“ Country: Peru / World Region: South America „
Hello Folks, I just got back from the wonderful South American Archeaological paradise of Peru. Now I will share my impressions of it with you.
First off I love to travel and to see various Archeaological sites and then I come up with bizarre theories about aliens, vikings, lost tribes of Isreal or reptiles having built all the stuff. Peru seemed like a good trip so I went there. I didn't make it out of Lima though. I meant to go to Cusco but I only had a week and after hearing people talking about having to march up a mountain for 3 days hauling all your gear with you unless you hire an 'orse to do the hard work. That does not sound like a vacation, that sounds like some sick testing of the will that a man encounters at Paris Island when he joins the Marine corps. And to think all you get is to take some pictures of some rocks and stones since it has long been mined for treasure by private individuals. Furthermore if you think you can make the trip if fortified by some of the local produce, you are insane, having any amount of Peruvian marching powder gets you 8 years in gaol. And I doubt the jails are much nicer than the 7 pound a night hotel rooms.
Let's talk about Lima. Lima is a huge city right on the coast and you can go to the nice section of town called Miraflores and look down the cliffs at the beach made out of small pebbles. If you make it that far you are doing great because it is impossible to get around the city. There is no organized public transportation. A million private companies set up bus lines that have no real systemic plan. Combine this with the fact that there are no real bus stations, you have to either hail a bus or combi (a van overpacked with sweating people) by sticking out your arm as they slow down along the street when they see people who may or may not be trying to get on a bus. This is a horrible inefficient set up and it takes forever to get anywhere by bus, but considering it costs 17p for a ride that isn't so bad for the lazy backpacker or adventurer. Also they use their horns constantly, all you hear is incessant beeping the whole time, day or night, if you see a person who might cross a street you beep, you notice another car, beep three or four times, it is so annoying!!!! So each bus or combi has a guy who hangs outside the door of the bus and shouts out the destination of the bus to people. It is insane. You can try taking a cab, but if you do so make sure you have a pen and paper because you might get lucky and get a literate driver. There is no hope whatsoever of being able to speak to the vast majority of the locals. They speak a bizarre patois that is so fast and obscure that you will never ever learn it. Maybe 5% of the population looks and acts like a proper Spainard. These people have time and again complimented my spanish. But the "peruvians" the word the rich nice people call their compatriots simply are ignorant and uneducated and wholly too thick to know that there is other ways to speak spanish and maybe if they would speak slow and clear touristas could understand them better. The upperclass is a strange lot of people. They will refer to themselves by their ethnic origins and proudly proclaim that they are european rather than indio. I never saw such open and raw racialist conduct. I met a number or the "euros" and each of them was very concerned that I knew they were not "peruvian" (mestizo) and they spoke with such absolute hatred of their countrymen. And they are such a small minority too, maybe 5% of the population. It is a strange dynamic to witness.
The food in Peru is good. It is comical what you see. On the street I stayed on in Miraflores called Commandante Espinar with blocks of my lodging there was a Chili's, TGI Fridays, Papa Johns, KFC, Dominos, MCDs, and Starbucks (with valet parking). It was a shock to go to some far off land where they don't even speak God's own language and see so many American resstaurants. I ate almost everyday at a place called el Conquistador. It was a buffet that costs 25 sols, about 4 squid. It was lavish and elegant with all sorts of local dishes that were succulent and interesting. Everywhere else in the city everyone eats their "pollo y papas" the roast chicken and thick chips. In a poor neighborhood virtually 75% of all restaurants feature this, all the same meal, a quarter chicken, chips and shredded salad. you know how nice a neighborhood you are in by the price of this standard meal. In the worst ghettos it will be around 5 sols and in the nice area 12 sols. In China town they have some great buffets that will knok you socks off for 3 squid. And to get an egg roll on the street costs 18p.
Drinking in peru. Relative to South America it is expensive to drink in Lima. A beer usually cost 7 sols in a bar which is only a pound ten or so but seems expensive. Beer is no cheaper in the markets or gas stations either. They have these drinks called Pisco sours which aren't bad. Apparently back in the day the colonists tried to set up vinyards and the homeland got scared and tried to tax them out of business, and they made inferior grapes that they distilled into Pisco. There are a few bars around and they hours are strange, and days they are evn open are tricky. The neighborhood called Barranco is the nightlife spot and downtown Miraflores where they have an italian restaurant district called Avenue of Pizzas. Unfortunately the beggars are too well aware of where the tourists go and you have aggressive children, filthy, grabbing ahold of your clothing wanting money. Trying to see if they can get into your pockets. Not cool. Some other kids, out at 3am, try to get alms by juggling three tennis balls in stopped traffic. It get tiresome, it is so lame the three tennis balls. You want to tell them to learn a new trick. I watched a guy give some kids a big bag of apples and then the kids amused themselves by smashing the apples against a wall one by one.
I went to a place called Ciudad de Dios, one of the worstest ghettos in town. many volunteer doctors go there as it is full of medical clinics. Apparently the medical clinics in some cases are fronts for brothels where they charge about 3 pounds for their service. It is a scary place.
There are lots of cheap souveniers all over. There is a big park in Miraflores where merchants congregate to all hours of the night selling alledgedly alpaca blankets and hats and silver or leather trinkets and stuff made by indians of stones and whatnot.
The strangest thing that has ever happened to me while travelling went down out in a suburb called Sucre. We got invited to a party for internationals and we went out to this gorgeous mansion. We did not know but everyone was gay and by our being there we implicitly were saying we were too. They were very touchy feely and I did not like that. But such wonderful people. I steeped outside to get some air and there were a bunch of kids 15 to 20 years old standing outside trying to look like a street gang. They looked me over, I am 6 foot tall and 235 pounds of power with tats all over my body and my shaven head. I have a 3 year old beard with 15 braids hanging down about 35 cms. I don't look like a nice person and if you want I can send you a picture. Anyways these Peruvian kids inform me that they are the Ku Klux Klan of Peru and they don't like me. I kindly asked them if they were the Imperial Knights or the Ku Klux Klan or the Christian Knights of the KKK. I ended up giving them a good instructional lecture on the Klan. I had been an undercover cop at one time and had helped infiltrate hate organizations in America so I really took these kids to school. If they want to make fools of themselves I wanted to help them do it in best form. Not a single one of them would have been allowed to join the organization they liked so much. Apparently there are lots of people in Peru that follow fascist views and claim to be nazis and whatever else. I wonder if they know that their social betters have refined hatred against them in a far more refined and subtle form. Like I said it is a weird place.
I went to a big museum on Bolivar place. It was something Herraras, before you go there check which days it is closed. It was a phenomonal collection organised by epochs or whatever. They had a separate gallery consisting entirely of pornographic pottery. Yes, for real. This people are descended from perverts. I have to keep this review sanitary, but they made so much pottery, functioning pots, cups, tea kettles and so on that were in the form of people doing stuff that I don't think about much at my age. Then they little descriptions poorly translated in english state what is usually rather obvious and describe exactly what the figures in the pottery are doing. It was bizarre.
I don't think I will ever go back there. The people are really just so ugly to look at and you can't really communicate with the people you incidently meet. I can find enough of people like this is Surrey that I don't need to fly half way across the world to find more. My friend Peter Surmised it for them thee best, a Peruvian asked him "Have you seen any ruins here" and he replied, "Yes, this whole city of 11 million people is all ruins"
Oh, I should state one positive thing about peru. You can buy packs of 5 ciggies. They cost 1 sol which is again like 17p. It is nice if you have a young kid like my 11 year old Jake that just started smoking and you don't trust them with a whole pack of fags so you just give them a five pack in the morning and another one when he comes home from school. This way if a teacher or other meddlesome adult takes his fags you aren't out the whole pack, plus it fits nice in his pockets since he is such a slender runt (probaly cus his ma Judy couldn't give up fags during his gestation period)
It's been a few years now since I visited Peru, yet the trip stands out in my memory as one of the best I ever made. We stayed for about ten days, yet in that short time managed to explore at least some of the huge diversity that that country has to offer. We began in the capital Lima, which was pretty much the perfect South American capital. Undoubtedly, like anywhere, it has its poor sections, but in general it was surprisingly cosmpolitan, especially in the central district, with cafes in the street. We felt quite safe walking around independently, and enjoyed the shopping and the cultural life the city has to offer. Then we took a jaw-dropping early morning flight over the Andes to the popular tourist mecca of Cuzco. This small city is at a very high altitude, and consequently it takes soem to adjust, but it was very picturesque and there was no shortage of activities once we had acclimatised. From there we took an even more spectacular train ride to the Incan ruins of Macchu Picchu, actually at a lower altitdue than Cuzco but seemingly even higher up in the mountains. This was incredible - a ruin clinging precariously to the hillside, patrolled only by hardy tourists and hardier llamas. We were lucky enough to stay overnnight, at the lone hotel, which enabled us to get up and walk the ruins in the morning once again,almost alone and surrounded by swirling cloud. One of my more unforgettable experiences. The final part of our trip was equally impressive. We flew on a small plane with two guides and several sacks of Peruvian Army potatoes (I kid you not) to a small airfield in the jungle, manned by the army to prevent illicit drug smugglers landing. Then we took a six hour motorised canoe ride into the depths of the jungle, to the Manu Rainforest Lodge. We spent three nights (four days) walking the trails around. We saw tapirs, ocelots, many kinds of birds, and were even stalked by what our guide reliably informed us was a jaguar.
All in all, I would highly recommend Peru to any adventurous tourist or traveller looking for an adventure a little out of the ordinary.
ººº APRA ººº Peru’s oldest political party, the ‘Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana’ was created in 1924 as an international party to support the rights and needs of South America’s indigenous populations. It failed to establish a base in other countries, however, and in spite of policies that appealed to a wide range of sectors at home, it did not come to power in Peru until 1985. The high hopes that accompanied APRA’s election were soon dashed, as human rights abuses continued, Shining Path terrorist activities went on abated and failure to make foreign debt repayments plunged Peru into bankruptcy. In 1990 APRA lost to Alberto Fujimori’s Cambio 90. ººº Shining Path ººº Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) is a Maoist terrorist group operating in Peru and founded by a former philosophy lecturer, Abimael Guzmán. Its aims are to bring about a Communist revolution. Since 1980 it has been conducting a guerilla war against the Peruvian Government (APRA + Cambio 90) and its institutions. ººº Cambio 90 ººº Alberto Fujimori, then a newcomer to politics, founded the Peruvian political party Cambio 90 shortly before the 1990 elections. He pledged to introduce state control of resources, improve social services, renegotiate Peru’s foreign debt with the IMF and provide incentives for small industry. He also undertook to deal with terrorism by tackling poverty rather than by using military force. With this platform Cambio 90 won a comfortable victory. Once in office Fujimori was hampered by the need for coalitions with traditional parties and abandoned his election platform. The war against Shining Path escalated and restrictions on labour, civil and human rights came into force. Fujimori’s increasing autocratic style culminated in the April 1992 ‘autogolpe’ in which he dissolved Congress and suspended the Peruvian constitution in order to implement his policies
On April 13 I returned from my South American trip, 13 days in Peru, 2 days in Bolivia, and 2 days in Chile, having traveled by plane (jet and 6-seater), train, bus, taxi, motor boat, three-wheeler, and on foot (uphill, steep, sometimes with backpack). My nephew's son John (age 17) accompanied me for six days but had to return to Montana because of a family emergency. So after I saw him off on the Delta flight to Atlanta, I was on my own--not for the first time, but the first time in South America, my previous experience there being limited to a look at the Caracas airport from a plane on the way to Panama City and a two-hour tourist stop in Cartagena, Colombia, on a cruise through the Canal. When my bonus SkyMiles had reached 35,000 last June, entitling me to a free round trip to Lima, I began to think about the trip to Peru, to brush up on my minimal Spanish, and to collect National Geographic articles on the Amazon and the Andes. E-mails with advice on travel and electronic photos of Machu Picchu whetted my desire to go there. More information came from ex-Peace Corps friends who had served in Ecuador and visited that "lost city of the Incas.". I had also looked into the Lonely Planet Guidebook (2 years old) but took the 1997 Rough Guide with me. Several travelers I met were carrying Lonely Planet. John used my free ticket, and I got senior citizen coupons and discounts, for about a thousand dollars, round trip Billings to Lima., thus acquiring more SkyMiles. As we had decided to simplify our travel, we took only backpacks and fanny packs. I had reserved rooms at a good hotel (Andes de America) in Cuzco for the first night. We arrived at the airport in Lima at 5 a. m. and luckily got a plane from there two hours later. By 8 a. m. we were being greeted at the hotel in Cuzco with cups of hot coca tea. That evening we had an excellent "birthday dinner." John had attended the junior prom the night before and made the 80-mi
le drive to the airport before our 6 a. m. departure from Billings on Sunday. So while he slept, I found my way to the train station, where scores of hikers, mostly Europeans, were waiting to buy tickets for the next day's local train to Aguas Calientes, the town from which buses depart for Machu Picchu. On Tuesday we left the hotel at 7 a. m. for the one-and a half-hour train ride, sitting across from two helpful Austrian backpackers, who spoke fluent English. We found Gringo Bill's immediately, an attractive hostel at £15 for two (off season), left our backpacks, and looked around this tourist town a few hours before taking the bus on the winding spiral road up the mountain to the entrance to Machu Picchu. Then we hiked up as far as we could go for a good view of this amazing city, built possibly a thousand years ago (without the use of wheels!). Buildings and walls are made of huge, perfectly squared-off and matched stones. At an altitude of 6,000 feet, it is quite a climb. We explored for 2 1/2 hours that day before the bus left at 4 p.m. to return us to Aguas Calientes. The next day we returned early for another 3 1/2 hours, locating each of the important sites shown in our tourist guide, including the Terraces, the Fountains, Room of the Punishments, Sun Calendar, Inca's Palace, Princess' Palace, the Condors' Grotto, and the Principal Plaza. Exploring near the top, we happened on our first grazing llamas, two of them--and took pictures, of course. When we returned to Cuzco, John became a skilled bargainer, returning home with miniature llamas, hemp necklaces, and other souvenirs for family and friends, as well as locally made trousers and sweater for himself. Cuzco is the best place to buy everything. We bought a Peruvian wool bag so I could unload a few extra clothes and my souvenirs for him to take home. . John toured the impressive cathedral and took more pictures there. We stayed overnight in a nice but mo
re modest hostal, then left for the airport and the flight to Lima. We had a good hotel in the Miraflores district, Sonesta Posada del Inca, for £50 (two rooms, two TVs with cable and HBO, as we did in Cuzco the first night). It was near the Delta office in Lima where we arranged for his emergency flight home. Since we were fairly near the beach; we walked there, looked into a modern cathedral, Notre Dame de Fatima, saw a marvelous sunset over the ocean, then walked around a very modern, brightly lighted, noisy shopping mall. John had seen a Pizza Hut on the way to the beach; so we stopped there for his best meal of the the trip. The next morning the maid brought us a fabulous breakfast (included with the room), and we took off at 5:30 a. m. for the £12 taxi ride to the airport again. I saw him off for Atlanta about 9:30, then got a local plane for Arequipa. The hotel in Arequipa, La Samana (Best Western), was recommended at the airport and cost £22 for a nice single room. The place was full of French doctors who were having a conference there. That night I found my first cyber cafe. My local internet carrier, MCN, didn't work there, and no one spoke English. The computer translated automatically from Spanish to English and back, but the keyboard and directional buttons were different. Finally, some high school girls came in, and they helped me TRY to get onto HOTMAIL. Tried to send some messages (especially wanted to hear that John got home o. k.). I had walked around the beautiful Plaza de Armas in the afternoon and talked with a nice nurse and her little boy as we sat by the fountain in the square. She helped me with my Spanish, and we had a good visit. The next day, Saturday, I took a local plane for Juliaca, the airport nearest Lake Titicaca and Puno. A van brought me to the Gran Hostal de Puno, recommended by Carmen, a sort of guide who was in the van. She also took me to the nearby Maryknoll Mission, where I dropped off a p
acket. Twenty dollars included a hot shower, good sleep, and excellent breakfast Then I was headed for Lake Titicaca, a bus ride to Copacabana, and on to La Paz, Bolivia. Sunday morning I hailed a "gombi," a three-wheeler, to go to the bus depot and get a bus to the border, at Kasani, Peru. They stamped my exit card and in Bolivia my entrance pass (very important to have both). I got a bus to Copacabana, on the Lake. Inquired at the big Hostal Ambassador, near the plaza. Not very inviting. Walked on, met an American girl, who recommended the Cupola, where she was staying, and gave me directions, a steep walk up the hill to an attractive lodging that overlooked the beach area. The hostal was run by a German couple, with vegetarian restaurant, pleasant lobby, and lots of international hikers. I got the remaining single room for 36 bolivianos (£4), right next to the bathroom and the 24-hour hot shower, also next to the video where they showed movies every night at 7:30. I watched the second half of FORREST GUMP, with Spanish subtitles one night, and FRIED GREEN TOMATOES, in German, no subtitles, the next night. Several tourists were leaving the night I arrived, and I found out that a transportation strike was to begin at midnight; they said it might last a week, and there would be no buses, taxis, private cars, or even motorboats running, not even gombis. Well, I'd never make it to La Paz at that rate. Maybe I'd better just return to Peru and go into Chile instead. I talked to people from at least 30 countries during my two-week stay in South America. One, at the Cupola, was a young Swiss woman lawyer/diplomat who spoke several languages. She persuaded me I should stay and look around Copacabana. "Americans are always in a hurry. There's a lot to see here." So I stayed two nights. Found Ricardo Maroquin's cyber cafe, where his wife, Claudia, was able to explain that HOTMAIL had too many clients; it was e
asier to get on YAHOO. That worked, and I sent e-mails to several friends Monday evening. That morning I had climbed the high mountain overlooking Lake Titicaca (highest navigable lake in the world--and Dorothy Bohn said, "the most beautiful.".) The wide stone path has been carved into steps, each with a cross, representing the 13 stations of Christ's climb to Golgotha, with markers telling what happened to him at each place. At the top is a huge colored statue of the Virgin Mary. It was a 90-minute climb but took only 15 minutes to come down. In the afternoon I took a boat tour (yes, a few motorboats were running) to the Island of the Sun, where legends say the original Inca came down to rule Peru. I got acquainted with several Europeans on that tour. The next day, Tuesday, was both the worst and the best of the trip. The strike was on, no motors running at all. I walked around and looked at two of the biggest hotels near the beach. Then I talked to a German couple carrying huge backpacks and heading out of the city--toward Peru. They said it was only 6 or 7 kilometers to the border. "I could do that," I decided. After all, I had to be back in Lima for the flight on Wednesday morning, April 12. So I packed my gear and started out. It was uphill, high altitude, and on rocky road. A Peruvian woman--about my age--joined me, with a tremendous pack of something in her brightly colored wool blanket. When we stopped to rest, I had to help her hoist it back on. I practiced my Spanish on her, and she said a lot more than I could understand. When she took the left fork to her house, a younger woman came up and talked to her. I asked if that older woman was her amiga? --No, mi tia, she said. Then she showed me a short cut, down the hill, on flat country through some farm land and sheep pasture. I caught up with a couple of young men from Israel, who were also heading for the border, and we walked and talked together (in English, of course).
I walked almost the rest of the way to the border with them--though I had to stop and rest the last 20 minutes, while they kept on going. It turned out to be 9 kilometers (5 miles at least), and it took me 3 hours. I rode in the bus back to Puno with the same Europeans I had met on the boat tour, three 19-year-old Norwegian girls, four French guys in their mid to late twenties, a young man from Holland, and a woman from Holland who had met on the trip. The Hollander knew of a hostal and reserved it for all of us--for 9 soles (less than £1.50) apiece. I roomed with Inie, the woman from Holland, and we talked about our travels. She had been in lots of countries around the world. Then, that night, he guided us all to an upstairs restaurant, where we had a delicious meal--trucha con ajo, with good bread and pisco sours. We did a lot of talking at the table, and we sang. Nobody seemed to mind. One of the Frenchmen was a good singer; he sang "La Vie En Rose" and other songs of Edith Piaf. Then we sang French folk songs and American folk songs. They were good company. They were all going north to Cuzco, but were going to a political rally in Puno first, as President Fujimoro was to speak. I had decided to head toward Chile before taking a bus up the Pan American Highway to Lima, but I missed the bus going to Tacna. A student helped me get a ticket as far as Moquegua, where I stayed overnight (Hostal Limoneros, about £4.50). On Thursday I got another bus to Santa Rosa, Peru, and about 3 p. m., crossed the border into Chile. A taxi driver took me to Hostal Kenny (£4.50, comfortable, with gracious hosts) in Arica, Chile, where I stayed two nights, found a cyber cafe, and got some replies to the e-mails I sent in Copacabana. By that time I had a bad cold so spent a whole morning in bed. When I went out to eat at a sidewalk cafe, I watched the women striding by in clunky heels, miniskirts and low-cut tops, the men in business suits looking at their wa
tches, and concluded, "This is not the Chile of Pablo Neruda and Isabel Allende; I must return when I can see some of the real Chile." What I'll remember of Arica, though, is the enormous rock at the entrance to the city, inhabited by graceful birds--like falcons. I watched them from the plaza at sunset, hundreds of them circling around their nests on the rock. I decided I'd go up the coast on the Pan American Highway to Lima, stopping first at Nasca to see the famous huge drawings on the stone plateaus there. I bought a ticket to Nasca. The next day, Saturday, at the bus terminal, I got the bad news. My ticket wouldn't get me on a bus going toward Lima. Buses were entirely filled, and tickets were selling for three times the usual price. That was because of the presidential election on Sunday. Peruvians have to vote in the cities where they were born. And if they don't vote, they pay a fine. I talked to the manager at the bus depot. He said I could get to Arequipa that day and go on to Nasca on Monday. Some other passengers were having the same trouble. So he got a car and driver, put four of us into it, and we were on our way to Arequipa. Two Peruvian students were in front with the driver. I sat in back with a young Australian Chinese man. It was a smooth, fast trip, and I was back at the Samana Hotel again. I had enough time on this stop in Arequipa to visit the Monasterio de Santa Clara, dating from 1661, which was continuously used as a residence by nuns until 1884. I spent more than two hours there, wandering through the many meandering stone rooms filled with antique tables, dishes, candle holders, ovens, utensils, and portraits of notable nuns who had lived there. While driving back to the hotel, we saw a familiar face talking to a crowd in the street. The taxi driver confirmed that It was Alejandro Toledo, the leading opposition candidate against Alberto Fujimori. That was the day of the indecisive election, close enough
for a run-off election in June. The desk clerk was able to get me a reservation on a deluxe double-decker bus with reclining seats; they served us a meal and showed an American movie (a James Bond thriller). I left Arequipa Sunday evening about 5 and got to the small town of Nasca about midnight (Nasca Hotel, £1.75). I was up at 6:30, though, as the small planes that fly over the Nasca Lines leave at 7:30. Ann and Daniel, from Germany, and two young women from Israel were with me for a ninety-minute ride, where we saw the mysterious huge designs (spider, humming bird, monkey) carved into solid rock. . I had no film, but the German couple were taking pictures and said they would send me some of theirs. Buses to Lima were full, but I wanted to see the museum at Ica; so with another couple at the hotel, I got into a car going there. I spent two hours at the Regional Museum, where they had Inca and pre-Inca mummies, amazing pottery (huge vases), beautifully woven cloth (some made of bird feathers), large photographs of the Nasca Lines and a story about the German scholar Maria Reiche, who lived there 40 years doing research on the Lines. Wall charts illustrated the different eras and the many advanced civilizations that inhabited the Andes mountains between 10,000 B. C. and the 16th century. The next stop was Pisco, again by bus. When I got off the bus at the station, a boy of eleven met me, told me (in English), "My name is Joe Jarra. I will take you to the hotel." Hotel Pisco (£4) was next door to the travel agency that took tourists to the Ballistas Islands, well known as a home of all kinds of birds, as well as sea lions. Joe lived with his mother, who worked as a maid at a hotel, and three younger siblings. He went with me to get the tickets for the boat tour. He also wrote his name and address for me, but he wasn't around the next day as it was the first day of school. At 6:45 a. m. I left the hotel, got on
the bus for the beach and the boat, and from 8 a. m. to 11:30 traveled to the islands, which look like icebergs as they're covered with hundreds of years of bird droppings, called guano, valuable as fertilizer. We could see the buildings where the guano was mined and shipped out. There were hundreds, maybe thousands, of cormorants, pelicans, boobies, penguins, and other birds, flying all over and coming close to the boat. We came right by the rocks where hundreds of sea lions were barking, diving into the water and coming out to sun themselves. On the way to the islands and on the return, the navigator pointed out the gigantic carvings on the rock by the edge of the bay. Called the Candelabra (since they're shaped that way) their origin is another of the mysteries of Peru. The bus trip to Lima took more than five hours. I arrived there just before dark, about 7:30 p. m., and the bus depot was in one of the most crowded parts of this overcrowded city of 8 million people. Tourists are advised to stay in the Miraflores District, but I had a map and could see that Miraflores was a long way in the wrong direction from the airport. What to do? I went into a cafe facing the street, had a cup of yerba mate, and looked at my map a long time. Something called the University City was much closer to the airport. I would get a taxi and find some decent lodging there. I went out and talked (in Spanish) to a couple of policeman, showed them the map, and told them where I wanted to go. Traffic was heavy. One of the policeman stopped a taxi and talked to the driver, who. drove me to University City, then stopped a woman there to ask about lodging. She directed him to the Hotel Plus, which was very reasonable, quiet, and comfortable. The third-floor room had a hot shower and TV, also--for some reason--a mirror on the ceiling!. On the way out I had talked with the driver about the presidential election. He had gone to the university and studied economics, and he kne
w quite a bit about the political situation. I arranged for him to pick me up at 5:30 the next morning--and he was there on time. We were at the airport in 15 minutes. The cost of both taxi rides was less than ten dollars. The tourist fare from Miraflores is twenty dollars apiece. My plane was to leave at 9 a. m. But it was a foggy morning, and we left four hours later, arriving in Atlanta late that night, too late to meet most planes. So Delta Airlines provided lodging, supper, and breakfast at the Sheraton Gateway. I left Atlanta the next day. By 11 a.m. I was in Salt Lake and at 1:30 p.m., in Billings, where my sister Edith met me. I learned a lot in those two weeks: some Spanish, some history, some politics, a great deal about getting around in South America, how the people live and eat and dress, the differences in economic levels, and most of all, the geography of the country--that one can't appreciate merely by looking at the map. I knew that Peru is divided into three main areas, the low-lying western coast, the strip of high Andes Mountains in the middle, and east of the mountains the hot jungles and rivers. But I never imagined how much of the country is simply rock, where nothing could grow--or that for miles and miles it would be like crossing the Sahara desert. I knew that Peru is the third largest county in South America. It's larger than all five states of Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, and Idaho combined; you could add most of West Virginia to that. It seemed that I had covered a lot of territory. But then I look at the map and realize that in two weeks I covered something less than a fifth of the entire country. I hadn't made it to Trujillo (ruins of Chan Chan) and I hadn't been into the jungle regions at all. I have lots of Peru and lots of South America left to see.
I didn't even want to go at first - it was my friends idea but what a good one. I am not the worlds best independent traveller so nervous i definitely was. The arrival in Lima can be scary at night be hard and prepared to battle your way to the taxi or bus. Both are reasonably safe. Lima can be a shock to unseasoned travellers like me so be wary, guard your money and don't smile at mad people. I did and he followed us for two days! The tourist sights are all worth a visit but the rest of Peru is soooo much better. Visit the desert and do the sand surfing - wear long trousers and lots of sunscreen. Try Pisco sour but make sure your hotel is near. Don't wimp out of the Machuu Pichu trail - you'll make even if you do break the odd ankle and aren't fit enough. Cuzco is very chilled but very travellerish so try not to trip over Ozzie hippies. In the rural areas the people are very friendly and things cheap, explore but don't cross the farmers. They are very protective. Overall - do not rush Peru - its out of this world, give the people and the land respect and you can't go wrong.
I went to Peru “by mistake” ie as an alternative to a cancelled trip to Nepal. Despite some drawbacks I am glad I did. First the drawbacks – crime is an issue. Although we were told the pickpockets are so good they steal without you knowing so you are at least not hurt ! Actually this happened to one member of the party who lost a watch. All I lost was a bar of chocolate. Moral – don’t take anything of value and be vigilant. Another problem for some might be the altitude of much of the country. Most people are affected to a greater or lesser degree and while good hotels at altitude claim to have oxygen this is not always the case. Personally it felt like a very bad hangover for several hours and then I acclimatized enough to cope as long as I made no attempt to hurry. Finally while most people are friendly enough my memories are of scowling or miserable faces rather than smiles. It is always worth checking on local conditions because Peruvian politics can get rather volatile. On the other hand there are plenty of reasons to go to Peru. Basically there is the scenery of the Andes and the Inca ruins. The former can be viewed on foot on a trekking trip but for the less fit train journeys eg Puno-Cuzco or even flights eg Arequipa-Cuzco, which passes two volcanic peaks very closely, will show you plenty. Machu Picchu is obviously the highlight of Inca sites. You can visit for a day from Cuzco but if at all possible stay there overnight then you can get up early and have the site virtually to yourself before the hordes arrive. For Spanish sites I liked Arequipa. It is a pleasant smallish town with a very interesting monastery. The other highlight is Lake Titicaca where you can visit villages built on floating reed islands. This is a little touristy but unique and it does give income to the locals. Peru is not for those who like their travel easy and comfortable but Machu Picchu alone is worth the effort.
Peru (Spanish: Perú, Quechua: Piruw, Aymara: Piruw), officially the Republic of Peru (Spanish: República del Perú), is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the south-east by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. Peru is a presidential representative democratic republic whose capital city and seat of government is Lima. Its territory was the cradle of the Inca empire and, later, the seat of the Viceroyalty of Peru which had jurisdiction over most of Spanish South America. It is the home of many indigenous ethnic groups.