Friday, July 17, 2015



Peru, June, 2016, if I can wangle it.

My copy of the excellent Rough Guide to Peru arrived: they suggest two itineraries: I shall pursue an abbreviated version of  what they call The Grand Tour. That is, start at Lima, proceed to Arequipa, then Cusco and Machu Picchu, allowing a month for all this.

If this seems contemptibly unoriginal of me, then it is because I consider originality in foreign travels to be a recipe for misery, the beaten track being beaten because it is safe, scenic and pleasurable.

Much like Britain's splendidly pessimistic Foreign Office, the Rough Guide's authors are full of dour warnings:

The horrific practice of "strangle mugging" has been a bit of a problem* in Cusco and Arequipa, usually involving night attacks when the perpetrator tries to strangle the victim into unconsciousness.

Theft from cars and even more so, theft of car parts, is rife, particularly in Lima. Also, in some of the more popular hotels in the large cities, especially Lima, bandits masquerading as policemen break into rooms and steal the guests' most valuable possessions while holding the hotel staff at gunpoint.

You'd need to spend the whole time visibly guarding your luggage to be sure of keeping hold of it; even then, a determined team of thieves will stand a chance.

*I love the way "strangle mugging" (the very thought of which makes my bowels shrivel) is  a bit of a problem: British understatement at its finest. One imagines the victim returning to the hotel, his partner asking, "darling, what took you so long?" To which he replies, "oh nothing serious, I just had a bit of a problem with some strangle muggers. Now pass me my gin and tonic darling, not too heavy on the ice."


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