This? Well I'm glad you asked! It's a llama eating a hallucinogenic cactus!
26.09.2013 - 28.09.2013 13 °C
Yesterday morning we set off nice and early for Miraflores. We wrapped up warm after our continental breakfast (cold toast and coffee), and set out in a taxi to this beautiful city with its ancient ruins. The taxi was on $15 soles which is a good price, and he dropped us right outside the entrance to where we took our guided tour. We learnt how the people of Lima back in 500AD would pray there, build administrative offices and also hold sacrifices. The ruins showed bookshelf pattern walls made from bricks which were built individually from mud and seashells among other materials. There was some restoration done on the site but the majority was original, and we were taken round to see where women would be sacrificed. Apparently, rich high class women between the ages of 15-20 who had already had a child would be given this hallucinogenic cactus, then severely beaten and horrifically mutilated before being decapitated! Apparently this was a good luck sacrifice. As well as that, people would sacrifice babies and occasionally but very rarely men. We were told that they ate guinea pigs and sacrificed frogs when it wasn't raining, as well as building pottery and breaking it in a ceremony for good luck. The ruins were quite steep, and we saw some tiny footprints because the people back in those days in Lima were very small.
After our tour, we took a stroll into the Inca markets which were really colourful and interesting. Literally as far as the eye can see there are colourful prints and knits all very finely detailed with little llamas, suns and other quirky details sewn on. At every stall Brad and I stopped for ages- we were mesmerised by all the colours I think! I could have bought one of everything! The cute little hats, the wooly scarves, even the little cuddly toys made from alpaca wool because it was all so cool to look at and so snuggly. I bought the best camera case in the whole world- a drawstring one with a picture of an alpaca eating San pedro (the hallucinogenic cactus) with little flowers and a smiling sun. This was a very exciting find. A lady from a stall took us to a restaurant when we asked for directions which was nice, but she wanted us to come back and buy from her. We didn't go to that restaurant. We went to one quite a bit further away called 'cafe de la Paz'. The starter was nice- cheese balls and dip, but my vegetarian lasagne arrived and look horrific. It was just soggy pasta in a hot cheese sauce with the odd slice of mushroom so I didn't eat it. I did however eat the first vegetarian salad I have found since leaving Australia which was beautiful. It was asparagus, quails egg, tomato, avocado and a really creamy home made sauce so I liked that. We told the waitress about the lasagne and she didn't even pretend to care, then when we paid (for everything including the uneaten lasagne) she was clearly expecting a tip but just on principle we wanted the ten soles change. She brought it to us in 50 cent coins so that was obviously deliberate. We don't think you should have to tip bad service even if it is customary, and I have to stick to my guns on that one.
Next, we walked past a paragliding company and decided to do it. We hadn't been able to do hang gliding so it was a spur of the moment decision and we were really excited. We went to get some cash out, came back and the line was huge, the wind was non existent and we waited nearly an hour before they told us that we couldn't fly. As well as that, when I was sitting on the bench waiting to fly, an old man snuck up behind me and pulled my hat pom poms. Strange, but absolutely hilarious! It wasn't just once, it was for a good thirty seconds he stood there pulling my pom pom and laughing like a mad man. Truth be told it was the highlight of my day haha!
We went to get a coffee and passed a church with a carpet of cats sleeping on its lawn which was bizarre, and noticed that all around us there were lots of cats dotted around all sleeping on the grass. We went inside the church which had beautiful bright stained glass windows and a detailed ceiling which hung over us as we sat down and listened to some of the service. Shortly after our coffee, we walked back up to the markets where we bought some wooly alpaca print socks, some souvenirs, a wooly hat for Brad, and a couple of woven bracelets. By now, it was nearly seven and we had to leave for the hotel so that we could pick up our bags on time. Traffic was really bad and we realised that the drivers in Peru are even crazier than in Rio! Literally we were stuck in a mess of cars not even moving, with all of these vehicles facing in different directions, no lanes visible at all and cars driving right up to our window side on. It's insane! And because nobody lets anybody else through, the whole place is constantly at a stand still beeping and swerving. We weren't too worried, it's just bizarre to watch. It took about three times as long to get back as it had to leave but that was no problem for us. We picked up our bags and got in the next taxi for the airport which was a bit if a nightmare. The driver said he knew where to go, but then down the road asked for which terminal and how to get there. We didn't know how to get there and this airport doesn't have terminals. Long story short, he got really stressy, pulled out in front of a petroleum lorry and nearly crashed, then dropped us off at the side of the road, and asked his friend to take us in claiming that he wasn't allowed to enter. I would argue that this was a point worth raising before he agreed to take us there in the first place! His friend drove us in and expected a tip which was awkward because I'm not paying twice for a terrible service. We had to rush through the gates before boarding an hour early and by this point, after a long day walking round we were just hungry and tired and not it the mood. I let Brad have the window seat and I sat next to a woman who had no sense of personal space, who repeatedly dropped her cushions and crossword and even her computer int my section as well as doing the arm rest dance with me several times. The flight luckily was short, and we arrived in Bolivia at 1.30 am. Our airport transfer never showed and after half an hour of waiting, we took a taxi to our hotel. Bolivia looks a lot more traditional, and more like what we were expecting. I saw two ponchos and that was just on the way home! The bed was really comfy and warm, but we have twin beds so I pushed them together . Brad was poorly from altitude sickness and we were both exhausted so we hit the hay after a quick wash at around 2.30am. I woke up A LOT due to shortness of breath and realised it was due to the altitude which is actually really scary. It feels like when you go to sleep with a cold and a blocked nose, the accidentally close your mouth in your sleep so you can't breathe. Except you can't open your mouth, there just isn't the oxygen there. It's a very strange and uncomfortable feeling but that's all part of it and we will get used to it I am sure. We woke up this morning still very tired but Brad feels better and we were able to have a nice warm shower. We had toast, cereal and tea upstairs and are planning today to go to the witches market close by. It's cold but nice and sunny outside so it should be a great day!