Back in Black

The Negra had been on our minds for a while. We’d never really ventured up and over its spine, despite many short forays onto its lower slopes. A three day circuit from Recuay to Huaraz via Aija on steep dirt roads put this right.

If only all the stupid dogs in Peru would morph into lovely, relaxed pigs...

If nothing else, cycling polarizes the animal world for you. Pigs fall into the ‘good’ category: nothing flusters them, not even passing cyclists. If only all the dumb dogs in Peru would morph into friendly porcines…

Frame bag essential contents: Inca Kola and Sublimes

Frame bags filled, we’re ready for the climb above Recuay. Plenty of healthy calories packed into this Kola and Sublimes combo.

Climbing above Recuay

The Negra’s looking lush at this time of year. The Blanca? Enveloped.

The climb to Abra del Huancapeti

The Peruvian zigzag leads us to the top.

Nearing the Huancapeti mine in the Cordillera Negra

…and we’ve just the odd mine 4×4 for company.

Nearing Abra del Huancapeti

Moody skies too…

En route to Abra del Huancapeti

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Abra del Huancapeti - 4580m

You know you’ve become a Peru veteran when you cease to find pass names like this side-splittingly funny.

Descending to Aija

We negotiate the mine scarring near the pass, then descend through the clouds to Aija.

A standard Peruvian shop, in Aija

The standard Peruvian shop. Soft drinks, potatoes, gas and urea. Get it all here.

Drying laundry in the Peruvin rainy season

The tatties will probably be ready before the washing is dry. This is March, after all.

An old Aija house we liked

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Aija door and balcon

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Motocyclist, sandwiched by a donkey leading a cow

Now this was fun. Donkey leading cow on a rope up the street. But they’re not heading the way their owner wants them to, so a helpful motorcyclist sprints after them and herds them back. Unfortunately the donkey decides to go right of his moto, and the cow left… A couple of dogs in audience too, for a change.

Looking from the Negra to the Blanca, in rainy season

Some sheep enjoy the gloom. All very Scottish.

Nonsensical sign at the Barrick Mine in the Cordillera Negra

Our plans were thrown up in the air on day 3 when the road we’d planned on taking turned out to go through the Barrick gold mine. Entry by written request only. Surprising that the world’s biggest gold mining company can’t find anyone literate enough to cobble together a better warning sentence than this…

Time for a route change

Time for a route change. Not until we’d read all the entertaining signs and chatted to the security guard though. He had lots of great tales about battles with local campesinos who aren’t too happy at having had their water supply polluted by the mine activities.

A Nepali road in Peru's Cordillera Negra

Our descent to the valley floor brought back memories of the Himalaya. This is classic Nepal, post-monsoon.

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