We reach the Bolivian side of the border crossing around 1pm
and have a bit of difficulty finding our way through the congested border town. As with
all of Bolivia, there are no directional signs. The formalities are easy but there is a
demonstration on the bridge between the two countries. This backs up traffic for a good
hour and we are stuck with the locals waiting to cross. There is much jostling and pushing
for position on the bridge. Finally the demonstration ends and we edge our way across. The
road north hugs the western shore of famous Lake Titicaca, a sacred place for Incas. When
we get on the main road north we discover that recent civil unrest has left huge boulders
and broken glass all over the road. We have to navigate these obstacles for over an hour,
all the way to Puno, our first stop in Peru.
Saturday, June 22: Barely slept a wink the night before because a disco raged all night
long across the street from our hotel. After an early breakfast with Liam he shoves
off for Cusco (he has to meet his girlfriend in Lima in a few days). We spend the day
wandering around town and the market.
Sunday, June 23: Decide to stay another day for several reasons: I am getting sick, the
town is pleasant, and we are comfortable in our hotel room, which has a TV with some
English language movies.
Monday, June 24th: Leave for Cusco. Liam writes us an email and says to
expect a big holiday celebration in town when we arrive. We have a nice ride of about 280
kms along Lake Titicaca and into the mountains, all paved but with some horrendous
potholes. Arrive about 3pm in the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, a.k.a. the center of town. I
watch the bikes while Chris goes to check out some hotels. There is a crowd of about 25
people that gather around to look at the bikes, while I chat to a nice Dutch couple. Kfir
is in town and spots us in the plaza. He flags us down and we talk about meeting later. It
takes us a good 2 hours of searching to find a hotel, which doesnt quote its prices
in US dollars. Also due to the holiday much of the accommodation is already booked. Chris
finds a decent hostal for 15 soles pp (US$4) instead of US$15 with a big inner courtyard
and we go there. The room is small but we expect to change to a bigger room the next day.
The town is absolutely chock-a-block with people. After sunset there are masses
descending the steep cobblestone streets from a top the mountain where there had been
festivities all day. In the evening the partying continues with dueling musical groups
playing folk music late into the night.
Meet up with Kfir and Liam later that evening in Norton Rats Tavern, a famous pub
on the plaza. The owner Jeffrey is an American from Ohio who happens to be into
motorbiking. He and the pub came highly recommended to us by our old travelling buddy
Jason Homewood (R1150GS, currently in Indonesia). Indeed, Jeffrey is a nice guy and sits
with us for a spell and chats about motorbikes, good routes in the area, etc.
Tuesday, June 25th: Wake up early (7am) to the sound of constant footsteps
and childrens voices. Another big day of celebrations and parades. This time
its the children demonstrating their traditional dances and fantastic costumes.
Proud parents and excited tourists running about everywhere with their cameras and videos.
Again have early send-off breakfast with Liam as hes off to pick up Catriona, his
girlfriend, in Lima. He has been told the route to Nazca may be long and arduous as they
are doing work on it. We will be interested to know how it is since that is where we want
to go next ourselves.
Walk around town a bit to see some of the beautiful churches and some interesting
Inconnu ruins. Much of the center of Cusco is built right on top of old Inca palaces and
temples. Also check out a few tour agencies to see about our options for visiting Machu
Picchu. Find an interesting 2-day trek option. Found a cheap place for lunch, 3-course
meal for 1 Sol. Turned out to be the local soup kitchen. We had taken our cheap meal
hunting techniques to new heights. We had to buy a meal ticket at a ticket booth. Then get
on line cafeteria style. We were handed a metal tray (reminded me of a prison food line)
with compartments in it. In each compartment was slopped various portions of starchy food
consisting of mostly potatoes and root vegetables. When we sat down we noticed not only
that we were the only white people in the place, but also the people there were obviously
those down on their luck--- mostly men in dirty clothes. The food was not good but we felt
compelled to eat it.
In the evening we find out that another old friend/Swiss-biker, Marcel, is in town and
tells us where hell be. We get to the pub where Marcel is and also find Paul, a
Belgian biker we met in Argentina, there as well. Its definitely a night of
reunions. Meet Marcels girlfriend Mitalia who is Peruvian and works in Cusco. She is
very nice and here English is great.
Wednesday, June 26th: Having changed room to the top floor we got a better
nights sleep. But, my mom calls at 7:30am and we are up early again. Go out for
another great breakfast (wonderful bacon which we havent had in a very long time)
and sign up for our 2-day Machu Picchu tour. Chris goes off to get some parts for the
bikes while I get our m/c boots shined by a nice shoeshine boy outside our hotel (about
$1.25 for both pairs).
Friday, June 27th: Meet up with 2 other RTW bikers, Chris and Sara from
England, riding a BMW R100GS, while we were off taking a ride up to some nearby ruins.
Chris and Sara have been traveling for over 2 years now and are heading to the African
continent before they head home to England for Christmas. After chatting by the side of
the road for some time, we meet up for dinner and drinks later on. Finally at 1am we say
goodbye as they left Cusco the next day heading south.
Saturday, June 28th: Raul from Venezuela turns up after his extended stay at
Copacabana on Lake Titicaca. He has is paraglide-wing packed on the back of his bike and
he is eager to go paragliding in the nearby mountains. We spend the next few days with him
off and on.