Here’s a quick update. Internet access is a bit trickier during the GAP tour, so unfortunately there’s less detail.
We managed to get to Peru and have been here for about 4 days. It turns out that pedestrian crossings in Lima donÂ´t really mean anything, which is the exact opposite of Santiago. In Santiago, everyone stops for pedestrians everywhere, even when they donÂ´t need to. In Lima the drivers line people up when they step out onto the road.
The tour company didnÂ´t collect us from the airport as weÂ´d been led to expect, so after waiting for ages we eventually took up the offer of one of the taxi vultures, and accepted a ride to the hotel. (GAP, the tour company, is supposed to be refunding us for the taxi fare.)
A local from Lima, whom Stacey had met in Argentina a few weeks ago, gave us a tour of the rich parts of the city on Thursday night after we arrived (50% of people in Lima live in what are referred to as “marginal habitation zones)”. The next day we signed up for a city tour from the hotel, and saw most of the same places, but in the daytime. We almost saw the changing of the guard outside Peru’s parliament buildings, but the tour guide pulled us away before it finished. (They were on a really strict timeline, apparently.)
We had a wander around the Inca Market and the Indian Market (pretty similar, but on opposite sides of the street) for a few hours on Friday afternoon. At first we were thinking they were less aggressive than the markets in Santiago where the sales-people hide in tiny caves in the wall of woolly knitted things, then leap out at you as soon as you glance at something for longer than half a second. After a few hours of wandering around Lima, though, weÂ´re not as sure any more. Every shop in the market sells almost exactly the same thing, and it was getting really tiresome having to find our way out, and constantly being asked to come in. ItÂ´s clear why they do it, though, because if you leave their shop after looking at something, there are a million other places nearby where you can buy the exact same thing.
On Friday night we met other people in our tour group. The one that we’re on seems to be at the GAP maximum size (15), and that doesn’t include the two extras who are also tagging on because they know a GAP tour guide. Looking at some of the other tours we’ve crossed over, they all seem to be filled to maximum size, so we’re getting skeptical about whether the average size of 8 people is really representative of what we signed up for. The people in our group are great, though. They’re all British, except for the two Norwegians, and the two Canadians who have British accents. (No Americans, yay!)
On Saturday afternoon, we left in a bus to a small town called Pisco, where every house has windows and doors barred. The bus dropped us off two metres from the door, we had dinner in the restaurant at the hotel, and next morning the bus collected us from the same place it left us. We were also told not to walk far if we had to go outside to get money from the ATM or whatever.
From Pisco (on Sunday) we went for a boat ride to some nearby islands (I can’t remember the name) where there were lots and lots of different species of birds, and we took lots of pretty photographs. Then we hopped back onto the bus for a one hour ride to an oasis further in the desert. Everyone else in the tour went for a dune buggy ride and did some sand-boarding around the sand dunes, but we decided to just go for a walk up one of the dunes. We got about half way up before deciding it was far too hot, and we’d rather go down again.
Last night, we arrived at a hotel in Nazca (home of the ‘Nazca Lines’)., and this morning we were taken out to a cemetary which had some well preserved mummies from three different societies (depending on how far back in time they were from). Then we went to the airport to go for flights overhead in tiny little Cessna’s, so we could actually see the lines in the ground that were left by people who lived there 2000 years ago. Stacey was feeling a bit sick at the time, so didn’t go on the flight. (Stacey’s feeling a lot better now after getting some more sleep.)
One observation so far is that when we order something at a restaurant or cafe, we almost never actually get it. eg. We ordered some schnitzel at a place in Lima, and 10 minutes later realised it was a vegitarian restaurant. WeÂ´re still not sure what we ate, but it didnÂ´t look like the photo on the menu. ItÂ´s also really common to get different bits of a meal at completely different times. (Last night, at least one person received their rice about 30 minutes after the hot part of the rest of their meal.)
Anyway, now we’re waiting in the Nazca Hotel’s Internet cafe, which keeps locking us out when we try to type stuff.