Thursday, 27 September 2012

Greetings from Peru

Buenos dias mis amigos Mexicanos y otra personas que entienden espanol. Chris y yo estamos horita en Peru , en la cuidad de Lima. Esperamos que todo es bien en SAMAO, quedemos un tiempo felix con gente amable y queremos decir "Muchas gracias a todo". Acqui es muy differente, una cuidad de 8 milliones personas, un ciel gris y poco frio. Yo espero que usteded pueden transducir mi blog porque yo utiliso un tipo differente de Ingles quando yo escrivo que quando yo hablo. Yo pienso tambien que yo escrivo muy malo!!

Vaya bien a todo!!.

We arrived in Peru in style last Wednesday. When we booked the flight it was cheaper to go business class than economy!! We checked out of the hotel and sauntered to the front of the check-in queue and then cleared security and enjoyed the VIP lounge. Lovely comfy seats, nice staff, lovely snacks , coffee and my first taste of Mexican wine.........on the last day. The seats were 2 abreast and loads of legroom and we got our food on real plates with real cutlery. All very pleasant and will balance our last flight which is with Easyjet!! 

Things have improved with Chris' mum , she is now conscious , still very weak but starting a slow road to recovery. A huge change from 2 weeks ago when we thought he would be going home for a funeral.

We landed in Lima on time and our lift to the hostel was there waiting. We stayed at the Iqueque hostel, which was plain and simple and clean, with private shower room, TV and wifi. Breakfast was just bread and jam and coffee and a bit haphazard. But it is only 70 soles a night ( about 4 to the £) so about £28. Lima is the capital but it is a grey city and cold a big shock after 5 months in Mexico. 
Traditional Peruvian dancers in main square Lima

Lovely old city centre coffee shop.......15 soles for 2 coffees!!

The virgin de la Merced , paraded round trujillo as part of the spring festival

The main Moche God .Huacha de Luna

Excavating the city at Huacha de Luna

Adobe city at Chan Chan

Our first day was just going to be  a wander around the main square so first we went to get some more soles and booked our bus tickets for Trujillo , a city 9 hours north of Lima. We tried 6 different banks and none would give us money, the staff in the banks gave various excuses and we decided to try later. By we got to the main square the traffic was awful and there were loads of police, some with riot shields.The teachers, nurses and doctors are on strike and there are daily marches causing chaos in the capital.As we arrived it was time for changing the guard at the Presidential Palace. 

We then wandered off and found a little local family run cafe for lunch. The set meal was 6 or 7 soles and had a lovely avocado and potato salad and I had chicken and rice. We then had a bit if a break and in the evening tried again to get some cash, no success so after a carb-filled cheap meal we decided to ring the Nationwide. They had stopped our cards as a security measure!! It was sorted quickly but sometimes you despair , luckily I also have my First Direct cards and was able to get some cash.

The next day was even worse, we used the local buses to go to the National Museum, which promised an overview of Peruvian history and culture etc. After 30 minutes on the bus we arrived to find it closed till mid October. 30 mins back to the centre of town and after a bit of lunch decided the next best bet was the Archaeological museum........yeh well that requires a taxi and the marching strikers had the city at gridlock again. We went in a corner bakery and had a cheap coffee. 

Our third day in Lima proved a bit more successful, we walked though town to the Plaza del Armas and then visited the church of San Fransisco and its catacombs. Fascinating guided tour, although the song "Dem bones , Dem bones" kept popping into my head!! Next a trip to Chinatown for a reasonable meal and finally the Museo de la Inquisicion.......with a few gruesome looking models in the basement............and of course the Monty Python "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition" was an obvious pun!! In the evening we ate in a more expensive place ........still got carb overload. Chris had goat and beans, cabrito con frijoles a local speciality.

Sunday we set off for Trujillo, a 20 hour round trip on some very comfy long distance buses. My only other experience was in Ecuador when the long distance buses played violent films, mainly staring Claude van Damme. We had a good selection both ways ( including Glee-the tour!!) This trip was on my list because I wanted to see the ancient ruins that pre-date the Incas by thousands of years. It was well worth it , Trujillo is a beautiful colonial city, it was warm with blue sky. 

We spent a day in the centre then booked a whole day trip to see Huacha de Luna and Chan Chan. The first is a fabulous pyramid type construction and the second is a city made of adobe. You can only visit a small section of both as money for excavation mainly goes to Cuzco. Our guide was very knowledgeable and we were exhausted at the end as the tour was in Spanish!! We ended the day at Huanchaco, on the beach and had our first taste of Peruvian ceviche, which is very different to the ceviche they serve in Mexico. Ceviche is just raw fish or prawns, with onion marinated in lemon juice and chilli, which cooks the fish. It was served with yucca and sweet potato.

It is taking us a bit of time to try and get sorted with a decent diet here, everything comes with potato and rice and very little vegetables or salad. The bread is all white and refined to within an inch of its life.........but it is not expensive to eat out. In Trujillo we had freshly cooked chicken and home-made chips and I had an egg sandwich and chips and it was 8.50 soles.........just over two pounds. There is a veggie restaurant around the corner so I'm headed there for lunch. Luckily fruit is readily available and quite cheap.

Tomorrow we are flying down to Cuzco and on 1st/2nd October doing Machu Pichu...........till next time.

Norma xx

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Last post from Mexico!!

Well here I am sat in the Grand Prix hotel in Mexico City with about 2 hours till we set off to get our flight to Lima. Seems like it was only yesterday we were arriving in Mexico. 

I'll start with yesterday which was a day of two halves.......woke up in a lovely colonial hotel in Guadalajara , had a lovely buffet breakfast in the courtyard and then spent the morning , on my own, looking at some of the key old buildings. Chris has twisted his knee again and stayed in the hotel. We set off about 2 and got to Guadalajara airport in half an hour . Check-in was an absolute nightmare, we had to unlock our bags before check-in......mine has 2 compartments and 4 locks!! Then the "search" just was not worth the effort. Chris said I had my stroppy voice on.....too true. That was just the beginning, the flight was delayed by 2 hours-its only 50 mins to Mexico. There were announcements , with a rubbish PA, in the fastest Spanish you can imagine. No apology from the airline on the plane and the it took 45 mins to get to luggage. It was 10.30 by we got to the hotel and I had hoped we would have a meal and a beer HUH. Feel better with that off my chest.

We had a lovely last week in the laguna, a week past Sunday we had delicious lunch with Chris' Spanish teacher, his wife and Chuyleta. Then Tuesday we had lunch with Loretta, Chuyeta, Miguel, and Alma. We popped to Tepic on Wednesday for some last minute things. On Thursday at kinder Edith announced she had a new job and that kinder was closing temporarily...I'm not surprised, there are only 6 kids. 

Thursday the children of the 3 laguna schools did their bit for Independence day. The usual Mexican organisation, start at 8 am.......the secondario teacher wandered over at 8.30-he is not a nice man. The kinder kids were so cute and they marched from to the new Malecon. 

Chris was too ill to attend-I made some food on Thursday and we were both ill!! It tasted bitter and I hardly ate any.......Chris ate more so his stomach was worse. It meant I then had to do most of the cleaning in the house, luckily he had done all of the outdoor stuff previously. By Saturday the place was spotless. Uwe and Marlene returned Saturday and were pleased to see the  animals were fit and well. We had de-camped into the trailer for two nights.

Chris barbecued and Lulu, the doctor, turned up so we all ate together. It was good to spend some time with them and hear about their trip. They are a lovely couple and had had a fabulous 3 weeks visiting friends in Canada.

Sunday we went up to SAMAO for mass but it wasn't on as there was an Independence Day parade which was good to see. The whole town had flags and bunting and Viva Mexico pictures!! We had a final lunch at Catalina, lovely sitting by the laguna. Then in no time it was Monday morning and we set off for Tepic ( 50 mins) to get the bus to Guadalajara ( 3 hours). 

We had booked a hotel in the centro historico San Francisco Plaza a lovely old place with big rooms, lovely internal courtyards and nice staff. We had looked forward to a different meal, Lonely Planet suggested a Chinese. Big mistake, pretty mediocre buffet we had a set meal . Everything came together soup, very greasy spring rolls and rice and two dishes with more broccoli than even a broccoli lover could eat ( yup that's you Imogen) . There were no real flavours but we were hungry so we ate it. 

So its off now on our proper travel which have two clouds looming over them. Chris' mum has been in hospital for a few weeks and last week was fitting and his sister was told it was only a matter of time. Thankfully she seems to be making some progress. If she passes away Chris will go home for the funeral, about a week. Second cloud is his knee, which at the minute will not get up Machu Pichu!! He might have to resort to the train.

South America here we come.............

Lunch with Pedro, Marie and Chuylet

My patriotic Mexican flag toenails!!

Kinder ninos getting ready to march

Marching in SAMAO-the boy with the lovely smile is Chris' young student friend Jose

Final lunch with Uwe and Marlene
Norma xx

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Peru here we come.........


Hope this finds you fit and well!!

This time in two weeks we will be in the land of Paddington bear..................and I am just getting excited about going and am ready to leave our beautiful laguna. This will be a short blog this week as I have loads to do today. I have an hour at kinder then I need to crack on with the Argentina planning because I have got another trip to plan.
B-one of the Irish nuns

Those of you who know me well will know that I love rugby union and have just realised that the next Lions tour next year 2013 is in Australia and that 2017 is in New Zealand and 2121 in South Africa. Having already been to NZ there are a whole load of reasons why 2013 is screaming out to me to go. I've always wanted to see the Lions and think i can sort it out. 

However it would appear that it is a HUGE industry and that independent souls really struggle to plan a trip. Flights and accommodation are easy.........Emirates from Newcastle via Dubai to Brisbane, sleeping easy and couch surfing is easy in Australia. However the tickets are another matter and are tied to a few travel companies who charge ridiculous prices for everything, and most of the travel companies are run by ex rugby players!! I have found somewhere to book tickets as part of a hospitality package and may do that as I can save by booking everything else independently. Also I don't think I could stand three weeks of "touring" with hordes of rugby fans!!

Back to Mexico..........had a lovely day on Sunday with Julie and Jorge and their Friend, Enrique. They came for breakfast and we made poached eggs on avocado toast with English breakfast chili!! Chris' knee is still not brilliant but he is making slow progress, he managed a day shopping in Tepic yesterday. Used the wifi in Starbucks and uploaded some new books for my kindle and enjoyed real coffee. We had lunch at the fabulous vegetarian restaurant again, wonderful selection of food and all beautifully presented.

Kinder is problematic again, teachers were on strike on Tuesday!! I have three more session and will just focus on having a good time with the kids. Today we are going to learn words for clothing and do some counting. I know the teacher appreciates the time I spend there as she said she liked what I did.
Antonia-one of the therapists
Tomorrow I am hoping to go and see some ancient paintings in a little village near here...........well if it is easy to find as the tourist staff in town we could end up at three different places!!

 At the weekend may go out to a little pueblo at the north end of the lake. i met a lovely woman called Irene in the hairdressers and she invited me to go and visit. The Mexicans are so hospitable and friendly. 

Chris came back from last week's Spanish class with 2 avocados and some requeson cheese!! A gift from the lady who lets him and Pedro use her house for lessons!! Pedro teaches at the university in Tepic and we bumped into him yesterday.
Maria (or Chulyeta) my lovely friend who teaches me how to make Mexican food
We have bought gifts for the 3 children who live on the site here, Marleen ( she is at kinder) loves princesses so i got her a book about them, Oscar (11) loves football-easy bought him a ball and Chris is giving his virgin fishing rod to Rafa. Life for them is very different to home, they spend a lot of time outside playing, the boys help clean the site with their dad, Rafa fishes loads and Oscar drives both the pick up and the quad........yeh on the road too!! Don't recall seeing many L plates anywhere.
Alma- the lovely giver of massages!!
There has been great excitement at the dispensario  as they all learn about the use of magnetic therapy, last week there was a three day course. I provided snacks for Saturday, raw veggie and hummus and tzatziki which they all loved!! All of the photos this week are from that event courtesy of Miguel.......also I just found out that if you copy and paste photos it is much quicker than uploading!!

Till next time.........the last news from Mexico