With an hour to go until sunset we were in a bit of predicament. We had put the tent away soaking wet this morning and due to climatic conditions had had no opportunity to dry it; and so here we were with a choice between a very wet tent and a 25 KM ride in mountainous terrain to the next chance of a room for the night. We pressed on.
We were now at over 3600 metres and the day had been one of showers and climbing, conditions hardly conducive to either drying the tent of covering distances quickly. But god was smiling upon us. What lay ahead was a beautiful verdant valley with a gentle but continuous down hill. After 10KM we had lost just 100 metres in altitude but this helped kept our speed up nicely, and after a days climbing we felt we were positively rocketing along.
People of a short stocky stature with dark skin and all but absence of a neck dressed in colourful ponchos and narrow brimmed bowler hats told us that this valley was one populated by traditional indigenous peoples. And what a friendly bunch they all were. Lots of happy waves and jolly greetings bringing an air of joy to us as we sped through the failing light.
For 20KMS I realised that I had my first puncture of this journey and slowly my front tyre was going down. But once again providence was with us as the tyre remained just about ride-able.
We rolled into town after dark and were greeted by three people on a street corner. We returned their greetings and asked if they knew of a hotel. They did and without further a do one of the boys led us through the streets to a fine hotel that, at US$8 each per night was priced rather more in keeping with the jolly proprietors optimism than the true value of the accommodation, but did provide just what we needed, a place to dry the tent, cook and lay our weary heads for the night.