Tried to take out 300 Soles, and being lazy
not reading that I had to press "Soles"
to get local currency, I ended up with 300
US dollars. That's a bit of money in a country
where the local lunch is less than a dollar.
The local menus are great. You first get a
soup with pasta, veggies and sometimes meat
which can be anything from chicken intestines,
chicken feet to proper chicken and other meat.
The second course can be chicken, meat or
fish with rise and potatoes or French fries
and salad included a drink. All for under
the dollar, not bad at all! Another problem
with money is that the magic cost of most
things are one Sole and since the money machines
only give you fifties people always have trouble
accepting your money. Its' not often they
even have change for a five so street vendors
have to run next door, next street, next...
I just love the people here. They are very
happy friendly and honest even if you often
pay more as a foreigner. They are very interested,
cautious of your safety and that you are having
a good time in their country which they are
very proud of. It has happened more than once
that people confronted us and told us we'd
better not continue this or that street since
it might be dangerous for us as foreigners.
We haven't felt threatened anywhere so far
even if you have to be very cautious of your
things. Here's a lot of poor people and a
lot of begging for money, candy and pens.
As a principle I never hand out anything since
it only encourage begging in the future. But
it's a very fine line and often you feel guilty
and want to help out.
Last mail came from Trujillo where I spent
my time looking at the remains from the Moche
culture 800 BC. You could still see the beautiful
original paintings in the temples which have
been well preserved with layers of bricks
and finally sand. The Chimú culture
took over after the Moche in this area with
the great Chan Chan cities. Had no idea that
the great Inca Empire which stretched vast,
lasted less than hundred years before the
Spanish destroyed and looted the culture.
I had my private cab a whole day for a few
dollars where the driver also functioned as
a tour guide. Left the city with millions
of cabs which in this city were yellow. They
seem to pick one or a few different colours
for the cabs, which by far is in majority
in the streets. White and black are other
popular colours in other cities.
Went to Huaraz where I met up with Vanessa
a friend from the Encounter trip in the Middle
East a few years ago. We rented some gear,
did some food shopping and headed to the mountains.
We did trek for three days in the high altitude.
Huaraz itself is situated at 3800m above sea
level and our highest point in Chillcayhuanco
touched the 5000m mark. It was a beautiful
trek with not many people around. The mountain
sides were covered with green minimal vegetation
and the mountains capped with snow. We had
to take it fairly easy due to the high altitude.
If you get exhausted at this altitude it's
very hard to regain your breath. You can also
get high altitude sickness and the only remedy
is to take it easy and turn back to lower
altitude. I was fairly acclimatized since
the mountains in Ecuador but Vanessa arrived
straight from London so she had more problems
breathing. We could see the horses, donkeys,
cows and bulls grazing free up in the mountains
and went up to a glacier lake which lay beautiful
between the mountains with ice-bergs from
the nearest glacier.
At night we joined groups of other people;
the first night some French people which had
had to help out some Americans which suffered
from high altitude sickness and was returning
down the next day. The next night we joined
three Americans which had brought their guitar,
banjo and ukulele. We had a nice evening cooking
our dinner and watching the sun setting with
our nice but smoky fire which we mainly feed
cow manure. At night we had to take turn throwing
rocks at the bulls which kept nibbling at
our tent. They were very interested but harmless.
The nights were fairly cold so I really wished
I had taken one of my warmer sleeping bags
with me instead of the one I have now. It
did hail and rain some in the evenings and
in the morning the tent was covered with a
thin layer of ice. The last day we had a bit
of snow but when the sun showed up it did
get warm quickly.
After Huaraz we headed to Lima which we had
intended to skip, but a day sight-seeing is
probably a must anyway. So we arrived in this
city, at five in the morning, where you hardly
ever can see the sun due to the Garúa
the smog-fog which always are covering the
city. We were tired after the three days trekking
with little sleep and a very warm night bus.
Did some sight-seeing and window shopping
in this big city. We also looked around in
Miraflores which is the place for the rich
and important ones here. Most things were
like home and so were the prices...
Yesterday we spent the day around the Ballestas
islands which was a tame review of the Galapagos.
We could see tons of see lions, boobies, other
birds and some penguins. The islands were
very nice and there where some beautiful caves
but after the Galapagos I'm a bit spoiled
and didn't appreciate it that much. Our guide,
who had been working here for thirty years
never had encountered rain at this time of
year, did so for his first time today, where
they get 2-3 mm rain a year. In the afternoon
we did visit the Paracas national park which
was mainly desert where we could watch some
flamingos from a far distance and do a museum.
Today we did a flight over the Nasca lines.
I wouldn't recommend the tour to anyone. You'd
be better of spending your money elsewhere,
watching the interesting movie explaining
the story behind them and buying the postcards.
The lines form animals and shapes, some 80
m long, in the middle of the dessert and can
only be viewed from above. They were constructed
by turning rocks and some people say it was
a way of communicating with aliens. Most scientists
reject this theory and say this is just ignorance
not recognising the technology and knowledge
these cultures had. The first figures were
made around 400 BC. Since it hasn't rained
here since the last ice age, the people are
extremely dependent on water in the middle
of the dessert. These figures can have been
used by the shamans to get help from the gods
keeping water in their wells. An underwater
irrigations system with aqueducts were made
1500 years ago and do still provide water
to the area. Since there is no rain fall the
lines has been well preserved so far but this
has all changed with the last El Niños/Niñas
which has partly destroyed them and might
do so completely in the near future.
That's all for now folks if you made it all
to the end, cheers Emil