Summer Stories

by - 9:44 PM

I've already mentioned it in my previous posts: I spent three weeks in Peru! And though I'm trying to make my blog a little less personal and a bit more awesome, I can't resist the urge to bombard you with pictures and stories. Brace yourselves, the Peru pics are coming!

After a twelve hour flight (during which I watched Divergent, Frozen, Tangled, the Princess and the Frog and Thor: the Dark World almost back to back), I arrived in Lima, Peru's capital, on the 15th of July. It was not at all what I had expected. A thick layer of clouds hung over the city and gave it a hostile, somewhat depressing ambiance... It was already dark at 6pm, which didn't help Lima's cause either...
The next morning my parents and I met the rest of the group (we had booked this tour where random people meet and travel Peru together). Except for a Belgian girl called Alieke and I, everyone was well over 45, but at least we had eachother. We toured Lima that day, using the public transportation system. Let me tell you, it's quite an experience to use Peruvian public transportation. When you think there's room for one more person, five more get in. The radio is blaring, on the left side different music than on the right side of the bus. Traffic is crazy, but buses make it worse by stopping at random, opening and closing doors while driving and letting people hop on and off in a way that reminded me a lot of Divergent.
So we toured Lima, saw a lot of KFCs and Avengers chocolate milk, but nothing special. I was glad my Dad proposed to go back to the hostel early and walk along the Pacific later that night. But, when I stood on a rocky beach in a city of 9 million, staring at the Pacific, I couldn't help feeling like I was all alone at the very end of the world...

On my 18th birthday, we went to a place called Pisco. It was a very special birthday for me. Not because I was no longer a minor, but because it didn't feel like a birthday: I spent most of it sitting in a bus. When we finally got out, we were in Pisco, where I didn't drink pisco. We visited a national park after lunch. It looked even more like the end of the world there than at the beaches of Lima, though these beaches were a lot more fun. Every time the waves moved back, Alieke and I would chase the subsiding waters until they came back as violent waves, which we'd try to outrun. Sometimes the waves won, most of the time we did. We ended up soaking wet.
After this we went to our hotel. Alieke and I swam in the almost freezing pool; the hotel staff was immediately convinced that we were cray. Half-frozen we sat down for my birthday celebration. The tour guide had bought me a huge cake and the entire group sang Happy Birthday to me. It was awkward, but awesome at the same time. I can't remember people ever celebrating my birthday like that.
You can almost feel the awkwardness in this pic
The last morning in Pisco was spent at the Ballestas, islands where I saw penguins in the wild. Most of the time we were laughing though. As we boarded the boat, some guy came up to us trying to sell hats. It wasn't sunny, so no one understood why he was trying to sell hats. Then he said: 'Pelicano kaka'. Pelicans poop... After that, we said this whenever we saw an animal. Donkey? Burro kaka! Dove? Paloma kaka! Llama? Llama kaka!

Nasca is known for one thing: the Nasca lines. I could not be in Nasca without seeing them. This meant I had to go in a teeny tiny plane which flew into every direction you can imagine, twisted and turned and did almost everything that can make my stomach upset...
I'm not sure if this was our plane, but you get the idea
 I got super nauseas in the plane, but I was lucky. I was in the last plane of the day that could see all the Nasca lines. most others had to turn around and go back, because there were lots of clouds coming in, obscuring the lines.

At the end of our stay in Nasca, we went to Chauchilla. Chauchilla is an ancient graveyard, where lost and lots of people from five different tribes were buried. Later on, poor Peruvians turned into graverobbers when they discovered money could be made by selling artefacts that were buried next to the mummies. Nowadays, the entire sight is filled with bones; they're spread everywhere. It's an eerie sight to see millions of pieces of bone just lying about as if it's the most normal thing in the world.
Luckily we had a great guide who had a passion for Peruvian history. He made the trip a lot of fun. Every time someone took a picture of him, he said: 'Thank you very much, now I'll be famous in your country!' Well, Antonio, now you're famous in a few other countries as well!
The city of Arequipa will be remembered as the city with the slippery streets. The city itself wasn't very special and I didn't spend much time there. I saw the Ampato maiden, which was a bit of an anticlimax since she was covered in so much ice that I could barely see anything besides her face. I also went rafting with Alieke, my Dad and her parents on the Chili river. Because of that, I now know that even though Dutch guys don't like me, chubby guys from Chili seem to fancy me. I was constantly asked: 'You like it, mylady?' Yes, mylady liked it, especially your attention.

So Arequipa wasn't much, but the busride from Nasca to Arequipa was (yes, I'm not going to do this in a logical or chronological order). On the way to Arequipa, we followed the shoreline. The Panamericana Highway stayed close to the shore, but otherwise there was nothing to see. Until we were stuck in a traffic jam on one of the most deserted roads in the world! We had no idea what was going on, except for a traffic jam. We made wild speculations: people had jumped off the cliffs, a car had driven off the cliffs, there was a strike going on... In the end it turned out to be nothing but a really fat truck that got stuck in a tunnel. Bit of an anticlimax...
Along the road we saw our first llama. Or alpaca. Not sure which one, just see for yourself ;)
Isn't it cute?

Chivay is a small rural town with nothing except for its close proximity to the Colca Canyon. It's on a high altitude, I'm not sure how high, but too high for Dutch people who think a hill of 200metres can be called a mountain. We chewed coca leaves to prevent altitude sickness. I do not recommend this. Yes, coca leaves are the stuff cocaine is made of, but only after adding a ton of chemicals to the pulp of the leaves or something like that. Either way, if you chew the leaves like this, it tastes like eating a bush in my backyard. In other words: really gross.

The nights in Chivay were ice cold, so I slept with my hat on. There was actually no good solution against the cold: you either slept beneath two thick blankets and got crushed by them, or you slept without them and froze... I was glad when we went to Colca Canyon. At least it wasn't as cold there.
Colca Canyon is one of the very few places where you can see condors fly from up close. Every tourist is armed with a camera with a huge lens. No one gets a good picture. This is as almost as good as it gets.
'No, now it's trying to sit on me!'
Our group left the Cruz del Condor relatively quick. We went on a hike a few kilometers down the road. We reached another viewing point. My Dad became friends with two alpacas, while Alieke and I befriended a dog. The dog became quite a problem, since it followed us all the way back to the bus and then into the bus. So we got out again, tried to sit on a stretch of pavement that just was there for no apparent reason, but then the dog tried to sit on us. I tried yelling at it in Dutch, which didn't work. I tried yelling at it in Spanish, but that didn't work either. Probably because 'perro, vamos perro!' isn't an actual command for a dog, but I didn't know what else to say in Spanish.

Back in Chivay, we had lunch. This restaurant clearly wasn't meant for tourists, because I was too tall for the door. I'm only 1.68m (aproximately 5foot7), but there was no way I could walk straight up through this door without knocking myself out.

The journey went on the Puno, on the shores of Lake Titikaka. Apparently Titikaka is not pronounced the way the Dutch would do. If you do it that way, you're saying 'Lake Titipoop'. My Dad was rather amused by this and quickly began saying 'Lake Peepeekaka'... The rest of the group tried pronouncing it the Peruvian way, a little like 'Titi-kah-kah'. We found this so funny that we kept saying it, everyone speaking at the same time. We sounded like a bunch of demented crows...

In Puno my Dad ordered guinea pig. I do not recommend this either. Tastes like chicken that will give you food poisoning. Alpaca steak on the other hand is totally delicious and worth it. But never order guinea pig. It'll just lay there on your plate and stare at you with its dead eyes.
My Dad had a lot of fun showing the head of the guinea pig to the others. I was rather disgusted. I was glad when this dinner was over.
We stayed in Puno only one night, then hopped on a bicycle taxi thingy. Alieke and I shared one and had to take a selfie. We were the absolute masters of the selfie: all were moved, faded or only had half of Alieke's head and one strand of my hair on them. But this one actually turned out great.
The taxis brought us to the harbour. On the way Alieke and I panicked, because, of the ten taxis that brought our group there, we had chosen the one that took an alternative route. But we got there safely and got on a boat that brought us to the floating Uros Islands. These islands are made of reed. Stand in one place for too long and your feet get wet. Oh, and you can't poop there. For some reason, the toilets couldn't handle that (or so the guide told me).
Next stop in Lake Titi-kah-kah was the island of Amantáni. We stayed with a local family, we dressed us up in local clothing (we looked totally ridiculous and we loved it - well, Alieke and I did).
At 4pm we climbed Pacha Mama, a sacred mountain, with a temple on top. It is said that if you walk around the temple three times, counter clockwise, and throw a stone through the gate, you can make a wish and it'll come true. But the instructions on throwing the stone weren't clear, so just to be sure we threw a stone through the gate every time we passed it. Either Pacha Mama will be very pleased with our efforts, or she'll be very pissed with us for throwing her temple full with stones. At Pacha Mama we watched the sun set. Or rather, we saw the sun disappear behind the clouds. But I got a nice picture out of it. It was worth the steep climb.

We visited one more island, called Taquile. Then we went back to Puno and on to Cuzco the next morning.

The capital of the Inca empire was the last stop on our Peru trip. We didn't spend a lot of time there. My parents and I did the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (on which I'm going to do another monster post soon) and because of that, we spent only one day in Cuzco. This day was also our last full day in Peru. We had a farewell dinner during which we made our own Pisco Sour. Pisco, egg white, lemon juice, ice and something I forgot in some shiny thingy and shake it for four minutes! The result was amazing. I usually don't drink alcohol, but Pisco Sour is so delicious :)
My Dad hadn't closed the lid right - Pisco all over my hands
Going home
All trips end. Ours ended with a flight from Cuzco to Lima, which was delayed more than two hours for no apparent reason. At Lima airport we ate a delicious pizza and then, before we knew it, we were in our plane already, watching Catching Fire and Captain America: the Winter Soldier.
We landed around 3pm on the 4th of August. The next day my Dad threw everything into our car and took us to France, where we spent two more weeks.

So I had five amazing weeks of vacation, but I'm glad I'm back home, glad I'm back to blogging.
How was your summer? I can't wait to hear your stories!

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2 Fellow Ramblers

  1. Sounds like an amazing summer!! Just followed you on GFC and can't wait to read more of your posts:)
    Milly xx

    1. It was one of my most awesome summers so far. Thanks for following, hope you stop by soon!


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