My agenda for the day was to do another walking tour, with the same company as yesterday, but a different route, so, after having breakfast with some fairly uncommunicative young American girls, I walked down to the meeting place in Plaza Regosijo to join the assembled tourists. Whilst we were waiting, I sat on a park bench next to a woman, who turned out to be English/Australian, and started chatting to her. She is travelling with 16 members of a Sydney Hash Harrier group and some of them had just been trekking on the Lares. Unfortunately, it seemed that several of them, including her, had been quite sick.
The guide irritated me within 5 minutes and the tour quickly became quite painful (it wasn’t just me being judgemental – the Australian, Liz, thought so as well!) so I drifted off, surreptitiously, as soon as I was able. Before I went, Liz invited me to join them for dinner this evening, which I did.
In the meantime, I had a very poor coffee in a seedy cafe overlooking the Plaza de Armas and then went in search of a money machine that would dispense dollars, so that I could pay for my trek. Having specifically gone to BCP, which I knew allowed me to take out more than 400 soles, which is the limit of all the other banks, it would then only let me take $200 (admittedly, this is 600 soles) at a time. I was enraged, as each transaction cost $6 US on top of what my NZ bank will charge me. It seems that the cheapest way to obtain currency here, is to bring a vast quantity of US dollars or Euros and then change them with the many money exchangers on the street. This avoids all these bank fees although, having talked with other European travellers, they are not being charged bank fees here, so maybe it is because I have an NZ bank account.
I hadn’t really got anything planned after that so wandered aimlessly round town for a while, purchasing socks and a daypack for my trek and then went back to my room for lunch and a rest. Later in the afternoon, I walked back into town, where there were festivities at San Pedro market for its birthday, with a live band and a number of people, with large bottles of beer, watching and dancing.
At about 6.15pm, I went to Liz’s hotel and met 5 more of their group. We adjourned to a local bar, which they had visited on the walking tour, and we all had some very nice, if small, pisco sours. Afterwards, we had dinner at a small vegetarian restaurant around the corner. Their organiser had done a great deal of travelling, particularly in Peru and Bolivia, and was able to give me some tips. It also transpired that their guide was the very same Guilf whose house I had stayed at in Huaraz. What a coincidence! Most of their group, with Guilf, were having a birthday dinner for one of the ladies tomorrow night and invited me to join them again. I will go along, if only for a drink, after I have been to my pre trek meeting.
The day turned out to be one of those most enjoyable, unexpected days that one experiences occasionally when travelling.