Monday, March 06, 2006

Three-Legged Horses

It`s been a while and I think part of the lack of communication is the downer that was Perù. So far my least favorite country, although, there were some times worth mentioning--and hanging out with Dan (Kankles) was a good time for sure.

After almost getting robbed on the way to Lima, Kankles (according to the Urban Dictionary, "Calves that become feet without taking an ankle break") and I took it extremely easy in Lima, me getting over the Cholera (yes, I had Cholera) from the cebiche I had eaten and Kankles resting his Machu Picchu`d kankles. We watched two or three movies a day, Kanks talked to his girlfriend and I drank a lot of water. And that was Lima.

On to the Cordillera Blanca which should have been called the Cordillera Nublada...because instead of being white it was just cloudy. Highlights of Huaraz: the girl that fell in love with Dan (Chinito), and getting in a full blown water fight with a middle-aged traditionally dressed Andean woman...only to realize too late that it was an trap/ambush and a bucket of water came down on me from the rooftop above. I got her good, however. Huaraz was amazing for that, as it was the last day of Carnaval the town was transformed into an all-out war zone with rooftop bucket bombs and balloon snipers, gangs of water-wielding teenagers (they came toward us screaming "Gringos!" but luckily weren`t too well stocked up on water), and the aforementioned shop-owners turned traitors. It was quite a scene, and no one escaped the line of fire. As we caught our minivan to the mountain lagoon the driver and co-pilot hustled us into the van as if we were in a scene from Patriot Games and the mortar rounds and rooftop fly-by-wire missile launchers were bound to get us if we stopped for too long. Needless to say we were pelted by buckets of water the whole hour and a half ride and one bucket of water actually caught the driver in the face as we were doing about 60mph...all fun n` games.

The ride back was the real story. For the entire hour and a half we had over 30 people in a minivan (really those Toyota vans with the engine under the seat)! The worst part, however, was that one of our fellow passengers decided to bring her furry friends. Two kittens were suffocating in a plastic grocery produce bag as Dan took them away from her and held them on his lap (while I sneezed). Her dog was loose and running around under the seats...then(!) we hear a cluck...and sure enough two roosters pop out of a canvas bag that she was carrying. It`s funny now...not so much then.

Kanks and I parted ways after two nights in Huaraz, he back to Lima and I onward to Trujillo. I immediately got out to Huanchaco, the beach town, where things were better, a decent hostel, some nice people (one being the 7-time Trujillo surf champ) good food and some great Pacific sunsets. The waves were good, too, shoulder to head high, but I mistakenly thought I couldn`t get access to any money to surf so I packed it in and said I would surf Màncora where the water is warmer and only another 6 hours up the coast. And how wrong I was!!! I got into Màncora, and the Pacific Ocean looked more like Lake Pacific, literally, it was pacified and flat. So you win some and you loose some...and I lost that one. Hopefully I`ll be redeemed in Columbia.

Spent 14 hours on buses yesterday and well worth it to get me out of Peru! Away from the hastle and hustle that had made me weary of travelling, and really of people in general. Dan and I were both a bit disgruntled the whole time we travelled Perù as the people just managed to get under the both of our skins. But he`s flying to Buenos Aires (I`m jealous) today and I`m in Ecuador.

Hello Ecuador, good to meet you. Everyone I`ve met so far has warned me that Ecuador is dangerous, which is fine, but I`m accidentally carrying a little too much cash right now which has left me a bit paranoid. Should be fine, though. I was riding the bus here and I noticed the music the bus driver was jamming up front. As I read the Lonely Planet they described Ecuadorian music to the tee, and so as I don`t give that book credit for much I will credit it with this clever description: the beat of Ecuadorian music is like a galloping three-legged horse. It`s so true...and bad. But other than the music, which I was expecting to be similarly poor as it was in Perù and Bolivia, and the amazingly high concentration of drunks (also similar to the southern neighbors), Ecuador is OK so far and I`m happy to be here. Right now I`m in the touristy town of Baños (translations: Bathrooms...or Baths probably more accurately) from which I plan to explore this part of the Andes.

Some pictures:

"Enjoying" the ruins

Dan, contemplating higher things (Vanessa)

A shamelessly posed photo-op

"This hike is great!"...then the sun set

An unenthusiastic midnight arrival

Kanks testing his mental tenacity--with dissapointing results

River crossing that Dan and I had just completed seconds before...thank God

All smiles(!) as we began what would become the fruit truck ride from hell

Dan and I in sandboarding and dunebuggying heaven...and check out his sweet shades



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