Archive for the ‘Peru’ Category

The AmericasI have travelled the length and bredth of the Americas since I started this trip back in December, but the time has come for me to move on.

It also means that I will no longer need to keep butchering the Spanish language that I have learned to some degree as I have moved south from the USA.

There have certainly been plenty of highs as well as a few lows to keep me grounded on the road, but as ever it is time to move on because the planet has so many more waves on offer for me to enjoy along the rest of this trip.

Las OlasRather fittingly I saw this road sign next to the pizza place on my last night in Chile.

It translates to The Waves, which is an odd name for a road if you ask me, but the sign was pointing westward towards the east and that is exactly where I am going.

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Playa Makaha 1

I am heading off to the airport today but had just enough time to bag one more break before I go.

I opted for Playa Makaha near the Miraflores area of Lima where I have been staying. I took this picture a couple of days ago when the weather was altogether more pleasant. 

DCIM100GOPRO

When I got into the water there this morning however it was very cloudy and the wind was messing up most of the waves.

I was trying my utmost to have another dry hair paddle out today because it would delay the inevitable cold air on my skull, and I think that I probably got through this one with my boufant intact. 

DCIM100GOPRO

Once out past the broken waves I was trying to get on some of the right handers that it is possible to ride towards the restaurant on the pier. You get so close to the restaurant that you can almost order a meal as you whizz past.

I bagged a load of fun rides which were anything up to about chest or shoulder high, but the sea was a bit of a mess today and it was really difficult to pick the decent waves coming through. 

DCIM100GOPROIt was quite tiring too because the waves were so messy that you never got the chance to relax, but a fun session to end my stint here in Peru.

I’m not sure what was going here because I am not normally camera shy, however I think my anti paperazzi pose might have been a reaction to all the wildlife that kept popping up.

There were loads of fish jumping out of the water around me and comorants kept popping up beside me unannounced. There were loads of illuminescent jelly fish on the beach, which were quite big and I am happy to report that I didn’t end up with one of these wrapped around my face despite a few close calls.

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lavanderiaIn an effort to get ahead of the game I took all my laundry to the local Lavandria at the start of the week. Getting it all cleaned now would mean I did not have to worry about it again until I was over the other side of the Pacific in New Zealand.

I handed over a huge bag full and was told to collect it later. When I returned the following day I was handed a bag of cleaned, dried and ironed clothes for the princely sum of 16 Soles, which is about £4.

white-laundryIt felt a bit light when I picked it up but I didn’t think much of it and only discovered later that none of the whites I had handed over had been given back to me. Clearly not very impressed I walk back there and ask for my clothes back, but am met with blank expressions and little in the way of garments.

I was joining Javier and and Manuella for a farewell dinner a short while later so recruited Javier’s assistance in explaining the situation when he arrived, and he kindly pointed out that I would quite like my T-shirts, vests, underpants and socks back! However they are nowhere in sight at the laundry and have been given to somebody else in the interim. I am eventually offered 50 Soles to replace the clothes which wouldn’t even buy one of the T-shirts, but the ladies will offer nothing more. We are wasting our last night together so I begrudgingly take the note promising to return the next day and see if anything has been returned.

smashed_windowWe then get back to hostel we are appalled to discover that Javier’s car has been broken into whilst he has been playing the good samaritan.

Thankfully he had taken his laptop out before we left but for some reason they have stolen a bag of his clothes which was in the back of the car.

Now we are both pissed off, but try not to let it ruin our night too much and after a Pisco Sour, which is a wonderful local drink made with egg white, have a lovely meal at a Chinese restaurant where we are joined by Javier’s brother and his wife before saying a fond farewell.

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Machu PicchuAs with all the Aztec, Olmec and Mayan ruins I missed through Central America I am not going to have the time available to go and see any of the Inca sites here in Peru.

The Inca Empire was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was located in Cusco here in Peru. The Inca civilization arose from the highlands sometime in the early 13th century.

Nasca Bird

The most famous of these sites is Machu Picchu located high in the Andes, but there are a great many more that I would have like to have seen had time allowed. 

It is not to be however, and at the end of the day they are just piles of old rocks. Very  spectacular piles of old rocks, but just piles of rocks all the same. 

Nasca Monkey

I had also hoped that when I flew south to Chile I might catch a glimpse of some of the Nazca lines through the aeroplane window.

The Nazca Lines are a series of ancient geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru. 

The hundreds of individual figures range in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks, orcas, and lizards.

Nazca Spider

The lines are shallow designs made in the ground by removing the reddish pebbles and uncovering the whitish/grayish ground beneath. Hundreds are simple lines or geometric shapes.

The largest figures are over 200 metres across.

Inca Kola 1

However because my flight south will be taking place at night I have no chance of seeing any of them.

It would seem that the closest I am likely to get to any of the ancient worlds of the Americas will be drinking the local Inca Kola.

It is as popular here as the usual colas would be back home and tastes a bit like cream soda.

It isn’t fortified with anything funky as I believe the original Coca Cola was. The clue is in the name as to what the real thing really was!

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Lima 1

Lima was founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro only forty years after Columbus had discovered the Americas and the city became an important element of Spain’s empire on the South America continent. It was the capital and most important city in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru.

It flourished as the centre of an extensive trade network which integrated the Viceroyalty with the rest of the Americas, Europe and the Far East.

All these global influences can be seen in the wonderful architecture to found all over the city. It is quite the most impressive that I have seen since heading south from the USA.

Lima 4

As usual I have taken a guided tour bus to ensure that I see as much as I can in a short time period.

The buildings are amzing and there is a colonial charm to be found all over the city, even if some of the buildings are looking a wee bit tired.Monastery 2

This is the monastery established by the Franciscan monks.

I was taken on a guided tour of the catacombs underneath the building and was rather surprised to see that all the bones of those who had been interred there for centuries have been laid out in ornate patterns and eloborate piles.

It was a bit macabre for my tastes and I dont think I would want tourists gawping at my remains three hundred years down the line, so can’t imagine that the residents of Lima would have felt any different.

The tour was good though and it was great to be shown around a city unlike the endless getting lost that I experienced through Central America.

Beatrice 2I saw all the sights of the city going around on the tour bus this afternoon, but nothing was as impressive as Beatrice’s smile.

Beatrice works on the reception desk at the hostel I am staying in and I have been having lots of fun trying to tempt her out for drinks, whilst she tries to convince me that aliens and giants are responsible for some of the ancient structures worldwide.

I have not had any luck yet, but will be in town for a few more days yet, so you never know.

 

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Playa La PampillaLima is a real surf city, which sits at the top of cliffs next to the shore.

There are a number of breaks right in the middle of the city and I am keen to bag a few of them while here.

This morning I strolled down the cliff path to the beach you see here, which is called Playa la Pampilla.

DCIM100GOPROThe shore is steeply shelving pebbles, which are very similar to the north shore in Llandudno where I grew up.

This means the waves always crash quite heavily on the shore so getting out is a question of timing. You wait for a wave to come in and as it is crashing down you run down the pebble slope and launch yourself over the top and on to the back of it. It is then just paddling like mad to make sure you get out before the next one arrives. 

DCIM100GOPRO

I managed that with aplomb and even got all the way out back without having to go through any waves.

Such dry hair paddle outs are rare but are a particular blessing when the water is as cold as it is durig the winter back in the UK.

I was expecting it to be very quite in the water today because most people would be at work, incluing my friend Javier, but there was a crew of local old timers out on their longboards having a great time in the water.DCIM100GOPRO

They were certainly getting the best of the session and not for the first time on this trip I was missing my own longboard which I left at home.

I still managed to catch a few though and this is the best picture of the day. My wet suit seems to have relaxed a bit too so I could enjoy myself a bit more in the water because it wasn’t as exhausting.

The walk back up the cliffs though was painful because they are so steep and high. My calves were burning!

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DCIM102GOPROI have been itching for a decent wave for weeks now and was delighted when Javier offered to drive us both south of town to have a surf session at Punta Hermosa.

There are a few breaks close to the point there, but we opted for Senoritas because there seemed to be less of a crowd in the water.

It was fantastic to be surfing with one of my friends again. For me that is a huge part of what surfing is all about. Laughing and joking in the water at each others rides, wipeouts,  etc.

It is however the first time that I am wearing a wetsuit in months and I’m not enjoying it at all. One is necessary because I have now travelled so far south, but my suit has shrivelled up like an unused sponge whilst being baked in the back of my car all through Central America. I felt like like I was putting on a straight jacket, and could barely breathe. 

DCIM101GOPROAll the time I spent sat around just drinking beer at the hostel or in the city back in Panama has also done me no favours fitness wise.

However I make it out past the broken waves easily enough. The crew in the water upon arrival are all Peruvian locals as opposed to surf tourists like myself. I haven’t had that since the USA due the number of people flying into Central America for waves these days.

DCIM101GOPROI did manage to catch a couple of decent waves after I had eventually caught my breath, but we didn’t stay in the water for too long because neither Javier or myself was feeling too clever.

However you can see how stoked I was at the end of the session here, despite being in the process of being swept across the rocks when I tried to get out!

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Peru Flag

After crosssing the Andes without resorting to cannibalism I have arrived in the home of Paddington Bear.

I am going to be based in Lima on the Pacific coast for a few days before moving on once again.

As with everywhere I was hoping to spend time in South Amaerica IPeru Map am far too pushed for time.

I would point the finger once more at Panamanian customs for this but need to move on from griping about them.

That is not easy to do however because they have cost me my opportunity to surf the longest wave in the world in the North of Peru at a place called Chicama. 

Valentino, Javier, Manuella & Me 2

Rather than rush around endlessly during my stay here I have decided to just hang out in the city. This is not least because I have some good friends here. You can see a picture of Javier, Manuella and their son Valentino here that was taken while we enjoyed a beautiful lunch at the Regata Club.

There are quite a few breaks right in the middle of the city and unlike Brazil there is loads of swell about at the moment so I am certainly going to bag some waves whilst I am here.

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the-andesFlying from Brazil to my next stop in Peru I have to cross the longest mountain range in the world, the Andes. 

They are over 4,000 miles long and extend through seven South American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.

The Andes range is the world’s highest mountain range outside of Asia and I have learnt that the peak of Chimborazo in the Ecuadorean Andes is actually farther from centre of the Earth than any other location on the planet’s surface, due to the equatorial bulge resulting from its rotation.

AliveIn October 1972 a plane carrying a rugby team from Uruguay to Chile crashed in the Andes. The survivors had to fend for themselves amidst the freezing weather at altitude with a very limited supply of food, after the search and rescue operation for them was called off. Only16 of the 45 on board actually survived, and they had to resort to eating the flesh of their team mates who had died to do so.

It is common knowledge that rugby clubs foreign tours can get a little out of hand, but this took things to a whole new level!

The movie Alive told the story of these events, but I am hoping not to have anything similar happen on my own flight. The plane seems to be full of Japanese tourists, most of whom are pensioners. I doubt they would feed a big lump like myself for long! 

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