Perú: Cusco to Juliaca – little roads worth taking
A while ago, in Quito, we were pondering how long we would take to get to Patagonia. Others there, heading north, said “if you’re going to take a bus anywhere, take one from Cusco to Puno”. More recently, our friend Joe did just that. He’s at least got an excuse – with a flight home at the end of January.
We spotted a small road route running almost in parallel to the Panamericana, and Ruso from the bike shop in Cusco added another sector. It proved to be very well worth it – recommended!
First – get out of Cusco… Not one of our finest moments – laziness limited any research, so there were a few backtracks and misdirections before we escaped the peripheral concrete sprawl surrounding the ‘nice’ centro historico.
Our highway avoidance is in continuity for us – we avoid successive ‘opportunities’ to take the ‘pista’. We are repeatedly met with confusion for our line of travel – “but there’s a highway!”
After passing (yet more) road building, and another escape – towards Langui this time, we land in Layo in time to buy juices (1 sol each – about 35 cents). The town-square ladies chat. Again, I regret not learning any Quechua (the most common indigenous language in Perú) – maybe next time? We ask about the ‘white’ road (very minor) out of town to Macarí. It takes a while to convince them we’re serious – then they offer us a choice – one sounds as if it goes to the highway, so we pick the other. It’s a gem :-)
Macarí proves to be further away that our map tells us, and when we get there not an immediately friendly place. Giggled whispers – kids daring each other to go over to us – none do. A return to “gringo” from all-comers – though with a new variation. “Hola! Señor Gringo” comes from a girl perched atop the camioneta (minivan) taking her home from school.
While we were getting various bike repairs done in Cusco (new sealed bearings for both our front wheels), Ruso approved our plans – muy bonito – and added a line to our map. He told us of forests of Puya Raymondii and cañons. We are very grateful.