I have to confess to awful naivete when it comes to many geographical matters. I'm ashamed to say that I did not know that the Amazon rose in Peru, or even that is where Machu Picchu was there. But I did know that the Andes went down through it and that I was going to have a lot of adventures on Peru's roads....
|Almost immediately one crosses the border into Peru from Ecuador on the Pan-American Highway, desert is all around you and can monotonously be one's companion for thousands of miles down to Chile if one so wishes.|
|My initial planned route to Cusco|
So off I set. Preparing oneself for natural beauty is a folly, either it exceeds it or you are disappointed. I suppose the Himalayas had always taken the crown as far as my gauge was concerned but I have to say that what I've seen so far in Peru, the Andes are breathtakingly beautiful as well. Along with the natural beauty, the people you meet high up and along the roads are the same hardy folk that altitudes above 3000 m seem to generate. Generous to a fault and delighted to share what they and countless generations before them have had as their home.
|A couple of guys who insisted I joined them for beer after a long day.|
|A local mechanic enjoying sorting out Batty's rear brake lever and the foot peg, both of whom had failed on the rough roads|
|Ceviche, lunch doesn't come much better than this.|
I was pretty confident that having spent a day driving on good roads by the coast and then pretty good roads heading inland I was going to make up time. And all was going well until my Spanish seem to confuse the people I was asking clarifications on. Apparently Huanuco sounds just like a small village five hours north of it. The GPS was no use on these roads and had no knowledge of them, a Google map I had saved only told me limited information. I eventually ended up in a very humble village and set off at 7 o'clock the next morning to do the first of four days of between 10 and 14 hours to get to Cusco for Christmas.
The distance weren't all that great, but the roads only allowed a pretty gentle pace, everywhere was fantastically beautiful, and in spite of the rain that had me soaks most days, they were some of the funnest and most exciting days of the trip.
|Sean Dillon, riding his C 90 Honda, http://hondavstheworld.com, from the Arctic Circle in Alaska to possibly Antarctica. He is travelling with his brothers Gavin and various others, such as Ben who I met at the border, Gordon and Taka. All great fun and have contributed greatly to my enjoyment of Cusco|
We met up and he introduced to me or showed me all that I needed. This included the best places to drink and eat in the city and it has really made my 9 days here all the more enjoyable. The other bonus whilst I've been here has been staying at the Wild Rover hostel, which is extremely high octane and a great melting pot for travelers. They had a great Christmas lunch and a wicked New Year's Eve party that will live on in my memory for a long time.
|This is Glen taking one of his extraordinary panoramic photographs at a site called Sacsayhuaman which is one of many sites we saw around Cusco on a tour. Although Glen had been to many of these sites before, his appetite for all things Inca has no bounds, so I was the beneficiary of all his extra knowledge that our guide did not cover.|
We took a bus and a train to the Aqua Calientes, the small town that services all the tourists (1000 a day plus) that go to Machu Picchu. There was an option to ride but I'm afraid my ass had not yet recovered from the drive to Cusco. There was also the slight disincentive that poor Taka had been knocked off his bike crossing a dangerously flooded ford on his way back from Machu Picchu the day before. Although he was fine, his bike has taken a lot of hassle to put right.
|Glen and H|
|The walking up option is 1 1/2 hours up these steps...starting at 6am...or you can take the shuttle buses. I really enjoyed walking down them at the end of the day....|
|Cusco on New Years eve....the central square was still buzzing at 7am the next day|