Sunday, May 30, 2010

Too many adventures and not enough time to write.

It has been awhile since we wrote anything extensive expressing the many adventures of our trip. But that is because we were too busy living and enjoying the adventures. As it should be. But I do apoligize for those who are living vicariously through us. Hope it wasn't too painful a wait.

When we arrived in Cusco, we returned to high altitude. It was not as difficult to adjust the second time around. We arrive by plane and got dropped off at the bottom of the hill by a taxi in the middle of the afternoon. The Loki hostel was large and filled with young travelers mainly. People for whom it is normal to spend 6 months to a year traveling around South America or the whole world. I met an American who was a bit suprised that other Americans were traveling for as long as we are. A couple days later our friend Will joined us. The altitude affected him hard for one day and then he was running up stairs.

A couple days after Will's arrival we left for the Inca trail bound for Machu Picchu. By the way if you pronounce it the way most tourist do it means "old penis". Pikchu--with an accent on the first syllable is how it should be pronounced. This is Quechua, the language of the Incas. All our porters mainly spoke Quechua. Because we were camping I was expecting simple no frills meals but we got gourmet...mainly typical peruvian dishes. And a lot of it. The second day we made it over pass that was almost 14,000 ft. and did it under the time that our guide expected. The last day we had to get up at 4am so we could watch the sun rise to shine down on Machu Picchu. It was worth it.

I realized that next time though I need more sleep if I want to really appreciate everything about the magnificent site. It was a great place to explore but because of all the many tourist it was difficult to find a quiet place to take it all in.

After we got back to Cuzco, we stayed at a different place. Then the next night we had to move because that hotel was booked for Saturday evening. On Sunday we took a bus to Puno...eight hours and the most disgusting bathroom ever. One night in Puno and then the next day we got up at 5:30ish to be ready for our van to take us to the boat. The boat ride would take us to islands in Lake Titicaca...the only reason to go to Puno. And it was way worth it. The first inlands were the reed islands made of the tortora grass that grows in the shallow parts of the lake. The people had to anchor their islands and change the whole structure every year. And if a group of young adults wanted to have their own island away from the elders they could just make one and scuttle off. Sounds great, right?

The next island was Taquile where we stayed overnight with a family. No cars on this inland and no dogs. Now the car thing makes sense. No real need for a car on this island. They had boats to go across to the nearby island of Amantani though. Dogs didn't live on the island because there was no crime and every one including the animals has to pull his own wait. I gathered that dogs are only considered guards for house and not companions. There was plenty of sheep for that. Dogs are not needed so they don't live there. Apparently cats were useful for catching mice and other rodents so they could be members of the Taquile community.

Our guide, who was also the man of the house that we stayed at took us to the beach the first day and the next day, to the highest point where the Pachamama temple was. It was simple and beautiful. There we could see 360 degrees of the lake, the snow covered mountains in Boliva, and the other islands.

After returning to Puno for a night and another 8 hr bus ride to Cuzco we got our stuff back that we had stored at the South America explorers clubhouse. I called my mom and did some email. A couple days later Will left us to go back to the states and we went to Pisac. So here I sit cradled by the warmth and kindness of the mountains in the sunny lounge are of Paz y Luz inn.

More pictures will be forth coming but internet is still not enough to upload them all at the moment.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Quick Update - Cusco, Machu Picchu, Puno, Lake Titicaca

A quick update to let you know that we are still alive and kicking...

We´ve been pretty busy, and out of the range of the Internet, and we have a lot of pictures to upload, but just now, we don´t really have time to fill in all the details.  Our friend William arrived last Saturday, and after a couple of days in Cusco, we departed on Monday morning to begin trekking the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.  After three days of hiking through gorgeous high altitude Andean landscapes, past Inca ruins, and scaling three passes (the first of which was at almost 14,000 feet), we saw our first glimpse of Machu Picchu on the fourth day from the sun gate as the sun crested the mountains and briefly burned off the clouds.  It was an incredible sight.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

One tenth epic journey...

DSC04356After years of planning, the day has arrived. We are in Cusco. Much of this journey has been tentative and uncertain until a few weeks or months before. The beginning and end and some of the intermediate were planned out... and tickets were bought and dreams and fantasties abounded. But regardless... it never is quite as perfect as you plan in your head. And since I have only been here for a few hours, I can't say if it causes all the wild dreams to disingreate or not. I know we have a beautiful view of the mountains from our room. I know that as we sat in the backseat of our taxi we got a glimpse of how the Spaniards intruded their architecture on top of Inca ruins. Dark fell as we cleaned up and since our hostel has a cozy bar with many travelers, we were feeling it unnecessary to leave at the moment.

The altitude is not bad but it has made us lacking in motivation for now. Exploring will commence tomorrow. 5 days till we start on our trek to Machu Picchu.

On Saturday morning our good friend William will be joining us. I love Brian''s companionship but it will be good to have a third party to talk to and joke with... and who also loves good food and the outdoors.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Well worn paths

DSC04307Yesterday we did a bit of exploring outside of the cozy little town of Huanchaco to see some ruins of the Chimu culture. The site was called Chan Chan, which is thought to have been built around 850 A.D., and lasted until the Incas took over. It seems the Incas got their comeuppance when the Spanish came. But the Incas were not as destructive to the architecture. Chan Chan is remarkably well preserved and/or restored. I could get a bit of the feel of being one of the 30,000 to 60,000 citizens that lived there, attending one of the ceremonies or just going about my daily routine.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Time Warp

Moving from one country to another in a short time span has definitely caused a time warp. On Tuesday we were in Vilcabamba, Ecuador; on Wednesday- Piura, Peru; Thursday- Chiclayo, Peru; and now we are in Huanchaco, Peru. This is the most traveling we've done in a short time. This Monday we will be taking an overnight bus to Lima.

We have read that Lima is big, overwhelming, not a good introduction to Peruvian culture, but we will be checking it out for a short time anyway. And of course we have to see for ourselves.

This will have to be a short entry because it is dinner time and I can't spend all my time on the computer, people!

All kidding aside ... check out our pictures that were taken in the last couple of weeks. These pictures span the town of Cuenca - with an interesting bar with lots of macabre decor - to Parque Nacional Cajas to Loja and Vilcabamba, Ecuador, and then some of north coast Peru (Chiclayo).

Hope you enjoy, and mom---Happy Mother's Day. Don't worry ... I will call you soon. Miss you all. More to come....

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Radio Silence / Peru

A quick update for the moment - sorry for the radio silence.  We have been traveling to places where we didn't have very good (or any Internet).  Leaving Loja, we went south an hour to the town of Vilcabamba, in the so-called valley of longevity, where we spent four nights at the wonderful Rumi-Wilco eco-lodge, in a pole house (think rustic cabin on stilts) next to the river.  We did some hiking, some wandering around the town, some hanging out in hammocks, some cooking, and even went on a six hour horseback ride that entered el Parque Nacional Podocarpus.