Exit stamp from Ecuadorian border office, then the entry stamp for Peru and everybody was back in the bus at 5 am. We are in Peru ! The country is much bigger then Ecuador and therefore should have more to offer. When we arrive in Piure we immediatley take the bus to Chiclayo. A few hours more and we arrive in the small city, famous for the archeological heritage of the Moche and Chimú cultures.
With the english guys we check in at the 'cheapest' hostal in town, the 'Royal' ! We take a quick shower and eat a nice 'almuerzo', set lunch, before checking out the town and wandering around the witchcrafts market. Here the herbal healers and pagans can buy all kinds of spices, dried meat, magical stones, cats nails, ... We don't buy anything, as we hopefully will not need it.
We leave early for the tombs and pyramids of Sipán, some 40 minutes away by minibus. In 1987 the tombs under the pyramids were discovered by looters on their search for gold and valuable objects. Only because a lot of high quality and fine objects were encountered on the black market, archeologists became interested in the already long time discovered pyramids. They restricted the area and started excavations. Luckily only one or two tombs were destroyed by looters, another 5 were still intact.
The most extravagant tomb is the one of 'Señor de Sipán', a priest and political leader of the Moche culture, who lived around 350 AD. In his grave are also buried 3 women, one child, a servant, a dog, a llama and a warrior without feet. They say this way he could not go away and had to stay to protect the Señor in his next life. As most of the Indian cultures in South America, the Moche believe that the death were not really death but going to a next life. For the trip to this next life they needed all there staff and personal belongings. In this tomb they also found heaps of gold, fine pottery, jewelry, food, clothing, ...
At this moment the Sipán pyramids only show the graves and a reconstruction of the original, without any real gold off course. All the ornaments found have been under restauration and located in another museum.
After this visit under a very hot sun, we decide to go for some beach and seafood. The Pimentel beach is only 20 minutes from Chiclayo and houses the fisherman that use reed boats, called 'totora'. Almost the same type of boats are used on the Titicaca lake up in the Andes. We get some typical Peruvian (also Ecuadorian) seafood, called 'ceviche'. It is all type of raw fish or schrimps, marinated in lemon juice with onion and spices. The food was quite good, but later on we would notice that it was not that fresh...
We get some sun on the beach and Sofie even goes for some swimming, only for a few minutes, when she smells the weather quality she is out quicker then she got in. We chat with Nick, Nick and Dave and play some cards. When the sun starts setting we emppty our beers and get back to town.
We wanted to go and see the museum with the Sipán gold and then some Pyramid complex, but Sofie has some stomach problems. Dave takes Sofies place and so we leave quite early for the Brüning archeological museum. It is not very big, but the gold objects and ornaments of the 'Lord of Sipán' are quite impressive. We continue further to the Tucúme pyramids, 35km north of Chiclayo. The city compund contains about 26 pyramids with platforms, citadels, walls, residences, ... But nowadays the only thing we can see is a lot of sand, some hills which appear to have a flat top, platform, some long vertical heaps of sand which could have been the citadel walls. The history is interesting though. First the Lambayeque people would have constructed the buildings, using adobe, from 100 AD till 1400 AD. Then the Chimú conqoered the region which where then overruled by the Incas some short time later.
Burned by the sun we descend form the viewpoint of one of the pyramids and get back to the bus stop in a typical motorcycle taxi. Is is a motor with 2 back wheels and a small bench on it. Protective against the shadow, and refreshing because it is open air and quick.
I check with Sofie in the hotel and find out that Belgian Bram has arrived as well. In the evening I join Bram and nice Julia for a pizza and beer. But I seem to have gotten the same bacteria Sofie got, probably the seafood from the day before. I run to the hotel and have a very unpleasant evening.
Today I recover and in the evening we have a pic-nic in the hotel hallway with Bram and Julia. We play cards and plan for leaving tomorrow.
Early morning we all walk together to the bus terminal and say goodbye there. Bram and Julia go to Cajamarca, but we stick to plan and 3 hours later arrive in Trujillo, almost the second city of Peru.
On the way there we pass a desert landscape, the same as from Ecuador border to Chiclayo. Because of the desert landscape, hot and dry weather and the presence of so many pre-inca pyramids, they call the north of Peru, the 'Egypt of South America'.
The center of Trujillo is very colonial and feels quite cosey and small. We find an ok sleeping place and leave in around noon for the pyramids of the sun and the moon.
When the Spaniards arrived here they destroyed most of the first sun pyramid (named like this by the spaniards) and left the moon pyramid mostly intact. The moon pyramid has been under excavation since 10 years and shows that it was built by the Moche culture (the same as the lord of Sipán). It contains different platforms, each one built over a previous one, each one representing a generation of the 'royal' family. When the 'king' or 'lord' died, the platform they lived and used was filled with sand and a new one was built on it for the succesors. Now you can visit parts of the 7th, 6th and 5th level, and see frescos, geometric patterned decorations, feline deities, ... The most important of gods in the Moche culture seemed to be the decapitator, represented as a half man half animal with a knife in one hand and head in the other.
Anther typical property of the local cultures (Moche and Chimú) was the use of ramps in stead of stairs. Stairs or small steps were only used as decoration, never for fysical use.
The pyramid of the moon, originally 45 meters high, will be excavated after the work is finished on the pyramid of the moon, which can take up to 10 more years. Who knows what treasures and secrets may still be uncouvered.
After this big cultural visit we walk through the beautifull city centre and catch a moovie (Vanilla sky).
The last big visit of the Egypt of South America: Chan Chán. This was a complex of 9 palaces built by the Chimú kings. Of all the ruins only on palace has so far been under restauration. All the rest of the zone is open to public and there is no money to protect it (a problem in most Sout American countries, so many sites with archeological value, but so little funds).
We take a guided tour to see the Tschudi palace. The Chimú lived after the Moche and when the king died a new palace was built. In the 15th century the last Chimú king defended his kingdom for 11 years before he was defeated by the Inca's. It is almost sure that the Inca's copied some of the defence systems (walled enclosures) from the Chimú culture.
Inside the walls, which have only one entrance gate, a large amount of walls, pathways, temples, gardens, canals, cemetaries and even a huge water reservoir. Especially the moulded decorations of fish and birds are well preserved. To imagine the site as it was in that time is quite difficult, but the museum gives a lot of help. It displays objects and has displays of how the Chimú lived. A nice liight and sound show shows the growth of the city and importance of the Chimú kingdom. At its best days it stretched over more then 1000 km of coast line. We leave the desert and pyramids for the churches and nuseums of the city, and after evening dinner and another movie we step into the night bus to Lima.
The best bus we aver had. they even offer us a free drink and croissant in the bus.
After 8 hours in the best night bus ever we arrive early in Lima. We take a taxi to the hostal and ask the driver about the safety. The center is not very safe for tourists, especially bagslashing and pickpocketing is very common. The hostal does not have any sign and two fortified doors to get in. Inside it is clean and quite new and we sleep a few hours before leaving to town. Lima is said to be a dangerous city, but from the hostal to the center shoulñd be safe, as long as we don´t take big cameras or valuable objects. At first sight it seems to be a more interesting and nicer city then Quito. In the old center a lot of colonial houses, nice shopping streets and some interesting museums. We visit the convent of San Franciso where you can see the catacombs of the old city. A creepy walk through the dungeaons, filled with bones and skulls of some estimated 70 000 human remains. The convent itself is quite nice with a beautifull library and some nice Rubens school paintings ! A little bit further is the free inquisition museum. When the Spanish ruled here they brought the medieval inquisition form Europe with them, to be able to punish the unchristian or was it to have power over their enemies ?
In the evening we get a cheap set dinner and go to a modern moovie theater to see the lord of the rings (again). By night we walk back to our hotel and we don't have any security problems. In Quito this would not have been possible as there or thieves with knives on every corner of the old city.
14/02/2002 To Nasca
In the early morning we post some cards at the post office and then leave with the 11 am bus to Nasca. After our good bus experience to Lima we are unlucky to have the oppsite quality of service out of Lima. The bus is extremely shaky, smelly and slow. When it stops at a ny the road lunch place we make another mistake. We get the cheapest set lunch and the main plate seems to be cows stomach or some other untasty part of an animal. We eat the soup and tice and get back in the bus to continue to Nasca. As most of the coast line of Peru, this part is also desert like. It is hot and dry here and this is still the situation when we arrive in Nasca. The biggest gringo hotel here is definately Alegria. The man of the hostel (and agency) is so pushy that we choose another place even if it is more expensive.
We get to the internet cafe and relax after in this small town. No tourists would ever come here if it wasn`t that big geomatrical patterns and figures havd been discovered long ago. Maria Reiche, a German expert, studied the lines for more than 40 years and thanks to her Masca has grown into a tourist town, bringing some money to this poor region in Peru. In the evening we go to the planetarium in hotel Nasca Lines, were Dr. Maria Reiche lived the last 20 years of her life. The guy in the planetarium shows us a projection of the lines, states some theories and then we can watch stars outside with the telescope. We see Saturn, Jupiter, Syrius and the signs of Orion and the southern cross.
We get picked up by the guy of the agency at 7.30 am to go to the small airport of Nasca. The best way to view the lines and figures is by small plane. We get into a Cessna for 4 people, including pilot. It all looks very safe and well organized so we are ready for an half hour flight over the pampa and the lines. The getting up and 7 minutes to the zone go smoothly, and then we see the first figures. To show them nicely and to be able to fotograph them, the pilot makes some very sharp turns at every faigure. First to one side and then to the others. My stomagh is pressed down and I have to sit still and balnced not to get seasick. My camera is perfect for this kind of work and I can shoot some nice picures of figures like a spider, a monkey, a hummingbird, an astronaut like figure, ... These figures are created by removing the top soil, clearing up the lower sand which has a brighter colour and therefore visible from high above the sky. The most impressive for me are not the figures but the geometrical lines and shapes which have huge dimensions. It almost seems impossible to make them with such precision from the ground more then 1000 years ago. A lot of theories exist about the meaning of the lines. Maria Reiche states it is an astrological calender. Others state that these are figures made by the Nasca culture between 200 BC - 600 AD to make the gods happy. Another theory claims that the Nasca already had hot air balloons. In the meanwhile one flying pioneer is getting more sick with every turn the plane takes. I´m happing Sofie didn´t eat anything this morning, so she doesn´t need the bag ...
After landing we go back to the hotel and have our breakfast. Luckily Sofie starts feeling better with every bite and we can continue our organized tour that will take us to an the cemetery of Chauchilla. Because of the dry and hot weather, most mummies that have been found buried here were still in perfect shape. But grave looters have trashed up these cemeteries so the soil is full of skulls, bones, pieces of clothing, ... Now some tombs have been covered and entrance is built to receive (and let pay) tourists. Quite a luguber place in a beautifull desert setting.
The tour concludes with a visit to a pottery shop and fabric and a gold diggers house, where they explain the techniques used before and today.
In hostal is nice to allow us to take a shower to get rid of the sand and dust.
In the evening we take another nightbus, this time to Arequipa, the second city of Peru
The night bus was not really comfortable for Sofie who had some stomach problems. We arrive easrly morning at the city, enjoying a beautifull view on the vulcan 'el Misti'. A friendly taxi driver drives us to some hotels and gently wakes up the owners so that we can find a comfortabl place at a comfortable price. Finally we choose Colonial House Inn, an old colonial house, with big rooms and a great roof terrace. Sofie goes for a napo and I test the delicious breakfast together with Falk, a huge German guy, ex military and now sports teacher. We take a walk to the center and as usual on Sundays there is a military parade. In every mayor city they have a parade on Sunday morning, with military and or police and some city service, this time the nurses and doctors of the city. I wander around the beautifull 2nd city of Peru, mostly built with a white grey vulcanic stone, which gives it the name white city. In the afternoon Sofie joins me in exploring the city. It is definatley not the cheapest city, but it sure is one of the nicest.
We get up quite early and have a nice breakfast on the roof terrace. We want to see the Santa Catalina convent, one of the most beautifull in the continent. The price is enough, 25 soles each, no guide included. We pay the price and some voluntary guides wait inside to guide you around. They put us in a group of 15 people and we decide to go around on our own as this will not be very intewrsting. But then we see a group with only tree people and ask if we can join. A smaller group and so more interesting tour. First we pass the locutorio, where the nuns could speak with their relatives behind a wall. They could not see each other but there was a system to pass presents or food. The second part was the novices block. Here the new ones where housed for 4 years, in seclusion from the others. They were mostly children between 12 and 14 when they came in. After 4 years, depending on the amount of money their parents had, they could by a small house within the convent. The most basic with one big room and a small kitchen, the more expensive with different rooms, big kitchen, oven, ... The place reminds me and Sofie of Andalucia. It is like a small city with plazas, fountains, little streets, a lot of colours, not one house the same as its neighbour. Untill only 40 years ago, the nuns lived in complte seperation here. But now the few nuns here are free to go where they want, and they are not the rich ones as they used to be. After a nice tour and wandering around for more than 3 hours it is time to get a lunch. In the afternoon we visit the cathedral, struck by an earthquake only 2 years ago. One tower collapsed and luckily didn't crash on the ancient Belgian organ !
19/02/2002 To Colca canyon
After a great breakfast in the hotel we catch a taxi with a German couple to the bus terminal. Before midday we are on the way to Cabanaconda, the last town in the Colca canyon. The bus takes us over the altiplano where we see a lot of llamas and vicuñas in small farms. The views of the vulcano and snowtopped mounains is quite spectacular. We are over 4000 meters here and it is quite chilly outside as well. Once at the top of the Colca canyon, the bus follows the southern ridge thruough some small towns, to finally arrive at naconda when the sun sets. Ingo and Ariane join us to the Posada del Conde hostal, quite cheap but clean and very friendly people. We have a cheap evening dinner and get the necessary info for our hiking trip in the canyon the next day.
20/02/2002 Colca canyon
After an early breakfast and packed with the necessary water and clothes we start our descend around 7 am. It is quite cold, but the sky looks promising. We take the long hike down to the river, and in 3 hours we go from 3200 above sea level to 2200, at the bottom of the canyon. On the way we see local andean people with dunkeys, transporting foods and construction material. This is one of the only paths to reach the villages at the other side of the canyon. Luckily we also spotted a pair of condors, flying high above our heads, using the thermal air to seek high altitude. We have a pic-nic at the riverside and enjoy some rest. We continue our hike, upwards this time. This part of the canyon is much greener and some small towns are next to the route. We cross a small river, crawling over some trunks, and a last steep hike brings us to a plateau with 3 small villages. We donate the leftovers of our lunch to the locals and an hour later see the oasis of Sangalle at our feet. This so-called oasis is a green spot next to the river Colca, between the steep sides of the canyon. Half an hour later we are back on 2200 meters and arrive at 'el paraiso', a small camping site with some bamboo bungalows ad a nice swimming pool between the rocks. We order the evening dinner (spaghetti with onion and tomatoes) and have sme cosy talks at the campfire. After some card games with candle light (there is no electricity here) we go to our basic beds and have a suprisingly good night.
21/02/2002 Colca canyon
We salute Ingo and Ariane who leave early before 7 am for the ascent back to Cobanaconda. We stay for some relaxing and swimming and start the hard uphill walk after a strenghtening spagheti (with unions and tomato, again) around 1.30 pm. The direct walk up to Cabanaconda is a zigzagging dunkey path, most of the time very steep and some parts with big stairs. After a break with some fruits and water I leave Sofie behind so we can both go on our own pace. Half an hour from the top rain tries to ruins our day, but luckily its just a few drops. Close to the top there are a lot of birds and nice flowers and vegetation. Then it is a half an hour walk more to the town, through some old, still used inca teraces. Where the road forks I wait for Sofie becasue it is not clear which road is quickest, and I don´t want Sofie to be lost. We finally arrive in a quite good time of 3 and a half ours. The people of the hotel or so nice to allow us to take a shower and change clothes in one of the rooms. We have a hot chocolate and some cookies in the restaurant and then take the bus at 8 pm. It stops in Chivay for 3 hours and at 2 am finally starts through the altiplano again to Arequipa.
We arrive at 5.30 am and have a breakfast in the terminal. We already bought a ticket to Cusco and at 7 am we leave, tired and with painfull muscles... In 12 hours we almost cross the Andes and arrive in the sacred valley of Cusco, Inca capital. We check in in the hospedaje Casa Grande. We get some light food and go sleep early (no wonder after being in transit for 23 hours).
Cusco is located at 3310 meters above sea level and to cope with this altitude locals and tourists drink mate de coca. It is a tea made with dried coca leafs in hot water. The taste is not super and you don´t feel any of the efeects, but they say it good to prevent altitude sickness. We have a breakfast and then I have to head back to the hotel. My stomach is in trouble again. After the prabable food poisining in Chiclayo I now have the symptoms of the so famous 'turista', travellers diarrhoa. The water quality in Peru is not good, and I can feel it. Luckily we can move to a cheaper room with comunal bathroom just 5 meters away. To give you a idea of the prices here: we pais 10 nuevos soles per person per night, which is about 3 euros. The breakfast buffet, with as much bread juice and coffee or tea as you want is about 7 soles, 2 euro 20 cents. An evening cheap meal including soup main dish, mate de coca and garlic bread is from 7 to 15 soles.
I stay inside most of the day, read 'a murder in a strange country', a detective about some strange murders in Venice, off course with corrupion and maffia incuded.
I decide to start taking antibiotics, tarivid for tree days. I can wait for my turista to pass, but this could tkae some more days, and we with tarivid the cramps and problems stop immediately. In the afternoon we walk around the city, see the archeological museum, which has interesting displays on all the cultures that lived in Peru and Titicaca region, from the first settlers to the inca empire and the Spanish rulers. The city of Cusco was first the capital of the incas and when the Spanish came they build their churches and houses on top of the black stone basis of the inca buildings. Now Cusco is the tourist capital of South America and you can feel that very well. Wherever you go touts try to get you in to there restaurant or sell you a tour. In the evening we encounter Ingo and Ariane again and we go for a drink to play some cards and look at fotoos. Sofie tries the Pisco Sour. Pisco originally comes from Peru, from the town with the same name at the coast. It tastes quite well.
26/02/2002 To Aguas Calientes
I don't want to wait for the antibiotics cure to end to go to Macchu Picchu, as I don't feel much of the side effects. There are tree ways to get to Macchu Picchu. The most famous and spectacular way is to do the 4 day inca trail, camping on the way, passing a 4200 pass and some smaller inca ruins. Because this gringo trail is quite destructive to the environment they decided to close it all february, to clean it up and restore the roads. The second and most comfortable option is to take the train to Aguas Calientes, the town at the bottom of Macchu Picchu. The train ticket is 30 US$ to go and come back. The third option is to take the train only from Ollantaytambo, the last town in the valley reachable by road. We take this option and get a cheap bus to Urubamba and then a microbus to Ollanta. The ruins of Ollanta are quite ipressive as well and in the evening there is a tourist train to Aguas Calientes, 10 US$ one way. There we get a hotel for 35 soles, including a good breakast.
27/02/2002 Macchu Picchu
We get up at 6am and hope for good weather. It is still rainy season, and the German couple had rain almost all day when they were at the ruins. The expensive bus takes us up the hill and when we get in for only 10 US$ (with ISIC card) there are still some clouds hanging over the mountain top. It gives it a quite mystical view. The woman od the hotel was so kind of givinf us a guidebook of Macchu Picchu, and it turned out to be very usefull. First we walk on a small inca trail to an old inca bridge. Great views and nature. When we arrive back at the top of the ruins, the sky has cleared more or less, and around 11am the sun finally breaks through. Macchu Picchu was discovered in the beginning of the 20th century by an archeologist who tried to find the city, using leads and information about a sacred inca city. When he srrived two farners were working on the inca terraces surrounding the city and a small boy pointed out he ruins and different strucutures. Because the Spanish never discovered (or never survived) the city most of it was still complete and in original state. It is not very clear what the city was, for inca governers, the city of the virgins of the sun, a lost refugee camp of the Incas, an inca university ? Sure is that there were some temples, for the sun and the moon, a lot of farmland around it, sacred places and a lot of women ! The bodies they found were more than 70 percent female... Also is known that the city was sudeenly abandoned, maybe because of a plague, maybe to run from the Spanish danger. Some say the city was originally pre-inca, reoccupied by an inca elite. We use the intersting guidebook to explore the city and around midday we start the climb of the Huayna Picchu, the moutain overlooking the site. After the painfull hiking in Colca, sofie decides to turn back in time as the climb is quite steep. The view from the top is spectacular and there are also some ruins there. I arrive back just in time as it starts raining. We have a banana break and then continue to see the last part of the complex. When we finish it is after 4pm and the sun decides to show up again. Because most of the daytrippers leave with the 4 o'clock train we are almost alone in the city. We enjoy this marvellous place and the curious llamas and finally head back at half past 5. We sleep another night in Aguas Calientes.
28/02/2002 To Cusco
The morning train to Ollanta (10 US $) leaves at 6 am, so we have a quick breakfast. At Ollanta big and small buses are ready to take us direct to Cusco, for 5 or 7 soles. The women from the minbus has a tourist agency and will arrange tickets to Puno for us. In Cusco we check in again in the Casa Grande, develop our fotoos and enjoy the city some more. In the evening we catch a movie (the strike) in one of the many mini cinemas in Cusco.
We reserve a ticket on the evening bus to Puno, at the lake Titicaca. I write Peru part 1 and scan some picures. After a last evening dinner we leave the magical city of Cusco.
We arrive way to early, at 4.30 am. At the bus terminal is a tout that wants to get us into hostal Q'oñiwasi, exactly the place we wanted to check out as our first option. On arrival no room is free but we can sleep on a comfortable couch in the back room. We take the afternoon tour to Sillustani, a burial pace with precolombian funeral towers. The style of the stonework is very similar to the later inca stonework. Most theories say the inca culture originated from Titicaca lake. Incas were born from the lake, as the children of the sun. The first inca brothers and sisters went in the direction of what is now Cusco, but only one of them survived and founded Cuso (Qosqo in Quechua, the official inca language, still used by most of the locals). The towers in this rough landscape on more then 4000 meters above sea level, surrounded by a lake give a magical impression. Suddenly the sky turns more and more grey and a thunderstrm comes our way. We take cover behind a tower and when the guide has finished his explanations, most run ttowards the minibus. We go through wind and rain to look at the other towers and ruins in the comlex and the sun evens comes back after half an hour. The tour stops at a typical farm of Aymara people and we see how they live and what customs they use, a mixture of Catholic and old Quechua beliefs. We get back to the hotel to dry our clothes and to book the tour to the islands of the Titicaca lake. Puno itself is quite a grey town but the people seem to be nice and there is some movement on the street because of the lte carnavl they celebrate here.
3/03/2002 Titicaca lake
At 8 am the minbus picks us up and brings us to the boat. In the bus we meet a Belgian couple, An and Daan. It is a long time ago that we saw some Belgians and off course we start chatting and socializing quite quickly. They or on the road for already 6 maonths, from Ushuaia to Here, and will continue one more year up till Mexico. The boat first stops at Uros islands. These are floating islands, supported on reeds only. We visit a floating school and another small town, completely prepared for tourists, trying to sell their goods, children singing for some soles. Nice to see but a little bit commercial. Then we continue to Amantaní, the only island of vulcanic origin in the lake. It takes us 3 more hours to get there, but the weather is good and the lake gives some nice views. The community on the island allows tourists to stay with families. The women of the families stand together and the chief decides who will stay where. We get a nice family and can stay together with Daan and An. The rooms or better than we expected, even have light and quite good beds. The food is not much but good, and after we get the typical tea, made of muña, a locally grown hern. They use it for the altitude as well, and it tastes much better than mate de coca. In the afternoon the group joins again for a walk to the temple Pacha Mama on one side of the island, located in what used to be the small vulcanic crater. A nice walk and beautifull views on the lake. We ask the guide is we can go to the other peak and temple as well, the Pacha Tata. We go and see the sunset from there. We can see the snowcapped mountains on both Bolivian and Peruvian cordillera. Marvellous. We get back to the family house, in the dark and get an equqlly meal as before. Afterwards the familly offers me and Daan a Poncho and the typical hat to go to the traditional dancing show. Sofie and An get dressed up with the typical blouse, four (!) skirts and a cloth to cover there head. We all look quite ridiculous and it even gets worse when we have to dance with the locals. The danceing reminds me of a marriage party and gets quite monotonous after a while. We head back around 10 and play some cards to end the day.
4/03/2002 Titicaca lake
I was thinking of getting up to see the sunrise at 5.20 am, but I check through the window, see some orange sky at the Bolivian side of the lake and decide that it is too early. At 7am the family serves us small breakfast with muña tea and sandwiches with egg. We head to the boat, leave some candles, pens and fruits for the family and salute them. The boat takes us to Taquile, just half an hour from Amantaní. The sky looks threatening, but after walking up to the central plaza on the island the sun is shining again We put lots of sunscreen as the sun at these hights can quickly burn. The guide explains us the way the community works and it sounds a little bit like communism. Prices are fixed for all products, restaurants all serve the same at the same price, everybody works and everything is given to the community, who redistribute it. The difference with communism is that the governers are democraticly elected ! We walk up to some interesting pre-inca ruins and enjoy the good weather. Before walking down the steep path on the other side of the island we eat a fixed price menu with pejerey, a fish of the Titicaca lake. Once down at the ake, some French have to show there courage and take a swim in the lake, supported by our guide. The way back is four hours, which we spend sunning on the roof, and playing card games. In the evening we go eat with An and Daan to exchange lots of usefull information fot the rest of the trip to come. We also meet Ingo and Ariane again but don't have much time to spent with them. Hopefully we meet them in La Paz.
5/03/2002 To La Paz, Bolivia
We get the morning bus to Bolivia, passing through Copacabana. The border goes smoothly and the road blocks, that were put by protesting coca farmers, luckily had dissappeared a few days before. On the way we have more beautifull views of the lake, more than 8000 square kilometers big.
Peru is definately worth a big visit. Because of the size it is not as easily or quickly explored as Ecuador, but it surely is more beautlifull. The peolpe are generally friendly and especially in the less touristic place (north) the atmosphere feels real. Cusco is gringo capital but we understand why. It is beautifull and rich of the ancient inca culture. But Peru is more than inca, and we are happy we've seen the Moche, Chimu, Nasca and Titicaca cultures as well.
Lots of greetings to Falk, Ingo and Arianne, An and Daan ! To our fellow travellers Nick, Nick, Dave, Tim and Bram: Hope to see you again soon in Chile.