Saturday, April 26, 2008

A week of sickness

So the last real entry was back in Cuzco, which I´m quite far from.

Been meaning to update but it´s got so backlogged I´ve been putting it off.

In bulletpoints, I went to Puno after Cuzco, managed to suffer from Alitutude sickness or something and therefore spent an extra 12 hrs that I didn´t want to. However, the good thing from this was that I managed to flukely stumble into a tour operator of the various islands, who actually happened to be an Uros islander. I didn´t fancy my chances at that stage of being capable of getting myself to and from without passing out.

The second piece of luck was as I walked into an Italian restuarant I managed to be recognized by 3 canadian girls I met in Aguas Calientes a few days earlier. So I sat and ate with them and Derek, a boyfriend who´d also been suffering from Altitude when I met the others. So we ended up having quite a lengthy dinner as there was plenty of crack to be had. I realised I liked them straight away when Anita complained about the styrofoam boxes you get if you ask to take anything away. We exchanged emails I was heading to Arequipa a day later than they were as I had yet to see the islands.

The islands: Were really amazing. Our guide kept ranting on about "Marita (her name) for Presidente" and how she didn´t want tourists giving the children anything for free, as when they´re older they dont´give them anything and then they steal. She had plenty of good logic and she was in good nick for 60 years old. (Her words) . She munched coca leaves and gave us Maña which is a herb you rip off a bush, break in your hands and sniff when feeling the altitude. It was pretty good, a bit like vicks but more lung opening. We also had Mate (tea) of Muño after our quinoa soup and trout & chips meal cooked at a locals house. With the view of Lake Titicaca in the background, this was on the island of Taquille...where single men flag a red and white hat and married men have coloured ones. Although on further explanation, the red and white signified the Andean blood, and the white purity (ie virgin). So I´m not sure single and being pure are synonymous, even in Ye Olde Peru...(Marita was enquiring which hat I´d be wearing).

Anyway, we got back after about a 4 hour boat ride and then I got on the cheapest filthiest bus I could have found to Arequipa. This managed to eventually get there after some 10 hours I think. It took ages and was cold, uncomfortable and I was surrounded by really irratating teenage girls. The least said the best.

Now Arequipa was bloody excellent. I came here for a bit of civilization, to see condors (determined not to leave Peru without seeing one alive in the wild), to check out the Mummy Juanita and to hopefully hook up with the Canadians. And to enjoy fast internet.

Sadly, Juanita wasn´t about as she isn´t exhibited Nov-May , I heard the US has her for the other time...why the hell this should happen I don´t know. But I don´t know that for sure, the Canadians told me. Also Anita had a picture of herself as Juanita outside the museum which made up for it!

Seeing the condors was a well worthwhile midnight bus ride to the Cañon del Colca, which takes 6 hours, in order to see them at dawn. Now this didn´t seem too bad and it was hot in Arequipa during the day, luckily I thought to wear jeans and coat to go. The bus journey was the worst transport chapter in my life. The road was so bumpy the windows and door rattle open. At this altitude 6 hours before the sunlight came out my body was frozen and shuddering like I thought I was going to die. 6 hours felt like 30 days of night. When an incredibly fat chica plus blanket came on I cursed as she wedged herself into a seat other than the one next to me.

By the time I stiffly paggered off the bus, the winds were setting in on my bald head and big ears. I´d forgotten my hat. Luckily, a bunch of women were already sat out waiting for the tourists to arrive, with all their woollen goods on display, the time was 6.30am. Now by this stage I´d already been internally debating about buying a woollen jumper for awhile, mainly because it´s my culture and also the Allpacas here are pretty well treated, and the wool would need clipping off at some stage. Plus it´s the trade of the local people here. Without selling those products, they wouldn´t be able to eke out a living. However, by 6.32 I was already putting on a allpaca jumper the kind lady had let me have for 20 soles as I´d not actually got that much cash on me as I forgot to budget for the boleto turistico for actually being in the place. Another sold me a hat for 5 soles which did actually make me blend in like a local.

I sat and waited. At 7.00am I saw one condor, then I waited some more, I saw plenty of other birds, one quite cute one I got quite a few fotos of, he totally posed for me, enjoying the attention. By 9.00am, busloads of tourists turned up and then by 9.30 am, about 6 condors were swarming around us all. 2 really huge ones and 4 smaller baby ones. I caught some good foootage of it, and didnt manage too crap a photo, considering by the time you press the button and it actually takes a shot, the bird is out of site.

Anyway, I returend home satisfied, I was dog tired though so decided to meet up with the Canadians the day after, so another day in Arequipa. The next day I moved hostel to hang with these guys and we went out for quite a few piscos, beers and cocktails. We ended up dancing in some trendies bar to really shit music, but it was ok as I was drunk. It was then when Blur "boys and girls" came on, I decided to confide in Anita that I had found this really cool 1925 postcard of 2 women, one butch one femme, sitting on each other. She thought that was amazing and told Steph who I´d already sussed out as queer and then they wanted to know where to get the postcard. I said I´d show them in the morning. We all outed ourselves as queer by then which was a turn up for the books! Obviously apart from Derek who was dating Anita. but then she was queer so he was by association. I didn´t feel the need to say I was trans as bisexual covered my sins. Although it did cross my mind when Anita slurred in my ear that she loved masculine women... I wonder if she thought I was? I know a bit too much for the average bio guy about dyke and gender shit, so maybe. It wouldn´t have mattered anyway and the night rocked on. We ended up going on my theory of getting into a taxi and making him take us to a "fiesta del pueblo", which is what I did in Iquitos under Edu from Lima´s instructions. It worked, although by 3am not much of the pueblo was left at the party. So we made our own entertainment and theres some embarrasing photos lurkign around somewhere but it was fun.

Until 6am when I woke up in my bed with major stomach problems and then spent 6 woken hours emptying my digestive tract, even after Immodium Plus. There was no way I could get on the "only urine" bus toilet for 15 hours to Ica. So I shivered in the patio for abit until I told the Señora I was staying another day. And to fill up the toilet roll holder. More motions, More immodium and peruvian ineffective yellow pills, I decided I was ok enough for 8 hours uninterrupted sleep so I put myself to sleep with my favourite blue pills. Woke up a lot later safely clean, but needing to go. Went, more pills, woke up Monday morning right as rain. Although not right enough to eat breakfast so I skipped that until 11 we went for a hookah pipe and turkish food.
It was the best meal I´d had in a long time. Falalfels, hummus, nice salad etc etc. Eventually I said goodbye to my friends, and off I went to Ica.

Ica: I arrived at 3am, half asleep and full of shite. I managed to get in the only taxi who didn´t have a perosnal recommendation for me of where to stay at. I was actually counting on someone telling me where to go as my book was a bit think on suggestions. I ended up getting into a bit of a tiff witht he taxi driver as I thought he was trying to rip me off, so I jumped out and flung hoim some change when I saw a secutiy guy on a nearby corner. What had actually happened was the hostal had been knocked down by the earthquake in August, so simply didn´t exist. Luckily the security guy escorted me and a few stray dogs who tagged along to a nearby hostel which was much cheaper. It seems the security guys here just like to stand on corners and whistle every few minutes, not at anything directly but just to let you know they´re there. And theres normally one on every corner in the centre.
I went to the Museo de Ica as soon as I got myself together that morning, and got to see trophy heads, which is why I wanted to go, plus the usual pottery and mummies, a few deformed skulls (coneheads) and some pre columbian preserved dreadlocks. They looked in good condition all things considered. From there a brief lunch break adn then the bus to Pisco.

Pisco: This was actually where the main effects of the earthquake was felt, and much of the town is in ruins. Having said that, the people there are soem of the friendliest, and went out of there way to make me feel welcome. Maybe a little too much effort but I wasn´t complaining.
Seeing as I hadn´t managed to get a response from my volunteering application, I was mainly here to see the Islas Ballestas and just observe the town.

Islas Ballestas: Sweet! Got to see loads of sea lions, in all stages of development. Soem fishing, others baskign in the sun, and others fighting over rock space. The usual I guess. Also got to see a handful of penguins and thousands of other types of birds, including the red headed vulture.

Finally: I got on the bus again and headed back to Lima, Miraflores to be exact. Wanted to see my friend Juan this time, and finally did. Also to sort out my flight back as trouble has brewn at Casa Brixton and I´m needed at home. I have also pretty much seen everything Peru has to offer, except maybe 5 cities.

And then I headed to Mancora to enjoy a few days chill before heading back to finalise my flight.

Today (A Pilsen Callao Day): I started the day by having to kick my birthday pussy out of the bedroom at 5am as she was scratching me. In all seriousness I have felt pretty shit about it as this sweet little kitten came and made friends with me last night. She´s incredibly young, and answered my question as to whether shes been weaned or not by catching and eating a cricket. So i fetched some seafood back for her last night and she enjoyed that. But this morning she was restless and I thought the surf was gonna hit so needed my sleep.
Didn´t see her all day and started worrying maybe a vulture had eaten her or she´d hurt herself or got sick...until she ran upto me as I left for dinner....I said nice one kitten!
At lunchtime I decided to sod the guts, and ate conchas negras in a ceviche. I wish I´d had my camera as I got to see the shells being opened and prepared right in front of me at this stall on the dirt track to the beach. Ate them with chifre which is thin sliced fried green banana crisps.
This evening I went for a fresh tuna steak which was well tasty adn I got a bit in my pocket for the cat. You can tell I´m getting old as I´m looking forward to getting home and feeding the cat.

(I am listening to BongRa though...)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Two Minutes Hate

I feel like I came to the place my parents came and tried to spread the word of god and actually become completly de-beliefed.

But it´s good. I´m no longer a slave to religion. Feel sorry for my young guide who showed me around the Museo de Arte Religioso as I couldn´t help laughing out loud to the tiny sandals for the image of a baby christ.

Guess I can read Richard Dawkins now.

And the title in spanish, is the name of me and Daves yardcore band.

Zoo. This one´s for you!

(beat it! bit too much time internet surfing...)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Inkas

Monday 14th April

Been to lots of museums today:
  • Museo del Inka
  • Museo de Historia Natural
  • Museo de Arte Contemporania
  • Qorikancha

Museo del Inka had quite a bit of information about the 3 tribes the Inka are thought to have come from. There are of course various theories about how the Inkas arrived, one of which includes being the sons of the Sun God Inti. Some of the more interesting bits of info I found were mentally noted and now I spew forth:

Llamas were key to the Inka empire expansion as they were used to carry stuff, their wool for clothes and for food. There was a certain way to slaying a llama, which included removing its still beating heart.

The Inkas also engaged in head binding / skull reshaping. This was used as a way to show their superiority over the peasents.

The Inkas were allowed to co-exist along the spanish invaders although without any real power and a few uprisings against them. They also mixed racially with the spaniards, and artwork in this museum show the remaining Inkas wearing more spanish style clothing.


The building is essentially a Catholic Chuch built over an Inka temple. The temple paid homage to the Sun, the Moon, the Stars, the Rainbow and Thunder/Lightning. All the temples walls except that of the Moon were covered in gold. The Moon naturally was covered in silver. (Rainbows were believed to be messages from the gods)

The structure of the walls were built in a 3D trapezoidal manner i.e. angled inwards to avoid destruction by earthquakes. The blocks , made of grey basaltic andesites were shaped in order to interlock at the corners, further increasing stability. The bocks were also "stapled" together by means of carved matching grooves in adjacent blocks; molten liquid bronze was then poured into the grooves and when set, they formed the staple.

The drainage system of this temple was also a feat of civil engineering. In the temple there are displays of the blocks of stone used to form the piplelines. These pipes transfered water from it{s origen at the top of one mountain, down thevalley and back up to the elevated location of the temple. This was done by (Hydraulic Engineering Year 1 coming in here) reduction of the diameter of the pipes in order to increase the head. These pipes were in fact 2 blocks of stone with semi circles cut into them to form each half of the pipe. (The elevation of the beginning and end of the water system are pretty damn impressive being the Andes and all)

The conquistadores (or invaders as i prefer to call them) landed, they enforced their Catholicism/ religion upon the Andean people, also terming them derogatorily "Indians". Qorikancha´s gold was torn off the walls and used for deocrating their own images of the virgen, and the papal and religious clothing (made by the Andean women). They covered up the Inka brickwork by plastering the walls and painting basic artwork over it. The Dominican priesthood further imposed their religion by making the andean folks paint european style Christian art, without letting them sign their name on their work.

Once my Andean tour guide (included in the entrance fee) found out my blood runs just as peruvian as his, he took great pride in giving me the alternative interpretation of the museum. One of the most interesting pieces of artwork I saw was a piece depicting the cruxifiction, but with Andean subversive touches. For example: JC is brown, unlike the european custom of painting him white. His nailed legs are not crossed like the euopean version, and the bendy legs typical of Andean folks are instead portrayed. The man and the woman at his side although caucasian and dressed in typical catholic golden robes are very subtley chewing coca, which can be seen by a little round ball at one edge of their cheeks. JC also wears a petticoat - traditional to the Andean women, instead of the typical nappy-like effort. The best bit about this was that the Catholic invaders didn´t realise any of this at the time and even now probably goes widely unnoted as the style is european. The painting is very important to the Cusqueñan people today, because of this subversion.

How this temple´s built over existence came about was by an earthquake. As stated before the Domincan knocked down bits of, built and covered up as much as possible of this engineering feat of a structure. When the earthquake came, the Catholic part fell down revealing the Inka walls and much of the original work. The Andeans has been made to believe by the Spaniards and the Church that they came from a barbaric uncivilised past, and that they were inferior. The earthquake revealed the splendour of the Inkas, their engineering skills and attention to detail (precious stone embossed walls). The indigenous people began to feel pride in their roots.

Interestingly enough, in the Museum the information below the Catholic plasterwork and shoddy painting glorifies it as being the "only piece to have survived the earthquake" (?!). I wanted a tippex pen to write over it.

Saturday 12th at Dawn: Macchu Picchu:

Well, most people know of it and want to see it.It does concern me that the majority of Peruvians can´t afford to see their own heritage. Even with different prices for nationals, it´s way out of most of their pockets. It´s definetly worth the trip although I´m glad I didn´t do the 4 day hike. Not having any proper shoes was a major issue for a start, the other being that I´m not exactly built for it nor do I understand hiking as fun...I´m sure plenty of people don´t understand lifting weights as fun but there you go. Vive la difference!

I did however trek up Waynu Picchu from Macchu Picchu which confirmed my wise decision. By this stage I´d made friends with a(nother) spanish lass and 2 chilean guys so we all scrambled up the steep and narrow tracks. It took us about 30 mins but I thought I was gonna have a heart attack, the altitude and scorching sun was harsh. Much respect to my compañeros as they´d been hiking for 4 days at this stage! I´d bought a box of sangria with me, which hadn´t been planned but with that and Natalia´s mary jane, some well chewed coca leaves, sweets and coca chocs, the view was pretty fucking ace! (the half man-half goat locals do this in about 12 minutes!)

We finally all got back to Cusco at 1030pm and ended up going out to a mixed gringo and local club. The music was shit and not even the cheeky peruvian class a made it any better so I called it a night. or rather a morning. :)


A few hours later, I woke up and determined to get to the Sacred Valley and have a gander. My thin soled hard shoes were killing me by this time, espeically as much of San Blas were I was staying is cobbled. Ouch! I kept repeating to myself I was really feeling Peru by putting myself in it´s own shoes / or that the Inkas wore silver sandals. It didn´t help much.

This time, after buying a bagfull of gifts for my family at the market, I trekked up to the ruins to see the Inka citadel. This took about an hour I think, although I did go quite slow as the blood was running to my head, I was finding it hard to breathe and sweating insanely in the sun. Not to mention my feet were knacking. Anyway, it was a good view. I still don´t get trekking but the Andes are painstakingly beautiful.

Caught a jam-packed bus back to Cuzco and balanced on one foot for one hour, one hand shovelling my choclo (corn on the cob)and cheese down.

Friday, April 11, 2008


After a few hours of arriving at Cuzco (a 25 hour bus ride from lima) I managed to find a flyer for a free screeing of this film.

It´s worth the 2 hours to check it out, my brain was like a sponge after a week of beachtime blankness. Although a lot of it wasn´t new stuff, the final episode talking about a one world government and internal human chips is fucking freaky - especially considering some people have already gone ahead with the implant.
The first chapter I also thought was pretty radical to show in Peru, a population where most are believers. (This is often a question I get asked by girls - if I am a creyente (believer)..). I say no.

I arrived a little late to the film so I thought the theatre was just full of western crustys and punks. I was pleasently surprised when the lights went on to see only one such face, although one of the peruvian guys comments was that it was only applicable to the US.
I was trying to think of how to say the US has their fingers in all the pies but couldn´t come up with it quick enough..

Sunday, April 6, 2008

CNN on the Olympic Torch Protests, London

¨We need to remember that in the UK peaceful protest is part of their democratic expression¨

If only the entonation of the US presenter could be conveyed in text. Especially horrified at the fact the pigs were on ...bicycles...?!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

a little bitch

there is only one band in peru, they're called Grupo 5. They have about a maximum of 4 songs released which are played continuosly wherever you go, the bus, the boat, the shopping centre, the restuarants, the beach... i'm ready to poke my eyes out..4 songs about love, hearts, love lost.
"que locura mi amor que locura" and they more or less sound the same.

i wish i'd never thought to upload my mp3 player with the latest horrorist cd, as it wiped my whole flashdrive. so now i have just that album and a few bits of breakcore. but its not enough..i'm dying here. this may see me returning to the uk sooner than expected...
i'm definetly going green at the idea of missing the bangface weekender, but with youtube i'm trying to pull through by listening to some nostalgic metal favourites.

in other news, Hunachaco is an even better beach than Pacasmayo. it's a proper little coastal town with better waves although a bit of a spiky reef on the beach. already surfed once yesterday and got a lesson booked for tommorrow to get used to a better board. it's only 8 quid a lesson, so i'm not going to find one cheaper anywhere else.

this is the place for ceviche. i don't trust eating it anywhere else apart from peru, and where else except right on the sea front? the fish, the lime, the heat of the aji and the coriander = hot sour protein - at least i'm in culinary fucking heaven.