Day 3 Monday March 26, 2012
Slept until 7 this morning, about 11 mostly uninterrupted hours. Was very nice. Victor was slated to arrive at 9am, but called stating he was about 30 minutes late. We hit the road and drove around Cusco looking for fuel. Heading northwest stopped and got 5 soles worth for me. Rolled on another 10 minutes and filled up. Not sure what the deal was, but okay. Headed toward Urubamba on a very nice and curvy road. I soon picked up much of the local way of driving, honking when passing, at dogs, people, kids, on narrow blind curves, things like that. About 15 minutes after crossing out of
Cusco, it started raining. It was a pretty heavy rain, but visibility was good. We rolled on through the rain, passed through a couple of villages and it finally let up before getting to Urubamba. We descended down into Urubamba on this excellent twisty road that I really enjoyed. We got
gasoline in Urubamba and then rolled on. I got a really good vibe from that town.
We carried on a little while and arrived at Ollantaytambo where we stopped for a few minutes to get off of the bike. There was a market here that seemed to exist only to sell souvenirs and some sort of archeological site. Jumped on the bikes and motored on.
The road to the highest pass on the trip was something else. Constant switchbacks, excellent views, little traffic. The were also a lot less dogs, but we had a few ran after us, which is not normal. A few kms before the pass, the temperature began dropping quite a bit and it began to rain quite hard. We reached the pass, took a few pictures and victor stopped to pray at a church. It was cold and wet. I put on my glove liners and had my visor flipped up stupidly so rain got on the inside of the lens some how. When we took off I couldn't see crap. Flipping the visor completely opened help, but with the visor closed more than halfway, it fogged. Must get a pinlock.
Visibility was way down and victor was keeping the speed to about 25kph. Traffic was still light, but some what freaky when you did see something. Victor took us on a small muddy two track road that bypassed part of the main road. It was only about a 1/4 of a mile and slippery as crap. I couldn't see that well, and was following victors line. For some reason, he went off into this grassy area right at the end. I followed and realized I should have gone right and not left. The second the rear tire hit the grass it began to slide. The bike went down and pinned my leg. Nothing major at all, but in the mud I needed some help to free my leg. As we descended it began to clear but continued to rain. The worst stretch was about 30 kms. As we made our descent, I began to see what was coming, there were small villages dotting either side of a decent sized river.... we began to pass bikers going in the same direction and passed a Mazda 3 with a big Ralli-Art decal on the windshield (Ralli-Art is Mitsubishi's in-house tuning company). Every once in a while, I would see a single pimped out car next to a tiny house on the side of the road.
Eventually we reached a spot where the road become dirt and gravel and I thought "finally, dirt." massive paving works are in progress and the pavement ended in maybe 1km. We had maybe 10kms of dirt until we turned off to Santa Teresa. Here the dirt started.
After filling up with barrel gas, we took this awesome dirt road for about 20 kms to Santa Teresa. It was great! Dry, some water crossings, including the one everyone takes pics of, and relatively quick dirt most of the time. It was great. Of course I took zero pics. We are going to take it slower on the way back and I plan to take pictures. We got to Santa Teresa and stowed one of the bikes in the exact same place poolman did on his trip. We then went to hidrolectrica tandem.
I had planned to hike to Aguas Calientes, but between the threat of rain, stairs winding me, and then then worn out feeling from riding tandem (I have hip problems and the 25 minutes on the back of a bike sucked compared to riding 220+ kms solo) I decided to ride the train. Good thing too, it started raining about 15 minutes later and didn't stop until 5 hours later.
I got a ticket on and hopped on board just in time. In the foreigners car there was only me and a Belgian couple. They asked me if I knew what a fruit they had just bought was, but I wasn't sure. He said that the woman called it something that he did not recognize and then said she also called it "passionfruit" but didn't think that was a real name. Hey, I know what passionfruit is! They had no idea how to eat one. He offered one to me, and I dug into it. It was quite good, I don't think I had ever eaten one before. He asked me if the seeds were edible, but I had no idea. About a minute later, he says "the seeds are good". Apparently they had eaten a larger variety in brazil and had eaten the seeds.
We rolled into AC and I found a S40 hostal, paid S10 for internet to look up 1 restaurant, send 3 emails and check my email. I then went out and booked my return train ticket for 12:30pm the next day, and paid for my bus tickets to and from MP. After waiting at the bus counter for nearly 30 minutes while they replaced a broken keyboard, I set out for food.
I found Govindas after about 20 minutes. Govindas is a worldwide "chain" of Hare Krishna vegetarian restaurants that sets there own local menu. The only thing in common between them is the name and Hare Krishna, from what I can tell. I ordered the set menu which gave me a soup choice, entree choice and juice. I came with an interesting whole wheat bread that I believe was unleaven. It was quite tasty. I had the quinoa soup that was a bit bland and didnt seem all that great. I also had the Spanish paella. It came out and had nearly identical vegetables as the soup and looked more like stir fry, so my expectations were pretty low. I have had paella and this wasn't it. However, it was DAMN good! I really liked it a bunch. It was more like a stir fry with brown rice, and delicious. I also had lemonade. There was some confusion when I ordered and honestly I was not sure if I had ordered a S17 soup, S22 paella and S5 lemonade or if I got a fixed menu, so when the bill came to S20, I was quite happy. Worth every cent.
As I was waiting for my food, the managers son came over to the table and apparently asked what my phone was. I flipped it over and he was enamored with it even before he could unlock the screen. I unlocked it and started up a couple of games. He shot up zombies while I had my soup, and then raced a trial bike while I had the paella. I settled the bill and his father and the waiter told him to give the phone back. Then the woman cooking joined in. Finally another customer who obviously knew the family also started telling him to give it back. The boy would simply say "una momento." Finally he died and handed it back. He walked me to the door, talking the entire way and gave me a high five as he said "caio!"
Headed back toward the hostal and thought more about the food. I realized the the few small fried potatoes in the paella were really nice. I stopped and got some water, and heard some Pink Floyd blasting from this hamburger joint across the street. I placed an order for papas fritas to go. The place was a dump, but had a good vibe. One guy was working and two other guys were hanging out and playing various classic rock. Floyd, Golden Earring, Sweat, the Ramones, stuff like that. One of the guys, looked like Richie Sambora with curly hair, came out front to go next door briefly and after returning asked me where I was from. If I understood correctly, he had traveled and worked in Europe but was always planning on going to the US. He said that next year he was going to "Hollywood!" Good luck brother, I hope you make it. Really nice guys. Got back to the hostel, checked my email, ate my fries. Might have been the hunger talking, I had 1 mini Lara bar for breakfast, no lunch, but the fries were great.... maybe the best I'd ever had.
Sitting here typing this on my phone, listening to Explosions in the Sky, first time I have played my own music since I got here. Listening to the roaring river right outside my window. About to pass out and get up early for MP!
The rest of my pictures from the day:
http://s290.photobucket.com/albums/ll256/sandalscout/Peru March 2012/3 Monday March 26th/