A Change of Itinerary

Trip Start Jan 17, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Peru  ,
Monday, June 5, 2006

Hello All,

So two nights before an election between what locals call "two bad choices" ( sound familiar?) we stood in the Plaza de Armas in Cusco and watched a rally for one of the candidates, a radical leader promising significant changes in Peru. (He is compared with Venezuela's Chavez) It was electrifying, if a bit concerning and confusing for us.

Because of the elections we opted to skip the southern parts of Peru and head to Huaraz for some trekking... thinking that being in the mountains if the country turns to crap would be o.k. So we boarded a bus for Lima (22 hours) where we would get on another bus for Huaraz (4 hours more). But the bus didn't leave.

We were told by the driver that the bus would be delayed for an hour so they could straighten out a problem with the tickets... some people were supposedly issued tickets with a departure time of an hour later. We were told by a friendly local named Oscar that this type of delay was typical when the bus wasn┤t full... they would wait until they sold more tickets. We believed Oscar.

While Ashley stewed in her seat about the fact that we had been lied to yet again by people selling the tickets ( this time we were promised a tourist bus with big seats that reclined totally) and plotted her hypothetical confrontation with the woman I talked to Oscar about the election.

Oscar was from Pisco and was heading home to vote... voting is required of everyone. He offered insight into the views of the candidates and asked about Alaska. The hour and a half passed and we all boarded the bus again.

It seems the bus driver was committed to somehow arriving exactly on time in Lima despite leaving almost 2 hours late! The extremely curvy road was a stomach turner at slow speeds (we had already taken the 1st part of the road when we began our trek) but at Indy 500 speeds it was ridiculous. The vomiting started at 9:45 pm.

It was just as everyone finished their white rice dinners (we had been promised a "cena gordo"... fat dinner) that we heard a familiar and concerning sound behind us. A girl of about 8 had puked in the aisle. Her mom tried to clean it up...but hey... it was a bus. The bus boy looked at me like I was crazy when I asked him to turn on the ventilation system so the bus wouldn't continue to stink. "Hace frio afuera"... "It's cold outside", he replied. Personally... cold air is better than puke-ridden, recycled air....but I digress. Several other people on the bus requested plastic bags and used them to store their previously swallowed dinners.

So we dozed in and out through the night...mostly out... until 7am when the bus boy decided it was time for all of us wake up. He put in a loud obnoxious movie in Spanish and handed everyone a package of saltines... not the "desayauno gordo" we were promised either! Then the fun started again.

This time lots of people were puking. It was almost sickly harmonic... as one left off...another began. We heard the guys in the seats in front of us comment that we were close to Nazca (they were also puking) and we decided we had had enough of that type of fun. We hopped off the bus in Nazca and Ashley did an Oscar deserving performance to get our money back for our tickets from the bus office (playing that she, "wasn't feeling good" How ironic... thatĘs just the way things work down here)
Ten minutes later we were waiting to get on a plane to see the famous Nazca lines.

But... the story can't just end there... no...things in Peru aren't that simple.

When we stepped out of the taxi at the small runway a woman told us she had 3 other passengers ready and we would complete the plane. (You have to wait until a plane is full to leave... but they don't tell people that... they simply lie to the 1st people arriving ... but we know from AK... a half full plane doesn┤t fly) So after negotiating a price we thought was fair, we paid. Just then the girl who recruited us began arguing with another girl who worked there. It was nasty. Then two more gringos arrived.

It seemed the girls get a commission for everyone they recruit to get on a plane. Each wanted their two gringos on the plane. It was a mess. Eventually we stepped in and said..." they can take the last two spots...no problem" since the employees couldn't resolve it themselves. They told us we would wait for "only a few minutes" for more people to fill another plane. But aha aha ha ....we already know that game... we wanted our money back so we could shop around for another company with people already. They insisted we wait. This went on for about 10 minutes until I dropped the P word. Policia.

It really didn't phase them as much as I had hopped but they slowly relented and we got our money back (they tried to short us when they paid us back too). We went to another company and were in the air in a Cessna 172 ten minutes later.

The Nazca lines were great and I was overjoyed to be in a plane again. It is an action packed half hour and the lines are certainly unique. We were on a bus out of Nazca an hour after landing.

We spent the past two nights in a town called Huacachina. They have amazing sand dunes there and yesterday we went "sand boarding" and cruising in a dune buggy.

This a.m. we left and are now in Pisco (home of the famous Pisco Sour drinks). Tomorrow we are off on a tour of some islands near here. Ashley remarked it seems like we are on the "Amazing Race" T.V. show these days. Buses, planes, dune buggies, and boats. Hmmmm maybe we can squeeze ourselves on a space rocket the day after tomorrow.

Love you all.
Pete + Ashley
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