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Lake Titicaca, Arequipa, Colca Canyon

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

So with a week left to go in my journey this entry seems very tardy, but I finally got the pictures uploaded, so why not! I am currently in Argentina (Mendoza for the moment, wine capital) but have also made it to Iguazu Falls and Buenos Aires, both of which merit pictures and both of which I will try to squeeze into the blog before I get home. But for now (if I still remember), Lake Titicaca, Arequipa, and Colca Canyon.

First, a quick picture of me feeding an alpaca on my way from Cusco to Lake Titicaca, because they are just really cute:
titi 1

Lake Titicaca is amazing, although Puno, the jumping off point from the Peruvian side, is a bit of a dump. After a sleepless night in a sketchy hotel, I boarded a small boat with about 10 other passengers to first visit the floating reed islands of the lake. Yes, these people literally live on islands made of reed; they eat reed, their houses are reed, pretty much anything you could do with a reed they have figured out:

They are also very friendly:
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They live in reed houses on the reed island:
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Me eating reed “banana”
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After passing through the reed island we headed out to the further island of Amantaní where we were going to spend the night with a local family.

Here’s the view of sunset from my family’s house:
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My family was super friendly, and although the local language is Quechua, the father and daughter also spoke Spanish, enabling us to communicate. The mother cooked me and the other girl staying there dinner over the kitchen fireplace. It was pretty good, but unfortunately led to some gastrointestinal distress which combined with the outhouse-only circumstances was none too pretty. But before I knew any of this was going to happen, they dressed me in their lovely traditional garb and took us to the nightly gringo fiesta they have:

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It was a fun night, and the local women danced with us, which was nice. I became a wallflower after a few dances however, as my traditional belt was tied a wee bit tight and the altitude on the lake is high enough to make brushing your teeth feel like a workout (although who brushes their teeth when there’s no plumbing, lets be honest).

Although the morning after I felt the brunt of my food poisoning, I was still able to appreciate the amazing sunrise (well, slept through actual sunrise, but this gives the general idea):

titi 5

That night after returning to the lake, I summoned the courage to head on to Arequipa (really didn’t want to spend another night in the dump that is Puno). The night bus was slightly scary as we got a flat and flew off to the side of the road in the middle of the night, but after about an hour of repairs we were on our way again.

Arequipa was a lovely city where many of the buildings are made of this whitish stone called sillar. It gives off a pretty glow in the light:

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The city is also home to a huge monastery that was opened to the public about twenty years ago. It was so pretty inside that I almost entertained notions of joining the order, but not quite….

Pretty nunnery (lets pretend I didn’t forget to rotate this picture appropriately):
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Arequipa is also home to Juanita, a frozen Andean corpse of a 15 year old who lived about 500 years ago and was sacrificed on top of a mountain. Her frozen body is actually on display in the museum there for about half the year, and I got there in the right half! No pictures allowed, but it was very cool (if a little creepy).

My final stop in Peru was Colca Canyon, home to many condors, who the Incas considered messengers from the Gods.

Here’s me sitting at the edge of the canyon:
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A condor stretching its gynormous wing span:
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Pretty view in early morning Colca:
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I found Peru to be on the whole more touristy than Ecuador, but the sights were truly amazing. Stay tuned for Argentina, binges on amazingly cheap food, waterfalls, etc…, if I get it together…

Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Once again I find myself lagging in the blog department, but will again blame it on the fact that uploading pictures here can sometimes be a one to two hour affair. In any case, I arrived in Lima, Peru after a 27 hour bus ride from Ecuador, and flew to Cusco the next morning (thankfully only a 50 minute flight). I survived the drastic altitude change with the help of some coca tea from my hotel (yes, cocaine leaves, but they just help with headaches).

Cusco, former capital of the Inca empire, is a beautiful city. These days there’s a lot of colonial architecture from conquistador times, but almost everything seems to have a foundation of some Inca temple or important building. Here’s the main plaza by day:


And by night:

The Cusco environs are composed of all kinds of amazing ruins in an area known as the Sacred Valley. Pisac was one of the cooler among those that I saw:

But the crown jewel of the area is of course world famous Machu Picchu, which is about 4 hours away from Cusco. After a train ride from Cusco to the town of Aguas Calientes at Machu Picchu’s base, and a harrowing 5am bus ride the next morning (two way dirt road with only one lane), I arrived at the site:



No trip to Machu Picchu is complete without an exhausting hour’s hike up to the Wayna Picchu (wanna pic-cha?) peak for the aerial view of Machu Picchu. Supposedly it is in the shape of a condor, which was considered a God by the Incas:


The real question is, what happened to all the Inca gold and treasures that the Spanish never found (not to mention that they never found Machu Picchu, some American guy did in the 20th century). My guide suggested that they were being kept safe in the jungle, by a tribe that has never seen the white man. We may never know.

Soon to come…Lake Titicaca, food poisoning, and more….

Biking, Rafting, and the Jungle

Sunday, April 29th, 2007
I arrived this afternoon in Lima, Peru, after a 27 hour bus ride from Guayaquil. But despite being filthy and cracked out, I thought it best to update the blog again, as I am still behind and want to ... [Continue reading this entry]


Monday, April 23rd, 2007
At last, my long overdue post on the Galapagos (jungle to come soon). I've been out of civilization for a while (first on a boat, then in the rainforest), and that combined with bad Ecuadorian internet service has ... [Continue reading this entry]

Cuenca, Cañari, and the Parque Nacional Cajas

Monday, April 9th, 2007
This will be my last post for about a week as tomorrow I leave for the Galapagos islands! Giant tortoises here I come. Since my last entry, I spent much of the Ecuadorian Semana Santa (essentially the week ... [Continue reading this entry]

Otavalo – Baños – Nariz del Diablo

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007
I write from the town of Cuenca where I've just arrived after a 5 hour bus ride on flooded and slightly treacherous roads. But the last few days have been full of fun (and even the occasional treacherous journey ... [Continue reading this entry]

La mitad del mundo

Thursday, March 29th, 2007
On Tuesday I took my first Spanish class with Diana, a native quitena. We walked for about fifteen minutes up the stairs at the end of the street where the hostel is (which is no easy feat at this ... [Continue reading this entry]

Quito – Day 1

Monday, March 26th, 2007
I have to be careful to write this entire entry without using an apostrophe as I have yet to figure out how to get one out of the Ecuadorian keyboard. I arrived at the Secret Garden last night and ... [Continue reading this entry]

Greetings all!

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007
Here I am saying goodbye to lovely Santa Monica. By the next time I post a picture I'll probably look a bit more haggard, but who knows, maybe the malaria pills will agree with me... Ariella  ... <a href=[Continue reading this entry]