The giant toad calls through the night

A restless night.  The wind blew, whipping through the louvred windows front to back of the room.  I thought the power had gone again and saw torches bobbing about our windows; I thought someone was trying to break in, as the doors rattled and creaked.  But there was nobody there, and no power cut.  Just my partner turning off the fan, the wind hammering at our doors and an electrical storm lighting the skies.

In the morning, it was impossible to know that it had rained as the ground was as dry as ever.

Short 26 km ride today taking us downhill – the opposite of yesterday – and looping us around the Miravalle volcano.  I have decided not to stress about whether I am first, middle or last in the pack today and to enjoy each moment of my day.  It is amazing how a positive attitude changes the amount of suffering that I feel.  I kept my own pace, enjoyed the mountain scenery stretching for miles and miles acorss barren looking agricultural land.  The wind swirled as we hit each peak, battering us from all sides.  But at least it cooled the sweat which had been a real problem on other rides.

It wasn’t the drinks but the glasses creating an artistic assault on our sneses

We stopped at a little bar/restaurant for a smoothie in a town called Mary.  The choice of flavours was long but I went for a Cas smoothie.  Case is a citrus flavoured fruit also known as sour guava.  Delicious!

We were also treated to the National Salute to the Flag practise at the elementary school opposite.  The children parade the country’s and their regional flag to the tune whilst standing with their arms across their chests.  It is very serious and seemed to require a lot of practice but I love the pride with which the children carry their flag.  Something for the British to learn, perhaps?

After this, there was only 6 km on flat or rolling downhills and I wasn’t hanging about; my legs were strong and I took the day’s yellow jersey (was anyone else trying?  I doubt it, but my competitive spirit was high, just for a moment)

In the afternoon, we took a trip to Las Hornillas on the southern slopes of Miravalles.  This lunar landscape has bubbling pools and fumaroles and you can visit the volcanic crater and bathe in the mud pools.  For $25 a person, it initially seemed very expensive but the giggling and the team spirit that it engendered was ultimately worth it.

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