Despite trying yesterday we had failed to get accurate information about which bus could take us where we wanted to go or when and where it left Lima. Overnight, we had changed our travel plans and decided to stay in Paracas (small coastal resort) rather than Pisco (home of the local drink). This means a different bus to the one we thought we probably would get so our inability to buy tickets yesterday actually worked in our favour.
We headed back to the SAE to kill time before the bus and to check this site for messages. We'd parked ourselves at a big dining room table which people use for looking at maps. Stef was getting annoyed with a French couple who were map reading. They had stuff spread out over most of the table already but were still heading down towards us, totally oblivious of the fact. That got a "they're French what do you expect?" comment from me.
We took a taxi to the bus depot. It was a little Hyundai which runs on LPG. The tank took up most of the space in the boot so it was a snug ride. The traffic here is pretty mad - more parallels with India were drawn! Our bus is a Royal Class affair which comes with in flight entertainment (Lord of the Rings part 2 - yes the journey was long enough for the whole film but fortunately the sound was iffy) and a free sandwich and drink. Before boarding Stef bought a bottle of Inka Cola, a local drink which is very sweet and a bit similar to Irn Bru and Lucozade. I doubt we'll buy it again and was surprised at how many people on the bus (almost exclusively foreign tourists) bought it.
The couple behind us (Duncan and Jen) had also just arrived in Lima and are off to trek the Inca Trail. We'd not planned that far in advance and its now fully booked until September. After Perú they're off to Chile so we ran though what we'd seen and done there and left them our website details also.
We've hit Peru at the start of its 8 month season of sea mist (its desert country so there's no rain) so you can't see clearly beyond a couple of hundred metres. Its a shame because our route takes us down the Pan-American highway along the Pacific coast. As in the north of Chile though the scenery changes little. Its mainly arid desert but where there's water its very green.
When you reach an area with water the agriculture is extensive. Its hard to believe they can grow anything much here. We could make out cotton and corn but I have idea what else is being grown. Along the route there were also big long low structures like a cross between a garden shed and a poly tunnel. Where these were close to the road you could make out what they were for. I'd assumed they were perhaps nurseries for plants but they're battery chicken farms. There are so many crammed in that they can't have much space to move.
We passed through Chincha and Pisco before reaching Paracas and I was glad we'd changed our plans. Neither looked great but I suppose you get a distorted view from the bus. Being a double decker we were above the height of the buildings. Its earthquake territory here so they are mainly one storey buildings. The roofs look like they've been made from corrugated iron and some have old bits of furniture thrown on top. I'm not sure if this is just storage or whether its a tactic to stop the roof blowing away.
The towns both looked dusty and dirty and I've got the taste of sand in my mouth like we had in northern Chile. When we passed villages in the desert you could barely make out the houses through the fug. The bricks they are made of are the same colour as the ground they stand on and it all simply merges into a blur.
This journey was uncomfortable with not much leg room and seats at a funny inclined angle. We were both pleased when we finally got to Paracas. Our chosen hotel was on the outskirts of the village - the bus stop was at the other end of the village. As we started to walk through town we came across a new hotel, Posada del Libertador, which only opened 3 months ago so it isn't yet in any of the books. As its closer to the village centre we decided to have a quick look.
Its made up of five bungalows. Each has a small lounge/diner and a kitchen. Downstairs there's a single en suite. Upstairs there's a double en suite and then two more triple bed rooms which share a bathroom. No one else is there so we got a whole bungalow to ourselves and at US$30 a night for B&B it was cheaper than the other place. Stef made an apologetic "we fell asleep on the bus and missed our stop" call to the place we'd booked. Although the place we're at claims to be new, some of the fixtures and fittings are either second hand or its simply an existing hotel that's just been refurbished and re-registered under a new name. Whatever, its clean, comfortable and quiet.
We ambled along into the village looking for a shop to buy water and also to get information on tours to the local sights - Islas Ballestas and Paracas National Park. Finding the main strip along the beach (which is also new) we were instantly hounded with offers of trips (buy now its cheaper than in the morning). All the restaurants on the strip were also out pushing their menu's in our faces. There must have been about six or seven places open, a lot seeing as how there are only a few tourists here.
Ignoring the lot we went back to an office we'd passed on the way to get the tour information. We got a very detailed explanation (almost to the extent that we don't need the tour!) and booked up. Back on the front we went for dinner to the only place that hadn't hassled us to go in. They seemed really excited that we'd chosen them. When we left (leaving the only 2 other customers) we understood why - most of the other places had closed, no customers so no point in staying open.
Even though we're heading towards the equator its cool here. As I write I'm in a t-shirt and have goose pimples on my arms. We've got a thick feather duvet on the bed. Based on the snippet of Wimbledon I saw this morning it looks warm and sunny back home. It was Tim Henman playing - will he find enough of the tiger in him to go all the way this year and win the Championship? Only time will tell!!