Saturday, February 17, 2007

Beef, Buses, Birds and Beaches

About and hour ago, in the small town of Pisco where Sarah and I are currently staying, there was a small earthquake. Nothing major, just a quick tremor, but still the type of thing that -if it had happened in Seattle- the News would still be talking about the next day. Yet, here in Pisco, life has already returned completely to normal.

So normal that Sarah and I just spent probably the most relaxing hour of our trip thus far, just sitting in the middle of the towns Plaza de Armes, sipping Chicha Morada, watching children play with their dogs, old men chat and life go by.

But, perhaps Im getting ahead of myself. Let's get you all up to speed on what Sarah and I have been doing for the last two days.

So, Sarah and I spent our first full night in Lima in a suburb called Miraflores. And we were pleased to discover that there were Inca ruins just a couple blocks a way from our hostel... and somehow our travel handbook failed to mention them: Huaca Pucllana. Apparently, the entire area was supposed to be demolished to make way from some roads, but was spared and is now a park, complete with 5 Star Restaurant and a tour. The tour was both interesting and allowed us to climb up onto the central pyramid, and get a view of the sprawl of Lima which surrounded us.

After that, we continued to wander through Miraflores until we got to the sand cliffs of the (oddly named) Yitzhak Rabin Park where we could look down at the surfers below us. After that, we were both starving, and made our way back to the Miraflores city center where Sarah got to have her first taste of Ceviche. Ceviche, for those who don't know, is basically raw fish cooked in lime juice. I tried a taste of it, but let's just say it didn't end my natural dislike for seafood.

So, instead, I continued my Beefathon and had a steak. I've considered going vegetarian while I'm in India, so it only makes sense that I focus on the meat in South America, right? In fact, the first night in Lima, Sarah and I shared a dinner that consisted of (and I'm not kidding here) beef, chorizo sausage, pork, chicken and french fries. Oh, and a beer. Then we rolled back to our hostel.

Anyhow, after our lunch of Ceviche and Beef, we decided it was time to put some distance between Lima and us. So, we bought our tickets for a three hour (it ended up being more like four) bus ride to Pisco. As the bus slowly made its way out of the city, we were hit by how barren the landscape is on the coastline of Peru. The entire stretch was made up of wind-blown sand dunes, broken occasionally with yellow-staircased shanty towns and billboards... really, really epic billboards. One billboard was a massive six-story tall woman who appeared to be standing next to the road, looking at her even more mammoth shoe closet. Another was a pair of thirty foot tall flip-flops rising from either side of the highway. And a final pair of signs featured dozens of male mannequins in matching blue or red jump suits hanging from it by hooks. Surreal.

Arriving in Lima shortly after sundown, Sarah arranged a cab ride into town, while I secured our luggage from under the bus. Then, after a short detour by Hostel Inka (the cab driver insisted on taking us by it, and while we didn't understand what he was saying, his gestures led us to believe that we "wouldn't believe our eyes" when we saw it) we arrived at our original choice: Posada Hispana. We then checked in and arranged to go on a tour of Paracas Rerserva Nacional.

The first part of a tour was a two hour speedboat ride to see Isla Ballestas. Isla Ballestas is an island that serves as a refugee for wild birds and sea lions. As you can imagine, I was a bit wary of it after my encounter with the pigeon two days previous, but I figured it was a challenge I had to face. The place was amazing!

There was a moment when our boat was idling near a massive tunnel filled with literally hundreds of sea lions, while thousands of birds twirls overhead. Their feathers fluttered down around our boat, and the bellowing of the sea lions echoed of the cliff faces. It was one of those things that you know you will only experience once.

We saw pelicans, boobies, kerns and even a dozen or so penguins. The pure number of birds was almost unimaginable. Clouds of them in the sky, and countless numbers spread across the cliffs.

And, luckily, I didn't get pooped on again.

In addition, we got to see the Candlebra. A pre-Inca shape carved into the side of the cliff. Massive and mysterious, it was a good primer for what we expect to see in Nazca.

The second half of the day was filled with a bus trip through the rest of the Reserva. Where we saw sea side rock formations, vast desert-like dunes and ate lunch at a small beach filled with fishing boats.

And, now we are back in Pisco, relaxing. Tonight will probably be spent grabbing a quick bite to eat, then maybe having a beer while playing another round of dominos... or, as we've dubbed it: The World Domino Championships.

Then, tomorrow, its off to Nazca.


Rick said...

Hi you guys I am glad we finally check your blog... guess what there were four entries? We have some reading to catch up on.

ambika said...

Can I just say that I wish I'd kept a blog when I went to Prague? This is such a great, detailed way to journal things without dealing with the whole pen & paper aspect of things. And God! With the pictures you guys paint, I'm just devastated I'm not travelling, too.

Tim said...

I took a look at the website for the Paracas Reserve, and I wouldn't have thought too much of it except for your comment, but it does look extremely barren in the hills along the coast!

The General said...

Hola all!

Dad, sorry we having sent out an email letting everyone know we´ve been posting. But, we figured we´d wait a week or so between emil notices to keep people fromo feeling pestered.

Ambika, yeah, the blog thing hs workd great overall. We´ve had a few small isues with some ciomputers being set up in such a way that we can´t post new entries. But, we just have to change location, and try rposting from there. But, its been easy to keep up no, because we alwys have 10 minutes to burn waiting for a bus or something.

Tim, yeah, I was a bit skeptical about the Reserve too... but was honestly amazed by the bird islands.

The General said...

Also, as you can tell from my last response... the keyboards are less than ideal in some places.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear y'all are having fun. Don and fam