Ayacucho to Abancay (Part two of two)
Ed and Phil rode past Ayachucho and a good redura saw them able to avoid the city. Nick went to pick up Ed Bethell , who had made a detour from Cusco to Lima and then back to Ayachucho (over 30 hours on a bus). He met Nick in Ayachucho, who has also picked up another (new) friend from Madrid, called Tuti. Tuti was more than happy to sleep under Pajarito's rug (the tent was rather snug with just the four of us in it) and was even a bit of a chef. He managed to prepare a three course meal on a camp fire (no more noodles for at least a couple of days). Ed Bethell was on a horse the next day and set off with Nick, as the instructor, for his first day. After a tough redura a slip from the Rocio meant that Ed was swiftly dislodged from his saddle. His first fall had occured on day one of his Inca Ride experience. Ed was also there to witness another Inca Ride First. Ed, Phil and Tuti had set up a camp spot next to river and the new chef was busy cookig up the nights feast. When it started to get dark Phil and Ed began to worry. With no phone reception there was very little they could to but go out and look for them in Celeste (after a cup to tea.. of course). A few kms further on and someone had spotted the horses taking a redura up the hill and informed them that the horses would not join up with the road for another 15kms. The riders had thought that this was the main road and only when it had turned into a track did they realise that they might be in danger of missing Celeste. All equipment was packed in a record time and Celeste set off up the hill to track down the lost riders. Fortunately, the riders had the same idea and the team was reunited at around 7.30 that night. The camp was set up under the stars and the days action was reminised.
After Ed´s adventurous first day he was back in Celeste for day two; whilst Nick and Phil took the horses towards Chincheros. Coming down the mountain can be incredibly advatageous for those on the horses and after some exploring the riders picked their own way down one mountains… much to the amazement of some of the locals. After the previous night the riders were careful to stay close to the road but still almost managed to ride past the truck. Luckily, Ed had heard Nick singing (`One man went to mow, went to mow a meadow!´)as they had gone past and quickly ran after the riders to stop a repeat of the previous night.
Ed Bethell took to the saddle on his final day and went with Ed on a tough day up to Chincheros. The terrain was treacherous and now that the horses are approaching Cucso, and also for personal fitness before the `Inca Walk`, the team has taken to walking large chunks of the day (Quita can breath a sigh of relief that she left before the new rule!). The two Eds walked a good 20 kms in the day but on one of the reduras Ed Bethell was taken through a cactus field and he still has a few scrathes to show for all his hard work. Another rest day was taken in Chincheros for the horses to recover but also due to the strikes taking place along the roads. The rest day was put to good use as the team spent over four hous looking for an elusive waterfall for a rather cold shower.
Ed and Phil rode towards Andahuaylas and found a very seculded spot where the only other light to be seen was a camp fire burning 20 kms away. Nicks parents had made a Herculean effort to make it to see the riders. Their efforts had been impeeded by the nationwide strikes that had shut airports, railways and roads. They had evenually made it to Ayachucho, where a rally driver had got them to the riders within six hours. The Warner family then took the horses around the town of Andhuaylas and into a football stadium in the next town of San Jeronimo. The Warners then kindly took the riders out for an incredibly good Pizza that night and the new Inca Riders looked back on their first 12kms in the saddle. They didn´t quite manage a night in the tent but Sue Warner was back in the saddle the next morning and rode 14kms before their rally driver whisked them back to Ayachucho. The whistle stop tour has brought fresh supplies to the riders and raised spirits before the big push to Cusco.
Nick and Ed rode the afternoon and took the most direct route over the mountains. One boggy area saw Rocio (for the second time) take a plunge and the jury is still out as to whether Ed's swift dismount will be counting as his third fall! By the time they made it to the other side there was no time to find a suitable camp spot and at over 4000 meters they opted to camp amongst the trees on a gentle slope. Ed had lost his beloved hat on the climb down to the road and he was up at sunrise to try and track it down. Despite spending four hours that day combing the hill the hat has not been seen again. Nick and Phil went up to the Puna to speed up their jouney but with no tracks they had to rejoin the road a few hours later. That night the team were again camped over 4000 meters and Nick (after getting a little cold the previous night) was wearing six layers to sleep in. Wearing all his clothes meant that all the bugs came to sleep with him and the next morning saw Nick sitting (in boxer shorts) on a pile of his clothes that had been freshly decontaminated. The next day saw the team's first view of Abancay as Phil and Nick started the walk down the mountain. The riders took some very steep reduras and with the help of a few locals they were drawing ever closer to Abancay. However, the mountainside got gradually steeper and the riders had no choice but to walk the whole way as the lose rocks could have caused serious problems for the horses. At around three in the afternoon they made it to the bottom and were able to stop for a quick lunch before heading up the hill, with Abancay only a stones throw away. The riders had decended from 4000 meters to 1750 in five hours of riding. The truck had covered over 110 kms by road and the horses had done just over 32 kms. Ed had gone on ahead and found a site for the horses to rest for a day before the team embark on the last stage of the Inca Ride… the route from Abancay to Cusco.