Attractions and distractions
Updated: Mar 4
We have made the push over our first two passes that exceed 16,000 ft. The first was a serious struggle, most of which I blame on my thrown out back and lousy gear ratio on my bike. In reality, I was just out of shape and sucking wind in thin air. The second pass was much more manageable after a night of rest and coca leaves tucked in our lips for some extra oomph.
The push up pass number two brought us by endless alpaca, llama, and cattle pastures enclosed by centuries-old stone walls. The shepherds made subtle movements on horseback and whistled commands to their dogs to corral their livestock grazing outside these walls. If these cultural practices didn’t distract us enough, there were also towering mountain pea
ks, glaciers and turquoise lakes to take our mind off of our heavy breathing.
Once over the pass, we welcomed a long decent into the town of Tanta. Literally meaning “so much” in Spanish, Tanta had us excited to resupply with some extra luxuries and sleep in a real bed. We shouldn’t have been so expectant, because even though Tanta was bigger than any of the towns we had been through in the past few days it still had few amenities, and definitely no masseuses (which was where my mind was focused).
All of the doorways to the buildings in this town were around waist level, which made it difficult to enter with a sore back. We ducked in and out of the few tiendas to resupply on the basics of grains and candy and found a restaurant with a hearty meal to put our rumbling stomachs at ease. Our cook offered us rooms behind her restaurant and we gladly rolled our bikes into the courtyard just around the corner from where we sat for lunch. It was a rickety hospedaje with a tarp-reinforced roof, and a floor that threatened to break underneath us at any moment...but we were full and happy to have our own beds for the night.