Sunday, April 5, 2009

Cusco-ver Again

I was right, you know. It did take 2 days to get back to Cusco.

The first was in 2 parts as far as Abancay. Part one, as far as Puquio, was a bit rough with many inconvenient roadworks and roads with top surface removed in readiness for new asphalt. Can't complain about that I guess, and the scenery was stunning nonetheless, and the road as winding as you could have hoped for. From Puquio onwards, the surface was outstanding, the curves went over a stretch of alti-plano, where a vicuña (part of the llama family) nearly took me out for good by crossing the road at almost exactly the wrong moment (luckily my lightening quick reflexes and suprememly safe riding style kept me safe), and then down to follow a river up a valley into Abancay. A truely lovely ride, I have to say.

Day 2 was a short one from Abancay to Cusco, only 180km, and not gravelly as my map suggested, but quality surface again. Still took 3 hours, mind you, so that gives you some idea of how curvy it actually was. Very enjoyable as well, and I got to Cusco about 12ish on Friday.

I was expecting to be staying until about Wednesday, allowing for urgently needed chiropractic appointments, visits to Machu Picchu and catching up with Rich, but in fact left only today, 8 days later.

I got my chiro, visited my badass massage lady (pain like you wouldn't believe. My back's going to take some straightening when I get back to UK/NZ), caught up with everyone I'd met while working in town, got to MP for the day and waited for Rich. And here is where the problem lay. Rich, bless him, asked the customs office in Cusco for an extension on his bike documents as they were about to expire in a couple days. They said "you have to leave the country and come back in to get extensions, but if you ask in the SUNAT office, they'll give you an exemption to give you time to get back to Bolivia". They lied. Well, they didn't lie, exactly, SUNAT wrote a letter for Rich giving him 10 days extra, so he didn't rush to the border, and arrived 3 days after the original documents expired. He showed the customs guys the letter, and then had to wait 10 minutes until they stopped laughing. It turns out SUNAT have no authority to grant extensions, Rich's bike was 3 days over its limit, and was therefore supposed to be impounded, never to be released again, ever. Luckily, the customs people were extremely helpful, gave Rich all sorts of advice about how to avoid impoundage (flee, basically) and actually encouraged him to run the border, by getting his passport stamped and then just driving the bike across and not looking back. Which he did, into Bolivia, then came back to Cusco on the bus to collect his stuff and have an emergency meeting. After much umm-ing and aaah-ing and beer, we came to the difficult decision that I should continue to Ecuador and beyond, and aim for Lima at the end, and he would go back south and explore a bit more in Bolivia and Chile etc, and find an alternative port to ship from. Sad, but true. The team has been disbanded thanks to mis-information, and the final 5 weeks or so will be 2 separate solo missions. On the upside, I can make up all sorts of wild and crazy tales and have no-one to contradict me, but then again, I doubt I'll be needing to make anything up!

But that all aside, I glossed over the Machu Picchu day, which deserves better, quite frankly. I decided, for many reasons, to take the easy option and do MP in a day by train. So, a 7.40 train took me 11okm in 4 hours, to Aguas Calientes, then a bus took me up to the ruins. I did the hard yards then, and went up Wayna Picchu, which, if you've ever seen a photo of MP, is the taller of the 2 mountains usually in the background. Yes, that's right, the hugely, ridiculously, you-can't-be-serious, steep mountain. Its top is about 300m higher than MP, and that's an almost vertical climb up what I guess are the original steps, up to the ruins on the top of the hill. "What were they thinking when they decided to build up here" popped into my head as I huffed and puffed to the top, the huffing and puffing due less to the altitude (which was only 2500m after all) and more to my terrible fitness levels. I made it though, and it was worth the effort. The view was astounding, the ruins were more authentic than in MP on account of looking more aged and less restored, and the satisfaction of a job well done helped with the climb down.

Machu itself was also pretty amazing. Its the sort of place where its possible to wander around for hours getting lost in a kind of time-warp, as long as you can ignore the soudn of the tourist police blowing their whistles if they suspect you of staring at the walls too hard. But, due to my return train, I only had a couple of hours, before jumping on the bus down the hill and hopping the train for the painfully slow trip back to Cusco. Hopefully the photos will paint a better picture than me, when I finally get them on to Flickr, but sadly its one of those over-photograophed places that no matter how hard I try will just seem like all the other photos and postcards out there. Except that I'm in some of them, of course...

The only other occasion of note while back in Cusco was meeting up with David and Judith for dinner one night, which as a huge amount of fun, and we all enjoyed our cholesterol-free alpaca steaks to the max. Looking forward to catching up with them in July.

And that's it for now. I'm in Andahuaylas tonight, but I'll tell you all about that next time. And I guess all that is left to say is something along the lines of "go safely Rich, and thanks for everything. Its time to stand on my own 2 feet. See you in NZ in August". Why do I have all the classic comedy sign offs in my head? Now is the time to say goodbye...its goodbye from me and its goodbye from him...soupy twist...I should probably save them for the last entry at the end of the trip, huh? Sleep tight.

1 comment:

ed said...

Interesting shots of MP there - I reckon it'll look right nice when they're done building.
Ho ho ho ho. aagh.

Keep on with your tour de force and really suck up those last 5 weeks. Find some beaches, get some dives in, hit the bars, conquer the gravel, swat some mossies.

And stay two-wheels upright!

Keep the adventures coming!

Little bruv