Fallin’ in Love With Peru: 20,000km and Counting

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This past week of cycling has been awful. We have been riding along the nicely paved, often shoulder-less highway which is a far cry from the quiet rough country roads we are use to. Nevertheless, from within a kilometer of crossing the border into Peru, we noticed how much more outgoing and smiley the people here are, something we have really enjoyed. We had plenty of children and adults alike waving to us, or asking us where we were going, and whenever we asked a local for water or directions, they gave it to us with a huge grin and a wish of good luck.

We stumbled upon this little festival going on in one of the small towns we ate lunch in, and we quite enjoyed watching these cute children dance all afternoon! It also gave me an excuse to take pictures without making anyone feel uncomfortable.

These little bags (the piece of cloth is always this color) is what all of the women wear here.

These little bags (the piece of cloth is always this color) is what all of the women wear here.

Typical Andean ladies: the hat, the cloth bag, the long braids, and the colorful pleated skirts. In everywhere except the largest cities, this is how the women always dress.

Typical Andean ladies: the hat, the cloth bag, the long braids, and the colorful pleated skirts. In everywhere except the largest cities, this is how the women always dress.

Another example of topically dressed Andean women.

Another example of topically dressed Andean women.

Hats, lots and lots of hats!

Hats, lots and lots of hats!

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This altiplano was much more fertile than the one we rode across in Bolivia, meaning that we saw all kinds of animals – sheep, cows, donkeys, horses and llamas – as well as agriculture. Interestingly enough we saw bags of potatoes in every (dirty!) water source we passed, as well as thousands of potatoes drying on tarps in every unused space. This area was also extremely populated with people, houses, and fields, which was very different than the much more rural and sparsely uninhabited areas we have been through in most of South America.

Though it was populated and people saw us camping, no one bothered us at all. Once again, I felt safer camping here in the open than I would in the USA.

Though it was populated and people saw us camping, no one bothered us at all. Once again, I felt safer camping here in the open than I would in the USA.

Some locals - our neighbors since we camped in a nearby field - eating breakfast.

Some locals – our neighbors since we camped in a nearby field – eating breakfast.

A typical mud-brick house.

A typical mud-brick house.

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We saw a bunch of locals making cord one day as well.

Bad lighting, but I feel like a bunch of people making cord in the middle of a field is a once in a lifetime sort of thing to see!

Bad lighting, but I feel like a bunch of people making cord in the middle of a field is a once in a lifetime sort of thing to see!

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The device which spun all the small cords together into one.

The device which spun all the small cords together into one.

Along this route I also hit 20,000km, right in time for my two year anniversary on the road!!

20,000km! Over 70% of which have been on unpaved roads.

20,000km! Over 70% of which have been on unpaved roads.

A few more fun cultural photos, from walking bags of hay, to laundry day.

Laundry day! There were over a dozen people doing their laundry as we passed, with clothing, potatoes, and dead animal skins drying in the sun all around.

Laundry day! There were over a dozen people doing their laundry as we passed, with clothing, potatoes, and dead animal skins drying in the sun all around.

We often see people carrying large bags of different things, in this case hay, on their shoulders.

We often see people carrying large bags of different things, in this case hay, on their shoulders.

Though there weren't any tuktuks in Bolivia, the second we crossed into Peru we saw them all over.

Though there weren’t any tuktuks in Bolivia, the second we crossed into Peru we saw them all over.

We have also seen many of these bikes, often more loaded than ours, pedaling around cities.

We have also seen many of these bikes, often more loaded than ours, pedaling around cities.

The signs here sometimes exaggerate the steepness of hills..

The signs here sometimes exaggerate the steepness of hills..

This nicely paved highway brought us to Cusco, the most touristic town in Peru because of its proximity to Machu Picchu. On my last trip, I did visit the famous site simply because I felt pressured by all of the other tourists who were doing it too, and though it is a neat set of ruins with a fascinating history, it was far from the highlight of my trip. In fact, it didn’t even make it onto the top ten things I saw or experienced – and that was during my boring trip without the bike – and still to this day I find it prettier in pictures than in real life. In reality, there are thousands of other people all around you making noise and taking pictures, and in my opinion, turning it into a sort of adult-amusement-park money making tourist attraction.

Macchu Picchu, Peru - I took this photo on my last trip here in 2011.

Macchu Picchu, Peru – I took this photo on my last trip here in 2011.

So this time around, Kevin and I decided to skip the hassle of getting there and instead spent a few days in Cusco preparing for Peru by sleeping, eating, and sorting our stuff since we won’t be able to take it all with us when we begin the Peruvian Great Divide (more about that in the next post). We stayed at a hostel known by us cyclists as the place to go in Cusco, so we spent the week with other two-wheelers – many of whom also skipped the main attraction – talking, cooking, and swapping stories which made for a very enjoyable break. And though some of you may be disappointed that we missed this “National Geographic” type of monument, don’t worry as we will be passing through other similar ruins which aren’t at all touristic throughout the next sections of our route; ruins which we will be happy to examine at our own pace, without another soul in sight.

For a photo of the day and other updates follow me on facebook here, and for some awkwardly cropped photos from our journey, follow us on Instagram @awanderingphoto!

6 thoughts on “Fallin’ in Love With Peru: 20,000km and Counting

  1. Shirine,
    Your photos are stunning and your adventure is truly inspirational! I have really enjoyed following your travels and admire your stamina and bravery.
    From,
    A fellow SEHS grad also doing her best to escape the rat race and enjoy the world

  2. Loved Peru and your pictures. Hope you are loving it too? i agree, the people are VERY friendly.
    I have recently started my own blog about travel and running. I hope you get a chance to visit sometime. The next 5 posts are about Peru. In the meantime, I’ll keep looking for your Peru posts!
    https://travelrunstyle.wordpress.com/

  3. 20 k in 2 years on a bike is simply awesome! I loved looking at the pictures and reading your snippet on Peru. I have always dreamt of doing something like this but have not been able to.
    Best regards!

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