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Monday, September 30, 2013

Chiclayo & Monsefu, Peru. We recommend Victoria Hostal for budget prices, and friendly service

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We had booked the Victoria Hostal.
It was really close to the main Plaza, and also we could walk to the bus depots and compare prices.
Not to mention there were 2 shopping plazas nearby and one had TOTTUS, my son's favorite store!

When we arrived we were shown to a clean, and very budget room. $12 the night.

The photo's don't do it justice.
It has TV, a lot of power points, a lovely window with double glazing, and an en-suite.
Double lock doors made us feel safe too.

Once unloaded, we went to reception who gave us a map and directions to the plaza.

 This is a pretty colonial town, and the building are gorgeous.
For some reason everyone sells you cheap passport photos here.
Grab a set and pack away.

We left there and walked down to Tottus.  My sons favourite super store.
Here they have cheap Turbo toys - his favorite right now from the Turbo movie.
Regretful of not buying an extra packet now and putting a pack away for Christmas!

We headed back to the hostel.
On the way we found a bus company with a super deal to Ecuador.
Why not?
We ready for a change - let's go tomorrow!

I did a bit of reading and decided next day we would visit a little town of Monsefu.
It has a traditional market.

We packed the room, took a mini van and arrived at 9 a.m. - too early.
A few sweet stores were there.

We bought a tin of chocolate toffee spread.
And several clay souvenirs - that were soooo cheap.

Next we went to the produce market.
Here for some reason the women went "nuts" over my son's "cuteness. and blondish hair.
"Lindo" was said to him. His hair was tussled, and he was grinned and talked to by countless senoras.

We headed back to Chiclayo in the combi mini van.
Now in this van we struck another bunch of friendly locals. All trying any English words they knew on us.  Now it is interesting that "Chiclayo" means "friendly people", and indeed this was true for us.

We then headed to the Chiclayo Central Markets.
Here what looked like flying fish were jumping in their basin.
Interestingly, we a re a distance from the coast, so we wondered how they could be so alive.
Explorason took this photo - he was fascinated.

Next I believe might be white witchcraft potions, or so I read, but I am not sure if this is true.
Anyone who knows me, knows I am anti-Sharman, and Witchcraft.
Here are snakes and turtles cut with potions in.

We then headed to another mall.
The giant Turbo sign was pretty exciting for my mad-keen Explorason.
We headed in and had lunch.
We used up most of our coins except a taxi fare for us to get to the bus depot.

We headed back to Victoria Hostal.
Now this is where I am impressed.
They had stored our Luggage.
My suitcase had already been broken earlier in the trip, but the handle then snaps off.
The owner and his team have it open and it is fixed by him.
This took some doing, and I was really thankful.

They then let us use the kitchen to cook up our dinner.
We had been missing vegetables in our diet, so the last week we had been cooking a stack of green vegetables.
I made a nice Italian puree, and we had stuffed potatoes, along with them.
It was a feast.

When we went to head off and get a taxi, the hospitality of this hostal yet again shone.
The owner loaded our bags into his tray of his utility wagon and took us there.

He made sure my son watched the bags as we unloaded, and stayed safe.
He helped us in.
I am amazed at his kindness,and so thankful.

As we went to book our bags in, we came face to face with a hacked up pig in a bowl.
That was going to be joining our luggage under the bus - yuk!

We found the bus had no warning to go.
We had arrived early, and say and waited, but suddenly we discovered the ticket selling lady finding us to rush on.

This was an overnight but to Cuenca, Ecuador.
What amazed me when we stopped at the border was that under the bus in the luggage compartment, was a mattress and one of the drivers and his girlfriend having a nice time!

The border of Ecuador and Peru is an easy border crossing.
The offices are together, and it is new.
Last time we were there they pulled our bags out and made us open them, so i was dreading this.
Nothing this time - well so I thought.
We drove off, and stopped not 20 minutes later at a security check.
In the bus they came.
"dos azul maleta", "dos azul maleta".  It was of course ours.
Outside I went as they pulled them apart.
He stopped when he discovered we loved Peru, and we were from Australia.
He then started a friendly chat and helped me reload them.

Unfortunately the bus driver refused to turn his music down.
Now at times I like some South American music, but at 4 a.m., I'm sorry I don't.
Some people got off the bus, and as the driver went to get their bags, I jumped in the front and turned the stereo down.  But still no sleep.  The road increased in windiness. The driver increased in speed.
Being a the front of the bus I could read the roadsigns, and the speedo. He was at one stage doing 90 kmph in a 25 kmph zone.  I seriously thought the bus would flip.  
There was a ravine to the right of the bus and a river below.  
I have never prayed so hard. the door to the driver was locked and he was being a maniac.
It was just crazy.
I ended up having a plastic bag open to throw up in, and was glad my son slept through it all.
God answered my prayers. He slowed. Stopped. Got out and went to a statue and did his sign of the cross and popped in some money.  Was that meant to protect us?  What a joke.  I was so unimpressed.

We finally arrived in Cuenca at 8.30 a.m.
We were meant to have arrived at 7.00 a.m.

The taxi driver dropped my suitcase as he pulled it out of the trunk / boot.
Boom. The wheels went in two directions.
It was already about had it.  Its wheeling days were well and truly over.
The man at the hostel flung it on his shoulder like he as carrying a toddler, and up the stairs he went like it was no big deal.
Wow was I thankful.
Time for sleep.

Chan Chan, Peru. The largest adobe city remaining. Then onto Trujillo Plaza de Armas.

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This morning is a learning time.
We try to incorporate learning times in our travel, like a field trip I guess.
So we take the local bus from Huanchaco Beach toward Trujillo.
We stop off at the road and have no idea how far we have to walk.
It is hotter than we anticipated.
And my son has a job each day to bring water.
A job he forgets to do - a lot.
And I forgot to remind him!
And added to that, we didn't bring caps, as it was cold when we set out.

We start yo see areas of walls, and holes.
My son runs off to explore.

We finally get to the main area of Chan Chan.
Here a Peruvian hairless dog lies in the shade.
They are quite ugly. Dry skin and only a turf of hair.
To the ancient folk they were of the same importance as the cat was to the Egyptians.

We buy a ticket. I can't remember how much, but it was not expensive. Under $10 for the 2 of us. And it gave us entry to 4 places.
As there are no bathrooms inside Chan Chan we go to them first.
We meet some lovely university students who give us all sorts of tips of places to see when we head north.
We manage to go the wrong way, BEFORE we are even in the temple.
There are little fish signs to follow, but until you notice them - well, it is easy to get lost, as we did!

Once inside we notice the detail on the walls.
It is a shame, as they have erected an ugly tin roof to protect the walls.
Clay or terracotta tiles would have worked far more nicely, and it takes a while to adjust to how much these detract from the ancient workmanship of the area.

There are few statues remaining.
There is only one entrance / exit to the temple area, and this is the largest adobe and Pre-Inca city left.

 The walls are decorated in this area with fish.
As we are not far from the sea, this would have been their main survival food in this desert region.

Here you can see the thatch walls.
These represent fishing nets so we are told.

You can see more of the city detail here.
It is a huge area, and goes on and on.
We get about half way through and my son has to go to the bathroom again.
So we cut our tour short and head back.

 As we do we get the chance to dress up.
 Explorason has always wanted to be King, so he is happy.
The guy is quite a flirt.
He has a great money making business too and it is 5 Soles a person.
I can see why he is so cheery, as just about everyone dresses up!

Back to the bathrooms!
We get a lift back up the dusty roads with two Swiss folk.
We then walk up the main road about 500 metres to the Museum.
Seriously - don't bother unless you have a load of time.
Sorry. I know they try hard, but the displays are poor.
The models are glued and broken.
But the good thing is it is included in the price of your ticket to Chan Chan.

Another local bus sees us back at the Mall.
We enjoy lunch there and then walk out to get a mini van to the Plaza de Armas.
We meet a lovely local couple who help us and walk us there.

This is a Plaza worth visiting.
It is really pretty, and the painted buildings are gorgeous.

If you visit, take a walk around the buildings.
The door handles and knockers are very interesting.

Ancient doors - if only they could talk as to who walked through in times past.

Inside this keyhole, my son discovered the most glorious courtyard.
Worth peeping in!

We then caught a taxi (we could have walked but Explorason had tired little legs) to the Bus terminal.
Now each bus company has a different terminal base, so you need to ask around for the companies that go to which city.  As this is for 2 days time, we were able to book and get the front two seats - my son's favourite position on the bus.

Headed back to the Ocean Hostel.  I could a lovely dinner and we relaxed.

Next morning the sky was blue and we headed to the beach.
Not warm enough for a swim, but warm enough to look at the local surf/fishing reed boat the area is famous for.  
you can just see me hiding in one!

These are like the reed boats of Puno.
The interesting thing with the modern version, is the centre is filled with empty plastic drink bottles, then the reeds are bound around them. Some also use foam.

The locals still use these to fish.
They come with a paddle and you sit on your knees.

We feel like it is time to move on.
We are glad that this day is our last.
I daresay in Summer this place would be awesome, but really it is a dirty sand, and not the white sands we long for and miss.

 We walk on up to the playground area.

 As much as we are enjoying seeing the culture, we are at the stage where:....
.... A plaza has become "another square"
.... A ruin has become "another ruin".
We need to head to something and somewhere different soon.
We realise we need a change of culture.
I wonder how much longer we will last in Peru.
The dirty road-sides are getting to us.
We are missing Western life.
My son is really missing malls; western food, and speaking English.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Trujillo and Huanchaco, Peru. Oceano Hostel is a fabulous & relaxing family hostel

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We have spent the last night on a bus from Lima.  
And before that was a morning bus to Lima from Chincha.
So it has been a long 24 hours.

We arrived in Huanchaco, and took a taxi to Trujillo.
Here we tried about 4 hostels in the end with a patient taxi driver, as yet again we had the same problem.
We had booked a hostel and on arrival they put the price up.

So we checked into My Friends, but we really weren't happy.
It was quite dirty, with cigarette butts near our room door.

So we hadn't paid and ducked out, locking the room with our luggage in.
We tried about another 6 hostels.

We decided as it was only 8 a.m. we would have some breakfast and found a super-clean cafe called Oceano.
The owner spoke English, and welcomed us.
He told us he had a small family run hostel, but to wait to see what guests were leaving as he was full.

So we enjoyed our bargain breakfast, and as we went to leave, a couple came down and said they were leaving. Excellent.  We booked and paid and raced to get our bags.
We dragged our bags two streets to our new hostel.

As the room was not cleaner, we took off on the local bus, armed with some things to do, thanks to the friendly hostel owner "Charlie-Brown".

We headed to the Mall Adventure Plaza.  Well my son was in heaven!
He has so missed western culture, and it had every western brand fast food he could desire.

It also had a great super store "Tottus" which we have shopped at before.
He is madly collecting Turbo Snails, and they had 50% off their packs, so he bought a giant pack to add to his collection.

We then left for what we thought was a mid-day show.

It turned out to be 1.30 pm for the Peruvian Paso Horse Show.
That was fine, as it was a grand place, and so we enjoyed racing his new snails, and having some Mum and son time together.

We were first to the seats for the show, so front row it was.
It was quite cold, and the owner came and donned my boy with a poncho.

Next he was able to feel one of the young horses.
I loved the tenderness of the horse trainers.

We loved the show.  This rider has to pour and ride with a glass of Pisco, the local drink, without spilling a drop. He was of course perfect.

Next came the dancers.
There were about 5 different sets to their show, and included several riders, horses, and even a little boy.

We had a variety of entertainment including cape riding, javelin stick throwing amongst other things.

They were so fast and skilled. Weaving between marks and making figure 8's.

The final show was incredible.
It was such a great afternoon.

We were then invited to meet and have photographs with the team.

Yo finish off a great afternoon, Explorason had a ride.  It was about now that I realise he is too old to be "led" on a horse.
He is read to free ride and he needs lessons.  So we need to find a place he can do that.

Back to the Mall, as he wanted Pizza for dinner.
We felt like we were back in Australia.
We filled our trolley with vegetables as we decided it was time to cook, and the hostel had a kitchen.
One problem with long-term travel is the lack of kitchen is hospedajes and hostels, and we are craving green vegetables.
So we were pretty loaded up when we took the local bus back to the hostel.

We were shown to our room.
Charlie Brown and his lovely wife Hope, helped us with our bags.
We had an en-suite.
Out of the window we could see a little plaza in one direction, and the sea in the other direction.
The room was squeaky clean.

And the cost was all of $6 each a night.
We ended up staying 4 nights and could have stayed a lot, lot longer.
I have never met such lovely friendly hosts as at the Oceana Hospedaje / Hostel.
If you are coming to Trujillo, please stay here.
You will NOT be disappointed!