From East to West across a Continent
11.05.2010 - 12.05.2010 24 °C
Leaving Nazca we immediately hit desert. Mile after mile of nothing but parched land and big skies. We experienced some desert riding last year when we travelled through Death Valley but this was different. Surprisingly for us it was quite cool in places, especially as we began to drop towards the ocean.
When we reached the Pacific it was spectacular. That fresh sea smell and giant waves rolling in and not a surfer to be seen. We travelled down the coast for some 200 miles and saw no commercial exploitation to speak of. The scene reminded us both of riding down Highway 1 in California.
So we had crossed a continent. All the way from Buenos Aires on the East Coast to the West. It had taken three thousand miles and three countries to do it. We had reached heights of over 4,300 metres and now we were back at sea level and able to breathe normally again !
We then headed inland for a two day stay in Ariquipa. This was to be our last in Peru before moving on to Chile. First though we were delayedin road works which meant we entered the city in the dark. Not recommended when you have little idea of where the hotel is. On the plus side we had all grouped together so there were seven bikes travelling together. This was handy when we had to muscle our way through the evening rush hour traffic.
Ariquipa itself is known as the white city. There are a couple of theories as to why. The first is that it is built in the Spanish Colonial style and still has many original buildings still standing. Most of these have white walls hence the name the white city. The second reason is a bit more disturbing. When the city was founded by the Spanish the indiginous population was kept outside the city walls and it therefore became known as the white city. Whatever the truth the central plaza is beautiful.
The only downside to the city are the thousands of very tiny yellow taxis that buzz around and around the city streets like little tiny wasps. None of them seem to be carrying any passengers though.
We had a day to explore he city but we were so shattered we did a bit of wandering sat in a couple of cafes and watched the world go by.
For squeamish people stop reading now. his was the place I tried Cuy or fried Guinea Pig. For those of you who thin this barbaric it may satisfy you to know that I got my cumupance beacuse it tasted like chicken, gave up no more than a mouthful and cost a packet.
Watched the world go by. Of course it didn't !
[b]On people we have met
We are about to leave Peru and are told that Chile is a different world to the rest of South America. It is more prosperous. More European. So I've been thinking about some of the people we have met in Bolivia and Peru. Like Clara who we met in Macchu Picchu. She was from Ariquipa but was working for a short time for a friend to help her out in a bar. She was happy because she had just started her own travel business in Ariquipa. She was tiny and full of enthusiasm and energy. She had a lot of optimism for the future and in a way seem to enbody some of what Peru seems to be trying to do. It has a mushrooming tourist industry with many Americans, Canadians , Australians taking package holidays to discover the natural beauty of the country.
In Bolivia, all the people we met were friendly and curious. Life was obviously hard for many of them but there was something very edearing about the way people went about their daily business. All of the group enjoyed the people of Boliva,none of us can say exactly why.
On South American Dogs
Have you ever wondered what it must be like to be a South American dog? First of all there are alot of them. They wander the streets in towns and villages,they wander the roads miles from anywhere,they rummage in bins and on rubbish heaps and enjoy sleeping in the middle of the road. But above all if you were a South American dog you would enjoy chasing motorbikes. For some of them it seems that is what they were put on this earth to do.
There we are riding along minding our own business when the flea ridden sneaky type, lurking behind a bus or hidden in a doorway sprints to maximum speed and hurls itself at your wheels. Or there is the long range "head off at the pass" type that you see from three miles away on an intercept course that you can't avoid. This one runs three or four miles to hurl itself at your wheels!
I'm busy perfecting my kicking game but feel I need some sort of implement. A sort of polo stick would be perfect. Now where can I get one of those ?