Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Hey guys - just a quick note to say that I´m in a little town called Cabanaconde for the next week or so. They don´t have internet so I came into the next town (2 1/2 hours on bus) to pull some money and buy a couple of things and put a note here to not expect me for the next week or so. I´m working at a hostal restaurant and bar in exchange for free room and board and exploring the area around Colca Canyon. I will write and post pictures when I get to Aerequipa and the internet can handle uploading photos. I have to run because if I miss this bus outta here I will have to wait five hours and probaby stand the entire way. Love you!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

titikaka. titikaka. titikaka. stars. lake. stars.

wow. So here I am in Aerequipa after leaving Puno this morning. Lake Titikaka (how it{s actually spelled, who knew?) was really just amazing. I ended up taking an organized tour which turned out great. First we went to the man made floating islands which have been happening for the last 500 years or so. It is very touristy, but also very cool. I have become one with being a tourist. I struggled with it before spending so long in Ollantaytambo. Nobody wants to be a tourist, you know? So you think you should be looking for some other way to do the same thing everyone is doing and everyone is looking for some other way to do. Silly! Sometimes just being a plain old tourist is just fine. So I looked at their islands and asked the same questions everyone must ask and had a grand ol time with it. Part of the thing about responsible tourism is the reality that they are a sideshow and you are there to look at them and that is is reasonable to make it worth it to them. So you pay the 10 soles to ride the reed boat from one island to another even if you don{t really care about it because it{s a way to put money into their pockets. I don{t have room in my pack for souveniers so I had to do other things like ride the boat.

After Urus (the floating islands) we spent about three hours on the boat and arrived at a small island called Amanati where there are no restaurants and no hostels or hotels so you stay with a local family and eat what they feed you. I ended up with a girl from Australia who was super nice and we had a great time together. We got really lucky with our family and from talking to the others in the group ours was hands down the best. I got to practice my handful of Quechua phrases which they loved and it was good to be able to speak Spanish - I think it helped with having a better experience. I took a couple kilos of tangerines for the family from the mainland and had toys to give to the kids which was great. I was glad I had read this tip as they don{t get any fruit on the island and it was certainly viewed as a treat. After lunch we climbed up to the temples Pacha Tata (father earth) and Pacha Mama (mother earth). Big good long hike at tremendous altitude. Sure am glad I{ve been walking in the Andes or I never would have made it. I spent the sunset at the Pacha Mama temple and it was incredible. I had one of those moments of feeling surreal because I was actually there. Not reading about it on the internet or a guide book, actually there. The lake itself is huge - I had no idea it was so big - and very blue and just beautiful. They say that there is a line of energy that runs from the island of the sun on the Bolivia side to Lake Shasta. Sure. But either way, beautiful. Probably the most amazing part was to be on an island in the middle of a huge lake with no electricity and so no light pollution and to be that high up to see the starts. No moon in the sky was a lucky coincidence. There was also an electrical storm which creates lightening with no thunder and no storm which is very common here - happened lots in Ollantay - so we got to see that and a pile of shooting stars and the milky way and that was on top of the normal stars that were spectacular themselves.

The next day we left at 7am and went to an island called Taquiles which is also very pretty and the island that tourists go to when they just take a day trip out onto the lake. It wasn{t anything super special, but beautiful, cause it can{t help but be in that setting.

Back to Puno in the afternoon and I was thrilled to stay in a hotel with my own room and my own bathroom with hot water and water pressure. Wow. I almost cried I was so happy about how that felt. Of course the hot water ran out in the middle of washing my hair but I didn{t even mind cause the beginning was sooooo good. Also cable TV. Laying in bed watching bad TV. I have to say that I loved loved loved it. yay for that.

Up early this morning to catch a bus for Aerequipa and I happened to get the seat on the second floor right in the front which is pretty entertaining. On the one hand, you get the best view, on the other hand you know exactly what your driver is doing when he is passing a truck full of gas going uphill on a blind corner. oh jeez. Beautiful drive and now I{m checked into a hostel where I am back to sharing a dorm room and shared bathrooms which is fine. Just nice to have a treat once in a while. I think I will spend tomorrow exploring Aerequipa and then head out on some tours - of Colca Canyon and Torre Muerto and whatever else looks good.

Hope you all are well,

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lake Titicaca!!!

I caught the bus out of Cusco this morning for Puno which is the port town next to Lake Titicaca. And they weren´t kidding, it is COLD here! The summit of mt hood is 10,200 some feet and Titicaca is at 12,600 some feet. freek. cold! I am heading out tomorrow to do a tour of the man made reed islands and some of the natural islands in the lake. This includes an overnight with a family on one of the islands and I can only hope hope hope I luck out and they have good blankets!
I can´t wait to see it all and write up the stories and post some photos.
love you,

Sunday, August 16, 2009

trekking is great!

On Friday Guillermo, Amy and some more friends, Diego and Sarah and I went on a walk. Or a hike. Or a only crazy people climb the Andes adventure. We climbed and climbed and climbed and it was amazing. Spectacular views more than anything. We climbed to a place called the Canteras which is the quarry where the Inca found the huge stones that they worked with to make the ruins in Ollantaytambo. We passed the Mirador where we went camping on the solstice early in the morning and at that point we were about a third of the way to the Canteras. Big walk up hill. This is Guillermo carrying the heaviest backpack I could make just to keep him slowed down a little so the rest of us had a prayer of keeping up. We didn´t anyway. He was born up in those hills and used to walk way further than we did Friday every single day just to go to school, there is no slowing him down.

Diego´s knee in the Andes while we were resting and having some fruit for a snack.

warning - next photo is of a mummy skeleton.

See? There are still some tombs out in the rocks that the local folks know about but haven´t been discovered by the people who make museums and Guillermo was good enough to take us up to one of them. I would still never be able to figure out where it was again. It was amazing to see this ¨in the wild¨ as it were - I´ve seen them in museums but this was just something else. You can see where someone has put up some chicken wire to keep animals from wandering in.

This is the glacier behind Ollantaytamba called Veronica. We were so close to her . Well, what felt a whole lot closer than the valley floor. Of course I have a gaggle of scenery shots and will try to get updated on my photos tomorrow in Cusco.

And here is a typical scene from the bar. Yes, tio Julio is probably checking out my boobs. He´s like that. But he´s also a great guy. This is from last night (Saturday) which was probably my last night in the bars here. I have a date with Andres tonight and I leave tomorrow. It´s hard to believe that so much time has gone by and that my time here in Ollantay has come to an end. I am excited to get on my way and I will dearly miss some folks here. Bittersweet.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

hanging out with amy

yep, the andes are still beautiful. we took a bus ride to Quillabamba, which is in the high jungle and this was a pic from one of the hundred of amazing passes we crossed.

And while we were on the bus some lady took the all time smelliest shit on earth and left the door open and the whole bus was covering their mouths and noses and yelling to stop so we could get off and they should clean the toilet. poor lady. poorer us.

This was a really beautiful waterfall into lots of pools in a rock about forty minutes outside of Quillabamba. We hitched a ride in the back of a truck heading there. It went super fast over the gravel roads and our buts came out a little bruised, but super worth it.

you could climb a ladder up the rock to the top of the falls and some spectacular views. if you notice the orientation of the trees, this part wasn´t steep. But that´s only cause I couldn´t get a picture of the part that was steep and scary so this is a reenactment for TV.

I have probably posted a bunch of these by now, but i continue to be amazed by the Incan stonework. They apparently would pour hot bronze into the cracks and as it cooled it would pull the rocks together. or something. none of it makes any sense, but however it was done, it is incredible.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

more new photos

I found photos on my camera from when Mel was here and have posted them. Now I pick up Amy today and I´m sure we´ll take lots more pics. Love you all,