Within a few more minutes we were making our way out of the city and the road instantly started to climb up out of the valley. The climb ascended about 700m and took us about an hour and a half. We really noticed the gain in elevation as the air was substantially cooler and low cloud was hanging around the ridge
. There were lots of farmers and farmer's wives out looking after their sheep, and I wondered if they were feeling the cold, as they stood still watching the flocks.
We then descended down the other side of the valley, through a couple of small villages and finally made our way down to a small town for a late lunch. As we approached the town we could see a stone bridge, which was apparently built by the Incans and still in use. We stopped for a quick lunch, which was served at a table in a shop. The lunch was pretty normal but there were lots of chunks of pork fat in the soup, and they still had the skin and hair on....yuck!!! As we got ready to leave again a boy of 10 walked over and with a confident curiosity proceeded to ask us about about our trip and what we were up to, all about the bikes, and about us, our nationalities and ages. He leant over with the confidence of an old man, nodding his head about our plans. The rest of the cafe had gone silent and everyone was leaning in slightly to hear us blunder our way through the interrogation in Spanish.
We got back on the bikes and were delighted to see that the road that we were expecting to be gravel, had been paved. It meant that we could make up a lot of time and sped down the hills rather than cautiously meander down with our fingers on the brakes
. We filled up our water bladders and decided to continue on passed the last small town, with the aim of making it a bit further down the road to camp. Kory stopped to chat to some guys who were building a house by the side of the road. They used a big brick mould, that was made out of wood, and about one meter by about half a meter and then half a meter deep. They would pound dirt into the mould and whack it with a wooden stick to make it compact. It would take about an hour to make each big brick and they thought it would take 50 days to make the whole house. It was interesting to hear them describe their work and they were more than happy for Kory to have a look around and to take some photos.
The road was rolling hills in a steep valley, with a brown gushing river at the bottom. We sped on along the paved road, and covered a further 27km, making our total for the day almost 110km, which we were fairly happy with as we had climbed a big ascent too. The weather had been good to us all day, and after a grey start the sun came out and remained nice for the rest of the day.
We started to look for somewhere to camp but unfortunately the sides of the valley were really steep, with a couple of hundred meter drop off into the river. We cycled passed a dam and power station and Kory and I both had the same thought at the same time
. We would just ask them if we could came in their secure, worker compound. Surely they would have a little bit of flat grass for us. We pulled over and after checking our passports they agreed to letting us stay in the compound, which was empty of workers. We started to lay the tent out but the manager came over and told us that we could stay in one of the worker bungalows instead. It was really basic, with a few big rooms with no furniture, but it had three beds and best of all, a piping hot shower!! It was a real treat that we weren't expecting, and it was really kind of them to be so hospitable, as we had turned up out of the blue, uninvited. They seemed genuinely interested in our travels though and seemed only too happy to help us out. Unfortunately as I wheeled my bike into the main room it fell back down the steps and landed on to my toe. I was surprised that it didn't break it but instead split the nail open and bled out of the nail bed. I am probably more surprised that I haven't managed to bang up by toes already before now.
We had a delayed start because I needed to spend some time on the computer in the morning. It was almost 10am by the time we started to make our way out of Huancayo. I was confident in the direction that we needed to take but saw one of the first road signs that we have seen pointing the way out of the city, so we followed the direction that it said. After about five minutes the road came to a dead end and it was clear that the sign had been put up before the new road had been built. That sort of thing happens all the time here, the sign showing what facilities the hotel will have is put up before the foundations are even laid.