Fouled by Fever in Peru – Part 2

We spent three days and nights in the capital city of Lima hoping the urban, civilized environment, coupled with decent food would improve Kat’s health.  She had been suffering from bronchitis, asthma and lingering influenza for over two weeks at this point.  Finally we couldn’t stand our itchy feet anymore and hit the road south on the last day of August.  We really are not very good at staying in one place for more than a day or two.  We decided our route for the southern half of Peru would repeat the driving route we took back in 2008 from Lima to Cusco, just to see if our opinion was different now, considering the “Peruvian Funk” we were experiencing this time.  We really enjoyed this drive six years ago in our little rented Suzuki.  It had been one of the highlights of a two week trip whose main goal had been to hike the Inca Trail from Cusco to Machu Picchu. Heading south from Lima our first stop was the Reserva Nacional de Paracas west of the town of Ica.  We had blown right by this area in 2008 and WOW, we had really missed something.  After a night in the Paracas and an amazing drive through the dunes, we continued south to Nasca where we turned east and inland for the high Andes, arriving in Cusco at 12,000 feet, two days later.  At this point we were now BOTH sick…

We spent three days and nights in the capital city of Lima hoping the urban, civilized environment, coupled with decent food would improve Kat’s health. She had been suffering from bronchitis, asthma and lingering influenza for over two weeks at this point. Finally we couldn’t stand our itchy feet anymore and hit the road south on the last day of August. We really are not very good at staying in one place for more than a day or two.
We decided our route for the southern half of Peru would repeat the driving route we took back in 2008 from Lima to Cusco, just to see if our opinion was different now, considering the “Peruvian Funk” we were experiencing this time. We really enjoyed this drive six years ago in our little rented Suzuki. It had been one of the highlights of a two week trip whose main goal had been to hike the Inca Trail from Cusco to Machu Picchu.
Heading south from Lima our first stop was the Reserva Nacional de Paracas west of the town of Ica. We had blown right by this area in 2008 and WOW, we had really missed something. After a night in the Paracas and an amazing drive through the dunes, we continued south to Nasca where we turned east and inland for the high Andes, arriving in Cusco at 12,000 feet, two days later. At this point we were now BOTH sick…

The pavement stops shortly after entering the Reserva Nacional de Paracas.  At first we followed this well traveled track along the coast, marveling at the endless views.

The pavement stops shortly after entering the Reserva Nacional de Paracas. At first we followed this well traveled track along the coast, marveling at the endless views.

The track eventually just disappeared but we continued on, following the coastal cliffs south.  Of course I couldn’t resist the challenging parking opportunities.

The track eventually just disappeared but we continued on, following the coastal cliffs south. Of course I couldn’t resist the challenging parking opportunities.

2 (1280x960)4 (1280x960)
Can you spot Charlotte?  This is where we camped for the night.  It doesn’t get much more remote than this.  Poor Kat could hardly breathe that night and the dense fog that rolled in didn’t help.  I wished she were feeling better because, for me, this was one of the highlight spots of the entire trip thus far.

Can you spot Charlotte? This is where we camped for the night. It doesn’t get much more remote than this. Poor Kat could hardly breathe that night and the dense fog that rolled in didn’t help. I wished she were feeling better because, for me, this was one of the highlight spots of the entire trip thus far.

6 (1280x960)
The next morning, September 1st, we continued along the coast, following a faint track and our GPS.  At mid-morning we passed through this very rustic fishing village, precariously perched on a sand bar.

The next morning, September 1st, we continued along the coast, following a faint track and our GPS. At mid-morning we passed through this very rustic fishing village, precariously perched on a sand bar.

No fish today, but the locals still gave us a smile as we cruised through their little burg.

No fish today, but the locals still gave us a smile as we cruised through their little burg.

9 (1280x782)
The ever present church and the only permanent structure in town.

The ever present church and the only permanent structure in town.

The ever present satellite dish, on one of the not-so-permanent structures in town.

The ever present satellite dish, on one of the not-so-permanent structures in town.

Wondering what was behind those tumbled down driftwood walls, I climbed on top of Charlotte for a look… more tumbled down stuff secure inside!

Wondering what was behind those tumbled down driftwood walls, I climbed on top of Charlotte for a look… more tumbled down stuff secure inside!

Heading eastward away from the coast we followed faint tracks into the dunes.

Heading eastward away from the coast we followed faint tracks into the dunes.

14 (1280x503)
These km markers became our guides.  We would get to one, then scan the horizon for the next, spot it and then head for it.  All morning we found our way through endless sand dunes this way.   For me, it was the absolute highlight 50 miles of the 18,000+ miles we have covered so far.   Unfortunately, poor Kat continued to suffer and was not enjoying it half as much as I was.  A pity because it is her favorite landscape too.

These km markers became our guides. We would get to one, then scan the horizon for the next, spot it and then head for it. All morning we found our way through endless sand dunes this way. For me, it was the absolute highlight 50 miles of the 18,000+ miles we have covered so far. Unfortunately, poor Kat continued to suffer and was not enjoying it half as much as I was. A pity because it is her favorite landscape too.

16 (1280x684)17 (1280x799)18 (1280x449)19 (1280x906)20 (1280x886)
Eventually we drove far enough eastward and ran into the main highway again, just north if the small city of Ica.  We restocked the fridge and drove out to the oasis of Huacachina, a tourist trap nestled in the middle of giant sand dunes with a scummy pond as a focal point in the center of it.  We pretty much took the picture and left.

Eventually we drove far enough eastward and ran into the main highway again, just north if the small city of Ica. We restocked the fridge and drove out to the oasis of Huacachina, a tourist trap nestled in the middle of giant sand dunes with a scummy pond as a focal point in the center of it. We pretty much took the picture and left.

We continued south past the famous Nasca lines, through the town of Nasca and eastward into the Andean foothills where this photo was taken.  The Nasca Lines consist of hundreds of huge (500+ feet across) geoglyph drawings of spiders, monkeys, birds, fish, sharks and lizards among other things, made by ancient Nasca peoples around 400 to 600AD.  To really do them justice you need to go up in an airplane to see them.  We were too cheap the last time we were here to do that, settling for some crummy photos taken from a hill just off the highway.  This time the Peruvian Funk prevailed and we didn’t even stop for the crummy photo.

We continued south past the famous Nasca lines, through the town of Nasca and eastward into the Andean foothills where this photo was taken. The Nasca Lines consist of hundreds of huge (500+ feet across) geoglyph drawings of spiders, monkeys, birds, fish, sharks and lizards among other things, made by ancient Nasca peoples around 400 to 600AD. To really do them justice you need to go up in an airplane to see them. We were too cheap the last time we were here to do that, settling for some crummy photos taken from a hill just off the highway. This time the Peruvian Funk prevailed and we didn’t even stop for the crummy photo.

Our first spotting of a Pampa Galera or Vicuña, a critter that is smaller than a Llama and known for its soft wool coat.  We remembered seeing these guys everywhere along the roadside back in 2008 and this trip confirmed they are still there – everywhere.

Our first spotting of a Pampa Galera or Vicuña, a critter that is smaller than a Llama and known for its soft wool coat. We remembered seeing these guys everywhere along the roadside back in 2008 and this trip confirmed they are still there – everywhere.

2014 As expected, we just weren’t digging the drive as much as the last time.  Maybe it was all so new and different in 2008. We were fresh off the plane from home and on a two week vacation.  This time we have been immersed in the Latin American culture and scenery for months and have gotten a bit jaded.  Or maybe we just felt like crap.  Kat wasn’t getting any better and I was starting to feel the hint of a fever coming on… Anyway, in these next four shots we amused ourselves with “before and now” shots.  It took forever to find the perfect spot where we had taken the same shot in 2008.  Using a different camera with a different depth of field didn’t help either, but anyway, for fun here they are.  Note the difference in time of year, the 2008 shots being taken in March during the rainy season.

2014
As expected, we just weren’t digging the drive as much as the last time. Maybe it was all so new and different in 2008. We were fresh off the plane from home and on a two week vacation. This time we have been immersed in the Latin American culture and scenery for months and have gotten a bit jaded. Or maybe we just felt like crap. Kat wasn’t getting any better and I was starting to feel the hint of a fever coming on…
Anyway, in these next four shots we amused ourselves with “before and now” shots. It took forever to find the perfect spot where we had taken the same shot in 2008. Using a different camera with a different depth of field didn’t help either, but anyway, for fun here they are. Note the difference in time of year, the 2008 shots being taken in March during the rainy season.

2008

2008

2014

2014

2008

2008

Snow up at 18,000 plus feet.  We took this shot at 15,000 feet alongside the highway.  It doesn’t even snow at this “low” elevation.  It should be mentioned that the trash problem that bugged us so much in the north was much less prevalent in the south.  They still trash their country worse than most everywhere else we’ve been, but it’s just not as obvious in the south.

Snow up at 18,000 plus feet. We took this shot at 15,000 feet alongside the highway. It doesn’t even snow at this “low” elevation. It should be mentioned that the trash problem that bugged us so much in the north was much less prevalent in the south. They still trash their country worse than most everywhere else we’ve been, but it’s just not as obvious in the south.

Use what you’ve got.  This rather large spread shows how the local herdsman utilize the available rocks for all their fence building –and barn building –and house building.

Use what you’ve got. This rather large spread shows how the local herdsman utilize the available rocks for all their fence building –and barn building –and house building.

What a life.

What a life.

29 (1280x960)
We camped two nights en route to Cusco.  The first night was on a dirt track that led to a mine.   Of course we had visitors.  It continues to amaze us that just when we think we are in the middle of nowhere, people appear like vapor, wondering what the hell we are doing.  Of course the miners were no exception, appearing with flashlights as soon as it was too dark to see anything.   They were friendly and just curious and bored, eventually leaving us alone and walking back to the mine where they were presumably guards.  Around three AM, more mine workers began to pass our camp, first on motorcycles and then by the truckload, piled into smelly diesel flatbeds which ground them up the hill to another long work day.  What a life.

We camped two nights en route to Cusco. The first night was on a dirt track that led to a mine. Of course we had visitors. It continues to amaze us that just when we think we are in the middle of nowhere, people appear like vapor, wondering what the hell we are doing. Of course the miners were no exception, appearing with flashlights as soon as it was too dark to see anything. They were friendly and just curious and bored, eventually leaving us alone and walking back to the mine where they were presumably guards. Around three AM, more mine workers began to pass our camp, first on motorcycles and then by the truckload, piled into smelly diesel flatbeds which ground them up the hill to another long work day. What a life.

Back in 2008 one of our favorite stops on the way to Cusco was the open air market in the town of Abancay.  Despite our poorly condition, this stop could not be missed. As before, it was a magical place with the most friendly vendors and crazy sights imaginable.  All you vegetarians beware of the photos below!

Back in 2008 one of our favorite stops on the way to Cusco was the open air market in the town of Abancay. Despite our poorly condition, this stop could not be missed. As before, it was a magical place with the most friendly vendors and crazy sights imaginable. All you vegetarians beware of the photos below!

These gals were selling feed for guinea pigs.

These gals were selling feed for guinea pigs.

Competing with the dogs for the choicest cuts in the Abancay meat market.

Competing with the dogs for the choicest cuts in the Abancay meat market.

Yummm!  Cow parts anyone?

Yummm! Cow parts anyone?

Or maybe you’d prefer a sheep today?

Or maybe you’d prefer a sheep today?

Buying veggies.

Buying veggies.

36 (1138x1280)
Kat told all the ladies I loved taking pictures of pretty girls.  That accounted for some easy shots.

Kat told all the ladies I loved taking pictures of pretty girls. That accounted for some easy shots.

38 (1280x960)
Don’t take my picture!

Don’t take my picture!

Oh, ok you think I’m pretty!  I’ll give you a big smile.

Oh, ok you think I’m pretty! I’ll give you a big smile.

Chicken dinner special today!

Chicken dinner special today!

Ho hum.  Another day at the market on Mom’s back.

Ho hum. Another day at the market on Mom’s back.

Parts is Parts.

Parts is Parts.

And then there is that thing about eating guinea pigs…

And then there is that thing about eating guinea pigs…

We remembered these crazy curbs from 2008, too.  Puts a whole new perspective on getting parallel parking just right. After Abancay it was just a few more hours to Cusco but everything went to hell. My fever went on a tear, making driving these windy roads a chore.  Kat was passed out on the bed in back, practically comatose when Charlotte decided to get into the act and shredded all her belts on a particularly nasty cliffhanging stretch of roadway.  To get to the engine the bed needs to be pulled up so there went Kat’s rest.  Upon tearing into it I found the alternator mount cracked – again.  Fu**ing Volkswagen design.  The alternator and its mounting brackets have been the mechanical bane of the whole trip.  All the mounts and the alternator were new in La Paz, Baja after our debacle with the welder alternator.  Since then Charlotte in general has been a mechanical rock.   The charging system has worked flawlessly except for the main power wire breaking off the alt. stud in Palenque, Mexico.  Then we had belt destruction occurring around Baños, Ecuador when I first found the alternator mount cracked.  I had a guy weld the cracks there but now they were back, worse than ever.  In a feverish haze I installed more belts and we limped into Cusco.

We remembered these crazy curbs from 2008, too. Puts a whole new perspective on getting parallel parking just right.
After Abancay it was just a few more hours to Cusco but everything went to hell. My fever went on a tear, making driving these windy roads a chore. Kat was passed out on the bed in back, practically comatose when Charlotte decided to get into the act and shredded all her belts on a particularly nasty cliffhanging stretch of roadway. To get to the engine the bed needs to be pulled up so there went Kat’s rest. Upon tearing into it I found the alternator mount cracked – again. Fu**ing Volkswagen design. The alternator and its mounting brackets have been the mechanical bane of the whole trip. All the mounts and the alternator were new in La Paz, Baja after our debacle with the welder alternator. Since then Charlotte in general has been a mechanical rock. The charging system has worked flawlessly except for the main power wire breaking off the alt. stud in Palenque, Mexico. Then we had belt destruction occurring around Baños, Ecuador when I first found the alternator mount cracked. I had a guy weld the cracks there but now they were back, worse than ever. In a feverish haze I installed more belts and we limped into Cusco.

The beautiful Plaza de Armas in downtown Cusco.

The beautiful Plaza de Armas in downtown Cusco.

Cusco.

Cusco.

The Quinta LaLa Overland campground just outside Cusco where we stayed two nights.  I’m still not sure I like staying in these Overlander “coagulation” points.  It seems most of the people we run into at these places are going from one guidebook recommended campground to the next, mostly hanging with others from their same country and even traveling together from one recommended safe haven to the next.  Then there are all the mixed horror stories they share of places to come and what to expect/not expect.  I think I prefer what Kat and I have been doing, driving blind with no guide books at all, staying wherever the end of the day finds us and mostly just conversing with locals.

The Quinta LaLa Overland campground just outside Cusco where we stayed two nights. I’m still not sure I like staying in these Overlander “coagulation” points. It seems most of the people we run into at these places are going from one guidebook recommended campground to the next, mostly hanging with others from their same country and even traveling together from one recommended safe haven to the next. Then there are all the mixed horror stories they share of places to come and what to expect/not expect. I think I prefer what Kat and I have been doing, driving blind with no guide books at all, staying wherever the end of the day finds us and mostly just conversing with locals.

Curious chickens check out an unripe banana at the Quinta LaLa campground.  A good thing about these places is the wealth of info shared, such as where to find a good welder who could fix my busted bracket.  It turned out Cusco featured a mobile mechanic (via taxi) who had the market cornered on Overlanders and their problems.  I jockeyed for the work time of “Juan” with several Germans who seemed in need of his services at the same time.  Juan spoke pretty good English and quickly grasped my ideas on how to modify the stupid VW designed bracket and add some more strength to the wretched part, already work hardened and metal fatigued from it’s last welding session.

Curious chickens check out an unripe banana at the Quinta LaLa campground. A good thing about these places is the wealth of info shared, such as where to find a good welder who could fix my busted bracket. It turned out Cusco featured a mobile mechanic (via taxi) who had the market cornered on Overlanders and their problems. I jockeyed for the work time of “Juan” with several Germans who seemed in need of his services at the same time. Juan spoke pretty good English and quickly grasped my ideas on how to modify the stupid VW designed bracket and add some more strength to the wretched part, already work hardened and metal fatigued from it’s last welding session.

Juan needed a day and a night to perform his magic.  We were both so sick now that we just lay low at the campground.  The weather was freezing cold and it rained off and on the whole time.   All we wanted to do was get out of there and keep going south.  Any magic about being in Cusco, Peru was lost on us.  The fact that we’d been here before probably added to our lack of curiosity.  We had no desire to repeat a visit to the tourist trap that is Machu Picchu.  Seeing it six years ago was a climatic let down compared to the four day hike on the Inca Trail we undertook to get there.  We were in no shape to do the hike again and the über expensive train ride to get to MP proper wasn’t even on our radar.  So we waited between these huge RVs, one from Germany and one from France, wondering how either of them could have experienced half of the places we’ve been to, just due to their sheer size.

Juan needed a day and a night to perform his magic. We were both so sick now that we just lay low at the campground. The weather was freezing cold and it rained off and on the whole time. All we wanted to do was get out of there and keep going south. Any magic about being in Cusco, Peru was lost on us. The fact that we’d been here before probably added to our lack of curiosity. We had no desire to repeat a visit to the tourist trap that is Machu Picchu. Seeing it six years ago was a climatic let down compared to the four day hike on the Inca Trail we undertook to get there. We were in no shape to do the hike again and the über expensive train ride to get to MP proper wasn’t even on our radar. So we waited between these huge RVs, one from Germany and one from France, wondering how either of them could have experienced half of the places we’ve been to, just due to their sheer size.

Finally the bracket was returned.  Ol’ Juan added so much material to it I could barely recognize the original part.  Of course all that strength added weight which had me concerned that now the weakness would just move down the line – to the two wimpy 8mm bolts that hold the thing to the engine…  Still feverish, I put everything back together in a freezing rain, loaded a shaking Kat into the back and got the hell otta there, hoping that by going south, back towards the coast, it would get lower in elevation and warmer. Ha!

Finally the bracket was returned. Ol’ Juan added so much material to it I could barely recognize the original part. Of course all that strength added weight which had me concerned that now the weakness would just move down the line – to the two wimpy 8mm bolts that hold the thing to the engine… Still feverish, I put everything back together in a freezing rain, loaded a shaking Kat into the back and got the hell otta there, hoping that by going south, back towards the coast, it would get lower in elevation and warmer. Ha!

Instead it snowed…

Instead it snowed…

We could have really enjoyed this incredible scenery had we not been so incredibly sick.

We could have really enjoyed this incredible scenery had we not been so incredibly sick.

…and the altimeter went up!  To the highest we’ve driven during the entire trip, 15,841 feet to be exact.  It took us two days to drive to the city of Arequipa where we hoped to find a decent hospital if needed.  Kat had been sick for almost a month now, even after being on two different sets of antibiotics.  I lost the fever after three days, but was left with the same nasty cough and congestion as Kat and had a somewhat small elephant sitting on my chest 24/7.  I think we had the worst driving day of the trip the second day out of Cusco.  We’d spent a freezing night hidden behind a small knoll alongside the road.  The icy fog was our best camouflage.  The next day the road deteriorated into muddy slop, coating Charlotte top to bottom in a milkshake-like goo.  Kat was out cold on the bed and I drove in a fever induced, delirious haze, pretty much akin to the mud covering all of Charlotte’s windows.  Then the road ahead appeared blocked by several semis all stuck in the mud attempting to climb a small hill with their huge loads.  As I stepped out into the ankle deep goo to access the situation, I discovered our left rear tire completely disintegrated, it was nothing but a muddy blob attached to the rim.  In my weakened, high feverish state it took me over two hours to change that stupid tire.  I guess it didn’t help that we were at 15,500ft and I already couldn’t breathe thanks to my goop filled chest.  I was so covered in mud and so disgusted I never even took a picture.  We rolled into Arequipa late in the day and found a nice hotel in the old colonial part of town.  How they let us in and allowed Charlotte into their garage is beyond me.  We left a trail of mud all the way to our room.  I had to ask them for a hose to wash the mud off of Charlotte’s shift linkage.  I couldn’t get her into reverse to pull into the garage!

…and the altimeter went up! To the highest we’ve driven during the entire trip, 15,841 feet to be exact. It took us two days to drive to the city of Arequipa where we hoped to find a decent hospital if needed. Kat had been sick for almost a month now, even after being on two different sets of antibiotics. I lost the fever after three days, but was left with the same nasty cough and congestion as Kat and had a somewhat small elephant sitting on my chest 24/7. I think we had the worst driving day of the trip the second day out of Cusco. We’d spent a freezing night hidden behind a small knoll alongside the road. The icy fog was our best camouflage. The next day the road deteriorated into muddy slop, coating Charlotte top to bottom in a milkshake-like goo. Kat was out cold on the bed and I drove in a fever induced, delirious haze, pretty much akin to the mud covering all of Charlotte’s windows. Then the road ahead appeared blocked by several semis all stuck in the mud attempting to climb a small hill with their huge loads. As I stepped out into the ankle deep goo to access the situation, I discovered our left rear tire completely disintegrated, it was nothing but a muddy blob attached to the rim. In my weakened, high feverish state it took me over two hours to change that stupid tire. I guess it didn’t help that we were at 15,500ft and I already couldn’t breathe thanks to my goop filled chest. I was so covered in mud and so disgusted I never even took a picture. We rolled into Arequipa late in the day and found a nice hotel in the old colonial part of town. How they let us in and allowed Charlotte into their garage is beyond me. We left a trail of mud all the way to our room. I had to ask them for a hose to wash the mud off of Charlotte’s shift linkage. I couldn’t get her into reverse to pull into the garage!

And so here we are in Arequipa, Peru, less than 100 miles from Chile and once again hanging in a city we don’t want to be in while we attempt to get well.  After spending the day getting a new tire and caving in to having Charlotte professionally washed for the first time since leaving home (the rains had been doing a pretty good job up until the mud bath) I found Kat in the emergency room of a third world clinic looking like this.  She had spiked another high fever and had dragged herself into a taxi and gone in search of answers.  Instead, she found a complete lack of English spoken, substandard, shabby facilities, dirty bathrooms with no soap or towels and total confusion.  When I arrived she was dazedly looking back and forth between two different doctors, neither of whom could agree (in Spanish) on what was wrong with her.  One kept asking if her stomach still hurt, conjecturing that it could be E. coli from Peruvian cheese (!), and the other insisted it was a bladder infection!  Since she had already given detailed information about her RESPIRATORY symptoms, we couldn’t figure out where the gut diagnoses came from!  I could read her face at that point, silently screaming, “Get me the _____ out of here!”   Finally, they listened to her re-explain her condition and, despite telling her that her chest X-Ray and blood tests were fine, sent her off with yet a third round of antibiotics.  We went back to the hotel disgusted and frustrated with Peru overall. At this point we just wanted to get to Chile.  Maybe things would change in Chile…

And so here we are in Arequipa, Peru, less than 100 miles from Chile and once again hanging in a city we don’t want to be in while we attempt to get well. After spending the day getting a new tire and caving in to having Charlotte professionally washed for the first time since leaving home (the rains had been doing a pretty good job up until the mud bath) I found Kat in the emergency room of a third world clinic looking like this. She had spiked another high fever and had dragged herself into a taxi and gone in search of answers. Instead, she found a complete lack of English spoken, substandard, shabby facilities, dirty bathrooms with no soap or towels and total confusion. When I arrived she was dazedly looking back and forth between two different doctors, neither of whom could agree (in Spanish) on what was wrong with her. One kept asking if her stomach still hurt, conjecturing that it could be E. coli from Peruvian cheese (!), and the other insisted it was a bladder infection! Since she had already given detailed information about her RESPIRATORY symptoms, we couldn’t figure out where the gut diagnoses came from! I could read her face at that point, silently screaming, “Get me the _____ out of here!” Finally, they listened to her re-explain her condition and, despite telling her that her chest X-Ray and blood tests were fine, sent her off with yet a third round of antibiotics. We went back to the hotel disgusted and frustrated with Peru overall. At this point we just wanted to get to Chile. Maybe things would change in Chile…

Fouled by Fever in Peru – Part 1

Once back on the mainland of Ecuador after our amazing week in the Galapagos, we headed to the small city of Cuenca to visit our new friends, the Schneewinds.  From Cuenca we traveled windy, mountainous roads to the quirky, gringo-ized town of Vilcabamba where we stayed four days in a cute, walled compound with our own private cabin complete with porch and parking for Charlotte.  It was very relaxing and we hated to leave for the Peruvian border.  Maybe we should have stayed… Since Cuenca, Kat had started feeling weak, had a mild fever and was showing signs of bronchitis.  We crossed the border (yellow with black dotted line on map) on August 22nd and entered Peru, our 13th country.  Kat and I traveled in southern Peru in 2008 and loved it, but we knew nothing about the northern part of the country.  With Kat’s condition worsening, I drove down out of the mountains towards the coast, hoping the lower elevation would help her breathing.  Along the way we passed through one dingy town after another, all full of garbage riddled streets, uninviting smells and unhappy looking people.  We stayed one night in a hotel in the unexciting city of Chiclayo, hoping Kat would get better, (no luck) and one night camped in the most disgusting “horse resort” where the animals were mistreated and everything we touched, including the ground the place sat on, felt like it was giving us a disease.  The only humor to that night was being awakened to a dreadful racket on Charlotte’s roof and the whole vehicle shaking.  Looking out I found a goat on her roof!  We did have one outstanding cultural experience while in this area when we visited the Lord of Sipán museum in the town of Lambyeque.  Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any pictures of this museum, which is said to be one of the top ten in the world.  We found it to be a spectacular presentation of the burial rituals of the Moche peoples who inhabited this region 1700 years ago.  Google it for more info and to see illicit pictures.  We continued south along the coast, hoping for nicer conditions and better health for Kat, but the filth continued and a kind of third world funk was settling over us.

Once back on the mainland of Ecuador after our amazing week in the Galapagos, we headed to the small city of Cuenca to visit our new friends, the Schneewinds. From Cuenca we traveled windy, mountainous roads to the quirky, gringo-ized town of Vilcabamba where we stayed four days in a cute, walled compound with our own private cabin complete with porch and parking for Charlotte. It was very relaxing and we hated to leave for the Peruvian border. Maybe we should have stayed…
Since Cuenca, Kat had started feeling weak, had a mild fever and was showing signs of bronchitis. We crossed the border (yellow with black dotted line on map) on August 22nd and entered Peru, our 13th country. Kat and I traveled in southern Peru in 2008 and loved it, but we knew nothing about the northern part of the country. With Kat’s condition worsening, I drove down out of the mountains towards the coast, hoping the lower elevation would help her breathing. Along the way we passed through one dingy town after another, all full of garbage riddled streets, uninviting smells and unhappy looking people. We stayed one night in a hotel in the unexciting city of Chiclayo, hoping Kat would get better, (no luck) and one night camped in the most disgusting “horse resort” where the animals were mistreated and everything we touched, including the ground the place sat on, felt like it was giving us a disease. The only humor to that night was being awakened to a dreadful racket on Charlotte’s roof and the whole vehicle shaking. Looking out I found a goat on her roof! We did have one outstanding cultural experience while in this area when we visited the Lord of Sipán museum in the town of Lambyeque. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any pictures of this museum, which is said to be one of the top ten in the world. We found it to be a spectacular presentation of the burial rituals of the Moche peoples who inhabited this region 1700 years ago. Google it for more info and to see illicit pictures. We continued south along the coast, hoping for nicer conditions and better health for Kat, but the filth continued and a kind of third world funk was settling over us.

Hans Schneewind is a second generation Ecuadorian. His grandfather emigrated from Germany to Cuenca and started a clothing manufacturing business.  The Scheewinds you’ll remember from our earlier Ecuador blog, (you ARE reading every one, correct?) we met on the beach, when Hans admired Charlotte as we drove by the family’s rented beach house looking for a camping spot.  We promised to visit them when we passed through their home town of Cuenca.   Hans took time out of his busy day to give us a tour of his clothing factory.

Hans Schneewind is a second generation Ecuadorian. His grandfather emigrated from Germany to Cuenca and started a clothing manufacturing business. The Scheewinds you’ll remember from our earlier Ecuador blog, (you ARE reading every one, correct?) we met on the beach, when Hans admired Charlotte as we drove by the family’s rented beach house looking for a camping spot. We promised to visit them when we passed through their home town of Cuenca.
Hans took time out of his busy day to give us a tour of his clothing factory.

The factory specializes in children’s school uniforms and doing embroidering of garments for other, larger factories in the area.  There seemed to be a lot of manual, tedious work going on. Hans explained that the gals who work here make US$342 per month and that’s a high wage!

The factory specializes in children’s school uniforms and doing embroidering of garments for other, larger factories in the area. There seemed to be a lot of manual, tedious work going on. Hans explained that the gals who work here make US$342 per month and that’s a high wage!

Modern, digitized sewing machines crank out embroidery like this four at a time.

Modern, digitized sewing machines crank out embroidery like this four at a time.

But less than fifteen years ago, embroidery was created by a mechanical machine that read a ticker-tape like strip.  The code on this strip produced this little Honda patch.  Hans showed us shelves full of hundreds of these now obsolete tapes.  It their day, each tape cost the company US$6,000 each and was only good for one style of patch.

But less than fifteen years ago, embroidery was created by a mechanical machine that read a ticker-tape like strip. The code on this strip produced this little Honda patch. Hans showed us shelves full of hundreds of these now obsolete tapes. It their day, each tape cost the company US$6,000 each and was only good for one style of patch.

The hand work going on was amazing.  After the pink star-like thingy was sewn onto the garment by a machine, a lady hand cut away the excess material with manicure succors, one after the other, all day.

The hand work going on was amazing. After the pink star-like thingy was sewn onto the garment by a machine, a lady hand cut away the excess material with manicure succors, one after the other, all day.

We camped one night in Hans and Elizabeth’s driveway, playing our favorite new game “Rummikub” with them late into the night.  Hans’ pride and joy is his immaculate bay window Westfalia which his father originally purchased in the ‘70s.  Charlotte’s road weary body and paint looked pretty sad by comparison.

We camped one night in Hans and Elizabeth’s driveway, playing our favorite new game “Rummikub” with them late into the night. Hans’ pride and joy is his immaculate bay window Westfalia which his father originally purchased in the ‘70s. Charlotte’s road weary body and paint looked pretty sad by comparison.

Our next stop after leaving Cuenca was the Parque Nacional Podocarpus where we camped one night.  We actually snuck in after hours, spent the night and went for a hike the next morning. This shot was taken when we tried to leave, got busted and had to pay the entrance fee.

Our next stop after leaving Cuenca was the Parque Nacional Podocarpus where we camped one night. We actually snuck in after hours, spent the night and went for a hike the next morning. This shot was taken when we tried to leave, got busted and had to pay the entrance fee.

The hike was only 5km, just over 3 miles, and should have been a piece of cake.  Yeah right.  After hiking straight up for two hours only to reach freezing cold winds and socked in clouds, we ashamedly turned tail and beat it back down the way we had come.  This bus livin’ has destroyed whatever fit condition we used to be in.  In fairness to Kat, this was the first day she was starting to feel bad, so we’ll blame “our” poor performance on that!

The hike was only 5km, just over 3 miles, and should have been a piece of cake. Yeah right. After hiking straight up for two hours only to reach freezing cold winds and socked in clouds, we ashamedly turned tail and beat it back down the way we had come. This bus livin’ has destroyed whatever fit condition we used to be in. In fairness to Kat, this was the first day she was starting to feel bad, so we’ll blame “our” poor performance on that!

The view during the hike, before we climbed into those clouds.

The view during the hike, before we climbed into those clouds.

These were our digs in Vilcabampa at the Rendez-Vous.  We had our own little cabin, a porch with a handy hammock and Charlotte within reach.  Best of all it was $28 a night including breakfast!  We should have stayed longer.

These were our digs in Vilcabampa at the Rendez-Vous. We had our own little cabin, a porch with a handy hammock and Charlotte within reach. Best of all it was $28 a night including breakfast! We should have stayed longer.

Although we diss on towns that seem too touristy or “gringo-ized,” lately we seem to be gravitating towards them for good food if nothing else.  Vilcabampa featured several awesome eateries.  This seafood paella with homemade Sangria cost 21 bucks and was to die for at a Basque restaurant owned by an ex-pat Spanish lady.

Although we diss on towns that seem too touristy or “gringo-ized,” lately we seem to be gravitating towards them for good food if nothing else. Vilcabampa featured several awesome eateries. This seafood paella with homemade Sangria cost 21 bucks and was to die for at a Basque restaurant owned by an ex-pat Spanish lady.

Another favorite was this bacon stuffed gnocchi with scampi (foreground) and homemade vegetarian ravioli (on my fork) all made with local, organic ingredients.  These delectable yummies were found at an earthy little corner outfit owned by a Swiss chef and his Spanish wife.  This meal, complete with local beer and a big salad set us back 25 bucks. Like I said, towns full of foreigners are generally cleaner and have great food, but in spite of enjoying Vilcabampa, we kinda had to laugh quietly at the town’s adopted inhabitants.  They mostly appeared to be old hippies who burned themselves out long ago and were now looking to re-find their youth by hanging out in a backwater Ecuadorian village, waiting to discover who they really are.  Vilcabampa is reputably known for its magical “qualities” which have produced longevity among the local tribes, some reported to be 120 plus years old.  So the burnt out ex-pats sit around the square, drinking organic beer and smoking healthy grown-in-Vilcabampa cigarettes, eating at the health food juice bar (which appeared to be making a killing) and paying to bathe in the healing waters from the creek up the canyon.  All the while they wait for their youth to return.

Another favorite was this bacon stuffed gnocchi with scampi (foreground) and homemade vegetarian ravioli (on my fork) all made with local, organic ingredients. These delectable yummies were found at an earthy little corner outfit owned by a Swiss chef and his Spanish wife. This meal, complete with local beer and a big salad set us back 25 bucks.
Like I said, towns full of foreigners are generally cleaner and have great food, but in spite of enjoying Vilcabampa, we kinda had to laugh quietly at the town’s adopted inhabitants. They mostly appeared to be old hippies who burned themselves out long ago and were now looking to re-find their youth by hanging out in a backwater Ecuadorian village, waiting to discover who they really are. Vilcabampa is reputably known for its magical “qualities” which have produced longevity among the local tribes, some reported to be 120 plus years old. So the burnt out ex-pats sit around the square, drinking organic beer and smoking healthy grown-in-Vilcabampa cigarettes, eating at the health food juice bar (which appeared to be making a killing) and paying to bathe in the healing waters from the creek up the canyon. All the while they wait for their youth to return.

The road from Vilcabampa to the remote Peruvian border crossing at La Balsa.  Charlotte got her muddiest yet on this road, which was full of construction. It took seven hours to cover about 80 miles.

The road from Vilcabampa to the remote Peruvian border crossing at La Balsa. Charlotte got her muddiest yet on this road, which was full of construction. It took seven hours to cover about 80 miles.

La Balsa was the sleepiest, quietest border crossing ever.  We were the only vehicle crossing into Peru and it appeared there hadn’t been another in quite a while. The Peruvian guard was so slow on his computer that we jumped in and filled out some of the forms for him!  He also appeared colorblind as he never did figure out Charlotte’s color but asked us what it was repeatedly.  By the time he was finished it was dark, so we asked him if we could camp on the “lawn” in front of the border hut.  No problem!  The whole experience was such a switch from our usual border experiences where we have crossed fingers for no trip halting red tape, and can’t wait to get as far away from the area as quickly as possible. We spent a peaceful night, except for around 4am when we were awakened by the sound of horrible, native singing accompanied by top volume, Peruvian rap music. (For lack of a better description) We both peaked out, expecting to see some kid in a car parked with his stereo blaring.  Instead, in the single yellow street light, we viewed two guys and a donkey ambling down the street. The donkey had a boom box strapped to its back.  Welcome to Peru.

La Balsa was the sleepiest, quietest border crossing ever. We were the only vehicle crossing into Peru and it appeared there hadn’t been another in quite a while. The Peruvian guard was so slow on his computer that we jumped in and filled out some of the forms for him! He also appeared colorblind as he never did figure out Charlotte’s color but asked us what it was repeatedly. By the time he was finished it was dark, so we asked him if we could camp on the “lawn” in front of the border hut. No problem! The whole experience was such a switch from our usual border experiences where we have crossed fingers for no trip halting red tape, and can’t wait to get as far away from the area as quickly as possible.
We spent a peaceful night, except for around 4am when we were awakened by the sound of horrible, native singing accompanied by top volume, Peruvian rap music. (For lack of a better description) We both peaked out, expecting to see some kid in a car parked with his stereo blaring. Instead, in the single yellow street light, we viewed two guys and a donkey ambling down the street. The donkey had a boom box strapped to its back. Welcome to Peru.

This was a typical front yard of many of the homes we passed, heading for the coast.

This was a typical front yard of many of the homes we passed, heading for the coast.

Northern Peruvian roads are littered with these Moto-Taxis which are darting everywhere, making driving among them hellish.

Northern Peruvian roads are littered with these Moto-Taxis which are darting everywhere, making driving among them hellish.

Gotta wonder how the laundry is ever really clean in conditions like this.

Gotta wonder how the laundry is ever really clean in conditions like this.

At one point we were starving so we stopped for a local meal at this open-air restaurant.  Whatever they were cooking was bubbling away in huge pots, heated by a wood fire below.

At one point we were starving so we stopped for a local meal at this open-air restaurant. Whatever they were cooking was bubbling away in huge pots, heated by a wood fire below.

I’m still not sure what she served us.

I’m still not sure what she served us.

At least the fries and rice were edible.

At least the fries and rice were edible.

This one is for Colin at Mac’s Tie Downs.  Always keep a firm hand on your load, least it fall off on the next pothole!

This one is for Colin at Mac’s Tie Downs. Always keep a firm hand on your load, least it fall off on the next pothole!

Working our way down the coast we stopped in the beach resort town of Huanchaco, just above Trujillo on the map.  Further south we headed inland through the beautiful Cañon del Pato (Duck Canyon) and along the snow capped mountains of the Cordillera Blanca.

Working our way down the coast we stopped in the beach resort town of Huanchaco, just above Trujillo on the map. Further south we headed inland through the beautiful Cañon del Pato (Duck Canyon) and along the snow capped mountains of the Cordillera Blanca.

Several Overlanders’ blog sites we’ve been following all highly recommended visiting Huanchaco for its amazing surf and unique reed rafts used by the local fishermen for centuries. I don’t know what we’re missing here, but we found the place filthy, with flat surf and no fisherman fishing, just the famous boats propped up for tourist photos.  From the color and texture of the ocean I wouldn’t be quick to eat any of the fish that came from these waters.  Note the dead pelican on the beach next to beachgoers who seemed to think nothing of it.

Several Overlanders’ blog sites we’ve been following all highly recommended visiting Huanchaco for its amazing surf and unique reed rafts used by the local fishermen for centuries. I don’t know what we’re missing here, but we found the place filthy, with flat surf and no fisherman fishing, just the famous boats propped up for tourist photos. From the color and texture of the ocean I wouldn’t be quick to eat any of the fish that came from these waters. Note the dead pelican on the beach next to beachgoers who seemed to think nothing of it.

We put on our best smiles and strolled the Malicon, looking for the allure.  All we found was a dirty beach, cheap trinkets and bad smelling food.  The next day, Kat’s fever and coughing, complicated by asthma, prompted her to see a local doctor who prescribed antibiotics.

We put on our best smiles and strolled the Malicon, looking for the allure. All we found was a dirty beach, cheap trinkets and bad smelling food. The next day, Kat’s fever and coughing, complicated by asthma, prompted her to see a local doctor who prescribed antibiotics.

Never did get the name of these things but they started out in the bucket on the left.  A finger was stuck into the sticky paste, whipped in a circular motion and flicked out, producing a round blob of the stuff which was then flung into the bubbling grease and fried into a kind of lumpy donut.   They were served with syrup and people were eating them like mad.  I guess we’re missing the Peruvian experience ‘cause neither one of us wanted anything to do with them.

Never did get the name of these things but they started out in the bucket on the left. A finger was stuck into the sticky paste, whipped in a circular motion and flicked out, producing a round blob of the stuff which was then flung into the bubbling grease and fried into a kind of lumpy donut. They were served with syrup and people were eating them like mad. I guess we’re missing the Peruvian experience ‘cause neither one of us wanted anything to do with them.

This was cool.  We spotted this very well worn Free Wheelchair Mission wheelchair and its owner parked along the street in Huanchaco.  Kat and I have been big supporters of this organization, even traveling to El Salvador a few years ago to deliver the chairs.  You can find more info on this charity elsewhere on our web site.  I couldn’t get a face shot of this woman as she hid in shame when I tried, and mentioning FWM resulted in blank stares.  No matter, the point is she was out in the world, experiencing life, instead of shut away and forgotten in a dark corner somewhere, all because of a $78 wheelchair given to her thanks to some anonymous donor.

This was cool. We spotted this very well worn Free Wheelchair Mission wheelchair and its owner parked along the street in Huanchaco. Kat and I have been big supporters of this organization, even traveling to El Salvador a few years ago to deliver the chairs. You can find more info on this charity elsewhere on our web site. I couldn’t get a face shot of this woman as she hid in shame when I tried, and mentioning FWM resulted in blank stares. No matter, the point is she was out in the world, experiencing life, instead of shut away and forgotten in a dark corner somewhere, all because of a $78 wheelchair given to her thanks to some anonymous donor.

It’s not every day you have a camp spot with turtles coming by to visit.  This guy seems to be looking at Vaca Muerta in the same way many humans do… huh??

It’s not every day you have a camp spot with turtles coming by to visit. This guy seems to be looking at Vaca Muerta in the same way many humans do… huh??

This has to be the best starter castle we’ve come across.  Yes, the guy in the brown coat actually lives here, squatting on this cliff side.

This has to be the best starter castle we’ve come across. Yes, the guy in the brown coat actually lives here, squatting on this cliff side.

A study in wall construction, complete with a security cap on top.

A study in wall construction, complete with a security cap on top.

It continues to amaze us how one soul can work so hard to have a nice looking place, complete with a little “yard” in front, while the next door neighbor’s place is a complete dump.  But I guess it’s like that all over the world.

It continues to amaze us how one soul can work so hard to have a nice looking place, complete with a little “yard” in front, while the next door neighbor’s place is a complete dump. But I guess it’s like that all over the world.

More laundry drying in immaculate surroundings.

More laundry drying in immaculate surroundings.

I hate to keep harping on the filth, but really?  This was a common scene everywhere near urban centers in northern Peru.

I hate to keep harping on the filth, but really? This was a common scene everywhere near urban centers in northern Peru.

Another common scene was these huge political campaign “posters” hand painted everywhere. Wonder if Acuña, if he gets elected, will do something about all the trash in front of his sign.

Another common scene was these huge political campaign “posters” hand painted everywhere. Wonder if Acuña, if he gets elected, will do something about all the trash in front of his sign.

We left the coast north of Chimbote and headed into the vast barren desert that makes up much of the Peruvian coastline.  This terrain is our favorite, reminding us of our beloved Nevada deserts and the wilds of Baja.  We were overjoyed to be driving along endless straight roads through empty nothingness.  No more windy mountain passes.  No more jungle and rain forests.  No more rain.  Well, at least not for a few days.

We left the coast north of Chimbote and headed into the vast barren desert that makes up much of the Peruvian coastline. This terrain is our favorite, reminding us of our beloved Nevada deserts and the wilds of Baja. We were overjoyed to be driving along endless straight roads through empty nothingness. No more windy mountain passes. No more jungle and rain forests. No more rain. Well, at least not for a few days.

The drive through the desert let us into Cañon del Pato which features over 40 hand dug tunnels, allowing the single lane road to pass through the unbelievable landscape.

The drive through the desert let us into Cañon del Pato which features over 40 hand dug tunnels, allowing the single lane road to pass through the unbelievable landscape.

35 (1280x960)36 (1280x960)37 (1280x960)
We’ve never seen these cute little guys before - or since.  They were only about six inches tall and almost as round.  These were the only ones we saw.

We’ve never seen these cute little guys before – or since. They were only about six inches tall and almost as round. These were the only ones we saw.

You’ve gotta wonder how bright you are to be driving around on roads where all the locals have wire mesh guards on the tops of their vehicles to protect them from falling rocks.

You’ve gotta wonder how bright you are to be driving around on roads where all the locals have wire mesh guards on the tops of their vehicles to protect them from falling rocks.

40 (1280x960)
This was about the only shot we took of the snows of the Cordillera Blanca. There were numerous remote roads that led up into these mountains and stories of great hiking and rock climbing in the area.  However, our funk was worsening along with Kat’s breathing, so we just kept on moving. The drive through Duck Canyon made this run inland well worthwhile, but we hardly did the area justice, missing plenty of cool stuff I’m sure.

This was about the only shot we took of the snows of the Cordillera Blanca. There were numerous remote roads that led up into these mountains and stories of great hiking and rock climbing in the area. However, our funk was worsening along with Kat’s breathing, so we just kept on moving. The drive through Duck Canyon made this run inland well worthwhile, but we hardly did the area justice, missing plenty of cool stuff I’m sure.

From the Cordillera Blanca we drove west again, back to the coast and back into our favorite desert terrain.  Then we headed south along the barren coast to the capital city of Lima where we hoped a stay in a nice hotel in an urban environment would shake Kat’s illness and our increasing Peruvian funk.

From the Cordillera Blanca we drove west again, back to the coast and back into our favorite desert terrain. Then we headed south along the barren coast to the capital city of Lima where we hoped a stay in a nice hotel in an urban environment would shake Kat’s illness and our increasing Peruvian funk.

An interesting “sandwich” I had one day.  The yellow was cold mashed potato with chicken, avocado and tomato sandwiched inside, different and pretty good.  Inka Cola, a Peruvian standard since 1939, made with real coca leaves.

An interesting “sandwich” I had one day. The yellow was cold mashed potato with chicken, avocado and tomato sandwiched inside, different and pretty good. Inka Cola, a Peruvian standard since 1939, made with real coca leaves.

Camped back in the desert, I made us breakfast while Kat was banished from my kitchen.  Still feeling like crap, she amused herself by taking timed photos of the scene.

Camped back in the desert, I made us breakfast while Kat was banished from my kitchen. Still feeling like crap, she amused herself by taking timed photos of the scene.

Along the Pan Am heading toward Lima we passed dozens of religious pilgrims walking north. Some were hauling huge crosses with a wheel affixed to their end to ease in dragging them along.

Along the Pan Am heading toward Lima we passed dozens of religious pilgrims walking north. Some were hauling huge crosses with a wheel affixed to their end to ease in dragging them along.

Close to Lima the roads improved to probably the best we’ve seen in 18,000 miles.  Four lanes, no traffic and beautiful views of the Pacific lifted our spirits somewhat.

Close to Lima the roads improved to probably the best we’ve seen in 18,000 miles. Four lanes, no traffic and beautiful views of the Pacific lifted our spirits somewhat.

The shantytowns on the outskirts of Lima.

The shantytowns on the outskirts of Lima.

The view from our hotel room in the Miraflores area of Lima, where we stayed three nights, hoping a dose of the modern world would shake off the funk.  It helped, but Kat continued to cough, despite the antibiotics, and I continued to wonder when I was going to catch this thing, living in such close quarters…  At this point she’d been suffering for 11 days with what we’d decided was a respiratory flu.

The view from our hotel room in the Miraflores area of Lima, where we stayed three nights, hoping a dose of the modern world would shake off the funk. It helped, but Kat continued to cough, despite the antibiotics, and I continued to wonder when I was going to catch this thing, living in such close quarters… At this point she’d been suffering for 11 days with what we’d decided was a respiratory flu.

We wandered around the high end Miraflores area a bit, taking in the urban sites. We even went to a movie and a department store –whoohoo!  Kat rested in the hotel while I changed Charlotte’s oil and rotated her tires in a deserted parking lot down by the beach.  At 18,000 miles and counting, this was the fourth time I’ve performed this ritual.

We wandered around the high end Miraflores area a bit, taking in the urban sites. We even went to a movie and a department store –whoohoo! Kat rested in the hotel while I changed Charlotte’s oil and rotated her tires in a deserted parking lot down by the beach. At 18,000 miles and counting, this was the fourth time I’ve performed this ritual.

For a country so covered in its own trash, we found it particularly interesting to see a city worker hand scraping chewing gum off the sidewalk!

For a country so covered in its own trash, we found it particularly interesting to see a city worker hand scraping chewing gum off the sidewalk!

This Swiss (!) place around the corner from our hotel quickly became our favorite restaurant. It was so good we stayed another day in Lima just to have dinner there again.

This Swiss (!) place around the corner from our hotel quickly became our favorite restaurant. It was so good we stayed another day in Lima just to have dinner there again.

For once we don’t have pictures of the food because we ate it too quickly.  These were our favorite waitresses at the Swiss place who couldn’t have been cuter.  Shirley, in the middle was Peruvian and named thus because her parents liked Shirley Temple.  Antonia was from Romania and had come to Lima with a boyfriend who had subsequently dumped her.  She had been in Peru for two years but said she was sad and lonely and was thinking of going the join her mother in Germany, but didn’t look forward to it because she thought Germans were so cold. We wanted to adopt her!  Here was this cute young girl with no country, no home, no family and looking at a dim future in a country she didn’t want to live in.  We are so lucky to be Americans. Stay tune for Peru Part II to find out if the southern half of the country lifts the funk.  Does Kat get better?   Do I get sick?  Stay tuned!

For once we don’t have pictures of the food because we ate it too quickly. These were our favorite waitresses at the Swiss place who couldn’t have been cuter. Shirley, in the middle was Peruvian and named thus because her parents liked Shirley Temple. Antonia was from Romania and had come to Lima with a boyfriend who had subsequently dumped her. She had been in Peru for two years but said she was sad and lonely and was thinking of going the join her mother in Germany, but didn’t look forward to it because she thought Germans were so cold. We wanted to adopt her! Here was this cute young girl with no country, no home, no family and looking at a dim future in a country she didn’t want to live in. We are so lucky to be Americans.
Watch for Peru Part II to find out if the southern half of the country lifts the funk. Does Kat get better? Do I get sick? Stay tuned!