Cusco – Montreal (Culture Shock)

What is this machine I’m typing with? It’s my new Samsung Notebook I bought in Montreal! How much was it?  Thanks to a salesman whose wife and son were from Tesjoki (that’s 40km from my hometown) I got a deal for 314e including Windows 7 and a notebook case. With whose money? The insurance money I got from loosing my Nokia phone in Bolivia. Do I get a new phone? Yes, it will arrive to Boston very soon. Isn’t life great? Rhetorical question.

Last two days I’ve been just simply smiling. I think I look like a 🙂 or 😀 with some beard. To experience the same euphoria I have experienced for the last 48 hours (and counting…), you have to first travel for 9,5 months outside of Western World and then come back to it. The list is crazy long.

Cycle paths, cars giving way, traffic rules, people not staring, free maps, signposts, people with sense of directions, potable water, bike shops with Schwalbe, shops with everything you would ever imagine needing, English understood, green parks, dish washer, toilet paper goes into the toilet (this I have to get used to again), shower pressure, fast internet, credit card friendliness, dogs in leashes (and looking healthy) etc.

This of course means higher prices (four tomatoes in Canada= Two lunch Menus in Peru), but with camping, couchsurfing and MSR camping stove I’ll be OK.

As you can see from the picture, my bicycle is doing alright too. This time I didn’t lose any nuts or bolts, though I noticed a 1cm tear in my saddle (second after Slovakia). Overall the trip from Cusco to Montreal went smoothly, with some funny incidents. Here is a short description of them.

31.5.-1.6. Cusco-Lima (22 hour bus ride)

I sat in the front seat next to an American backpacker called Connor. We were the only Gringos in a bus, which was a nice Mercedes with comfortable seats and a toilet. They even showed a National Geographic flick about Elephants, though as soon as the documentary ended the song “Beds are Burning” by Midnight Oil started to echo very loudly especially towards the front seats. Annoyingly the song was on a strange loop, so it started over and over again before it reached the chorus part. After 40-50 of “Out where the river broke…” beginnings it was me who had to ask the co-driver to turn  the bloody TV off.

We departed from Cusco at 11 a.m and arrived to Lima next morning around 8.30a.m. In between we had one longer stop for a dinner (me and Connor ordered first and were served last – that being the last Gringo assault), and many shorter stops to get some Inca Colas (Peruvian version of Coke), Mates (Teas), Corns or Mandarins. Interestingly, after 4 hours of riding, we saw a motorbike laying in the middle of the road and there was a group of villagers with big wooden sticks and branches jumping around our bus like if they wanted to rob us. I’ve heard some stories about bus hi-jacks so I was almost shitting my pants, but in few seconds we managed to drive through the crowd and continue our way.

From the bus terminal I took a taxi to the Airport for 10$ and entered the terminal  25 hours before my departure. It was Tom Hanks time.

1.6.-2.6. Int. Airport Lima Jorge Chavez  (25hours)

The airport in Lima was not very big but it was a modern building with nice toilets, known fast food restaurants and an internet cafe. Firstly though I had to drop my over sized box at the left luggage, where I had to bargain once more. Afterwards I was free to do the Trolley Ring  from Donkin Donuts to Subway to McDonalds to Papa John’s Pizza to Internet Cafe to Toilet and back to Donkin Donuts again. I must’ve done more laps than Michael Schumacher in Monaco. In the late hours I just found a spot where to park my formula and lay on the ground. Unlike many other airports, the guards were friendly towards you and there were no loud announcements from the speakers.

Next morning I wrapped my big box into the plastic and got ready for the check-in. Voila! Once again I had to pay no extra fees for the bike box…

2.6.-3.6. Lima-Mexico City-Montreal (5h40min + 6h stop over + 5h10min)

The airplane from Lima to Mexico City was probably the nicest I’ve been. And what was the best thing about this Boeing 767 was of course the movies you could check out from your private display. Three movies in five hours meant some fast forwarding (especially at Adam Sandler’s film), but just before landing procedures I finished  “All the President’s Men” and marveled the biggest city in the World from the skies.

As for a month now, some great images are only in my head now, including this one from Mexico City. The city started something like 150km before landing, and you could see buildings and roads going for hundreds of kilometers on every direction. Only some green hills broke the asphalt jungle reminding you from the nature. Unbelievable.

The airport of Mexico City (Terminal 2) was depressing. A huge white architectural box with lighting just enough to see the letters in a book you were reading. The restaurants and shops closed around 9p.m, no internet cafe nor good benches to sit on. The funniest and stupidest thing was, when I had to go through all the passport controls, pick up my luggage and check them again. Why stupid? Well, all the trolleys cost either one US dollar or ten Mexican Pesos. Could you withdraw money in this area (between passport control and customs)? No. Could you exchange money? No. Could you break your bill? No. Just one dollar or ten Pesos.

In the end I had to ask five different officials to help me, and the last one was helpful enough to go through the customs and bring me one trolley which was just left there in the hall. I was already a bit annoyed by the fact, that my bike box was handled like a boxing sack.

At 1.00a.m the  Peruvian immigrants filled flight took off from Mexico City. Only one minute before my name was shouted by the security officer. “Are you Lukas?…Can I see your passport? …Thank you very much”. I guess I looked like Osama Bin Laden a bit.

Seeing Mexico City from above in day light was awesome but during the night it wasn’t bad either. No, the bad thing was the exchange from Boeing 767 into this metal box with Ryan Air facilities. Ok, it was slightly better than Ryan Air air crafts, and I didn’t care that much as I wanted to sleep anyways.

Montreal 3.6.->

Before I got to reassemble my bicycle I had to wait one hour line for the passport control, got interrogated by a policeman for the stamp and finally inspected by the customs. But as soon as I got out of the customs, the whole World changed. I was back in the Western World!



  1. Posted June 5, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

    hi lukas,
    i’m in t’bilisi/georgia right now and fully understand: in one way we seek the adventure, the exotic, the unknown. but on the other hand we appreciate the familiar, what we perceive as safe structures – our ‘civilized’ world.
    to know both is an enrichment, no doubt!

    • Posted June 6, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I will of course long for the developed countries for their adventurous aspects, and will probably want to go to these places again, but for now I’m glad to be in more developed countries – just to breathe for a while.

  2. Visa
    Posted June 5, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

    On mieletön setti sulla Lukas ollu varmasti kaikin puolin, hieno lukea näitä päivityksiä! Turvallista loppumatkaa, nähdään taas syksyllä Turussa!

    • Posted June 6, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Viela nelisen kuukautta voi relata ennen palaamista, nyt pitaa vain tarkkailla budjettia.

  3. Jörg
    Posted June 6, 2011 at 4:28 am | Permalink | Reply

    Hey Hi! I’ve just seen your Website and can’t stop reading it. Very nice and interesting stories! I’m still in Cusco (I am the one who recommended the post office for boxes; Couchsurfing)… and still working here, but ….damn…. I like to do a trip on a bicycle hahaa. Hope your trip goes on in the best way! Take care!

    • Posted June 6, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for your comment! And thanks for the CS reply too. Now I can’t wait for hitting the road here in Canada and later on in US…

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