Thursday, July 17th, 2003 – Day 149 to Friday, July 18th, 2003 – Day 150

Thursday, July 17th, 2003 – Day 149

Anyway the bus journey had a big American group from Berkeley who were many too introspective. The bus was full but I had one of the few seats with no one beside me (maybe because I only changed my ticket yesterday). I slept on and off during the journey which was pleasant. Unlike my previous journey from La Paz to Cusco (via Punco and about 20 other towns), this was a direct service via Tiwanaku. We reached the border without stopped at 7.00am in the morning but the border office only opened at 8.00am. The views at 5.00am with a red sky overlooking Lake Titicaca. It was a wonderful sight with the shimmering lake and beautiful sky.

There was nothing to do except stay in the bus or mope around. I had breakfast (with full rice and fish plate) for 3 Soles (with juice, coffee, bread) and passed border controls with no hassles. We reached La Paz at 12.00am which with clocks was 1.00pm local time. As I had no local currency I walked to the hostel (20 minutes) where I had stayed previously (Torino Hotel). I forgot how out of breath you can become in the worlds highest capital. I booked into a single room for 25 B a night (without private bath).

I did very little all day. I posted two parcels home of clothes (for me and family) home from the main post office. It takes quite a long time. You have to go to the main office, then downstairs where the contents are opened and examined. You then have to pay a lady to pack them. You go to another office to weight and pay. You have to get the parcel stamped by the inspector and etc.

I went to the cinema around 7.30pm. I knew of this place in a bad side of town near the cemetery (up by the Black Market). Its cheap and cheerful. I went to see The Hot Chick which was OK but hammered home the same points again and again, Matrix reloaded (found it better second time round) and X-Men 2 (didn’t stay for it as I have seen it before). A triple bill of recent films for 10 B (1.20 EURO). It was 11pm by the time I left and as I had no slept in a bed for three days, decided for an early night (and hopefully a late morning start as well).

I have been to La Paz before. See previous by checking these links out:

La Paz (Catherdral, Black Market) ,

La Paz – Bolivia (Plaza Pedro de Murillo, cemetery),

La Paz – Bolivia (San Pedro Jail) ,

La Paz – Bolivia (Moon Valley, Zoo) ,

La Paz – Bolivia (Tiwanaku) ,

La Paz – Bolivia (unpublished photos).

Friday, July 18th, 2003 – Day 150

I was up at 10.00am. It was a very cold during the night (VERY COLD). Probably because it is winter here and we are at 12,464-ft./3,739m altitude. There were still a lot of material up for the La Paz Civic day which was held on July 16th. There was also a large miners demonstration at the Palace of Justice five blocks from my hostel. It was the cold and them firing off fireworks and shouting slogans that woke me. I went down to the demonstration where all the mines that there hard hats on. There were a lot of riot police about and it was ready to kick off. The miners were blocking roads up to a few weeks ago and one protester was killed. They actually threw sticks of dynamite under any bus that tried to pass.

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La Paz – Bolivia – Miners (18-07-2003)

Anyway I went down to a market to get breakfast (lovely hot cheese filled empandases). Anyway I was not going to do much today. In fact I did nothing of interest. I ordered some hand made fleeces to my specs. They are 40 B each and they are double backed. You can have letter, logos, strips – anything you want on them. It is an institution here that you MUST get a fleece while in La Paz.

I spent most of the day in the Black Market. You could spend weeks up here and not see the same stall twice. I enjoyed my day walking around. I don’t want to do any tourist activities while in La Paz. I am here to relax and wait for my ATM card. Passed a street in the Black market that sells 2nd, 3rd, 4th hand goods . Its the busiest street in the market and is always black with people. Saw hawkers here trying to get people into their home cinema set ups. They show pirated movies (the latest like the Hulk, Terminator 3) in their rooms for 3/4 B (.50 Euro). Usually its an ordinary TV with Spanish subtitles. Just a dark room with 30/40 stools or chairs. Just like the days when cinema was first introduced.

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La Paz – Bolivia – Market (18-07-2003)

At about 7.00pm the whole city was plunged into darkness. It was eerie as it is a major city within a basin of a crater and there was nothing except candles and car lights. You might expect one part of the city to loose power but not the whole city. Anyway I was in the middle of the market which is hard to navigate during day light. No bragging here but I am blessed with a good sense of direction. I made my way out and down in 20 minutes. There was no point in going back to the hostel with no power so I spotted a local bar with candles. I had an atmospheric bottle of beer (5 b) before the lights came back at 9.00pm. I had not planned to out tonight – it was freezing so nothing else to report.

Tuesday, July 15th, 2003 – Day 147 to Wednesday, July 16th, 2003 – Day 148

Tuesday, July 15th, 2003 – Day 147

We arrived back in town at 9.00am and I went to bed until midday. The processions of dancers started at 1.00am and continued all day. It was colorful but you get tired as the dance routines are very long. They have along of meaning to the locals (but not us). There was a alot of drinking doing on and the crowds were getting bigger and bigger (with most camping). I went back to the hostel for a while who were hosting drinks for one of the groups. I headed back into town and pet the two Peruvians to watch the fireworks and the serious boozing to go along. I was ready to join them after. The other tourists I had been with before at Tres Cruces had headed back to Cusco at 1.00pm.

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Paucartambo – Peru – Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen (15-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Paucartambo – Peru – Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen (15-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Paucartambo – Peru – Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen (15-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Paucartambo – Peru – Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen (15-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Paucartambo – Peru – Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen (15-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Paucartambo – Peru – Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen (15-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Paucartambo – Peru – Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen (15-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Paucartambo – Peru – Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen (15-07-2003)

The crowds were very tick. I noticed a guy in traditional dress beside me who was shielding himself behind me when the guys with fireworks came close. I felt uncomfortable with the crowds but was enjoying the festival. I felt a hand in my pocket and before I knew it the guy in the red poncho (to hide the stuff he stole) was gone. It was only 5 seconds but with the crowds and it was dark, it was done and I could not see hime (I had not even touched a beer at this stage). The two Peruvians I was with checked out about 20 pubs but with no luck. They borough me to the police station to make a report but they could do little with a crowd of 100,000 people. As I only had 12 Soles to my name I decided to head back to Cusco that night. There were no NET or phone connections here to cancel the VISA etc. There was only one bus at 3.00am. The two Peruvians who were pissed off with my robbery were heading back to do the Inca Trail. I went back to the hostel to sleep for a few hours. I was disappointed and felt violated. Five months here without problem and 15 days to go and I get robbed. What could I do, I have met loads of people who have robbed of worse (tickets, passport’s etc but it does not make it any better. With the party in full swing it was impossible to sleep. I met the two guys at 2.50am and we found out that the driver was drunk and there was no bus service until morning. All available buses were going to Tres Cruces and they could not understand why anybody would be leaving town during the festival. There were 3 others passengers disappointed.

“Most visitors who venture to very remote Paucartambo (and there aren’t many of them) do so for the annual Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen, one of Peru’s most outrageously celebrated festivals (it lasts several days, and most attendees, be they villagers or foreigners, camp out because there is nowhere else to stay).

The peaceful colonial town, once a mining colony, has cobblestone streets and a lovely Plaza de Armas with white structures and blue balconies, but not a whole lot else–that is until it is inundated by revelers donning wildly elaborate and frequently frightening masks and drinking as if Paucartambo were the last surviving town on the planet. The colorful processions and traditional dances are spectacular, and a general sense of abandonment of inhibitions (senses?) reigns. Mamacha Carmen, as she’s known locally, is the patron saint of the mestizo population”.

Anyway we finally found a taxi driver at 4.00am (the party in town was still going strong with dancing on the streets and dancing). He wanted 15 Soles each from 5 of us. I paid my last 10 Soles and the Peruvian guy paid another five for me. I stayed in the back booth area) in my sleeping bag. I was in a poor mood and just wanted to sleep. The Peruvian guy was an international student in New York and had perfect English. Anyway we arrived back at 6.30am.

Wednesday, July 16th, 2003 – Day 148

Anyway the Peruvian guy gave me two Soles for a taxi. Eveything was as closed and I was desperate to find a phone to cancel the VISA. Luckily I had my “plus” card which I had not used in South America yet. It worked on the first machine I tried. With that I bought a phone card and found a NET cafe to get visa Ireland. The trouble is the expense of phoning Ireland. A ten sole card gives you 4 minutes to a slow speaking Dublin employee. I decided to phone VISA worldwide in America which is 10 minutes for 10 Soles. They were very helpful and cancelled my card. I asked them to ring me back at my hostel ( I ran back there and explained my blight to the hostel owners). They rang back as promised and promised me a new card with 24 hours. I should have been enjoying in the festival in Paucartambo (drinking and having a good time – I was really looking forward to it) but instead I was miserable and had to spend another day in Cusco.

I gave back the sleeping bag (got back my deposit) and got breakfast. I felt better after that and I decided to forget about my cash loss (about 150 US). I had gotten out US notes instead of Soles 2 weeks ago. All ATM machines are dual here and the machine I used had a wonky screen where I could not see the bottom choice for Soles. Otherwise I would not have that amount of cash on me. I hope the guy goes straight to hell – the bastard (had to write that). Its therapy.

Anyway I went on the NET for three hours to write the blog since July 11th (to today the 16th). The hostel owners were really nice and VISA US phoned me twice to check details and be an intermediary with VISA Ireland. I have had no proper sleep in 48 hours and I was groggy. It turned out VISA Ireland does not offer emergency cards and could offer emergency cash or a new card by DHL. It may take between 3-5 working days. I decided to go La Paz tonight and get the card sent there. I walked to the bus station and got my ticket to la Paz replaced and changed for tonight (12 hour journey).

The Hostal Zamaloa – Garcilaso 210 – could not have been nicer. They offered me half price board, use of their phone, gave me free drinks and a free dinner. They were the best. I went to the market to buy some fruit and packed my bags. I was not going to do any tourist things today. I want to close the “Peru” chapter. The bus leaves at 10.00pm tonight. When I left the owner and his wife were incredible.. offering to give me money for a week, free board at the hostel (they wanted me to stay and recover), free phones. The lady of the house nearly brought me to tears with her generosity. After all the things I have seen (scenery, people, attractions) all over South American over the past five months, it was this lady who brought real emotion to me and I will her forget her and her family.

I was at the bus station by 9.15pm. I felt tired and at 10.00pm my bags were secured. You get a receipt which you give back at the end of the trip to get your bags back. I have one additional bag full of bloody Alpaca sweaters, scarfs, socks and tops. I bought too many but there are top quality. You would pay an arm and a leg in Europe for them.

Monday, July 14th, 2003 – Day 146

Monday, July 14th, 2003 – Day 146

The reason I came back to Cusco at all was to visit the 3 day (15th – 18th of July) festival in Paucartambo. Gallinas de Rocas minibuses leave daily for Paucartambo from near colliseo centrale (about 7 minutes by taxi from the town centre). it took me a long time to figure this out. All the guidebooks are incorrect. I was up at 7.00am and was a little hungover. I left my bags at the hostel (paid 40 Soles for 2 nights) and only took bare essentials (soap. Towel) as there are only two hostels there. I had hired a sleeping bag yesterday for 15 Soles (5 Soles per day and a 20 US deposit). I took a taxi to the bus office and found that most of the buses that been booked up. There was one seat left for the 8.00am departure. I bought a ticket for 10 Soles and I boarded. It was a stuffy bus and it did not leave until 9.00am. What a wait. I had breakfast (eggs and potatoes) on the bus. Felt sleepy.

The journey takes 3 hours (on a good day) and is 110km (69 miles) north east of Cusco. Up to last year traffic was only allowed one way (buses went there Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays) but now traffic can barely pass each other on this very scary journey running alongside a cliff on a unpaved road where many landslides have occurred. It was a large fall to the bottom and people were generally scared especially when we met oncoming traffic. Either them or us had to reverse to a corner or a space. It took 5-10 minutes to pass another bus or truck. It was a scary road and I had my eyes closed for part of it.

Anyway when I got there, I looked for a hostel. I wasn’t hard but they all have shared dorms (10-15 people to a room). I finally settled on Hostel colonial. It was 10 Soles that night for a single room (as the festival had not started yet) and 18 Soles for a 6 person dorm with nice beds for the next two nights. I went to see some unofficial dorms but they were filthy (15 mattresses on a dirty floor for 10 Soles a night). Anyway I spent the day walking about and trying to find other tourists to go to Tres Cruces.

“Another 45km (28 miles) beyond Paucartambo is Tres Cruces (Three Crosses), sacred to the nature-worshipping Incas and still legendary for its mystical sunrises in the winter months. (May, June, and July are best.) Tres Cruces occupies a mountain ridge at the edge of the Andes, before the drop-off to the jungle. From a rocky outcropping at nearly 4,000m (13,200 ft.) above sea level, hardy travelers congratulate themselves (for having gotten there, as much as for the sight they’ve come to witness) as they gaze into the distance out over the dense, green Amazon cloud forest. The sunrise is full of intense colors and trippy optical effects (including multiple suns). Even for those lucky enough to have experienced the sunrise at another sacred Inca spot, Machu Picchu, it is truly a hypnotic sight”.

I finally found 6 other tourists who were willing to hire a mini van. We had all come here a day early (the festival was on between the 15th and 18th) to get to Tres Cruces before the festival rush when thousands of people would be up there. We stayed around the plaza and talked for a few hours. There were 2 Peruvians (father and son), a South African (a trainee Shamen and hippie), an American (who was “finding himself”), an Argentine (following Che Guevaras steps around South America using his book “Motorcycle Diaries” and a German. We also had 5 local girls on board.

We set off at midnight and it was a dark and unpaved road. It took 2.5 hours to get there. We paid 8 Soles each for the trip and 5 Soles for the Manu National park entrance. The American was seeking “identity” and had both songs in German and Irish. She wanted me to sing “Whiskey in the Jar” by Thin Lizzy. We arrived at 2.30am. Three of the guys brought tents and set up in the cold and dark. The rest of us slept in the van. I had a sleeping bag and was comfortable but got little sleep. There were about 4 other cars there high up in the he mountains. We waited until 5.30am when the sun came up. It was a great sight but I wasnt moved (it was numbing cold) and we stayed until 7.00am until the sun fully rose. t was a sleepy journey back.

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Paucartambo – Peru – Town (14-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Paucartambo – Peru – Town (14-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Paucartambo – Peru – Town (14-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Paucartambo – Peru – Town (14-07-2003)

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Paucartambo – Peru – Tres Cruces (14-07-2003)

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Paucartambo – Peru – Tres Cruces (14-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Paucartambo – Peru – Tres Cruces (14-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Paucartambo – Peru – Tres Cruces (14-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Paucartambo – Peru – Tres Cruces (14-07-2003)

Sunday, July 13th, 2003 – Day 145

Sunday, July 13th, 2003 – Day 145

Early start as I wanted to do some shopping. Only one place to go on Sunday and that is Pisac ,32km (20 miles) North East of Cusco. I have been here before, not the market but for the trek to the ruins.

“Pisac is a pretty, Andean village picturesquely situated at the eastern end of the valley. Though Pisac seems to be known principally for its Sunday artisans’ market, a crowded and touristy but thoroughly enjoyable affair, it should be more widely recognized and visited for its splendid Inca ruins, which rival Machu Picchu. The Market–Pisac’s famed market draws many hundreds of shoppers on Sunday morning in high season, when it is without doubt one of the liveliest in Peru. (There are slightly less popular markets on Tues and Thurs as well.) Hundreds of stalls crowd the central square–marked by a small church, San Pedro el Ap?stolo, and massive pisonay trees–and spill down side streets. Sellers come from many different villages, many of them remote populations high in the Andes, and wear the dress typical of their village. Dignitaries from the local villages usually lead processions after Mass (said in Quechua), dressed in their versions of Sunday finery.

The goods for sale at the market–sweaters, ponchos, and rugs–are mostly familiar to anyone who’s spent a day in Cusco, but prices are occasionally lower on selected goods such as ceramics. While tourists shop for colorful weavings and other souvenirs, locals are busy buying and selling produce on small streets leading off the plaza. The market begins at around 9am and lasts until midafternoon”.

I took the 2 Soles bus at 8.00am as I wanted to get there to see the locals setting up and get there and buy what I wanted before the bus loads of tourists came on their day trips. A bus company to Pisac is located bus around the corner from the hostel.

I bought two sweaters and some socks. I also met the English guy from Huraz and I promised to hit the town that night. I stayed until 1.00pm. It was interesting walking around and enjoyed the haggling and colour.

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Cusco – Peru – Pisac Market (13-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Cusco – Peru – Pisac Market (13-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Cusco – Peru – Pisac Market (13-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Cusco – Peru – Pisac Market (13-07-2003)

After lunch I went to the church overlooking the city called Saint Crisobel. The weather was good and the city looked great. I then walked around the historic area of Barrio de San Blas – Cusco’s most atmospheric and picturesque neighborhood. It’s a great area to wander around–many streets are pedestrian-only–though. The neighborhood also affords some of the most spectacular panoramic vistas in the city. I also met two Kerry lads (with jerseys) who told me the Munster final result with Limerick.

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Cusco – Peru – San Blas Area (13-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Cusco – Peru – San Blas Area (13-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Cusco – Peru – San Blas Area (13-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Cusco – Peru – San Blas Area (13-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Cusco – Peru – San Blas Area (13-07-2003)

I also got my head shaved. I just walked into a place where a guy was sitting outside with a plastic bag on his head. I dont know why I did it, but I haggled a price for a a haircut (I feel bad about it now). I would not do it at home .. maybe beacuse the local haircut here takes an hour (for men) and I just wanted a “number one”. Anyway the price was down to four soles. I didnt notice but the place was some sort of transvesite place. The lady who cut my hair (while dressed as a lady with lipstick etc) was NO lady. I didnt mention it even when we were talking (yes, she was a man). Got a good cut and tipped her (back up to normal price).

I also went shopping for some custom made jackets. Secured two.

I met Greg at the American-owned Norton Rat’s Tavern, Loreto 115, next door to the La Compana church. It is a rough-and-tumble bar, the type of biker-friendly place that you might find in any American Midwestern city. A litre (yes a litre) was 13 Soles. We stayed there an hour and did the cheap backpacker trick ( My idea). Thee are 5 places in Cusco that give you a free drink if you want in the door (usually a rum and coke). Basically there are all within five minutes of each other .i.e Mama Africas (1 and 2), Xcess, Spoon. We enjoyed going from pub to Disco and back (all free). We stayed in Exces until 2.00am.

Saturday, July 12th, 2003 – Day 144

Saturday, July 12th, 2003 – Day 144

I arrived in Cuszo at 6.20am. Back in familiar terrority (the Cusco bus station). You can walk out to the street to get a taxi for 2 Soles or get one from the ranks from 3-4. I got a taxi to the place where I stayed last time but it was full. Damn. Ah well nicer place next store for same price (20 Soles a night) with THREE beds in room with window (Hostal Zamaloa – Garcilaso 210-A). I forgot how high we are here. It was hard to walk the streets without loosing breath (especially after having been at sea level for a few weeks).

I have been in Cusco before. See stories on my previous visit by checking out the following links:

Cuzco – Peru (Main sites),

Cuzco – Peru (Museums and Churches) ,

Cuzco – Peru (Pisac Trek),

Cuzco – Peru (Sacsayhuam?n, Tambomachay) ,

Cuzco – Peru (Photos),

Day 1 of the Inca Trail ,

Day 2 of the Inca Trail,

Day 3 of the Inca Trail (Part A), Day 3 of the Inca Trail (Part B),

Day 4 of the Inca Trail,

Cuzco – Peru (Riots) ,

Cuzco – Peru (Riots).

I went to the Cusco market which is accross the street from the hostel. it is not a tourist affair which has good fruit and veg. Some nice juice drinks as well.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Cusco – Peru – Market (12-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Cusco – Peru – Market (12-07-2003)

After lunch I went to the “Iglesia de La Merced” which has a 3 soles entrance. Before you ask, I have not been here on my previous visit.

“Erected in 1536 and rebuilt after the great earthquake in the 17th century, La Merced ranks just below the cathedral and the La Compa??a church in importance. It has a beautiful facade and lovely cloisters with a mural depicting the life of the Merced Order’s founder. The sacristy contains a small museum of religious art, including a fantastic solid-gold monstrance swathed in precious stones. In the vaults of the church are the remains of two famous conquistadors, Diego de Almagro and Gonzalo Pizarro.”

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Cusco – Peru – Iglesia de La Merced(12-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Cusco – Peru – Iglesia de La Merced(12-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Cusco – Peru – Iglesia de La Merced(12-07-2003)

It was a nice visit and after I went to a viewing point down Avenue Sol – You go to the top of the “Monumento Pachacutec” (1 Sole). I also bought a ticket to La Paz for the 17th (55 Soles). I then tried to find the bus terminal for Paucartambo. No luck. Had an early night after the night bus. I was planning some shopping tomorrow. Also visited my favourite “chicken” restaurant.

Friday, July 11th, 2003 – Day 143

Friday, July 11th, 2003 – Day 143

I was up around 10.00am and took an hour to unpack and repack my bags to create more space (it did not help). The cost was 36 Soles for the two nights and 12 Soles for my laundry. They kept my bags in lock up. I walked down to the Casa del Moral. It was 5 Soles in.

“An extraordinary mestizo baroque mansion, built at the beginning of the 18th century by a Spanish knight and nicely restored with period detail in 1994, Casa del Moral offers one of the best windows onto colonial times in Arequipa. Named for an ancient mulberry tree–the moral found in the courtyard–the home is also distinguished by a magnificent stone portal with heraldic emblems carved in sillar. Handsome furnishings, carved wooden doors, and Cusco School oil paintings decorate large salons, built around a beautiful courtyard, the largest of the colonial residences in the city. Look for 17th-century maps that depict the borders and shapes of countries quite differently from their usual representations today. A second courtyard, painted cobalt blue, was used as the summer patio. Climb to the rooftop for a great view of Arequipa and the surrounding volcanoes”.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Arequipa – Peru – Casa del Moral (11-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Arequipa – Peru – Casa del Moral (11-07-2003)

It was a nice but nothing out of this world. I wasn’t feeling like doing much today so I went onto he NET for a while and then went to the famous Museo Santuarios Andinos. It is 15 Soles in and you get a English speaking Guide (whom you are expected to tip). They are dressd in power suits and have guides for most major languages.

“The Museum of Andean Sanctuaries has a number of fascinating exhibits, including mummies and artifacts from the Inca Empire, but it is dominated by one small girl: Juanita, the Ice Maiden of Ampato. The victim of a ritualistic sacrifice by Inca priests high on the volcano Mount Ampato and buried in ice at more than 6,000m (20,000 ft.), “Juanita” was discovered in almost perfect condition in 1995 after the eruption of a volcano melted ice on the peak. Juanita’s remarkable preservation has allowed researchers to gain great insights into Inca culture by analyzing her DNA. Today, she is kept in a glass-walled freezer chamber here (as she has been since 1998), less a mummy than a frozen body nearly 600 years old. Displayed nearby are some of the superb doll offerings and burial items found alongside the corpse. Guided visits are mandatory”.

(picture above) More information on the find can be found here. It was OK, the only thing the museum has is two mummies (in fridges) and the artifects that were found with them. Veacuse it is so popular the guides rushes. Not great!

I called into the catghedral again for 20 minutes.

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Arequipa – Peru – Cathedral (11-07-2003)

I headed back to the hostel to collect my bags. The hostel was “Hostal Le Foyer – Ugarte 114) It was 3 Soles to the bus station and I boarded. It was 25 Soles to Cusco which is 521km (323 miles) away. The bus was full to the brim and off we went. It was a VERY cold journey and I had very little leg room. It was a slow journey and I took a sleeping tablet which helped.

Wednesday, July 9th, 2003- Day 141 to Thursday, July 10th, 2003- Day 142

Wednesday, July 9th, 2003- Day 141

I had seen many people popping pills over the past few days so bought some Diazepam or Vallium for .20 Soles a pill. The bus journey was fine (12 hours) and for the money, pretty poor. No food, drink and just one Spanish dubbed movie called “The Champ”. I was able to sleep as I had two seats. We arrived in Arequipa (After stops in Ica and Nasca). It was 6.00am. I bought a ticket for Cusco for the 11th. The cost was 25 Soles. I shared a taxi into town with an American (1.50 Soles each).

Cheap accommodation is hard to find in he city centre. Finally settled on “Le Foyer” – Ugarte 114 (hostalllefoyer”yahoo.com) for 18 Soles a night in a large twin bedded room with a window. Also situated around a nice courtyard. Gave in my dirty laundry for 5 Soles a kilo and started my sighseeing.

“Arequipa is 1,020km (632 miles) south of Lima and is the second largest in Peru, may be the most handsome in the country. Foundded in 1540, it retains an elegant historic center constructed almost entirely of sillar (a porous, white volcanic stone), which gives the city its distinctive look and the nickname la ciudad blanca, or the white city. Colonial churches and the sumptuous Santa Catalina convent gleam beneath palm trees and a brilliant sun. Ringing the city are three delightfully named snowcapped volcanic peaks: El Misti, Chachani, and Pichu Pichu, all of which hover around 6,000m (20,000 ft.).

As beautiful and confident as it is, Arequipa has not escaped disaster. The latest devastating earthquake (which registered 8.1 on the Richter scale) struck the city, and other points farther south, in June 2001. Though international reports painted a picture of a city that had caved in on itself, thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Poorly constructed housing in some residential districts was destroyed, but the colonial core of the city survived intact. The major structure damaged, the cathedral on the Plaza de Armas, is already undergoing repair, its asymmetry of towers no doubt a serious aesthetic offense in this stately city”.

Firstly I visited the monastery of San Francisco, five minutes from my hostel. I was the first tourist in the doors so I had the place to myself. It was 4 Soles in and I had my own English speaking Guide. He was good and he showed my the various courtyards, monastic life (monks still live and work there) and paintings. It was damaged in the 2002 earthquake and many cracks (which he pointed out) have appeared. It took about an hour and I tipped him 2 Soles. I would return later that night to visit the church.

Accross the road was the small but interesting “Municipal Historical museum” whose entry was 2 Soles. It had photos from the aftermath from various earthquakes (not from 2001), paintings and information on the war with Peru. Stayed there for about 30 minutes.

Next I visited the famous “Monasterio de Santa Catalina”, which has an entrance of 25 Soles.

“Arequipa’s stellar and serene Convent of Santa Catalina, founded in 1579 under the Dominican order, is the most important and impressive religious monument in Peru. Santa Catalina is not just another church complex; it is more like a small, labyrinthine village, with narrow cobblestone streets, plant-lined passageways, and pretty plazas, fountains, chapels, and cloisters. Tall, thick walls, painted sunburned orange, faded blue, and brick red, hide dozens of small cells where more than 200 sequestered nuns once lived. Built in 1569, the convent remained a mysterious world unto itself until 1970, when local authorities forced the sisters to install modern infrastructure, a requirement that led to opening the convent for tourism. Today, only 30 cloistered nuns remain, out of sight of the hundreds of tourists who arrive daily to explore the huge and curious complex.

Santa Catalina feels like a small village in Andalusia, Spain, with its predominantly mud?©jar (Moorish-Christian) architecture, intense sunlight and shadows, and streets named for Spanish cities. In all, it contains three cloisters, six streets, 80 housing units, a square, an art gallery, and a cemetery. Though the nuns entered the convent having taken vows of poverty, they lived in relative luxury, having paid a dowry to live the monastic life amid servants (who outnumbered the nuns), well-equipped kitchens, and art collections. Today, the convent has been nicely restored, though it retains a rustic appeal. Visitors are advised to wait for an informative guided tour (in English and other languages), though it’s also fun just to wander around. Among the convent’s highlights are the Orange Tree Cloister, with mural paintings over the arches; Calle Toledo, a long boulevard with a communal lavander?a at its end, where the sisters washed their clothes in halved earthenware jugs; the 17th-century kitchen with charred walls; and the rooms belonging to Sor Ana, a 17th-century nun at the convent who was beatified by Pope John Paul II and is on her way to becoming a saint. Visitors can enter the choir room of the church, but it’s difficult to get a good look at the main chapel and its marvelous painted cupola”.

I spent about 2 hours there. It is a city within a city with various laneways and houses for baking, weaving etc. It wa very nice. After lunch I visited the local tourist office where I met an American and his Cuban girlfriend who had been travelling for THREE years and were intending to travel for two more. He was offering me advice on my visit to Mendoza in a few weeks.

Anyway I went to the “Monasterio de la Recoleta” next. Its is a 10-minute walk from the Plaza de Armas across the Chili River, distinguished by its tall brick-red-and-white steeple, is the Recoleta convent museum.

“Founded in 1648 and rebuilt after earthquakes, the peaceful Franciscan convent contains impressive cloisters with sillar columns and lovely gardens; today, just four of the original seven remain. The convent museum includes several collections. In one room is a collection of pre-Inca culture artifacts, including funereal masks, textiles, and totems; in another are mummies and a series of paintings of the 14 Inca emperors. At the rear of the convent is a small Amazonian museum, stocked with curious items collected by Franciscan missionaries in the Amazon basin. The missionaries were understandably fascinated by prehistoric-looking fish, crocodiles, piranhas, and the clothing of indigenous communities. These souvenirs pose an interesting contrast to the Dominicans’ fine library containing some 20,000 volumes, including rare published texts from the 15th century”.

They give you a map to self guide through five or six courtyards and you can hire a guide. Most of the material I had seen before in various museums accross the nation. The library was interesting but I enjoyed taking my time. As I was first in after lunch (3.00pm), I was the only tourist and I took my time. I spent about an hour there.

Fir the rest of the afternoon I visited many churches (who only open during that period). They included the Basilica Cathedral (in the main square), San Agustin, La Compania (2 Soles to see the decorated Sacristry)

“La Compa??a, just off the plaza at the corner of San Francisco and Mor?n, opposite the cathedral, is a splendid 17th-century Jesuit church with an elaborate (Plateresque) facade carved of sillar stone. The magnificent portal, one of the finest in Peru, shows the end date of the church’s construction, 1698, more than a century after work began on it. The interior holds a handsome carved-cedar main altar, bathed in gold leaf, and two impressive chapels: the Capilla de San Ignacio, which has a remarkable painted cupola, and the Capilla Real, or Royal Chapel. Painted murals in the sacristy feature a jungle motif in brilliant colors. Next door to the church are the stately Jesuit cloisters, of stark sillar construction, now housing upscale boutiques (enter on Calle Mor?n). Climb to the top for good views of the city’s rooftops and distant volcanoes.”

…………………. San Francisco and the Claustros de la Compania. It was 8.00pm when i finished all this and headed back. Felt a bit tired and had a shower. Felt like an early night. Dinner (chicken, chips, salad) was not sitting well.

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Arequipa – Peru – San Francisco Monastry (09-07-2003)

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Arequipa – Peru – San Francisco (09-07-2003)

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Arequipa – Peru – Monasterio de Santa Catalina(09-07-2003)

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Arequipa – Peru – Monasterio de Santa Catalina(09-07-2003)

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Arequipa – Peru – Monasterio de Santa Catalina(09-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Arequipa – Peru – Monasterio de Santa Catalina(09-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Arequipa – Peru – Monasterio de Santa Catalina(09-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Arequipa – Peru – Monasterio de Santa Catalina(09-07-2003)

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Arequipa – Peru – Volanic mOuntain sourrounding the city (09-07-2003)

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Arequipa – Peru – (09-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Arequipa – Peru – (09-07-2003)

Thursday, July 10th, 2003- Day 142

I was not feeling well. A bit diorientated and Diadora. Worse, the battery in my watch was gone so i did not know the time. I thought it was 3.00pm, but was only 9.00am. Went back to bed and stayed there until 6.00pm. I think I needed (my body) wanted the rest. The same think happened a few years back in Pregue after 10 days of late night. I just needed more sleep. I got up and felt fine but did nothing the rest of the day. I got a new battery for my watch and went ont he NET. Saw Shining Path Guerrillas Killed 7 in Peru and Peru Doctor Performs Brain Surgery with Store Drill.

Had cofee with a toasted chicken sandwich. Still hungry and had a Doner Kepab. Nice change from bloddy chicken. Anyway I got my laundry back and went to bed early but alot of street noise. Felt fine. Decided to sleep in tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 8th, 2003- Day 140

Tuesday, July 8th, 2003- Day 140

I got the bus at 6.00pm. According to the Lonely Planet it takes 12 hours, according to staff here it takes nine. This is the only bus south to Pisco so it has me arriving at 3.00am in the morning.

Pisco is 260km (162 miles) South of Lima

“The first town of any size to the south of Lima, Pisco is also the first settlement beyond the beaches outside the capital that draws the attention of travelers. Yet that interest has little to do with the (rather lacking) attributes of the town and almost everything to do with the natural attractions in abundance at the nearby Ballestas Islands and Paracas National Reserve, just 22km (14 miles) from the center of Pisco”.

Hell. Anyway it sure was one of the coldest journeys I have taken. Everyone was wrapped up with jackets, scarfs, hats and blankets – and it was needed. Felt like minus ten out there. Again many people had to stand. Glad it was a nightime journey as the few glipses outside showed a scary mountain road big enough for one vehicle. The road was unpaved for 70% of the journey. We passed our wooden bridges that were so weak I thought we were finished. It took us 15 minutes to get over one as it inch by inch. I was still surprised to get to Pisco by 2.50am. No choices here. Book accommodation for 4 hours to stay at the companies bus HQ. I asked and the night guard said OK. It was a open air affair enclosure big enough for a bus. In a corner were 2 benches and a table. He turned off the light and went to his camp bed. I lay down on the bench. I got about 5 minutes sleep. I remember having one dream. It was COLD. At 6.00am I got up and walked to the main plaza (10 minutes) and waited for the first travel agency to open. At 6.30am, one did and as I knew they all pooled groups and had similar prices booked a tour to Paracas Peninsula. I was told to come at seven. The price was 25 Soles.

I did and as told it collected about 15 people and we made our way out to see some wildlife.

From Frommers

Islas Ballestas

“The primary focus of a visit to the reserve is a boat tour of the Ballestas (pronounced “bah-yehs-tahs”) Islands. Though the islands can’t possibly live up to the locals’ touting of them as the “Peruvian Galapagos,” the Ballestas do afford tantalizing close-up views (without allowing visitors on the islands) of the habitat’s rich roster of protected species, including huge colonies of barking sea lions, endangered turtles and Humboldt penguins, red boobies, pelicans, turkey vultures, and red-footed cormorants. During the summer months (Jan-Mar), baby sea lions are born, and the community becomes even more populous and noisy. The wall-like, cantilevered islands are literally covered with birds; 110 migratory and resident sea birds have been documented, and the bay is a stopover point in the Alaska-Patagonia migration route. Packs of dolphins are occasionally seen slicing through the water, and less frequently, humpbacked whales and soaring Andean condors can also be glimpsed.

The islands are often referred to by locals as las islas guaneras, since they are covered in bird droppings. (Guano is the Quechua word for excrement.) The nitrogen-rich guano is harvested every 10 years and made into fertilizer. (A factory can be seen on the first island.) No humans other than the guano collectors–no doubt a contender for worst job title in the world–are allowed on the islands, and all the species in the reserve are protected by law, but in practice, there are no specially assigned police officers or boats available to enforce protection.

En route to the islands, boats pass the famous Candelabro, a giant candelabra-like drawing etched into a cliff overlooking the bay. The huge etching, 126m long and 72m wide (420 ft. by 240 ft.), looks as though it could be a cousin to the Nasca Lines, and it is similarly shrouded in mystery. Some believe it’s a ritualistic symbol of the Paracas or Nasca cultures, while others contend that it dates only to the 18th or 19th century, when it served as a protective symbol and navigational guide for fishermen and sailors”.

The organized tour took us from the San Andr?©s port to the El Balneario resort and then on to Playa El Chaco, where boats leave for 1-hour tours of the Ballestas. We had a English speaking guide on board. Visitors are not allowed to set foot on the islands, but our boat got close enough for good viewing of sea lions, birds, peligans etc. The weather was good as there was no fog.

We were back in town by 11.00am. Walked around town for a while. Not much to see to be honest. Checked out bus connections to Arequipa. There is only bone posh company out at 5.30pm called Oremeno. It was the most expensive I had bought at 55 Soles. Otherwise I would need to get a taxi to the Pan America highway and wave down a south bound bus. As there was only me and a French guy taking the bus, they paid for a taxi to the hightway with a “minder”. He waited with us for 20 minutes until the bus came. He was telling us all the horror stories of bus travel[ the assaults, the ways thiefs took bags from tourists (methods), bus jackings etc. Not a positive guy. Nice bus and off we went for a 12 hour journey.

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Pisco- Peru – Islas Ballestas (08-07-2003)

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Pisco- Peru – Islas Ballestas – Candelabro (08-07-2003)

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Pisco- Peru – Islas Ballestas (08-07-2003)

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Pisco- Peru – Islas Ballestas (08-07-2003)

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Pisco- Peru – Islas Ballestas (08-07-2003)

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Pisco- Peru – Islas Ballestas (08-07-2003)

Sunday, July 6th, 2003- Day 138 to Monday, July 7th, 2003- Day 139

Sunday, July 6th, 2003- Day 138

Arrived in Huancayo at about 7.00am. Felt like a zombie as usual. Three night buses over the last four night have left their mark. At the one bed I did see was in Huraz (this was the one with the blood stains on the walls and the light switch). When you tuned off the floursesent light it flickered for about 15 minutes with an eerie glow. It was some dump but self inflicted. Anyway the it is supposed to be the biggest market in Peru today (every Sunday). As I had been in this town before and knew where I was, I could walk into the city centre (well, I waited about 25 minutes at the station for sunrise). The Lonely Planet (I hate them) book says three places offer buses to Huancavelica. After 20 minutes carrying my 20 kg backpack and my 10 kilo front pack, I found that no such companies exist. I finally found a company called “Ticllas” that offers trips every 2 hours. I was dead on my feet and bought the ticket for 10 Soles (2.60 EURO). It was a six hour journey. Anyway I left my bag there (with a little fear as it was a busy and unorganized place with no storage facilities) and went to the market. People were just bringing their goods at this stage and it was nice to see them setting up.

I walked around for a while and went on the net. When I finally went back to the market I was under whelmed. It was all done on one large street – Calle Huancavelica. It was 90% clothes with a small section offering tourist weavings. I only spent 1 hour there as it was boring. I felt I had seen bigger (Pujilli, Huraz) and lots of better ones. I was disappointed. Anyway it was time to go. My bus was at 2.00pm.

I caught the bus which was extremely crowded. Easily, there were as many people standing as seated. It was pretty mad. I don’t know why they don’t buy tickets earlier. They just turn up and take the next bus. Some people were standing for the six hours as we left collecting people on the road. The scenery was great as we traveled through the pampas, it was very rural with no towns. Every inch of land was been tilled but I did not see any machinery. It was a patch work of colour and great intensive labour. It was Sunday so a lot of people in the villages were getting drunk and dancing. The road was unpaved most if the way but I enjoyed my journey. Still if I see another bus.

It was dark when I got to town (8.00pm) and as I had no map it took me a while to check if a bus was going to Pisco tomorrow and find a place to stay. Finally booked into Hostal Camacho”. This was a great place. It looks small from outside, but they must have 50 rooms inside. It was 13 Soles (3.39 EURO) with bath, 8 without. I took the dearer option. When I saw the room I nearly cried with joy. A room with a window, desk, bath, clean sheets, nice big pillow and bright room with tourism pictures. I kissed the pillow.

I meant to go and eat around 10.00pm but after a shower I went to bed for five minutes and did not wake until 10.00am the next day.

Arrived Tujillo on the 1st of July – after a night Bus

Arrived Huraz on the 3rd of July – after a night Bus

Arrived Lima on the 5th of July – after a night Bus

Arrived Huancayo on the 6th of July – after a night Bus

As you can see, I need to see more real beds.

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Huancayo – Peru – Market Day (06-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Huancayo – Peru – Market Day (06-07-2003)

Monday, July 7th, 2003- Day 139

The department of Huancavelica is in the midst of the south central Sierra region of the country. It presents a rough topography that places the department between highlands and snow-capped mountain peaks, surrounded by deserted punas, solitary but lovely lagoons. The immense natural wealth within its mountains makes it a very important mining region. It limits with Lima, Ica, Junin and Ayacucho.

The capital is the city of Huancavelica. Other important cities are, Catrovirreyna, Tayacaja, Acobamba and Angaraes. Due to its location, the climate is dry but with low temperatures.

The towns attractions can be found HERE. This is a beautiful town. Afticketying my ricket to Pisco (only one company operaes this route) for 25 Soles (6.50 EURO) – 12 hour trip, I wandered the town. Its traditional architecture, gorgeous landscapes, and the hospitality of the local residents make this corner of the Andes makes it a great place to kick back and relax for a few days.

Taken from Rumbos.

“Huancavelica flourished architecturally during its mercury-mining heyday. Proof of this are its beautiful churches and mansions. The cathedral, for example, is the city’s most outstanding building, the most prominent features being its two white spires and red stone entrance. The interior is lined with a wonderful collection of paintings attributed to indigenous artists and the altar is made of ornately carved cedar dressed with gold leaf.

Close to the cathedral is the Church of San Sebastion, built in 1662. The church is home to the popular image of the Nino de Lachoq, who, according to legend, appeared to the Peruvian troops warning them of the imminent arrival of the Chileans, their foes during the War of the Pacific (1879-1883).

The countryside surrounding the city is also rich in beautiful landscapes. One of the most popular sites are the San Christopher hot springs, located only a few minutes away from the city.”

I wish I had more time to spend here. The town is great. I had spent a long time in the cities trying to find items to use when I was sending stuff home from Laz Paz. I found everything i needed with 20 minutes here (tape, paper, plastic bags, markers, twine etc.) for half the price for other places. Great food, many NET cafes, great churches, great surrounding scenery. If I had not needed to update this blog, I would have gone walking today out to the springs or taken a taxi to the lake. Can not recommend this place enought for a visit. My bus is at 6.00pm.

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Huancavelica – Peru (07-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Huancavelica – Peru (07-07-2003)

Friday, July 4th, 2003- Day 136 to Saturday, July 5th, 2003- Day 137

Friday, July 4th, 2003- Day 136

I was up at 8.00am and found the owners sister ROSE, wanted to take me and the only occupant in he hostel to breakfast in her home across the way. The other guy had been the day before so that was fine and the breakfast was included. Had a nice chat with him about his travels. He was going on a 3-day trek that morning. Had eggs, coca and bread. Say good bye to the owner of my hostel and paid her 15 Soles (11 for the night and 4 to mind my bags – well leave them in the room). I walked to the tour agents office where the bus was waiting. It collected about one dozen people around town before setting off.

We first visited the valley of Pachacoto, 57km (35 miles) south of Huaraz, an opportunity to see the Callej?n de Huaylas’s famous Puya Raimondi plants. The bizarre, spiky plants, like towering alien cacti, are the largest members of the bromeliad family (a relative of the pineapple). The species is thought to be one of the most ancient in the world, and it is found only in a few isolated, high-altitude parts of the Andes. The plant, which can reach a height of 12m (39 ft.), is like a tragic protagonist: It flowers but once in its life, and though it may live to be 100 years old, it dies immediately after flowering.

After that we moved onto the Glaciar Pastoruri. The Cordillera is tightly packed with towering peaks but our Glacier is the easiest to climb (provided that you’ve already become acclimatized to the altitude of the area). From the bas it took 45-minutes to trek up the glacier (5,240m/17,290 ft). It isn’t difficult and we did not need any special equipment, but it was slippy and it was hard trudging through the snow. Peruvians often ski and snowboard on the glacier. The views were great and we spent about 40 minutes up there. We were back on the bus at 3.40pm and back in town at 6.40pm. I met a nice Aussie called Chris whom paintings can be found at here under ARTISTS and Chris Humphries. Told him I would give him a shout when I get to Melbourne.

I decided to make a run for Lima. I checked out five bus companies that offer services to Lima. The prices range from 12 Soles to 47 Soles. For 47 Soles you get bingo etc. The 12 Soles operators offer dodgy buses, no leg room, no air con and dodgy passengers so I went with CRUZ DEL SUR. The ticket was 35 Soles and it was leaving at 10.30. I had dinner and went back to the hostel for an hour. Said good bye and walked to the Cruz Del Sur terminal (each company has a separate one). My bag was checked in and off we went.

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Huraz – Peru – Pastoruri Tour – Huraz Main Plaza (04-07-2003)

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Huraz – Peru – Pastoruri Tour – (04-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it?´s original size

Huraz – Peru – Pastoruri Tour – (04-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it?´s original size

Huraz – Peru – Pastoruri Tour – (04-07-2003)

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Huraz – Peru – Pastoruri Tour – Puya Raimondi plant (04-07-2003)

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Huraz – Peru – Pastoruri Tour – (04-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it?´s original size

Huraz – Peru – Pastoruri Tour – (04-07-2003)

Saturday, July 5th, 2003- Day 137

A lot more leg room this time and reclining seats. They showed the film Scorpion King. It was silly and very poor. For wrestling fans only (it features THE ROCK):. Much preffered the 13th Warrior, a film in the same vein. I did not get much asleep but I wanted too. I felt quite bad when we reached Lima at 6.25am. I had already decided I wanted to Huancayo tonight for the big Sunday market (the biggest in Peru). I booked a ticket for 40 Soles that Huancayo. It leaves at 11.30pm tonight for the seven hour journey. I stayed at the terminal (Did I mention I felt terrible and had diariora) for 2 hours (until 8.30pm). Hmm, the Lonely Planet is so crap. The map of South downtown is totally wrong and does not even show the Museo of the Nation (the most important in Peru). This is why I came back to Lima today – to see the museum and update the blog. I took a bus along Javier Prado Este until I saw the imposing Museo de la Nacion. Its a massive (and modstorey5 stoey building. The lonely planet says it opens at 10.00pm on weekends but is is 9.00pm all week.

“Peru’s ancient history is exceedingly complicated–not to mention new territory for most visitors to the country. Indeed, Peru’s pre-Columbian civilizations were among the most sophisticated of their times; when Egypt was building pyramids, people in Peru were constructing great cities. Lima’s National Museum, the city’s biggest and one of the most important in Peru, guides visitors through the highlights of overlapping and conquering cultures and their achievements, seen not only in architecture (including scale models of most major ruins in Peru) but also in highly advanced ceramics and textiles. The exhibits, spread over three rambling floors, are ordered chronologically–very helpful for getting a grip on these many cultures dispersed across Peru. They trace the art and history of the earliest inhabitants to the Inca Empire, the last before colonization by the Spaniards. In case you aren’t able to make it to the archaeology-rich north of Peru, pay special attention to the facsimile of the Lord of Sipan discovery, one of the most important in the world in recent years. Explanations accompanying the exhibits are for the most part in both Spanish and English. “

I enjoyed the museum even though I did not feel that well. It had information on many of the places I had visitedlike Pisac, Cusco, Lord of Sipan etc. There were also exhibits relating to popular art, customes, costumes, technology and religion. Its a massive complax. You could easily spent a whole day here. I spent three hours and the cost for an adult ticket is 6 Soles.

After that I went to a market right beside the museum. It was really an upper to miidle class affair but it was good. It was an opportunity for city dwellers to buy traditioanl food, herbs and clothes. There was a nice atmosphere and you could buy traditional peruvian Food and drink. It was not crowded and the atmospheere was good. i sat down in the grass for an hour watching the proceedings. A real family day out.

Click on the picture to see it in it?´s original size

Lima – Peru – National Museum (05-07-2003)

After that I took a taxi to miraflores. Spent an hour on the NET and went to see the Hulk again. I know I had seen it in Spanish a few days earlier, but I liked it (apart from the lead characters acting). I went to a push cinema down in the Lacromar Centre (15 Soles) but great screen and sound.

At the centre there was an exhibition of Capoeira from Brazil. Better info here.

Many people see it as a martial art — others as a dance, and there those who believe that it is their religion and cultural identity.

The description of Capoeira varies according to people’s personalities. It is a native Brazilian Indian word given to a small partridge whose male is very jealous and engages in fierce fights with its rivals. Capoeira blends elements of dance, music, rituals, acrobatics, and fighting.

“A Brazilian Martial Art, Capoeira was born in the “senzalas”, the places where the slaves were kept. It consists of a stylized dance, practiced in a circle called the “roda”, with sound background provided by percussion instruments, like the “agogo”, the “atabaqui”, etc. It incorporates “maculele”, done with blades, and “maracatu”, done with sticks. Highly acrobatic, energetic and difficult to master.”

I was back in the Cruz Del Sur bus station by 11.00pm to catch my bus to Huancayo. My bags were secured (they weight the bags and you get a receipt) and off we went.

I was sleepy and watched about half of the English movie been shown called BIG TROUBLE on the video. It was a comfortable ride but very cold as you rach 4,000m from sea level.