After leaving Ecuador we were feeling a little down, having said goodbye to travelling friends and to a country we’d really enjoyed over seven weeks (several more than we originally intended to spend!). I suppose we were hoping for an amazing time in Peru to help transition – this initially wasn’t quite to be, as Chris mentioned previously we both managed to pick up a bug. Thank goodness for Chris’s hotel points and a few nights of luxury to recover in.
We did manage to get out and enjoy some of the culinary delights of Lima in the few days we spent recovering there. This was one of the things we remembered well from our honeymoon in Peru, just how fantastic and varied the food is (and especially in Lima). We drank Pisco Sours (somehow the combination of Pisco brandy with egg white and lime juice is just amazing), and some tasty artesanal beer, plus we ate at a really inventive and modern tapas-style restaurant called Manifesto, and we found an entirely veggie pizzeria where you could choose a mix of tasty toppings to share.
We also did a little more shopping for some traditional crafts and managed to navigate the Peruvian postal system to send home some family presents and other bits and pieces to lighten our bags! We got an empty box from the hotel and had it all packed up and ready to go, we had checked out the post office in advance when shopping and returned an hour before closing time, only to find to our frustration that it was locked shut! We trekked back to the hotel with the box and returned the next day, thankfully this time it was open and fairly empty. We filled in a form (Chris had to provide his fingerprint on all 6 duplicate copies). The box was weighed and we’d understood all the customs questions in Spanish so it was good to go. Then the lady asked us to go ’round the corner’ with our passports. The first problem was finding ’round the corner’, we attempted to go down some stairs but someone explained we needed to go outside and next door. Well next door was the police station. We tried to explain to the police outside with a bit of pointing, and they directed us to a small office for the tourist police. Again we explained to a very nice policeman in a combination of Spanish and English that we’d been sent there (well, we explained that we thought we’d been sent there, it was all pretty confusing!). Then we came to the second problem, we didn’t actually have our passports on us. The policeman was great, Chris explained he had a copy of the passports on his phone and the guy waved a USB cable at him and asked to him to bring the pdf up on the computer. We were then able to print two copies of the passports (he advised us to always carry a copy with us, which we’d been doing in Ecuador too), and he stamped and certified one of the copies. We had a little chat about where we were planning to visit and he gave us a tourism brochure and sent us back to the post office. We could luckily get straight to the counter where we handed over the certified copy of the passports, it turned out this was exactly what the lady needed so the posting mission was a success! Unfortunately it didn’t arrive for Christmas, but made it for January so all OK in the end!
As we’d been to Peru before we had just a few things we wanted to do before heading to Bolivia. We wanted to fly over the Nazca lines, and also to visit Lake Titicaca (more on that another time!).
We were back in contact with Jacqueline (a friend from the Spanish classes) and realised we would be in Lima at the same time and also be heading in the same direction out of the capital. As we’d already booked bus tickets online, it was easy enough to add a ticket for Jacqueline and we met up with her at our hotel on the Saturday and made our way to the bus terminal together. Having been in Peru for almost 2 weeks at this point (and therefore being pretty much an expert Peru traveller compared to us!), she was laughing at us for having booked the most expensive Cruz del Sur brand tourist luxury bus. It turns out most long distance buses in Peru are pretty amazing, including comfy seats, wifi and food in the ticket price. However once on the bus she did admit it was pretty cool to have a touch screen with movies and music entertainment in a super reclining seat. We were happy, we both don’t like long distance buses so anything to make it more comfortable is a bonus. I hear we’re being spoilt for the rest of the continent though and it’ll be back to basics in Bolivia.
We met an odd Czech guy on the bus who was travelling alone and obviously hadn’t had company for a while as he wouldn’t stop talking. I put my headphones in and went to sleep, waking up a few hours later to find him still going! We said bye to Jacqueline at Ica and continued on to Nazca. The scenary along the coast was amazing, huge waves of the Pacific meeting dunes that turned to vast desert.
Our bus was pretty delayed so our seven hour journey actually took nearer to nine, and we were hungry and tired when we arrived. We were met at the bus station by a guy from our hostel and escorted to a tiny beaten up car where we squashed ourselves and bags onto the back seat. Thankfully we arrived at the hostel only a couple of blocks later. We went to check in and had a very rapid set of questions fired at us about booking flights over the Nazca lines and a sandboarding tour for the next day. I sorted us out the tours and agreed to pay the next day.
We went and sussed out the room which was small and basic but clean. The next day Chris felt terrible, I think it was the same bug I had. I did a few errands and cancelled our tours but other than that we just chilled out at the hostel in our room and on the roof terrace. The hostel owners were really nice and happy to delay the tours.
We chilled out for a few days, and on Tuesday morning felt ready to do the flight over the Nazca lines. As we’d stayed so long the guy from the bus had managed to catch us up on his journey down the coast, and when he spotted us in the hostel he came straight over. It turned out he was doing the same flight as us, so we had a bit more of him, this time moaning about how rubbish he thought everything was in Peru and Bolivia, not the brightest way to start the day!
The flight was great, and definitely a better view than just going to the viewing towers by the main road. We’d been reading up on safety records etc. and understood there has been a huge improvement in flight safety since 2010 (when the government halted flights after finding only 4 out of 16 operators were safe!). We’d booked in with the company with the best reputation, Air Paracas, a little more pricey but we felt worth it.
I’d read some reviews saying everyone is sick as the planes turn in corkscrews to show you the lines, so we were prepared with motion sickness tablets. I was a little nervous, not having been in a propeller plane before, and it was definitely more bumpy than a normal flight, but it was great fun. There were just 5 passengers and we were all seated by weight, being the lightest I had the best seat at the back with a two-person row to myself and views out both sides! We had great views of the lines, they are really impressive, being so huge with perfect circles and straight lines. Definitely worth the long bus trip to get there.
After the flight we went and bought our return bus tickets and checked out, with just enough time for lunch before the bus left. This time we were prepared for the journey to last longer than scheduled and didn’t find it too bad. No touch screen entertainment this time, just a few subtitled films to keep us entertained.
We arrived back to Lima and went out to meet Jacqueline and two other Dutch girls (Esmee and Katinka) who were all travelling together until just after Christmas. Esmee is a school friend of Jacqueline’s and Katinka is a friend of Esmee’s. They seemed very nice and were keen to travel with us for a little while, and to potentially spend Christmas together. We booked the same flight and hostel as them for Cusco, our next stop in Peru.
So after a rough start we were back into things and really enjoying Peru. It is the country that we loved on our honeymoon, and which inspired us to plan this trip and return to South America. Second time around, and despite us being sick, it hasn’t disappointed!