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Ruby and Marcello's travel blog

Through Peru to Ecuador

PERU | Friday, 25 November 2011 | Views [1087]

Hello all
I must apologise I've been very slack with writing- I think I last wrote to you when we were in La Paz, Bolivia and since then we've spent a month travelling across Peru and we're now in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

I can't believe we've been travelling for just over 3 months now- still not quite half way through our trip though.

Rather than telling you everything that we've been doing over the past month, I'll just give you some highlight/most memorable stories

The Salesmen

Pretty much wherever you are, at whatever time, there will always be someone nearby trying to sell you something...and they'll sell anything!
We were on one of our many long bus rides through the middle of nowhere between one town and the next when a man clambered on board in a suit (hadn't seen someone wearing one of those for a while). The man had a briefcase and he started rooting around in it and then he pulled out a speaker on a belt and a headset with a microphone and soon he began his speech. Now, my Spanish is very basic, but with his use of visual aids I was able to gather that he was talking about cancer and its affect on the body. He showed a diagram of male reproductive organ and a picture of a cancer filled lung. Next he brought out the product he was selling- pills to stop lung cancer (the bottle had a picture of a lung on it and I heard the word antioxidant). As usualy when someone is selling something on a bus they walk down the aisle handing their product to everyone and then they come back and retrieve money from those who wish to buy and take the product back from those who don't want it. The woman sitting next to me excitedly purchased some of the pills while her mother who sitting in front of her rolled her eyes at the concept of these pills (plenty of time for people watching when you're on these buses so you figure out who's related to who). As soon as the salesman has finished with the pills he started on his next product- teeth whitening gel...because if you weren't too worried about lung cancer surely you'd be concerned with your teeth.
Our other favourite sales people have been on the beach. Recently we were at a beachside town in Peru called Mancora where you can sit on the beach, order food and drinks and have it brought to you on a tray (luxury!) Also whilst on the beach you can buy all manner of things from the people who do laps of the beach trying to sell their products. These included clothes, sunglasses, jewellery, coconuts, fruit, jelly, CDs and DVDs...and most bizarre- lamps. We saw the lamp selling repeated when we were in Montanita, Ecuador- very odd.

Another money making technique we discovered in Cusco, Peru where women (and children) would dress in traditional attire and troop around the city all day with a lamb in a sling (like a baby) and offer tourists a photo with said lamb for 1 sole (peanuts!) I sucuumbed and somehow Marcello got duped into it as well


The Monastery

When we were in Arequipa, Peru we went to what used to be a Monastery. This place was absolutely beautiful and Marcello took lots of photos...but he failed to take any of the inside of the rooms to show the living spaces- he was a bit too obsessed with doorways and windows as you will see from the photo gallery.

The Mummies
Also while in Arequipa we went to an exhibition where the key exhibit was Juanita the mummy. This is an almost perfectly presevered mummy (she was a child of about 12 years old)- skin, eyeballs etc all intact. She'd been found frozen in ice on the side of a mountain where she had been sacrificed. We learned how children were sacrificed reguarly to the goods in the hope of preventing things such as earthquakes and volcano erruptions. The children would be lead to the top of these mountains, drugged and then hit over the head. Lovely!
Reading an article about the Day of the Dead (1 November) I learned that it used to be (and in some remote towns still is) a custom to exhume the mummies of people from the community and parade the mummies around the town for the day.

The Inca Trail

Four days of walking between 7 and 9 hours. It was tough...but much easier once I'd hired the help of an unofficial porter to help carry my backpack, sleeping bag and sleeping mat...I say helped but in actual fact he carried all of it (I know, major cop out by me, but I wasn't the only one!) The hardest day of the trek was day 2 when we ascended 1200m from about 3000m to about 4200m. Now walking up a hill isn't that bad, but if you've ever been at high altitude you'd know that it's significantly harder than normal due to the lack of oxygen in the air. Luckily our porters were on hand to provide us with coco leaves combined with an alkaline (they called it a magic potion) to chew on which made the journey much easier. Upon discussions with peopel from other tour groups they weren't given the alkaline which is what madethe coco leaves actually work so we were quite lucky.
While on the trek it was the 30th birthday of one of our group members. She tried to keep it secret but her friend told everyone and much to our suprise on the final night the chef produced a cake with icing that said happy birthday. We were all amazed that they'd been able to whip up a cake in light of the fact it was her birthday. As it turned out everyone gets a cake, ours just had icing on it (but we didn't tell her this as it seemed best to let her believe they'd made the cake specially for her).
They fed us very well on the trek; 3 good meals a day. However I have learned that I'm allergic to something that Peruvians put in their Chinese food because I've had 2 allergic reactions - one the night before the trek (yes I did freak out when I came out in hives and didn't have any antihistamines and I may have sobbed in fear) and another time on the trek (this time I responded like an adult and took antihistamines and went to bed).
The only downside of the trek (aside from the rain, the slightly leaking tent and the allergy) was that when we finally arrived at Macchu Pichu (keep i mind we'd been up from 3:45am) we had a brief look at it (there was only a handful of other tourists there at that stage) and then we had to go out the gates, put our bags in bag hold area and then come back in with the hoards of tourists who's just got the bus up from Aguas Calientes who were all fresh faced with makeup on and clean clothes. These people were very pushy and rude (well they seemed like it to us at least) and they dominated the place. After having walked for 4 days to get there it was pretty frustrating to be elbowed out of the way so that people could pose for photos in front of particular things such as the sun dial or Condor Temple.
On the train from Aguas Caliented back to Cusco we were provided with a fashion show and a man dressed up as a dragon (I think that's what he was meant to be) who danced along the aisle with unsuspecting passengers. Was a rather odd ending to the whole experience- but typical of Peru- any opportunity for tourism or sales and they'd jump on it!

The concert- Damian Marley

Rather early on in our trip I discovered that Damian Marley (one of Bob Marley's sons) was doing a concert in Lima, Peru. Two of the girls we met on the Inka Trail decided theyw ould join us and so the four of us set off for Lima. The concert was great- Peruvians have got concerts in the bag. There were people walking through the crown selling beer, water, red bull and soft drinks so you didn't have to leave your spot to go to the bar. I also saw someone walking around selling chorizo at one stage. Marcello made friends with an array of people while my back was turned and he insisted on having his photo taken with his new found friends with whom he couldn't communicate (they spoke no English and him no Spanish).

The death
Now I wouldn't call it a highlight, rather a sad story.
On our first night at our hostel in Lima, at about 11pm as we were going to bed we heard the people in the dorm room next to us come in and put music on  and continue whatever party they were having. The next day when we woke up, the door to their room was taped shut with a piece of paper with several signatures on it. Seemed odd but we didn't think too much of it. The piece of paper remained there the following day. We joked amongst ourselves saying it was a crime scene or something. On our 3rd day I went outside our room and there was a group of people including police and one of the workers from the hostel. There was also a tall Australian guy whose hand was bandaged and in a sling.
I asked the hostel worker if everything was ok and he told me what happened- combine this with the information we got from other peole at the hostel and this is what happened:
The guy with the bandaged hand and a friend of his had been partying all week on drugs and alcohol. They had gone out to a party and then after that to another party and then ended up in McDonalds nearby. They were in the bathrooms when the guy's friend passed out, hit his head on the sink and had a fit and ended up choking to death. The guy with the bandaged hand had pleaded for someone to help him but when no one did he started smashing up the place (presumably with his now broken hand).
The police in the room were forensic police who were looking for evidence to find out more details of what happened.
Our hostel was closed to all new bookings and as the people who'd been staying there left, it became eerily quiet. It was very sad.

But now, on a brighter note, we are in Guayaquil were it is 33-35 degrees each day and we have done very little. Tomorrow we
leave for Galapagos. We've been able to score a 5 day tour for half price. If you're interested here is the link for the boat http://www.galapagosisland.net/cruises/galapagos-adventure/index.html
We will be in the islands for a fews after the tour and then we fly to Quito and from there we may go to the jungle or straight on to Columbia- not sure yet.

That's all for now
Much love to you all

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