Changes For The Better
Having stopped in Barranca the night before because of, in between others, all the cops’ delays, I took the opportunity to go visit Caral in the morning (Kilometer 3,592, Caral, 14-Jan-10 @9:15). Caral is the site and name of the oldest known civilization in the Americas, dating back to ~2,500BC. To put it in perspective, that’s the same time as the Mesopotamian and early Egyptian cultures. It is suspected that Caral was a “peaceful” society of around 3,000 people built around religion as no weapons, no violent destructions or wars and no sacrifice rituals were found (only one child body).
It was a very interesting and beautiful visit and I only made it back to Barranca in early afternoon where I quickly saddled up and hit the road to Lima (Kilometer 3,634, Barranca, 14-Jan-10 @ 14:25). What started as being a little funny is now putting a chill on my trip. The Peruvian police are just too much. Now that I am riding solo, I am getting stopped left, right and center. .. and for whatever reasons. Once I got stopped because I went through the green light at the toll, while bikes should go through the red “X” closed lane… don’t even ask. Another time was because I have daylight running lights on my bike!! What gives? The police just take your paper and ask for $$. One guy asked for a $100 USD otherwise he will keep my passport! (the first and only time I gave my passport. From that moment on my passport does not leave my pouch and I made color photocopy + plasticized all my other documents to look like original. The cops (a.k.a. “guzanos” can keeps them as souvenir :)). AnywayZ, with the police I always act as if I do not know a single word of Spanish. But I have to keep a straight face and try hard not to laugh when I hear them talking between them figuring out a way to make me understand they want money. Well, I am out of chickens 🙂 Remember the Louisiana man? “No more chicken?!? What do you mean no more chicken!?? Aaaaahhh, you mean you RAN out of chicken!” 🙂 . Well, I let them tire themselves trying to explain and in the end, most of the time they let me through. But it’s just delaying my trip by couple of hours every day.
Kilometer 3,853, Miraflores, 14-Jan-10 @ 17:50: My highlight of Lima was receiving a Skype call from Yasmina who played me a mini-concert of 3 songs on her violin :). Pretty impressive, even drew a few on-lookers in my hostel. Bon, back to Lima, well it changed for the better. Still not my favorite city but it’s a little bit more secure, cleaner and the preservation & maintenance efforts of the historical monuments are yielding great results. I spent 5 nights there. First few days I just chilled and partied around Miraflores and Baranco (it was Friday and Saturday and I needed to move some other body muscles ;). On Sunday, it was Lima’s day, celebrating its 475 years. I went to the Plaza de Armas where all the festivities were happening. They had a parade were every city of Peru had a “show” to celebrate Lima. I saw kings from Lambayeque, Inca’s from the imperial city of Cuzco, tribes from the jungles,… un spectacle vraimment haut en couleur. I managed to squeeze some time to visit a few of the downtown attractions. I even got lucky to see the change of the guard in front of the presidential palace where 30 or so soldiers were marching and juggling with their rifles for a good 15 minutes. Imagine 30 Peruvian Michael Jacksons ;). Finally on Monday, I actually did my tourist part and visited a couple of museums. If you are in Lima check out Museo Larco, displaying a fine collection of ceramics and jewelry from the many cultures that inhabited Peru. The best part is you can see the evolution of art, metallurgy, ceramic,… spanning from 1,000BC, through the many pre-Colombian cultures up-to and including the first years of the conquista.
Tuesday: time to hit the road again. I stopped in the morning by Kelly’s place, a friend from Canada and one of Alisson’s best friends. Kelly also decided to move back to her country Peru and she was just settling in (Kilometer 3,898, “Kelly’s beach house”, 19-Jan-10 @ 11:00). A short visit though as by 13:00 I was on the road again. There was a bus strike in Peru a nightmare for all tourists but for me it was great to ride without all these crazy bus drivers. The road to Nazca (and then to Arequipa) passes through Peru’s different deserts: rock and stones desert, red dirt desert, golden sand deserts,… you name it. While riding, every once in a while, like a mirage in the horizon, a village starts materializing. As I get closer and the village grows ever so bigger, the wavy view soon clears up to reveal a lush valley dissected by a river where trees abound and green field lines the river shores. People here live out of agriculture and farming. I enter this green paradise, pass through it in few seconds only to see it disappear in my rearview mirror as I ride away and find myself driving again through a dusty and windy, arid and desolate land.
Kilometer 4,323, Nazca, 19-Jan-10 @ 18:15: I passed through Ica, Pisco and only stayed 1 night in Nazca as I’ve been here before and visited the Nazca cemetery, aqueduct and flew above the famous Nazca lines. And since the prices skyrocketed I just didn’t feel like flying over the lines again even if I would have liked too. The following morning I continued to Arequipa: Thank god, no cops. Actually there was barely anyone on the road. But the winds were ever so ferocious blowing sand onto the highway nearly blocking the Panamericana at a certain point. It took some careful, strong and “tilted” driving 🙂 to face the wind and getting through this. Kilometer 4,918, Arequipa, 20-Jan-10 @ 17:50, Arequipa is the 2nd biggest city in Peru and somehow I ended deep inside it’s suburb, not at all an inviting place. Arriving late, in traffic, no street signs, I was just like a blind man there. So I paid a Taxi 4$ to take me to the Plaza de Armas where I checked-in into a perfectly located hotel with secure parking.
I ended up staying 7 days in and around Arequipa. It’s a beautiful city and a perfect hub for many activities. I managed to do some amazing and extreme things, you got to hear about it… so check out my next e-mail 🙂
or click on “page 2” below to see the photo album.