Monday, 10 December 2007

Shopping, shaving and cycling

Shopping is never my favourite activity but today I began Looking for Christmas gifts. My first stop was at the weaving centre in Avenida del Sol. This offers authentic traditional goods and promises to support the local craft traditions in in remote communities in a sustainable way . There is a museum and and each article depicts the name and photo of the artisan and where he or she works. I bought some items here - they are somewhat more expensive thanusual but I managed to get a 10% discount for a cash sale. After this I explored the Artisan outlets further along the avenida. These sell lots of product and by bargaining you can achieve up to 50% reductions on the opening price. Prices are in any case quite cheap but the quality is correspondingly less high.

I also went for a haircut, taking advantage of the cheap and excellent barbers. This time I had a wet shave as well, my first ever, and a real experience. The chair was a bit like an old fashioned dentist chair and I was tilted back almost horizontal. In fact I was shaved twice, firstly with a razor blade fixed to a cut throat type frame and then with a cut throat razor. The result was outstanding and I emerged with face smoother than I can remember.

On Sunday I hired a bike, another Scott. My plan was to ride out to the East of Cusco to Tipon where there are some extensive ruins . The first part of the ride was easy, riding out through the Cusco Suburbs on the main road to Puno. This road is normally very busy but on Sundays less so. On clearing the towns there is a marginal lane for cyclists and about a 3% downward incline making for some fast riding. Eventually I turned left onto a track that headed up steeply for 4 km to the ruins. I had to push the bike a few times but received some applause from tourist cars coming the other way.

On paying my 10 soles entrance fee I left the bike and climbed a series of terraces with clever irrigation channels. At the top I was rewarded with some great views of the ruins and the community below. It was almost lunchtime so I enjoyed the exhilarating downhill ride with the expectation of finding a restuarant below. There were many but they all turned out to be cuyerias, or guinea pig bars and I decided to pass on this and and pushed on further. It was another 20 km to Urquos, a substantial town with a Sunday market. I found a Polleria that allowed me bring my bike into the restaurant and I had fried chicken and chips.

Afterwards I explored the market a bit and then found a bus to take me back to Cusco. In all I probably did 70km and found I had used 2000 calories with a new maximum heart rate of 150 bpm, still somewhat short of my usual high water mark.

Finally, after a shower I opted for the local English bar, the Real McCoy which has wireless, good local beer and apple crumble!! Hey!

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