October 1, 2005
I started out my day by taking a walk through the streets of Miraflores. There are lots of old houses and interesting buildings to see, and it's one of the few places in Lima where I feel completely safe to walk around. I took a stroll through a touristy market where clothes and souvenirs were sold at highly marked up prices. Then I walked past the house of Ricardo Palma, a famous Peruvian author. There was a museum there, but it was closed. I did a little more walking around, then returned to the hostel.
After my leisurely morning, Morad informed me that the bus tickets we wanted to get for Huaraz were sold out, so we would have to go with a different company. We took a taxi to the ticket place and got an overnight ride that goes from 9 PM to 5 AM. The good news is that the ticket only cost about $7, which is less than half of what I was expecting to pay. On top of that, I don't have to pay for accommodation and I'll get to wake up ready to explore a new city, at least in theory.
After purchasing the ticket, I took a taxi to the Museo de la Nacion, which had several exhibits about the pre-Hispanic and pre-Inca cultures of Peru. There were Wari masks, punctured skulls, shrunken heads, and all sorts of interesting tidbits from the long-forgotten cultures of this land.
After I had gotten my museum fix taken care of, I bought some food from the supermarket, hung out in the hostel for awhile, got all of my stuff together, and got ready to go on a long bus trip.
Morad and I got to the bus station about 8:30 for our 9:00 departure, and from the first minute we set foot inside, it was a horrible experience. There were about forty people waiting to get onto various buses out of town (we were the only foreigners). There were also about thirty people trying to sell us shit. One by one, they would walk up to us, stick their complete garbage items that nobody would ever want to buy in our faces, and hold them there for about ten seconds before moving on. For me, it was an exercise in extreme restraint.
At one point, a guy stuck one of those noise makers that you roll between your palms from Karate Kid II about one inch from my nose and started making noise with it. BAM, BAM, BAM, BAM! Why would I ever want to buy that? It took every bit of focus I could muster to keep myself from grabbing it and beating him over the head with it. After awhile I perfected the stare-blindly-into-space-and-pretend-they-don't-exist look. Even worse, I thought it was just the gringos they were bugging, but then I looked to my left to see a guy relentlessly waving a noise-making stuffed animal in someone's face. It's very frustrating for me too, because while I get thoroughly annoyed by these things, I realize that this is the only way these people can survive. I just wish they would try to sell food, or something someone else might want, instead. I guess I should just accept it as part of the culture. Life is more than skittles and beer.
The bus left about thirty minutes late, which isn't too bad I'm told. Upon embarking, we drove around Lima for about two hours picking people up. At first, there were only three people besides us on the bus, but eventually it got completely full. The rest of the trip wasn't too bad, even though my knees were pressed against the seat in front of me the whole time, there wasn't a bathroom or any bathroom breaks, and we climbed from sea level to 10,000 feet, so we were constantly moving uphill around hairpin curves, all while attempting to sleep because it was the middle of the night.
We got to Huaraz shortly before sunrise. When it got light enough to see outside, the first thing I noticed was how beautiful the scenery was. Huaraz is a small city that is surrounded by mountains. It's far removed from the noisy, polluted city of Lima. I think I will like it a lot better here.