9.03.2004

it has happened again....
BLOGGER choked on the PUBLISH AND POST
I reread this long boring tale and made it sparkle

it had more links and more fun
it was acutally worth reading
but....
the PUBLISH AND POST process threw my changes into cyber space
it is all so frustrating
I am thinking of moving to writing my BLOG installments into the EMAIL MODE


Peru
years ago, what now seems like a lifetime ago
what seems like someone else's life
as I do not recall what life without a family was like
I went to Peru for an old friend's wedding, what a great excuse to go to Peru
at that point in my life I was working some non-commital type job
mover/courier/bike shop
which is hard to recall...but with a little chronological thinking I am pretty sure that the bike shop was the "job du jour" but it could have just as easily been mover or courier
in any case, seeing that plane tickets are expensive and I had never been to Peru before I planned for just shy of a month South of the Equator
my trip was a few weeks before the wedding and a few weeks after
the weeks before I was to take my bike and wander about
the weeks after I was putting on my backpack and joining my then girlfriend/now wife Lisa for a few day trek on the Inca trail to Macchu Picchu
where at Macchu Picchu I would propose to my girlfriend making her my finacee and changing our lives forever
all that romance of Macchu Picchu is great
but I am going to drift to the tale of the weeks prior to my friends Greg and Annime's wedding
during these weeks I went to the Cordilla Negro y la Cordilla Blanco con my bicicleta para un pequeno tour
it was all very poorly planned
as much of my life is
but it was an adventure just the same
once in Huaraz I stumbled around looking for the gringo that owned a mountainbike tour company
foolishly thinking that business in Peru would be as dependable as business in the states I thought I could just go to his place of business and arrange to go riding
things are not always that simple
so I killed a few days visiting the surrounding areas of attractions
meeting a variet of locals
and eventually paying a local climbing instructor to take me on some rides around the area
the rides were long and beautiful
honestly, I could have look at a map and done these routes alone
we were on wide dirt roads the whole time
there was plenty of opportuity for death and dismemberment as there was always a dog at our heels or a high speed unyeilding car or truck headed our way
I did some switch back cut offs that amused some locals packed tightly together hanging on for dear life as they descended down the road and I raced down the switchback
but this is not what I was looking for
I accepted that my biking experience was to be more touring than anything else
so i left Huaraz and headed for Caraz and my trip to Laguna de Paron
my knowlegdge of the area was a scribble of information I had found on the internet and read in the Lonely Planet
on top of that I had used my C minus high school spanish to confirm my plans with various locals
all eyes lit up when I mentioned this place, but no one had been there
travel from Huaraz to Caraz was easy enough, I had over slept my original departure time
and thought that I had missed the bus to Laguna de Paron when I got to Caraz
but when I worked my way through this labrinth like village to the bus station I was assured that there was a bus leaving shortly and that I had time for lunch
with time to eat and shop I went for the nearest "el menu del dia" always a tastee and risky adventure
when they say chicken...it means various parts of chicken.....any parts...gizards...intestines...yummy
with a good meal in my belly and some travel food in my panniers I decided to grab an additional blanket as I could see snow at the higher elevations
I arrived at the bus station with my 19' bianchi grizzley fully loaded with all sorts of stuff I was certain to not need, other than my new alpacha wool blanket that weighed a few pounds and did not pack to be very small
our bus was a small flatbed truck with low sides
I climbed in with my gear
and was soon joined by an assortment of people
being gregarious I did my best to meet and greet all
everyone was very polite, even the Quechuan women with whom I could not share words but instead shared smiles
everyone was impressed with my aim to go to La Laguna de Paron
this confused me
weren't we all on the bus to La Laguan de Paron?
as we took this trip up the hill various people got off at different points
people with bags were headed back to their homes and farms from the market
a couple was going to a flower farm
and a woman was going to a school at Laguna de Paron
as time passed there were only two of us left on the bus
my language skills were showing their weakness
and the day was getting late
we finally arrived at the end of the line and unpacked the truck
this woman who was a nurse at "la escuela de Paron" offered that I stay at the school and ride tomorrow
I assured her I was fine and gestured that I was strong/fuerte
then asked her how far and which direction
she motioned up and that it would be obvious
the distance and duration were not clear
I figured from the way people had spoken that it was 100-200 yards maybe a mile at best
so I pedaled away at a vigorous pace with my heavily weighted down bicycle
time passed and I climbed and I climbed
the road switched back and made a curve and climbed some more
I grew tired and the sun began to set
I was climbing high above the clouds
the sites were amazing
I recall resting on one side of a steep valley looking across at a tall water fall and laughing to myself
in my delerium I had found the meaning of life
it was all clear, but foolishly did not write it down
the moment of clarity was the tale end of the ride's sanity
the climb continued and the glorious sunset turned to near darkness
the road climb was so loose at times that I had to walk my bike
which was fine
I had grown tired of walking
at several times in the trip I debated with turning back and finding a safe shelter to sleep
but I felt I had to be close
hours and hours of riding had passed
how far could this place be?
at one point the road leveled off and I passed a school
the school was either abandoned or out of session
I considered setting up camp here
but in the distance I could see that my trail continued up and that there was a small water fall at the top of that climb
in my untrained mind I imagined that the lake would be there and that it was a high plateau
it would be too frustrating to give up now
and go that short distance the next morning only to find that it could have been achieved so easily the night before
so i mounted back on the bike and rode towards that waterfall in the distance
distance can be decieving
I pedaled and I pedaled and it took a long time to bring that waterfall to me
but eventually in almost complete darkness I arrived at Laguna de Paron
I had only encountered one other on that trail
a large male bull who was as confused in our encounter as I was
but once at Laguna de Paron I found a radio tower and what would turn out to be a Park Service station
apprehensively I called out as so not to spook anyone
there was no answer
I tamely called out again
then out of the darkness came a small man in park service gard
we exchanged hellos and in my exhausted delerious state I tried to express my needs to find a suitable place to set up my tent
the park ranger motioned a sort of here....there....anywhere.....sort of thing with his hands
and i got ready to set my camp where I stood
no accessment of views or grade
it was time for rest
then there was a gesture to come inside
I accepted this offer
once inside the ranger motioned to a place along side of the wall where I could lay my down sleeping bag and newly purchased alpaca wool blanket
quickly I created a little nest and stripped our of my gear and into some fresh boxers and a t-shirt
then before I could climb into my pack to pass out I was greeted again by the ranger
now motioning to a small table with one chair
so i sat
he brought me tea
then he pulled up another chair and he too drank tea
soon we were eating his soup and drinking more tea
the exchange was more like a silent movie than a Spanish dialogue
my mind was too tired for words...all I could think was sleep
soon the caffiene from the tea and the resting off the bike and I was feeling a tad more alive
I went to my pack to find what I could add to our feast
there were chocolate bars and granola and all sorts of stuff that my new friend was pleased to share
we began to talk
but shortly after our talks began it was revealed how little Spanish I actually knew
the translation process is too slow for converstation....good for the exchange of solitary ideas
but not abstract thoughts
then I saw the cards....
with a candle glowing between us I asked, "tajetas? juego?"
We tried to find a game we knew in common. I can not recall if we tried to play a rummy and found that we had different rules or if he declined the game and motioned me to play and him to watch...it is too far back to recall
but the game of solitarie began
he watched
I played
as he grew more and more interested I tried to explain the rules
several games ended and more began
soon he was aiding and coaching my selections
and shortly after that he was playing with my guidance
it struck me as odd that a man alone at the Ranger's Station would not know how to play solitaire
eventually it was time to sleep
the sky was dark and we had used enough candle light and burned enough candle wax
this was clearly a simple world where a man's activities are dictated by the rise and the fall of the sun
as I gather myself for bed I motioned to the fireplace and asked "fuego?"
the answer was no....
there was no wood
and the wood that was there was too moist from the surrounding clouds
it was going to be a cold night....even with my newly purchased blanket

the morning came
I am sure I slept late which would have disgusted my grandfather
he could never stand how I could let the morning sun burn come through the window and touch my face, only to have me roll over rather than to get up
it was an odd feeling to wake with nothing to do and no place to go
no resturants
no shops
no markets for haggling
and no people to watch
so I put on what warm clothing I had and my cycling shoes and went for a hike

there was plenty to do
there was plenty to see
glaciers
rocks
vistas and views
and the lake itself with its glowing waters

the hours passed
details are not recalled
eventually it was dinner time and we ran the same routine
shared meal
his soup and tea
my chocolate bars with a mix of mini bananas and whatever else I bought haphasardly in the market
we talked
but it was all surface

it is all a blur
there may have been two night
maybe it was three

his solitaire game got better
and I was running out of food
I learned that he had a son named joel
and that this Park Ranger liked to make sculptures out of dried and twisted branches
before I left I asked to take his picture
he ran inside and was gone for a while
only to return proudly with an automatic weapon and a bullet proof vest
how strange, this man whose name was Fermin was to be documented in such a different light than I had seen him in for the several days prior

we said our goodbyes and got on my bike
it was downhill all the way
it was tough to contain myself from fully letting go of the brakes
I had crashed climbing at a slow pace due to the weight and exhaustion
but to crash now could be a tad more serious
I took the downhill fast, but always respecting the cliffs, the curves, and that this bike with all of its extra gear is not going to stop as quickly as I could hope
dogs nipped at my heels
and children waved
wiser dogs did not wait till I passed to try and chase me at high speeds
no, these dogs ran across the fields and beat the switchbacks only meet me further along
old women and men laughed as the dogs made their best effort to catch me as I sped by
so many beautiful sites
but too much fun racing downhill to slow for photographs
eventually I was back at the base....
not only going down the section I had ridden, but also what the flatbed taxi/bus had driven me and the others up as well
there was no stop watch to tell how much time lapsed
but it was such a fraction that I almost felt like I could get back up to the top and do it again
as I took a taxi back to Huaraz my eyes followed a single track trail that went along side the river
I looked on in envy wishing I was pedaling instead of being a passanger
but I had already plotted my course for Lima where I would join my friends arriving into town for the pending wedding
looking at the trail and foolishly thinking next time...next time I will know to take that trail back from Caraz
now knowing I will never go back there again and appreciating that I got to go there once


(someone else's pictures from this area)





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