OK, we have been to Bolivia. Not exactly a highpoint in our journey for me. And especially when I remember the lesser culinary joys and the roads. And the temperatures were a disappointment, as was my reaction to the altitude. It's time for a new country.
Someone in Cusco asks me how long we have been here. Five days already. And what did I see, he asks. Not much more than the rooms in this hospital I'm afraid :-( But let's not get ahead here; the first day in Peru was rather entertaining.
We leave a dreary Copacabana, at the shores of Lake Titicaca. It is only 8 km to the border; over asphalt! We still have a long trip ahead of us, so we pack up early. So early in fact, that the border with Peru isn't even opened yet! I get to witness the official raising of the flag, with silence and hands covering hearts.
As soon as all the papers are done we set our sights on Cusco. This city is near the 'Sacred Valley', a must in Incan history study. And I have to say that I am curious. Years ago I went to Mexico (and one day in Guatemala), and I am intrigued by the Mayan history and the buildings and everything else. I expect something similar with the Incans. But to reach Cusco we have to travel 500 km, so away we go.
Fortunately it is all asphalt. The first part has a lot of potholes, but I quickly get the hang of avoiding them. Some of them are large enough you probably get launched when hitting them. In Puno we exchange our Bolivianos for Peruan Nuevo Soles. We also want to eat, but it is still too early. A couple of police officers tell us Juliaca is a good place to fill up, both the bikes and ourselves. And they even smile friendly...
Just before we reach Juliaca the traffic grinds to a halt. The road is blocked by garbage and broken bottles. Now we not only have to avoid the potholes, but glass as well; an almost impossible task. Even with my aversion to gravel, I sometimes use the side of the road. We keep swerving all the way through the city. There is a definite protest demonstration going on, but I can't figure out what it is about. Fortunately they leave us mostly alone; we obviously are foreign travelers. Adriaan gets a bottle thrown at him, but I only endure a few water bombs.
When we have left the city we learn they protest against the enormous fuel price raises. The gas stations probably saw things coming, most of them are closed. We have to use 84 octane fuel to keep going. We decide to skip lunch.
The trip continues. We travel through a poor, but beautiful country. There is little traffic on the partly brand new road, so we make good time. Although I am thrilled with the good pavement, I wonder why they spend so much money on infrastructure, when so few people can actually use it. What adds to the joy of riding here is the enthusiasm of the people when we fly by. I missed that in Bolivia.
At dusk we reach Cusco. And thanks to a few nice men we quickly find a place to stay with parking facilities. We settle ourselves, and then quickly start looking for something to eat. What transpired then can be read in Adriaan's report.
I have been seriously ill. A complete recovery will still take a few weeks. So after my (second) release from hospital we decide to take it easy. The people of the hostal we stay at are a great help. My diet is cooked chicken and jelly, and they prepare both these items daily, just for me. Fantastic!
We visit the partially rebuilt city of Machupicchu by train, that's how easy we take it. I thoroughly enjoyed that trip! We travel through rugged terrain, along a river which takes on various colors. From brown to red to brightly transparent. At the horizon we see snowy peaks against a blue tropic sky. A delight after all the rains and clouds in Cusco. A guide explains along the way, and soon I am able to recognize the Inca signs in the scenery. The Inca city itself is somewhat disappointing, but we have a great day.
This is followed by a full day's rest. But I feel better and stronger, so I feel it's time to move on. To Nazca, famous for the lines and figures in the desert near the city.
Nazca is about 600 km from Cusco. That should be doable in one day. But because we have to ride a few mountain passes, it soon becomes clear we can't get there in one day. And I am less recovered than I thought. A few symptoms return, and instead of leaving early Adriaan returns me to bed. Fortunately I recover quickly, and we can continue with just two hours delay. Just as well, the tiny village of Chalhuanca where we stayed didn't lift our spirits at all. Before dark we reach Nazca. Quickly we find a hostal, and not much later I lie in 'my' bed.
After yesterday's scare we decide to ease up even more. We get permission to cook my own meals. Quite a relief, now I know what I'm eating. After a day's rest we go out to see the Nazcaq Lines. These lines and figures are best viewed from the air, so like real tourists we let ourselves fly over them in a small Cessna. What a view. You wonder how they were able to make these lines and figures. When these were constructed there were no planes to check your work from up high. The pictures Adriaan made are unexpectedly good. Great, I don't know how to describe this any better.
After the flight we are back in time for breakfast. I have to gain strength, and I bravely start eating a roll. But it doesn't agree with me, and I start feeling worse. Is it my pancreas again, or is it some side effect of the antibiotics I still take? Adriaan is very suspicious, and not 10 minutes later we arrive at the local hospital. The doctor thinks it is a light form of pancreatitis, and orders me to stop using any medication except the antibiotics (although he is glad I am in the final day of this recipe). And my diet is altered. But I am glad I don't have to stay, I can rest in my 'own' bed.
Now, two days later, I am feeling better. I am no longer nauseous or dizzy, and the pains are gone. And I hope it stays this way. Tomorrow we go to Lima, to get the spare parts and tires for Adriaan. If I stay OK we can continue to Quito. If I get worse, returning to Belgium is a definite possibility, and I don't feel like that. Apart from the fact that I can recover completely in a controlled environment, of course. Fingers crossed!