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Ayacucho, Peru to Bolivia border (13,454 Miles to date!!!)a

November 1, 2008

Ayacucho, Peru to Border of Bolivia  (9-27-08 to 10-15-08)

Views, views and more views!!

Views, views and more views!!

A two day rest in Ayacucho was much appreciated.  Ayachucho is a small city with a nice colonial central area.  The town was rather touristy – which was a pleasant switch for us, since we`ve been out in the high country for a while and away from civilization.  Touristy town translates to international restaurants!   At this point we can´t even think about tolerating another typical Peruvian meal:  tough thin steak,  greasy fried chicken or equally greasy trout, over a bed of white rice, accompanied by the greasiest french fries you can imagine and not a green thing in sight!   This seems so bizarre to us when we are riding past fields of fruits and vegies every day!  Peruvian food has been the worst of our whole trip, so we took advantage of the restaurants here and had some great food!  We finally had spinach and green salads, great hamburgers (we hope it was beef and not llama or guinea pig!), and super desserts –Peru does know how to make desserts!  Their lemon pie stands  5” tall and is out of this world!!   We were also able to spend more time here with Anna and Alberto, the bikers from Spain we met. 

After leaving Ayacucho we headed into more high country to the south, and  climbed to 14,000´ onto the Pampa (high, grass-covered rolling hills at or above 13,000´).  We really enjoy the regions of Peru that are above 13,000´ because there are very few people living that high.  We see many elderly women here hearding their small flock of sheep and watching them graze day in and day out and at night hearding them back to their pen near the small rock and grass covered roof that she lives in!  This high country is much less decimated by overfarming and overgrazing and consequently is much more natural and pristine. 

 

Candy for the little boys!

Candy for the little boys!

The lofty altitude, although very pristine, also exposes us to big weather.  We spent a few tense late afternoons outpedaling  gargantuan thunderheads.  One night, literally seconds after setting up our tent and diving in we got caught in a major hailstorm.  When it was all over there was 2” of pea-sized hail covering the ground everywhere and our tent almost flattened!

after the hailstorm at 13,500´feet

after the hailstorm at 13,500´feet

Our week of camping and biking between Ayacucho and Abancay, made us feel much like yo-yos on bikes, climbing up to 14,000´, plunging down to 6,500´ at river crossings, then you guessed it, climbing back up to 14,000´.  We did this 3 times throughout the week, all on dirt and gravel roads that ranged from rough 4×4 type to super-smooth hardpacked dirt roads.  The scenery was incredible,  with snow-capped peaks in the distance and a feeling like we were biking on top of the world!   We finally hit pavement near Abancay, where we regrouped for a day at a beautiful  hotel.  It had endless hot water!!!  After days of camping we took some long showers!  We also got free wireless there, which is almost totally unheard of in Latin America.  It was wonderful to order bike parts, surf the web and make Skype calls in the comfort of a quiet hotel  lobby instead of the typically insanely noisy, dirty, hot internet cafes.

crosses in the sky

crosses in the sky

Peruvian lady weaving with backstrap loom

Peruvian lady weaving with backstrap loom

 

carrot washing process by stomping with feet in ditch of water along side of road

carrot washing process by stomping with feet in ditch of water along side of road

 

 

After Abancay the biking seemed so easy.  Pavement makes a huge difference!  We got to Cuzco in a couple of  days and once again enjoyed all the tourist town food.   We had never really enjoyed the tourist towns on this trip until Peru.  Now we look forward to them for our sanity, allowing us to hide in the crowd of white faces.  While in Cuzco we ran into a lady from Aspen, 2 guys from Telluride, friends we had met in Ecuador and their friend, and Dominique, a British biker  whose blog we had followed earlier on our trip.  He rode a tandem bike from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego and invited anyone to join him for an hour, a day , a week or longer, riding on the tandem with him.  He finished his trip several months ago and is now in Cuzco working as a guide.  Was great to share stories with him!

 

 

From Cuzco we decided to bolt for the border at Lake Titicaca.  At this point we  were really ready to be done with Peru:  the greasy food, the poor quality  of service and of any goods we bought, but most of all we were fed up with the typical Peruvian´s predjudiced attitude toward us.  It was relatively flat, easy riding.  I guess we are used to the altitude – I just said “easy riding” – we biked the whole time between 11,000´ and 14,500´ on this section!  The rural locals got particularly nasty along this stretch.  Middle school-age and high school-age kids would throw rocks at us and even tried a makeshift roadblock to stop us.  Ralph´s 4´stick (for dogs and the occasional Peruvian) came in handy to rapidly dissolve the roadblock.  Waving it high above his head while barrelling toward them at 20 mph worked nicely.  After riding through this section, we ran into 3 Argentinian riders that were trying to hitch a ride north to avoid this area, because the kids would actually rob cyclists who stopped at the roadblocks.  I guess we were lucky. 

 

After that incident we decided to hop a bus to the border.  Ralph was really fed up with Peruvian “hospitality”  and was ready to bust heads.  We don´t know what the inside of a Peruvian prison is like and Ralph decided he didn´t want to find out.  So we ended up at the border the next day, paid our $135 entrance fee (most other countries along the way have been free or at most $35!), and biked into Bolivia, the 12th country on our great adventure!  We biked along Lake Titicaca, a place whose wild name ranks right up there with Tegucigalpa and Timbuktu!   We will bike into Bolivia as far as possible before bussing back to Cuzco to meet Ralph´s sister and friend to hike to Machu Picchu near the end of the month.

 

Bike on!  Pat and Ralph

 

 

 

 

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3 comments

  1. It’s nice knowing you are doing great. Keep on bikin’ and thanks for letting us be part of your wonderful journey. Carlos Uribe


  2. Hi Ralph and Pat.
    Looks like your adventure is going well but still an adventure. I can’t believe you were riding up that high for so long. It’s turning to winter in the roaring fork valley so enjoy the nice spring weather down in Bolivia. Never did get to look at your camper and $4.00 a gallon gas made us think twice about buying a rig. Gas is now down around 2.50 so the panic of the last six months is slowly going away. Hope you continue to have a wonderful time riding south. When do you expect to arrive in the Santiago area? It would be fun to fly down and ride south with you for a couple of weeks. I think you will really like Chile and Argentina as the people are much more into tourism than where you have been riding. How are those bikes holding up? Hope your spring weather is good and the days just keep getting longer. Your place here looks great so no worries there.
    Ride on, ride on,ride on.
    Chuck and Peg Malloy


  3. Glad you guys are still pushing through all your obsticles to gain your reward of new adventures each day. It is hard to fathom all those miles behind you!
    I’m sure you will enjoy your treck and the familiar company. Thanks for keeping us up to date with your travels.



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