291212 BLOK (summary of being in S.A.)
What a time I've had in South America. So much has happened, I can't even remember when it began in Santiago, Chile.
I'd flown LAN from Auckland, N.Z., this after cycling from top north (Cape Reiga where the Maori souls depart the Island from a tree), and then cycling to bottom south, Carl and Invercargill. Six months.
It was a long 11-hour flight (Auck. to San.), too cramped, and too many people (they don't fly anymore without a full load -- money!)
I don't mean to get off the track here, but must every decision in the world be based on money?
I arrived Chile in the morning, having to do the custom's thing, scolded for something about filling out the form wrong, having my garlic and yoghurt taken from me. Then paying $140U.S. to get into…
Then the expensive ride into Centro, first glance of the poverty reminded me of Mexico.
The Atacama Hostel, wasn't great, but for the people. Cold showers, and a spin into 'terminal jet lag' -- but the room had a gas heater. The only time in my million-mile commercial flying career, where I arrive four hours before departing. My old body suffered. But, I cycled anyway, and recovered with the help of my homeopathic doctor, sister, Sally. 'Aurum metallica' para mi.
I also discovered the best salad in the world at 'El Arbor' Restaurant (means 'The Tree').
Bio Bio Market, south of Centro, covering hectores of land amazing! I went there three times.
And it was in Santiago I met Ann and Bob, Bob enlightening me about 'The Serpent of Light' (book). Thank you, Bob. What a night that was, trying to find their friend's place after dark…
However, the best part of Santiago, Chile to me, is the fact it's, in spite of the wicked motor traffic, a bicycle city (there's even bicycle lanes). And the best part of that was riding one night with 'Los Furiousos!' Amazing, as there was 3,000 of us, stretching out two kilometers, complete with mobile music and food. Of course, we held up traffic, scolding drivers for being so stupid as to drive an automobile. I shall never forget being a part of such a bicycle 'serpent.' GO LOS FURIOUSOS!
In Lima I rode with a similar group, but fewer, as it's not a bicycle city like Santiago.
La Paz, seems almost impossible for the traffic and hilly terrain. But, I'm going to try. If I survive I'll have t-shirts make: I SURVIVED RIDING A BICYCLE IN LA PAZ, BOLIVIA!
Of the probably 4,000KM, from Santiago to La Paz (via Lima), I probably rode only 1,000KM (fully loaded). From Santiago to La Serena, Chile, 500KM of that.
But, north, when Ruta Cinco becomes only two lanes, too dangerous, too boring, plowing through endless sand-hilled landscape, I opted for a bus.
Two months in San Pedro de Atacama, I cycled most days after changing to off-road tires. Maybe five hundred kilometers in nine weeks. I went 24KM up the hill east, over the pass. Coming down, however, so much wind in my face.
I cycled up to the muy grande open-pit copper mine, 20KM north of Calama.
I cycled around Arica, Chile, and of course Lima.
Lima as dangerous as Santiago.
Then, with Rucha, and our rental, east on Ruta Central, and up over a 4800Mt. pass within 120KM. And that first day the traffic out of, choking us with pollution so bad, when I finally hit the bed I was totally drained.
I tried the next , and lasting three days, before I had to unload to make it at all. And one day I think we only made 40KM.
I rode up Tichio Pass, but cycled down with Enrique and Daniel 'shooting' me riding (for their video). Crazy what I get involved with…
My best in the Andes, 70KM, up over a low pass 3200mts. ASL, but mostly down.
The next day going up, I made only 12KM before unloading and finally 'throwing in the towel' and riding in the KIA. And thank God, as this day, would have been a challenge with the best of circumstances. It seemed endlessly up, plus it, in the year of the 'Water Dragon.' I think what we did in the KIA that day, would have taken me something like three days cycling.
This stretch of highway, mostly #3, has some of the most spectacular mountain vistas I've ever seen, rivaling Sichuan and Tibet, China. The Andes are different than any mountain range I've experienced before. Something magical (I think the green patina). Of course, 600 years ago this was Inca territory.
Jose was with us from Lima, then diverted, then met up with us for the ride into Cusco. Here Jose knew of a Hostel near the Plaza, Jose knew about. He stayed in the more 'hip' 'Backpackers Something.' There was a good restaurant half-way down to the Plaza.
I met Howard (Levine) and Zilke. They had taken delivery on my vitamin package from Rajesh. Note, getting packages when you have no permanent address dicey!
We took them to dinner, and then ate lunch at their house several days later. Besides Zilke's wonderful food, we learned from Howard about the 'San Pedro experience.'
Through all of this the 'Honeymoon' continued with such pleasure as beyond describing (in English words). And even this morning, WOW, WOW, AND MORE WOW!
Somehow Jose ended up with my sleeping bag, we on to Puno, he staying to catch a flight to Lima, and ultimately home for the holidays in Madrid, Spain.
Puno, was for too long, but adjusting to the elevation, 3800Mts. ASL. Everyday Rucha and I sucked up oxygen at a local Clinic. I had my thyroid checked out (feeling too cold). The blood test came back 'normal.'
We got stronger. One day I hiked up to the giant condor sculpture, 200mts. with a view of Puno and Lake Titicaca.
There were many good restaurants in Puno, each day Rucho and I having lunch and dinner.
Finally, we got my sleeping back deliver from Lima, via DHL.
With time running out (to 122112, 'HANDS ACROSS THE WORLD!') We drove on to Desahuadero (border), with a stop to make an offering at the 'Fertility Garden' (ancient stone penises). I had tried to cycle there one day prior, but missed and went too far, ending up cranking 60KM in one day (next to Lake Titicaca). This day, however, I asked Pachamama (mother earth) for good favor, touching the 'Serpent of Light' to every 'penis.'
Tantric Taoism (our Pilgrimage), is all about procreating/giving birth to unconditional love, the union of compassion (male) with wisdom (female). Tiawanaku, turned out to be the 'second chakra' (in the world) or 'sexual' chakra.
So many 'connections'...
Desahuadero, on the border between Peru and Bolivia… We hit it on a market day, and the traffic absolute madness. Walking, after parking the KIA, we found a good 'hotel' however.
The next morning, we crossed the border into Bolivia, but not before dealing with visas and passports, in and out. The Bolivian troops weren't interested in my Yellow Fever Vaccination booklet (proof). What they were interested in was the $135U.S. cash to get in…
We sent Rucha ahead with the luggage in a taxi, and Johnny and I cranked the 50KM to Tiawanaku. This ride, first part easy second part rain/wind), was the end of cycling the world (for seven years).