From the sea to the deserts to the mountains, we bike on!
Let’s not kid a kidder. I’m not a professional writer, nor a professional travel writer, and I’m really struggling with how to tell the story of our first two days in Peru. There’s so much to tell that its overwhelming. Where to start? End? It’s frustrating because I know that no matter how good it is, it won’t convey 10% of the experience and feeling that KR and I have gone through. I can’t make sense of it and boil it down to the most crisp description as possible. This is not a well-tended short story. Here’s what I want to say in no particular order or priority:
- Seventeen days in the desert and we now think of it as colorful and as full of intrigue as a Picasso painting. The Atacama is anything but bland, even though its always there. It’s so, so, so _________ big that you wonder how anyone ever got through it without motorized transportation. I wonder if anyone would find us before we turned to shriveled prunes if we have trouble . And just then, we see an old man who looks like he’s 90, walking up the road high in the mountains in the middle of nowhere. What’s he doing? How can he do that? We’ll never know.
- A lot of things have happened to us in the last couple of days. We’ve crossed our first border with no help from friends. We’ve had two wonderful days in the saddle of NV and I’m finally getting in the groove. We’ve seen a fishing village so full of color, chaos and activity that we just wanted to sit and watch for a day. We’ve been so far out, up and away in the altiplano that we knew we were finally getting “out there!” We pull into Peru’s finest colonial city, Arequipa, last night to be engulfed in the Peruvian way of driving — a slightly calmer version of Nepal’s everyman for themselves (also known as The Small Die Young). And right in the middle of said city’s traffic, KR and I have our first double-occupancy tip over. We fall off and the two of us and three Peruvian passersby right Now Voyager and we go on our way. Two hours later we’re sipping wine from clay glasses in a restaurant that specializes in Pre-Incan cuisine. Huh? Oh, and we’re staying in a converted colonial home made from blocks of volcanic ash 3 feet thick and 3 times the size of any room so far .
- We’re just getting to know Peru. Everyone from Chile and Argentina tells us that Peru is a lot poorer, and it is. Not a whole lot of fast, small cars on the highway. There’s a lack of polish and infrastructure that Chile has. It’s important to remember that Peruvians and Chileans have a history not getting along too well. About a 100 years ago they fought at least one war over what is now Chile’s northern Atacama desert, the same spat of desert that produces 40% of Chile’s GNP today. It seems that mother nature (and Chile’s superior navy) dealt Peru’s Atacama a severe blow — no minerals to mine.
- We can’t wait for the Next 50. We’ve been on the road for 50 days and we’re now just starting to get in our groove. Really. Packing and unpacking? No problem. Finding a hotel? A bit more of a problem, but no worry. What to wear? No choice. Pre-flight routine is like riding a bicycle: slide onto the saddle, wait for KR to get on, hook up the intercom, set the GPS, check the gas, look at the heat gauge, put it in gear, rock & roll. Even though more muscles than I knew I had ache, this is getting easier.
The situation as of February 12 2011 in Arequipa, Peru. We got to this colonial city 7500 feet into the alto plano last night. We’re staying here for a couple of days while we attend to things past, a bit of work, and see all the alleys and shops we can get in,( and, if FW ever gets off the computer some historic sites and maybe a museum or four (kr note). Next leg will be back west to the coast and then head north to the town of Nazca, Peru.