Today we arrived at Urubamba! Needless to say we are the last team to arrive but only the fourth to arrive without having to get the taxi on a truck for at least some part of the journey.
I had hoped that this last day would be easy, I thought that all the bad roads were behind us. Ah well….
We started quite well getting up having luke warm showers then packing the taxi for the last time. The Lucky Lady was parked overnight in the back garden of the hopsedaje and when I drove it in last night I had seen some chickens running around but had not noticed much more. Perhaps a day of fighting with a mototaxi across the Andes does that to you. This morning in the daylight I could see there were lots of chickens and chicks and cages full of guinea pigs. The landlady has pretty good english and my castilan has improved immensly (easy from a zero base) so I was able to dicover that she had 6 chickens and 51 guinea pig. The castilan for chicken is pollo and chicks are pollito. Anything young has the suffix -ito added to the name of the animal. All this as I loaded the taxi. We had breakfast at a little cafe next door to the hopedaje then set off at 8.30 which for us is unheard of..
The first part of the journey went well following the river down the valley, sometimes having to climb the side on the winding roads which we are now very used to. At one point we were following the same truck for miles, we overtook him once then he overtook us again when we stopped, probably to take a photo. Further along the road we came to the back of the truck again as we all stopped to wait to be allowed along a stretch of construction work. We had timed it right as there only a few periods during the day that they allow traffic through. We waited a few minutes and more vehicles pulled in behind us. I pulled to one side as it seems only fair to let those that can go faster go infront of us. The young lady with the radio who was traffic marshall pulled the cones out of the way we set off on to hard conpact surface but still in need of tarmac to seal it. There were men fitting kerb/drainage stones at the start but soon the surface gave way to softer sand and we were moved off the route of the new road, presumably following the old one. All the traffic was kicking up loads of dust so at one point they had a dowser spraying water on the surface to damp it down. The works lasted a few miles and at some points we were driving in the river bed where they seemed to be getting rocks to form defences. There will lots of shots on the minicam of the backs of lorries as we went through this section mainly a large Volvo.
As we climbed into the next town later in the morning we decided to stop and get a cup of coffee so that the Volvo truck could leave us behind. Typically we couldnt find a cafe that was serving at that time so ended up going in to a chemists for Karen to replace some of the stuff she lost in the bag and to buy ice-creams. The young man had very good english and was quite keen to chat and find out what we were doing. After almost an hour we headed off again climbing out of the valley on another steep road and then crossing into a much higher valley with much gentler slopes.
Dropping into the higher valley.
We came to the first Peage we have seen for ages, I got a bit confused as the usual way of going through is to cut round the right hand side of the station avoiding the barrier lane. I think that maybe lifting the barrier when there is no fee paid confuses the auditors. This time however the right hand lanes were shut for maintenance so I ended up swerving to the left hand side much to the amusement of one of the locals who was stood watching perhaps waiting for a lift. Soon after we passed the peage station we were hit by a brief hail storm. We quickly wrapped up and I pulled my legs up almost on to the top of the petrol tank to try to avoid the hail and the spray off the road, still one hailstone managed to hit me in the eye and caused me to blink a lot for a few minutes. The valley widened out to become more of a fertile plain with mountains surrounding it and we stopped at a few places to take pictures.
Lunch was at a busy cafe in Izcuchaca where we had a great time people watching the locals including one apparently ancient woman who went out laden down with bags and one very well behaved young child. Our meal was soup and something like Popcorn chicken, both were very good. We left the town by crossing over the railway line and taking perhaps our last dirt road of the trip. It cut steeply up the side of a small set of hills then dropped to a little village with a large pond then over the next rise Lake Huaypo surrounded by farmer fields, some being tended by people in traditional costume.
Working the fields.
A woman in traditional dress with her daughter /granddaughter in school uniform.
We stopped here to take a few photos and then again a couple of times to replace the chain which has obviously stretched again and bounces off on the rough roads. I slowed down a lot to make sure that I wasn’t going to spend too much time on my knees getting my fingers covered in oil. Again here we saw children in neat uniforms walking home from school when the only school we had seen was several miles back. We climbed out of the bowl surrounding the lake and then descended, gradually at first, then down a steep winding road into Urubamba.
I’m not sure what my feelings were as we arrived, definite relief that we had made it but also I think a sense of impending loss. We won’t be travelling on the Lucky Lady anymore and soon the three of us will go our separate ways again. We have only got together to complete this trip, I have known Karen at festivals for years and we travelled through parts of Vietnam together but not for such a long time as this and Jan I only met at the beginning of June at Wychwood Festival and then again at Cornbury. Now we seem to have been together for such a long time even though it is only really a few weeks.
We found La Maizel quite easily and the staff rang Oscar to tell him that his last team had arrived.
He came down to join us, bought us drinks and told us what had happened to all the other teams with the aid of a noticboard which had the names of all the teams and comments next to them. We had another drink and a few photos holding the finish line notice.
The finish line.
It then started to rain so we dashed in to the main restaurant to finish our drinks and also managed to scrounge (well Oscar did) some coffee. The big empty room made me feel that we had missed out by not getting there for the end of rally party but to get there would have meant either putting the taxi on a truck or abandoning it even if we went back to it later. Anti-social though it is I am glad we stuck it out, being one of only four finishers is a good feeling.
Oscar showed us the hotel where he was staying and arranged for us to stay in the hospedaje that the taxis are being stored in. We parked the Lucky Lady in the garden with the others but it may not be the last time we are on a taxi as Oscar has said we can use it for a few days while we are here.
We met up with Oscar and his fiancee this evening for a meal at a very nice pizza place where we chatted for ages about the things we had seen on our journey, the 4 different animals that are in the llama/alpaca family and much more.