Friday, August 25, 2006

Report # 13

Hello to everyone - Here they say "alo" a lot - esp on phones

Well I have a whole week of adventures to relate- it will take ages!!!

There was a demonstration by idigenous peoples in Cuenca while I was walking around so got some nice photos of trad dress.

Left at midnight arrived Loja 05.00 but ticket for first bus at 07.00 wait around. Girl talks to me and sits in front of me on bus. She is Ecuad with parents and her chile friend going to Lima. so we chat a fair bit. Very nice people. Raquel and Veronica.. Man and small boy sit next to me at half way and he chats, is a policeman and I record some of converstion. Heavy duty mtns non stop to border - up and down and twist and shout. Get to Macará¡ which is border and is super hot, and they grow rice.

Veronica”s dad has a "cousin" who is money changer so we hurry several blocks to the plaza where they operate and change some dollars.

The land from here on is flat dry dusty and arid like you wouln”t believe. But first to Ecuad-exit get stamp then walk across bridge to Peru immig and get stamp plus you must go to a second Peru office for another stamp - I almost missed that one!! Raquel saved me!

We arrive Piura, 50 kms inland from ocean, about 2.00pm. Veronica and family take taxi and insist I wait for him to return and not walk. OK.

Shower, walk streets, take laundry to shop, internet to mary. Local meal of maize, meat, rice plus local drink called chicha, based on maize but flavoured with fruit usually blackberry. Tastes a bit like cough medicine but drinkable. Got used to it over the last week and can now tolerate it well.

Coffee here is pre-made in small bottle on table and they bring either hot water or milk and you make your own- the best stuff is made from ground beans- the cheap places use Nescafe. Lots of cities here use moto-taxis - 3 wheel taxis with covered seat for passengers - like Asia - very cheap, but not allowed in centre centre.

Weather is hot in day, and strong Trade Wind at night from south which makes it cool-cold. Almost never rains on Peru west coast, maybe a drop in Jan-March but basically only 6mm precipitation from condensation. They depend on the water from the dozen or so rivers flowing from snow mtns. Incredible the crops they produce from the apparentñy barren soil. But apparently it is full of nutrients as everything grows - they channel water in drains for irrigation.

Spend next day (Frid) looking around checking itinerary, decide to go to Chiclayo where there are some good ruins and decide that inland trips are out as they take too much time in travel to and from, so will stick to coast. The entire coast is same as describerd above - dry arid apparently barren but anywhere near a river they form cities.

Took one wrong turn in Piura walks and ended up where i shouldn”t be - cops told me to get out and be careful so grabbed a mototaxi!!! But in fact no-one even looked like being a danger. Interesting fact that all the streets in Piura are spotless!! amazing - they have cleaners day and night sweeping. Most of the Peru cities I have since passed thru are the same - except Chimbote (more later).

Sat. depart for Chiclayo - a cop helps me get a moto-lineal - ordinary motor-bike taxi - to terminal. 3 hrs trip. Arrive and get hotel and orientate myself in city.

Sunday go to the famous Sipán ruins from 200-300 AD. They were - are - all from adobe blocks but now much eroded. Was a big city and has two pyramids which are not like Egypt but are more square and contain many burial chambers of important people and when they died most of their concubines, wives, servants were killed to accompany them to after-life. And always a beheaded llama for food. Externals of mounds are very eroded but the tombs are well preserved and show some original skeletons. Huge complex and need 1-2 hours to walk it. When one died the next one built his tomb on top of previous so the structures gradually grew bigger and wider and taller.

Mon went to the similar ruins at Túcume to north of Chiclayo. They are from about 1000AD and are of a huge city with citadels and temples and palaces and streets etc all from adobe, but heavily eroded. Amazing and well worth a visit. Back by lunch so depart for the next city - Trujillo where there are even more fantastic ruins. This city is a must for anyone coming to Perú and you must stay only at the Casa de Clara. (Taxi drivers hate her and tell you the place does not exist or whatever but insist and you will get there). Shared meals with the family if you wish -she is 50”s woman married to white-haired 50”s Englishman accountant. They run the hotel and do tours to anywhere where there are ruins - she is famous and has been at it for decades. Very passionate and knowledgeable. Lovely lady and great accomm.

So I took a full day tour with her to see Chan-Chán , the museum, and two temples (huacas). Chan-Chán is a giant city very well preserved walls of adobe covers 28 sq kms, about 15x2 kms, a complete comprehensive city. Lots of fotos. Look these places up on internet I am sure yo will find heaps. Huaca del arco-iris, huaca de la luna , huaca del sol. Extraordinary places and so much well preserved carvings in walls etc. Dates from about 1100-1400 AD.

Our friend Chantal has a sponsored child in Chimbote so I wanted to visit her if poss but the town is listed in the guide book as the most dangerous in Peru, so I ask Clara -the lady - if I should go and she says not without a local. But she knows a local who is a friend so she asks and he agrees to accompany me on bus and to help find the girl. 2 hr trip south to Chimbote - once the major fising port of Peru till Govt stupidity killed the indusrty in mid-70”s, plus they over-fished, and now lots of unemployment, hence crime. We arrive and try the electoral office but need mother or fathers first names. So decide to go to her barrio - suburb - even more dangerous supposedly - and try our luck. Ask lots of people and eventually get to parochical school but they look at the papers and realise she is child at a religious school several blocks away. We get there and they know the child but have to go thru tons of buracracy - ring Lima and ask, they say get the child and bring her to the school dont let us go tho the house!!?? so after much waiting we meet and she is a delight!!! hugged and kissed me and held me tight all the time. We secretly asked her address so when we left we went to the house and spent long time with mother but school-pricks kept the girl at the school so we couldnt talk to her more.. But we got fotos and now have exchanged addresses so we can all write without the burocrats interfering!! I bought some food for mother (rice, sugar, oil, oats). A really special day and there was absolutely no more danger than any other place I have been. It is dirt poor and dirty but the people are honest and helpful. Of course I would not go there at night.!!!.

So then taxi back to Chimbote (2 kms) to eat and get tickets for friend to return to Trujillo and me to Lima. Arrive midnight.

Lima is clean but heavily polluted with smog due to the funny climatic conditions here. Never see sun during winter, but it appears about Nov. meantime we have fog and night mist and smog all the time. At this stage not a city I would consider worth a visit by anyone. - except if you want the museums and stuff like that.!!

I suspect I have finished with hot weather. Am now far enough south to avoid the extreme heat and since there is cloud all the time temp stays low. Later i will be heading to the mtns for Cuzco and Machu Picchu which of course are cold.

Emough for this report. Hope it is of interest.