A Travellerspoint blog

Witches market and altitude sickness

Lucky Foetuses?!

sunny 13 °C

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Yesterday we woke up at around 9 and went for breakfast in the upstairs restaurant of our hotel. We were red eyed, tired and feeling like death warmed up. We went to the witches market which was walking distance from our hotel and saw lots of strange and puzzling items in the stalls. Among them were potions for longer lasting sex, llama foetuses (both hanging my their necks and decorated with what looked like an arts and crafts pack), good luck talismans and the usual touristy knitted items. Most if the women were in traditional dress, for example long colourful ruffled skirts, aprons and ponchos with tall bowler hats that somehow didn't move in the wind. I also noticed most babies were carried on their mother's backs wrapped up in a blanket.
The people seemed friendly and quite smiley but a few asked for money. We saw some very artistic graffiti and walked up and down the steep hills through the bustling food market. After the morning out, we were exhausted and I found it very hard to catch my breath because of the altitude sickness, plus we both had bad stomachs so we went back to the hotel to rest for a while. I tried to sleep but couldn't breathe very well so I woke up every minute or so panicked and gasping for air. We decided that we might feel better after some food, so we went to a cafe half an hours walk away called 'Alexander's cafe'. I had a vegetarian wrap and chocolate cake while Brad had a Mexican wrap and a kids sundae. The food was ok (chocolate cake was amazing and HUGE) and the prices were fair. Unfortunately, the food went straight through us and when I came back from the toilet Brad had had an accident. A hilarious worst case scenario kind of accident related to food poisoning. So we cut the day short and took a taxi home where we got washed and watched the Blair witch project in our room on our tiny tv with our beds on wheels pushed together. We got a call from reception informing us that our guide was here and to be in reception at 7pm for the welcome meeting. Some people were late so we didn't meet the whole group, but most of us sat and introduced ourselves, and we were taken through the itinerary. The others went out for dinner but we decided to skip it because we were still very ill and wanted an early night. It took us a while to pack and Skype my Mum and Dad, and the plug socket in our room was pretty sketchy so it took us forever to charge our phones and we got to bed at half eleven.
The night was not restful. We both had horrible dreams and trouble breathing, and in the dark that causes panic so it's hard to catch your breath again. We talked for almost an hour before going downstairs for water and hydralite, because we both felt dizzy and dehydrated. It helped us get off to sleep at around three but we were both very sick in the night and when the alarm went off this morning at 6am I felt shattered and so did Brad. We ran out of hot water, we ran out of toilet paper, we were in a rush and feeling a bit emotional. Breakfast was for ten minutes at seven- I just had coca tea and two peices of buttered bread which stayed in me for about 5 minutes. Then we had to check out and I waited downstairs with my bags for Brad who was taking a while. I went up to see him and he was in a state and very very ill. Everyone was waiting for us and I asked our guide to wait as I was told to get on the coach and wait. Bear in mind he was only ten minutes late, the coach driver was getting irate and decided to simply drive off with me still on the coach and Brad inside with the guide waiting for him. I heard someone say that whoever we were waiting for would have to stay behind and I turned around and told them that he was sick! I was feeling very defensive and tired and not in the mood for gossip or other people's whinging. Plus I was panicked. I had no idea what was going on and I appeared to be going on a three week tour alone! Half an hour later, they met us at another pick up point.
We both had headaches and felt sick throughout the day as we passed the border to Peru and climbed to a higher altitude, but after the bus ride our group leader took us to a local restaurant where the food was amazing! On our journey today we took a ferry across lake Titicaca and passes lots of little villages with half finished buildings and all sorts of farm animals dotted around. In the restaurant we had these hot drinks made with coca leaves and honey which was a bit grainy but sweet, and it helped with our headaches. I ate a salad with avocado and rice (we were told this place was safe for salads unlike some where the veggies are washed in dirty water), and Brad had a chicken and rice dis. It was nice to sit down with everyone from the group and get to know a few people. After that, we walked into town to a supermarket to pick up some food as a gift for our home stay hosts for tomorrow. Right now I am exhausted so I will be having an early night in our new hotel.

Posted by Kirstyonwroot 18:26 Archived in Peru Tagged food travel peru bolivia titicaca coach Comments (1)

Miraflores and going to Bolivia

This? Well I'm glad you asked! It's a llama eating a hallucinogenic cactus!

overcast 13 °C

large_0C8C6FED2219AC6817CE88438F2310C7.jpglarge_217A791A2219AC6817C2AC38F2288AA2.jpg2188F4962219AC68175B12C08850465C.jpglarge_F405AEC52219AC68175F684511BF1024.jpgYesterday 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!

Posted by Kirstyonwroot 10:21 Archived in Bolivia Tagged people food peru flight restaurants lima bolivia la_paz cold altitude Comments (0)

Rio to Lima

Flying sick and riot police

overcast 19 °C

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large_0CD412132219AC6817A39C2F59D1114C.jpgYesterday we had to get up at 1.30 am to catch our flight. I woke up sick as a dog and was vomiting all morning, before we left the hostel and at the airport during the one hour wait to check our baggage. The airport staff didn't even seem to know what they were doing as they kept stopping and wandering off asking for help, while I sat on the floor with the room spinning and my stomach cramping. It was not enjoyable. Brad had toothache and was feeling ill, plus both of our backs were hurting from a week on a chicken wire bed, so it's safe to say that the excitement of the next part of our adventure had not quite reached us yet. We got through in two hours to the cafeteria and our flight was delayed by an hour some sat and had a bite in the only ate in the airport. I felt a bit better after a hot chocolate but not by enough to stop me from shamelessly shivering and sleeping on the floor of the airport in the foetal position. Brad woke me up when it was time to board and luckily it was a quiet flight so we managed to grab 3 seats each to lie on. I woke up on average every half an hour and I think the flight attendants got a bit annoyed that I kept asking for water. Every bit of turbulence turned my stomach and I found myself heaving in the toilet several times. Once we landed, we got some water and took a taxi to our hotel.
I imagined Peru to be a bit ore cheery if I am honest. The taxi took us through some rough neighbourhoods and he told us the area we are staying is ok but not great when we asked about safety. This was confirmed when we drove past hoards of riot police and protestors, and pulled up to our hotel in the middle of it all. Nevertheless, we got in to our beautiful old hotel with its classic decor, washed and had a nap before taking to the streets. The bath was beautiful. It filled an inch and a half before running out of warm water so I had to roll around in it like a fish in a bucket struggling to stay under but I did t mind too much because when you are backpacking a bath is a bath! We got a cheeky KFC from next door and brad managed to use his Spanish skills to order me some lettuce in a bun, chips and surprisingly nice coleslaw. After that, we too, a walk down the high street past all of the heavily armed police and through to the hops. The buildings were beautiful, and very interesting to look at. So much detail went into every part of the architecture so that was great to look at. The shops were very similar to back home and there was even a Starbucks so I got a delicious earl grey tea which was heaven!
The rest of the afternoon was spent back in our hotel room because we were both still very very sick, and we watched kitchen nightmares and dr phil on the ipad which was a nice home comfort with my cuppa :) I went back out for a coffee because I was hungry and Brad went to sleep. Unfortunately, the police had dispersed and lots of people approached me when I was on my own, just trying to stay conversations as I walked past them and it made me feel uncomfortable so I went back to the hotel empty handed. Brad didn't hear me knocking for a long time and he had told me not to take a key so I was locked out and had to go back out. About an hour later, someone was back on reception and managed to call up and get me in. We had an early night and woke up this morning feeling better, so today we are going to visit Miraflores so see some ruins and have lunch which. Is exciting!

Posted by Kirstyonwroot 07:44 Archived in Peru Tagged buildings people peru flight Comments (0)

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