Well, I needed a break from all the logistic problems so yesterday I've sorted some pictures for the RR.
I hope we will solve the remaining of our issues as quickly as possible. Until then, I hope you will enjoy the story :)
Last echos from Peru: 7 – 10 January 2013
We are out of Machu Picchu but we cannot really say that we really left yet as there is still a long way to “backtrack”. First we need to get back to the motorcycle. We took the train to get to Aguas Calientes but… we “went for a walk” on the way back following the train rails.
Light at the end of the tunnel? For us it was just the beginning of an 18 kilometers walk.
Gunnar was waiting for us patiently. While in Santa Teresa, before leaving for Aguas Calientes (Machu Pichhu), we were thinking to spend one night there before going back to Santa Maria and Cusco. But we saw the dark clouds approaching and decided to leave as soon as possible and take advantage of the (still) dry dirt road. So we pack everything quickly, inform our host that we will not spend the night there (and she was very understanding), and off we go.
It`s the same road I took 2 days ago but somehow it looks different this time, and not only because the backdrop is ow on the right side.
Unfortunately it starts raining before reaching the asphalt in Santa Maria so we have to ride through the rain on the last portion of gravel. We notice we are running low on gas so we ask where we can find gas that has at least 90 octanes (the two gas stations we see on the road have only 84 octane gas). We were told to go to the “shop”. And they were not joking. The only 90 octane gas in the area came in barrels.
I tried to look relaxed when the man came to me with the gas bucket. I don`t know if it worked or not.
We now have enough gas to continue our ride and decide not to go to Cusco anymore but head to Puno, a city close to Titicaca Lake and Bolivian border. Before getting there we still have to cross the same mountain pass again hoping we will be able to see more than the first time. Apparently the we will have clouds and rain this time as well.
But the sun fought on our side and as we got to the top, the sky seemed to clear more and more. Until…
All of you riding a motorcycle know the feeling. Now there is more than just the lines of the road, now I can see through the clouds. It`s not just cold and wet but sun, clearing sky and dry gear. While riding the motorcycle, sun coming out after the rain is a true blessing. The state of mind changes completely.
And there it is, we am not just riding for a destination. We forget that we need to get somewhere today, and just enjoying the ride. And when you are just riding for pleasure you can stop as many times as you want. So we stop in the mountain pass.
Crossing on the other side of the mountain we discover new places and sights. There is even a small village we didn’t see because of the clouds when we first came here and we even see the road winding down.
As we reach Puno we realize that our time in Peru is coming to an end. But we still have to make a very important decision: we go to Bolivia or head towards the ocean and go straight to Chile? We need visa for Bolivia. And we don’t really feel ready for it. But if we go straight to Chile we won’t get to see Salar de Uyuni and other special things that Bolivia has to offer. If we choose to go to Bolivia we have a good chance to remain in cold and wet as Bolivia is situated at high altitude also. Even getting to Puno, we were just behind a very serious rain storm, leaving hail marks behind it.
On the other hand, although Bolivia is the only country in Latin America that require a visa for Romanians, ironically we still feel attracted by it. So we give in and decide to go there. We have to dare. We will probably be out of our comfort zone here (and not just the thermic one), maybe more than in other countries, but we have to be optimistic.
OK, so we’ve decided to go, that means that first there is a trip to the Bolivian consulate in Puno in store for us. We are surprised to discover that it is not hard at all: a pile of documents- copies of different documents, our itinerary in Bolivia, hotel reservations (???), proof of yellow fever vaccination, passport format photos- and we have the new visa on our passports.
We were getting ready to say “goodbye” to Peru and we were thinking about our experiences here. So here are our thoughts about Peru. Before crossing to Peru we used to read other bikers’ stories and experiences which were not very pleasant at times and so, based on their stories we were expecting:
- aggressive drivers not paying attention to motorcyclists: indeed they are, but it’s not because they have something against motorcyclists, it’s the way they drive, that’s all they know. I think in Peru you get the driving license if you pass the “impulsive honking” test and “driving as close as you can to the car/ motorcycle on your left/ right/ front”. You have to acknowledge their way of driving and not take it personally. It’s hard not to take it personally, I know, when they get you off the road… but that’s something else.
- corrupted policemen asking for bribe: we didn’t meet any. The only policeman that stopped us on the way back from Machu Picchu did it because he wanted to know more about the motorcycle. We knew we didn’t do anything illegal so we stopped without worrying about it and so it was, he asked us a few pointless questions (how much does the moto costs, what’s the maximum speed), managing to get Andreea, who was wet and freezing, pretty angry – “this guy doesn’t have anything better to do?”- and then he let us go.
- rude people who see you as a walking dollar: if you go to touristy place you might end up being treated this way. It’s harder to find relaxed and welcoming people in Peru( Columbia seems so far away) who help you without asking for something in return, but it’s not impossible. Puquio was one of those places. And then we have to remember that the people are so different from country to country, having so diverse backgrounds and history that brought them to the way they are now in the present. So it is better not to judge their approach of handling “tourists” as it is not always a matter of choice but a matter of survival.
- double or triple prices just because you are a tourist: yes we did have them, maybe more than in other countries. For example, I think since Guatemala we haven’t had a “on the fly” price change of a meager water bottle just due to the way we were dressed or Spanish we spoke. Well, in Peru I got a straight blow when, telling a lady from a store that I know the water price is a “special” one just for me she didn’t even denied: “I can tell by the way you are dressed that you have a lot of money”. Yeah, what can I say? I can only smile and leave the store politely , convincing myself not to judge all Peruvians by particular behavior and making a note to self that if I were to work in the tourism industry, I would treat everyone equally. And we did meet in all the countries we visited wonderful people, honest people, who saw us as human beings and not just an opportunity. And Peru was no exception. One just has to be patient and really want to get to know them.
But apart from all these points from previous experiences we read about – and I can say there weren’t so bad for us (or we didn’t take them too personally), Peru was an extraordinary experience and we are grateful for having the chance to visit it on our way South! Thank you and goodbye!
Wondering how Bolivia will be like?
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