28 March 2011

Near Huaco

I awoke to the pitter patter of rain on the fly. It was gray and cloudy but from the tent window I saw clear skies in the direction of the wind. It would blow over and be a fine day later. I made a coffee and waited for the rain to stop and then began to pack up. I wanted to make San Jose de Jachal by lunch and also to purchase more supplies there. I had very little information on where towns were along this stretch of Ruta 40 and I wanted a max load of water whenever I could get it.

Like yesterday it was good rolling desert scrub between the mountain ranges and I felt good and even better when a light tailwind picked up. Past the pueblo of Niquivil (really a few mud brick homes along the road) the desert ended and it was lush with streams and poplar trees and fields of corn and even some vineyards. Along the road was a small canal bringing gray-green colored water down from the high mountains.

Soon after I was in San Juan de Jachal and rode in to the center of town and found a restaurant at the main plaza. For lunch I had a big, tasty piece of beef and a salad with a mediano Quilmes and afterwards a coffee. The town was on siesta when I finished and I went across the street to the plaza and put out my ground pad under a tree and took a nap.

Except for a little kiosk the town was still shuttered when I got up. I bought some water and rode out towards the mountains. My map indicated I would need to follow a smaller road, possibly unpaved, over a range of mountains to get back onto Ruta 40 near the pueblo of Huaco. I planned to camp somewhere near there.

I followed the road to a lake and then it started up into the mountains. A sign marked the area as La Cienaga, a nature preserve. It was a steep climb but not long and at the top there was the sound of rushing water and I looked down at the lake where it had been dammed. Then it was down, descending, down the narrow one lane road cut into the mountainside and then fast shooting out into the next valley. The mountains here were red rock and the dirt was red too and I had not seen any signs for Huaco or anything else and hoped I was going the right way. But there hadn’t been any other way that I remembered.

I climbed and descended and then down another descent I saw a sign that said “Acampar Permitido”, meaning camping permitted or free camping. There was an abandoned campground looking out at the red mountains and I stopped. There was still another hour of rideable sunlight and I could have gone further but the campsite had running water and electricity and I needed to wash some clothes and recharge my computer and cell phone batteries. I figured I was pretty close to Huaco anyway, that is if I was going the right way.

I washed my tshirts and socks and laid them on at log to dry. I made a pasta dish with a four cheese sauce packet and it was good, but the mosquitoes got too bad and I had to go inside my tent to finish it. Later in the night a dog found me and circled my tent barking and grunting. I lay quietly and soon he was gone, and soon after that I was asleep.


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