Days 85 to 93
24.04.2011 - 02.05.2011 28 °C
Day 85, 24 April 2011
We had been put into a really nice room but didn’t really get to enjoy it too much. We were up a bit later, re-packed and met everyone at about 11am.
After waiting for our transfer we headed to the bus station which was pretty quiet. It was really nice to have someone who knew what to do and where to go. We loaded onto the bus and C watched a few movies – unfortunately they changed it from English to Spanish so he had to read the subtitles.
We made it to Pisco by about 4pm, then onto Paracas and settled into the hotel and went out for lunch/dinner and saw a really nice sunset.
The tour is good – we just do what we’re told and follow the leader.
One year since we got engaged today!
Day 86, 25 April
We got up late and headed down to the beach front to look for breakfast. Breakfast here seems to consist of an egg on brad roll and a drink. I went for a coffee, although I think W won the day with some fresh pineapple juice. We went down to shore line to see what the beach was like, definitely not the gold coast, it seems to have dark gritty feel like dirt to it, at least we can say we have been on both sides of the pacific ocean.
Afterwards, we caught a mini bus to a pisco winery. It was interesting to compare the different techniques used to make pisco. The main element being that the grapes are much sweeter due to the heat. We toured through the traditional process and then found out it is used once a year to celebrate the harvest season, the rest of the time, stainless steel and machine are used.
Then the tasting! There were some good, some bad and some that were just plain ugly.
Towards the end the tour leader just grabbed the bottle of leftovers and started pouring, a great technique to get us to sleep on the bus.
The bus headed off towards Nasca, on the way there was stop over at desert oasis. Most of the group went on the dune buggies and sand boarding, W and I hung out at the oasis and watched the sun go down.
When the group came back we saw them emptying their pockets, shoes and any other receptacle of sand which brought back memories of Swakupmund in Namibia.
2 ½ hours later we arrived in Nasca. W and I had dinner and watched a documentary on the upcoming wedding of Prince William and Kate Middelton, riveting viewing (and the only program in English on the TV)
Day 87, 26 April 2011
It was another late wake-up. We packed our bags and then headed into the town of Nasca. The first attraction was to see the traditional cemetery. It was interesting to see the preservation of the bodies due to the low moisture content. Unfortunately over the last couple of hundred years, grave robbers have attempted to take all the valuable items. They used to probe the ground, unearth the bodies and then leave the bodies on the surface. Even now you can still see some bones just sitting on the surface that have been uncovered by the wind. The restoration and re-creation of the burial sites was intriguing, although a little unnerving. Most them had teeth though which was good to see.
After stopping at a small pottery workshop, we went to the airport for the ‘Nazca lines’ plane flight. The airport is tiny and effectively setup just to handle the light aircraft to go view the lines. Again we had to step on the scales to our weights, so far so good.
The airplane was a ‘CESSNA 205’, just big enough to handle 6 people. It was bit warm and at times a little bumpy, but w and I were fine and no incidents. The lines were really impressive to see, although our cameras don’t do them justice. The shear scale is what really amazes you.
(if you look at these you should see the astronaught, the monkey, the spider and the tree i think)
A greasy lunch help settled everyone’s stomachs and then we headed back to the hotel to pick up our bags.
We headed into town and the hit the local karaoke bar, the locals didn’t know what hit them.
Then the over night bus, although for Wendy and I it was the best bus trip so far, the setup is quite interesting, the seats almost become full lay down beds, and that was only 2nd class, we caught a glimpse of first class, it looks like the space capsule on the planes.
Day 89, 27 April 2011
We arrived in Arequipe at about 7am and were transferred to a hotel where our bags were dropped off. We all headed to a local coffee shop for much needed coffee. W and I took a look at what was suggested and made our plan for the day.
First we looked at the ‘ice maiden’ museum. We watched a documentary and were then guided through the halls displaying the artifacts. The story is about the sacrifice of young girl during the times of the Incas and then the recovery and examination of the preserved body.
What was unique was the discovery of the body in the late 90’s was only because a near by volcano erupted and the surrounding snow on nearby mountains melted. Some archeologist climbers stumbled upon the body on accident and it opened up a whole new area of research into the Inca traditions.
Next we wandered around and looked the buildings which are very colonial. It is called the white city as the original buildings were built of volcanic ash bricks which were naturally white. We finished our city exploration by going through the Cathedral. It was quite impressive and the views from the top showed the city as it spread out.
We headed back and chilled out in hotel room, caught up on some internet stuff and then joined the rest of the group fro drinks in the courtyard. A few different techniques to remove broken corks from bottles were being demonstrated, some to great success, others less so.
The group went for dinner and then W & I headed back, I was very impressed to see ‘Ghost-busters’ in English.
Day 90, 29 April 2011
We packed up and were off by about 9am. This part of the tour is operated by a local guide (with a great mullet) in a private bus so we were pretty comfy. We got out of Araqueipa and headed up and up – reaching 4800 at one point. Everyone was pretty nervous about the altitude, but most seemed to manage it well. Somehow C and I are the ones they all ask the questions because we’ve been through it in Bolivia.
I got a new camera case from a roadside stall and patted a baby llama/alpaca. We made our way into the town of Colca and got to the hotel at about 2pm. After a lovely lunch and a szz in a hammock we went for an acclimatisation walk.
The scenery is beautiful – a lot greener than Bolivia, but still not much ground cover other than small bushes and lots of cactus.
After the walk we chilled out next to a fire and had dinner before retiring pretty early.
Day 91, 30 April 2011
We left pretty early and made our way to the Condor Cross. We made a few stops along the way and I kept my eyes closed where the bus went too close to the edge (C- the bus driver turning off the lights in the tunnel didn’t help either). We found a spot on a rock and waited for the canyon to warm up. Apparently the condors fly higher as the canyon gets warmer.
Eventually we were awarded a great show of condors gliding through the sky, swooping down into the canyon. It was breath-taking. We went for a walk along the side of the canyon and met the bus.
After another huge lunch in the town of Chivey we went back to the hotel for a rest. We were taken to the hot springs later that afternoon and enjoyed a very hot, sulfur bath. We were then taken to a restaurant to experience a Peruvian dinner/dance.
Our driver had some fun on the way home playing bad music and flashing the lights.
Day 92, 1 May 2011
Today we left the colca canyon, passing over a very high point – I think about 4800m, then after a few stops and a long drive we got to the city of Puno. Puno is on the side of Lake Titicaca which is a huge lake that is at 3,600m.
C and I split from the group and we ventured out for a cheap lunch then tried to find the markets. We had to re-find our group to find the ‘black’ market. I thought this was a spice market, but it turned out to be a market full of fake products- like asian markets.
We went to a cool pizza place – but it took an hour for our pizza to come and even longer to get a beer!
Day 93, 2 May 2011
We left early – on bicycle manned rickshaws and had a race to the port. We boarded a motor boat and sailed for about 2 hours to Taquelle Island. We walked across the island, had a look at the markets and had lunch overlooking the lake. Chris got another weird knife – not sure whether this one will make it home as it has sheep’s teeth in it.
We then sailed to the village where our homestays were. We were greeted by the community – all in traditional dress, and made our way to the school where some of our group was challenged to a soccer game. Our team won, but there were some interesting tactics used (C stealing a goal keeper may have been a tatic used).
The community then treated us to a traditional party – where we were dressed up in their traditional clothes and taught how to do their dances. we looked ridiculous but it was a lot of fun.
After the party we ventured up the hill in the dark to our house, and after playing with the children and the dog we had dinner. Although it was in a kitchen – we think that it isn’t where they actually eat. I think that they try to maintain the old ways for the tourists, but are moving forward as well. We made small talk for a bit then went to bed.
During the night it rained and hailed so hard that C thought it was coming through the roof.
Day 93, 2 May 2011
We had breaky in the family’s kitchen and then headed back down the hill to the port and said good bye to our ‘mama’. After a boat ride we reached the Uyros floating islands. We were given a presentation on how the islands are made, then shown inside a house and pushed around a market.
Later in the afternoon, after checking into the hotel, we ventured out to a festival – which consists of a long street of markets where they sell everything in miniature. Apparently if you buy the miniature things then you get them in real life. There are small cars, hardware, babies, pots of gold, fake money. We walked and walked, eventually finding a small house and returned to get C a model of a dentista with his foot on a patient’s chest pulling a tooth – not sure if we want this to come true!
We had a beer in part of the markets – which looked like they’ll be much livelier later on.
We had a quiet dinner at a pizza place, then a few drinks at a bar. Some of the boys had a few too many and didn’t make it home until after 2:30am.