A Travellerspoint blog

Onward to Puno

overcast 46 °F
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Distance traveled 241 miles
Our bus from Cusco to Puno took us to several interesting points along the road. The first was the Sistine Chapel of the Andes in Andeyhuallilas. It is an interesting mixture of Colonial/Baroque and Andean culture. It was completed by local artists and has extensive use of mirrors that were an important tool of evangelization at the time. We also stopped in another Inca ruin with one of the largest temples that was believed to be built in honor of the creator god of the Incas. The town still shows the city wall and the interior wall of the temple, some 15 meters high. The storage bins for the crops and the Inca highway used by royal messengers are also still visible.
We finally rolled into Puno as dusk fell. Puno is tucked into a bay on Lake Titicaca which hid much of the lake’s beauty. At this time of year, Puno is quite cold in the evenings but rather nice for a few hours in the afternoon. We paid a few extra bucks for a space heater for our room : ). We found a cozy little restaurant with a nice fire inside for Sara to warm up by and began to get settled. We returned several times and made friends with the waiter who had a brother along the route we were going to travel. We took a little note to deliver for him!! He was very grateful upon receiving the note as he said he had not seen him in a year!

Puno’s main square is rather imposing and the city has sprawled up the hillsides around the bay in every direction. Our colds had moderated, but some extra Kleenex was still a key purchase along with cough drops on our first day. Keeping warm was a constant goal.
While in Puno, Sara and I visited the floating Islands of the Uros. These islands are fascinating places where the indigenous people have cut blocks of reed roots to make “artificial Islands,” The have lived this way for some time between five and seven hundred years depending on who you ask. They survive through tourism, hunting, and fishing. They were super -friendly and hospitable. I helped them work on one of their reed boats for a little while. This trip gave us a chance to see a little more of the lake and was definitely the highlight of our trip to Puno.
On our last night we took Regina out to a local bar. Not too much rowdiness followed because we had to get up early for our bus to La Paz. We had a few glasses of warm wine and pisco sours and took in the local drinking scene a little.

The next morning we packed up early and headed to the bus station to travel toward Bolivia.
P.S. Sorry for the sideways photos!!!

Posted by tourdeflor 15:01 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Explore mystical Inca ruins

73 °F
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Finally, we arrived in Cuzco. The heart of the Inca Empire and the “umbilical cord of the world.” After the trauma of our bus ride we found some breakfast, and then we happily began to settle in at our hostel. Sara and Regina took a siesta while I went exploring. The streets are almost entirely cobblestone with the center of town being mostly colonial age buildings with balconies. I found my way to the main plaza. Its main plaza is beautiful. One side was almost entirely filled by the Cathedral which had been rebuilt several times due to earthquakes. There was also a McDonalds with Wi-Fi along with several other colonial buildings populating the plaza. I wandered to a few other minor plazas and had a cup of café con leche, before deciding to check on Sara.
My return turned out to be a little more circuitous than planned since I had done quite a bit of twisting and turning in my exploration. When I returned the ladies asked me if I thought the room smelled funny. My sense of smell not being the greatest, I didn’t notice much…yet. We ate dinner in one of the minor plazas near an wood-fired oven, which Sara loved because she was still freezing from the night before. When we arrived back at the hotel the room definitely smelled BAD! The doors being closed for several hours had concentrated the musty smell beyond the point of minor annoyance.

The next day we did the city tour visiting five surrounding Inca sites.
Quiracancha…the temple of the Sun being one of the most impressive. It is right in the middle of the city and the Spanish conquerors demolished much of it to build a monastery, but they surprising left some of it intact.
Saqsawaman comprises another large ruin complex just on the hills outside the city. Two large hills were almost entirely covered by original and reconstructed walls. Sara and I climbed almost to the top of one before we went on to meet up with our tour. We also visited a hill/cave complex and saw an altar where human and llama sacrifices occurred. This was by far the creepiest moment of the trip to date. Our tour guide very consistently told us of the perfection in all ways of the Inca proudly told us that they only did human sacrifices every fifteen years or so! YIKES.

On our last day in Cuzco we went to Machu Pichu. What can you say? Every amazing thing you hear about it is true. You descend into a rain-forest type environment from the high desert of Cuzco.
All the while the train follows the valley of a sizeable river with rapids and small falls. Finally, we climbed to the summit of the ruins via mini bus.
Mist and vegetation covered mountain spires surround the citadel (or monastery depending on who you talk to). The only drawback was the speed of the tour and the size of the crowds thronging the ruins. The terraced mountain provided space to grow crops and defend the city. Farmer’s dwellings huddled near the agricultural sector. Higher up a sentinel station stood watch over the entrance to the city and its approaches. The temple of the sun and main temple dominate the heights and off in the distance on one of the closest peaks an astronomical observatory beckoned. At the end of the tour, we stopped and sat amidst the ruins for some time, trying to soak up the grandeur and get beyond the observational factoid voice of our tour guide.
It was during this time of quiet reflection that we were almost trampled by llamas that graze the grass of Machu Picchu.
The amount of uncertainty and contradiction that still surrounds the ruins is almost as astounding as its beauty.

We shared a nice pizza and beer with a fellow traveler, Alexis (from Disrael, Quebec) at a friendly spot called the Quipu before heading back to the train station.

As we rode the train back down toward Cuzco in the darkness, we tried to save some strength since we would be back on a bus to Puno at about 7AM.

Posted by tourdeflor 18:52 Archived in Peru Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

Mission: Evade death by fire and destruction of belongings

sunny 50 °F
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WOW! Distance traveled about 350 miles.... But what a 350 miles it was. We got seats on the bottom of our overnight bus this time. We also would be gaining in elevation from near 6,000 feet at Arequipa to more than 9,500 at Cusco. We knew it would be cold and thankfully Queta gave Sara one of Fito's old coat and an alpaca jacket and scarf to keep warm! Gratitude again to our Arequipa family!!

well, I was sleeping fitfully around midnight. Sara had managed to fall asleep bundled in jackets and bus blankets. I awoke to notice the bus was stopped. I moved the curtain aside and scraped the ice off the window to see piles of snow, hazzard lights flashing, and heard horns blaring continuosly. Shadowed figures raced from vehicle to vehicle. After ten mysterious minutes passed the bus lurched and we were on the move again.

At about 1:30 am I awoke again to what sounded like a massive gunshot. The bus jumped as if it had hit a huge bump and kept rolling for a while. About twenty minutes later the bus stopped and the copilot got out and ran all around the bus checking with a flashlight. He got back on the bus and we rolled onward again.

Another half hour passed and I was thankful that our compartment of the bus seemed to be a little warmer. I snuggled in and dozed again before the bus screeched to a halt and we were greeted by screams from the bus attendant. "GET OFF THE BUS GET OFF THE BUS!!!" We scrambled off the bus into the freezing cold clear night air. There were about ten buildings lined the street. BLACK BLACK SMOKE was billowing out from under the rear of the bus and bright orange flames danced around the rear tires and bottom of the bus.

The crew tried to put out the fire with no initial success so they opened the hatch to the luggage directly over the fire and began tossing out luggage. A small group of us, myself included, helped catch the bags, darting into the smoke and fire to pull belongings into the clear. Most of the bags were out when one wild eyed woman started screaming, " HELP ME! HELP ME! HELP ME!" At first, I thought she might be on fire or have lost a child, but she continued screaming and running around. Her hair and jewelry flashing in the orange glow..."I HAVE FIVE BOXES OF BAGGAGE AND I HAVEN't SEEN ANY OF THEM!!" So much for her emergency.

Well, after that the trip was a little boring. Another bus came and took away most of the passengers. They were going to have to pay a second fare to the new bus so we waited with our scorched bus with only one other couple. Luckily it turned out to be only a blow out where the steel belts had created fire via friction in the tires. We rolled on and got to enjoy the last few hours of scenery into Cusco in the day light. There were snow capped alpine peaks. Thermal springs and small andean villages. Finally, we arrived in the beautiful Inca city of Cusco.
Love to you all,

Mike and Sara.

Posted by tourdeflor 07:06 Archived in Peru Tagged bus Comments (1)

Mission: Try to sleep on a bus and evade dimensional portals

Additional Miles traveled approximately 700.

overcast 70 °F
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Hello Blog readers.
Sorry it has been a while. Our friend Regina ending up arriving on time. If you read the last entry carefully, you will have noted that Sara's flu got upgraded to "from hexx". Well she is still battling. We took an extra day in Lima to try and recuperate. We took the bus to Arequipa instead of Fito coming to get us...turns out it is a twelve hour trip!! Our bus was fairly comfy and we traveled from 7pm to 7am. Our seats were in the upper deck. We crossed the massive Peruvian desert. It astoundingly had even less vegetation than our Arizona desert.

We arrived bright and early to Arequipa after a night of barely sleeping during the night. We scurried off glad to have arrived. Unfortunately Mike hurried with a little too much haste. Two important items were left behind on the bus. One to be recovered after much phone calling and driving to the bus cleaning station. The item recovered...sun glasses clip on...the item lost ....camera.... Mike ran back to the terminal and checked several more times before giving up as lost. The camera served us well through many travels, birthdays, and adventures. Thanks John. The additional irony being that Mike had just bought additional memory and battery and whoever the rotten scoundrel that has it will only be able to use it for about two weeks or buy a new charger!! HA HA. Luckily our friend Regina has a sweet camera and we will be uploading pics soon. That was the first dimensional portal adventure.

As we arrived in the center of town and went upstairs to eat in a cafe we heard shouting coming from the street...turns out Mike's fleece had been left behind in the cab. Dimensional portal incident involving article number three!! Phew! Note to self...no important items should be left with Mike until dimensions realign.

Fito's dad met us at the restaurant and we were installed in the Duran househould for the duration of our stay in Arequipa. They were amazingly hospitable. They were amazingly nice and Rodolfo (fito's dad) invited us often to try to kill our colds with Pisco the peruvian drink. Queta (fito's mom) showered fifteen years of gratitude on Sara for hosting her kids in the states as exchange students. She sends greetings to all involved Ohioans.

Fito's "ex" Sina and her dad were visiting as well from Germany. We shared many meals, toasts (proust) and even a small dance in the living room. Rodolfo took us on several awesome site seeing tours of the city as well as taking us to the home where Fito grew up, fell off a ten foot wall on his head, and climbed a mountain!! It was beautiful but a little sad to see their old home and the factory deserted (thanks to times of terrorism and globalization).

We ate quinea pig, alpaca, and generally had a great time even tasting Coca tea to fight altitude sickness.
Enough for now.

Sara and Mike

Posted by tourdeflor 06:40 Archived in Peru Tagged bus Comments (0)

Key West to PERU!

Overcome obstacles to visit Key West and catch a plane in Miami

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HELLO FROM PERU!! We have overcome many obstacles to land here Total miles =10,800
Miles Traveled another to Miami 2300 miles
Miles traveled to/from Key West 280 miles
Miles traveled to Lima about 2,500

This will be our last morning in the United States for some time. It is with a mixture of excitement and nervousness that I type up the last US based entry. Our time in Florida has been beautiful, enjoyable, and filled with snafus that we have overcome. Miami was a complete debacle. It began with us having to switch cars at the rental office before we even left the grounds. It continued with being stuck in 1 ½ hour traffic jam going to Miami beach. We finally arrived at our hotel at about 1:30 Am and hadn’t eaten since a Danish( for Mike) and a muffin for Sara since 8:30 that morning!!

We met a super nice waiter whose wife was from Bolivia who gave us some great hints for Bolivia. It served as a great reminder that there are people willing to give some time and help out in every country, including our own.

As we left Miami to begin the drive to Key West a funny yellow light came on the dashboard. No sooner had I asked Sara to investigate this light in the owner’s manual that I heard a rumbling sound that could only mean one thing…FLAT TIRE.
One pm in Miami on a bridge is not the best place to put on a spare, but it had to be done. To top it off, it started raining. After getting the spare on, we returned to the rental car office. Two cars later and after dealing with four zombie employees who showed no facial expression and didn’t even offer an apology, we finally met Ebony. She smiled and apologized. She got a car cleaned up for us and got us on the way to Key West. Kudos to Ebony.CIMG4746.jpg
Key West was fantastic. We listened to Reggae, ate fresh seafood, and saw the famous sunset from the deck by Mallory Square where Sara was in one of the street performances. What a star!!
I took Sara to visit Ernest Hemingway’s house. We paid our homage to my favorite author and then proceeded to go to his favorite bar. We swam at Higgs Beach.CIMG4761.jpgCIMG4766.jpg
It was a delight. The only downer was being stuck in a detour on US-1 going North for two hours and almost missing our flight. We made the rounds begging the check in team before they finally printed our passes!! We sprinted through the terminal just like on TV and made our flight .
We landed in Peru last night. Our midnight taxi ride took us past the waves of the Pacific Ocean rolling up on the shore. CIMG4814.jpg
Sara has a cold that has her out of commission for the day, but other than that the arrival has us in good spirits and Sara’s friend Fito will be coming to meet us tomorrow.
Regina’s flight has been delayed until tomorrow. Sara’s has the monster flu from hxxx. I brought her some soup and soft Kleenex and did some sightseeing.CIMG4839.jpg
Mike and Sara

Posted by tourdeflor 15:58 Archived in Peru Tagged air_travel Comments (1)

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