Facts and Figures
Jan 22nd - Feb 3rd 2011
Start Mileage - 33,222
Miles - 201
Chivay (Hostal Qhapag Nan) - Puno (Brisas Hostal)
On the road or 09:30, topped up with fuel before leaving town and then started the climb out of the valley.
Skip is not doing too well with the cold and altitude and he has had a few “Grumpy” moments, his bike is suffering too, no power and it is making a few weird noises! glad we have fuel injection :-)
Layered up against the cold we had a good ride with more great scenery. Just after Patahuasi, at the turn off for the 34a to Juliaca, we stopped at a roadside café for a warm up cup of coffee and a smoke. Skip topped up his fuel from his reserve tanks so we will need to stop again soon to refuel the “Dommy”.
On the way through the Salinas y Aguada Blanca Reserva Nacional, we hit some more bad weather. As we came onto one stretch of road it looked like it was covered with sand drifting from the side, but as we hit it we found out it was a covering of hail, we then got pounded by more hail. The hail eventually stopped and gave way to a bit of sunshine for a nice ride alongside Laguna Lagunillas, more dogs from nowhere just lying at the side of the road and a few Flamingo’s.
We got as far as Santa Lucia before Skip needed to refuel, a small village with just a fuel station, some railway workshops, a small store and a kids playground built right next to the railway line and the main road! Health and Safety and the Planning Department weren’t speaking that day!!!
Juliaca, - Not a nice place to get lost in, a big, dirty industrial town that unfortunately we had to go through to get to Puno - We got lost! I spotted one sign post to Puno as we entered town and that was it, the GPS wasn’t helping either, trying to send us the wrong way down one way streets. We backtracked to the signpost we had seen earlier and managed somehow to get on the ring road. We soon got our second sighting of Lake Titicaca as we closed in on Puno. The ride in wasn’t as picturesque as the one at Copacabana but not too bad.
We parked up in town and sent Lorraine and Rachel in search of a hostel. They tried a few, US$50 for one others with no parking, some with b/fast included others without. Eventually they came back with a result - parking (in the foyer), b/fast, cable tv and wi-fi .. and cheap-ish. We tried to get the bikes in past the gates but they were seized and wouldn’t open wide enough so we had to park in the alley, not a problem as there is 24hr security. Once we had offloaded we asked about the wi-fi - they don’t even have internet let alone wi-fi. They tell you what you want to hear just to get you in!!!!!!
We booked B/fast for 08:30 in the morning then went to check out the town and some trips.
A nice town, clean and modern but like most places geared toward tourism there is a vast amount of over priced restaurants, tour operators and the touts working for them trying to sell their expensive tours to the rich Gringo’s.
Surprisingly we found a nice looking cheap restaurant on the main strip, tourist menu’s for S15 so we aren’t expecting huge portions. We didn’t bother ordering anything off the salad menu as it was so cold with no heating in the restaurant. 30 minutes after we had ordered the food began to arrive, although not what we had ordered!! Half way through the meal the heavens opened and the rain and hail came down big time, deafening everyone inside as it was hitting the tin roof and causing people to move tables to avoid the rain pouring in through the roof, a few even left without paying!
Fun over we bought some beers and headed back to watch a movie. Lorraine slipped on the hail that hadn't been cleared from the entrance, we told the guy on reception and he just shrugged his shoulders and grunted.
Puno (Brisas Hostal - Tumi II Hostel)
23/01/2011 - Woken up at 07:00 by an urgent knocking on the room door, it was the guy from the night reception, breakfast was on the table and we had a couple of minutes before it was cleared.
Not happy….when we checked in the woman that owned the place had said 08:30 - 09:00 was fine for B/fast. We went down and found a cold fried egg on a greasy bit of bread and a glass of milk and not the eggs to order, toast, cereal and coffee as promised .. we told the guy what we thought of the place and moved across the street to the Tumi II hostel, a bit pricier and no parking but they had everything they promised.
Because we hadn’t had B/fast we headed into town for something to eat. Just as we were tucking into a sausage sandwich we heard a commotion outside so went to investigate.
We knew we were a couple of weeks too early for the big fiesta they have here in February for the Virgen de la Candelaria and were a bit disappointed we would miss it as it is a big show/party. What we hadn't realised was that they have a mini fiesta as a practice beforehand and that was happening now. Tens of thousands of people paraded through the streets, most in the costumes they use for the actual fiesta with bands playing, dancing and Pan Pipes and lots of alcohol. We hung around the café for about 6 hours watching the parade stream by without a break. When we left there were still hundreds of groups pouring down into the main street. A great day.
After the parade we took a walk to the pier to get the legs working again and to see the Peruvian Navy ship “Yavari”. Built in Britain in 1861 along with her sister ship “Yapura” to patrol Lake Titicaca. The ships were constructed as a knock down kit consisting of 2,766 pieces between them. None of the pieces were larger than what a mule could carry, the railway only stretched 40 miles from the northern Pacific port of Arica to Tacna where mules had to carry the load the remaining 220 miles to Puno. The Yavari was bought by a private concern and is now a museum which is still being restored, the Yapura is still in service and still powered by it’s original Llama dung powered engines.
24/01/2011 - Wandered around the town trying to find Lorraine a souvenir scarf of the parade like the ones some of the guys were wearing, no luck, you have to be a member of one of the groups.
In the afternoon we took a bus trip to Sillustani, a Pre Inca burial ground and village on Lake Umayo. The Chulpa’s or tombs are all built above ground and contained the remains of the Noble families of the Colla people, Aymara.
On the way back from the ruins the bus stopped at a local crafts village where we could buy souvenirs, we just looked! They explained why a lot of houses we had seen have decorated cows on the roofs, it is to keep away bad spirits and bring good luck and prosperity to the family. They also had a small group of Camelids, I think I named them correctly in the picture gallery!!! and a great Guinea Pig house, well they have to have some comfort before they get eaten!!
Rachel had booked a trip for tomorrow to the floating islands through a contact of hers, if we wanted we could tag along..
25/01/2011 - Up for B/fast at 06:00 for the trip to the islands. Not having had much sleep for the past couple of nights due to the altitude we decided to give it a miss and spent most of the day in bed catching up on sleep.
Went to a Coca museum in the afternoon and met up with Skip and Rachel for dinner. Another hail storm just as we left the restaurant so we dived into a bar across the street and downed a few Pisco Sours.
26/01/2011 - I put my back out today - with a cough!!!! Not having much luck lately.
A slow wander into town for a nearly proper full English B/fast then off to the main museum that has some mummies from Sillustani and a few other bits and pieces.
Bumped into a couple from the U.K. that we had met earlier in Copacabana.
Spent the afternoon on the internet trying to find accommodation in Cusco, nothing cheaper than an apartment that Guy and Didi (Belgian couple we met in Argentina) had told us about so we booked that.
Start Mileage - 33,423
Miles - 243
Puno (Hostel Tumi II) - Cusco (Toms Apartment)
Heaving down with rain this morning so a slow B/fast before we start packing. Me and Skip went to get the bikes from the Parquedero in a break between showers. We got packed at last, mostly in the dry and were ready for the off by 10:00. wet weather gear on. A bit of a miserable ride with a lot of rain and Skip not happy with his bike (Skip gets a bit moody sometimes!! lol). Climbing in height and the “Dommy” is suffering, we have to keep stopping to make sure Skip and Rachel are ok, slow going today.
Rachel had been told of a good eating place on the way near Sicuani that did a big buffet lunch for not a lot of money. We found it but no buffet and not quite as cheap as reported, was good food though.
More rain and it is getting heavier. We get to Cusco at about 18:30 and then we had to find the Loki Hostel that Guy and Didi work at. Parked up near the extremely steep cobbled hill that Loki is situated on, Rachel and Lorraine get the job of hiking up too see Guy to organize the keys for the apartment from Tom the owner, a bit of a palaver. While they are gone Skip managed to locate a beer shop and came back with liquid refreshment in hand.
The wanderers returned, Guy was stuck in Lima due to the weather and Didi wasn’t at the hostel. We managed to get hold of Guy who then contacted Tom who is coming out in a taxi to guide us to the apartment. 5 minutes later Tom appears, we offload a lot of our gear into the taxi along with Rachel and Lorraine. Skip and I follow on through the narrow streets and up the steep cobbled lanes until we get to a dead end. Everything gets taken out of the taxi and we offload the rest of the gear on the bike while Tom arranges for us to park the bikes in a yard next to where we are stopped.
Tom had said we had some steps to climb to get to the apartment but it didn’t look that bad, about 20 that we could see. The local security patrol said he would look after the gear we couldn't carry, so, loaded up as much as we could be, we started up the steps. Even though there were only 20 or so they were steep and hard work. I stopped to get my breath at the top and Tom came past for another load, apologising he hadn't mentioned the steps. “Go about 100Mtrs up the path then turn right and the apartment is on the left through the blue gate” he said.
So, 100Mtrs further on and turn right and S***! There is another 80+ steeper steps to go up, we are going to need oxygen masks up there! Back down for the last load and to park the bikes in the yard. Knackered from climbing the steps we made sure we bought beer from the shop on this run so we didn’t have to come back down.
With everything humped up the steps, Tom now tells us there is no water in the apartment or the room, the apartment also doesn’t have a double bed as advertised, just a large single. Tom assures us water will be available tomorrow then bums our beer and fags!!
Cusco (Tom’s Apartment)
28/01/2011 - Water hasn’t been sorted as promised and the shower blew up when we tried to use it, so no showers. We went to Tom’s restaurant to confront him with a list of problems/complaints about the place, we were never even offered a coffee or beer!!
Spent the rest of the day in town, bought rain covers for the gear that sits on top of the panniers and a warm jacket for me.
Hassled all day by the hundreds of artists and jewellery makers that sell their “own work” on the streets. Funny how everyone is selling the same pictures and jewellery!!!!!
29/01/2011 - No sign of anyone coming to fix the shower so I did it myself.
Skip and Rachel are meeting a friend in town so we arranged to meet up later on.
Found a print shop that could knock us up some more stickers for a good price, ready on Monday.
Hiked up the hill to Loki Hostel and had a coffee with Guy and Didi and arranged to meet up again later in the week.
Met up with Skip and Rachel at the Norton Rats pub, Cusco’s biker hot spot. No travellers in town at the moment apart from us but recognised a few familiar names in their guest book.
Found a nice curry house for dinner then back to the apartment. Still no water so e-mail sent to Tom telling him we won’t be paying the asking price for the rental.
30/01/2011 - Trip to Pisac market today. We found the bus station with help from the locals and decided to take a taxi!! about the same price and a lot quicker than the bus. Rachel was having fun haggling with sellers and then not buying anything. We were looking to buy a Peruvian wall rug and had seen some nice ones but they were probably mass produced in China. We bought a few bits and pieces but still wanted a wall rug. There was a shop at the end of town with some nice ones, all original according to the owner. We had a demonstration of weaving from him and nearly bought a rug that we both liked, an original for around £250. We decided to leave it a while and have a think about it as he wouldn't budge on the price. We saw exactly the same rug in another shop …. Original huh!!
Had lunch in the market, lots of “Cuy” (Guinnea Pig) on offer but we settled for Empanadas. We might have eaten the Cuy if it wasn't served with the head attached!
Skip is starting to come out of his depression and we actually got a smile today :-) Maybe because we are going to work on the bike tomorrow!!
Pigged out on curry again.
Skip and Rachel are getting a bit concerned about the Cyclone that is heading for Australia and due to hit land right on their house in Cairns.
31/01/2011 - Me and Skip worked on the bike in the morning, stripped the head down and it looks like the camshaft bearings are the problem. Bearings removed we went into town to look for a bike shop or Repuestos, spares dealer. We called into Norton Rats to see if they could help and recommend somewhere to get the parts, they weren't interested at all and were no help at all so we asked a motorbike cop that was parked up outside. Directions in hand we jumped into a cab. None of the motorcycle dealers had bearings the size we needed but we did find a repuestos that had them in stock. Back to the bike and it starts to throw it down again, can’t work on the bike in this, no cover. Skip is winding down into a mood again, things aren't going to plan.
Stickers aren't ready today, come back tomorrow. Dinner and beers in a restaurant just down the road from the apartment.
01/02/2011 - More work on the Dommy today in between the rain and hail showers. Lorraine and Rachel went shopping and picked up the new stickers.
Called Guy and Didi and arranged to meet for dinner tonight at Paddy’s bar, the highest Irish owned Irish bar in the world.
The Cyclone is due to hit tomorrow morning, keeping a close eye on it via the internet.
Had a nice evening with Guy and Didi, good, cheap food at Paddys and they throw in a t-shirt to ward off the street sellers with “No Gracias” in big letters across the front.
02/02/2011 - Checked the internet this morning, Australia was well prepared for the Cyclone and it wasn't as strong as expected so little damage was done. The Dommy is reassembled and sounds like it is running good again, Skip is a bit happier. Full English breakfast at Paddy’s for lunch then off to the Post Office to send our goodies home. The t-shirts from Paddy’s don't work, still getting hassled. We tried to get hold of Tom to “discuss” what we were prepared to pay for rent but his restaurant was all closed up and no response from his phone, back up those bloody steps and sent him an email.
We decided to stay local and went hunting for another restaurant near the top of the hill. We ran into a Fiesta just starting up in the plaza, the action isn't until 21:00 so we found a small eatery for a Cena. Half way through the meal a local group came into the restaurant and set up their Pan Pipes, drums and guitars right behind our table. In the restaurant there were another couple plus ourselves and then the noise started, the worst Peruvian music we have heard. We avoided eye contact with them hoping they would go away but they didn’t. Just as we asked for the bill one of the group came to the table and tried to sell their CD, when we refused they said that we had to pay for the entertainment. I don’t think they were happy that we told them they were crap and that we didn’t ask them to play so weren't going to pay them anything. He followed us out onto the street yelling at us in Spanish. Back on the street there were lots of unsafe, fun, fireworks, boozing and street food. We had a few flying fireworks shoot off into the crowds and Lorraine got hit by some shrapnel, no injuries though.
Start Mileage -33,666
Miles - 41
Cusco (Toms Appt.) - Urubamba (Simons)
Still no response from Tom so we left 100Soles each on the table, put the key under the mat and said goodbye to those damn steps.
The Dommy is sounding good and Skip is in a happy place once more! Following the route we had mapped out of Cusco we manage to balls it up in the first couple of hundred meters and end up running the wrong way down a one way street. Lucky for us there was a friendly traffic cop that pointed out the error of our ways and sent us off in the right direction, which was the road out that we were trying to avoid, extremely steep and cobbled!! The only other traffic was a car going down the hill in front of us so I held off until he was a good distance ahead before I set off. As soon as we were rolling the car ahead slowed right down and we were soon on his rear bumper trying too slow the bike and stay upright. We made it out without any more problems and had a nice ride on the road to Urubamba. We pulled over at some ruins for a look around and a smoke and were soon surrounded by some local kids. Skip notices his right boot covered in oil and we start to look around the bike to see where it is coming from with the help of the local kids. Discovered it was the top nut on an oil feed pipe that had been forgotten, a couple of turns and all is good. Skip is a lot happier again, the bike is running as good as it ever has he says.
We arrived in Urubamba and pulled into a local restaurant for lunch while we wait for Simon, a contact of Rachel’s from her old job in Australia who had invited us to stay at his lodge for a while.
We followed Simon back to his place and were given the tour. The “Bungalow” that had been promised as our accommodation turned out to be a single room with two double beds which we were now told we could have for a reduced rate of US$40, Skip hit the roof again as all the contact they had had from Simon they were led to believe that the invite was as a friend not a paying guest. We went straight back into town to look for a bar and to check out alternative accommodation. Skip found the bar and got a head start on us while we found other accom, cheaper and with more than Simon was offering. Rachel doesn't want to rock the boat and convinces us to stay for one night.
A few beers and food then we got a Tuk Tuk back to Simons, the drivers getting lost on the way. Skips mood is getting worse, especially when Simon has a go at us for coming back in the dark as it is dangerous and starts to tell us that everything we have been doing over the last two years is extremely dangerous and we shouldn't be doing it. He then spends the rest of the night bigging up his business with no interest in us.