In September 2004 I flew from London Heathrow to Sao Paolo in Brazil. After a short stopover I flew to Lima, Peru to travel around this wonderful country for a second time…
What a welcome! Just after passport control at Lima International Airport, there were a host of dancers and waiters bearing trays of pisco sour, inca cola (the local fizzy drink, sadly recently bought by coca cola) and other drinks. The scissor dancers were amazing. Look out for them as you’re travelling around Peru.
My first stop was Piura. Here I was looked after by Julio Vallardes of Piura University and his wife Patty. A very friendly couple with excellent English who treated me like an old friend. For more Peruvian food.
Lush vegetation in the grounds of the University, not bad considering it hadn’t rained for two years. In 1992 Piura was very badly hit by El Niño and 90% of its crops (cotton, maize and rice) were washed away.
The village of Catacaos, about 12km from Piura, nice little place with some pre-inca ruins. Note the converted motorbike taxi in the foreground, a cheap, but not particularly safe, mode of transport.
It looks like a dump but this is the entrance to a picanteria with excellent food and very friendly atmosphere. Me and Julio were seranaded by two musicians while we ate our great food.
That evening, I gave a presentation to teachers at the university. Here they are, trying to sort out the order of one of my short stories. They were an enthusiastic audience who made me very welcome.
The following day, I travelled down to Chiclayo and after a quick chat with the headmaster of a local school, headed off for the beach. Here are the boats that the locals use to catch fish in the Pacific.
José-Luis Medina, Vice Principal of Colegio Santo Toribio de Mogrovejo and Chiclayo’s number one party animal. José took me to the coast and to two great restaurants. He also told me LOTS of things about Peru that you can’t read in guidebooks.
After Chiclayo, I jumped on the night bus to Cajamarca. The service was excellent and fortunately the moon was out so I could see the route over the Andes. This picture shows Cajamarca main square at night.
A visit to a local cheese factory got me a free ride on a horse. (Perhaps Mr Walmart could start offering the same). Here you can see me moving at such a pace that the picture is blurred.
Mud, mud, glorious mud… Nothing quite like it for soothing the blood.
What a beautiful colour! This is not a rich part of town but a small village away from Cajamarca, 3000 metres up in the Andes.
House construction involves pouring water onto a muddy field, stamping around until you have some mud, forming the mud into bricks and then building a house with them. Very well made, beautiful natural colours (of course) and certainly not as expensive as a trailer.
Amazing what a bit of irrigation can do. Lush vegetation and plenty of eucalyptus trees. This path leads from the village of Jacanora up to the waterfalls.
Talking of waterfalls, here is the first one. True, not too impressive in October but certainly a lot more spectacular after heavy rain.
The second waterfall and a great setting for a picnic. Yummy bananas, some soft bread, boiled maize and chunks of pork. What more could you ask for? Well, you could ask for no pork if you’re vegetarian – as Rosemary and Peter are.
This little beauty fluttered down right in front of me and stayed still just long enough for him to shoot it. Out of twelve shots, this is the only one that came out well – what a great thing digital photography is.
Here is Lia looking a bit lost. She is the queen of the dance floor but she is not so good at pushing heavy mountain bikes up steep paths at an altitude of 3000 metres.
Raoul, a young man from the valley. He was keen to help Lia with her pushing and enjoyed a ride on my bike on the way down the other side.
One of my favourite pictures from this Peruvian trip. Sunlight streaming through onto the town of Cajamarca, a simple track winding down the mountain and houses which blend in wonderfully with the local soil – from whence they came.
An original Incan bath and the Banos del Incas. Atahuelpa, an Incan leader actually bathed in this very pool. In fact, you may not believe this, but I was lucky enough to be able to buy some genuine strands of Atahuelpa’s hair that the attendant found stuck in the plug hole – a bargain at twenty five dollars.
At around 3700 metres, there are some very old and wonderfully weird rock formations. The area is known as Kumbamayo and is the watershed between the Pacific and the Atlantic. In the foreground we can see something very old and wonderfully weird as well.
Where is that trumpeting sound coming from?
How many six year olds look so dignified in the West?
Very simple construction but apparently strong enough to withstand the wind, the rain and importantly at this altitude, the sun.
After two hours of hiking around the rock formations, a break was very welcome. The potatoes were wonderful, the lumps of pork were delicious and the incredibly hot chilli sauce was, er, incredibly hot.
My Spanish is not very good and the guide spoke very quickly but there is a possibility that this particular lump of rock is called ‘clitoro’. Perhaps a geologist out there could enlighten us as to why.
Back to Cajamarca and the final meal with Luis, Veronika, Maria-Paola, Piedro and Pablo. The Requena family and their two maids looked after me all the time I was in Cajamarca – far better than a hotel!
From Cajamarca, I flew down to Lima and gave a four hour workshop to about 120 enthusiastic English teachers. Can you see what is going on in the third row?
The Richmond Publishing team – who sponsored this event in Lima.
Just one night in Lima and then down to Arequipa. How many airports have a 6057 metre dormant volcano next door? Here is the beautiful Chachani.
At 5822 metres, El Misti is smaller than Chachani but looks like a volcano should look. Its current status is ‘fumarolic’ and there are reports that it could blow.
What a wonderful place Arequipa is. Many of the buildings are built of white volcanic rock and the central square is full of palm trees and surrounded by double-arched walkways.
How many hotel windows have a view like this one? Chachani volcano at half past five in the morning.
And by leaning out of the window I was able to snap this shot of El Misti. Apparently, if El Misti becomes active, the lava will flow straight towards Arequipa.
Augusto De Dyer, Head of Richmond in Panama, Snoopy fan and all round good guy.
These conferences are nothing but hard work.
They think it’s all over. After the final session, me with Danny Hewson, organiser of the Arequipa conference and a friend.
Flying back to Lima, a view across the desert to a snow-capped peak of the Andes. It looks deserted but amazingly, people live in these valleys.
Leaving Peru, flying over Lake Titicaca and looking into Bolivia. The joke is that the Peruvians and the Bolivians share the lake – the Peruvians have the Titi and the Bolivians have the Caca. The Bolivians probably turn the joke around.
Arriving in London, everything appeared to be fine. Arriving at my brother’s house, I opened my bag to find that a baggage handler had eaten half a box of my Arequipan chocolates! Still, better than what happened to me in 2002…
Would you like to see more of Peru? There are pictures of my 2002 Peru trip. Or you can look at my pictures of delicious Peruvian food.