Thursday, March 4, 2010

I see dead people

Onward from Trujillo, we took a quick bus to pretty Chiclayo with our new UK friends Fran and Ross. Being the savvy travelers that we all are, we actually booked to stay in Lambayeque - a smaller town nearby and closer to the ruins that are the main attractions for this area.

Or, so we thought! We quickly found out that being in Lambayeque put us closer to the museum, but farther away from the ruins. Well done. No worries though, we checked into our beautiful hosteria (with a pool!) and to enjoy some relaxation for two nights.

Lambayeque is a fairly small town, and as the four of us wandered around in search of food or something to do, we quickly noticed we were the only gringos in town. Stares, whistles and car honks met us every few seconds while we were out. We are apparently THAT attractive!

Our first day saw us visit one of the two local attractions - The Bruning Museum. This lesser known museum houses a small collection of jewelry and other relics from various cultures who lived in this area. The authenticity of some of the items left us a little uncertain however, as one of the models demonstrating ancient fishing techniques was wearing an Old Navy t-shirt!

On our second day we decided to forego the trip to the ruins (anceint tombs of the Sipan tribe) on the other side of Chiclayo - the sun was beating down and we couldn't imagine enjoying two hours in a rocky, sweaty bus. Instead, we hit the Tumba Real in Lambayeque which included a recreation of the tombs and bore many of the items that were found during it's excavation. It was a very impressive collection - well laid out and massive. The re-creation of the major tomb for the SeƱor de Sipan was a incredible display of the hierarchical society even in death - the King being buried with (among other things): someone to watch over the tomb, two women, a child, several animal sacrifices. Although I do have to say, while I still find it all very interesting, I am a little tired of seeing dead people - mummified and not. We have probably seen more displays of dead people then we have met living Canadians on this trip. That's quite enough for me.

When we weren't visiting museums or lounging by the pool, we were facilitating an international exchange of knowledge - of sorts. One of the great things about meeting new friends on the road to travel with is not only the chance to talk to someone new across the dinner table and to share stories with, it's the new card games that can be learned! Fran and Ross will be taking Wizard back to the UK with them, and we will be bringing Shithead home. I think they win for best card game name.

Tuesday we boarded a bus yet again, this time to get to our northernmost stop in Peru - the beach resort town of Mancora. This locale has been lauded by many Peruvians as "the" place to go for some relaxing beach time. Meh. We stayed up on the hill in little bungalows overlooking the town and the ocean - the beach was decent and stretched for an awful long time, but the town behind it was rather dumpy and really took away from the appeal. We did spend some time under a big umbrella at the beach enjoying some cold beer, but preferred instead to swing on the lazy hammocks outside our door on the hill.

For two nights we enjoyed the views from our hammock and patio, ordering our food up to us while watching the surfers down below. We indulged in many a cold beer and many rounds of Shithead each evening before retreating to our individual bungalows and falling asleep to the sounds of the waves crashing. Not a bad way to spend our last couple of days in Peru, as this morning we are boarding yet another long bus into Ecuador, and unfortunately in the opposite direction of our friends.

¡Chao Peru!

The use of the top five lists will have to be abandoned at this point - as we motor through these remaining countries, there is not enough time and experience to amass such a list! However, we do have some thoughts on our likes and dislikes of this country.

LIKE: The culture and history in this country is definitely the main attraction, as Peru has done a good job of preserving and showcasing this best part of their country. And part of the appeal is that if we came back in ten years, there would be so much more to see again - there is so much yet to be uncovered that another visit would likely look very different.

LIKE: The food and drink! We were actually quite surprised at how varying the food is from the other countries we have visited, and at how delicious it all is! Especially the Pisco Sours. Love the Pisco Sours. (We have had those in many other countries, but not like here!)

LIKE: Despite the few con artists that we had to work around in this country (see below), we did meet some really incredibly nice people who were always ready to help.

DISLIKE: I am glad that we visited this country after we have amassed a bit of Spanish, as now I know how to yell at locals when they try to screw us over! I believe Peru to be spoiled by it's tourist industry, and we have experienced some locals trying to take advantage of the fact that we may be unknowing gringos. But I showed them - ha!

DISLIKE: The amount of rubbish lining the streets and highways everywhere and all the time. It certainly takes away from the natural, beautiful landscapes this country has to offer. It pains us to see locals just toss their garbage out of their vehicles onto the side of the road, have a little respect people!

DISLIKE: Aside from the main tourist draws, exploring small town and off-the-beaten-path-Peru was not as enjoyable as it has been in other countries. The charm and appeal is just not there. Perhaps the whistling and honking has something to do with that...

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