Peru part 1-The Desert

Ok so I know it’s been a few months since I blogged but the Massive Jolly resumed about 4 weeks ago but unfortunately it ended again one week last week, so yes I am writing retrospectively, but that’s ok, I can still dazzle with my wit and insight, haha.

This time the Massive Jolly has a new travelling companion, my very good friend Lee.


We left for Edinburgh airport at 5.45am, thank you Dad for driving us, we were excited for our holiday… still travelling at 5.45am the following day, less excited and just fed up of uncomfy plane seats and not sleeping. Lying horizontal in the first hotel in Lima was right up there with paragliding and sailing down the Ganges in Varanasi.

After a two hour nap my reality was put back into check and we were ready to explore what Lima had to offer, Again in typical traveller fashion and my favourite way of meeting people and new experiences- talking to people at breakfast we set out in two taxis to explore what Downtown Lima had to offer –  who knows, it’s an experience! 

The experience began in the taxi tackling Lima traffic… our taxi wanted to go one way, the traffic another, that’s ok, just push your way through. I love it, for some reason I am able to put all of my trust and faith into the taxi driver whom I’ve just met. 


Grid lock OR a challenge? Taxi driver accepted

Getting out and stretching our legs in downtown Lima, I felt like I was back in Europe, it was clear to see the Spanish influence (in my opinion).


Maybe the cloud added to the Europe feel. Lima apparently experiences this and worse 9 months of the year. The trip to the beach is a prime example, but that’s to come later.Image

Our merry band of travellers plus lovely Steve who took the picture. 

As we wandered around the brightly coloured buildings the mix of architecture reminded me that we weren’t in Europe.


Certainly never seen a blue church in Europe.

We had been informed by the hotel that there was a protest going on in Lima today- should be peaceful, it’s about pay, living conditions etc, sounds fair enough to me. We did see ingredients of a protest-


Riot police in waiting. Tried to not make it obvious I was photographing them.


Ok definitely a demonstration but look


Everyone is smiling, so it’s all ok!

During an interesting lunch of Peruvian Chinese Food with tinned fruit cocktail cooked as part of my main course we saw the TV. In another part of the city, very far away from us the peaceful protest has turned into a riot and tear gas was thrown and people weren’t very happy. We decided returning to the hotel was a good idea and having a wander there.

The area around the hotel was called Miraflores known for its shopping, gardens and access to the beach so excellent place to be.

Day two- A trip to the seaside on Peruvian Nation Day, 28th July.

People dancing in the street and playing street games, the Community Education Worker in me loved this and wants people dancing in the streets of the West Fife Villages…


Impressed by the community spirit and unimpressed that my companions didn’t want to dance with me, we carryied on. We met the mist and the seaside that was hiding in it, definitely like being back home in Burntisland.



But this isn’t a beach holiday, so this isn’t clouding my impression.

That afternoon we headed through the desert along the coast, mental I know, totally can’t get my head around this either, beside the sea but in a dry desert.  

Thanks Wikipedia ” The Peruvian Desert has a low range of temperature changes due to the moderating effect of the nearby Pacific Ocean. Because of the upwelling of cold coastal waters and because of subtropical atmospheric subsidence, the desert is one of the most arid on Earth.” Mental!

But like in Lima with the coast came the mist, so it wasn’t as spectacular as it could have been. Still I enjoyed looking out the window and wondering how people can live in places like this. Shanty towns pop up all over the place, people not always living in the houses but this is a sign of occupying the land with intention to build. To me it gives a little bit of hope that people are anticipating a changing future. 

Anyway, we ended up in a little town called Paracas, in the region of Pisco, which was the gateway to the Ballestas Islands. This evening we arrived later than another tour group who were following us for the first 6 days. The other group were all mysteriously in bed when we later met up with their tour guide, while we were ready to learn how to make Pisco Sours, local tipple and potentially dance the night away.


Aint no party like a Pisco party! Pisco is a rum like liquor made from grapes then added to lime, egg whites, sugar and mixed with ice in a blender to create the famous Pisco Sour. 

The following day while walking to the jetty for our tour of the Ballestas Islands we bumped into the other group. What a night they’d had, during an evening stroll around the small town, they heard gunfire and were pushed into the depths of tiny rabbit warren like shops to avoid the conflict. Locals were crying and people were very distressed, the group understandably had a quiet dinner in the hotel.

So back to the Ballestas Islands which are home to many blue footed Peruvian Boobies (much hilarity), Humboldt PENGUINS, sea-lions, seals and hundreds of pelicans! We set off in a giant speed boat thing wearing ill-fitting life jackets. Our boat guide advised us to have a hat or hood, as these islands are known for ‘shit rain’, because of all the birds…yuck! I had my trusty sun hat. 



A big surprise as we sailed/jetted through the grey water was  El Candelabro


A large Geolyph, which apparently, I struggled to get my head around this too, was dug and then just stays because it’s so sheltered where it is… my friend and I were speculating before we knew that it was melted a bit like turning sand to glass and that is why it’s still there … apparently it’s just sheltered. Anyway it is pretty cool to see on the side of the sand dune.

So carrying on we saw blue footed boobies, I didn’t get a clear blue footed picture but there are loads of them on this boat-


plus loads of shags.

Excitingly we saw dolphins swimming, but I just have a mental picture of that, they don’t give any warning when they are about to pop out. Another exciting animal which is becoming a bit of a theme with the Massive Jolly is PENGUINS.



I’m starting to feel like the UK is the only country with out wild penguins! These are Humboldt Penguins – probably the closest I’ve been to wild penguins and I still couldn’t get a clear crisp image but I’ll keep trying. I did like that I could see a very distinct pattern on their faces making them recognisable for the future.

Back on the mainland we headed inland and the sun came out. We visited a Pisco winery and tried some very sweet and not very lovely wine, one had an even lovelier name ‘panty ripper’… not a lot was consumed. After a sunny drive through the desert we stopped at a beautiful oasis.


The purpose of this stop was to go sand boarding and dune buggying riding, but as I am a big ‘fraidy cat’ of roller coasters so dune buggying was not my thing, but I went swimming in the pool which was just lovely.

After a leisurely swim and lunch we headed off to Nasca and the famous Nasca Lines, which are also geolyphs, but these ones stay formed because they have been dug into a clay like structure and have hardened like clay. We had to race through the desert to get to a Nasca lines view point before sunset.


We made it as the sun was setting so we still had enough of a view. Must admit that I was a little bit uncomfortable at the top of this platform with roaring trucks going past on the road below. “it’s ok” Lee said, “we will all die together”. I am so lucky to have such reassuring friends at times of unease!

Nasca Lines


I think this is the tree.


And here is ET. The theories behind these Nasca lines are diverse, some believing they are used to contact extra terrestrial life hence ET but others think the creators used the constellations in the sky to map these pictures for unknown purposes, while others think that the tree and flower symbols represent life based on water coming from the ground which this land desperately needs. So their purpose is uncertain but that makes them a bit magical, because no-one knows and potentially no-one will ever know.

After scaling up the shoogly tower we drove on to Nasca and our hotel. We decided that instead of another big meal in a restaurant we would buy some snacks and local beers to sit by the pool and play cards. It was a great night and some from the other group joined in.


Mine is the empty seat.

The following day we went on a really interesting tour of a Nasca Cemetary in the middle of the desert. I was a little bit shocked when I looked into the grave 



and these guys were smiling up at us. There must of been at least 10 graves with more of these delightful people. Very interesting that these guys have been there for about 700 years and still they smile.

Happy times travelling around Peru.