Saturday, January 31, 2009

On the run

Whoa yes we have been places and seen some things since we last wrote. Where did we last leave you? We were about to go to Kuelap, which we did. It is a very impressive mountain fortress where the Chachapoyas people lived in houses with round stone fountains and thatch roofs. Eventually the Incas took over and set down a few of the rectangular houses they preferred but luckily they weren´t so polygonally prejudiced that most of the older structures were not razed. I was particularly impressed that the Chachapoyas people had built little corrals within these houses to hold one of their favorite foods: wild mountain guinea pig.

From The Trip, pt. 2: Mountains to Lima

In Chachapoyas we had a really great time getting breakfast and sometimes lunch at the Central Market. They have juice stands along the second floor with juices from fruits we didnt even know existed. They also sell this three-flavored yogurt sundae covered in cereal and a bit of molasses. Outside, past the rows and rows of freshly slaughtered chickens, giant bags of grain, brightly colored fruits and vegetables and live and fresh skinned guinea pigs, vendors sold small bagfuls of little tiny speckled eggs that they hard-boiled on their carts. I never did figure out which bird they came from. Nevertheless, we encountered a surprising amount of gringo animosity in Chachapoyas and we were ready to leave when the time came. The bus company we finally convinced to take our money seemed to have an explicit agenda against the comfort and happiness of foreign tourists, but we made it to the coastal town of Chiclayo eventually.

From The Trip, pt. 2: Mountains to Lima

The public transportation has been more frustratingly elusive than life threatening lately; the local transportation seems fairly impossible to figure out. However, Peruvians´taste in intercity bus movies continues to astound us.
  1. Chachapoyas to Chiclayo: Nutty Professor I & II, Big Mama´s House, Mrs. Doubtfire - Overarching theme: men in fat suits, preferably dressed as women? not sure.
  2. Chiclayo to Trujillo: Cliffhanger - dubbed Sylvester Stalone was pretty entertaining.
  3. Trujillo to Lima: The Pianist, Phat Girlz, Last Samurai - I dont even know what to say.
  4. Lima to Pisco: Shoot em up, Dead Silence - seemingly inappropriate for an all ages bus ride.
Compared to the quaint rural market of Chachapoyas, the market in Chiclayo seemed incredibly HUGE. The stalls were divided by the type of thing being sold. Imagine stalls of shoes as far as the eye can see. All the juice stands grouped together, everybody clamoring for you to take a seat and drink their juice. Piles of recently hacked chicken feet, giant fish straight from the ocean. A row of ¨witches¨stalls where they sell herbal remedies and the occasional voodoo doll.

After we extricated ourselves from the market, we took the microbus to the coast, which is an interesting experience in itself. Basically a mini-van that they cram about 20 people into, but they only charge about 30 cents. Like one man on this bus who was headed to the coast with a rack of sunglasses to sell, many people have asked us how we feel about our new president. They have all seemed fairly surprised that he is black because they seem to think the US is mostly white and most have asked if we like him and if we voted for him, but they havent seem too surprised when we said we do and did.

From The Trip, pt. 2: Mountains to Lima

The beach at Pimentel was really nice. The local fishermen construct these weird half-boats out of reeds that they paddle with both legs hanging into the water. Despite selling the most delicious churros either of us have ever tasted, some ceviche from the boardwalk may have taken us down. Nothing a little Ciproflaxin couldn´t take care of, but no more mariscos for us for a little while...

The next day we saw some more ruins outside Chiclayo, the tombs of Sipán, its associated museum and some pyramids at Túcume. Then we got straight out of town down to Trujillo. We were hoping to get off at the small town of Paiján in order to catch a ride to Puerto Chicama, but it was too late by the time we passed through... and that was how public transportation prevented John from surfing the worldest longest lefthand break.

From The Trip, pt. 2: Mountains to Lima

Trujillo had some very nice colonial architecture, but we wanted very much to get to the beach again so after a breakfast of banano con leche and queque at the market and a brief stop at Zoological (read as, Taxidermy) Museum, we split for Huanchaco. There, John got a chance to surf the not-so-longest waves in the world while I got acquainted with Lolita.

From The Trip, pt. 2: Mountains to Lima

The next day John was feeling a bit too under the weather to surf and I felt a bit too under the weather to go ruin seeing so we set off for Lima, with some trepidation. A sprawling town of eight million with no central bus terminal, Lima seemed a trap from which we might never emerge, but we did fine. Left today with no problems. Now we are in the dusty town of Pisco, famed for its.... penguins (not what you thought I was going to say was it?). Tomorrow we are headed on a boat around the ¨Poor Man´s Galapagos¨ and then hopefully we will depart for Huacachina, famed for its giant sand dunes, which you can apparently sled down.

What they say about the extremes of Peru´s climate and topography is true. From the humid, hot, more or less flat jungle, over the topsy turvy chilly foggy mountains all covered in epiphytes, down to the coastal desert as stark and lifeless as Death Valley, Peru seems to have it all and so far we have only seen half of it. I find it amazing that it took us approximately 2.5 hours to fly from Lima to Iquitos and approximately 2.5 weeks to make our way back. Now we are on the beaten path.

We will see what the ´Gringo Trail´has in store, hopefully more frequent blog updates if nothing else.

1 comment:

  1. The Pianist. Wow. Great bus movie ... NOT! Maybe the only worse movie I can think of for the bus: The Piano. Harvey Keitel's penis and mass transit seem like mortal enemies.