25.04.2012 18 °C
So our flight out to Lima, Peru was fairly eventful. We had a 10 hour stop over in Madrid where we went to get some tapas and had a wander round town before catching the flight across the Atlantic. Unfortunately on the landing it was extremely foggy and the pilot had to do an emergency re-ascent about 5metres from the runway. Claire took this opportunity to hold the hand of the stranger sitting next to her!
We found our hostel before venturing into the fog to explore. We were walking along the clifftop and could literally only see about 100metres in front of us, very weird. Despite Lima being the capitol of Peru, there isn't much to do there so the next day we caught our first bus to Huacachina. We were pleasantly surprised by the buses, which are modern and spacious with reclining seats, plenty of leg room and a free meal. Much nicer than the UK! Huacachina is a tiny village surrounding an oasis outside the town of Ica. The oasis is beautiful and is set into huge surrounding sand dunes- literally an oasis paradise. The weather was beautiful so we spent time lazing by the pool as well and going on a white knuckle dune-buggy trip. Our driver took us up the dunes driving at about 70mph, up and over the hills which was really fun! At the top he then took some sand-boards out of the back of the buggy- we were not prepared for this! By translating his pigeon english and our lack of spanish, we realised he wanted us to lie on our tummy's on the boards and go head first down the dunes. Needless to say we were terrified, and not convinced but after a while we trusted him and went down. Turns out it was so much fun!! We then went down bigger and bigger dunes, getting bumped and bruised along the way, but thoroughly enjoying ourselves before watching the sun set and then heading back home. Can't wait to do it again in the desert in Chile!
Next stop was a night bus to Arequipa which is known as the "white city" due to the white stone buildings and huge snow capped volcanoes looming over the city. We went to the Santa Catalina monastery here and in the evening had our first experience of the Peruvian night life. We also met a stray dog.. wearing a full button up shirt! On the final day we went to book our tickets to Cusco. Thinking it would be wise to buy these through a travel agency we headed to the plaza and found what we were looking for. Unfortunately, it wasn't until we were back in the hostel we realised that instead of a bus ticket, we only had a receipt, which wasn't going to get us onto the bus! We went back, and the man promised us the taxi would pick us up with the tickets later. We spent the entire day worrying about this, and panicking about the bus company we were travelling with- there are too many horror stories on the internet about buses being hijacked or falling off cliffs!! At 7.30pm we were tentatively waiting at the hostel entrance, and just as we were about to lose all hope and admit that we had been conned, the taxi man arrived, tickets in hand!! To say we were pleased was an understatement, we nearly hugged him! And as you can probably guess, the bus was fine, not a hijacker in sight!
So onto Cusco. This is a beautiful city surrounded by mountains and inca ruins. Our first experience of the altitude involved a small hill and being very dizzy and out of breath- better take it easy for a bit! Last night we went for dinner at a little restaurant filled with locals where we had Peruvian fish and chips (fried trout with chips and rice- they always give you double carbs here!) and alpaca curry! On our way home we discovered a small crowd had gathered around a group of dancing men, dressed in traditional clothes and masks and covered in dead llamas hitting each other with whips. Actually as odd as it sounds. We later found out they were practising for the summer solstice and it was some sort of religious ceremony. Most odd.
So that's our story so far. We are doing the Inca Trail hike next week so wish us luck and we will update you all soon,
Love of love
Vicki and Claire