Okay, we didn't love the mountain biking. To tell the truth, it wasn't really mountain biking, being 90% on paved roads, and it wasn't a workout at all, being entirely downhill. The brochure showed bikers on a bucolic off-road path. This was biking down a paved, winding road, often cliffside, shared by cars and trucks and buses. We went frustratingly slow, which I didn't understand until I found out the truth about this road: earlier this year a bus went off the cliffside killing all the passengers. Moreoever, just today, just behind us, another bus crashed into the hillside; no deaths, but still! An ambulence raced past us - an hour after the accident! Pity the passengers.
Even so, there were wonderful things about the bike ride. We started in the cold, high Andes, above treeline, with only sheep and the glaciers for company, and descended into the warm, green Sacred Valley. We ran into another amazing "this would never happen in the States" situation, which is always fun: the road was closed due to a major repair, and the only time traffic could pass was at lunchtime when the workers took a break. Huh?! Thus we planned the whole day so we would be at the work spot right at noon.
Tonight was our first night of camping. We stayed in a lovely campground in Quillabamba, with a swimming pool and a bar. Sandy and Teddy fell in love with the two resident dogs, both of which Sandy called "Boo boo". (Actually, Boo boo is any animal in Peru, FYI.) One was a german shepard puppy that Teddy got all soppy over (it reminded him of his old dog when he was young), and the other was an ugly black mama dog with puppies, a stray that lived in a shed on the property.
Teddy and the boys set up camp while Sandy and I took a walk by the river. We were a little tipsy from some crazy drink the camp owners made us - we felt great! The moon was full, the river rocks glowed white, the river glistened. Sandy walked along with Boo Boo (the mama). On the way back to camp, Boo boo rushed at something, the something squealed and then abruptly stopped, Sandy yelled "No!", but it was too late. I felt for the mama, of course; she was so skinny, she had to eat, to have enough milk for her babies. Sandy was so shocked and upset, but Boo boo just carried the something back and gnawed on it next to the shack. I guess stray dogs in Peru hunt.
While dinner was cooking Sandy and I danced a little. That is, I danced while Sandy held on and swayed, Sandy-style. Music played from the van, as always, and it sounded great.
Teddy told us it was a holiday in Quillabamba tonight, and there would be parties everywhere. We decided to go into town and check it out. I guess I was hoping for dancing, bright skirts and flowers in our hair - the joke's on me. At one plaza there was a political rally - they gave out hats shaped like soccer balls. At another there was a band with two girl singers in stiff gold dresses, who looked exactly like dolls. Their high, piercing singing was interrupted only by their bandmate, a man that talked non-stop: "Ariba ariba arrrrrrrrriba!" They were terrible. The guys liked them, though - they said they were a working-class kind of music, for farmers. Everyone stood around the perimeter of a vast empty dance floor, watching them and drinking bad beer.
Teddy assigned us a bodyguard for the night - our Quechuan cook. He came in the taxis with us and even went with Sandy to the bathroom. He told us it was because sometimes people get drunk and start trouble. I wonder.
That town was in a drinking mood that night! We got in one of the motorcycle-taxis and were about to take off, when the driver asked Teddy (forcefully) for a swig of his beer. He gave him one. That was a crazy ride - once he swerved and I almost fell out. No more beer for the driver.
In some ways I'm glad I went. But in other ways I wish I'd left it at the river and the moonlight.