Las Motocholitas Take to the Road

20 December 2016 – I’m home again in Toronto, but that has no relevance. You & I, we shall now hop aboard the historical present tense & zoom our way back to Cusco, Peru, early December.

I am pretty well over my bout of altitude sickness (thank you Ray, Michaela, Ada & others for your care); I am all packed up for the 248 km. ride to Ayaviri (capital of Melgar Province, Region of Puno); I am in Calle Saphi, leaning casually against a 1200-cc BMW.

I am ready to roll.


And I am such a fake!

I not only don’t know how to drive any size of motorcycle, I don’t even know how to dress myself for the journey.

This is very impressive biking gear — Kevlar, leather, the works — but it is borrowed, and it takes 3 people to tussle me into it.

Micgaela, L; Ada; Penny

That’s Michaela on the left, owner & driver of the BMW; then Winnipeg-born Ada, a mainstay of Peru Moto Tours and generous source of the borrowed gear I am wearing for the trip.

These cool shots of me all rigged out to travel are the triumphant results of other people’s hard work.

I obediently proferred limbs when asked; they aligned limbs with protective clothing, and tugged. I think I giggled a lot. I am only grateful nobody filmed it for You Tube, I’d never live it down.

But Wait! — as the infomercials say — There’s more!

Next I have to mount that very enormous motorcycle. Behind Michaela. Swinging my leg over a U-shaped berm of packed clothing that, yes, will support my back, but also presents a major hurdle for the mounting process.

“You just swing your leg over, like mounting a horse,” says Ray. “You’ve ridden a horse, right?” he adds, hopefully. I dash his hopes.

So it takes another team-effort project to heave me aboard.

But I am finally in place, and off we go.

La Sociedad Curvas Peligrosas de Motocholitas — roughly, “The Dangerous Curves Society of Biker Babes” — heads for the highway.

Michaela in front; me behind

In the days to come, I will visit churches & cathedral of great age and varying states of restoration; I will meet skilled, stubborn Peruvians dedicated to that heritage for a whole range of religious, social & economic reasons; I will exult in fierce, minimalist, top-of-the-world landscapes, & catch the pungent odour of eucalyptus in my throat; I will eat in local markets with the group & one evening soak with them in a volcanic hot spring; I will see sheep, llama & alpaca, even the elusive & undomesticated vicuña; I will pass lakes dotted with flamingoes.

And, late one afternoon, in a combi-van rattling through the Colca Valley, I will become the owner of a rare species — no, a unique example — of owl.

my origami owl, thank you Jaime

The origami owl. Mí búho de papiroflexia. Which I shall call Gallo (Rooster).

But all these wonderful moments are yet to come.


Leave a comment


  1. Mary C

     /  20 December 2016

    I’m so glad that it all came together for you, and that you had a marvellous trip! So nice to get off the beaten track. Love the owl!

  2. It sounds like an amazing adventure! I can’t wait to read more about it. I’m catching up on my blog reading, as the end of the semester has been particularly busy this time, so I’m excited to see what else you’ve been up to in the month I wasn’t reading. Hope you have a happy holiday season!

  3. What an adventure. And how wonderfully you build up the tension, and how humorously you describe the whole business of getting rigged out and on the bike, and how cunningly you tantalise with hints of what’s in store for us. Can’t wait for the next instalment.

  4. WOW! You did it up right!

  5. wonderful adventures Penny…have fun! Sending you joy ☺🎄

  6. Wow, brave if you are not accustomed to travelling by motorbike. I love it. It’s by far my favourite way to travel.

  7. Glad you agree. Bikes are the way to travel! I will be doing a big trip around Europe in May / June. I am sure you can follow it if you like..

  1. White Churches, Dark Burro | WALKING WOMAN

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    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

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