Up the coast and moving on

Trip Start Feb 08, 2006
Trip End Jul 19, 2006

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Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, March 29, 2006

ok, here goes ... now I have to capture the last two weeks and lots of places in a few words...

We left Cusco on a night bus and Erin and I both choacked up. We made a special trip to say goodbye to people we feel connected to and then took a bus driven by a crazy man through the Andes for 10 hours at night. The plan had been to sleep on the bus but, given the number of times my life flashed before my eyes, that wasn't quite possible even though we'd spent way too much for the fancy bus with reclining seats, etc.

After arriving in Arequipa (known as the "White City" because of the volcanic rock used for the colonial buildings) we had the cab driver take us to a hostel. We got a good price, and didn't have to pay extra for the rats in the couch. We really got to like Arequipa in spite of the fact that it is a big, fairly dirty town. We discovered that there are more cake stores than I've ever seen in my life (big elaborately decorated cakes), great bread, cheap Chinese food, and nice people. Erin and I went to a convent in town and wandering around amazed at the choice that these women made (and still do, there are 30 nuns still completely sequestered in the convent) and trying to figure out the point of that kind of life, but it is beautiful and interesting.

We all spent two days on a tour of Colca canyon. The canyon is twice the size of the Grand Canyon, it reaches a depth of 3000 meters and there are condors that catch the updrafts. We went to see them and were socked in by fog at the "Condor Cruz" but saw several (five at one time) at a view point on the way back. It really was amazing to watch as they circled higher and higher just over our heads. We also took a trip to some hot springs and went through a national park and saw many Vicuna (which are endangered, wild, mini-llamas.) We made more friends and now have a place to stay if we ever visit Norway.

After Arequipa we headed up the coast on another crazy night bus to a small town on the coast called Camana. Absolutely no reason to go there but we weren't up to making it all the way to Nazca. There was a decent beach and it was hot, but the water was too cold to swim and Erin was very disappointed. Once in Nazca we took a flight over the Nazca lines. These are lines from dates beginning BC that are only visible as a design from the air. The designs are very large and remarkably elaborate. There are many theories about them, including that they were designed for Shaman from the jungle to see while on their "flights" while under the influence of Ayahuasco, a hallucinogenic drug. The other theory of course is that they were designed by aliens and that the triangular patterns were actually alien landing strips. Considering one of the drawings is of what certainly looks like an alien (although it is referred to as "the astronaut") who knows?? Not much else to Nazca worth seeing but we didn't stay long enough to get attached. It was hotter than the surface of the sun and I was sick so that might have influenced our attitudes.

From there the plan was to go to Ica (another small town famous for its wineries) and then move on to Pisco and a National Reserve there. We decided to head straight for a place close to Ica, called Huacachina to do some sandboarding in the dunes around the oasis lagoon. We fell so much in love with the place that we stayed the entire last week. Not much to do but walk the dunes and hang out in a hammock, maybe swim a little. The place looked like a scene from Star Wars or Lawrence of Arabia depending on your generation (sorry for all of you post 70s folks, I don't have a sand dune reference for your age range).

Well that's it from Peru. Enjoy the pics, the dunes were much more amazing than you can see here. Now on to Prague...
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