Last night we camped in the municipal campground in town. Reminding us that we are still in Latin America, there was a parade at 3am through the streets of Santa Maria, followed by the most unharmonious band and an obnoxiously loud car that drove up and down the street, endlessly. It brought back memories of the early morning parades in Peru and the impromptu parades in Mexico.
This morning I was thinking about the simple pleasures of bicycle touring. Like how nice it’s been to have municipal campgrounds in nearly every town. For 20-30 pesos (<$2.50) we have a flat space to put the tent, picnic table, grill, water and showers. I’ve had a shower six days in a row! I can’t remember the last time I was this clean. The fact we can cook and eat outside our tent is a luxury. It was so cold or windy in Peru and Bolivia that we were cooking from inside our tent with the stove in the vestibule (it was the only way to keep it lit in the Altiplano winds).
But the simple pleasures vanished in a day, and tonight we are back to camping in an abandoned, one-room, partially collapsed building to hide from the wind. It picked up around 1pm and by 4pm it was unbearable. The wind was creating huge dust devils, mini tornadoes that would race across the road, slinging sand, dirt and small stones. I swear at one point I saw a goat fly by. It’s like Wizard of Oz out here.
The stinging sand feels like it is passing through us. It’s impossible to ride while one of these tornadoes is on the tear, catching us in its vortex. So we stop, put our heads down, close our eyes, and purse our lips closed. Except for Scott who is in his usual state of discontent, shouting GODDAMMIT! into the wind like a lunatic. This only results in a mouthful of dirt.
We didn’t make it to town to buy dinner so we’re eating our emergency stash of ramen noodles, tuna and crackers. Our water supply is very low. We’ve rationed so we have a little water for breakfast and for our ride to town tomorrow. We go to bed thirsty. The five bottles of wine we’re carrying now seem like some kind of cruel joke.