Mountains covered in lush greenery with streams flowing in every valley surrounded us this morning. By noon, we were riding through the Pampas National Reserve where herds of alpacas, llamas, and vicunas grazed on increasingly sparse vegetation. Despite being in the tropics, snow capped mountains still are a frequent occurrence.
I don’t believe I have ever ridden at such high altitude for so many hours of days and days at a time. Still on the Altiplano, high plateau, we have been above 12K ft for days. Today we were above 14K ft for at least 2 hours. I kept waiting to take a picture of my GPS screen when it hit 15K but the highest it read was 14,970. Lots of heavy breathing and water drinking today. Temperature got as low as 2C (36 F) in the mountain passes.
A young lad wearing a Statue of Liberty T-shirt pumped my gas. I wondered what his future would bring. Living above 13K ft on the Altiplano in Peru probably doesn’t offer much opportunity for 10 year olds. While handing him a coin, I suggested that he use it for his schooling. As I was struggling to keep warm, children played soccer in T-shirts and shorts. I guess you get used to the near freezing summer temperatures when you live here.
As the afternoon progressed, we went through an area with HUGE rocks and full size trees growing out of piles of massive rocks. I don’t know how they ever could have gotten started. The twisty roads were smooth and long lasting.
As we approached Nasca, we saw the mammoth Cerro Blanco, the largest sand dune in the world. I had assumed that the largest dunes would be found in northern Africa’s Sahara Desert, where we were in December. Learning something every day.
We try to eat where the locals eat. Tonight we went to Pollo Rico (Rich Chicken). The only Gringos in the place, we knew we had come to a locals’ spot. Terry looked in amazement as his portion of fried chicken and fries was served. It could have fed a family of 6! I guess we should have expected such big portions after he had ordered a large water and was given a 2 ½ liter bottle.
20-Feb Tampumayu to Nasca 225 miles
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