Saturday, June 14, 2008

Peru, the Trip

This is my second big planned trip for this summer - a prolonged visit to Peru. I have been fascinated with this country for some time now, with another planned visit that has failed two years ago. Now is the time - and i am well in !Peru¡

It has been a long flight through Sao Paolo, the third biggest city in the world (behind Tokyo and Mehico city), of which i saw none. Sao Paolo's airport is very sad though, small and unhappy-feeling. Therefore it has been a pleasure landing in Lima´s newly refurbished, yellow-orangy airport, apparently redone by a dutch company.

Lima is not a very exciting city either. We stayed in Miraflores barrio and did not even have time/will to go all the way to Lima city center. First of all it is just too big. I like cities that one can discover on foot, rambling through streets and avenues, and not having to worry too much about how to retrace one's steps. Not so in Lima - it is huge (over 10 million inhabitants), full of cars and activity, and grey. Its famous mist was at rendez-vous, making even the Pacific ocean seem melancholic and dead. Maybe all those shopping areas at Largo Mar did not exactly help.

Anyway, next day in the early morning we quickly flew off to Cuzco, the touristic heart of Peru. First surprise, our plane had to turn back after circling the Cuzco airport a couple of times as a storm did not permit landing. We flew back to Lima, and then back to Cuzco again, making up for a 5-hour flight instead of the promised one. Latin America, continent of patience, we are learning! (Picture of Cuzco's Plaza de Armas with the main cathedral on the left, and the Jesuit church on the right)

We did finally arrive - only to start feeling dizzy and headachy because of the altitude (3 400m). Two days since we are here, and our touristy enthusiasm dies around noon, and all plans are sliced in two by siesta and early bed time. We did manage to visit some museums around town and the Inca ruins of Tambomachay and Saqsqywaman (reads like sexy woman) so far. They were not that impressive, so i will stick with Cuzco for my pictures - cathedral, once again:

Peru is subversive - one can eat here a menu for lunch with a soup, meat, dessert and a drink for 1 euro, but the tourist ticket to visit the surrounding treasures (or rather bunches of stones barely standing together) costs almost 20 euros, and that is not to mention Matchu Pitchu, a totally different matter, the most expensive place on earth to visit in my book so far.

Peru does remind me of Ukraine, with its collectivos minibuses used for transportation, big SUV cars and poor people all around, nuns and churches everywhere. However in Cuzco they have learned the tourist lesson well. Not only can you take a picture for 1 sol with a lama and a pretty dressed-up young girl or an old and ugly grand'ma spitting coca leaves (your choice), but they also close all their churches and ask you for money to visit them after 10 am, practice the discriminatory pricing to tourists vs. indigenous people everywhere, and overall keep asking you for money all the time and everywhere. End of rant or should i say to be continued...

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