Farewell to Palma Real

Today we said goodbye to a team of four workers from our YWAM base. They are heading into the jungle in the south of Peru for six months, to relieve a missionary couple there who have not had a rest for over five years. Our team will also be working towards starting new ministries and other activities.

The Palma Real team (L to R - Vicky, Yolanda, Maricruz, Paul)

The village where they are going does not have electricity nor running water. Purchases of groceries has to be done every month by travelling in boat to the nearest large city/town, called Maldonado. Each month they will also be able to respond to and write emails to everybody. Outside of this singular monthly visit they are very isolated from the world.

Foods eaten in this area are quite different to what we would call “normal” foods. Things such as monkey, turtle, and grubs of all sorts are common here. Tropical fruits are also, naturally, very abundant. It is a challenge, but each member of the team, through prayer, is convinced that it is worth making the sacrifices to be able to help the people there, and to continue the work being done by the missionary couple.

These guys would love any support you are willing to provide them. Please advise me by the contact form for further details on how you may support them (prayer, giving, letters of encouragement, etc.).

New Years Day in Miraflores, Lima

The first part of our new year was spent sleeping to recover from the night. Then we headed out in the afternoon with the girls to visit Miraflores, a richer part of Lima. Walking along the coastline gave us fantastic views of the beaches below and of almost a dozen paragliders that were soaring above.

Our hosts in Lima
Our wonderful hosts in Lima who made us feel completely welcome in their home… the Ausejos.

Our walk took us through the park of love, where a Peruvian Chinese couple that had just been married were getting their photos taken. All along the walls of the park were love hearts and love messages from unknown people to their beloveds, and couples talking, embracing and kissing were littered all around the grounds.

Cliffs of Miraflores
The cliffs of Miraflores in Lima and many paragliders.

We ended up at a food mall, below some very expensive shops in a complex that sat on top of the edges of the cliffs and offered some spectacular views. It was extremely busy and loaded with security guards, but smelled strongly of money. After a quick bite we emerged from the lower floors and caught a cab back to the house. Tonight we were heading out to the airport to pick up Darlene. Tomorrow we leave Lima.

Paraglider overhead
A paraglider overhead soars past using the winds of the cliffs to give him more height.

Landing pad for paragliders
All of the paragliders were taking off and landing on this patch of grass on top of the cliffs, and giving people rides. The guy with the camera took photos of the people while the paraglider hung there in the same spot only metres above the ground.

Park of Love
The Park of Love, with a huge statue of a couple kissing. It is said that you are allowed to kiss anybody if you drag them under the shadow of this statue. While we were there I never saw anybody trying to drag someone down there, so maybe this is just a tale.

Looking back over to the lighthouse, the point where we had come from.

Rich food area
This section of Miraflores was the richest part that I have seen in Lima. Filled with security guards and very expensive shops, it also sported many of the typical America fast-food joints (Burger King, Pizza Hut, KFC, Starbucks, etc).

The Marriot Hotel
On the other side of the road to this rich complex was the very elaborate Marriott Hotel. We were in an upper-class area of Lima, although Paul informs me that there are richer areas in Lima than this.

New Years Eve in Lima, Peru

After arriving in Lima, we finally decided that Paul and I would remain behind and wait for Darlene to arrive at the airport. It was a perfect day on the last day of the year for a walk, so we wandered out to visit another uncle of Paul’s and then returned home along the coastal cliffs, affording a beautiful view of the ocean and beaches below.

When the night comes around we hang out chatting until midnight, climbing the stairs to the roof of the house to watch the fireworks all over the city. Our neighbours provided the most interesting fireworks displays however, probably because they were so close to us and exploding directly over our heads.

All over the city as far as we could see there were not only fireworks but also life-sized dolls being burned in the street. Paul had told me of this unusual practice on the last bus ride, so I was not surprised to see life-sized people being burned in the street even though it was still a little weird to see it actually happening.

After taking in the fireworks and the burning of the dolls we all sit down to a delicious pork and salad meal together and then continue to chat into the night. Sleep finally comes at around 3am. New year had been a good night.

Coastal cliffs
The coastal cliffs of Lima, from the Magdalena looking towards Miraflores.

security doors
Lima has a reputation for being dangerous in places, and these doors do nothing to persuade you otherwise. Every house has grills and grates and doors and gates and fences and electric or razor wires around them.

A moto-taxi stop. These little 3 wheeled motorbike cars have a limited range in which they can take you, but are very cheap if your destination is within this range.

One of many fireworks going off all over the city during New Years Eve celebrations.

Buring doll
The person on fire in the street is a life-sized doll that is covered with old clothes that are no longer wanted or needed and then burned at midnight on New Years Eve. The belief is that if you do this you are getting rid of the old and therefore making room for the new that will now come in the new year. From what I understand it is only practised in Peru.

Neighborhood fireworks
Our local neighbours let off dozens of amazing fireworks directly above our heads as we were standing on the roof of the house where we were staying.

Street fires
Our local street was filled with burning dolls as far as the eye could see. Somewhere this burning got out of control and a firetruck raced down our street with lights blazing, dodging the existing little fires all the way down the street.

Girls playing with sparklers
We bought the girls of the house some sparklers which they enjoyed playing with.

Heading Northward – Arica and Tacna

Arriving in Arica was a welcome relief to our tired bodies, tired of the travel and hungry for some decent food. So the first thing we did was store our backpacks and head to town for a hearty meal. Arica has some lovely beaches which are very tempting, although we only ever got to see them from a distance. Lunch was our priority.

The beach at Arica
The beaches of Arica, Chile.

Lunch was a hearty meal in some small restaurant in front of the local train station. Only two trains leave per day so our restaurant was not even remotely busy when we stopped by. A huge plate of rice, meat, salad, and fried potato chips combined with Peru’s unique Inka Cola softdrink went a long way to appease the hunger that we all had. Some icecreams afterwards helped fill up any remaining holes.

Paul ready to eat
Paul salivating over our delicious lunch… after days of bus food.

After lunch we wandered through the city centre and looked around for some tax-free shopping. Iquique is the city with tax-free everything and after looking around we could not find anything that was truly tax-free other than stoves and fridges. Wandering through the back streets we find our way back to the bus terminal, grab our bags and then head off to the other, international terminal, to take a taxi to Peru.

The main mall of Arica
The main mall of Arica, Chile.

wandering through the streets
Wandering through the streets trying to find our way back to the bus terminal.

Crossing the border to Tacna was without any problems at all. I had expected it to involve a thorough search of our bags and other checks for duty-free items, but since Tacna is also part of the tax-free zone, we only needed to get our passports stamped and were through.

In the international taxi to Tacna
Riding in the taxi on the way from Chile to Peru.

Peru border crossing
Arriving at the Peruvian border crossing.

Upon reaching Peru, the prices of everything dropped considerably. We were all exhausted so we bought bus tickets for the next day and then found ourselves a $10 soles per night room in a residential setting. Our night involved a wander around the markets and the town centre and then going out for a big meal of wood-fire cooked pizza. It was delicious.

Everything closed at night
During the night most of the shops were closed.

Breakfast at the markets
Eating breakfast the next day at the markets.

The next day we returned to the markets and picked up some very cheap bits and pieces. I grabbed some stuff for computers, while the girls were more focused on the clothes and leg-hair-pullers and stuff like that. It was tough trying to find each other in the labrynth of small shops within the markets, and by the time we all got together again our bus was about to leave. So with packaging and bags flying everywhere, we all jam our newly acquired stuff into our bags and race out to the bus terminal ready to start the next leg of our journey… to Lima.

Paul happy with his purchases
Paul returning from the markets, very happy with his purchases.

The city centre
The only part we got to see during the day of the city, because of our rush to catch the bus.

Going to Peru

Well, I guess I should add this note to say that as of tomorrow I will be on a bus heading to Peru for various months. Probably two. We stop in Mendoza for Christmas and then keep going using the cheapest way… or the way that has available seats during this crazy travel time.

The goal is to get to Lima by the New Year, and then head north to Chiclayo to meet up with all of the smarter people who travelled by plane to get there. Haha.

UPDATE: We are now in Mendoza enjoying Christmas with Lorena’s family. Today (26th) we continue our journey again.

The bus team
The four musketeers: Yamila, Paul, Me, and Lorena.

Bus travel
Lorena and Yamila at one of the many stops along the way to Mendoza.