Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The perils of eating partly cooked Fish!!

Well we got to Pisco and the hostel was good and there was water in the pool, which of course makes it a mecca for holidaying Peruvian families. Pisco is an odd sort of place, still recovering from the 2007 earthquake that destroyed 80% of the city, close enough to the fish meal factories to have an awful aroma when the wind changes direction and with a "beach" that is so dangerous that the locals don't use it. We were one of only 5-6 other foreign tourists and took great care where we went in town. I arrived with a bit of a delicate stomach and left with a worse one.

The absolute highlight was a trip to the Ballestas islands, which had so many seabirds you could hardly see the rock, the air was pungent with the smell of the sea lions and there were cute Humbodt penguins. We shared our trip with a boatload of Peruvians so it wasn't quiet. We left from Paracas, which was a place we had thought about staying in but it wasn't great and a local lad said not to go in the sea as it is full of chemicals and it irritates the skin!!

After our boat trip we thought we would have a quiet lunch, we had spotted a huge cruise ship and guess what............they were spending the day in Paracas. It had left Florida in early January and was a 5 month round the world cruise. 90% of the passengers were American so prices in town were inflated!!  We met one guy who was on his 41st cruise, he was 87 and still quite sprightly  Chris tried a couple of times to stop the Yanks getting ripped off by rubbish exchange rates but I think it is a international pastime. So our quiet lunch ended up in a little cafe full of local workmen -always a good sign about the food. We had lovely freshly cooked fish with salad.

Buoyed by this we went the next day to San Andres , which made Pisco look good, and had a fish fest. Mine was a whole fish and as i got to the centre it wasn't properly cooked............and despite having it cooked was sufficient to make me ill. We were leaving the next day for Ayacucho and a 6 hour bus journey, so filled myself with Imodium. This worked fine for the journey, although when we got to 4,000m I had a weird episode with probably a drop in my blood pressure. 

We got to Ayachucho about 6.30 in the evening so our plan was to just find a clean bed for the night, and we got a taxi to Hostal el meson which fitted the bill at only 45 soles per night (£11). Only when we were registering did I realise that the taxi driver had picked my pocket. He had insisted on the bags going on the back seat which meant I was in the front, and with the excuse of helping me with my seat belt twice lifted a little credit card wallet. It only has between 25-30 quid in cash but also my Nationwide debit card. So I cancelled the card pronto and we went to sleep tired and fed-up.

 Ayacucho is a lovely town with a difficult past, for 20 years cut off from the government in Lima and with a terrorist organisation running the place. It is beautiful with fabulous colonial buildings and little courtyards at every turn. The people are cheerful and really friendly. We had thought about staying in our little cheapy but when the cleaning staff started at 6am , making a huge racket knocking on doors etc and we found our room being cleaned before we checked out we decided to move on.

We have stayed in a lovely little place half a block from the main square, called Hostal Markos. It is quiet, up a little cul de sac, the gate gets locked at night and at the end of the lane is the local baker. They have a wood burning oven and make between 5-6,00 little bread buns every day. It is ready at 4pm and till about 9 there is a steady stream of people buying bread. It is a cross between a bread bun and pitta, when you open it there is a huge hole. I like it but it is not Chris' favourite.

Saturday night we went to see the "Peruvian Michael Jackson", on the basis that if it wasn't any good it would be a good laugh. First there were 2 local bands and as the first ones got to the stage I turned to Chris and said this will be a Coldplay song et voila!! MJ was brilliant he did about 10 songs, changed costumes and had all of the moves a great night. 
By late Saturday I was still feeling ropey and Chris started to be ill as well and by Sunday he was much worse. We think the problem with the fish was bacterial and I then gave it to him. It is easy to do when you spend all your time together and share water bottles etc!! Luckily we had some antibiotics that we had bought in India and they started to work within about 12 hours-evidence of bacterial rather than viral causes. We both missed a city tour we had booked. We did however see a fabulous display of local dancing about 20-30 different groups, all in different costume danced around the main square, it is a once a year event so we were privileged to see it.

Yesterday we just took it easy and the drugs have done the trick, so today we went on a visit to Wari about 45 mins from Ayacucho. Our guide Julio was lovely, really knowledgeable and spoke clearly and slowly so we could understand. The site is pre-Inca from 500 BC and is huge and less than 10% has been excavated, so great ceramics and mummies have been uncovered. The whole site is covered in cactus plants making excavation even harder. He picked us 3 different types of tuna (prickly pear) to try white, yellow and red, my favourites are the red with nice juicy flesh but loads of hard seeds. 

We then went to a memorial to a battle that ended the Spanish occupation of South America and down to a little town Quinua which is fanous for its ceramics. The trip cost us less than £10 and we went by taxi as there are so few tourists around.

Tomorrow we have to be up at 5.15am for our flight to Lima. Three days in the big city before we are off again. Hopefully the national museum will be open as it was closed for refurbishment when we were in Lima in September. From Lima we are mountain bound again to Huaraz in the Cordillera Blanca and hoping to do a little bit of trekking, as here there is no infrastructure to do it.

I'm staggered that people continue to read this blog-I can see how many views per day-and hope you enjoy news of our travels. 
Pictures to follow tomorrow when I get faster internet and  are a selection from different places.

Till next time, take care.
Impressed..........yeh but the sand at the end of the access ramp was a bit of a let-down


Waiting to fly over Nasca


Humboldt penguins

Peruvian Michael Jackson

Cute or what??
Norma xx

1 comment:

  1. Well you seem to have had just about every possible experience in the last couple of weeks - both good and bad, but you seem to have survived! So that's good! I'm sure the girls will be glad to see you back in one piece! I can't believe you are able (and willing) to do this trip at your (our) age! I'm not sure I could be able to take all this excitement, and still not be in my own bed......... Look fore=ward to your next blog. Please make it not so scary! (I'm obviously turning into an old scaredy-cat!) Kim :-)