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Nazca, Peru. 18.10.15

October 18, 2015

Having to do this through Joan’s tablet. My asus, has let me down

Choquito, Peru. 6.10.15.
We are camped in the grounds of Las Cabanas tonight. Lovely two story cabanas, all empty, shaded parking and almost level. The city of Puno is a short distance further on but the reports on iOverlander gave this place the thumbs up. Unbeknown to us it is also where one of the sights of this area is only300 metres from where we are. In the grounds of this wonderful decrepit church is a walled off area. Inside are what loook like stone mushrooms but are in fact phalluses. Some pointing upwards to the Incan sun god while others have their heads buried in the earth, to pachamama, the earth god. It’s funny the church didn’t get rid of them. Even today it is said women come here at night with their coca leaves and a good suppply of chicha, the local hooch, and straddle the biggest of the members to help getting with child. Must hurt.
The church itself has a bell tower with two bells, one quit enormous. There are wide cracks around part of the stone work making one wonder how long before it comes plunging down.
Crossing int Peru was quite an event. The Bolivian aduana was the strictest we have experienced but he dd it with a smile and a joke. In act I had him in fits of laughter as he waved us thrugh. On the Peruvian side the officer there was also very strict getting more details than we have been asked before. Two of them put it all into the computer then when he went to print the TIP for the bakkie, the computer crashed. Much gnashing of teeth. It was then a case of writing it all out by hand. Two hours later we were into Peru.
Looking back it may be a good time to make a few comments about Bolivia.
Each town of every size has at its most distinct building, not the church as in old days, but covered in sports stadiums. You see them every where you go. And they seem to be well used. Also each town seems to have its own brass band. Copaccabana beat the lot though. We counted three different bands playing while there.
Ths Paris Dakar Rally passes through Bolivia each year as well as Chile and Argentina. It has hatched a generation of hot heads whose cars are emblazoned with rally numbers and sponsors logos driving like idiots taking the most extreme risks on he roads.
We love the hats the women wear, especially the bowler hats.. They are usually slightly tilted to one side and look quite comical. Most of the women though wear wide panama hats as protection from the fierce sun.
Joan said the other day, ‘I like Bolivia but I wish they had a straight road now and then.’ A mountainous country with few roads that are more than a kilometre without a curve. The dual lane highway we were on to La Paz was an exception.
Good food. Snacks were more tastier than what we found in Chile or Argentina.
We were amazed the amount of terracing on the mountain sides. Even in barren areas where hardly anything seemed to.
Surprisingly the Bolivian wines we tasted were very nice. Especially the whites from an area near Cochabamba. Their beers are also excellent. A good variety which puts the Argentinian boring Quilmes to shame.
Suicide showers are very popular in Bolivia, We have experienced many of them wthout any terminal effects. That was not the case in East Africa when we first used them. They are called that because the heating element is in the shower head with electrical wires going to the head to heat the element that the water passes through. Well and good when they work properly as they were here, but when there is a short in the wiring the water coming out of the shower head is electrified with some not very nice experiences. It happened a few times in Kenya and Tanzania.
Canyon Tinajane, 230kms South of Cusco. 7.10.15
A beautiful canyon, high sandstone cliffs with many rising solitarily from the canyon floor in which one can work out features like the grumpy old man and a monstrous phallus. Here I go again, must be the age. We are camped on the stream bed with the water trickling by a few metrs away. There is a pueblo across the water, some 500 metres away, the dogs from the settlement bark at any disturbance, their barks echo against the canyon wall, they think it’s another animal so repeat their barking. I cooked meat balls in a nice sauce tonight. Outside. As the light faded into darkness the quietness enveloped us. The dogs have stopped.
Puno, a large city not far from where we stopped last night, doesn’t have many attractions apart froma a vessel sitting quietly in the waters of Lake Titicaca. The Peruvian government ordered two boats in the 1860s from the UK to guard their section of the lake’s waters. They were sent around Cape Horn in pieces, arrived at the port of Arica then part of Peru on the Pacific Ocean and transported by humans and mules for 400kms up and over the Andes including a 4700 metre pass. Then the 2,766 parts were reassembled at the lake. It took 6 years for this to be accomplished. Evetually one was sold as scrap but the other, ‘The Yavari’, was restored with the impetus of an English woman. The Duke of Edinburgh was also involved I believe. The engines were coal fired but coal was scarce around the lake and llama dung was used to fire the engines. The Yavari had to be extended 12 metres to allow for the piles of dung on board.

Cusco 10.10.15.
Another vertiginous city clinging to the sides of the mountain. And another frustrating experience getting to this camp site with Jane trying to put us up more one way vertical lanes the wrong way. But it’s a nice campsite, next to where Pizzaro’s 150 conquistadores gave the coup de grace to the Incan empire. There are 11 other overlanders, it is just the place to talk a little and compare stories. Mostly Europeans there is a young South African couple. Last night many of us visited a planetaerium where we oohed and aahed at Saturn and learnt a lot about the constellations.

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