Cajamarca serves as a good place to get things sorted out and enjoy my fill of cappuccinos for a few days.
With late afternoon skies doing their thing, I backtrack out towards Celendin on a long way round to the border in search of one last stretch of dirt.
The drop down to valley bottom out of Celendin follows the classic Andean scenario - drop over 1000 m, climb over 2000 m. Nothing new, but the blazing sun on the climb undoes me. Thinking I'll arrive in Pallan for lunch, I limp into the village after 4:00 pm, salt encrusted and gassed.
Quiet roads snake me out towards tiny pueblos like Chiguirip.
El Senor keeps a watchful eye on me.
I roll through Cutervo and re-fruit before heading down to the Peruvian tourist 'mecca' of Socota.
The following morning in San Andres de Cutervo, at the request of the hostal owner/professor, yours truly gives his first and likely last recap of my trip in Spanish to about 200 giggling students standing at attention.
After months in the rocky, dry Cordilleras, the lush, multi-hued green hillsides come as a pleasant change.
I pass through coffee country with groves of coffee plants dotting the hills and drying beans laid out roadside. While Peruano’s and the rest of South America enjoy a “rich” cup of Nescafe, these beans may likely end up in the artisanal dark roast handed out by some bearded, toast eating hipster.
In Cuyca, the Peruvian dirt odyssey, sadly, comes to an end as I air up for the thin continuous white line that runs interrupted to the border. Fresh coco juice and roadside fruit stalls offer breaks from the afternoon heat.
Rice fields spread out on either side of the road soaking up the humidity.
In a non-descript roadside village, I duck out of the heat for a mid-morning break and chat with Jose for a while about bikes and the parts of his country I've been fortunate enough to visit. A kind-hearted soul indeed. He has me riding on thinking longingly back across over four months of epic riding and Peruvian generosity. Gracias, Amigo.
Cajamarca – Celendin – Bambamarca – Chiguirip – Cutervo - Socota – San Andres de Cutervo – Pimpingos – Cuyca – Jaen – San Ignacio – La Balsa (border)