Thursday, July 30, 2009


We just got back from Ayacucho today, to where we had travelled to spend the Independence Day holiday.

We found the town in pretty good shape overall. Many of the colonial buildings in the historic colonial downtown were being gussied up with new plaster and paint. In fact, our family house, built in the 16th or 17th Century, had itself had its facade replastered and painted, with the workmen finishing the job on the morning we arrived.

We took an overnight bus for the 9 hour trip over the western branch of the Andes. The bus, from Transporte Internacional Palomino, was the nicest I've been on. It was a "bus cama" so the seats reclined almost all the way, allowing one to sleep lying down, and the best part was that the cabin was pressurised or had oxygen pumped into it so that this time the trip over the 4746 meter (15,570 foot) high pass at Apacheta did not leave one lightheaded and gasping for breath.

Although the whole of the Apacheta was covered in snow, we arrived in Ayachucho to a bright, sunny dawn.

After dropping off our stuff at the house, we headed to the market for a breakfast of llipta -a creamy cereal made from corn-, bread, and fruit juices.

Then, after resting up a bit, we hired a van and took off to visit the ancient ruins of Wari, and the town and battlefield of Quinua.

On the way we passed the sewage treatment plant, which in typical Ayacuchano humor has been nicknamed "Acapulco", the comedy lying in that aca is the Quechua word for excrement.

The pampa was rather empty even though it was the Independence Day holiday. This was probably due to the government's decision to cancel all parades and official celebrations in response to the AH1N1 flu. The view, however, was all the better with the snowy peaks in the background.

Afterward we headed into the town of Quinua itself for a late lunch -too late, as far as the girls were concerned, as they were tired and suffering from the altitude- and some shopping for some of the ceramics for which the town is famed.

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