Swelled out on altiplano

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That evening Moomin could not sleep. He lay there, looking at the clear night, full of yearning sighs and some mysterious rustling steps. The air was heavy with the scent of flowers. Tove Jansson

I would say that I kind of knew what I was getting into, but I thought that after a few passes in Ecuador I am quite well acclimatized and I will not have to do any necessary breaks along the way. In less than three days, starting from the coast, I found myself at an altitude of 4600 meters above sea level. In fact, I did not want to stay so high, but the plateau, where I got to didn’t want to lower itself, and I did not know how far I would have to pedal at night to be able to spend the night at the lower altitude (yes, I know, sometimes it’s useful to have good maps, but the concept of not having a map has a huge advantage of unpredictability, which I submit to over the relative safety of the route planned in advance).

So I rode at night with the hope that I will get away from plateau, but finally I didn’t even have the strength to walk with the bike on nearly flat terrain, so finally I stopped at the road, put up the tent and fell asleep. A dream, unfortunately, did not come. Instead, an unbearable headache appeared, a sort of headache I already known from the Himalayas, which one experiences when one suddenly finds himself in a place where the oxygen content in the air is about half that, to which the body is accustomed.

After the headaches, dizziness comes, then nausea, sometimes the nose is bleeding, then your head gets swollen, and then the morning comes and you would like to get up from the ground and go, but there is no power, you have to wait until noon. After a sleepless night (but still with a swollen head) a dream finally arrives – short, shallow, interrupted by pain.

After another failed attempt to raise my body, a cat entered the tent. A red cat. I was not surprised. Most likely, it was just a continuation of a dream, from which I could not wake up. Anyway, it was completely irrelevant, because after that visit I was finally able to get up, roll the tent up and after about five kilometers of walk, I got on my bike, because in the end a downhill started. Seemingly small, only 500 meters, but this half a kilometer was enough to make me feel much better. And after following the advice of the owner of a roadside restaurant to drink two teas from coca leaves and half a cup of something that smelled like perfumed spirits, I stood on my feet.

I checked into the “hotel” in the room, which two men where supposed to share with me, but for some unknown to me reasons, they did not appear. In a room that really should not have been called the hotel room. I was wondering, not the first time in Peru, why they express so openly this widespread passion for negligence? Is there really such a great effort and expense to buy a bucket of paint and paint the walls? Trim protruding wire reinforcement from almost every building? Putting litter in a bin?

Near Pichca Huasi, a little girl in a hat with a rose went out of a building that I inadvertently took as a restaurant. I wanted to take a picture of her, but she looked at me as if I had asked her to remove her clothes, so I resigned, ate biscuits and went on. In my head I still saw huge, black eyes, spaced approximately in the middle, furrowed by the cold and the wind, young and already wrinkled face. Colorful socks on her calves, pleated skirt foot, lace blouse.

In Ayacucho I found a place to stay in hospedaje which is clean, tidy, has friendly service and a pleasant smell. Across the road there is St. Francis bakery, a restaurant called Our Lady of Guadalupe, and a garage – where you can change oil, called Jesus of Nazareth. The hospedaje where I sleep has a solar name in Quechua, poorly fits into the vicinity, but maybe for this reason it so immediately caught my eye.

I do not know how long I’m gonna stay there, maybe a day, maybe two, maybe longer, as long as I can, I enjoy the fact that I do not have to do anything, and who knows, maybe even here, in a clean and well-kept room of Inti Punuy hospedaje, I will finish the whole trip. Tomorrow, I will think about it again, but for now: we say goodbye, send a smile and some sunshine.

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