On the road again

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Andean Adventure

On the road again
April 10, 1997

The Easter bunny has found us again. We woke this morning to find our tent vestibule strewn with chocolate eggs and treats, an auspicious start to life on the road again. We begin climbing immediately outside Coyaque, up out of the winding canyon. My lungs burn and my thighs curse and protest. This is no way to begin a day. Where is the lavish breakfast, the leisurely stroll? Things of the past, my friends. About 10 miles out of town we hit the gravel and I know we are home. We jostle and shake over the ruts, our bikes creaking from our full loads.

The scenery, however, is mind-blowing. Pristine rivers and mesa-like canyon plateaux, a side of the valley's glacial past. There are other signs here as well, and we recognize the one ahead all too well: a steeply angled black triangle with the silhouette of a car clinging to one side. You can't mistake the message: monster hill, dead ahead.

It's the nail in our coffin. Sweat and sunblock bleed into my eyes until I can no longer see the road. I struggle to keep moving, pumping my legs while swiping at the sweat stinging my eyes. My glasses have fogged over. All I can see is a curving gray line rising in front of me.

Nan arrives 15 minutes later and we agree we've had enough. Thirty kilometers, not bad for our first day back. We try to believe this is true.

"You're just in time," Victor welcomes, opening his door and leading us to two stools. Even before we can sit down, glasses of red wine are placed in front of us as well as plates of freshly roasted lamb. A feast is on. The spirit of Easter is in the air, and in spite of protesting muscles, we are never more glad to be back on the road.

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