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Lima to Quito – The written version

Jan 26th to 28th 2011

I survived!!!

It really does amaze me what we put ourselves through in the name of travel and volunteering. Before I arrived in Peru my longest bus trip was a whopping 3hrs. In preparation for my long haul to Ecuador I did 2 trips of 6hrs each in the span of 3 days from Cusco to Lake Titicaca and back.

Finally the day arrived to bus to Ecuador, it was an estimated 30 to 48 hrs (give or take a day I guess). My friend Fernando, from Lima, and I had looked at all the options and came up with 2 possibilities for the trip.
(A) take a bus that will run the entire distance (the downside is that it was a less known company and bus quality was a question)
or
(B) take a well known bus co. to Tumbes (Peru border town), get picked up by a shuttle and go through the border then dropped off at the Ecuador bus station. (This allowed some time to stretch and at least the first half guaranteed of a good bus).

We opted for option two… it might have been better to go with option 1!!!
Leaving at 4.30pm I had planned to go on the super first class section, with seats that go almost all the way down. Unfortunately this wasn’t an option but luckily I got the 2nd level seat at the very front for a panoramic view of the trip. I had no seat mate so I was able to “stretch” out and get some sleep. We were even given a small meal and a drink.

Section 1 on the comfy bus with the panoramic view took 20hrs and I pulled into the border town of Tumbes around noon to be accosted by hundreds of taxi drivers.
WTF
This is when things went downhill. There was supposed to be someone to meet me and shuttle me across the Peru and Ecuador border immigration depositing me at the Panamerica bus station for the next leg. Turns out there was no one to meet me, the phone number I had went to voicemail and the taxi drivers at the bus terminal were aggressive to say the least. Eventually the bus station clerk told me my ride was here, a taxi driver hired by the company. He said that his job was to take me through Peru immigration and then leave me at the border to take a taxi alone… Mmm this was the exact thing I had been hoping to avoid, as I had heard taxi drivers regularly take advantage of travelers.
Calling for help
Calling a friend in Peru he explained what i had already guessed from the driver but said the driver was willing to come with me if I was scared about crossing alone. I decided to take him up on his offer, not only to prevent being scammed but also because he was happy to carry my big bag. Peru immigration was a breeze and Ecuador wasn’t much different, just a longer wait. My Peru cabby left me at the bus station after he had got me checked in and made sure I knew where a good place to eat was. I gave him a tip and thanked him profusely.
Panamerica
With a 2hr wait I twiddled my thumbs and caught up with my diary. Finally it was boarding time and it turned out the good bus was being saved for special occasions. Our bus was cleaned with air freshner, am fairly certain had at least one roach and during the following 18 hr trip its bathroom was locked.

But I had no seat mate so I made the best of it and tried to sleep. Finally only 1hr from Quito at about 2am in the morning I started to relax and think it was almost over. Then we stopped! A landslide had blocked our way. Our choices were an 8hr detour or parking and sleeping it out. As no one spoke English I had to muddle my way through and I guessed when we pulled over that option 2 was decided upon. I started to cry and then realised I was too tired to even do that and just made myself as comfy as possible.
Quito, I could kiss you
We finally pulled in at 8am, I caught a taxi to my friends and finally was able to crash out. But first things first I had had to pee for the last 3hrs.

I have spent the last 2 days in Quito and after another 5hr bus trip (this one coming with complimentary S bends numbering in the 1000’s I am sure), I am in Tena. Tomorrow I will attempt to find the bus and head into the jungle. All I hope is that my canoe is there waiting for me.

Now the jungle adventures begin with biting sand flies, monkeys and wild tourists!

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Lime to Quito Day 21 ->23 – A photo diary

Jan 26th 2011

Luckily I had the front window seat on the 2nd level so you get a panoramic view:

leaving Lima


Heading on the highway


Dinner: rice, chicken and some kind of drink


A view of the coastline


Driving along the coast


End of day 1 (total of 8hrs - 4pm to midnight)

Jan 27th 2011

Another 12hrs at least of driving today, before reaching the border town of Tumbes.

waking up from a decidedly strange angle


Breakfast....I think


rolling rolling rolling


rolling rolling rolling somewhere around hour 17


Pulling into Tumbes. Section 1 lasted a total of 20hrs

You are now entering Ecuador

waiting in the Ecuador Panamerica bus station


No panoramic seat this time, trying to get comfy


Entering the banana fields


the mountains, around hour 30 of trip


My bed for night 2

end of day 2

Jan 28th 2011
A landslide detained us a further 3hrs when we were only an hour from Quito…

I survived! Barely! total trip 42hrs!

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Lima Day 19 -> 20 – Final bus preparations

Jan 24th 2011

Cheers…for now!
I have never been a fan of farewells and often prefer to say “see you later” in the hope that friends will once again be reunited on the road somewhere.
This morning I was returning to Lima for 2 days before heading on the epic bus trip to Quito, Ecuador. But first I had to say farewell to Wilson the hostel manager, Logan the American and Cathleen, one of my best ever travel partners. When I finally got in the cab and gave another round of hugs I was on the verge of tears. I am really going to miss this place and the hostel that became a 2nd home. If only good things could last longer.

Musical Gates
I arrived at the airport, checked in and as the clerk gave me my gate pass he said “oh and I managed to get you on an earlier flight”. Awesome! I thought until I looked at the time it was leaving. Flight 101 would leave at 10.50am, it was now 10.33am and I hadn’t got through security yet. I made a mad, panicked dash towards the gate, got through security who then decided to check my bag! I glanced over at gate 1 and noticed there was no one lining up, a small surge of panic started to grow. The security check point cleared me and I skidded to a halt in front of the gate at 10.47am. I handed my pass and as a concerned look spread over their faces I feared the dreaded words of “I am sorry the gate is closed”. Instead the following discussion occurred:
“You are at the wrong gate”
“But it says gate 1”
“All the airlines use this gate”
“so where do I go”
“We don’t know we are LAN airlines”
“My flight leaves in 1minute can you call someone?”
“No we are LAN you are on Star Peru”
“I know can you call someone?”
“No we are LAN”
It was starting to feel like a stuck record.
“Do you have any suggestions?”
“Ask security”
I dashed over to the security officers showed them my ticket they mumbled something in Spanish which was possibly along the lines of “gate 1 like your ticket says, stupid tourists”.
Frustrated I went to the monitor with all the flights and gates, every flight had a gate… but mine! Of course it would never be that easy. There were 5 gates in the terminal and no Star Peru sign or person anywhere to be found, I was starting to wonder if they truly existed or if I had bought a ticket on a mythical airline.

Back at the tv monitor I waited with baited breath as more flights had gates added, all except mine (which according to my ticket had left 5 minutes ago). I noticed an older gentleman with the same befuddled expression and asked if he was seeking the same gate as me. We both went over to gate 4 (what his ticket said) and once again received the following explanantion:
“we are LAN you are on Star Peru, we can not call anyone, we are LAN”.
At this point I did exchange a few choice words (under my breath) at LAN airlines. And went to sit and look confused with what turned out to be about 50 passengers all the same limbo as I was.

Suddenly there was an announcement for Star Peru to Lima at gate 1. Woohoo this is it, we all jumped up and formed a line, just as a F@$%#*g LAN person came down the line saying “This is LAN you are Star Peru”. Just as I was considering the action of physical violence I noticed a person, surreptitiously dragging a Star Peru sign and virtually leaped on him. Once I confirmed he was indeed dragging the sign of the mythical airline towards the mythical gate I yelled out “Star Peru to Lima this way”, among much giggles from the surrounding mass we surged after him… to Gate 4.

We lined up neatly and waited, and waited and waited. It looked like my earlier flight was going to leave at the original time of my ticket. Go figure!

Well I waited I chatted with the older gentleman and his wife and discovered they were on a tour, but due to his severe altitude sickness that landed him in hospital, they had to return to Lima and wait for the group. Thank heavens I never had it that bad.

Lima
Back in Lima I grabbed a cab and relieved the fear of driving in that city. They truly have no rules and I think if you ever decide to drive yourself be sure to have a license in Defensive Driving with a major in Offensive and an emphasis in crazy! It will be the only way to survive. And yet with the insanity of it all I have not seen any accidents, only drivers proudly displaying numerous dents.

Fernando had emphasized that he did not want me waiting at the house alone, as I had no key, and to call him as soon as I arrived at the airport. I managed to borrow the taxi drivers phone and rang him, saying I would be there in about 30minutes. When I got to the house the outer gate was open, thankfully, and I ended up sitting out side the front door for almost 40minutes. Turned out he got busy. Oh well.

That night I made dinner and we just hung out, started packing and sorting for Ecuador.

Jan 25th 2011
Today was a day of errands and hanging out. I packed well Fernando went to do some work. Then we went to the historic district and I picked up some more string for jewelery and postcards. We had chicken for dinner and then head back home.

My bus leaves at 4pm tomorrow so I sorted a few more things out and was in bed by around 11pm.

Tomorrow the next adventure begins!

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Cusco Day 8 – So This is Altitude!

Jan 13th 2011

Woke up constantly through the night checking the time. I never sleep well before a trip and this one was no exception. When the alarm finally did go off and I dragged myself out of bed I discovered that Fernando had apparently bounded out of bed and was literally giddy with excitement. He said it was because I was going to go to Cusco and Machu Picchu, but it might have been that he would have the place to himself (At least till his sister arrived in a day or 2). So well I searched for coffee, I also tried to comprehend the list of suggestions and tips that he was spouting at me, not an easy task let me tell you.

Tips for Altitude Sickness
– eat light (pasta or vegetables, no heavy red meat)
– eat carbohydrates (bread and pasta)
– chew coca leaves (place in mouth and pull main vein out)
– drink coca tea
– drink LOTS of water
– pace yourself, don’t do too much at one time (fine with me)
– practice taking deep breaths and holding them to get O2 to your lungs
– eat candy (again fine with me)
– try to avoid chocolate (boo) but if you feel depressed then it is good to have some (well I am sure I can figure that one out ­čśë )

Awaiting my Chariot
All too soon the taxi arrived and I headed out to explore part of Peru on my lonesome. Thank heavens for WiFi at Lima airport and all it wasn’t long before it was time to board. In the meantime I had met an American couple that were heading to Machu Picchu that evening and then after a day or two there heading to Quito, Ecuador with a 16hr layover (planned) to explore and then off to the Galapagos Islands. It seemed fairly crazy to me to just bounce around seeing all the sights but not getting a feel for the place. I can just imagine them sitting with a checklist ticking as much off as possible in as little time as possible. Just crazy I tell ya. And I really hope they don’t suffer from the altitude otherwise their plans could be up in smoke.

And Then it Hit Me
When we landed I decided to take it easy and not rush to get off the plane. I was wondering why half the plane had the same idea until I realised they were staying on for a further leg of a trip, very nearly didn’t get off the plane. As I walked off the plane I immediately felt unsteady and a tightness in my chest. I am sure some of the staff thought I was drunk as it seems that it was exceptionally easy to be thrown off balance. Its crazy to think I could be affected so quickly.

My taxi from the hostel hadn’t arrived yet, so I stood and kept shoeing potential taxi drivers away in between trying to take deep breaths without hyperventilating.

Flying Dog Hostel
Finally it arrived and speeded on its way to the hostel. A tiny place at the top of a slight hill (although at altitude it felt like a 90degree slope), with only 23 beds, a spiral staircase, comfy couches, DVDs and a big screen tv. I was in the dorm room and grabbed the bed by the little balcony. The beds were the most comfortable I believe I have every had in a hostel before and I immediately took a nap.

Dinner at Nuna Raymi’s
Around 5pm I crawled out of bed, feeling like I had had a major party the night before. Its not fair to be hungover without the fun. I figured I should attempt to find dinner and perhaps walk around. Promptly got lost trying to find the recommended location. Apparently another side effect, for me at least, of Altitude Sickness, is the single minded drive to find said location, I considered the option of going somewhere else, but only briefly, I wanted to find Nuna Raymi’s, end of story. After wandering up and down the same street for what seemed like ages I realised I had walked past it numerous times. there was no one else there but the staff were very nice and seemed to speak limited English. Still I managed to order a plate of pasta with olive oil, fresh tomatoes and Andean cheese. When it arrived it was delicious and I ate it with as much gusto as I could manage.

Round about then a large tour group arrived, and the leader announced that the head waiter (my Spanish speaking waiter) would tell them more about the menu. Out of no where he suddenly discovered the gift of English and could describe the dishes quite well. And yet when he returned to me he fell back into Spanish. It was all rather amusing. Someone in the group ordered Cuy, roasted guinea pig, it is considered a delicacy in Peru. They brought it out for pictures then took it in the back to cut it up.
For those with sensitive consitutions please beware

After dinner I headed back to the hostel and just vegged, I felt like I had run a marathon, was recovering from pneumonia and had a hangover all at the same time. Not a happy feeling on any given day. I had a headache, short of breath and general exhaustion. So a movie and bed seemed like a fantastic idea.

Stay tuned as I continue to battle to breathe and meet a couple of Brits to hang out with.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2011 in RTW, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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Lima Day 7 – Emotional

Jan 12th 2011

Today was quite overwhelming, most likely due to a combination of hormones and preparing for my trip to Cusco. Turns out Fernando would most likely have to leave for the afternoon to help a friend and may not be back till the next day. Which meant we had to organize a taxi to pick me up at about 6am in the morning.

Laundry
we headed to his parents to get some laundry done, but there was a lot going on in the house and I hid in the kitchen trying to get some email work done. Just as I had decided to give up on the dryer, it was just making the wet clothes warm rather than dry, Rosa, the housekeeper announced she had made us lunch. So I went and hung everything on the line, considering the scorching nature of the day I guessed my laundry would be dry in about 10 min.

Conversations
Fernando and I started chatting over lunch and it took all sorts of philosophical twists and turns, ending in me trying to explain why I was wanting to do this trip and what I wanted to get out of it. Suddenly he said “I know you want to feel safe”, he hit the nail on the head, and I got a wee bit emotional. But sucked it up and we moved on to collecting the laundry.

Its really not about being unhappy in one place or another, its more about finding that place and or person that makes you want to stay put, or something along those lines.

We got home and Fernando headed out, I was not sure when he might return but we had booked the taxi and he had given me precise spanish instructions on how to call and confirm the taxi.

Hot Water and time Out
Thank the heavens we had hot water in at least one shower. It turned out to be more luke warm, but it took the chill away and it felt wonderful. So giving myself a time out, I had a shower, washed my hair and just generally took it easy. Made some roast chicken with left overs from the night before using some medium Nando’s Peri Peri spice I had brought with me. It was delicious. Then I watched “I am Legend” caught up on my diary and suddenly all was right with the world.

Impromptu Spanish Class
Suddenly Fernando returned with a friend in tow, who spoke very limited English, and the evening turned into an impromptu Spanish class. It was a lot of fun and good to have everyone in a light hearted mood after that morning. I was taught some basics and then also some colloquial words to use to, how should I say, get my point across.

By midnight I headed to bed and Fernando set his alarm. A good day in the end, even if the morning was a bit tough.

Stay tuned for my arrival in Cusco and discovering the real meaning of Altitude sickness.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Lima day 5 – solo adventure and museums

Jan 10th 2011

Today Fernando has a business meeting out of the city and so I have the whole day to keep myself occupied. I decide that it is time to step out on my own and test my skills on local transport. Heading out to the appropriate curb I grab a bus heading to Miraflores so I can meet up with Katia and see her shop. Fernando had instructed me to catch the green, red and white bus to Barranco. However, I recognised the name of Chorillyos and knew it was after Barranco, after quickly checking with the guy if they head to Miraflores I jumped on.

The small local busses that you just grab on the side of the street have a ticket taker come intense collector of passengers. These men and women ride half hanging out of the bus announcing the destination and trying to encourage folks to ride their bus. In between these techniques to attract new customers they wander around the bus jingling change and collecting the fair. It is all rather amusing.

The ticket taker on this bus kept giving me encouraging winks (at least thats what I am going with) and when a guy came and stood right in front of me he tried to make the guy move so I could see. The guy didn’t but I appreciated the attempt. After about 30min I finally recognised the big circle and bus stop and hopped off. What a relief. After a quick call to Katia she came and met me.

Her store is fantastic, with lots of cute and …. interesting stuff made by local young designers. The best was still Katia’s jewellery and I really want to buy a pair of her earrings. We hung out at her store as she worked on updating the inventory and price stickers for the new year. Around noon we walked over to a chifa (small chinese restaurant) and met Danny for lunch. But first, bless her heart, we had an icecream, she is a girl after my own heart.

We had the ever present Inka Kola and pork/veggies and crunchie noodles. Very filling and delicious. Walking back to the bus stop I hopped on the next bus and headed home.

I had hoped to get some laundry done, but when I got back to the house, Fernando’s mom was there and I could tell she was really busy so didn’t want to ask. Instead I decided to head to the museum she had recommended. As luck would have it, Fernando’s dad was heading out the door so gave me a ride.

Larco Museum:

The museum was amazing, very well laid out and not overwhelming. The exhibits were inset into a black wall and so the lighting was perfect. They even had a small room with a library and free internet (at least I assumed it was free). There was a room for what I can only assume was the overstock, glass case after glass case of pottery all sorted into sections. It just blows your mind.

Fernando’s parents had told me there was also an Erotica exhibit of Inca pottery (which was a little weird having them telling me to check it out). It turned out to be almost hidden away with the lights off. As you enter the lights come on section by section. I had thought this was because of children, but according to Fernando it is due to the prudish nature of the catholic religion. Lets just say the Incas left little to the imagination and one could get quite hot under the collar.
WARNING SENSITIVE PICTURES BELOW

Once I was all done there I headed home and decided to just walk the 15 blocks hoping to come across a bakery I had seen on the way. I didn’t find the bakery but just when I decided to have an icecream from one of the guys selling them on bikes, there were none to be found. Go figure. By the time I got home I was exhausted and crashed for 2hrs. Fernando came home around 10pm and we watched “Descent 2”, stupid scary, but amusing all the same.

Stay tuned for further adventures through “cat park”, more new friends and string glorious string.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Lima day 4 – Pachacamac, seafood and wetlands

Jan 9th 2011

Fernando had got in really late, or rather early this morning, but we still managed to crawl out of bed around 8.30am. We headed over to his parents house to check email and, as usual, she fed us.

The plan for today was to pick up Danny and head out to an archaeological site. The coast of Peru is desert, with very fine sand that gets into everything, but it also means it preserves sites very well.

“Our” sense of direction got a little muddled, we found Avenido Baden Powell but kept turning the wrong way to get to Danny’s house. Eventually we figured it out and picked him up. On the way out of the city Katia called and said she would join, so we parked in the shade and waited for her to catch up in the taxi.

Before long we were speeding out of the city and all its craziness. The cultural site we were headed to is called, Pachacama, or The Sun Temple. It just rises out of the sand and is truly breathtaking. Civilization is encroaching quickly, and there are sure to be further parts of the Sun Temple under these towns.

Here is a small blurb about the temple from http://www.labyrinthina.com/pachacamac:

“Pachacamac (pronounced: pah cha kamak) lies 25 miles SE of Lima adjacent to the Pan American highway astride the Pacific coastline. “Pachac├ímac” in Quechua means “Pacha” world, and “camac” to animate — “The One who Animates the World.” The site was considered one of the most important religious centers of the indigenous peoples of the central Andes, and contains a number of pyramids. Spanish historical records, along with extensive archaeological research, have served to clarify its history and significance. Built centuries before the time of the Incas, Pachacamac is noted for its great pyramidal temples, and for the remains of frescoes adorning its adobe walls. Culturally and chronologically it is related to Chancay, and other centers of the Cuismancu empire, including Huari. At the time of the Spanish conquest it was a major Inca shrine.

According to legend – “in the beginning there were no foods for the first man and the first woman, and the man died of starvation. The Sun then fertilized the woman and she produced an offspring. Pachac├ímac became jealous of his heir, and killed the offspring, scattering the remains. These became the essential ingredients of humanity: the “teeth of man” were maize, his “bones”, yuca. Artistic images of Pachacamac do not exist, he was considered invisible. However, a wooden staff, thought to be a representation of Pachacamac, was found in 1938 during an excavation of the site. Miguel de Estete writes on the matter, “the Idol makes them [the Incas] understand that it can sink them if they anger it!” Tremors and earthquakes were expressions of his anger.”

After wandering around and exploring we headed out to get some lunch and what a lunch it was. First on the menu was lightly cooked fish in lemon juice with a yellow chilli sauce, then calamari and finishing with a sort of Paella. Delicious. Of course inka cola and beer to join and at the very start a bowl full of something similar to corn nuts, but way tastier.

Our final stop was some wetlands that even had some basic environmental education. It turned out to be cheaper, and way more fun, to row around the wetlands vs walking. Unfortunately these boats were not very easy to row and on numerous occasions we ended up in the reeds and hysterics. There were many kinds of birds, including cormorants, ducks, a type of vulture, egrets and many more. Some of the most fun I have had to date.

Before parting ways we stopped in Lima and picked up a kind of fruit shaved ice, I had pineapple and it was delicious. We dropped off Katia and Danny and then stopped by a store to pick up some things and get the car washed. Well we were there I got a long sleeved mens button up shirt, per the biologists, this is vital in the jungle as I can use that over my clothes and spray it with deet (insect repellent) instead of myself.

When we finally made it home we made some dinner (rather Fernando did) and relaxed a bit. Fernando had to go to his folks house as he had a really early morning and needed all his paperwork and such. I spent the evening watching Iron Man 2 and went to bed early..ish.

Stay tuned for my adventures as I take the bus solo, have some bad news on my volunteer work and exploring the Larco museum.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Lima day 3 – Tickets, Phones and a Taste of Peru

Jan 8 2011
The plan, again, had been to get up early and head out to get a whole bunch of errands done and back in time for Fernando to head out for a meeting. But needles to say we got a very late start.

We were supposed to head into Miraflores to sort out my tickets to Cusco, get me a phone and then visit Katia at her store. We only managed the first two and then had to rush home by taxi to make sure Fernando could head out in time.

As he left he ordered me to be brave and attempt to walk around as much as possible. I made it to the store up the road and bought juice, cereal, chocolate and beer :), then stopped at then stopped at the internet cafe and checked on a few things. Heading home I discovered that Fernando’s parents had stopped by and had left me note.

Later on after a delicious hotdog for dinner and a shower, I relaxed and worked on a few things. His parents showed up a couple of hours later with some things for the house and offered to show me around the neighborhoods and point out the locations of a few museums.

They then decided to take me to the area of Barranco and let me try a few Peruvian delicacies. At that point I had not known that that was where we had been the night before and after Fernando’s mom called him she was a little annoyed at the fact that I had been to the exact place she wanted to take me. Instead we went to another famous restaurant and we had 3 varieties of savory tamales and one sweet. We also had 2 very sweet and super delicious desserts, but I think I was on the verge of a sugar coma. The first was almost bread pudding like, it had bread cubes, coconut chunks, raisins and soaked in a sweet coco sauce. The other was a rich caramel base with sweetened soft meringue on top. To go along with this I was given an amazing Pisco drink that had an almost Bailey’s Irish cream feel to it, but oh so much better. Pisco Algarrobina, simply delicious!

After a short walk around the square we headed home. His parents are amazing and I really appreciated the tour. I got to bed at the early hour of around 11.30pm.

Stay tuned as the adventure continues and we head into the desert to visit old temples, eat delicious sea food and row around a wetland.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Lima day 2 – New friends, new locations and a whole lot of heart…

Jan 7 2011
This morning turned out to be a great day to relax. Fernando had to go out the whole morning to do errands for a new business venture and I spent the morning recovering, catching up on my diary and reading.

Later we went over to his parents where his mom fed us an amazing traditional meal of quinoa with beef, rice and boiled potatoes. delicious. I was also able to call the folks and check email. We also discussed possible trip plans and emailed some hostels. http://www.bootsnall.com sent me a proposal for link exchanges that should help me pay for a hostel night here and there.

After a quick change we headed to the district of Miraflores, the trendy area of Lima, to meet up with some friends. We met Danny, a masters student, at his place and hung out discussing his recent trip into the jungle and looking at photos of Machu Picchu. Fernando and Danny enjoyed, how should we say, a relaxing smoke, and around 10pm we headed out to meet Katia (Danny’s girlfriend). All 3 of them are biologists and met in school, its great discussing with them my upcoming venture in the Ecuadorian, its not so great realizing I might not be as ready as I thought I was. Oh well…
Katia now designs her own jewellery and some of it was worn by a Peruvian actress at the oscars. She also owns her own store that sells hand made items by trendy designers.

After meeting up we headed to the night scene area of Barranco and a famous restaurant for dinner. There was a line of close to 20 people waiting to get in, but the place has 3 levels and the line moves relatively quickly. Danny and Katia waiting in line and Fernando and I headed to explore some of the area (its great having a private tour guide). We came across this guy doing the most insane artwork (I will post a series of photos at the end of this entry for you to see). He uses spray paint and fire (call me crazy but I seem to remember mum telling me not to mix the two) and local household shapes like plates and lids, to create surreal landscapes, incredible.

All too soon it was time for dinner. The 3 of them ordered all in Spanish and I just sat there smiling like an idiot awaiting my fate. When it arrived it smelled delicious, braai’d/bbq’d kebabs sort of thing. With big pieces of potato and corn on the cob (not the american sweet corn but real maze, or mielies in South Africa). When I asked for a run down of what I was about to consume, Katia’s response was “don’t worry just eat it, it will be fine!” Well with that kind of reassurance what could I do but dig in. As I ate something in the back of my mind was telling me I knew what this was. Almost at the same I pointed to the one plate of little pieces of delicacies and looked at Danny, we both said intestines. Then I looked at the kebab on my plate, beef heart, and the one on Katia’s plate, chicken heart. Mmmmmm….. well it tastes good! I had a couple more pieces but soon found the potato was delicious and focused on that.

Along with now being full of heart I also had my first run in with Inka Kola, a glow in the dark yellow substance that has a similar taste to mountain dew but not quite. Rather yummy all around.
The finale was my favorite, a kind of fried donut type thing (close to vetkoek in South Africa) dribbled with a syrup made from sugar cane, A MA ZING!!!

But they were not done yet. There were still new and exciting things to introduce me too and this lot were on a mission. The next stop was a local hang out, more like a hole in the wall. Some older locals had broken out guitars and were crooning out Peruvian songs and adding a fantastic atmosphere. Apparently before the owner died recently, he would sit in the bar every night and fall asleep in the corner even with all the noise of the bar. He died at about 95!

The boys ordered us a Chilcano de Pisco, which is the local liquor Pisco mixed with ginger ale. WOW! Goes down smooth but hits you hard! I couldn’t finish mine, but Fernando was happy to oblige. He also ordered a shot of Pisco so I could try is straight, if I had to compare its almost like a very fine tequila. Nice flavor, doesn’t burn but you feel the subtle warmth about 5 seconds after intake.

Hopping in a taxi we headed back to Danny’s, that turned out to be Katia and his workshop not apartment. While the boys indulged in another relaxing smoke, Katia showed me all her stunning jewellery. I definately want to buy some. Then it was time to hop in a cab and head home, and wouldn’t you have guessed it was 2am.

After I quick shower I headed to bed and the sounds of Fernando playing warcraft. I think he finally made it to bed around 4.30am.

Another great day, with great people and interesting experiences.

Below is the progression of the amazing artwork in the park:

Stay tuned for further adventures as we attempt to sort out my tickets, buy a phone and the folks take me for a spin around the neighborhood.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Lima day 1 – Better out than in…

January 6th 2011

Well the aforementioned 7am wake up time for a full day of touring was rescheduled to 10am as neither of us were in any state to wake up before double digits graced the clock. Fernando had just spent a week up north with friends and I had, well, just flown across the world.

So finally rousing ourselves, we decided to grab some juice for breakfast and head to the historic district. The temperature was around a balmy 20C (68F) and beautifully sunny. I was given the option of taxi or local bus and voted for diving head first into local transport. It was insane and fantastic. As I mentioned before, drivers in Lima don’t exactly follow rules and a pedestrian definately does not have right of way. The hooter/horn is a drivers best friend and is used as a communication device pretty much. And yet even with the insanity and swerving and 5 cars wide on a 2 lane road there did not seem to be any collisions.

Surviving my first bus ride we got down near the entrance to the historic district and Fernando continued to give me tour guide like information on everything, it was fascinating. Remnants from the colonial era when Spain controlled Peru are everywhere. Beautiful window box balconies are everywhere, with intricate woodwork and stunning colors.

Tile work is found in every nook and cranny and just blow you away by the complexity of it all.

Today is known as “Three Kings Day”. Local Police, I believe, dress up as the Three Kings of the Orient and hand out gifts to the city’s children. Even their horses were dresses up with colorful ear covers. There was a general feel of festivity and there were art shows focusing on the birth of Christ and parades everywhere.

After buying a small bag we went in search of food. I was starting to feel really tired and realised that I had not been drinking water, but shrugged it off as I listened to more fascinating facts about the city. The river that runs through Lima is translated into “The Talking River”. Unfortunately with modernisation it doesn’t so much talk as it does groan.

Finally deciding on some lunch, I had fried chicken cutlet and chips and a glass of water. Fernando also ordered us a glass of Chicha, a drink made from a species of dark purple corn and is quite delicious and refreshing. I began to feel a little better, but still not so hot, or rather very hot.
Heading to the other side of the plaza we came across this amazing old guy painting on the side of the road, his work is amazing. He showed up to his gallery which is essentially a stair case. He had oils, watercolors, pencil drawings from all over Peru and he wanted to show me all and explaing everything (through Fernando). There was one was one painting of a moon over the ocean and I swear you could almost hear the ocean it looked so alive (note the bottom painting in the photo). But it would be near impossible to get home and I think above my budget. I settled for a small watercolor of a Peruvian child and said goodbye, my mind still lost in the ocean scene.

We stopped to get me some more water and Fernando had a beer and then headed over to Church of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals. If only I felt better I could have enjoyed it more. But as it was I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this place. I am not a religious person, but there were areas that make you want to stop and take a moment and feel the power in the walls. Most of the church is made from natural plant materials and therefore are resistant to earthquakes. One of my favorite rooms was the library, with original books from the 1400’s. Moving onto the catacombs, not for the squeamish or claustrophobic, we discovered 1000’s of bones laid to rest here hundreds of years ago. The church and monastery was the first public cemetery at the time and around 25,000 people were buried here. The catacomb walls are made of bricks with a thick layer of pebbles mixed with the whites from sea bird eggs and soil. Another form of earthquake prevention.

Upon our exit I felt terrible and even a short sit in a lovely park did not make me feel better. So we grabbed a taxi and headed home. Enthusiastic as ever, Fernando continued to give me interesting details and facts. Unfortunately I don’t remember any of them as I was 100% focused on not throwing up in the cab. When we got home I ran upstairs and made it just in time. I am fairly certain I could have earned a role in the exorcist as I swear the last weeks worth of food managed to make its way back up again. Crawling into bed Fernando checked on me and brought me some water. He headed out to do some errands and let me recover. I passed out for about 2 hrs until round two hit me, this time from both ends! I was not a happy camper and crawled back into bed. After some more water I started feeling ok, I guess the old adage “Better out than in” is very true.

Around 8pm I surfaced again. I had a shower, a cold one. And drank some more water, still couldn’t eat anything. Around 10pm I was trying to remember if Fernando had said he was staying at his parents house that night due to an early meeting or if that was tomorrow night. Finally I decided to give my US cell phone a try as the house had no landline. Surprisingly it worked and he answered, and as is Murphy’s Law he was 2 blocks away with his parents.

Wait a minute! Did he say with his parents? Here I am in my pj’s, still white as a sheet, barely able to keep water down and this is going to be my initial meeting… Well his parents are amazing and his mom brought me an amazing plate of food. Peruvian chicken curry, rice and boiled potato. It was delicious but I could barely eat 3 or 4 bites, I felt bad for not being able to eat more. But there was no need to worry and his mom also peeled a prickly pear for me which was amazing, but again could only eat half.

After about an hour they headed home. Fernando insisted we sit and watch a movie and since I had already slept the last 5hrs I figured why not. We got to bed around 2am and I could see a new bedtime was developing. I guess I wasn’t in Kansas anymore, or rather Oregon where 9pm sounded perfectly fine.

Stay tuned for more adventures including meeting new friends, exploring new areas and tasting new food…

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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