Plaza de Armas, Lima
After spending about 32 hours on three different buses from Cuenca, I finally hit Lima. My last bus was an overnight on a pretty swank bus. We got to play Bingo, which I love! It was a great way to practice my numbers in Español, although I was screwing up pretty good. I wasn´t the only one, though. Other passengers, locals in fact, were calling BINGO when they didn´t have it, and we ended up having to redo the game. Aside from that, nothing exciting to report from my journey. I did run into a sobbing gal in Loja who lost her wallet in the hotel, but she was stupid and left it on her bed, and then left the door open to use the common bathroom, and was surprised it was gone?
It was Sunday morning when I arrived in Lima, so I checked into the hostel and took a nap right away.
Old fella enjoying people watching off the plaza
Some of the guests were still up and drinking from the night before. I knew it was advertised as a party hostel, but I wasn´t expecting that. After a nap, I heard from my sister her flight was delayed, so I just hung around the hostel in the afternoon, reading and watching crappy movies with the rest of the worn out guests. It ended up being a quiet night after an apparent all out party the night before.
Finally at about 1 a.m. my sister arrived! We hugged and teared up at the sight of one another. We´ve never spent so much time apart. After that though, it was like we had just seen each other the day before. Pretty soon we were laughing and giving each other crap about who knows what. Mostly we´ve realized Jen´s gotten a little rusty since her solo Europe tour back in 2003.
Feeding the birds in Lima
She forgot some essentials and no longer has a travel friendly hairstyle since it requires a blow dryer and straightener. Luckily she left the straightener at home, but with time her morning hair ritual will just have to change. Anyway, I´m having lots of fun giving her crap about that, and well, we have just been laughing, laughing, laughing. It´s been so much fun. Jen is the first person I traveled with overseas, so I have to thank her for helping me get this travel bug.
Our first day together in Lima we saw most of the city by city bus. It was a cheap ride, but to get from the suburb where we were staying to the one part of Lima that is pretty in the center was about an hour ride. We reached the center, walked around, looked at a church, had lunch and decided, we were leaving Lima that night.
Boy chasing the pigeons at San Francisco
There just isn´t much reason to be there. I lobbied hard to take the same bus company to our next destination, which we did, but the draw of playing BINGO was not enough to convince Jen we had to pay twice as much to take the luxury line rather than the economy. So we set out in a taxi at night, to some industrial part of the city to find the economy terminal. We ended up being the only gringas with a pretty packed bus of locals. It was another night bus, so I knew sleep would be difficult, but it ended up being pretty unbearable, owing mostly to the fact we were seated near the only bathroom and by hour ten it was wreaking of urine. The gals behind us kept spraying perfume in the air, which lasted a whole minute. I realized I had Tiger balm in my bag, so insisted we slather that on our upper lips.
Door knocker at the Palacio Episcopal
The stinging laster longer than masking the smell, however. Sometime about 10 a.m. our bus pulled over on this long stretch of road in the desert. A belt had broke in the engine. Everyone got off and stared as the driver and his on-board mechanic worked on this problem. I had remarked about an hour earlier as we made our way through the desert that I´d hate to break down here, but at least we had food and water. So at that point Jen told me to keep my thoughts to myself! Thirty minutes later we were back on the road. Both of us were surprised about the landscape. Neither of us expected desert in Peru.
Upon arriving in Arequipa, we found a hotel in the old part of town.
Standing guard at Palacio del Gobierno
It is actually a beautiful city. We came here seeking out the Colca Canyon, supposedly deeper than the Grand Canyon. The city itself, though, is very colonial and has some great architecture. While reading our guide, Jen realized that this is the place they found Juanita back in 1995. She remembers reading about it while in undergrad and was very excited to see her. Juanita was an Inca princess, sacrificed some 500 years ago to appease the gods of the volcanos. Many sacrificial rituals were performed from 1440 to 1470 in the areas around the volcanos of Peru, a time when they were all erupting. They´ve found many children buried in various places. A National Geographic explorer named John Reinhard found her out of sure luck while climbing the Ampato Volcano. She was buried at the summit, after being fed cocoa leaves and chicha, an alcoholic brew, and then receiving a sharp blow to her right temple.
This was an honor for her, of course. The ice cap of the volcano where she was melted at one point, so she fell about 100 meters, exposing her head, which is how John found her. Anyway, now she is held at the Museo Santuarios Andinos here in Arequipa, where we saw her along with other items buried with her for her use in the afterlife.
Enough history. We are going to the spend the day enjoying the city before heading for a two day trip of the Colca Valley, where we are to see condors, alpacas, llamas and dip in some hot springs. My main goal at this point is to not buy much more stuff. Both of us are carrying huge bags that are full already. I´ve gained more things to carry, as Jen packed for our Inca Trail Trek, bringing me additional clothes and a sleeping bag. I´m at capacity now for sure! We have a busy few weeks ahead, which means my last days are going to zoom by, but I can´t think of a better way to end my trip, side by side with my sister.