Lone Ranger Day (Riding to Cuzco)

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October 17th 2009
Published: October 17th 2009
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The trucks backfiring, people smashing their way into the hotel and varied explosions made their way into my drowsing head, keeping it on yellow alert most of the night in case the maniacs outside made it into my room. I was in a lucid state of slumber or lost in a foggy semi-conscious mental ambulation, but the point is I was both sleep- and wakefulness- deprived all night. I have a few memories of ugly dreams and one of it occurring to me that with all the hubub my Baby might not be safe. She was calling out to me through the dream world.
...and, in a Kieth Richards "satisfaction" kind of way i woke up and wrote the following down:

So if Cusco is the navel of the world then I suppose Canada would be the hair, making the world a - however unlikely - platinum blond. That would make the US the eyes and nose. That works and explains a lot. I suppose her eyes are far to busy admiring themselves to notice that the nose spends far too much time in other peoples business. I guess then Mexicos the mouth, with puckery plump red lips but

A nice little town...
bad breath from too many tacos and cervezas. I seemed to have gotten lost there and wound up being swallowed, tumbling down the throat that is Central America but somehow managed to be coughed up onto her breasts; Columbia. And perfect though they are... no they are not fake, despite the reputation Columbian girls have around here. No no, they weren't bought, but you're still going to have to pay for them - its Columbia. So then Ecuadors the rib cage which, for some reason, is wounded and bleeding. Peru is thus the abdomen, which brings me to Cusco - its navel. I suppose then, the Incas were right and Lake Titicaca must be the worlds vagina. Does that make Bolivia the asshole of the world? Considering what Ive heard about the availability of Japanese motorcycle parts, probably. That leaves Argentina and Chile as her sexy, voluptuous legs and Brazil as her big bubbly rump (the Guyanas are just hemeroids). Ushuaia is but the tip of the toenail. I hope she doesn't decide to treat herself to a pedicure before i get there or else i might fall off the end of the world when i get down there...
Dawn breaks over PuquioDawn breaks over PuquioDawn breaks over Puquio

The SOB was already out the door.

I woke up before my alarm at 6am and got dressed unwilling to face a frigid shower, thus lingering in a state of semi-wakefulness. First mistake. By 6:15 or so I was in baby's room, another dormitory of the hotel which fronted onto the street, allowing her to enter. She was safe and sound by my initial perusal. I decided to wait for the restaurant below to open for a trout and potatoes breakfast (which ended up as chicken soup - again) so I set about finally fixing my right turn signal short. It took longer than expected and I wasn't packing everything up until after 7:30. (Those were mistakes two three and four). So when I noticed that my new spare tire was gone, it was probably already much too late. Awww Baby. Thats what you were so upset about, they stole your new shoe! Don worry. Ill get it back. A few strong words with the son of the owners - his folks were already out working in the fields - won me my money back for the room and the name of the man staying in Baby's. then I made chase.

So there I
High AltiplanoHigh AltiplanoHigh Altiplano

It might be hard to tell from the photo but this was a very big, spectacular place. Near 4560m
was ranging over the Peruvian Altiplano pampa at full speed through the thin air chasing down someone named Abel Huaman Conza. "Abel! Good son my arse - Ill chase the bastard all the way to Cusco if I have to!" Despite my years spent in Alberta, Argentina and Texas and owning the boots, Ive never felt much like a cowboy. But this morning I thought I was the fucking Lone Ranger.

Ok, you are confused. The deal was that in the night a swarm of truck drivers and general miscreants swarmed on my hotel looking for a place to crash for a few hours. Having been woken several times in her dozy state, the kind old Doña failed to notice that she was renting out a room that was already occupied. Or she thought that my motorbike wouldn't mind sharing the room with a couple of scoundrels. Although they arrived around midnight, they were up and out the door by six - with my tire. All I had to begin my search was the name, drivers license number, and desitnation of one of the assailants. In decent country, you'd think that would be enough, but this is the Altiplano.
Llamas munching on the hillside.Llamas munching on the hillside.Llamas munching on the hillside.

I was stopped by roadwork just below.
Still the bugger could only run - theres no where to hide on Ruta 26. And baby and I can run faster. So we did. Mistake 5. I should have asked the police in town to radio ahead and keep an eye out for the bugger. Of course, making use of the blockades placed all over Perus highways rather than avoid them like the chupacabre (for fear of being spotted speeding by them) didn't occur to me until I had left Poquio. My initial plan was this: do a flyby inspection of every vehicle on the road until I managed to SPOT my spare tire or a guilty face in one of them. Then get it back. Hey, Im the lone friggin ranger alright, these things are supposed to work out for guys like us.

As it is, I burned through some of the most spectacular scenery of the whole trip - and a few extra micrometers of my tire - whilst neglecting to oil and thus frying my already ailing chain. At one point I had a reality check, stopped, oiled it, but then put Bloc Party on the box and kept raging on. And for what? To

Baby's pissed, she know's as well as I that her new tire was down there somewhere.
bring smiles to the faces of several of Perus finest by asking them to look out for Abel and my tire? Well, at least the trap has been set so all I have to do now is sit back and wait next to my email inbox for the PERUVIAN POLICE to send me an email and tell me that they've apprehended Mr Conza and I can pick up my expensive tire whenever Id like. Right. The Lone Ranger is a chump.

But despite missing out on a few great photo ops (and involuntarily stopping for others due to roadwork), I still had a blast. And by the time I reached Abancay, the first major city and crossroads en route to Cusco, I knew Baby was not getting her shoe back. So for the next 380 or so km I took her easy(er) and went back to business as usual - worrying only about getting to my chosen destination before dark. The road continued to climb and descend by the kilometer and I continued to ride with a goofy open-mouthed grin on under my tough-looking bandanna. And when I say climb and descend by the kilometer I mean vertical. I'd
Abancay to CuzcoAbancay to CuzcoAbancay to Cuzco

Just after cresting another 4000 meter pass...
estimate from the turquoise waters of the Abancay river, to which Ruta 26 is contoured after descending from the highest point of the traverse at about 4400m, there was another 2000m climb past Abancay and out to the road leading to cusco, which again dropped to a canyon and back up to 4000m. the temperature, foliage and blood pressure changes were staggering. Or at least they would have been if I weren't the lone ranger today.

In the final approach I was headed dead into a storm, which hung over the pampa (grasslands) between the last mountain pass and Cusco. I really didn't want to know what a storm meant at this elevation, but even that wouldn't keep me from getting to Cusco today. So I stopped, battened down what hatches I have (donned rain gear) and, as is always the case, felt little more than a few drops of rain before my arrival in a relatively warm, totally dry Cusco, looking like i was showing up for some MC Hammer dance revival. But I did realize that all those useless stops with the cops had one positive function. They delayed me enough not to be riding through a
The redonculous Nevado SalcantayThe redonculous Nevado SalcantayThe redonculous Nevado Salcantay

(Middle left) It was almost 4000 meters from the peak to the Apurimac river below (out of view).
hail storm at 3700m, When i first saw it, the countryside appeared to be as caked in snow as the distant peaks, but i soon realized they'd just been layered with hail 30km south of Cusco. That would have been interesting, painful, but interesting.

When I pulled into town, despite getting badly lost and almost leaving again, I was - indeed still am, high in spirits. IM IN CUZCO! Holy eff. I can get past it. Cuz-friggen-co. Crickey...

Anyway, don send me too much email, I want have the servers free for when the cops email me about my tire. oh, that's right, nobody's reading this anyway.

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The Navel of the World

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