Today was our day-long trip across the coastal plane and into the Andes to Ayacucho (altitude 2700 m). I took a gazillion pictures of the changing character of the mountains as we climbed from the coastal desert to altitudes where it rains (we even had a few drops along the way).
We saw saguaro cactus, ecalyptus, grasses of all sorts, flowering prickly pear, and lots of vegetation I’ve never seen before. The changes in geological formation were also striking the farther and higher into the mountains we went. Now I need to spend time learning about the geological history of the Andes.
Llamas – we saw many herd of llamas. We also encountered some alpacas – like llamas just smaller.
The most unexpected sight was the Monday washing displayed on the mountainside being done by hand at a spring outlet near the roadside.
Our highest altitude – just over 4000 m.
And did I ever feel it – head-achy, slight nausea, quite different from being seasick. The traditional Peruvian remedy for altitude sickness – chewing coca leaves. Our guides had brought plenty along for us and it definitely helped; hard candy made from coca was also useful (I’d bought some in the market the other day). A third remedy – an essential oil of some Andean plant, the name of which I can’t remember, worked as well to clear the headache and nausea.
We arrived in Ayacucho about 3:45 pm, all of us tired from the long drive and glad to be at our hotel. Tomorrow we explore Ayacucho on foot with Maximo Lauro – a tapestry maker of major international reputation.
In any case, that’s it for tonight. The Canadian federal elections results have started coming in – so far a Liberal sweep of Atlantic Canada. May that momentum continue and sweep the Harper Conservatives from government. I have to watch for a while.
More on Peru tomorrow.