29 March 2011

Near Villa Union

In the morning while packing I saw a young woman raking leaves at the campground and asked her if this was the road to Huaco. She said that it was, that Huaco was just over the next pass. I rode out of the campground and started up.

It was steep and a longer climb than the day before and there was much evidence of falling rock along the narrow one-lane road. There were no guardrails and it was a long drop down into the canyon. The road flattened out at the top and I stopped to look far out across the valley and to the next ranges of mountains and I could see the smoke from leaves being burned in the pueblo of Huaco below. Then it was down the mountainside on steep switchbacks, back and forth and braking all the way, and out into the valley.

I needed food and water and passed the turnoff north for Ruta 40 and continued into Huaco. It was a little town of mud brick homes with a little kiosk. There was very little selection and I bought a couple tomatoes and the only apple they had and then went back up the road to Ruta 40.

It was 100 km to Guandacol and the road was a rolling climb between two ranges of mountains. It was hot but the zonda was blowing as a cool headwind and it felt good. Far in the distance beyond a nearer range of mountains I could see snow-capped mountains. There was no traffic on the road and I rode until I was hungry. I put my ground pad down under a thorn tree and had some bread, the apple and a roll of cookies and took a nap.

I stopped at a service station in Guandacol and bought some water and continued on in the direction of Villa Union. I did not want to make it there but to get within 20 km of the town and to camp. The mountains turned red along the road and there were fields of low growing cactus. Much of this area was a flood plain from rain water flowing down from the mountains and where the vegetation and trees grew was nearest where the waters passed and I did not want to camp there.

I found a sort of grassy field up off the road and behind some bushes and pushed the bike up. I set up camp and began to boil water for pasta and could feel as if tiny insects were landing upon me and biting me. I saw nothing and tried to ignore the feeling. But there was something biting me and after the pasta was finished I hurried inside the tent to eat.

There with the twilight coming through the tent fabric I saw them. Fleas. Tiny fleas. There were hundreds of them hopping about the tent and onto me. The grass must have been full of them. I began killing as many as I could, crushing them against the tent walls, but there were simply too many and I went to sleep knowing I would be bitten through the night. I hoped it would not be as bad as that flea-ridden hostel in San Juan. The dozen bites around each of my ankles had still not healed.


Post a Comment

Copyright © S O U T H