Flying and flying and flying ... oh yea, and more flying
Missoula to Seattle - 4 hour layover - Seattle to LAX - 7 hours - LAX to Panama City 2 hours - Panama City to Lima
Missoula to Seattle - 4 hour layover - Seattle to LAX - 7 hours - LAX to Panama City 2 hours - Panama City to Lima
We arrive Lima in the afternoon after an epic 24+ hours of travel.
*Important note: For those of you traveling through Panama City...there is a Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville in the airport. I know... so important!
We breeze through customs and walk across the street to the Costa Del Sol - Ramada. After a quick fretting up, we head into the city to meet with our ladies in the local office.
*Important note: Agree on the cost of the cab before you get in the back of the cab. Duh. This is something I tell travelers everyday and I forgot. Oh well.
I was so excited to meet our ladies, to finally put faces to the Instant Messages and emails I get everyday. We drove to the coast, to the Barranco District - beautiful colonials mixed with new, modern architecture. We walked upon a school procession, children, parents, and teachers carrying colorful lanterns of animals, St. Rosa and St Francis. They were all signing and chanting. There was even a school band! We continue walking to a plaza where people are salsa dancing in front of the biblioteca! So cool!
We drove to Miraflores - nice to see some more of the city. We stopped in the neighborhood of Kennedy Plaza to eat dinner at Cafe de la Paz. We had our first Pisco Sours and some ceviche! Mega yum!
It was a quick visit, but we had to head back to the hotel. I was so sad to leave my girls!
Another early morning wake up to catch a flight to Juliaca. Cross back over the street to check in with Star Peru. Lima airport is a nice airport with shops and some resturants. The regional terminal is packed with excited faces heading off to different adventures in Peru!
Not a whole lot of English translation on the plane, didn't realize the plane had a stop over in Arequipa. I think I spied a glance at Colca Canyon. Looked like some cool geology. And then possibly the best part of the trip... we flew over a volcano! It was smoking/steaming. It was the coolest thing ever!
Land in Juliace and immediately hear the Peruvian flute music. There is a group playing as we get our bags. We met Hazel and our driver outside the tiny airport and we are off to Puno! The drive was nice, if felt like I was back in Montana, jus a lot more llamas than cattle.
Made it to our hotel, Q'elqatani, and it wasn't until we hit the 4 flights of stairs to get to our room, did we realize the altitude effecting us. We dropped our bags and passed out on the bed.
After a nap and some coca tea, we venture out to find food and check out the city. I honest like Puno, is a working class city and not super touristy. We found a nice little restaurant on a little touristy strip, just around the corner from the hotel. After some food and Peruvian beer in our bellies we head back to the hotel for an early night.
Wake early pack our stuff into our day packs, check our extra luggage into the hotel storage and eat a nice little breakfast. Our guide arrives and we head out on some TukTuks to the pier. We stop right before the pier to buy some snacks and gifts for our home stay families (FYI buy a little more than you think). We get on our boat and are off to Llachon for kayaking!
We arrive at the beach and I keep hearing a little voice repeating ''Ok, ok!'' I finally see a tiny little boy (3-4 yrs) in woolen ants, sweater, and wool hood waving at us to come to him. ''Ok, ok!'' He drags the paddles to us and starts telling us what to do in baby Spanish. We get all of the gear on (booties, waterproof shirts, life jackets, and kayak skirt) and we are OFF! It was so nice to cruise on the water and see the coast up close, it was so quiet. We stopped to look at a trout farm, paddled through reeds and chased ducks, Afterwards we were met at the docks by a little girl who lead us up to her house for lunch. It was a lovely little house, halfway up the hill overlooking the lake - we dined outside on steamed trout.
Back to the boat and on to Ticonata Island where we would stay for the night. When we arrived it was quite, no one greeted us. We wandered around the grounds, we spotted a rowboat, coming across the water - our caretakers for the night, Lucian and his wife Ana. We walked down to the cliff side to while they rowed ashore. Once they arrived they told us the island was quiet because an important community member had passed away. We were shown our cozy cabin and our guide asked if we could go fish. After a rousing bout of skipping stones, we boarded the boat and dropped some fishing nets. Lucian, told us about some caves where they found mummies. Once on shore we went mummy hunting! We found the cave, but no mummies - they have all been moved to a museum on the island. On to the museum!
We walked around the island, picking up some horrible burrs on the way, but munched on some Lima beans on the way.
We meet Lucian at the museum to see the mummies, al were females and one infant. They were preserved in straw woven bags with ceramic/ clay plates and bowls as offerings for their next life. Then we hiked to the top of the island. We circumnavigated the island! Then headed down for a yummy dinner of rice, potato, tomato, fried cheese, and soup and a game of cards.
Woke up and headed to a breakfast of fried quinoa cakes, jam, and cafe con leche. We said some quick goodbyes and headed to shore to board our sail boat. Today's goal was to make it to Amantani Island, but the outlook was grim as we had a steady, strong headwind. The men trade turns rowing - I offered - but was denied. Oh well! We got about half way there and ripped a sail, we decided to get back int our motor boat and cruise safely to the shore.
Since we are staying on the other side of the island we decide to hike up and over. We hike though town to the main square, past the school at recess, a kindergarden graduation. We have to stop often because it is so strenuous at this elevation.
We make it to the saddle after several geological discussions on the origins of Lake Titicaca. We hike to both of the two peaks - they are used for spiritual ceremonies one for Mother Earth and one for the Father.
Along the way we stop and chat with people working in the field and a man hand carving a stone basin for feeding animals. We head down to our town, past fields of golden wheat and a football stadium to our home for the night with Adrian and Rufina.
Once we arrive, we sit down to another lovely lunch and lovely view of the lake. We munch on fried king fish, tomatoes, 4 different kinds of potatoes and a yam that tastes like a carrot, potato combo while planning our afternoon.
We decide to head down to the shore and soak our tired feet.
I went up to my knees to cool my aching joints. We talked about folk stories, there one-eyed people before the Incas who upset the Sun god so he covered them up with water - Lake Titicaca and then brought about Manco - Inca #1.
Back to the house for volleyball with our family First off, I can't stand volleyball, but this was the most fun I had the whole trip. Seriously. No one spoke the same language, but we just laughed and laughed. Music and sports, the great unifier.
After a great dinner we headed to town for a traditional dance, Peruvian music and beer!
We said our goodbyes to our Amantani family, and headed back to Puno. We made a stop at the Uros floating islands - super cool! It feels like walking on a water bed. They make their islands, houses, boats, handicrafts out of Tatora reed - they even eat it! We tried some it was pretty good, really neat texture. the showed us how the island are constructed using peat moss and layers of the reeds. We checked out the trout pond and the crazy birds they raise. They raise Flamingos! They said they eat them when a family is pregnant to help the baby grow.
We left our Uros friends and headed back to Puno. We said our goodbyes to our guide, showered and had a great dinner in the hotel restaurant.
Today is mostly a travel day - we boarded a comfy bus to head to Cusco. It was great to see more of Peru and see the change in geography. We made a couple of sight seeing stops along the way.
We arrived Cusco late, briefly ran around the Plaza de Armas, picked up dinner and hit the hay!
Today is a day for Cusco. What a gorgeous city!
We met up with our guide, Juan Barrios, and the rest of our group and headed out on the town.
Slowly but surely we headed up the hill to sacsayhuaman, some ruins overlooking Cusco. Massive stone, massive walls, but they are seamless. It is an unfinished ruin and what it was meant for is really unknown. Fort? Weigh station along the inca trail? Alien landing zone?
We wander the hills above Cusco, and just getting a taste for Inca ruins. I just wanted a taste of some Cuy (guinea pig), on our way back to town we stopped for lunch and I had to do it. I know my childhood pet is rolling in his little grave, I had to try Cuy. I must say, its not bad, the presentation is better than the taste. A bit greasy and yes, tastes like chicken.
Back at the Plaza de Armas we visited Koricancha and a gorgeous cathedral with some wonderful religious art. It was very interesting to see the difference in style from European religious art. Later in the evening we when to the cultural center to watch some dancers showing the difference in Peruvian dances. We ended the day in great American fashion... beer and pizza (surprisingly good for Peru)!
We had an earlier morning start and headed out to the river for a day of rafting. We lucked out with a sunny day, still not warm enough to swim, but not chilly.
After we geared up and had a paddle lesson, we were off! It was nothing crazy, but had some fun rapids to play in, it was nice to be able to sit and take in the scenery we were float in by. At the end of the trip, we had a nice lunch waiting for us, with amazing Alfajores for dessert! Yum!
On our way back to Cusco we stopped at a bar that specializes in Chica, a drink made from fermented corn. It is surprisingly good!
Today we headed to Chinchero for mountain biking to our first campsite. Before we hopped on the bikes we stopped to visit some women who specialize in the fiber arts. They showed us their work and how they spin the wool and dye it. Gorgeous yarn and wanted to take it all home! The also has a whole herd of guinea pigs.
It was then to our trusty bikes for a lovely ride around Lake Piuray. We rode through towns and by farmers who would glance up and wave. Small children would peek through fences and chase after us laughing the whole way. Coming down a hill we came upon a festival for people who just bought their home, it was a whole community affair!
We made it to our campsite on Don Francisco Sallo's property in the town of Kuper Alto. After we settled ourselves in our tents, we went for a hike around the town and then back to camp for dinner.
We woke up to frosted tents, filled our bellies with instant coffee and quinoa pancakes, then started out on our hike to the Queua Sundur Valley. We headed up the valley through town passing children on their way to school. They practiced their English and giggled, while we tried out Spanish and they giggled. A little further we got caught up in Kuper Alto's morning rush hour. We broke from town and headed up in earnest, all the way up to 14,400 feet. After some amazing views of the Peruvian Andes, we headed down tour campsite at the ruins of Huchuy Qosqo. They were all purse for the night. We had a wonderful dinner and some wine, told some great stories.
This morning started with a tour of the Huchuy Qosqo ruins, they are still in the excavation stage, it was pretty cool to see that process. We then began our decent into the Urubamba Valley, to La May for lunch. It was a switch back slog down, but the views were great and there were tons of flowers to check out along the way. We arrived La May as a a group and lunch was waiting for us.
After lunch we loaded up in the van and headed to Ollantaytambo to take the train to Machu Picchu!
the Vistadome train was very nice, domed roof so you can see the peaks above you. You can see the change in geography, to more of a jungle ecosystem.
Since this was technicaly our honeymoon, we chose to upgrade to Machu Picchu Pueblo, what a brilliant idea I had. What gorgeous grounds! After dinner we wandered around the town of Aguas Calientes and caught a football match.
From our hotel we went to the main square where the buses to Machu Picchu lined up to shuttle travelers up to the ruins. We hopped on a bus and it filled up quickly and was off! Swtich backs up and up to the ruins.
What can you really say about the ruins? They are amazing, perched up on the side of a mountain. We have a perfect blue bird day. We toured the ruins and learn so much about the people that lived here and have questions about how and why they disappeared.
I became obsessed with the Temple of the Sun, and couldn't stop taking photos of it and looking for it from all the different points in the ruins.
We decided to hike up to Montana Machu Picchu, the higher peak above the ruins (opposite from Huayna Picchu). So we walked up and up and up, stepped up steps, huffed and puffed until we were perched above the ruins with a bird's eye view of the ruins. It gave some amazing views of the mountains and surrounding valleys.
By late afternoon, it was time to say goodbye to Machu Picchu, we headed to the train station, hit up the market for some last minute souvenirs.
Back in Cusco we had our last Peruvian dinner, soaked up the evening in the Plaza de Armas.
All those flights down, we had all of them on the way back, but way worse because you aren't going some place fun. Just home. But the flights were an eventful, just the way I like them.