People we met: Pastores Alemanes

I know Padre Eduardo from the last time I was here in Peru. And my Mum knows him from her many visits here in Palca. He is a good friend. He knew my Dad. They both liked and respected each other a lot.

Padre Eduardo and his colleague Padre Luis are taking care of the needs of the people here in Palca. And they do this since many years, as they are both far over 30 years in Peru. And they do it with a dedication that blows your mind.

The high Andes near Tarma

The high Andes near Tarma

The conditions to live in this part of the Andes are harsh. But they visit all the little villages up there in the high Andes. It is difficult to get up there. But people ask them to get a mass and so they go. They go as far as the 4×4 gets them. And then they walk. To the little “Nest” up there as the Padre puts it in German. They sleep in the houses of the poorest of the poorest, because they ask for spiritual succor. Because they ask for help.

Because the spiritual succor the two can offer have a lot higher meaning here in Peru than we can imagine. We have this so very different image of the church in mind that is present in Europe. Here this all means a lot more. This is what religion and church is really about. This is where people like the two padres really make a difference.

The two pastores in Tarma

The two pastores in Palca, Padre Eduardo and Padre Luis

And they are dedicated. Padre Luis tells us his story of when he arrived in this area after he had spent 14 years in one of the most polluted cities worldwide, Cerro de Pasco. He has been working as a priest in different countries already and knew his ways around when things get difficult. So when he was asked in his first month in Palca to hold a mass in one of the little villages up the mountain he didn’t hesitate. Even though it was a long way up, even though it was a difficult rugged road up the hill, even though it was rain season. He jumped into his 4×4 and slowly drove the road up the hill. It became difficult, but he knew how to use the power of the 4-wheel-drive car and made it. After he held the mass, he picked up two young priests in another village and wanted to get down again. In the meantime it got dark, the rain had started and the road turned from a rugged road to a bad slimy and slippery mud pipe. The road went along a steep mountain with a 200m cliff on his right side. Going around a corner there was a landslide. They got out and worked with the shovels on the slide to make it possible to pass. After half an hour he decided to give it a try and got back into the car. He sort of slid through the passage as the tires spun in the mud. Suddenly the back of the car drifted to the right until one of the tires hung over the cliff. They all got out. Continuing was too dangerous, so they called for help. Eventually some people from the next town arrived with a couple of tools and ropes to securely get the priests car off the cliff and back on track.

The priest went to this village the following week and many times during the rain season again.

The slopes are steep and many little towns are very hard to get to, especially during rain season.

The slopes are steep and many little towns are very hard to get to, especially during rain season.

His colleague Padre Eduardo is from South-Tirol. A quite elderly, and wise man with a great sense of humor. He has a million stories to tell about his time here as well. During the main time of the activity of the shining path he was held hostage for a day. When the commander of the group pointed a pistol at his head and asked him to kneel down, he told him he wouldn’t kneel in front of anybody. The terrorist was impressed. They let him go.

Both persons are great and of an impressive coolness when they talk about the difficulties and dangers they had here, especially in the days of the shining path. People around them have been killed and slaughtered. And they were asked whether they would like to stay. All other authorities had left the area. But they stayed.

When Padre Eduardo was asked whether he was afraid he answered in his great humor: “No, tenemos dos pastores alemanes aqui”. (No, we have two german priests here.)

A great wordplay since pastores alemanes has a double meaning: it can mean “german priests” or “German shepard dogs”.

We were deeply impressed by these two old fellows. The braveness, their trust in God, their dedication, their will to help other people, their modesty.

It makes you ask yourself about your own attitude about the world that we live in.


It is unreal! I can feel the wind. I can feel the engine working hard underneath me. I feel the vibrations of the wheels spinning at 80km/h. I know I am riding a motorbike and I have it all cranked up. I go as fast as this 400ccm Honda dirt bike runs.

And still: I don’t seem to move.

I see the hexagonal shaped salt structures fly by and I know I am moving.

But the vast, completely flat, white and endless surface of the Salar doesn’t give my brain the usual information that we usually combine with moving. Everything that I can see except the ground seems to stand still. This place really plays tricks on your mind.

I am on the Salar de Uyuni.

It is the largest salt lake in the world and it is a magic place.

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Originally we wanted to ride our bikes to one of the islands there and camp overnight. But we were unlucky with the weather. The evening before we wanted to go heavy rain softened the surface of the Salar. That is not a problem in terms of riding. But the salty water would get everywhere on the bike, causing problems everywhere, especially on the electronics.

We decided instead to rent some small 400ccm dirt bikes.

So the day after we rode our bike to MTB where Juan, our guide, was already waiting for us.

They have a really nice workshop there and a couple of different bikes.

We chose 400ccm Hondas and took off. We made a nice little loop on sandy roads to the eastern entrance of the salt lake.

Other than one would expect, you cannot enter the salt lake everywhere. There are only few entrances to the salt lake. Close to the land the salt surface gets very soft. Only few parts are solid. It is actually quite dangerous in some areas and a lot of people had to leave their bikes out there.

As we entered the Salar, we could see that large areas were covered in water. The salty water splashed over the bike, leaving a very thick rust of salt. You had to know the way very well. Once I got maybe 5m off the track and sank into the salt surface. I got out of the situation luckily by opening the throttle all the way.

On one of the little islands we had lunch. There are dozens of 4×4 standing around pouring hundreds of tourist on the little island. But that doesn’t reduce the magic of the place in any way.

In all directions it is white and flat. In the far distance you can see volcanoes that circle the salt lake.

The volcanoes are also one of the reasons why this is an important place for bolivian industry: the salt of the lake contains 70% of the worldwide lithium resources.

The surface is not entirely flat. When the salt had dried out some 20.000 years ago, it grew in hexagonal crystals which grew until the edges met each other. Water from underneath the salt lake moves up through these border lines, leaving salt crystals on the surface as the water vaporizes in the sun. The crystals stand out as high as 10cm, showing a pattern of hexagonal little walls as far as the eye can see.

Riding on the salt lake is like on tarmac. Not slippery as one could imagine. And it is great fun.

But we are happy we didn’t bring our own bikes. The small Hondas were covered in a thick salt layer.

We return to our little hotel after dark.

It was a perfect day and we need some time to allow the brain to accept that this place is real.

Floating Islands

Puno – Lago Titicaca

As a kid I loved to read. And I read a lot. I loved to read the adventure books of the 50’s and 60’s. Real adventures. Real people.

I still like these kinds of books from that time. Other than today adventures were not sponsored by big companies. It was not million Dollar investments in order to create a Billion Dollar worth advertising movie for example of somebody falling into the void from a balloon at 36km altitude. Not that I don’t respect the braveness of Baumgartner doing it. But the way everything is setup is to create as much attention as possible is annoying. It is advertising at the end.

How different is the approach and the style of the older adventures, like Lindemann who crossed the Atlantic in a folding boat.

Two of the books I read intensively and loved to read again and again where the books of Thor Heyerdahl. He was a researcher and saw connections between cultures of South America and Polynesia in the Pacific. The only way he could explain that, was that people crossed the Pacific. Since everybody told him that this would have been impossible at that time he build a float (which was used at ancient times in South America), found a couple of adventures guys and crossed the ocean against all odds in order to proof his theory.

He did the same thing with a papyrus boat in order to proof that Egyptian culture may have influenced South America by crossing the Atlantic with such a boat. The boat Ra II was built at the Titicaca Lake.

The book is an incredible documentary of braveness and great spirit of adventure.

I had the descriptions of how they built the boat very vividly in my mind when we approached the Lake Titicaca on our motorbikes.

We arrived pretty late, since the ride from Arequipa was so beautiful. We decided to check into a fantastic hotel since it was out of town and we didn’t like to be in the centre of the town of Puno as it didn’t look very attractive to us.

We slept in the next morning and after a fantastic breakfast with a great view on the Lago Titicaca we took a taxi to the towns harbor and looked for a boat to the floating islands. We didn’t have to look for long, the boats found us by means of a guy who dragged tourists to the ticket office and moves them on to the boats.

The floating islands are the remaining goods of the culture of the Uru. Still 2000 people live on the islands. They live on floating islands that are created from totora reeds. There are 500 small islands, each containing 5-10 houses, each house representing a small family. Each island has an elected spokesman who is responsible for the wellbeing of the island. The Urus live from tourism. But they live the very simple and hard life on the islands. It is very traditional, no TV, no Internet. They sleep and live here.

Visitors from Puno are getting put together in boats and then shipped to the islands. There they get distributed to the different islands, so that all islands can participate from the tourism.

We were only 6 people on our boat (normally it is between 10 and 20) when we arrived on “our” island.

Jose, the spokesman welcomed us and lead us around the island. There is a circle of benches, 6 little huts, a little tower. All made of totora reeds. Including the island itself of course. It is a weird feeling to walk on the soft ground. You are walking on a thick layer of these reeds. In areas which are more walked, the reeds are broken and are short. On the edge of the islands, the reeds are long. You can notice that they are spread out in one direction. Jose tells us that this is how they maintain the islands. Once a week they put on a new layer of reeds. After a while they break and you have to put on a new layer. They old layers are getting soaked by water and start to rot. And indeed, if you are moving away the top layer of the reeds you feel the moist already and only 10cm deep the ground is completely wet.

After we have seen everything each of the families put up their little stand to sell little items. This is the only income for these families. So we bought some little handcrafts from each of the families.

Later we boarded the “Mercedes-Benz” how Jose called his little reed boat to ride it across the lake to the main island where we got picked up by our motorboat to get back to Puno.

His two little daughters accompanied us and told us a little bit about their life as well. They go to a school here on the floating islands. They very rarely go to Puno and have never been anywhere else.

Even though the complete tour was fully organized and a well structured tourism event, I really enjoyed it.

These islands and the way of life of these people there is so unique, that I was able to ignore the whole system that they have set up here. Tourists get processed like in a manufacturing belt. But the life the Uuos choose to live is very hard. And to reserve the culture of their people by living this hard life gets all my respect.

To be able to ride on one of these reed boats and to get a little bit the feeling of how Heyerdahl and his daredevil friends travelled the Atlantic was priceless.

I had a great day. And the fact that this was my birthday just made it a perfect present for me.



A dusty road and up the mountains

A little road leads all the way from Arequipa through the Salinas national park to Ouno at the Titicaca lake. It would be a pretty long way though and so we thought of instead take a daytrip with no luggage to a laguna in the Salinas NP. It turned out to be a great idea. First because the lake was really nice, and more importantly, we didn’t have any luggage with us: the road was a killer for being on the bikes.

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In endless curves it ran up a mountain. The road was one of the dustiest roads I have ever been on. In the curves the dust was 20cm deep with loose rocks underneath. So if you didn’t have enough speed your front wheel would slide and bounce from one side to the other. The only safe way beside speed was foot peddling through (Christies “powerwalk”).

We were covered in dust. But it was also a road of fantastic views.

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The next day we packed our bikes and took the main road to Puno. It was a great ride: good tarmac, a lot of Vacunas, Lamas and Alpacas, a wonderful landscape.


We enjoyed it a lot. It was very relaxing.


High mountains and deep canyons


The Canon de Colca is one of Perus natural highlights as they say. It is very often compared to the Grand Canyon. But other than his famous colleague in the US this canyon is not located in a flat area. It is surrounded by the Andean mountains towering with 5200m over it’s river bed. This creates an incredible sight.

The tourists get there by bus from Arequipa as a one or 2-day organized tour.

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For us on the bikes there are other options of course and so we take a long dirt road via Huambo. We start in Camana driectly on the coast very early in the morning. After 80km on tarmac we turn off to a dusty gravel road. It has quite a lot of corrugations and so our bikes get shaken pretty well.

The road climbs up the mountains and slowly the desert gets a more and more spots of vegetation. Small bundles of grass start to grow and once in a while even a little bush finds enough humidity to live here.

Little flowers contribute yellow spots to the brown of the grass and dust.

After we have about half of the dirt road (80km) the road gets steeper and we start noticing snow covered mountains around us. It turns out to be the surrounding volcanoes, some of them reaching more than 6000m. The landscape is fantastic. A mountain pass at 4200m offers a breathtaking view into a broad valley, which ends in the far distance with a sharp edge, the first sight of the Calco canyon. We make a break, but after being on the coast at sea-level for more than a week, we are pretty out of breath. We continue on the road which is getting more rough but with less corrugations which makes riding actually more enjoyable. There are hardly any cars here. During the 6 hours we spend on the bikes we only saw a handful of cars or trucks.


As we descend from the mountain pass we enter the little village of Huambo. Lots of people in traditional clothing are gathered on the Plaza del Armas, the main plaza. Traditional music is being played from loudspeakers and a lady is commenting the appearance of little dance groups. Trucks and even a bulldozer are setup as floats parading in front of the inhabitants of the village. It is the 124th anniversary of the village and they are celebrating it very nicely. We stand somewhere on the side and get in contact with people immediately. So we stand there, drink some coke and eat some cookies, which we bought from the store next to our bikes and watch the parade going on.

It is really nice and enjoyable.

After a while, just before the parade is finished we jump on our bikes and continue the last 30km to Cabanonde.


The place we stayed is famous for its kitchen (Kuntur Wassi) and so we had a delicious dinner of Alpaca meat. We got up early in the morning to reach a steep cliff. When the early sun hits the canyon condors use the thermal lift to rise up and go hunting. As we approach the Cruz del Condor there are already a couple of tour busses waiting. We jump off the bikes and just make it in time to see some of the huge birds flying-by real close. It is an impressive sight to see this majestic birds sailing in the warm wind.

After 15 minutes the birds are gone. Time to see what else there is to see. The canyon is incredible: deep down you can see the Colca river a 1200m below. Above it the 5200m high Senal Ajiruha mountain towers over the canyon. There are some frozen waterfalls up there. It is almost unreal as the rest of the area is quite dry. We enjoy the view for some more time and keep going following the route of the busses back to Arequipa.

The Canyon gets wider and lots of terraces are build into the walls. It turns very green with all these fields. It is one of the main agricultural areas of Peru. We reach the next town that is at 3600m and fill up our bikes. Then we start the ascent on asphalt now, up to the 4800m mountain pass of Patapamba. The ride is incredible, with great views into the valley of the Colca canyon. The top is quite flat and offers a fantastic sight to the volcanoes surrounding the area.

As we don’t want to take the long main road to Arequipa we decide to take a little short cut. A dirt track leads in between two massive volcanoes (Misti 5800m and Chachani 6000m). The road is pretty good and almost flat so we proceed very well. As we hit the flank of Chachani it gets pretty sandy at some parts though. It is not real sand, it is ashes from the volcanoes and it is very very soft. Christy had some difficulties and I fell twice as well. Since we were at 4000m altitude picking up the bikes was quite a strenuous work.

But most of the time the road was very rocky and so we made it back ok to tarmac and then into the nice city of Arequipa.

We decided to stay a full day there to “recover” from all the incredible sights and rides we have had the last week.

Sand and Sea

Nazca to Camana

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We left Nazca to make a little detour to have a nice view on the Cerro Blanco, the highest sand dune in the world. We are not very tempted by superlatives, but this dune is an astonishing 2800m high, just 50km from the sea. We love sand and dunes and so we were very curios to see it.

We ride into a dry valley which starts right in Nazca. On both sides mountains with soft shapes accompany the valley. Almost no vegetation is found here; just on the bottom of the valley there must be a little bit of water as some plants create a pattern of green once in a while.

Suddenly the peak of the Cerro Blanco appears over the smaller mountains in the foreground. The name is describing it pretty well. With all the brown mountains surrounding us the bright color of the Cerro Blanco sticks out and appears almost white. We find an opening in the mountains and turn off the paved road to get a closer look. Soft sand makes riding a lot of fun and as we approach we finally see the full flank of the mountain. A wall of more than 2300m of sand is piling up in front of us. It is an incredible sight.

We ride further down the bumpy track until it gets too difficult for Christy on her heavy bike.

We go back to the main road and continue until we reach a mountain pass. From here you can approach the summit of the Cerro Blanco. We stop, enjoy the view and play a little bit in the soft sand, but there is no point on continuing uphill with the loaded bikes.

So we turn around to Nazca and keep going south the PanAm.

After a few kilometers we get off it again to follow a sandy dirt road to a cemetery from pre-inca times: Chauchilla. Tomb raiders have dug the ground to find treasures and so the dead had been laying there in the open field for centuries. A few years ago officials have restored some of the graves and put the bodys into their original graves.

Since in the past years people have wandered around the dead and sometimes even posing with them for photos I think restoring the graves has been a great thing to do. It gives some dignity back to this place.

The whole place still is covered in bones, hair, clothing, clay fragments and other parts of the graves. All over are little dips, indicating other graves that have been opened.

We are the only visitors. It is boiling hot in the sun. The place is surrounded by hills in different colors. The place offers a strange morbid beauty and peace.

The deads have been dried in their graves to mummies. The many years in the sun have whitened their bones. So here they sit in their new graves with some rests of their belongings. It is really macabre and strange. But also beautiful and peaceful.

We hit the PanAm at around 1 and we have decided to go till the town of Chala. We expected the road to be sort of boring and to be one of the parts where we would just cover distance.

But we were wrong! It was a fantastic ride with lots of stops to enjoy the constantly changing scenery.

The landscape can be described in one sentence: Desert to the left, black strip of PanAm in the middle, blue sea to the right.

But the diversity was mind-blowing: we passed sections with complete flatness, areas with beautifully shaped rocks, colors of red, green and yellow. At one point the dunes towered a few hundred meters and rose directly from the sea. About have way up the PanAm crosses the dunes flank. We passed deserted sand beaches for kilometers. Sometimes the coast was rocky with the waves wildly shattering on the cliffs. Sometimes the sea was rolling in long surfers paradise waves upon shallow beaches.

The sea was deep blue, forming a perfect contrast with its freshness and vivid nature in comparison to the complete lack of water and lifeless desert on our left.

It was 400km of pure pleasures. From Nazca to Camana with an overnight stop in Chalca.



Long lines

We hit the road before midday and stayed on the PanAm which is a road with not too much traffic here. As the rest of the coast of Peru, the area is very dry. If it is not sandy it consists of dry rocks on both sides of the road. The wind blows the fine sand over the road in straight lines. These thin lines get disturbed when Christy is passing through. The turbulences of her bike makes the sand dance around the street for some time before the wind forces them in a straight line from right to left again.

The black line of the PanAm that is cutting through these different shades of brown and yellow is a fantastic picture and we stop frequently since the shapes and colors of the desert change a lot.

It gets more hilly after a while and finally the PanAm lowers through a couple of river valleys. In one of the valleys we take a short dirt road that brings us to the first signs of the Nazca geoglyphes. We ride up a little hill and continue walking for a short while until we get to a place where we have a great view. We are all alone here. Nobody else. It is quite and peaceful here.

We continue the PanAm and after it leads out of a small valley we suddenly find ourselves in a large plane. Little black rocks cover the ground till the horizon. The road is perfectly straight for as long as you can see.

Suddenly I notice something on our right side. I stop and turn around to have a better view. And indeed, I have just crossed one of the Nazca lines. I stand there watching the line. It is approx. 3m wide and maybe 10cm deep, continues on both side of the road to eternity as it seems.

The Nazca lines are most known for its figures. But in fact there are thousands of long lines, some lasting for a couple of kilometers. The reason for why these lines where drawn is unknown. It is just a mistery. And here I stand, looking at it right in front of me.

We continue to a small tower that is standing next to the road. From it’s top you have a great view on three figures. I have seen pictures of these images a million times. But I was surprised how small they look in real live. And the lines are really thin (approx. 20cm wide).

We continued to a little hill from which many of the long lines start (or end). We climbed it and had a perfect view along these long geometrical shapes. It was already 5o’clock and the low sun threw perfect shadows over the edges of the lines.

We looked for a hotel and ended up in a pretty fancy place: Nazca Lines Hotel. Maria Reiche, the main researcher of the Nazca lines lived here for more than 30 years until she died. The hotel owner let here live here for free to show his appreciation of her life long dedication to the Nazca lines.

We had a great dinner next to the pool and some nice palm trees and thought of that eventful day had just passed.


Cattle and penguins

After we stayed in Lima for another day to fully recover from my illness we started on our way south. Parracas is a small town 200km south of Lima that lives from the tourism. The reason for tourists to come to this little place is a couple of islands close to the cost. A huge number of different birds live on these little islands together with a small penguins and sea lions.

After a noisy night (it has been Halloween night with a lots of drinking and singing going on in town) we got up to line up with these hundreds of tourists. Large groups of tourists were coordinated by the trip organizers. I felt a little bit like being in a herd of cattle, not exactly knowing what was going on around me. The tour guide that picked us up from the hotel has disappeared and so we end up in a different group of people. And like one of the herd I just thought we best go with the masses and finally just ended up in one of the boats somehow.

Once we left the harbor the many boats spread so that you could hardly see any other boats. We past a large sign that was carved into the shore, a few hundret meters long. As the geoglyphes at Nazca they meaning is unknown but quite impressive. And even though this carving has been directly at the sea, influenced by the strong winds here, it lasted for so long.

We leave the coast and the boat takes course to the islands. The islands are a sight for itself: a couple of rocks laying there in the sea with steep cliffs and a lot of caves and bridges. It looks like the phantasy island of a pirate movie and I wouldn’t have been surprised a lot if the Black Pearl appeared suddenly.

There are birds everywhere: small black ones, large pelicans, white middle sized… in fact birds of all colors and sizes. And they are all in large numbers. A constant cawing of thousands of birds mix with the splashing sound of the waves crashing on the rocky shores of the islands.

The smell is an interesting mixture of the salty sea and the bird’s dung in which the rocks are covered. In fact this dung used to be one of the main export goods of Peru as it is known as one of the best fertilizer.

The captain of our small boat maneuvers the vessel very close to the shore, so we got a perfect view on all these different animals. And there is more than just birds: sea stars, crabs, shells of all different kind appear. And finally some birds I wouldn’t have expected here: penguins. These little cute things are staying here on this island. It is a very small type: Humboldt Penguins. They are really fantastic with their clumsy way they move around solid ground. And it is tricky terrain for them with all the steep rocks and the high steps they have to take. Just watching one of them helplessly trying to get up on a rock made my day. He fell over on his belly again and again, but eventually he made it. Persistent little guy!

Going around another corner of the islands finally sea lions hang around on little mini islands. The males posing and showing off, some getting into a real fights and others (most of them) just hanging around lazy on the rocks. The way they lay there make the rocks look like a real cozy place even though some of them lay there in a real uncomfortable situated places.

It was fantastic to see these animals so close in their natural sorroundings. They seem to be totally fine with the situation and just look at you in a mixture of boredom and curiosity.

The whole boat trip took two hours of which one hour we spend with the animals on the island. It was a fantastic tour and made me even forgot the terrible herding experience from the morning.

We happily returned to the hostel and packed our bike to make it to Nazca the same day.



There is sand in the bottom of the swimming pool. Of course there is. They can clean it as often as they like, this is the desert. High sandy mountains rise up around us, lost a bit in the hazy morning air. The roaring trucks on the motorway suggest they have contributed to these milky hues. Despite the traffic and frantic horns of the mototaxis, it’s quiet and peaceful here. It is a paradox for the senses, the sound of the road and the calm of the lush garden here, half a mile away. The body relaxes in the warm, calm wind, with the sound of palms in the breeze, cheerful chirping of tiny birds and the cooing of doves on the rooftop.

In the night, the horns stop but the constant droning to the city continues. There are nine million people there who want fresh food and industry awaits precious minerals from inland Tarma and the Central Highlands which is at the other end of this dusty road. While dozing into the night, you can imagine it’s the steady white noise of the ocean which puts you to sleep.

The chaotic motorway connects one unremarkable dingy town to the next. We asked a mototaxi driver for a suggestion in the last town and he said there’s no place recommendable and suggested we keep going. There’s a country club ahead. There, the guard suggests pushing through to Lima, his colleague suggests a turn off immediately after the upcoming bridge. And here we end up, in a gated community of colonial estates just off the main road, our beautiful guarded oasis.


El Jardin


Hacienda La Florida – Tarma

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I sit in the bed and lean a bit forward to get a different angle looking out of the window of our room. Outside an old couple drags large portions of some sort of grass through the farmyard. They have formed a bundle bigger than themselves, wrapped a huge cloth around it and carry it on their back. From behind you hardly see anything of the person, it seems the bundle moves on its own feet. They disappear through a large door. The bikes stand there in front of the veranda like horses used to stand in front of a saloon.

The sky is bright and blue. The dogs are dozing in the sun. The air is cool though, we are at 3000m here in Tarma.

I am glad I feel a lot better. 3 days ago I woke up in the night, not feeling well, freezing. Not the kind of freezing that you have when it is cold. The kind of freezing that comes from the inside. The kind of freezing you get when your body has changed the inner thermostat to a higher temperature. That’s what he does when he thinks a fever could do some good.

I ended up with over 39 degree fever, quickly rising. And I felt absolutely miserable. Since we had been across some areas which are malaria prone, there was the small chance I had caught this or some other nice tropical illness.

I decided to see a doctor. We called Padre Louis, a 70-year old padre from Germany that we know and who lives here for decades. Since he had a little spare time that day he offered to bring us to the hospital, where they could make a quick test for Malaria.

We had to wait for more than 5 hours to get the result. But I also got a shot to lower my fever so I quickly felt better in the hospital. We waited and could watch the life going on in that provincial hospital. It goes on a slow pace.

A Peruvian singer sings his cheesy love songs in the radio. The lady behind the desk has a pile of papers in front of her, holding a pen in her hand and from time to time even filling something in. But most of the time she is leaning back and turning her had so she can follow the game show in the TV. Once in a while one of the girls walks along the aisle and you can hear the clacking of high-healed shoes as she goes around the corner. The clacking is of a low frequency. Nothing like the hectic sounds you would hear in a European hospital.

As the padre is waiting with us all the time, we wanted to know how much longer we have to wait (they originally said something about 40 minutes). The lady at the desk was not turning her head to us or even just taking her eyes off the TV show when Christy was asking her. It would be only another 20 minutes she promised.

The padre took off eventually. He had some appointments.

I was watching the whole scene from one of 6 beds they had set up here. It is sort of the waiting room. One other person was laying there. An elderly man who is calmly resting. After a few hours one of the doctors is taking care of his injured hand and he disappears. One of the nurses prepares the bed, which means she is putting the same sheets back in order.

The sheets I am laying on have been in use already as well. Brown and red spots all over. I am too tired, feverish and ill to care about.

Finally the results come. The lady doctor had a look at them. No malaria. She wonders where the result of the urine test is that she had ordered. We realize we paid for it (and as well for a second shot) but the nurses have forgot about it. So now Christy is going to the pharmacy to get one of these neat little cups. They get their urine sample and one of the nurses disappeared with it. We were let alone with the promise it would only take 20-40 minutes for the result. Since we already waited 5 hours for the last 40-minute-promise I started to let them know that el-gringo was getting a little bit angry about it.

Finally another doctor showed up. He was more senior and started to ask me precise questions about my whereabouts. After he had a detailed knowledge of where I had been for how long he assured me, that Dengue and a couple of other possible candidates of tropical diseases would not be a possible reason for my high fever. That sounded very professional so we gladly returned to the hotel.

So here I sit. In the nice little hotel. In our nice little room. Getting slowly better as the fever lowers a little bit every day.

It is not a typical hotel we are in. It is an old hacienda that rents rooms. The Hacienda has a long an interesting history. A well known Peruvian author wrote a nice little novel about it (Silvio in the rose garden).

It is run by Pepe, the owner, and his wife Inge, a German lady that fell in love with the Andes and then with Pepe some 30 years ago. She is a very caring, very open and warm person. Every day she comes to see how I am doing. In the evening she prepares a special soup for me, all with all kind of super fresh vegetables from her huge garden. That garden (el jardin) plays a large roll in the novel about the hacienda. And as I am sitting there in my bed, getting slowly better I decide it would be time to get up and have a look around. Christy joins me for a stroll around the hacienda.

A double storied and u-shaped main building is creating a yard of approximately 20x20m. The buildings are painted in a light blue.

In the yard there are some old motorbikes (the most actual one a KLR650 from their son who traveled South America with it). An old Land Rover, a classic Ford, and a first generation Unimog are standing around. The open side of the u-shaped main building is closed by a wall, a shed and a little chapel. The wall contains a huge gate that leads to the fields of the hacienda which spread along the valley.

A little door in one corner of the main building has a wooden sign above it: “El Jardin” it says. It leads to a nice and full garden with lots of different flowers and plants. A huge 200 year old cypress marks one corner of the garden. Behind it a little meadow for the horse spreads. It is also the campground for guests who want to pitch their tent. Next to it a huge herb and vegetable garden allows Inge to create her nice meals. There are also stables for a couple of cows.

A young german studies the chances for the farmers in the valley as part of his degree in socioeconomics and a young girl is spending her last 2 weeks of her work and travel time here on the hacienda.

The whole place is very calm. Tranquilo as the Peruvian would say.

I am very happy I got sick at a place like this and not in a loud and chaotic city. And I am almost a little bit glad I got sick at all. Otherwise we wouldn’t have got to know that little place here so well.