Two more wheels

Posted by on Dec 02 2007 | 11 Peru 2007, 12 Bolivia 2007, English

Not always easy

So we made it through Peru, the most challenging country so far on our journey. Challening in different ways, so for example due to the rapid climate changes from tropical heat and humidity to freezing cold temperatures at the high passes within a days ride or two. Some of the roads were really bad and we had to push the bikes somethimes for hours over riverbed like paths. And finally we never felt very comfortable with the majority of the people we met along the way. They seemed to have a different understanding of private space touching Chan and our bikes whenever we stopped. 20 to 30 kids and adults would gather around us immediatly, starring at us and touching our things. Especially mothers would then start to criticize the way Chan was dressed: too cold or too hot. They would then try to convince us, that Chan couldn’t breath in his trailer or that he was hungry or needed a drink, when he was perfectly fine. Somethimes kids were running after us, catching up and pulling on the trailer or the bikes backwards.

All these unpleasant experiences don’t however overshadow that we also met amazingly hospitable and friendly people and although warned many times about robberies, never had an incident nor felt at the slightest threatened.

Machu Pichu at least

After two weeks staying in Cusco beeing sick one after the other, we finally managed to organize our trip to Machu Pichu, the “lost city of the Incas”. Since it costs an incredible amount of money to get there and another fortune to see the ruins, we didn’t want to spend another awful lot of money for the bus up a steep hill (500m up) to the entrance of the ruins. Instead we got up at 4am and took a nice one hour hike up to the gate.


Chan wasn’t ready to hike yet, sleepy he was sitting in the ergo carrier on my back half way up, then Flo took him over and I got our backpack with food, water and spare clothing for Chan instead.

At the gate we weren’t allowed in with our bigger than 20l pack (A person is allowed to take a 20l backpack into the site.), the guardian wasn’t discussing at all, we had to go to a woman apparently in charge of storing backpacks. But as soon as we entered her office, she yelled at us that we wouldn’t respect rules and that she wasn’t talking to us anymore, hardly even looking at us. Now we were really angry, yelling something not very nice back. Outside we took some stuff out of the backpack, then tied it together as small as possible and went back to the gate. I was carrying the now small backback and Flo was carrying Chan and a plastic bag. The guardian wanted to protest again, but Flo told him angrily that the 20l bag per person was applying to us as well and we walked through the gate. The guardian called into our backs, that we weren’t allowed to put the plastic bag back into our backpack once on site.

The first few moments in Machu Pichu we couldn’t enjoy because of our frustration. But when we had climbed up to a point where we could overlook the whole scene our anger cooled off.









Machu Pichu wasn’t showing its full beauty. Misteriously parts of the ruins were hidden behind mist and passing clouds. After a while observing this wonderous spectacle we started our hike up Wayna Pichu, the steep mountain at the far side towards the river valley.




We enjoyed a beautiful hike with not too many tourists, the sun was burning mist and clouds away and the site started filling up with people, brought up the mountain bus load by bus load. What an amazing view we enjoyed from the top of Wayna Pichu. Not only were there more ruins, but we could oversee the whole site of Machu Pichu as well as getting a full panorama of snowcapped  peaks in the distance.




We left Machu Pichu arround noon, when most of the visitors arrived and crowded the place. The hike down to Aguas Calientes was pleasant but towards the end got quite painfull for our leg muscles not used to walk almost exclusvely steps for eight hours!



Back in Cusco I could hardly walk anymore. Chan helped me getting around and said: “Mama, you are really, really old!” No wonder, my walking style was the one of a 90 year old woman! We had to stay four more days in our hostal, only then I was able to walk and bike almost normally again with not too much pain.

When the rains beginn

It was sunny and nice warm when we left Cusco with two more wheels than usual. Attached to my bike with the follow-me tandem hitch is now Chan’s own bike.


He had been asking for his own bike for a while now and we thought it would make a good birthday present. Our little guy is already 4 and ready to get onto his own two wheels! After the first few km pedaling himself, he exclamed that we could get rid of his trailer because he had his own bike now.





Since then however, he has discovered that the trailer is still a good thing to have for napping, eating and playing and to be sheltered from wind, rain and hail! We got enough of that in the coming days climbing onto the altiplano and crossing this high plateau along lake Titicaca.




On the first few days we could always escape the rain by arriving at a hospedaje mid afternoon, but the day we got over the last high pass for a while (4338m) we were caught in a terrible thunder storm. The night hadn’t been the most relaxing. We could stay in a centro de salud in a patient room. In there as well was a gaz stove with pots containing left overs. The beds we were advised not to use because sick people had been lying on them. When Flo carried our panniers inside, he found the smell in the room quite unpleasant and looked arround for its cause. He came out with a plastic box, in it was a lambs skull, the dried flesh still sticking to it was reeking. The whole thing looked disgusting to us although Chan was quite interested in it. After a few minutes the doctor came looking for it and she carried the box under her arm as one would books. In the morning we had a flea in our tent, which we had put up inside the room to sleep in. Flo was up with the first rays of the sun and quickly we packed our bikes to get out of there. Breakfast we ate a few kilometers further in fresh air. By midday clouds were rolling in, not unusual for the season, but we wanted to continue riding for some 40km more, since it didn’t look too serious.


But only maybe 10 minutes after we had left it started to rain very suddenly and with the rain lightening hit right next to us. It was too dangerous to step from the bikes to put on our rain gear. On the bikes we were safe from the lightening because of the rubber tires.

I was terribly afraid. The rain had turned into hail now, whipping our faces hard. Our hands were hurting beeing freezing cold but the storm didn’t let us go. In fact, there were new storms approaching whenever we thought the worsed was over. The road was in some places covered with a 3-5cm thick layer of hail. Then there was an incredible loud thunder and at the same time I felt an electric shock passing through my left arm. Lightening stroke into the electric powerline paralleling the road and a branch of it had hit me. I screamed out horrified. Flo tried to calm me down but I was panicking and yelled at him to go faster. For about one hour we were caught in the terrible tempest then finally the hail turned back into rain and the time between lightening and thunders got longer. Then the rain subsided. There was a hut next to the road where “arroz con pollo” was sold. Flo went to ask for hot tea. We finally got jackets and rain gear out and tried to warm up our trembling bodies. We still had to go for another 15km to reach a town with hospedajes. The rain was getting stronger again and completely soaked we checked into a more expensive hotel because they had promised us hot water immediately. An hour later there was still no hot water. When we came back from dinner there was still no hot water. Only in the mornig the water was hot but by then we didn’ t need it anymore and we refused to pay the full prize of our room.

On the Altiplano at least

We were riding long days. The altiplano was quite flat as its name suggests, and we were ready for a new country. We wanted to get into Bolivia after three not so easy months in Peru. Every mid afternoon we could observe different storms around us, somethimes getting caught by them, somethimes beeing able to escape.

The winds were slowing us quite a bit coming from the sides or the front, never from the back. The landscape wasn’t as stunning as we had expected it from the description of other cyclists, but for the most part this must be due to the dull weather.




On one of the worst paved roads so far, covered with holes and patches, busy with minibusses, big tourist busses, trucks and taxis whizzing by close, honking loudly, we got our first glimpse of marvelous lake Titicaca. This first sight was grandious. Passed Puno the road was much quieter and we were riding now directly on the shore of the highest navigatable lake.






A day before we reached Copacabana in Bolivia, Sekiji, a japanese cyclist we had already met in Cusco, caught up to us. What we had been riding in six long days, he had done in three!





That day we were riding together mostly and he was taking lots of pictures. The border crossing was very smooth and mid afternoon we entered into our 12th country since Canada or our 16th since Switzerland.

Copacabana is a nice little town nestled in a small bay at the shore of lake Titicaca. It is growing only for tourists, a small copy of Cusco.

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We stayed three days to celebrate my birthday and visit Isla del Sol, the sacred birthplace of the Incas.



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Restaurants are popping up like mushrooms in Copacabana, but many of the owners can’t cook, but they have on their menu whatever a tourist heart desires like lasagne, pizza, risotto, etc. We ordered a salad and a lasagne. The salad was fine, not much that can be done wrong there. When the lasagne was served we couldn’t believe our eyes: It was a normal flat white plate, on it three sheets of pasta covered with maggi soup (chemical instant mix). Well we went to another restaurant for a second dinner. Chan had had a blast with a waiter in another place two days ago, so we went there and ordered a pizza and some desert to satisfy our still hungry stomachs while Chan took off with the waiter again “to work”. He was carrying dirty dishes to the kitchen, brining the menu to tables and finally the bill as well! As his first salary the waiter gave him a piece of lemon pie.

It was now 150km to Bolivias biggest city La Paz. We rode it in two days.





On the second day we rode through densely populated areas for about 20km before the centre. La Paz lies in a canyon spilling over its rim into El Alto because there is no more room in the canyon. It is filled with houses and houses.


It was an incredible site, when we arrived at the rim and slowly rolled down into this sea of buildings, cars and people.

We are staying in a “casa de cyclista” in a huge house with a beautiful garden. Sekiji had contacetd Linda and Roul and asked if we could stay with them as well. Now we are here with Sekiji and a brithish cycling couple. Linda and Roul have grand children and therefore a room full of toys in which we are staying – paradise for Chan!




We will be staying for a few days, waiting for a packet with spare parts clearing customs.

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6 comments for now

6 Responses to “Two more wheels”

  1. Esta Bien! Go Chan, on his own bike now! You’ll have to catch up so we can see how it goes!

    Try not to get struck by too much lightning.

    02 Dec 2007 at 3:43 pm

  2. Johanne


    ich kenn Euch ja nicht — ich glaub ich hab den Link zu Eurem Blog irgendwann mal von den Rabeneltern…
    Jedenfalls verfolge ich mit viel Interesse Eure Reise.
    Eure Fotos sind klasse.
    Mein Sohn ist etwas juenger als Euerer, und wir leben mitten in Paris — denkbar anders als bei Euch…
    Trotzdem kann ich viel sehr gut nachvollziehen, gerade das Problem mit der anderen Einstellung zur Privatsphaere und dem Angefasst-, Angegafft- (und auch ncoh mit STeinen beschmissen werden) von der jeweiligen Dorfjugend und den Erwachsenen auch. Das ging uns in Tibet beim Radeln auch so. Als sich eine von uns verletzte, war das echt die allerbeste Attraktion fuer die Leute. Und unsere Nerven waren sehr sehr strapaziert.

    Jedenfalls Liebe Gruesse
    und gutes Erholen mit den vielen Spielsachen!

    03 Dec 2007 at 8:26 am

  3. I finally found you guys!!! We are the family who was just ahead of you through Baja last year. We were sooooo looking forward to meeting you when you passed us, but we ended up holed up in Santa Rosalia when you went past. We were so bummed we missed you – darn! We were (at that point) traveling with a triple bike (our twin boys on the back) and a single for me.

    We have been back home for five months now and are planning our next big adventure – the Arctic to Patagonia. Our twins will be 10 when we leave in June. We can’t wait to get back on the road!

    I will be reading your blog iwth interest – especially the parts about your kid. Although he is younger than our two, I’m sure I’ll be able to pick up a lot of tidbits of wisdom. If you have any tips or suggestions to share – please do! We are all ears.

    Enjoy your journey!
    Nancy, John, Davy, Daryl and Dash the dog

    04 Dec 2007 at 5:58 am

  4. steve tober

    HI kids…..Your website has been a real inspiration. We live in Bogota (I am Canadian and my wife is Colombian) at the moment and have a 1 year old. I bought a Chariot trailer for him and we plan on riding from Arica Chile to Santiago this July-August, when he will be a year and a half. How early did you start cycling with Chan? Did you have any problems with sunburn or sore eyes from the sun and glare? What is the maximum number of hours that Chan would sit in the trailer during the day? Would you average about 50-60kms per day ?

    Any tips on cycling with a toddler would be greatly appreciated….things you have learned from experience. I have biked from Tijuana to Arica and in other countries and therefore knowledgealbe about touring, but I just want to make sure I am prepared so that we have a safe trip with little Ramon.

    I am planning on 50kms per day for 2,000kms ….so 40 days. Should be reasonable I hope, so he has lots of play time!

    Hope you save lots of money and are back on the road soon!

    18 Feb 2008 at 1:27 pm

  5. Susanna Leutwyler

    habe Euer Bericht im Veloplus gelesen.Und ich war soo tief berührt…….vor 10 Jahren waren mein Partner und ich während gut 2 Jahren mit den Velos unterwegs in den ca.selben Gegenden wie Ihr 3 auch.Vieles von Eure Erlebnisse kommen mir so vertraut vor.(Zum Beispiel die enormen Gewitterstürme auf dem Altiplano welche uns auch dazu trieb einen Lastwagen anzuhalten.) Wir haben inzwischen 3 Kinder und ich finde es so toll und absolut bewundernswert wie Ihr mit Chan unterwegs seid.Welch eine einprägsame,intensve,anstrengende Zeit für Euch alle.
    Ich wünsche Euch nur das Beste,geniesst diese unglaubliche Zeit kommt heil und gesund wieder zurück in die Schweiz.Wenn überhaupt? Wer weiss wo Ihr vielleicht “hängen” bleibt.
    Mit lieben Grüssen, besonders an Chan von unserem Samuel( 8j.)welcher total beeindruckt ist von Eurer Geschichte.
    Susanna Leutwyler

    25 Mar 2009 at 6:00 am









    03 Nov 2009 at 9:01 am

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