Lake Titicaca - Puno - Arequipa - Arica
08.08.2010 16 °C
As promised, here´s the action-packed sequel to Arica! Arica!. Despite the fact that Patricia is currently on the telephone next to me in her usual quiet manner, I´ll try to cover all the things I didn´t have time to discuss in the previous entry. A couple of the more computer literate among you have told me I can put photographs on the blog as well - unfortunately I don´t have the necessary wires at the moment but I will attempt to do so soon. Until then, you´ll just have to use your imagination...
After the fascinating trip to stay with a local family on Amantani, we arrived back for one last night in Puno. I´m only mentioning this because while we were waiting for our dinner in downtown Puno, Patricia noticed another dog wearing a jumper and ´suggested´ that I wrote about it in the blog. She also made some razor-sharp satirical remark concerning dogs, clothing and Paris Hilton, but it escapes me.
Some other things Patricia wants me to mention on the blog:
1) The proliferation of plastic bottles and rubbish in general. Obviously, being from a country that is so advanced in recycling, this bothers her. A lot.
2) The amount of dogs in general. Apparently this is because South Americans find it distasteful to cut the cojones off any animal, and therefore dogs procreate like rabbits. Or something like that. Anyway, there´s always a pack of mangy mutts roaming around somewhere in every Peruvian/Chilean town, barking, pissing and almost being run over by all manner of transport.
3) That I´m not too cynical about the family on Amantani. Which I wasn´t, was I , readers? Anyway, what she sees as ´cynical´, I see as ´wry´. Answers on a postcard please.
Anyhow, enough of this. Whose blog is it anyway?
We arrived in Arequipa after the hair-raising bus journey (see the last blog entry). Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru and we were thankful to be below 2500m again. However much coca tea you drink, I´ve found that you still don´t feel right at 3000m and above, as well as being on the verge of collapse everytime you walk up a gentle rise. It makes me glad we didn´t do the Inca trail (although as I write this, I can hear Sam snorting derivatively at our collective apathy...). Arequipa itself is quite an advanced city, boasting the first pedestrianised street I´ve seen since I arrived (even Lima has yet to make such leaps in pedestrian technology) and such luxuries as coffee shops whose definition of coffee goes beyond a teaspoon of Nescafe immersed in tepid water, and juice bars (which Patricia promptly dragged me into) where the serving staff offered Patricia a copy of the Peruvian OK! and me a car magazine (?!) to read while we waited for our food (what happened to conversation? Clearly the waitress was concerned I might become too feminine in the company of a woman and that looking at pictures of scantily-clad women draped over shiny new cars would help redress the testosterone balance).
Feeling like this was probably too much high culture in one day for us, we went to the Convent of Saint Catherine, a massive citadel-like collection of buildings that is also incredibly peaceful, despite being located in the middle of the city. Unfortuantely we didn´t spot any nuns though. However, the highlight of the day for me was another scantily-clad woman in the form of Juanita, a 500 year-old Inca girl who was sacrificed at the top of a 6000m mountain called Nevada Ampato. Due to a neighbouring volcano erupting in 1987 (if I remember rightly), the snow that is usually permanent on the top of the Nevada Ampato melted, revealing sites of Inca sacrifice that had previously been frozen. So Juanita is in very good condition, having been frozen for 500 years, and it was fascinating to hear about the sacrificial rituals surrounding this girl´s death. So that´s my recommendation if any of you find yourself in Arequipa with a couple of hours to spare...
Early the next day, we left Arequipa on (thankfully) a comfortable and clean bus for a six hour journey to Tacna, near the border with Chile. Once in Tacna bus station, we fought our way through the crowd of touts to find a colectivo taxi to take us across the border. The problem in Peru is that even the official means of doing something feels decidedly unofficial, so you never know whether or not the way you´ve chosen is the ´right´way. And seeing the battered old Ford in the carpark, it definitely felt more unofficial than official. This wasn´t helped when the driver disappeared with our passports (and came back with a visa form telling me that, in under five minutes, I had changed nationality from British to Irish). Anyway, despite these misgivings, the ride over the border was uneventful, although Patricia had to smuggle through some jewellery given to her by an Ecuadorian shaman that was made of dried fruit. I´ve so far resisted the urge to contact Interpol...
And so we find ourselves in Arica, Chile, a relatively small beach resort with an unusually high proliferation of meat restaurants. In fact, Chileans seem to like meat in some form or another with very meal, and generally spurn fresh fruit and veg. Last night we went to a meat restaurant, where we had the option to have a Chilean mixed grill (can´t remember the Spanish name) which had beef hearts, beef kidneys, three different forms of pork, a quarter of a chicken and two steaks. Oh, and some potatoes (purely for reasons of health I assume). However, considering this cost 18,000 Chilean pesos (almost the same as our room in the hostel), I chose to have a steak which must have been the at least half the cow´s buttock, if not all of it. I can feel my arteries clogging up as we speak... My goal, though, is to have the one true ticket to an early death: lomo de pobre. This translates as ´poor man´s steak´and is a large steak topped with greasy fried eggs under a pile of salted chips. Oh yes.
Anyway, I should go now. All this talk of meat reminds me it´s lunch and therefore time for my next hit of beef. Tonight we take the overnight bus to San Pedro de Atacama in the middle of the Atacama desert where we might stay with another local community.
Oh no...someone is forcibly pushing me out of my chair...
it's ME!!!!!!! Patricia! the one with the many exclamation marks!
so guys, I am absolutely loving this trip. James is far too cynical about everything...I don't want to go home so I suggest you all come here! I will write more about my experiences and my trip in general once James is gone and he won't write you his long sophisticated essays anymore... then you have to read my confusing short stories with lots of exclamation marks again... so long... un beso, Patricia
Sorry about that, folks. I´ll try to keep her under control next time but, as you know, it´s quite a difficult task...
Here´s hoping they have internet cafes in San Pedro. Speak to you soon and take care,