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Published: April 20th 2008
Hopefully have a bit more time tonight. Had a busy week.
Nazca Lines were amazing. Really clear pictures in the sand. Geometric shapes and animals spread out over a huge area. Seemingly endless collection of lines in all directions. I´m sure there´s meaning to them, but I´m sticking with Aliens doodling. The flight over them was a bit bumpy. Kept thinking the plane was about to fall out the sky, lurched around so much. Of the 4 of us in the tiny plane, 1 was sick and 2 of us (myself included) got very very close. Was clutching sick bag from about 5 minutes into the half hour flight. I had a bit of breeze through the badly fitting door so recovered enough to enjoy the views.
We stopped in a pottery to watch a pot being created and were given the chance to buy and wander the workshop. Not as nice as Grandma´s pottery so not tempted. The brushes they use are real human baby hair. Bit creepy, but nothing compared to the shrunken baby head staring at us from the shelf. They decaptated babies, shrunk the heads and put them on a belt as trophies. We´re assured it was thousands of years old, but can´t be sure.
Had a day in the White City, surrounded by the Misty Mountains. Misty Volcano was one of 3 impressive volcanoes rising above Arequipa city. Surrounding views more interesting than the city. Had a few nice churches, but my attention span isn´t that great in churches. Wandered round park for a but then colapsed in bed to recover from the night bus that got us there. Had another evening there later in the week. Still convinced I hadn´t missed much. Pretty enough city, but getting bored of busy cities where you take your life in your hands walking down the street. Cars all over the place, no attempt to control them with traffic lights or pedestrain rights of way.
Headed into the mountains for a bit of light relief. Up to 4900 meters. About 14,700 feet. Air really thin up there. No serious problems with altitude sickness. One girl had to lie down having gone a bit pale. Most of us had shortness of breath and head aches. Got used to the altitude quite quickly and we weren´t up there for too long. Spent most of the time since then nearer 3000m - 3600m. Been for a couple of short hikes. Most of us quite disturbed about the Inca Trail starting in the morning. Getting tired very quickly. Improved as weeks gone on, but many of us have been getting axhausted doing even simplae short walks. 43km to do in the next 3.5 days, mostly steep uphill. Rise over 1000m in 5 hours on the second day. Oh joy. Will let you know how good it felt to reach the Machu Picchu when I get back. (I hope)
Inbetween walking, we´ve visited a few markets. Learned how to get rid of the constant stream of beggars, and irritating kids and adults trying to sell us everything, or take a photo with their Llama. Novelty of seeing kids in traditional dress clutching baby Llama´s wore off surprisingly quickly. Have spent an hour in a hot spring, along with 30 other people. Not quite as relaxing when you don´t have room to lie down on the surface.
Had a slightly irritating day today. We had a short stop to admire Cuzco from above, (very nice if touristy city, spending 4 days recovering from Inca trail so will fill you in about it next time), tour of wool market, then given hard sell to buy a hideous alpaca wool hat. Then taken to some interesting looking Incan ruins. 30 minute silent journey was followed by lecture inside the ruins. Spent so long being told, in very stunted English, about small aspects of the history, we didn´t have time to visit the ruins. Had had it sprung on us in the morning that this was going to cost us to get in, and quite a lot. Pissed us all off that we then didnt get to see anything. Taken for a very expensive buffet meal. Nothing special. Nice puddings, but homepathic portions of them so didn´t really get to savour the flavour. Then taken to see some Guinea Pigs and asked to chose 2 to eat tomorrow. Little bit sick even for me. Arrived late to another Incan site. Another lecture, this time on the stones used to build it, repeated several times using slightly different phrases of stunted English to get the point accross, before being given 20 minutes to explore what should have taken at least 2 hours to fully take in. Walking for 4 days to get to Machu Picchu. Will wander off from the guide if he starts to bore me again. My time is precious.
Started with GAP Adventure a week ago. Is a massive change from anything I´ve done before. We´re staying in nice hotels every night. I´m sharing with an American/Korean girl called Suzie. Nice enough, but has no sense of humour. Impossible to have a joke with her. Getting boring. I think she takes every word I say seriously. We were having a debate amongst the group about BBQ Sauce. She was telling us about A1 sauce they have in America. The English contigent concluded it sounded a lot like BBQ sauce and she got upset claiming it was Steak Sauce. Who gives a stuff. Probably didn´t help that the rest of us were laughing at her precious sauce. I´m sure she´ll get over it.
Rest of the group, 15 of us, made up of a few Americans, one sweet bloke from Slovakia, one huge Kiwi bloke (definately brought up to be a rugby player) and lots of brits. All around my age. Great fun group, always someone to have a laugh with. Large enough so that on our free time, you can always find someone who wants to do the same thing, even if it´s just wandering the town, or crashing at the hotel. Is nice to travel with the same people for a while, all with the same ideas about the holiday. Plus everyone is at different stages of their trips and all have lots of stories to share, or questions to ask. Nice atmosphere to live in.
Not been eating anything particularly exciting. Going out for meals twice a day. Mostly buffets. All fairly English prices, which makes them quite expensive for here. General concensus is that we would be happy with much more cheap small meals. It´s nice to try new food, experience new cultures, but not every meal, and most of it not thrilling. Had Fried chicken, grilled chicken, chicken in various sauces (can´t compete with Sharwoods and Dolmio) lots of chips, which are usually good, though too often cold and a bit gross. Best meal I´ve had so far is the first day in Peru. Just went to supermarket and got bread, ham and pineapple. Cost 1 pound for 3 meals, including tasty danish snacks and 2 litres of water. Not got over how cheap it can be. Apart from that, I´ve tried Argentinian Beef (over priced and undercooked otherwise may have been ok) Alpaca Fillet (nothing special) bit more raw fish (yuck) and far more disgusting, raw Osterich. It was served in a really sharp lemon and grapefruit sauce which was revolting enough even before you put the bloody slices of carcass on the plate. Still tempted to try Osterich, but I´m not a monster, meat should be cooked.
Overall, experince has been good. Taking time to sit back and enjoy the spectacular scenery and the culture. Petty things like overpriced food are forgotten when you sit on top of the world with a group of friend around you laughing at smelly loos and wierd teas full of dodgy leaves. Loving it.
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