Just before reaching chachapoyas, there is the turn off to leymebamba, from where the road continues as a narrow strip of asphalt, which almost has the feel of a dirt road. First next to the river utcubamba and then climbing up into the mountains…
until one is at eye level with the clouds.
The road then drops down 2000 meters through the cañón del rio marañón,
where it feels like one could see inside the guts of the earth.
With dropping altitude, the heat was increasing and not even the airflow could keep the body cooled. The landscape became barren until this little oasis around the river bend came into view.
Since no one wanted to change my dollars into soles and i was unable to withdraw money at the last cash machine, i was left with seven soles for the last two days to celendin, which are around two euros. Luckily i had some supplies with me and it is amazing how far one can get with so little. In balsas, at the bottom of the canyon, i bought a pineapple, mangos, bananas and a cooled coconut, had a superb lunch and was still left with some soles to spare.
The uphill part looked like a desert after the lush green around the river.
It started to rain on the other side of the valley, but weather seems to move really slow in these parts of peru and it never made its way to “my” side.
It is more than forty kilometers of climbing from the river and i didn’t make it up to the pass that day. Instead i stopped shortly after the village of limon, with around a third of the climb still ahead of me. The next morning i woke up relaxed, as i knew i had done most of the work the day before. A rather head scratching episode happened on the last bit up to the pass. An old man sitting on the side of the road stopped me and asked for help. He wanted me to transport his two bags while his idea was to walk beside me. These two bags contained almost as much stuff as i have with me. I tried to explain to him that i was unable to carry twice the load and i would be happy to help him find a ride instead. Though the traffic was light, still a car was passing at least every half an hour. But he seemed pretty fixed on the idea that my bike would be the perfect solution. After five minutes and not having the feeling that this was going anywhere, i left the man and his two bags on the side of the road and wished him good luck.
From the pass it is only half an hour downhill to celendin. a nice town and just about the right size to spend a rest day. Small enough to get around walking with only light traffic and quiet streets, and still big enough to provide everything one needs. Here at the plaza mayor.
Painting above the entrance to one of the bars next to the guesthouse…
which has this courtyard restaurant around which the rooms are located.
After a well-needed rest day, i made my way to cajamarca.