Climbing 1,000 meters – down 1,380
It was quite cold in the morning so well dressed to start. I am still suffering from altitude, asthma and wind/sun chaffed lips. To start off with I had my silk balaclava over my mouth to protect my lips but also to stop the cold air which aggravates my asthma. Thankfully to start there was no steep climb, just a gradual up with some rolling hills. It is frustrating to be going up the last bit of the hills in granny gear (the easiest gear) and still huffing and puffing like a steam train.
Lunch was half way at 71 kilometres, and on the menu was toasted sandwiches that Adrian (TDA) was cooking in a fry pan. I am liking the change in food with a new chef. As usual a collection of hopeful local dogs were watching the proceedings with great interest. They will be lucky today as we are going into a rest day tomorrow and everything that is opened is thrown out. Plus Adrian is as soft with dogs as me.
After lunch we had to go through a town called Juliaca, we were told it was busy and there were road works. It was insane! The roundabout was being reconstructed but it was still being used by the traffic. No one was following the road rules and no one (apart from most truckies) gave any thought to the rights of cyclists. Of course we had to get across lanes of traffic, it was chaos. Then we had approximately 5 kilometres of a main road under reconstruction, also with huge pot holes, gravel, dirt, and traffic coming at you from all directions. It was a relief to get to the other side of it.
Then long straights with a slight up gradient and a headwind. The last 10 kilometres there was a 7 kilometre uphill which I found hard going. Then 3 kilometres down a steep gradient into Puno.
Puno is as much as a tourist spot as Cusco. Once again lots of white faces and street vendors. We are staying at a hotel called the Intiqa Hotel. It is owned by an Indian tribe. Nice shower and a bath in the room and the hotel does laundry :D.
Puno is a tourist spot because of Lake Titicaca: 280 meters deep at 3,800 meters altitude, it is the highest navigable lake in the world. It is famous for its floating islands. There are hundreds of them. The islands are made of reeds woven together and the islands can last a hundred years. Some Peruvians live on them all year round and fish for a living. Generally these are the islands a while from the shore. There is a hotel on one of the floating Islands and on other islands you can go for a day trip and have lunch in a family’s home. Others are show pieces for tourists. Lake Titicaca shares a border with Peru and Bolivia.
There are numerous restaurants close to the hotel. I went to one that had a blazing Pizza oven. Not because I felt like Pizza but because it looked warm and inviting. It gets really cold here as soon as the sun goes down. I had the restaurant speciality smoke trout, it was not as good as the NZ trout but was ok.
Back to the hotel where they had bought hot water bottles round for everyone’s bed. Was very cosy hopping into a bed that had a hot water bottle in it. Reminded me of being a child.