Lovely scenic drive to Huarez through first deserts and then mountains up to 4,200 metres offering stunning views as we rolled around the hairpin curves. Icatha is highly manoeuvrable thanks to the rear steer system – in fact a bit too manoeuvrable on occasion.
Our destination was “Joe’s Place” the Joe in question still around but frankly I think he fried his brains sometime ago, either too much sun or possibly too much of the produce Colombia is infamous for. Although the plan was to camp there physically wasn’t room for all of our tents on the minute lawn so reluctantly we upgraded to help out our fellow travellers………
We had a mooch around town, enjoying the markets (not everything on sale!) and the colourfully dressed locals, although most reluctant to have their photo taken unless paid. My backup hard drive – purchased for the trip – has ceased to work and I managed to buy a 1 tb Toshiba replacement for around £80 – not too bad as definitely needed a replacement. Hopefully ebuyer will honour the warranty on the original.
For the evening we wandered into town with the usual suspects (Colin, Jane, Tony and Geoff) to El Horno with Anchovy Pizza for me and chicken for Karen.
Joe had talked us out of our planned excursion to a lake describing it as too touristy and mosquito ridden ……. but the alternatives were either too strenuous for our liking or not appealing in the sense of being rock climbing, mountain biking or the 11 hour walk at altitude undertaken by Francois and Mikkel, no doubt stunning views but seriously hard work.
So we opted for a walk around town, there was some sort of children’s event which seemed to consist of various marching bands and walking groups showing their stuff. We watched for a while, meeting Colin and Jane, and then went to the supermarket buying drink stocks for the bar and took a tuk tuk back to the hostel.
The evening was Pete’s official farewell dinner and the entire group retired back to El Horno where I had a repeat of the excellent Anchovy Pizza and a few of the Pisco sours Pete had ordered – one of the better group dinners in our opinion.
We had a full English at Joe’s and then loaded up the truck for the 8 hour drive to Lima. More stunning scenery as we passed through the Andes constantly descending back to sea level through crops of rice, sugar cane and at one point fields of chillies drying in the sun.
Lima is a huge bustling place, having doubled in population in the space of 10 years up to 2002 at the height of the civil war / unrest. The outskirts amongst the worst of the shanty towns we have seen – the centre a stunning Unesco World Heritage site full of immaculate colonial buildings around the central square.
Dinner with Terry, Leslie, Colin and Jane at a place called Gourmet Peru which lived up to its name serving delicious local dishes of llama, steak and chicken.
Next day there was a protest – we think restaurant workers striking for better pay – but then there always seems to be a protest about something. There were riot police outside our hotel but frankly they looked bored with the whole thing.
We wandered along to the main square (Plaza des Armas) to watch the elaborate changing of the guard, unfortunately there was a large metal fence which you were not allowed to approach by the armed guards so no decent photographs of the event – I did manage a reasonable one later but just of the guards at their post.
We did visit the bizarre and quite spooky catacombs at the church of San Francisco which in times past was the main graveyard of the city and it’s estimated up to 25,000 people are buried in each of the burial pits beneath the church. The wealthy could purchase private mausoleums but the poor simply disappeared following their funeral to end up in one of the mass graves.
We made an unexpectedly pleasurable visit to the mineral museum which has a stunning array of the magnificent mineral wealth of Peru coupled with some archaeological examples of earlier cultures.
The warden – 10 photos no more! – had spent a lot of time in Germany and so he was able to tell some of his story in German which was close enough to Dutch for us to have a “conversation”. He had spent 30 years in Germany and had 6 grandchildren as his daughters had married Germans but he had come back to Peru on his retirement. It seemed a little sad to me to be separated at that that stage of life.
Back to the hotel for Pete’s unofficial farewell which basically meant lots of beers all round before he departed for the airport. Some carried on well past his departure but our group went to dinner in the restaurant area for fish and chips for Karen and chicken for me. Delicious.
More Photos Here.
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