A Travellerspoint blog

Piles of earthquake rubble and a magician named Brel

Ica, Peru

sunny 35 °C

Oh where to start? The past 2 days have been incredible and mind boggling.
A mix of sadness experienced walking amidst the leftovers of the earthquake around ICA and pure pleasure, walking, sliding and driving in the sand desert of HUACACHINA.

Monday, October 1st
We left Lima at 1:30 pm for a 4 and a half hour bus ride to ICA. What we saw on the road was such a change from Ecuador. Sand dunes of every shape and size on one side and the ocean on the other. And then little houses that looked like cardboard boxes (no joke) hardly any bigger and certainly not any stronger than boxes but I found out that they are people's homes ...


and then we started to see ruins....walls which had fallen down, piles of broken bricks, a lot of dust...organized piles of adobe bricks (to reuse?) and now entire houses fallen to the ground, and then entire streets without any houses but only piles of rubble.





This is where the famous earthquake passed through a little over a month ago ... and what a disaster it has left! Families that have lost everything, people now left to survive in tents set up where their house once stood, surrounded by sand and the strong winds... Kids and elderly that have died because they were so cold .... I had tears running down my face on the bus ride. More than one month after the disaster and no one has come to help these people??? Because they are out of the city, because there is so much corruption, because the authorities pocket the money sent out for help, because the Peruvian minister of tourism has announced publicly, all over the television, not to come out here!!!!! And so people stay away and like to believe that everything is under control, reconstruction is under way and people have everything they need. It's so NOT TRUE. They have no money to rebuild, no food to eat, no medication and nobody helping them mentally, psychologically to deal with what they have gone through.

We made it to our hostal (in Huacachina, 10 minutes from the city of Ica, hardly hit by the earthquake). We travelled with a really nice Canadian girl from Toronto (Rachel) and met up with another one from Quebec (Elaine). We were quickly introduced to a trio. A fat happy go lucky guy from Lima, a sweet little doctor from England and a journalist from NY. The journalist (Lee) had raised money from his friends in NY to donate food to the earthquake victims. They were to spend the next day continuing their distribution in the little towns around Ica, the places worst hit, and we were invited to join them. Off to bed early as we were going to have a tough day...

Got up early and made it to the worst hit villages in search of the OLLA COMUNES (organized communal kitchens in the streets where families joined together to eat).


We had a van packed with boxes of flour, spaghetti, sugar, tuna .... to distribute. I don't think I could find the right words at the moment to express what it all felt like. At first, incredible sadness, disbelief and shock in seeing these people's living conditions. Just unimaginable!!!!! The inside of their houses (for those who have anything left) is now outside without any walls. For those lucky ones who have gotten a little help, they have 3 walls built from straw (like in the little piggy story) in which they live with children and elderly often stuck to a chair (or stump) because they have pain in their legs and cannot get any medical attention.

And then the rubble everywhere that has become the landscape. Everywhere broken things, missing things, pieces of things ....And even their church disappeared completely. How can that happen? But they were able to save their Virgin, their patron saint. And they were so excited to show her to us. She now means the world to them. She was carefully taken out of a woman's "house" and proudly introduced to us..... and in a few days they will bring her out and parade through the "streets" in her honour...


And then we were invited to visit a little primary school which started up again 2 weeks ago in order to distract the kids from what happened, get them back into something "normal". They lost everything and had just started up new notebooks (donated by the teacher's daughter who lived in Lima and raised money to get them a few supplies, a notebook each and a few pencils for the entire class).... Oh sad, sad, sad .... According to the teacher 3 of the kids (out of 10 maybe) were extremely nervous and anxious. They were crying all the time and would jump at the slighest noise. How can they deal with what happened? And when they go "home", what runs through their heads? And then, they opened their "lunchbox" and I almost fainted. When I saw a cute little girl (I nicknamed Mafalda) take out a pack of Halls for lunch. And her neighbour take out 1 little hard boiled egg all wrapped up in a woman's purse (her lunchbox).... Shit, our kids are so lucky. My Brel....................

Brel wasn't there. He was still in the van hiding out, trying to make sense of everything we were seeing, I think. I didn't want to push him. I know him. I know how he deals with difficult things. He needs time out. He needs to take his time, he needs to think and come out when he's ready. (He had baught a set of magic tricks from a street magician in Lima and it was suggested by the fat guy that he could take his magic to the streets here and make the kids smile... A BIG RESPONSIBILITY FOR A 10 YR OLD). While we were in the school, I went out to the van and could feel that he was ready. I don't know what went through his head but the initial anger and shyness passed and now he wanted to try his magic. He walked in to the class and the fat guy presented him to the kids and I could see he was scared. A whole group staring at him....He started his tricks and even if the kids were a little young (3-5), it was magic. The way they looked at him!!!!!! I couldn't believe it. I was so PROUD of him. And he did it all in spanish. And he was so good. So kind...



And he continued from stop to stop, like UN MAGICIEN AMBULANT. Each time the van would stop, he would come out and make his little matchbox move on his hand and the kids were in awe.



He gave them a little bit of entertainment, a reason to smile, a minute to forget the rubble, a little hope. I am starting to sound cheesy but it really was so touching, so incredible. I wish you guys had seen him there. I wish his class had been there.....By the time we reached the last group, he knew what he was doing (deep down , I mean, I think).

And the importance of a soccer ball. At each stop, a mother would come to ask for a "pelota, por favor", for the kids. It was worth GOLD.

And then we went to buy more food and Brel was so involved. He wanted to give it all he had. And decisions had to be made along the way. Should we buy a pre-fabricated house ($650 plus delivery) for a communal kitchen or should we give them money or food and what exactly and to who???? As they all came running to the van asking for something... "por favor ayudanos"!!! What an experience... A WAKE UP CALL we will never forget.

And then back to our luxurious hostel for a dip in the pool and an encounter with some fabulous parrots. What a contrast. SO UNFAIR.


And at sunset we climbed our sand mountain. So steep, so difficult. Then the TOP!!!! No words, no pictures....just WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!!! A desert of sand in Peru. Who would have thought. One of the most incredible landscapes I have ever seen!!!!

So much more to write about but never enough time. Will try to do a posting about our adventure in the sand desert tomorrow.

Thinking of you all.
Sand kisses from Patsy and Brel

Posted by patsybrel 17:09 Comments (6)

Adios green Ecuador, another earthquake + a bruised ass

Pictures and more details to follow eventually


Hi everybody!
Brel and I are sitting here, typing away in an internet cafe (in Loja, Ecuador), trying to kill some time as we are taking an overnight bus from Ecuador to Peru. That's it, our one month journey in Ecuador is over and it has been amazing. Lots of green, mountains (a n'en plus finir), valleys, all kinds of clouds and the most incredible skies I have seen ...

The past week has been pretty mellow. After the jungle, we headed for Baños... A pretty touristy place (I think over rated) with lots of hostals, tour agencies and restaurants ... From there we headed to Riobamba to take the most amazing train ride in Peru. We had the chance to glide through gorgeous landscapes but not sure if it was worth the 2 day wait... Then, Cuenca, the most gorgeous city in Ecuador ... a nice colonial city but a little too mellow for my taste. Was in the mood for some cultural action, exhibitions, music ... the place was dead. But we were in a hostal with kitchen access and it was soooooo nice to cook and do dishes (I know, it sounds weird but after a month and a half ...). Then we headed to Loja and Vilcabamba famous for its inhabitants who just don't seem to kick the bucket, or pass in the towel .... and yes, we did see lots of old people and stayed in a big empty hostal. Weird place, weird atmosphere.

And to make it all weirder, we were woken up in the middle of the night by our jumping bed. Yes, our bed started jumping and jumping. And no, it was not due to the guests in the room upstairs (as I already told you the hostal was EMPTY) but an EARTHQUAKE. Yes, another one and it has been said that the epicenter was in Peru. Shit, we're crossing the border TONIGHT! I fell asleep again and in the morning told Brel that I dreamed we were in an earthquake. Then I started wondering if it had actually happened... and I asked another guy if it was dream or if it actually happened and he wanted to ask me the exact same thing. It was 6 point something and apparently everyone felt it here and many people ran out of their homes...

Anyways, Brel and I and Ofer (our friend from Israel) went on a 4 hour horse ride. Once again, the views were spectacular but I swear I will never do it again!!! I haven't had the time to check yet but I am sure that my ass and inner thighs are covered in bruises, if not blisters. Ouch!!!! and I have a 8 hour bus ride (bumpy for sure) waiting for me ....

For all those of you sleeping in a comfortable bed tonight, sweet dreams.
Patsy and Brel; border crossers.

Posted by patsybrel 19:22 Archived in Ecuador Comments (10)


basé sur une histoire vraie, par Brel. dédicacé a tous mes camarades et à la nouvelle prof.

sunny 20 °C

Aujourd´hui 11sept.

Moi Joe et mon frère Joey :


partons en "avion" (condor)
a la moitiée du monde, là ou la terre se sépare en 2 hémisphères.
Pour voir de nos propres yeux la séparation de la terre.
À notre arrivée, il y a un grand batiment avec une statue de la terre.
En voici les photo :



Mais mais... Qui est cet enfant? On ne l´a jamais vu avant!!!
Ah! oui, je m´en souviens... sa mère le prenait en photo en meme temps.

Ensuite, nous sommes allés au Museo del sol Inti ñan
que nous avons parcouru avec une guide :


Rendu là-bas, savez-vous ce qu´on voit? non hein!
Et bien, ce que nous voyons c´est un enfant qui fait tenir un oeuf sur un clou.
En voici la photo :


En plus il recoit un certificat.
Bien, on continue et vous ne devinerez jamais ce qu´on voit...

Le meme petit garçon tirer dans un cactus à la sarbacane,
encore une photo :


et ici ca doit ètre sa maman
la photo S.V.P. :


Après cette merveilleuse visite, on rentrait et on est passé devant un autre musée d´on j´oublie le nom. Dans le musée, il y a une petite salle avec une télé et un homme nous donne une explication comme quoi l´Équateur est une ligne imaginaire!!!

  • cuy = cochon d´inde en Quichua (la langue des indigènes

d´Equateur). Ici, en Équateur ils en mangent beaucoup.

A suivre...

Posted by patsybrel 15:34 Archived in Ecuador Tagged family_travel Comments (7)

3 jours dans la jungle ...

une aventure inoubliable!

semi-overcast 20 °C

Nous sommes de retour sur terre, c'est a dire, en ville, apres 3 jours caches en plein milieu de feuilles souvent plus grandes que nous, des arbres si hauts qu'ils semblent toucher le ciel, si larges qu'on se sent tout petit, des papillons plus grands qu'une main, des araignees gigantesques, une symphonie de sons et nos odeurs corporelles... parfum de jungle.

Premiere journee-


Descente de montagnes en velo (18 km)...assez dangereux avec les conducteurs d'autos, de camions et de bus qui nous frolent pratiquement la peau mais que des paysages EXTRAORDINAIREMENT BEAUX!!!! Aussi, entree epeurante dans des tunnels completement noirs qu'il a fallu traverser et Brel qui soufflait un peu (beaucoup) pendant les montees....


Descente de la riviere Pastaza pendant 20 km. FABULEUX! Petite lecon et regles a suivre au tout debut et puis la peur de ce qu'on allait faire ...impossible de reculer. Tres epeurant au tout debut, et puis bien excitant et apres 2 heures, on en voulait plus. Brel etait absolument formidable. Il a adore. Il a rit, parle, rame, nage. J'ai des bleus partout et de supers souvenirs.


Et hop, a l'eau... Dans notre skinsuit, il faisait bon.


Excellent diner dans un resto et puis 1 heure de route en camionette jusqu'a Puyo et notre campement.

Brel s'est fabrique un chapeau, question d'etre pret pour la jungle:


Promenade jusqu'a une cascade en pleine jungle:



Baignade et puis marcher, marcher, marcher (5 heures) ... Et dire que Brel n'etait vraiment pas un bon marcheur. Maintenant il dit a tout le monde qu'il a falut 3 jours dans la jungle pour le convertir en marcheur. Et j'avoue, c'est tout un marcheur maintenant. Youpie!!! Et il fallait surtout escalader, faire attention aux racines, aux branches, aux passages boueux ...


Et puis on a vu toutes sortes de choses en chemins. Insectes, plantes medicinales ...auxquelles on a eu droit a plein d'explications... Tres interessant.

Retour en ballade nocturne et observation d'insectes, grandeur nature (ou plus grand que nature) car dans cette foret amazonienne, tout semble plus gros que nature.

On a eu la chance de voir des araignees (toutes sortes):


d'enormes papillons:


des insectes en formes de batons:


des insectes qui ressemblent a des feuilles roulees:



des grenouilles:


Et tant d'autres choses:



Et puis excellent souper prepare par notre guide (un jeune homme, et oui, meme si ils sont machos, il n'y a pas que les femmes qui cuisinent ici). Pour terminer cette grosse journee, un bon dodo ...

Muni de nos 2 meilleurs amis de jungle (nos bottes en caoutchouc et notre poncho) nous sommes partis sous la pluie cette-fois pour une longue promenade de 6 heures et a la conquete d'une deuxieme cascade. Il a fallu nager jusqu'a celle-ci et puis les courageux (seulement Brel, en consequence) a pu sauter d'un arbre ...

Il y pense serieusement:


et il saute:
(c'est lui le PLOUF!)


Lors de cette fabuleuse ballade (6 heures), nous avons pu voir des JUNGLE KISS (fleur), encore des papillons, des arbres qui sont d'excellentes sources de medicaments ici (entre autre le SANGRE DE DRAGO). Il faut faire une fente dans le tronc et la seve est rouge comme du sang... Nous avons deguste des LEMON TASTING ANTS (not aunts)... MIAM!...

observer (much to my surprise) des PORNOGRAPHIC PALM TREES
(the name given by our guide):



ON a aussi vu des HOMMES DE LA JUNGLE:


Et Brel a pu se balancer comme Tarzan sur des lianes toutes naturelles ...



Apres le diner (pendant lequel nous avons bu du jus de STARFRUIT), CHECK OUT THEIR SIZE IN THE JUNGLE:


ballade en canoe typique de la foret amazonienne (sculpter dans un tronc d'arbre) sur la riviere Puyo. Assez paisible, nous ne sommes pas tombe a l'eau cette fois-ci mais ne vous tracassez pas, nous ne sommes pas sortis tout secs de l'eau non plus. Il fallait que je sorte l'eau qui menacait de remplir le canoe a chaque instant...


Et puis c'est bien beau de faire du canoe sur l'eau mais pourquoi pas en faire sur camion aussi ... (il fallait bien les ramener au campement quand meme). C'etait tres drole!!!


Promenade tout en hauteur, jusqu'a un fabuleux LOOK OUT duquel on pouvait voir la riviere en question:


Je ne dois pas oublier de vous parler des fourmis coupeuses de feuilles... quelle spectacle et on les voyait sans cesse dans la jungle!!! Elle travaille sans cesse ...

(difficile a voir en photos mais regardez bien les feuilles vertes. Sous chaque feuille, il y a une fourmi qui porte 10 fois son poid. Qqchose quand meme!)


Et les voila en train de monter le tronc jusqu'a ... Dieu sait ou?


Je me suis reveillee tres malade avec juste une envie de vomir. J'ai donc passee 24 heures entre extreme faiblesse et hammac. Brel a continue le tour sans moi, avec les autres amis du groupe.


Je saute des details car je dois filer et je veux vous envoyer cette aventure aujourd'hui. Quelle experience cette jungle!!!
On vous embrasse!

Derniere petite chose quand meme. Lors d'un petit stop bien merite apres la descente en velo, nous nous sommes assis dans un petit resto. Voici une photo du mur qui se trouvait au-dessus de ma tete et qui pour moi, represente tellement bien la culture sud-americaine.....


Posted by patsybrel 11:04 Comments (7)

On s'en va dans la jungle !!!

Off to the jungle !!!


Nous partons 3 jours dans la jungle ...
du velo pendant 2 heures (descente de montagnes)
du rafting pendant 2 heures (ayayayay, descente de riviere !!)
et puis canoe et toutes sortes d'aventures en pleine nature.

De retour lundi prochain avec photos et anecdotes, je suis certaine.
P.S. Pas de panique, nous partons avec un guide.

mountain biking for 2 hours (downhill only and it looks pretty crazy)
rafting for another 2 (down river, of course)
canoing and all sorts of other surprises ...

Back on monday with stories and photos
P.S. No worries, we're taken a guide with us!

We miss you all!
On pense a vous!
Patsy and Brel in Banos, near Puyo.

Posted by patsybrel 20:10 Archived in Ecuador Comments (7)

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