From Nazca to Cusco, 2 Glorious Weeks in Peru

We got picked up early for our tour of the Nazca lines. From the top of a tower you can see two of the lines. They were a lot smaller than I thought. Interestingly one of the lines had been destroyed by the building of the Panamericana highway which goes right through the middle of the puma. Then we went to the Cemetery of Chauchilla where there are numerous tombs uncovered containing mummies. The first one was the most disturbing as 2 babies had been sacrificed as the tomb was for a priest. From one of the bundles you could see the legs and feet sticking out, now bones of course. There were about 6 tombs containing mummies. There was even a mummified parrot as once a person had died, their pet was killed and buried with them. We also visited the aquaducts then went for lunch where I tried ceviche, a popular Peruvian dish, which is raw fish coated in lime juice, onions and spices. After dinner we went to the supermarket and bought a lot of alcohol. Back at the hostel we drank and played beer pong and drank some more. Then it was time for a traditional dinner where food is buried with hot coals under a mound of earth. This ceremony is called Pachamanca, which celebrates Pacha Mama (mother earth). It was a huge buffet of meats, vegetables, cheese and tamales (ground corn and cheese wrapped in a banana leaf.

Then it was time for the dreaded night bus. It's a bit like going through airport security. You need your passport, have to check in your rucksack, have your carry on bag searched, be patted down and then once on board they come round with a video camera and record everyone's face. It was a bad nights sleep. I had mostly got used to South American driving but this was something else. I thought it was unlikely I was going to survive this journey. Weaving up through the mountains at a terrifying speed, getting chucked about everywhere. I was glad when morning came and we could get off. We arrived in Arequipa at around 7.30-8am. Our hotel wasn't ready yet so we went straight for breakfast. It was a weird one as it was a sandwich place. Steak, onions and mustard sandwich, it was actually amazing but still not right for morning. I felt disgusting so I went back to the hotel afterwards, some people went to explore but I don't do overnight well as it is and needed my shower.
In the afternoon we went to Museo Santuarios Andinos where the famous 'Juanita' is kept. Juanita is a mummy found on top of a mountain, frozen. It is believed that she came from royalty and was a child sacrifice. She would have known that she would be sacrificed and it would have been an honour. Instead of being a mummy of bones though, the ice froze her whole body so she was perfectly in tact, apart from her face because she was exposed to the elements for 2 weeks before she was found. She was kept in some kind of glass freezer to preserve her. I found it more shocking to see than the other mummies, because in essence it was just a frozen person. 

In the night we went to a really nice restaurant. Guinea pig was on the menu so we got 2 between the group of 16. I didn't expect it to come how it did. Literally a flattened deep fried Guinea pig complete with head and open mouth with teeth, it's little legs and fingers with claws on the end. I did try it though and it was delicious. For my main I got alpaca. So so good! 

Next day we headed to Chivay, the day consisted mainly of a bus journey followed by a pretty bad buffet (I got Guinea pig stew and accidentally got the head. I kept trying to face it's teeth away from me but I could feel it looking at me and it put me off the rest of my food), checking in at the hotel, a mini trek in prep for the Inca Trail and then wandering round the market buying anything that had a llama on it before heading to the hot springs. Next day was an early rise to head to Colca Canyon to spot condors. We left at 6am to get there for 7.30am. It was a beautiful drive and worth it just for the scenery. We sat on the wall looking over the canyon until 9am. Not a single condor in sight. Our tour guide had told us 95% of people get to see them. Fail. 

Another mini trek to prep our lungs and legs then back to Chivay for a slightly better but still not good buffet. We killed some time in the afternoon wandering around the markets again. Dinner this evening included traditional dancing. It was 'interactive' so I sat as far away as possible. The traditional dancing was...interesting. I didn't fully understand the story but it goes something like the woman poisons the man and then whips him, then he poisons her back and whips her. The whipping for some reason being in the genitalia regions. Maybe I missed some important part that would shine a light on the moral of the story. I made the mistake of not eating my meal slowly enough and being dragged up. Luckily it was most of the people in the room as well and we held hands and danced in a circle, then in a line through the restaurant, outside, through the kitchen, back in to the restaurant again. It was fun. I'd had a few glasses of wine with dinner and we decided to order a pitcher of mojito between 4 of us. This was an incredibly bad decision. It was awful but also really strong! We concluded it was a pitcher of rum with mint in it and blended. There was no sugar, no fizz but lots of tiny bits of mint that got stuck in your straw and teeth. After this we went to a bar. Measures of alcohol here are NOT the same as back home. A round of tequila was ordered. It was about 3 shots in one. After my second attempt at knocking it back I nearly vomited the whole thing back up. I poured the rest into my drink because I couldn't face it. This was the beginning of the end. Two cuba libras later and I woke up with a horrendous headache and not much memory of the night. Another early start to get back to Arequipa and I pretty much just curled up on the coach and wallowed in self pity. Once in Arequipa we could leave our stuff at the hotel but were getting a night bus so had quite a few hours to kill. Nothing particularly exciting to report. The night bus was another bad one, at one point I thought the coach was going to tip over. It woke me up going round a corner and I nearly fell out of my seat and into the aisle. The speedometer was also broken so kept beeping all night. It also reported a speed of 300+km/h. Also this wasn't obvious to me an indication it was broken, I wouldn't have been much shocked if it was a correct reading. 

The savior of the shitty sleep and early morning was breakfast. Jacks is a popular eatery for gringos and is run by an Australian. The food was amazing. I ordered the gordo (fat) breakfast and a latte. I stuffed myself until moving was impossible. Back at the hotel I lay a good while on the bed recovering. After that markets for more knitted llama apparel. We did another mini trek to the top of a hill that overlooks the city and has a statue of Jesus, a bit like the one in Rio. Dinner was alpaca steak (I love this stuff!) and then to an Irish bar for some drinks. We got a few free drinks vouchers for some clubs. No watered down stuff here, the drinks were so strong! The night ended with most of us dancing on the bar, drinks being passed through our legs.

Too many early starts on this trip so up early again to be picked up for white water rafting. After the 2 hour drive to get there, we had to put on the worst outfit ever. A wet suit that was like a pair of dungarees, Mario style. Then a long pair of rubbery shorts, rubber shoes, a jacket and helmet. Now that we looked wonderful it was time to pose for some photos with oar in hand. Sexy. After a safety briefing we hopped in the boat and off we went. It was so much fun, I just wish the rapids had been faster as it was only a grade 2 out of 5 as rainy season hadn't properly started yet. They did a few games/activities with us. We stopped at a small rock and jumped off one by one. This is actually a huge fear of mine and I was physically shaking when I got to the top. I did it though and loved it, although the water was freezing. The hardest part was getting back in the boat. I think I resembled something like a dead seal being hauled in. Once I'd been dragged into the boat I couldn't get upright and just squirmed there in a rumpled heap, face pressed into the floor. Near the end we could all jump out the boat - you then just lie back, feet up in front and cruise to the end being carried along by the rapids. 


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