During my months of cycling in Peru as part of my Alaska to Argentina bike tour, I spent some time off in Cusco. Here's what I got up to.
An update from Cusco, Peru
This blog post was written September 17th 2010. At this point I'd been cycling for 13 months from Alaska to reach Cusco in Peru.
This update covers a few days, as I took some time off in Cusco Peru, to relax and unwind after all that cycling !
I should probably start this travelogue update from Peru, by saying that no, I didn't go to visit Machu Picchu. The costs have become crippling expensive for the long term traveler, and so I missed it off my list.
I have, however, visited Machu Picchu before, and so anybody interested in photos and stories could read my travelogue report from 2005, which was the last time I was in Peru.
A parting of ways
My last night and day at the Estrillita hostel was spent chatting with other cyclists who had arrived a few days earlier than myself and Agusti. Time always flies swapping cycling stories, tips and adventures!
Upon leaving the hostel Agusti and myself went our separate ways. Agusti to do the Machu Picchu Inca Trail, and myself, to meet a friend whom I hadn't seen in 3 or so years. There's a chance Agusti and myself will meet up again, but if not, bon suerte amigo !! (I probably phrased and spelt that wrong!)
A joining of ways
Heidi had booked another hostel, and so it was a 10 minute cycle over the smooth cobbled streets of Cusco to the next place, where we were based for 4 days.
I first met Heidi in India, where she was inexplicably travelling with a lampshade in her rucksack. Fortunately, she was travelling with something far more useful, (well too me) this time, which was a tyre.Getting hold of decent tyres, and especially a 26 x 1.75, is next to impossible in central and south america, and the Continental tyre should see me through until the end of the trip.
With a few days off, I had time to clean and look over the bike. The rear rim still concerns me, but I can see no crack, and hope it will survive.
I replaced the brake pads and tightened the brakes, and cleaned up the chain some, and swapped over a slow leaking inner tube for another one. Finally, I fitted the new tyre on the back, as this next 1000 km or so is on sealed roads, and this should help me cycle faster.
Sightseeing in Cusco
It wasn't all about the bike though, as there was plenty to see and do in Cusco. I have to admit to being initially overwhelmed by the amount of tourists here, and just how much the local economy revolves around them.
Having cycled through so many remote towns and villages, all making a living without the gringo dollar, here was suddenly a whole city catered towards them. And the prices… jeez!!
Everything seemed vastly overpriced in comparison to the rest of the country, and although the two week tourist, or even backpacker may find things well priced, its horrifying for the bicycle tourist!
My usual 3.5-5 sole menu del dia was replaced by an average of 10-12 soles, shops tried to overcharge for everything, and worst of all, beer was double the price…. Nightmare!!
Still, life cant revolve around worrying about money too much, and they did have a McDonalds. (only the one meal – I must be slacking!). Probably the best meal I had here, was at a restaurant called the Real Mcoy, where I had an amazing steak pie, mashed spuds, vegs, and gravy. Expensive, but worth every penny!
The road to La Paz looks pretty straight forwards, and from there, things are destined to get more interesting.