I’d been awoken a couple of times during the night, the most noticeable when the roof of my tent collapsed in on me. It turns out that the altitude and temperatures meant it wasn’t rain, but snow that fell all night long. Being a three-season tent, the sides aren’t that steep, and so the snow had piled up on my tent and caused the roof to fall in. Thankfully the poles bounced straight back when I pushed up from inside and trampolined all the snow down the sides. They of course then needed shaking down next time I woke up, as the tent was getting compacted in.
Snow is lovely, when you don’t like crap and can go snowboarding on it. For me, it was the first time I remember waking up to since back at the Grand Canyon almost 3 years earlier. That day was cold, but being in the US I was pretty close to warm buildings that I could take shelter in during the day. That wasn’t the case on my way to the next town of Yanaoca, which was still about 30km of dirt roads away. I tried riding, but other than the downhills I was mainly pushing. My host had mentioned it was a day walk to Yanaoca, so that provided some motivation to ride when I’d not have otherwise, but it was still a long way. Thankfully, the precipitation seems to not fall so much in the morning, so the snow slowly melted and by the time I was in Yanaoca it was starting to close in on being mild, mild enough to find a park bench to collapse on for an hour.
I was tempted to find a lift to Cusco, but knew that it was mainly flat or downhill for the rest of the day, and having struggled to gain the elevation I didn’t want to not ride down while it was still possible. There was also the thought of a pretty road past four lagunas. Of course things don’t go that easily when you’re feeling bad, and so obviously I had what felt like a killer headwind to ride into – probably wouldn’t have been that bad if I’d eaten more than a couple of packets of biscuits, but my body didn’t feel like it wanted anything.
By one of the lagunas I met a Polish couple that were very surprised to see another cyclist, and especially one heading north. They were great to talk to, and provided a good opportunity to sit down and not ride my bike. They told me of how they definitely liked southern Peru more than northern Peru. The people are much friendlier, and up near the town of Mancora they’d been held up and the boyfriend had had a pistol put to his head. The northern Peruvian coast is kinda infamous for cyclists and there are have been at least 4 incidents this year along those lines.
I said my goodbyes, and pushed on making it about another 30km and on to the main Juliaca – Cusco road. The alternate route that I’d been on would have continued, but I wanted nothing more than to get to Cusco and to sleep. Staying on the prettier, and hillier, alternate route would have just been pointless. I made it to the town of Cusipata, spoke to the police, and was directed to a restaurant. It was 6:30pm and they were already closing when I got there. I explained and was welcomed in, and given a cup of mate de coca (coca tea) which they assured me would help with my stomach, and then set my tent up and fell asleep quickly.