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25.-28.12.98 Sat...Mon (534...537) Alcala

Having wonderful and memorable Christmas time with Lizbeth's family!
Alcala church.

26.12 Sunday, Alcala.

In Alcala there were enormous thunderstorms.

Lightning hits the ground

29.12 Tue (538) Alcala Sucre

Although it had rained a lot, the nature was very dry. As we left to Sucre, the river was still dry. One remarkable thing there in the Andes is the rocky soil. It doesn't absorb much of the water, the water passes rapidly to the streams. Therefore erosion is strong in the Andes.

We travelled by a truck, as there weren't any buses available. I could take photos much better from the truck. A sight-seeing return trip. Road was very curvy and also dangerous, but beautiful sceneries! To the journey belonged door-to-door service.

30.12. Wed (539) Sucre

Lizbeth's auntie had wedding. She got married in her 60's. 15 minutes before the party, Liz taught me a new a Latin dance, Cumbia. It was to be danced in the wedding party.

The wedding was a civil one. The occasion was quite formal. Then the music started, three valses. After that lots of cumbia :) People were taking glances at me; "who is he?" :) Liz said to me, she wants to marry me at once, when this trip is over!!!

31.12. Thu, New Year's Eve (540) Sucre

As everywhere in the World is done, also we bought some fire crackers for the New Year's celebration. Tin casting in The New Year's Eve is not a common habit in Bolivia, but it is common in Finland.
This is how it's done:

A small amount of tin is heated in a metal pot/cup up to the melting temperature. Then it is swiftly poured to a bucket of water. The formations of the solidifying tin can be beautiful ones. The formations are interpreted through wild guesses and it is believed that they tell about the future :) For example, a lot of tiny pieces of tin means that he/she will get a lot of money in the New Year. I, Marcelo, Greis and Lizbeth casted the New Year Tins. The children were very excited.

We had a nice party, danced till the morning.

1.1.1999 Fri (541) Sucre

New Year....
One year ago I was in Ho, East Ghana
My sister Jaana had her birthday in Kouvola, Finland.

In the house the maid lit up a sacrificial fire, it was called "Insenciar la Casa". That is an old tradition. In the past days, a lamb was sacrificed. Nowadays not anymore. The smoke/scent of the small fire was led into the house.

2.1. Sat (542) Sucre

I finished and painted the "J" luggage holders. They were so stainy. "Paint It Black. Yeah." (Rolling Stones :)

Those "J" luggage holders were a perfect installation in Rabat, Morocco. Without them I couldn't carry that amount of luggage that easily. The holders weren't originally my idea. In Madrid I had seen similar ones, but smaller in a German bike. I planned/modified the structure a bit in my mind. The first installation (since 10/97) worked okay in my bike.

I have to continue my trip in a few days :( :( :(

7.1. Thu (547) Sucre

I sent via Internet three work applications to Nokia to United States. So far no replies...

11.1. Mon (551) Sucre

Still I decided not to leave. With Liz we had planned to meet again in United States and maybe travel there together.

One-way ticket Sucre - Miami - Ft. Worth would have cost 'only' 1400 USD... From Finland to USA the prices are half of that!

12.1. Tue (552) Sucre Oruro

This day we had to separate.
Lizbeth's mum had cooked me a strong breakfast, like a lunch. Sad moments outside. Lizbeth's mother said: "Vaya con Dios." (Go with the Gods)

When I searched the exit from Sucre, I met Guido (the DR800 rider) outside his house. Adios, amigo.

I rode good asphalt road 154 kms to Potosi and from there towards Oruro, towards North. 20 kms after Potosi, the gravel road started. The day was sunshiny and there was almost no traffic, so I could ride the bumpy track relatively fast - some 60 km/h. 100 kms before Oruro the track was in a really bad condition, but a new highway was to be built. Trucks and buses crawled slowly in the mud, I could ride 120 km/h in the almost-ready new highway!

The 470 kms trip was done in 8 hours. I had ridden fast. Oruro was more expensive city than Sucre and it didn't look nice.

The 2nd visit to Bolivia...

13.1. Wed (553) Oruro La Paz Peru

Klick to hear the national anthem of Peru
General information about Peru.

As there weren't any traffic signs, I had to search the way out from the town. Day was unnormally cold. La Paz was a special city: beautiful mountains around the city, old buildings and sky-scrapers too. I withdrew money and had to search the way out of the city to Peru for *two hours*! I asked from maybe 20 people, but their knowledge of local geographics, ie. the way to exit streets, was extremely poor.

I met a Swiss motorcycle world traveller. We exchanged valuable information.

I had some expectations about the sceneries of the Lake Titicaca. But it didn't seem very special to me. In the lake were some fishermen with their small boats and near the shore the campesinos cultivated their potato fields. The view was very traditional. Maybe it was similar hundreds of years ago.

The Peruan border formalities were okay. Passport check and then vehicle control. Formalities were over in 15 minutes.

Before the dark (and cold rain) I found a motel from a village called Juli. Better motels were full, but in the town-owned motel there were free rooms. Price was 10 Nuevo Soles (less than 3 USD). Receptionist helped me in carrying my heavy luggage to my room to third floor. A bit unclean motel, but good service! I locked the bike in the corridor. A heavy, driving cold rain and storm started. I had booked in the motel just a few moments before it started :)

14.1. Thu (554) Juli Cusco

Although the village was very basic, the main park 'plaza' was nice. The local people told me that it wasn't generally possible to change Bolivianos to Nuevo Soles (Peruan currency) laterwards. The only chance was to be in Puno. Or to return back to border to change! 100 kms to go and return...

I had entered 100 kms to the new country and gasoline was almost run out and money too. No automatic cashiers. How stupid I had been! (Sometimes I trust too much to my luck)

I decided to try my luck and continue to Puno. And yes, in one street there were some old ladies who changed money! :) Banks didn't do that.

Puno was a poor, small town on the coast of Lake Titicaca. Most of the houses ver built of adobe, the earth bricks. But the people were nice and kind. Prices were super-economical. For example: in a café, a vegetarian lunch with a big cup of tea: 1.50 Nuevo Soles! (0.45 USD). In Peru you won't lose much money by eating in cafés.

High octane gasoline was difficult to find in Peru. In Puno at one gas station they luckily had 90 octane unleaded. Normally there were 84 octane available. One gallon of 90 oct. cost 6.7 Nuevo soles. Gas was practically free (if comparing to prices in Europe or Africa or Argentina).

I continued towards North. In one village the streets were flooding of water! Last night it had rained heavily. Uh. Sometimes I had to ride in that muddy water. 40 cm deep! In that village there were lots of 'bicycle-taxis'. Similar than riksas that are used in the Far East. It is a bicycle where a cabin is built for the client to the front.

The mud road ended and highway started again. Generally the Peruan 'autopistas' were in good condition. In South Peru the road wasn't interesting. Just highway and highway. No cafes or places to rest. Distances between towns were about 500 kms. Between them just highway, but the sceneries were beautiful. 200 kms before Cusco I could have a piece of pizza and a cup of coffee! Great. Laterwards, more north the travel conditions came better.

Arrival at Cusco in the night. I got accommodation at a good two stars hotel. We pushed my bike into the reception, to a safe place for the night.

15.1. Fri (555) Cusco Abancay

The personnel of the hotel was very nice. They also gave me advice, how to continue towards North. Macchu Picchu, the famous Inca city ruins were about 100 kms away, unfortunately I decided not to go this time.

I continued towards Ayacucho. The road was curvy and nice. Perfect for motorcycling!! Road went in altitude of 3800 metres and climate was cool and windy. 56 kms after Cusco, started a downhill. It continued and continued. I decided to stop the engine...

What a silent and ecological way of travelling! :-) No exhaust fumes and only the sound of wind. Speed was sometimes 75 km/h. Enough speed on the serpentine road. I also overtook one taxi cab. Nothing special in that, but I had stopped the engine 15 kms before!!! :-) Downhill had continued totally as much as full 40 kms! During that ride, there were maybe a few hundred curves. Really, really nice road! Climate had become sub-tropical and hot. Altitude was down in the valley some 1800 metres.

Finally, the asphalt ended and in front of me was a crossroad. ...I was lost. My map wasn't very accurate. There was only a sign pointing to a next village. I tried my luck again and chose the left road. A couple of minutes later on-came a truck. I asked the driver the way towards Lima. He gave me good pieces of advice.

Actually in rural roads in Peru the only method in finding the right direction was: asking from people. That's the only or at least the best possibility to find the way. Truck & bus drivers know the roads.

Because in Peru the prices of hotels are most economical and quality is always good, I decided to go into the best hotel in town: Hotel Turista, four stars. It was like a castle :) Room cost only 50 Nuevo Soles (16 USD). Great.

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