[Editor's Note: Zhou and I couldn't be taking it easier... today we feature Dad Curry as the latest guest poster on NHC. Nice work, Dad!]
I spent two weeks traveling the back roads of Peru – who would ever have guessed? As a one-time guest blogger, here are a few random thoughts about the trip.
Like many others, for more than eight months I have traveled vicariously each day with No Hurry Curry. It has been entertaining and educational, with amazing photos. So I asked them not to change their travel style, just let me tag along. The hostel-staying, bus-riding, world travel culture is all new to me. And I am a fan. What a great way to see the world.
I actually had one goal in mind in going to Peru – to see Kevin and Zhou. A side benefit would be seeing the legendary Machu Picchu. Some children come see their parents from time to time, or invite their parents to their home, apartment, dorm room, etc. With Kevin and Zhou, you have to fly somewhere and hope to hit a moving target. But it was worth the effort.
I suspect I did not see the worst of the hostels that Zhou and Kevin stayed in; the three we visited were all quite decent, and all seemed to have very involved and dedicated owners. Though not the most comfortable, I really enjoyed the hostel in Cabanaconde for its friendly staff and cozy restaurant.
I found the town of Cabanaconde to be fascinating. It is probably as remote a town as I will ever visit and very poor, but in a sign of the times, they don’t bat an eye when tourists wander by in the streets. And those streets that handle the big buses from Arequipa also regularly handle livestock.
In Cusco, our path to the main square from our hostel took us down one of the narrower streets I’ve seen. The lady below is safe with this car going by, but when trucks or vans went down here, you’d have to flatten against the wall to avoid being clipped by a mirror. One driving rule I picked up on in the narrow Cusco streets is this: at a crossroads with stop signs for one road and right of way for the other road, the taxis on the road with the stop signs honk twice as they approach to let the through traffic know they have no intention of stopping. Then it is up to the traffic on the through street to slow enough to check the intersection before they enter it. It sounds a bit crazy, but everybody seems to know the rule, and it works.
The Inca Trail was great. I was very impressed with Zhou’s toughness – due to the steepness of the trail, it was physically challenging in many spots, and she took it all without a problem or complaint. Whenever you see her after she returns to the states, offer her a cold drink with actual ice cubes in it, a warm shower and clean towels and I think you’ll have a friend for life.
Picture taking on the Trail takes a lot of behind the scenes coordination and effort to get the perfect shot. Hikers are an unruly bunch.
Hiking the Trail is equal parts hard work and beautiful scenery. I am happy to report that everyone thoroughly enjoyed every second of their Inca Trail experience.
The town of Huacachina was also fascinating. In the middle of nothing but sand, someone built an oasis.
It is a sleepy little spot mainly there, I guess, to capitalize on tourists who want to sandboard and take exciting dune buggy rides. It’s really amazing how much sand there is and how tall the dunes are. Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan is a piker compared to this place.
The other great thing about Huacachina is La Casa de Bamboo Café and their lunch special. You can choose one of three delicious pasta dishes, and you get a cold drink and sundae with pieces of brownie and chocolate sauce. I think it was the sundae, but we couldn’t keep from going back. Many thanks to Beth and Ryse, the friendly owners.
Favorite trip moments:
- Looking up from the Arequipa airport tarmac to see Kevin and Zhou smiling down from the waiting roof.
- Chocolate milkshakes at Jack’s Café Bar in Cusco.
Least favorite trip moment:
- Late in the bus ride from Arequipa to Cabanaconde, as the never-ending, LOUD, Spanish music droned on endlessly. Stoic, hell, I was plotting the best way to cause the driver to crash the bus so the music would stop.
To sum it up, it was a trip I would not have missed for the world, made even better by having Steve able to join us. (My wife, while dying to see her family, would have hated the conditions on the trip, so good call there.) Kevin and Zhou are amazing travelers and I think life off the road will take a bit of adjustment. Clean, different clothes, comfortable beds, hot showers, ice, and a few other niceties may help with the transition. I am sure the Zhou and Kevin who left last September are not the same ones returning in July, but we will welcome them back with open arms anyway. Thanks for the great adventure.
Picture of the Day: Dad didn’t post a PotD, but I think this one of his arrival brings things full circle quite nicely.