Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lima: The End of the Road

We finished our trip in Lima. Here we met up with out two separate groups of Israeli travel partners. We did a lot of Bolivia with Idan and Nofar. Idan was in Lima but had recently met up with his girlfriend so was not with us during our day-touring. We also met up with Hen and Hadas, who had done Machu Pichu and Cuzco with us. In the picture below, you see Yoav, Nofar, Hadas, me, and Hen.

We went to the Museo de la Nacion, the Polvos Azules market, the main square called the Plaza de Armas where the Cathedral is located, as well as the Monasterio de San Francisco (where we saw the underground catacombs). We also went out dancing. It was great to be in a city at the end of our trip, and we stayed in a great hostal called Loki. Yoav had to go to Starbucks because I guess it had been a while for him, and there they misspelled his name which was very common throughout our trip (hence the photo below).

Peru and Bolivia are magical places that I recommend anyone and everyone to go and check out. The trip had a great balance of both outdoor activities / beautiful landscapes as well as touristy towns and cities to do museums, sites, etc. in. It was a great journey and we met great people along the way. Double thumbs up for all of BORU!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sand... so soft

So after the Nazca Lines, we hopped on a bus and went to the town of Ica. This town is situated in the middle of a desert as well, but not a desert full of rocks but of huge soft sand dunes. We stayed in an oasis, a little area called Huachachina that was basically a bunch of hostals and restaurants around a lagoon.

The thing to do there is: sandboarding. It's supposed to be just like snow boarding, but guess what, it's not. Instead of boarding ON top of the snow you are now boarding IN the sand. Standing up was VERY difficult, and practically impossible, but I'm sure professional sandboarders, if there are such people, can do it with ease. The other way of going down was on your stomach and that was fantastic! We went down 2 monstrous sand dunes and just flew down, no brakes mom!

We rode in something called an "arenero." It is basically a dune buggy. In Spanish the word for "sand" is arena. So it would make sense that a vehicle that drives on sand is called an "arenero." And that is one of the reasons why I love Spanish people. So sencillo.

After getting tons of sand for breakfast we then went to wash it down with some local wine and pisco. We visited a couple wineries and places where they make pisco (Peru's version of tequila - its national origin is something that is forever being debated between Chile and Peru). One of our guides at the winery was wearing a shirt that says "I Love Med Students" so naturally Yoav was thrilled.

Here are some photos from our sandy experience.

Up up and away!

After romping through Machu Pichuh and then Cuzco, we suddenly found that we had a couple days to peel off before we were due in to Lima. We decided to take the 15 hour overnight bus ride to Nazca. (Mind you we paid top dollar for Cruz del Sur which was a bus that felt more like an ocean liner, complete with pillows, blankets, food service, a Keanu Reeves flick I had never heard of as well as the animated film "Flushed Away," bathroom, and seats that went all the way back and turned into a bed, for those who know spanish, it wasn't a semi-cama, this was full-cama all the way.

We arrived to Nazca and booked a 3 seat-er plane for a 25 minute journey through the skies above the Nazca desert where we saw the famous and mysterious Nazca Lines from above. These are symbols, usually in the design of animals, that were supposedly constructed from 200 AD to 700 AD by the Nazca people. They basically removed red rocks to uncover white land, in such a way, that when viewed from above they form objects and/or animals. Some are over 200 meters long, which is roughly the size of two football fields.

In all honesty, it was hard to gain perspective from way above, and though they stood out from a sea of rocky desert, it was hard to really imagine how big they were, unless you were on the ground, and seeing the aligned rocks go on for hundreds of feet. But obviously they do not let people get to close to them, lest they disturb the formations. It was very neat indeed to go up in such a small plane, and the pilot liked us so he did a couple drops and hard turns, etc. (which I personally could have done without) but the actual viewing of the Nazca Lines may have been a bit anti-climatic for me. For those traveling to Peru in the future, it definitely may NOT be the highlight of your trip...