Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Peru, Country Number 7

Hello from Punta Sal, North East Peru. Country number seven in South America and a country of contrasts. We are currently staying on the arid coast, before going back into the mountains later this week.

I really enjoyed Ecuador and it is probably the only country so far that I would want to come back to and explore further. Due to the 5 days on the Galapagos Islands we did not actually have a huge amount of time in this fascinating little country and it is definitely worth a few more weeks to go hiking, biking and climbing up in the mountains. After the heat of Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia it was also really nice to get back to some cooler weather, even if we did see quite a lot of rain (think a Scottish summer).

The last couple of days in Ecuador were spent exploring Cuenca, an old Inca city in the South of the country. A very pleasant city with some great colonial architecture, interesting museums and very tasty restaurants. One of the pleasant surprises of Ecuador was how cheap everything was, where you could get a great meal out for under $10. Much appreciated after the inflation hit cost of Brazil and Argentina. It was also really nice not to have to worry about exchange rates and money changing as Ecuador has somehow managed to adopt the USD as its official currency. Quite how the US allows this I do not know (a number of countries, such as Zimbabwe use the dollar as the unofficial currency, but Ecuador is the only country I am aware of where it is the official and sole currency within the country), but a bit like the Euro in Europe, it makes it a lot easier for the weary traveller.

So after the green mountains of Ecuador it is back to the heat of the coast. The resort/campsite we are staying in is basically a collection of hotels and restaurants along a beach in the middle of nowhere. As you may know, I am in no way a beach person and therefore have been twiddling my thumbs for the past few days. How anyone can go on beach holidays is beyond me. There is nothing duller than being stuck on a beach with nothing to do!

Our location has however afforded me the opportunity to give surfing a try. Interesting experience, but not a sport for me. Too much ingestion of seawater, battering by waves and falling off for my tastes. The instructors were excellent and I properly stood up a couple of times, but not an adventure activity I will be trying again. Why anyone surfs off the coast of the UK is a mystery as it was cold enough off the coast of Peru?

So one more day of getting board by the beach and then it is off down the coast towards Trujillo and Chan Chàn, the ruins of the imperial city of the Chimú domain. The Chimú dynasty predated the Incas and were a significant influence upon the more famous South American dynasty. Apparently the Chimú finally surrendered to the Incas in 1471 after 11 years of siege, so they were clearly a stubborn lot! (or did not fancy being sacrificed to the sun god?).

Happy Saint Georges Day,


Catedral de la Inmaculada, Cuenca

Tomebamba excavations, Cuenca (Canari & Inca site)

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