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...)

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