January 13, 2006

Suffering Ceviche & Other Stories

Okay, so it seems I may have been somewhat hasty giving myself the all-clear on the ceviche front. Have had some "digestive disharmony" in the last while that has been, well, less than pleasant. Needless to say, the prospect of a 7 hr bus journey on a loo-less rickety bus all the way to Naza became a bit worrying! Glad to say, Immodium saved the day (for a few hours anway )
The journey down here to Nazca was beautiful - the landscape changed all the time which made the 7 hrs fly by. More on that in a while.
Leaving Lima was a bit of a hair-raising experience. To begin with, the day before, I walked for 4 miles in the sweltering heat to the bus depot I THOUGHT I would be leaving from (i.e. in the safe part of the city) only to discover when I got there, that the loo-less rickety ones leave from a depot in the heart of the lions den. Ugh. So, to be on the safe side I booked a taxi for the following morning to take me there. The driver thought I was genuinely off my head going down there alone, and kept calling me "the crazee lady". After fleecing me for the price of the fare, his conscience must have got the better of him, and he insisted on coming in to the station with me and waiting until he was sure the bus would be leaving on schedule. He kept saying "Find some white ppl" which really put my mind at ease!

I met a Canadian couple who seemed anxious to huddle together with me in a corner, and the taxi driver (cant prnounce his name without producing a lot of phlegm) shook my hand and left. I was grateful to him. Anyway, as the bus navigated (and that really is the operative word - I have never seen such crazy traffic in all my life!) its way out of the city, we passed some of the poorest neighbourhoods I have ever seen. People ran alongside the open windows of the bus, shouting trying to get us to buy water and fizzy drinks trough the windows. The bus had to make another stop downtown, and we had to drive into a sort of warehouse whereupon the gates were locked behind us (apparently, the Cruz del Sur buses get jumped somtimes. Hehe. Great! Very reassuring!)

The bus was INSANELY HOT while we were stuck in Lima traffic. I had to take off everything I could - boots, socks, any superfluous layers! Once we got out on the open road though, the wind started to blow through and it was fine.

The landscapes on the way down here were spectacular. Initially, we drove along the Pacific ocean for miles and miles, passing miserable looking shanty towns. There was something really at odds with the scene - you would expect to see millionaire golf clubs or beach resorts along these gorgeous stretches of beaches. Then we left the coast and drove through miles of desert, which was very very beautiful - big eagles soaring overhead and no signposts anywhere. The people use rocks placed high on the mountains to spell out the names of their towns and villages. There was something really unique about it - instead of being barked at by neon signs saying "Turn left now", "Keep right", "No overtaking", you had to look to the ever-changing cleavage of the sand for guidance. Also, it struck me that it{s very in keeping with ancient Nazca tradition of drawng lines in the desert...

We passed through an oasis along the Rio Grande, which just appeared as a sea of green in the middle of the desolation. In that town, just as dusk was falling, we saw a big group of the townsopeople all sitting on chairs in front of a big TV (presumably one of the only TVs in the town). Everyone was having coffee or eating and just wathcingTV together. there was something very touching about it, and again, it just reminded me of how different our lives are. We have everything, but for that reason we are cut off from our neighbours - we dont really need them or want to spend tme wiith them, which is pretty sad really.

About 2 hours from NAzca we stopped in a town called Ica for a bathroom break. There was all these crazy old Peruvian women with giant plaits and skirts hogging the women{s loos, so I was sent in to the mens. It was very funny!

When we arrived in Nazca, all I had to do was literally cross the road from the bus station to the hotel, which is a little piece of paradise. Have ended up staying 4 nights here, I just dont want to leave! Met some very interesting people here, especially a Peruvian tour giude called Pablo.At first I was a bit wary of him, but after spending two days talking and swopping stories with him, I realised he is one of life{s true gentlemen who believes in living life and meeting new ppl, and he wants ppl to get the best from his country. He has given me a lot of helpful advice for my onward jounrye to Arequipa and Cuzco. He had loads of little interesting tit-bits of info - for example, the word "gringo" comes from the time whent he Americans were building the canal in Panama. The workers there used to wear a sort of green uniform and the locals really resented their presence there. Hence, the word "gringo" (green-go). I thought it was interesting, anyway. He also told me A LOT of fascinating stuff about the San Pedro cactus which is used in a shamanic Peruvian ritual (too long to go into, but I was riveted). Anyway, Pablo left today to go back to Lima, which is a pity. :( Another older man arrived today from Devon- he looks like Captain Birdeye and seems a small bit mental, but also good to chat to - has been everywhere!

SO, the tummy trouble continued over the last couple of days, last night being particularly memorable, and the 7a.m. stomach-churning flight over the desrt this morning really helped it! What did Ev do? She threw up in the airplane! HURRAY! what an ambassafor for Ireland I am! It was opkay though, it was only a little puke into a plastic bag and no-one notced except the lovely Dutch girl I was sitting beside - we both ended up having a great giggle over it. AND I WASNT THE ONLY ONE! Met a canadian girl in the pool today who said she threw up too, and her throwing up caused the guy beside her to throw up! Lol!

The flight ove the lines was amazing, indescribable and it was totally worth the early morning regurgitation. The lines are fascinating because their exact purpose is unknown. The Nazca people etched giant pictures of various animals and shapes into the desert 1500 yrs ago. Ay eye level they are virtually indecipherable, and obviously they couldnt be seen from the air back then, so local ppl think they must have been used in some weird ritual for collecting water or something. It all sounds vaguely drug-induced to me!

After the flight I had to crawl to bed until the nausea abated. Ugh. Dragged myself downstaits for some breakfast at about 10 and that seemed to help a bit. Then, I just sat in the shade by the pool for the rest of the day until I felt well enough to swim. And that was today - tough day!

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