Ruedi Bösiger has just left, back to his family and job in Switzerland. We crossed together the last stretch of northern Argentina, the length of Bolivia as well as the first 130 Km of Peru, from the border of Yunguyo to Puno. The FLYER will now be handed over to my friend, colleague and surf instructor guru Alex Kornhuber. We met in Zurich back in 1998 at the offices of the now defunct photo collective Lookat Photos. Alex came in with a unique series of images from the frontlines of the war in Kosovo. He had managed to join the Kosovo Albanian rebel group KLA fighting the Yugoslav federal army at the very beginning of the offensive. Regrettably or perhaps luckily, at Lookat photos we failed to properly distribute the images that might have given Alex a career as an international war photographer. Alex went on to make Zurich his base from where he worked for various newspapers and magazines until 2004, the year he went back to his native Peru. Colombia’s (where I have been based for years) proximity to Peru made it possible to keep our friendship lively. Over the year we undertook countless trips together in Peru. We’ve worked together in the capital Lima, in the fabulous Colca valley, in the Amazon jungle as well as in the north of the country. Alex together with his girlfriend Fiorella Lopez de Castilla and his photographer friend Michael Robinson Chavez is the founder of hiddenplanetexpeditions.com
There are so few, it borders on the incredible when you come across a long distance cyclist here in the Peruvian Andes. None of the ones we meet have an eBike. There is usually a warm moment of mutual recognition as fellows from the same tribe.
We exchange tips, talk about the state of the roads ahead, inquire about altitude differences and distances between places, about sleeping possibilities with hot water and where to buy the next provisions. Then comes the moment when we say that we’re mounted on eBikes. Most fellow cyclist start laughing and look at us as if we have committed something morally outrageous. Tribe expulsion follows.
We met 27 year old Lucineide Lima from Brazil travelling north out of breath, making her way up the 4210 meters high Saraccocha pass that leads to the town of Ocros in the Apurimac department. The meeting was short, we offered her coffee and some oil for her squeaky bike chain but she didn’t accept either. We left thinking that she must be the toughest woman on the continent and that obviously we’ll never see her again.
That night we slept in the town of Chincheros beyond the Saraccocha pass thinking about Lucineide and wondering how far she might have gone up the pass. The next day we leave Chicheros late at around 10AM on a long downhill ride. At the bottom of the valley one crosses the river Pampas that divides the Apurimac and Ayacucho department. A few kilometres after the river crossing, a cyclist appears further ahead struggling uphill. It’s impossible, but here she is; Lucineide again out of breath, damming the mountains, smiling and craving for the high-plateu plains.
Happy about the reunion we take a break and have more time to talk. Lucineide left the town of Florianopolis in southern Brazil, after selling her belongings six month ago.
She wants to travel around the world with her bike because travel makes her happy and pedalling is like a therapy. She hates the dogs that run after her on the road and hopes to never feel enclosed or trapped in life. She’s afraid, yes, because she’s alone and something could happen to her; but so far nothing bad happened.
On the contrary when she left Brazil, people warned her to be very careful in Argentina because Argentines supposedly were bad people. When she arrived in Buenos Aires on her birthday she found lodging at a family that organised her a beautiful birthday party. They bought a cake and Cachaza to make Caipirinas and presented her with the saddlebags for her bike. From that moment on her thinking changed towards Argentinians and Argentina.