Cusco was our home for a few more days after we returned from the Urubamba valley. The cuy (guinea pig) took its revenge on Mike, and he was confined to the campground for a couple of days.
I braved hairdressers again with Lesley at my side. This time was quite a different experience, a salon at a posh hotel with an Argentine hairdresser who did a good job without techno music as a backdrop.
Some more shopping, restocking supplies and we were done with Cusco, eager to move on. We spoke to a local business man who informed us that the reason foreigners get sick in Cusco is that the locals have no respect for tourists and really don’t care if we get sick.
The drive from Cusco to Nasca took us through some beautiful countryside, and up and down high passes through the mountains and valleys.
Nasca area is known for the Nasca lines. There are many theories about the lines and how and why they were formed. The main one is that the Incas formed the lines by moving rocks and clearing areas to create shapes like a spider, an astronaut, a hummingbird, a pelican, a monkey and geometrical lines. The lines are aligned with the constellations, and have associations with the seasons. There is a belief that they were offerings or signs to the various gods. Another theory is that the lines were formed by space aliens, and our friend Gerret believes a donkey just took the same route for many years and wore it down!
We took a flight over the Nasca lines in a small plane to get the aerial view. Mike and I completed the flight 18 years ago, with a few less regulations than now and a plane and pilot that looked like they were on their last legs. Keira loved the flight, as did Lesley and Phil. It is incredible to think of the work that went into making the lines.
An oasis in the desert called Huacca China was the next stop. It literally is an oasis, a small lake with palm trees surrounded by high sand dunes. Unfortunately it has been taken over by the lore of the tourist dollar. Hotels, hostels and restaurants have taken over all the available land. Any tranquility has been taken over by the loud roars of the beach buggies, which take tourists for rides on the sand dunes. We were fortunate to be able to stay at a nice hotel, compliments of Lesley and Phil. We had a great time with many “happy hours”, and mojitos starting our evenings.
We were all desperate to get to a beach and have some sunshine and relief from the high altitudes of the Peruvian Andes. We had heard that the Paracas National Park on the coast south of Lima was beautiful with some good camping options, and great seafood. We stopped at a little seaside village inside the park, and had a seafood lunch. Lesley got to try a ceviche (raw seafood salad), which had been on her list of things to try. She did like it, but you are always nervous eating seafood in a foreign country. Fortunately it was fresh with no adverse side effects.
This time period was around a national holiday celebrating Peru’s independence, similar to July 4th in the USA. The area was crowded, so we sought out a more remote camping spot on a high cliffside with gorgeous views. We had a great evening with fresh fish cooked over an open fire, good conversations and the grunts of sea lions as they came into shore for the night. We camped in our roof top tent and Lesley and Phil in a ground tent. It was a highlight of our time together however this coast was not what we were all craving as it is not a typical coastline.
The coast in Peru is a desert landscape right up to the ocean and at this time of year, winter; it is very grey and misty, with very little sunshine.
We took a short detour inland from the coast to a very fertile valley near Lunahuana. The crops grown there were maize, avocados, papayas, coconuts and sugar cane. It is also an area for wine growing and vineyards. If you haven’t tasted Peruvian wine, don’t bother adding it to your bucket list. We stayed one night in a nice hostel where the owner made his own Pisco in huge glass jars, with all types of fruits for flavor. We were not brave enough to try any. He also had travelled to the USA and had all sorts of cowboy paraphernalia mounted on the walls of the hostel.
We decided to bypass Lima, having been there before, and wanting to avoid big cities. We did however have to drive through it, which was as challenging as every other South American capitol city we have been in.
We headed for Trujillo north of Lima, taking one night to rest in between at a town called Casma. We completed a lot of hours of travel in a short period of time, and were in need of a rest.
Not wanting to stay in a big city we went to Huanchaco a coastal town near Trujillo. This would be Lesley and Phil’s last days before returning back to Scotland, so we sort out a nice hostel with a pool, and a great restaurant.
Unfortunately Keira became unwell, so our days were spent focusing on her health. We had 10 days of her not feeling well.
Being at the hotel we had access to good food and a clean, nice environment whilst she recovered which was great.
Whilst in the area we visited Chan Chan and the ruins of Huaca del Luna and Huacca del Sol.
Both places we had visited on our previous trip, but still found them interesting to visit again. There has been more excavation of the Luna site since we last visited. We were blown away by the sidewall of the pyramid that they have excavated. It is covered in pictographs of scenes, gods and symbols from the time period. Some of the original colors still remain. It was spectacular!
HUACA DEL SOL AND HUACA DEL LUNA
We were very sad when Lesley and Phil left us to return to Lima and then back to Scotland. We had such a wonderful time together.
We stayed on for several more days to give Keira extra time to recover.
HIGHLIGHTS/CHALLENGES OF THIS AREA:
MOST VALUED POSSESION: the Internet for medical information, Dr David Walder in Australia who answered our emails.
BEST EXPERIENCE: Mike- seeing the pictographs at Huaca del Luna; Keira- getting to eat chocolate cake and jelly when I was sick; Riss- seeing the frescos/pictographs at Luna
MOST CHALLENGING EXPERIENCE: Mike-keira being sick; Keira- being sick and not able to eat properly; Riss- Keira being sick.
BEST FOOD DISCOVERY: Mike- discovering a real Panaderia (bakery) like in Argentina, Keira-chocolate cake/jelly; Riss- healthy stir-fry from the hotel restaurant
BEST CAMPING SPOT: Paracas National Park
Just a place to keep our mates informed on where we are at, and what we are up to.