Having recovered enough from the Salmonella to be away from the loo for half a day or more , I finally set off for Lima. The police at the Bolivia/Peru border insisted on a donation for Santa Maria before letting me pass, and I grudgingly handed over some coin which was left in my wallet. Santa Maria my arse I thought...
Travelling at altitudes over 4,000 metres I was rewarded with some spectacular views leaving Bolivia, and I´m still in awe at how the farmers cultivate crops on the inclines at those heights...
Peru seemed to be more wealthy from the minute I crossed the border, but that´s quite relative in this neck of the woods. I hit Puno on the first day, and being the pussy that I am stayed two nights to avoid leaving in some quite miserable rain.
The day I did leave however, there had obviously been some kind of protest early that morning, as every intersection had broken glass greeting me. After I found some higher octane fuel I headed out, finding my way partially blocked by some boulders lined up across the highway. This pattern repeated itself with increasing frequency, sometimes heading around a blind corner had me standing on the brakes to prevent flying over the handlebars...
I rode into Puno, and the same broken glass scenario awaited me, except this time the protest was in full swing. Oblidging locals come rushing up and told me either to forget trying to go north, or try and skirt around the protesters. I picked my way carefully through the glass strewn intersections and did so, actually getting ahead of the mob. I asked a bunch of Police officers if I could make it to Cusco - and they just laughed at me... , I had no idea why.
Just before Julliaca I got my answer. There was a bus and a couple of trucks up a side road, and some guy waving at me to stop. This goaty bearded individual turned out to be another biker, Johannes Marbet from Switzerland on his Africa Twin. Although I was happy to see another rider, he and the bus of british tourists had been waiting there for 4 hours as the bridge was blockaded with rocks, glass and protesters. It turned out that this particular day was a protest about the governments privatisation process.
Jealous british tourists paying homage to the independant biker, click here for a larger image of the bearded swiss guy
Of course all of us Gringos attracted the local kids, and one of the brit tourists starting doing Polaroids for them, and they went bananas. Joahnnes and I joined in as they loved the bikes...
Johannes and his fans...
Me and mine...
After waiting around for an hour or so a little delivery truck appeared from around a side road, and the driver reckoned there was a way around the bridge. Johannes , myself and the brits decided to give it a go, although half way around the the detour seemed to be rather large...
One of the kids assured Johannes and I we could get through the barricade as his mates, so we followed him, or rather him hanging onto the back of my bike as we headed straight to the bridge. There were actually hundreds of people occupying the bridge, and the closer we got we realised there was no way we were going to break through. Surveying the scene, we though about skirting the bridge by riding through the river itself, as it didn´t seem to be too deep. Down we went, and Johannes lead the way past the bridge, through yet more people sitting either side. Suddenly Joahannes accelerated away, and I realised why as the majority of people sitting beside the bridge were mobilising to throw rocks and sticks at us..., I followed suit and blasted in pursuit. We were greeted by cheers and whistles from the traffic waiting to cross from the other side, although Johannes and I just kept going , hearts still pounding.
The ride after the bridge was quite memorable, there wasn´t a car or vehicle on the road (at least we knew why), and the scenery was quite spectacular. We could even stop right in the middle of the road for pictures....
Johannes taking the chance to stand beside a classy bike...
After staying 1 night in the most horrible Hospedaje that Cusco had to offer, we headed off on the Inca trail starting with Saqsaywaman, an Inca site where the Pope actually had a mass some years back. Kinda weird that a Pope used a site formerly used to worship the sun gods I thought.
Our guide Guido proved to be quite valuable, and he took pride in showing us the many plants around the place, from anniseed smelling leaves, wild mint, berries with dye, and a quite beautiful plant called a michimichi, or little cat.
The michimichi flower at Saqsaywaman
After some spectacular roads and views riding towards Ollytaytambo, Johannes and I had break on the side of the road, and he commented that my chain was way too loose. I explained that was how it should be, and how the slack reduced considerably when the bike was off the side stand and I was actually sitting on the bike. He knodded, and then observed that the chain on his africa twin was was so tight there was no give at all. Through the last few weeks riding he had been oiling the chain at regular intervals, but forgot to check his tension. It turned out he had stripped some teeth off the front drive shaft, and the front sprocket itself was almost about to fall off.
Johannes would you believe is a car mechanic, and man was he embarassed at this costly faux pas. His decision was to weld the sprocket on to the drive shaft, as a replacement shaft (and splitting the engine) was not a real possibility.
Johannes doing the emergency weld, click here to inspect his work
Welding done we continued to Ollytaytambo for the trip the next the day to Aguas Calientes and Matchupichu. Myself Johannes and this british girl we adopted for the day grunted up the hill instead of taking the bus, and sweated like pigs in the process, but it was well worth the effort.
The famous view as captured by Kate Cheeseman ( I left the battery behind for my Mavica ), click here for a larger view
Johannes and I then blasted on towards Lima as fast as our bikes could take us, and in his words, we enjoyed some mountain race tracks that many swiss riders would pay good money for. On the way to Lima we had an absolute shocker of a ride, 14 hours to arrive in Puquio, so cold we were almost falling off the bikes. We agreed it was stupid to ride at night and all that, but sometimes you just get a bee in your helmet about getting somewhere. We were absolutlely exhausted afterwards.
Thankfully we arrived in Lima in one piece, and I say thankfully as I could not help but remember the German rider Claus who was killed by a truck just south of Lima in November. The driving in Lima is nothing short of suicidal, a red light being nothing more than a suggestion to slow, but not necessarily to stop. Every driver honks thier horn like a blink of eyelid, it was just wicked.
In Lima we had the luck to stay with Dave Coutts and Kate Cheeseman, both of whom I knew from my time in Poland. Somehow these two ( despite Dave's gene make-up )have created an adorable daughter named Anna who just seemed to charm the pants off anyone she met.....
Anna trying to chat me up...
Somehow Anna had an effect on everyone she met, and that included Johannes. One morning Kate had just warmed up some breast milk for Anna, which was sitting innnocently in a jug by the microwave. Good old Johannes thought he was being treated to some warm milk for breakfast Swiss style, and was just finishing a glass when Kate nabbed him. We laughed till it hurt too much...
It sure was tasty.....
Philipp Jokisch had also enjoyed the hospitality of the Coutts-Cheeseman household, and after Johannes had a new front sprocket welded to his driveshaft and new chain put on, they both left towards Equador. I stayed on and enjoyed the sweets of Miraflores where Dave lives, tried in vain to learn some Spanish, and finally found out why Halle Berry won an oscar... ( I´m sure the judges were all men... )
A big big thankyou to Dave and Kate and thier maid for putting me up those two weeks !!!!!, and also to Carmen and Steve and the mining community for throwing an Australasian BBQ...
The night before I left one of Dave´s telecom buddies threw a BBQ over looking the ocean, which of course meant I would be leaving with the traditional hangover when I´ve stayed somewhere too long.
Rudolf , Dave and Kate living it up...
During the party we figured out the best ( apparently ) way to get to Yurimaguas to catch the banana boats up the Amazon, and of course we did this in true kiwi style, on the back of a cigarette wrapper !
The famous plan, click here for the reverse view
The last character I should mention is Chris Williams, who offered me his flat as a study venue while he was travelling and running away from marriage proposals....
Chris, (last of the true scoundrels of this world), Kate and Dave
Posted by Jeremy Andrews at May 23, 2002 02:27 AM GMT
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