TUESDAY, 1.19.2016...We woke to a blustery morning, cold with a little snow. Plane was scheduled to depart at 9:27 a.m. to Denver. However, we got a late start because they needed to de-ice the plane. We make up some time in air, and arrived in Denver on time and make our connection to Houston. We depart Houston for Lima at 4:30 p.m., last leg of our flight – yeah! We arrived in Lima at 11:30 p.m. Peru time. We easily found our hotel, Costal Del Sol. Checked in and get some much needed rest.
WEDNESDAY, 1.20.2016…We woke and flew to Juliaca this morning. Our guide, Abad and driver met us at the airport and transferred us to Puno. We checked into our hotel and rested for a while. We are feeling the altitude! Later we strolled around the City Park and Plaza. Visited some beautiful old churches...built in the 1600th century. We are so glad that Adventure Life scheduled us to stay here and not near the Lake as we had thought we would like. There was much to see and do at this location. Both Mark and I woke at 1:00 a.m. with a slight headache, took Advil and continued to get a good night’s sleep.
THURSDAY, 1.21.2016…We are scheduled to visit the floating islands of the Uros people, Lake Titicaca and Taquile Island today. Mark wakes feeling pretty rough. Altitude sickness—we think. Our guide, Abad suggest he takes some oxygen before we leave. He gets to feel some better. The reed islands were impressive. Unbelievable how these people have made their life on these islands made of reeds. They are very welcoming and proud to show us their way of life—trying to keep their family heritage alive. We enjoyed a ride in a reed boat, and paid a little girl to use a portable toilet. Mark stepped in while I watched the door and a cute little girl says to me, “Bano 1 sol", we chuckled and gave her a sol.
Our boat then takes us to Taquile Island. A 1 hour 15minute ride. The ride was rough, to say the least. Water was very choppy, huge waves. This was not helping Mark's sickness. By the time we get to the island, Mark is not feeling well at all, and stays behind while Abad gives me the tour. The scenery is beautiful. I took lots of pictures of the terraces, lake and people who live there. We had a nice lunch at a local restaurant, where we could view Bolivia’s mountain tops from across the Lake – it was a beautiful clear day. Abad tells me that about 2,000 people live here and that there are 30 family restaurants on the island. It’s a beautiful island with many unique arch ways into each small community. Abad stops to talk to a small boy struggling with his knitting skills (The men on this island do all the handiwork) he helps him get started again, and gives him a coin. Instructing him to spend it wisely. We descend the island by the 500 steps on the opposite side. Abad goes slow for me. We met Mark at the dock. He is munching on chips and seems to be feeling better.
When we got back to the hotel we say goodbye to Abad. Before Abad leaves us, he suggest Mark take more oxygen, and that we eat at Mojsa, wanting Mark to get something nourishing to eat.
We go out to get a pastry and come back to the hotel to rest before dinner. We ate at the restaurant Abad recommend...Mojsa. Mark was still not feeling the best and was unable to eat. We ask for the check so we could go. Staff was very accommodating. An English speaking hostess there was very helpful. She told us about a medical clinic just blocks away. That they catered to tourist. She gave us a little map and offered to call a taxi for us. Mark sees the doctor and gets a shot and pills for altitude sickness. He is feeling better before we go to bed.
FRIDAY, 1.22.2016…Mark wakes feeling a 100% better, yeah! Our driver picked us up at 6:30 to go to bus terminal. Today we spend 10 hours on the road from Puno to Cusco. A very nice ride through the countryside, with several interesting stops along the way. The guide on the bus was very informative, and the bus had a hostess who served us all the drinks we could want along the way. The last stop, the Sistine Chapel. This church was amazing! We couldn't take pictures but were given a CD as a souvenir. Our new guide, Vidal, and driver Henry met us at the bus terminal and took us to the hotel. We get checked in and rest a bit before we go out to eat. Mark continues to feel good...Praise the Lord!
SATURDAY, 1.23.2016… We meet our travel companions, Peter and Andrea at breakfast. Vidal and Henry pick us up at 8:00 a.m. We find out that Peter is a physician. Mark tells Peter, “I sure could have used you last night." Peter's response… "I could have used myself." Vidal takes us to visit a local Peruvian community. The women there show us how they wash, dye and spin the wool. And weave. They were very hospitable, and spoke pretty good English. We all purchased a few of their beautiful handiworks, and had our picture taken in some of their colorful garments. We also saw the cute quinea pigs they raise for eating. This was a wonderful stop. Later we visited the Inca agriculture terraces of Moray and the pre-Columbian salt mines. We continued on to Ollantaytambo and checked into our hotel. We have time to explore the small community before we relax for the night. It was another beautiful day.
SUNDAY, 1.24.2016…We start our day visiting the ruins of Ollantaytambo. Then we boarded the train to Aguas Calientes. Once again we have beautiful day. The views are amazing! Once in Aguas Calientes we dropped off our luggage at the hotel and headed to the bus terminal to ride up to Machu Picchu. The ride up is not nearly as frightening as I had thought it would be. Twenty minutes and we were there. MP is unbelievable! The site is amazing and the views of the mountains are just incredible. Vidal does a great job of showing us around and we get lots of great pictures. At the end of the day, we say goodbye to Vidal for now. Later, we enjoyed pisco sours and a nice dinner with Peter and Andrea at our hotel.
MONDAY, 1.25.2016… today Mark and I took an early morning bird watching tour. Of all things we spot a bear across the Urubamba River. The guide says this is only the second time he has seen a bear on a tour. Peter and Andrea joined us later for a tour of the hotels orchid garden. After the tour our guide offers us ice tea which we enjoyed on the patio. After some shopping and dinner we boarded the train for are return trip to Ollantaytambo. It clouds up and rains a little – first rain since we have been here. Herbert (Erber), our new guide and Henry meet us at the hotel where we picked up are luggage and drove back to Cusco. Vidal meets us at the hotel and we make plans for the next couple days. We go out for a Peruvian dinner with Peter and Andrea.
TUESDAY, 1.26.2016… Herbert and our driver, Henry picked us up at 8:00 a.m. for our visit to Sacsayhuaman. These ruins are incredible—Mark and I think they are just as amazing as MP. We also had the opportunity to visit the city market, which is often a highlight of our travels. The market here does not disappoint. Mark and Andrea enjoyed watermelon smoothies, and Herbert purchased a large loaf of round flat bread, which he said is meant to be shared; which he does with all of us. Mark and I visited the Chapel at the Plaza, and rest a bit before joining Peter and Andrea for a Peruvian show that evening. Afterward, we say good bye to Peter and Andrea.
WEDNESDAY, 1.27.2016…A free day for us! After sleeping in, we headed out to explore Cusco on our own. We went through the Monastery near our hotel, and then made our way to the San Blas neighborhood. Admired the art in the little shops along the way. Went through the church there and admired the beautiful craftsmanship of the altar. Mark took my picture with a Peruvian lady and her lama – they are anxious to pose with you for a tip. We found the little market and enjoyed a cool melon smoothie. We stumbled upon a little restaurant called Waykiss. It was a very nice, quiet place to have lunch with very good food. Later, we went through the Inka Museum. And enjoyed the rest of the afternoon walking around the Plaza. Enjoyed some ice cream, and called it a day.
THURSDAY, 1.28.2016… We head home today :( We crossed the street from our hotel and visited the textile center this morning. We do some shopping for the grandkids. And went through the history museum, and enjoyed another ice cream treat at the park. After a late dinner we relaxed at the hotel and waited for Henry to pick us up at 4:00. On the way to the airport it began to rain...a farewell rain. Thunder storms increased as we waited, and our flight was delayed. We have a 5 hour layover in Lima. So right now just hoping the thunderstorms pass. They do and we make our connection in Lima easily. On our way home….
Many thanks to Adventure Life for making our trip and incredible adventure. All our guides and drivers were waiting for us at each location. They were very knowledgeable and friendly, and went out of their way to make our trip successful. The guides shared the history of Peru with pride. Our drivers were friendly and we always felt like we were in good hands. And the weather was beautiful every day!
There were many details to be arranged to make our trip go smoothly. Adventure Life made it happen. Their suggestions as to where to stay, and how to travel were right on! Special thanks to Mary, Kate, Abad, Vidal, Herbert and the friendly people of Peru.