Long, long time ago I remember I promised to write more often and more regularly in English. Well,… it was simply impossible. You know: After the middle-sweet experience in Central America I finally found a new love. Peru!
First it didn´t look like the rocks and tree trunks on my way would have stayed in the stretch from Guatemala to Panama: The flight from Panama City to Lima was more a nightmare than a short trip to South America. Still in Panama it took me half a day to find a bike shop that would sell me a cardboard-box – or actually two – to pack the bike. Another half day to bring them to the hostal which without the help of Johan, Kim and his car would have been almost impossible. Then packing the bike and the bags, finally closing well the cardboard boxes, bringing everything to the little airport again with Kim´s help where the first order at the check-in was: open the boxes! Boxes open, inside checked, but how to close them now? Luckily there was still Kim who helped me with various equipment from his tools box of the car to finally get on the plane. Without my pink knife and my fork of course as I´ve forgotten put them out of the hand luggage… first tears.
Transit stop in Bogotá, Columbia: Leave the plane, pass the immigration control, wait at the baggage reclaim – of course oversize baggage takes quite a bit longer – leave the airport on level “0”, rush up to the first floor, re-enter the airport, wait for check-in (first me, then again the oversized boxes), safety control where they found the little lighter (and of course kept it), finally on the plane to Lima. Being up since 5 a.m. I set the first step into Peru´s Capital when it was already dark… with an opened and completely messed up luggage and a with purpose damaged helmet. Columbia seems to have some serious problems with drugs when the security even estimates the magic powder hidden in a simple bike helmet… Well, most important thing that evening was to have a place to stay: I was thinking of a simple hostal close to the airport. But do you think this was easy going? I understood the trouble with the taxi driver (who absolutely didn´t want to drop me there) and later at the check-in only the next morning when my body and mind had been re-united by some nice hours of deep sleep. Now negotiating with the lady owner the cost for one more day that I would need for the unpacking and bike mounting I realised that usually there you pay 3-h-wise! And I remembered an actually nice moment of the last night: There finally had appeared a young guy who solved the problem of a “girl with a bicycle wanting to stay in a hostal” with the following simple words: she only wants to sleep! – “Yes, exactly! What else do people want to do in a hostal?”, did I agree. Well, … in the following days I could hear what was the alternative purpose to stay there!
“The following days”? Yes! The pure moving from Panama to Peru was just part 1 of the whole stress. Step 2 was the bike: Still in the hostal I broke one of the screws fixing the excentric that´s giving the chain it´s perfect length – took me two days to solve it! Then fighting through the crazy traffic out of Lima I broke the most sensible part of the front rack… and now? Weld it? But where? Ah, forget it: better improvise! But until I could finish (or actually start) the improvisation the spokes of the front wheel had “eaten” the lower distance stick of the mudguard, as that was fixed at the same – broken – part of the rack. Making necessary an extended version of an improvisation! When also this had been done and I had left behind the dirty and ugly stretch from Lima to Nasca I sent a prayer to heaven to finally be back in nature and in my own personal rhythm. Hell, aaahm, no: God, I only want to cycle! From now the big climb up to the 4000+ high peaks of the Andes would expect me. And to be honest: I couldn´t wait for it! All I needed was a bit of a nice landscape and a trouble-free time! I allowed myself one day off in Nasca to fly over the famous “Nasca lines” and to let settle down and leave behind the stress of fixing bike stuff. And as soon as I had left Nasca – thanks to God – I finally got payed! Beautiful rocky desert right after exiting the town and the longest climb of my lifetime waiting for me.
I calculated 3 days to arrive on the first peak of 4300 metres above sea level. But on day 2 there was no village to provide me drinking water. I only could buy it from an old lady keeping it in some plastic gallons… ending my thirst and dry throat but starting some nice stomach cramps followed by 24h feeling sick and un-well. By that time at least I had already done the steeper part and was moving on a nice flat and curvy road towards the highest point. When suddenly the shifter blocked. That was not a good sign! Because in all that time it never had blocked completely. And a checking look at the Rohloff confirmed that my worst expectations had come true: the thin cable responsible for the shifting was completely damaged and had blocked the whole system. From now I was stuck on gear 3 to do the flat! Or actually I better write “to NOT do” the flat. It was simply impossible to ride it. I had 2 choices: stop one of the passing pick-up trucks and ask for a ride into the next town where I would give it a try to repair it. Or second: walk. I remembered the frustrating downhill by car in Guatemala when all my tubes where out of order. And decided for No 2. And this is why finally I had a very, very intense first climb as walking the mountains of the Andes is offering you an even closer contact with nature and people than cycling them!
Well with the help of all my guardian angels I found one cable that was just an idea thinner than all the other normed ones and so I could fix also that issue. And from then I should have one of the best times of the whole trip! The landscape up there, the atmosphere, the energy is just breathtaking. So special and unique – never before I have seen something comparable. If you can ever visit it: Just do it! I took me two weeks to arrive in Cusco. 2 weeks, 4 passes and 4 different valleys, 15 days of fighting but also 15 days of complete freedom and pure happiness. I was just a time of my life there in the arms of the beautiful Andes!
Then I got caught by the hands of the Machu-Picchu-Mafia. Or in official words: Peru´s concept of making money by sucking travellers and tourists. I chose to lose 2 days by reaching the old famous Inca site by an affordable bus instead of paying 120 US Dollars for the faster train – one way! In the end I spend 7 hours in that Van plus 2 hours of walking to Aguascalientes, which is the town close to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Feeling like a cow following the rest of the flock having been dropped there by other 10 vans at least. And 2 days later: same procedure. Just backwards. But ok: the site in the end was absolutely worth all the effort. And I´m happy that I did it. Although I still sharply criticise Peru´s attitude regarding the conditions for a visitor of that beautiful place…
But what do I complain about: I could just grab my bike and escape from that machinery. And this is what I did. Having another week of not the same beautiful nature but al least of having another great time that finally made me fall in love with that country. Peru´s nature is overwhelming and absolutely worth to be visited. By bike if you can! Because only then you will be able to fill all your canals with strong energy. You will not only see the mountains, you will hear and smell and breathe and feel them. You will fulfill and satisfy all your senses believe me! …and even the stomach-sense will not be disappointed by simple but good food. Peru is a country made for cyclists. Well, this is my opinion at least. I did feel fantastic here. I felt treated fair by the locals. They were absolutely honest and friendly, just a great people and a pleasant experience. I will remember Peru as a kind of a pink bubble on my road. Beautiful enough to seriously think about a red “P”-Tattoo on by butts…
Yunguyo, Peru (Hotel)
Tages-Km: 102,36km / -Zeit: 5:54h / -Höhenmeter: 443m
Gesamt-Km: 21.075km / -Zeit: 1.441h / -Höhenmeter: 191.589m
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