Archive for October 2008

16,000 Feet: Bad

October 1, 2008 - 11:06 pm 2 Comments

I have a case of altitude sickness. I feel horrible. (Josh is fine.)

Here is Peru at it’s highest navigable point, at about 16,000 feet in elevation. Here’s a link to the big version.

Sunset at the Top of Peru

Goodbye Lima, Hello Arequipa!

October 1, 2008 - 9:15 am No Comments

Last night was a blast! After waking Josh from a nap, we headed down to the hotel lobby to meet up with Aritza and her friend Mirella (mih-DAY-uh). They took us to a jazz bar in Barranco called La Noche. Great music and cheap drinks. After a few sets, we went to one of the local casinos, where I impressed everyone (including the old man at the table next to me) by tripling my money at blackjack. At one point, the dealer (who was in training) made a mistake, letting me double down on 40 soles (SOUL-es) with 35 soles. I tried adding a 5 sole coin from my pocket to even it out, but she wouldn’t have it, jabbering at me in Spanish I didn’t understand. I won the hand, which means I was shorted 5 soles, but I didn’t feel comfortable making a stink since I don’t know the language. A few more drinks and we were spent, finally returning to the hotel at about 4am.

Swanky Jazz Band

Me, Mirella, Josh, & Aritza

Aritza, Josh, & Me

Having to wake up for an early tour of Lima’s Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Arqueologia, y Historia del Peru and the Larco Museum was a bit rough (I enjoy it when the tour leaders call my buddy Yoshua Jung), but we rallied and made the most of it. A bonus was the Erotic Gallery at the Larco Museum, featuring a collection of pornographic ceramics (pornoramics?) rivaling the explicitness of Amsterdam’s Sexmuseum. After the museums, we met up with Aritza for a goodbye lunch at a trendy restaurant called Tanta.

On the Streets of Lima

A Street in Lima

Inca Figurine

Peruvian Hairless Dog

Today was our last day in Lima. While we sat in the lobby waiting for our ride to the airport, a sketchy guy from New York that we met on our first day and bumped into several times since ran into us one more time. We already knew that he had the shits from the local water, and he once told us “I just have to get laid on every trip I go on,” but he had an update for us. He met a 17 year-old girl at a trade show he was working. “She was getting all hanky-panky with me, but I was afraid to nail her in case a shit might come out.” He went on, “I got her number and everything, so when I come back, we’ll make it happen. Next time, I’ll take two shots of Pepto before any sexual activity. That should do the trick.” Josh was grossed out, while I was mildly impressed. This guy’s very unique name shall not be mentioned for fear of his discovering this blog online. He seemed like a shady character with connections, and it’s best if I don’t get mixed up with that.

New York Guy & Josh

After saying goodbye to our concierges Cesar and Giancarlo and commending them on our comment card upon checkout, we hopped into our ride and left for the airport. Security seemed pretty good, but they let Josh (and anyone else taking domestic flights) through security with a bottle of water, which is a bit worrisome.

Our time in Lima was been surprisingly awesome. We were figuring it would be an orientation for Peru, with a few days to chill out before the more physical stuff coming up. But it turns out there was lots to see, and we’re loving how affordable everything is. The hotel was perfect, with a nice view, clean rooms, unlimited Internet, free full-service breakfast, discounts at the bar, and a beautiful roll of toilet paper. I was paranoid about getting sick from everything I drank and ate, but the food was amazing and we feel great. We didn’t get mugged, nothing got stolen, and I don’t think I have hepatitis.

Everybody we met was extremely friendly and helpful. Service from hotels, restaurants, taxis, and security was always prompt and friendly. Aritza, in particular, did everything she could to show us a good time. Thanks, Aritza! Josh, who has done quite a bit of traveling himself, says it might be the friendliest place he’s ever been.

The weirdest thing for me is that I saw almost no tourists. The hotel was dead, and the streets were filled with locals. The tourists we DO see are the ones taking the organized yours with us. They are older and from random places. I guess Lima isn’t on the tourist route for younger travelers in South America.

But when there are tourists, you can count on Josh to start talking to them. Josh makes friends with just about anyone, especially those who come from a town with a soccer team, or those who live near a town with a soccer team, or those who know someone who plays soccer, or those who have ever seen someone play soccer.

Now, we’re in Arequipa (ar-uh-KEE-puh). It’s a big step up in elevation from sea level in Lima to 7,740 feet (higher than Denver) in Arequipa. Josh and I have been taking our prescribed Diamox preventatively in preparation for this portion of our trip.

We got a ride to our hotel, which is even more exquisite than the last. Dinner on the hotel balcony was absolutely incredible, the best dinner I’ve had in Peru so far. With the brilliantly illuminated Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa to our left, we had gourmet meal of ostrich (first time—delicious!), great desserts, and an amazing Pisco Sour, all for S/. 89.51, which works out to US$29.78, or US$14.89 per person. Tipping isn’t required here, but with the top-notch service, it’s hard not to. Before calling it a night, we hopped around Plaza de Armas taking pictures of the Basilica.

Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa

Tomorrow morning, we take a quick city tour of Arequipa. The coolest thing about Arequipa is that it’s the launching point for tours of Colca Canyon, one of the deepest in the world and home of the Andean Condor. In the afternoon, we will do the 4-hour drive out to the canyons and our hotel in Chivay (shih-VYE), which is about 12,000 feet above sea level. If you’re going to get altitude sickness, you’re generally going to start feeling it above 8,000 feet, so we’re hoping for the best.