Day 78 – La Joya to Puno Peru

Pulled out of the hotel and around the corner to the restaurant where I got the food last night. Only problem? Unlike last night, this morning there were freaking flies everywhere. Didn’t realize this until we were sat and ordered though… so we endured. Fortunately we’d stumbled across the name of a breakfast meal that involves eggs: a cubana. Dachary ordered it at lunch one day thinking it was going to be a Cuban (the sandwich) but it’s two fried eggs over rice, with fried plantains. This morning the plantains were probably actually bananas, and they were just warm, not really fried, so it turned out Dachary didn’t mind them. Unfortunately, she didn’t have much appetite, and the flies weren’t helping. We both kind-of regretted stopping, but my tummy did not.

I’ve been fighting off diarrhea with occasional painful stomach twangs, and I think the rice helped a little.

(Dachary’s note: after like an hour of riding, we make it into Arequipa. Turns out it’s a good thing we didn’t make it here last night, as this town is FREAKING HUGE. It’s the biggest town I’ve seen in Peru outside of Lima. We would not have enjoyed navigating it in the dark last night trying to find a hotel or hostel with parking for the bikes. We do stop and get gas when we find a gas station that has 95 octane, and we both use the bathroom – we’re both having tummy troubles with diarrhea. So we take some immodium and set off again.

A few wrong turns, stop to ask a cop for directions, spot a sign pointing to the town we want, and we end up on a road that’s not on Kay’s GPS. But my map indicates that it’s the main paved route between Arequipa and Puno. Along the way, we spot a couple of adventure riders heading in the opposite direction, but we’re riding uphill in heavy traffic going like 10KPH which requires heavy concentration with endless clutch/brake, so we can’t even wave, let alone stop and try to talk to them. Bummer.)

On we go, up into the mountains. It’s starting to get chilly. There’s a drip here and there. Doesn’t seem like it’s actually going to rain but neither of us will mind the extra warmth of having the rain liners in, or the pee break. There’s a big bush we could stand behind and put rain liners in our pants too but I figure it’s probably overkill. I think Dachary felt the same.

Putting on the rain liners

Up, up, up, over four thousand meters up into the clouds. Literally. We’ve been rained on, and now we can’t see jack shit. The fog/cloud cover is so thick that we can barely see each other or the road. Soon, there’s a break in the rain, and we’re both really chilled. We find a big pull-off on the right, decide that by the time anyone is close enough to see anything they’ll be gone into the mist three seconds later, so it’s about as good as it’s going to get for privacy to take off our pants and put on those rain liners too. While we’re there the cloud blows away and we find ourselves in a gorgeous plain.

In the middle of a cloud

In the middle of a cloud

We decide to take the altitude sickness pills, because Dachary is feeling dizzy and extremely short of breath just from putting in the pants liners. She was wobbling on the way back to the bike from coming up a small embankment from a pee. We grab the pills and, oh lets see… dizziness, drowsiness, queeziness… wonderful. These pills have the potential to give us all the symptoms we’re taking them to avoid. Thinking it a bad idea to roll those dice just before getting onto the bikes we put them away to try in the evening.

While i’m digging in that pannier I decide to swap to my Held Warm-n-Dry gloves, because even with the heated grips my fingertips have been cold. The second my hand slides into them I feel 100 times better. So nice…

Dachary’s not doing so well though. We’re being careful to make sure she takes it really easy, but she lost a lot of body heat and energy whilst standing in a cloud putting in the pants liners. I lost some energy, but I definitely gained heat. She requests that we stop at the next decent looking restaurant. It’s lunch time anyways and I can’t agree more. I’m hoping for some soup, which they try and give us every meal, and we so rarely want in the heat.

But first. Hail! Vicious little high-velocity hail stones. We were both yelling “ow!… ow!” over the headsets. It was hurting me enough that I was convinced if they were any bigger than the bb’s they were I would have been covered in bruises, and the BMW fabric is about twice as thick as the Rev’It so Dachary was feeling it even more. When it swaps to heavy rain Dachary comments “I never thought getting rained on would be such a relief.”

Soon the rain passes too and we find a restaurant and pull in. The waitress is wearing about four layers, including a winter coat. We get soup. It’s awesome. We get fish. It’s not. We weren’t quite sure what we were getting for the main course. She never mentioned “pescado” and used lots of new words to us. We just asked her to give us whichever option she recommended. It actually wasn’t bad, but Dachary’s not fish fan, and neither of us were in the mood for it. Plus the rice was weird. But, it was warming. Dachary didn’t eat her fish or rice, just the soup. So that makes two meals today she didn’t finish (she didn’t finish breakfast) and that’s probable contributing to her chill and dizziness/weakness.

Heading back out from lunch, we grabbed our electrics. We’re at 4,500 meters at this point and even though it’s technically summer it is cold. Her Gerbing is still acting up, but my Aerostitch is still working, and the fleece side is doing double duty and keeping me warmer even when it’s off. Still don’t like it, but even if it did break it’d be useful.

Only a smidge more rain, and I’m practically falling asleep on the bike. Whenever I pull my left hand off the handlebars I feel pins and needles all up and down the arm. It’s not from pinched blood supply. As far as I can tell, it’s the altitude. It’s not affecting me nearly as much as Dachary, but it’s definitely having an effect and I’m noticing that things are taking more effort whenever we’re off the bike. When I ride I’m focusing on filling my lungs with deep constant breaths.

At one point Dachary says “Are those snow capped mountains behind us?” to which I respond “Holy shit!”

The Andes

Llama herder

Dachary’s getting chilled, but we’re closing in on Puno. Before we get there though we go through Juliaca and discover that they only seem to have 84 Gasohol. We should be able to make it to Puno…. We do! We head for downtown looking for a place to stay and find one, but nowhere to put the bikes. I didn’t think he’d have one but i went in mostly to get directions to somewhere else that would. He directs me around the corner. It’s a nice looking place, but there’s a padlock on the door. The man from the first place shows up whilst I’m pondering why a hotel would be padlocked. He directs me to it’s sister hotel. I thank him, put on my helmet, and while I’m making a U-turn a guy walks up and starts removing the padlock. “o…k…” I go talk to him. He tells me yes, go to the one down the street a few blocks. That we should follow him. Then he puts the padlock back on. So confused…

We follow. We get to a street with hotels but he’s disappeared. Did he mean one of these? Where did he go? He’s jogged like 5 blocks leading us here so we want to give his hotel a shot. He deserves it. But he’s gone. Just as we’re about to check out one of the ones here he figures out how we got confused by his directions, finds us, and leads us to his hotel.

Not bad, very secure parking. Typical price for a big city, and, unexpectedly, internet! There are claims of hot water… there were claims last night too….

Dachary is freezing. Undresses, and hops under the covers until she’s warm. I start the photos uploading.

She warms up a bit and we wander out for food. Find a place called Pizza and Pasta just off the town square. They have a wood fired stove. It’s made the front room sooooooo warm and cozy. I get a medium pizza (small). Dachary gets Lasagna. They put tomato sauce on the pizza! Jackpot! Food comes. We both decide that it has the appropriate component parts, and isn’t how we’d make it, but we don’t mind it either. By the end we’ve both decided that there’s something odd about the flavor and while it was a nice reminder of home, we don’t want to finish either of our dishes. But we’ve enjoyed sitting in a warm room, and eating familiar food, so we’re happy when we head back to the hotel.

So, if you’re in Puno, and craving a warm room, in a nice restaurant, with decent food. Go to the square and look down the side streets for a wooden sign with gold lettering that says “Pizza & Pasta”. If nothing else, you’ll be warm. ;)

Don’t order the chocolate cake though. It’s very dry.

About Kay

An old-school geek, addicted to travel, with a love of programming, writing, Esperanto, and starting businesses. -- @masukomi on Twitter.

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