We are FINALLY there!!

Trip Start Oct 16, 2012
Trip End Apr 20, 2013

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Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Thankfully we weren't disturbed during our night of camping in the driveway.  We slept well and awoke to cold but dry weather.  We made breakfast on the camp stove, filtered water for our bike bottles and put the tent away.  Once we were all packed up again we made our way back down to the road, and realised that we were in the clouds, hence the cold temperatures. 

We knew that we were almost at the top of the pass, as we had climbed almost 2000m the previous day.  This meant that we would only have to cycle in the clouds for a short time and then we would descend into the valley on the other side.  As we set off we heard the distant rumble of a landslide, which was quite disconcerting as we couldn't see much. 

We cycled for half an hour or so and then cycled through the police check-point, which was stationed at the top of the pass.  We have been really lucky with these, and never had any trouble.  We are usually either politely waved through or completely ignored as we cycle around the barriers.  They were fair more frequent in Colombia and the toll for the road was usually around $5 for a car, but free for bicycles.  Some days we would cycle through 3 or 4 of them in Colombia, which would really add up in road costs if we had to pay and we felt sorry for the people in camper-vans who would have to pay up to $10 a time.  The best place to encounter them was in Ecuador, where they waved us through but couldn't de-activate the lights, alarms and sirens, until after we had gone through.  It felt like we were doing something naughty and each time I couldn't help but smirk as we cycled on.  Anyway, again we cycled through the check point/tolls without any hassle from the police and without having to part with any money.  We have been warned that this may not be the case in Bolivia and the police may want some "cyclist tax" from us, but we will see what we find.

We followed the road down into a beautiful plateau, which was surrounded by high mountains, and sat at around 3300m.  There was lots of farmed land, small villages and the sun was shining.  We whizzed over the flat land and soon made it to the other side of the plateau before starting a small climb over the other side of it.  We decided to stop of an early lunch/late breakfast and were soon being ushered into a restaurant, bikes and all.  The friendly young waiter was very obliging and didn't want us to be worried about our bikes as we ate our brunch.  He had all of the usual chicken and rice options on the menu, but as it was only 10.30am, I wasn't sure that I could stomach it.  I decided to ask him for a fried egg, in a bread roll, he looked at me like I was bonkers but decided that if that is what I really wanted, then he would try to make it for me.  Oh, the simple things.  Kory presumed I would never get such a simple request to work out, so he opted for the usual rice and chicken.

We climbed up out of the valley and got our first glimpses of Cusco, just below the ridge.  It looked like a large city, with mainly terracotta roof tiled houses.  We could see the main square with a large cathedral in the distance and some slum, poorer housing on the outskirts of the city.  There was also a Rio de Janeiro-style Jesus statue on the top of the hill, overlooking the city.  It was surrounded by mountains on all sides, and had an airport run way dividing it in the middle, as I presume that is the only flat land available in the area.

We cycled into the city and made it to a hostel that has been recommended to us by other cyclists.  It was slightly out of the main city area, but had a large courtyard area that was well equipped to do some bike maintenance and spread the tent out to dry.  We also hoped that it may have some other cyclists there and may have some route information for the next step of our journey.

We spent the rest of the afternoon getting our bearings in the city and settling in.  We found a restaurant, with a buffet Indian dinner, for 15 soles ($6) and had a beer to celebrate having finally made it to Cusco.  We were really pleased to have completed the notoriously difficult section of the mountain route, which covered the last 600km from Ayacucho.  The information resource that we have for that section used words such as "really, really, really bad road or rocky track" a generous 13 times and descriptions such as "climbing uphill and very, very steep" no less than 39 times!!  As you can imagine we were pleased to have made it as far as Cusco, without any problems, and all of it with only pedal power.
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Gramma on

Hooray for both of you's,What a trip for both of you's....I'm sure you both feel like HEROES!!!!! Nice to read your blog, through the whole looooong trip. Very pretty scenery, and I'm sure you's feel it was well worth all the hard work,pedaling, your way up and down those mountains.. Love and hugs

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