On July 29th 1976 I was on a bus from Cuzco to Lima.
The journey began in the morning pretty much on time. Before long we had crossed the first pass away from Veronica and went down a valley with great views of Salcantay. There was an early lunch near Limatambo and we passed by the ruins of the sun temple, terraces and other structures. Then we were into the huge Apurimac canyon where the water flowed deep between the steep walls descending from the mountains. Climbing up beyond Carahuasi, we reached a high point where you could see the whole white range of the cordillera. We went down a great series of serpentines to Abancay, which was nearly deserted being greatly involved in a football match with Cuzco at the time, and we stopped for a snack. On we went into the valley, rising slowly as it got dark. We reached a fair-sized town about 9.30, too late for much good in the two restaurants there, but there was something. Some Indians came on with trumpets and a drum, later another two who had a mayoral staff; they were ridiculed by the white Peruvian passengers but they remained stoical, as they have done for centuries. Next to me was a woman with a 9 month old son going to Puquio. There were a number of gringos, a French couple who were spending a month in Peru on $200, a climber from New Zealand, a grey-haired American four years on the road, an Englishman who been working in Antarctica, and an American who was working in mining near Nazca. There were also two city mestizos with a child, who were macho, unpleasant and unfriendly.
|Vicunas in Pampa Galera, 2005, Picture by Abel Pardo Lopez, CC|
Sleep was not very easy as it got very cold in the night and the road was bumpy. We spent a long time in the dark crossing an area they called the Pampa, flat and high, a stone desert. We arrived in Puquio about 5.30, a reasonable looking town. Then it was up into the hills above looking down on the fertile valley, giving us beautiful views. We kept climbing until we reached Pampa Galera with its vicuna reservation, thousands to be seen, across dry undulating country, windswept, and the little bushes reminded me of Patagonia. We reached the end of the hills, as it got dryer, and then a long descent took us to Nazca, reaching real desert and greenery around the river. There were boulders and ruins and a mine. We stopped for lunch in Nazca about 11.30 - there had been no stop for breakfast. It was warm and semi-tropical with desert scenery to Ica where we stopped again and I bought some dates. On we drove up the coast, pretty fast now, towns and desert and hills, cotton galore , bananas and oranges, maize. There was a guano factory when we hit the sea. We reached Lima soon after 8pm, more or less thirty-six hours on the bus. I found a bed at the Pension Union and met a friend. We went out for a walk in the warm air along Pierola and past the Parque Universitario. We had a chicken supper and were back at the hotel soon before the midnight curfew.
I spent an easy few days in Lima, visiting places I'd remembered from my visit the previous December, such as the Restaurant Cordano which had a lovely twenties style, with swing doors, banquettes, and white-haired waiters in black suits and bow ties who served good old fashioned food.
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