Friday, August 28, 2009

Peru so far.

If you have seen my Facebook page recently, you will know that I had a pretty shit couple of days this week. It started the same day as my last post, when I left my camera in an internet cafe in Montañita, where it then got stolen. We spent the morning trying to get it back and giving our details to the guy in the cafe (who we are convinced was the one to take it). That afternoon we had to be on a bus to Guayaquil to take our flight to Peru. We finally arrived at a hostel in Lima where I jumped out to ask if they had room and left my backpack if belongings in the taxi. After such a big, emotionally draining day, I lay on my bed and cried, but was still unable to sleep as I was haunted by thoughts of my own stupidity. Luckily the very nice taxi driver returned my bag the next morning and he was a little freaked out when I hugged and kissed him, don´t think they do that in Peru!

The next day, Ryan and I went camera shopping in Lima. Because I loved my old one so much, I decided I wouldn´t be satisfied with anything else so I paid a stupid amount for a new one. It hasn´t left my side since, and even when I know I have it, I still check my bag every half an hour.
That night we met our new group for our Lima to La Paz tour. There are 15 of us plus our guide who is a gorgeous Peruvian woman who is lovely, funny and very organised (I would know). Everyone in the group seems really nice but some have been travelling together for 3 weeks already and there are a couple of personality clashes emerging.

On our first real day of tour, we had the morning free in Lima and then took a 4 hour bus ride to a place called Paracas. This town looked like a big construction site because 2 years ago it was badly affected by the big earthquake of the coast of Peru. Now the city is slowly being rebuilt.
The next morning some of the group took a boat trip to a little island which they call Peru´s version of the Galapagos, but because we had already seen the real thing, Ryan and I decided to save ourselves some money. Once the others returned, we took a bus ride to a town called Nazca. Along the way we stopped at a winery where they make Pisco, Perus national drink. It is a spirit made from grapes and we took a tour through the `factory´ (which is a series of concrete buildings) to learn how is is made. The best part of the tour was of course the tasting. My favourite was the Ladies Drink which is pisco mixed with grape juice that they say is good for making babies. The guy said it is supposed to help with fertility but I´m sure they just give it to the ladies to make them more easy to get into bed! We also tried a shot of Pisco which made me almost vomit!

Our next stop was at a massive set of sand dunes where we took a terrifying dune buggy ride and went sand boarding. I´ve been sand boarding before but this was by far the most scary, as the dunes were so big and steep. On my third try I sand burnt my shoulder by rolling too far! We then returned to the town for lunch and we tried Lomo Saltado, which is a national dish consisting of stirfried beef strips with onion tomato and potato chips in a soy sauce and served with rice. It was delicious and very filling.
On the bus ride through to Nazca we were exhausted from the morning´s activities so we stared aimlessly out the window. The scenery was beautiful though, we drove through desert and mountains and didn´t see a plant all afternoon. When we finally arrived at the hotel, Ryan and I were amused to find the one double bed in our room. I had to convince our tour leader Shirley that I don´t know what they do in Peru, but in Australia, brothers and sisters don´t share a bed! (it was of course a mistake of the tour company who assumed that our same last name meant we were married!)

The reason that people go to Nazca is to see its world famous lines, the only way to see them is by air so in the morning we took a small plane flight over them to see for ourselves. Noone quite knows who drew these massive shapes in the desert, when it was done or even why, but there are numerous pictures created by moving the top, darker layer of rock and sand to expose the lighter sand below and from above you can make out the shapes of a spider, a hummingbird, a condor, and even one that they call the Astronaught, just to name a few. Instead of exploring the small and rather uninteresting town of Nazca, we instead decided to return to the hotel and laze by the pool to await our night bus. At 10.30 we boarded the dreaded 8 hour bus ride and were pleasantly surprised to find that the seats reclined to an almost horizontal position. Sleep....

We were woken the next morning by the land hostess (like air hostess but on a bus) poking us and opening our curtains, repeating Arequipa Arequipa Arequipa! I almost punched her, but couldn´t see due to being blinded by the daylight! Ryan and I spent the morning with Adam walking around Arequipas parks and I decided I quite like this city, which is compliment coming from me. In the afternoon we went to meet Juanita. She is a young girl, about 14 years old, who was found at the top of a mountain over 5000m high. She was given to the mountain as an Incan sacrifice. The Incas worshiped the mountains and believed that young children, usually the most beautiful and perfect of the community, had to be sacrificed to the top of the highest mountains as an offering to Mother Earth. So Juanita was found by fluke when a scientist climbed this volcano whilst the glacier preserving her was melting. It was very creepy to see such a well preserved mummy although I do believe that the people going on about how beautiful she is, need to have their eyes checked!

That night a few of us decided to go out on the town. We made the most of the 4 for 10soles deal at a pub and then moved on to a club to dance. It turned out to be a very interesting night with alcohol doing the talking and starting a few interesting DNM´s. We stumbled into bed at around 4.

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