At 11 AM we were hungry enough for lunch in Ayaviri, but due to the early hour, they only served breakfast - lamb soup (5 Sol). Right when we finished eating we noticed a loaded bicycle passing in front of us. Amit cycled quickly after it. This was Ernest, a 52 year old South African, who has been riding around the world for over 4 years. He cycled through Africa, Asia, Australia and South America, and achieved a total distance of 80,000 km.
In this long period of traveling he went through many interesting experiences including some near death experiences: a kidnapping attempt in Iran and the Dengue fever. He had a lot to teach us, including how to avoid locking yourself outside your hotel room - if the door opens and hits the wall the lock is pressed, thus when the door slums shut it would be locked. His self-designed bicycle racks intrigued us.
Until Santa Rosa we rode together. In the entrance we bought a piece of smoked cheese, while a group of suspicious kids looked at our stuff carefully. As recommended by Rene, we slept in Santa Maria hostel (8 Sol for a single room, 15 Sol for a double room). For dinner we made sandwiches with llama Chicharon (fried meat) that we bought in the street, and dined with the hostel´s cute kitten to the sound of barking from the roof, where the dog lives.
We climbed up to the pass of 4,350m above sea level, and went down 5 km until the "medical" hot springs, Poza la Raya, 2 km off-road to the left.
Shortly later, we saw another hot spring, which looked more expensive but was much closer to the road. On the way down Amit had yet another flat tyre, but even with this delay we made it to Sicuani before dark. We had an excellent cheap dinner (3.5 Sol) in front of Hostal Rinconcito Langueño (12 Sol for a single room, 20 Sol for a double room) where we stayed.
Down with the river
The following day we rode separately, and we skipped the ruins Ernest stopped to see. For lunch we had fried fish (2.5 Sol for jurel, 6 Sol for trout). After 100 km of riding down the river, we arrived in Urcos.
It took just a few minutes of asking around about Ernest to find out where he was staying, and we stayed in the same cheap hotel (15 Sol for our room). He took the most expensive room with color TV and cables (15 Sol after discount). We ate dinner in a cheap and bad restaurant (3 Sol), got up at 5 AM and left at 7 AM, when Ernest just woke up. After 3 hours of a frozen ride we got to Cuzco.
We made it right on time to have a generous breakfast in Guest House Estrellita (15 Sol), recommended by all the cyclists we met so far in Peru.