Monday, September 22, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Photorama time here:
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
- Sealions (two kinds)
- Sea turtles and Giant Tortoises
- Land and Sea Iguanas
- Lava Lizards
- Herons: Night, Lava and yellow crested.
- Various Darwin Finches: Lava, Cactus, etc
- Boobies: Blue-footed and Masked (Nazca)
- Oyster Catchers
- Cattle Egrets
- American Golden Warbler
- Galapagos Doves, Hawks and Ducks
- Black headed gulls and little gulls (Noddies)
- Storm Petrels
- Sting Rays and Eagle Rays
- White tipped Reef sharks and Dogfish
- King Angel-fish
- Surgeon Fish
- Moorish Idols
- Cornet Fish
- Puffer Fish
- Parrot Fish
- Humpback Whale
- Others saw dolphins, I missed them though I was on deck and looking where they pointed :(
Monday, September 15, 2008
The cabins are small but the guy I'm sharing with - Neil..a laid back Scottish guy who has been traveling for one year and is sporting a pair of blue bathers with a split up the side held together with safety pins...graciously offers me the bottom bunk which is the size of a double bed and comfy. Neil has to lie like a starfish with its suckers spread out on the small top bunk nearly falling out as the boat motors through the first night . We adapt to sharing a small space but on the first morning Neil comes out of the shower as i am dressing and i hear a muffled "oops" from behind me as he retreats back into the shower waits a polite few minutes before knocking and coming out again...i stifle a laugh because it is so English...like some kind of carry on film!
Ah well, yes, about the bathers, they had a small rip in them from Australia, which I was always quick to claim was a nip from a crocodile. I was aiming to buy some new ones before the Galapagos, but never saw any, and they would have been fine, but as I was wearing them almost all the time in the Galapagos for snorkelling and wet-landings they very quickly deteriorated so they had a slit all the way up one side and one began appearing on the other! Fortunately they were lined, and I did what repairs i could with some safety pins I had to hand for such an emergency.
Anyway, lunch, like all the other meals on the boat, was excellent, in both quantity and quality The dining room was pretty cramped with a little bar in the corner, for Hulio the barman/waiter/cabin cleaner to lurk at, but it was big enough. After lunch was our first excursion, which was to black turtle cove. This was a water-borne trip in the little dinghy, and we pootled around the mangroves looking at the bird and sea life. The stars of the show were the blue-footed boobies, who, in a similar way to penguins, are rather stupid and clumsy looking in the water, but in their preferred element are very dynamic and graceful. The boobies dive amazingly fast and plunge a few feet underwater looking for fish. Many a photo was taken trying to catch them at the prime moment. There were also pelicans doing the same thing, not so gracefully, and frigate-birds circling far overhead. Meanwhile in the water we could see fish, but were more interested in spotting sharks, turtles and rays, which we did. The turtles were hardest to see as they were quite shy and only stuck there heads above water to breathe. This site was the most tropical looking we went to and was quite hot when we were out there. Afterwards we tried on our snorkelling gear and had a swim off the back of the boat. Here you realise that the water here is 20 degrees - far colder than in Goa or Thailand where it was like a bath, but warmer than the sea in Scotland! Generally you start feeling the cold after 30-45 minutes, and some opted to go in in wetsuits. After the swim we got snacks before dinner, and then some time to hang around. After dinner we got a briefing about the next day, and then everyone headed off to bed about 9 (those were the late ones) as they were all knackered!
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Time spent: 13 days
On budget/time: Got into Ecuador with not much time to spare for my flight out to the Galapagos.
Lost/stolen: My I survived the Inca Trail certificate was lost in the confusion coming back from Aguas Callientes. After sufficient therapy I may be ready to face the world again.
Sound of Peru: History of Rock and classic rock'n'roll in Aguas Callientes.
Taste of Peru: Had alpaca a few times, never managed the guinea pig though.
Highlights of Peru: As you might imagine the Inca trail and Machu Picchu were great. Quite liked Lima as a city.
Drink of Peru: Pisco sour at the Hotel Bolivar was class. Had chicha moreno and "Macho Tea" on the Inca trail
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
I got into Lima in the afternoon, checked into the Loki hostel, which was fairly lively. After eating I headed to the Museo Larco, which again had a lot of high quality pre-columbian art, with less pseudy captions this time. There store rooms were also open to the public where you could see row upon row of artefacts just stacked up, including hundreds off zoomorphic jars, divided into sections for different animals; pumas, owls and so on. However, the highlight of the museum is its collection of erotic pre-columbian pottery - I kid you not! There was some weird stuff here. As well as every available orifice being put to use, there were also skeletons getting in on the act (I'm pretty sure there isn't actually a bone there), animals, diseases, and a weird selection where the woman was breastfeeding a child at the time. And yes I have photos of some of that.
To get out to the museum was almost an hour in a little mini-bus (due to traffic rather than distance). I was happy to save on the taxi and Lima seemed pretty safe to me, contrary to the lonely planet etc. That night I went to the bar in the hostel. I played a bit of pool and then got talking to various people including some guys that worked in London and some Welsh girls. In the end I headed out to a club in the Barranco district called Dragon, with Katie from Fenwick and Edel from Ireland. We were promised 80´s and 90's music, but when we got there the music was pretty dire, until they played about 5 good songs, then it faded. Anyway it was a good night, but we headed back at an almost civilised hour as Katie and Edel were heading home. I somehow ended up with Edel's alarm clock that her ex-boyfriend gave her that I have to dispose of in a suitably dramatic fashion. As you do.
The next day I headed into central Lima. wandered around the square and visited the cathedral and the San Francisco monastery, where the tour takes you into the catacombs below where the bones of 27000 people are, buried hundreds of years ago. I also went to the museum of the Inquisition, which was pretty small and mediocre. After that I strolled in the drizzle to another of the plazas, which features a statue of a woman with a small llama on here head (a crown of flames was commissioned, but llamas is the word for both in Spanish apparently). I then went into the posh bar in the Hotel Bolivar for one of their famous pisco sours (I'd already had a pisco sour ice-cream that day). It was of course excellent. Then I headed back to the hostel and again went to the bar in the evening where it was fairly quiet at first, but I got 3 free large beers and 2 tequilas just for blowing up some balloons and tying them up for a party that was happening the next night. Perhaps that was why although I went to a club later on with all the bar people (called Sargento Piemenientos, Sargent Peppers!) and I was dancing, I couldn't even tell you what kind of music they played. I came home in a cab with some Peruvians, at some point we realised we didn't have any common language. That night in the bar had seen the appearance of these three characters who were travelling around in matching white Adidas tracksuits smoking cigars and in possession of a giant cookie monster outfit (yes there are photos). That's travelling in style!
The next day with a slightly fuzzy head I went to the Inca Pyramid thing called Huaca Pullanca. There was a quite informative guided tour, but the site wasn't hugely impressive. There had been human sacrifices found there. My bus to Guayaquil left just after lunch and was another 24 hour affair (it actually took 29!) this time it was quite a luxurious bus and half empty, and there was 2 French Canadian and 2 German girls on board as well. For the second time I saw a Spanish movie about a boy who has a Loch Ness monster for a bet (Mi Mascota est un Monster, or something like that). It was later than I planned when I got into Guayaquil, Ecuador`s biggest city, and I managed to get myself a shitty hotel in a dodgy neighbourhood with a joke of a shower! I walked down to the Malecon 2000, the developed waterfront, which was actually quite nice of an evening, and had my tea, got some cash and intenetted before getting some much needed sleep. Next morning the flight to the Galapagos left at 10am, so I was up at 7, and got to the airport no problem, ready for the next exciting trip!
Back in Cusco showers and laundry were high on the priority list. My plan to see all of Cusco the next day came to nothing, with a very late rise and I did nothing after but sort stuff out and spend an obscene amount of time on the internet, that meant I'd see Cusco the next day instead of going to the sacred valley, but I felt I'd already seen enough ´piles of Inca rubble´ and I need ed that day to rest and recover.
So the next day I set out to 'do' Cusco. I started at Qorikancha, the main Inca site in Cusco and formerly their top temple. The Spaniards had only gone and built a monastery on top of it, leaving not much to see, but there was also a quite informative section of Colonial religious art and some modern art as well. I also finally found out about the Inca astronomy our guide had been alluding too; their constellations were actually dark patches in the milky way which looked like animals.
I then walked back into the town past various Inca walls and visited the cathedral and adjoining chapels on the Plaza de Armas. These were truly impressively decorated, with a very informative audio tour. There was a saint to whom women prayed to be married, leaving notes with the address of their intended by his image, and another, the patron saint of celibate men, to whom the men prayed to be released from these attentions! There was an statue of Jesus which had turned black with age, and another Jesus which is revered as apparently it managed to stop the earthquake that destroyed most of the city after a couple of minutes! The ticket for the cathedral also included some other places on the ¨religious circuit¨so I visited another two churches and the museum of religious art in the Archbishops old palace. This again had an informative audio tour which explained a lot of the imagery. Unique to South America are representations of the Trinity as 3 identical Christ like figures, considered blasphemous in Europe.
Anyway, after all that I had certainly had my fill of colonial religious art and I headed up the steep hill to the Saqsaywaman ruins (better known to gringos as sexywoman). These were the remains of a huge fort that had been pillaged for stones to build the cathedrals bus was still very impressive (though very expensive to visit!). It was pretty cold and windy up there, but there were decent views over the City. I also climbed the nearby hill which had a Jeebus on the top (like Rio) overlooking the city.
The next day my bus didn't go to Lima till after lunch, so I did the remaining museums in the morning. First of was the Inca museum, which was overcrowded with tourists on tour and not fully labelled in English. It did have some good exhibits, including a large number of mummies nonchalantly displayed together. Finally I went to the museum of Pre-Columbian art. This had some really top drawer exhibits and definitely went for quality not quantity. They were accompanied by the most preposterous verbose and circomlucutious labels which told you nothing about the exhibits apart from how exquisite they were and how majestic their purity of form was.
I walked to the bus station I was back in that mood, and found Latin American cities far less dodgy than people and the book would have you believe (touch wood!). From there it was 24 hours to Lima.