After a short return to Cusco we take the night bus to Arequipa - the main focus of the visit is for one youth to imbibe cider!
29 June 2017
Machu Pitchu.l (MP). More altitude and boot camp training but wow. First a long bus ride through the mountains to the MP railway station. The mountains were yet another breath taking experience. On arrival you follow the railway to the town nearest to MP. A humid and exacting walk. We find s hostel in town, have a meal and up at 4.30 for the walk to MP to catch day break. Now on the map the tour provider showed it looked like a gentle climb zagging upward. Nice stroll thought I - wrong - few zig zags and lots of very steep steps but we hit MP around 6.30 pleased with ourselves if not a little hot and bothered. We then experience daybreak and the guide shares that MP was a holiday resort for the Inca king who was based in Cusco and walked from there to visit. In addition it was a place to study astronomy and for the kings children to learn. Inca expected everyone contributed fir the benefit of the community and their families according to their skills. Mmm heard that before.
Next stop Cusco - the capital of the Inca empire and back to altitude training!! Cusco is the kind of place that sucks you in and won't let you go for some mystical reason. Whatever you do there you find there is still more to entertain and enthral. June is the month where they celebrate Cusco which means virtually a daily procession that either has a religious, dancing, fun or cultural focus. Whatever the focus there is a 300% committed by participants and a no holds barred approach. It is significant how poor people fund from their limited resources to provide such lavish celebrations. The city is steeped in Inca history being the capital of the Inca empire. An empire that was established over 100 years from Colombia to Argentina!! However the Spanish influence yet again shines through which is easily demonstrated by the colonial architecture and religious presence. Like the rest of South America there is always a frog in the throat when Peruvians refer to the Spanish heritage.
25 June 2017
Oasis time. Next stop Arequipa to experience desert life. It's a weird concept loads of sand and a large pond promoting greenery and tranquility. The dunes are breathtaking sand wherever you look in amazing configurations that are each unique and create a backcloth that takes the breath away. There is only so much you can do at an oasis but the heat of the day is certainly ever present. It was surprising that the nights were not as cold as I expected. Then we hit the highlight of the visit - dune buggy riding and sand boarding - well the world championships were taking place during our visit. Buggy riding a combination of a roller coaster and airplane turbulence at speed. Good for the adrenaline and pure pleasure. Whereas sand boarding - flying down steep yet high dunes on your stomach is equally exhilarating. Big draw back you have to climb up to go down again - not so much fun!! Then the finale sunset on the dunes!
The first thing that stands out in Peru is the long distance bus standard - very impressive - snack and drink provided with a film (usually in Spanish of which I am obviously fluent 😂) and comfortable adjustable seats. From Trujillo we travel to Lima. A more cosmopolitan city with a impressive central plaza where the buildings include the presidents palace, cathedral and government offices. The city is a combination of he old and new(er) given its in a earthquake zone. The transport system is pretty efficient even though it's frequently like playing sardines. We visited a church where rich and poor were buried in the catacombs and the bones are there for proof. The Spanish colonialised Lima and have architecturally and culturally left there mark. The coast is also a key area with surfers and people strolling the cliff path. You get the picture Lima is now cosmopolitan and operates like many cities do which is often not a representation of the wider society.
24 June 2017
We hit the bus to travel from Quito to Peru. First stop customs which was novel - the coach pulls up, we leave luggage in the coach, enter the building with the Ecuador and Peru officials sitting next to each other (not a cordial atmosphere) All goes well, we are stamped and return to the coach. We arrive in Tumbes Peru - and boy what a contrast - the noise, dust, traffic and a mass of people. We book a bus and they find us a Tuk tuk (with motor bike) and with a lot of breathing in on the seat Off for money and food before the night bus. Tuk Tuk breaks down - chain comes off - driver sends us on foot to bank and then appears as if by magic. Night bus to Trujillo- a town with significant Spanish influence, incredible university wall mosaic and ancient ruins. Town life stays a bit of a culture shock but the architecture is impressive and the central plaza grand (as is the standard in Peru). The workings are a village made from sand and stone circa 13 century - impressive.