Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Travel Tuesday: Peru, the Highs and the Lows.

Peru Collage
Four months down, two more to go!

From the surf town of Huanchaco we took a night bus to Piura in the North. We arrived at the little town really early in the morning and had to wait outside the bus station until it opened. It was weird watching the sleepy town come to life, which took an incredible amount of time as it was a Sunday morning.

People started to sweep the pavements as the sky started to change from black to grey, then the street vendors would cycle their rickety carts down the road and start setting up, and eventually people came out of their houses to buy breakfast from the bakery down the road.

Eventually the cleaner unlocked the gates of the station and let us sit in the waiting room while he swept around our feet. Nick, and a girl from Belgium who we had met on the bus tried to catch up on some sleep, while I read through all the things we’d done in Peru, trying to ignore the stench of stale pee coming from the waiting room.

On reflection, Peru was a weird country for me, there were lots of amazing things to see and do here, more than the other countries we had been to. But, for some reason, it was probably my least favourite of the countries that we had explored, from Argentina, to Chile, and Bolivia. So here are a list of the highs, and also the things I think made it a little less favourable for me.

Machu Picchu was definitely one of the things I had looked forward to on the trip, and it lived up to every single bit of expectation I had of it, although I had secretly tried not to get too excited as I thought I’d seen so many pictures of it that it might not be so great in real life. The walk there was one of the easiest you can do and I still found that a challenge! But once we were at the top it was amazing!

On the down side of Machu Picchu was Cusco. This was something I really did get excited for, every traveler told us how beautiful a city it was. And they were right. The buildings were grand and old, the streets were cobbled and narrow, and at night it was really beautiful. BUT, there were so many tourists there ready for their trip of a lifetime to see Machu Picchu that prices were just too high, locals kept you at arms length and everything was fabricated to make money. I know that the locals need the business, but it felt more like a show rather than seeing the genuine side of the city.

Lima was fantastic, and it was definitely our hostel in Barranco that made it so memorable, the people were great and it was so close to the beach. Barranco was a really nice area to just wander around, whatever time of day. I liked the fact there were two clear sides to the city, the new modern side which was good for shopping and restaurants, and the old side which was great for sightseeing.

My absolute favourite place in Peru had to be Nasca. We only spent a night there, but it was great to really learn about the lines, about the scientist who dedicated her whole life to trying to understand more about the lines. I think the heat in Nasca helped too, after a very chilly month in Bolivia.

Last, but not least, I have to mention Colca Canyon. It was so beautiful there and I think gave me the biggest sense of achievement and I really felt I deserved a dip in the pool at the bottom of the canyon! A must do for anyone who goes to Peru!

Peru was a good place to keep up the Spanish, as in Bolivia, not too many people spoke English and would much rather talk in their native language. This was good for us, as in other countries like Chile and Argentina we really struggled to find people to talk to us in Spanish, everyone wanted to practise their English.

It is also the country we will always remember for being sick in! I came into it really sick, spent time in hospital in Puno, and time in bed in Lima and Huaraz. Huanchaco was where we tried to give ourselves the time to try and beat it.

So despite the illness, and the feeling that people did keep a wide berth from the tourists, we still made some amazing memories. This was the low point of the trip for me though, it was 4 months in, with 2 months left. It was almost a whole month of being ill and thoughts started to cross my mind of cutting the trip short and heading home to try and get better, rather than doing a tour of the inside of hostel rooms. However, we stuck together and helped each other through it.

And even though it did smell of wee, I was excited to be in the bus terminal, waiting for the next, and penultimate, chapter of our journey to start.

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