Lago titikaka, or Lake Titicaca, means "puma head" in the indigenous language. At 3800 meters, Titikaka is the highest lake in the worldand belongs both to Peru and Bolivia.
We boarded a boat around 845 in the morning to access the man-made floating island of Uros. It took about 30 minutes to reach Uros.
I was a bit uncomfortable at first, because it felt like we were exploiting the people there, as it seems they put on a show for us (tourists in general). But they have chosen tourism as their main source of income. Four families live on the island of Uros, and they have set it up for tourism. The community works together to build the island by tying layers of tampote grass. (When dried, it reminds me of bamboo). Obviously, the grass rots from the bottom up, as it sits in the water. Layers must constantly be added to the top to keep the island from disappearing. The people built their homes in the traditional way, made of grass and straw so that tourists can see how they lived in the past. The women on the island hand embroider and sew various handicrafts.
We hopped back into the boat for an hour and 45 minutes to reach the peninsula of Llachón.
I suppose it was good to have a rest day off of the bikes and an interesting stopover at the homestay, though I could have lived without it. The people are genuinely kind. It was freezing last night and though C and I cuddled close and were warm enough in bed, we couldn't get out of bed. There wasn't any heat, electricity or running water in the rustic accommodations, and I woke up stiff and achy this morn. One of my glands feels a little swollen, I'm hoping it's just because I slept fitfully last night. We huddled under the covers by 845 last night and called it a day.
We slept in the canyon, in cabanaconde. The temp dropped down but there were many warm and heavy blankets in our lodging. Usually I'm a furnace during the night, so C snuggles up close to me for warmth.
We left after breakfast so we could view the condors putting on their show. The Cruz Del Condor is a location that has thermal winds, which the giant birds catch to become airborne. This is a big tourist a lot with several local traditional women setting up shop to sell handmade alpaca items.
After about an hour, we hopped on our bikes and began our descent into the canyon. 3800m (12,844) and traveled 17k. After lunch I rode another 10k to the town of Copraque, before hopping into the support van, while the others continued by bike to the next location. I am usually the last rider in, the slowest, but I'm getting the job done.
The isolated accommodation was, by Peruvian standards, a resort. There were hot springs on the property, so we soaked our aching bones for a bit before dinner. It's been a few days since I have been able to get online. (Totally okay with that.)
Last night was chilly and we had piles of heavy blankets on us in bed. When we came back from dinner, we found a lovely and mysterious surprise of candy on the nightstand. When C got into bed she exclaimed how warm my feet were, but my feet weren't yet under the covers! Along with the candies, we were left the gorgeous surprise of a hot water bottle at the foot of the bed. Although we were in bed early, we were awake enough to watch a (pre-downloaded) episode of Orange is the New Black on my iPad. (Almost done with this season!)
The next morning we loaded the van to continue on to Puno and Lake Titicaca.
Tuesday, we made our way via van to Colca Canyon. We made a pit stop along the way to check out the views and drink some coca tea, which is supposed to prevent altitude sickness.
The van dumped us at the highest point which is the Patapampa pass at 4900m. In the morning we cycled downhill for 25k. Although it was fun to blast down the mountain, I stopped frequently for photo ops of the Canyon, and llamas and alpacas. After our picnic lunch we continued on another 25k, but this terrain was, as they say in Peru, 'undulating' since the road had small hills. There was one killer hill, 1k long at this altitude, I chugged along slowly and steadily but wasn't sure if I'd make it. The ride finished on a gravel road that lasted longer than my butt had wanted. We loaded back into the van at the town of Maca to make our way to the town of Cabanaconde, to our lodging for the night, (altitude 3400m).
This is the third day in a row of cycling, I've already beaten my own record (of riding hard two consecutive days). My upper body is feeling a little achy. I'm not sure if it's the change in weather as it's a bit chillier, or if it's altitude or if it's just my body getting accustomed to daily cycling.
So far, the KT tape seems to be preventing a reoccurrence of that nasty debilitating plantar fasciitis. I've been trying to ice my feet when I can get ahold of ice (not much fun). I've also been stretching my leg muscles when I return to my accommodation in the evening. Has anyone had an issue with plantar fasciitis ? What solutions worked for you ?
Louise, co-owner of CyclePeru, (the outfit we are touring with) picked us up at our Airbnb at 830 in the morning. We then joined our cycling group at the hotel. We are a lovely little group of six. Two kiwis, one Aussie, one 19 year old Scottish dude and the two of us. I'm the least experienced on cycling of the group.
After introductions, and a debriefing we piled into a van pulling a trailer of bicycles and headed out to the countryside of Arequipa.
On this warm up day, we cycled only 10 miles, but even that isn't easy at this altitude. My mountain bike is a small- framed KHS Sixfifty and it seems to fit me well. I love the knobby tires and shocks on the bike. I've never ridden a mountain bike before nor have I ever done any mountain biking. Although this isn't mountain biking per day, the terrain is rough at times. I'm sure I could have a helluva lot of fun getting crazy but I'm not about to attempt it at the start of this journey.
We spent the morning cycling around the countryside and I got to work my gams on the hills while trying to figure out all the gears on the bike . After our picnic lunch we headed back to Arequipa via van. The sun is extremely powerful in Arequipa and we were lightly toasted by the end of the ride.
Cycling Day Two: Arequipa
The van brought us further out into the countryside and we cycled around small villages, up some killer hills and some slow, steady inclined as well. We covered about 10 miles and reached an altitude of 2900 meters. Whoa, that's high!
I think I'm adjusting to the altitude alright so far. Tomorrow we head out to Colca Canyon, reaching an altitude of 4800 meters.
Back to the Lima airport: we arrived on time only to find out that our flight was delayed. Plans were foiled again. I had hoped to go out to one of Arequipa's gay bar's after we arrived. However, we arrived late and were too tired to head back out into the chilly night. Arequipa starts at around 2200 meters in altitude (over 7,000 feet). The weather is sunny and warm during the day and drops low at 4pm once the sun goes down. The sun here is fiercely strong.
The Airbnb we stayed in was in Yanahuara, a neighborhood that is 15 minutes walking distance to the center of town. The place was huge and beautiful and made of volcanic stone. The sister of Alejandro, the owner and the person we booked through kept asking if we made a mistake with our room. She didn't understand why we would want to share a bed. "This is okay?" She kept asking. Obviously she didn't get it, that we were together, sharing the 'matrimonial' bed, as it is translated to both Spanish or French.
Through Peru's AA website, I made a contact with a member of AA who met up with me to hold an informal meeting. It was way too early to go dancing so C and I shared a sweet crepe and a brownie. Around 1130 made our way to Imperio, the gay club in Arequipa. There were loads of cute baby dykes and homos and older folx too. We danced awhile but it was packed and ridiculously smoky in there. Since we would be commencing the cycling tour the next morn, and we didn't want to feel like poop, we headed back to our Airbnb at 1am.
We arrived in Lima after a long day of travel. Jet Blue actually canceled our first flight (from Newark to Fort Lauderdale) but they were able to get us on a flight at JFK so we could still make our connecting flight to Lima. We were shuttled off to JFK via Lyft. JFK is a cluster. I remembered why I don't ever fly out of that airport.
We made it into Lima and to our accommodation in the Barranco neighborhood just before 1 AM.
We slept well and we slept in. After we dined on the meager breakfast provided at our hostel, we headed out walking to explore the neighborhood. On our way to the ATM we happened upon a free walking tour and decided to join. Along the way we stopped at el Pointe de Suspiros, the Bridge of Sighs. Legend says that if you hold your breath while walking over the bridge you get to make a wish once you reach the other side. The tour concluded with the tasting of the national drink, a Pisco sour, (but of course I did not partake).
Barranco is a manageable neighborhood with many places to eat, drink and dance. To my dismay, there are also (several) Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts. Traffic is crazy bad in Lima and Barranco is no exception so we enjoyed wandering on foot.
On Thursday we took the local tram car into the city center and checked out the catacombs at the San Francisco Church. Sadly, I wasn't allowed to photograph the many piles of human skulls and femurs we saw there.
In the evening, my goal was to get to an AA meeting and then go dancing at one of the 4 gay clubs in the city. I arrived at the meeting a few minutes late because the cab driver dropped us off at the wrong church so we had to run a few blocks to get to the correct location. However, once at the correct church there was no answer on the big brown door. First mission failed. It was only 7pm and the homo club didn't open until 11... consequently mission number two failed as well because I didn't have enough mojo to stay out until then.
Hi, I'm Reverend J, a queer+ sober wanderer, activist, writer and ordained minister.