Saturday, July 6, 2013
Puno to Ayaviri
So it seems that there aren’t any really easy days on the Altiplano. If it’s not the climbs, elevation, or wind, then something else will magically appear. Puno to Juliaca was set to be our easiest day yet. Puno was a nice town with a reasonable number of tourist restaurants and coffee places. We had a nice hotel with a warm room, nice shower, and filling breakfast. The news of the morning with the breakfast staff was about the (huelga) srike/protests going on in Juliaca. Apparently a new hospital is set to be built in Puno to replace an aging one in Juliaca, and the people in Juliaca are quite upset. They were protesting for 2 days by blocking the roads in and out of Juliaca and this was day 2 of the protests. We set off not knowing exactly what to expect. The first 5 miles out of Puno were a steep climb that got us warmed up. Gave us a great view of Puno as we left also. The ride was pleasant with warmer temps and not much wind. As we approached Juliaca we started seeing lots of broken glass on the road about 5 miles out. It continued and just got thicker as we came in to the city. The protests were mostly over but there was broken glass and big rocks on the road everywhere. The Schwalbe Marathons came through though as we had no flats. Almost all of the businesses in the city were shuttered as a way to participate with the strike and to protect themselves from the protests, which at times turned violent. We eventually found the hotel we were looking for only to find it completely shuttered. Fortunately it was really open and we got in and had a nice room with a hot shower a few minutes later. The Lonely Planet recommends skipping Juliaca and we can see why. Lots of poverty, congestion, and not much in the way of services for tourists. We were off in the morning after breakfast for the 60 miles to Ayaviri. We’ve finally left Lake Titicaca for good and headed inland a bit. The ride was really pleasant for the first 58 miles, which is the point where the cold rain and wind started. Ayaviri is not a tourist stop but it’s much more pleasant than Juliaca. The room here is OK but looks like no hot shower today. For $25 it’s not bad. We’ll be off to dinner in a bit then up early for the 66 miles to Sicuani. From there we have a chance to make it to Cusco in one hard day (85 miles). We should ride over 14,000 for the first time tomorrow.