Rides bikes, paddles sea kayaks, takes pictures. Life on the road & my home in Cornwall.
It can be quite hard to deal with a forced change of plan sometimes, especially when coming to terms with dropping some bits that would have made for some really, really great, albeit very high, cold and difficult riding. As such my morale was quite low on arrival in Cusco. I hadn’t planned to come here again and all I could see initially was the degree to which the place has become defined by tourism relative to previous visits. Having had a few days to settle in, chill out, go through the inevitable mood swings however I’ve decided that I’m glad I did. Thanks to that dose of bronchitis this journey is rapidly becoming defined by street photography rather than riding, and although difficult I’m doing my best to embrace that. I’m fortunate in that the forced alternative has produced some real highlights, such as my time in Ayacucho.
From here I have been feeling a little trapped…. I have 5000m passes in almost every direction I would like to ride, the exception being the relatively easy riding around the shores of Titacaca enroute to Bolivia. I’ve been that way before however so unless I really have to I’d like to find some alternatives. I also have a month left on my visa, and Peru being such a special place, I’d prefer not to cross a border until I really have to. With that in mind I plotted a route down to Arequipa. It’s a beautiful city and I have a friend there, it would be great to see the place again. Initially I planned to make use of the northern leg of Mark Watson’s “Camino del Puma” route here. It runs very close to the Ubinas volcano, but that exploded yesterday morning and there is now a 15km exclusion zone with villages in the area having been evacuated. So… I’ve plotted a new route from Puno, still mostly dirt, that skirts a little farther north, avoiding the exclusion zone. Would have been a bummer had it erupted while I was camped next door so I’m probably lucky in that respect. There are still a couple of almost-5000m passes and it crosses a very dry area, part of which I crossed while leaving Arequipa two years ago. After more than three weeks off my bike, and still with lungs a bit less than 100%, I’m suffering a significant lack of confidence with respect to fitness in tackling these routes, however the first of the high passes is just 50km or so into the ride so if things start to go south and the cough returns as I climb south I do have the option of turning around and trundling back. Once over that pass however things get a little more committing. I’ll suck it and see.
Incidentally I met Mark and Hana last year in Cajamarca. Aside from being super people they’re on their way south from Alaska, something like four years in now I think. Having spent more than a year exploring the trails of Peru they’re now in Bolivia. If things go ok I’m hoping I can catch up with them somewhere in western Bolivia in the coming months. That would be ace.