Thursday, August 20, 2009

Arequipa - Nasca - Ica - Pisco

As we said previously Arequipa is a beautiful city. The sunny plaza has a wonderful backdrop of the volcanoes and the city centre seems to built entirely out of white volcanic rock.
We dropped by the Santa Catalina monastry which is unbelievably photogenic and very peaceful. We managed to survive a couple of hours without setting on fire. No point boring you with the history, it´s all nun stuff.

Courtyard in cathedral

Gemma still not on fire

Not even guinea pigs are safe in God´s house

Plaza in Arequipa

First excursion was a trip to Colca Canyon, the second deepest in the world. The deepest is a few more hours drive north. It´s a strangely beautiful area but it seems the masses of tourists have ruined the local villages by turning them into circuses.

A tasty treat for an alpaca

And a nice cup of tea

In the canyon there are a couple of condors. People come from all over the world to watch them fly here. If they flew further south they could see millions.

Condor in flight

Boys are safe, condors only eat dead stuff

The shallow end of the canyon

We packed up our bikes and bags, hid them in a cupboard at the hotel in Arequipa and then left for Nasca. Very excited of course. Here are a couple of random photos we like.

Yummy Inca Kola smells like dandelion and burt`ock and tastes like Irn Bru.

Cup of tea Katie?

After big breakfasts we were very glad for the two hour wait at the airport. The tiny Cessna planes only seated 6 and the ride was very bumpy. It was a struggle keeping the stomachs in, especially when the pilot was intent on making us see the figures from every possible angle.
He would shout, "LOOK RIGHT SIDE... YOU CAN SEE RIGHT SIDE!!!" and then bank the plane round as quickly as possible before, "NOW LEFT SIDE... SPIDER LEFT SIDE!!!".
Smiling before take-off

Pilot waving his hands around - reassuring!




Twenty minutes and 50 banked corners later we were back on the ground. Getting off the plane was the most difficult. It was like learning to walk all over again. To people watching it must have looked like we´d been dropped off after an 18 hour bender.
After we´d settled down and found our feet we headed for the other sights in Nasca. Aquaducts which are 2,000 years old and are still in perfect condition. The vents look like portals to an underworld.

Obviously they couldn´t be, the ancient Nasca people didn´t build a Necropolis underground. They just left their dead to sit facing the sunset so they could enjoy that for ever. Not far from the cemetry a local family have a shed. For a small silver coin you can go in the shed and come face to face with their ancestors. Lovely.

The hair is still attached and is 3m long!

Ian´s farts can wake the dead and make them laugh

Back in the cemetry...

Look for the parrot in there too

Next we went to Pisco. We had forgotten something very important. This nice little seaside town was destroyed by a massive earthquake exactly two years previously. It was a wreck. Buildings were crumbled into the streets, some were missing altogether. A local man told us how the earthquake started at 7pm and he got his wife and two children to hide under the table (of course!) where they sat for 4 hours until it stopped. Fortunately they survived without injury. Nearby, 300 people took shelter in the cathedral (expecting God to protect them) and the entire building collapsed on top of them. Very cheerful.
We soon left on a boat to the nearby Ballestas Islands which are known locally as the "poor mans Galapagos". Home to millions of cormorants, Peruvian boobies, Inca terns, pelicans, Humbolt penguins, sealions and many more.
Obviously being sat in a boat meant we were target practice for the millions of birds.
So many birds produce a lot of guano. Every few years locals go to collect the droppings and export it for fertilizer. From the boats the smell was bad enough. Up close it must burn.

Pelicans queuing outside the restaurant back door

The dark patches on the hill are millions of birds

Finally on to Ica and Huacachina. Ica sits on the edge of a desert. A short taxi ride takes you to a small oasis called Huacachina. It´s a beautiful place surrounded by huge dunes. These dunes are now a playground for sandboarders and buggy riders.

With that little trip over, we are now back in Arequipa getting the bikes back to being roadworthy. Tomorrow we set off towards Cusco and the finish line. Woohoo!
We will update once we have more stories,
until then,


Globalmum said...

More wonderful pictures... The variety of scenery that you've been thrugh is amazing!
Not long to finish line now - we're all counting down the days until you are home again.
Loads of love from everyone

Lucky mum said...

Agree with Lynne totally...
Did you rescue any of the guinea pigs or did you try one...Please say you didn't.
Nobody was thrilled about corpses!!
Loads of love to both of you x-x

Aunty Jill said...

Hiya!! facinating reading - of course! Can take or leave dead people - nice thought tho' knowing when you peg it you'll be facing the sunsets forever. Looking forward to seeing you both fairly soon, after evryone else has had their bit!! I'm going to Philadelphia next wk, for 5 days, back just before you. Enjoy your mountain climb - nutters!!
Luv n stuff Aunty Jill -x-

ian hodgkinson said...

I thought you'd got hold of some more pics of the new 'thinner' me !!!! Sat there in that cemetary.
Come on Ian, it's about time you buckled down and went to work to pay tax. I stopped, so there is a vacancy.
See ya soon.