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Chiclayo, Day 1 (including Trujillo)

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HUARAZ

The last thing I did in Huaraz before I left was window shop in all the stores with the latest Christmas bling. I found myself looking at a wall of Barbies and other kids´ toys, kind of nostalgic. It`s amazing how much of Western culture has pervaded the rest of the world. Well, the cities, anyway. In fact, the movies they show even on the local buses are always Hollywood flicks dubbed over in Spanish. Western music is ubiquitous as well, though not as important as the local reggaton and traditional stuff. All the trendy boys wear Billabong t-shirts and Adidas shoes; the girls, like at home, wear hip-hugger jeans 2 sizes too small so that no matter how skinny or fat they are their flub hangs over the sides. And of course Coca-Cola, so present I almost forget to mention it, is the drink of choice even if you´re not consciously choosing it: they own Sprite, Fanta, Inca Kola, and most of the water that`s sold here. Thank heavens there wasn`t a Burger King in Huaraz.

TRUJILLO

What I noticed about the very modern-but-not-disgustingly-so Trujillo was that everyone was a little better looking, a little healthier and slimmer, a little wealthier than much of Perú. I saw a lot of kids wearing glasses. I don`t know where the money comes from, but it`s a very nice city.

I had a bit of a whirlwind day there yesterday. I got in from Huaraz at about 7am, checked into a hostel, showered, and set out again Indiana Jones style to see some cool archaeological sites. The first place I went was Huaca de la Luna, a religious temple from the Moche people who predate the Incas. It`s a fascinating place, build like a pyramid completely out of mud bricks. Over the years the Moche people built new layers on top, so it has 5 in total, but it`s still a bit of a mystery because in order for archeologists to see what the under layers look like they`d have to destroy the previous ones.

Oh! The greatest things about the Luna site was the coloured depictions of the deity on the walls - he looks exactly like Aku from the cartoon Samurai Jack!!
The Moche deity is the dude on the top right of this page
This is Aku from Samurai Jack

After that I visited Chan Chan, a massive city of mud brick just outside of Trujillo. Getting into the site I had a bit of a scuffle with one of the optional guides. He was trying to rip me off big time, but I`ve been travelling long enough to know when that`s happening. I got pissed off needless to say and he wouldn`t look me in the eye after that. So I happily wakled the site alone with a little map and it was so interesting and full of surprises. I can`t describe it without going into detail, but it`s quite an impressive piece of architecture. These sites are so well preserved because they were covered in sand for years.

Then last night I went out for drinks with this Peruvian guy, Manuel, I met on the plaza. He made the excuse that he wanted to practice his English, that he thought of me like a little sister, presumably so I would know it was just as friends. And it was nice at first and we had a good conversation, but then, as usual, it turned into one of those nightmares where all he says is ¨I feel so special that I´m having this drink with you¨ and ¨You have such beautiful eyes, they project peace¨, ¨I feel so calm with you¨, ¨You are a very beautiful, nice girl¨, even - get this - ¨Can I be your knight, my princess¨. All this or something like it no less than 10 times in the course of an hour, not to mention wanting to hug me every 5 minutes, and despite the fact that I told him that I wasn`t available and wasn`t interested. Sheesh! So by the end I was just annoyed that we couldn`t have a normal conversation and I went home. I think it`s actually impossible to be friends with a local Peruvian guy. Ridiculous! I never had that problem in Bolivia.

So anyway, I stayed one night there in Trujillo and the next day, today, I hopped on a bus the 4 short hours to Chiclayo.

CHICLAYO

I`ve only been here for a few hours, but it, too, seems like a nice city. Tomorrow morning I`m going to get a local bus to a neighbouring town for another archeological site, and in the evening I`ll get an overnight bus to Máncora with time enough (hopefully) to settle there for Christmas.

It crossed my mind today that maybe I should just pretend there is no such thing as Christmas, just keep on travelling and do things like I always do. It might make it easier for me that way. Hopefully Máncora will be a magical place with many new friends and warm feelings all around.

Posted by The Cat 16:43 Comments (2)

Huaraz, Day 3

¨If this world exists, why shouldn`t there be another one afterwards?¨

rain

So far it`s rained every afternoon in Huaraz. There hasn`t been enough sunlight to take a good picture of the distant snow-capped mountains.

I checked out of my hostel this morning and am now just wasting time until my bus to Trujillo tonight. So with 8 hours of time to kill, I have:

- Devoured the book I was reading, Jostein Gaarder`s Maya. It is one of the most fascinating books I`ve read in a long time, complicated and layered. It`s about a group of people who randomly meet on an island in Fiji, but it tackles questions about the meaning of life, evolutionary biology, the world`s riddles and mysteries, love, magic, the self. I almost want to read it a second time to make sure I haven`t missed anything, as I undoubtedly have. It`s made me think a lot, and it`s become a bit of an inspiration to write more story ideas down.

- Uploaded some more pictures to this site! Check them out here: The Cat`s photos

Posted by The Cat 13:29 Comments (0)

Huaraz, Day 2

I`m dreaming of a white Christmas...

semi-overcast 22 °C

I`ll start today with yesterday`s journal entry since I failed to log in to my blog:

¨Huaraz - 6.15pm - Sun. 17 December 2006

¨One thing about Perú I can definitely say I`m glad to have again is ´arroz a la cubana` (rice, fried egg and plantain), the most delicious meal I`ve had in South America. The buses are also much better than Bolivia`s (sorry Bolivia) and almost always have a bathroom.

¨I arrived in Huaraz at 6.30 this morning with absolutely no idea of where I was going to stay. I took the advice of the first pushy Peruvian who approached me, and his word that I could get a single room for S/10 ($3.41), and walked to Hostal Imperio. It`s a pretty nice Peruvian place with friendly staff and hot water, and I have a rooftop room with a big double bed all to myself for the promised price. Lovely. I napped until 11am before deciding to do anything.

¨Before showering I noticed they have 2 brown owls (great owls?) in a small cage on the roof. They look at me with their big yellow eyes; they`re so beautiful. I have to stop myself from pulling the cage door open and setting them free. I`m pretty sure it`s illegal to keep them there like that.

¨I finally had a look around the city at around 1pm. I took in a few sites: the ´Museo Arqueológico de Ancash` and `Parque Litico´, the Iglesia Señor de la Soledad, the Plaza de Armas, Plazuela Belen and the little church there, and the `sitio arqueológico Pumacayan´. The archeology museum was really interesting, perhaps because I haven`t been to one in a while and my interest has refuelled. It gave me a chance to glimpse at all the historic sites in the area that I don`t have time to go see in reality. I looked at a lot of artifacts, the likes of which I`ve seen before, but also a lot of lithic stone carvings from Chavin and other old towns nearby. I wish I could go see a place called `El Puente Colgante Inca de Pukayacu´ - it has this big suspension bridge I would love to walk across.

¨The Pumacayan site is actually just a bunch of old but still inhabited houses on top of a hill with a nice garden. It wasn`t much to see, but the man I spoke to briefly said something about it getting hit and ruined by earthquakes in the past.

...

¨I`m officially surrounded by Christmas, by the way, and have been for a while now. The decorations are the same, but tackier and more often over the top than in Canada. While I was waiting in Lima`s bus station yesterday I had to suffer through a hundred repetitions of cheap beep-tone Christmas songs because the bus people decided to decorate with blinking, singing lights. As if the blinking-only ones aren`t annoying enough. Some of it is very nice though, especially the trees, and it makes me long for a proper Christmas sometimes.¨

Today, Monday the 18th of December, I took a micro to a little town called Monterrey, just 15 minutes out of Huaraz. There they have `hot springs´ which turned out to be a concrete pool with brown (but yes, hot) water. There were a lot of locals there, horsing around and having a good time. I did a few laps but couldn`t take the heat for long. It was very nice though to have a dip, and after walking around town a bit I went back to Huaraz.

Nothing much doing today though except for this crazy drunk guy who wanted to buy me a drink. I`m having a good time just walking around and relaxing. Tomorrow night I take a bus to Trujillo on the coast, after which I`ll head to Máncora, the surfing town I mentioned before. If I like it I might actually spend Christmas there rather than have to rush to find a nice place in Ecuador. I`ll just have to see!

Posted by The Cat 12:59 Comments (0)

Lima in transit

Oh what an ugly city

overcast 21 °C

I got up at 8 this morning, looked out the window at the sunny patio, got my bathing suit on, and went for a short dip in the pool before most people were awake. A couple other early risers were sipping juice at the bar, the odd employee wandered around wiht a broom or a hose, cleaning up the place, but I was otherwise alone. What a life.

After a shower and a delicious breakfast - a thin pancake wrapped around a banana and drizzled in chocolate sauce, I packed my bags and sat reading in a sun chair while my towel dried.

I took a taxi into Ica by 11am and hopped on a bus to Lima by 12pm. The 5 hour bus ride was uneventful except that I watched Adam Sandler´s film Click in Spanish and the guy next to me kept looking over at me in a way I didn´t like. We drove quite near the coast most of the way; it was my first time seeing the Pacific ocean. When I arrived I went over to another bus terminal to buy a ticket for Huaraz, my next destination. It doesn´t leave till 10.30 tonight though so I´m filling the time in this ugly grey city with dinner, internet, perhaps some reading later on.

I look forward to seeing a bit of the north of Perú, an area I´m totally unfamiliar with at this point. I hear the beach in Mancora is beautiful and an excellent spot to take a surfing lesson. :)

Posted by The Cat 15:21 Comments (0)

Huacachina, Day 1

I wasn`t lying about going to Ica; this place is very near.

sunny 30 °C

I arrived in Ica early this morning and immediately took a taxi to Huacachina, a tiny little resort town 4km out of Ica. It`s a desert oasis complete with palm trees, a lagoon, and dozens of tourist-ready hostels and hotels. For just S/10 a night I`m sleeping in the dorm room of a hostel with a nice swimming pool, pool-side bar with restaurant service, dune buggy rides, and sand boarding.

I went dune buggy riding later this morning and it was so fun! There were 6 of us plus the driver in this buggy with bright red tumbler bars (I forget what the proper name for them is... spoilers?). We went for less than the promised 2 hours because one girl turned out not to like the wild ride, which I was a bit irked about. Why go on a dune buggy through the desert if you don`t like ride-type things? Other than that it was a great time though. We raced through the desert, reaching the top of a sand dune and plummetted down the other side. It was like a roller coaster at times!

We also stopped a few times for sand-boarding, which was pretty exhausting but also a lot of fun. We got on these boogie boards, same size as a snowboard, waxed with this weird kerosine-smelling orange liquid, and made our best attempts at going down the steep steep hills. Going down with feet strapped on was pretty difficult - it was hard to stay upright and hard to get an edge so we ended up falling over every 2 seconds.

The bigger thrill was actually to go down on my stomach, gripping the front foot straps. You go so fast down the dunes this way. I actually hurt my arm the first time cuz I let if off the board accidentally. I have a wicked sand burn and even after a shower and a swim in the pool I`ve got sand lodged into my skin. The last hill I went down I hit a nasty bump, banged my pelvic bone, and got the wind knocked out of me. For a few minutes I was completely debilitated, though laughing a bit at the same time, and was on my back in pain. Once I got my wind back it was all good though and we all had a lot fun racing up and down the dunes.

The swim in the pool this afternoon was nice - the first time I`ve been in a pool since I`ve been away. Once I was out reading a book on one of the reclining chairs though I got way too hot - I`m not much of a sitting-by-the-pool person.

I had a nap a little later on (didn`t sleep much on the night bus) and chilled at the pool-side bar with some people I`d met earlier in Arequipa. It`s nice to talk to them, but now that I`ve done the one exciting thing you can do here and have just the lagoon and the pool, I`ve come to the conclusion that I will move on tomorrow. When I was walking around early this morning I couldn`t help but noting that this is the kind of place you should share with someone: no one should be alone in a place so beautiful.

And so tomorrow I will head to Ica briefly once again, from there catch a bus to Lima, and onto Huaraz on the same day if possible.

Posted by The Cat 15:36 Comments (0)

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