Peru (Cusco, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Nazca, Ica and Lima)
19.10.14 - After the last few day's excitement today was a lazy day....got some laundry done, snoozed and watched TV....later on we all went out to dinner and had a 'Pisco Sour' cocktail making session at the restaurant, we drank what we made! We also paid to try a roasted guinea pig......it was alright, but don't think I could eat a whole dish of it, especially with it's ickle face looking at me! Some said it tasted a bit like rabbit....Oh my guinea pig!
20.10.14 - Had a day wandering around Cusco on my own, on a mission to find Aldea Yanapay and the lovely Yuri!.......I found him! More by luck than anything! The building isn't well signed, just a small weathered sticker on the wooden front door, I could have easily missed it, but think it was all meant to be. I wasn't sure if someone had just stuck the sticker on at some point, but I took a chance and rang the doorbell....minutes later the door buzzed and opened! so I walked in, cautiously....walked through into a courtyard then into the garden and straight away I spotted Yuri sat talking to some ladies. He came over and asked if he could help me and I explained that I had searched for him after having read about his organisation on the internet, he was pleasantly shocked that I had managed to find him! He was lovely, gave me a big hug and kisses on my cheeks and welcomed me warmly.....he showed me around the hostel and explained that he was in a meeting at the moment, but if I was free to come back at 2.40pm, for a meeting and he would walk me up to the school...fab! I duly agreed and left with a sense of achievement.....I went back as agreed, got there 10 minutes early but it got to 2.55pm and still no sign of Yuri....I asked some girls and they said he had already left for the school, but they didn't seem to know what meeting I was talking about! I thanked them and decided to find the school by myself, as I had a map! After a few wrong turns and help from a local I found the school.....Yuri was no where to be seen and the volunteers at the school knew nothing about a meeting!...never mind, maybe I misunderstood, but from the facial expressions of the girls maybe this was typical Yuri!...one of the girls introduced me to everyone that was there and showed me around....it became clear very quickly to me that this wasn't as organised a place as I had thought it would be.....then I was told the sad, heartbreaking news that Yuri had been served a couple of weeks notice on this place and was frantically trying to sort out a new location....my heart went out to him and everyone....it seemed that there were lots of volunteers standing around not doing a lot and I was beginning to feel maybe this wasn't the right place for me to be after all, but I would give it some thought.....I thanked everyone and said cheerio. Once back at the hostal I decided I would definitely come back to Cusco regardless of whether I volunteered with Yuri's organisation or not, so asked Javier to help me get a good rate at this hostal.....he did and result! 10 nights booked in my favourite room (rm 202) at 85 soles per night inc. b'fast (18 quid)....by now it was time to get our transfer to the bus station for our overnight bus to Arequipa.
21.10.14 - Arrived about 9am, had breakfast at the hotel and checked in to a shared room with Romi. Javier took us on a tour of Arequipa then a few of us visited the Museo Santuarios Andinos where we saw the 'beautiful girl of Ampato - Juanita'. Juanita was discovered in 1995 on the top of a snow capped mountain of Apu Ampato near Cusco. Her body was very well preserved. It is thought that she had been offered in a ritual to the mountain gods. After great festivities and rituals Juanita was probably put to sleep before a precise blow on her right eyebrow would have caused her to die, research shows that she was subject to a fast so the sedative would have taken effect quicker. It was all fascinating....her hands, fingers were so well preserved...it was quite macabre!....we then went to the cathedral and had a guided tour in English.....it was fab! we even went up on the roof and stood in the bell tower, the views were breathtaking.....our guide also explained to us how in the last earthquake the tower had collapsed on to the roof crashing in to the cathedral itself, but by a cat's whisker had missed the gorgeous ornate organ!....wow!.... we then found a lovely pedestrianised cobbled street and had lunch and some Pisco Sours!...we then wandered around for a while and whilst some disappeared back to the hotel for a freshen up, Jemma and I went to a rooftop bar for a drink....later on we met up with everyone at the Monasterio de Santa Catalina, we had purposely chosen to go later in the day so we could see the convent at sunset and in the dark, as we had been told how pretty it was, with candles and open fires....we weren't disappointed...we had a guided tour in English first and we saw men getting a silver procession chair/throne ready for an occasion taking place tomorrow, they were busy polishing it and brushing/cleaning the red velvet....this monastery/convent was founded in 1579, since its inception, women from diverse social backgrounds have entered the convent to serve as cloistered nuns, never again to return to their families and homes. Sister Ana was a nun who lived here until her death in 1686. In 1985 Pope John Paul II beatified her. Various miracles and predictions are attributed to her and she currently has a cult following. Her cell and personal effects still exist. The site is huge! there are many chapels, living quarters, an art gallery, orchards, gardens, there are little streets, all named, so you can send post to an actual address inside!....nuns still live there today....there is a square with a stone fountain and the water comes out of spouts which look like penises! Did the sculpter know it would end up in a convent?! lol......as it got dark we wandered around on our own...it was quite magical/mystical, as candles and fires had been lit around the site...none of us really wanted to leave, but leave we must, so they could lock up for the night.....we then all went for dinner, there were lots of tables/groups in the restaurant and we waited a very long time for our food zzzzzzzz
22.10.14 - up early and checked out for our trip to Colca Canyon. Again we just took day packs with us, leaving our large luggage at the hotel....it was quite a long journey zzzzzzzz checked in to our hotel about 3pm and I fell asleep and subsequently missed everyone getting together downstairs later on zzzzzzzzz
23.10.14 - breakfast then our ride to Colca Canyon to hopefully see Condors! and Condors did we see! When in flight absolutely beautiful, when not, my goodness what ugly birds!! The scenery was breathtaking....on the way back we decided to walk through a mountainside tunnel with the van following us, it was an experience! We frightened a guy coming in the opposite direction on a motorbike, he broke down and heard voices and thought we were ghosts! Bless his face via torch light! lol...he got his bike going again, thank goodness!...later on we all went for dinner which included a traditional show....our guide gave us presents of Llama finger puppets for the girls and Condor ones for the boys, cute!....Mike, Eric and Jemma got roped in to take part in the dancing show. Mike and Eric got dressed up in the women's costumes, it was hilarious! Jemma got whipped as part of the dance! Weird!.....
24.10.14 - back to Arequipa we go.......we had the afternoon to kill before our night bus to Nazca, so we headed back to the lovely cafe we'd had lunch in the other day, and ended up having lots of Pisco Sours! It was 3 for the price of 1!!...oh my guinea pig, what a fab, fun afternoon.....we drank and drank and drank.....I ended up singing Bon Jovi and Oasis songs with a musician.....we gave in and had photos taken with a lady and her lamb....I got Eric to go and barter (he speaks Spanish) for a bag for me at a shop across the way, I'd liked the look of it the other day, he got it for me for 30 soles (about 4-5 quid) result! we even very very nearly bought the lamb! Oh my goodness, what would Javier had said if we'd turned up with that! He nearly had a heart attack as it was, when we all stumbled in to the hotel later on ready to go and get the night bus!......he obviously knew how strict the coach company were, as he kept saying please please act sober!!...apparently one of the coach company staff tried to stop me!, I don't remember that at all, I thought I was very well composed and headed straight for the bus, apparently Eugene said I was so quick the guy just couldn't get my attention, so he gave up!, but poor Javier...he had to really fight to get Melissa allowed on the bus! He was stood talking to the staff member for ages, they let her on (she was just full of giggles) as long as Javier sat next to her.....it was the best nights sleep we all had on a night bus!!
25.10.14 - Arrived in Nazca early, what a hungover bunch! we then discovered that if we wanted to do the Nazca flight we had to be ready to go at 9.15am! Oh my guinea pig! It ended up being just me, Herbert, Magda and Kelsey.....so glad I pushed myself to go, it would have been so easy not to!.....Herbert and Magda are doctors and had brought an extensive medical kit with them, so we all had anti sickness tablets just incase!...the flight was fab!...unfortunately photos didn't turn out very well, think the sun was just in the wrong position, it was too glary!...no one actually knows how or why these lines/pictures were created, and no one probably ever will, there can only be theories.....they are amazing, and the fact you can only see them from a plane is just mind boggling, how did they do it! The lines are more easily explained, I think, as they seem to follow the sun, moon, constellations, etc., therefore acting as a form of calendar for them maybe.....we were all absolutely fine until the last 15 minutes of the flight, when we all felt very queazy! I sat next to Herbert and he went a whiter shade of pale at one point, I could see him taking his pulse and deep breathing! Apparently this is normal in these ickle planes, but I think it was the fact we were hungover that did it!...we were all sooo relieved once we hit that tarmac!...we slept the rest of the day! zzzzz... later we had dinner via a traditional Pachamanca ceremony, which is basically the food being cooked inside a mound of earth and covered with cloth.....Jemma and Herbert blessed the food, it was interesting and tasty, especially the sweet potatoes and chicha drink.....
26.10.14 - left Nazca and made our way to an oasis in a place called Ica. Basically, a lake in the middle of the desert....on the way we stopped at a lookout tower, so those that hadn't done the flight could see some of the shapes.....we also stopped and climbed a small mountain to see some of the Nazca lines......Eric wasn't very well at all, he was sick at one point...Herbert and Magda gave him some meds, I so felt for him......the oasis at Ica it was a lovely place. Emma, Kelsey, Melissa and I opted to go on the dune buggies...oh my guinea pig! what an experience!! one I wouldn't repeat! how the buggie didn't tip over I'll never know! the drops and turns we did through the desert were extreme!!!! it didn't do my neck any good at all!! Good fun though! I chickened out of the sandboarding, but the girls did a grand job! I took my hat off to them! Once safely back on terrafirma we had lunch next to the pool at a lovely complex...Eric just slept next to the pool, under a parasol, bless him.......then we went to a Pisco winery for a tour and tasting!.....later we arrived in Paracas for the night...we went to a fish restaurant...I wasn't very hungry and Eric still wasn't feeling great, though a little better, so we both had the chicken noodle soup - it was delicious! a meal in itself!
27.10.14 - had breakfast and managed to break a chair! It was hilarious - I sat down and could feel the chair moving in slow motion, I thought maybe there was a step behind me that I hadn't seen and the back legs had gone down it, but oh no...the back legs, in slow motion, just collapsed under the chair!!! I ended up on the floor! Javier jumped up to help me but I couldn't get up through laughing!...sooooo funny!.....first thing a few of us went on a boat tour of the Ballestas Islands - we saw loads of birds, seals and penguins - I was sooo chuffed to see the penguins!! Eric was feeling better, so came as well, but unfortunately Jemma wasn't too good, so decided to get off the boat before we set off....afterwards we got our transfer to the bus station for our bus to Lima.....it was our last night together :(........we had a lovely dinner and good red wine! then headed back to the hotel. On the way we stopped at a shop to get some drink so we could have one last drink with each other back at the hotel. Eugene bought me some red wine (he bought me dinner and stuff all night as he owed me some money) but we didn't realise until later that it was sweet wine! It wasn't very nice!...never mind, I managed 2 glasses anyway lol.....we then said our good byes to Romi, Eric, Melissa and Kelsey who were all getting early taxis to the airport...sniff, sniff.....it felt weird that I wouldn't be seeing them at breakfast.....a few of us were staying on for a few days (which I was super glad about, as meant I wouldn't be on my own straight away).
28.10.14 - tour had officially finished but Javier spent the day with us anyway...lovely....we toured the cathedral, church, the catacombs (spooky!) and crypts, we had a drink at a rooftop cafe overlooking the Plaza de Armas, walked and walked and walked, and sat in the park. Those of us that were left (me, Herbert, Magda, Eugene, Mike, Jemma and Emma) decided to go to Huaca Pullcana for dinner, it was a restaurant next to an Incan ruin and had great reviews....it was just fab! It was a posh restaurant, photos of celebrities and US presidents adourned the walls..the food was excellent...I had the seabass, it was perfecto! I went all posh and picked the wine! It was delicious! It was a fab night! Once back at the hotel we bade a sad farewell to Herbert and Magda, who were leaving early the next day...sniff, sniff...... :(
29.10.14 - After breakfast, Emma went clothes shopping, Mike, Jemma and I went to Museo Larco, a pre-Colombian art museum. It was just fab! Soooo many artifacts, pottery, jewellery - again mind blowing at how they had made such detailed pieces way back then!...there was one room which was jam packed full of pottery....there was also a section called the 'Erotic Gallery' and oh my guinea pig, the pieces left nothing to the imagination!....obviously back then sexual acts, etc., were freely undertaken, not taboo at all, treated as the natural act that it is.....the detail of some of the pieces was shocking!...afterwards we made our way to the shopping complex on the seafront called the Larcomar, we sat at a cafe for ages, drinking, people watching and eventually meeting up with Emma....we then had a lovely lunch with some fizz! overlooking the sea....we were tired later so we had a pizza in my room and watched TV together (I had English speaking channels on my TV) then it was time to say cheerio to Emma....sniff...sniff....
30.10.14 - Straight after breakfast I said farewell to Mike and Jemma :(......now I was on my own......but not to worry I had arranged to stay with a friend of a friend and they were picking me up at 10am - yay! Emma and Alfonso Wu are so lovely! Emma is Peruvian and Alfonso of Chinese descent, they used to live in America (that's where their sons now live) but they are back in Peru now....I had a private double room in their home. They also have a dorm room, which a few other people stayed in over the next few days, including a long term lodger called 'Luis', who is in Lima studying dance. After settling in and meeting Luis; Emma and I walked down to the seafront and the pier. As we were chatting I was telling her about my diary, she thought I had said diarrhoea, so asked me what medication I had been taking! I was like eh? we laughed so much over that!.....Emma had to get back to get lunch for an old lady she was looking after, so I spent the rest of the afternoon sat on the pier watching the surfers and wandering along the seafront.
31.10.14 - Halloween! It was everywhere! Kids all in costumes in the streets, shops and restaurants all dressed up....I met a guy called Freddie who managed one of the restaurants in the Larcomar 'Mangos' and turns out he used to work on the cruise ships, I told him about my sister, and he said he had worked on Royal Caribbean, he said to pop by the restaurant tomorrow.....Emma asked if I'd like to go to the church with them later for the kids Halloween party, she had baked a cake - I said I'd love to - I held the cake on my lap all the way in the car and managed not to drop it! It was a lovely evening with lovely, warm, welcoming people!
1.11.14 - Can't believe it's November! Had a lazy day which ended with Luis and I watching the movie 'Maleificent', we really enjoyed it. Then there was a knock on the door, I answered it and it was Lloyd, my friends friend who had put me in touch with Emma. It was lovely to see him, we chatted for a while, then he invited me to lunch the next day.
2.11.14 - I went to church with Emma and Alfonso, that was an experience, as didn't understand everything! Afterwards I went home with Lloyd and his adopted son Jose. Jose made us chicken soup and it was delicious! He is going to study to be a chef and quite right too! Lloyd's friend Chris joined us too. Lloyd had a viewing of his apartment at 3pm, so Chris and I left and walked back along the seafront. We parted ways and I spent a few hours watching the surfers again. Met a guy called Sergio, Peruvian men are very forward, they will talk to you, kiss your hand, not something we are used to! Later I wandered back, it was my last night. Luis said he was going to lock me in my room so I couldn't go tomorrow...and we laughed as he explained in his broken English that my face was red like a tomato!
3.11.14 - Had breakfast at an ickle cute cafe and two handsome men sat next to me, they were just gorgeous! swoon! I had one last walk down by the seafront. Got back and said sad farewell's to Emma and Luis, then Alfonso took me to the bus station for my 21 hour bus to Cusco....