Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Into Peru… Copacabana to Puno in 2 days
One of the great things of this trip is that some days are not so great… hard riding, freezing rain, no too good accommodations with a room temperature equal to refrigerator temps (40F), pretty bad food (Chinese/Peruvian mix). And then the next day it is sunny, riding is not too hard, we find good food, great wifi, a hot shower and we feel GOOD! We left our cozy and beautiful place in Copacabana after a hearty breakfast we prepared in our room to encounter the first touring couple in 3 weeks of riding. They were from Switzerland and had been travelling by bike in Argentina and Bolivia for 16 months. We rode with them through the Bolivia/Peru border and shared some of our experiences. The good thing of the day was riding along the coast of Lago Titicaca. Rural, non-touristic Peru is hard to ride through, there are basically no services unless you enter into bigger cities. We passed on Juli, a city that Lonely Planet rated friendly to tourists to get more miles and all of a sudden we were in the middle of nowhere a little inland from the lake with black clouds forming over the mountains. Still riding around 13,000 ft. As we were preparing for the potential rain we heard big thunder… and a few minutes later we were being hit by pieces of ice instead of rain. Then the rain and moderate winds came but it was not bad enough to get us wet. By the time it was clearing we arrived at Ilave, our destination yesterday. We were the ONLY tourists in this place and people looked at us as if we were from a different planet, especially Steve. We struggled to find a decent place to sleep, but we found a Hostal fairly clean but freezing inside. Then it was time to find some food… the only restaurant open was the Chinese/Peruvian fusion. We ate because we were starving but I don’t think I would try it ever again. Back to the room we went into bed fully clothed and slept through the night. This morning we left at 6:30 AM, without breakfast and the temperature was 28 F. As we searched for a restaurant to have some breakfast, I was dreaming about coffee with milk and bread but we had nothing for about 14 freezing miles. Finally we found small town with a small dark restaurant, offering “Sopa de Cabeza” or “Sopa de Pata” –meaning head soup or leg soup (we later learned it is head of lamb or leg of lamb). We asked the owner for just coffee and he said yes, he had to boil some water and promptly left the restaurant to buy some instant coffee across the street. The rest of the day was great, it warmed up, we had tail winds, and we made it to Puno (main port to go into the Peruvian side of Lago Titicaca) before noon. We found a nice restaurant with wifi to catch up from the previous 3 days and talked to family. The hotel is nice, warm and with hot showers and the food is divine! We walked to the city, hung out at a coffee shop, had a nice “Aymara” dinner and planned our last 4 days on the bike. Easy day tomorrow to Juliaca and three hard days to get to Cuzco.