Trip Start Aug 02, 2010
Trip End Sep 28, 2010

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Flag of Peru  , Apurímac,
Monday, August 9, 2010

We enjoyed our last night in Ayacucho, watching a film for 20p at the cultural centre and having a great meal.  The film was Following, Christopher Nolanīs first film, and was great, despite having to sit through two Coldplay videos as a trailer.  A student type stood up to introduce the film, and there seemed to be the threat of a post-screening discussion in the air, so we hotfooted it straight out and downstairs as soon as the credits started to roll.

Dinner was delicious.  We had chicharrones, which is basically deepfried pork.  It sounds revolting, but if you can imagine tender, soft pork chops, covered in crispy, gooey, chewy crackling, with the most flavoursome knobbly potatoes and a cheesy salty salad.  It still doesnīt sound as nice as it was, but we felt sorry for the group of European backpackers on the next table who all ordered cheeseburgers.

Anyway, we were soon back to our room and packing for an early start to Cuzco, via Andahuaylas, an epic 22 hour journey on unsealed roads through spectacular mountain scenery.

Our bus left Ayacucho at 7.30 am.  We didnīt have time for breakfast, but there was a lady selling bread rolls.  We asked how much and she said 2 soles.  That was about all the change we had (about 45 pence), so we said we would get one.  It turned out that 2 soles bought the entire bag, which was very lucky for us, as later events will show.

The first hour of the journey was marred by a guy standing by my seat doing a sales pitch for a cure all potion made from artichoke.  I was very glad when he got off, and the rest of the morning passed pleasantly enough.  It was hot and dusty, with lots of cacti, mountains, steep drops.  Luckily we had a very good driver.

We stopped for lunch at a small town called Chincheros, where we ate Cuban rice, which is rice with with a couple of fried eggs and a plantain.  After lunch we wandered around the town square and took photos of some very woolly pigs that were grazing there.

The afternoon was more of the same.  The highlight for me was seeing a wild guinea pig roaming free.  I had always imagined that in their natural habitat they would be grey-brown like wild rabbits, but this one wsa white, brown and black.

The closer we got to Andahuaylas, the more hold-ups and roadworks there were, and we eventually arrived at 6.45 pm.  We started walking towards the centre of town, but then decided to pick a cheap looking hostel near the bus station.  This turned out to be somewhat of an error.

We had a walk into the town and found a nice looking restaurant which seemed to be full, so we visited the town square.  There was a big statue of a condor atop a bull.  We later discovered that this reflects a local festival that takes place every July.  During the festival they tie a condor to the back of a bull and let them fight it out.  The bull represents Spain and the condor represents Peru.  It seems to be very unfair on the bull, as he is fighting blind, and canīt really get at the condor, which is behind him.  Besides, he has probably never even been to Spain

We went back to the restaurant, which still appeared to be full, but then we realised that there was an upstairs.  We had a big meal of anticuchos (beef heart skewers), chips and big white corn.

Back at our hotel we tried to get an early night, but we hadnīt reckoned on a horrible Peruvian family shouting, turning the TV on loud and generally being obnoxious between the hours of 10 pm to 1 am, and then again from about 2 am to 3 am.  We had to get up at 4.30 to catch our bus, and were less than impressed.

We tried to sneak out of the hotel, but unfortunately it was padlocked, so we had to wake the staff to let us out.  I have never been more glad to leave a hotel.

Next stop: Cuzco.
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