Saturday, December 7, 2013

Cerro Azul and Lima, Peru

The drive further north takes us through the town of Pisco which shares its name with pisco, the national alcoholic beverage of Peru. The grapes needed for the brandy are grown in this region and there are many bodegas set up for distilling with some having tasting rooms attached. We don’t stop because really unless it is mixed into a pisco sour, we don’t like it. Straight it has a harsh, fiery taste that is much stronger than brandy and burns your throat on the way down. Not particularly pleasant. So we forgo the bodegas and keep driving. We do however appreciate the scenery which is completely the opposite of earlier. Strong volcanic soil has replaced the desert sand and vines stretch for mile after mile. Soon those vines are replaced by miles upon miles of sugar cane fields and small stands at the side of the road advertise sugar cane juice. At other artisan stands, black African figurines are offered as souvenirs in lieu of the ubiquitous baby alpaca textiles that are so prevalent in Peru. This is the area of Chincha. A testament to the Afro-Peruvian culture and a reminder of the nation’s brutal slave history. The local wine shops that we pass in town are also a testament: this time to the local wine and pisco industry. We are now on the narrow strip of highway that separates the coast from the Andes and the small villages are coming and going as we get ever closer to the capital. But it is late, and we do not want to enter Lima in the dark and try to find the hostel, so we start to look for a beach to spend the night. Cerro Azul about 90 miles (145 kms) south of Lima was perfect for parking overnight. We found a nice stretch of level sand, next to a park and close to the water. Plenty of room for Winston to run and for us to wild camp for the night. Although the park stayed active until sunset, after dark the place was deserted and quiet and we got a great night’s sleep, listening to the sound of the waves. Next morning, we were on our final leg into Lima. Our destination is the Hitchhiker Hostel, located in a barrio of Lima called Miraflores. Armed with both GPS co-ordinates and the physical address, we are hopeful that we can navigate the streets easily. And we did. The hostel is ideal but small with room for only four RV’s and during our time there, it was full most of the time. When we arrived there was a vehicle from Switzerland and only an hour after us, a couple from Texas pulled in with their rig. With power, hot showers, water and internet, we are set. Tom immediately contacts the US Embassy, Citizen Services and gets an appointment for tomorrow to start his passport renewal process. We know there will be a minimum waiting period of about two weeks, so this will be our home. A walk through Miraflores to the ocean is beautiful. An extremely upscale barrio of Lima, we were only a few blocks from the ocean and its grassy, park-lined costanera is amazing. Even more amazing are the number of people who actually walk their dogs on leash. And yet more amazing, is the city ordinance requiring dog owners to “pick up” after their pet – yes, no having to avoid dog poop although of course there is always someone! And the most astonishing thing was …. an actual off-leash dog park! Winston thought he had died and gone to beagle heaven. Not only grass to roll in, not only parks to walk in but dogs to play and run with in a secure environment. Life was good in Beagle Land and we were pretty happy too. Yes, Miraflores will serve us well.

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