Peru! I didn't know what to expect. Andean flutists? Llamas? Pickpockets?? All I knew was that Cesar (a.k.a. Ravioli) was waiting for me, and I would get a break from thinking for myself for awhile. Cesar is originally from Peru, so he was going to plan everything, protect me from thieves...be the man. The day he arrived in Lima after 6 years absense, I got a funny e-mail (I was still in Panama at the time)---my Peruvian guide was experiencing some serious culture shock! Luckily he was able to turn back into a real Limeño (man from Lima) by the time I arrived, haggling with taxi drivers, shooing away hawkers, chatting up shop clerks.
We met up with our old Japan buddies Tara and Loli and had drinks (lots of them) and a sleepover at their apartment just like old times. It was hard to believe that we were all in Peru! Congratulations, guys, on your soon-to-be wedding!!!!
Then we took a bus south to Pisco, the legendary city of Peru's famous grape-derived "pisco" alcohol, and no, as Ravioli emphasises, it is not from Chile. Pisco sours are the BEST, if you ever get the chance to try one, I highly recommend it!
The entire southern coast of Peru is pure desert, with huge sand dunes left over from the times before the Andes mountains pushed the land up out of the ocean. We took a boat tour to the nearby Islas Ballestas (the "poor man's Galapagos") for millions of stinky marine birds and floppy sea lions, and then to Nasca, home of the mysterious Nasca lines carved into the desert rock.
The Nascas lived in Peru from 1000BC to about 800AC, and left these incredible pictures and lines all over the landscape. The lines are perfectly straight and run for miles, and there are also giant hyroglyphs that span acres of land. Noone really knows what the lines were for, and how they made them so straight. Ravioli and I are both strong supporters of the communication-with-aliens theory. I sent Ravioli onto one of the 4-seater tin-can airplane tours to take lots of pictures for my blog, as I'm sure I'd have been crying in mortal fear the entire flight. There are tons more lines pictures in the Lima-Nasca photos, check them out! (along with new pics from Costa Rica and Panama)
I put up a new poll, would love to see your votes! I want to show Ravioli what everyone thinks of Peru, he he.
At the moment I'm high up in the mountains (3,300km/10,000ft in altitude) in Cuzco. We're off to Machu Picchu on mountain bikes as soon as we get used to the altitude. More on that next time!