05/25 Long climb today that took me up to almost 14,000 feet. Amazing views and a good road to ride on all the way up. Going back down was another story. After the pass there’s a small reservoir and the road from there all the way down to Sihaus was horrible. Very bumpy, steep descents and lot’s of loose gravel. Found a place in town for a couple nights.
Last night I stopped in a tiny village called Oquenta. It ended up being a good stopover since the climb before Sihaus wasn’t too far after that and there were hardly any trees left to block my view of the brown treeless hills. A really nice lady who runs a restaurant also had a couple rooms she rents out for $1.75 a night. It was better than the place the night before if only because I could stand upright in it. I fixed up my workable but not handlebar-mountable bicycle horn and gave it to her which she happily accepted.
The living conditions in the small villages and on the farms is quite difficult to imagine. Many places still lack running water and electricity. Entire families often live in a small, unheated house with dirt floors and usually all squeeze into the only bed to keep warm. The family running the place I stayed in Oquenta had electricity but no running water. The shower was a bucket and the toilet in the bathroom was just a hole in the floor. I would be curious to know from the locals if all the Canadian mining companies are giving back to the communities whereas in the past they just polluted the water and ran the mining camps like you’d run a slave labor camp. It sounds like a couple of the mining companies have cleaned up their acts which is a good sign.
The problem with my front tire going flat almost every day has hopefully been solved. I noticed a tiny, but quite sharp piece of wire sticking up from the inside of the tire. It looked like the wire was from the actual tire which is very unusual. I’ve never seen exposed wire on a Schwalbe tire except for the couple times the sidewall bead broke. I used one of my spare tires and a new tube so we’ll see what happens.