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2002-12-21 - 1:17 p.m.

Okay, where was I? From Chachapoyas, we took an overnight bus (a real bus, a big bus, with reclining seats, so so luxurious) to Chiclayo, which was big and loud and noisy. The taxi driver talked us into a nice hotel - about $10 dollars for each of us, but with our own bathroom and cable tv - and we were so tired and disoriented from getting into town at 6 am that we didn't even argue. Okay, I tried to argue for a little while (we actually had a hotel picked out in the guide book, and I didn't want to stay at a place due to the capricious whims of the taxi driver, who was probably getting paid by the hotel to bring us there, while we were paying him to bring us to the wrong hotel), but both the taxi driver and Melchior were pretty adamant, and like I said, we were both pretty tired. I felt better after a shower, and even better after I discovered that we had HBO.

Chiclayo is kind of a blur - after all the small towns we'd stayed in, it was a little too much for us. The crowded streets, the constant honking of the horns...we only stayed for two days. We ate a lot, and discovered some really good ice cream, and found the witch doctor's market, and took a bus to the Bruning Archaelogical Museum, which was quite good. But we were happy to leave for Trujillo, only a three-hour bus ride away. From Trujillo (another loud noisy city), we took a cab to Huanchaco, a fishing and surfing village just outside of town. There, we stayed at the Casa de Suiza (the Swiss house - I couldn't resist). I got up early and went running along the beach every morning, which was an amazing way to start the day. We spent the rest of our time hanging out on the beach, watching the surfers, or walking around town, and hanging out on the beach again - until Melchior got sick (the same thing I had in Vilcabamba, we think), in which case he stayed in bed, and I spent my time reading, checking on Melchior every hour or two, and fetching him water and Coke and chocolate, the only things he could manage to keep down. He wasn't sick for long, and when he recovered, we made it to Chan Chan, the ruins of the imperial city of the Chimu domains, and the largest adobe city in the world. (NOTE TO SELF: insert picture of me and Melchior at Chan Chan, looking like European tourists, which he is and which I pretend to be.)

From Huanchaco, we took the overnight bus to Lima. I liked Lima. No one's really supposed to like Lima. But we stayed in Miraflores, the rather poncey suburb of Lima - kind of like going to New York City and staying on the Upper East Side. It was safe! We were only paying four dollars a person for our room, breakfast included (quite possibly the cheapest place in Miraflores)! There were movie theaters! And a Dunkin Donuts! And I saw my first McDonald's of the entire trip (their new product over here is the Pollo McCrispy)! And I found refills for my Pilot Dr. Grip gel pen! And I found a copy of the Footprint South American Handbook, 2003 edition, which I bought for myself as an early Christmas gift (the lack of information in my Lonely Planet Guidebook was giving me headaches)! And I went to an arthouse theater and saw The Unbearable Lightness of Being! (Also, Storytelling and the new Harry Potter flick.) We tried to be tourists, honestly we did, but after learning at the Museo de la Nacion that almost all of the museums in town were closed during the week because of the holiday season (we had arrived on Monday, and were leaving on Friday), we decided it wasn't in our best interests to be overly ambitious. So we just wandered around and shopped a lot. We did make it to the San Francisco Church (I wanted to see the bones in the Catacombs) and the Museo de Arte, which had a fascinating exhibit on Alexander von Humboldt, who did, apparently, just about everything. Really. Everything. I felt very inadequate by comparison. I mean, I was pretty excited that we figured out the bus system (which was crazy, by the way - on our last bus trip to Miraflores from the Museo de Arte, I sat almost directly behind the bus driver, and am still not quite sure how we made it back safely to Miraflores, or indeed, how any of the buses made it safely anywhere).

On Friday, we caught a flight from Lima to Cuzco, which was exciting, because for me, air travel is always exciting and luxurious (a one-way ticket from Lima to Cuzco is $70, but it's a 24-hour bus trip - at some point, you just have to ask yourself what your time is worth). If you ever want a cheap buzz, I highly recommend flying from Lima (at sea level) to Cuzco (3310 meters - that's high, folks). I spent the first day feeling like I was drunk, or high - I was light headed and couldn't quite seem to stop talking. It was kind of fun. I've been in Cuzco two full days already, and I think I'm acclimating well - I'm eating well and haven't felt sick to my stomach once. Which is good, because on Wednesday (Christmas morning), we leave to tackle the Inca Trail. Four days and three nights - those who know me in real life are well aware of my vast experience in hiking and camping. I'm sure it will be a breeze.

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