I descended out of Tinqui in a cold rain with a fever on my way to Cuzco. After a few hours of long descents and high rises I could see the fertile valley of the pampas thousands of feet below and prayed my brakes were going to land me safe and sound far below.
I climbed again up to about 14,000ft but this time it was clear, sunny, and dry. There were a group of road workers just after the summit as I began my way down who warned me to go slow and take it easy. I couldn´t believe how far down I was to fall before arriving in Urcos to start the traverse over to the ancient city of Cuzco. I had given my brake pads a quick glance the day prior and assumed they´d hold up.
As I descended I rode the bike like a motorcycle, looking through the hairpins to where I wanted to go, not where I was going. I wasn´t passed once by a car and had an easy time passing 18 wheelers as they crept their way down the slopes. When I finally arrived at the base in the town of Urcos I could take off all my cold weather clothes as it was down right hot in the valley.
After a few hours of riding and waiting out a thunderstorm in a gas station ( I wanted to stay dry since I wasn´t feeling well) I made my way through the miles of urban sprawl into the Plaza de Armas in the historic center of Cuzco. I sat in front of the cathredal until a tourist came up to talk to me. This was the first English speaking person I´d spoken to in person since getting on the plane in New York in September. He was British and had ridden his bike from Vancouver to San Diego before decided it was too dangerous to proceed further south via bike. I had him take a pic of my arrival.
As we conversed other tourists came up to have their picture taken with me and the bike. We both got a kick out of that. This city is crawling with sight seers from all over the world and rightly so. Cuzco is a very beautiful city with an incredible history dating back to the Incas. The city is a World Heritage Site and most of the visitors are here either coming or going to Machu Picchu as well.
There will be no Machu Picchu for me this time but I´ll be spending a few days here to recoup and re-gear for the next leg further across the Andes and down to Nazca in the desert. There are many more high passes left, including two around 15,000ft and a run along the altiplano at 14,000ft that will require me to camp most likely. I bought a used tent from one the of tour shops, a durable parka shell and pants in the market, and proper gloves. My jungle hammock, mosquito netting, and machete are fairly useless at this point and I wasn´t able to sell them to the tour operators either.
I´ve been asked to find some new Alpaca slippers for my woman so off I go to see if I can acquire a pair before I leave.