BootsnAll Travel Network

Days 600-617: Lowland Peru

Arequipa, Nazca, Huacachina, Pisco, Lima, Huanchaco, Trujillo, Chiclayo, Piura

Lots of desert, ruins, big hairless dogs, and mangos.

Okay, Arequipa is still pretty high. But it was on the way to the coast and was a convenient transport hub. There’s a nice cathedral, but the coolest place in town was the Monestary of Santa Catalina that takes up a whole city block. This place was pretty weird. There were lots of stairways going nowhere and aparently the nuns had servants and their families had to pay a dowry to get them in. Lots of great color and interesting architecture.

Doorway at Santa Catalina monestary.

Soothing blue hallway at Santa Catalina.

We went on a tour to Colca Canyon which is the second deepest in the world (the first is nearby). The group went on a short hike to check out some pre-Inca rock tombs and it was funny how the group broke into two; folks coming from Cuzco had no problem with the hike, but the people coming from the coast were sucking wind.

The tombs had been plundered by grave robbers, but you would still see the cranial deformation practiced by the ancient locals.

Chuch on the way to Colca Canyon.

Our main reason for going on this tour was to see some condors. That sounds funny coming from people who live in the home state of the California Condor, but we’ve never seen one. Everybody heads out to the Cruz del Condor to watch these enormous, ugly birds catch the thermals in the canyon.

We saw a good handful of condors in the distance, but this one buzzed the crowd at Cruz del Condor.

It took a bit of adjustment to go from snow on the pass near Colca Canyon down to the heat of Nazca. Nazca is famous for large line drawings on the rock-strewn plains that can best be appreciated from the air. There are some pretty crazy theories about why the Nazca culture made these figures. Aparently the notion that it was an astronomical calendar is BS. We took a bus out to an observation tower and could catch a hint of the “tree” and “hands” (the later was definitely more frog-like to us). Not satisfied, Kelly went for a flight over the lines and was glad she used a motion sickness patch.

One of the many line drawings Kelly saw from the air in Nazca. This one is the hummingbird.

We didn’t know it, but most of coastal Peru is desert, and pretty boring desert at that. However, the little oasis town of Huacachina had a cool location nestled between enormous sand dunes.

Those enormous sand dunes just beg to slid down on a sandboard. It’s a great place to do it because it is really cheap and surprisingly difficult. The hardest part is schlepping the board up the dune. We found that you had to put a ton of wax on the board every time or you just don’t go anywhere (this is a good thing though when you don’t know what you’re doing).

This is a (very) short movie of Shreddog Marc putting on a sandboarding display. He’s waiting for the X-games folks to call.

Shredmaster-K showing Marc how it’s done.

The coastal town of Pisco is named after the beverage. We tried a pisco sour and Marc found it alright (Kel didn’t think too much of it though, but she didn’t like arak in Indonesia either). The Islas Ballestas off the coast of Pisco are called the Poor Man’s Galapagos and are home to Peruvian pelicans, Inca terns, sea lions, and Humbolt penguins.

Those Humbolt penguins looked suspiciously like African Jackass penguins (and they were eyeing Marc’s butt!).

Really colorful bills on the Peruvian pelicans.

Dining in Pisco was pretty interesting. There are roving musicians who can play a panflute and a guitar at the same time. Also, sometimes your stuffed avocado comes with a live worm crawling on it. ยกSin bichos, por favor!

We went to the capitol of Lima and ate, what else, lima beans. (Yep, they originated in Peru.) Peru has a whole bunch of fascinating pre-colonial cultures, of which the Inca were only the most recent. The Museo de la Nacion has a huge collection of ceramics and other bits from many of these cultures and it was interesting to see the wide variety of styles and amazing craftsmanship. We didn’t make it to the museum dedicated to X-rated ceramics, but a few pieces found their way here. Unfortunately, these seem to be just about the only ceramics sold in the tourist shops.

We were warned that theft could be a problem in Peru, but we didn’t think it would include urinals.

The San Francisco monestary had catacombs full of skeletons sorted by bone-type rather than body. Someone had some time on their hands and made huge, geometric patterns using skulls and femurs. It was creepy even without the funky odor. There was also a Last Supper painting which included a few Peruvian twists, like the roast guinea pig as the main course. Our favorite room was the old library which looked like it came out of a movie set.

The outside of the church at the San Francisco monestary.

Lima’s cathedral looked like it had undergone a few renovations with changing stonework.

Door knocker on the cathedral.

With Christmas coming up, we decided to find a quiet place to hunker down and wait out the Christmas travel rush. The small coastal town of Huanchaco, west of Trujillo, was where we ended up and was remarkably pleasant place to chill. The town was pretty much empty with the exception of Christmas day, when it turned into a parking lot for day trippers from Trujillo.

The beach at Huanchaco is lined with totora fishing boats and vendors ply interesting snacks to much on.

We had four days in Huanchaco and planned to cultivate serious tans. However, after our first hour in the sun, Marc looked like a hairy lobster and Kelly looked like a red-and-white striped candy cane. Yikes! Let that be a warning to you kids. The sun is pretty intense near the equator.

Christmas for us was very low key and it was great to talk to our families. We joined all the other foreign tourists in town for Christmas dinner. The highlight was the performance of the Marinera Dance by two absolutely adorable kids.

We headed back to Trujillo and have to say that we really liked this town. The streets are lined with colorful, old colonial mansions and the people are generally friendly and helpful. There are a lot of archeological sights in the area around Trujillo and we managed to visit a couple.

Colorful buildings around the Plaza de Armas in Trujillo. Even the wrought-iron security grills were aesthetically pleasing.

Cool yellow church in Trujillo.

La Huaca Arco Iris (the rainbow temple) had cool murals. And despite its colorful name, it was a place where children were sacrificed.

Cool stick bug at Chan Chan.

Adobe wall of sea otters at Chan Chan.

The God of Waiting-for-your-shot-in-pool at Chan Chan.

There is a breed of large, hairless dogs in Peru. Apparently one of the parents of this mutt was Billy Idol.

La Huaca de la Luna was made by the Moche culture and had incredibly colorful murals. And they invented Space Invaders too.

Nothing is more festive than the Christmas palmito and pepper.

We travelled through northern Peru and the only notable sight was the Sipan museum in Lambayeque. Loads of jewelry and artifacts recovered from the royal tombs. Kind of like the King Tut of Peru. Some of the gold necklaces and belts would have been difficult for Arnold Schwarzenegger to lift.

Marc has developed a serious addiction to the mangos in northern Peru. Unbelievable!

At the border with Ecuador, we needed to get rid of our Peruvian Soles. They use US dollars in Ecuador. So Marc changed our last 19 Soles for $5 and a huge bag of mangos. Sweet!


5 Responses to “Days 600-617: Lowland Peru”

  1. zcookes/Mom Says:

    Marc –

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for X-Games to call.

  2. Posted from United States United States
  3. Amy and Kenny Says:

    Hey guys!
    Remember us from Tibet?!
    We are so envious of you guys!! We took a few short trips after our three month trip. We went to Peru and Bolivia last May and it’s so funny that you guys are visiting the same places we did!!
    Anyways, just wanna say hi and happy new year!

    Oh, obviously, Amy and I survived the trip and are now engaged. We now live in the Silicon Valley. If this is one of your destinations in the future, emails and let’s have drink or something.

  4. Posted from United States United States
  5. Lata Says:

    go kelly go- show marcus how the white girl from the hood does the sand boarding..
    nice to see you guys enjoying peru ๐Ÿ™‚ i am jealous…can’t wait to take kaylee on some cool trips ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Posted from United States United States
  7. Mom Says:

    I take it Marc did not go on the flight to see the Nazca line drawings? Those are so awesome – what fun Kelly!
    Don’t bring home any of those hairless dogs, okay!

  8. Posted from United States United States
  9. JTR Says:

    Well Marcus, at least you sandboard better than you snowboard…sad.

  10. Posted from United States United States

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