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Published: October 25th 2009
Good bye and good luck Pete!
Hola! Which as I’m sure most of you know is hello in Spanish. Sorry it has taken so long to update our trip to South America. We've been non stop since we got here, but finally after many trials and tribulations we're in Peru. We spent a very quick week in Vancouver which seemed to pass in no time. Then before we knew it it was time to head to the airport. I met up with Peter a fellow Dereck and I met in Beijing in 2006 as Petey was here in Vancouver at the same time, and as it turned out he was going to the airport more or less the same time as he was heading to California after picking fruit up in the Okanagan (northern BC) and earning a bit of cash. So my brother kindly drove me, Pen and Peter to the airport at 4am. Thanks Jay! Then we said our goodbyes to Jay and Petey and we were on our way. Apart from me losing moose at some point, and Penny finding him we boarded with no problems, stopped in LA for 3 or so hours, then were on our way to Lima. We slept most
Not so pretty, big sand dunes!
of the flight, apart from watching a few movies and we also played a wee game on the computer/video screen that taught us a bit of Spanish then quizzed you. I managed to get about 90% of the Spanish correct, the same for German, and my French was perfect! Whoo hoo! Penny did pretty well with the Spanish too.
We landed in Lima at around 1am, and typically we were assaulted by a swarm of taxi drivers all plying their trade on us. However we shoo’d, no thank you’d, and no gracias’d our way out of the swarm and over to the information desk. We showed them the address of a hostel we’d looked up on the internet in Vancouver and she said, no problem about 10 mins from here by taxi, and about 10 sols (about $3us) by taxi. We were advised to use the green taxi company. So we came across Orlando who spoke reasonable English, and between my bad Spanish, and his ok English we negotiated to get to our hostel. As it turned out there were communication issues as we were heading towards Lima and somehow the price went up to 50 sols. So we
Pen at Puno after a rough night at Altitude with not very good sleep.
told him to take us back to the airport, at which point he magically drove us into the area that was on our address, but surprise surprise said he couldn’t find our hostel, and told us that this area was not safe. Now Pen and I would have to agree the place was probably a slum, but hey this isn’t Paris, it’s a country where the average person earns under $9,000 US. However, we didn’t have a choice really we could go back to the airport and try again or go to a hotel that Orlando suggested. We opted to go for Orlando’s suggestion. We got there and paid 70s for an ensuite room, then 30s to Orlando for the taxi, and the cheeky bugger asked for a tip, and the smallest bill I had was 10 solas. So our first hour in Lima cost us 110s, or almost $40. We basically went to our room, locked the door had a shower and went to bed. The next morning we slept till 10am, and negotiated with a manager at the hotel for him to take us into Lima for 30s, which he did and no tip. Much better. The drive
Puno on the way out
Loads of houses all the way up the hills.
in was eye opening, buildings half built or half destroyed, hard to say. Concrete and rubble in the streets, dogs running wild on every corner, people at stalls selling all sorts of goods, dust and dirt everywhere, dirt side streets, and lots of graffiti. We’re defo not in Vancouver anymore! Our driver didn’t speak any English so between my crap Spanish and hand gestures we managed to say that we wanted to get to a bus station in central Lima. He put us on to a friend on his cell phone who spoke English and we confirmed our request. They found it bizarre we just wanted to be dropped off in the middle of Lima with no hotel, no friends, or anything. However that’s what they did. They dropped us off near a large Plaza and we found a tourist office where we booked a bus to Cuzco for 4pm that day, then went to find a way to Miraflores, the shopping center. We stopped a man and woman police officer who were walking the streets and asked in Spanish for directions to Miraflores, they surprised us by answering in English that we could take a bus or a taxi,
The highest elevation, navigable lake in the world...just outside Puno.
but the bus might be dangerous. Then they surprised us again by telling us they were tourism police, and that they would walk us to the bus stop and help us get on the right one. Wow! So we walked for about 15 mins exchanging information on where we lived, married? Children? Etc. I was walking with the female officer who was fascinated by how Penny and I met, and what we’ve been doing. While the male officer and Penny chatted about Australia and the climate as well as how he had always wanted to be a police officer and that it had been in his heart (which he touched to demonstrate for Pen). So after they’re help we got on the bus and met Gilberto our driver who wanted to practice his English and that was fine because I wanted to practice my rusty Spanish! We exchanged a few pleasantries, asked a few basic questions, then he asked for my email address….so why not. I gave him my old hotmail address. We arrived at Miroflores which was much like Yonge St in Toronto, Buchanan in Glasgow, or Broadway in Vancouver. Shops everywhere and plenty of people bustling about. Finally
Llama's and Cows
Meat, wool, and ploughing...they're pretty important to these people.
we started to relax a little feeling a bit safer. We found a Peru guidebook in a bookstore, bought some supplies for our 24 hour bus ride to Puno, and just made it to the bus station in time.
We checked our luggage in and got on the bus and spent the next 24 hours sleeping, reading, and looking out the windows. The view was fascinating to say the least. The first 20 mins was city, and gradually less and less buildings until we got out into what can only be described as desert like terrain. Large sand dunes that looked like they had been quarried, then more open land with a few scrub plants and not much else apart from the old run down building. It got dark and that was it for the view. We read a bit longer and then slept on and off until about 5 or 6 in the morning. Pen was still asleep, so I pulled back the curtains and had to wake her up. We were now passing through what was clearly desert territory. There was nothing but sand and dirt with the odd yellow grassy plant, but in the distance were
A big lake on the way to Cusco with flamingoes in it!
snow capped mountains, and ahead of us just rolling highway, and no other vehicles to be seen. Wow, this was so contrary to our first few hours in Lima that it was like someone had taken a big scrubby brush and cleaned the land to a shine. We enjoyed the views on and off between reading and finally made it to Puna which was similar to the area of Lima we slept in but on a smaller, and cleaner scale. We got a taxi up to a hostel recommended in our guidebook, and also were trying to get ready for a 4 o’clock tour of Lake Titicaca the highest navigable lake in the world. However at this point we were at 3830m (12566 ft) and we were both suffering a bit from the altitude. We had a headache and were short of breath. However by the time we got to our accommodation Penny needed to lie down. So sadly we missed our Titicaca tour. After a nap we both felt better although Penny was still quite sick. We went for a walk into the town centre and wandered through streets, alleys and squares exploring our first real Peruvian town. It
The indoor photo of the Sistene of South America. It had beautiful paintings hundreds of years old, and there was gold shavings surrounding many of the paintings and architecture
was quite small, and quaint is a good word. There were many Quechan women selling hand made clothing, and crafts, and some local snacks. I bought what was like a biscuit with caramel for about .50s ($.20) and it was good, but there was an old man begging for money so I gave him my biscuit things which he happily took. There were also loads of restaurants all trying to fill their tables with tourists, we saw a church that was getting ready for a wedding, we waited for 15 mins, but no sign of the bride. Then we went for a meal and discovered that our appetites were virtually non existent and that a bowl of soup each, was more than enough and that we couldn’t finish the small pizza we were sharing. We were both feeling ok, but tired so we walked a little more and bought a few wee souvenirs ( I bought a Bolivian coin dated 1884 for about $10) and then walked back to our dorm. We got in had showers and were feeling the effects of altitude sickness again, or soroche in Spanish. We went to bed, and for the first time in my
Local kids sitting outside the SA Sistene
life I had a headache so bad I had to take one of Penny’s migraine pills. It was like someone was driving a nail into the back of my skull, and there were ripples of dull pain rolling across the rest of my brain. I couldn’t sleep and was actually on the verge of tears. I have never in my life felt that kind of pain in my head. So after a migraine pill, and 20 mins of anticipated relief I fell asleep again. Penny was pretty bad, and as she gets migraines regularly she knew hers wasn’t as bad as it could have been and managed to avoid taking a migraine pill. Needless to say the next morning we weren’t exactly feeling rested and ready to go. We had to get up at 6:30 to get to our bus for 7ish as we were doing a tour on the way to Cuzco and Machu Piccu. We got to our bus after haggling with a taxi driver who wanted 5s to get us there, we negotiated 3 and off we went. We got on the bus and pretty much passed out after our guide did his spiel.
The village of the Sistene like chapel was similar to many of the villages we drove past, simple houses, lots of dogs!
a few ruins, and had lunch and also stopped at a market which was at the highest point of the bus ride. We were impressed with how different it was to Lima. There were people in traditional dress, farms with cows plowing fields, dry dirt hills, and then eventually mountains with streams and green trees. We made it to Cuzco and shared a taxi with two Canadian girls we met into one of the main areas of Cuzco, and managed to make our way to our hostel, la Hostel Resbalosa. It was up a few sets of stairs and after much huffing and puffing due to altitude (we were around 3400 meters or 11000 feet) we made it to our hostel, but since we were lower than Puno we definitely felt better in relation to altitude sickness! We dropped our stuff off and went out to try and find a bite to eat. We ended up in a little restaurant up a side alley off the main plaza, I ordered a large beer and ended up with a bottle of beer that was almost a litre! We also had a local drink with our meal called a pisco sour, which
Cactus in the Desert
One of the stops at one of the Inca ruins showed us our first cactus of the trip.
tasted similar to lemon, was very sour, and very high in alcohol! We also met a few people doing the Inca Trail, and Pen decided that if the unfit Australian girl we were talking to could do the Inca trail….so could she, maybe.
We spent the next few days exploring Cusco and getting the low down on what the Inca trail was going to entail, and Penny decided to take the plunge and signed up for the trail. We took a few photo’s of the plaza, the people, had a few coca tea’s which are recommended at altitude, and enjoyed trying out a few local restaurants….Spanish was the order of the day as few people seemed to speak much English. We also witnessed a protest which as far as we could tell was relatively peaceful and about blue collar workers wages. We watched the protest for a bit, took some piccies then went to a cafe with a balcony to watch from afar. Then on our last night before the Inca trail we had a relatively early night as we were being picked up at 5:30am….and so….the Trail beckoned.
Tot: 2.223s; Tpl: 0.054s; cc: 12; qc: 56; dbt: 0.0434s; 2; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.4mb