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I tried to sleep in, which meant waking up at 7am instead of 6:30, but felt completely zapped. I had some breakfast and started the first 10-15km, which were basically flat. My legs wouldn’t go in circles, and while the desire to lose my breakfast wasn’t there, I wasn’t too much better off. Even though there were very few climbs, I still had to push my bike up them, not boding well for the long climb ahead up to 3200m.

After almost 3 hours of exhausted riding I made it to the start of the climb and there was no way my legs were going to be able to ride up. It was going to involve me pushing, for about 30km, not appealing. I stopped by the side of the road and after a while managed to thumb down a pick-up. He was going to Sucre, and while that was my destination the following day I asked him just to take me to Tarabuco as I’d heard it was worth visiting. He had large soft sacks in the back and I laid on those, almost falling asleep but with one hand holding onto the bike to make sure it didn’t fall out. Honestly, if it had wanted to fall out my arms would have done little more than slow it down considering the lack of energy.

At the entrance to Tarabuco the man asked me if I was sure I didn’t want to go to Sucre, but I held strong. I’d have had no problem arriving; my Couchsurfing host was flexible, but no. I was only cheating a little. I lent my bike and bags against a wall, found some shade and spent the next 90 minutes unwilling to move anywhere. The altitude wasn’t too bad, although my heart was beating faster than it’s normal rate – which would give a whale a run for it’s money – I was just wiped out. After the 90 minutes, I finally got the motivation to stand up and push into town, getting countless unimpressed stares on the way. I got as far as the main square and took up residence on a bench.

It wasn’t until another 90 minutes later that I found something to eat, and then a bit later I was almost willing to pay for somewhere to sleep. I asked at the police station, and they pointed me to the church where two men were outside painting. In my dazed state I didn’t make the connection, and went to the side entrance to try to find the father. It was a while of me sitting round at that entrance that one of the two painters came round and asked me why I was sat there. Of course he told me that the father was the other guy painting the church and so I went back to speak to him.

Father Perez was a lovely guy and, when I explained how I was under the weather, had no problem saying I could stay there. The naps had given me a bit of energy and his friend had stopped painting so I offered him a hand. He had been a father at another church and found the people there very helpful, but in Tarabuco no one was offering help so was very happy for me to help and was looking forward to seeing what the locals would think of a gringo painting their church. The answer is a lot of confusion and stares.

We painted for about an hour, and then went inside for dinner, and to watch TV. By 7:30 I was falling asleep in front of the TV and retired to bed, glad to be under the countless number of blankets and not outside in my tent.

Getting a lift up

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