Biking Rainbow Mountain

A Biking Adventure to Rainbow Mountain

A moment lived in Peru by Tanlines for Two, travellers from United Kingdom

We have been living on bicycles for over 6 months now and we recently found ourselves very close to the Rainbow Mountain in Peru. We couldn’t decide whether the 6-hour bike ride on a gravel road followed by a 3+ hour hike would be worth it, just to reach the peak of a cold mountain at 5,000m altitude. We aren’t hikers, we are bikers; we didn’t know how we would fare.

However…we woke up the next morning with an adventurous spirit and set to climbing to the top of the windy road on our weighty (35kg!) touring bikes. 5 hours in and exhausted, we were caught in a hailstorm our poor waterproofs couldn’t protect us from. Soaked to the skin, freezing cold and not sure if we were anywhere near the top, we spied a half-built shelter we immediately took refuge under. In a daze we managed to pitch the tent and get warm.

The next morning we woke to find we had stopped precisely where the trail to Rainbow Mountain begins. A real stroke of luck! We left our bikes with the jolly family who owned the shelter we slept under and trekked 3 hours to the top of the mountain. The euphoria we experienced as we reached the top of the mountain, accompanied by some people who had taken bus and horse to get there, was greater than any other experience on our adventures so far or since.

We made a swift descent by foot to where our bikes were, enjoyed a quick lunch before hopping on the bikes to bike the 40km downhill which had taken us 6 hours the previous day. Still shaky with exhaustion, adrenaline kicked in and we descended the 40km in one and a half hours without stopping, grinning the whole way down and being overtaken by countless tourist buses returning to Cusco.

After a good night’s sleep, despite immense fatigue, we woke up feeling ready for the last 110km to Cusco and attempted it in a single day. Unfortunately, that was a little beyond us, but we arrived in Cusco the day after and began recovering from our energetic exploits.

It was truly a human powered adventure we will never forget.

These travellers have a blog : Tanlines for two

credit photo : Tanlines for two

 

Press credentials for the big festival

A moment lived in Peru by Alison, a traveller from Canada

February 10th 2013. Puno, Peru. It’s a Sunday. Were standing in line outside the town stadium waiting to buy tickets for the first of two Sundays of the dance competition. It’s the Candelaria Festival, an annual event that draws fifty thousand dancers and twenty thousand musicians from all over the Andes to this small town on the shores of Lake Titicaca. The festival, although not as well known as Rio’s Carnival, is equally as big, and equally as colourful. It’s about ten in the morning, and although the competition started at seven, we’re not worried. We know it will continue throughout the day and into the evening.

We’d arrived in town the day before, and really don’t know much more about the festival except that today the dancing starts at the stadium.

Suddenly a miracle happens although we do not realize it as such at the time. A local woman who speaks English walks up to us and begins talking, introducing herself, and asking if she can help. This is what I learn: the stadium is divided into four quarters; you cannot move from one quarter to another; the best place for photography is the south quarter. I don’t realize how invaluable this information is until later when we enter the stadium.

We buy our tickets for the south quarter and go in. The first thing I notice is that between the concrete stadium seating and the field where the dancing takes place there is a high wire fence. Looking up I realize that to get any photographs without this fence in the way I will have to go to the top of the seating and then will be photographing dancing ants, even with my long lens. I’m momentarily disappointed, and then inwardly shrug: well I guess I won’t be taking any photos today.

As we walk along at the bottom of the seating looking for a place to sit I notice a gate in the fence. The gate leads to the athletic track that surrounds the field. Beyond the track is a low fence and beyond that is the dancing. And in that space I see photographers and cameramen. There is a man guarding the gate. Completely spontaneously I find myself, in my best halting Spanglish, asking if we could go in there, explaining that I have an online journal. The gatekeeper sends for a more important man who allows is into the media area for the day. Wait what? We’re press? We’re in the official media area! We have front row seats to the dancing with nothing obstructing our view!

Later I ask him if we could come back the following Sunday when the competition continues. He says we need to get press credentials from the Candelaria office and tells us where to find it. During the week we apply for, and are granted, press credentials and return the following Sunday for the rest of the dancing. You have no idea how wonderful it feels to be ushered in ahead of everyone else, and to get the best view because you have the right authorization hanging around your neck.

And all this because out of nowhere, like a miracle, a local woman came up to us while we waited in line and told us about the configuration of the stadium and the best place for photography. We actually didn’t even see her coming. Suddenly she was there, saying hello and introducing herself.
Even now as I write about it I still find it completely mind blowing. Without her information we would have arrived at the ticket window and not had a clue what tickets to buy, and probably not enough Spanish to find out. A truly amazing travel moment!

This traveler has a travel blog: Alison and Don

credit photo: Alison

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