As we made our way down from Cusco to Lima we stopped at several interesting cities in the southern part of Perú. We had a basic plan of what we were doing but no reservations. Our first stop was Puno and we did the two day tour of the islands. When we arrived at the bus station that morning (5 am) we met a taxi driver that knew a hotel and a tour boat. He got us settled into the hotel and arranged our pickup by the tour company. Everything went smoothly and we were on our way. The first stop was Los Uros, the floating islands.
The next stop was Amantani, where we stayed the night. We did not go to the welcoming party because it was raining very, very hard. Luckily the house had electricity so we didn’t have to get ready for bed in the dark. The family had several children and I make origami figures out of the napkins as gifts for them. The next day we proceeded to Taquile and hiked up to the top for lunch aided by the muña (andean mint) plant. We got back to Puno around 4 and went out for supper. We planned to leave the next night on an overnight bus to Arequipa. We talked to the same guy that got us the hotel/tour to get our bus tickets, which we later found out was a mistake. He got us the tickets but at the wrong time and then told us they were changed to the right time but they weren’t. When he gave the tickets to us in the morning it was obvious that he had been out drinking the night before. We went to the bus station early and it was a good thing we did because I talked to the bus company about the tickets, then the cops about the taxi driver, then another taxi driver who knew the first one, and eventually it worked out that we would get on a bus for a small ticket change fee and finally leave. In the meantime I saw a friend from Cusco in the bus station and we had a nice little talk before Dad and I had to board the bus. We had a ~6 hour ride to Arequipa and arrived just before midnight on New Year’s Eve. On arrival, I tried to find bus tickets for the next step but it was too late at night. We got a taxi and told them to take us to a good but not expensive hotel. He took us to a nice place close to the main square with reasonable rates. We didn’t even stay up to bring in the new year and just crashed. We had a breakfast of bread, jelly, scrambled eggs, and OJ at the hotel and then went out to see the city. We found the main square very easily and then got a taxi to the bus station (across town) to get tickets for that night. We got our tickets and then returned to the main square. Most places were closed since it was New Year’s so we walked around some and chatted for a while.
We went back to the hotel to check out and get our bags and then waited around until it was time for our bus. The hotel called a taxi for us and then we were off to the bus station once again. We found out which gate the bus was leaving from but didn’t realize that we needed to check our bags before getting on so we went back inside to check the bags and then back out to get on the bus. Our next stop was Ica, or more precisely Huacachina. Huacachina is the oasis tourist area that does sandboarding. When we got off the bus in Ica we got a taxi driver and asked him to get us a hotel in Huacachina. It turned out to be the same one that I stayed at the last time! What are the odds? We arranged the sandboarding with the hotel and had a blast. I even went down on my feet a few times!
Note: Video is on Facebook.
We spent a few days in Huacachina and went to Ica one day for bus tickets to Lima and lunch. In Ica, we found an awesome deal on chicken that came with french fries, salad, a drink, and a desert. We caught the bus to Lima and had a 4 hour ride and an interesting conversation with the bus attendants. They were trying to learn English and saw us as a great way to practice. We arrived in Lima after dark and immediately got a taxi to the Casa Roja, the hospedaje where I’ve been staying. Well, the taxi driver didn’t recognize the street on the address and I didn’t know any landmarks so we had to stop and ask for directions. Now I know exactly how to direct a taxi home because it’s very close to the intersection of two semi-major roads. We had a few days in Lima before Dad’s flight out so we tried to get the phone that I had bought in Cusco working with moderate success. I can make calls and send texts but other people can not call me, only text. I really don’t mind since I don’t use it much anyways. I arranged for a taxi to come pick Dad up at the hospedaje very early in the morning on the day of his flight and sent him off. The next day I started my volunteer work at the International Potato Center (CIP). I tried to catch the bus but Graciela, the mom of the family at the Casa Roja, thought that it came at 7 instead of at 6:49 so we missed it. After waiting for about 20 minutes we went back to the house and tried to call a taxi with no luck. Eventually we hailed a taxi and went to the CIP. I got a tour of the complex and met Mariella, my boss. I started training on GIS software, the R programming language, Python, and some image processing software.
I also started doing a lot more cross stitch as you will see in the next post.