Lima Peru

We’ve become pretty accustomed to long drives on the trip, but the week long dash through northern Peru to Lima tested us. To spur us on, we had a friend flying into Lima for a two week visit.

When we picked up George from the airport the following day, I was outnumbered 2 Bulgarian Georges to 1 Canadian Teresa. I took the back seat and let the boys happily gab away in Bulgarian. George arrived with a suitcase of goodies in tow: car parts for George and kitchen toys for me. It is a well excepted practice to laden any visitors with whatever you might need from the North. My wonderful mother can attest to this after I forced her to jam packs of our favorite coffee in their limited luggage.


This girl is happy with the new toys.

Lima is perched above the pacific ocean and boasts a good swell and paragliding over the beach. We settled into a hostel in the heart of the safe and trendy Miraflora neighborhood which borders the beach.

Lima is chock-full of high quality museums. Forced to cherry pick, we decided on Museo Larco, private and impeccably run. Although the Georges claimed they were interested in the historical artifacts, I call bullshit. I believe they were drawn to the pre-Colombian erotica exhibit.

Sundays in Peru do not appear to be the day of rest they are in Canada and the US. To stumble on some Sunday festival is as easy as stepping outside and moving your feet. Our feet lead us through one of the central squares past yet another catholic procession to a food festival. The area was set up perfectly for street performers, there were tens of small circular performing areas for the crowds to be drawn into.

Typically, we try to avoid tourists attractions like Lima’s new Circuito Magico del Agua (Magic Water Circuit). George I. however is a little bit obsessive about water fountains, so it seemed like the perfect activity. I have to say, the 13 fountain circuit is delightful and best visited in the evening so you can take in the lights and pyrotechnics.

On our way out of Lima heading toward a desert oasis, we made time to snap a few pics of the city.


Bye Ecuador, hello Peru!

We left Ecuador in a hurry accomplishing one of the longest drive days on our trip (550 miles / about 900 km). After a forced two weeks wait for our tent parts to clear customs we had itchy feet. We din’t like much the human version of ping-pong between Fedex and Ecuador customs. The game is called “Overnight delivery (from the US) and over month customs wait”.

Finally here! For years I have heard legends for the amazing waves and kiting in Northern Peru. I was stocked!

We wanted to hit a few kiting destinations (Mancora, Lobitos, Pacasmayo), try surfing in Chicamas (this place claims the longest left wave in the world) and last but not least go hiking in the Cordillera Blanca. All this in the eleven days before a friend was coming to visit in Lima. The plan looked good. We just forgot one detail – the one thousand miles of driving from Mancora to Lima…

We started with two days in Mancora. Aaron and Linda, two of our overland friends, had arrived to Mancora the day before so we joined them. The first thing we did that day was work on fixing the tent. Man, was I worried if the parts were going to fit this time around… A month earlier we had received spare parts in Colombia only to find out they did not fit. Luckily this time with help from Aaron we managed to fix the tent! Hurray, Taj Mahal is working again!

Mancora turned to be a disappointment. It was crowded and a bit touristy. There was no wind and the waves were nowhere to be found either. On top of it all we had a mugging encounter which made us all feel uneasy about Mancora. We decided to move quickly to the next spot – Lobitos.

Lobitos delivered. It is a small village on the coast about an hour south of Mancora. Lobitos was created by the British as a booming oil town in the beginning of 20th century. After the oil dried up Lobitos turned into a ghost town. Now the only people who still live in Lobitos are a few fishermen and a hardcore group of surfers and kiters. A few hotels have started to slowly pop up here and there however you can still enjoy the place basically to yourself. Needless to say Aaron and I spent enough time in the water.

By this point five out of our eleven days have gone by and we still had a thousand miles to drive and so much more to see. We had to hurry. On the third day in Lobitos we parted ways with Aaron and Linda and headed south. The next destinations were Pacasmayo and Chicamas. Unfortunately there was no wind in Pacasmayo so we quickly moved to Chicamas. The day after we did not have time to fool around in the water so we just drove to the famous surfing spot and took a few pictures. The only sport I managed to do in the short hours we spent in Chicamas was oddly volleyball. I played for an hour with the local kids after dinner.

At this point we were super concerned about time and making it to Lima. We had to change plans. Teresa sacrificed (not for the first, and not the last time) some of what she wanted to do – Cordillera Blanca. We decided that it was too much of a risk to try to spend 3 days back to back driving to the mountains to hike for a day and drive another two days to Lima. We headed straight south.

Northern Peru looked very interesting. Sadly we had to rush through and could not spend more time. However I know that we will be back (at least I will kiting).

Cuenca Ecuador – The waiting game and rodents on spits

We had a plan for Cuenca Ecuador, a colonial town becoming popular with retirees from North America and Europe. We would get the second round of tent parts shipped there while we checked out the city for a week or so. We grabbed a room at Hostal AlterNative, a sparkling clean and well-run hostel about 15 minute walk from the center. George immediately stuck a pin in the hostel’s world map, the first Bulgarian to visit. A day later he met the second Bulgarian to visit. George gets a special kind of excited when he meets another Bulgarian, so he quickly flew up to our room smiling ear to ear to share the news.

A week of waiting quickly turned into two as our parts got held up by customs and FedEx employee laziness.  Waiting for anything can quickly put a bitter taste in your mouth, but we kept things in perspective and explored Cuenca and the surrounding area.

Cajas is a wonderful national park just 45 minutes outside of Cuenca. Hikers are greeted with hundreds of lakes and lagoons (most have lake trout), llamas, and stunning views. The weather was pretty shit temperamental when we were there, but the chilling rain didn’t detract from the scenery. We drove through a blue-skyed Cajas again on the way out of Cuenca. That’s highlands weather for you.

Thankfully, we had some company (Aaron and Linda) in Cuenca to drown our waiting blues in drinks and visit the Sunday markets and hot springs in the surround villages. The first order of business was for the guys to try the cuy (roasted guinea pig). A whole cuy will set you back about $10 – $12 USD, luxury eating in Ecuador. The verdict? Apparently it tastes like chicken 🙂

Our parts finally cleared customs and we made a run for the border, excited to be heading into Peru.