Week 57 & 58 - Cusco Re-visited
Early in the morning, my brother Ben arrived safely in Cusco, and after a bit of driving around in a taxi looking for the address, he got to the apartment. It was so great to see him after 13 months of being out of the UK. He’d brought us a load of bits and pieces we needed, so that was really nice, the package included a humungous box of PG tips tea bags and some Harvey’s Bristol Cream sherry!!
After he settled in it was off the the centre of Cusco, and we bumped into Kirsi and Jack. We found a great place for lunch and introduced my brother to the famous Pisco Sours. He approved! We then took a nice walk around the centre and ended up in the Irish pub were we found cider again. In fact, we spent most of the day there!
After Ben got used to the altitude, we went on a walking tour around Cusco. It was hard going but we all enjoyed it and it was different to the walking tour we had done there previously. We also found an awesome souvenir shop, so we bookmarked it to go back in a day or two. Having no room for souvenirs on the bikes this was my opportunity to buy some Peruvian bits and pieces and have them taken home. Exciting!
The last part of the walking tour was getting up a good few steps, where we saw houses held up with poles because the walls were collapsing! We ended up at a bar, which was also a mirador over Cusco. The view was amazing and because we got there around 5.30pm we got to watch the sun go down over the city and also got a free Pisco sour each. We then decided to eat there as they had Thai green curry and the view was so good.
My brother and Kirsi were both very keen to go to Machu Picchu and it made sense that they go together so Kirsi went in search of tours. Kelvin wasn't the slightest bit interested in going due to a number of reasons and I wasn't fussed enough to warrant the high cost after all the additional savings my bike had swallowed up, plus we get a bit sick of all the hundreds of tourists, so it was another reason to give it a miss in our eyes.
I was unable to go hunting with Kirsi for a tour as unfortunately I came down with a sickness bug / food poisoning, and since the early hours of the morning I had had my head in the toilet every hour or more! I sent Kelvin and Ben off to have fun later in the day while I curled up in bed. Fortunately Kirsi managed to find a really great tour for $300 each with Machu Picchu Reservations, and soon all was sorted.
Whilst feeling sorry for myself, I found out my parts had finally arrived in Huaraz. I let Jael know, and before I knew it I had a photo of his bike with the package sat on the seat and it was on its way to Helber the mechanic! Woohoo, I felt a weight lifted and the relief was real.
One thing we did need to do though was book our return trip to Huaraz before it all booked up, and we agreed to take a flight to Lima in order to bypass another 22 hour bus journey. I wasn’t thrilled by the prospect of flying, however an hour or so on a plane had to be better than 22 hours on a bus, despite my anxieties! Once I was back on my feet we went to get it all booked and it was very easy, plus not much more expensive than the bus. We just had to take the bus from Lima to Huaraz, but this time I would go prepare with motion sickness tablets! It was nice to get out again, an the main plaza in Cusco was bustling with activity, including schoolkids playing and dancing.
Soon it was time for Ben and Kirsi’s trip, Ben had to leave at 3.30am in a taxi! I had woken up as I was anxious about his driver being on time and didn’t want him to miss his trip. It was lucky I did as the aforementioned taxi driver, being very keen, had unknowingly to us been camped outside in his car all night. Sadly there was no taxi sign in his car and when Ben went to get the taxi he didn’t see it. The driver was fast asleep. I rang and luckily his phone was on and it woke him up. Then Ben was off on his trip. They had a fantastic day, enjoying the 360 train and plenty of time to enjoy Machu Picchu itself.
A few days later when my appetite and energy had come back I made a curry for us all at the apartment. We had bought supplies from the famous San Pedro market, which was full of interesting goodies, and luckily the owners of the appartment were even happy for Jack to join us, which was great. The one thing about having a kitchen is the ability to cook curries and now we had some tikka curry powder and Garam masala, so it was even better. Also, it was nice to be able to have a place where we could invite people over if we requested.
Whilst in Cusco, not only did we get to hang out with Kirsi and Jack, but we met some other motorcycle overland travellers Paul Arcaria & Aida Valenti of lifeunloadedRTW and Alex Chacón. Paul & Aida had travelled from New York and were planning to go around the world on their bikes. They were staying at the local overlander campsite overlooking Cusco with another guy from the USA, Gus.
After hanging out at the lovely campsite we went in search of some Mexican food at Tacomania, where we were met by a local Cusco biker, Ruben Wayki. I couldn’t resist but try on his open faced helmet and goggles and have a sit on his custom bike. Paul was suffering from the tail end of a bad bout of salmonella poisoning, however we all went off to a local bar and found some very cheap cocktails, so all was good.
We went to some excellent ruins in the region with Kirsi and Ben. I came across a non-crazy taxi driver who offered us an amazing deal on being our chauffeur for two days and it was sorted. On the first day we headed to Chincheros, Moray, Salineras, and Ollaytaytambo. After the first stop at Chinheros, we met up with Paul and Aida in Moray and went for a long walk all around it. The huge circular ruins were quite spectacular to look at and really interesting.
Next up was Salineras, a valley full of salt pans, which are maintained and harvested by locals. It’s quite an awesome sight. Kelvin and I had been before but it was nice for the others to get to see it as well. The only thing I didn’t enjoy about it this time was arriving by car as some of the drivers are nuts and the last section of road had a huge drop off. I much prefer being on the bike on roads like that!
Ollaytaytambo was a challenge for everyone due to its steep steps and no rails, however it was great. Kelvin and I had been to the free ruins opposite previously, but not on the ‘touristy’ side. I can see why it’s so popular as the ruins are vast and very well preserved in many places, plus the views of the valley were beautiful.
The next day we were all off to Pisac and we were rewarded with an awesome view of the Sacred Valley. We even remembered to bring Cyril along for the trip! It was hard work walking around it all but it was great to see all of the well preserved ruins and it well made up for the achey legs after. It was well worth spending time there and not trying to rush through everything the day before, which had been an option.
On the way back the taxi driver took us to a wildlife park. Unfortunately it was laid out on a steep hill which meant even more challenge for our achey legs. It was interesting to see the bear they had there; however I am much more of a fan of animals in the wild or in rescue centres with large areas to roam. It was a little bit sad but it was nice of the taxi driver to bring us there at no extra cost.
On the day before last in Cusco there was a whole load of strikes and protests. Nothing was open. The roads were blocked by burning tyres, rocks and protestors, however it was a planned one day thing. That being said, the last one day strike and protests went on for two weeks so we were really hoping it wouldn’t drag on. It was all because of the price of fuel increasing and the effect it would have on all of the people especially those who made a living from using their vehicles like taxi drivers, lorry drivers etc. Luckily all was ok the next day and we managed to leave Cusco without any delays. It had been great to spend two weeks with my brother, so it was sad to say goodbye, but at least we had all made some good memories.
Despite my illogical fear of flying, we landed in Lima safely. We stayed at a different hotel, not too far from the bus station and then walked to Carols’s house, where we had stayed at the Air BnB on our long stint in Lima. On route we passed a great ice cream parlour and we couldn’t resist buying some, plus some fresh orange juice from a street seller. Payo was also at Carlos’ place so it was nice to catch up with him also.
The time flew by and next stop was good old Mantra Garden Indian to meet a guy I hadn’t seen since we scattered my dad’s ashes in London. Mark Holmes was travelling the world on his almighty Triumph Rocket. It was a feat no-one else had undertaken yet, and we had been put back in touch via Leigh at Traverse Magazine! It’s funny how things work out. Sadly, he had lost his wife Sue to Cancer and this trip was in the aftermath of that great loss. It was really lovely to see him again and catch up about all that had been happening and his great adventures, but time again passed by with great pace and it was time to go, but we forgot to take photos. Luckily Mark supplied me with a couple...see below.
The next morning we got on the bus to Huaraz for the last leg of our non-motorcycle journey, and hopefully to return to a working bike.