Let the Climbing Begin
The Inca Trail

May 11, 2017

A day of hard climbs and dealing with interesting rural communities who called us demonio gringos (white devils).

What happened…

Andrew writes: It should be getting easier, shouldn’t it? I had to resort to pushing my bike today. It’s bullshit. The roads which were like rivers just a few weeks ago because of the heavy rains, are now like dried-up river beds with child-sized rocks and ruts, and whatnot. I’m about ready to throw in the towel and fly to another country. Such a frustrating day on the bike. And then with nowhere to sleep and it turning dark, Amanda was really on my case, basically just frustrating me even more, almost to the breaking point.

Fortunately, we came across a school that let us camp in a classroom, they fed us, and I got to dance to Peruvian folk music. Good and bad, ying and yang.

Amanda writes: Today proved to be hard on so many levels. Not only was there more climbing than I had anticipated, the road conditions didn’t improve. Again after many hours of climbing we were left facing sun down within about an hour. We had climbed to the top of the second pass and it was 5pm. I asked Andrew if we could just pull the plug as we did the night before because I’m not comfortable trying to find a place to sleep in the dark. On this night he was adamant that we try and make the towns below. So with a little discussion we went for it.

So you’d think that going downhill would be fast, right? Nope, not always. When the road condition is poor and its not actually downhill it takes over an hour. Add to that we were in a region that we had been warned about. In these rural parts we are referred to as “The White Devil” or “White Ghost”. Our host in Cajamarca confirmed that in this area, the locals believe that gringos (white people) come to the rural communities to steal their children for the kids organs. And no I’m not shitting you. I’m not really sure why it’s a worry or if it ever really has happened but that is what they think. Other cyclists who recently rode through confirmed that people are weird in this section and that we should be careful. There’s even a story in the last few years of two cyclists being held hostage by the locals for almost two days because they thought they were going to steal their kids. Here’s the link. https://theridesouth.com/2014/09/11/arrested-by-peruvian-villagers-weve-all-been-there/. So maybe going for it as the sun set wasn’t the best idea.

So we did experience some hostility but in the end it was balanced by good people. It just shows me again that most people in life are kind. So before I get to the kind people I’ll share some of our encounters with the people that thought we were there to steal their kids. We had a family encourage their dogs to chase us and attack us as we rode by yelling “Gringo Muerto!” (Die Gringo). A bit further down I had a family whose property sat above the road throw rocks and yell at me as we rode by. Most other people just stared and some kids would run into their homes as we cycled by. As the sun set and our options for places to sleep seemed to be dwindling, we kept pedalling past more stares and saw a school just below the road. We headed down the trail and were welcomed with open arms by the teachers. They cleared out their Grade 4 classroom and told us we could set up in there. They showed us the bathroom, gave us bread and tuna and were so kind. Later after we had cleaned up a bit they were dancing in the plaza of the school to some music and Andrew went out and joined them. All in all it was a great end to a stressful day.

Today’s Photographs

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Let the Climbing Begin
The Inca Trail