Machu Pikachu – Part 1

Hola everyone,

we are now beginning of September. Summer holidays are over. Children go back to school, adults go back to work and after 2 hours of harrrrd work, have their first coffee break. For my readers, that’s usually the moment when they start (complaining)worrying because I haven’t posted since a while :).

Sorry guys, the last weeks were quite intense (but really fun) but I am now back in front of my keyboard to report a bit about Peru.

As a musical background for the 2 coming posts, I could have chosen traditional Andean pan flute music. However I didn’t do it for 2 reasons: first it would have been too easy and “cliché”. Second, you can listen to it every weekend live simply by going to the main square of any big city in the world :).
Instead of that, I’d like to share a post about the electronic music scene in Peru (with links to cool artists):
The New Peruvian Electronic Renaissance
Peru is a very interesting country to discover due to its archaeological heritage, principally coming from the Inca civilization. However, what I also really like, when visiting a new country, is to observe how the local culture evolves with the new generation and the contact with other civilizations/arts/ways of thinking. Maybe I should start writing about my travel philosophy one day!

But let’s come back to my trip first 🙂 In my last post, I crossed the border from Ecuador to Peru. After a long night bus ride, I get off the bus in the middle of the night in the city of Mancora of the North West coast of Peru. I am really looking forward to relax a bit here. After having spent the last days in the Ecuadorian mountains, I now need a warm beach to enjoy some beers and cocktails. The city itself is very small. I spend the first day on the North part of the city beach. As I walk a bit around, I see a lot of small crabs. Most of them are shy and run hiding in the sand as I come closer. However, one is a bit curious and surprisingly follows me a few minutes. On the second day, I explore a bit more the city center before going for a long walk on the Southern part of the beach. Near the main square, I take some pictures of the local “Tuk-tuk” which are actually recycled old motorbikes. On the beach, I witness a funny scene. A group of young boys is learning surfing. All seem to enjoy the training except one guy who didn’t succeed to stand up once on the board more than 1/2 a second. After a last failed attempt, he comes back angry and demotivated to the beach, but before giving back his wet suit and board, he asks some kids to take pictures and videos of him posing on the beach or lying (and of course smiling) on the board, so that he can show his facebook friends how much fun he had surfing. Loool. I am always fascinated to see how far some people are ready to go to fake their life on social media!
After 2 relaxing days on the warm coast, it’s now time for me to go back in the cold. As I am a little bit short on time, I jump in a night bus on the second evening that takes me directly to Lima.

The hostel I am staying in Lima is located in the Barranco district and is run by the nice Beraja family. Barranco is with Mariflores one of the tourist friendly area in Lima. The first afternoon is quite relaxed. I just stay at the hostel to sort out my pictures and plan a bit the next days.
On Day 2, I decide to explore Mariflores and Barranco. The first stop is the museum of contemporary art, where I can see exhibitions about the urban development of Lima, the bombing in Lima by the Shining Path terrorist group in 1992 and the world of travestis in Peru. After that, I walk a bit further to Miraflores to enjoy a nice ceviche for lunch. It is a dish based on raw fish sliced in cubes and can be seen as a kind of south American sushi. Once my stomach full, I walk back along the coast. The weather is quite cold and I am surprised by the number of people surfing. I finish the day at Huacla Pucclana, a clay pyramid which represents a sacred place for the Quechua people.

During the evening, I find out that there is a beer festival near the hostel, where it’s possible to taste different local beers. We decide with my roommate Sherwan to buy tickets to enjoy the event 🙂 Sherwan is a young German traveler who is finishing his several months trip by giving online German classes in Lima.
On the next day, I have a funny discussion during breakfast with my other roommate Jorge, a Peruvian guy from Mancora on holidays in Lima. Jorge tries to practice his English with me, as I practice my Spanish with him. We start with the usual basics, where we’re from, what we’re doing here and suddenly, Jorge asks me out of nowhere: “Do you like beer??” 🙂 I am a bit surprised and amused and propose him to come with us to the beer festival. His eyes start shining, but as he plans to visit Lima the whole day and we want to go there at 5pm with Sherwan and, he’s not sure to be back on time at the hostel to join us.

I spend the morning and the beginning of the afternoon in Lima historic center. There are plenty of churches to visit there. The catacombs of the San Francisco church is a nice touristic classic. I am surprised by the number of policemen and ask some people what is going on. A demonstration of the movement Ni Una Menos is planned at the end of the afternoon. This movement is quite important in Peru and fights for the women rights in the country.

At around 4pm, I decide to take the bus back to hostel. Time went too fast an I didn’t realize it was so late. The historic center is completely closed because of the demonstration. No single taxi and no bus is allowed in the area and the streets are completely full with the crowd. I start making my way out of the mess to catch a bus some streets further. Of course I am not the only one who had this idea and so it takes quite a while till I am able to get on a bus.

Finally I am back at the hostel at 8:30pm. As Sherwan and I are about to leave to the Beer Festival, we meet by Chance Jorge who is back only for a few minutes. Only by looking in his eyes and hearing his laughing, we know that he spent the last hours at the beer festival. He tells us that the event is amazing and that he just came back quickly to the hostel to get more cash for the beers 😉 We decide to go back there altogether with him and a friend of his. The event is very well organized and entertaining. As we arrive quite late there, we only have time to try 4 different beers. This is enough for Jorge to make taking selfies challenging 😉

After this funny evening, I wake up quite early the next morning to take the bus further South. I booked a pass with the company Peru Hop. The Peru Hop bus follows a road from Lima down to Cusco and then La Paz in Bolivia, stopping at the main touristic place. The model is very similar to the Greyhound bus I took in Australia, except that Peru Hop also proposes some tours along the way.
The first stop of the bus is quite close as it is the San Cristobal hill in Lima. From there, we have a really nice view on the city.

A few hours later we stop at the Casa Hacienda San Jose. This is a huge old colonial house, whose family living there used to have a lot of slaves. The guide explains us the living conditions of the slaves and we get to see the catacombs and the network of underground tunnels under the house.

A few hours more later, we arrive at our final destination for the day, the city of Paracas.

Paracas is a small city on the Peruvian coast famous for the Ballestas islands. Those islands are called locally the Galapagos for the poors because of the number and diversty of the bird population there but also for marketing reasons.
After a quick check in at my hostel, I enjoy the last hours of sun light exploring the city. A small dog follows me the whole way but at one point, something quite interesting happens. In one street near the end of the city, the dog suddenly stops and watches me cross the street. As I turn around and call him, he just looks at me as if he wanted me to guess something. As I call him a second time then a third he finally crosses the street and starts walking next to me. However, after 10 meters, a big dog comes out of nowhere and jumps on him. As a sign of submission, the small dog lie on the back but the big dog keeps attacking him. Suddenly, like a miracle, 6 or 7 small dogs appear to help the small dog, but 1 minute after 3-4 big dogs also arrive to help the big dogs. I then witness what can be seen as a dog gangs fight (small dogs against big dogs) during 2 minutes, before I realise that it could be a bit dangerous to stay here and turn around to walk back home 🙂

On the next day, I join a tour to the ballestas islands. Before they got the status of national reserve and got protected, they were massively exploited for the guano, which is basically birds, seals and bats excrements. Guano is a very good fertiliser. On the pictures, it is the white surface you can see on the ground. The tour is quite entertaining. We get to see a lot of different birds but also sunbathing seals and smaller stuff like sea stars or crabs.

Back on land, we have a few minutes to grab something to eat, before leaving to our next destination, Huacachina.
Huacachina is an interesting place. It is basically only a small oasis surrounded by big sand dunes. The main activities here are buggy tours around the dunes and sand boarding. However as I need some time to prepare my visit of Machu Picchu and I don’t think it will be more impressive than in Dubai, where I was a few years ago, I spend most of my time at my hostel.

After a short night (one guy in the room had digestion problems and woke up every hour to rush to the bathroom), I get on the bus one more time to the next destination: Arequipa.

As most of my readers are now starting to picture my roomate and his stomach problems mentally, it is a good time for me to take a small break from the blog:

To be continued 🙂

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