Sunday, October 30, 2005

Agua Calientes - 30 Oct 2005

This morning I woke up at 04.30 hr. Again it was not easy to sleepe because of the altitude. Everytime I go to bed I get a headache and drinking during the night (alcohol free of course) does not help so much. At around 05.15 a taxi picked me up to bring me to the train station.
There I boarded a Railperu train to Agua Callientes, or as the local people prefer to hear, Ciudad de Machu Pichu. The trainride was nice. The landscape changed from altiplano and snow topped mountains to subtropical cloudforest as the train descended from 3326 meter to 2050 meter above sealevel. In the train I met 3 Brazilian guys from Salvador and one of the three worked
in Salvador for Hamburg Sud and visited Belgium a few years ago so we had an interesting talk.
After 4 hours we arrived in Agua Calientes where I found a clean room for 40 Sol or about 11 USD. This room has the best shower I had untill now. Hot water without interuption, quite unique in Peru. Cause of the difference in altitude its also a bit better with my headache. The landscape is really nice here, high mountains with subtropical jungle, a lovely river and parrots in the trees. I made a short walk for about an hour on the Inca trail, I had no time to do the whole trail so at least I did a few hundred meters of it. The weather is perfect, sunshine and about 26 degrees, hopefully the same weather tomorow when I go to Machu Pichu. Agua Calientes is really growing, its 50/50 between the finished houses and the half constructed houses, I think they really expect a boom here. Its 16.00 hr now and I am going to look for some food I think as I did not eat a single gram yet today. Tomorow I want to be At Machu Pichu at around 08.00 hr, so I can enjoy the splendor on my own before the next trainload arrives at 10.00 hr. This means early bedtime again which is not too bad as Agua Calientes is not Antwerp of course.


Cuzco - 29 Oct 2005

Yesterday I was so tired that I went to bed at around 19.00 hrs local time. The only thing I ate
before was some chinese soup. In the night I suffered from the altitude and it was not easy to get asleep. I came out of my bed again at around 13.00 hrs in the afternoon and took a shower.
During the night I was thinking about bying alitude medication in the pharmacy but after the
shower I felt a bit better and apart from so headache its ok now.

I went to a travel agency to buy the necessary tickets for Machu Pichu. Its becoming a
bit a tourist trap but the authorities know quite well that no tourist will leave Peru without
visiting Mach Pichu. The entry + transport costed me 120,00 USD. I will leave tomorow
at 05.30 in the morning and I will stay for the night in the small village of Agua Calientes
about 12 km from Machu Pichu so I can visit the site in the early morning of Monday.
Monday afternoon I will come back and I suspect to be back in Cuzco at around 21.00 hrs
Monday evening.

Tuesday I will spend my day visiting some inca remains around Cuzco and on Wednesday
I will take a bus at 08.00 in the morning to Puno. I bought my busticket today for 35 Sol.

It,s 18.30 hr now so I will go for a light diner and after I will go to bed early again as
it will be an early day as well tomorow.


Saturday, October 29, 2005

A horrible ride from Nazca to Cuzco - 28 Oct 2005

Yesterday I had to take the bus at 21.00 but as usual the bus came at 22.30. The first 2 hours went well but then the bus went into the Andes and for 14 hours I did not see 1 single straight stretch of 500 meter anymore, left right left right left right all the way. It did not take long to get
dizzy but I could manage untill 07.00 in the morning, then it was time to put my head out of
the window, with thanks for the cars behind us for their understanding.

I did not see much from the snow topped mountains and when we arrived in Cuzco busstation at around 12.00 noon it took me an hour to get back alive before taking a taxi to the centre. I paid
the taxi 5 sol and checked in in the Teqsiqocha hostel for 6 USD which is 40 percent of the normal price here, its clear that we are in the low season here. The woman at the reception saw my
face and proposed me to take some rest first in the room before to check in officially what I did
with pleasure.

After my ´´rest´´ I walked a bit around in the centre of Cuzco, 3326 meter above sea level.
The altitude gives me a bit headache but I will stay 4 days here to get used to the height before heading further to
Puno and La Paz which are much higher . The centre here is really nice with a lot of old churches and buildings so tomorow I will spend the whole day exploring the city.

The weather is still ok. I did not see one drip of rain or snow untill now and the average day
temperure is 20 degrees, diving to freezing in the night here in Cuzco. Now I look forward to a
good and undisturbed nightrest tonight.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Nazca Lines - 27 Oct 2005

This morning I woke up at 06.00 and got a COLD shower. The shower heating hear works on
solar energy so in the early morning you can forget the hot water. At 07.15 a taxi picked me up
and brought me to the small airport of Nazca. Yesterday evening I bought a flight for 40 USD
to fly over the Nazca lines. At 08.00 the pilot, me next to the pilot and an american couple in
the back stepped into a small Cessna airplane. It was 20 years ago I sat in such a Cessna but
it felt like I was on my flightsimulator. We took off and after about 3 minuts we saw already
the first lines and figures. We had the map with the route the plane was flying and at every
figure the pilot made really very sharp movements to the right and the left flying in circles
over every figure so we could make excellent pictures of the figures. They advised us before
not to take breakfast and indeed after 25 minuts of flight I felt like I was on a ferry in a rough
sea. After 35 minuts we saw all the different lines and figures so we could fly back to the
airport following the panamerican highway and we made a smooth landing.

These Nazca lines are really a must see if you are here. It's a mistery why these figures
were made in the desert between 1000 before and 500 after Christ. You see birds,
monkeys and even a kind of astronaut and long wide lines as it were airstrips for
space-ships. The crazy thing is that you can only get a good image from them if you
fly over them and at that time they had no airplanes (at least not human beings)

After the flight and when the crazy rollercoaster feeling was gone I took a huge
breakfast in the centre for 8 Sol (2,50 euro), orange juice and coffee, eggs and bacon,
sandwiches and jam. I did not tell you something about the food yet but you can get
everything here except for Hoegaarden. Bread, ham, cheese, pizza,s , french fries,
cakes, a bakery here for excample looks just like a belgian bakery.

In the afternoon I went for a bus ticket to Cuzco, a 18 hours ride into the Andes
mountains. Its a popular route as I left the search for the ticket to a travel agency
and all the busses from 2 companies were already full. At last they found a free seat
on a bus from Expreso Wazi for 80 Sol (25,00 euro). The bus leaves here in Nazca
at 21.00 hr this evening. I hope it will be a smooth ride. I dont like driving in the
mountains at night so much.

Meanwhile I spend the rest of the day walking a bit in Nazca and having diner
Tomorow another update from Cuzco, hopefully without a headache as it lies
on 3200 meters above sea level.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Nazca - 26 October 2005

Hi all,

Lets start where I finished my last update. So...., this morning I woke up at 05.30 and after
my websession between 6 and 7 I went into the centre of Miraflores to find some phonecards.
Most of the shops where still closed but I could find a couple of cards in a newspaperkiosk.
They use Numero Uno cards here to call Europe cheap and they cost 10 Sol which is about
3 euro whats 3 poor euro,s if you have a girlfriend sitting home who is waiting for you.
No,.... I am not gonna tell you what I say on the phone you crazy guys. I am refering to my
collegues Tom, Jo and Stefan and maybe Leen too, all APL Belgium staff.

Well, when I got the cards I took a taxi back to the guesthouse and let the taxidriver wait
untill I made a small call and took my bags. He brought me to the busstation in Lima and
arrived at 09.00 just in time for the bus. I paid him 13 Sol for his services including a mini
course Spanish. Of course , as usual in countries like this one, the bus left 1 hr later at 10.00

Next to me in the bus sat a woman, I think she was 40. She started talking to me in
Spanish and I tried to explain her that I did not understand 1 word of what she was
saying but it did not help so she went on for about 40 minuts tatatatatatatataaa............
and I said si and no so now and then to please her while I was looking out of the window.
I was glad she left the bus and I got my peace back.

After 1 hour of busride I thought I was crossing the sahara in Africa....sand, sand and
sand again for hours going on. Later it changed in huge dune hills, they claim the biggest
dune hill in the world is about 30 km from Nazca. The last 2 hours of the busride I thought
I was on the moon....sand and huge mountains all black, grey and white mixed, no green
tree to see. They say the Atacama desert is on another planet so I am curious what it
has more to offer than what I saw today.

After 8 hours of bus I arrived in Nazca in the dark at around 19.00 hrs. A guy who should
bring me to the Estrella del Sur hotel took me to the Paramonga Hostel, for a commission
of course , but the Paramonga was 2 USD cheaper than the Estrella del Sur and the room
with attached bathroom looks ok. I got the room for 15 Sol which is about 4,50 euro so its
going in the direction of Asian prices.

I booked a tour with a travel agency to see the Nazca lines. I will tell you a bit more
about that tomorow. I am going to eat something now cause besides 2 sandwiches
I did not eat today. Sure my fat will be gone when I am back.

Cheers to you all my dear readers.

Lima - 25th October

It was 05.30 in the morning when I wake up. I think its a new record this year. The weather was foggy outside and with a temperature of 16 degrees. At around 8 I took a taxi to the busstation to buy a ticket to Nazca for 26th. The ticket costed me 20 Sol. After bying the ticket I
took the same taxi to the city centre. However we agreed a fixed price of 11 Sol, the taxidriver came up with a story het had to make a deviation and asked 15 Sol so after a short discussion
I put 11 Sol in his hands and said buenos dias and walked away.

I first visited the main square with the presidential palace and the cathedral. After that I
walked a bit through the city. The sun came through the clouds and the temperature reached about 21 degrees now. You see a lot of policemen in the city dressed up as they will
meet a bunch of hooligans soon but I think its just to make some impression on the people
as a general warning, at least it made me feel safe.

I also visited the convent of San Fransiscus. Now I know where the makers of the popular
PC game ¨return to castle wolvenstein¨ got there ideas for the scenes with the zombies
in the catacombs. I went in these catacombs in the convent and I thought I was in the
middle of the game, gangways, crosses, candle lights, graves, bones and was all

When walking in the direction of China Town I saw a demonstration to promote a
politician for the presidential ellections of 2006. The man himself saw me and gave me
a hand while making important phonecalls with his mobile, so maybe I met the new
president of Peru, lets check in 2006.

China Town itself is a bit strange. You have all ingredients to make it chinese as
restaurants, shops etc... except for the Chinese themself, they are all replaced by
Peruvian locals.

At around 14.00 hr I had enough of the city and took a taxi back to Miraflores for
8 Sol. I went for a look to the Pacific Ocean. You first have to descent 70 meters high
rocks down to the beach and cross the Panamerican highway. The beach itself is
rocky, no sand and the water too cold to swim now. The only people you see are the
surfers in protected suits and some paragliders.

At around 16.00 hrs I was back in the guesthouse and made a phonecall to Belgium.
After the call I went to my bed to rest a bit and fall asleep, jetlag problems. I woke
up at around 01.00 am local time which is 08.00 in Belgium so I tried to sleep a bit
longer but at 05.30 I had to get out of the bed again.

At 08.00 I have to leave the guesthouse to the busstation heading for Nazca.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I am on the way - 24 oct 2005

This morning, 24th October I had to get up at 05.30 in the morning.....aaaahhhhh..... I hate mornings. Lucky enough Alima took me under her wings so I could sleep in Brussels and she
brought me to the airport. My flight from Brussels to Madrid took off with a 30 minuts delay, good for me cause at the security checkpoint the beep went off 2 times and the officers thought I just graduated at a Taliban training centre. Anyway.... they let me go when they could not find
any explosives.

Iberia is almost bankrupt too I think cause during the 2 hours flight we even did not get a
cup of coffee. Flying from Brussels to Madrid is like flying from Los Angeles to Mexico City.
The Airport of Madrid is dirty, toilets not cleaned and most of the staff is already happy enough they
can produce Spanish. English has not been invented there yet.

At around 13.00 hrs the plane to Lima, Peru took off, an Airbus A340-600. A smooth 12
hours flight took us over Portugal, Madeira, Sint Maarten, Venezuela and Columbia to Peru.
It was 17.40 hrs local time (00.40 Belgian time next day) when the plane touched down on
the runway of Lima Int. Airport after flying over the Andes and the outskirts of the city.
So dirty the airport in Madrid was, so clean is the airport of Lima. The officers give you the
passportstamp with a smile on the face, what a difference compared with officials in f.e. China.

At home I already made a reservation in a small guesthouse in Miraflores, the nicest part
of the city and I asked the owners to pick me up at the airport so no hassle. Its actually a
possada where I stay, a family who rent 2 rooms in the house. I can use their bathroom,
kitchen, living room and so on. For the room I pay 10 USD and the transfer costed me
15USD. By the way, the local currency is Sol and for 1 euro you get 3.75 Sol.

As I already said, Miraflores is the nicest area in Lima. Here you can safely walk on the
street day and night, you find a lot of shops and any food you want, pizza hut, Kentucky
Fried chicken, Burger King and Mc Donald included. Its strange but the burgers here are
not cheaper than in Belgium, the pizza,s instead you can get for about 3 euro. The houses
in this area are residential but its strange to see that every house has a big fence with on
top of it 220 volt wires as protection.

My place is about 50 meters of the beach so tomorow when I wake up I can see the
pacific ocean. Its a bit too cold here to swim as the antartict gulfstream passes here
and the average day temperature is 19 degrees if the fog disappears in time. I will
stay in Lima tomorow and visit the old city centre but first a long sleep cause you really
get tired from such a day.