Peru is one of the top travel destinations in South America, and with good reason, too. It has more ancient archaeology and culture, more extreme adventure, and more colonial history, than virtually anywhere else on the continent, and perhaps anywhere else in the world. Peru was my first stop in South America. Amazing country.
After doing some research today — on the Internet, and face-to-face with various other travellers — I've decided that for my time here in Huaraz, I'm going to do the Santa Cruz-Llanganuco hike, and I'm going to do it alone. In order to prepare for this 5-day trek in the Cordillera Blanca (that's the mountain range that it passes through), this afternoon I hired all the gear that I'm going to need, and I bought all the food that I'm going to eat. This being Huaraz — the trekking and mountain-climbing capital of South America — getting all that stuff proved to be no problem at all.
Ever since I arrived in South America, it's been gnawing at me. Now, finally, I can't hold it in any longer: my Lonely Planet South America on a Shoestring guide really does leave a lot to be desired. As Agent Smith from The Matrix would say:
It's out-of-date (it's the 2004 edition — the 2007 edition only came out in March), it's lacking in detail (everything from the "proper" individual-country LP guides has been chopped in half), and half the time it's just plain wrong. Pull your socks up, LP: you have the reputation, but you fail to deliver!
One of the coziest and the friendliest places I've ever stayed at. Jo's Place is run (somewhat) by Jo, an English guy who lives on the premises (hey, it's his place!), who likes to work on the building and the garden, and who enjoys a trip to his neighbouring pubs. It' also run (much more) by Mrs. Jo, his Peruvian wife, who finds you a room, and who makes sure that you pay for your board. Really charming place, with a great big garden to hang out in, and with plenty of fellow hairy adventurers to meet and to talk to.
I arrived in Huaraz at 6am this morning, and I discovered once again that in this part of the world, things change very quickly. Some places move. Other places close down. Out-of-date Lonely Planet guides can't keep pace. And at the break of dawn, after spending the whole night on a bumpy bus, it's all just a bit too much to handle. Welcome to Huaraz — can I sleep now?
After almost two months of travelling together, eating together, freezing together, drinking together, endeavouring to find women together, and stinking together, the time has finally come for Chris and I to say goodbye, and to once again go our separate ways. Through Peru, Bolivia, northern Chile, and Peru once again, Chris has been an amazing travelling companion, as well as an amazing friend. Tonight, I leave Lima by bus for Huaraz; Chris, on the other hand, is flying to Bogota, Colombia, in two days' time. So — for the first time in quite a long time, now that I think about it — I'm once again all alone, and on the road in a strange and exotic faraway country.
This afternoon, had my second trip to the cinemas, so far on my trip (last time was in La Paz). Chris, Sharon, a few random Israeli guys, and myself went to the upmarket shopping mall of Larcomar — which is built into the side of Lima's cliff-ridden shores, very cool construction — and watched the new Transformers movie at the screens there. Very nice cinema, and an excellent movie. Although it was (obviously) chock-full with special effects, predictable romance, and a hair-thin plot, it was still much better than I expected.
The problem is, Lima doesn't have one. It has about 50. One for each company. Each one down the road from its peers, spread out over an entire suburb — nothing less than an absolute bus terminal balagan. No wonder that most people don't even bother trying to sort through the mess, and just buy their bus tickets out of Lima from a travel agency in town. Today, I decided to take the plunge, and to find myself a company and a bus ticket, to get me out of Lima tonight, and over to Huaraz. Managed it in the end, but it wasn't fun. Yet another reason why Lima's an evil city: they make it so daym hard to get out of it.
I've accumulated a lot of junk lately, and I've been lugging it around for far too long. So this morning, I did a big sort through my overstuffed backpack, and took out everything that I don't need to take with me anymore, or that I can throw away. All of the former, I packed into a cardboard box, and took to the local post office in Miraflores. Included in this box was a bottle of fine, semi-prepared pisco, that I'd bought at the winery in Ica, and that I wanted to send home as a souvenir. However, the post office staff wouldn't let me mail the pisco: apparently, it's prohibited to mail alcohol out of Peru. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to drink it, then!
Chris and I met Sharon at the end of last week, in Huacachina, where she was chilling out with the rest of us. She followed us to Lima, and she's been hanging out with us this past weekend. She's a London girl, of Filipino descent, who enjoys splurging on some cheap Peruvian clothes shopping, and who is never hungry when it's meal-time. Very laid-back, and a bit indecisive, but good fun.
Saw this very cute-looking (although just a little racially offensive) ice-cream on the menu at D'onofrio's, last time I was in Lima. Tonight, I decided to order a "Chinito". Big ball of maracuya (passion fruit) flavoured ice-cream for the head; licorice sticks for the eyes and moustache; red chewy lollie for the mouth; bed of almond nut mix; and topped with a chocolate wafer, and a paper umbrella. Next time you're near Parque Kennedy in Miraflores, head in to D'onofrio's and order one: is verree niice!