What I picked up in Peru

Trip Start Feb 14, 2006
Trip End Dec 15, 2006

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Thursday, September 7, 2006


Welcome back to another episode of the wild adventures of James and
Louise in South America. A few things have happened recently so I will
just give you some highlights.

After leaving lake Titicaca we headed inland into Peru. The differnce between Peru and Bolivia is both subtle and obvious. Toursists and money - Bolivia has less of both. This is a bit of a shame really as they are both beautiful and amazing countries. We first went to the 'White City' of Arequipa. This is a beautiful, relaxed and charming colonial city nestled in Southern Peru. The food is great and it oozes a quiet sophistication. I amazingly managed to meet up with an old friend Alex (my tour leader from a previous trip to Peru) who had wonderfully organised everything we needed for Machu Picchu. The only sad thing was he had decided to fly to London in typical latino-style as he had fallen IN LOVE with one of his recent tourists. I wished him all the luck in the world but I haven't heard from him since.

From beautiful Arequipa we took a tour to the Colca Canyon. This is used to be the world's deepest canyon (they unfortunately found another one just over a hill which was deeper but nigh imposible to get to). Anyway, that didn't matter as the reason to go was to see ANDEAN CONDORS - the worlds heaviest bird. They soar on the thermals that rise through the canyon and we were lucky enough to see one of those mighty birds sore right by our heads. Brilliant. We also got a good summary of Incan history at the same time. The condors were considered gods by the incans and what the Spanish invaders did to those birds (to SHOW the natives that the birds were NOT gods) was so horrible I can't print it.

Anyway, When Louise and I arrived in Cuzco (the tourist meca of Peru) we both
had some symptoms that only a poorly staffed third world medical clinic
could solve. We left the happy owners of not 1 but 3 brand new
diagnoses: Giardiasis (a tummy bug), Amoebiasis (a much nastier tummy
bug, the one that causes amoebic dysentary - blood, pus, a right circus)
and, the highlight, scabies!!! This is, unfortunately, a kind of
full-body-lice and puts the 'itch' back in 'son of a bitch'. However,
the 'lotion' to treat it made my skin feel tingly, so that was nice.

Anyway, Louise and I sort of set up a base camp of medical treatment and
studied some spanish together (the past tense is now fully under control
and the nefarious subjunctive is rearing its ugly head) before heading
to Macchu Picchu together. These are some very famous archaeological
ruins that are one of the eddible crusts of the otherwise mouldy bread
that is Peru. It felt like I was back at home when I finally summited a
huge mountain to see 3 Australian men getting photographed stark naked
with stubbies in their hands. God I miss the culture.

We have also taken another (the 3rd now) trip into the Amazon in recent
times and, once again, it was brilliant. We saw 'giant river otters'
this time, which are a bunch of really savage (but soooo cute) bastards
who hunt in packs and will happily take on crocodiles. They were
nicknamed 'river wolves' by the spanish and, i have to say, taste great
with pepper (just kidding). We also saw about 8 species of monkey, the clever little cock-of-the-rock bird and an amazing demonstration at the macaw clay-lick. This is a really cool natural phenomenon. Basically mcaws and parrots eat unripe fruit (due to pressure from other animals that like the nice ripe stuff) which has toxins in it (because the fruit doesn't want to be eaten until it wants to be). To get rid of all those toxins the birds fly daily to a huge wall of clay and eat bits of it (this acts as a binding-agent in their guts and helps get rid of the toxins). It was amazing to see around 500 parrots and 50 or so McCaws chewing happily away.

Anyway, i am all better now (Louise died) and am heading up to the
Galapagos in a couple of weeks.

Louise didn't really die, I just haven't seen her since she went off
with those 3 naked men...

Hope you are all well

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