Travel Website Logo
Travel Journal
Dan Walker’s Travel Website
Travel Photos

Travel Journal

Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.

Journal Entry:

Friday, March 18, 2011 15:27:25

Rolls Alaska to Argentina & back: 16 Pacasmayo to , Peru

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

*Miles for the day: 83 (134 km) Miles to date: 8,884 (14,297 km)*

We needed more Peruvian currency, so the hotel sent an employee with me to guide me to a money changer. There first had no money, but the second gave me the same rate I'd received in Tumbes even though he wasn't open yet. After a thoroughly forgettable breakfast another employee was assigned to guide us to a gas station that would take MasterCard before driving the short distance to the town of Huanchaco, just north of Trujillo. I'd spotted Hotel Bracamonte on Google Earth. It was great, and the same $73 price as last night. Tourists are exempt from hotel taxes in Peru, so prices are the total amount to be paid.

We checked in at 10:15 AM, and then headed for the archaeological site of Chan Chan in an area that has been settled for some 11,000 years. Chan Chan was the capital of an empire covering a great deal of the coastal area of Peru, founded about 1,000 BC. The guide claims it is the largest existing mud brick construction in the world. The city once stretched from the ocean to the Andes Mountains, with palaces of nobles covering up to 14 hectares each. The mud walls were many miles long, and about 33 feet (10 meters) high. The city had massive irrigation systems carry water up to 100 km (62 miles) from the mountains. They thrived until conquered by the Incas, who rerouted their water systems as punishment, causing the city to be abandoned.

Marilynn asked the guide about the many Peruvians who have oriental features. It seems that long ago Spaniards and other Europeans sent recruiters to Japan and China with the promise of good jobs. Many thousands were recruited and enslaved on arrival. This explains politicians such as ex-president Fujimori, and two who are running in the current election campaign with Japanese names.

We had trouble with the starter not engaging when we went to leave the site. The guide who showed us around the site asked some taxi drivers where we could find an automotive electric shop, then came with us to show us where it was. Once there the starter worked perfectly every time, so it will be on ongoing worry. The mechanic did replace a flasher to get the right hand turn signal going, fix the right rear tail light and tighten a loose fog lamp - the price for the mechanic was $3.68 and so was the new flasher unit.

Restaurant Big Ben was recommended, so on our return to Huanchaco we drove around town looking for it. We asked directions from a fellow sitting beside the road. He said we were going the wrong direction, so after turning around we stopped where he was standing beside the road. He insisted we follow him on his bicycle to the restaurant. It turned out he was 81 years old, but did a fine job of guiding us.

The restaurant overlooked the bay, so we watched surfers and others while having a good lunch. Later it was back to the hotel for a swim and snack before bed. I managed to get an update out on their complementary computer system.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

*Miles for the day: 290 (457 km) Miles to date: 9,174 (14,764 km)*

Hotels so far in Peru have all included breakfast in the room rate, so we had a good breakfast before heading south. The roads in Peru have been very good, and we made good time. An advantage of driving the coast road south is that all highway tolls are collected from northbound vehicles - no charge for southbound. The countryside was varied desert - from huge sand dunes to bare rocky landscape, and the variety of colours was amazing. In spite of being sunny it was not hot along the coast road where there was frequent fog.

The towns are a pain to go through, as Peruvians are as discourteous behind the wheel as they are friendly and helpful in person. Drivers ask no quarter, yield no quarter, and cutting off others, refusing to allow lane changes and laying on the horn seem part of the culture.

After a long drive, stopping only for gas and a car wash, we arrived in Chancay, close to Lima. There wasn't much selection of hotels, but we decided to go with Hostel Villa de Arnedo, a basic but clean place with good indoor parking. When my passport was requested at check-in I realize I didn't have my travel vest, containing passport, money, identification cards and pretty much everything of importance except driver's license & credit cards. Those were in my pocket.

The hotel phone system did not allow long distance calls, so we went to a local phone centre to call the Bracamonte Hotel from last night. They had the vest, it was left on a table where I was going over archaeological sites with a hotel guest who knew the area. When I left the map went with me but not the vest. After various back and forth phone calls we were told the jacket had been sent by taxi to the Lima bus and we could pick it up tomorrow. The woman who ran the phone centre said her nephew would accompany us to Lima to show us the bus depot and where to pick up the jacket, but we politely declined.

In the midst of this panic, while we walked to the phone centre a woman on a bicycle pulled over to the curb to point out that Marilynn had her shirt buttons in the wrong holes! Help is available everywhere here!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

*Miles for the day: 202 (325 km) Miles to date: 9,376 (15,089 km)*

Not much sleep, we were both awake most of the night worrying. We left for Lima before 6AM in pre-dawn darkness. The first gas station we tried accepted MasterCard so we topped up and headed south. We have usually had to try several gas stations as very few accept credit cards, and those that do only accept Visa even when they display MasterCard signs.

Traffic became very heavy and slow 50 km north of Lima, and got gradually worse the closer we got to the city. A businessman at the gas station had told us what to expect, and where to exit the Pan American highway to find the bus station. Once off the Pan American we asked a taxi driver stopped beside me at a light where to go, and he said to follow him. He got us to within view of the bus station, which fortunately had a near empty guarded parking lot.

The bus wasn't expected until 9 AM, but the parcel was there at 8 AM when we arrived. Everything was intact, including over $4,000 US cash. In addition the package included three books of proverbs from the bible, a bill for about $8 for costs and the bank account number to deposit it to. We had an unexpectedly good breakfast at a snack bar in the bus terminal, and then hired a taxi to get us out of downtown Lima and onto the highway south again. The road was excellent four land divided highway for a long way.

We had planned to go only as far as Pisco, but there was a demonstration of some sort blocking the main entrance to the city. I'd expected a rebuilt modern city after the earthquake of August 2007 destroyed most of Pisco, but the streets we could see were bad pavement or dirt, so we turned around and headed further south. A 17 km detour took us to the resort town of Paracas, which I'd located on Google Earth. It turned out to be great place, with a wonderful malecon full of bars and restaurant and many hotels from $20 per night up. We chose a very good place for $72 which included a full breakfast. The town is almost deserted, with hawkers pushing hotels and tours. High season has ended and things are very slow, which is good for us. Our hotel restaurant turned out to be the best in town, so we celebrated a good day with a swim followed by good food and drink. This is an area of vineyards, and we found the Peruvian white wine we were served excellent.