I lost many valuable items when I got robbed on the train last week. One item that I particularly missed was my Wenger Swiss Army knife, which uncle Mark brought me as a present, on his last visit to Sydney 7 years ago. When Mark heard about the loss of the knife, he insisted on remedying the situation, and on doing what all good Swiss uncles with Aussie nephews do: he bought me yet another army knife. This time, a Victorinox, and one of the fancier and more full-featured models. Hopefully I'll get many years of good use out of this baby, just as I did out of the previous one.
So I'm sitting in a cafe in the middle of Ortygia — having just finished my little tour of the island — polishing off my hot choc and croissant, and having a pleasant chat with the locals. I get up from my table, dust off a few breadcrumbs, wave goodbye to my fellow patrons, and jump on my bike. The plan is to head straight out of Syracuse — having seen the city centre and its sights — and to make my way west into the Monti Iblei, for an afternoon of uphill riding, and an evening of rough mountain camping. Possibly to see the Syracuse archaeological park, and famous Greek theatre, along the way. But all those plans suddenly disappear out the window — and the day's cycling comes to an abrupt and premature end — when I start pedalling, and I realise that something is really, seriously wrong with my bike. Something far worse than the usual problems of squeaky brakes, unresponsive gears, or even flat tyres. I have a snapped axle.
I woke up in my little field near Lercara this morning, only to discover that my bicycle's back tyre was completely flat. Eek! No idea how this happened: but since the tyre was fine all day yesterday, I can only assume that it got punctured by some sharp plant or rock, as I was wheeling it through the field yesterday evening. Worse still: when I attempted to change the tyre before setting off, I realised that I was unable to do so — despite having a pump and a spare inner tube, I had no tyre levers, and no spanner that was the correct size for undoing the back bolts (and yes, unfortunately the back tyre is bolts, not quick-release). Talk about a horrible start to the day — flat tyre in the hills of Mafialand, and no means of fixing it. What was I to do?
After doing some research today — on the Internet, and face-to-face with various other travellers — I've decided that for my time here in Huaraz, I'm going to do the Santa Cruz-Llanganuco hike, and I'm going to do it alone. In order to prepare for this 5-day trek in the Cordillera Blanca (that's the mountain range that it passes through), this afternoon I hired all the gear that I'm going to need, and I bought all the food that I'm going to eat. This being Huaraz — the trekking and mountain-climbing capital of South America — getting all that stuff proved to be no problem at all.