My Lucky Boots

Boots Owner's Stories

Border Crossing Piura-Loja

Posted by Artesia Irawan on October 29, 2010 at 7:41 PM

There are three ways to cross the border overland between Peru and Ecuador.

1. Tumbes - Machala, it's chaotic and dangerous. It has been warned many times to avoid this border crossing unless you take Ormeno bus that will take you from Tumbes straight to Machala and stopping only for immigration purposes. Otherwise regardless your destination in Peru/Ecuador, avoid this border crossing.


2. Jaen-Zumba, if you have time and patience, take this route. The way to the border is supposed to be so scenic.but the only catch for this route is there's no direct transport. It will take at least 16-18 hours to cross the border. If you coming from Chachapoyas you have to change transport in Jaen and continue to San Ignacio and change again to get transport to the border. And from the border another transport to Zumba and to Vilcabamba. ( After all this hassle, you need to stay in Vilcabamba for the sake of your sanity! ) But lots of people said it's worth the hassle.


3. Piura-Loja, the most straightforward and easiest compare to the other three. You can take bus Transportes Loja  ( 10 dollars - 8 hours ) from Piura straight to Loja.There's a bus at 9.30AM. The bus will stopped for immigration purposes and continue again to Loja. It took 8 hours because the people got off and got on on the way.

* There's no good hostel in Piura, if you're coming from Trujillo, take overnight bus and continue to Loja.


While we're at the border, we bumped into people coming in from Ecuador. Taught us lesson, Do Not Overstay in Ecuador or lost your T3 card or didn't get stamp/visa or illegaly coming into the country. In one bus from Ecuador at least we saw 3 girls were detained for some reasons. This was my first border crossing and I was terrified, the experience in Bolivia haunted me.


Posted by Artesia Irawan on October 26, 2010 at 9:07 AM

It was short but I got the idea why Mercedes ( The Spanish girl I met in Nepal ) bragged about this place so much. It's such a pretty town, surprisingly busy. Less cars and no tourist. I counted, there 4 tourist while I was there.


The ladies wear very colorful rob and distinguish higher hat than any other places in Peru, made this city so attractive with the locals activities.


I didn't take picture at all in the city, at first I was hesitate about how safe is this place. But later on, for once I would like to be a less tourist in this lovely place. But it's such a photogenic place. I don't know is it because I didn't take any picutre the place look so much more interesting?  Ah well maybe not, it's probably it is, I was just stupid.


If you have time it's really worth continuing your journey to Ecuador via Chachapoyas-Jaen and Zumba. I determined to do that next time I'm there again.  I only stayed one night in Cajamarma, which is a waste of time to drive here from the coast.


One Afternoon in the Bus

Posted by Artesia Irawan on October 25, 2010 at 3:07 PM

My curiosity about Cajamarca landed me in this LINEA bus heading there. I met a Spanish girl last year in Nepal and she told me about this place.


Sitting at the front again next to Peruano, who's originally from Arequipa. He was thrilled to know I was in Arequipa for a month. And I couldn't stop talking about  Arequipa too.  He works in a mine, and he's been working all over Peru. And this time he's working in Huanacocha, one of the most productive gold mine in the world which only been discovered recently.


I once again become the ambassador of my country and exchanged stories only to the level of my spanish. But he got the idea, I think.


The winding road to Cajamarca it's so familiar to my memory, my eyesight and mind were so content  to see beautiful lake on our way to Cajamarca, another immense blue color of laguna. Beautiful sunset light blanketing the hills creating such a panoramic silhouettes from the window in front of me.


At that very moment, I left behind my nationality, my identity and the idea that I belong to one country and we own this or that. I would like to consider myself I live in this beautiful world with no border and differences. 


Arriving in Cajamarca 'hang over' from so much beautiful  thought pretty much about everything, the Peruano ( I forgot his name )  asked me where I'm going and which hostel I'm staying. I wasn't hesitate to tell him where I'm going. There's not much taxi around the bus station. We had to fight with the rest of Peruvians to take the taxi, and of course I lost!


He waited for me until I got the safe taxi, "Solo Taxi Unidos o Taxi Super Segura, aqui en Cajamarca' son seguras. Taxi es peligroso en Trujillo y Lima, muy peligroso"  He told me to make sure I don't pay more than 3 soles.  He told the taxi driver exactly the hostel I'm staying. And then he said goodbye while I said muchas gracias hundreds of time.


This kind of experience it's hard for you not to do good things to others, cause it's really nice and beautiful to meet someone who help you or being nice to you, regardless of who you are or where you from.


Ah I remember the taxi driver in Trujillo again now...  hope he's well and still smiling.


Posted by Artesia Irawan on October 24, 2010 at 8:12 AM

Trujillo is the third largest city in Peru, is home for UNESCO World Heritage site, Chanchan the largest adobe city in the world of Chimu.





OH MY DOG.. You're so ugly.



In October, the coast side was a bit miserable, overcast and cold, but in the afternoon sun start shining at least in Trujillo and Huanchaco when I was there.


Trujillo with only 800.000 population is start growing, as we can see lots of new houses in the area. Has such a stunning houses, the Plaza de Armas is so colorful. For photography freak, you can spend hours only in the Plaza de Armas, looking for photo moments with the people passing by on the colorful wall.





With the tourism only just picking up in the last couple of years in the north, I saw less tourist in Trujillo, much more than any other place. But on the other hand, it's very hard to find good budget hostel here. The owner doesn't seems to care about their places, most of budget hostels listed in LP guidebook was horrible. My friend Guus, I met in Arequipa had to change his hostel in the middle of the night cause he couldn't sleep and the other place is not that nice either.


I ended up staying in Hotel Colonial and paid double than my usual budget, 45 soles. But I got my own room, bathroom and TV.. which rather nice. I'm sure there's other places which are good, but I was too tired looking around and wanted to hit the town as soon as possible.


I was lucky, the moment I checked in, there's a full day tour for 35 soles to visit Chanchan, Temple of Moon/Sun, Huanchaco, the museum. So I might do everything on my second day here. Nothing much really to do here, you did the tour one day and that's it really.


I've been warned couple of times after I arrived in Trujillo that there's wave of taxi robbery in the last months. The road from and to Huanchaco is very dark at night, and there's no light in the airport area. The Peruvian guy who run the restaurant Colonial told me that it's almost happened to him. Not only outside thhe city but happened in the city too.


So be very careful, otherwise enjoy Trujillo. In my opinion, 2 days one night is enough here before you continue again.





One Night in Trujillo

Posted by Artesia Irawan on October 22, 2010 at 7:56 PM

Storming out from another consulado here in South America, dissapointed. I went straight to the bus station to get the bus ticket out of Lima as soon as possible. The weather was miserable as expected, saw two accidents right in front of me on my way to the consulate, what a chaos morning in Lima.


Waiting for my number to be called at the Cruz del Sure counter, I looked at all destinations on the board. Trujillo, Chimbote, Cajamarca, Tumbes. But at that moment, those were only characters in my seeing and didn't mean anything cause my mind was too far away to get 'everybody' together to make a simple decision.


My number was up, the lady answered all the question in a very friendly way. She knew I wasn't ready to choose destination and told me to stepped aside and come back when I ready.


Straight to Mancora as planned ?Trujillo first and then Cajamarca? Straight to Cajamarca?

Ecuador first? Colombia first ? Beach? Amazon?  All were jam-packed inside my brain for good seconds. Until I suddenly made decision to go to Trujillo first, for just in case I'm not coming back to Peru, might as well have a quick tour around North Peru. Although I'm aware that I've been paying the overstay fine since almost 2 months ago.


Lucky day, VIP seat I wanted got discount that day. I only paid for 38 soles for Cama seat, right at the front to see the view. Although the weather on the coast has been so miserable, I felt like traveling to Mordor rather than Trujillo. Bleak, dark and overcast. All the movies played in spanish, although it's good to study my hearing of spanish but I would rather do my spanish exercises which was more fun.



I have calculated that I'll be arriving late in Trujillo, around 9-10PM, yes I'm aware of that. I counted my change, I had exactly 10 soles. Should be nore than enough to get me to the hostel in Trujillo. But the problem is, I don't know any hostel, didn't plan to go there, didn't have time to check in the internet, my laptop died on me for my guidebook, I had nothing. The thought of arriving late and nowehere to go was too much to bare for Artesia.


So I called my friend Ivo to check with me on the website I just gave him the night before for his future trip to Bolivia. And he came up with 2 hostal which supposed to have good rating on hostelbookers/hostelworld without realizing  the hostels are actually in Huanchaco, half hour away from Trujillo on the beach side. It wasn't his fault, cause there's no hostel in Trujillo listed on that website, first time the website let me down when I really need it, Didn't really grasp that information or dwell on it, why it's Huanchaco instead of Trujillo.


Arriving in Trujillo, all taxi driver quoted me same price which is 15 soles. And I only have 10 soles, at the same time I didn't really want to spend 15 soles for taxi ( which is very stupid way of thinking ) I bargained without success, until there's one taxi, dodgy taxi precisely offered me 12 soles. So I thought I'll take this and I can always search my bag again for another 2 soles.


At that time I wasn't convinced the idea of borrowing money from the hostel would be a good idea.


After 10 minutes drive and not even half way, I was nowhere, area near the airport was pitch black. It was empty, there's no one on the street. You can see the beach on the side vaguely. 


It's almost 11PM, when suddenly the image of this taxi driver robbing me and taking away all my bags gave me chill. He could do it anytime by then and that night was the first time I didn't wear my moneybelt on my body for god know what reason! I wanted to call someone and gave the taxi number I was  in, but there's none.


I engaged in conversation ( thank you Ceica! ;) to amused him or perhaps to change his mind from stealing from me if he was actually planning on doing it. So far he was amused by my sense of humor and got another 'Por que?"  from traveling alone. Just to calmed him down, I told him that I will borrow the money from the hostel, he looked happy.


Arrived in Hostal Lily, Sarah opened the door and she was really concerned to see me alone at night by taxi. Afer borrowing money, I gave him actually 15 soles as per normal price. I felt like hugging him for not stealing from me or I think it was just an act of apologizing for having such a bad thought about him, a nice and funny taxi driver.


Sarah told me that there's an Australian did the exact same thing 2 months earlier, but that time she wasn't that lucky, the taxi driver robbed everything from her, literally everything. She showed up at Hostal Lily only herself with clothes on her.


Earlier tonight, I spoke with the owner of the restaurant at the hotel I'm staying. He was too shocked from my story and he told me there's a waves of taxi robbery only the last months. So he said  I'm too lucky to get away from the robbery that night. Here in north Peru, the tourism only just picking up in the last couple years. There's hardly any good budget hostel to stay, budget means dumped. I'm glad to made the decision to stay in the rather nice hotel and got my own room for lots of reason.


My misjudgement or miscalculation brought me to this situation that only me to be responsible  for my act.


I need to take care of myself and I have to do it not only for myself, but for others who care about me and worry about me, also they have no control of my well being because they're far away from me.


One Day in Lima

Posted by Artesia Irawan on October 21, 2010 at 7:40 PM


I went to Manolo restaurant in Lima, looking for Cheviche, typical peruvian fish dish. I've been thinking about having one, but my excuse would be I was always on the highland, either Huaraz, Cusco, Puno or Arequipa. So an hour after I arrived in my beautiful hostel of HQ Villa in Lima,  I went to this restaurant for lunch. I ordered the cheviche for starter and then Chicaron de Calamar for 9 soles including the drinks.







 I've been taking some spanish course for two weeks in Arequipa and trying so hard to actually practice my spanish, but the temptation to say in english sometimes harder. I ordered the food in spanish and later on the waiter asked me "Tu Peruana, no?" ( Are you Peruvian/from Peru? ) He knew I'm not from Peru but he just couldn't figure out where I'm from. I told him I'm from Indonesia, and of course he doesn't know. So I explained it's in South East Asia.



"Tu vive aqui en Lima? Trabaja?" ( Do you live here? Do you work here? ) I smiled, damn my spanish is getting better!!

" No, no vive aqui,  Estoy viajando en SudAmerica" 

" Are you traveling alone" ( oh ok, here we go again )

" Si, sola." ( I'm alone.)  He straight away asked me 'POR QUE?' I was like eh? 'POR QUE?' He asked again, he thought I didn't get his question... Por que? That's always been a very very difficult question... I remember Juan Jose ( tour guide in Puno )  asked me the exact same question 'WHY?'

He asked me 'WHY' are you traveling alone.. I answered straight away... "BECAUSE I CAN"



Although this waiter is more puzzle and worry for the fact that I travel alone..

Es peligroso viaja sola "( it's dangerous to travel alone ) "Tiene amigas? Novio? ( friends? boyfriend? ;)"

.. "No, I'm afraid not" and his face is transformed to this weird wrinkly face, folded in such a way.. probably just to show how concern he is for the fact I'm a girland travel alone.



Back to my hostel, I stayed in this 10 beds dorm.. huge room. Beautiful hostel.... later on in my room while I'm browsing on my laptop alone,  suddenly there's a korean dude came into the room... and later on he said.. "Hey man ... " ( I was lying down not facing him ) .. and when I said hello, he jumped " Oh you're not man?

For a second I thought I had a hard attack that people starting to think I look like a man? SINCE WHEN? ... he said sorry, because he thought he's staying in a male dorm... well apparently not, it's mix dorm so girls can stay in this dorm too.. very funny Korean dude.


"Where are you from?... "

"I'm from Indonesia"

"WHAT?? WOWWW.. you're the first Indonesian I've ever met ( yeah yeah I got that a lot, ironic while there's other 239.999.999 Indonesian living somewhere around this world but you never see them outside Indonesia )


Later on while we're talking, he has this similar puzzle face like the waiter earlier today.... I was talking and then he cut "Are you native Indonesian?"

( what the hell do you mean by that )"Yes I'm Indonesian.. "

"But you don't look like from Philipines..." ( oh dear ...should I bother dwell on his question ?)

"So Ok, I don't look like Indonesian nor Philipines.. so what do I look like then?"

"Hmm Africa.."

"Ok, that's new .."

"You're black... are you black?" he actually leaned over from his bed next to mine to check the color of my skin, I wonder is it because the effects of the lights or he has problem with his eye sight.

I had to laugh.. " No I'm not black..."

"But you're not white"

"I'm fair... but I just had some sun from the weekend at the pool.. so I'm pretty much brown now"


Later we get to talk again.. and he asked question again ( out of the blue )

" Can you speak indonesian"

" Hmm  yyyyyees"

" can you talk in indonesian??


At that stage I admire his curiosity.. and I fed him some knowledge about Indonesia and I actually talked in indonesian especially for him... I don't know why I did that really. The conversation went on for so long and all of his questions made me chuckle.. enough to cheer me up for being away from Arequipa.



Arequipay, The Happy House ( Arequipa )

Posted by Artesia Irawan on October 21, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Renzo opened the door for me when I arrived in Arequipay, breeze of home feeling greeted me when I came in to the living room. It was so bright, crisp and super clean. I saw some people relaxing on the hammock or playing pool.


I was staying in Pirwa only couple of hours when I took all my bags and moved to Arequipay. Cut the story short, I was dissapointed with Pirwa. So anyway I moved to the 6 beds dorm with bathroom inside and stayed there pretty much alone for the next 10 days, except one night when there's one Polish girl in the room.


I bumped into Hugh in the hostel, the Irish guy I met in Huaraz, which was fun!! It's always nice to see familiar face again.


First night in Arequipay I was welcomed with Barbecue night, my very first of many many barbecue nights in the house. We bought the meat and Renzo cooked the meat for us, everybody kind of hanging out together in the dining room or kitchen, exchange stories .


It's a place when you really feel like you're home. Because of that, everybody in the house was so happy, relax and so cheerful. The ping pong table, pool table, TV room downstair with gigantic LCD, playstation, beautiful huge hammock, huge kitchen were only accesories of the real hospitality Renzo and Evelyn offered us, the very main essence of the place.


No one wants to leave the place, some extended their stay there, some left sad for not being able to stay bit longer due to time restriction.


One English girl one morning made comments about the place. " I woke up this morning, feel  like I was home. And when I heard people in the kitchen I feel like there's someone visiting my place"


I ended up staying there for one month, probably more if I counted my time away doing the trekking/climbing. I looked for excuse to stay there, which is this CEICA spanish school, 15 minutes walk from the hostel.


The school was perfect, the hostel was perfect, the new people I met was awesome. I really had an amazing time in Arequipa, and I'm missing it terribly.


Arequipay Backpackers House 





Mi Arequipay


One of the Bearbecue Nights



Arequipay Backpackers House website

Chachani ( 6075M )

Posted by Artesia Irawan on September 24, 2010 at 8:18 AM

After failing the Pisco in Huaraz a month earlier, my body nagged me a lot to do another volcano/mountain. Arrived in Arequipa I was greeted by Misty and Chachani on my way to the hostel.


I chose Chachani because it's easier than Misty which,although is lower than Chachani. I had the advantage of being in Huaraz for a month and did many trekking before and my body is well acclimatized.

If you do Misty, you have to ascend more than 1300M on the first day and another 1200M to the summit, since the base camp is lower. If you're fit and not sure if you're acclimatized yet than Misty is yours.


It took us about 3 hours to reach the drop of point.  And from there we walked only about an hour to reach the base camp Azulfera. We had to carry at least 5 liters of water each person, because there's no water source up on the base camp. We brought tent, mattras inside our backpack, while our guide busy taking kitchen equipments.


It was only about 2PM and so windy, our tent was so noisy the whole time I was there due to strong wind. We hang out in the kitchen tent, the only warm place on the spot of course. We squeezed ourself to sit on that tent and obviously over the tent capacity. The guide cooked spaghetti and mixed it with eggs and some boiled vegetables.


That night perhaps one of the coldest night I've ever experienced but still not as cold as Tibet in the winter. There's something wrong with the sleeping bag, near the zip there's a tiny little opening and it's enought to froze my toes.


We had breakfast at 1AM and start walking at 2AM. We walked up to the Angel Col ( pass ) before we traversed El Angel Mountain on the steep scree slope. We're lucky to have the full moon that night, the trail was so bright and we didn't even have to use our headlamp.


After we traversed El Angel we reached Fatima Col before we ascend the hardest part of the climb, climbing up to Fatima Mountain. The switchbacking trail didn't really help me to minimize the steep climb I had to do.


Just before we reached the the summit of Fatima, we traversed again the Fatima mountain and reach another pass before we made our final push to the summit.





The trail to Chachani is much easier than climbing Fatima. So after 6 hours of climbing from the basecamp, I made it to the summit of Chachani 6075M, the highest point in my life so far.





Huayhuash Circuit

Posted by Artesia Irawan on August 29, 2010 at 8:13 AM

Huayhuash circuit easily become the top highlight of my trip in Peru or in South America so far. The scenery was unbeatable, so scenic only accessible by camping.


If you only have to do one trail in your life, Huayhuash is the trail. The spectacular glacial lakes, the gigantic mountains and hotspring is hard to beat.


Mitacocha Laguna and Jirishanca



We did the circuit in 10 days, and I can't recommend enough to do it in minimum 10 days, some of the scenery are best to enjoy in the afternoon, but if you do in less days and in a rush you won't be able enjoy it, since during winter/dry season the clouds covers the mountains every now and then in the afternoon.


The trail is walking along the range of 20 jagged peaks in Huayhuash range and going over 4800M pass every singleday until we made a cut between Cuyoc mountain ( 5550M ) and Rinri Jinca mountain at Cuyoc Pass ( 5079M ) the highes pass during the trek and then we end up on the other side of the mountain range.



Cuyoc Pass ( 5079M )


From Cuyoc pass, we went up to San Antonio Pass ( another 5000M pass ) and we could see Carnicero ( 5960M ), Siula Grande ( 6344M ), Sarapo ( 6127M ) from the top of San Antonio Pass and the trail become all clear that we're on the other side of the mountain range.


Approaching the Rio Pumanriri hotspring


Tips :

1. I went with Galaxia Expedition again, made sure you have a guide and a cook during your trek.

2. It's bloody cold up there, fill up your water container with hot boil water before you go to bed and bring it inside your sleeping bag as your 'heater' and in the morning the water would pleasantly drinkable for your trek.

3. If you have your own sleeping bag, tell the agency that you also need a sleeping bag, they lend it for free anyway,  so you can sleep with two sleeping bag. ( Another heaven-sent invention )

4. Trekking pole + Camelback ( Buy them or rent them,  bring them, use them! )

5. Due to the cold, the battery runs out very quickly. First bring extra batteries. During the night, take the battery from your camera, along with the spare batteries and put them in one of your socks/gloves and sleep with them inside your sleeping bag. Or if you only have one or two batteries, you can put them inside your fleece pocket.


Complete photos of Huayhuash Circuit


Sour Pisco

Posted by Artesia Irawan on August 15, 2010 at 8:36 PM

Yeah... I know it's supposed to be Pisco Sour, but this one is the failed Pisco, sour Pisco. That one particular day I got bored so I went back to Galaxia and checked out any other trek or activities I can do. Was actually planning to do the Huayhuash but one group just left that very morning and the next one would be sometimes next week.


Being me, stupid as always, listened to the guy behind the desk selling me the Pisco mountain and I agreed within minutes. I thought ah well I know I'm slow, but I will always managed to reach the top. Within the same afternoon I booked the trip, tried the boots, the pants and stuff and ready to leave the next day.


The car dropped us just above the trail down to the valley. This time my climbing partner is Graeme, a Canadian and Edgar is our guide again. We walked up to the base camp for about 3 hours, well I walked up for 3 hours while Graeme already having a nap by the time I got to the base camp at 4600M.


The base camp


The view from base camp


This time we had Ruben as our cook so Edgar can relax a bit and preparing for the climb that very same night. We're going to start climbing around midnight, so we can reach the summit early morning befor the weather changed at the summit.


I shared my tent with Graeme, pretty much only for couple of hours beacuse we have to wake up during midnight. We tried to sleep, this time I used two sleeping bag which is a big help, a bottle of hot water works as a heater inside my sleeping bag. It was nice and warm that I could sleep for the whole night.


But nope, we had to wake up at midnight and had breakfast. yeah breakfast at midnight. I used only my pants without any layers, since I always feel too warm to walk after a while with lots of layers. I wore my thermal top, shirt and other 2 layers. This time Edgar packed my daypack with ice axe and crampons.


We walked up to the edge of the moraine part, took us obout 45minutes to reach the top and we had to go down again to the moraine world full with boulders and rocks. We crossed this part in the dark and we had to really carefull, once you loose your balance you can stumble or fall against those sharp edge rocks. I felt like walking around that area, cause honestly it's all the same and too dark to get some sense of direction. I only just follow Edgar in front of me. Walking on the those rocks, succesfully drained my energy since I couldn't even control my pace over that rocks.

Right at the end we reached the lake and we walked up around it and continue on the very small, fragile trail that you had to keep walking over it. Scared to go back, too scared to stop I forced my self to walk and walk and walk up again.


When we almost get to the glacier I told Graeme that I don't want to go, I'm giving up and can't do it. But Graeme told me "No, you have to continue, we're not living you behind and that's not how it works" I almost cry and keep walking. When we get to the glacier, I thought maybe it will give me motivation to continue or even to drag myself up there. But I have lost my energy, my mind was not with my body, I felt like my body is falling apart, worse is my mind doesn't even try to get hold on 'everybody' which essential.


After walking for an hour maybe on the glacier, mostly dragged by Edgar. We reached the bottom of the steep slope looks like a giant wall in front of me, I said to myself. No fucking way. I told Edgar that I'll wait here and you guys continue. I thought it's only perhaps an hour away before they reached the summit, mislead by the couple who came down already mistaken with the other couple who's by then still half way to the summit.


The 'Giant Wall'


I almost 'die' waiting for them, the cold started to eat my toes alive, although at that stage I couldn't really feel my toes anymore. I kept moving around, since Edgar hook me with a rope and the ice axe. So I made circle just like a dog trying to make myself warm.


Eventually the time when I almost walk down alone to the rocky part ( thank god I didn't ) there's Spanish couple coming down from the summit and offered me to go with them to the rocky part instead of waiting on the glacier. Apparently Edgar told them to take me with them. So I walked with them safely back to the rocky part. had my lunch pack while waiting for Edgar and Graeme to come back.



Going back to the camp site wasn't as enjoyable as I thought it would be, the plastic boots I rent from the agency was slightly a bit too small and when we're descending I hurt my toe nail and walked limping over the moraine part again. ( The next 3 months, I had a black/blue toe nail )


Ruben the cook was waiting for us on the bottom of the moraine part and took my bag, eventually when we reached the edge of the moraine I had to descend again, but the hurt toe stopped me from getting to the camp site faster.


To be honest, of course I'm sad and dissapointed that I couldn't get to the summit but some part I was proud that I know my limit and know when to stop. We stayed another night before heading back to Huaraz.