Archive > February 2011

Last Days in Peru

Cordillera Blanca, Huaraz

From Trujillo, we just barely squeezed in a few days in the Cordillera Blanca region around Huaraz on our way back to Lima. Unfortunately, the weather here was less than perfect, especially after coming from the beautifully temperate ‘Eternal Spring’ of Trujillo and the Northern Coast. The weather was so bad actually, that we cut our trip here short after only a few days and with barely a glimpse of the famed mountain peaks we had come to see. That will have to wait for a revisit…

Monasterio San Francisco

Then, onward to Lima- Our last stop. Back to the beginning so to speak. It seemed like such an amazingly long time since we had stepped off the plane five months ago onto the South American continent for the first time, surrounded by hoards of Taxi drivers yelling in Spanish and barely being able to offer a word in response. Now, five months later, and a few thousand kilometers behind us, we felt so much wiser. So much more experienced. We had been so many places, experienced so much, it didn’t seem possible that it had been only five months. We had done so much more than just traveled through Peru. We had survived it. We learned the language, learned to navigate this crazy country, the busses, the crowded markets… We’d gotten lost, robbed, climbed mountains, and swam in Amazonian rivers. Peru wasn’t a place for a leisurely vacation. It was a place that took some figuring out. But once that happened, it had gotten into our hearts and it was going to be a hard place to leave.

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Plaza de Armas , Trujillo

After Iquitos, Trujillo would be our last stop of our Peru trip before Lima. I had been looking forward to this town on the north coast of Peru forever: Warm weather (not so humid, as in the Amazon), beautiful beaches, always sunny, charming colonial buildings, and ancient ruins all in the surrounding area.

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Summer Rain in Iquitos

Hot, steamy Iquitos was one of our last stops in Peru. After five days on a stinky boat surrounded by hundreds of other sweaty bodies, we were glad to set foot on (relatively) solid land again. Iquitos is the largest city in the world which is not reachable by any road. The only way in (or out) is by river on the Amazon or Ucayali, or a plane over miles of thick jungle. It’s an awesome feeling being surrounded by unspoiled jungle in every direction for literally hundreds of kilometers before the next city of any size. Unbroken only by thatched riverside villages, the occasional sugar cane field, or banana plantations, the jungle literally swallows you up. Makes you feel so small and insignificant… Lost out in the middle of such a beautifully wild environment.

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Rio Ucayali

Typical Day on Board

Since Iquiotos is the largest city in the world, which is not connected by any road, anyone, who wants to travel from Pucallpa to Iquitos, has two ways: you can either fly or take the boat. We opted for the four-day cruise. This, one imagines will be quite an adventure, and yes, even a little romantic... at least before. One has in mind a boat, like the idyllic steam ships from the 19. Century, traveling up and down the Mississippi River. One imagines hammocks hung lazily on deck, swinging back and forth in the breeze, while he gazes on the wild forest to the left and right gliding along the river. Unfortunately, the reality is quite different, and looking back actually leaves a shudder for a moment.

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Pucallpa Waterfront

I write this now, as we sit in Pucallpa’s port, waiting for the boat to leave for Iquitos: Perhaps today, perhaps tomorrow, or the next day. Things just work a little differantly here… We arrived in steamy Pucalla straight from the cool central Andes after a long eighteen-hour bus ride though what is supposed to be the most drug-infested area of Peru. About two in the morning, the bus was boarded by a police officer armed with a semi-automatic machine gun who asked for a “protection donation”. We knew we were going to be in for something interestesting in this deep jungle town… Pucallpa proved to hide adventure and interest in many unexpected places, and heat, humidity, and mosquitos aside, and incedibly beautiful place to interact with the people, the culture, and the landscape of the jungle.

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