So much for the good times...
Two days ago our morning began on a bit of a sour note. A loud and angry mob was blocking our route to the South with a 3 foot pile of rocks spanning the width of the road. There was no getting around it and, as is generally the case with angry mobs, there were a few bad seeds in the crowd. In this case the ¨Bad Seeds¨ were a small group of women brandishing 4 inch safety pins who kept taking quick steps towards us, arms extended, threatening to poke holes in our tires. In retrospect I couldn´t really say if their wide eyes, crooked toothed smiles and maniacal laughter were more comforting or scary. In any case we quickly made it clear that we had no intention of crossing their blockade.
Not an altogether unpleasant experience, we made friends with a number of drunk men and were eventually cheered over the wall and on our way after I hefted a couple big rocks from the ravine out onto the road and added to their pile.
Riding was smooth for a few hours... and then we ran over a dog. We were cruising around 50mph when the little mut darted out from the road side and dove head first into our front tire. It did not survive and we were both pretty shook up, to say the least. We decided not to turn around and investigate. In general you do NOT want to put yourself in a position where you have to apologize and compensate an angry and armed farmer for the death of his beloved pet.
It was a surreal event to say the least. We have encountered somewhere on the order of 10,000 anxious dogs on the road sides throughout our travels, many of which enjoy running up to us and barking at our boots. It´s to be expected. In this bizzare case however, the dog had absolutely no intention of changing course and clearly wanted to either tackle us or commit suicide. He did not tackle us.
The next morning we discovered that the dog had broken off our PVC tool carrier and highway foot pegs which are mounted just behind the front tire. We drove back up the road to try and find it and found nothing but a cute brown puppy soundly sleeping on the roadside.
We had a generally pleasant start to the following day driving through the Cañon del Colca (arguably the deepest in the world) and watching a family of Condors glide overhead from a well known lookout. We stopped for lunch in the central cobblestone plaza of Cabanaconde and made friendly with a couple of locals when... the bike suddenly, and without explanation, lost balance and crashed down onto its side! My helmet visor was scratched up, the wire to the helmet cam was severed, and the aluminum knuckle guard was bent inward, preventing operation of the brake lever.
Fortunately I was able to bend the handle back into place and we were back on the road after only a short delay.
We were running slightly behind schedule as we headed down the woefully pot holed road towards Arequipa when tragedy struck YET AGAIN... flat rear tire!
We were an hour out of the city and we had an hour and a half of daylight left. I had the tools and the spare but not the time. I pulled a two inch nail out of the tire and swapped out the tube but by the time we were finally back on our wheels and ready to go, darkness had arrived.
As a rule we try to avoid driving in the dark, we were not however prepared to spend the night on the side of the highway at 13,000 feet so we climbed aboard and prepared for a slow ride into town. That´s when... the headlight stopped working!
You think I´m kidding don´t you. I wish I was kidding. We´ve been having some intermittent electrical problems which I honestly thought had been resolved. Apparantly not. It turned out we had blown a fuse, which I quickly replaced, only to find it blown again. It was getting cold out and I was in no position to troubleshoot an electrical short so we set off in search of the nearest hospitable accomodations sin headlight. Our brake light was still working, which I felt would adequately indicate our location to vehicles approaching from the rear, and our blinkers were able to provide a surprisingly acceptable yellow strobe to light our way ahead.
At 10 mph we had no intention of driving all the way to the city and neither of us were sure just how far we would have to go before finding a place to stay. Luckily, it only took about 15 minutes. We pulled up to a remote truck stop where we were waved to the side of the road by the police officer on duty. He started out by telling us how unsafe it was for us to ride without a headlight (Thanks) and asked us a bunch of questions about what we were up to. It turned out that there wasn´t a hotel for many miles and, after conferring with his partner, he invited us to park the bike inside the police station and sleep in the dorms by candlelight.
They provided a stack of blankets and showed us around the place. My favorite part of the tour was when they opened the door to show us the bathroom. Turns out it was also the rear entrance to the building. In any case, we were warm and safe and I gave them $10 for generator gas before leaving. We slept until 6am and hit the road to Arequipa. It was unbearably cold outside and we were thrilled when we finally pulled into town and stopped at the first cafe we could find to warm up with coffee and hot chocolate.
We subsequently found a hostel, got cleaned up, dropped off our laundry, and are now working on a plan to get the electronics and fork seal fixed before heading on to Bolivia.
For those of you who don´t have the attention span to digest the entire post, allow me to recap. In the last two days we have dealt with; an angry mob, a dead dog, a lost tool carrier, a broken helmet cam, a bent handle bar, a flat tire, a leaking front fork seal, malfunctioning electronics, being stranded in the mountains, and riding on the brink of frost bite.
Stay tuned for a (surely) more positive update.
Some of the photos are sad...