Perú was just fantastic, even if some incidents made my staying there quite difficult. On the whole, though, it was breathtaking.
After La Paz, our last destination in Bolivia leaded us to the sacred Lake Titicaca and the hippie-village Copacabana ; we shared the journey with two other fellow travelers met on the road, Allison and Paulo, very funny and adventurous. To get there from the capital, we had to undertake a long trip in a cold and smelly bus, then get off at Taquina, where we had to take a little raft to cross the lake (so blue, so big, so beautiful : Titicaca looked like an ocean of blue clouds) and meet our bus again on the other side, so to continue on the road.
Copacabana is very small and colorful, full of hippies, rastamen and tourists that absolutely want to go hiking at la Isla del Sol. As we were all destroyed by our past nightlife in La Paz and the trip, we decided to stay at Copacabana and enjoy the ancient astronomical ruins, on the top of a hill all climbed up by Janyce and Allison, while I was playing the charango with the little girl – oops, guardian of the site, after strolling around the market, looking for special local sandals made of recycled tyres…
In the afternoon, Janyce and Paulo climbed up the other main hill of Copacabana, the one with the via crucis : the ascension was very hard, Paulo used his nails over a rock to overcome it, Janyce was getting higher and higher, till they reached the clouds and saw all the splendour of the lake Titicaca mirroring the sky in little waves and sparkles of sunbeams. It was really impressive. I wasn’t feeling very well, so Allison and I kept waiting for them by the rivage, playing ukulele or just petting the wild dogs that escorted us (the streets of South America are full of roaming dogs of all kind).
Two days flew away very fast, and came the time to leave again : Perú, here we come!
We arrived at Cusco at four o’clock in the morning, after a long and cold night trip by bus, stopping at 2 a.m. to cross the peruvian frontier by feet. At the nice and desert Plaza de Armas, our road divided for a while, since Allison and Paulo were to go to another hostel, whereas we were heading towards the Loki Hostel, hoping to find a job there, so to save a bit of money. Reaching the Loki was really exhausting : it was on the top of the Cuesta Santa Ana, a little street full of stairs, and our backpacks were so heavy, we were cold, sleepy, hungry and dirty (in short, I was growing desperate)… but the hostal was beautiful, with a nice atmosphere and funny people! Since we made no previous reservation, we had to wait till 8.30 a.m. in the TV room, dozing on the poofs and sofas with other travelers, and then could finally rest a bit in a real bed. Janyce left again at ten o’clock to explore the city with Allison and Paulo, and we all met in the afternoon at Plaza de Armas.
I loved the strange architecture of Cusco, with its inca walls made of gigantic stones magically intertwined – without cement- the elegant wood balconies all sculpted in a medieval or arabic style, the little doors opening on hidden patios and inner courts where the locals sold their traditional textiles, the market where you can find chompas, tasteful food (the ceviche was delicious) and yummy smoothies (the best one, after many experiences, was milk and banana, slurp!). Near the Plaza San Francisco and its central garden, there is the Museum of Chocolate : you can drink chocolate tea for free or make your own hot inca chocolate, or even take an excellent fondue au chocolat and experience what Heaven smells like… Not very far from there, another interesting place : the Museum of Magical plants, where the Mamakuka (Mother Coca) cult is explained. We also discovered that the inventor of Coca-Cola was strongly inspired by the peruvian flag and culture!
Yes, I really fell in love with Cusco, although it nearly killed me. The cold and bad cough that I’ve been neglecting for almost a month violently reached the fever pitch the morning I was due to leave for Machu Picchu with Janyce : instead of trekking on the sacred mountain, I paid a visit of three days to the Clinica Paredes, trying to get my lungs back. The altitude, also, had made me feeble, because I couldn’t eat nor breathe properly : I was feeling totally empty, as if something had sucked all my strenght (can I invoke a patronus?), ready to fly away with the condors at the meanest gust of wind. The nurses were all very kind and supportive and I was on my feet again (well, almost : I slept for the next two days, Janyce coming from time to time in the room to check if I was still alive). If you don’t feel well while traveling, go to see a doctor at the emergency section of an hospital : it is free and wiser. Never go to a botica, asking for medicines to cure yourself : they gave me anti-diarrhea instead of antibiotics…
Anyway, we survived! We left for the charming oasis Huacachina in the middle of the desert, then went to see the Nasca lines, flying on a tiny little biplan (managing not to puke while it kept making u-turns), and crossed the beautiful grey and red desert by bus, following the Pisco road till Tacna.
And now we’re in Arica, Chile : straight to the beach!
P.S.: All the photos have been taken by Janyce Desiderio.