Week 40 & 41 - From Coast to Cusco
Today was Stage 5 of the Dakar, however we were not going to follow it any longer, especially as stage 5 finished about another 400km South and we were all shattered after all of the desert heat, sun, sand and lack of sleep...I'd never make it as a Dakar rider! We got up in slow time and made some coffee and boiled eggs with the Saffers and Aussies. No-one was in much of a rush which was nice. After a couple of photos we all said our goodbye's, however Michnus and Elsebie stayed with us.
We all headed to the coast, picking up another Peruvian motorcyclist on route, and we saw loads of seals and birds lounging around on the rocks. It was an amazing coast line except for all the rubbish on the way. It was so dramatic, especially as we ventured further down. There was meant to be penguins on the coast but we didn't get to see any unfortunately. If we had been more awake we may have camped on the coastline because it was such an amazing spot, but I in particular was just so tired after all of the music until 3am the night before the only thing I wanted was a proper bed and a lay-in.
After that, and saying farewell to the Peruvian motorcyclist, we all headed to Nasca to go back to the place we stayed before, this time for two nights. Besides having a proper bed, the best thing about the place was its proximity to a place called Rico Pollo (Delicious Chicken), and it lived up to its name! It was that good we frequented it a few times, it would be hard for any other chicken to live up to it. The other thing we did was wash the bikes in the hostal's courtyard to get rid of the worst of the sand and salt...stuff was already starting to look rusty and it had only been a few days!
Then it was off to the mountains, with the first stop being a National park (Pampa Galeras). Coming from sea level up to over 4000m was a shock to the system...it was also very cold, the air was very thin and the weather was somewhat dismal. We stopped at the museum, home to two very inquisitive Vicunas, and had a tour of the little place.
They also had a building with some rooms people could stay in for a small donation only, so we decided to stop for the night. We spent some time walking around the place and one of the Vicunas in particular took a shine to me and kept nibbling at my trousers and then it even tried to mount me! Crazy animal. It was quite funny though and they were such lovely creatures.
We also discovered a little shop across the road. It was a tiny little place run by a very friendly lady. We had coffee, dinner and bought some Maracuya Pisco (passion fruit pisco), supplied with 4 plastic shot glasses. Nice! We all sat around inside the dorm building after that, all wrapped up and it was still so very cold. Kelvin and I suffered with the altitude quite a bit, both complaning of banging headaches and difficulty breathing. The Pisco helped!
The next day after a difficult nights sleep due to the altitude, we all headed further inland. By lunchtime we got to a town called Puquio, where Michnus and Elsebie were planning to stop, and then head north. Our plan was to continue east as we wanted to get to Cusco in the next couple of days.
We all stopped for a farewell coffee in the little town square, and Michnus and Elsebie had their boots polished by a couple of local kids which was quite funny. We also met a French-Canadian couple called Christine and Jules on two BMW's who we'd seen on the way and they decided to stay at the same place with Michnus and Elsebie. They were taking it very slowly as Christine had unfortunately been suffering with a bit of altitude sickness that was only very slowly wearing off.
After a quick chat we headed off. We ascended out of Puquio and the temperature dropped. The rest of the day our altitude fluctuated, especially towards the end, however for the most part it was very cold. We stopped to put on more layers to try and keep warm. We finally mad it to Chalhuanca, where we spent the night in a little hotel.
We were up on the 4th floor and in the early hours of the morning there was a big earthquake, we later on discovered that it was a magnitude of 7.1 and unfortunately killed 1 person and injured 65, it was close Ica and Marcona where we had been very recently. Also, it was the same magnitude and duration as the eqrthquake last year in Mexico which killed many more people and caused much more destruction. Yikes!. It was really scary and went on for about 20 seconds...long enough for me to get up, wrap myself in a blanket and run down the four flights of stairs. A tad embarrasing! I have since learned that you're meant to stay inside the building under a door frame or strong table. Anyway, for us Brits who are not used to earthquakes it's a very horrible sensation when there's an earthquake.
Next stop, Cusco. We set off again through the beautiful landscape. The road became busier as we got closer to Cusco, with the worst place being Abancay, where the traffic was crazy and my clutch overheated and became non-functional. Awesome! We stopped for a little while to let it cool, although we were getting really hot ourselves.
Coming into Cusco was quite gritty, however after not too long we found our accommodation and we were glad to find that it had good secure parking and the appartment was brand new, and included breakfast...all for £16 a night! Bingo! The only downside was the cold and there was no heating. Oh well, you can't win them all.
The weather in Cusco was cold and wet for the mostpart, however we did get to make the most of our time there with the first achievement being to meet up with a guy called Erick who had some of our stuff. My GPS had given up the ghost back in Ecuador and we had purchased a new one from the USA. Then Steve's girlfriend had bought them with her from the USA and left them in Cusco for us, and the logistics worked well. Yippee! Erick was lovely and we had been put in contact with him by a guy called Edwin who we met all the way back in Bogota, Colombia. When we retrieved our stuff, we were also given a necky from their riding group, which was really nice. Mission accomplished. Next was undertaking a free walking tour of Cusco, which despite the rain was quite interesting. We got to meet some local Llama's and Alpaca's, see some of the city's Inca ruins and architecture, and learn more about the city's historical centre.
During our time in Cusco we also got to meet up with several other overlanders who were were all Ushuaia bound, several of whom we'd met previously, so it was nice to have a catch up. We met Joseph again, who we'd previously met in Cuenca, Ecuador, we met the Polish couple Liwia and Sebastien who we'd met in Northern Peru and spent New Year's eve with. We also met the French-Canadian couple Christine and Jules who we met on our trip to Cusco earlier in the week. The new faces were a guy called Johnston from California and another guy called Ward from Toronto in Canada. We all met up in the centro historico in the pouring rain and then crammed into a little coffee shop where we managed to get coffee and amazing cake for about £2 each! Score! It was a lovely afternoon, everyone talking about their stories, bikes, upcoming adventures etc. Also, Joseph had some more of our stuff (Guglatech Fuel Filters, earplugs and exhaust gasket for Kelvin), bought to Peru by Philippe from Switzerland, and handed to Joseph in Lima. Again, the logistics worked well, and we even had some swiss chocolate! Overlanders are so much better than DHL or UPS!
Next Cusco mission...Tyres. We searched all over the place for rear tyres for our bikes and in the end we walked into a tiny little shop, and on the inside wall the lady had a selection of Metzeler tyres, with two that were 130-17...woohoo! They were Sahara Enduro 3's, and appeared to be 50/50 tyres, so we went with those. We had them changed at Honda in Cusco, who I have to say had awful workmanship. My tyre was put on with the valve at an angle, and Kelvin's they left less than 10 PSi in the tyre. Fortunately they had put them on the right way!
The final Cusco mission was to complete some long awaited work on the bikes including wiring in the heated grips, which was definitely a good move, especially as we were venturing into higher altitudes and we knew Bolivia would be very cold. Before we did the work though we took the bikes to the carwash to be cleaned as they were caked in mud, however it was maybe not such a good plan after Kelvin's bike would not start...then we found the issue; drowned spark plug. So ladies and gentelmen, make sure your washer is used to washing bikes or else they will spray the water where it shouldn't go. To be honest we shouldn't have taken it somewhere where they used such highly pressured water anyway, but you live, you learn.
After 10 nights in Cusco it was time to leave, but the plan was to come back in May when my brother was due to visit, which I was looking forward to, and then we would go and visit some of the other Inca ruins.