The Poor Man Galapagos, very poor.

Trip Start Apr 23, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Peru  ,
Friday, April 27, 2012

I arrived in Paracas in the evening and having been warned by the owner of the hostel I was staying at not to listen to people at the bus stantion claiming to take you to your hostel, I was more than a little apprehensive when a local practically forced me to follow him, especially when he took me a different way from what my expertly drawn map had said. Fortunately, he was genuine and only wanted to show me the beach as the sun set before takign me directly to the front door of my hostel - instantly recognised after my time of paranoid memorizing on the net.

Alberto - the hostel owner - was the nicest old man, giving me a personally guided tour of the town, recommeded the best and cheapest restaurants, albeit the town was only like five blocks, but still. The first night I ended up bunking with a Canadain girl, who was as in touch with mother nature as humanly possible but a lovely person nonetheless, offering me advice on the colca canyon and Machu Picchu.

The next day after a homely breakfast of mashed up egg in a cup, I was ready to see why Paracas was known as ´The Poor Mans Galapagos´. Taking a boat crammed full of other tourists we headed to the Ballestas Islands, passing a Nazca-liney attraction called ´The Candelabra´- which I now know to be more impressive than my actual Nazca lines experience. The Ballestas Islands are famous for their extensive gatherings of seabirds and alongside that, the guava (shit) that they produce, which is collected every seven years to be used as fertilizer for the whole of Peru. Probably more impressively (and less disgusting) they are also famous for hosting the largest colony of sea lions in the Pacific.

I´ve seen pictures of the Galapagos Islands... these Islands were the homeless man´s Glapagos: don´t get me wrong, they were beautiful and it was amazing to see wild sea lions up close like that but there was no comparison to Darwin´s giant tortoises, there wasn´t even a Shelly! Then again considering my budget, even the poor man´s Galapagos was a bit extravagant while I'm currently trying to live off a tenner a day...

That night I met a South African guy called Mike, who introduced me to Civiche: a traditional dish of raw fish marinated in lime and chilli, served with red onion... probably my favourite South American dish so far. Lucking out and being given details of Mike´s friend in Rio for a place to stay at the end of my trip, as well as bagging a Spanish course for my ipod, Paracas was benefiting me greatly.

The next day a trip to the national park was in store, a vast expanse of desert contrasting with the Pacific ocean. A few years ago the region was hit by a devastating earthquake followed by a tsunami, the aftermath of which was still apparent: tiny fishing boats stranded in the middle of the desert, out of view from the ocean; rock formations destroyed; and fishing towns abandoned... It was crazy to see the effects in person of something you hear about on the news while in the comfort of your own home. The most famous rock formation in the reserve ´La Cathedral´, was one of those destroyed in the earthquake and seeing the before and after pictures made me realise the immense power that these natural disaters bring with them.

My last night in Paracas I went for a lesuirely stroll along the beach front to be greeted by a random Peruvian who insited on braiding my hair while we drank a bollte of Pisco (Peru´s national drink) on the beach. ´What would my mum say? Would she kill me?´In the end I abandoned these thought with the justification that the beach was busy and I´m pretty sure I can shout loud. In the end it was a great way to finish off my time in the tiny fishing town and i managed to pick up some Spanish..

Don´t worry mum, I'm still here ain´t I?

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durian acrobat on

Almost paradise.

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