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Disco Town Nazca, Juanita in Arequipa and Party Central Puno

Our last week in Peru

overcast 17 °C

Right where were we, oh yea, Nazca. Nazca is a pretty small town made famous for a series of pictures/lines/drawings, which were made in the desert there starting in the BC years. We were shattered when we got there and to be honest there wasn't a lot happening. Normally, most tourists take a little Cessna plane for a 15 minute fly over of the lines. Due to my hyper sensitivity to planes dropping in altitude I thought it may not be the best idea ever, what sealed the deal was a couple of news stories we read about 9 tourists that died in plane crashes there last year. So, we paid a visit to the Maria Reiche planetarium which was ok, and then on our second day in Nazca had a private guide drive us out to the sites you can view from the ground(or viewing towers). We saw the Palpa lines first which are basically just a series of straight lines; they really don't know a heck of a lot about the lines in general but the theories around these ones are that they were a sort of acknowledgement of Mama Pacha (Mother Earth) and Mama Cocha (Mother Water) and pointed to the mountains which they worshipped and the sea. Moving onto the Nazca lines, the ones in the pic on the hill are some of the earlier ones, they believe these were made for the Nazcan's own sort of aesthetic enjoyment, the more famous ones, e.g. the monkey, the hummingbird, the spaceman etc, are believed to have been made for their gods, and potentially used for religious ceremonies etc.

There are other theories about how they reflect particular stellar systems etc but they're not 100% about why they are there at all. A German woman called Maria Reiche went to study the lines in the 30s and spent more than 50 years there, she's like an honorary Peruvian for all the work she did in researching and documenting the lines but particularly in protecting them. Our guide was able to tell us that his parents were told by their parents about a crazy rich white woman who wanted to spend time in the desert, she was the talk of the town apparently. Anyway, we went to see the Maria Reiche museum which was really impressive but slightly disappointing as they don't seem to worry too much about maintaining the artefacts that are there. Shame.

For your viewing pleasure please see this very short clip of some disco car headlights we saw in Nazca, the crazy road carry-on continues.

We were due to stay in Nazca for at least 2 nights but skipped out after one (as we'd sorta done all there was to do, should mention the £1.50, 2 course Chinese meal Stu got which was very nice) and onto Arequipa via a 10 hr overnight bus, not a great trip but fine. Got there early in the morning and checked into Los Case De Puinguinos, a really brilliant hostel. The Dutch owner Alex couldn't do enough for us and was very friendly and chatty, they also had cable tv and an awesome breakfast, i.e. a choice of cereal, peanut butter and yoghurt...amazing.

Day 1 in Arequipa we went to a local museum that was pretty boring, then onto a local monastery (which was actually a convent) which too was pretty boring. However, we went to the Andean Museum which was of a much higher standard. The main attraction usually at this place is Juanita, a frozen corpse of a teenage girl who the Incas sacrificed up a nearby mountain sometime in the 1500s. She was found by accident when a nearby volcano erupted and unearthed her grave. Anyway, Juanita gets taken away for a couple of months to get an extra freezing so we saw Sarita, who met a similar fate but isn't as 'perfect' as Juanita. We learned a lot about the whole sacrificing process, but the main story was that once there was an earthquake or a flood, or a volcano eruption they would sacrifice a teenager of noble blood who was basically born into this role. Apparently they felt privileged to take this role though I'm not too sure they would have been feeling like that when they were getting their skulls crushed. Very interesting nonetheless, I think there's a National Geographic film available on it.

Day 2 in Arequipa we went white water rafting. I was a little nervous, particularly when I realised just before we were getting in the water that our van's number plate started RIP! Also, we got our instructions in Spanish, slightly disconcerting initially but we got it fairly quickly. Adelante(forward) Atras (back) Abajo (get your arse into the boat really quickly!). We were only in the water for about an hour and I think we only did level 2s and 3s on the rapid's scale but we really enjoyed it and it gave us a taste for more in the future.

Later that day we ate at Fory Fray, a Cevicheria in Arequipa (we were determined to do the Ceviche even if we could bring ourselves to eat the Guinea Pig). It was really good. It's basically seafood with sweet potato, seaweed smothered in lime and chilli – kinda Thai tasting. We were heartbroken to leave the Penguin house and couldn't recommend it enough.

So morning bus onto Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. We met up with Lisa and Aileen there (my mate Catriona's cousin and friend) who we had met in Cuzco. We had a few drinks and sort of got involved in a parade (they were celebrating Candlemas there).

We booked our lake trip for the next day and had some nice dinner. The lake trip was really interesting. We first landed on the Uros Islands, inhabited since war on the mainland forced residents out in their boats. They proceeded to build islands from the reeds in the lake – that was 500years ago and they're still there. Definitely commercialised for us Gringos but nonetheless fascinating. Check the solar panels which were recently introduced there....and Delia our new mate...

The second island we visited was Taquile, a good hike up a huge hill. We got to their 'town centre', had some lunch and learned about the Islanders lives, particularly about a fascinating system they have whereby all the men make the women's clothes and vice versa. They then have particular items of clothes that communicate their feelings/status/intentions. Men have a a hat that isn't unsimilar to a grandfather hat but with a huge tassel. Depending on which way this is worn it can mean they are under 16/independent/married/over 16 but still under the control of his father and some. Both girls and boys can use the different tassel system to communicate their love life status, single/interested/not interested/married etc. And that's just a taste of what goes on.

We ended up having to spend an extra day in Puno due to a bus we were hoping to board being full. It would have taken us to Copacabana, Bolivia, to do some more islands on Lake Titicaca from the Bolivian side but we had to ditch it in the end. So we checked into Bothy Hostel, which was grand except we never slept a wink thanks to Friday night Candlemas chaos. No word of a lie, fireworks and marching bands still going at 5.30am...that was when we were heading for the bus so I imagine they didn't stop all weekend...gave us an idea of what Carnaval might be like!

So, goodbye to Peru and onto Bolivia. Going direct to La Paz seemed like plain sailing until the border crossing...mayhem it was. To boot it was pouring rain so we had to actually queue in the rain with about 150 other eejits to get our exit stamp for Peru, walk across the border and enter chaos central to get your immigration card filled out an passport stamped...lets just say we were hopeful this wasn't a sign of things to come in Bolivia....

Peru was great, Bolivia, reportedly cheaper, with tons to do, should match up at least. Tune in next week to see how we go.

Walk On Inn Nazca - basic but fine, 5/10
Los Casa De Los Puinguinos, Arequipa, 9/10
Hotel Camino Real Turistico, Puno 5/10 - like a rubbish travel lodge and the breakfast made me sick
Bothy Hostel 7.5/10 - really good backpackers spot but no sleep for us and it was hard to find

Good food spots
Nazca - Los Angeles and Chifa Nam King Chinese - soooo cheap and good too.
Arequipa - Fory Fray Cevicheria
Puno - Rico de Pan

Cupista white water rafting in Arequipa were good and cheap.

Posted by kelandstu 12:00 Archived in Peru Tagged arequipa rafting puno nazca lake_titicaca juanita floating_islands

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