Saturday, October 6, 2012

Vicuñas and Junketeers

Fritz at the helmClimbing quickly we wound our way up to over 4500 meters. Zaya fell asleep and I struggled, between a headache and lack of oxygen, to stay awake. But the high altitude plain was itself a welcome change from the stress of the vertiginous road up. Vicuñas skittishly grazed alongside the highway and were really too cute for words. A relative of the domesticated llama, vicuñas were endangered in the 1960's. With the advent of conservation their numbers have since increased from 6,000 to over 350,000 today. They are prized for their very fine and warm wool. They are also, in my opinion, the prettiest of the Peruvian camelids.

We dropped into Abancay late and halted on a side street near the bus station outside the house of Fritz's extended family - a charming group who plied us with wine and questions. But it was time to rest in a real bed for the night, so we agreed with Fritz to rendezvous at 5:00AM and went in search of a hostel.

The next morning brought us Junketeers! The sun reflected warmly high up the mountain face and blue skies broke through the clouds now and then. Fritz drove us steadily up out of Abancay and I was daydreaming to the local Quechua news when we almost literally bumped into Dylan, Sledge, Dave and Mark. They had traveled together and made it all the way across the country. We shared our tales of mechanical woe and explained why our mototaxi was perched on the back of a lorry and they were collectively sympathetic and a little jealous. This was the last day - Saturday -  and it was the big push for the finish line and the victory party. There was no time to lose. 

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