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Huancayo, Perú to Cuzco, Perú

posted Feb 4, 2011, 5:46 PM by Paul Gareau   [ updated Feb 13, 2011, 11:55 AM ]
Hello everybody! Lately, I've been starting too many posts with "this will just  be a summary", so after leaving Huancayo I decided to stop being so lazy and  take notes for every day until I reached Cuzco. Hope you enjoy all the extra  effort. :)

I was off to a bit of a bad start leaving Huancayo. The main road leaving town  didn't connect to the main highway as I expected. Once I realized my mistake I  could either have backtracked a little and get on the right road, or take a small  connecting road that some of the locals told me about. When I was in the area  where the road should have been, I asked someone else who told me the only way  to cross was to go back to Huancayo. I didin't believe him, but rather than  dealing with the frustration of getting more bad directions, I decided to keep  riding in the same direction (since the roads were parallel) and eventually  cross using a road that was on my map.

My map was wrong about this road being paved, and I had a good size climb on  dirt, with some rain in the afternoon. I passed through some nice farmland, and  a few small towns along the way, and in one of the villages, I passed an old  woman who I assumed was with her daughter. After I passed, the old woman said  "He's from another country!". I passed them again leaving town, and asked which  turn to take. They told me, then asked if I was from another country. I said  yes, I was American. I guess they don't see many travellers in that area. 
Throughout the day I met many friendly people, which would be the norm for this  entire section. I don't know why it came as such a surprise to me, since I've  never considered Peruvians unfriendly, but it's probably because for most of  Peru, I had either been traveling with other people and talking to locals less,  or in the mountains where there weren't many people around.

I got to the small town of Pazos, where my map said I could connect to the main  highway, and I asked a few people how to cross. One of the officers in the area  had studied English a few years before, and was eager to practice on me while  giving me directions. He told me where to "ride-a-bike", which unfortunately was  over a pretty big hill. The climb took a while, and near the top I had to get  off and push a little. I don't know if the hill was to blame for my pushing, or  if it was the fact that I had just taken a month off. It was also harder than I  expected to breath during the day, and even on the bus coming back from Lima I  was surprised to feel a little shortness of breath and increased heart rate  coming over the 4800 meter (just under 16,000 feet) pass I had crossed on my  bike only a month earlier.

After reaching the top of the pass, I started the descent and talked briefly to  someone I passed. She said she was surprised that I was riding alone, since she  usually sees groups of 2-3 people. I was surprised that she sees anyone else on  that road, and since there is no particular reason for anyone to ride to Pazos  and cross, I assumed that the other people she had seen had taken the same wrong  road as I had.

I reached the paved highway that night, and camped behind a small hill in some  farmland. I was dissapointed to see that the eggs I had bought in Pazos hadn't  survived the descent, but one was unbroken and I gave it to a man and woman who  walked past the next morning. They said they were growing potatoes there, which  wasn't much of a surprise since potatoes are one of the biggest crops in Peru  (if not the biggest). There are over 4000 varieties of potatoes grown in Peru.

The day started off with a good descent down to the Mantaro river valley, and  since I was on pavement again, the views were good and the weather was  cooperating, I was in a great mood all day. As usual, I stopped several times to  talk to the people I was passing. Some kids had seen Naomi pass about a month  earlier, but no one had seen anyone more recently than that. One man said that  an American had passed with a donkey, which he had been travelling with since  Huaraz! I forgot to mention it in my last post, but I met a Japanese guy at the  Hostel in Huancayo, who is also riding from Alaska to Argentina. He's been on  the road 2.5 years already, and I was surprised I hadn't heard of him.

On this day, I would pass the junction where I could either head into the  mountains to one of the highest passes in the world and the highest continuous  road in the world, or continue along the river valley almost all the way to  Ayacucho. During my side trip into the mountains after Pasco, I'm sure I was at  a much higher elevation, for a longer overall distance than the highest  continuous road in the world, and my last pass along that section was just a bit  lower than the highest pass in the world, so I wasn't too compelled to go that  way. I also didn't think I'd enjoy it as much because like my previous mountain  experience, it would be cold, with lots of precipitation, difficult to ride  because of the altitude, and difficult to sleep from waking up, unable to  breathe. The river valley was more or less downhill, warm, and as I had heard  from Naomi, very scenic. So I had no regrets about continuing along the river  when I reached that junction. If I remember correctly, the mountain road left  from Izcuchaca, which is also where the pavement ended again.

Some other omissions from my Peru posts included a few "round number"  celebrations during my time in Peru, including 2 years since I quit my job, 1  year of travel in Latin America, and 500 days on the road. When I was traveling  with the swiss girls from Huascaran, I told them there was always something like  that to celebrate and keep yourself motivated. They asked how I celebrated, and  my answer was that I'd say to myself: "Hey, that's kind of cool - woohoo". :)

Throughout the rest of the day, the rolling downhill continued along the river,  and as my elevation decreased, cacti and black-trunked trees that I don't know  the name of started appearing
.
 I covered a lot of distance, and when I was ready  to call it a day, I came across a nice grassy area next to the river, with  enough trees to give me some privacy from the road. Cows were grazing in the  area, and I could hear them crunching grass feet from my tent as I was trying to  fall asleep.

The next day I stopped for a drink and some snacks in a town known as both Anco  and Esmeralda. While I was eating, I asked the store owner if they speak Quechua  there, and I was surprised to learn that they speak Quichua, which is a similar  language that is also used by indiginous people in the Andes. I don't think I've  mentioned it before, but I started learning Quechua in Ecuador until I learned  that they speak Quichua there instead. The differences were significant enough  that I decided I'd wait to start learning more Quechua until I reached Peru, and  for my first month or two in Peru, my first question to the people I met would  be "Do you speak Quechua here?". If they said yes, I'd try the little Quechua I  remembered: Yes, No, Please, Thank you - and in each area, there were subtle  differences. At one point I heard that Quechua-speaking people from one area  would be completely unable to understand Quechua-speaking people from another.  After hearing this, I basically gave up on learning Quechua, although my goal  was only to learn a dozen or so common phrases.

I was doing some people watching during my snack break too, and was surprised  that people dress the same in the warm climate of the river valley, as they do  in the mountains. The oldest people in town were also very short - one old woman  with an arched back and the typical dark face with deep wrinkles walked by. Her  cane was probably about 2.5 feet long, and she was only a little taller than me  when I was sitting on the sidewalk. Like most old indiginous woman, she was not  wearing shoes. Another old woman passed and with her equally short stature and  heavily wrinked face, the first thought I had was "Yoda!". When I was in Quito,  Ecuador, I met some people who were studying indiginous people in the area. I  asked if the portions were small because the people were small, or vice versa.  They told me that they tend to be shorter because of malnutrition, and that if  you raise someone born in that area in a western country, they'll reach a  western height.

I felt great today, with a surprising amount of power in my legs, but the  terrain was more rolling than the previous day, and I made surprisingly little  progress. Toward the end of the day, I passed a small house that had no signs,  but bags of oranges and a juicer on a table outside. Of course I had to go check  it out. I had two big glasses of fresh orange juice while I talked to the  husband and wife that live there, and learned that the oranges are grown very  close to there, near the bank of the river. I paid either 1-2 soles (33-66  cents) and as I rode away, admiring the amazing view in the area, I hit my  brakes a bit too hard at the place I wanted to take a picture, and with the  loose layer of sand on top of the road, my bike went out of control faster than  I could do anything to fix it, and I went over the handlebars. I had some cuts  on my hands, ankle, knee and hip, and luckily I was wearing my helmet, since I  could feel it hit the ground as I fell. I wasn't far from the next town, so when  I was there I asked at a small store if they had anything for my wounds. They  gave me some alcohol on a cotton ball, which was extremely painful, but  necessary. For some reason I never get bruises, but I must have hit my knee  pretty hard since I'm writing this nearly a month after my fall, and there is  still a little tenderness where my knee hit the ground.

I stocked up on food at the store, and even though they told me there was a  Hospedaje (small hotel) in town, I continued a little further out of town, and  over the bridge to a flat spot near the river where I camped.

The beautiful desert scenery continued the next day, and I talked with some 20- 30 year olds at a small store, before crossing a bridge and into a different  region of Peru. They had the usual questions for me about my trip and bike, and  I probably stayed for longer than I should have before I headed out again. I  reached the town of Huanta, where there were some ominous looking clouds moving  in my direction, so I waited for a while and had a coke while I watched to see  what would happen. While I was there a couple guys walked up and we talked for a  while, and he bought me another Coke from the store I was sitting in front of. 
The clouds continued to get worse, and I decided that instead of pushing on to  my destination town of Ayacucho, I'd find a hotel there to spend the night. I  went back to one of the two squares in town, and stayed at my the first hotel I  found. It was only $5, and I wouldn't have to carry my bike and stuff up any  stairs, so I didn't have to look any further. I didn't write the the name of the  hotel down and as I recall, there was just a sign outside that said "Hostal". It  was on the downhill side of the main square, on the side opposite the main road.

I passed a few pizza places in town, so it was tempting to head over to one of  those for dinner, but it was raining pretty hard and I decided to just cook  dinner on my stove in my hotel room.

The next day was a short ride to Ayacucho. There was a relatively small, but  paved climb into town, and when a woman kindly gave me a big, heavy bag of  "papitas" (small potatos), all I could think of was "Great, now I have to carry  these up that hill!". Although Ayacucho was a nice colonial city that is on the  itinerary of the few tourists that head into this part of Peru, I decided that  walking around for half a day was enough. I did my shopping at the market, where  a person could buy pretty much anything they need. In Peru, supermarkets are  almost non-existant, and instead the "mercados" are where people get their  stuff. I usually pay about 33 cents for 4 eggs, and about 50 cents for about 10  rolls. Cheese is sold by weight, and I don't remember exactly what I've paid,  but I think about $1-2 for a pound is the average. Other common items are pasta  and pasta sauce, flavor cubes for pasta, potatoes and onions, apples, bananas,  Tang or Zuko for my water, and cookies (they have Oreos everywhere!).

After Ayacucho is where the road turns evil. There is one huge climb after  another with almost no break, and this continues all the way to Cuzco. The climb  from Ayacucho is one of the most difficult logistically, since there are no good  water sources, and it takes about two days to get to the next town. I was lucky  and there were road crews along the way who would give me some of the "agua  mineral" they had in boxes at the work sites. If they hadn't been there it  wouldn't have been too much of a disaster, there were a few runoff streams along  the side of the road (only because of the rain) and some pools of water in  several places close to the side of the road. Neither is a choice water source,  but a person wouldn't die of thirst here. 

I stopped just before the top, when the rain started getting bad, and luckily  there was an abandoned worker camp where I could sleep in one of the empty  buildings. It was only about 2:30 when I stopped, which I wasn't happy about,  but there wouldn't be any shelter or place to hide once I reached the top. I was  pretty discouraged by all the rain, since I've been riding through rainy seasons  almost constantly since El Salvador, and I spent the afternoon thinking of other  plans, including taking a bus to the coast where it's drier. The coast of Peru  is basically a 2200 mile desert though, and for me it wasn't worth all the  boring riding just to avoid a few hours of rain every day. For the rest of this  section, the rain wasn't bad, and I was glad that I stuck to my planned route.  Another PanAm cyclist who I was going to meet in Huancayo was so fed up that he  took a bus half way through Chile where he plans to ride to the end, then bus  back to where he left off and finish the route.

I finished the climb the next day, and rode for a surprisingly long time through  the grassland and rolling hills before descending to the small town of Ocros.  The grassland or "pampa" was beautiful and reminded me how much I like being in  remote, vast, empty places. 

*** The next paragraph is about a bus accident that I passed, you might want to  skip it ***

Before the final descent started, I passed the site of a bus accident, where  some people were standing around the overturned bus, and the partially covered  body of the bus driver, who I was told was the only fatality of the rollover.  Someone said that it was a night bus, and I was surprised that the body hadn't  been taken away sooner since it was late in the day, but before I left, four  guys picked him up and put him in the back of a pickup truck. This was also  shocking, since it was a bumpy dirt road for many miles in either direction.  There are ambulances around, but maybe those are only for injured people.  Another surprising thing was that another bus from the same company stopped at  the site, and let everyone out to look at the accident. Peruvians, and maybe  Latin Americans in general, have a very different perspective on death and it's  not uncommon to see a similar scene on the daily news, along with interviews of  the mourning family. 

*** End of bus accident info ***

A Belgian couple was on the passing bus, and we talked for a little bit in  Spanish, since it was our best common language. They had been volunteering  nearby and were headed to Ayacucho. I asked them if they had seen Ocros on their  way, since that was my destination for the day, and they said they had been  sleeping. I can never understand how people can sleep on busses, or take night  busses and miss everything they're passing through. This shows the difference in  mentalities between bicycle tourists and some (but not all) bus travellers. When  you travel by bike, the trip is almost more about the places between the  destinations more than the destinations themselves, and when people travel by  bus or plane, the destination is the only thing that matters. Obviously I think  this is extremely unfortunate, and when I was in Eastern Mexico (what I thought  was my half-way point for distance and time - HA!) I thought about whether the  trip was going the way I wanted it to be, and if I would enjoy it more if I  continued by traveling by bus, motorcycle, car, etc.. For the reason I explained  above, I decided that even though it's more work, cycling is the only way for me  to travel - you just miss too much otherwise. 

The descent to Ocros was probably the most beautiful of the trip. It was raining  lightly, but I still had a clear view into the valley and down to the town. The  road meandered wildly to Ocros, which was still quite far away. Along the  descent through the valley where I'm sure the grass really /was/ greener, there  were small houses made of stone, with thatched roofs and green moss growing  everywhere. The low sun and rain created an incredible rainbow that stretched  from one side of the valley to the other. While crossing one of the switchbacks  with a few small farms below, there was an indiginous woman leading a horse  along a path in an especially green grassy area. If I still had doubts about  riding in the rainy season, this, and the memory of my climb from Las Balsas in  northern Peru completely erased them from my mind. The road work I had seen  leaving Ayacucho, will eventually extend the wide, paved road through Ocros as  well. I can't imagine what this will do to the town and surrounding area, but a  two lane paved highway in the place of the one lane dirt road will be  devastating I'm sure.

Ocros was a typical small village, and I walked around a little before cooking  my dinner outside of my hotel room. There is one road through the town that is  used by cars, and the other roads are only for pedestrian use and are pretty  much overgrown by grass since private cars in most of Peru are unheard of.  Chickens, dogs and pigs are usually seen walking through the roads, and hearing  children say "Mira! Gringo!" as I walked by was not uncommon. (Mira, Gringo! =  Look, a white person!). The center of town had a really big, old tree, which I  guess is a good indication of the fertility of the area, and probably why it was  chosen as the site for the town. Buildings were the usual adobe and stucco, with  curved tile roofs. There were at least two small hotels (mine was a spare room  in a house, with a door to the outside), and amazingly there was even a Chifa  (chineese food restaurant) next to my hotel - but I cooked pasta anyway.

The road continued to descend after Ocros, through another town where I would  recommend that people stop along this route. It might have had a little less  character than Ocros, but since it's a popular place for long-haul busses to  stop, there are plenty of places to eat and stay. It would also set a person up  to continue past Chincheros the next day to Uripa. If possible, I'd even  recommend continuing to through the great canyon near the bottom of the descent,  to the bottom of the valley to the river, where there are some stores and flat  places to camp.

That night I stayed at the nice and reasonably priced "Hostal Paraiso" on the  main street of Chincheros. There are quite a few restaurants in town, which all  decided to close right around the time I wanted to eat. I had to wait until 7PM  for them to start reopening, and I got the most common Peruvian dinner "Pollo a  la brasa" (chicken), with fries and rice.

I had a later start than I wanted since the restaurants had an equally strange  schedule for opening in the morning. I had my eggs and rice, then got back on  the road. The climb to Uripa wasn't too bad, and as I mentioned, it would be a  good place to stay instead of Chincheros, since it would mean less climbing the  follwoing day. I stopped there for a drink and a couple of bananas, and three  young kids asked me a bunch of questions about my trip, my family, and the  United States. 

The road continued upward and around numerous switchbacks after Uripa, and hours  after leaving, I could still see the town behind me. There were many "false  summits" as usual, which is when it looks like you MUST be at the top, only to  round a corner or reach the top and see that the road continues to climb. 

Today there were quite a few kids asking for "platita" (change), and two kids  looked like they were trying to set up a barricade - maybe hoping the passing  collectivos would throw some money their way. They asked me for some money, then  tried to explain how we could have a "collaboration" - I don't think they know  what the word means.

My trailer tire had been looking really bad the night before - a place that I  had had patched in northern Peru was finally giving out, and there was a big  buldge in the tire. It finally decided to blow up (literally) at the top of the  pass, and the bang made me think someone was shooting at me. (I don't think  people have guns in Peru, actually, but it was loud..). 

The 4500 foot climb from Chincheros took much longer than I expected even though  I felt like I had been making good time, but I was determined to get to  Andahuaylas that night, where I'd take a day off after 9 days of riding. After  reaching the top, the dirt road turned to beautiful, new, smooth pavement
. It  was paradise. Unfortunately this didn't last long. The 
pavement turned to hard- packed dirt, then it became infuriatingly bumpy and I had to go very slow to  make it bearable.

Andahuaylas was just a typical, working small city, but it was a good place to  get some chores done. I did my laundry, got a haircut (5th of the trip I think)  which cost $2.33 with a beard trim and neck shave, got a new tube for my  trailer, and called home and wrote a few emails, but didn't do anything with my  website. I also wanted to give my wounds a chance to heal, since my knee was  still tender and my right hand was starting to look a little infected. 

My day after leaving Andahuaylas was a very relaxed one. I left the "main" road  at the town of San Jeronimo, to head up to the Laguna Pacucha, which was a very  nice area, and then onward to the ruins of Sondor. I stopped for an early lunch  at a restaurant on the lake and stayed for probably two hours, first talking to  some guys working on the presidential campain, then two police officers and the  girls that worked there. One girl was 18 and had a one year old girl that she  offered me. That's probably the 4th time in Peru that a mother has offered me  one or more of her children. I usually just laugh and say I don't have enough  room for them, but I'm sure they're serious when they ask me.

The ride along the lake was nice, then I passed through a few villages, where  there was a woman making a small blanket using only traditional methods - it  looked pretty complicated. She said it would take a week or two to complete, but  I don't know how many hours per day she worked, and she said that she would sell  it when it was done.

The Sondor ruins were pretty nice, with a good view of the surrounding area -  back to the lake, and even to some snowcapped mountains in the distance. A few  women passed through the ruins with their cows and goats while I was there.  There is a great shortcut through the ruins to a road that follows the side of  the ridge with great views, saving a significant amount of climbing for people  who want to take the northern route instead of the slightly larger route 3. The  shortcut would probably be too muddy to be passable in the rain, but it was dry  when I was there and I wished there were more roads like that to ride on.

I camped just at the end of the shortcut road, where it reconnected with the  main road. There wasn't a good place to camp in the area, so I pitched my tent  in an empty water reservoir that looked more like a swimming pool, and flagged  down a few cars to see which way I had to go the next morning.

There was a big descent down to another river, followed by a big climb up the  opposite side of the valley. I was in a pretty bad mood about having come this  way, since it was a totally unnecessary extra climb. The best way to go is  through the valley to the right after Sondor, reconnecting with rte 3. The  overall elevation would be a bit more, but with less climbing in total. Anyway,  I didn't have much energy or motivation, and didn't reach Huancarama as I had  hoped. I was a little low on food and water, so when I passed a mother and her  son standing on the side of the road with about 10 big bags of potatos, I  stopped to ask if I could buy a couple. They gave me two for free, and I  continued a little farther on and camped in the foundation of an old adobe  house, and fried a potato with an onion I had been carrying, and some salt an  pepper. I had some leftover tomato sauce too, which I coated the potatos with.  So, so, good.
 Since I only had pasta but no water to cook it with, I made the  same thing the next morning.
 This was the first time on the trip where I could  see my previous night's campsite at the end of the day.

I finished climbing to what a sign called the "intangible" ruins of Curamba,  which were hidden behind a hill, but tangible after all. There were a bunch of  piles of rocks, a few foundations and one small tower/platform in good  condition. There was a small descent from there, and another climb before  descending to Huancaramba, where I got a late breakfast/early lunch. There was  more climbing after leaving the town, and then a big downhill to the river  before the city of Abancay. As I passed some guys working on a farm, they yelled  to me that there was a "gringita" (little white girl) around. I said "Where?"  and they said "Now", which doesn't make sense obviously and since I had already  passed them, I continued riding away. A woman further down the road hadn't seen  any gringitas. 

From the top of the descent, you can see the city from miles and miles away, and  I ended up not reaching it that night. Instead I stopped at a gas station on the  river at the bottom of the valley, but they only had a room with a mattress on  the floor to offer me, so instead I filled up my water bottles and camped a few  hundred meters away in a small quarry. 

The view of Abancay from the descent is very decieving, since it seems to be at  the same elevation as the river, but is in fact 1500 feet higher. The road was  paved again, and it was great being able to climb at a reasonable speed. I felt  strong during the climb but was pretty tired after getting to the hotel, and I  felt exhausted the next two days. I'm not sure what the cause was, but I was  dehydrated, and fluids (even sports drinks) would pass right through me, I  couldn't eat much, and didn't want to do much other than sleep. The third day I  was feeling better, but had to eat properly for a day before hitting the hills  again. The problem (I think) was probably an electrolyte imbalance, but I should  be getting plenty of sodium, and since I had had two potatoes near Curamba, I  shouldn't have been depleted of potassium. So who knows?

From Abancay, I had a 5000 foot climb to the top of the next pass. I was feeling  good again and had plenty of energy until the very end. I was trying harder to  eat and drink well throughout the day, and I was giving myself elevation goals -  climbing a certain distance between breaks. There was only one small village  during the climb, but I had enough food and didn't need to stop. 

I got a late start in the morning because the ATM across from my hotel (Hostal  Arenas ~$8 per night w/ WiFi), ate my credit card as I was about to leave at  8:30. Someone there said they couldn't get my card until 12PM, but I went back  at 9:30 to make sure. The guy ran around for a while with different keychains,  and after about 15 minutes returned with my card. I was finally on the road at  about 10:30. Because of the late start, I didn't make it all the way to the top,  and camped on a small side road before the pass. 

Around the pass there were plenty more places to camp, including at a small  religious building on the left just after the top. There were villages all along  the descent, even though the hotel manager had told me "No hay nada!" (There is  nothing!). Well, bad info is nothing new... I met a German cyclist during the  descent, and as usual, forgot to take his picture. He's ridden in many parts of  South America, but he does shorter trips and a lot of meandering. He had come  from Limatambo, the town I was headed to, and recommended the Plaza Hostal,  where I stayed for 10 soles or about $3.50. I got my favorite Peruvian dinner  that night "Milanesa de Pollo", with a big pile of fries and rice. The town was  pretty nice, and I explored some of the cobblestone pedestrian roads before  eating. I don't remember seeing any stores on the climb to Limatambo from the  valley floor, and the road was the steepest just before town. 

I finished the climb and rode to Anta the next day. This set me up pretty well  for a short day into Cuzco. In Huancayo, Sigal had recommended the Loki Hostel,  and since it was the cheapest one in my travel guide, that's where I went. I  walked around Cuzco a bit for the next two days, sometimes alone, sometimes with  another traveller named Laura, who's a prospective med student from Costa Rica. 

Obviously you can't go to Cuzco without going to Machu Picchu, but there are a  number of confusing options for getting there. You can hike there along the Inka  Trail, except for in February or March when it's closed. Take a number of  collectivos to a small town named Santa Theresa, where you can walk to the ruins  from. It's also possible to cycle that route, but there have been landslides  recently and it wasn't recommended. The last option is to get to take a train  from either Cuzco (too expensive) or catch it later down the line in a town  called Ollantaytambo. I took two collectivos to get there, one to a town called  Urubamba ($1.66 - I could have lived without seeing it, but there are supposedly  nice ruins in the area), then I took another collectivo for about 40 cents to  Ollantaytambo. I had a little bit of time before the train left, so I walked  around the town, which was "one of the best examples of Inca city planning" and  it has been occupied continuously since it was created. There are also the  impressive Ollantaytambo ruins on the hill on the edge of town, and on the  opposite mountains, some buildings that were used for grain storage.

I had taken the night train to Machu Picchu town (aka Aguas Calientes), so I  arrived pretty late. The next morning I had to get my Machu Picchu tickets in  town since you can't buy them at the site, and my bus tickets for the final trip  to the ruins. (The busses were brought there by the train - there are no roads  that go all the way to the ruins). Finally, I had arrived at the first view of  Machu Picchu is totally mind blowing. It's by far the largest site I have seen,  and the most impressive. It's in the mountains and the scenery is as stunning as  the ruins themselves. I saw the ruins in two parts, first crossing them to climb  the peak known as Waynu Picchu, which is a strenuous climb and has it's own  ruins, but people mostly do it for the great view back to Machu Picchu. 

There was rain around lunchtime, so I hid for a while and paid $16 for a  hamburger, coke and ice cream. After the rain let up, I headed back out to the  ruins and saw the Inca Bridge - a "drawbridge" between two sections of trail  carved into the side of a cliff that must be 1000s of feet high. I also passed  the house of the keeper, which has a great view of the site, and then explored  more inside the ruins themselves. The Incas were incredible at working with  rock, and just like with the Egyptions, archaologists are stumped as to how they  were able to carve such huge pieces of rock with such precision, and then move  them into place. Just before I left the site, there was another rainbow crossing  from one side of the ruins to the other. Rainy season ain't so bad after all.

Now I'm back in Cuzco for maybe a couple more days. I've have some "life" stuff  to catch up on, including renewing my travel insurance, which I feel obligated  to have even though if you read the policy, nothing is actually covered, I have  to get my PayPal account fixed, since they decided to lock me out after I  changed my account type from "business" to "non profit" when I was raising money  for the orphans, I had to write this blog entry, still have to get my pics  online, had to get some new bike parts (new pedals, chain, cassette, handlebar  tape). I'm also trying to get a lower price on my storage unit at home, since  the price has gone up by 40% since I left, and I've had to find and buy travel  guides for my new route to Ushuaia.

What, a new route? Yep, looks like I lied when I said I wouldn't be changing it.  The problem now is that if I ride my old route to Ushuaia, I'll get there in the  middle of their winter. People have done it, but the days are short, it's cold,  there's snow, and of course, there is the constant Patagonian wind. I came up  with a few options for dealing with this. 

1.) I could take a bus from Cuzco to somewhere farther south, get to Ushuaia  while the weather is still good, then bus back and finish the part I skipped.
2.) I could ride really fast on the flattest possible route, not see much, and  get there before the weather gets too bad.
3.) I could add a few more countries to my trip, to add a few months and arrive  in their spring.

Of course I had to pick option 3. :) So the plan now is to spend some more time  in Peru, I'll head down to Arequipa to see the second deepest canyon in the  world, I'll see Lake Titicaca, then I'll go through Bolivia after paying my fine  for staying in Peru longer than my passport was stamped for (hopefully by that  time the Salt Desert won't be flooded), I'll cross into Chile were there are  more salt deserts that won't be flooded, then back to Argentina, where I'll go  through some nice areas on the way to Paraguay, where I'll ride through the  eastern part of the country to Iguazu falls, then I'll ride through 2-3 states  in southern Brazil (no, I don't speak Portuguese yet), next will be the coast of  Uruguay on my way to Buenos Aires back in Argentina, where I'll cross the  country again on the way to Chile, where I'll ride down to the Lakes district  (again in Argantina), then the Carretera Austral (Chile), then to Usuaia  (Argentina). Hopefully with that route, the weather will be good enough that  I'll be able to enjoy the southern part of the route. I'd also like to fly home  for a week or two, if the price is right. I would probably do this from Buenos  Aires.

OK, that's all for now. Congrats if you made it all the way through. :D

****

My GPS didn't record from just past the Sondor ruins until Cuzco. I continued north of Route 3, through Huancarama, then reconnected to route 3 in the valley before Abancay and stayed on Route 3 until Cuzco.




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