S: Peru Trip 2011
BC: “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang
FC: 2011 Peru Trip
1: To my extraordinary mother, who taught me the meaning of adventure
2: Mom and Max arrive in Peru
5: Visiting Friends in Lima
6: Home of the ancient Inca and architectural wonder in a pocket of the Peruvian Andes, it's CUZCO (or 'Cusco,' depending on who you ask)
8: El Mercado
9: "There's so much colour here. In the market there are rows and stacks of fruit, vegetables, flowers and textiles. The old women in bowler hats and knee-length skirts sit on the streets selling grains, coca leaves and other assorted knicknacks. There's children everywhere." | Coca: 1. a shrub native to the Andes, having simple, alternate leaves and small yellowish flowers. 2. the dried leaves of which can be chewed or brewed into tea to help alleviate headaches from the high altitude... can also be made into other stimulants.
10: In the back of the market there was a loud and busy food court. We tried ceviche, a classic Peruvian dish of fish with lemon | "Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living." - Miriam Beard
11: The courtyard and view from our hostel in Cuzco Inca Kola, the choice beverage of Peru. Tasted like citrusy cream soda. | We got the great idea that we would bring harmonicas on trip. We got pretty decent at a couple roadie classics, such as 'She'll be comin around the mountain' and 'Red river valley'
12: The children of Cuzco
13: The Plaza de Armas | On a warm afternoon, we explored through the central square in Cuzco, playing with pigeons and people-watching. Cainan filmed.
14: It was almost midnight on the night before we were set to leave when I started vomiting. When our ride showed up at 4am, Mom didn't know what to do - the man couldn't speak English, and people were waiting for us. Doubled over and dry heaving out of the taxi door, Cainan dutifully filmed the commotion as everyone tried to figure out what was going on. Eventually we bundled me up and loaded the bags onto a bus bound for the town three hours away where we would meet our guide.
15: ... and then in the wee hours of the morning, we left Cuzco and headed for the hills
16: Day 1 | The drive to Mollepata, where we had lunch, was followed by driving to our first campsite, since Sab was still too sick to hike. It was a fair-weather first day, with bathrooms and a adorably affectionate (albeit flea-ridden) little dog.
18: Day 2
19: Our longest and hardest day. We were on the trail by 7:20 and passed through every possible weather category throughout the day - from rain to snowy mountaintop to thick, bone-chilling fog to tropical heat. | 4600m summit
20: So Cold!! | The campsite | Valentino the horseman
21: Day 3 | Heavy rains had caused mudslides to obstruct the trail at some parts. Our guide Fabian taught us about different herbs and plants from the mountains, such as the hallucinogenic 'trumpet flower' | The mountain village of Collpampa held 200 people
22: Maiz, or corn, grows at middle altitudes while potatoes were cultivated at higher altitudes. The crops, such as the white beans in the picture below, were grown on absurdly sharp inclines (looked like 60 degree angle). The farmers then walk their produce to Playa, a town 14km away.
23: Fabian and Juan help mom cross a fast-flowing creek that is plummeting off the side of a cliff a few meters outside of the picture frame. | Peruvian bowling! Goal: launch a rock over the side of the cliff and see who can get their projectile to reach the river.
24: We set up camp the second night in a discotech (presumably out of commission during the low season) in Santa Therese Juan, our beloved cook, was always jolly but soft-spoken, and would never relinquish his special soup recipe. | S.T. is a peculiar town. Its streets are paved, but barely anyone's walking them. There's electricity, but few windows are lit.
25: The hills softened, and seemed to be covered in low brush that gave them a velveted look. We passed cinder block houses with colourful clothes out on the line and eateries where the soundtrack looped Shakira and Spanish rock from the 80s. Once at our camp spot for the night, Fabian took us outside to a yard dotted with fruit trees. There were coffee beans, avocados, some unusual lime/mandarin mix, tomatoes of the jungle, oranges, even jalapenos.
26: Day 4
27: Day 5 | With our horseman Lorenzo gone, we had to start actually carrying our full packs. The weather was great though and we saw workers blasting out chunks of hillside for a new road along the river (we hid among banana trees on the hillside so the engineers wouldn't see us.) Also found a millipede as wide as my pinky finger, and twice as long. Covered in bug bites. | We awoke at 4am and left our hostel in Aguas Calientes to make the steep hike up to Machu Picchu. Max and I were the 8th and 9th person in line, with sweat pouring off us and a misty dawn just hinting over the mountains. Naturally, we all cast disgusted looks at the loads of tourists that spilled out of buses, as if they hadn't properly paid their dues.
28: Machu Picchu
30: Arriving early had its advantages; Fabian led us and an Australian couple on a tour of the grounds, with detailed commentary into the history of Machu Picchu, and all the theories about it (monastery? ancient highschool?). Fabian, whose father is native to the area, wears a chakana on a string around his neck; the traditional Incan symbol represents the three levels of existence: upper world of the gods, our current life, and the lower afterlife.
31: It was incredible to actually walk through the ruins and imagine the 400 or so people who are estimated to have lived there between 1400 - 1533.
32: Puerto Maldonado: Jungle Town ... ... ...
33: After a breakfast of coca tea with llama cream, buttered bread and salted avocado, we got on a 11 hr bus ride to Puerto Maldonado. We found a tour company that was willing to give us a special off-season price for a three day tour of the jungle, plus food and lodging. P.M. is a dusty, ramshackle town. We got there the day after a violent miner's strike, so there were guards with guns on every street corner
34: Butterfly Garden
35: “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru | Max went to the serpentarium across the road | The Inkaterra Butterfly House was an impressively well-set-up establishment. Peru is home to some 3,700 identified species of butterfly.
36: The boats, called pang wans, were like long gondolas being propelled by a weed-whacker | The Madre de Dios river
37: Lodge Sweet Lodge | Our home for two nights and three days, the lodge had all the jungle necessities: beds with bug nets and plenty of hammocks. It was a luxurious lifestyle we weren't used to; fresh papaya juice in the morning, with plantains cooked every which way, and a bathroom with jasmine and vanilla hand soap. It was a small lodge, and our party of four were its only guests. Our guide John was great, and very informative. It also meant that we were able to go on a night walk, since the jungle was our backyard. John had us all stand about 30m apart, alone in the dark and just listen. It was a strange but wonderful experience.
38: The | Rainforest
41: "One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things." - Henry Miller | A highlight of the day: Lunch! It was steamed rice with egg, chicken, onion, sweet spices and cilantro, all wrapped in aliconia leaf. Apparently the dish was traditionally made with caiman meat, before hunting them was outlawed. Also saw troup of squirrel monkeys!!
43: Flooded | Trails! | John's response when asked about the machete: "Oh, just in case. The jungle's the jungle you know?..." Once while leading a group on Lake Sandoval, John told us, an anaconda zoomed underneath their canoe. Good to know the amazon hadn't been completely sanitized in the interests of tourism yet. | Since it was still the rainy season (though we were really lucky weather-wise throughout the whole trip) some of the trails were flooded and we had no choice to wade into the murky waters
44: Adventuring among the Treetops | Ironwood tree | Boom ant
45: Critter Corner | Zip lining With birds flying at the same level as we were, we zoomed over the swampy trails that we had just sloshed through, and marveled at the new view of the jungle. | Canopy walk Walking across a 60m planked pathway, 40m above the ground, I craned my neck over the side, and gave a few small jumps just to feel my heart beat a bit faster. Also saw boom ants on the platform, which are so named because of the terrific pain their bite causes.
46: Kayaking on the Madre de Dios | Parrot Pals Max and Sab befriended a domesticated macaw which turned out to be evil and chased us across the deck, trying to bite us | The Madre de Dios, which eventually becomes the great Amazon river, served as playground while we paddled around in the plastic play-boats. | Pepe the Parrot | Other river fun: Going out at night in the boat to look for caimans. Using a spotlight powered by a car battery, John spotted red eyes and directed us towards a baby black caiman. Also saw a capybara on shore.
47: pang wan boat | Finally, after a great trip, it was time to bus back to Cuzco, where we flew back to Lima, and relaxed for a day before jetting back home. Peru, it's been a slice.