Mai Perso - Travel adventures

Cusco and the Sacred Valley – Day 2

January 31, 2012
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The group was a team by now. For Safta and myself it was great since another couple was riding two up and some of the people we enjoy riding with most, where with us on this biking adventure through the Andean mountain range.
The trip to Cusco took us around the Sacred Valley, an agricultural testing ground of the Incas and the salt pools of Moray. It felt good being on the bike again. I like hiking but having a hundred HP taking you around this magical landscape, is un comparable experience. The scenery, weather, temperature and company were all perfect.ancient cultures mixing with people who are moving. slowly to the 21st century. Still working the
And with animals and wooden plows, eating ancient verticals of potatoes and drinking Chicha, a fermented corn potion.
We did about 300km that day, had a fun dirt road with a few water crossings, some gravel, long packed dirt and windy paved roads. We passed through villages with bulls blocking our way, cut slowly through herds of sheep and goats and were greeted by small chubby local matriarchs with white top hats and colorful robes made of Lama or Alpaca wool. It was the perfect way to get warmed up. A bit of everything, and once again accompanied with stunning views and dramatic sky’s. It actually looked like those cheesy posters of the Peruvian ministry of tourism.
We stopped for lunch in a local restaurant. A mother with a 9 month old baby on her back, served us a pork stew with steamed corn on the cob and sweet purple onion and fresh mint leaves (Naana) salad. The meat was a bit dry but the whole meal tasted fantastic. We were hungry and it all fit well together. nacho introduced us to Inca Cola, a local favorite that looks toxic with a fluorescent color and tons of sugar. Three 6-8 year olds were playing naked in a little stream at the back of the restaurant, chasing a miserable family pet duck, spraying it with water from empty Coke bottles. The smell of the mint, the water, the stew and the wood fire it was cooking on was the memory of the lunch. The blaring soap opera playing on an old TV in the corner, completed the scenery. Life is good! Actually, life is great. Like rolled into Cusco late afternoon and found our way to the hotel, am old colonial house turned modern charming hotel. Greeted by a friendly staff we went to our rooms and changed. Everybody was planning on going to check out the center of Cusco but by the time I was out of the room, a drizzle was washing the streets of town and the warm bed and an afternoon nap was very attractive. The ride, the impressions, fresh thin air and the events leading to the trip all brought us all to the same conclusion.
Later afternoon, I made my way to the city center. I wasn’t in love with Cusco. It is restored and in a beautiful condition.
Packed with tourists, Israeli advertisements for Showarma grills and trips on ATVs, and Thai Girls promoting massageS with happy endings…
A well trained 10 year old girl named Sara was harassing me and managed to sell me a local straw doll that was probably imported from China. I took the mandatory panoramic photos, checked the box on Cusco and strolled through the small ally’s back to the hotel.


Lima, Peru Day -1

January 24, 2012
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Lima took us by surprise. We checked into the Westin, welcomed as usual with a very friendly local staff. Nacho and Dario “Abuelito”, met us in the lobby for review of the logistics and an innogural round of Pisco Sours.
An hour later we took off joined by Paula, an Argentinian friend of Nacho who lives in Lima.
Like the dumb traveler I can sometimes be (read my “Camels in Japan” blog post for reference), I expected Lima to be a third word town like many we have seen in Chile, Ecuador and other countries in South America. The town instead was more like Buenos Aires. Strewn with glorious Spanish architecture, mixed with modern and well maintained modern buildings and well invested infrastructure. You could definitely see that parts of this emended city suffer poorer lot, but we made our way from great restaurant to a better club to a great late night bar.
Walked down to a path overlooking the beach and mingled with a young cosmopolitan crowed.
The food was a combination of Peruvian and Asian cuisine.
The two highlights were “La Mar” the local lunch establishment owned by Peru’s own, world renowned Chef Gaston Acurio. The second is Ayahuasca, a Spanish villa turned Bar / Club. We had a blast and enjoyed every minute of it.
Drinking Piscos and chatting and finally made it back to the heavenly bed at 3am.




January 23, 2012
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Cusco brings back old memories

January 23, 2012
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Being harassed by Sara, a 10 year old girl in tha main plaza in Cusco and ended buying a peruvian doll of a woman carrying a baby. Bright orange colors. Michi will like her. Got some friendship bracelet to go with it. Cusco reminds me of my Dad. He visited Peru ages ago and held a Slides evening to show and tell us about Machu Picchu and Cusco.
We got on the bikes this morning after a great day in Machu Picchu yesterday. The trip is amazing even though the tempo is slower then we usually do. We have all been tired and ate happy with some time for leisurely sightseeing. The ride this morning was great. Twisters, dirt, puddles and a tame water crossing and a visit to an Inca agricultural site with circular terraces, followed. Y a natural Salt production valley.
I let myself get lost in Cusco but started heading back to the hotel since the temperature is dropping rapidly since the sun set. It’s probably mid 20s now. I can’t claim I have seen the town bit fro
Wandering around for a couple of hours, it does not get on my favorite list. Very touristic and signs in Hebrew every three stores. Muchileros… We will be leaving here tomorrow morning and I doubt that I’ll be back here anytime soon. Curious to hear the verdict of the group.

Getting the Tzchachkes

January 16, 2012
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MaiPerso Adventure to Machu PicchuFinishing touch on the giveaways and finally getting ready to pack our own gear. We have been stacking the Warm / Cold riding gear and under armor layers, the GPS is ready and loaded and so is the SPOT, first aid kit, bike repairs, iPod, iPad, MackBook and other Apple gadgets we can no longer do with out. There Contour Helmet Cam that this time around is expected to capture action in the making, additional external hard drive and that’s a wrap for electronics. Bug replant, Sun screen and tylanol seal the list. Getting on the plain to Lima tomorrow evening. Starting to count down in hours not days. That’s when you know it’s really close.

Back on the saddle

January 14, 2012
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A quick post while waiting for Michael at Hog & Rocks in SF. Coming back to work after new year’s break was painful. The prep for the trip has consumed whatever free time we had. I can’t wait to get back together with the team. This time the focus will be equally devided between the fun of the group and the terrain. I hope the two will work together as I am planning on going on many more adventures with this crew.
We are so focused on getting the trip done well that we just realized we have not started packing our own gear.
Mentally I am ready, relaxed and shutting off work and everyday routine. Physically, adrenaline is building up. It’s no different then dozens of adventures we have done in the past. Excitement always builds up as you start counting down days and hours. Four more days to departure and the time is flying by.

Travel adventures …

January 3, 2012
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A fellow traveler is getting emotionally read for the Machu Picchu adventure…

Say what?

January 2, 2012
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Pachacuti had two sons. His hair apparent was called Tupac. Yes like the rapper Tupac . Who knew…

Pachacuti the Machu Picchu Mayan Emperor

January 2, 2012
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“I was born as a lily in the garden, and like the lily I grew, as my age advanced / I became old and had to die, and so I withered and died.”
This poem was attributed to Pachacuti, the Mayan emperor who has built Machu Picchu

Adventure foreplay

December 22, 2011
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The excitement is building up with me and the team, towards the upcoming trip to the Andes.

It’s the first time for me, traveling almost exclusively at high altitude, ranging between 12k and 17k ft. There will be little adjustment time. We will get on the bikes the day after we land and be on our way. The only buffer is that we can decide how rough we want to do the first few days, as there are alternative paved or hard surface dirt roads we can take.

We have also set ourselves the goal of using as much as possible local facilities and avoiding Western chains. This in order to soak the local culture and experience the adventure through the eyes of the local folks. We tend to naturally do it when we travel just the two of us or with the kids, but be less conscious of it when traveling with a larger group.

We are now 28 days from meeting with the group in Lima Peru. The local support crew will be there a couple of days early, to pick up the bikes from the Lima BMW dealer, where they will be serviced and prepared for our trip.

The group is a known entity. We have traveled together before and know each other’s quirkiness and greatness. That surely takes some of the uncertainty away. You know it’s a team you can count on, have fun with, and have them on your memory photos to prove it.

Issa is taking care of the GPS maps for the group, we are working on some funky tchotchkes (or whichever way you spell it…) for the team and starting to gather our own gear. Electronics for us and the team, riding gear, SPOT, GPS, Clothes, 5hr energy shots, insurance, visas….

I love that phase. Reading about the destination, anticipating the views, smells, challenges and making mental notes of all the plan B, C, and D for any possible scenario we may encounter.

I’ve been there dozens of times before, and it still gets my adrenaline pumping into the system.

28 days and counting…Image

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