Due to the suspension of Aero Continente, the Peruvian National Airline, my original plans were no longer possible as I had intended to fly the length of the country in one day. Taking a flight from Piura in the North to Lima and then from Lima to Tacna,
My options were limited. Join the scramble for flights, and pay out more money that I haven’t got. Or take the coach which cost relatively little in money but a lot of time. You’ll gather by the number of times I do travel that you have to look after the pennies in order that you can go away again……. and so the bus it was.
This involved a 15 hour trip from Piura to Lima on a day which was proclaimed a national transport strike day (although ironically planes were not affected!). Travelling through Chimbote a major town in the north we saw several protesters standing at the side of the road, with scarves over their faces and waving placards. All of a sudden a hail of stones hit the bus ,no windows were broken, but the driver immediately took evasive action and pulled of the main road and elected to take the back roads quickly out of town.
The papers the next day focused on the town for the violence that had occurred that day. Glad I wasn’t staying there.
Arriving back in Lima, I tried to find out when I could get a bus further south. Once again the mañana culture was evident, I ran around form bus station to bus station, to no avail. I found there was a bus leaving for my destination, but that it was full. So having a list of options I considered whether to go straight to Tacna, or stop off on the the way.
There was the town of Ica with the nearby wildlife reserve, at Paracacs or Nazca from where it was possible to fly over the Nazca lines, markings made well over a 1000 years ago on the desert landscape that cover an area of 500 square kilometres.
I decided to go to Nazca. I had heard varying reports from fellow travellers. Ranging from a fantastic experience to an absolute nightmare, due to the fact that they had paid money and then sat about all day only to be to they weren’t able to fly that day. Undeterred I set off on the ten hour journey. The Pan-American Highway, seems to be just one straight road, with very little variation in scenery. Although I found that the main attractions could be seen in the morning. When the debris from the night’s before accidents were revealed. I spotted two horrific accidents at which cars and in one case a lorry were burnt out. Wearing a seat belt wasn’t going to help here.
The journey was broken up with countless videos, mainly American slapstick humour, (at which the locals spent a lot of time laughing at), and playing bingo. Of course I joined in with the Bingo, and was guided by the person next to me who soon spotted I was a little slow at working out the numbers. My Spanish is a mixture of Engl ( from English) and ish (which should be from Spanish but is actually from English) meaning that I am extraordinarily grateful to the rest of the world for the effort they have put into learning English in order that I can get assistance quite easily wherever I am. Thank you all.
Arriving in Nazca at 6 o’clock at night, it was just getting dark and I had two aims. The first was to get myself on a flight over the Nazca lines the next morning. The second was to find someplace to stay. The guide book gave details, and sure enough 50 metres from the coach station there was a booking office, just waiting for my money. the flight was booked and I had to be there early the next morning. they also offered accommodation, but having nothing to do thought I’d check out the other places in the guide book.
They were all reasonably cheap with prices from $3. You have to bear in mind that you get what you pay for. My main concern in Peru, after from the lost reservations, the hygiene , and safety, had been water (a) there actually being some (b) that there was an option for hot. The first few failed the water test.
I carried on down the dimly lit road, in no hurry. I spotted someone walking out of a hotel, which I quickly looked for in the guide book. There was no mention of Hotel Virgen de Guadalupe, but intrigued I wandered in. The place was immaculate and a gentleman was busy on the computer at the reception desk. Obviously dealing with all the hotels bookings. I enquired tentatively if he had a room free. After a long pause, he said that he had. I wasn’t sure why he took so long to reply. He had a good command of English and he seemed very efficient. I asked about the facilities, and it had everything you could want. Including the hot water, the tap was turned on and immediately warm water flowed out. This you will realise after a time travelling in Peru was a rarity. he had sold the place to me. Upon enquiring about the price he told me that it was $10, and that everyone said it was too expensive and that I could pay less if I wanted. the place really was immaculate there was no way that it wasn’t a bargain and so I insisted he took the $10. A man has to live, I thought.
Having made use of the hot water, I went to the reception and soon had Luis, the hotel owner helping with my travel arrangements on his state of the art computer. He took pity on me and did his best also to advise how I might be able to get my money back from Aero Continente.
It was now around 8 and time to eat I thought, I figured I would be back around ten and get a reasonable nights sleep before getting up at 6 to go to the airport. Luis was quick to give advice on all the establishments in town, I quickly narrowed the choice down to two and was about to set off when he asked if I minded if he came along.
“But what about this place ,” I asked. It turned out that I was the only guest, the person who had been in before me Had just looked at the price and walked out. Having experienced all the other hotels on the road here I was more than happy with the place and the price was still a bargain. Luis explained that he spent money on the upkeep and the cleaning and he had to charge a price that reflected this if he was to make any money. I realised it had got to the stage where he was on the verge of giving up. He was more than happy to close the place and come out for something to to eat.
Luis had previously been a photographer in Germany, but had decided to retire in his homeland. Bring with him the latest technology and a string of ideas to promote the area he regarded as home. he had found that everyone appeared to be against and didn’t want to change. He had tried to organise his own tours but the locals just did not want to change. The local hotels were all desperate for business and were charging ridiculously low amounts which could not provide them with a liveable income.
Luis was an entertaining host and has a sense of perspective which would be a great asset to the community. In order to keep him going please visit him on your next visit to Nazca.