Joined: Sep 2008
The road through the Andes has been cold; what do you expect when riding between altitudes of 4000-5000 metres? Apart from a few isolated showers or rain spells for 40-50 km, we have had little rain. After Abancay, Pe, it was generally dry and not so cold, approx. 48C, nothing Canadians aren’t use to. Abancay was a two days stop because for about 36 hours my best friends were Ms. Crane and Mr. Imodium, ahum… Maybe 2MI…
The ride to Cusco took us just about 3.5 hours, we dodged more landslides and animals, but by now we are quite use to them, and it is not muc different than dodging pot holes, and falling pieces of bridges when you’ve learned to drive in Montreal during its ever changing Winter.
Cusco was a nice surprise, quaint and although touristy not overwhelmingly so, many churches and colonial vestiges. We declined to visit the ‘Chu, close to $400.00 for both of us for the train ride and entry fees, or the optional ride through mud around Cusco to Santa Teresa, and 10 km hike on the train track. Plus, with good chances of rain and overcast, the vista might not be so great. Machu Pichu will be for another time, no worries when you subscribe to the marry-me fly free program. No regrets…
We bought some cool Alpaca beanies and ate great Arabic food. The San Pedro market is the nicest market we have encountered in S.A. so far.
Of course mounds of detritus were present both at the entrance and exit of town, so Peru remains par for the course on the waste management front. I’ll have more to say about that as I pontificate further on Peru, Lima, and Miraflores when I can upload more pix.
Cusco to Puno was our next ride, destination Lake Titicaca; about 145 km from the Bolivian border. Busy, and generally dumpy border town where we only spent one night. By that time we were more than ready for a Bolivian change. Funny enough many of the reckless Peruvian drivers we spoke with told us:
“Ten muy, muy cuidado en Bolivia los controladores son locos y peligrosos”.
“Yeah right!” After the crazy Peruvian we where ready for anything, “bring it on Bolivia”
The border was a cinch, out of Peru in 10ms, into Bolivia in 25ms and there were two people ahead of us at aduana.
There we bumped into a German couple; Siggy and Linde. We first met at the Panama House hostel waiting for the Stahlratte, and later rode in Colombia together. It was great to see familiar faces, and I think we will be ridding south together for a while.
Our plan was to spend a couple of days in Copacabana to take a boat trip to the famous floating islands to visit the Uru people. Only to find out that the trips going to the floating islands were all leaving from Puno, Pe; funny enough our German friends had made the same mistake, assuming that we could depart from Copacabana.
Instead we visited “La Isla del Sol” doing a 12 km trail hike from the Northern shore of the island to the southern pick up point. Albeit demanding due to the altitude and the climbs, it was an amazing, sunny and clear day with incredible vistas of the lake and its landscape.
Heading to La Paz was a breeze, less than 125 km. We however found out about the screwy gas policies in Bolivia; foreigners pay a premium, general price is about 3.95 Bolivian Boliviano, or about $.65 cdn per/lt, and the foreigner price jumps to 8.95 or $1.45 per/lt. This is for the 90 oct so still cheaper than what we would pay for same in most places in Canada. Although I don’t know all the socio-politico-economic behind the fuel prices/ regulations in Bolivia, I have no problem with paying for a un-subsidize price when I do not pay taxes in that country.
Where the BS starts is that 7 out of 7 gas stations we stopped at between Copacabana and La Paz simply refused to sell us gas, claiming that they did not have the “international” receipts to complete the transaction. I had more than ¾ tank, but Siggy was running on petro-fumes, by the time we made it to downtown La Paz and found a gas station close by, he filled up with 32.647ltrs.
We spoke to the gas attendant in La Paz, and a couple of cab drivers and they all told us the same thing:
All the stations have an obligation to serve all customers; the prices may vary a little for the foreigners as function of the currency. The price should be posted although they generally are not but figure a mark up of about 215%. The cab drivers further told us to use leverage 2 ways, if they say they don’t have receipt, say you will pay for the gas but at a reduced price; maybe 100%-150% mark up as opposed to the “official” foreigner’s rate. If they plainly refuse to sell, inform them that you have noted their address and that you will make an official report to the hydrocarbon agency, and that it will put their business/livelihood in peril.
We would spend 2 days/ 3 nights in La Paz, interesting place, bustling to say the least. Siggy visited the local Motorrad shop to make sure his bike was running smooth, and I put a new tire in the back, the choice was limited, but considering the road ahead I picked the Pirelli Scorpion rally. After 18000 km I could probably have done another 2000 km on my Heidies K60, but since they had the tire and the price was right I decided to make the change. I figure we have about 8000km to go which includes the Carretera Austral and Ruta 40, so the Scorpion should be just what the doctor ordered.
Honestly no significant difference between Peruvian and Bolivian drivers; neither have anything on the Deli and Mumbai motorists. If given the choice between good brakes or a loud horn, you just might want to choose the latter.
We have many more photos to share but I need a better connection to upload all of them.
Tomorrow we ride to Sucre; long day ahead close to 600km