A few of you may already know about our misfortunes in Peru. Not to make it sound like we’re an exception, we’ve met plenty of others who’ve had their fair share of trouble. I suppose it’s always a risk sharing a post like this, because I’m not one who likes to spread negativity. I think everyone’s trip is different and you should be your own judge when exploring a new country.
However, this is our space where we share our experiences. So take it for what it is, one page in a book of many.
We arrived in Puno, initially pumped because in comparison with the industrial shithole which is Juliaca, we’d rocked up in a regular oasis. I’d come in via the train tracks, enjoying the view and anticipating all the delicious gringo food that was awaiting. We’d planned to rest a day or two. I was still having problems with my stomach and needed to do a few tests. To be quite honest it was a pleasant stay…all the way up until the day we left.
The morning of our departure we were excited to start moving again. We brought our bikes and gear out to the park and started packing. Everything was positioned in a tight circle around the bikes where we could keep an eye. Putting my backpack down in the centre of the chaos, I strolled off for a cup of piss weak coffee. I noticed a man hurrying across the far side of the park with a backpack that looked extremely similar to mine. I didn’t think twice about it as mine was right next to Gina.
Coffee in hand I returned to find that the backpack wasn’t where I’d left it. It wasn’t there at all. I ran as fast as I could trying to tail the man, but he had too much of a lead. Interrogating the locals proved pointless and I even did a walk around with the police. We might as well have been holding hands and skipping as that was about as serious as they took the problem.
So, what did they take? My passports, drivers license, hralt card, yellow booklet, credit and bank cards. My new Nikon d750 I bought a month ago and waited 3 weeks for in Cusco. Our iPad mini with all of our photos and routes (obviously wasn’t backed up). Bike pump, sunglasses, GPS, batteries, headlamp. Amongst other assorted bits and bobs we also lost the backpack with camelbak which was an integral part of our bikepacking set-up.
A split second of negligence on our part had an outcome which will linger on for the next month or so until everything has been replaced and until we have somewhat digested what happened. Lesson learned and hopefully not to be repeated, we will come out of this stronger and more determined to make it down to Ushuaia.
For any cyclists riding through, just keep a keen eye on your stuff at all times. Puno is a nice enough place but there is a lot of opportunistic crime. Don’t expect the police to help other than writing a report for insurance purposes. In my case they basically told me that trying to recover anything would be a fruitless endeavor. This a lesson better learnt from us than on your own.
Parque Pina, the place where it happened. That’s the kind of photograph quality you can get with a cell phone, the only electronic device we were left with.
Side note: we took a bus to Arequipa in the hope of getting passport replacements organised there (do not rely on buses to leave and arrive on time!). Quite a scenic drive, especially the salinas and aguada blanca national reserve is very beautiful. Francis, the British consulate in the city, was very helpful but I had to go to Lima after all. If you’re trying to find a hotel in the centre that is half the price than most of the gringo hostals, try the hotel Mauricio on Alvarez Thomas, south of the plaza de armas.