28 October to 21 November 2008 - 24 days of Peru
Prologue: Why Peru?
A friend offered to tutor me in Spanish earlier this year and I was thinking where I could travel and use Spanish as an incentive to practice. My friend, Seth, who had gone with me to Lhasa in 2002 reported that he just visited Machu Picchu. Seth had had trouble with the altitude in Lhasa just like me. I figured if Seth could manage Machu Picchu, I could too. I had seen some cheap tours to Peru and asked if anyone was interested in going. Earl’s friend, Rusela, volunteered. Unfortunately, she spoke Spanish which made my desire to practice Spanish plummet. I reckoned if an organized tour would cost about $1700 pp for 10 days I could probably budget 24 independent days for around $2400. Earl could come with us for the first ten days for the Amazon, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu and then Rusela and I could continue for another two weeks. I had most of my vaccinations from Africa 2006, just had to get a yellow fever shot. Unfortunately, Earl fell ill (nothing serious) three days before the trip and so had to cancel. Thank goodness for travel insurance.
27/28 October, Monday/Tuesday - Day 1
Flight from Miami to Lima, Free day in Lima. Visit Zoo.
Off to the airport at 8:30 pm as the Lan Peru flight leaves at 11:55 pm. Our original flight was supposed to leave at 2 am and arrive in Lima at 6 am, but now we will arrive in Lima at 4 am. We don’t want to bother the hostel so early. Lima’s airport is very clean and modern with English signs. There are nice seats in the waiting area. The porters are wearing colorful vests and caps. Originally, the hostel was supposed to come pick us up at 6 am but when they didn’t show up we finally called them. Our hostel, Pay Purix, fed us some breakfast omelets and served us homemade strawberry jam and fresh pineapple juice. Coffee comes with evaporated milk and there are coca leaves on the table. The money exchange is only a couple of blocks away so we both change $400 to 1228 soles. There are lots of Chinese restaurants in the neighborhood.
Being somewhat tired, we decided to go to the nearby zoo rather than concentrating on museums for the day. Rusela got directions and off we went to catch a collectivo. The collectivos (mini vans) run about 50 cents. A person calls out the stops and collects the fee from the passengers. There are boys who somersault on the streets at stop lights for tips.
Parque de las Leyendas (Park of the Legends: Zoo) is a very nice park with pre-columbian ruins besides displays of animals and birds of the Costa (Coast), Sierra (Highlands), and Selva (Jungle) regions of Peru.
The delicate rare wild vicuna, its wool was highly prized by Inca nobility.
Another wild camelid with a funny face
Not all enclosures are as large as they could be but only the fox appeared to be displaying nervous behavior. Many well-behaved school kids are in attendance. The zoo has real cotton candy. In Spanish the “wolf of the sea” is the sea lion. Rusela brought snacks from Miami so we had those for lunch.
One of our zoo highlights was watching a newborn peccary search for his mommy. His umbilical cord was still attached.
There were beautiful macaws brightly colored red, blue, and yellow. Because of living in South Florida and being overdosed on Parrot Jungle I did not bother to photograph them. Also, I figured I would see wild macaws in the Amazon jungle.
The closest we will get to an Andean Condor
Jaguar - guaranteed that we will not see one in the Jungle
Left the zoo around 2:30 pm. Back to the hostel by 3:30 pm. It’s time for a nap. Received a panic call from Guillermo, our Lima travel agent from Peru Best Tours. Appears there will be a strike and we cannot get our train tickets for Machu Picchu for November 4th. He rescheduled our train tickets for November 5th but cannot get the tickets yet. Up at 6:30 pm. Rusela’s off to the international telephone calling center. It’s 30 cents a minute to USA. My toes are sore. Rusela has a pedometer and reports that we did over 1500 steps today.
Decided on Chifa Chaufa (Chinese fried rice) chicken, pork and vegetables for dinner. The huge flat screen TV has infiltrated restaurants here as well. We are served a huge won ton noodle soup along with homemade hot sauces -- mustard, tomato, scotch bonnet pepper and a big mug of jasmine tea. We have too much food so take half of it to go. The hostel has a kitchen and fridge so we’ll finish it tomorrow. Four meals for $7 is a good deal.
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