We spent 5 days with Toby in Huánuco. During that time Heinz had worked on the bikes, he had ordered a new (Heidenau) tire from Touratech in Lima, which finally arrived on the second day. Toby runs a motorcycle touring business and also is partial owner of a bike shop together with Jaime, a Peruvian fellow. This shop is a couple of doors down the street from Toby’s apartment. That came in very handy for Heinz’ work.
On the second day when Heinz and I went out for dinner, a part of one of Heinz’ tooth broke off, so the next day we went downtown to see a local dentist, who Toby had recommended. Without any appointment Heinz was taken right in and got a temporary fix, which hopefully will last until we get home next year!
On Wednesday we experienced an earthquake while sitting in Toby’s living room talking. It lasted a couple of minutes and we were seriously thinking about going outside. Apparently there had been an earthquake at 7.5 Richter scale very deep in the earth at the border of Peru/Brazil. Thank God nobody was hurt and no damage was done. We met for dinner with my old friend Gaby, who I got to know 8 years ago, when I went to Lima on a medical mission with a bunch of nurses from Canada. She was our translator and we stayed in contact after that. I was very thrilled to see her again. We also got to meet her boyfriend Markus, who is a German fellow from Bavaria and Gaby’s Peruvian friend Diana. We had a great dinner together, talked and laughed a lot. Gaby is very skilled with languages, speaks Spanish, English, German and Mandarin. Unfortunately we couldn’t spend more time with them. We had to move on and Gaby was busy with her work at a language center.
Thursday Heinz and I drove to the car wash of one of the Malls in Huánuco and had our bikes cleaned. (First time after Dawson City, Yukon…oh my!!) We took a stroll through the mall, Heinz bought an external hard drive, because we were running out of storage. There we were finally “hit” with some Christmas feeling. Just like in Canada, there were artificial trees, decorations and even the big chair for Santa Claus, ready for the photo sessions with the children. It was too early for Santa, too bad, because we were hoping to see him and have our picture taken with him and to send this to family and friends this year. Well, maybe we find him in Bolivia?
Anyway we stayed one more night at Toby’s place, met Ross from Liverpool, England, who arrived on his 250cc Honda Tornado that afternoon and also stayed at Toby’s for a couple of days. He was coming from the south, so we exchanged experiences, tips and ideas. By then Toby had left us his apartment, because he had to go to Lima.
Friday morning we left Huánuco for our next destination Cusco. From very comfortable temperatures (almost too hot…for Heinz!) to higher altitude and therefore cooler temperatures.
A little past Junín we stopped for lunch. Shortly after us, another “gringo” couple entered the restaurant. We started talking to Mick and Chris from Buckingham, England who were traveling in a Toyota Land cruiser (?) through South America down to Patagonia. They told us about a place called Hacienda del Florida where they were planning to stay overnight, and we decided to join them there. On the way to our new destination we came across a herd of Vicunas (imagine the ~ over the n!). We only found out later that they were called Vicunas (we thought they were Guanacos). They look like a smaller version of the Llamas cannot be domesticated and produce a very fine expensive wool.
So this hacienda was near a town called Tarma in a valley of the Rio Palca. Inge (German lady from Nuernberg) and her Peruvian husband had converted this Hacienda into a Hostel including a beautiful Restaurant. They are still farming (growing artichokes and beans) have various animals and a gorgeous garden, not just flowers but also vegetables. All salads (and jams) they serve in their restaurant are made freshly out of their garden. Mhm, we really enjoyed this, as well as a good bottle of red wine and an evening of chatting with our new British friends.
Next morning after exchanging e-mail addresses we left the beautiful Hacienda and our friends. They were planning to stay in Cochabamba, Bolivia over Christmas and invited us to join them. We will see where we are going to be at that time! The weather was beautiful, so back into the highlands with lower temperatures, through Huancayo we didn’t quite make it to Ayacucho, so stopped in Huanta. We checked into an almost new, very clean Hotel with all amenities for just about $16 Canadian (we payed $US 35 for a simple campground in California!!) We don’t find that every day!!
Still 2 more days to go to Cusco! So next day another ride through beautiful mountains, small villages and hardworking indigenous people. What a life they have, really makes us appreciate what we have! Next stop was Andahuaylas, a mid-sized town on the way to Cusco. It was Sunday and by now we noticed that most of the markets were on Sundays. So we strolled through their market, which I always find fascinating with an abundance of fruits and vegetables and all kinds of “stuff” from hardware to cleaning supplies, clothing and live animals. They don’t need Walmart or any kind of supermarket! It seemed like we were the only tourists, since we were looked at quite curiously!
From there on the highway got noticeably busier with lots of buses and trucks and we could tell that we were approaching a tourist town! The ride into Cusco at first was another eye-opener because of course the outskirts are very poor. Only if you come down into the valley the town becomes nicer (and richer!) and the old town is very colonial and beautiful. We found our Hostel Estrellita near the Plaza de Armas and…who would have known met the German couple (from Duisburg!) who we first met in Cajamarca. They checked into the same Hostel!
Next task: organising our trip to Machu Picchu! Still so much to see in Peru!