We’ve said adios to Mexico and we’re now in Peru. I’m sitting in our room looking out over the most stunning mountains, which make up part of the Andes range.
It seems that all around where we are staying at the moment is beautiful; one of the mountains near where we are staying is in Paramount Pictures logo you see at the start of their films, another one was voted to be the most beautiful mountain in the world and the film ‘touching the void’ was filmed here (possibly the oddest name for a film and most likely to be ripped off to make a gay porn movie, but nevertheless a very good film anyway).
On arriving in Peru we spent a few days in central Lima and we were surprised at how cold it was, there was a blanket of fog over the city the whole time which blocked out the sun, but to be honest after the scorching Mexican weather it was a nice change to be able to wear a jumper and not drip sweat everywhere. It turns out that on the coastal areas it is winter and therefore cold, but in inland areas it is summer, so we now we are in Huaraz we have nice blue skies and sunny weather again.
We were a bit suspicious of Lima, after hearing stories of it not being that nice, but we were pleasantly surprised as it had a fair bit to offer and seemed fairly safe and the people seemed much friendlier than those in Mexico. We visited the main monastery on the first day and went on a tour around it and into its catacombs, which housed the bones of 25,000 people all laid out right in front of us on display. They had separated them out so one room would have hundreds of skulls and the next femurs etc, inside a well they had even made a pretty spiral display out of several hundred bones which although aesthetically pleasing I wondered what the owners would think if they knew that hundreds of years after their death they would be made into a bone kaleidoscope.
Either way we gawped on whilst the guide lady tried to whisk us along to distract us with the equally fascinating sculptures of Jesus, it didn’t work. Lima seemed to have an excess of skulls, our rather grand hotel had 3 skulls in a box in reception, if you look closely at the photo you can also see a child’s (or midgets) foot in the front of the box, nice!
Everything is really cheap here which is definitely a bonus, you can buy a three course meal with a drink for £1.20 (we actually saw a set meal today in Huaraz for 60p!), it’s edible and pretty good stuff – yesterday I munched on a guinea pig which was good, it tasted a bit like chicken, but more picky as it was mostly bone. I am working my way through pets as food sources, watch out kitties! Anyway, just as importantly I can buy a big bottle of beer for 40p too which is definitely a good thing
We looked around various museums over the next few days and wandered around the city which was great. On the second day we decided to be brave and go and get a haircut as both of our hair was getting a bit wild. After all, compared to Korea, what could go wrong?! We found a hairdressers just off the main street and went in, they said the price was 20 soles which is about £4 which didn’t seem too bad. Christy got a bloke who could speak good English cutting hers and I sat waiting for him to finish before he cut mine. Unfortunately, he called over a giant ape of a man who I presumed was the security guard and asked him to cut mine. He looked like he would be happier working in an abattoir or beating small children to death rather than styling hair but I decided to give him a fair chance, after all the other option was to turn him down and offend a man who could kill me in 10 seconds flat. I showed him what I wanted and he set off on the longest hair cut I have ever had, or wish to ever have again. I think maybe he actually did work in an abattoir and had wandered off the street because he seemed to have no idea how to cut hair, first he buffed up my hair up into some kind of square shape, a bit like Bart Simpsons, and then he proceeded to cut my hair with a cut throat razor (yes a cut throat razor, I have no idea what was going on there), twisting small clumps of it and hacking off the top section. Naturally this took some time and left my hair uneven all over, nearly balding in the centre with longer bits around the edge like a wild maverick monk who doesn’t like to do things by the book. With his creative juices in full swing no one could stop him and he curled the front of my hair with curlers and poured some kind of perm fluid over the curlers. By this point I had already given up all hope and had mentally decided that it would be better, safer and more amusing, to let him do his worst and I could just shave it all off afterwards. After one and a half hours he had finished and he revealed his masterpiece, which would have been welcomed into the Tate modern on account of it being a load of crap. Short in the middle, long at the sides with a permed front, just what I wanted. Poor Christy had her hair massacred too and we sat looking a bit dazed at each other, at last we had found a worst haircut than you could get in Korea, this was the holy grail of shit hairdressers. Then Dr Abbattoir brings out a bill and declares that Christy owes 50 soles and I owe 70 soles. Apparently as Christy’s hairdresser had combed her hair that cost an extra £6 and the perm, which I had never asked for and combing was an extra £10 for me. We refused, gave them the 20 soles we agreed on and then ran away as fast as we could before Cut Throat Razor man chopped us up and put us into a pie. So, we experienced our first Peruvian gringo rip off initiation, and survived with nothing more than bad hair, which all considered isn’t too bad.
After Lima we caught the bus up to where we are now. We were dreading the buses as we had been told lots about the crazy driving, but once again we were really surprised as it was the best bus journey ever. The seats went all the way back to almost horizontal position, we got a meal, internet access, films and a blanket, along with a bus driver who didn’t go over the speed limits or go crazy around corners, all that for £10 for a 8 hour bus journey. Peru keeps getting better!
More exciting than buses and hairdressers combined, we have booked a trek starting tomorrow, the main trek around here is the Santa Cruz route, but apparently its full of gringos so we have opted for an alternate route which takes us past lakes, over snow topped mountains and through small villages, and apparently it’s really quiet so we won’t have to hike with a million other people. The trek is for 4 days, about 65km and the highest point is around 5000 metres (the highest mountain in the UK is Ben Nevis at 1344 metres, we're touching the heavens here!). We are going with another couple and we have a guide, porters and a cook. The company organising it are hiring us tents and equipment so I don’t have to worry about bringing anything apart from the real essentials for trekking; a bottle of rum, a pair of pants, a camera and a novelty hat with a propeller on the top to ward off evil spirits and jaguars. I’m really looking forward to it and it will be great to get out there for a few days and explore where no man has ever explored before. Wish us luck, adios!