Day 404 – Attack of the sheep

Day 404/  Aguas Calientes – Cajabamba, Peru / 20 miles (Total 9560)

Morning shadow

Morning shadow

After hearing from Marko that he was ok and on his way, I put in a short day today. Only 20 miles, but Peru still can make you work for a short ride. The road was mostly uphill for the entire day, and I would say 70% of the road was filled with construction once again. After I made it to Cajabamba, I looked around and found a great hostal for $6.00, and decided to call it a day here. Ended up walking around the small city and getting some maintenance done on the bike and gear. Overall a nice relaxing day, on and off the bike.

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Here we go again

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Sugarcane machine.

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I have seen some pretty hilarious things on this trip, but this one takes the cake. I was taking a break on the side of the road when these two lady’s and their sons past me. Out of nowhere this sheep came running out of the ditch and started to chase the boy in the yellow shirt.  The boy was running in circles around the lady’s and the sheep kept headbutting him in the butt, sending him flying in the air. Even after a few crashes the boy was laughing so hard along with his mother. Heck, she was almost to her knees laughing so hard. As soon as I took this photo the sheep turned around, dropped his head, and started to charge at me.

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He came barreling straight at me and my bike, then headbutted my back pannier. The sheep was so excited, all four legs would come of the ground at once. I couldn’t stop laughing and now the family was laughing at me. I took this photo, and he decided to headbutt my knee,  then he took off as fast as he came. He ran straight for 2 dogs and started to harass them.  I thought the show was over, so I jumped on the bike and wouldn’t you know it. He started to charge at me again. I sped up and he got one last headbutt to my pannier, then ran off to the dogs again. I’ve been chased by dogs, a cat, and a rooster before. This was defiantly a first and had me laughing about it all day long. I need a go-pro.

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I have been riding around this mountain for two days. Peru definitely doesn’t disappoint  with the views.

Old school farming

Old school farming

A rooftop sunset

A rooftop sunset


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Day 403 – Rekindle the spirit

Day 403/ Cajamarca – Aguas Calientes, Peru / 55 miles (Total 9540)

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Give a dog a jean jacket and he gives you some raditude.

Today was exactly what I needed from the last few hard days. I woke up feeling back to myself, with a body excited to get back on the saddle. Once again, all it took was a good bike ride to shake off that funk that brought me down for a few days. It wasn’t the first time on this trip it happened, and it wont be the last time I’m guessing to hit a funk. The important thing is that I am rolling away with my head held high, with a new attitude to go with it.

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The hill starts out of Cajamarca, but also the great views.

I packed up and rolled off to Marko and Anja’s hostal. We were on the road by 7:30 and heading towards a new town. It was just a few miles out-of-town when Marko stopped me and said there was a problem. He’s been having some pressure building up in his lower stomach and was afraid to bike on, due to the fact that there wasn’t a bigger town for 2-3 days. I didn’t want him to risk it, even though I was looking forward to their company. So, we head in different directions once again.

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A few switchbacks to start the morning ride. Not bad at all though. Nice and mellow all the way up.

I uploaded some new music to the jukebox and the morning felt fresh and new. The locals were all smiles, waves and honking their horns. Wow, these Peruvians are some amazing people. The hills and switchbacks started and I was loving this morning ride. This is what I needed today. I was debating to turn off a side road through a little village called Jesus and pedal on some dirt. Tempting, but hearing a story of two bikers about a month ago getting arrested from the locals, thinking they were there to steal the children. That story changed my mind on the back roads today.

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This guy pulled me over for some morning coffee, donuts, and then started to pray for me and for safe travels. I didn’t think any country could be more friendly than Colombia, I was wrong.

Late in the morning, I made the first summit after climbing 1,400 ft and my legs felt great. No break needed, I bombed the hill fast to the start of the next hill climb. That’s were I encountered one of the coolest truck drivers on the trip.

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This truck driver was AMAZING! I was pedaling up another hill and at the last second grabbed onto the back of his truck for a free ride up. I saw him give me a thumbs up and we made it to the small summit in no time. A nice steep descent was ahead of me, so I let go and passed him fast. He gave out a friendly honk and smile as I passed him. About two miles later, another hill started and the truck driver was right behind me. He actually slowed down for me to grab onto again. There was a lot of sharp corners and some road work making it a little difficult, but he came up with some signals for me. One honk and he was slowing down. Two honks and he was speeding up. It turned into the funnest game. After 4 big hills the final descent into San Marcus started and I gave him a finale goodbye. Now that was fun!

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A great ride down to San Marcus. Fast and full of switchbacks. It felt great to ride at full speed and not worry about rough roads or construction.

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I met Matt at the Internet shop just as it was closing for the afternoon. A lot of the shops close between 1-3 pm around here. Matt and his wife live in the next town to San Markus. They bought a home and remodeled it for around $2,000. We talked for a while about the fundraiser and his work here as a Jehovah witness. A few minutes went by after we said goodbye and he came up behind me on his motorcycle. He handed me 50 soles ($15) to help out on the road. That’s about 5 nice dinners here. Thanks a million Matt, and I hope you and your wife accomplish everything you set out for here in Peru.

I thought about staying in San Marcus, so Marko and Anja could catch up to me the next day. I sat at the town center and contemplated the idea. It was only 12:30 and I was still bouncing with energy. I decided to push on knowing I still had one more summit to climb. Out of the town and the clouds disappeared, with the suns rays beating down. I took off my long sleeve shirt within minutes of climbing and the sweating started. I have been in the direct sun ever since Mexico, but the sun here is intense.  Just to give you an idea, I rode with just a t-shirt for one hour and blisters started to form on my arm. Back to a long sleeve and gloves on to protect the skin.

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Cacti standing 20 feet tall.

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Some good views out of San Marus

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A crazy looking door I liked

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I stopped at a little tienda and asked if they had any fruit, and Juan jumped to help. He told me to sit down and wait as he ran off to his house. He brought back enough bananas to overfill my saddlebag. We chatted as I filled my face with lunch. He wished me good luck on my trip as I pedaled away.

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Another old house that’s beyond the point of fixing.

After climbing a little over 4,000 feet I made it to the last summit, and the background had me off the bike. I sat down and took in the views with nothing but the present in mind. The silence of the mountains surrounded me, the air was crisp, and the sun was on my face. With my knees to my chest and my arms wrapped around them, time didn’t exist at that moment. That perfect moment.

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As the descent to Aguas Calientes started the views opened up into this. Jaw dropping

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The Mother Trucker and some mountains

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Rubbernecking it all the way down the hill.

The mountain road dropped fast in elevation, and everything seemed to change. The air became thick with a sticky heat, the plants changed within a few thousand feet of descending, and the pesky bugs came out to play. This ride down wasn’t that enjoyable though. Construction filled every gap of the road, leaving me braking for the next few miles into the village I was aiming for.

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I could describe Peru with two words – Road construction.

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Whenever the sun peaked through the clouds, this mountain lite up

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The start of the road tomorrow.

As I rolled into Aguas Calientes the wind started to whip and the bugs became more ferocious. There was free camping at the natural hot springs in town, so I checked it out. A nice area, but it was filled with younger kids getting their party on. Add the blood sucking gnats and I decided to check out the hostals. I was able to talk the lady down from 15 soles to 10 ($3.00) and decided this would be home tonight. Made up a plate of crackers, cheese, and strawberries to snack on throughout the night. Checked out the sunset and fell asleep early after a long days ride. Today’s ride rekindled my spirit and it feels great to be back to my normal self again.

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Enjoying the sunset, but not the gnats. Pesky little SOB’s chewed me up good.

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Saying goodnight from Aguas Calientes


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Day 398-402 / Cajamarca, friends, and the C-word

Day 398-402/ Cajamarca, Peru / 0 miles (Total 9485)

It was back in Granada, Nicaragua when I met two German riders heading down the Pan-American highway. We started talking and that conversation led to us riding down the highway together. Just like any other friendship, it started off with small chit-chat, then led to something deeper. Over the past 6 months we have been through more then some life long friendships. Hiking a volcano, riding through sketchy cities, steep roads, tight sleeping conditions, horrible weather, eating new foods, and having a few crashes together. We have ridden together through some stressful situations and we have always seemed to laugh it off at the end of the day. I knew I would meet some great people on this trip, but I never thought I would be riding with two great friends. I couldn’t ask for two better friends to be sharing the road with these past few months. It’s been over a month since I have seen my German friends and reuniting with them at this time is what I need. This past week has been hard on me with a friend back at home being diagnosed with cancer and having some friends around always helps through tough times. Since they have started riding with me, they have been a big part of this blog. I think it’s time you get to know them a little better. They did a great job answering the question in English. Thanks guys

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Marko – One heck of a nice guy and smart would be an understatement. He picked up Spanish in just a few weeks and can rap with you in English and a little Russian. Always nice to share the road with this guy.

Name/occupation:
Anja Ziesch (25) Nurse
Marko Nowak (25) Engineer
Where did you start and where do you plan to end this trip?
We start our Trip in Seattle in the north of the USA. Till now we are not sure about our final destination. Our course is straight south but to where will be for us also a surprise.
What inspired you to do this tour?
To break out of the normal life cycle and to look what life is about. To look and have contact with other people from other countries and to collect ideas for our own future “normal” life. We like it also to use the bike as a tool to discover the world and to cover long distances.
How many months on the road?
We are now more then 12 Months on the road.
Favorite country/least favorite country?
Our favorite countries are till now the Colombia and Ecuador where we are currently. Not so nice experiences we had in El Salvador and Honduras. People had been not so friendly to us there. We felt often not welcome and could here this on the “Gringo” – shouting
What country have you had the most dog attacks?
At first I wanted answer Colombia but in the last days we collected a huge amount her in Ecuador. But all went fine and we won the fight.
What country has had the best food?
We liked the street food in Colombia very much. You found it nearly on every corner and it was very cheap. The type changed from north to south through Colombia and this variety we liked also very much. Our favorite had been the fried banana – with some cheese – Delicious.
Have you had a moment where you wanted to throw in the towel? When and where if so
Our worst moment was, when we crossed into Mexico in Tijuana. This is for the start in the Latin american world the baddest place. It was very dirty, a lot of dead animals on the street, from cat to cow every kind. It smelt very bad. People where you could get fears. But as we come more south from Tijuana the world became better and better for us. This is also a experience you do on such a journey. You try to go on and look if things become better and don’t stuck in sadness. If we haven’t go on in this point we never had made the great experiences we had on the way to her in Ecuador.
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Anja – Tough as nails. I watched her take a slam that would make most men tear up. She tackles the biggest hills side by side with us and a smile on her face. 6 months ago I could barely understand her English, now it’s amazing to see how far she has come just by chatting with me. Always nice to hear her starting the day off with good morning James, or ending the day with good night.

How many flat tires with the both of you (rough guess)

We stopped to count but when we guess then maybe around 60.
Any major bike problems on the trip?
2 Bigger ones. Both in Mexico. The first on: Anjas derailleur broke and was chased through the wheel. We had a broken chain and some spokes.
The second one was close to Mexico City. By Marko’s bike broke the back freehub.
All problems could be fixed and so we done it without more major problems to Ecuador.
What is the biggest addiction you have on this trip?
At first we had been addicted to the big box of Safeway – Cookies in the USA. We could’t find them in Mexico, but we found fort us the Panaderia / Bakery. This is from their our friend for life and gives us allot energy for the day.
(Anja)
Have you ever wanted to kick Marko out of the tent/bed for snoring to loud?
I’m used to it and don’t hear it anymore.
Cajamarca
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One of the many beautiful churches in Cajamarca

The detail to this church was amazing

The detail to this church was amazing

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The city’s center

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Always good to see this in any language

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They have the best yogurt and cheese in Cajamarca. $2.00 for some great food (teddy bear not included).

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Another stuffed animal in my room. Not really sure why

A painting I liked in a restaurant

A painting I liked in a restaurant

A coffee table with coffee beans in it. Finally back to good coffee

A coffee table with coffee beans in it. Finally back to good coffee

The room of the last Inca King in Cajamarca.

The room of the last Inca King in Cajamarca.

As high as he could is how high they filled the room with gold

As high as he could reach is how high they filled the room with gold, till the Spanish came and enslaved him.

Cheese heaven

Cheese heaven

Cake heaven

Cake heaven

Old and new friends. The Germans are everywhere

Old and new friends. The Germans are everywhere

And you thought your job was tough. All up hill

And you thought your job was tough. All up hill

A fruit heads paradise.

A fruit heads paradise.

Black corn. Curious how it taste

Black corn. Curious how it taste

I have never seen so many VW bugs in one town.

I have never seen so many VW bugs in one town.

A typical street in Cajamarca

A typical street in Cajamarca

A door and my name

A door and my name

Red wall with a single hand print that caught my eye

Red wall with a single hand print that caught my eye

Almost on every street corner was a local selling some goods

Almost on every street corner was a local selling some goods

Paintings on display

Paintings on display

Enjoying the beautiful Sunday weather

Enjoying the beautiful Sunday weather. A majority of the women here where that style of hat.

Another church in the town's center

Another church in the town’s center

My past few days in Cajamarca has been a flood of emotions. I never thought this blog would turn into feelings and emotions, but its a release for me now. Thoughts of failure with a failing body, a loved one diagnosed with cancer and a dark cloud of depression has been following me these past few days. I stare with empty eyes and thoughts in my hostal room and look into myself. I knew days like these would happen. I would miss the rhythm of my old life, family, friends and sleeping in the same bed night after night. 13 months of the unknown and adventure. 13 months of never knowing whats around the next corner. I put myself into this situation for a reason, for days like these. To understand myself and not to run away from these thoughts. When things got bad for me in the past, I would run away from the problem and try to suppress it anyway I could (and I mean anyway possible). Now, I seem to welcome days like these. Let the bad days come and ill take on any problem. No more running, no more numbing. When I look into a mirror now, I recogonize who I am. Learn to release, to forgive and to love. See the world how you envision it and live your life how you imagine it.

After a few days off I feel back to my normal self and ready to get back on the road.

 


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