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11 Nov 2003 Peru Tuesday - HOME We arrived back in Gatwick on a miserable damp morning both feeling really knackered. We caught the train to Blackwater and spent quite a while on the platform at Blackwater reassembling our bikes and trying to strap all the extra bits and bobs to the bikes for the short ride back to Kristians house.
10 Nov 2003 Peru Monday – Flight home Got to Atlanta about 7am in the morning and took a while to get through the extra security at the airport. We checked our luggage through and left the hand stuff in left luggage before asking at the ‘Atlanta Visitors Center’ what we could do in a few hours. Apparently not very much. The Cocoa Cola Museum, the CNN museum (which actually sounded like it might be good fun to pretend to read the weather and news) or lots of different shopping malls. We caught the train to the Lennox mall and wondered around a bit. The food hall was good but you got more hassle to buy from certain stalls than you did in any of the poor countries we’d just traveled through. The amount of chubby people was very noticeable as was the lack of attractive women. Lots of plain janes or over the top rich chicks with bad dress sense and small dogs in their hand bags. Back at the airport and the second flight was fine.
09 Nov 2003 Peru Sunday Lima About 9 in the morning got a call at the hotel from my mum! They were still in Lima now at the Marriott Hotel. Unfortunately they had been robbed on the way to the airport. A chancer had used a spark plug to break one of the back windows and then made a grab for a bag. He’d got Lucys day pack which unfortunately had her passport and ticket in……bummer. It meant that they now needed to get tickets and passports reissued. In a way a real pain and scary experience but later that day we went to meet them at the Marriott and a bit of luxury and relaxation after our hectic schedule was quite nice. Well we said goodbye again to and left them at the Marriott and went back to our hostel to head off to the airport at 2030pm. We managed to get the bikes shrink wrapped pretty easily. In fact I would recommend this as the easiest way to get your bike on the plane. Then we started the procedure to allow us to get on the plane. It always amazes my what a pain flying is. You just shuffle from one queue to the other before spending hours sitting in stuffy and uncomfortable seats and generally you’ve paid a lot of money for the ‘service’. We queued for ages to check in then had to wait at the checking for over 1 hour while the guy sorted out our paperwork. We had to pay a penalty for changing our return date and another charge to have our stolen tickets reissued. A total of $238 each! It was interesting to see the ticket reissue process. Its so cumbersome it probably costs about $100 in man hours just for the bloke on the checkout to fill in the forms. Our flight to Gatwick went from Lima to Atlanta, then an 8 hour stop over, before continuing to Gatwick.
08 Nov 2003 Peru Saturday Puno to Lima Phew before I knew it it was 1200 and we had to leave for the airport. Kristian, Jamie, Lucy and I were feeling very jaded but still really pleased that we had sneaked in a party night amongst all the rushing around. We flew to Lima via Arequipa and by the time we arrived at Lima some tiredness was certainly starting to show. Mum Lucy and Jamie were die to fly out tonight and Kristian and I had to try to get our bike bags from Lima so we split up and arranged to meet later at Jockey Plaza. The big shopping center. Kristian and I had no luck with the bike bags. They hadn’t turned up from Quito. We decided that we would shrink wrap the bikes at the airport and headed off to met the others. The ‘happy’ shoppers were mooching around the shopping center. I suppose its not the best way to end a holiday. Lucy and Jamie both bought some cheap Diesel stuff before we said our goodbyes and they left to go back to the airport. Kristian and I went back to the hostel and about 11 decided to check email as we thought we might be able to meet some people out in barranca. The usual internet place was shut so we had to go to another one. It was down a big wide street just off a main road. Just outside the café which was also shut we started getting hassled by 3 awful prostitutes. Initially I was polite brushing they grabbing hands away. Then they started to get a bit forceful and a bit scary. They were flashing their boobs at us and really trying to grab our crotches. I started getting a bit more forceful and heading back to the main road quickly. Kristian followed and got his front jean pocket totally ripped open trying to get away from them! On the way back to the hostel we got hassled more by strange weirdo drunks. We binned the going out and went to bed.
07 Nov 2003 Peru Friday – lake to Puno The night wasn’t half as cold as I expected and I slept pretty well on the reed bed in the adobe hut. The sunrise was really cool in the morning over the lake. The little gnarled old women (Rose our host) served up tea, bread and eggs for breakfast and we tipped her and got a few pictures before leaving back to the boat. Lucy and Jamie were in the middle of the usual morning ‘discussion’. Lucy had disappeared at the key side and we were a bit worried about where she might be. She turned up and we all got on the local ferry to go directly back to Puno. We didn’t think we had time to complete the full tour as we were due to catch a plane tonight. The boat ride was long and slow, about 4 hours. The boat was pretty full of locals and various bits and bobs they were taking back to puno. The roof was loaded with wood and furniture and the downstairs bit had bags of provisions including a couple that moved! Jamie amused the locals by showing them the ‘lonely planet’ and taking some digital photos and showing them around. Back in Puno our tour agent had been unable to get us the flight and we decided to get a flight tomorrow and spend tonight in Puno and fly back to Lima tomorrow. Mum Lucy and Jamie shopped in a kind of local produce market that had stuff from all around Peru. We bought some good stuff for the prize draw. In the evening we went and had some cocktails in a quiet but very friendly Bravia Pizzeria. Francisco the owner spoke ok English and wanted to talk about bands and seemed keen to get our opinion on the cocktails. He advised us to go to a ‘safe’ bar which he recommended and warned us about all the dangerous people in Puno, which we should be especially careful of when they are drunk. We moved on to a restaurant where Kristian and Jamie had the Guinea pig. It was a whole squashed rodent, little claws, teeth an’ all. My mum wasn’t too impressed and got really upset when Kristian asked the waitress if he was supposed to eat the head and when she said yes started to crack the skull and pop its little eyeballs! After the meal mum went home and we all went to the recommended bar. It was full of gringos quiet and boring. We left and found another place a bit more like it. A club packed with people and a bar that served ridiculously large measures. We were ushered to a special safe area, I think specifically so a waiter could serve some potential top tip clients, and limbered up with a few more drinks. After a couple we ventured down to the dance floor and starting strutting our stuff. Kristian again proved an intriguing sight doing his special dancing and occasionally picking up small Peruvian girls and swinging them around in a potentially life threatening manner. The four of us really got into the dancing and managed to clear our own special spot. I think it was a bit dangerous to dance too near to us. We bumped into Francisco again and some of his friends. They spent along time chatting to us and warning us that all the people in the club were dangerous and were going to drug our drinks etc. It was nice of them to be so concerned but they did go on a bit. Anyway they took us to another club and bought us drinks all night and paraded girls in front of us and were eager for us to give our opinion. We finally left the club and staggered out into broad daylight. We went back to Franciscos pizza place for one last drink then we got some breakfast at café before getting back to the hotel about 730am. A big night, excellent fun and no bad people!
06 Nov 2003 Peru Thursday – Puno to Reed Island on Lake Titicaca We had signed up the day before for the standard trip to the lake. In the morning we jumped on a boat with lots of other backpackers and headed firstly to the reed islands and then on to another bigger island where we were going to spend a night with the locals. The lake was huge and hot. The sun is really powerful at this altitude. Just below 4000m on the highest navigable lake in the world. Our first stop was the reed islands. Despite being a bit touristy these are pretty special. As you would guess local people have built these islands out of reeds and anchor them to the bottom of the lake, which is very shallow here but does get up to 275m deep. As the reeds rot from the bottom they add more to the top in a never ending process, and because they are rotting it’s a bit smelly. They live in reed houses which they have to keep lifting up to remake the floor, they eat the soft ends of the reeds, make bowls and ornaments out of them, and I expect they probably wipe their arses with them as well! They have these nifty reed boats that have fairly elaborate sort of bowsprits on them them. We traveled to another reed island on one of these. Back on the boat for a long 3.5 hrs to the island that we were going to spend the night on. Lucy had decided that she wanted to go back to Puno for the eve but when we got to the Island found out she couldn’t and she wasn’t too pleased. We were all allocated a family to spend the night with and we traipsed up the hill in the breathless heat to the little houses they lived in. The view from the house was stunning, looking back across the lake and able to see the snow peaked mountain ranges in Bolivia. The little house we stayed in was very comfortable if basic. Hard reed beds with big heavy blankets and a little table to eat at. It was made out of adobe and had no electricity. Our evening meal was very filling. A tasty soup followed by a main course of a whole bowl of little knobbly potatoes and a boiled egg followed by some cocoa tea. In the eve Kristian and I donned ponchos and alpaca hats while mum was kitted out in women’s local garb and we went to a ‘Disco’. We had a really fun evening dancing around with locals and other dressed up gringos to a local style band. The good thing was that even though it was obviously laid on for the tourists the locals seemed to be enjoying themselves as well.
05 Nov 2003 Peru Wednesday – Sandolva Lake Lodge to Puno Jeepers a 4am start followed by a hectic day of traveling to get to Puno. After breakfast we did the canoe, walk, canoe,bus trip back to the airport. We again chatted to the groovy Canadian couple on the canoe. Kristian embarrassingly put his foot in it while chatting to them at the airport. The lady asked if we had been in ‘fourteen’, she had been in room 13 so next door. With her Canadian accent Kristian thought she asked him if we’d been ‘farting’ and after getting her to repeat the question a few times, admitted that yes, Jamie and him had done a ‘few farts while getting up this morning’. Following this admission there was a brief pause while Kristian went a bit red. We met Caroline and Gemma again on the canoe back. They had been staying at different lodges but luckily had seen the giant otters. This surprised us because we had come to the conclusion that they non longer existed and it was just a marketing stunt that they did. The rest of the day was spent on the plane and then 7 hours on a boiling bus to Puno. Got a room at the hotel Utama before catching the tail end of a festival parade going on in Puno and having some very good Gringo food. We are all pretty knackered
04 Nov 2003 Peru Tuesday – Sandolva Lake Lodge A 5am start a good breakfast and then out onto the lake to catch the birdies having their breakfast. I think they must have had a heavy night because we didn’t see that much, no giant otters either but still very beautiful. After the lake I had the first of my numerous kips. Guess the cycling and hectic schedule is catching up on me ‘cause I feel really tired and have a new ability to fall asleep anywhere at anytime. Did some ‘walking with Mosquitoes’ before lunch and saw lots of other bugs and a brazil nut tree and a walking palm. In the afternoon I went back to sleep before the evening lake trip which was pretty similar to the last few. Nice tea before a night walk in the jungle on which we saw more huge bugs.
03 Nov 2003 Peru Monday Cusco to Puerto Madonal (Sandoval lake lodge) Luckily the hangover hadn’t kicked in after our brief rest and I was feeling quite good in the morning. Infact I had a bit of a giggling fit and kept cracking up over stuff that wasn’t funny. Bit odd but a good ol’ laugh is quite therapeutic. Lucy had a bit of a morning mood on. Jamie and her had a bit of a ‘to do’ the night before and I made things worse by stupidly recanting the ‘Full Monty’ ….whoops! I think we all looked a bit odd at the airport. Kristian and I looked very disheveled and ill, Lucy and Jamie were oozing angry hostility and mum was trying to enjoy herself but was too worried about everyone else! After a very short flight we landed at Puerto Madonal low down, humid and jungley. We were met at the airport by the guide from the lodge and taken via a 30 min motorized dugout canoe, then a 45 min walk through the jungle, then a 30 min paddle in another dugout canoe to the Sandoval Lake lodge. The butterflies on the walk through the jungle were incredible literally big clouds of all different types flittering around in the sunlight or feeding on the crowd before rising in a cloud of colour as we approached. On the canoe on the way to the lodge we met the couple that are writing the Moon Travel guide for Peru and another groovy Canadian couple who are retired but travel independently really often and were interesting to talk too. Funnily enough they asked me if I was feeling ok now. They had thought I looked ill on the plane! The lodge in on a large lake which is surrounded by primary forest and is renowned for the wildlife, especially the very rare Giant Otter and Black Caymen. This was our ‘luxury’ bit of holiday and the lodge was very peaceful and spacious with a dinning room surrounded by hammocks. After a decent lunch we went out on to the lake in a dugout canoe to look at the wildlife at dusk. Lots of birds including, different types of herons, macaws and monkeys and a spectacular sunset over the lake and making the huge trees of the palm forest look incredible. Very serene.
02 Nov 2003 Peru Sunday Aguas Caliente – Cusco Another dam early start to get the train back to olytatambo and then a collectivo back to Cusco.. We got up at 530am and made it back to Cusco for 10am. Kristian and I headed to get our tickets for the flight tomorrow from Puma Adventures while the others went back to the San Blas Hostel. We all met later at our favorite café, Jacks for more top-notch grub. In the afternoon we went to the ‘contraband’ market which is a 3 soles cab ride out of town. It was quite good. Lots of $1 rip off cd’s that seemed to play ok and good quality rip off trainers etc. Kristian bought a toy hand gun for his nephew that fired little pellets. It looked quite realistic and when he was trying it out loads of people dived for cover in the shopping aisles! Our insatiable demand for blimin’ Alpaca hats, gloves etc continued. Kristian kept thinking of more and more people to get the same stuff for. He’s going to need to synchronize the present opening on Christmas day. We were all feeling pretty tired and planned a quiet meal at one of the Irish pubs in town before getting an early night. Things didn’t go quite to that plan. Mum started chatting to a group of English girls that were sat next to us and the conversion started flowing as the various happy hours passed by. We ended up being the last to leave the pub, and getting free cocktails from the staff who were really impressed with Kristian and Jamie’s bar top ‘Full Monty’ routines. Kristian was quite matter of fact about the whole thing saying ‘What....it’s much the same as everyone else’s isn’t it? Unfortunately we haven’t had any of the photos mailed to us……yet. We went on to a club and eventually stumbled back to the hostel about 630am. Just in time to get are heads down for an hour before breakfast!
01 Nov 2003 Peru Saturday Inca trail day 4 – Machu Picchu There was a spectacular thunderstorm and it poured with rain all night. I think everyone’s tents held up ok but it was still raining at 430am in the morning when we had our wake up call. There were some glum tired faces in the morning. It looked like we were in for a wet day. Luckily the rain stopped and after about 1.5 hours of walking we reached the Temple of the Sun from which you get your first glimpse of Machu Picchu. The weather was staring to clear and patched of cloud occasionally swept across the mountain reducing visibility but really making you feel like you were high up and adding to the mysticism of the place. A short walk and we were at Machu Picchu itself. The weather continued to improve and by the time we were on our tour the sky was clear. Everyone has seen a photo of the place at some time or other and its even better in reality. A fantastic setting and the city is in such good repair that you really get a feel for what it must have been like to live in it. After the tour we climbed the mountain behind Machu Picchu called Wanhu Picchu. A pretty steep and in places hairy climb, but you are rewarded with great views back across the city and down the valley. By now the place was getting pretty crowded and so we had some coffee and started the walk down to Aquas Caliente the little town we were going to spend the night at and where the Machu Picchu train takes you back to Olyatambo. The train actually runs right down the middle of the main street so you can sit and have a meal and all of a sudden a bid ol’ train comes chugging by. As you would expect there are lots of Inca souvenirs to purchase and Mum was desperate to put on some clean clothes. For less than $10 she got kitted out in an Inca Trail t-shirt and some suitably traveley and ethnic type trousers. ….mum was slowly but surely changing into the stereo typical ‘mature traveler’….pretty cool! In the evening Jamie and Lucy went off to do some shopping while Kristian, Mum, Caroline and Gemma and I went to the hot springs in town. They were a bit smelly and grubby looking but nice and warm and there was a pretty good atmosphere with all the Inca trail gringos and lots of locals hanging out and chatting in the baths. They also served cocktails. A couple of those in a hot bath after a decent walk always makes for a good time. We had a really rubbish meal after. All the restaurants offer a Menu Touristica which is pretty good value. We chose badly ending up in a one man band restaurant and getting bad food. When we left we refused to pay the full bill, hopefully that told him!
31 Oct 2003 Peru 31102003 Friday – Inca trail day 3 Today was supposed to be an easier day than yesterday and I suppose it was, but only just. The ups and downs seemed a little harder to me but we weren’t at such high altitude so I suppose that did make it easier. Today’s route took in 3 Inca ruins all explained in detail by our guide. It seems that there is still not that much known about the Incas so a lot of the information is guide of ‘best guess’. They didn’t have a written language so this has not given archeologists much to go on. We arrived at quite a well organized campsite about 4 ish. An opportunity to have a shower for the first time in a few days. I didn’t bother I just had a bit of a wipe with mum’s wipes and felt clean enough to have a couple of beers in the campsite bar. The cook excelled himself in the evening and we had a huge spread of really tasty food. It seemed that tonight was ‘tip’ night and all the groups had good food and most of it looked similar to ours if not exactly the same. We had spicy stuffed peppers, special fried rice, burgers and it was all really well presented. The porters, the guide and the cook all came and sang a little song to us and we did the done thing and gave them all a tip. After all they did work pretty hard. There was a disco in the evening at the bar which was pretty poorly attended, I guess everyone was tired from the walk and we were supposed to be getting up at 5am to get to Machu Picchu before the hoards who take the bus and train arrive. One traveler managed to stamina to do some pretty bad Michael Jackson dancing which brought a small smile to the faces of the glum looking porters who sat around the edge of the dance floor.
30 Oct 2003 Peru Thursday (Inca Trail Day 2) Got our morning call at 600am and a nice cup of coca tea to ease any altitude headaches. We were only about the same height as Cusco (3100m) so generally we were all ok as we had had time to acclimatize. The porters had done a great job with breakfast. Porridge, Omelets, bread, and fruit salad. The weather was mild but overcast with stop starty mizzle. Our $1 ponchos proved very useful throughout the day. The walking took about 5 hours. The first 3 pretty much up hill the whole way to get to a pass at 4215m, the highest point on the trail. The path was rocky but easy and the scenery very cool. I think Kristian and I have bee a bit spoilt with ‘great views’ so while everyone was raving about the beauty of the place we were a bit more reserved. I took 2 hours after the pass to get to the campsite. The downhill was quite tiring on the legs and everyone was feeling quite relieved to get to the campsite. . we hadn’t been fed all day either so it was just as well we had loads of nibbles on us. Other less well prepared people were getting a bit weaked out. I was really impressed with mum and Lucy. Lucy seemed to be enjoying walking and zoomed up to the pass with Jamie. Mum coped really well as well and although she definitely felt the effects of the altitude she kept a steady pace (pretty hard for someone who normally does everything as fast as possible). and had no problems. The campsite here had a few more facilities and was set in a picturesque valley with snowcapped mountains in the distance. Having not eaten since 630am we now had 3 meals served to us in 5 hours. A lot of food even for Kristian who’s appetite meant he was always able to eat a ‘tiny bit’ of any leftovers. During the afternoon mum developed an altitude headache and went for a bit of a sleep while Tim and Lucy were having some tummy trouble.
29 Oct 2003 Peru Wednesday Cusco (Inca Trail Day 1) After some packing shenanigans we wolfed down some breakfast and got picked up from the hotel at 730. Lucy wasn’t in a great mood in the morning and was insisting that she wasn’t going to do the trail if she had to carry her bag and that she didn’t really like walking anyway. With ‘helpful’ advice being freely given to my mum from the world and his wife her pack had dwindled to pure bare necessities, although she was still carrying a bit of extra weight in the form of a selection of different types of wipes! More waiting around while the main bus was loaded with all the supplies we needed for the hike. Not sure why they didn’t do this before picking us up. We could have had an extra hour in bed, we didn’t actually leave cusco until 9am. When we finally did leave we went to Olytutambo where we had a quick stop. I think this was required as they needed time to open a road being repaired that led to the start of the trail. We finally got walking about 130pm. Lucy still not really entering into the spirit of the trail, but the guide had promised to get her a porter once we’d got past the official checkpoint were the porters loads get weighed! The whole day only consisted of about 3 hours walking. It was pretty easy. We stopped to look over some runins at a nice view point and saw Lucy’s and Jamies packs come past strapped to the back of a small boy. Lucy was really embarrassed and Jamie tried to get his pack back of the little chap. Kristian and I thought it was pretty funny and broke with the norm and paid to take the little kids photo, just so we could wind Lucy up a bit more. We got to the campsite about 5 ish. By now we had got chatting to the other people in our group, all Brits. Caroline and Gemma, Tom. The campsite was fine though I was surprised that there was no toilet facilities. Well there was one poor attempt at a long drop. Seemed a bit odd when you consider that all the groups doing the trail stopped at the same site and must do day after day. I expect its pretty hard to find a piece of virgin ground ‘por akee’!
28 Oct 2003 Peru Tuesday Cusco Our white water rafting day. Lucy opted to be more cultured and have a look at the museums etc in Cuso while the rest of us donned wetsuits and helmets. We went with a tour group called Erics adventures and initially there was a lot of waiting around. Once we got going though the rafting was great fun. The river wasn’t incredibly wild. Only up to class 3 but still enough to be fun. The guide deliberately made the first rapid tricky and three of us fell out, including mum and I. Mum had a bit of a scare getting trapped underneath the raft. She looked petrified when we finally dragged her back into the raft. You could see the look of disbelief in her face that she had actually chosen to come rafting! She kept saying was ‘I thought I was going to die!’. After this her and another lady sat right inside the raft rather that on the edge like your supposed to do! The rafting took all day and by the time we got back to Cusco we had time to pick the rucksacks that Kristian and I hired from Puma Adventures before a bite to eat and bed, ready for the Inca Trail in the morning.
27 Oct 2003 Peru Monday Cusco Did a bit of a pony trek today around the various Inca sites near Cusco. I don’t I really like horses. I think we all had a few dodgy moments as the animals did something they wanted to do when we didn’t. Mine was scared of bits of paper and stuff blowing in the wind and insisted on walking really close to another horse who didn’t like him and they kept trying to bite each other. The trotting thing is really uncomfortable as well! After the ride Kristian and I spent ages at a tour agents sorting out the IncaTrail, some white water rafting and a trip to the Jungle. The whole process took 2 hours. Its amazing how much more complicated this sort of thing is when you have 5 instead of just 2. Still it gave us a bit more bargaining power and I think we got a pretty good deal. We also discovered Jacks Café. Excellent food!
26 Oct 2003 Messages I take it you're doing the Inca trail, boys? If you can go with SAS travel, they're the best and most ethical. And they've got a v sexy guide, Fredy Conde (no attractive female guides unfortunately Nick!). Say hi to Fredy for me, he should remember me!! see you when you get back love jacinta xx...Jacinta Jones
26 Oct 2003 Peru Sunday Cusco Headed off to the Sacred Valley in the morning. We decided not to do an organized tour and just went to Pizac to have a mosey around the market and climb up to the ruins that look down on the town. The market was buzzing all day. Lots of locals selling their wares as well as lots of tourist stuff. Alpaca hats, pictures, pots etc etc. The prices seemed reasonable and the choice pretty good. It took about 2 hours to get up to the main set of ruins and the views down the valley were cool. Jamie got to experience abit of Peruvian hospitality in the village. He ate some fried fish and potatoes at a market stall and became the center of interest. He was persuaded to try the nasty pink maize beer which a lot of the locals were getting hammered on. Its pretty cool that despite the number of tourists that invade this area of Peru the locals still seem interested and good natured towards us. Back in Cusco we went to Rosie Ogradys Irish pub for tea and had pretty good steaks.
25 Oct 2003 Peru Saturday Lima to Cusco Think everyone slept ok at Las artes apart from one of the guests who was a bit of a moaner and was having an active night. My mum mentioned that she would have sleep better if it wasn’t for the ‘noise that lady was making’. We all headed to the airport and had a short bumpy flight to Cusco, the city where it all happens in Peru! We got rooms at the Hostel San Blas for $10 each a night. A pretty nice hostel in a quaint, arty part of town. We checked Cusco out in the evening and I was very impressed. It seemed like a lovely city. Great square with lots of activity including a fireworks display in which the participants had made dangerous looking wooden models of churches and strapped on fireworks in different places. They’re not quite as safety conscious as in the UK. If a firework doesn’t go off after being lit they like to check it out and find out why. There are plenty of touristy restaurants and shops and lots of people trying to sell you stuff They hassle you a bit but aren’t that pushy and seemed pretty friendly. We had a couple of ridiculously strong Pisco sours before moving in to a restaurant Ate some nice food accompanied by various groups, playing traditional musical numbers that come in of the street. We kind of felt you had to tip ‘cause they were very good. I developed another attack of bloaty, nausciousness and went back with mum to the hostel while the others finished off the wine.
24 Oct 2003 Peru Friday-Lima We had a long lie in, probably our first for ages before surfacing about 12 and heading off to the launderette. After some nice food at a little.kind of Italian/Peruvian deli thing we headed off for the ‘dangerous market’ in the Gamarra district to try and get Inca kola t-shirts and other stuff for the prize draw. We caught one of the frenetic Lima buses and emerged from it in a very busy and smelly commercial area, with an over protective mother in tow! She insisted on showing us to a safe area and jabbering on about where we could and couldn’t go and seemed to be suggesting we needed to check back in with her later to prove we were all right. We agreed with everything she said and then left her to it. The markets were made up of. lots of big buildings that had been turned into kind of shopping mall market things. We couldn’t find any t-shirts and were feeling a bit shopped out so didn’t spend too long trying. Did a bit more interneting in the eve and at 11 ish I headed off to meet mum, Lucy and Jamie at the airport. They were bang on time and it was good to see them.
23 Oct 2003 Peru Thursday - Lima A day in Lima and after watching ´Bowling for Columbine´I tried not to succumb to the ´Fear´ but still ended up going for the ´Consumption´ - Fear stemming from all the bad reports Lima and its dangerous people, and consumption from the need to wear some different clothes and generally treat ourselves (not that we haven´t been doin´ that as often as we could anyway) initially we sorted out the flight tickets to Cusco. $70 one way including tax. An interesting travel agent experience. In the first place we we told the price of the tickets, then we walked with the chap for 10 mins to another office to book the tickets, then to another place to pay by credit card and then to another place to get a photocopy of my passport. Still all very polite and it was easy. After that we went shopping as we were both fed up with looking like crusty gringo pack packers in out ´zip off´ trouser. We thought a pair of jeans each and a t-shirt was in order. We mooched around downtown Lima looking for cheap stuff. Kristian bought a pair of jeans and a tshirt. Then we found a department store. It was pretty funny, we were like a couple of girlie's. We both collected big armfuls of stuff to try on, disappeared into the fitting rooms tried stuff on, chucked stuff over the partitions and compared and contrasted. We emerged with a pile of ´este bien´and ´no este bien´ got the shop guy to look after the good stuff while we repeated the process. Think we were experiencing a bit of a shopping buzz! After quite a few hours we emerged from the department store laden with bags and were immediately latched onto by 2 crazy girls. They wanted to hold our hand, cuddle us etc. They accompanied us to the post office and tried to snog us when we got a taxi to ´Jockey Plaza´. A posher shopping mall abit out of town. The shopping buzz was still with us and we bought a bit more stuff. I ended up with 2 pairs of Jeans, 4 t-shirts, a denim jacket, a sweatshirt and a pair of shoes, oh and some pants. I´ve only had 2 pairs for nearly 6 months! All for 120 quid. Quite good value I thought seeing as alot of it was branded stuff....honest. Kristian bought similar type things. We got blown out by the good looking girls but ended up going to Barranca, the bar and club bit of Lima, anyway. Things were pretty quiet. We had a drink in a Video Pub where groups of people dance around their table doin´ routines that they all know to songs that even Kristian and I are bored to death of. They love it though. We moved on to a slightly trendier place with the same sort off stuff going on. This place had a big mirror on the wall and groups of girls stood in-line and did their routines while watching themselves in the mirror, with no shame. They are pretty good groover's though. A group of lads came in did a perfectly choreographed routine to a different song, again while watching themselves in the mirror, got applauded and moved on. A very énergetic and fidgety´ chap came and chatted to us for the last couple of hours. He got more and more fidgety as the time passed. He asked us lots of questions about the price of cannabis etc in the UK while rubbing his nose, chewing his fingers, whooping at the dancing, giving Kristian and various other people high fives and occasionally leaping up and doing a few dance moves. I was quite pleased that he was mainly chatting to Kristian. People in his state can be a bit tiresome. Its funny in Peru. In england if you go out and sit in a pub on your own you generally have a quiet night and leave, here you seem to pretty much always meet someone even when you´re not trying. Once one person has ago others around get a bit more confident. It generally makes for an interesting time!
22 Oct 2003 Peru Kristian - Wednesday - Chancay to Lima - 49 miles. Reaching Lima today THE END of our cycling and challenge was in some way a great relief as I have found a lot of the cycling difficult and more recently tedious. However, as we neared our hotel I suddenly felt perhaps we should be going on further and pushing harder! Having finished I am feeling quite proud of what we achieved and am looking forward to heading home, hopefully living a life of more fulfilment! The trip has given us both a lot of thinking time and to some degree I believe we both now understand our own thoughts with greater degree of clarity. Anyway, must go as we need to go shopping and buy loads of trendy gear so we can slip back into the rat race, we also want to drink ourselves into a stupor and eat till we burst!
22 Oct 2003 Peru Nick - Wednesday - Chancay to Lima - 49 miles Sleep really well again and woke up feeling knackered again. Kristian seemed fine. I was thinking of 55 miles (the distance we thought we had to do) was going to be a long hard day despite it being the last of many. Headed off on an initially flat road and the infamous Lima coastal mist built up around us and we could make out a largish mountain in front of us. We tried to take the flat coastal road to avoid the climb but the traffic police turned us around and sent us on the new bypass. It went up by a series of huge S bends into the mist. A 5 K climb then an undulating road in the thick fig before dropping down. As we dropped we went past a large flat sandy area full of what looked like an abandoned slum. The up had made me feel really tired again. I noticed that I was looking down and counting my 100 peddle strokes only an hour into the ride. I don´t normally do that until the end of long hard days! Once we reached the bottom the wind had returned and we plodded on a straight road, slightly uphill at a nice slow pace. The thought of 3 more hors like this into Lima made us both tired. Once again though the approach into a major city was much quicker. The ´Pueblos Neuvos´ (Young Towns) started over 20 miles outside Lima. Over one third of Perus 33 million population live in or around Lima and not all ´make it big in the city´. We saw dreadfully poor people scavenging in the rubbish by the side of the road, for what I don´t know, next to these large slum areas that don´t have proper sanitation or power. Gradually the slum areas turned into slightly better towns and areas of commercial activity and the road became really busy and hectic. The air became really grubby. Lots of chemical smell from roadside debris being burnt and the stinky trucks and very often the warm waft of ´dead thing´ smell. Now the cycling was interesting and surprisingly enjoyable if a bit hairy. We were able to go at a good pace. Collectivo taxis were whizzing past and then slowing to stop and cutting us up, or pulling out on us as we swerved out into the road to avoid them and losing our speed. Lots of horns, shouting, potholes and general traffic. After a quick food stop another 10 miles in the increasingly busy crazy traffic and with no navigating problems we were at the hostel. THE END of the trip! We did the normal checkin, took a few photos and I said a few kind word to my bike and gave it acouple of affectionate rubs! I guess it felt kind of weird to know that there was no more cycling required. Feels like I need to write some sort of epilogue. Finally it felt like we could relax. Even over the last few miles I was thinking that maybe one of us would get knocked off etc at the very last, so that I didn´t ever want to think that it was over. I didn´t want to tempt fate. Thinking back to Cancun seems like absolutely ages ago and so much has happened inbetween. Cycling does give you alot of time to think. Kristian commented the other day that he had had enough of cycling because he had run out of things to think about. A few weeks ago I was thinking that it would be good to carry on and that Patagonia would be a good place to stop but now I´m also please to finish and am looking forward to going home and getting back to reality. The trip has made me realise that life in the UK is actually pretty good for people like me. If you have a job that allows you earn enough money to do interesting things with your free time then you should be able to enjoy yourself. It seems that all over the world people moan about their day to day life. From wealthy company directors to the little chap running a tiny tienda in a dusty, desolate mountain village. At least in Europe some of us are lucky enough to have the power to make decisions about what to do with our lives. Its how we choose to do our jobs, participate in out of work stuff, challenge ourselves and take control of all the bits of our lives that makes us get the most out of things. Pretty hard especially with all the mundane drudgery that we all have to put up with. So I´m looking forward to coming home. This trip has helped me realise that Western life can be pretty good, but only if you try. Maybe the key know yourself enough to realise when things are slipping, either by your own actions (or lack of them) or by the reactions of your friends around you. Well enough of my schoolboy philosophy for now. Guess I need to put it into action....back to Lima..... In the evening we made a start on or admin tasks and went to sort out our flight tickets that had been stolen in Costa Rica. The women at the Delta airlines office from very nice, shame the procedures and charges arn´t! $238 each to change our departure date and get our tickets reissued. Seems like paying twice for the same thing to me. What a rip off! We went to Largo Del Mar afterwards, a kind of Yank shopping mall, with loads of restaurants etc. Steak and red wine followed by coffee and doughnuts. We got talking to some very attractive Peruvian girls and arranged to meet them tomorrow, then went and watched ´Bowling for Columbine´. Think I may have got my priorities wrong here....Micheal Moore or attractive girls....errrrmmm!
21 Oct 2003 Peru Tuesday - Barranca - Chancay - 74 miles I had a great nights sleep, unsurprisingly. We ate lots of cakes for breakfast and actually got some good coffee. We tried to book the Cusco flights over the phone but none of the numbers we had seemed to work. Very frustrating especially as it meant we got away late again. Infact the whole days riding was frustrating. The wind was blowing, the road hilly and the desert boring. Again I was really tired and couldn´t stop thinking about arriving. Not good with 70 miles to cycle. There were hardly any towns for a 45 mile stretch just factories in the desert producing something that smelt fishy and lots of trucks passing us loaded with salt. We had a spot of luck again though. The wind died away for the last 20 miles and despite some biggish climbs we were able to speed up and get to Chancay by 1845. Before dark. We stayed in Hostel Presidente. Looked nice but there was no hot water. The reception guy was ´very friendly´ and kept telling me how beautiful I was and asked me if I had any more photos (other than the one in my passport). When I asked for towels and soap he asked if I was going to shower with or without clothes on....weirdo!
20 Oct 2003 Peru Monday - Huaraz to Barranca - 139 miles!!! I had a goodish nights sleep despite waking up a bit feeling nauseous and a couple of prolonged toilet visits. Pancakes and frothy coffee for breakfast. Kristian had 3 scoops of ice cream and chocolate sauce with his. We followed a river out of Huaraz and the climb wasn´t too bad. We maintained a decent speed and the wind was behind us. I was feeling weak and struggling from the start to keep up with Kristian. After 23 miles and 2 hours we stopped for a chat with Bert a Dutch cyclist coming into Huaraz. Nice guy on a 3 week holiday. He liked to give himself challenging routes preferring to stay on the unpaved mountain roads on his full suspension bike. After a bit more climbing we entered a large grassed ´golden´ plain that went on and on and bloody on! I wasn´t enjoying myself. The wind was against us now the hills very tiring for me, Kristian was miles ahead and I was getting slower and slower. By the time we reached our proposed destination, Conococha I was exhausted and pretty much ready to go to bed. We´d done 50 miles were at 4100m and the village was pretty desolate and cold. We had some lunch. I chose badly and ordered ´caldo de cabeza´a kind of chicken stock with loads of bits of chicken that most people throw away in. The thought of chewing the jellified goose pimpled, brainy looking stuff was making me feel sick. I didn´t have much of an appetite anyway. We decided that we had to carry on as there was places to stay at Canochocha and the restaurant lady said it was all downhill from now on. After 53 miles we started the big down in initially freezing conditions. We went down and down. After about 15 miles going down we decided that we would go for broke and try and make Barranca and basically do 2 days cycling in 1 day. We carried on down hardly needing to peddle for 40 miles. Nice! By 1845 and 106 miles the down wasn´t steep enough to keep you rolling but nevertheless is was still down. The sun had basically set. We had a little cheese roll and banana break, got our Petzels out, and peddled in the pitch black with about another 40 km to go. We passed loads of little villages all with packs of annoying dogs running out and having ago. Infact all day the dogs had been a pain. Kristian was getting pretty good at kicking them as they run alongside snarling and barking. We kept up a good speed. Its quite nice cycling at night. The wind dropped, you feel like your going faster than you are and you can´t see the road ahead. Time passed quickly and after a short, busy and hairy stretch on the Pan Am we were at Barranca by 9pm. Both shattered but pleased. We´d done our first and last 100 mile day in style. 139 miles averaging just under 15 mph and put ourselves a whole day ahead of schedule. We checked into the Hotel Chavin, the smartest hotel in Town for $18, and had a really good Chinese with lots of nice vegetables in it.
19 Oct 2003 Messages Well done chaps! Nick, I hope the pins and needles have gone from your hands by now so you can have a good pick :) See you soon....Tony Dalton
19 Oct 2003 Peru Sunday - Huaraz I had an ok nights sleep in the tent despite a slight headache. As you would imagine at 4500m it was a bit chilly but I was warm enough to take my hat off. Kristian was a bit chilly though. I woke up feeling knackered and lolled around in the tent while Kristian did a quick set of sit ups in his sleeping bag to warm up and then sprung up got some water on the go and even sparked up the fire again. I got a nice cup of tea in bed. We had porridge for breakfast and whatever I had wrong with my stomach had developed nicely during the night so that I had to disappear into the long grass on numerous occasions before we got going on the walk back down the valley. I was a fantastic morning and despite getting up at 600am we didn´t leave until nearly 900am. It took 3 hours to trudge back to the spot where we had been dropped off by the taxi the day before. We stopped and had some lunch. I wasn´t feeling that great and told Kristian that I didn´t want to walk to the other glacial lake. It was another 3 hour round trip to the lake then a walk of unknown distance back down to a village where we could get a taxi back to Huaraz. Not only was I feeling weaked out bloated and sick but my saddle sores on my arse were chaffing! We headed back down towards the village for what turned out to be 2.5 hours. We passed lots of local families chilling out on Sunday in there little villages and taking baths in the irrigation channels that ran down the mountain. The collectivo taxi turned up surprisingly quickly and by 400pm we where back in Huaraz both surprisingly tired seeing as we are supposed to be fit. It just goes to show you that your body gets used to whatever you do most of. Changing from cycling to walking had given us sore feet, backs (from the packs) and really tight calves and hamstrings. We did some internet to finalise the arrangements for meeting my mum and sister in Lima and I was pleased to see we beat SA in the rugby. I also did a bit of internet diagnosis and reckoned I might have Giardia. I got the recommended antibiotic from the chemist. We had (well Kristian had) a good feed at Restaurant Piccolo before I came over all queer, just making it back to the hotel without mishap, and retiring for the night.
18 Oct 2003 Messages WE CANT WAIT TO SEE YOU !!!! HAVE A GREAT LAST WEKK! keep safe lots of love! ...anouska
18 Oct 2003 Peru Saturday - Huaraz My Birfday! Got up nice and early at 600am feeling a bit rough and ready after the cocktails. The guys at the hotel let us leave and our bags and bikes with them and we backed what we needed for our little 2 day jolly. We got a collectivo taxi to Pitec, what I thought was a village, but in fact is just a sign welcoming you to the park. We started walking. The aim being to see a glacial lake at Tullpacocha and then camp the night before walking back tomorrow taking in another lake on the way back. For some reason I felt tired from the start and was suffering a bit from an active tummy. Never the less the valley we walked down was stunning. Gigantic mountains on either side, contrasting spectacularly with the glaciated peaks of a whole row of mountains at the far end of it. The sky was clear and the sun was making the glaciers glow aqua blue. After 3 hours of walking down the flat valley we hid our bags in some long grass near where we expected to camp and started what turned out to be a 2 hour up to the lake. Again the lake was ´Rico` as the locals say. Ice melting from the surrounding glaciers making loads of water falls down the side of the mountains into the lake. The peaks around the lake ranged from 6200 to 5500 m high. Pretty darn high. We were at about 4700m. The down was over very quickly and by 1730 we had set camp and were drinking a nice cup of earl grey and enjoying the last of the sun before it disappeared behind the mountains. As soon as it did the wind picked up and it got cold. It had been really warm all day with Kristian walking shirtless. We made a nice little fire fuelled by wood and cow pats and surrounded it with rocks that heated up nicely. This made the cooking quite pleasant. The wind dropped the clouds cleared and we sat about eating and drinking tea until oh almost 830 before climbing into our freezing sleeping bags. Apart from my abdominal bloating and constant farting, I think I`m coming down with dose of something, the evening was very serene!
17 Oct 2003 Peru Friday - Huaraz Our typical non eventful day when we arrive in a new city after not having done an website updates for ages. 5 hours getting everything uptodate. Had a average pizza for tea in Ecuentro Cafe but the cappuccino was marvellous. Huaraz is not a pretty town. Most of the old buildings have been destroyed by earthquakes over the years so all the buildings are newish concrete constructions. It does have a nice safe feel though and all the niceities that gringos expect. Looking along the main Avenues you can see the huge mountains in distance. Huaraz is the main city in Peru for doing outdoor stuff. It has the Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negro and there associated national Parks. Trekiing, climbing, mountian biking are all on offer and there are well established routes so you don`t necessarily need a guide. Routes range from 1 day to 14 days and from the photos I`ve seen look incredible. The mountian ranges have over 70 peaks above 4200 metres the highest being Huascaran at 6768m. This is the mountian that Columbia pictures use on there logo. We found out about a 2 day trek that we could do in Cordillera Blanca by getting advice from the guys at 2 of the numerous trekking shops. They were very helpful and didn`t seem to mind that we didn`t spend any money with them. We hired rucksacks for $2 a day. The little guide to Huaraz that gets given out at all the shops had maps that were good enough. Apparently the route was well trodden and very easy. Just what we wanted. Lovely mountains and no pain. I went back to the hotel to relax a bit while Kristian went and did yet more internet! Later in the evening we went to Bar Tambo. We had a few dangerously strong Pisco Sours. A well done out bar full of Gringos and Peruvians alike. So well done out infact that it could have been any bar anywhere.
16 Oct 2003 Peru Thursday - Jurig to Huaraz - 37 miles An ok nights sleep in the Ministry of Health building. Kristain was `revving up`all night doin his speciality Honda V twin snore. Had a nice brew before heading off. We said our thankyous and were given an orange each before heading off in brilliant sunshine up and up! The road continued as it had done for most of yestersday following the side of the valley and occasionally snaking up the side more steeply. After 40 mins Kristian had another puncture. When he fixng it he noticed that both of us had the direction of rotation of our back tyres wrong. I decided to change mine and when we went to cycle off again I had a flat...bummer. After an hours riding we made it to a village that had 2 restuarants and a shop. We had a bit of meat and rice and bought some cakes and bread just incase the locals had got the times all wrong. It turned out they were spot on. The wind got chillier and Kristian fixed another puncture just before we came over the top of the Punte de Callan after 3 hours and 10 mins of cycling and wow what a view! Spectacular snow capped mountains against dark blue sky with Huaraz sitting in a stunning valley way below us. We didnñt know at the time but the the pass is at 4225m. In 150 km we had climbed 4225m in about 2 days. That explains why I was feeling a little woozy. The descent was smooth and enjoyable to begin with with great views and a sense of relief that we were going to be in the town very shortly. It got really bumpy later and strain on the wrists and arms. I did have one good achievement on the way down, I actually manged to kick a dog in the head that was chasing me. First time I`ve succeeded and I`ve tried many a time. The stupid mut didn`t even yelp and he didn`t learn his lesson because he chased Kristian as well. We got into town about 3 ish and immediately went for something to eat. I had a good pasta and Kristian got a ridculously large burger. It ahd burger, 2 types of sausage, plantain, avocado, cheese, salad, bacon and egg in it! Staying in hotel paraiso for S40.
15 Oct 2003 Peru Wednesday - Yautan to Jurig - 33 miles UP!! We managed to get some fried eggs and bread for breakfast. They don`t seem to have a typical breakfast in Peru. The locals just ate the same as for all other meals. They were all having chicken soup. I took a few photos with the family from the hostel while Krisitian mended another puncture. We didn`t get away until about 830. Still I think we both thought we could do the 60 odd miles to Huaraz. The whoel street watched us leave all shouting various things containing the word Gringo. We plodded and we plodded and we plodded some more! The road wasn`t actually too bumpy except for some spots. We have been on worse. It didn`t even look that steep but it was impossible to go fast. We had decided to treat the day as a kind of trek. Not to get stressed about progress but just enjoy the ride, the scenery, the experience....we just about managed it! We followed teh valley up and up. A small belt of green in an increasingly steep sided valley. The river was bueatiful, runing fast in places with huge boulders. After 4 hours and only 20 miles Kristain had another puncture. By now we realised we weren`t going to make Huaraz today. The road got steeper and the we carried on plodding. The villages we passed through now were very small collection of mainly mud huts above the river eith farming land running down the steep slopes to the river below. The road was cut into the valley side and occasionally switched back up the valley before following the river again. We were becoming a real novelty. The lst village we stopped at before our night spot we were surrounded by children who ran next to us for quite a while as we cycled on. We got to a Jurig about 5 and were unsure whether to continue and camp or stay here. It looked like it would be difficult to find a spot to camp. Initially the villagers said we could camp on a patch on grubby rocky land next to the Government Ministry of health building. We asked if we could sleep in the Ministry building because it had a courtyard. Possibly they said but we needed some guys permission. We cycled back out of the village to find Don Tijo with loads of kids following us. It turned out fine and they let us use a big room in the building. IT was pretty good. We knocked up some food on the Trangia with a group of about 10 locals peering through the window and asking us questions. It was a bit like being in a zoo. We had no electircity so went to bed about 8 very tired. We had spent the best part of one and half days going up now. The locals reckoned in was another 3 hours up to El Punte Callan and then down into Huaraz.
14 Oct 2003 Peru Tuesday - Chimbote to Yautan - 64 miles MAde an effort to get going earlier today but we were still both sluggish. I was pleased thought because I managed to buy dried fruit and pecan nuts in Chimbote before heading off. We were still a bit undecided on our route. We both want to go to Huaraz but the 2 routes both involve about 130 km on unpaved road and start at sea level and get to Huaraz which is at 3100 m. I was keen to do the route but Kristian wasn`t sure about heading into the mountains again. Well we made good progress in the morning, the wind not seeming to fustrate us so much anymore. We got to the `deciding` junction and had a good meal at Uncle Sams Restaurant. Kristian had succumbed to my will! We stocked up on provisions incase we needed to camp. Local advice had suggestded only small villages, no hostels and so maybe we would just camp. We passed through Casma and took a left towards Huaraz. The first 23 Km or so were very slow sespite the fact that the wind was behind us and the road didn`t look like it was going up much, but I supose it must have been. We cycled alon in the middle of a vast valley of scree debris. The road was very quiet, hardly any cars and when you stopped you could hear....nothing. Unlike the past which lwas like going along in a car with the window down. The tarmac ended on 23 Km from the turn off and we continued on a sandy gravel road. Not too bumpy but peddling made abit cumbersome by the sand. We moved into a narrow patch of green, irrigated farmland in the valley and passed through little peasant villages. The fields and animals looking very neat and well tended. The people very freindly once you get used to the fact that your name is `gringo`. We arrived in Yautan about 530pm and were pleased to discover that it has a Hostel. Very basic room in the back courtyard of someones house. There were lots of street vendors selling chicken kebabs, ice creams and loads of people just hanging out. The village had a nice feel and you got the feeling that our arrival had added a bit of interest to a otherwise run of the mill evening. The girls, older women and even the traditionally dressed women seemd to be taking an intersest in us. My spanish is now good enough to hear the owner of the hostel commenting on my legs! Its really funny that they don`t call you Senor or ask your name its just `Gringo` We got spagetthi with chicken and tomatoes, followed by doughnuts with honey for tea. Very nice. While we ate we answered some questions for some school girls. Kristian had an extra chicken kebab and sat round the oven thing while the locals giggled and laughed at him. Again it all seemed friendly and good natured. We also had a chat to the women in the ice cream place. A nice village. W got fairy consistent information about the route to Huaraz. It seemd there was going to be alot of up and then an hours descent into the city itself. They reckoned in was 6 hours by bus maybe 10 by bike.
13 Oct 2003 Peru Monday - Trujillo to Chimbote - 84 miles Not much to say about today. Another hard and fustrating day into the `bloody` wind. We made ok progress in the morning but the afternoon was painfully slow....literally. When you sycle into the wind you need a low gear your legs spind faster and provide less support so the already sore bits get bumped up and soen on the saddle. The scenery did improve though with the desett having hugh rocky outcrops and sand dunes. Arrived in Chimbote cleaned up ate and went to bed! I think I found the day harder because I was really clock watching (well cycle computer watching). I tried not to watch the time or distance because they were going by really slowly, so I set the display to average speed. That was really low and got me calculating ETA so I was back to the time again!