Monthly Archives: October 2015

Day 85/164: Rest Day Two in La Paz

I had breakfast at the hotel today. As well as rolls and tea or coffee, you could order the cooked option which was either 3 spoonfuls of scrambled egg, or one fried egg. I got the fried egg and it came out all by itself on a plate!

After breakfast I spoke to the girl at reception and she ordered me a taxi to the medical clinic. I waited about 40 minutes for the taxi to arrive during which time numerous empty taxis went by. After about 30 minutes I went back inside and suggested I catch one of those, but was advised it is safer to catch a taxi that has been rung, because then you know at least it is a registered taxi.

When the taxi arrived, the receptionist came out and spoke to the driver so I was reasonably confident I would end up in the right place. I also had a pamphlet about the clinic that had the address on it. After about 5 minutes he started asking me where I was going, so I showed him the pamphlet. Then he was asking me something in Spanish and when I said “No Spaino” he kept asking me the same thing over and over, but louder each time. I kept showing him the pamphlet and repeating “No Spaino”.

We drove for what seemed ages and I was starting to get worried when we pulled up outside a health spa / club. This was not where I wanted to be, so I refused to get out! There was a bit of a standoff with the driver talking in Spanish and me once again saying “Still no Spaino” and showing him the pamphlet that had the address on it and a phone number.

In the end he rung the number and the clinic was just up the street on the other side. So then we argued about the fare, as the receptionist had said $25 Boliviano, and he was insisting on $60. In the end we agreed on $45.

I rang the bell at the outside of the clinic, and a security guard came out and unlocked a large gate. I was the only client. I went up to the reception, had to fill in a few forms, then was instructed to sit in a chair by the reception.

After about 10 minutes a young man came up and said he was the doctor and wanted to know why I was there. So I explained that I have asthma and am using my reliever way more than normal and am concerned. He asked if I have consulted with my New Zealand Doctor, which I haven’t since I have been here. Next he asks what I normally am given, so I respond 20mg prednisone twice a day for 5 days. So then he disappears and comes back about 5 minutes later, hands me a piece of paper that turns out to be a prescription, and wanders off again.

No examination, discussion of symptoms etc . I am wondering “So that’s it?” and then the receptionist calls me over hands me a bill. So I am not reassured at all. I ask her to call me a taxi back to the hostel. Hopefully will not be the same driver!

Thankfully not the same driver, and the taxi came within 5 minutes. The ride back took ages as the traffic was gridlocked, and in the end I got out about a block from the hostel. The fare was $30 Boliviano! I walked past the shop where I had got the jacket and the bag yesterday, and it was open so as soon as I got back to the Hostel I got the bag and headed back before the shop shut again for siesta.

I was thinking “This will take about 5 minutes as it is a very simple transaction, I want to return the bag I bought here yesterday, and pay more money to get the next size up”.

It’s the same shop assistant who was very pleasant and spoke quite good English yesterday. So an hour and a half later I finally leave the shop with the new bag!

Today the shop assistant didn’t speak English, and when he talked to me in Spanish and I say “No Spaino” he repeats what he has said, louder. With the help of a various different shoppers he tells me I need two receipts. I tell him I only have one because he only gave me one. This went on for about 30 minutes with him trying to ignore the fact I was still there.

Then he rang someone on the phone, I assume the boss. Then via various shoppers we discussed that it was a 20% off sale yesterday and goods had to be returned that day to exchange or refund . My response each time was that he did not tell me that. After a while he reverted to me needing a second receipt. Surprisingly my response was still “You only gave me one”. It must have been siesta time as he locked the shop door, so no more customers could come in.

At this stage I was starting to feel that I was in a Monty Python skit. Then he spent ages adding up sums on a piece of paper. In the end he said “Give me 330 bolivianos to swap the bag”, which I did so the bags were exchanged. He then told me not to come back again to exchange anything. I assured him I have no plans to return. I left the shop exhausted, not sure if it was a genuine communication breakdown, or a ploy to get me to pay full price for a second bag.

I was also hungry and spotted a nice looking coffee shop called “Gladys” and went there for  lunch. Turns out I had hit on a good spot, there were lots of messages and cards from previous customers/tourists.

After this it was packing for tomorrow, off to the supermarket to get snacks, catching up on emails etc.

On the way back from the supermarket as it was nearly 6 pm I stopped at a pizza place and ordered a pizza. There was a street festival and I spent about an hour watching dancers in ethnic clothing, each group supported by a brass band.

Street festival in La Paz

Street festival in La Paz

The street by the hostel was completely closed off to traffic and there were street stalls with food and beer all set up with a stage. It looked like it will be an all night party already, although it was only about 7:30pm the party was getting into full swing. Hopefully it will not be too loud in the hostel.

(Photo credit: Sue's blog)

(Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

(Photo credit: Sue's blog)

(Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

(Photo credit: Sue's blog)

(Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

La Pax

 

Categories: Bolivia, South American Epic | 3 Comments

Day 84/164: Rest Day One in La Paz

It was nice not to have to get up and get on the bike. I decided not to have breakfast at the hotel as although I like all the riders it is also good to have some space. I had seen a really nice looking cafe the night before so decided to head there for breakfast. It was about 10am but was not open so I wandered along the street looking for another place.

The streets were as crowded as the day before, and traffic was as busy as ever. Despite looking for about 30 minutes I did not see anywhere that looked inviting, in the end went into a place that looked ok, as I was getting really hungry. I ordered what I thought was a toasted sandwich, and ended up with a stale bun with cooked chicken and lettuce. I have a no chicken rule when eating out as I can never be sure how it is cooked and stored, but I was hungry so ate it.

After this I looked around for a while. La Paz, like some of the other areas we have been in, has clusters shops together, like 15 shops where you can buy football clothes, 10 hardware shops, 11 spice shops etc. The Bolivians also believe that Alpaca foetuses protect your home from evil spirits, so there was a line of shops with those dangling from the rafters. I had a smile to myself imagining explaining to MAF why I was bringing one of those back into New Zealand.

As part of my lack of serious preparation for the trip I had assumed it would be mostly warm, so I had bought a two season sleeping bag with me, whilst I really need a four seasons. Plus my new cycling rain jacket that is meant to be water proof isn’t. So I have decided to buy an alpaca blanket, plus a new rain jacket. I am also on the lookout for a new daily bag as I have had enough of the daily struggle with frozen hands closing the clips. I got a blanket easily, but it took a while to find a jacket and bag. Lots of stores were selling outdoor gear, but no cyclists shops. In the end I got a red Gore-Tex  jacket, and a new 90 litre bag.

When I got back to the hotel I transferred my daily stuff into the new bag (which is a different shape and has a zip instead of clips) but it still doesn’t fit! We were told we can only have 2 x 90 litre bags but we have too much gear to fit! Talking to a few of the other riders during the day they have upgraded during the trip to 110 litre bags. So I will take the bag back to the shop and swap for the next size up. Later in the day the shop is shut for siesta, so I will go back tomorrow.

I spent the afternoon doing my new favourite pastime: dozing and catching up on emails. Then off to the halfway barbeque that night. The barbeque was at a hotel down the road where the TDA staff are staying. A number of riders had gone off to do a ride called The Death Road, so we were eating at 9pm to give them time to get back.

It was good to have a celebration but most people are pretty tired, so it ended pretty much as soon as we had eaten. A few younger riders headed off to find some night  life.

After the barbeque, heading down in the lift, I could feel another attack of gastro so headed up to my hotel and room as quickly as I could. Given the altitude of La Paz and my current asthma I get breathless very quickly, but thankfully got back to the room in time. Tomorrow I need to go to a clinic and get checked out.

Categories: Bolivia, South American Epic | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Day 83/164: Huatajataja to La Paz – 83km

Climbing 600 metres, down 700.

It was pretty cold in the morning when we woke up, so I set off wearing all warm clothes. When I got about 3 kilometres down the road I could see why it was so cold, there was snow on all the surrounding mountain ranges.

IMG_4875

IMG_4877

Most of the way was a gradual up gradient, and a few road works. Past one road works was about 5 kilometres of corrugated surface, dust, and trucks and cars – not great for asthma!

At about 70 kilometres we had been warned that there was a road block where protesters had blocked off the road, but cyclists should be allowed through. When we got there, the first road block looked like nothing – just a few people sitting across the road. However after that there were about another 10 road blocks, about every 500 meters or so, each one bigger than the last. The protesters were ok with cyclists going through the blockades, but not vehicles. However the closer to the city the more militant they were becoming, and because of this, instead of riding last 20 kilometres in a convey, we all met at 90 kilometres and were taken in a bus to La Paz.

Coming down into La Paz

Coming down into La Paz

Crazy city, people and vehicles, gridlocked traffic, fumes, mini vans darting in and out. 1.5 million people in a small space, the altiplano above, and a valley below.

We could not park outside the hotel so had to take our bikes and bags up a steep street to the hostel. By the time I got up the street each time I was breathless (La Paz is 3,800 meters in altitude). Then we find out there is no lift in the hotel and I am on the 5th floor! More huffing and puffing and stopping a couple of times each time on the way up.

After showering and sorting out laundry etc I went to have a look at the city. It was chaotic, hard to move on the side walk for the crush of people, plus both sides of the pavement had street vendors selling their wares. I was amused to see that the zebra crossings had people in zebra suits marshalling/assisting people across.

people dressed up as Zebras at the Zebra crossings in rush hour traffic to help people across. Unfortunately not a good photo

Caption from Kaye: People dressed up as Zebras at the Zebra crossings in rush hour traffic to help people across, unfortunately not a good photo.

I bought some water, found a cash machine (the first 3 declined to take my card) and headed back to the hotel.

Later on I went to a curry place “Star of India”, that Lonely Planet said was pretty good. I had onion bhaji, which had a nice spicy sauce, chicken tikka masala (which was average), a really nice almond spice rice, and garlic nan that was not eatable: floury and hard. With a Bock beer which is Bolivian and much nicer than the other two I have tried so far. Plus a Bolivian Sauvignon Blanc which was pretty average. As always with Indian, I felt really full after.

Back to the hotel to sleep, and no alarm to set 😀

Categories: Bolivia, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Day 82/164: Copacabana to Huatajata – 65km

Climbing up and down 950 meters.

It was not as cold as yesterday morning, but still not warm. The first two kilometres out of the camp I walked as it was up steep streets on cobblestones and the air temperature was cold. No point making the asthma worse.

Looking back down at Copacabana (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Looking back down at Copacabana (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

After this was a climb of about 15 kilometres then gradual up, with some down for a further twenty kilometres. At 40 kilometres we had to catch a ferry.

Getting off the ferry.

Getting off the ferry.

After the ferry we stopped at the town to get a drink. There was a dog there like my dog Benji (a Wheaten terrier). I called to him and he came over for a pat, next thing he was on the seat next to me, then on my knee. I had a very nice hug for a few minutes. There are a surprising number of Wheaten terrier descents in South America.

Dog friend

Dog friend

Dog friend getting clsoer

Dog friend getting clsoer

Another dog who thinks he's a lap dog!

Another dog who thinks he’s a lap dog!

Then up another climb but only about 5 kilometres to the lunch stop. Amazing views. Lake Titicaca is huge,
it is so big you can see all the other side. It changes color all the time from grey to blue to turquoise.  The views are breath taking.

Hungry dog at lunch with view of Lake Titicaca in the background

Hungry dog at lunch with view of Lake Titicaca in the background

View from lunch at the top of the hill (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

View from lunch at the top of the hill (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Although it is cold at night it is warm during the day, although there can be a cold wind. We are in Bolivia for 16 days, and most of it will get bush camping, at altitude, and very cold as soon as the sun goes down. There is snow all around on the mountains here already.

After lunch it was downhill and rolling hills. I got to camp about 2pm as I took my time enjoying the views on the way. We are staying at a hotel under reconstruction. There are no rooms available but there is a bar / restaurant. We have the choice of camping outside, on the first floor with the bikes, or in the enclosed pool area. I chose the pool area as it was nice and warm, and had a toilet.

After having a shower (warm water :)) and putting up the tent, once again I dozed quite a bit of the afternoon. I am using these shorter days to rest and recuperate as there are many long hard days to come. Tomorrow we reach La Paz and the half way point in kilometres for the tour: 6,700. There is talk of a halfway point party in La Paz the second night we are there. We have two rest days in La Paz. The first rest day about 17 of the riders are going off to do a ride called the Death Road. Approximately two riders a year die doing this ride. I’m not one of the 17 going:
1. I am going to rest on the rest days, not ride a bike
2. I am not good on steep down hills, especially on a bike I will never had riden before.

At the rider’s meeting tonight we were told that the route may change tomorrow from 85 kilometres to add an extra 30 kilometres, but not additional climbing. This us to take us to the south of La Paz which will be easier to enter the city with the traffic . The traffic is apparently crazy and either way there will be a convoy. Cristiano, the Tour Leader, is leaving us in La Paz to take a holiday, and is not returning until Santiago about the 8 November. We have another tour leader coming – Sharrita – who has lead a few other tours.

Tonight for dinner we had Chicken chow mein with rice and noodle salad, plus fresh fruit salad.

Coming down the hill to the ferry

Coming down the hill to the ferry

Rider's meeting (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Rider’s meeting (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Bolivia, South American Epic | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Day 81/164: Juli to Copacabana* – 63km

Climbing 675 meters, down 674 meters

Another short ride today. We have the border crossing into Bolivia and you can never be confident it will go smoothly. The trucks are not allowed to cross where we do and have to go over 300 kilometres to the border by La Paz. Our daily bags were loaded onto a local truck so we would have our tents etc if the trucks were held up. Turns out it was luckily this plan was put in place, as the trucks were held up till the early hours of the following morning due to protest action in La Paz.

It was very cold getting up and having breakfast. The ride out of town was quite steep and I had to stop at about 3 kilometres to take clothes off as I was already too warm. There were great lake views.

One lady was moving her sheep and I had to laugh as a lamb was not following the plan and got threatened with a long stick. It must have had experience with the stick as it soon got back into line. One of the two sheep dogs ran at me barking, but it was not sure what to do when I said “Good boy” and it sort of made a groaning noise and ran off.

The border crossing went smoothly. The American riders had to pay about $160 USA dollars and provide heaps of documentation. Apparently it is payback for what Bolivian’s experience when they try to enter USA, but for everyone else it was straight forward.

We enter Bolivia (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

We enter Bolivia (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Once we got through the border the first thing I noticed was no tuk tuks. There were a number of Taxi vans and a few taxis. The traffic was quieter but this may change as we get further into Bolivia.

There was only 8 kilometres to Copacabana*, about 6 kilometres was a hill. Given the short riding day and the lack of complications at the border I was in Copacabana* by midday. I had some lunch in the village and then headed to camp.

On the road to Copacabana (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

On the road to Copacabana (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

View of Copacabana

View of Copacabana

We are staying at Samawi Hostel on the lake front (camping). There was not a lot of space for camping, and there were rooms available, so given how cold it gets at night I got a room. Alas: cold showers only, the whole of Copacabana is currently without power. Apparently this happens frequently as the grid gets over loaded. I caught up with some blogs and emails ready to send when I next have wifi, which will probably be in two days time in La Paz. Then I dozed the rest of the afternoon.

Our camping spot tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Our camping spot tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The time difference has changed and we are now ahead an hour. At the rider’s meeting we found out about the trucks being held up in La Paz due to protest action. We were told there was a possibility that they may not get here at all. However there was a back up plan with local transport for our day bags and the cooking equipment. Fortunately the trucks did arrive in the early hours of the morning.

I am pleased I have a room as it was very cold eating dinner. When I got back to my room it was considerably warmer than outside. Alas, no nice hot water bottle, but the power did come back on at about 7pm.

Dinner was meat kebabs, a vegetable ragout (like a tomato paste vegetable stew but not sure how to spell it), various condiments, and pita bread.

Dinner is cooking (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Dinner is cooking (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

*Editor’s note: This is not THE Copacabana from that awesome song, as I was excitedly led to believe. Apparently there are TWO Copacabana’s – one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and this one in Bolivia. So no Lola’s where Kaye is.

13.1434930206.8-copacabana-bolivia

Copacabana, Bolivia (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Copacabana Bolivia (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Copacabana Bolivia (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Sunset over lake Titicaca (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Sunset over lake Titicaca (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Bolivia, Peru, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 80/164: Puno to Juli – 83km

Climbing 175 meters, down 300.

It was cold coming out of the hotel, and had a maze of streets to negotiate through. Even though it was only 6:30am there was lots of traffic already. Once we got clear of Puno we had great views of the lake. It stretched out to the horizon, and was hard to believe that we are at 3,800 meters above sea level.

I am ok on the flat, but am still having problems with asthma and altitude on hills. My lungs have decided to add to the problem by producing lots of mucous. I am pleased that this week is going to be a relatively light riding week. 83 kilometres and not much climbing is just what I need at the moment. I rode with Shirley and Dan for about 20 kilometres but then stopped at some ruins.

All of a sudden my gear shifter on the left stopped working, so now I have small and large cog on the left and large only on the right. Not so easy for getting up hills! I managed ok for about 30 kilometres with an up gradient that was not steep, but had to get off half way up a hill in the town. It was either get off or fall off! Thankfully this was the last town before going downhill to camp.

We are camping at 3,750 metres, by the beach, thankfully not a dust camp. There is grass to pitch the tent on. Given that we were only biking 83 kilometres (although the climbing was at least double the 175 meters planned) I got to camp at midday. I cleaned my bike ready for bike clinic at 3pm, put up my tent, and dozed for a couple of hours in my tent.

View of beach camp

View of beach camp

Thankfully the problem with my bike is just a snapped gear cable, so I have a new one on, and the bike is ready to go again tomorrow.

Next I went to the medic clinic to discuss my asthma and altitude sickness etc. I am going to go off the altitude sickness pills as the effect wears off the longer you take them and they have side effects. When I am in La Paz I am going to go to a medical clinic, and get an asthma management plan. My asthma is starting to settle, but we are going to be going higher up in altitude again, so I need to be better prepared. I think I was lucky this time.

Dinner was hamburgers with buns, salad, and gherkins. It was warm here during the day, but the night was cold. I had both sleeping bag inners, my hat, long john top and bottom, socks and jacket and I was still cold! I will need to sort this in Lapaz, as I have been warned that Bolivia is going to be cold.

Camping on the shores of Lake Titicaca (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Camping on the shores of Lake Titicaca (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Our campsite tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Our campsite tonight (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The sun sets on our camp (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The sun sets on our camp (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Peru, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 79/164: More photos of Puno

Editor’s note: Here are some more photos of Puno, from Sue’s blog:

We take a 3 hours trip on Lake Titicaca (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

We take a 3 hours trip on Lake Titicaca (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The reed island that we visited (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The reed island that we visited (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

More reed boats (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

More reed boats (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

We visit one of the homes on the island (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

We visit one of the homes on the island (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Even a football field on a floating island (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Even a football field on a floating island (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Lake Titicaca (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Lake Titicaca (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Puno (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Puno (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

A local taxi in Puno (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

A local taxi in Puno (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Peru, South American Epic | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Day 79/164: Rest Day in Puno

Breakfast was included with the hotel stay and such joy when I got down to the restaurant: a toaster! 😀 😀 I have certainly missed being able to have toast. There was also butter but no grapefruit marmalade, so not quite perfect but pretty close. They did have some very nice honey and some pineapple jam.

As there is only one rest day I decided not to do the full day tour to the floating islands and planned to do a three hour one instead. I went down to the wharf, about two kilometres from the hotel, politely declining the numerous offers of rides in a tuk tuk.

The trip to see two islands is $20 sole, plus a $5 landing fee. You had to wait for the boat to have ten passengers before it would leave but that did not take long. The first mate was a boy aged about 8, who was in charge of the ropes and telling the passengers when they could go up to the top of the boat etc.

Boats that take tourists out to the floating Islands

Boats that take tourists out to the floating Islands

On the boat

On the boat

The trip out took about 30 minutes to the first island. We had an explanation of how the islands were made and what they ate (Editor’s note: I honestly have no idea what Kaye means by this . . . maybe the islands are like the one in Life of Pi?).

Then we were each taken to one of the individual’s houses to look inside, then that person took you to their market table to sell you either weaving, jewellery or small boats made out of the reeds. The islands surface was dry reeds – you would not like to see a fire!

View of the floating island, ground surface covered in dried reeds

View of the floating island, ground surface covered in dried reeds

Island people waiting to welcome us onto the floating island

Island people waiting to welcome us onto the floating island

Sitting with the one of the Island woman holding the wall hanging I bought

Sitting with the one of the island woman holding the wall hanging I bought

Enjoying the sunshine

Floating islands

Then we had to pay another ten sole to go on a traditional boat to the next island. The traditional boats are made of reeds also. This boat was not rowed however, it was pushed by a dingy with an outboard motor.

Boat being rowed not push by dingy

Boat being rowed not pushed by dingy

Editor's caption: Kaye looking too cool for school

Editor’s caption: Kaye looking too cool for school on the boat to a floating island

The next island was the chance to buy food and beverages at hugely inflated prices, twice that as on the mainland. The whole experience was a bit tacky and about milking every possible $ out of the tourist. The longer trips are a bit more of a real experience but overall I was happy with the trip. I got to go on a floating island on Lake Titicaca.

Kaye on the restaurant island (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Kaye on the restaurant island (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

View of Puno from boat

View of Puno from boat

After getting back to the mainland I had lunch then back to the hotel. The plan was to Skype with a couple of my children and catch up with the blog and emails. Once again problems with the wifi: too many riders crashing the system. I could not get Skype to connect! Again! Most frustrating and disappointing when you have limited access to wifi. One of the riders was telling me that you can also do a Skype like thing through Facebook that works better. Will have to look into it.

I ended up dozing off to sleep in the sun and woke up and it was dark.

Usually on rest days I still eat early but tonight it was after 7pm before I left the hotel. All the restaurants were packed. One had an hour long wait just to order. I managed to find a place that was not as busy but just in time, as it filled up within 5 minutes of getting there. I had a quick Pizza and headed back to the hotel to pack and try again with the Skype. There was an eclipse of the moon so watched that for a while. Very clear sky, so easy to see.

Looking at the rider’s whiteboard it looks like the next four days are going to be quite easy. Nothing over 83 kilometres, and nothing with climbing over 950 meters. We will still be at about 3,800 meters in altitude every day though. I am still having problems with asthma and altitude sickness, so a few easier days will be great.

No luck still with the skype :/. Into bed with my hot water bottle, it would be great if I could have one of these delivered to my tent every night.

Lake Titicaca

Categories: Peru, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Day 78/164: Ayaviri to Puno – 142km

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.

SacredvalleyLunch 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.

Adrian cooks us fried sandwiches for lunch (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Adrian cooks us fried sandwiches for lunch (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Lunch spot today (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Lunch spot today (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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.

The roads are under construction in Puno (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The roads are under construction in Puno (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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.

Lake Titicaca from Puno (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Lake Titicaca from Puno (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

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.

Lake Titicaca (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Lake Titicaca (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Peru, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 77/164: San Pedro to Ayariri – 124km

Climbing 1,300 meters – down 1,400.

I coughed quite a lot during the night so in the morning I added myself to the list of riders going in the lunch truck. My lip is still a problem and am covering it with lip sun protection. A number of the riders are the same. Gastro is making its way through the camp again so a number of the riders on the truck are on it for this. Sue is still unwell and does not expect to be riding again until after the next rest day.

It was quite cold in the morning but not as cold as it gets here. The cattle are put in the barn overnight so I suspect it gets well below freezing.

Waiting for the lunch bus this morning (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Waiting for the lunch bus this morning (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Beautiful sunrise this morning (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Beautiful sunrise this morning (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

For the past two weeks the Peruvians have been wearing traditional dress. The woman wear like a bowler hat, a long hooped skirt, and a jacket and blouse. They carry stuff on their back in a brightly striped blanket. This includes babies, clothes, sticks etc.

A couple in their traditional dress

Traditional Peruvian dress

13.1434928889.the-cloth-back-packs-are-amazing---they-expan

The cloth back packs are amazing – they expand (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Photo shoot with a local

Photo shoot with a local at lunch (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

The lunch truck stopped at 65 kilometres, so I only had about 58 kilometres to ride. After helping set up for lunch I set off about 9:30am. It was mostly a slight up gradient with a bit of a head wind. I took my time and got to the hotel about 2pm. We are staying at Hotel Lumansa.

Preparing lunch (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Preparing lunch (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Puno - TDA

Curious rosy-cheeked kids join us at lunch (Photo and caption credit: TDA Global Cycling Facebook page)

It was nice to have a bed, toilet, and a shower. Some of the other rooms only had a toilet (and of course a bed). I had a look around the town, it had an amazing old church. That night in the town square there was a parade with a band and marching girls, small children dancing, etc.

The Church in Ayaviri

The Church in Ayaviri

Dinner was spag bol with fresh salad again and garlic bread (April is becoming quite popular as the chef).

April the new chef is here with us for a month( Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

April the new chef is here with us for a month (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Peru, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment