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sleeping stones

My map, it turns out, has a few inaccuracies and, somewhere south of Granados, these vagaries get us embroiled us in a extremely convoluted discussion with a motley crew at dusk in a desolate riverside settlement: the cast of characters range from a couple of sleazy policemen and a number of cowboys to a mute and an ancient crone who may be his mother. It is the mute, apparently, who best knows the local roads but communication with him exceeds the usual difficulties. However, after much circular discussion and some cryptic marks scratched in the dust in the ground we have enough information to backtrack a couple of kilometres to a smaller road which leads, we hope, to San Martin Jilopeque via Pachalum.

Up around the bend... my first impressions of the proposed route are favourable...

... but night is falling and the few locals we pass tell us this is not a road to be on after dark.

As we ride along in the gathering dark, we notice the thorny scrub to either side of the road is littered with a series of freakishly geometric shapes. I am intrigued.  A track on the other side of a firmly padlocked gate winds up a hill into the prickly scrub. I scale the fence to investigate and discover that the area is an abandoned quarry of some description and the mysterious shapes are massive oblong chunks of marble. The place has a strange and slightly eerie beauty and I am determined to spend the night here.

After a futile attempt to pick the lock, we unload the bikes and pass them over the gate and set up our tents behind a spiky screen of foliage among the monolithic stones.

These gigantic blocks...

...of marble...

...have been here for long enough to have small trees growing up between them.

A fantastic, but slightly spooky, campsite: the monolithic blocks of blue marble somehow suggest tombs.

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