Peru Update: (Please note I am trying to create this webpage from Peru and everything is in spanish so my web skills are worse than normal. When I get back to the states I will try to clean this up.)
On Nov. 1st after a lunch at WanFu my parents dropped me at the airport where I was able to catch an earlier flight to Houston that was leaving 40 min before my flight. The flight to Lima was uneventfull and after changing some money I found my ride to Hostal San Martin in downtown Lima on a beautiful square of the same name. Went for a walk around while waiting for Martin and Judith to arrive around 2:30 am. Spent two days in Lima before flying to Cuzco on the 4th. First impression is lots of chicken places and shoe stores.
The first day we walked around seeing churches, museums, public squares, etc... In general Lima seems quieter and less crowded than Mexico city, perhaps cleaner as well. For dinner we went to the Miliflores area where we listened to a band playing peruvian music in the park and then had a mixed grill of meats on a small charcoal brazer. The steak and chicken was very good, the intestines and blood sausage was not. Extra points to the brazilian place next door with a hostess in green and yellow leather. :) On the third we took a taxi out 31km to the ruins of Panamaca. Got a chance to see the barrio areas on the outskirts of Lima. Spent a couple o hours walking around the ruins. Mostly large hills with walls of adobe sticking out in square patterns. Came back for dinner at a very touristy spot along the coast also in Miliflores. Of interest is that lunch specials run between 4pm and 7pm. Restaurants are just beginning dinner at 9 and for some dinner doesn't start until after midnight. It has been clouded in every day (Lima supposedly sees the sun Jan - March), it has also been quite chilly. I think all the hot weather clothes may be wasted.
Left for Cuzco early in the morning, flight took about one hour. Cuzco is a very pretty town with flagstone streets. Plaza de Armes has two large churches and is surrounded by shops. We got rooms in the Hostal Ninos I. In 1996 a girl from the neatherlands came to Cuzco to visit and loved it so much that 6 months later she returned without a return ticket. She started adopting homeless boys from the street and when her boyfriend joined her a year later they had 12 adopted children. They continued taking in strays and when they could no longer support them on their own they opened Hostal Ninos I in 1998 and later Hostal Ninos II in 2000. Both of which cater to european travellers and the income from which now supports over 250 boys and girls, giving them a bed, and food, and help with school work.
The afternoon after arriving we went to book a hike up the Inca trail which because of new registration requirements we could not get for wednesday. We now have a quicker 3 day hike starting thursday instead of the traditional 4 day. On the up side we have our own quide for the three of us, we will just have to walk farther each day. Tuesday we took a local bus to Pisac and hiked up the 5km to the ruins there and then did some shopping in the street market. Saw some other ruins on the way back. Martin who has been feeling quite bad went to bed early while Judith and I went to dinner and to walk around town. Several large groups of muscians and dancers were performing in the central square. Today we have a hike up to a nearby ruin planned, the sun has finally come out and it has warmed up some. Tommorrow we start out at 4:30am so we will probably have a late lunch and call it dinner, so we get to bed early.
Peru update: Part 2
Well the climb up to the ruins was good and we watched the sun set from above the town. Back down in town we had dinner early and went to bed. As I may have mentioned last time both Martin and I have been feeling sick. I also went to buy a fake Alpacka wool sweater and a rain poncho for use on the trail. Thursday morning we got up at 4am, the pickup was half and hour late and it wasnīt until 5:30 that we left the plaza de Armes by bus to go upto mile marker 82. The bus ride took about 3 hours along some pretty bad dirt roads finally letting us off near a bridge crossing the river. Our guide wasnīt there yet, so the company after waiting an hour or so put us with a 4 day group they had heading up. The walking the first day is fairly easy, with no really steep climbs. You pass several ruins and after about 6 hours of hiking camp at about 3000meters. Our guide did arrive at lunch, but there was no seperate cook, and the permits had been messed up so we couldnīt go on further and camped with the normal group. This made for an easy start and I went to bed at 7:30 that night without waiting for dinner. I was still feeling sick and had no appetite. All I had to eat was half a banana at breakfast and a bowl of soup at lunch. This didnīt make tomorrow any easier. It gets light here around 5:30 and is dark by 6:30. The next morning we got up at 5 and after breakfast of yogurt with fruit and porridge we were on the trail by 6 before any of the others had stirred from their tents.
The second day was a killer, climbing for 4 hours up to 4100meters. The top of the pass was cold and windy as we paused for a rest. Then a steep drop for an hour to where we had lunch and the normal group stops for the day. After lunch it was a 300m climb to a second pass and then down again. We dropped past some pretty mountain lakes and into the cloud forest which streaches from this valley on to the jungles of brazil. This would normally be in day 3 and I thought was the most senic part of the trail.. The third pass you have on the trail leads along a crest between two major mountain ranges with a stunning view on each side as the sun was setting. Then began a long downgrade for two hours which really slowed Judith who was having problems with her knees. Martin and I were feeling better by now and bounded down recklessly. Night fell with us still on the trail a steep switchback going down through the jungle. A final half hour by headlamp got us to camp where a large cam pground with a restaurant and bar has been setup for the trekkers.
Day three you start again at 4, to make the gate overlooking Machu Pichu by sunrise. It was raining off and on just hard enough to get you wet without raingear and to drench you with sweat if you wore your coat and poncho, so the three of us alternated taking the gear off and on for the first hour of so before giving up to getting a little wet. Sunrise was a disappointment shrouded in clouds, but further down the ruins took on a ghostly appearance as they appeared and disappeared in the clouds and fog. On the final overlook of the trail before heading to the entrance we waited and were rewarded a bit later as the clouds opened for a good look at the ruins below.
The ruins of Machu Pichu truely are impressive and their dramatic setting on top of a ridge line above the valley below is much better than ruins like Angor Wat and Tikal, althought total size may be smaller. It is divided into a agricultural side and a holy side where the temples and nobles houses were. The peak of the holy side is a temple with a large stone altar cut from rock disappearing into the ground which is supposed to extent all the way down into the pyrimid formed by the mountain and channel the energy upward. The rock is roped off, but after the guide finished the tour and left I went back and touched the rock with my right hand briefly. With other groups coming up I had no time to meditate and felt nothing at the time, but 10 minutes later my right hand started tingling and continued to for the next several hours.
We spent the night in the nearby town of Aguas Caliente where I was able to get a shower and clean my clothes. The hot springs the town is named for were a short walk away. They could stand to be a little hotter, I guess only 100F or so, but with the cool night breeze and a distant lightning show they were a nice end to the trip. It was up again early to catch the 6 oclock train which took us back to another town with some ruins. Martin and Judith stayed to go explore them while I got a taxi to take me back to Cusco through the sacred valley. After meeting back for dinner we got to bed around midnight for another early start to the airport to Arequipa.
The flight was uneventful and Arequipa is more of a dry desert area with the volcano Misti and the mountain Chuchanti on the skyline. We took a room in the hostel Ļ"La casa de abuela" a really nice place with gardins, pools, and flowers everywhere. I recogmend it to anyone visiting Arequipa although it is a little on the expensive side at 35$ for a triple. We signed up for a two day hike down into Colca canyon and back that of course left at 1:30 in the morning. After a taxi to the bus station we tried to sleep on the 5 hour bus ride which took us up over a pass at 4850 meters. Trying to doze I kept waking up gasping for air and chilly. On the way back I was able to see the barren landscape laying like a large plain between mountains. After breakfast at our guides place we started hiking down into what they say is the second deepest canyon in the world, although not as large as the grand canyon. By lunch we where down at the river. The afternoon was spent hiking along the bottom and shortly before dark we reached our campground at the paradise campsite. I later learned this is most often a two day hike, but again we were on a tight schedule. We had hiked from 3300m down to 1800 so the air was much thicker and I slept like the dead all night despite the temperature until the guide woke us at 4 for the hike back up. It was 1500m up, but the trail was good so we made it in little over 2 hours. Then a breakfast and a bus to the Condor cross, which is a outcropping along the canyon rim people gather to watch for the condors thay soar there. I was lucky enough to see 7 the hour we were there with a group of four circling right overhead just before our bus came to take us back to Arequipa.
One last night in town as we ate diner on a balcony overlooking the main square as a large political rally took place. Martin and Judith had to get up for a 6 oclock ride to the airport, but finally I got a chance to sleep in until 11. Spent the day getting some clothes cleaned and reading a book by the pool. Also struggled with a spanish version microsoft to update my website with new links and this report. Tomorrow I have a bus to somewhere called Tecna where I hope to be able to cross the border into Chile. From Arica I am headed toward San Pedro from which I should be able to take a 4 wheel drive jeep on a 3 day journey across some highland salt flats to Uyuli Bolivia. But this is a story for another day.
Now that my translators have left I got to start trying out my spanish as I took a bus down to Tacna, there I arranged a ride over to Arica, Chile. Had to wait while the driver found some more people to cram in the car and it was dark as we finally left. The guards at the border repeatedly asked if I had any coca, but let me through without trouble. On to the Chile report.
Peru Update: Part 3.
Well I didnt get to this until Singapore in march 03, so details will suffer and I will never remember how this trip ended, but to put a cap on it. Arriving back in Arequipa from Bolivia I got a room at a nice hotel far from the center of town so I had a half hour walk through a rough part of town to reach the center area. Of course despite the warnings of locals about the area I never actually had any threat even walking at night. L Because there was no where to eat nearby I called for Chinese delievery ordered in my limited Spanish, wound up with some lemon chicken with rice which was quite good. Went for a climb of Chachani, where they drove us up by 4x4 to 4800m, we then hiked to 5200m before setting tents for the evening. Did not have enough warm clothes and spent the night freezing in my bag unable to get any sleep. Another couple were in my tent and both suffering from the altitude, the wife started throwing up around 7pm and had dry heaves every 20 minutes all night. Yeah! When 1 am came around I was feeling sick at my stomack as well, possibly still sick from Bolivia, I was also very cold and the wind outside was blowing hard. For the first time I decided to bail on finishing the climb, I had everything I brought on already and was shivering inside the sleeping bag and just didnt have enough interest in getting to the top 6075m. In the end only one of the 6 of us climbed to the top and only one other even left base camp. I have no doubt I could have made it, but fear I am losing some of my drive to endure suffering just to see the tops of mountains. Back in Ariquipa I met up with the couple I met on the way to San Pedro de Atacama, had dinner and drinks at a cool little bar down in the town center. The last day had to wait until evening for the bus down to Nazca, sat around on a park bench most of the day watching people pass. Did a little internet and watched some street band play. Had a lot of life insights, while sitting around with nothing to do, but like most such insights they have faded with time and I no longer remember what I decided to do. J
To make this quick, Nazca was ok, but nothing to plan a trip around. The mummies were better than the lines which make Nazca famous. There are some pictures on the website of the lines, and unlike most outdoor photos which never bring the real thing to life, these pictures look about the same as the reality. Went on that afternoon to spend the night in Ica, before heading back to Lima for a final night before catching a standby flight home on the 1st or 2nd.