Up the Peruvian Coast

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

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Thursday, September 7, 2006

Hi everyone

So... It has been a couple of weeks since I left the jungle and since then Louise and I have taken a highly massochistic two week bus-struggle up the Northern coast of Peru and into Equador. The Bus lines here are definitely on terrorism-watch as one gets a full cavity search prior to entry. Kind of eases you into the comfort with which you will be travelling

We travelled first to the town of Ica (pronounced like 'EEEK! a' mouse) which is famous for its Sand dunes and Dune-Buggy racing. We organised a kind of a 'go-kart meets rollercoaster' tour of the sand dunes (delayed for 2 hours due to a world cup match) which involved discovering how many body cavities sand could get into, then finding out it was 3 more than expected. Luckily the bus ride had them primed for entry.

It was kind of odd that the tour was delayed due to World Cup passion, considering Peru hasn't managed to field a team for about 30 years. There is an interesting 'Beer Commercial' on TV over here where every time someone opens a beer a Brazilian team member magically changes into a Peruvian team member (who then appears to simultaneously go off-side, miss a goal and get red-carded). Clever advertising - educates the Peruvians as to why they aren't playing then offers an easy solution to the pain. Salud!

We then headed up North off the 'Gringo trail'. As I have said before, the road less travelled is often less travelled for a reason. Towns with complex names such as Huaraz and Trujillo passed by without us taking much care or notice. We took a tour around a set of pre-Incan ruins (Peru has lots and lots of ruins) famous for sculptures of Jaguars. These cats are definitely a 'White-Whale' for me - I am desperate to see one. Unfortunately the people who lived in those ruins also seemed to have never seen one (or, for that matter, a cat of any description), as the Jaguar Heads looked more like inbred demi-humans than felines.

We spent some time at a cool little beach resort in the very Northern tip of Peru called Mancora. It is famed for surfing-fishermen and the worlds longest left-to-right surf break. It definitely had both the drunken and the more rarely-spotted lecherous fisherman. It seemed the surfing conditions had perplexed them a little, though, and most of their boards remained lonely on the shore.

On crossing into Equador we encountered the wonderful city of Baņos (which means, literally, toilet). This was definitely a place to visit and flush ones trouble`s away. It has a famous semi-active volcano (which very nearly flushed to whole town away in 1998 due to an erruption) which is meant to be quite a sight. Louise went out looking for it one morning leaving me practicing guitar in the hotel. 2 hours later she raced through the door, dripping with sweat and looking terrified. She had been walking in the jungle when she heard a huge BOOM similar to thunder. Thinking that the volcano was errupting (and that the sky would soon begin falling) she raced back to the hotel to rescue me. Although I was grateful for her bravery we soon discovered that the volcano makes those noises every day.

The day after we left the volcano errupted, killing many and covering the town in ash. Mass evacuations have begun. I am not kidding about that - check out the Equadorian paper at notgonnacheckit.com

We finally ended up in an animal refuge in northern Equador looking for volunteer work. Oddly, the first animals we saw were 2 caged lions and a fairly aggressive looking man. My understanding of the biodiversity of the Americas was sorely pressed until he explained he had 'liberated' them from a circus. That bastard zoo keeper then told us how he had both Jaguars and Pumas down below but was too busy to show them too us. As a result I made the mature decision to liberate his shoelaces from his shoes.

Anyway - we are off to the Galapagos islands in the morning and then it is on to central America. Hasta Luego and Buen Viaje to all!

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