M.F. Escher's sidecar design, the beginning.
After an epic celebratory evening, we departed...
Eventually, after much dirt road torture to the Pope Mobile it finally broke. One of the attachments broke loose and slid down breaking the weld from the support arm to the car causing the Death Trap to nose dive (no wreck mom). The welder had used a cut-off part of his leather glove as a spacer that had gotten wet. We're still not sure why it wasn't welded. However, it leads us into one of the most epic parts of the entire trip.
The welder agrees to help us, and a lady pulls out a couple sheep skins for us to sit on. Hoge and I grab a flat soccer ball and take on the village kids. Its about 20 to 2, but we hold our ground til we start tasting blood from running around at 15,000ft.
As we sit on the blankets and skins, the gathered crowd parts for a stooped old lady carrying a pot, bowls with spoons, and a pile of potatoes. Our hunger rages, and she places the potatoes before us. She begins pouring out a broth soup. Like the sidecar, Mike and I's hunger nose dives as a ball of something splats into one of the bowls. Hoge has no clue what is coming. With her unwashed hands, she rips apart the best of what she has into thirds and hands us the bowls. We are the only ones eating, and with the whole village watching, including the proud cook, we hold in our hands our meal...sheep intestine soup.
Of course the bikes don't want to work in the morning's freeze and causes what would be the awkward exaggerated goodbye if we weren't used to it by now.
But how much more epic does it get than more than one man in a cape?
Never ask someone like this for directions, ever.
We luckily find a welder, but he's drunk, so we arrange to work tomorrow. After a short, sunburned eternity, we track down the owner of the one hotel so we can get a room. We pay about $2 for all three of us to stay in the only room they had (if that tells you how high class it is). In the courtyard, we rip open the engine and pull out the output shaft which is buried inside the transmission.
Meanwhile, I look at the miles of switches and then at the direct route down the mountain. Not scared of a little off-trail meandering, I jump off the road and work my way through cacti and tall brush, scramble down avalanched washes, and see in the distance two figures. I whistle and they return the call. I work my way to them. There is a man and a kid. The man is shouldering a rifle, and the kid holds a long walking stick. After greeting, we walk silently along the mountainside. We do not follow any trail as they continue in their hunt for their dinner. At an overlook, they point out the direction that leads to a footpath which will take me to town. We part.
Further and further we head up into the mountains. We pass the town of Ollantaytambo where we feel we should stay, but by now, Machu Picchu should be very close. We continue up the mountain. Up and up we ascend as the night encroaches. Bombing down the mountain the other way, an unloaded motorcyclist signals us to turn around. When he pulls off his helmet we realize that its Nate, one of our photojournalist friends we made in Colombia and met again in Huarez at the start of this sidecar mission. His bike had broken and he has rented a moto to run to the ruins.
Contrary to the thoughts of the locals, he tells us that from where we are, we still must cross over a monstrous pass covered in snow till it turns to a long stretch of dirt that will lead to a small town. From that town, we must find a place to store the bikes and catch a bus or train to the next town. From there we must then catch another bus or hike up to the ruins, visit, then do it all in reverse. The very quickest we could achieve this is in 3 days. Above is the photo of that realization. We are at the gateway to the famous ruins and we cannot get in. Accepting our fate, we turn and return to Ollantaytambo to spend the night.
And by God, we made it....CUSCO.
We checked into a fancy hotel for the night and relaxed the next day. Then Hoge departed.
On the computer, the route we were supposed to go with more paved roads and the way everyone wanted to direct us should have taken 17 hours. It took us 2 weeks. We loved every bit of it.