Posts Tagged Peru
“Lima´s climate also echoes it´s contrasting faces: from April to December, a melancholy coastal fog (garûa) blankets the city´s skyline, but during the coastal summer the sun breaks through and the high-spirited limeños (people from Lima) make a break for the nearby beaches”. Lonley Plant.
Unfortunately Jo and I managed to travel in the melancholic fog… but none-the-less, Lima was a nice, easy city. It has all the perks of any western city. We stayed in a suburb called Miraflores which was apparently the tourist friendly part which may have helped! We also managed to time our trip so as we were there at the end of APEC (a major meeting between South American governments and the European Union, not the Apec we had in Oz last year) and for the Potato Festival (there are more than 2000 kinds in Peru!)! So we managed to sneak in another street fiesta! Unfortunately, we didn’t have a programme for the event and were at the mercy of the crowds… we weren’t sure where the main events were and had to follow the main crowds to the different events… the bigger the crowd we figured the more interesting the event! Wasn’t quite as interesting as the fiesta in Copacobana and a lot less alcohol around also! Though someone must have been on the booze when they made the giant potato that was wheeled through the streets!
The owner of our hostel was apparently a “prominent businessman” and involved in the APEC meeting, He was also friends with the Estonian President (a fact that he managed to slip into every conversation). We almost got to rub shoulders with him as we were offered (though an empty offer) a lift on the bus they were taking into Lima Central… lets just say we were stood up…
Lima Central is a seedier part of town and where most of the museums are. There is a lot of old architecture and plazas. We went to the Monasterio de Santa Francisco and the Museo del Tribunal de la Santa Inquisiciön. The Monastery contained underground catacombs which we went down to see. They contained the bones (the top layers of which were nicely arranged into patterns to make it more attractive…) of an estimated 70 000 people. Interesting if not a little claustrophobic. The Inquisition Museum was built on the foundations of the buildings used in the Spanish Inquisition and we got to see some of the chambers where people were tortured… spelt out in life-size wax figures!! Yes, it was a ghoulish trip to the city!
To lighten things up a bit, we also went for a walk along the beach suburbs, though you couldn’t be sure there was beach out there as the fog was so thick. We went to a swanky mall where the rich play (and watched/window shopped in our worn out clothes oh how i miss my other clothes…). Actually we did make one purchase.. Jo had to purchase a new pair of jeans as his old ones literally disintegrated. Poor thing tried to stitch them up but this let to further fraying. It was also getting pretty inappropriate as one of the holes was in the crutch…. That was how we spent 17 may, Norway’s Constitution day, as no other Norwegians could be sourced… Well, we had icecream and drinks as well…
We were also to witness another accident (luckily not part of one this time). We were wandering the streets when one car hit another at an intersection. This caused one of them to continue on to plough into a side walk cafe (they are crazy drivers over here). Just honking doesn’t make up for not stopping at the stop signs! Anyways, luckily it didn’t appear that anyone was injured. The cars were pretty smashed up though.
Apart from wandering around the city, we also had a health scare…we developed a growing number of itchy red bites that seemed to flare up/multiply at night. It became obvious that these weren’t mozzie bites and investigated on the internet… this left us with two options.. scabies or body lice (Dr Jo was able to rule out bed bugs and fleas, though the latter I felt was more likely given the number of animals living at the hostel in Cuzco that i blame for the whole thing). The treatment being to clean everything and for scabies, apply a cream to every inch of your body (a tip given: you may need to buy a spatula to apply the cream to you butt crack) and leave it on for 24 hours… The unappealing nature of the treatments meant that instead we chose to shower twice daily and change our clothes every day (yes, shameful as it is to admit, we have been double dipping). We also buried our head in the sand and all these measures seem to have worked and we now are proud to say that there are no more of these mysterious bites developing…. to our knowledge. We still don’t know what they were. I have noticed a few other backpackers with lot of bites but its not really something you can broach with a stranger…
Well, after 3 nights in Lima, we left at the crack of dawn for Buenos Aires….
to be continued….
We have spent a few days in Cuzco now, getting here before we set off to the Amazon and back again before and after Machu Picchu . Both were great, but in this town, everything is priced in US dollars. Bit of a pain when you are accustomed to thinking in the local currency but now have to account for a third currency. This also causes price inflation of course, and breeds a new spieces of very aggressive hawkers. Today, a lady tried to make Sara take and pay for a picture of herself (in traditrional clothes) with her Llama….. while she was breast feeding. We thought it a bit over the top….
Anyways, Cuzco. We have stayed at some nice hostels, and some not so nice hostels. Our last was in the latter category, but we couldnt be stuffed changing, so we are just putting up with the dirt (you dont throw toilet paper in the toilet here, you put it in the bin next to the toilet and ours aint been cleared out for a while).
While here, we have submersed ourselves in the local ruins, cuisine and parks. Its a nice city, but I think that you get the feeling you dont want to stay for too long or your money will be gone too. Coming here from further south really highlights how mainstream Cuzco has become as a staging point for Machu Picchu. We havent seen such a concentration of other tourists yet in Peru.
Corn in the market
Cuzco prides itself as the cultural capital of Peru, and is also the old Inka capital. Many of the spanish churches here have been built on the bases of Inka palaces and temples. We have been to the Sacred Vally with Ollaytantambo and Sacsayhuaman (pronounced sexy-woman) just outside Cuzco. However, this all pales when compared to Machu Picchu. Therefore, Ill keep this post short, and rather put the rest in the Machu Picchu post, which we will put together ishortly.
Building blocks for the Inkas
Church engraving in Cathedral