Peru Update Date: Thu, 13 May 1999
We're in Lima at the mo. Got here a week ago & in our foray around Miraflores discovered that Star Trek - Insurrection is playing. My God - we didn't even know there was a new ST movie out. (Though we had suspected something as another cyclist we know emailed a copy of an email to some other Trekkie cyclists we know, which mentioned something about ST. Stani remembers remarking on it to Richard how come we hadn't heard anything about it. (After a little investigation (ie asking other gringos) we've been informed that this movie is "ancient - it came out what… at least 7 months ago!" and someone even said it is the 3rd TNG movie to have been released. Okay - so we're a bit behind the times. The only movies we've seen being advertised in the cinemas for the last 6 months seem to have been Karma Sutra & DragonBall - oh yes - also very popular - Babe.
Imagine our delight when we arrived in Lima thinking - at last we should get to see a decent movie - and all they were showing was Austin Powers. We thought it was ghastly when we saw it last September.
We are staying with a family from Belgium who run a pre-school for 3-5 year olds. Very pretty & clean. The family are sweetie pies & more importantly make very good espresso coffee (almost impossible to find here. You probably remember ghastly stuff that passes for coffee here) Stani’s Dad warned her this morning that on a list of the 10 most dangerous countries 5 were in Africa. He’s terrified we’re going to go home via this route. Then he started on about Bolivia etc. Stani said pooh - most of these places are safer than London what with the bombings. Some girl we met in an internet cafe that is also from London said it was something to do with a guy who was abused or something by the police. (Don't know where she got that from as everyone else says that they’ve caught the guy & it’s some nut that just hates everybody. She had doubts about our authenticity (as to being from London) when we didn’t recognise his name but then we explained we'd been away for 2 and a half years she forgave us. Funny thing was she reckoned Richard had an English accent! (Richard is French) I know his English has improved but I think that really that's pushing it!
When in Huaraz we went on a 3 day hike to Chavin. We decided to treat ourselves on our return as we were fed up of being filthy. We had been happily stomping along the trail when a campensino called us down; telling us it was much better & faster to follow the river. Suckers that we are we believed him. Spent the rest of the day not entirely sure we had followed the correct river & wondering if we had wandered up the wrong pass (there was this huge mountain in front of us which was not shown on our map) & trying to hop-scotch over the marshy ponds - no luck in that direction & ended up just wading through mud up to our thighs for hours on end. We tried to regain the path but could never get across the river. At 4500m in the cold it's not much fun. Stani had joked at the time when we left the campensino that he had probably just called us down so he could ask for a regalo of matches.
On reflection we believe this to be entirely true - we were totally loco to leave the trail.
Okay to get to the point. When we returned (11 hour journey - 5 of which were waiting for the bus, which as with EVERY single bus we have caught on our journey so far had a flat), we decided we would treat ourselves & splash out on a nice hotel with cable TV, remote & order pizza & beer. Oh yeah FAT CHANCE! Despite Huaraz being a gringo town - no cable TV was to be found. Peruvian TV wasn't exactly to our taste so we decided we'd just camp as usual but go & blow our dosh on a pizza. We chose the best pizza place in town, splurged on Absolutes, wine, desert - the whole hog. Admittedly this blew a whole week’s budget but it was worth it. But as we languished over our espressos a couple came in & sat at the adjoining table. We got into conversation with them & found they were as big Absolute fans as us. Thus went the rest of the evening as we drove from bar to nightclub & tried to drink the town dry. Our hangovers the next morning suggested maybe we succeeded.
Anyway - they were from Lima & yesterday we met them for lunch. They took us to a very expensive restaurant & though they only had 3 A&T as they had to return to work, they insisted we have 5 each, so not being the total alcoholics we were in London in the good old days we very merry! They have invited us for a weekend at the country finca & are going to take us sailing. Oh what a hard life!
We say this because 7 out of 8 of the last cyclists we’ve met have been total teetotallers & shuddered at the suggestion of a beer saying snotty things like "my body is a temple" crap. (we’re all for people taking care of them selves just hate it when they look down on us for being mere mortals & enjoying the odd vice now & again.)
We’re getting really stressed out by the traffic here in Lima. Stani honestly thinks it's the worst she’s ever encountered. Makes NY & Mexico City seem like babyland. This morning a taxi nearly hit Stani. She cycled up when he stopped at the lights (a rarity in it itself. Although most junctions have traffic lights no one pays any attention & they have to have police to direct the traffic) & asked him to allow more space as it was dangerous to drive so close & he just started abusing her for being on the road. We both have been hit from behind whilst here because the bastards just can’t be bothered to go round you no matter how close you are to the kerb.
If you know any other cyclists who are going to be Ushuaia for the Millennium please let us know. We are both considering spending it in Ushuaia & are currently trying to round up as many cyclists as we can & arrange for a mega party as we know 5 other cyclists who will be there the same time having completed the Alaska to Ushuaia route. Either that or find out if a friend is passing in his boat & hitch a ride to NZ.
Yesterday we made lunch for the family we're staying with. Very nice & civilized with wine & out on the terrace. We were very impressed with Juanita (the mother - she's Peruvano - the rest of the family is from Belgium) – she mentioned that she thought Stani wasn't very keen on kids but it was obvious that Richard liked them. (Absolutely right!) She also seemed surprised when Stani said that everyone always tells her that when she gets older that her maternal instincts will develop - what a pleasant change. Everyone always is horrified when Stani says she doesn't like kids & inevitably ask her "But why?" Stani normally responds with "What on earth makes you like kids?" (something Stani finds totally unfathomable!)
Ciao for Now
Stani & Richard
Next Newsletter: Peru Part II 8 Jul 1999