It's all about the journey

Trip Start May 08, 2013
Trip End Sep 30, 2013

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Flag of Peru  , Arequipa Region,
Sunday, May 19, 2013

We left Huacachina yesterday morning as planned and took a 2 hour Cruz del Sur bus to Nazca. We weren't sure exactly what time it would leave, since the website only lists departure times from the original place of departure (Lima in this case) but we reached Nazca by mid afternoon in plenty of time for the 10pm bus to Arequipa. We sat in the front row upstairs, and there were more than a few occasions that I had to close my eyes when the driver decided to overtake slower-moving vehicles. Not for the faint-hearted!

Since we had a few hours to kill, we went to the Hotel Nazca Lines and for a small fee (S/.30) we were given lunch and allowed to the use the swimming pool and other facilities for the day. The pool was pretty cold and it took a lot of willpower to get in, but we had a good little swim when we did! The showers were good too; powerful and lots of hot water - very welcome after Huacachina.

The hotel is famous as the home of Maria Reiche, a German-Peruvian archaeologist known for her studies of the Nazca Lines, for the last 25 years of her life. She stayed in room 130, now turned into a sort of memorial to her. We were going to attend a talk and planetarium show in the hotel about the lines and Maria Reiche, but there were technical problems so instead the guide gave us a quick 10 minute overview of some key facts/theories about the lines and also allowed us into room 130 for a look around.

We had another couple of hours before our bus departed so we went to the local Roky's for some pollo a la brasa. The chicken wasn't as good this time, but the chips were fantastic. Like good chippy-style chips. A side note here that it seems Inca Kola has become our favourite drink. We ask for it instead of coca cola everywhere! Inca kola for me, inca kola cero (zero) for Jen.

We were in the VIP cabin on the bus, downstairs. This has only 3 rows of 3 seats (2/1) and each seat is therefore wider and has much more legroom than those upstairs. There being fewer people is also an advantage since there is less disruption during the night. The seats were very comfortable, especially when fully reclined (:-)) and I managed a respectable 6-7 hours sleep in total. Not bad for a 10 hour journey. I must admit the travel sickness pills we have been taking seem to help with sleeping too: you take 2 of them 2 hours before travelling, and they are supposed to mess with your 'vomiting impulses' (or something) so you don't throw up on board. But they have the (quite desirable) side effect of drowsiness, making it pretty easy to sleep. The occasions that I did wake up however, I had the distinct feeling of being on board an unstoppable, out of control juggernaut. Jen said she looked out the window a few times and realised we were overtaking on the wrong side of the road, with traffic coming towards us. Oh well. I'm still in one piece.

We had read from a lot of people that buses in South America are heavily air conditioned and at night it can get fairly cold. So we took layers and jackets on with us. No need! It was roasting in there! I don't know if it was just because we were in the smaller cabin downstairs, but I could quite happily have slept in t shirt and shorts last night. We arrived in Arequipa about an hour late (I'm told this is actually early (?) in Peruvian time) and found a taxi to take us to Amazing Home hostel, a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas, for 10 soles. The staff at the hostel were great and let us check in even though we were hours early. We even got to have breakfast here: banana pancakes (again!) with caramel sauce.

There was a little confusion with us initially being put into the wrong room, and our actual room not actually being available. But in the end we were upgraded from a room with shared bathroom to one with a private bathroom in a nicer part of the building, for no extra charge. After resting to recharge our batteries after the night bus, and quick phone calls to parents back home in Scotland, we set out for a walk into the centre of town. I have to admit we wanted familiar fast food this time, and settled on a combination of Pizza Hut, Burger King and McDonalds for various bits and pieces. Yum! Tomorrow we will explore the town in more detail.

One final thought for today. Arequipa is approx. 2350m above sea level and, after coming to this altitude from near sea level, I've noticed a shortness of breath that I'm not used to. Hopefully we will acclimatise quickly, since there are much higher heights to reach before this trip is done.
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