Monday, September 29, 2008

Cusco, Machu Picchu, friends and cheescake

It has been a while since my last entry. Sorry! If you have been following this Blog, you will remember that I was having some problems with the bike (broken frame) and that I have lost my tent.

After a long wait, the tent finally made it to Cusco! I was ecstatic! Now I could finally take off up North to Huaraz to do some mountain climbing! There was a big celebration that night at Paddy's in Cusco and I was sure I was almost out of there. I should have know! To quote a good friend of mine: 'Never count your chickens before they've hatched!'

To make a very long story, as short as possible: the next day, while trying to fix the oil-leak on Stybba's cylinder with new gaskets that had arrived with the tent, I noticed that I had far bigger problems! The upper, right engine stud was coming loose. I wanted to fix it using a helicoil. Unfortunately there are no helicoils to be had in Cusco. So another long wait for yet another package, only to find out that the helicoils were not doing the job either! In the end the problem was solved by 'bush-mechanics' at a little back-alley 'tornero'. Not pretty, but I think it will hold!

Once I was ready to finally leave, I was amazed to realize that I had been in Cusco for more than a month! What did you do all this time, you might ask? Well, for starters there is a good crowd at the campground in Cusco. Almost everybody ends up staying longer than originally planned and so I made some wonderful new friends and met back up with some old ones. Even met Esther and Peter a couple from Lucerne, my hometown! Turns out we had to travel all the way to Peru to meet, even though we grew up in the same neighborhood.

Camping Life in Cusco is really relaxed. There is a cozy little living room with a gas-heater and lights. Perfect for long nights drinking and talking, but just as good for movie nights, courtesy of Douglas and Stefanie who carry a projector and tons of DVD's with them. A luxury we bikers can only dream of. There were barbeques at the campground but also nights out in town at Paddy's or Norton Rats.

Then Katharina and I went to Machu Picchu together. Machu Picchu is a very well preserved pre-Columbian Inca site spectacular located on a mountain ridge way above the Urubamba Valley. Even today it is hard to reach, since there are no roads there. There is a train from Cusco to Aguas Caliente, a village down the valley from Machu Picchu. Every day more than 2000 tourists visit Machu Picchu and it was a bit of a challenge securing a seat on the train. Nevertheless I am really glad we went. It is a spectacular site. The city was built around 1450, but abandoned a hundred years later. And as everybody here will tell you, it got rediscovered by Hiram Bingham, an American historian. By now I am sure there is millions of photos from Machu Picchu, but for all it is worth, if you want to check out mine here they are:

Back in Cusco the bikers from the campground all went for a Sunday ride together. It was Thomas and Katharina ( which I had met for the first time at the hot springs of Fiambala. Then there was Carola (, from whom I had heard a lot but now finally met. And there was Rupert on his Tenere. We did a loop from Cusco to Urubamba and by ways of Pisac back to Cusco. We had lunch in a nice little restaurant in Urubamba, with a Peruvian musicians who was playing not just Peruvian folk tunes, but also the title song of Titanic on his pan flute. Then we crashed the market in Pisac. Helmie had recommend a cafe in Pisac for cheescake. Unfortunately the cafe was in the middle of town where the sunday market was in full swing. Still we managed to get through with our bikes. The Peruvians loved it, but we got really told off by some French tourists.
And so the days in Cusco went by rather fast. Still I was super happy to be back on the road again, once the bike was running. However my Peruvian Visa had almost expired and so instead of heading up north I went South back to Bolivia. But that is another story and will be told later.