back to tuktuks
Peru has tuktuks - my website title makes sense again. Although, they are not called tuktuks, they are called combis. And I haven´t had a chance to ride in one yet, though I will, I am sure, before I leave. I have ridden in the twingo taxis. I don´t know if anyone knows about Renault Twingos apart from me and my dad, but they are these impossibly small, box-like cars that are very popular in France, and all the taxis here seem to be based on them. They have too many stickers stuck all over them for me to see whether they are actually twingoes, but I shall do some more research on it over the next few days.
Being in Peru is making me feel like a real-live backpacker again, which Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and Patagonia all sort of knocked out of me. There, everything was easy, because everyone spoke English, or I wasn´t having to make decisions or work anything out. Peru is much more challenging in that respect, which is good. It is good to end my trip on a proper culture shock again. There are dogs in the streets, the houses are made of bamboo and that woven straw-like material, most of them seem to have only three and a half walls, a large proportion of the population like to sit outside of their houses and do nothing. I often wonder why the greatest philosophers have not come from Cambodia, Laos, and now Peru, since all the people do is sit and watch the world go by. With all that time thinking, surely great thoughts must emerge? I know, I am being naive. But still...
I haven´t tried Inka Kola yet, but I think that even my sweet tooth will be defeated by it. Everything here is very sweet, and I am over sweet foods. An excess of dulce du leche has sickened me. I actually have to admit that the food here has managed to completely underwhelm me, and no one in the entire country, can fry an egg. The lack of bon cuisine is actually good, since it now means that I have two weeks to diet, which I sorely need, in time for Christmas. It would be nice to come home thin and tanned, but neither of them are likely. Oh, I can´t be mean about all the food - the fruit is fabulous and cheap.
I arrived in Lima a few days ago, and it was the shithole that I had been led to believe, and I was in the nice part, Miraflores. I had to go out and change some travellers cheques, and of course the banks were charging 12%. I eventually found one of those dodgy dealers that you have to count back the notes twice to make sure that they are right, and that you are sure the notes are either stolen or counterfeit, although they look too grubby to be the second. Who cares, when the commision is only 3%? I then wandered around a bit, was unimpressed, and went back to my room to get my last dose of CNN for a long time.
The next day we headed to Pisco, named for the drink, which turned out to be a bit of a shithole (I am sure the Lonely called it charming, or with character.). However, from Pisco you head to the Islas Ballestras, which are the "Little Galapagos", and they themselves were pretty awesome. It was the usual deal of a tourist company picking everyone up late, dumping you at a cafe to "wait", meaning "buy", and then take a tour of the islands. I actually felt quite happy at the familiarity of the set up. The islands were cool in that there were thousands of inquisitive sea lions, and zillions of birds, including pelicans, tropical cormorants, penguins, although I didn´t manage to spot any boobies. I am not sure what a booby looks like, and that might have been part of the problem. Kate should have been there to help me out.
From Islas Ballestras we went to Huacachino, where you go dune buggy riding and sandboarding. I did sandboarding in New Zealand, and dune buggying in Oregon a few years ago, so I thought I knew what to expect. Of course, I hadn´t counted on the Peruvian attitude to things. Our seatbelts were tied to the buggy instead of being adjustable, and today I can hardly move my neck. (I am just picturing my mother´s face right now. Don´t worry, it is the last "adventure" sport I do) The sandboards were based on snowboards, apart from there was no way of controlling them or stopping them, which we only found out after we watched the guide fall over as well. I gave up on that sport pretty quickly. Huacachino though was a pretty nice place - a little oasis in the desert, with a lake in the centre of the two street town. Looked like a cool place to spend some time. We headed onto Nazca though, so we could take a flight this morning.
Upon arriving to Nazca, it turned out that there was no electricity, and therefore no running water. Hardly ideal. But what can you do? The hotel was good enough to heat us a bucket of water to wash in, so it was like having an Asian shower. Not great, but not horrendous. The beds were comfortable, and that´s the main thing.
This morning was an early flight over the Nazca lines. One thing that I have discovered whilst travelling is that I love to be in small flying things, and a four seater aircraft was no different - I loved it! The fact that strange, mythical lines in the desert were on display was simply a bonus. The lines themselves were actually awesome, especially since they are no more than 5cm deep in the desert. Of course, no one knows really why they are there, although the theory that I like is that they were drawn using the movements of the stars. I am going to a planetarium show tonight to learn more about it. And then, a night bus to Arequipa, the white city.
Home in two weeks today. I am really looking forward to it, but it doesn´t mean that I am not having a good time here. I am. It is an interesting country, although I can´t say that I love it yet. I think that the lack of Spanish might be the main barrier, but I couldn´t say for sure.