13 October, 2012

Day 101, 378km: Peruvian Altiplano

Today would be my last in Peru! I'm heading to the city of Puno, on the shores of the lake Titicaca.

We quickly rose to 4000m and that was the landscape for the first half of the way
A nice valley, wide and flat, filled with farms and sprinkled with small villages. That was a relaxing way to start the day.

Oh. My. God. Signs in Comic Sans
That was a truly horrible sight. I hope that typography experts in the audience won't be too frightened. Perhaps if they aren't I'd add that this wasn't the single sign in Comic Sans, at all. It went on like that for a good 150km of roadside horror. I had to keep my right eye closed to make sure I wouldn't vomit uncontrollably in my helmet at the sight of these masterpieces of poor taste.

Luckily the torture stopped and I had vast plains valleys to enjoy pretty much for myself
This was my lunch break. Actually I wasn't really alone. I saw half a dozen heavily loaded bicycle travelers along the way. They are usually friendly and open for a chat but up there at 4000m I guess they were having a really hard time and didn't stop despite my waving.

Thankfully, this view lifted my spirits
 The road stayed around 4000m pretty much all day. Magnificient, dry and desolated landscape.

So I guess it's straight ahead right?
There has been an unusual amount of feral (domesticated then gone wild again) dogs in this part of Peru. They seem to spend most of their time by the side of the roads, lying down, sitting, or walking a slowly pace. Most are captivated by the sight of cars and follow them like cow would.
Born in the wild, I wonder if there's something inside them, some kind of urge to go and lick a human's face, tail wagging happily. Or perhaps their domestication hasn't lasted for long enough to permanently modify the behavior of their offspring. One thing is for sure though, they have something in their eyes that makes it easy to tell them apart from stray dogs. I'll try to catch pictures to illustrate.
They have the kind of look an Hermit would have, descending into Manhattan after 50 years alone in the mountains. A deep, wide opened eyes stare. "I've seen stuff man..."

More beauty
As I neared the city of Juliaca, the road turned south (thank god) and went along the eastern shore of the lake Titicaca. The lake itself wasn't in sight but brought a strong water-life smell, along with a constant wind.
Going south, the wind was hitting me from the left. Riding on the right side of the road, winds from the left are  not my favorite.

Although today's wind wasn't very strong, it's always tricky to handle when a truck comes in the opposite direction and briefly shelters you from the wind. You go from wind, to no wind, to wind + truck turbulence. Not that it made the ride dangerous really, rather that the wind made driving in a perfect straight line (a game you play on left stretches across plains!) a rather difficult task.

Juliaca downtown. I don't know why I was reminded of China.
 40km after that I was into Puno, with the lake in sight.

Puno and the lake Titicaca
 The city itself looks pretty bad. Maybe that's because I was in Cusco last night. Still, it seems like there isn't much wealth in this part of Peru, with bare bricks walls all over the town. According to Wikipedia, the city's economy is based on smuggling cheap goods from Bolivia. So not much room for urban landscaping, understandably.

Parked Bertha next to an escort of Beetles
One thing is great though here and that's the internet. I was able to upload photos and videos smoothly for the first time in Peru!

Now off to bed.
Tomorrow, crossing to Bolivia!

Cheers everyone,

1 comment:

  1. Guillaume - it was great to run into you on our way to Machu Picchu. It looks like your ride towards Bolivia was beautiful (excellent photos!). We hope to run into you again after we drop into Arequipa and Colca Canyon. Keep us posted on how the gas and miner situation treats you...

    Take care,
    Mike & Jill