Posts Tagged With: Policia

Day 48/164: Pasabar to Chiclayo – 113km

Up 700 meters, down 775 meters.

Not such a good sleep last night – just because a weird bunch of Lycra clad cyclists go to bed at 7pm does not mean the locals do. Quite a lot of talking and laughing, thankfully I had the iPod and ears muffs!

The soccer field has overhead lights, and these were on for a while, and then came back on at 5am.

When one of the riders woke up it was so light they thought they had overslept. Being so close to the equator there is not much time from dark to light in the morning, and light to dark at night. So usually we are getting up in the dark and going to bed in the dark.

As I don’t have my keys to lose every day I instead play “hunt for my overhead light” – if only I would put it in the same place each day! If I forget until it is dark more challenge is added to this by having to crawl around inside the tent going through everything with the light from the cell phone. My aim from now on is to put it in my toilet bag every morning (which I plan to do as soon as I find it).

To add variety today we had a team challenge, we had to get into a team of 4 and guess how long it will take to ride 25 kilometres-ish (maybe slightly more or less) without knowing the road and how much of today’s 700 meters climb is in it. I am in a combined NZ/OZ team called the Anzac biscuits. You can over estimate your time, but if you underestimate you’re out, and it’s based on the time that the last rider in the team crosses the line.  Given that we don’t know the gradient we are cautious and overestimate based on the expected speed of the slowest rider in the team (me).

It is for fun and there is no prize, but some of the teams are deadly serious and are warming up and have stripped everything off their bike. I considered if I should take off my panniers, but I already spend a few minutes each day trying to close my daily bag so that’s not an option anyway.

There was less gradient than we expected so we come in under our time. Going up the hill to the end I was feeling the pressure, was huffing and puffing and pushing as fast as I could. My team could hear me behind them, thankfully no one in my team was yelling at me to hurry up.

One of the teams had a rider who is also not great on hills who thought he was going to throw up, and in another team one of the riders was screaming and yelling at his team. Anyone would have thought there was serious prize money at stake.

The AZAC biscuits: Peter and me from New Zealand, Jackie and Brett from Australia

The ANZAC biscuits: L-R: Brett and Jackie from Australia, Peter and me from New Zealand

With this behind me, I set off for the rest of the ride. There were some ruins along the way, pyramids in Tucane built out of sandstone, that I stopped to have a look at. I need to google some info about them as everything I have seen written was in Spanish.

Me in front of the pyramids

Me in front of the pyramids

The pre Incan pyramids (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The pre Incan pyramids (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Detail of the Pre Incan pyramid (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Detail of the Pre Incan pyramid (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The road is not good to ride on, the shoulder has numerous pot holes but the road has trucks, buses and Tuk Tuks everywhere. Even when you are on the shoulder they blare their horns at you. They are much more aggressive than Colombia and  Ecuador, with us and with each other. They are also less kind to animals, and there is a distressing amount of animal carnage at the roadside. Also distressing are the vultures feasting. I can just imagine vultures as the birds in the horror movie (called I think Birds). There is also rubbish everywhere again.

Because of the team challenge and the rest of the day not being a race day, most of the riders are riding in groups. The group I was with got stopped and questioned by the Policia – an interesting conversation when they did not speak English and none of us spoke Spanish. We showed them on our notes where we were going, they took photos of us and – we thought – drove off happily.

However about 5 kilometres up the road along came 3 Policia on motorcycles with their sirens going and one headed over to us. Once again a challenging conversation, and he did not seem very happy with us. We got an escort for the remaining 16 kilometres to camp. It was a bit scary as he seemed really grumpy and he had a gun. It was useful though in controlling the traffic, and he stopped the traffic at two intersections so we could go across. However we were very relieved when we got to camp to see Cristiano. We left Cristiano to deal with him and went thankfully inside the camp.

Cristiano said after being asked for his documentation and having his photo taken, the cop said he had been told to ensure we got safely to camp – by it turns out the cops in the car who had stopped us.

The place we are staying has rooms at a reasonable price so a lot of the riders got one. Nice to have a room to myself, and not have to pack up the tent in the morning, and be able to get dressed standing. As it turns out also thankfully to stop being savaged by bugs. I put two types of spray on for dinner and still got bitten. In the morning I got bitten through my bike shorts and riding top as well.

This place is meant to have wifi but like the place in Las Lomas I could not get onto it. So rather than get frustrated I decided to turn the iPad off. Hopefully the hotel for the rest day will have good wifi.

I am looking forward to the rest day. Even though the days have been shorter and not much climbing, I have never ridden 7 days in a row before, and the legs are getting weary.

Dinner was goat curry, couscous, coleslaw.

On the road today (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

On the road today (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Peru, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 37/164: Puyo to Macas (or not!)

The day sounded great 130 kilometres: 1,650 metres of climbing and 1,545 downhill, with mostly rolling hills rather than big climbs. Sue said the weather forecast was for no rain and a temp of 16 degrees which sounded good. Finally fingers crossed I am over the gastro :D. I set off from camp with the plan to take it easy and ride the whole day. There are 6 riders in the trucks due to gastro, and 2 in varying stages of gastro riding.

The dogs in Ecuador seem a bit more aggressive than Colombia, and at about 15 kilometres I had two come running off a property and take off after me. Luckily I was on a downhill and pedalled as fast as I could! Even so I felt the breath of one of them on my calf before I finally pulled away!

The riding was good, hills but up and down. Every now and then you would come to a random unpaved section. One of the riders hit an unpaved section unexpectedly and had to be picked up by the dinner truck as they buckled their wheel when they hit it.

As I was riding along I was thinking about getting to camp that night where we were told we had wifi. It’s my daughter Lizzy’s 26th birthday today (in NZ which is a day ahead), hopefully I can skype but if not at least leave a video Skype message and text.

The view is amazing, riding down a road whilst the Amazon jungle stretches into the distance on either side of you. It’s a “Pinch myself! am I really here!?” moment. How lucky am I to experience this.

On the road through the rain forest (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

On the road through the rain forest (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

On the road through the rain forest (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

On the road through the rain forest (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Then I see the sign that we had ridden 64 kilometres so only 11 kilometres to lunch and halfway through the ride. I’m feeling good. I come around a corner and there is bridge and halfway over it I see the dinner truck parked next to the lunch truck and a number of riders clustered around it. Oh no what’s happened? Hope no one is hurt.

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What’s on that bridge (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Then I see the buses with Policia and Military marking on the sides. There are protestors between here and the planned camp. We are not allowed to go any further. The Policia and military have guns and riot gear. The protestors are not from the local villages, they are from around the country and are by all accounts pretty staunch. They are prepared to fight for the cause. Our sympathies are with them, the last thing any country needs is a president elected indefinitely (which is what the current president wants to bring into law). Cristinao (I have been spelling it wrong with a h) went and spoke to the Policia to see if we can get through but no! Not even locals are allowed to get through to their homes.

Riot police and soldiers (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Riot police and soldiers (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Waiting to find out the plan

Waiting to find out the plan (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Waiting to find out the plan

Waiting to find out the plan (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

We are now at a campsite at 65 kilometres waiting to see what happens overnight! Hopefully we can get through tomorrow, if not we go back to Puyo. However there is no phone coverage and no wifi so no birthday message to Lizzy :(. I had a little cry and sleep in my tent, I know she will understand but still feels bad, especially when I thought I had sorted.

Over the bridge to the campsite (Photo: Sue's blog)

Over the bridge to the campsite (Photo: Sue’s blog)

The owner of the camp site was carrying his pet anaconda around for people to have photos with, luckily he did not come anywhere near me.

The snake is nearly as big at Kathy (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The snake is nearly as big at Kathy (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I think the owner is very pleased to have us, he has set up a bar, organized a walking tour to a spot of tourist interest (did not catch what it was), and fishing and then for a price he will cook your fish for you. Totally different ethos than hosteria el piguali (which I guess is the difference between staff who not share in the profits vs the owner of a place). I was going to go for a swim in the river, then I saw the sign “River snakes”! No river swim for me.

At the riders meeting, we found out the plan at the moment is to continue tomorrow, to finish today’s ride and tomorrow’s ride as well! 171 kilometres, up 2,600 meters, down 2,250 meters.

Dinner tonight was stewed sausages, pasta and nice crunchy broccoli.

Rider's meeting (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Rider’s meeting (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Ecuador, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 34/164: Papallacta to Archidona – 113km

(Editors note: apologies for the delay/mix up with posting this blog, I had some technical difficulties!)

2,746km down: 10,895km to go. 1113 metres up – 3,517 metres down 😀

Tonight we will be staying at Bromelias Amazon Lodge, which is 500 meters above sea level, and they have rooms for $20 with air con and an ensuite. From a bleak, cold camp, to the Amazon Jungle! Instead of being cold we will be hot.

The white board today warned:

  • Landslides
  • Gravel
  • Broken roads
  • Potholes
  • Construction
  • Narrow shoulders

They did not mention trucks, rain, and cold. However I was in the truck again!! Clearly I did not cross my fingers hard enough, I was up in the middle of the night with stomach spasms. Of course my anti spasmodic medication is in my permanent bag (note to self: put all medication in my daily bag).

I did not sleep that well as the police came in to camp during the night with their sirens going, three times. The polica here seem to drive with their sirens and lights flashing as a matter of course. Yesterday at camp, during the day, two policia turned up a couple of times with the siren and light flashing. The first time we were like “Oh no, something has happened to one of the riders!”. But they were just here for coffee! (last night they must have just been on their usual circuit, as the coffee place was shut). Plus dogs barking and of course the roosters! (my very favourite critters). Plus I was up during the night with gastro. This morning my stomach cramps were really bad, and it was difficult to get my bag and tent packed. I managed and got everything over to the truck.

I got a cup of tea and sat in the corner. All of a sudden it just got too much for me, and my tear ducts got flushed again! I decided enough is enough, and I am now on medication. Jodi the medic went past and she got me some antispasmodic medication. So another day in the truck. First of all the lunch truck, and hopefully I can then get picked up by the dinner truck when it goes past, as at the camp tonight there are rooms and it will be warm.

Looking back up into the mist and pouring rain (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Looking back up into the mist and pouring rain (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

We parked up at the summit for lunch. The rain and mist cleared and the sun came out and it was warm.

View from the top of today's hill (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

View from the top of today’s hill (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

What a view (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

What a view (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I did get to change to the dinner truck and got to camp at 11:30 am 😀 😀

As we came down the 3,517 meters it got warmer and warmer. I saw one of the locals re-thatching the roof, if I had not been in the bus I would have liked to have stopped and watched.

Down and down we go in to the Amazon (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Down and down we go in to the Amazon (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

At the summit we saw a sign “Welcome to the Amazon” and half way down the hill we saw a sign “Beware of crocodiles”.

We are now in “el oriente” which translates into Ecuador’s strip of the Amazon basin. At the camp site there is a picture of all the types of birds we may see here. They are so colourful and include Toucan parrots (the type that were at the hotel in Cartagena).

Editor's note: I don't really have to say who took this photo do I?

Editor’s note: I don’t really have to say who took this photo do I?

When we got to camp it was about 25 degrees, there is a pool, and rooms with ensuites and air con, and laundry – $2 for 12 items 😀

Writing up my blog at camp (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Writing up my blog at camp (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

It is lucky that we left Quito when we did. There has been done protester action today with a general strike. Thousands of people marched to Quito and roads were closed by protesters putting trees across the road and burning tyres. The action has closed stretches of the Pan American highway and shut down transport in the city.  The main issue is the president Rafael Correa wants to bring in legislation that the presidential term can be indefinite. Currently it is 10 years and his term is due to expire in 2017.

I am feeling a lot better, hopefully bye bye gastro and I can ride tomorrow.

Last night for dinner we had Spag Bol and stewed apples with a crunchy oatmeal topping, tonight was chicken and vegetable skewers, and rice.

One of my favourite critters (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

One of my favourite critters (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Ecuador, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments