Peru 2001

It's very easy to fall in love with Peru and its wonderful inhabitants. I had several reasons for returning to Peru. I had wanted to go to Arequipa to see the sprawling, incredible Monasterio Misterioso, and also to use Arequipa as a base for exploring the Andes Mountains further. From Arequipa, it was possible to make 3-4 day excursions to its outlying areas. We visited the amazing Colca Canyon, said to be the deepest canyon in the world by locals; Valley of the Volcanoes, a 64-km valley moonscape littered with fantastic volcanic cones, big and small; the desolate alienscape of Laguna de Salinas; and of course, exploring Arequipa itself. We got around primarily by local buses.

My cousin Simin, a nomad who has lived in Paris, Canada, The United States, and Hong Kong, had wanted to go to South America. We decided on Peru almost right away. It's impossible to go to Peru and not visit South America's most famous historical landmark, Macchu Picchu, so we did just that. This was my second time visiting this Incan site, and I came away no less impressed than last time. We also explored parts of Cuzco that I did not see during my 1998 visit, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, walking, and hiking.

And finally, after Cuzco and Arequipa, we headed north, up the Pacific Coast. We flew above the mysterious lines of Nazca, climbed the sand dunes above the desert oasis of Ica, danced to the exotic rhythms of Afro-Peruvian music during the Fiestas Patrias in Chincha, and took a boat tour to see the amazing sea life of Islas Ballestas.

The entire way, we met amazingly friendly people. Whether in Lima, a monstrous metropolitan city of 12 million, or a tiny mountain pueblo tucked deep in the Andes, the people we met every step of the way were patient, friendly, and smiling. It's quite possible that the Peruvians are the nicest people anywhere. We arrived in Peru only three days after the disastrous 8.6 magnitude earthquake that rocked Moquegua, Arequipa, and much of southern Peru.

You are warmly invited to share in our experience of this beautiful country.




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