Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Knock, knock, knock… Knock, knock, knock… Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock! That was how we were woken up. It was the clerk from the hostel. She had given us the wrong room and we would have to move because it was reserved. We got up and began packing up taking our time since check out wasn’t for another 3 hours. However, every 15 minutes either the clerk, the manager, or the maid come back to check if we were out yet forcing us to hurry up. I didn’t understand why they didn’t put the other person in the new room until we opened the door to it. The room was just a box and there was no tv. However it was on the roof of the hostel so there was an even better view of the old city as well as the parrots, turtles, and cat hanging around on the terrace below. Oh well, I thought the price was too good to be true for the other room.
Thanks to our move, we missed the cheap breakfast special (it had run out) and had to pay for the pricey a la carte breakfast. It dampened our moods for going out and doing anything touristy. Originally, we had planned to visit the Pachacamac ruins just outside of Lima. But reading a description of it we didn’t feel like making the long journey out there only to be let down. That was okay. We had plenty of stuff to do like figuring out how to get to Puno, and what we were going to do in Bolivia and where we were going to be for the next couple of weeks. Usually, we’ve just shown up in town and figured it out from there. But we needed to get our replacement credit cards couriered to us and that required a big city address. So we randomly picked a date (two weeks from now) and booked a room at the big hostel in La Paz, told them about the package coming for us, and then sent the hostel address to my awesome sister who was packing and shipping our stuff to us.
Instead we decided to visit a nearby museum across from the Congress. The Museum of the Inquisition. Muahahahahaha. We arrived just as a Spanish tour was beginning so we joined the group. The building had most recently been the home of the Peruvian congress as was just as pretty as you’d expect a government building to be. But it had been built on the site of the old Inquisition trials. Upstairs the former government chambers had been converted into displays about the inquisition – background, process and, of course, torture. The Inquisition was used to enforce the Catholic faith even on non-Catholic believers and unfortunately ended up in many Jewish, Muslim, and Indigenous folks being killed. Downstairs, the original cells still existed complete with original graffiti from the accused (photo above) and we were encouraged to walk around. Now, having been to the house of wax in Niagara Falls none of the displays were particularly shocking. But what was shocking was the fact that the inquisition in Peru lasted almost 300 years, ending after independence in 1820 and only because (my conclusion) they needed the building for the new government. We decided it was time to get the heck out of Peru.
There was an Ormeño bus station not too far from us. We didn’t know if this company had the route we wanted or if the price was acceptable but it was close enough that we didn’t have to take a taxi so we crossed our fingers and headed towards the non-touristy part of town where it was located. I’d take a walk through a dodgy neighbourhood over negotiating with a taxi driver any day. I vaguely remembered walking here way back in 2005 but it didn’t look familiar this time. The only thing we recognized was a park but not from our previous visit. No, it was one of the places featured in the urban renewal display at city hall. This park had previously been a rundown garbage and graffiti strewn gathering place for pickpockets and drug addicts (according to the government). Now, it definitely looked spiffier but I have to admit we didn’t dawdle to find out if the crime had improved. Funny that it used to be such a problem, considering it was right across from a giant court building.
The bus station was just beyond the park, down some dirty side streets that smelt strongly of urine. Ormeño did indeed have direct buses to Puno. Phew. And the price was what we expected for an overnight bus half way across the country. There was a morning departure and an afternoon one but both were a whopping 22-hour bus ride. We chose the late afternoon one and hoped we would sleep through the majority of those hours. Plus it would arrive in mid afternoon so if we don’t sleep on the bus it wouldn’t be long before we would be asleep in a real bed. With tickets purchased, we headed back to the hostel. With no money in our wallets, we were a lot more relaxed and even stopped to buy some 25¢ churros. The neighbourhood still wasn’t pretty but it didn’t seem dangerous just full of people either waiting for buses, selling stuff, and basically going through the motions of living in a capital city.
Back to hostel, it was more searching for places to stay in Puno and then in Bolivia. Adrian annoyed me with his demands of wifi and a tv in every place. If only he knew that we’d be lucky to have 24-hour electricity in some parts of Bolivia. I think I’ll break that to him later. We had had enough rude awakenings already today.