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Published: March 22nd 2010
Bienvenidos a Peru
Wow -- lots of deser!
Hola a Peru - Tierra de las civilizaciones antiguas
First…the bus ride and the border crossing. We left the city of Loja, Ecuador early in the morning on March 17th. The am street crossing of a 4-lane highway with the 250 luggage wasn’t as bad as we anticipated, and we were glad to get onto the bus and get ourselves settled in for a long day.
A couple of hours out from Loja, we stopped for breakfast. It was a cute little town…but there was really nothing for us to eat…or drink…plus we had great fears of being left..so onward, onward, onward through the incredibly windy Pan-American highway…the ups and downs and twists and turns nearly made me nauseous. Finally, after we reached the border town of Mancara, we all got off the bus and first went into the Ecuadorian immigration office. Lots of paper shuffling, passport stamping and filling out forms. Then we walked across the bridge and crossed into Peru and had to visit two immigration offices on the Peruvian side. Hot and muggy…and lots of waiting. Finally, we returned to the bus and resumed our journey…in Peru.
It was hot and sticky (did I mention
enroute to Chiclayo...
that it was HOT and STICKY?) and we noticed the presence of tuk-tuks, these converted motorcycle, 3-wheeled vehicles. The landscape changed quite dramatically. The lush, steep mountains of Ecuador gave way to dry scrub and eventually desert…and lots of stink…and lots of trash…and lots of handmade brick shacks. It sort of felt like we went from Ecuador to Thailand or something.
The bus attendant put in a movie - called “Fireproof”. I think he thought very carefully about the people on the bus…us, two clergy people, two retired women (one from Australia and one from Ireland) and a fellow from Switzerland. It was actual a reasonable movie with a good message, but had a bit too much of the religious proselytizing for me…oh well, way…way better than American Pie 2, or Terminator 10.
We finally arrived in the Loja International bus station, in Piura, at about 3:00 pm. As we were coming into Piura, we made an immediate and mutual decision to move on to Chiclayo. Why you might ask? HOT…HUMID…not particularly attractive….didn’t get a good feel. So, we unloaded our 250 lbs of gear and took a leap of faith as a taxi driver first took us downtown
view of downtown Chiclayo from our Hostal Sipan
to exchange money (wow - as soon as he stopped, four people, 8 hands thrust into the cab with Nuevo Soles to exchange for USD). We changed out a small amount of money, hoping there were legitimate bills. Then back to a different bus station to take a bus to Chiclayo. Purchased our tickets and sat in the smothering heat and high humidity, gulping water and iced tea for an hour.
At 4:00 pm, we boarded a bus to Chiclayo, a (mere) 3-hour bus ride. We briefly searched for something to eat, before getting on the bus, but only came up with vanilla flavored crackers. Yumm - a great day of food…bread, chips, candy, lollipops, more bread and dry cookies. Still, the girls didn’t complain too much.
We arrived into the Chiclayo bus station(HOT!), at about 7:00 pm (TIRED!!) (HUNGRY!!!). Once again…noisy, traffic, little cabs and tuk-tuks everywhere…WOW - where did we land??? It was dark and all we knew is that we needed to find an “official” taxi to take us to a hostel we had picked out from the ‘South American Handbook….no, no reservation - just winging our way, as so many of these places are
virtually impossible to contact. We figured that..well, Saint Patrick’s day celebration probably isn’t a huge holiday in Peru and that the chances of us finding a place to stay were pretty good. So, we found a taxi and told him to take us to the ‘Hostal Sipan’. We gave him the street address, but of course had no idea in the world where the hotel was, what it looked like, or where the street was. We arrived at ‘Hotel Sipan’ and had a moment of uncertainty. Then the taxi driver started to tell us about another hotel some blocks away. Fortunately the owner of the hotel came out and we lugged our 250 lbs of gear inside and up 3-flights of stairs, clop-clop-clop.
Three single-beds pushed together makes a fine arrangement for sleeping, especially after spending 12-hours on a bus. An oscillating fan adds to the ambience. Dropped our gear and searched off into the muggy night for something to eat.
We negotiated the whir of taxis coming and going in all directions (OMG - it’s crazy, crazy, crazy!!!) and found a place that served plain, buttered pasta with parmesan cheese. I can’t tell you how delicious plain,
Hola from Tumbes
Outside of Chiclayo, Peru
buttered pasta with parmesan cheese tastes, after 12-hrs on a bus and eating nothing more than bread, vanilla cookies, candy and chips. After dinner, we wandered our way back to the hostel/hotel, watched something ridiculous on TV, and fell asleep exhausted in the muggy heat. The girls draped wet towels over them which seemed to help.
On March 18th, we awoke early to the muggy heat - went downstairs to have our breakfast (incluye en el precio) and were told that we only got 2 breakfasts and would have to pay for the additional (Que? Mande?) - welcome to Peru mi amigo de los Estados Unidos donde los precios no son precios exactos - Para Uds - un taxi les cuesta mas - todo cuesta mas…) So after our non-breakfast of 2 watery melon juices, instant coffee and hard bread, we decided to go off in search of another breakfast.
But first we ended up talking with the hotel owner about organized tours to Sipan and the piramides. A tour/owner/manager came by (they waste no time!) and told us he could give us a 6-hr tour to two places for 35 soles per person (140 soles total =
Re-creation of one of the tombs discovered in Sipan in 1989
$50). In that we knew it was very difficult to get to these places on our own…and possibly dangerous…we decided to spring for the excursion (and was it ever worth it!).
The driver took us around to Chiclayo to get some money changed to the office to pay for the tour and dropped us off so we could eat a proper breakfast before embarking on a full day.
PIRAMIDES DE TUCUME (area of 27 pyrmids, 700 A.D. - Hot - felt like we were in Egypt. Great vistas
MUSEO NATURAL DE SICAN - unbelievable archeological finds from the Moche people (well before the Incas). Unfortunately, we couldn’t take any photos, but what we can tell you all is that it was one of the best preserved archeological finds. Ceramic pots, gold, nose rings (none like you’ve ever seen), earrings (none like you’ve ever seen), jewelry, weaponry, bits of cloth, and human remains.
COMPLEJO ARQUEOLOGICO HUACA RAJADA - original site where the senor of sipan and the Viejo de sipan were unearthed in/around 1987.
We ended up doing all three of the tours and were so very glad we did. It was a very full day of
Andy at Tumbes
Might as well have been Egypt!!! HOT!!!!!!!
archeological excursions and again - an incredible experience. We arrived back late at the hotel and went in search of pizza and lo and behold - success!! After our wonderful pizza, found ice cream for our treat, walked back to the hotel and once again, fell asleep in the hot and sticky night.
On March 19th, our last day in Chiclayo, once again we awoke early to sticky sweat. We had intended to re-visit the agency we took the tour with, so they could help us arrange airline tickets from Lima to Arequipa, but we stumbled into another agency and were able to book our tickets (Peruvian Airlines…..best prices). But - when we tried to get money from the ‘cajero’ (most business is done here with cash), we were unable to withdraw any money Y-Y-I-I-K-K-E-E-S-S!!!! Anyway, we were able to use our VISA card to get the tickets, and later on we were able to withdraw Nuevo Soles from the ‘cajero’ (and all our bank balances check out) so PHWEW to all that worrying.
After spending quite a bit of time with that, we visited the Mercado central and of course purchased a couple of little things (por
supuesto!)…then headed back to the hotel…grabbed a taxi (put our 275 lbs of stuff in the taxi) and went off to the bus station….to Trujillo. Just a mere 3-hours later, we arrived in Trujillo; asked a friendly security guard about getting a taxi to Huanchaco and he eagerly helped us get one. Off we went, and 20-minutes later were dropped off at “Huanchaco Gardens”. Once again, a review from South American Handbook and a quick (Tiene Ud una habitacion para una familia?) and wow - we lucked out. A kitchenette/efficiency just 2-blocks from the ocean (ask for room #3 when you come), wifi, a restaurant, swimming pools, beautiful grounds. Ah, very lovely indeed.
Huanchaco is a lovely coastal town and is a nice change of pace from the insanity of Chiclayo. It is peaceful and relatively safe here. Dunnnings (especially the chicas) give it 4 thumbs (pulgados) up. This is the area where we were going to do our second volunteer project. It is very interesting that as we’ve been walking around, we have found several notices for apartments for rent, for very reasonable prices. However, although Huanchaco is even smaller than Banos de Agua Santos…it’s like there are
Little "horse boats" make of traditional and local reeds, Huanchaco, Peru
no supermarket (food markets) here. There are these little “bodegas”, but they all sell “Inca Cola”, Coca Cola, cerveza, vodka and chips…yesterday, I did manage to find a bit of a vegetable market, but it was late and most of the stalls were closed…so it has been a challenge to find comestibles to eat…found pasta, dry bread, sweet pineapple juice and bags of Doritos. Yum-o!
Yet the person who was supposed to be helping us find a place, kept telling us that it was very difficult and very expensive…..I don’t really get it….unless they just like to give extranjeros a hard time and try to get extra money from them. Oh yeah, that’s probably it. Anyway, the project would have only been for Andy and he would have had to take a 30-minutes crazy ride into Trujillo every day (he and I had to do that today to get our bus tickets to Lima). So, while we are very, very happy to spend a couple of days here, soaking up the beach, we are also reassured that we made the right decision to both stay longer at the BIB and to find a project we can all get involved
Colorful bus for Huanchaco
local transportation in Huanchaco, Peru
Sunday, March 21, 2010 (spring in the USA and fall here in South America) we took a tour to Huaca Arco Iris, Huaca Esmeraldas, El Museo de Chan Chan and one of the temples in Chan Chan (palacio nik-an). We took a colectivo to Chan Chan, then hired a taxi-guide to drive us to these four places, for a cost of 45 soles. Well worth it as we didn’t really know how to get to these places on our own. The huacas (temples) are from the Moche civilization which basically started at 0 A.D. and went on for close to 1,000 years. Now, these huacas are in the middle of Trujillo and it seems like it is a struggle to keep them protected from the rain and vandals and to encourage tourism. The really, really odd thing is that we got to walk all over and on top of these ancient temples. Imaginense! Walking on the same temple, the same solemn ground as did the people of 2,000 years ago. At each of the temples were some of the traditional hairless Peruvian dogs…very weird looking…no fur what-so-ever, just some bristles, kind of like pigs.
So, from Huanchaco
we head back to Trujillo (Monday, March 22nd), take an 8+ hr bus to Lima - stay in the Miraflores district of Lima for 2-days and (hopefully) store a portion of our 275 lbs of gear until the end of our stay. Then, the remainder - just the stuff we need (HAH!) and us will fly to Arequipa on March 24th. We have a family project, working at a school on the outskirts of Arequipa, which is in association with the group “Traveller not Tourist”. We hope to find an apartment or some reasonably priced accommodations for the duration of our time. If the money holds out and it is possible - we hope to travel to Cusco and perhaps to Machu Pichu…that remains to be figured out.
We hope our next blog posting finds us settled in an apartment in Arequipa. We have mountains of dirty clothes and the girls (and Andy and I) are getting weary of luggling around the 300 lbs of stuff.....
Happy Spring to you all!
Abrazos y besos,
Shari, Andy, Ansley, Marleigh
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