It seems ages ago since we were travelling around the fascinating country of Peru. In fact it was just a couple of months ago.
I have always wanted to visit South America – until now it was the only continent I had not been on.
Underdeveloped countries hold a special fascination because of the socio-political climate one finds there – not to mention that there are also usually plenty of classic cars. And I was not disappointed on either score.
Peru also held a special attraction because of the archaeo-historical context. The ancient Pervian cultures, pre-Inca, Inca and then conquistadores.
Putting aside that Peru is the second largest cocaine producer in South America – and that their management of their part of the Amazon rainforest needs a little more effort – we had a fabulous time.
On arrival in Lima we were introduced to the Pisco Sour – an excellent cocktail of rum, lemon juice, and egg white whipped into a mind-blowing froth. We had a few of those during the holiday!
The other beverage that the Peruvians have a penchant for is Coca Tea (yes that is the plant that cocaine comes from) an excellent elixer against altitude sickness. Fortunately something I am not afflicted with.
On our first day in the Andes at Colca Canyon (4800 m above sea Level) we saw a whole flock of Condors – it’s not often I get to see birds big enough to see!
We did all the major ruins and churches and towns, and took a ride on the Andean explorer train – the Pervian Orient Express – luxury on wheels! And more Pisco Sours.
Machu Pichu was a must – as was Lake Titikaka and the Uros people who live on floating reed islands – complete with solar panels to power their TVs.
Of course I couldn’t resist getting into some amateur archaeology – This is a pre-Inca burial chamber known as a chulpa – and just a few metres away, under a rock, is the top of a child’s skull – probably one of the children of the nobleman inside the chulpa.
Before heading off to the Amazon I decided to go paddling in one of it’s tributaries – the Urubamba.
The girl with the Meg Ryan smile behind me in the boat is an Irish school teacher and her smile got wider and wider as the river got rougher and rougher…
I loved the Amazon – we went Cayman spotting by night in a dug out canoe – paddled across an archaetypical ox-bow lake to watch a family of giant otters feeding, we saw howler monkeys in the trees right above us, shuddered at the sight of giant spiders and had conversations with macaws and toucans.
The people on these barges are prospecting for gold – using mercury to seperate it from the gravel – poisoning both the river, and themselves.
I’m sure one of my Biggles books was called ‘Biggles in the Amazon’…
I do feel extremely privileged to indulge my two great passions – Aston Martins, and travel.