Madaru moto - motorbike adventures in South America
DAY 1: Here is Atwakey loaded up and ready to roll (except for the cable to my front electrical box, which I will hook up when I get time; I plan on having a 12v charging system for my AA batteries and outlet for heated jacket, camera, GPS, laptop etc). It's a tad more voluminous than optimum, but not as heavy as it looks, only about 50kgs, less than a pillion passenger.
At 8am Angelo arrived and we set off in light rain. After a heartfelt farewell to the Bravo brothers, owners of Hospedaje La Estrellita, my home for the last four months, we filled up and set off down Avenida de la Cultura, heading southeast, destination Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. First photo stop was at a colonial bridge, straining against a river swollen by recent rain:
A young man said there was a 'house' inside the bridge. Angelo snorted and said 'mentira' - he did not believe him ( the same guy had tried to sell us some alluvial gold a minute before). But sure enough there was some sort of chmaber inside, as evidenced by the spiral staircase leading downwards, perhaps for some sort of customs or tax collector's quarters in the Colonial era.
Soon we were on the road again.
As you can see, I was carrying a lot more gear than Angelo, but there is more to that story which I will relate later on...
We came to a town called Chectuyoc, with some beautiful buildings that Angelo said were abandoned.
Chectuyoc's church showed signs of former glory.
Almost every doorway, including this 'tienda' or shop, seemed locked shut.
Rusting iron contrasted with adobe.
Some children seemed to be the only sign of life in this quiet town.
While we were parked here, a speeding bus, overtaking another vehicle, just missed hitting my bike by millimetres.
I noticed my bike was losing power due to the altitude; in the worst section I was back to third gear and could only manage 45kmh. We came to a the highest point of today's ride: La Raya Pass: 4338 m, or 14,232 ft altitude.
Just a mile or so on from La Raya, we saw some workmen moving a passenger bus. The front was smashed in. It appears there was an accident the day before , on a on a straight stretch. Angelo said he thought it probable there were several fatalities.
It really felt like we were in the Andes!
We had lunch in a place called Ayaviri. Cooked mutton was pulled out of this woman's paper and cloth bag.
This is how potatoes are cleaned in Ayaviri
And this was our lunch - which we ate with our fingers like cave men - but so did the entire family at the next table! My primordial hunger was sated, and it even tasted pretty good!
Angelo warmed me about Juliaca as being dangerous for two reasons - the roads are in a terrible state with huge muddy potholes and chaotic traffic that obey no road rules; and there were gangs of thieves who rip stuff off your bike whenever you are stopped in traffic. That is why he carries a minimalist backpack, and straps it to his back when passing through rough neighbourhoods- he told me he had been robbed once in Juliaca this way. Angelo advised me to sound my horn and accelerate away if anyone touched my bike. The thievery problem was why we were sleeping in Puno, even though it meant backtracking via Juliaca the next day - Puno was much more 'tranquilo'. Here is a pano shot of Juliaca in the way through. Although the roads conditions were horrific, we didn't run into any thieves. In fact, people seemed pretty friendly.
Coming into Puno, we stopped to admire the view of Lake Titicaca.
Today was the last day of Puno's annual Carnival, so hotel rooms were scarce, and we needed one with a secure garage, but Angelo found one for us near the main plaza, called the Hotel Arequipa. In the room below ours, some pretty Puno girls were getting ready for their street parade.
There were plenty of marching bands and parades, despite the cold drizzle. These street parades mark a cultural difference with most Anglo-Saxon countries, something Latinos take pride in but which we don't emulate, not to the same extent anyway.
My bike now has 651kms on it. According to my GPS readings, at the end of Day 1 we had covered over 390kms, at a maximum speed of 77kmh and an average speed of 40kmh.
Here is a graph of speed vrs altitude. The peak in the blue line is La Raya Pass.
click on "next entry"