|OK so we left our sandy oasis and headed back to the coast and a little village where we boarded a speed boat to the islands - got pretty wet but no one cared - the islands are a guano mining area - every 7 years they are cleared of a half metre of guano - it had been done only a couple of months ago but the smell remained on the boat. Apart from the fact that the islands are quite pretty there are seals and sea lions and penguins - only a few at this time of year n November Orcas come in for a feed.
A pleasant afternoon but nothing extraordinary. Did have a nice meal on the wharf tho and the pelicans sat quite close. Back on the truck and off to Lima.
A biggish city with the usual unattractive areas on the outskirts and the usual Plasma Di Arms complete with cathedral etc in the middle. Many of the streets are themed we were staying next to printing street - on the truck on the way in I spied what I thought was apiece of meat hanging in a shop window - turned out to be Jesus legs as he hung on the cross - we called it Jesus street as most of the shops were selling Christian stuff.
The central square is heritage listed and is really very pretty and there is a huge police presence - but nice we asked for directions a couple of times and ended up getting lots of help and conversation about us and them. Bumped into a procession first of children in costume protesting education costs and then clowns because it was clown day. Little Di decided not to continue on our truck she is afraid of water travel and our Amazon trip includes quite a long river journey. Ian also left - his travels are over but we got here new people - Rob and Irena from Sydney - Italian and Romanian extracts and Reena American - Kansas but Indian extract. All good.
Stayed a couple of days helped Di find a new bag or two - like me her bag was destroyed - mine will have to be replaced before I fly again. Had some good food at nice restaurants but apart from visiting one photo exhibition and looking at the outside of the buildings kept away from the culture.
Not a city I would race to return to although there is apparently a nice seaside suburb worth staying in.
Next stop a village called Huraz high n the c...... range typical Peruvian town but our hostel was interesting - Joe's Place run by Jo an Expat Englishman with the longest stutter I have heard in a long time and when he's drinking it gets even worse it reminded me of the Vicar of Dibley.... no no no no...yes. Set in a valley the surrounding mountains are just magnificent and of course there are numerous walks up the mountains - a day walk was proposed and Reena and I declined the invitation - instead we said we would do a separate walk down a mountain sounded quite nice. We were not to sure when the next morning Jo introduced us to our guide ....do you need a guide for a short walk down? Well yes - we got into a taxi and drove.up the winding road for one and a half hours the town getting smaller and smaller in the valley - finally we stopped and Wilson our guide said lets walk. It was the most beautiful day and the most beautiful walk I have done - not perhaps as spectacular as some but truly beautiful through pasture and crop land with at first no habitation but as we descended a few houses - people working in their fields all very friendly and we were able to walk at our own pace without feeling that we were holding up the group. Wilson was an absolute gem happy to tell us anything we wanted to know and happy just to walk quietly. Took us about 5 hours to get to the outskirts of Huaraz - we could have walked another hour but it would have been on the road sir got the bus! What a ride we 15 seater transit van with a door that had to be opened from outside -we were first on so got a seat but not long after it wad standing room only no animals but quite a few drums of? Parcels etc and it went fast dirt road narrow windy hold on and hope for the best. A great day followed by a bowl of home made soup and a walk into town.
Next day we headed to a hot spa a few kms out of town - got a taxi just as well because when we got there it was pretty grotty so can back to a mineral spring pool water temp only 27° and rusty colour spent about an hour in it and then got another local bus but this time it was quite civilised - doors opened seats for all and no speeding - quite disappointing really.
Juri did one of her disappearing acts again - she hired her own guide and attempted to climb Mount Vallunaraju 5780m she made it to within 100m or the top which is really impressive. Liz and Kim also decided to have a go these are overnight hikes where you get up at around 2am to attempt the final accent - they got to within 300m but were cold and sore and tired from there camp it was snow and rock to the top still they had a good try.