Stopover in Peru…

Unhelpfully the agent I had booked my flight with had cancelled my ticket without telling me and as I write this I’ve still not received anything other than an order confirmation from them. I found this out after thinking to visit the Atrapalo agency in Santiago only to find its the head office or something like that and not useful for customers. I guess I should have spotted the S.A. Suffix at the end of the name like LTD in the UK as a hint… I then got back to the hostel to phone them and had a fruitless argument. I eventually got an apology but it was hard fought after asking how I was supposed to know this without communication. Apparently the problem was the payment didn’t work, the representative suggested as a result of my card being in dollars or something like that, which it isn’t… I can take cash out in all currencies I’ve tried in South America including Chilean pesos… so despite not being the problem wasn’t even the point. I just about made it to the airport in time to buy a ticket $200 more expensive. Ouch. I complained to the airline rep and said it was your agent who messed up and he advised me to complain directly to them… as expected but I wanted to get that advice anyway in case somewhere down the line I get told I should have said something to them.. GRR!! Rant over…

After being shafted for the extra fare the flight went without a hitch and pretty soon I touched down in Lima for the second time in my trip/ life. I was pretty hungry and so wasted no time getting myself in front of a Rocotto relleno and chicha morada. Delicious. I got talking to an American dude collecting investment for deep sea exploration, having apparently changed from life as a consultant. I made a swift exit after paying and nearly managed to get to the taxi in one go but got accosted again by some school kids trying to interview gringos… again.

I got to the hostel (Loki hostel lima, quite a renowned party hostel chain) and started to unpack and head for a shower. I briefly met a Canadian guy, Josh and later some Chileans in the room, who had been out for a tiring day, were from my previous stop – Santiago! I left them to it as they collapsed on beds. I was pretty tired myself but there was a good buzz in the bar so I went down for a quick drink just to soak up the atmosphere and buy the odd transport ticket, being pretty antisocial in the corner of the bar. The Chileans found me a bit later on and we got talking so the one drink turned into more, the girls were friendly with the staff and so a fair few free drinks materialised for the group which happily included me at this point.

It got a bit chaotic but was fun, with various levels of understanding exactly what was going on with the other Chileans that also seemed to have popped up. It was cool to have a change from only being with Europeans in hostels which had been the case most of the time.

The next day I met up with my friend from my first Lima visit and spanish practice before my trip, Karina. We headed to the Catacumbas where we saw an impressive but also slightly unnerving collection of bones in crypts underneath an impressive church. It was pretty amazing but annoyingly you weren’t allowed photos… so you’ll just have to take my word for it. I did manage to get a couple of legal photos later on in the church itself though. By the time we re-emerged there was some form of celebration going on with fireworks, dancing and music. Not sure exactly what it was for but it looked and sounded good!

We headed off from the church and went around trying a load of different local street food: Anti cucho Pancita, Rachi, Corazón de vaca (various viscera… didn’t like much except the cow heart was pretty good!). Then some very sugary things which I definitely needed to keep me awake: Mazamorra morada (fruity sugary purple goo), Arroz con leche (rice pudding) and picarones (donut type things with syrup). Then we strolled around the centre which was really nicely decorated for Christmas. It’s so strange being warm around Christmas and I’m not really feeling it yet but it’s really close!! Much kudos to Karina who as always had everything planned to the letter. I got back pretty late and decided against heading to the bar given my failed attempt for a quick one the night before and desperately needing some rest, Josh turned up soon after and we had a chat before the Chileans, Daniela, Andreas and Coni turned up. Not joining them at the party gained us the response of “Que Fome!” (How boring!) but nonetheless I felt pretty happy with choosing sleep this night.

We said goodbye to Andres who was heading off the next day and headed to the markets (famous but I’d somehow heard of) Polvos azules. Josh needed a new phone cable and was offered the gringo price of 50 soles, the girls sort of smiled patronisingly and suggested we just left them to it. Sure enough, about five minutes and a couple of stalls later the same cable was produced for a price of 10 soles and after a quick check it worked the deal was done. That’s basically £12.50 down to £2.50 so they clearly knew their stuff. We grabbed some food at the Kennedy plaza, I had some nice “pollo borracho al Oporto” (drunk chicken in port, great name) and was again reminded, with the aid of eating bits of other people’s food as well, that Peruvian cuisine was awesome!!

Karina joined later on after her day volunteering at an international surf competition (Peru won!!) for the hostel party as well as a girl Josh had met the other day and we kicked off with some darts and beer pong as the bar quickly filled up with guests and locals. A fair amount of my final bill was accrued this night. A good send off for my last night in the Loki!

The next day we said goodbye to the Chilean as Josh and I moved on to another (quieter!!) hostel and they went back home. It was dimmed a bit as one of the girls had had quite a bit of dollars and pesos taken from a locker!! I met up with Karina later on to see the Pachamama ruins (very impressive) just outside the city. We were somewhat delayed by the fact our bus drove into the back of a car that was changing lanes. I had said fairly recently that given the habits here I was amazed I hadn’t seen any crashes and clearly jinxed it henceforth… It was worth it when we got there though, with a nice museum and some cool old temples that had been excavated as well as some nice views of the beach and valley. I shovelled down some pretty tasty Chifa (Peruvian Chinese food, very cheap) for sustenance earlier on and just about had energy to get some pizza in the evening before a very quiet night relative to recent behaviour.

I had a serious Taxi saga trying to get to the bus terminal the next day with two drivers trying to swindle me. The second one i agreed the price in advance then later checked he was going to the right address only to be told that no actually where I wanted to go would cost me a lot more. Shocking behaviour when I had seen it all in writing in the receptionists phone app back at the hostel (a bit like uber). I said flat out, if he’s not prepared to honour it what was agreed, take me back and was glad that a good nights rest (relatively) had restored my spanish and appetite to fight my own corner. Back at the hostel before opening the boot, he demanded I give him something as it wasn’t his fault on the basis the app didn’t tell him the address. I said ok, show me the job on your app to which he said it was too late as it had been cancelled now. So I then said let’s look for a new job, because I bet it tells you the destination… he was obviously lying and at this point said ok no need to pay anything. So after the second taxi i was back at the starting point, without losing money but quite a bit of time in what would have otherwise been a very relaxed journey. I was furious, and genuinely shaking – this had not been my experience here at all last time. I gave up on the receptionists options and got an uber Which was great, far cheaper than what the other two had tried to fleece me for (despite me being told a price originally much cheaper than uber) and the driver was really nice so he definitely deserved a good tip!

I’d been using the website bus bud to see what was going on re ground transport but was really hoping it was wrong about saying that after 10 am the following morning there were no more buses to Guayaquil. Nonetheless I took my 18 hour trip pondering whether to take that 10am slot (planned arrival 8.30am in mancora) or Stay a few days until the next one and enjoy the beach and party life of mancora. I’d decided I’d partied enough recently and there were more impressive beaches in my future with a bit of luck and so geared up for a further 8 hours travel making a total of over a day solid on the move. We got it woefully late, past 11 so original plan was scuppered. But I walked around asking bus companies and there was an easy bus in a couple of hours for much less than I’d seen on the website so not sure what bus bud was playing at here. I used this time to scope out the famed mancora Loki (looked nice but unsurprisingly quiet this “early in the morning”) and had lunch on the beach. It’s pretty beautiful here, maybe I’ll come back and spend more time another day. However for now, onwards to try and squeeze in the Galapagos!

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