We experienced a delay with the border crossing into Peru. The whole world thinks Africa is a village, including the immigration officials in Peru. They were worried that as we were African we must have come in contact with Ebola. Especially since we’d travelled to many African countries earlier in 2014. We even tried to convince them that Brazil was closer than Cape Town to West Africa and we had been in South America for longer than the incubation period. After they consulted their health officials and a few phone calls later we finally had our passports stamped. To add insult to injury, we had our fresh veggies and fruit confiscated again!
The border crossing had wasted a lot of time. We headed for the coast to spend the night as the desert was rather intimidating.
It took longer than expected and we arrived as it was getting dark. The beach was not easily accessible so we slept at a garage again.
On our way to Arequipa we stopped in a small market town called Maquegua to replace the veggies and fruit that had been taken from us. What a delight it was…
We were getting behind our rough schedule and needed to pick up the pace. But we also desparately needed some time out to wash our clothes and linen. Proper facilities of a city, though we tried to avoid them, would sort out our needs.
We took a leaf out of Sue and Pieter’s book literally and booked into a hotel in Arequipa for two nights! We couldn’t believe all the space we suddenly had, and BBC News in English too. We realised why we hadn’t missed TV. There was very little news of interest and BBC repeated itself every half hour.
Being delivered to where you wanted to be and not where parking dictated. So relaxing for me too.
We mountain passes slowed us considerably so we asked if we could camp at a small roadside cafe in the mountains at dusk. We were 4460 meters above sea level! I awoke feeling nauseous with a splitting headache. I suspected altitude sickness. The car was covered in frost, in summer!
Being the driver I had to remain fit. Walking was also painful at that altitude with calves burning.
Cusco was lovely with its outstanding colonial architecture. Everything a tourist could desire. Even Starbucks. Camping was a no no. Fortunately we had been told of a safe place we could stay overnight by some tour guides we’d met at a restuarant….. Where the multitude of tour busses park at night in Saphi street, within walking distance of the Plaza De Armas.
We met some Norwegian girls at Starbucks who had just returned from Machu Picchu. After hearing of the hundreds of stairs to be climbed and I could hardly walk in Cusco. I asked Solveig if she’d mind if we gave that a miss too. There are those of you following our blog that will never forgive us, but we’ve been so spoilt by the amazing places we’ve been to, the people and scenery we’ve enjoyed, we decided the main purpose of this amazing journey, driving to USA, is more important.
Our way back towards the coast took us north of our outward route. We had planned to get to Nazca in one day from Cusco.
With many stops along the way to take photographs and visit ancient ruins we only got as far as Abancay. What an amazing day. One of the highlights of our trip. The mountains and fierce rivers cutting their way through deep kloofs are exquisite. The way farming is carried out on the steep slopes is unbelievable. No picture could ever do justice to the beauty. It has to be seen to be appreciated. It made up for the disappointment of not going to Machu Picchu.
The following day as we left the mountain passes behind, the desert returned with massive sanddunes. Nearing Nazca the desert wind came up in the afternoon as usual, but bringing with it clouds of dust and sand. Almost covering the road in places. We camped in the town of Nazca at a resort with only cold showers.
Soon after leaving Nazca town we stopped at one of the towers constructed alongside the road to observe the so called Nazca lines. The wind was blowing so hard that made it scarry to climb to the observation platform. I went up while Solveig waited below.
From the platform it is still difficult to see the lines etched in the earth and flying over the lines is arguably the better way to see them. Further along there were geoglyphs on a mountain side.