Hi from Banos, Ecuador!

Hi from Ecuador

Yep my pilgrimage is almost complete.  I love love love Ecuador.  And the people love me.  They smile, they wave – you´ll understand why this is so important if you keep reading.

And there´s loads and loads of grass.  It´s so green, and my 2 fav. animals are everywhere.  Yep there´s cows and piggies everywhere.  The pigs are so cute, although I´m not as big a fan when they are dead.  They have them whole, dead and roasted sitting outside people´s houses.  People must come along and buy a bit for lunch.  The cows I´m loving alive and dead…

Finally to make Ecuador complete there´s ice-cream palors everywhere.

What more could I want…

UPDATE 5

NAZCA – MORE ON THOSE LINES & LOTS OF DEAD BODIES

I recovered from that bloody plane flight to go out to the cemetery of Chauchilla.  Because the weather is so dry the mummies here are really well
preserved.  Many still have hair and some a little skin.  Unfortunately a
lot of the skin rotted off the mummies when they had the El Nino rains, and
they had the mummies sitting out in the weather.  Now at least they have built a bit of shelter over the graves to try and protect them from El Nino. Our guide here was really good and explained to us how the people lived.

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When you think of South America you think of Incas and Spanish, but some of these earlier cultures were around for so much longer and are far more interesting.

We also stopped at the look-out tower for the Nazca lines.  From the tower you can see the “tree” and “hand”.  I hate to admit it but you really do need to do the plane flight because from the tower the lines are so unimpressive.

SANDBOARDING AT HUACACHINA

Now this was cool!  Although I sucked at it.  One of the guys in our group could stand up and surf down the dunes.  The rest of us decided that going down on our tummies was a much safer option, but I still managed to have a big spill.  You have to wear long pants and boots because the sand is so hot (as I discovered when I fell off.)  You sort of use your feet as brakes to slow you down.  If you want to go fast you keep your feet up.

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My spill happened when I accidently dug one foot more into the sand than the other.  Suddenly I was off the board and rolling out of control down the dune.  I had been going down with my eyes closed and when I opened them I could see my board still hurtling down the dune.  I eventually came to a stop and lay there for a minute just checking that I was all in one piece.

All I could hear from the bottom of the hill was “oh my god she hasn´t moved”, “is she  okay”, “are you alright Alison”.  It was at that point that I got the giggles, and then they didn´t know if I was laughing or crying.

When we got back to town we met up with a guy that had been on the tour with us until Cuzco.  He had gone sandboarding the day before and had stuffed his shoulder, and now couldn´t dress himself, let alone carry his backpack, and needed help getting to Lima.

PISCO – LOTS OF BIRDS THAT POO ON YOU

Not a lot to report here.  I was so excited to be going to a beach side town, but the town and beach are very ordinary.  We took a boat out to the Ballestas Islands which some people loved.  But I was like I can see these seas lions at the zoo, and the penguins (well not this particular breed, but something that looked similar) at Philip Island, and as for all these birds, all they are doing is pooing on us.

LIMA – DESERT, GUNS & CLOTHES THAT DON´T FIT

No one told me there would be so much desert in Peru.  It´s all I´ve seen for the last couple of days.  You go to sleep on the bus, and you wake up a hour later and you´re still in the desert.  Occasionally there will be a fertile patch of ground, where they have irrigation, but it was pretty much desert all the way to Lima.

My first impression of Lima was I´m not walking around here by myself, but we went to Miraflores (a nice seaside suburb) which was much nicer – it´s like you´re in a totally different city.

I did end up wandering around Lima on Day 2.  I actually quite enjoyed myself.  I think it is just one of those cities that you chose carefully where you go and how you get there.

The main plaza around the parliament building was full of army tanks and army dudes and police with big nasty guns.  They had blockades up around the plaza and were only letting tourists in. The locals were kept out. Apparently they were trying to prevent protests.

In Lima I also tried to buy some swimmers.  I decided that full bathers would be impossible to get, and I would be lucky if the biniki tops even covered 1/4 of me, but I thought I had a chance of getting some bottoms. No hope.  I couldn´t even get 1 leg into them.

I´ll seriously throttle the next person that says “don´t worry if you forget anything – you´ll be able to buy it over there”…

I decided that men´s board shorts might be an option.  The department store I was in seemed to have a few Aussie surf brands.  I had no idea what size I would be, so I took a heap into the change rooms and ended up being the biggest of those sizes.  It was quite depressing to think that I was possibly the biggest size in the entire store.  I hunted furiously through the racks until I managed to find a few sizes larger.  Phew what a relief.

I didn´t want to be the biggest size in the whole of Peru!

Other things that have been impossible to buy are hair bands (at least ones that don´t look like they´re from the 80´s) and soothers or something similar for a sore throat that I developed after the Inca trail.

HUANCHACO – MUD BRICKS & RUINS GALORE

About half the tour group finished in Lima.  There are 6 of us heading up to Quito, and another American guy is joining us once we get to Ecuador. Actually only 5 of us ended up leaving Lima.  We had to leave 1 guy in hospital on a drip.  The doctors think he has typhoid fever.  It doesn´t sound good, but he is still hoping to catch up with us in Ecuador.

If anyone is coming to South America and you love history, DO NOT STOP in Lima, keep coming up North, as there´s so much more to Peru than the Incas.

Huanchaco is a seaside village (quite a nice one with yummy fish), where they still fish using the totora reed boats.  But what was really amazing was the nearby ruins of the mud brick city of the Chimu people, Chan Chan, and the temple of the Sun and Moon of the Moche people.  So far Peru hasn´t been too good with protecting their historical sites.  For example at some point in time they´ve built a main road slap bang through Chan Chan, but at least they were busy trying to protect the ruins from the El Nino rains.

The temple of the Moon (which is actually 5 temples built on top of one another) is older than Chan Chan, and archaelogists are still digging.  We were looking at painted walls that were only uncovered a month ago.

WHY WON´T ANYONE SMILE AT ME???

It was at this point in the trip that I realised that none of the locals smile.  Well they smile and laugh with one another, but they don´t smile at me.  Even the kids playing at the beach would just stare at me when I smiled at them.  And old ladies on buses who smile at me back home didn´t smile at me here either.  I know life has probably been hard for them, but they could at least smile at me…

I was also increasingly being called a Gringo.  Which is an offensive term for a whitey!

On the way to our next destination I decided to try a test.  I decided to smile at everyone that I made eye contact with during the day.  I reckon I gave out 100´s of smiles.  Do you know how many I got in return.  Three!  3 lousely smiles for the whole day!!!

THE LORD AND OLD LORD OF SIPAN

Has anyone heard of these dudes?  I hadn´t and really anyone interested in history should have.  These guys rival Tutankhamen.

On the way to Mancora we stopped at Chiclayo to visit the amazing Sipan Museum (my new favourite museum).  It´s great because unlike many sights in Peru, the main tombs remained untouched by grave robbers.  Well they did get at some of the tombs, but not the main ones – the Lord and Old Lord of Sipan.  The museum contains the treasures found, the bodies and there are pictures that show how archeologists found the graves, and you get a real insight into how much work has gone into restoring the jewellery, clothes, etc.

The tombs (in an adobe pyramid) were only discovered in 1987.  The last two days have shown us that there are so many more treasures and history waiting to reveal itself in Peru.

MANCORA – MORE SUNBURN

Mancora is basically a surfing touristy village.  We had 2 nights here and a day of chilling out on the beach before heading to Ecuador.  It´s a good place to spend your left over Peru money on cocktails.  I seem to have a thing for sex on the beach (the cocktail…)

I also keep getting sunburnt in the weirdest spots.  I put sunscreen on, but I just seem to miss a few spots.  Currently my chest is pealing.  Not a good look.

I´M HAVING GRASS WITHDRAWALS…MORE DESERT & RUBBISH EVERYWHERE

We´ve basically been travelling through desert since Arequipa and it´s beginning to be quite depressing.  I´m really missing green grass and there´s so much rubbish littering the desert.

GETTING SWINDLED

The last thing that happened to me in Peru is that I got ripped off by the money changers at the boarder.  They have a really bad rep.  So we were all carefully checking our US money to see that they weren´t giving us fakes. But what the mongrels did was short change us.  The others managed to get the money owed to them, but the dude I was dealing with had conviently disappeared by the time we had finished checking for fakes and had worked out what had happened.  It wasn´t a heap of money, but it was the principle of the thing.

So that´s the finish of my time in Peru.  This email has actually been sitting in my drafts folder for about a week or so.  I will be in touch when I´m on my way home to let you know about the jungle and whether my love affair with Ecuador continued.

Lots of Love
Alison

P.S.  Rhyden, I think I´m going to miss your birthday as well.  Have a fantastic one!

And thanks all for the birthday wishes…

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