S: Our Peru Adventure, 2010
BC: PEOPLE OF PERU!
FC: Our Peru Adventure 2010 | Angela & Randy Schmidt (and Hartley)
1: Our Peru Adventure October 17 to November 6, 2010 | Plane take-offs: 11 Train rides: 2 Boat rides: 5 Different buses/vans: 15 Taxi rides: 8 Top-tops & other vehicles: 3 Hotel check-ins: 14
2: The first morning in Lima, we awoke to the sound of a parade in the main square a block from our hotel. It was such a treat to see the traditional dress and music from around the country. Our first Toucan tour guide, Christina, gave us a good introduction to central Lima. For supper, we went to a Gastronomical Festival of Peruvian food. The square was vibrant with local vendors and entertainers. Who knew Michael Jackson was alive and well in Lima? | LIMA
3: There was a strong police presence but we didn't feel threatened. | Young girls surveyed us about "happiness" for a class. | On July 27th, Pisco flows from the main fountain. | Plaza San Martin (The White Square)
4: UROS ISLANDS Lake Titicaca, at 12,500 feet above sea level, is the world's highest navigable lake. According to legend, the first Inca emerged out of the sacred lake. The Uros people still live on manmade floating reed islands, fish from reed boats, live in reed huts, and even eat reeds. We tried on traditional clothes, traveled in the reed boat, and bought a beautifully carved gourd.
6: ISLA AMANTANI | Arriving at Amantani Island, we were met by local Quechua women and were assigned a host family. We stayed with Damiana, German, Reynaldo (age 2), and parents. The house was a 20 minute climb up the hill. It had an open area in the middle and no electricity or running water. After a simple lunch - mostly potatoes - we hiked to the top of the island for a great view. A lively game of soccer between locals and tourists took place. We had supper (potatoes, rice) in the small kitchen, by light of the hearth. The house had no running water or electricity. | We wore traditional dress to attend a dance at the community center. Communication was difficult but music was a common language.
7: ISLA TAQUILLE | The men on the island knit high quality products. Rand got a nice scarf and Ang got a traditional hat. | We had a delicious fish lunch at the top of the island with a great view. | Taquille Island, with a population of about 2000, operates on a co-operative basis. Every week people change jobs so they may be working in a restaurant one week and the next week building paths. We did a long hike around the island on a stone path with spectacular views.
8: Cusco - Ancient Capital of the Inca | Cuzco's main square, the Plaza de Armas, has a beautiful Cathedral and equally beautiful Jesuit church - La Compania de Jesus. Paul gave us a basic tour of the main square area. We also had an hour tour of the Cathedral with amazing art, carved cedar choir section, the black Jesus, and lots of gold work. Our guide, an Inca descendant provided an informative perspective of the Inca colonialism. | The Cusco version of "The Last Supper" by Marcos Zapata features the national food and drink - Guinea Pig and Chicha. Judas has the face of Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish Conquistador who conquered the Inca and murdered their revered leader, Atahualpa. | Christo Blanco, on a hill above Cusco, was a gift from Christian Palestinians who were in Cusco as refugees in 1945.
9: While Rand hiked the Inca Trail for three days, Ang toured Cusco and the Sacred Valley. A first stop was the Qorikancha - which had been the most important ancient Inca Sun Temple with walls covered in solid gold and a garden with animals and plants, all sculpted out of gold - possibly the most valuable place in the world before it was pilfered by the Spanish in 1532. The Convent of Santo Domingo was build on the foundations of the temple. It was amazing looking out and imagining what it had been like. Also visited the Archaeological Museum with Inca relics.
10: Cusco | Tambo Machay or Baths of the Princess - once the site of irrigated royal gardens and ceremonial baths. | Ang took a half day Cusco City tour, with Karyn, a good local guide. | Sacsayhuaman (Quechua for "satisfied falcon")- the impressive Inca fortress and "Royal House of the Sun" which stood guard over Cusco, was built from 1431 to 1508. Cusco was built in the shape of a jaguar and it was part of the jaguar's head. The stones weighed up to 70 tons each, and the walls were built to fit tightly together like a puzzle. Questions still exist as to exactly how they transported stones and built it without wheels and modern technology. Inti Raymi,an annual midsummer event ends here, where there is a ritual llama sacrifice, followed by music and dancing and feasting. | Kenko - a temple site with tunnels and a hillside amphitheater. Mummification may have been done in the cool chambers.
11: Puka Pukara was a military fortress, with storehouses and watchtowers. Our last stop was a little souvenir shop with some nice silver jewelry at great prices. | Had a pleasant supper with new Australian friends Leah Toose, a librarian, and Anne Marie Manders, a nurse and owner of a lavender farm. | On Saturday morning,after breakfast on a balcony overlooking Plaza Des Armas, Ang explored more of Cusco's sites and went shopping.
12: CUSCO HIGHLIGHTS * Museum of Regional History - pre-Inca to Inca artifacts * Religious Arts Museum - Archbishop's Palace built on foundations of the palace of the Inca Roca * San Blas Cathedral and square with great shopping (puzzle) * La Compania de Jesus - built for Jesuits in 1571 on foundations of an Inca palace to rival the main Cathedral, * Pre-Columbian Art Museum - extremely well displayed artifacts * Natural History Museum - saw national bird: Cock of the Rock * Monument to Pachacuteq - tower with background of Inca leaders * Jack's Restaurant - Supper with Leah, and brunch with Rand * Hot Rock Massage - a great way to relax | Ang paid two young entrepreneurial kids - Willy and Reynaldo - to show her where famous Inca stones were. They were great salesmen - bought their pricey note cards. | * Coca Museum - bought coca chocolates | * Museum of Contemporary Art - blend of modern art and ancient icons | * Iglesia de la Merced and Convent - beautiful courtyard, a 1.3 M high gold tabernacle with 1500 diamonds and the world's second largest pearl. | * Museo Inka - various Inca relics housed in a colonial mansion. * Video Surveillance: main areas are monitored.
13: SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCA | A bus tour of the lovely Urubamba or Sacred Valley of the Incas, with guide Karyn, took us first to a small town market and then the lively Pisac Market. Prices were so low bargaining was not necessary. I got an llama wool sweater, hats, etc. The terraced mountains and Pisac ruins were quite amazing, with the Inca town atop the mountain, and burial sites on the vertical mountain face. We had a great Peruvian buffet lunch. At Ollantaytambo, I caught the Vista Dome train, and had a great trip with fabulous views through the valley to Aqua Calinetas, where I met up with the others on the tour.
14: Top of "Deadwoman's Pass" - highest point on the trail | Running out of Energy
16: MACHU PICCHU
17: Machu Picchu - Lost City of the Incas - was the highlight of our trip, and end-point of the Inca Trail. It was amazing seeing the ruins as the clouds cleared early in the morning. Julio (above) gave us a tour, pointing out how the architecture blended with the natural scenery. We hiked up to Gateway of the Sun.
18: Amazon Jungle | We flew to Puerto Maldonado and from there traveled up river by boat about two hours to the Tambopata Reserve. Saw macaws at a clay lick and a capybara- the world's largest rodent. The jungle was very hot (30 C) and humid - the cold shower even felt good. We watched the sun set over the river and a boat dredging for gold heading home. After supper we went on a night hike in the jungle - tarantulas were a highlight!
19: Our guide, Listen, led us on a day hike for a couple of hours through the jungle - the jungle sounds were amazing. We paddled around the lake in an outrigger type boat. Saw red howler and tamarin monkeys, and lots of birds, In the evening, Ang stopped to take a picture of the macaw, and an out-of-bounds soccer ball knocked her over. We went on a night boat ride to spot caimans. Food at Explorers Inn was excellent! The next day, we took boat, bus, and plane back to Cusco. Rand went on to Lima to fly home while Ang and Hartley carried on with the adventure.
20: COLCA CANYON | We met Alex, a local guide, who accompanied us to the Colca Canyon the deepest canyon in the world. It had fascinating scenery - particularly the volcanoes. We were lucky to see some of the rare vicunas. The high point was 4,910 M above sea level, and looked like another planet. When we arrived at the lodge, my head was spinning - possibly the combination of altitude, a cold, and maybe malaria drugs or something I ate. I went right to bed and didn't leave my room till we were ready to leave the next morning. At Cruz del Condor Lookout we saw a couple of the majestic condors. The soak in the Chivay thermal hot springs was relaxing. | El Misti Volcano | Cruz del Condor
21: AREQUIPA | Our introduction to Arequipa was through three Australia girls in our hotel who had just experienced an "express kidnapping" by the taxi driver who picked them up downtown and drove them to an alley where three other guys got in. Our guide Paul helped to translate at the police station. The Plaza des Armas and Cathedral, the length of the city block, with 12 columns representing the apostles, were stunning. The Monasterio de Santa Catalina was established in 1580 as a monastery for wealthy women. At the Andean Sanctuaries Museum, saw the famous Ice Princess Maiden, Juanita, found after a volcanic eruption. I went on an afternoon double decker bus tour,seeing many fabulous views and sights including the Founders' House, the Sabandia Watermill, lots of agricultural terracing, a high price store with vicuna and alpaca products, and a cemetery where people were celebrating "All Saints Day>." | Monasterio de Santa Catalina | Juanita, the Inca Princess Ice Maiden
22: PUERTO INKA | We had a long day of driving through the desert to the ocean, stopping for a roadside lunch. Sad to see pretty countryside littered with so much trash. We stayed at the Puerto Inka Resort - at the time of the Inka it was an important port for processing fish prior to transport to Cusco.
23: CHAUCHILLA CEMETERY | We stopped at the Chauchilla Cemetery with several tombs, preserved mummies, and a small museum. It was somewhat gruesome!
24: NAZCA | The Nazca Lines were made by the Paracas civilization 2600 years ago. | Hummingbird | Our Nazca hotel was somewhat out of the way. We stayed an extra day, hanging out at the pool, to be able to view the Nazca lines from the air. In the evening we saw the Marie Reiche Planetarium Show about the lines and their likely background. The bumpy flight over the lines was well worth the wait. We saw 14 figures including hummingbird, astronaut, dog, monkey, spider, condor, and others. | Astronaut | We had great touring companions: Pete, Joy, Tony and Irene Abri (above), guide: Paul, and driver: Lucio.
25: BALLESTAS ISLANDS (Galapagos Islands of Peru) | After a night in the town of Pisco, it was off to the Paracas National Reserve where we went by speedboat to the Ballestas Islands. A highlight was the ancient 490 foot geoglyph "El Candelabro" preserved in the dry air for over 1500 years. The islands were teaming with brown pelicans, turkey vultures,cormorants, Humboldt penguins, star fish, and sea lions. Guano was previously harvested from the islands and sold as fertilizer. On the way back to Lima we passed an interesting town - Chicha - where all kinds of liquor and wines were sold by the side of the road.
26: LIMA | Back in Lima, said goodbye to Paul, Lucio and our tour companions. I took a "Lima by Night" tour, with the highlight being Junius with a Peruvian buffet, including traditional ceviche, and show. The dancers and band were excellent. The tour bus driver told me to get out at the wrong hotel at about midnight- which gave me a bit of a scare - luckily he realized his mistake and came back. | The last day in Lima I took a Lima Vision City tour. Highlights included: * Olive Square (San Isidro) with olive trees hundreds of years old * Mira Flores where most tourists stay * Museo de Oro (Gold Museum) and Arms of the World" collection of ancient firearms | * Huaca Pucllana, an adobe pyramid from 200 to 500 A.D. | * Plaza San Martin (The White Square) | * La Iglesia de San Francisco - a colonial church and convent with underground catacombs and 25,000 skeletons.
27: * Museo Del Banco Central de Resera After the tour, got dropped off at the Fountain Park, with 13 fountains including the highest in the world. The best part was the laser show! Then it was off to the airport for the flight home. | Top 10 Museums and Art Galleries 1. Museum of Pre-Columbia Art (Cusco) 2. Museo Inka (Cusco) 3. Museo de Oro and Armory Museum (Lima) 4.. Museo Del Banco Central de Reserva (Lima) 5. Museum of Regional History (Cusco) 6. Museo Santuries Andinos (Arequipa) 7. Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporaneo (Cuzco) 8. Museo de Arte Popular (Cuzco) 9. Coca Museum (Cuzco) 10. Museum of Natural History (Cusco) Top 10 Cathedrals, Churches and Convents 1. Koricancha and Santo Domingo 2. Cusco Cathedral with tour 3. Lima Cathedral and wedding 4. Cusco Jesuit Eglesia de la Compania 5. Mercred Convent (Cusco) 6. Santa Catalina Convent (Arequipa) 7. Arequipa Cathedral and music 8. San Francisco Church and Convent (Lima) 9 Church of San Agustin (Lima) 10. San Blas Cathedral with tour (Cusco)
28: Top 10 Sights 1. Machu Picchu with mist clearing 2. Inca Trail 3. Nazca Lines 4. Sacsayhuaman 5. Pisac Ruins 6. Puerto Inka views of sea 7. Lake Titicaca from Tacquille Isla 8. Terraces around Arequipa 9. Amazon Jungle River Sunset 10. Colca Canyon | Top 10 Animal Viewings 1. Tamarin monkeys 2. Capybara - world's largest rodent 3. Wild vicuna 4. Caimans at night 5. Tarantula at night 6. Macaws at clay lick 7. Red Howler monkeys 8. Condors at Colca Canyon 9 Hoizsen birds on jungle lake 10. Humbodlt Penguins, Pelicans, Cormorants, and Sea Lions on Ballestas Isles
29: Top 10 Culture & People Things 1. Parade in Lima 2. Amantani Island homestay 3. Demonstrations by Uros Island folks 4. Great tour guides: Paul, Alex, Christina, Karyn, Cusco kids, Julio, Listen 5. Interesting traveling companions: Tony & Irene, Pete & Joy, Leah, Anne Marie 6. Various markets: Pisac, Cusco, Lima, Puerto Muldernado, etc. 7. All Saints Day: Cemetery party 8. Junius Dinner Show 9. Spanish lessons from taxi driver 10. Shoe shines: three times | Top 10 Sounds 1. Sounds of the Jungle 2. Wedding music at Lima Cathedral 3. Flute player at top of Pisac 4. Musicians at Juliaca Airport 5. Michael Jackson in Lima 6. Music at Arequipa Cathedral 7. Musicians on Amantani Isla 8. Lima Parade Music 9. Junius dinner show music 10. Lazer Light Music & show
30: Top 10 Memorable Rides 1. Train Ride through the Sacred Valley 2. Touk Touk (top/top) ride in Puno (man powered) 3. Lake Titicaca, particularly reed boat 4. Boat ride down Amazon river 5. Catamaran around theJungle Lake 6. Flight over Nazca lines 7. Ballestas Island speed boat 8. Flight into Cusco from Lima 9. Cusco City Tram Tour 10. Double Decker Tour of Arequipa and area
31: Things We Didn't Like 1. Being sick due to altitude, a cold, a bug? 2. Not feeling safe after three girls from the hotel were kidnapped, blindfolded and held at knife- point for two hours and robbed. 3. Shortage of tents on the Inca Trail 4. Lots of undernourished dogs 5. Garbage everywhere on land and in rivers 5. Dirty banos 7. Aggressive hawkers 8. Poverty 9. Crossing streets and general traffic 10. Uphill climbing without enough oxygen 11. Overwhelming heat and humidity in the jungle 12. Slow customs and missing planes | Relaxing: 1. Cusco hot rock massage 2. Chivay hot springs 3. Pool at Nazca | Top 10 Memorable Meals 1. Lima Gastronomical Festival Supper 2. Supper in kitchen on Amantani Isla - lots of potatoes 3. Guinea Pig in Cusco - lots of little bones - five star service 4. Fish lunch on Tacquille Isla outside overlooking the ocean 5. Junius dinner show buffet: ceviche, chicha (purple corn drink) 6. Breakfast at Jack's in Cusco: Huevos Rancheros, mocha, fresh juice (Supper at Jack's with Leah also good!) 7. Alpaca in Puno 8. Lunches on the road: making meals & doing dishes 9. Lunch on Amazon riverboat (chicken nuggets, etc.) 10. Buffet at Explorer Inn And the coca tea!