Friday, August 7, 2009

Puno to Arequipa - the road that wasn´t on our maps!

Around the shores of Lake Titicaca the scenery was very much like it was in Bolivia. The main difference we noticed was the number of people here that shout "Ey, Greeeeengo!!!!!".
It was funny the first time.

In Puno we enjoyed some sunshine in the day but it was freezing cold at night. It is winter over here. Although the town centre was nice, the lakeside here smelled of dead stuff. Dead stuff turned green.

Puno´s plaza was a great place to find empanadas.

Titicaca was not very watery here.

We stayed long enough to realise Peru has many more tourists than Bolivia. This meant lots more touristy tat shops and that Ian had to drag Gemma away quickly.
We had a quick and easy ride to Juliaca (45kms) which we were told was not a very nice place.
It seemed nice at first, here´s the plaza...

Moto-tricycles in Juliaca.

After a quick lunch we had a wander around. Not far from our hostal Ian felt a wet splodge in the back of his neck. Turning around there was a woman pointing up and shouting. Suddenly a couple more women started pushing at him from in front and Ian felt hands trying to get into his pockets.
Unfortunately for the women we have just cycled 5000 miles. Our thighs are giant coconut crushers. To get a hand into one of Ian´s pockets is not very easy. In shops and restaurants he risks arrest for indecent behaviour every time he has to pay for something.
So the women were quickly pushed away and off they scurried.

We left as early as possible the next morning and had to cycle through another nice part of town.

Clean air is thin enough at this altitude.

Sign says "We protect our environment - don´t litter".
Signs are like traffic signals - ignore them.

From Juliaca we were on a road which was not on our maps. Not sure how old either are. We were promised the road was paved all the way to Arequipa. Yeah...

Nearly paved.

On such dangerous roads it is important to wear the correct safety gear.

Crash test dummy.

Cycling up into a large canyon we were heading back up to the altiplano. High, barren, nothingness awaited.

We pushed on for ages looking for a good place to camp. We came across a road side restaurant near a big lake and asked for some place there. The man in the shop was happy to sweep aside the sheep and alpaca droppings from a corner of his barn. We slept for 12 hours next to the droppings.

Front of roadside restaurant.

Our place in the barn.

Nearby lake.

The next morning we cycled up over the hills again, it´s always uphill in the morning!
The entire day was a bit of a struggle. We had no idea where we were, no clue of any towns or villages on the way, and we didn´t know how far it would be. A small lake with a few flamingoes and a few alpaca were the only interesting parts of the day.

We found ourselves a lovely crumbling old railway building to camp in. It wasn´t very warm.


Obviously the next morning was uphill. Over the other side though was a great downhill section leading us to a flat plain full of vicuña and volcanoes. This meant we were close to Arequipa which is surrounded by the volcanoes.

Volcano Misti, Arequipa is just the other side.

After cycling around volcanoes for hours the road took us down. It may not look so spectacular in the picture but down there is nearly 2,000m of downhill sitting (not cycling). It was great fun.


Time for a quick game? Let´s play "Where´s Gemma?"...

Near the bottom we came across this and thought it was Arequipa. It turned out to be a giant cement factory which was the size of a town.

Arequipa is much nicer. A very beautiful place and it´s baking hot. And there´s air for us to breath. Oh and giant chickens to eat.

While here we will be taking time out to visit one of the deepest canyons on earth, we will visit the Nasca lines and will get very excited about the fact we have only about 5 days of cycling to get to Cusco. Woohoo!

Next update once we´ve got loads of pictures of monkeys drawn by aliens.



Globalmum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Globalmum said...

We can't believe it's only just over 3 weeks till we get out there to see you - Can't wait! Love you !

Lucky mum said...

It's really reassuring that your finding some great accommodation. x-x-x-x