January 5, 2012
Flor and I went to the market which is supposed to be the largest one in the region and happens every Thursday. There were lots of opportunities for me to get something to eat but my stomach still was not ready for any food yet. I decided I would skip eating lunch today and eat later this evening.
One interesting point is how happy the indigenous people seem, especially the women. Despite the hard labor, long days in the fields or high in the mountains working and raising children, they always seem to smile. There is a sort of sincere warmth that radiates in many of the indigenous people.
The women all wear felt hats that are kept very clean. The hats are very important to them and cost a lot of money to get one. The hat is a part of their identity and I heard that it can be a small disaster to have one taken or lost. Another thing I was told is that the indigenous women will say that it is okay for a man to be lazy but a woman must work hard. It is apparent there is an underlying machismo attitude and I wonder if this was the Spanish influence or if they were like that historically.
It was a nice warm and sunny morning, perfect for cycling in. I left at noon and was quickly greeted with another headwind and hills. Before I reached Alausi it started to rain and the temp dropped to 50 degrees. I have no clue what the windchill would have been but I was very cold. Everything I was wearing was soaked, my bones were starting to shake from the cold. What started out as a mist turned into a thick fog with very poor visibility of about 50 feet.
The downhill I was looking forward to came up and it was very cold, windy and pouring down rain.
A giant red sign with white letters "peligrosa", "descension", "ahora!" I don't remember all the words and did not take time to read them, the sign was about 5 foot by 8 foot so I couldn't help but notice it. I had cold rain drops stinging my face as I picked up speed and not only was the thick fog a problem but my glasses were covered with water making it difficult to see through them.
Many more giant red signs like that appeared in the mist as I descended on a steep downhill that could have been my fastest downhill speed. I have not seen so many warnings on a downhill before and I believe this to be the steepest one yet. Due to the conditions and the fact I could not see more than 50 feet in the thick fog, I had to keep it at a relatively slow pace. Despite the awful conditions, I was able to get up to 41 mph once I felt good about how the tires were handling the corners on the very wet road. This section of road had the most blue hearts painted on it, and I was told earlier today that these are spots where people have died in auto accidents.
I made into the downtown of what appears to be a very busy little city. As soon as I pulled up to a hotel I see a gringo, David from Colorado. As we talked another gringo woman walks up asking about a restaurant recommendation. This looks like it might be a popular tourist town.
I got something to eat from a small market and then grabbed some pastries at a pastry shop
Before I knew it I got violently sick!!!!!
I could not leave the hotel room and just stayed in bed with a trash can on the floor beside me.
total distance 754.7
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