After arriving the border, I filled forms, got stamps in my passport, and then ‘Welcome to Peru’. In the border village, there was much more vivid life than in Bolivian side. More colourful, more easy-going life, many moto-riksa. Here the people cultivate their fields, not like in Bolivia a few kilometres away. Puno, The city which is near the coast of Lake Titicaca is located 3600 meter-high. All government buildings dressed in red-white-red national flag, they were already preparing for the celebration one week before the national day. I took a bus to Arequipa but the bus was late so the passengers were complaining and making noise by tapping the windows to force the driver to go. Temperament of South America. But the driver was still waiting for passengers to fill up the bus. In Juliaca, the next town, he picked up some more passengers, but after we couldn’t pass through the street, because young people were playing volleyball, and they didn’t want to put away the net which blocked the street. Small children were throwing stones to the bus expressing they don’t want traffic here or seemed outsiders were not welcomed. Yes, this city is the Harlem of Peru.
While we were bending downwards, the night comes and the full moon was reflected on the nearby mountains. I realized this country was not over-populated as Asia, because most of this area was deserted or barren. After 6-hour driving, we arrived in Arequipa, which is 2000 meter lower, pleasant climate again. Arequipa – the white city is one of the biggest cities in Peru, but after 11pm, no people are on the street, guesthouses are locked and there seems to be fear on the street.. South America. My friend was kidnapped here when he cought a taxi which took him somewhere else, then he was tortured for his pin code, then the next day they released him. Short storey with long effect. During my morning walk, I saw many police trucks with water guns, and in the police station, on the wall was funny to see the picture of police heroes in the past. Arequipa is a white city which has a plenty of wonderful churches and exciting markets. I booked for a mountain-climbing to a nearby mountain (which is called Chachani, 6075m and the highest peak around here) because I didn’t have equipments and had only summer clothes and sandals. It was one of the most difficult days in my life, because I started to have a toothache, so I couldn’t sleep that night.
The next night I could not sleet either on the base camp, which was on 5300m high. I was suffering from my fever, which was caused by toothache and lack of oxygen. Even eating a soup made me tired and I was gasping for breath. To go out for pissing was even more difficult because I had to stand up. I was weak. What can come next? 2 o’clock at night we got up. I was hesitating to start or not, but it was a rare opportunity, so I tried it. We started to climb with the help of the full moon, which took more than 6 hours to the top. With every step, I felt as if I carried tons of loads. Sharp wind blew towards my face, and I was so cold. After one-hour walk, the water in my backpack was frozen. 5 more hours. My fingers, in spite of my gloves, were also frozen. Worth to do it? We only stopped every half an hour. My legs were heavy. 4 hours more. Sometimes very steep and slippery in spite of crampon. Can I do it? 3 hours more. Just gasping. How far more? 2 hours more.
But the sunrise made us forget all difficulties and gave us unforgettable sight of surrounding plateau, which was 4000m lower. The gale (wind) was so strong that we could spend only a few minutes on the top. Sad. But I reached my highest point in my life. I can’t believe! And I descended myself to the place which a car was parked, which was also beyond my limits but fortunately the wind stopped. Arriving at my nice hospitality friend’s was heaven and the only thing I wished; to sleep. Colca canyon Most people think that the deepest canyon in the world is Grand Canyon in the U.S.A., thanks to American PR. But the reality is different, because according to the local people, there is around 4000m difference from the top of the hill till the bottom of the river valley. Around. 5 o’clock in the morning, I took a bus from Chivay to the viewpoint of the canyon to see condors after sunrise. It’s typical in Peru that buses compete each other, stuck to each others, but why our bus did it in the dusty road? I have no idea – and I swallowed the light dust. Young tourists were suffering the bumpy road. It’s time to experience the real life for them. I liked when a postman delivered letters on the bus for the local people it reminded me my childhood when people knew each other and trusted each other.
On the way to the canon in one of the villages I saw a musicians and a dancers still/yet? were celebrating on the street. Live the life. For me this is the South American feeling. At the viewpoint the huge birds were floating above us without moving their wings seems they just came here to paragliding as a morning exercise or just for the wonderful view. The sun cannot reach the bottom of the canyon because of the gigantic depth. I hitchhiked backwards to Chivay so I could see a `bit` further on the opposite mountain slope where 5000 terraces stretched.. Magnificent. Picturesque. Here in the mountain, we can see more traditional dresses, the local people ride on donkeys as daily transportation. So I’m again in the time wrap. Backwards I stopped at another village for a Christian festival. There was a procession, old women were carrying a holy statue around the village. It seems in South America is the home of permanent festivals. I feel that every day is holiday for them. I hitchhiked at a road crossing, soon got a ride from a truck but after 6-hour drive and loud music they broke down, so I took a night bus to Cusco, I bargained because if there are some places free, we can get a good price before departure time and anyway I didnot want spend a night in Juliaca.. Cusco The most visited place in Peru, and the surrounding area was the heart of the Inca Empire. The Incas arrived here around the 12th Centuries, more exactly they were always here, but since that time, they started to call themselves Inca`s, and build their empire.
It was very unusual conquering each other before inca`s, as South America were not overpopulated. (thanks to sacrifying humans?) So the Inca empire grow incredibly fast finding no real resistant and they built up perfect communication line (roads) all around the empire, building constructed cities with water system etc.. But they couldn’t enjoy their power so long, because in 1532, a war broke out between two brothers for the leadership. So, Pizarro could conquer the weak empire easily. Everybody knows the cruelty of Spanish and they robbed all valuables of the country and they destroyed Indian cultures. Europe arrived. In the history repeted the same story many times: the barbars concuer the high civilisations. But – thanks to exploitation their colonies – what colonial architect we can find today is still one of the highlights of European art. We can walk in the narrow street climbing up the hill side and enjoy the view of Cusco and the structure of the city – all makes this visit unforgettable. Most of the churches were built on the ruins of the Inca temples. Christianity covered the old believes. I was surprised, ‘why so many Maria statues in the churches?’ I could see even more Maria than Jesus. But we have to understand in South America strong Maria cult and was not possible to change the Pachamama (Mother Earth) cult even if Christianity has been here for more than 400 years. When they drink alcohol, they give a drop to the earth mother as we often do in East Europe too. Still the old beliefs exist. Because of tourist industry we have to pay entrance fee when we visit churches. (But it is free who arrive for the 6 o’clock morning mass) Entering in the 17-18 centauries churches, the gate of heaven open for us. Wonderful interior with carved altar and old murals. Stepping into the 18th century monastery, I felt the burden of that age and I remembered the echoes of novel the `name of the rose` by Umberto Ecco. In the afternoon, the laud crowds were whistling and beating their drums in their way to the stadium. Even on the main square hundreds of people were watching the football match in spite of the cold. This is the patriotism. The 28 of July is the Independence day. On the last days all hysteria happened because of this small event. Much udo for nothing. Few soldier’s bras bands are marching through the main square playing the `El condor pasa` and tunes `the bridge over the River of Kwai `. Strange context. Peru eclectic too. With a nice Swiss couple, I discovered neighbouring Inca ruins on horseback, arriving to the past, into the time of inca`s, enjoying the surrounding hills, landscapes and the history. In the evening I went to an open air concerts were South American world music groups played. Although it was freezing cold, the beer was the only drink and most of the food stalls closed early because they ran out of food. Security guards were dressed as fire brigadiers, and the other side of the fence, they were singing together with the crowds and with the groups. Yes, this is South America where the borders exist, but they have borderless culture. The spectators were dancing with the tunes of Andes in traditional way to keep away from freezing. Valle Sagrado On the buses in Peru loud folk music was played from cassettes all the time and passengers were singing songs together. I like them. Seeing the ruins I experienced: any wall called Temple, anything stone was astronomical measure point during the Incas. But we never hear anything about average people. Dust of the past. Around the ruins many terraces and rich springs could be seen which were because of the hilly environment. Lovely. In Pisac, there was Sunday market and we could see few women in traditional flat hats. In the nearby church I caught the last piece of tune of the Sunday mass. On the wall, the murals describe Inca figures, I think they were very unique. I walked up from here to the ruins, which took around 2 hours, and I met a guide who as he got to know I am Hungarian, he told me a storey one of the Inca leaders who escaped from Spaniards to Hungary. But this was funny because Hungary was one part of the Hapsburg Empire. But I wouldn’t be surprised after that, some Hungarians believe in Hun, Sumer, Assire, Japan, and Celtic relationship, of course, Hungarians had relationship with only to high cultures and had never been close to avar and trak tribes which close to us geographically. Machu Pichu The number 1 tourist attraction where every foreigner must go. Because of this, huge industry has been built up as a result, so here you can find the most expensive train in the world. $70 for 120km and foreigners cannot use local train! From the station, they can go up to the ruins, for another $6 and they can have breakfast for $35 plus entrance fee of $25. There are no other alternatives to get into the heart of the Inca Empire…seems. Luckily I found an alternative way but it took more time. After all I had to spend 8 hours with bus rides. Next to me were sitting a mother with her baby. No problem I have ear plugs. Behind me, a young boy learning to play the flute. What could be more? A baby is shitting. Smelly. Unfortunately I have no nose-plugs. So I converted myself skin respiration. At 3 o’clock in the morning, I changed to a small bus where 25 people were squeezed for 10 people. So I was again down at 2000m, the climate was much better and the treeking pleasant. This was the punishment to me because I was against the exploitation. But it was worthwhile as I did a nice trekking to Machu Pichu next day. I arrived at 5 o’clock in the morning TO Santa Teresa, village was sleeping. So I set into a restaurant where I felt nostalgia because the DVD player!! was playing the best of 80’s (Alpha Ville, Duran Duran, Flash Dance, etc). Here I understood that the travelling is not the changing in places/space but changing in time. Traveling back to the past. From here, 5 hours’ walk to Machu Pichu, so I had to start in dark. The first problem was crossing a river, so I had to guess how to use a cable over the deep running river. In the far distance, snowy peaks and red sun appeared at the dawn. Soon I met the biggest spring in my life which came out straight from the hill. Then, around 10 o’clock I reached the ruins, not using 10 minutes bus ride for $6. Compared to other ruins, Machu Pichu is not so significantly impressive as other ruins but more expensive. Few days later I went back to Cusco by hitchhiking a local truck. But it was so slow since it stopped every village for a couple of hours, so, I took on a bus. Again, in 5000m around me, it was cold and police check point was on the dusty road. A food seller on the bus was using this time to sell some snacks. The bus ride in the Andes was like flying in the sky. But it took longer. If the driver makes a small mistake, a rescue team can find the ruins of the bus 500-800m lower. Boring, yes, my next destination is Nazca. I used a 30-year old taxi to the bus station ( it was the same price as the bus ). The first part took us 7 hours instead of 4 because of flat tire. So, in South America, anything takes time and the people are late, not because they are busy but because they have time ( to wait). Rich country. Here is travelling is slow but not because of distance. Within a few minutes, a food seller from nearby village appeared. Due to the flat tire, they had to work extra hours beyond their business plan. Very strange, but after 7 hours ride, the bus ticket from Abancay to Nazca is more expensive than from Cusco. On the night bus, we were watching Chinese Karate film. Finally a driver found a seat for me, but we were a group of four. The seat was for two people. So the next thing, I had a child in my womb. But the most important things was to go down to the sea level back to the good climate. Nazca The name of Nazca plateau is funny because I come from 4000m high to 600m, so the plateau for me is more like ‘plain’. This area is famous for mystical lines in the dessert which attracts the aliens ( but not UFO in spite of the theory of Daniken). The Nazca culture was flourished well before the Inca from 200-800. The painting on the pottery gives us the guide line about their habits, the gods, and flora. It was discovered in 1920 by a European scientist. Mystical lines and figures are usually 90-100m in size, which were created by moving stones in the dessert because the earth colour is different from that after moving the stone. But interestingly, the figures can be seen only from sky. Was it for the God? But now for me, I bargained for airplane, but it was full, so I could fly only next day. During 30 minutes, morning light made curves appear one by one in the horizon. The pilot was shouting what we would see because the headphone didn’t work. What is about the airplane? So I couldn’t hear too much, because of too much wind was blowing inside. There was also interesting long lines focusing on nothing. Here lived a German mathematic who wanted to explore the secret, but no success was gained. Some think that this is the astronomical calendar. May be the answer is much easier. These lines show underground water lines. I was heading to north to Lima, I could see the ocean again. In Ica, there was a mixture of weekend and market feeling. At the exit of the church, there was an ice cream seller waiting for believers who were exiting from the church with the tune of ‘Don’t worry, be happy’. In the church, there was neon lights rays radiating from the heart of Jesus and it detracted the humble people who were not used to be the kitsch. Those who saw it exiting they meet the ice cream seller with the tone of ‘Don’t worry, be happy’. Afterwards, they returning in order to convert but, as they see the kitsch rays they exiting and they meet at the entrance, the tune of ‘Don’t worr….. Pisco and Paracas National Park Paracas culture, flourished 300B.C till 200A.D. and famous for their weaving. On the street, people always ask me where I am from and their association for Hungarian is puskas, the footballer. This is a medical record / diagnosis of civilization. People never associate with Semmelweis, Eotvos, Bolyai, Irinyi, Vasarely, Brassai, Kossuth, Jozsef Attila, or Csonka, but even better, puskas, instead of Radosi, or Bukarest. In a guest house’s toilet, there were two taps for a sink but there was only cold water from the both taps. This is when the hardware is earlier than software, but water only from 6 till 8 o’clock in the morning like most of cities in Peru. In the evening, big life around the plaza (square) performing stories, playing music but the most I liked was medicine dealer who dressed in traditional Amazon clothes advertising tribal herbs. In the evening, I made friendship with a travel agent so I got a free boat tour to the national park. The nearby island is a small paradise for pelicans, cormoran, booby. It takes only two hours to get there by boat by boat, but what is more fascinating thing is millions of birds hovering the horizon as they hunting for fish. I have ever seen The result is guano rain which collected on the islands every couple of years continuing the old tradition which Indians did thousands of years to fertilize their lands. I think Hitchcock got here the idea of his film of Birds. We could see seals, penguins, and sometimes dolphins. I had a fantastic time in the real animal world and I was happy to know that small Galapagos still exist here. Lima This is a real metropolis without metro. Permanent traffic jam, smog, 8 million people where are the street numbered till 4-6000 and you can ride on a bus more than two hours and you are still in Lima. Gigantic hell. I stayed at a family of art teacher with whose mother I was competed who could cook better. Yes, it was time to eat good food after boring diet of South America because 98% of the food contain meat. So I was limited to eat just few basic food, but her mother saved the reputation of Peruvian dishes. Not far from the main square, there are armed police vehicle remembering the not far past when the shining path organization did some terror attack in Peru supported by Chinese and Cuban communists. The most interesting thing In Chinese district, you can find Chinese restaurants, cheap market, Chinese gate, but never Chinese people. In San Francisco church, biggest catacomb in which buried more than 50000 people. In Lima, you can find the biggest pottery exhibition in the world and there is a special section for the sex. But South America’s most interesting museum is national museum where we can get a detailed view about the wide variety of pre-Inca and Inca culture. Before Spanish, there were so many vivid cultures that compare to Europe dark middle age. We were just barbarian society after Greek and Roman Empire were the dark age of Europe, while rest of the world, the culture was flourishing, but after the 15th century, with arrival of Spaniards, many high cultures disappeared in South America. The centra square of Lima with newly restored buildings. nearby street with performers, pantomime, moving food sellers, beggars, make the life more interesting. The ethnographical museum is very small and on Sunday they opened only for me. This is also sad that out of 8 million people, nobody is interested in the ethnic of the country. Once in a country village, we wanted to go to museum, but being Sunday, they had short opening, This way `serving’ to the public. This is inverted attitude to culture. The garden of congress palace which was separated from electors by fence, uniformed solders, armed police vehicles, this is modern democracy. Here situated the museum of inquisition where I could see the way of tortures. There were killed only 32 people which was not so much compared to Yugoslavian massacres happened recently. But according to Catholic understanding, they judged only the people who had souls ( Jewish and Protestants) because the Indians had no souls so, they punished them without judges. The autodafe were in front of the public. Interesting contrast to the Inca’s sacrificing ceremony where people were not allowed to be a part of human sacrificing. The life is changing. We are tending from the sacred to the social, from the ethic to the etiquette. In the museum of congress, we can follow ( only in Spanish) the history of democratization of Peru. We can see how disappeared from the original national flag the Lake TitiCaCa and the mountain. The last change was because of president who didn’t like the sun in the flag. For a long time, Fujimori, the president of Peru, it is very unusual to see a Japanese leader as a dictator in Peru. As we don’t associate Japanese as a dictator. The appearance of a mouse made a big astonishment. But they react with the same temperament for the soap operas too. This is South America. But more funny when I saw one funeral company which opens 24 hours a day. Strange. I cannot imagine someone die, and the relatives cannot wait till the next day to arrange the next week funeral. Modern Times. They don’t Remorse just think about the official think. Sad. In Lima, there is a first South American saint we can see the house where she was born and according to South American soul, the people writing their wishes in the letters, and throw into to a well. Turning out from the garden, I just catch the last moment of a festival. Some pilgrimers were pulling huge cross and they were singing songs. A bit later, I saw a bras band in the bus continuing to play music like in the cartoons we can see. One night, my host took me for an alternative circus, which is not usual in South America. There was modern choreography and live music but they still used red nose, over gesticulation and other traditional patterns too. Miraflores is liveable district of the city which is near the coast. After the jungle of grey houses, it was refreshing to see tree and grass around us. So after spending a pleasant week in Lima I started my last part of my peruvian journey, heading to north. I got a lift with a truck driver for the next 500km, which took more than a day. He was stopping often to eat or to talk with other drivers, so I polish my Spanish. We picked up more hitchhikers, goods and on the highway, we saw some pilgrimers who were carrying on their shoulders huge crosses to the north for another thousand kilometres. This is the power of the faith. Trujillo Pleasant small town with yellow and blue houses nearby there are ruins of Moche ( 0-700) and Chimu (1000-1500) culture. For a moon pyramid, they used 140 millions of bricks, but during the Spanish diverted the nearby river to wash away the mud brick pyramid in order to find treasure. This is a good example how Europeans treated another cultures. Most of the ruins are in very bad conditions, but still they give a glimpse of the colourful past through reliefs. Four days later, when I was hitchhiking further north, such miracle same camion stopped who carried me till here. Yes, he is working seven days a week, but he wants to work in Spain for 400 Euro a month, not a bright future. Chiklayo –is the town where people always warning me ‘Be careful of pickpockets’. It is very strange if someone has to spend his life with this danger minded. It pollutes the mind of people. Strange society. During next few days, two times attempt to steal from my backpack but I have eye on my back and once there was a weak attempt to rob us. I’m just sad because of decline of moral. My host took me around because in this area we can also find many pre-Inca cultures, ruins and exciting museums. In the market, there is witch section where you can buy not only herbs for black magic but also you can find different part of crocodiles and sharks. Further north, biggest desert of Peru and Piura is the oldest colonial town in Peru. Vivid town with many street performance and music and it was relatively quiet because, for the noisy motor taxi are not allowed in the centre. At the bus station, there was a bord which said that the 50-year border war between Peru and Ecuador ended in 1999. Good news. But I think 99% of us didn’t know about it. In Inka cola, over-advertised There was on the street, volunteers were always collecting money for some projects. They have no letter boxes and no bus, the public phones are chained, security guards whistling all night. My last surprise was border, because the immigration was 2km before the border, so I had to return for the stamp then, I could walk through the busy market town into Ecuador.