Andes Trail Stage 42 to Bolivia, Sept 25, 2019

Photos on Strava: 143.1km, 742m climbing, 5:09
Stage 42 of 109, day 58 of 142

DescriptionDistance in kmDirt kmClimb in mEFI
South America3,826554 48,645
Andes Trail3,544545 45,035 X
    Ecuador9123016,265
    Peru2,62251528,702
    Bolivia10068

Missed distance 282km, 3.5 stages (19/20 and 31/32)

We had a really enjoyable rest day yesterday in Puno. A bunch of us signed up for a boat tour of the famous floating islands of Uros in Lake Titicaca. They picked us up at 9 and drove us 1km down to the dock where we boarded a little boat with a few other random people. We headed out and soon were in a channel between reeds (the famous ones that the locals use to build boats and their floating islands). After a little while we got to an area of water surrounded by floating islands. We landed on one and our guide introduced us to the locals who live there. It’s about 2000 Peruvians and over 2000 Bolivians. Each island supports about four families, so maybe 20 people. They showed us how they make the floats from the reeds and how they have to replace the top layer every 10-15 days. It turns out that ALL these people living out there have only one industry: tourism. They make trinkets and sell stuff to people like us. They sang songs and the President of the four families on our island showed us how they build the houses, the cell towers, etc. A lady showed us the inside of one of their houses: very small, welcome to the 3rd world for sure. They tried hard but barely any of us bought anything I’m sorry to say. I did spring S10 for a ride on their “Mercedes Benz” boat over to another floating island, where Greg, Michael and I had some beers and relaxed for a while. Then it was time to go back. The air is clean, as is the water of the lake. It’s about 20m deep there and the thickness of the floating islands is 4-5m.

Uros ladies with one 4 year old son and the barefoot President behind
From the tower on a floating island
Another Mercedes Benz boat from ours

Back in Puno I spied Gareth, Martin and Andrew in a nice looking local restaurant waiting for Kirsten and me. We had beers and lunch there – gigantic servings of trucha a la plancha (roasted trout with veggies) for very little money. We walked back to the hotel later, had a look around, and eventually went out for dinner at a nice cafe. More trout, this time fried and coated with quinoa. Super good. Unfortunately many had taken ill again and I didn’t feel that great at dinner. But I just ordered jugo de maracuya instead of beer and didn’t eat the salad. I think it was psychosomatic as I was 100% in the morning.

We had set the alarm for 5:45 for the 6:15 breakfast. It was kind of a crappy hotel breakfast – I even had to eat the eggs (huevos revueltos) and a couple of the crap rolls. It took a while but we started riding at 7:25 and made our way though traffic out of town. Once we got onto the road around the lake, it was smooth sailing. First with about 8 in a paceline, then Wytze and Rob ended up blasting too fast and Chris, Jens and I dropped everyone else.

We cruised to lunch at 68km non-stop. I noticed that at 2 hours we were at 62km, not so shabby.

Cruising at high speed with Chris and Jens past a fire
Video by Wytze

Lunch wasn’t quite ready so we hung out sharing photos and relaxing. Many others came in, we ate a delicious lunch, and I let Chris and Jens head off on their own. For the next 80km, it was Bastiaan, Andrew, Jan and I, cruising, stopping for photos many times and really enjoying the riding. When the wind was behind us we could cruise at 40-45 and when it was ahead, more like 28. The occasional hills slowed us down more. We took lots of photos and basically just enjoyed our last ride in Peru. For the first 90 or 100, the road was busy and the drivers pretty rude (unusual). Andrew was pushed off the road once and Marc was really pushed off aggressively, so much that he crashed and was so mad about it. He got scraped up too. Now we have to somehow talk him into not bailing from the tour. We had about 35km on smaller, less crowded roads to the border.

At the border we just walked into the Peru side and one minute later walked away, passports stamped! Then we rode up a hill for 300m, under a cool arch, then took some photos of various Welcome to Bolivia signs.

Welcome to Bolivia

Then we walked into the Bolivian customs office. Again, I was out in one minute. They didn’t ask a single question – just scanned and stamped the passport and took my photo (which took about 10 seconds). SO different from entering into Peru. The four of us rode away, on a comically crappy Bolivian road. We had about 8km to the hotel in Copacabana and we took it easy, stopping for photos. The small town looks beautiful and we soon were in the very nice Hotel Mirador, just above the lake shore. We were lucky today with the dogs – no actual attacks while I was riding. Joan told me a funny (scary actually) story about one of the previous stages where she opted for the paved option I didn’t take. She lead the way on that route and counted the number of dog attacks on her: 24.

It’s a climb to our room, but wow is it nice! It’s a giant 2 person room, with a gorgeous view over the lake, a shower that cranks out hot water, electric plugs that sort of hold our chargers, beds, towels, and delicious soup and snacks after riding – basically perfect.

View of Lake Titicaca from the hotel
Sunset over Lake Titicaca from our room

We had lost an hour due to switching to Bolivian time so 6pm dinner came soon. 8 of us went out and discovered that Copacabana is a backpacker town, full of great, inexpensive restaurants. We picked one and I had the special for BOB25 ($3.60): Quinoa soup, trout grilled with veggies and fries, and bananas with chocolate sauce for dessert. We also had nice big Bolivian beers for the same price. Delicious and fun! After we went to a little bar run by a Brit and had delicious Bolivian IPA!

Stier IPA for the win

Wow, it looks like life is great here! Best part: another rest day tomorrow! Then two days of easier riding to La Paz.

One thought on “Andes Trail Stage 42 to Bolivia, Sept 25, 2019

  1. What great commentary. You should make it into guide book. Or at the very least make it available to others that might contemplate your insane project.

    Just a small note. When we are away on medical missions, our medical advisors do not let us eat raw vegetables. Not lettuce or salads. We almost never have diarrhea. Just a thought.

    Like

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