A Travellerspoint blog

Town and Country

25 March 2010

rain 69 °F

Visit Huaraz

We headed down to the city of Huaraz to take a look around.
Huaraz is a fairly nondescript town outside of its beautiful surroundings.

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For the first time in Peru we felt uncomfortable. We were being eyeballed more than we are used to and had instances that may have had worse consequences if we were not aware.
First, when we took money out of an ATM, we turned to walk down the sidewalk and soon noticed a group of four young men following very close behind us. We acknowledged their presence and quickly turned into a store, and allowed them to walk past.
At another time we pulled our small camera out of Seth's backpack and while Seth was attempting to zip it back up a man came right up into his face waving paper fliers. Seth seeing the man's knees in his face Seth finished securing his backpack realizing the man likely was trying to get into his bag. When Seth stood up, the man continued to crowd him and Seth said "no gracias" (no thanks) the man was relentless and seemed to be trying to get into position where he could get to the bag and Seth finally yelled at him - which seemed to upset him as he commented a moment later as he was walking away that "you have a nice girlfriend watch out for her for me." Seth really wanted to pummel the guy but we walked away instead.
This is a situation that any traveler should look out for as thieves have become very creative and work in groups of young and old.
One of our hostel mates told a story of her sister getting mugged in Ecuador. She stepped away from her group for a moment, a girl spilled a drink on her backpack, which then prompted her to take it off and it was gone in a second - by a second accomplice. A third accomplice yelled "they went that way" while pointing the wrong direction. As you can see, these groups can be large and they cover all their bases.
Thankfully we have made preparations and rules for ourselves and continue to make more as we go. When going to an ATM that is not locked from the inside one person is on the lookout and guarding one side. Money gets put away before we move from the ATM.
When opening bags we have our backs to a wall or pillar of some sort so that there is no access from behind. Also, if one person is getting into a bag, the other is again keeping watch. Lastly, we have placed security clips on all of our zippers so they cannot be easily opened.
If we have to stop on a street - for example waiting to cross. We face each other so it appears we are talking but we can watch all activity behind and around each other.
These are a few of many precautions any traveler should take. They've helped us not be an easy target.
We did have a nice coffee break at Cafe Andino. This is a very nice multilevel cafe with a library and trekking/climbing info for the area.
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Altitude Adjustment

For the most part we have not had too much of a hard time adjusting to the altitude. We both had a headache the first day but think that also had to do with lack of sleep. We've definitely noticed shortness of breath and slight vertigo at times. The strangest effect the altitude has had was when Seth died the other night for 13 seconds. Monica noticed some strange breathing patterns coming from Seth when he was asleep. So strange she started counting the seconds between them. First he'd take two breaths that seemed to be coming from a person drowning, gasping for air. Followed by one normal breath and then....... nothing! For 13 seconds or so.
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No worries though, this is a common effect know as Cheyne Stokes or PB (Periodic Breathing) .

Peruvian Country and People

It was not until we came to the Lazy Dog Inn that we started understanding what we were looking at every time we drove through the small impoverished shanty towns of the Peruvian Andes. Fortuneatly, Diana and Wayne, the owners of the inn have been generous in sharing their knowledge and experience from living here for quite some time. This has also inspired us to read and research more extensively the history, social aspects, culture, etc. of the country. We have had long discussions regarding the Land Reforms of the 1950's and 60's, the Ancash Earthquake, the Shining Path guerilla organization, Peruvian government and economic systems, etc. This knowledge has been fundamental in our understanding of Peru below the tip of the iceberg that are the tourist sites.

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Posted by sethnmon 12:00 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Going Up

24 March 2010

sunny 73 °F

Bus Ride

We took an overnight bus ride with Movil Tours. The bus was clean and the VIP seats we sat in reclined far enough that you could sleep in them. Unfortunately, we hardly slept a wink.
This double decker bus, winding it's way through narrow Andean roadways, felt more like a Spanish Galleon rounding the Cape of Good Hope in a storm. Seth even woke up after nodding off momentarily and yelled "bring in the sails we're taking on water"... just kidding. Seriously though, the bus swayed quite a bit as the bus driver maneuvered through winding roads and often passed big rigs and other vehicles going slower than him. While we were on the Pan American Highway it seemed we spent more time on the left side of the road than the right.
The bus stewardess would play movies and forget to shut them off when they were done... result being we had a blinding light shining in our face while trying to get some shut eye. When we headed up the mountains it also got very bumpy. It was interesting to look out the window and see a caravan of lights from many many buses heading up the hills.
An FYI for anyone that takes these buses. To open the inerior doors you have to just pull very hard - they are not locked that's just how they keep them from flying open. Also, you may want to take a sleeping pill as most people do.

Arrival in Huaraz

Finally the sun came out and we started seeing the outskirts of Huaraz. The town was practically destroyed in the 1970 in a massive earthquake and the rebuild was pretty messy.

We had noticed in Huanchaco that when you merely go three or four blocks away from the tourist strip the city became terribly impoverished. Huaraz is very much the same, with its adobe brick houses and tile roofs all jumbled together where you can't figure out where one living quarter ends and another begins. We are interested in learning more about what has led to the social conditions and issues in this country and are planning on sharing what we learn in a later post.

We took a 40 minute taxi ride up through Hauraz past smaller villages into the countryside of the highlands. We are staying at the Lazy Dog Inn.
We grabbed some breakfast then went to sleep in our cozy cabin. Didn't do much else the rest of the day. Just rested and let our bodies acclimatize to the altitude of 12100 feet or 3700 meters.

Cabin at Lazy Dog Inn

Cabin at Lazy Dog Inn

1004.jpg1007.jpgMain House at Lazy Dog Inn

Main House at Lazy Dog Inn

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Posted by sethnmon 07:16 Archived in Peru Tagged bus Comments (0)

Peru Time

22 and 23 March 2010

sunny 82 °F

22nd:

Update re: Seth's health - he has started feeling better today.

We went into Trujillo to buy bus tickets for tomorrow night to head up to Hauraz up in the Peruvian Andes. We also stopped at a supermarket to pick up personal hygiene items - the name of the supermarket was WONG. ?

We have been meeting a lot of young people who come down here to volunteer. They are mainly working in education and urban infrastructure support and development. Many of them pay there way through, but if they already have an education some of them can find payed internships.
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23rd:

El Ansuelo Restaurant

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We ate at this restaurant a couple times and thought there food was quite good, although Seth may have gotten sick from their ceviche. So now we are a lot more cautious about only eating well cooked food and staying away from greens that may have been washed in local water. Those comments aside the food was very good. Ironically it's located right next to a restaurant that many travel books recommend and that we saw several tour groups stopping off at. It's funny, because all the silly little traveling musical groups that charge money swarm to these places. So once again we advise exploring on your own and taking the "road less traveled".

Fried Yucca

Fried Yucca

Yucca or Manioc root is yummy when it's fried - they prepare it many other ways as well.

Lomo Saltado

Lomo Saltado


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A ubiquitous item on the table here in Peru are these little fried or baked corn kernels that are slightly addictive. You can buy corn nuts at any corner gas station in the US, but these are much different. They are very large, crunchy, slightly oily, salty and taste home baked.
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In regard to eating out in Peru. One has to remember that you are now on Peru time. We have seen some westerners get impatient when they are not waited on quickly or their food comes out slow. Going out to eat here is not to be done on a time schedule. If you're in a hurry grab an empanada on the side of the road (and risk food poisoning). Otherwise it is not part of the culture to have a fast food experience when you go out to eat, they expect you take to take your time and they do the same. Also you will have to remember to ask for "la cuenta" or the bill, as they will not bring it to you until you are ready to leave and request it.
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We have seen that we really have to learn how to slow down and relearn not to be in a rush all the time. We think our society breeds anxiety and we have had to work hard on breaking some of our habits. We will think we have to rush to finish something to get to the next thing on our list, but really we have the whole day ahead of us. Even if it doesn't get done - it's okay.

Monica went for a swim - she wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to do some body surfing since we don't know when will be the next time that we'll be near the Pacific and the great waves. It was cold but fun.

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This evening we packed up our stuff and shared a taxi to the bus station with a couple backpackers we met at the hostel.
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Posted by sethnmon 15:14 Archived in Peru Tagged food Comments (0)

Enough

21 March 2010

sunny 82 °F
View Lima to Trujillo and Huanchaco on sethnmon's travel map.

Seth is resting and letting the antibiotics take their course so we pretty much laid around all day.

In the mean time we thought we’d share a few things that we haven’t talked about yet.

Spoiled Kids

Upon arriving in Peru we found ourselves disappointed with our lodging. Not because there was anything wrong with it but because of creature comforts such as rooms being small, not having air conditioning and living amongst noise from other people and the city. So far in both cases our rooms have been very neat and very clean. We think that sometimes because of our higher standard of living we have by default started expecting more than we need. As a teenager or early 20-something year old it’s easy to sit and revel in thoughts and actions of “simplicity” and living with less. But as life goes on and God has blessed us with better jobs and more opportunities, we have found keeping that same spirit of simplicity has slowly ebbed away. This trip has already helped cast a light on this unwanted quality. It’s really easy as a westerner coming into another culture to be rude simply because what is offered to one is not what one has come to expect. Sometimes we have to relearn not be spoiled little children and find joy in what we have.
Naylamp 2nd Level Entrance

Naylamp 2nd Level Entrance


View from Naylamp 2nd level

View from Naylamp 2nd level

Our Room on Second Floor

Our Room on Second Floor

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Our Room at Naylamp

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Packing

At about the second day here in Peru we noticed that the category in our suitcases called “Useless Junk” was growing larger and larger. We have found that much of our clothes are not useful for multi-biome traveling. So we have started making notes about what is essential for us and what isn’t. Lots of books and packing lists have been made by knowledgeable travelers, but any traveler has to make that list their own; as we see ours growing daily. For example: bringing clothing that are light, can be layered, hand washed and dried quickly will be essential for us. If you are not going to be traveling for extensive amounts of time or will have access to washer and dryer this might not be important. Since we are traveling for over a month and through a few different biomes we thought we would need more clothes and stuff. It turns out we could have done with much less.
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Eating Out

On a lighter note – we have found a restaurant here in Huanchaco that we really enjoy. There are a multitude of restaurants that serve the typical seafood which is excellent, but sometimes one wants a break. Otra Cosa is a neat organization - they help set people up with volunteer opportunities here in Peru and also offer accommodations and have a great little restaurant that serves vegetarian fare. We’re not vegetarians but have found the food here very fresh, and well prepared.

Otra_Cosa.jpgSpanish style Tortilla at Otra Cosa

Spanish style Tortilla at Otra Cosa

Yogurt & Breakfast at Otra Cosa

Yogurt & Breakfast at Otra Cosa

Burrito at Otra Cosa

Burrito at Otra Cosa

Falafel at Otra Cosa

Falafel at Otra Cosa

Posted by sethnmon 18:43 Archived in Peru Tagged preparation Comments (0)

The Best Laid Plans

20 March 2010

82 °F
View Lima to Trujillo and Huanchaco on sethnmon's travel map.

Seth was feeling a bit off when we got up so we decided to take it easy for most of the day.

We ate breakfast then took a stroll down the beach sidewalk and pier, stopping at a few shops along the way and taking some pictures.

Throughout the day Seth felt worse and worse. And without going into too much detail was not able to keep any food in his body.

We went out for dinner at 5:30pm and he was able to put down some yogurt but after taking a few bites of soup had to return to our room because his stomach started cramping badly.

At 6:30 he was worse, and then at 7:30 he was in the worst pain he has had in years. At this point we definitely decided he was in no state to travel on an overnight bus to a high elevation. After talking to reception Monica had a taxi called and we went to the Peruvian American Hospital Emergency Room.

Apparently the taxi driver thought that these could be Seth’s last minutes on earth so he took the liberty of playing ambulance driver… running red lights, bottoming out on speed bumps and generally aggravating Seth’s condition more, but we did get there quickly.

We walked in and Seth was immediately seen by the doctor. Seth was dehydrated so they put him in a bed and started an IV drip of electrolyte solution right away.

The hospital on surface appearance would not be considered clean by western standards but all instruments used were sterile.

The service was much faster than we have ever experienced in an ER in the USA.

It was interesting in that Monica had to pay for the services prior to them being rendered. (Other than what they would consider immediate need which was the initial IV). So down the hall she had to go to pay for the lab work, then submit it to the lab so they would process the blood. Then down to the pharmacy to buy a second bottle of fluids and any meds they wanted to administer.

The pharmacy across the lane was open 24 hours and we were able to get all Seth’s follow up meds.

Seth was in the ER for 4 hours and all services plus his take home meds came out to about $100 with no insurance helping out.

We left the hospital with another taxi and thought it would be easier to stay in Trujillo but after 3 hotels being full we decided to head back to Huanchaco where we knew we had a room – we arrived back about 1am.

All in all it was a good experience if you want to rate ER visits. Seth will need a few days to recover and will be taking antibiotics for whatever bacteria he picked up (likely from food or water) and then we’ll continue on our way.

Peruvian American Hospital

Peruvian American Hospital

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Posted by sethnmon 18:06 Archived in Peru Tagged health_and_medicine Comments (1)

Hang Loose

19 March 2010

82 °F
View Lima to Trujillo and Huanchaco on sethnmon's travel map.

Surfing

We went for a short jog and did some calisthenics in a kid’s park by the ocean this morning.

We laid around the rest of the morning until we headed out for our surf lesson.

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We had watched some other people receiving lessons the day before and thought the teacher looked like he knew what he was doing and we saw the students learning enough skills where they were standing up on their boards on their first lesson. So we signed up with Indigan Surf School.

Gian Carlos was an excellent teacher and accomplished surfer. He and his brother have a four step tried and true method of teaching first time students that worked for us as we were both able to stand up and ride the waves three times each during our first lesson. It was exhilarating and exhausting and well worth the $14 for each of us for over 2 hours of coaching including all rental gear. Their dad is a reed boat fisherman and teaches people about this ancient art.

After Surfing

After Surfing

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Big Booboo

We took the recommendation of one of our travel books and tried the Big Ben restaurant for dinner. Oops. If you want cheesy renditions of John Lennon’s “Yesterday” by a one man band who may pull out his trombone or violin and serenade you at the table. Or, if you’d like to be in the same room as every westerner in town. How about having some bland seafood that may look pretty but is not appealing to the palate. Then this is the place for you. As for us we’ll stick to the little hole in the wall restaurants that may not have a third floor terrace but have much better food.
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Posted by sethnmon 17:50 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Garbage Day

18 March 2010

semi-overcast 82 °F
View Lima to Trujillo and Huanchaco on sethnmon's travel map.

Ding Ding Ding Ding

Woke up to the distinct sound of a mad cow running about the hostel. We thought this might be some strange sort of revelry wake up call. We were pretty upset initially thinking that if this is a common wake up call then we won’t be staying here anymore. We later asked the receptionist who looked at us questioningly saying… alarm??? Oh you mean the “campanas” and rolled her eyes - the bells… that’s the municipality garbage pickup. They go around ringing their cow bell reminding everyone to bring out their garbage.

Garbage_Truck.jpgSee the guy on the left... more cowbell please!

See the guy on the left... more cowbell please!

In most western nations the municipalities are quite content to pass your house quickly and without care if you forget to put your garbage out. At least in Peru they seem to be much more customer friendly and will even ring a cow bell to remind you and wait until you bring it out.

Breakfast

We ate at the hostel restaurant. Fresh squeezed pineapple and passion fruit juice. An omelet with mmmmm bacon (oh, how we’ve missed it living in Saudi), ham, onion, tomato, mushroom & cheese, served with bread and a pancake with dulce de leche and bananas.

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Traveling to the Moon

We’ve seen many buses flying by with hecklers hanging out the door yelling destinations at people. At first Seth thought they were cat calling Monica but she let him know that was not the case. We decided to try our luck on the buses to get to the Huaca del Sol y de la Luna (Temple of the Sun and Moon).

The receptionist showed us on a map how to get there on a map and wrote down which buses to take so of course we promptly forgot it in our room. – Perfect. So, she had made it very clear not to get on the H bus with the heart next to the H (reason being it takes about half an hour longer than the regular H bus). So, of course as we were running to catch it we didn’t realize that that’s the one we took.

Bus riders beware, if you are not prepared to run and jump on a moving bus then risk the wrath of the bus driver who will jolt the bus while you are trying to get up the steps to show you his disapproval. These bus drivers are on a very strict schedule in which they have to stamp certain stops along the way… so they are racing the clock. No worries - no tourists were injured in the making of these travels.

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Speaking of racing the clock: picture a NASCAR racer driving a rickety old bus with only 3 or 4 gears through busy city streets. At one point the bus driver was racing down a gravel road to merge with the main road and there was a large family walking up the road – taking up the full breadth of the road. The family meandered off - seeming to just make it to the side of the road as the bus blasted past them. Ironically two women sitting adjacent to us were very excited with elbows locked on the hand rail in front of them. Believe it or not, we were quite calm (thank you Saudi for training us for future psychotic driving).

Not only this but remember the more people they pack on the more money they make, you can’t beat the price though of only 50 US cents per rider.

The bus only went half way the rest of the way we would have had to grab a “combi” which is usually an old VW van that would be comparable to a stuffed sardine can on wheels. We didn’t feel like sitting on anyone’s lap so therefore took a taxi the rest of the way.

“New Taxi” was our choice; their company was recommended to us by Manuel the local tour guide we met at the airport the other day. – No seatbelts though 

Pyramids

2007.jpg2000 Moche people once lived between the two pyramids, they think that the Hauca del Sol was used as an administrative center

2000 Moche people once lived between the two pyramids, they think that the Hauca del Sol was used as an administrative center

View to the North from the Huaca de la Luna

View to the North from the Huaca de la Luna

All Original Colors

All Original Colors

Paid a small fee of 11 soles ($3.87) for entrance and one hour tour of the Moche peoples Temple of the Moon. Built between 2000 and 1500 years ago, it is impressive that there are still clearly defined shapes and colors throughout the temple. Among the characters are the decapitating spider, the decapitating jaguar, the decapitating warriors, and of course the decapitating god. We started to see a theme. If I were a warrior of the day I would practice unceasingly, there would have been quite an incentive, because the warriors who lost the battles got their heads cut off.

7 layers of images

7 layers of images

Excavating

Excavating

Decapitating Spider

Decapitating Spider

Decapitating Warrior and Decapitating Jaguar

Decapitating Warrior and Decapitating Jaguar

Our tour was done by a kind but nervous young lady who was given her initiation into guiding in English with us. Due to Monica’s Spanish skills and Seth’s confusing sarcastic jokes, we did fine with her. We also had an enjoyable time talking and joking with Benoit our tour mate and couch surfer from Paris.

Shouting Decapitating God

Shouting Decapitating God

Angry Decapitating God

Angry Decapitating God

Smiling Decapitating God

Smiling Decapitating God

There were 2 places to purchase souvenirs; outside and inside. Outside were the cheaply made souvenirs and every vendor seemed to sell the exact same thing. This is where you purchase souvenirs for family that will not appreciate artesian craftsmanship and stuff for kids. In the souvenir shop there were very beautiful and high quality jewelry, pottery and fabric items, made by talented local artists. We are kicking ourselves for not having bought something there.

Peruvian Hairless Dog - the Moches kept these dogs

Peruvian Hairless Dog - the Moches kept these dogs

Lunch

We returned to Huanchaco and grabbed a bite to eat at a local restaurant. We ordered a plate of mixed ceviche, fish with crab sauce and avocado, and a bowl of crab soup. We couldn’t figure out how to eat the crabs since they were so small and the little bit of meat in them didn’t seem worth the fight. Regardless everything was fresh and delicious. We’ve realized that we tend to order much more food than we should… we feel bad wasting it so we end up eating more than we should. We are going to work on adjusting this.

At lunch we discussed that Seth’s preconceptions of what the food here was going to resemble would be like that of Mexican food, not disappointing just an interesting adjustment. Instead of burritos, fajitas and salsa, here on the coast we are finding lots of fresh seafood, and many different types of potatoes and corn which are native to Peru. We recall learning about the Columbian Exchange during the 1500s when many of these foods were exported back to Europe.

Strolling

As we walked along the beach we couldn’t help but notice two things.

First, were the giant elf boots made of reeds, leaning up against the sea barrier. This is the only place in the world you can see these “Caballitos de Tortora” or little horses made from tortora reeds. The fishermen ride out on these unstable horse size “boats” over the waves returning with nets full of seafood. These boats have been used for thousands of years and have been seen painted on Pre Columbian pottery.

Caballitos de Tortora

Caballitos de Tortora

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Second, there are a multitude of surfers and boogie boarders. We’re going to take surfing lessons tomorrow… stay tuned for an update.

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Since we had a late lunch we grabbed a snack and coffee for dinner and went to bed after watching the sunset.

El Tambo restaurant

El Tambo restaurant

Posted by sethnmon 15:47 Archived in Peru Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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