Thursday, 3 January 2013

Leaving Bolivia and the dirt roads to Cusco, Peru

The night after backtracking to Coroico, La Paz, and then north to Peru, we stayed the night on the border.  This is usually avoided, never a good choice to stay in a border town.  And it turned out to be the case again.  They are dirty, loud, disorganized, etc etc.  After searching and searching and searching on dirt roads in the dark for a place to stay, we finally found one.

First stop is the Bolivian border.  The Aduana (customs) guy wanted a copy of my bike registration.  Why? I'm leaving! It seems they have no record of my motorcycle being in the country.  So he asked me to walk over into Peru to a photocopy shop.  But I haven't gone through immigration in Peru.  HE said, don't worry about it.  The two photocopy shops were closed, another American man had no luck either.  So I was frustrated and walked back across the border to Bolivia to see if he can hand write the information, the same as when I entered the country from Argentina.


Yes, the sign seems backwards as I am trying to LEAVE Bolivia.  I took the photo from the Peruvian side in frustration... Why can't they just have a photocopier IN their office! I'd be happy to pay for it rather than go searching amongst random shops in another country, and it could be extra income for them!

When I told the Aduana officer the shops are closed, I looked at him and said.. "Sir, you have no record of my motorcycle and I am leaving, can I just go?"  He said, "Si.."  Cool!

I'm looking forward to crossing over into Peru... I think!  We started early but the line of people to the immigration office is long already.


I'm not real sure why they bother, the border seems very open with people crossing over between countries with nobody stopping and asking a thing.  However, we wait in line and especially do the aduana (customs) thing for our bikes.  Just in case a police check point wants to see we are legal.


The guys in the Peruvian aduana were so nice! 

My boots are in pretty bad shape and to help keep the leather soft and waterproof, they are do for a shine.  I always feel bad when the kids are working, I never know what to do.  I don't want them to work and rather they be in school.  But everyone is so poor so if the kid is making some money to survive or help his family then I paid for a shine and bit more.  The kids were so excited for the tip!



The next important job before hitting the road (after exchanging Bolivian money for Peruvian) was to get to a fuel station.  Fuel has been such a problem in Bolivia, that I am hoping for a good fill up with no drama about being a foreigner.

Wow!  Talk about kids working, these super young kids are working the family fuel station.  The girl was so fascinated to ask me questions.  But I had questions for her.  This is a week day, so I asked her if she would rather be in school today or working at the fuel pump.  She said she preferred to work.  Hmmm..


Definitely a different world to the childhood I had.


Looking at this photo of her, she doesn't look too happy, but she is really a sweet girl, with lots of questions. She couldn't stop staring at me.  She said she never met a woman on a motorcycle before.  Too cute.

Good to be back on a nice road again.  Our plan is to ride north on the main highway to Cusco for a while until we turn off to take dirt roads the rest of the way.


An abundance of llamas around here!



Along the route there is one very high pass through the mountains and it gets extra chilly.  Out of nowhere there is a tourist stop.  A row of people selling Peruvian things, like blankets, sweaters, and hat's made of llama fur. 


I tried this one. As hard as I try to do the supermodel pose, I don't think it suits me much!  I'll pass...Interestingly, I stayed in Peru long enough to know that you would never see a local wearing one either.  They do wear great hats, just not dead baby llama fur ones.



I'm really glad I did pass, because not long after we were crossing a bridge over a small river.  When I looked down I saw several women cleaning the blood off many white baby llama skins and furs to be made into the next little llama souvenirs and hats. Ick. That was so sad to see, and glad I didn't buy anything with llama fur.  In almost every country I've been in, the souvenirs are mostly made in China.  I know killing animals is how they make those souvenirs as well, but here in Peru, I had the pleasure (not) of witnessing them prepare the skins.  OK, I'm carrying on a bit too much... sorry, I love animals.


We turned off the main highway so we can ride dirt roads the rest of the way to Cusco.. Always the better option.







But guess what we found!  A freakin' rocky road block!  So many of these in the last couple of days, we might consider traveling with our own bulldozer!




If Dean looses his footing in that soft rubble, it is a long way straight down in the river below.  Those guys are far braver than me.  If it was just me on my own, I would have either waited or turned back for another route.  As usual with pictures, it doesn't look near as bad or scarey than it really is. That was quite dangerous what those guys did, but they got all three bikes through.



That massive boulder is what fell on the road earlier this morning. Now it's being drilled and prepared to get blown up by dynamite.  The boys assure me it's easier to go around it now rather than later when it's in several pieces.


 Feeling grateful that we didn't have to use the bridge with the swinging bits and pieces.



Okay.. my hand is cramping up keeping the finger near the button on the camera.  BOOM!!!


Ooooooo, these are definitely prettier roads than than out on the highway.


Wow.. look at that...!  Which mountain road should we pick.. ;-)




There are several little villages out here the closer we get to Cusco.


Barton and Dean were off.. riding fast.  I'm just not the super wild rider. They tend to ride crazy fast and I catch up later, usually when Barton is stopped for a smoke.

I was alone on the gravel when I rode through a little concrete patch that allows the mountain water to cross the road. I was confident enough that I didn't slow down, the water was super shallow.  But down I went and fast!  Because I didn't feel like I was going to fall, there was no pre-be careful angst, so I was literally up and then down that quick!  The bike hit a bit of algae, or I should guess the back tire had an issue with it as it spun me right around facing the opposite direction.. Too funny!  One of those little ones that makes me laugh. Luckily a man was traveling not far behind me and he stopped to help me pick it up quickly.


About 30 minutes later I went through a deeper one.. without the concrete just river rocks. That time I went down in the water.  Darn it! It was cold and soaked right through my nice warm Rukka gloves.  No photo, too embarrassed that time.



The boys needed fuel, so we stopped in a small village to enquire about it.  There are no big towns out here whatsoever, so we get whatever we are lucky to get.

We should get lucky here, this town is big enough to have a police station!  I'd be interested to know if they can chase me down in that old police truck! ;-))




Dean did score a bucket of fuel and as they were filling, the children noticed us.

I wasn't off my bike and the boys had me surrounded.


Then the girls too (after they got over their shyness).


This gorgeous boy brought me flowers!  And then he ran home and returned with three red grapes, just for me!  What a little sweetheart!!


We originally intended to carry on after filling up with fuel, but how could anyone resist these people!  They were so excited to meet us, even the parents and school teacher showed up with questions and information about the town we are in called Accha, Peru.

The man that sold us the gasoline also happens to have rooms available down the street, for a whopping $10 including hot water and a place to park the bikes.  Sold!

This is my room..  it's modest but I like it.  He put Barton and Dean in another room.  There are no windows.  When the door is shut it is black dark.  I don't think they've changed the bed or the bedding since 1895.  But I still loved it.  I carry my own sleeping bag and sheet, but I'm not fussed.


I slept really well, and in the morning I needed to open my door for light and watch the Accha world go by.

 The staircase to our rooms.

As the sun came up the town started to move a bit.

 

 I noticed this boy coming and going to his house to pick up and deliver fresh baked bread to the local shops I would guess.

 This man was very into his text messages.

 This woman hung around for most of the morning until she eventually settled down to peel potatoes.

 This boy is off to school

 The local women chat away


In the photo below is the town "story".  Every one we met told us about it.  The town is protected by the "Pregnant mountain".  We were shown this amongst the starry sky but I couldn't take a photo of it last night.  If you look closely, you can see the shape of the mountain top takes the form of a pregnant woman laying down.



These two little girls were walking past while we were packing up the bikes and I asked if I could take a photo.  I love their dress here.  This is not a tourist town, far off the beaten track.  One of my favorite things about Peru is that many people really do wear the traditional clothes.  In the big towns, it's more western dress, but out here in the country, even in the fields with their animals, many are still wearing these bright colorful gorgeous clothes.  Something that has been lost in most of the rest of the world.


I think Accha has been one of my favorite Peruvian towns so far...  See you in Cusco! ;-)



4 comments:

  1. Sherri, thanks so much for the wonderful photos, really a nice insight to your first day or so in Peru. Safe travels....

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  2. Sherri, do you feel safe in these little towns in the middle of nowhere? Is it safe to travel in the country?
    Great pictures by the way and you do look good with the white hat :-)

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  3. Thanks Rod! Yes George, I feel completely and thoroughly safe in the small pueblos. Far more safe than in a larger towns or city. They are so thrilled to have visitors and I wouldn't have worried to keep the door unlocked in mostly unvisited towns such as Accha. It is definitely safe to travel in Peru, with the standard precautions of pocket pickers especially in tourist areas such as Lima and Cusco.

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  4. Hi there! I took a trip to Peru this past winter and spent nearly the entire time in Accha, and I loved it. We stayed at Centro Yanapanakusun and helped sand and shellack the doors, window frames, and school benches, repaired repainted one of the class rooms, and built them a green house. It was the best trip of my life. Do you remember what the name of the mountain there was called? I think it was something like "Sawena" but I can't for the life of me figure it out!

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