Thursday, 21 July 2011
THE GRINGO PEDALS PERU
PLEASE SEE PREVIOUS POST FOR MACCHU PICHU. In Africa I was a Mzungu, but in this region a foreigner is referred to as a Gringo. Since my last report "The Gringo" left Lake Titicaca into the cold breeze along the desolate Altiplano - at least for the first few days. Along the way I met up with Israeli´s Amit and Shohan, and I was mostly in their company until we reached Cuzco where their South American cycle ended. In the process we crossed the La Raya mountain pass at 4360 m, before descending to Cuzco at 3300 m over the next couple of days. Shortly after the pass there was a rustic hot-spring, and it was quite enjoyable to float in the warm pool while admiring the surrounding snowy peaks. Cuzco is a very touristy city which was initially the Inca capital before being conquered by the Spanish - which gives it a rather European colonial character (and there are perhaps more tourists than locals). I stayed at La Estrellita, a cheap hostal popular amongst cyclists - and there were a number of us in residence. Of course, the renowned Macchu Pichu Inca ruins is not far away from Cuzco, and I too was compelled to visit the site (SEE PRVIOUS POST REGARDING MY VISIT TO MACCHU PICHU). I was planning to return to Cuzco, but I found a small dirt-road shortcut which linked up with the route I was planning to cycle, so I gave a second visit to Cuzco a miss. At the end of that day I was checking out a camping spot in the twilight, when I discovered 2 cyclists already camping there - Austrian/Swiss couple Hannes and Annelies. We´ve stayed in the same places for the past couple of days, except for one day when I had 5 punctures and camped alone up in the mountains. There are big mountains to cross, and I´ve now dropped and climbed more than 2000 m at a time. There was an added amount of excitement coming down the 35 km zig-zag decent yesterday from 4000 m in the rain with hardly any brakes left. Now I´m in a room in a big local town called Abancay, taking the day off to do this "Internet Thing", which feels like a job at times (I hope someone still reads this). When I leave here tomorrow I´ll be on my own again, as my 2 companions will be taking a different route. Daily distances cycled since Puno have been:- Juliaca 44 km; Pucara 65 km; Santa Rosa 75 km; Sicuani 72 km; Urcos 99 km; Cuzco 49 km; Ollantaytambo 86 km; Limatambo Mt Camp 62 km; Rio Apurimac 57 km; Curawasi Mt Camp 39 km; and Abancay 53 km. The total distance cycled in South America so far is 13 404 km, and the total distance cycled on this journey is 79 891 km.