Hey there, We are currently in Lima just waiting to go to the airport to get our plane to Santiago and thought we´d add another update before we leave Peru.
Andy told you about our flight over the Nazca Lines and the mummies in the Ica desert so here´s what happened next......
The day after our Nazca experience we headed off further into the Ica desert towards Pisco. We called in at a resort type place and before we knew it we were strapped into sand buggies and riding the dunes! It was absolutely amazing fun, a bit like a roller coaster but more sandy! We were up and down and across the dunes screaming like a bunch of girls (well, most of the group was made up of girls so I guess it´s allowed!) Once at the top of one of the dunes we all got out and were handed a board! We had to go down the next set of dunes on our stomachs! For someone who was a little apprehensive at first (as you know, I am not known for my sporting prowess!) I had a fantastic time and screamed and laughed my way down the next 3 dunes. It was pretty hard getting on the board as you had to mount it head first, stomach on the board, legs out behind you and everything in so it doesn´t get burnt on the way down... all this while on a slope! Not easy! I didn´t take the camera up on the slopes as I didn´t want to get sand in it but if you check out my facebook page there are a few pictures on there that I have taken from a friend who did take their camera up.
After all that sandy excitement we then spent the afternoon sat in a pool or in the sun drinking Pisco Sours (a drink of this area).... it really didnt feel like we were on the same tour!
Before the afternoon was over we then headed to a Pisco tasting place (for want of a better word!) and had a tour around the "factory" before tasting all the different Piscos. Pisco is a type of brandy that is made with grapes. The Pisco Sour spoken about earlier is Pisco with lemon juice, sugar and egg white.... sounds grim but is actually really nice. We also tried a sweet drink which was Pisco mixed with Pecan nuts called Perfect Love, we bought a small bottle but I am afraid we have polished it off already!
Onto Pisco for the night and we basically booked into and stayed in our hotel.... Pisco was hit by an earthquake in August ´07 and hasn´t yet recovered. Our hotel was pretty much the only building standing in the street. There were lots of makeshift shelters and buildings still in use, even the local church was hit (apparently a lot of the death toll was from those in the church) and we noticed that mass was being held in a large tent. It was a pretty bleak place that had a real sense of sadness about it. I just hope that they get help to re-build the town soon.
The following morning we decided to join a tour that was heading to the Balleastas Islands for a bit of wildlife spotting. Protected with a bandana and a t-shirt (Andy forgot to wear a hat!) we were ready to do battle with the millions (quite literally) of birds that fly about the islands. There were Pelicans, Cormorants, Gulls & Boobies (Andy´s favourite.... what a child!!). We also saw some pretty big Starfish clung to the sides of the rocks, some crabs and most impressively, some sea lions. I loved the sea lions... some of them looked just like dogs taking a nap on the rocks. Andy felt sick from the smell of guano..... there was at least a foot of it on the islands and boy did it stink! He even got hit by a small bit from a bird above us!!!
After our birdwatching and sea lion watching fun we headed back to the mainland to catch our coach to Lima. Prior to getting on the coach the coach company were handing out fliers warning you that you might get robbed on the coach and it´s not their responsability if you do!!!! As you can imagine, we watched our bags like hawks for the whole journey! Nobody was robbed and we all arrived in our hotel in Lima with no problems!
Lima is the capital of Peru and is divided up into various parts. We were based in Miraflores which is supposed to be the posh part. As this was the end of our GAP tour we all went out and had one last night out together in a local restaurant and then onto a "club" for more drinking of Pisco Sours (of course) and dancing. We had a great night although it was really quite sad to be saying goodbye to everyone on the tour. We haven´t really mentioned the group much but we were a group of ten, all from England, Ireland or Scotland and we all got on like a house on fire.... our own little family for three weeks so it was really quite strange to be saying goodbye and to be moving on.
Before booking into our next hostel and leaving the group we had one last morning together with those who hadn´t already left and we explored downtown Lima with one of the other GAP guides who took it upon herself to show us around. We visited the Plaza de Armas which has most of the interesting buildings of Lima in it... the cathedral and the President´s Palace.... we even got to see the changing of the guard! We then visited the San Francisco Monastery with the city´s catacombs.... what is it with Peru & dead people?! There´s mummies and bones everywhere...... in this case 20,000 people´s worth! Interesting but a little creepy.
Andy and I were in Lima for 5 days as we had a bit of time in between one tour finishing and the voluntary work placement starting so we used our time to do a bit of "admin" and book onward travel etc. We also did a tour of Lima by night one night.... Lima is much prettier in the dark as you can´t see the smog!!! We were taken to all the major sights which were all lit up and then we were also taken to a park full of fountains that were also lit up and danced to music. They were fantastic and really nice to see. A couple of the fountains were interactive and you could walk through them or play in them. We walked through a tunnel created by fountains which was pretty cool. As part of this tour we also got "tea" in the Hotel Bolivar which is one of Lima´s finest hotels. We had small cakes and dinky sandwiches laid out on plates for us with a cup of coffee or an infusion (I am really missing British tea!!) which was a nice surprise.... we felt like the Queen!
We noticed that there were parts of Lima that we hadn´t discovered until we took the tour so we spent the next day or so walking around checking out the sights that we hadn´t seen. We ventured down to the seafront and to the "Parque del Amor" which we thought was going to be like Parc Guell in Barcelona as it has mosaics etc.... it´s nothing like it! It does have a big statue of two lovers kissing which is quite nice and on the back pocket of the gentleman are my initials!!
From Lima we headed North to the department of Cajamarca for our voluntary work but that´s an entry in itself so I shall leave you there!
Hasta Luego Amigos
Vicki & Andy Xx