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Entries about cuenca

A taxi named Patricia and the inflatable croc.........

sunny 28 °C
View South American Odyssey on esotericmind's travel map.

So where was I? Well I did get to see the volcano erupting, quite a surreal experience and that was just the journey to get to see it. We boarded something that resembled a mobile nightclub. In reality it was just an open sided truck decked out with lots of flashing lights and a very LOUD music system. Possibly not the most auspicious way to prepare yourself for watching a volcano. We reached the viewing area, which was basically a field full of cows in the middle of nowhere. When the excited chatter died down the low rumbling sound of the volcano gargling its lava was audible. We continued to watch the occasional flume of magma rise forth from the top before it slowly flowed down the side of the hill. Quite a unique experience that should have left me in amazement, but instead my brain kept reminding me of the Austin Powers film where Dr Evil recites the word 'Mag-ma' in his inimitable style, so I stand there in the dark chuckling to myself instead of being awe struck.

The links below show a couple of photos for the volcano night, taken by one of my fellow travellers:
Party Bus

The next day I go white water rafting and suffer a serious case of, you guessed it, sunburn. My shoulders got absolutely fried and only now are they starting to recover. I now keep my bottle of sun tan lotion with me at all times!!

We headed to the city of Cuenca for our Christmas "holiday". Traveling on christmas eve proved to be a struggle as the bus was overbooked and we were fighting the locals for seats. One of our group ended up having to sit next to the driver, which is not for the feint hearted if you know what the driving style is like here. It´s with good reason that we nicknamed the front passenger seat "el asiento de muerte" (the seat of death!) since if the driver had needed to brake hard, the passenger would have been gracefully, but fatally, catapulted through the windscreen.

Cuenca is quite a big city but nothing particularly remarkable to report. Lot´s of churches, as expected. We spent Christmas day evening having dinner in a restaurant owned by an Englishman. Although the menu was a traditional roast and trifle for pudding, it wouldn´t have passed muster for Christmas dinner at home.

The aliens have landed! A rather space age nativity scene in Cuenca

Aww, it´s so pretty.......one of several dozen churches

So Ecuador has now been ticked off on the "to do" list and I´m currently in Peru, or Pear-roo as they say here. We started off in a nice little beach town by the name of Mancora. It was here I tried my first "Pisco Sour" which is a very famous drink here in Peru. To try your own DIY version, take a bag of Haribo Tangfastics and put them in a glass of vodka to soak for a while, the resulting taste will be something similar, well in my head anyway.

Life´s a beach!

A moto-taxi looks for another pedestrian to mow down

My first Pisco Sour....the happy taste of Haribo.

The next couple of days were a bit of blur as we got on and off numerous buses, whizzed through several towns and tried to remain conscious in the stifling heat. One noteworthy excursion was to the "Royal Tombs of Sipan" in a place called Chicalayo. It was here I realised how ignorant I was about South American history, believing the Inca´s to be the oldest civilisation. In fact the Inca´s were the last of the ancient races before the Spanish came and changed the continent forever. The museum had artefacts, jewellery and bodies found from a tomb of a Sipan leader dating back some 1600 years ago. My first taste of culture for some time had caused my brain some difficulty as it had not been used to thinking for a few weeks now. An ice-cream seemed to be the appropriate solution to coax it back into hibernation.....mmm ice-cream.

A mammoth 9 hour non-stop bus journey to Lima was cushioned by the fact that we were on some sort of luxury bus. The seats looked like something out of the business class section from an aircraft. A lady occasional stopped by to give us food and drink and several films played out along the way. Apart from the air-con, my favourite part was when the hostess passed out Bingo cards for us all to play. I think I shall write to National Express when I get back and suggest a similar form of entertainment for their coaches, or how about on board Twister. The possibilities are endless. As you can tell I was quite excited by this bus, perhaps more understandable if you had travelled on some of the fetid, sweaty, toilets on wheels I had been used to travelling on!

Look at those beauties! (To borrow a phrase from a colleague of mine)

Lima is a huge city with a sprawling population of around 9 million. It was good to be back in my natural habitat for a couple of days and to see in the New Year here. There are several plazas (squares) with amazing architecture dating back to the 17th century. Here are a few snaps from two of the biggest plazas.

San Martin Plaza - Trying for an interesting perspective of the posh Hotel across the road

Main Plaza - Interesting building no.1

Panarama of the Main Plaza (ish..)

Bootiful Frontage

The modern district of Lima is called Miraflores and is right on the shoreline. It wouldn´t look out of place in any western country with modern restaurants and clubs all jostling for business. We spent the first night here having dinner as a group, but New Years saw us break into different factions. I opted to spend New Year with three other travellers and we decided to just wing it and see what we could find. This proved to be a more rewarding experience than paying a huge wad of money to get into a bar with hundreds of others.

We started the evening at the Parque de la Reservas, which is basically a park with several fountains that are all illuminated at night, with one that puts on a picture and light show every hour or so. It was an amazing place, and with an entrance fee of just a quid, just the sort of price us backpackers can afford.

¿Where´s the sherbert?

Err, there was supposed to be a fountain in this picture!

After finding a restaurant run by some crazy Eqyptians, we had a great meal and I finally tried some ceviche. It´s a fish dish that uses lime juice as the means for "cooking" the fish. Not sure its my thing, but it is a very common dish out here, so at least I´ve tried it now. We then managed to find a suspiciously empty bar. The Habana bar was a small, locals only, kind of place run by some Cubans, but they were more than friendly to us and I reneged on my promise not to drink any more mojitos. The bar man, Lalo, really knows his stuff and I am now a very big fan of a drink called a "Mojito Mulato". I can remember him showing me how to make the first one, but not the second, or third, ...............Oh yes, "Feliz Año Nuevo" (Happy New Year) to all you BR´s (blog readers)

Mojito Central 2011 to 2012

Our group has now changed again, as three have moved to a different tour, and nine more have joined our tour. I´m not sure if I have the energy to socialise with another group of strangers again, so I just sit away from the group on my own, dribbling and making the odd grunting noise. That seems to keep them away from me.

We passed from Lima tothe town of Pisco, which was a bit of a dive. The primary reason for the visit was so we could go on a boat ride to the Ballesteras Islands. It was here I got to see my first Boobies, Peruvian Boobies that is, of the feathered variety. The islands are home to thousands of them, alongside penguins, mmmbbdns & other birds I´ve never heard of.

The Peruvian Boobie - His relatives have blue feet
Boobie Wonderland

I´m currently in Nazca, home to the mysterious lines. I decided to opt out of the flight over the desert as it was pretty expensive and it didn´t help that the Foreign Office website is recommending against flying with the local operators, due to dubious maintenance practices. There is also a famous cemetery here which is home to some of the ancient tribes that once lived in this region. I did suggest to some of the others that were taking a flight that they might want to book a reservation at the cemetery "just in case", but I don´t think they saw the funny side.

Well Chicos, that´s it for now. I have an overnight bus ride to look forward to tonight, which will hurtle us to the town of Arequipa. The good news is that the trek to Macchu Picchu is drawing ever closer. The bad news is that our tour guide has recommended that we buy some oxygen cannisters prior to that little adventure, which suggests it may be quite a bit tougher than I had anticipated.

p.s. The title of this blog is a tribute to a taxi I caught site of when travelling on a bus. It seems to be customary for Taxi´s to be given female names and emblazon that name on the back window. We followed "Patricia" for a few miles with her cargo of a chair and a large inflatable crocodile tied to the roof.

Posted by esotericmind 12:05 Archived in Peru Tagged lima pisco banos cuenca Comments (1)

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