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Thursday, October 20, 2011

A LAKE, A CAR RALLY & MORE MOUNTAINS

After returning from Machu Picchu we were feeling too ruined out to explore the Ollantaytambo ruins, so we head back to Cusco via a back road. Gorgeous rural scenery and a glorious camp spot beside a lake. At Cusco we are trying to find the Overland Vehicle Workshop to change the oil, oil filter, diesel filter, air filter and grease and adjust brakes. We also need an auto electrician, but it is Saturday night, so we stay at the repair shop until Monday morning, filling in Sunday by walking into town.
On Monday we get our front headlights fixed, reversing camera screen replaced, inside lights fixed and the electral faults cleared.
On the road again. Our campsite for the night is at a mere 3394m at the Tipon Inca Site. We spend a few "breathless" hours exploring this amazing site that is covered with waterways. Our next stops are at a huge viaduct called Rumiqolca, and another ancient site called Racqchi, with 2 sory buildings & round dome huts. We finally reach the Abra La Raya (highest point) at 4312m and both GR2 & I, am feeling it. We finally stop for the night right at 4005m right behind Bram & Anok - the Dutch couple we met at Camping Quinta Lala in Cusco. They are travelling in their landrover from their home in the Netherlands to Ushuaia in Argentina. You can check out their website on: www.ultrecht2ushuaia.nl
John chats while I crwal into bed, feeling very sorry for myself. The next morning we decide to travel together to Lago Titicaca and then on to watch the Andean Car Rally.
We head off to a lovely penisula on the lake. Our overnight camp is right on the lake beside an old village with concrete bottomed houses (the rest is mudbrick) because the water rises here. Then we follow the peninsula to Ccotas for a swim in Lago Titicaca - no tourists.
Next destination is Lampa (Pink City) to watch the Andean Car Rally. We find a great spot to camp right beside the river and on a bend in the road, making it a perfect spot to watch the cars going past. We spend the day watching cars. We are trapped here, but that doesn't stop the locals arriving on motorbikes & in cars. After the rally we retrace our steps to Julica, stopping for groceries, and then heading to Sillustani to see the funeary towers (chullpa). We camp in the carpark & manage a fire on the dirt beside the carpark. The next morning we explore the site and head back to the main road stopping at one of the many cottage complexes to get shown around by a local family. See their kitchen, bedroom, guinea pig house & pig house. Even try some of their food, and buy some cheese.
Then on to Puno - a large city sloping down to the lago. Bram & Anok have been there before, so they head off to the internet, while we go on a very touristy tour of the lake to visit some of the reed islands. It is one of those must do touristy things with lots of reed boats & huts & 100's of souveniers for sale.
By the time we leave, get fuel & find the next town it is dark. After trying to manover around town, and finding the plaza closed off, we stop right on a tiny plaza for the night. Tomorrow we cross into Bolivia.
We plan an early start as the border closes for lunch. We arrive bright and early, and in no time at all we have exited Peru - then we drive to the gates of Bolivia & discover that a procession is just starting & we will have to wait. To start with it is all great fun, but after 2 hours the speeches get a bit tedious. Finally we can drive through, but have to wait for all the other vehicles who are now jostling to get through first. No line ups here. After 20min we are stamped into Bolivia and through the gates just before lunch break. We are now heading to Copacabana for the Sunday blessing of the cars. We line up with all the other cars for the very serious business of blessing our cars. We even buy decorations to make us look the part, and finally the priest comes around and prays for each car & slpashes them & the owners with holy water. Amidst petal throwing, champagne soaking and firecrackers popping all the cars are blessed.
I don't think GR2 was sufficently blessed, because as we leave town to camp on the beach, there is a loud twang and one of our front springs brakes. So John & Bram do a few running repairs and we limp to the local soccer field to camp. Even lighting a fire in the middle of the field. The next day we spend 5 hours at the repair shop getting the spring welded at the cost of $50. Finally we are off again & drive over a very mountaineous spit beside the lake - gorgeous views - to then cross the lake on a ferry. Each vehicle has it's own barge run by a 50hp outboard motor. A fun way to end the day.
Next destination is La Paz - a massive city set below the calderia rim. Bram & Anok have heard that we can camp at the airport, so after stopping at another workshop to get 2 new front springs installed (supplied & fitted for $110)we head there. It is a great spot. It only costs 50 cents to park, it is secure & flat, has free Wifi and the bus only costs 20 cents into the city. We head into town for dinner and then again the next day to explore. Again a fun day had by all.
Time to leave the city and head towards Cochabamba. Bram & Anok want to go to a Landrover workshop there, and we are wanting to head down in altitude, and then head to Paraguay.
We have been amazed how good the roads in Bolivia have been so far. We have loved the mountain scenery & the low cost of everything.

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