is, however, delicious. I’m going to have to try and recreate that at home when I get back.

Hewby finishing the last of the jugo especial:

IMG_1238 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

We hit the road to Chalhuanca. The signs tell me it is 184km, so I’m thinking that including reserve, I have enough gas to get there. And seeing as it is not currently raining, we want to ride while the weather is good. The road climbs in sharp switchbacks, then straightens out a bit on the altiplano, and tops out at almost fifteen thousand feet. The bike is actually doing OK. About 25 miles east of Puquio, we stop by some lakes and I put on my heated gear, as the horizon looks decidedly ominous. We ride into rain and a couple of hailstorms, but nothing like what we hit coming into Puquio yesterday. The landscape is pretty lush and green, and there are always people about, even up here, usually herding.

Great roads through beautiful scenery:

IMG_2342 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

IMG_2344 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Some large alpine tarns near the top of the pass:

DSC00740 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Just after another hailstorm:

IMG_2351 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Clearing up:

IMG_2356 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Riding on the altiplano:

DSC00753 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

The descent into Chalhuanca is spectacular. At 201 miles, my bike sputters to a stop. I figure, ok, I’m out of gas. Flip over to the reserve, and continue riding. Except the bike does not start. I can hear the chatter of the starter, but no love from the engine. Hewby realizes I’m not behind her, and comes back. We pout a liter of stove gasoline into the KLR. Now, I don’t even have the starter. I must have drained my battery. Fortunately, I’m just near a small hill, and am able to push start the bike. We ride into Chalhuanca, where we are accosted by multiple dogs that charge us, snarling, but fortunately nothing else. On the way out of town we stop to fill up the bikes.

Amazing, 3-mile set of twisties into Chalhuanca:

DSC00764 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

IMG_2361 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Hewby carves the turns:

IMG_2367 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr


DSC00767 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

More lush scenery:

IMG_2365 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

The bike doesn’t start again. Crap. This time, however, I’m not on the road on top of a hill. I’m in the flat parking lot of a gas station, and the road through town is pretty flat. Double crap. We decide to get something to eat while we ponder the options. Turns out that the KLR does not really have the charging capacity to run a jacket and gloves at half tilt. Hewby no longer has her jumper cables, and in any case, getting to the battery on the KLR is a pain that involves removing the racks on one side. She got rid of her rope, so we have no tow strap. That really only leaves a push start again. Hewby is not looking forward to this, as she’s a small girl. Unfortunately, the KLR is way too tall for her, so I have to be on it, and she has to push. We are saved by the arrival of a couple of tour buses, which disgorge their passengers at the restaurant. We ask a couple of the men for help, and after five or six attempts, the engine roars to life again. I ride back and forth for a bit, to ensure that the engine does not die on me, and eventually ride back to the gas station. I put on my gear, and we head out. It is two hours to Abancay, the weather is good, the tank is full of gas, and I need to run the engine for a while to charge the battery up again.

The road from Chalhuanca to Abancay is my cup of tea. It parallels the Rio Chalhuanca as that flows down from the mountains. We ride through steep canyons and lush valleys, always along a river. I am in heaven. Hewby would have preferred something twistier. The temperature rises as we drop to seven thousand over 80 miles. Finally, we break away from the river and climb a bit to Abancay.

Riding along the river:

DSC00773 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

The Rio Chalhuanca:

DSC00774 by Marcin Porwit, on Flickr

Abancay itself does not make a good impression. Tiny, choked streets full of impatient Fittipaldi wannabes push us this way and that. Hewby spots a hotel with a garage, and wants to check it out, but I am insistent that we find the plaza de armas, as I think that will be the tourist section of the city. I am wrong. The plaza is a small, uninteresting thing. On top of it, Hewby drops her bike on the slick, steep cobblestones. I feel bad, and let her be the guide. Within 10 minutes she has found us a hotel for 50 soles with secure parking, hot water, and wifi. She’s awesome like that. And she helped to push-start my bike, so she’s doubly awesome. For anyone interested, the Hotel is Hostel Omega, on the corner of Apurimac and Cuzco.

We do some laundry, and then go out in search of food. I am craving something, something with lots of alcohol and good food. Unfortunately, Abancay does not seem to provide. There are lots of small holes in the wall, or pizzerias, or places serving pollo, but nothing with a bar. I’m hungry and cranky, and Hewby knows this, so she brilliantly distracts me with a tamale. I still don’t know what I want, but start to focus my search on a place with juice and ice cream. We find one, and I drink my fill of chicha morada, a yogurt drink, and mango and milk. A couple of hundred meters later, on a plaza next to the plaza de armas, we find a hole in the wall that has three street vendors. One sells meat on a stick, one sells refrescos, and one sells arroz con leche and other desserts. We chow down. My cravings for an expensive tourist trap have gone away. I think the whole food excursion was 22 soles for the two of us.

We head back to the hotel, where I pop another motrin for my knee, which is still throbbing, and start to do a little research about where we’re going in Cusco.

huzar screwed with this post 01-30-2013 at 05:02 PM Reason: added pictures
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