June 20, 2004

recovering in Peru

Well well...lots of catching up to do.

First, the Galapagos. Amazing. I don't know what to say. I think it's nearly impossible to adequately describe the place without pictures - and hopefully I'll have some of those up soon.

I was on a 94-foot sailboat (although we used the motor the majority of the time) with 14 other people, cruising the islands for 8 days. It was a pretty funny group of people. There were 2 other guys roughly the same age as myself, and other than that it was mostly single middle-agers from the UK. Watching these people interact with each other was almost as interesting as watching the wildlife.

By the end of the trip, I was pretty glad to get off the boat. Striking fisherman setting up blockades of some of the islands forced us to run the usual itinerary in reverse, which meant heading into the wind and against the current a lot of the time, making for very rough seas. Everyone on the boat was popping Gravol like candy. It even took a day or two on dry land to get rid of the feeling that I was rocking with the waves.

From the Galapagos, I flew to Guayaquil, the biggest city in Ecuador. Guayaquil falls off the radar of most tourists - it's got a reputation as a big, dirty, dangerous city without much to see - but for me it was a must-see, as I had an offer to stay with an Ecuadorian couple that I had met earlier in Cuenca. I spent 4 days with Jorge and Gail, living in their home, touring the city, and getting a taste of a side of Ecuador that few tourists probably see. The area I was staying in certainly hadn't seen a traveller in ages.

From Guayaquil, I caught a bus down to Mancora, Peru, a laid-back surf and fishing town in northern Peru. While wandering around town with my face buried in my guidebook like some clueless Gringo looking for a hostel, I happened to run into this German dude Alex that I had met 3 weeks earlier in Ecuador. We're heading the same way and have the same basic schedule, so we've been travelling together since.

I was in a bit of a hurry, as I needed to meet up with some friends in Huaraz, Peru on the 18th, so the next day I took off for Trujillo, 9 hours by bus down the coast. Trujillo is famous for the city of Chan Chan, the 600-year-old ruins of a simply massive mud-brick city. Most of the ruins are pretty dilapidated, but what really gets you is the sheer size of the place. Apparently they estimate it was once home to 60 000 people. I also checked out the Huacas del sol y de la luna, a pair of mud-brick pyramids that date from before Chan Chan. Again, they're pretty run-down - mud bricks aren't exactly that resilient, and the only reason any of these ruins have survived is the lack of rainfall in the area - but there were some pretty impressive paintings that have been uncovered.

I had planned on only staying in Trujillo for 2 days, but on the afternoon
when I was supposed to leave, I suddenly came down with a pretty serious case of food poisoning. After a terrible night, I did make it out to Huaraz, but spent the next couple days in bed recovering.

Posted by major at June 20, 2004 01:48 PM
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