Peru

How love made me skip Ecuador

Prologue

Ye olde friends, families and forgetting ones, I’m still alive and celebrating this by a brand new, shiny blog entry. It’s 10am, I am sweating inside a 2x1x1m^3 mosquito tent or as my better half calls it “My mosquito bunker” somewhere deep, deep in the jungle. My girl is on a trip discovering medical trees and plants (yeah, right) while I try to let my body recover from the last days enemy attack waves resulting in way above 100 mosquito bites. Yeah, hello malaria. Bring it on.

So how did I fall into this hell hole? Or in love with that yet mysterious girl? Or why is Patrick boo hoo’ing like a pussy? If you are asking yourself these questions, you have not fallen asleep, yet, which motivates me to answer you as the plot thickens like my skin thanks to the bites… …Yeah, boo hoo yourselves.

Oh Perú, mi país del déja vu

Lady. For the last time, stop sprinklingly chopping that meat right next to me on this tourist bus!

That or a slightly different version might have been the thought I left off with last time on my ride to Cusco. However, that’s a lot of meat soup under the bridge. Cusco, the entry gate to altiplano, andes and the most popular hidden city named ‘old mountain’ (yeah, go figure, Hiram Bingham was no fountain of imagination). I’d have called it city of heaven or house of gods and maybe it actually was. Unfortunately we’ll never know. Those nifty genious architecs called Inkas sadly made a fast and quite complete disappearance before telling anyone.

Now instead of telling you yet another Look-at-me-and-my-Machu-Picchu-pictures-or-how-I-did-the-Inka-jungle-trail! (which frankly was quite amazing but trust me, doing it yourself is way better than reading about it) standard story I will tell you about the paragliding angle. Yes, it’s forbidden to fly there, now. But in Franz and his lovely wife I did find remarkable people who did… almost 30 years ago. Those brave men and women did not have gopros or speed bars. They relied on quite antique gear and expensive cameras flying above an uncharted territory. It’s simply amazing. Of course I also spread my wing and flew over the sacred valley.

Together with Patrick, Umberto(aka Guillaume, my first ever other paratraveller I met in SA!), Andi, Yves, Ruben and many more, the thermals pump me to heights never experienced before. Perú means a lot of first times to me. First time I flew up a volcano (and survived a night up there), I flew above the Nazca lines, I bungee’d over the mental barrier, I rose above 5200m, did my first kitesurfing (quite successful I might add), saw the Amazonas and met a stunning girl I could share all this with. But let’s rehash that in order:

makes krackle noise with hands You know, it’s almost 1.5 months ago that I last wrote a blog entry so my rusty brain seems to giggle at the thought of rehashing all that with a certain level of accuracy. But be not afraid, albeit it might take another 1.5 months to write:

Cusco, take 1

Ah guys, I’m too lazy. My first visit to Cusco was nice but I’ll cover Cusco again, just wait for it. Uuuh the suspense!

Lima, only once

Hola Lima

So after that extensive Cusco chapter and an airplane ride of which the takeoff happened very scarily late on the runway I glued my eyes on the window once for a change above cloudbase wondering how many Machu Picchus could still lie hidden in this beautifully carved landscape.

Thanks to my friend Daniel’s suggestion I landed in the Kokopelli after the most fascinating taxi ride with a highly philosophical driver who told me he only does this job to meet interesting people. Now imagine that almost hour long conversation about god and the world in spanish. Uhhh but what fun that was!

Kokopelli Lima. A place I will never forget. Not because of its lack of warm water or deadly slippery bath. Not even for it’s overpricedness or because I still have that bracelet on my arm. No, it’s my helloSilke place. I mean, they all warned me. Some even furiously. Just you wait, Patrick! You’ll come back with one or even two people from that continent. Who knew it was going to be a fancy northern neighbor of my moo moo country! Anyway, before the spark enlightened and sealed two strangers so strong together: Paragliding in Lima! While I walked towards Parque del Amor and saw the first gliders in the distance, my feet automatically sped up. Because who knows, the best time to fly might already be gone. But that’s not how Miraflores works. After a smooth, extremely uncomplicated take off I was hovering like a cloud on that sunny Lima day for over two hours. It feels a bit like going back to kindergarden and being very, very fast at stacking legos or doing the other games (I think that’s mostly what I did back then). I have never seen an easier site for flying. Don’t get me wrong. It’s fun for all sorts of acro, but no challenge whatsoever. So when I returned to my hostel room with that wide as can be smile I met her in the room. Not long into the conversation, we exchanged videos and images of our respective worlds: hers diving under the water. Mine flying in the air. But her heart was mine when I unpacked my… applist revealing duolingo, my brother in arms against spanish only speaking people. So in the middle of my trip between Peru and Ecuador there I was. Paused. Lost. Hopelessly in love. Then she asked me if I’d like to join her on her trip to Cusco. And so began our now almost month long trip. Beginning with a next morning Peru Hop™ bus we took. The business model sounds simple enough: Pay once, cruise by some nice cities along Peru, let people hop on and off at will and put a guide on the bus that creates adventure by misreading attendance lists and leaving behind unsuspecting toilet users. But oh do they fiddle with on/off hop lists and changed hostel reservations. Save, flexible, fun. One out of three, my friends. One out of three.

First stop of our sweet swiss-german couple:

Páracas

Or how Silke found an unconventionally hurtful method to rise her kite…

One of my love’s rather elegant shots ;-)

Surprised of being the only off-hoppers and soon realizing that most other passengers seem to just stay in the bus for all the way (lazy daisies!) we arrived at our first hostel. But ‘active construction site’ would be a better description of that noisy half built hostel to be. With a pool you wouldn’t dare to enter if they gave you money our motivation to get out and do stuff was maximized. So off we went with quads to storm a National park. Our guide was quite surprised when I unpacked my glider at the coastal shore and I enjoyed miles of coastline for an hour.

It’s also funny how we randomly seem to meet the exactly right people. That way we’ve got greatly priced food at an old lady’s restaurant and amazing kite lessons with soon to marry Juan, who taught us how to maximiza saltwater intake through nose and mouth. Paracas is a small place where we could use one of the two Gringo advantages: Entering a luxury hotel and enjoying beachside pillow cabins without being noticed. The second gringo advantage is that your baggage never gets searched (unless of course you foolishly forget your swiss army knife in your hand luggage)… Darn it. Well, at least this happened after extensive usages during our countless Guacamole sessions (no, that’s not a codeword you dirty pig). Where was I. Oh yeah, kiting. The sport where you sloooowly lift the kite on one side and then walk into the water. These instructions were sucessfully ignored by my darling who catapulted herself into a weeklong footcripplage. But on the upside: I had almost the whole bay for myself. Ok she is going to hit me in 3,2,.. too early. :-)

Next stop (we could park on the disabled spot now):

Huacachina, tourist oasis wonderland

Swimmimg at your own risk

It reminds of mamas mashed potatoe with brown sauce in the middle. Best way to describe this oasis with sandboarding and sandbuggying as the highlights. To be fair, this is the first time on my whole trip that I actually used a pool. On to more interesting topics: Since the Peru Hop™ flexibility stops at the bus station (which for some reason in Huacachina is a trash heap) we decide to take a normal bus to our next stop:

Nazca

Or where the hell are all the other gringos? Or my best and cheapest haircut I ever got.

First shock: Paragliding on the biggest dune of the continent is a bit too daunting. So we settled for flying over the Nazca lines in a bowelmoving 6 seater Chessna paying much less than our russian co-passengers. Haha, in your face.

Nazca Nazca

To our surprise, these lines are way smaller than anticipated and since Silke had no zoom on her camera it was a sad day for her. I think I saw a tear or two. But definitely worth the trip and headache we generated at Peru Hop™ headquarters.

So on we hop to drummroll

Arequipa

Or where the horror stories come from aka: No, we don’t need a guide to that volcano.

Let’s start with a nice image for a change. A hostel rooftop in the morning with two tired hoppers in a hammoc tightly smoldered in a sleeping bag while the first sunrays surmount the volcano Misti and greet us to a wonderful day where Switzerland is about to beat Ecuador in the world cup. Since I did not know yet that my peruvian friends wanted to play a collective prank by telling me to fly from Misti’s 5820m I foolishly began to plan a crazy horror trip with my girlfriend. First we found an agency that said it was impossible to go there alone. The second one (Juan, again) agreed on driving us to 3500m. The tour plan was to reach base camp at 4500m in 8 hours and start the rest of the ascent at 1am. We kind of changed that route slightly… to our disadvantage. But first things first: Honey, it will be very cold, , thin air, no people, no sleep and altitude sickness is a thing I have a bit of experience with. My words were answered with a smile and motivational anti-pessimism. Oh well, who was I to argue, we have just walked the first 300 height meters with each loading 15kg. As the ascent began to steepen, the guide to disappear (and the road, too) we were faced with more and more hostile environment comparable to a turtle walk. Slowly, very very slowly while our lungs pumped furiously. The sun on it’s last rays, our powers at the end and no base camp in sight (because we missed it. Yes, can you imagine. We climbed 200m higher but on a completely different and by that way softer/more difficult path, later to be known as ‘the dangerous passage’ we were initially warned about. But hey, footprints. That must be it!). Anyway, at least we found a nice spot and had our big, warm, comfortable tent with us. Yeah, right…

The hurt locker

Silke enjoying the first sunrays after our horror night

It was now that we realized, herrings and volcano dust are not the ideal combination and the tent was way smaller than Silke advertised so motivationally. So we shared these beautiful minus 5 degrees, windy nighthours surrounded by wet walls. Awake. In a half open 5°(NOT minus) sleeping bag. Silke being hot as hell – most probably because she thought about a warm beach rather than having a full blown altitude sickness – and me feeling cold as ice both fighting about wether to release or cover with our one sleeping bag. No way we were to exit this prechamber to the outside gates of hell at 1am. So we endured, and endured what quite possibly was our longest night, ever. In the morning, even our water inside the tent was frozen. But we survived. And lying on the volcano stones when the sun came around the mountain was one of the best feelings in a long time. So after we felt our hands and feet again and no toes were dead, we decided to start the descent. Silke as requested filled my glider with stones and ashes before I started lifting my baby on that steep part. Once in the air I felt a stronger breeze and decided to try to fly upwards which worked for another 700m until my hands quit their job and revolted. The moral is: If you take the Misti, take your lightest gear, only the water you for 100% need and the best gloves, money can buy.

Paragliding Flight from Misty

At one point, both me and my disabled love arrived at the bottom. Finished but happy and that’s how an adventure is supposed to end. Maybe to be continued… Maybe

Coming up next:

Cusco, part 2

Team Patrick&Patrick flies a record height while Silke does a one footed Inka Jungle trail to Machu Picchu

Good old Cusco, never really lets me go. After my own trip and knowing exactly what to look for in the trek for my honey we find the cheapest, most dubious agency in Cusco. Surprisingly they only mess up a little bit so this girl can enjoy a nice 4 days hike while I saddle my other honey to go airdancing (yes, my paraglider, perv). Patrick provides home&night activity while I teach him that clouds are our friends, not enemies ;-)

Paragliding This is life

A staggering ascent to 5300m and so many cumulative height kilometers later I feel dizzy of flying for a while. What an experience. The real jungle can come now. So off we go on the next plane to Iquitos. The quote “most farthest into jungle town” Silke could find in Peru. Now you might think about woodden buildings and naked people with sticks through their noses and ears. You’d be as wrong as we were when we found that fully asphalted city, overwhelmed with motorized rhikshas. At least no mosquitos. Yet…

Our trip to mosquito mayhem

Or how Silke did some nice tours (while I was in my mosquito bunker)

Fishing, monkey business, foul animal baby stealing, nocturnal tarantula watch and dolphin swimming are some of “our” experiences in this deserted but peaceful (yes, of course apart from the Mmmm…) place way outside of exhaustion gas filled Iquitos. If someone is interested: I can describe every grid line of a 2x1x1 mosquito net. Just saying.

Grasshopper One of our many friends we found in the jungle

Sloth Adorable!

Jungle River Jungly Time

Au revoir, amigos. It’s time to tease my girl with some more kisses. See you next time when we cover Colombia.