BootsnAll Travel Network

Adios Peru!

December 7th, 2005

I’m pretty sure I now hold the honor of being the first person to ever have listened to Archer Prewitt on Lake Titicaca. That was how I intended to start out my next blog entry, when I still owned my iPod. Instead it starts out like this…

What do you do for a family who takes you in to their home in a strange country when you’ve been robbed of (almost) everything you own? By everything I mean money, passport, credit cards, even your sunglasses. I’m really asking because this is what happened to me 30 minutes after I arrived in Lima. Comments are VERY welcome on this subject.

Maybe I was asking for it the way I named my blog.

I met my airport pickup at baggage claim. I asked him for the name of the hotel he represented, checked his ID to make sure he wasn’t some random person and got in the cab. We were riding along talking about Fujimori and how Lima is actually a safe city. Then, stopped at a red light, a man approached my window and tapped. He broke the window out with his fist and grabbed my backpack out of my lap. I was actually holding it – it wasn’t on the seat beside me or anything. I tried to hold on, but its hard when you’re covered in glass and don’t want to cut your arms to shreads. TRAVLERS BEWARE. This is apparently not uncommon. When I went to the embassy the next day and told them I was robbed leaving the airport, they immediately guessed what happened. Put your bags under the seat or under your feet and sit in the front next to the driver. If I would have had this information, I would have just arrived home from Rio and would have had an excellent tan. Instead, I came home early and ate a Milky Way for dinner because I couldn’t afford a real meal.

I’ve been poor before. The middle class American version of poor, which means I lived off Ramen noodles and tortillas with butter. Its a whole different poor to live off someone’s charity and not even own a toothbrush. Sadly, its an even worse poor that causes crimes like this to happen. I can’t imagine being in a place in life where causing another person that much grief is justified by my own circumstances. I’m not saying I’m not REALLY angry. I’ve been looking for a mercinary to go take care of that guy :). I’m also a little mad at the cab driver because he didn’t do anything. I know he felt bad though, you could see it.

I do know that if Ursula, Stephanie, Sophia, Johnathan, Roberta or Miguel ever need a kidney then I have a spare. If it weren’t for those people, I would have been camped out outside of the embassy waiting for them to open the next day. I was left with only 11 soles. I stayed in their home, they fed me, they provided me with an escort to run my errands (embassy, re-issue travlers checks, change plane ticket, etc.), provided an armed guard back to the airport (the husband was packing), took me on a tour of the city, and even gave me $20.00 to make it back to the States on. And they wont let me repay them. The only thing I can think of to give them are St. Christophers (the patron saint of travelers). They were my saints while I was there. I will never forget what they taught me.

I regret not being able to continue my trip. But it was just stuff, and I probably learned more about human kindness in 3 days than I ever would have in the rest of my life.

I thought for about an hour that I was finished with traveling, especially by myself. But if I did that, that would mean the bad guy wins. I’m not a stupid girl, I’m really pretty cautious. It was just lack of information. I hope this prevents someone else from dealing with the same thing. I don’t want to discourage anyone from visiting Lima. It really did seem like an amazing city. Just do your homework first.

Anyway, this is my last entry. Happy Travels to all! Next year I’m off to Australia where I probably wont look like such a tourist. That should help.



November 30th, 2005

I must have pissed the Inca off somehow, because after my last entry I got REALLY sick. According to my Lonely Planet guide, I think I had Cholera. Not really, but I am taking antibiotics and missed a whole day of tourist stuff because I was in bed. My hotel was great – they took me to the pharmacy and let me stay until I went to the airport (about 5 hours after checkout time).

If crucifixes on the side of the road mean the same thing in Peru as they do in America, there are a lot of ghosts walking the highway between Juliaca and Puno. I got here night before last and watched silly crime dramas on the english speaking chanel because I still thought I was dying. I found out I wouldnt be able to spend the night on an island because my flight leaves too early for me to get back. I thought it was funny that the road was a toll road. One official toll when you enter the highway, and a second not so kosher toll once you get to Puno. They have to make their money somehow.

Yesterday I went to Uros (the floating islands) and Taquille (another island in Lake Titicaca). It was well worth the whole $12 for the full day trip. I found out an outsider can visit Taquille, but cant buy a house or open a business on the island. I guess thats how theyve preserved their culture (besided the kids begging for “un sole” for a picture). The Uros are really amazing. Im afraid theyre ruined because of the tourism industry, but Im really glad I got to go. Both nights here I ate in a place recommended by the hotel. Im not going to take any more chances with the comida.

I noticed when I went white water rafting that the people in the small villages were dressed in traditional clothing. Ive seen the pictures, but thought it was just for tourists benefit. Its actually real. People were leading their donkeys and herding their sheep, which was amazing.

Today I was supposed to go to some ruins between here and Juliaca but there is some kind of government protest going on so I couldnt. I am going to be able to get back to the airport, but we have to take the long way. Im not sure what were avoiding, but Im glad my hotel arranged the transfer for me. I went on a short city tour and finally did some shopping. I know some people live to haggle with vendors in the markets, but thats not really my thing. I have got some cool stuff, though. Right now Im avoiding the square, because I think there is some kind of protest going on.

Im sure youre all suprised to hear the internet access is a bit sketchy in the Andes :). This is taking forever! I leave for Lima in about 30 min. so Ill catch up later.


Mas Cuzco

November 27th, 2005

Stuff I forgot last time: Puerto Maldondo looks just like Thailand, except in Spanish. They even have tuk tuks, but they call them taxi chulos. Also, Visa is widely accepted here but Mastercard is not. Just a tip if you live on debit cards and yours happens to me Mastercard like mine is. I know there is more stuff I forgot, but I forget again.

Yesterday I went to Machu Pichu. Getting up at 4:30 didnt end up being a problem because I never got to sleep. My hotel room was right by the street and it was SUPER noisy all night. Needless to say I changed rooms that morning. It rained more when I got to Machu Pichu, but even the clouds couldnt make it less impressive. Dont worry, I have TONS of pictures. I do think its somewhere you need to spend the nigth so you can be there without the thousands of tourists. The guide kind of rushed us through the tour and it was really crowded. The last train stop before Cusco, you can take a bus that takes 15 minutes rather than one hour. I thought about it, but stayed on the train because I had a ride (from my hotel) picking me up. Im glad I didnt. The view of Cuzco from the mountain was totally worth the extra 45 minutes.

Today I felt totally relaxed and happy. Im not sure if its emotional or the lack of oxygen to the brain. Im still sure that Im 10 feet tall and bulletproof, so I cant understand why a thing like really high altitude would make me a little breathless :). I went white water rafting and it was pretty cool.

Tomorrow I go to Puno (Lake Titicaca) and Ill write more.


Cuzco City

November 25th, 2005

If I didnt know any better, I would think “Madre de Dios” means “muddy river” in English (it really means “mother of the gods”). Really, I made it to the rainforest yesterday and it was beautiful.

But it rained – alot. In the rainforrest. In the rainy season. Imagine that :).

Travelling alone always has its benefits. Because I was by myself and only had one night at Reserva Amazonica, I ended up with my own private guide – Carlos. We went to Roland Island (monkey island), then to a native farm. We all know I forget things, and I forgot about the fact that I may get sick with local water or fresh food. I ate avacados and peppers right off the vine. Im fine. I guess I have a high tolerance for bacteria because Im from the dirty south. I met several ladies at my lodge who have been recently working on a volunteer project in Ecuador. They seemed like pretty nice people.

Do you think you could come up with a “You might be a redneck if…” joke that ends with “youve ever been on a long boat on the Madre de Dios river spotlighting Peruvian alligators in the dark?” Thats what we did. Then I went to sleep in the comfort of my own mosquito netted bed. It was really cool, but I wouldnt have wanted to stay any longer.

Today has been a day for firsts. It has been the first day I ate a fried egg sandwich (for lunch at 4:00 because my flight was super late due to rain), first time I saw someone wearing leather pants and tennis shoes in the airport in the rainforrest, the first time Ive eaten Thai food in South America and the first time Ive seen someone get the cops called on them for skipping out on a telephone charge (which was about $0.60). Got to mind your Ps and Qs here I guess. By the way, the food at the jungle lodge was amazing :). In addition to all of those amazing things (and Beth may be the only person to understand this one) I have fallen in love with the Pisco Sour. Its a drink kind of like a margarita.

Tonight I went to a resteraunt on the Plaza, which was probably out of my price range. Im trying to take it easy because of the risk of altitude sickness (so far, all its meant for me was that I got a buzz from 2 drinks) :).

HOTEL STUFF: Im staying at the Hostel el Trifuno in Cusco. The first, and probably lasting, impression I had of this hotel was that the employee who was supposed to meet me at the airport waited 2 and a half hours for me to get there because of the delays. That was incredible to me. The people arent as outgoing as those in Lima, but the employee flattered me when he said my spanish is as good as his english. Weve been communicating in spanglish. The hotel is small and clean and a half a block from the main plaza. You can book tours and have laundry done there (which is ALREADY an issue for me).

Tomorrow I have to get up at 4:30am (on purpose for once) to go to Machu Pichu. So Ill write more maybe tomorrow. Hope all is well on the home front!

P.S. Dont guess theres a spell check for the blog site – forgive my numerous errors 🙂


Finally Here!

November 23rd, 2005

The greatest thing that can happen to a person in the world (or above the world, anyway) is to get the whole row by yourself on a flight. Thats exactly what happened during our “short” six and a half hour flight from DFW to Lima. I got to stretch out, open the window and feel the sun on my neck. It finally hit me whats been wrong with me. I havent been to the beach since July. And that was just a weekend. So this will be make-up time. I love looking out the window at the clouds shadows and the tiny ships and wondering exactly what kind of crops they were growing down below in those fields in Central America :). And I think I saw heaven from the air at one point. I cant post for a few days. Im headed to the Reserva Amazonica in the Madre de Dios region of the rainforest and we have no electricity there. If you have time, check out their website: The place looks phenomenal!! Last thing, I got a comment with no name. Im SUPER happy to have comments, but Id love to know who they are from! Happy Thanksgiving and Ill catch up when I get to Cuzco.

BORING HOSTEL STUFF YOU MAY WANT TO SKIP: I promised I would review all of my hostels when I got back, but as I have no paper or pen I have to do it here. I reserved the Residencial Hostal Victor through Bootsnall. I was picked up at the airport by the hostels driver who brought me here. He had me sit in the front seat and lock the door, which was scary but probably prevented me from looking like a tourist. The hostel doesnt seem to be in a great area, but when we pulled up he had to honk his horn to be admitted in to the gate. The people here have been incredibly nice and the room is clean but simple. I would recommend it to anyone who is staying for the night. Its near the airport, but probably not most of the tourist stuff.


18 Hours!

November 22nd, 2005

I’m finally excited!! We told my nephew I’m going to the rainforest and he asked me if I would bring him back a pet from Pet Smart. I’m not sure he gets it. 🙂


One more week!!

November 15th, 2005

Wow! Its getting close to time to go! I think I’ve done most of what I have to do. The biggest challege is going to be packing this weekend. As most of you know, there is a Little Rock Hogs game, so I’ll be out of commission for that :). The main purpose for this post is THE CONTEST OF THE YEAR. Whoever responds with the greatest, most creative reason why I’m not coming back from South America gets a prize. Keep it PG rated, please. Popular answers for the Roberts Law Firm office pool of I wasn’t coming back from Thailand last year included:

I would be eaten by an anaconda (they don’t exist in Thailand, by the way);

I would marry into the royal family (the person who said this obviously didn’t believe me when I said I’m never getting married again); and

I would just run off in to the jungle.

So give it your best shot (by adding comments). No, I don’t know what the prize will be and no it will not involve anything illegal and/or illicit. Sorry guys :).

Wish me luck!

P.S. There may be side bets on whether or not I take all of my malaria medicine this time :). It didn’t happen last summer.

P.P.S. Don’t ever try to update your blog in Meridian, Mississippi


September 19th, 2005

Okay, I’m being super ambitious and starting my blog now for a trip I’m taking to South America in November. I’m not really what you would call organized, so getting ready to take a trip on my own has been a challenge. I’ll probably wing most of it once I get there. I’ve known for months I needed to get visas, probably hotels, plane tickets and shots, and I’ve just started working on most of these. I’ve heard all the horror stories about people getting robbed or pickpocketed, and I have decided IT WILL NOT HAPPEN TO ME. Thats going to be an accomplishment for some chick from Arkansas traveling alone 🙂 I only have two weeks, so my destinations (and probably posts) will be limited. At any rate, I’m headed out on November 23 (to Peru, Buenos Aires and Rio) with nothing but a backpack and a smile.