2000m down, 50km across and only one wipe-out!

Trip Start Sep 20, 2007
Trip End Dec 20, 2007

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Hey :o)

Its been a while, and Im still in Arequipa! Im also feeling pretty lazy so cant be bothered to write too much so youll have to make do with a quick summary :o)

Last time i wrote was monday morning and i was a tad hungover. Im happy to report that in the days since iv only had one more hngover and it wasnt so bad :o) So, Monday was a bit of a washout - I went for a lazy lunch (bacon egg and cheese sandwichs - ace) with Karina, Matt and Ben and we wandered a bit around town, and then lazed in hammocks on the roof. Had an early night - bed by 10!

Tuesday was Karinas (dutch girl) last day in Peru so we did the sights of Aequipa. First the Monastry of Santa Catalina - a beautiful old building painted in bright colous, very spanish looking. Then we went to the museum which houses Juanita - an Inca ice mummy discovered on top of a nearby volcano in 1995. It was absolutely fascinating - she was only found because a nearby volcano errupted, melting the snow cap, and an explorer found her by chance. She was an inca sacrifice, a girl about 12 years old, and her body has been perfectly preserved by the ice, even her skin and nails. So that was really cool :o) In the afternoon I had my first spanish lesson - I feel i should learn some! I had 3 lessons in total this week, and that addedto my self-teaching is meaning im getting by pretty well! Ive impressed myself! We went for dinner in a really cool restaurant overlooking the main square, its so beautful :o) then after dinner Alex arrived - the guy I met for a drink in Lima. About 10 of us from the hostel went to a bar and we had plenty of Pisco Sours! It was a really fun night. Alex is a great guy, very fun and talks even more than me so it was a pretty rowdy evening :oP

Wednesday was another lazy day, wandered the town with alex, had another spanish lesson, went for dinner... Its so easy to chill out in this place!

Thursday was wicked, best day so far! We went mountain biking down one of the surrounding volcanos :o) we left early and drove for two hours in a 4x4 up winding roads that got gradually smaller and rockier as we ascended. Our start point was a radio mast at about 14,000ft / 4700m - around 2700m higher thn Arequipa! The altitude is really noticable, just a short walk to the "loo with a view" (patch of mountainside behind a building) and i was getting short of breath. Or im just horrendously unfit :oP We set off, the guide setting quite a pace, and tried not to go too fast around the gravel corners! The first couple of hours was all gravel/rocky tracks - really hard on the arms as you need to break permanently and avoid the hugest stones! I managed to come off once - going a little too fast and the track turned to very fine sand. This was ok until I hit a hidden stone, skidded round 90 degrees and gracefully fell to the ground. Oops! at least it was a soft landing - just a bit of a graze! One patch of the road was killer - a longish gentle uphill but the road was sand so the wheels keep skidding and spinning. That combined with the altitude meant that by half way I actually couldnt breath - pretty scary really. With help from my inhaler I recovered fine but i nearly started to panic. Normally im a firm believer of mind over matter and would push on to the top but i actually couldnt do it and walked the last bit. Wasnt just me - alex couldnt make it either!
Other than that it was hard but great fun. After about 2.5 hours we stopped for a snack, and  cos i got a puncture, so we had a break. when we continued it was another 5 mins on the track and then our guide suddenly turned offroad and started careering down the side of the hill! It was a steep sandy path and absolutely terrifying! Some of it was compacted so ok but some of it was really deep and the bike was skidding everywhere! I nearly came off twice and, fearing for my life, took it pretty slow! It was wicked though :o) when we got to the bottom we met the tarmac road, and from there it was seriously fast, belting it down wide roads and just breaking a bit for the sharper corners :o) it took us about 1 hour to get down to our pickup point and it was awesome all the way! In total we went 50-60km, and descended 7000ft in 4 hours!

After that we were exhausted, so a lazy evening and a nice meal in the Plaza again :o)

So made it to today in actually quite a lot of words! Had to check out this morning and go to the bus station to get tickets to Cusco tonight (should have booked earlier, oops). Had lunch in really nice french restaurant, and now here I am, staying out of the sun as im a tad burned. oops!

cusco tonight and then inca trail tuesday! Miss you all! xxxxx
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