Posts Tagged ‘Peru’

Lima North

Friday, June 7th, 2013

When we’re in range of decent internet I love to play chess. I play on FICS which is a rated chess server (free) and I play people my own level in real time from all over the globe.  Mostly I enjoy playing but there are times when I for some odd reason give away points and games to no end. Then I’m motivated to do something else; it’s time to update my blog. I try to stay roughly two weeks behind in the blog as respite  provides me enough time for my thoughts to ferment and coalesce.

Cui, A national delicacy in Peru

Cui, A national delicacy in Peru

As for Lima, we flew into the city; again.  At the Airport in Cusco we were standing in line talking away to anyone that tolerated our still limited Spanish or who spoke English. Two people behind us we found some sailors too that had decided to spend time in Peru. Their boat was in Curacao,  so we had lots in common. We talked about Machu, Cui, and altitude sickness. We talked like old friends.

After our arrival in Lima checking in to our hotel we again connected with Leslie and Dave of the sv Texas Two Step. There we traipsed about Lima,

Wendy and Leslie walking down the Cliffs of Lima

Wendy and Leslie walking down the Cliffs of Lima

walking down to the shore and telling tall tales. Dave too felt the jitters on a nearby similar hike called Machu Picchu (not the National Park by the mountain) and I felt relief. Dave is a commercial helicopter pilot and still works a few months every year. Had I understood that a vocation like his would have allowed me 6 months of work and 6 months of play I would have jumped ship from education long ago. But hind site is always 20/20 and for better or worse we are where we are.

Tennis in Lima on the Pacific Coast

Tennis in Lima on the Pacific Coast

The four of us ate at Al Fresco‘s and I had my new favorite dish “Cevichi”,  and I was in Heaven!  More then heaven because right across the street were half a dozen red clay tennis courts.

We are always looking for the perfect place to stop for extended periods of time; like 10 years or so, and Lima was moving quickly to the top of our list. Great food, lots of Tennis, a multitude of activities, and  friendly people.

But we’ve not yet seen the rest of the world so we do feel the need to move on. After the day with Texas Two Step’s crew we retired to prep for our return home. Maria; our Peru Travel Agent, is picking us up the following day for a visit to the Park of the Fountains and then we’ll be dropped off at a wonderful seaside restaurant for our last supper; only symbolically.

The fountains were highlights of imagination as we’ve never seen so many different ones in one area. Oh, yeah; places in the US have fountains but never a park of them. And of course for a town built next to the sea, beside a river, and in a desert, water is certainly a wonder. Here too,

Tunnel of Water and Light

Tunnel of Water and Light

in all of water’s glory were a dozen fountains, some with high shooting water falls, some where children could play, one we

Lima's Premier Water Front Restaurant

Lima's Premier Water Front Restaurant

walked through and others with a variety of undulating  displays. An hour or so later we were dropped off on the Pacific Ocean for dinner.

The following morning we finished our packing and prepared to exit the country; or so we hoped.  We had round trip tickets to Panama but as we had no other tickets leaving the country we were a little concerned. Countries; including the US, don’t like non citizens entering without plans of leaving. We had given  all our boat papers that Shelter Bay had requested for the next year’s cruising permit for our boat but we had not heard from them.

I had called John; the manager before we left Panama and he assured me that they would fax the cruising permit to us and then entry into Panama would be without any problems, as now we could show we had passage out of Panama, albeit on our own boat. It would have been sweet. What is often said to be simple is not always the case!

The day we were flying out of Peru we again contacted John and he indicated there was a problem. The Port Captain in Panama needed the current boat registration papers to issue the new permit.  Our problem was we didn’t have the current papers with us. The papers were securely stored in Panama. Since we were in Peru and the papers were in Panama it would be difficult for us to fax them to Panama to get the cruising permit. I could see trouble ahead.

By now I’m quite frustrated and rather irritated. When we had stopped at Shelter Bay in February, I went to the office and asked the staff what they needed to apply for and secure the new cruising permit. I gave them everything they asked for and went away happy that all would now be taken care of. I had the current boat documentation papers with me had they just asked for them. Now; in Peru, we could be trapped, not much different then the Tom Hanks movie, The Terminal.

As most yachties do, we try to have multiple uses for everything and multiple back up plans.  We have two back up plans; three if you count living at the Peruvian Airport for the rest of our lives as one of the plans.  We didn’t count the Airport. The worse case scenario is that we’ll have to purchase a ticket from Panama to the US and once we get it all straightened out then apply for a refund… from the airline. That will obviously cost us some extra dough as Airlines are not real fond of giving anyone their money back today. The other idea was to show the individuals at the airport; should they ask, the boat papers we have that are outdated but shows the boat in Panama; legally, last year. We hope the second idea is the one that works.

Through into the terminal we go. Here as in most places south of the US we have to show two things: 1) a passport – we have, and 2) a ticket we have. If an individual doesn’t have both they don’t even get into the terminal.  So we’ve now made it about 1/4 the way through the gauntlet.  Next we go to the airline check in and the attendant at the turnstiles asks about our trip. We’re going to Panama. And then where she asks. We have a boat there and will take the boat to Australia.  She ponders a minute and then accepts our story and we proceed to the counter. 50% of the way. Maybe we’ll be lucky.

We’re flying COPA airlines and while it seems that with American and Delta we’ve not had this much of an issue in addressing our continued travels, COPA is Panamanian and we surmise there is a little more scrutiny here. At the desk they take our bags and ask where our final destination is. That provides the attendant some pause. The bags stop and they want more info. We provide them our boat papers from the year we entered Panama. He scans them and then calls a supervisor over.  This situation has obviously never happened to them before. The supervisor scans them all the while we’re doing our best to look cool and calm. We are legal but technically we don’t have the current papers showing our boat is in Panama legally. They ask us to wait a few minutes, they need to call Panama.

Ok, I still hope all will be fine but now there is a third individual in the mix. Our agent calls Panama and speaks with a General or Admiral in Immigration and provides him with the details on the Cruising Permit we have. A few minutes later he instructs our attendant to issue the boarding pass and records the name of the official in the computer that said yes, we could return to Panama. We didn’t even sweat through our cloths this time. But we’re still only 75% of the way to the boarding gate, however we’ve reached the summit and are on our way down hill.

At immigration we present our Passports and our Visa, the immigration official takes the Visa and stamps the Passport. What these countries do with all the paper they create I have no idea.  Why any country really needs to know when you have left I don’t understand. No matter what they say I don’t believe all the info is entered into a computer and then cross checked with who entered the country. In Trindad it is all written in a LARGE book in very small print. It seems most countries make it difficult for you to visit and then make it difficult for you to leave.  When we gain entry into a new country with our boat I plan on one day’s time with officials and paper work. Rarely am I disappointed. Even the US makes is difficult for foreigners with boats to travel  and our government likes to talk about how free the US is. Hogwash!

With relief  we have now made it to the gate and wait patiently for our plane. While there we pick up some snacks and looking at the prices I was glad to see such reasonable numbers. Reasonable till I get to the cashier and am told that the prices are in US currency!  Here I thought I was still in Peru. Yet I  am glad they took Soles (Peruvian money). We snacked, read, rested and boarded our plane on time bound for our boat, our home, our womb; Elysium, safely awaiting our return  in a secure yard at Shelter Bay.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Bye, Bye, Machu Picchu

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

We left Wayna Picchu exhausted. Fortunately we were to meet our Machu Picchu guide at the entrance and there we were lucky. The rest of the group had not yet arrived. Rest rooms were at the top of our list and for those anticipating attending Machu Picchu beware; there are NO RESTROOMS anywhere IN the site. But there were restrooms  at the entrance so we retired there for relief and some time on our bottoms while our guide waited for others in our group to arrive.

Thirty minutes later were were somewhat recovered and ready. We assembled and entered the park; again. The guide was well worth the time and expenses but I will say to fully appreciate the Inca culture would take more then Gilligan’s three hour tour. With him we looked at  maybe a 1/3 of the site while visiting; I’m guessing 20% of it.  Most of the stories we could find on the internet but a few stories stand out.

Wayna Picchu with Machu Picchu in the foreground

Wayna Picchu with Machu Picchu in the foreground

The Queen of Spain was visiting and she was denied the thrill ride up the side of the mountain and was brought in by Helicopter. To make sure they had plenty of room to land and spread out the red carpet the powers that be ( I don’t know exactly who they were) literally blew up the main alter in the city.  Any chopper pilot said there was no need to as there was plenty of room to land but one of the most important aspects of the Inca culture was destroyed for a brief ceremony of pomp and circumstance.  As in later years there was a plethora of denials; analysis of the stone base left was identified to have ordinance residue.

An Ican Step Carved in Granite

An Ican Step Carved in Granite

The Inca understood stone. Their craftsmanship is second to none and it may well have been because in lieu of taxing the people the individuals paid with time and labor.  Ten million people lived in the valley(s) near Cusco and some sites our

Imagine cutting, polishing, fitting, and moving this block without machines!

Imagine cutting, polishing, fitting, and moving this block without machines!

guides reported there is evidence of 20,000 people working on a building project. Imagine being the supervisor of one of those sites; without computers and writing!  So they could do fine stone work; they could carve steps in the stone, they could makes stones fit together like a lego toy and they could even add stone locking mechanisms so earthquakes wouldn’t cause them to rebuild.

About the size of my wrist, carved without machines

About the size of my wrist, carved without machines

In general UNESCO sites have some weirdness to them and by making this a UNESCO site may have been one way to ensure no more structures are removed via any method.  I don’t fully understand this situation. Our guide said that the terraces on the North slope had been covered with flowers. I asked why in the effort to show this as an Inca city they didn’t replant the terraces with the same flowers.  I was told that the flowers wouldn’t have been Incan; they would have been Peruvian.  So I guess 500 years has changed the DNA of flowers!

Machu Picchu Home

Machu Picchu Home

Yet with the denial of flowers there are some buildings there with thatched roofs. And I’m quite sure they we not thatched before the site became a UNESCO site.  What can I take away from all this. Politics makes just as much sense in foreign counties as it does in the US.

On our way out we received stamps in our Passports for Machu Picchu. I guess we can add another country to our travels. 🙂

The restaurant here (and there is only one restaurant and one snack bar) had typical excellent Peruvian fare and the food hit the spot. Tourists take note: Prices are from Disney! From the gates of Machu Picchu  we were lucky (or not) and sat in the front seats of the bus.  Sitting here is as thrilling as sitting in the front car of a roller coaster. As we looked in immediate danger of leaving the road and proceeding rapidly down the mountain, the bus made the turn on each of the dozen switch backs descending the mountainside.

Inca Rail, Ollantaytambo

Inca Rail, Ollantaytambo

The following day we traveled on the Inca Rail from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo; then with a taxi from there to Cusco where we begin our trek back to the coast and eventually home.

Ciao

The Road to Machu Picchu

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

We’re getting close. I can almost smell Machu Picchu . It’s about an hour to an hour and a half climb from where we’ll be staying to the Incan city and as W wants to climb WaynaPicchu too, all that effort could well put me over the top; literally. But getting there for us is not a straight line.

We left the Colco Canyon with the idea of getting higher. And we did. The bus trip to Puno took us well into the evening. Puno is on Lake Titicaca and has an elevation of approximately  12,500 feet. Of all the mountains in North America there are only about 200 higher then where we are staying.

Puno is cold. At this altitude; over two miles above sea level, everything seems cold to us. We check into the hotel and turn on the smallish radiator. Since leaving Lima, every hotel has had this small, electric radiant heater. And heater is a misnomer. The radiator is best described as a “Not freezing” device, because at best it seems to take the ice off the windows and keep us alive. Alive, not warm. The Peruvians that live in this area are tough. From what the guides tell us they mostly use blankets to stay warm and one individual on Titicaca said “His wife keeps him warm”. 🙂   For the most part those living on the Altoplano have no indoor heat, only blankets.

Home on Floating Island, Lake Titicaca

Home on Floating Island, Lake Titicaca

The following am we rise early, eat breakfast and meet our guide at 8 ish. Our first stop is a community of people that make and live on floating islands. The island is unique in that it is built out of the root system of floating reeds. The island’s life expectancy is 20 years after which they build a new one. The old one is retired to farming. Yep, farming on a floating island.  The homes are simple and last up to 10 years. We’ve heard different accounts for the life of home and maybe the life is effected by the care given. From there we crossed to another floating island on a Reed boat with the women manning the oars. Our guide described how now the reed boats are actually plastic bottles bundled together then wrapped and hidden by the reeds. Obviously the plastic bottles provide the flotation. The boats were their first floating home/islands. The occupants built reed boats with crude structures on them to escape the rule of the Incas.  They preferred their unfettered freedom and living in a lake where the Incas couldn’t get to them afforded them that luxury. Now Billy (the Chief of the island we visited) describes their life as quiet with fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat daily.  All the children go to school and when they reach High School the family often moves ashore or the students live with a relative. Only 2 out of 10 return to the floating island life.We actually wondered how many residents really live there or is this now mostly for show.  When we returned from our trip to Isla Taquile W/ thought she saw one of the women in town in standard city clothes. Billy indicated that there are about 2,000 current full time residents of the floating islands. Either way, the visit was a fascinating look into a life that will most likely be swallowed up by modern conveniences. Already for every 3 homes on the island they had one solar panel. The last President of Peru granted them solar panels as fires on the islands are dangerous.  The panels afford them some light in the evening and can power their radios, recharge their cell phones (yeah that will end up being a deal breaker too). They still use fires as they need to cook but they no longer need worry about falling asleep as a fire consumes their homes. Our island representative indicated that he was planning on getting a computer as he was at the University studying to be a guide.

From there we toke the boat to Isla Taquile where we hiked and ate some expensive semi local fare. Trout. The trout was introduced into Peru as a way to aid the tourist industry. And like the vast majority of man’s attempt to modify nature,  part of the plan failed miserably.  The trout ate most of the local fish

Tourist Boat on Lake Titicaca

Tourist Boat on Lake Titicaca

so the residents have mostly trout left as a food fish. This island is 32 km off of Puno and in deep, deep water. Thus the trout don’t hang out there causing the islanders the need to import fish for us tourists. However; not having fish all that often didn’t mean they lack any of knowledge in preparation. Delicioso! And after stuffing our faces with fish we find out the the island is mostly vegetarian! I say mostly because for them vegetarianism is a way of life and not a world saving idea. The island’s resident guide said that on special occasions they eat meat and sometimes fish. But, of the most part they are vegetarians. With that said they indicated that like Billy, their life is simple, healthy and complete. They don’t seem to have a lot of preconceived gender notions as they have a section dedicated to weaving by men. The fabrics they make are said to be the best in Peru; however there is not one place we’ve been yet where what they made is not the best in what ever country we’re in. One odd item they add to their weaving is Human Hair. Yep, in past times the chiefs had long hair to show their position but now the long hair is no more and the hair is woven into the fabric as a means of adding power to the material.  Needless to say we didn’t purchase any.

The traipse across the island put us close to 13,000 feet above sea level and as the day ended we were quite tired. The slow boat back to shore didn’t help me rest any as like most places I’ve been;  tourist seats are built for smaller people like W/.

This part of our adventure was a quick turn around. The following day we boarded the bus and headed off to Cusco; the second largest city in Peru and nestled in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

All day we rode on the bus, 9 hours stopping for lunch and to visit a few more Cathedrals, and two more ruins. We pulled into Cusco about 6 ish, were picked up at the bus terminal by Mercedes then driven to our hotel near the Plaza de Armas,  which every city we’ve been to brags about. There we sat for another hour while she explained to us, mostly in Spanish,  what the next phase  of our journey would be like. Finally we settle in for the evening just venturing out long enough to find an ATM and enrich ourselves.

Day 2 in Cusco had us scheduled for a “City” tour. But I’m not saying much about the city as mostly we visited religious structures and Inca ruins. I am finally tired of Catholic cathedrals and let W/ know I …am… not visiting another. In Cusco every Catholic Cathedral is built on an Inca royalty site or an Inca holy site. The Catholics were a mean spirited people. I say were because the Catholics I personally know would find as much abhorrence in what the Church has done and as I, today they are much more considerate of others. But too, today we hear from the guides that the Church hordes much of the Incan items of value and what they didn’t take they often destroyed. For example; the Incan’s had a way of storing information in knotted head dresses. The Catholics because they couldn’t understand it labeled it “the devils” work and burned a huge percentage of them. Others were sent to the Vatican and from what I understand now the Catholic Church still holds them.  On the knotted head dress was information that described their communities, their ability to cut stones, design homes, temples, and communities, farming, hunting, etc. This part of history reminds me of the burning of the Library of Alexandria 5,000 years ago, how much farther would we be in understanding  ourselves and the world today had our ancestors preserved information from the past instead of destroying it.

The ruins we visited were overlooking Cusco and the huge stone blocks they carved, moved and fit together are amazing even by today’s standards. The quarry was 20 km from the walls being built. There are estimates that 20-30,000 people worked on the structure taking close to 100 years to complete. (Our guide told us 100 years  but one other source quotes 60 years). We visited the quarry and another Temple. By then it was dark and we headed back to the city. Frankly, I’m just about done with tours and guides. They wear me out.

Peru, Natural Dyes

Peru, Natural Dyes

But what I want and what I get are two different things. We did have a day off where we could wander and get the feel of Cusco, then it was to Ollantaytambo where we had one more Cathedral (I didn’t go in), and some weaving with a great demonstration on natural dyes, two more Ruins and a new city to hang out in.

Too, I gotta say I’m getting tired even of ruins but the views I’m always up for. As the Incan Empire was centered in the Andes visiting most ruins involves much climbing and great vistas. We stayed here two days and we actually met some other people, besides tourists. Touring isn’t really conducive to meeting anyone or sharing much. Your time isn’t really yours unless you build it in.

Lucho Soler - Master Potter

Lucho Soler - Master Potter

I went out for a walk about while W/ hung at the new abode. There in I found a door open to what looks like a business. In Guatemala I learned door etiquette; if it’s open you are free to enter, half open means look but don’t cross the threshold, and closed it is obvious; stay away. So I entered and met Lucho Solar a master potter. The following day I brought W/ with me to meet Lucho.  Simply fabulous is his work.

That evening we met some ex pat’s working in Ollantaytambo. We were having Pizza when two other characters came in and we invited them to join us. They said for 5 minutes while they waited for their Pizza, Peter and Carrie. We spent an hour or so chatting about ourselves and world affairs. Carrie came here about 6 years ago  and saw a need for health care so she opened a non profit clinic for the Peruvians. A couple of years after Peter showed up with Cupid on his shoulders, they danced the dance and made things legal. He began teaching children here while she was providing health care for the families. Now that the clinic is mostly running on automatic she can devote her time with fund raising and furthering her career. Both are returning to the states to enhance their education. First however, Carrie and a friend will be doing a cross country fund raising tour with Peter running the sag wagon.

We tried to connect the following day but they were preparing for their trip back to the states. What a fascinating couple, living life on their own terms and sharing their lives and skills with others. If I get their blog info for the cross country tip I’ll post it and anyone wishing to follow anther’s adventures may.

Cows Head in Market

Cows Head in Market

Thus, with our day off we wander the town, climbed to more ruins and visit the market where you can find most anything under the Sun. And we did; a Cow’s head all ready for what ever you wish to make of it.

Tomorrow; we go to Aquas Calientes, the town next to Machu Picchu.  Oh Happy Days!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Peru Too

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

To date, Peru continues as an interesting experience. The bus rides are all first class. I’ve not had to munch on my knees as was so often the case in Guatemala. The buses we’ve taken long distances here had WiFi and large comfortable leather seats. I was  just slightly cramped for leg room but W/ found them to be – just perfect.

Ancient Astronaut

Ancient Astronaut

From Ica; where we toured the wine factory and hung for a day or so, we traveled to Nazca; another UNESCO site,  where I flew in a small plane to see the “Nazca Lines“. Fiction writers love to infer how the lines were built for alien airports and markers for the aliens landing craft. Archeologists have a much more plausible story; the lines were built as a means of moving water for irrigation and as a way to demonstrate reverence to their gods.

As we move across the Peruvian desert one can easily see the value of water and how a civilization’s survival depends on an abundant water supply – always needed for a  growing population. As the climate changed in the area the Nazca society were forced to move or die. So they abandoned their lands and were absorbed by or hunted by other cultures.

Witnessing the change in civilizations here reminds me of the almost dead climate issues that has been raging in the US for the past decade. We have one group of people that want to believe nothing  changes and people don’t effect change. Those climate change deniers would do well to understand what had happened to civilizations and varying cultures in Central and South America. Their civilization is long gone.  The Mayan of Tikal in Guatemala grew so large that the land around them barely supported them. Then as the climate in the area shifted and the rains didn’t come for a year or two the land couldn’t support the culture and they either moved or died. Same with the Inca’s. As the rains in the Andes shifted the little water needed for their crops wasn’t sufficient to support the population and the people were forced to move or die.

Today however the effect of climate is more a battle of power. People in general will survive our climate trends but the power groups will change. Places like Kuna Yala (On the N East Coast of Panama)  will have fewer islands to live on, other nations have a high probability of disappearing entirely as well as a multitude of species on Earth.

From Nazca we again rode in luxury to Arequipa and visited yet another UNESCO site.  Some may wonder why we spend the time traveling on buses when we could just as easily fly to the various places. There are two reasons: 1) we follow the axiom of “Go Slow, Sail Far, Stay Long”, and 2) we need to acclimate to the new altitude.

While we are not sailing; we would visit Peru by boat if we could, we still love to smell the roses and meet the people. However the second reason is most important for us physically.  Arequipa is around 7,000 feet above sea level. We’ve been living the past 5 years at an altitude of about 10′. The oxygen in the air here is much less because the air in a a given volume is much less. Many travelers end up on the wrong site of Altitude sickness. Headaches, nausea, sleep disorder, etc.  If we take our time and move up to higher elevations we minimize the potential problems. So we go slow.

Arequipa is a fascinating city, one we both would love to visit again. There are as many restaurants as Antigua, Guatemala; but Arequipa is much larger in scale. We were here only 3 days and believe a year or two would barely be adequate to experience the city. We were on one city tour that barely touched what Arequipa has to offer, then we walked, walked, and walked, actually getting lost once. However, with our limited but improved Spanish; thanks to our teachers at San Jose El Viejo in Antigua, W/ was able to ask for directions. Yeah, the app Pocket Earth on the iPhone helped but I didn’t have a direction marker and here the Sun is well N of us; not S as most of the Western world. Thus I’m slightly messed up with my internal compass. Since that walk Pocket Earth has updated their app and now N clearly shows.

Slave Built Catherdral, Arequipa, Peru

Slave Built Catherdral, Arequipa, Peru

What I’m most impressed: NOT,  about is the influence of the Catholic church on both Central and South America. The Catholic church seems to have slave built more Cathedrals then I can count. While the Catholic church continues to be embroiled in controversy with it’s priestly conduct I think they too ought to be more apologetic to the indigenous populations of the world for their past enslavement.  The enslavement was more then just the assumed trade of worldly goods for eternal love, they actively pursued a means of suppression. They forced the indigenous people from their homes and farms into cities where they could more easily exert control and provided little education, understanding that education is the road to free thinking.  The Catholic Church has taken so much from these countries and I don’t see that they’ve given much back in return. Oh, they will say that eternal love is the reward received but I would be wilting to give my eternal love to any reader that wishes to commit their worldly goods to me. I doubt however in today’s world my idea would fly. But the Catholic church had sold the indigenous populations this idea, enslaving them with the idea of eternal salvation and worldly ignorance. This suppression is still felt and talked about today. I think most every Guide we’ve had in the two different countries has commented on what the Church has not done. The Catholic church is one of the Wealthiest companies in the world hiding their wealth behind  schemes of religious freedom and individualized Parishes, yet when parishes need money in the third world countries we visit we find them in want. One Catholic community nun commented on how she received more support from churches outside the Catholic hierarchy than from them!  And too, even within the Catholic hierarchy we’ve twice heard in two different countries about how the Jesuits were teaching the indigenous populations to read and write and the “Mother” Church put a stop to it because it was influencing their ability to control the people here.  While I’m not friend of the organized Catholic Church I am much impressed with how tough and good hearted the people of Peru are.

That said, historically Arequipa is magnificent. The parks, the people, and for me the food was “magnifico”. Knowing where we were heading and the temperatures being considerably colder then we’re use to we talked ourselves into purchasing some Alpaca

New Alpaca Jacket and Cape

New Alpaca Jacket and Cape

wool clothing. I, a new jacket, glove and hat, W/ a new Cape, gloves and hat. The temperatures here have fallen to O° C most evenings and while we are not camping the Hotel room comes with an electric heater. That’s it. So once we rise in the am we dress warm, shed gear for midday and then add clothing as the evening progresses until we dive into bed to hide under the multitude of covers for the warmth our bodies can create.

Volcano Misti, Peru

Volcano Misti, Peru

We left Arequipa traveling across the Andean plateau where I found a new appreciation for the local people.  We crossed the divide between Arequipa and Chivey at 14,000 feet. W/ was feeling slightly dizzy and I could imagine the same. However I left the bus for a brief walk about and took some pics. The Indians living on this High plateau mainly graze Alpaca; a domesticated Llama that provides meat and wool.  They live in small adobe brick homes that have little or no roof. It really doesn’t rain much here. They cook with Alpaca dung, some wood that they find; trees are rare,  and they heat their homes with…… nothing. They sleep with many blankets. The temperature range is from -20 thru 24° C.  For those never having learned the all too easy metric system that is -4  to 75°  Fahrenheit. Now the upper limit I can easily live with but the lower limit! No thank you. Fifteen to 20° C is my lower limit. Just call me a wimp. In the Altiplano I am a wimp.

Descending from 14,000′ on this road was akin to landing via light airplane. My ears kept popping and we could feel the temperature begin to rise. On the bus traveling up to the pass W/ and I actually donned our new Alpaca gear. We arrived in Chivey already exhausted from the lack of Oxygen, unloaded, moved into our hotel room and planned to follow our tour guides advice for the rest of the day. Do Nothing.

Andean Condor

Andean Condor

The following day however we were to rise before 5 am; is there such a time, and join our group to visit Cruz de Condor,  a place where we can view Andean Condors as they soar on the thermals. These birds are big!  The second largest bird in the world and among the longest living. One in captivity lived 70 years rivaling the Parrot. They have a size between 13 and 15 kg which in my book would be close enough in size to ride on. Their wing span is greater then my outstretched arms.  We spend 2 hours traveling, one hour watching, and 2 hours for the return trip. Although the time equation doesn’t seem like a great deal we did stop several places on the way there and back, time for relief and another dose of how Peruvians live.

Colco Canyon by Chivey, Peru

Colco Canyon by Chivey, Peru

Back at the hotel we spent the afternoon exploring Chivey, taking time to continue our acclimation. The following day we stroll to a Quarry mine on the Choloco river which is at the bottom of the deepest canyon in the world; actually 3 times as deep as the Grand Canyon but the magnificence is lost in the depth and structure The Colca Canyon. The Grand Canyon has walls much more vertical while the Colco canyon is much much deeper. The following day we pack up and take a 6 hour bus trip to Lake Titicaca and the town of Puno: elevation 12,000 feet above sea level. There isn’t one city in the US that is at this elevation; the closest one;  Glade Park-Gateway, Colorado at 10,560 some odd feet.

On we go, walking slow, breathing heavy and taking our time while in Peru.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Peru – First Thoughts

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

I remember last year flying into Panama. We had been in Panama for almost a year but flying into the country anew we could see the vigor and the life in the people. There was a feeling of joy, energy, adventure in their walk, in the feeling on the street, in the shop owners and the customers. That same feeling we feel in Peru.

Lima Peru Shore

Lima Peru Shore

Guatemala was different. While many things about the country are magical we found that the people seemed to be carrying a heavy burden. They were moving forward, but slowly. Peru and Panama are moving at light speed.

Oh, both countries have a long way to go but they are moving in a positive direction; not just positive for the wealthy but one that is good for most everyone. One HUGE difference I find in Peru is the number of book stores and the emphasis on reading.  One can judge a country’s health by their dedication to education and the peoples ability to read with access to knowledge. In Guatemala Libraries were rare and from what the locals told me; reserved mostly for the gringos. The few book stores had books but by the standard income of Guatemalans they are expensive. Textbooks in schools had to be purchased and only the rich were able to buy them. Students of the rich sat in the front rows. The rest were left behind. In Peru most every business has a note about how to recycle, trade books.

One local told us that in Ica there is 100% employment. I kind of doubt the 100% but I understand that anyone who wants a job will find one.

This doesn’t mean there are no problems in Peru. We would actually like to bring our boat here but were told that near the Navy Station there are still Pirates. Go Figure. So until the Pirates are of minimal concern we’ll have to skip visiting by boat. But….

Ceviche Peru Style

Ceviche Peru Style

We like the country. We’ve been here a week, the Pisco Sours are ok, a bit strong for my taste but the Ceviche is great. Equal to and often better than in the Bahamas; which until now I felt had the best Ceviche in the Caribbean.

We arrived in Lima and checked into our hotel, changed money, picked up some SIM cards for the phones and started this adventure. We’re into our fist week, already we’ve been to 3 museums, flown over another UNESCO site; the Nazca Lines, ate at a dozen local restaurants, traveled cross country on their bus lines and visited one Winery where we were shown the old ways. No one really makes wine the old fashioned way anymore but it was interesting. We visited a zoological garden by accident (it was part of our Hotel)  and have been moving every couple of days.

My grandfather was here in 1952 and I can’t wait to look at his pics from those days and compare them to now.  That experience will occur later as the pictures are in Florida and we’re in …. Peru.  Ciao

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long