Thursday, December 9, 2010

Day 57 - Ica to Ayacucho, Peru

RobT:  We packed up and headed out at 8 am for a long day of riding, as we were taking the scenic route to Ayacucho via unpaved road for part of the trip, rather than going back to the coast and taking the blacktop from San Clemente (Pisco) to Ayacucho.  This was going to be less mileage-wise, but longer time-wise as 120 km of it was twisty gravel roads through the mountains. (RobC edit: This road made me think of our special son, Alex, who always wants to take the shortcuts.)

The gravel started out nice enough as we passed through some some villages on the way through San José de los Molinos and Rancheria.

RobC:   In the small town of San José de los Molinos we witnessed some of the 2007 earthquake destruction, the most graphic one being the church which still has one of its bell towers missing. The town had a few newly constructed homes, but the vast majority of the people are still living in homes made of reed mats.

 Church with missing tower.

 The church bell has been given a temporary home alongside the church.

 Checking our route on the GPS.  About the millionth time we did that today and still managed a wrong turn.

 The GPS seemed happy and the weather was cooperating as we pushed through 50km (34 miles) and around lunch we stopped at a village for some food at a local restaurant.

The restaurant. Menu: fried chicken and rice.

The round sign states that the restaurant sells gasoline, diesel fuel and food.

Inside the restaurant.  The little girl behind the counter also cleaned the tables and served the food.  She is 11 years old.

RobT:  After we left, the weather decided it was time to make life difficult for Rob and Rob. We climbed and climbed and the temperature dropped, the wind picked up and rain was coming down at increasing volume.  We were pretty sure of our route, but when we got to a cross road we asked a local Quechua girl for directions.  She pointed to the left ... to Huaytará.  The GPS was happy, so we were happy ..... until we climbed into the clouds and the nice worn gravel road turned into an ox trail with deep ruts and loose gravel.  The inclines were extremely steep and we slipped our clutches going up the steep hairpin curves in first gear. We pressed on until both of us failed to climb a steep incline with some deep traverse ruts for water runoff.  With both bikes lying on their side we tried to figure out where we went wrong, as this could not possibly be the right road.  We decided to turn back because going forward was insane.  Too much uncertainty and we didn't know if the "road" would get even worse.  Now came the arduous task of getting the bikes off the incline and onto level ground some 100 feet below.  This whole detour wasted at least an hour of our time.  Sorry, no photos of the disaster, as it was just too stressful and precarious to think about documenting the event.

RobC:  After we got back to the correct route we eventually came to the high mountain town of Ayavi. Apparently this is a place of pilgrimage for the area and the people we met were all smiling, extremely friendly and curious about our visit to the well-laid-out town, with streets a wide as any 4-lane road. They seem to have a vision of greatness in the future.

Some real characters gathered around the bikes.  One wanted to barter for my bike.

(RobC:  As a note to my South American friends and those who know the publication "El Condorito", this character reminded me immediately of "Garganta de Lata."   :-)

What a smile!

RobT:  After being told by the locals that we were still on the correct road to Ayacucho and to stay to the left up the road, we drove into the clouds once again.  What the locals failed to tell us that staying to the left really meant take the middle road, as there were three to choose from and no signs whatsoever.  The road to the right was well-travelled as indicated by all the tire marks, the middle road was travelled but not as much and the road to the left looked as if it may fizzle off in a few kilometers (really rough).  We almost chose the road to the right for the simple fact it was well-travelled and seemed like the logical thing to do even though the GPS indicated otherwise.  It did that last time too ... remember. So, straight ahead we went.

Thought we were lost again, as the road levelled out and disappeared.  We were at 4000 meters and and in a dense fog.  We noticed these 2 white "huts" and fortunately there were two people in one of them, so we could ask them where in world we were and whether we were on the correct road.  They were gas pipeline workers/guards on a 21 day on and 7 days off shift.  One of the plastic prefab huts was sleeping quarters and the other one the kitchen.  They offered us water and food and assured us that we were on the correct road ... another 45 minutes and we would hit the blacktop to Ayacucho.   Awesome!

 Here we are with the gas pipeline workers. They were dressed warmly and the whole scene was like something from Antarctica or the North Pole.

After completing 100 km (70 miles) in 8 hours we finally got the blacktop in the pouring rain and hail and we could only drive at about 60 kph due to the pounding hail, poor visibility and the freezing cold!!

We had to stop for gas (84 octane here)  in order to make it to our destination, but really to put on 5 more layers of clothes ... it was that cold.  Once again, my rain pants filtered out everything except the water.  I could barely move.

RobC didnt feel the gas station restrooms to the left were up to his sanitary standards.

We finally rolled into Ayacucho after dark in the pouring rain, freezing our asses off trying to locate accommodations for the night.  RobC knew of a place, the Hotel Valdelirios, but not after making another wrong turn and ending up a very steep, narrow road that dead-ended at an even steeper staircase up to some houses. We somehow turned our packed, heavy beasts around and turned them down hill and were greatly helped by some proper directions from a kind soul, who for once did more than wave an arm in the general direction. It was great to see the unmarked door of our hotel and the welcome inner courtyard when the people opened the door. The employee said the owner had told him there were no rooms available, but when RobC insisted that we were frequent customers, we were given a couple of single rooms and we later found out that we were the only guests in the hotel.


  1. Once more you have had a treacherous difficult ride. I guess the difference in weather is some from it being different time of year?
    Too bad you said in the email that the Valederios or however you spell it :) didn't have hot water as you sure could use it after that cold wet ride. The water was hot when we were there so guess we broke it ha...

  2. Phyllis,

    There was hot water after a fashion and we also got the Internet to work after doing a reset on the router. :-)

    The weather in Ayacucho was perfect!!