Tag Archives: Peru

Our last day in Peru…

greetings all from our final day in Lima. We depart tomorrow for Mexico City, so this marks the end of the South America portion of the trip. It´s a bit sad that we´re ending so soon, but alas who are we to complain? We´ve had a pretty great run of it so far. Here are some photos from the past couple weeks (it seems it has been a while since I was able to upload any), along with a brief update of our recent days…

the first one is of me in costume for Puno Days (that was the celebration on lake titicaca with the parade that lasted all day):

next up we have one of Chris, me and our donkeys celebrating Obama´s victory. we were in Arequipa at this point:

following Arequipa we headed to Colca Canyon; here´s a shot of me at the top of the canyon (before we began our descent down into it):

next we made our way to Camaná, the town on the coast that had suffered all the tsunami damage. we were greeted by one heck of a sunset:

following Camaná we hit up Huacachina for a little sandboarding and dune buggying. we wound up relaxing there for a couple of days because it was a place well suited for lazy days by the pool. on the first afternoon we went out for a dune buggy ride. it was pretty sweet; the dunes were huge and the driver sure did know how to make that dune buggy go. it was crazy! here´s our crazed looks at the end of the ride, along with one of me on the sandboard (we quickly learned that it was no use to actually try and stand on the board – going on your stomach was much faster and much more fun!):

when we got home from sandboarding, chris thought it would be fun to play with the hostel owner´s pet monkey (tied to a tree outside the hostel). well it was fun until the monkey climbed chris´s leg and ROBBED him! ha! for real. chris even said out loud, “he´s trying to rob me,” to which the monkey responded by reaching into chris´s pocket and stealing his money! here´s a photo of the monkey robbing him, along with one of chris trying to talk the thief into giving him back his riches:

our second day in Huacachina was spent by the pool in the morning and at some wineries in the afternoon. we stopped by three separate places. one was a larger, industrial winery. this was followed by an artisan winery (lots of pisco here – yikes!), and the final one was a more historical, old fashioned kind of place. following the wine, we headed back to the pool for an afternoon of relaxation and to enjoy the wine we bought at the winery. here´s one of chris and his other animal friend from the hostel. the bird is eating a cookie while chris enjoys his wine (this animal did not rob him):

anyways, we arrived back in lima yesterday morning so that we would be able to visit the Peru office of Pathfinder International (Pathfinder is where I worked in Boston before I moved back to Denver). It´s a small office, and I had daily contact with the folks down here while in Boston, so it was quite fun to put faces to names and to hear about some of the new projects. They are quite busy these days, and the work they do is admirable. Needless to say, I was very pleased to enjoy a few hours chatting with everyone…here we all are:

for our last day we have been enjoying some of our peruvian favorites. we started the day off with a humita (similar to a tamale – cornmeal and cheese in a corn husk – yum!) and followed it up with some choclo y queso (choclo is giant corn). next up we had an inca cola (local peruvian cola – it outsells coca cola down here!). we still have to find salchipapas to complete the day, but so far we have done well in satisfying all our favorites. salchipapas are french fries with a hot dog cut up on top and somehow they make it taste amazing down here. here´s one final photo of chris enjoying his choclo this morning:

well, tomorrow we´re off to Mexico City. we´ll be back in touch when we get there! bye for now…


greetings from our obama-happy state in peru. we´re nestled into arequipa, the second largest city in peru right now. we arrived yesterday morning after a long bus ride from puno. our last day in puno turned out to be quite crazy for a day that had been slated for relaxation. monday was the beginning of puno week, an annual celebration of puno´s heritage. we awoke to the beginning sounds of a parade outside our window, and those sounds did not subside until we climbed into bed around 9:30 that night. they literally had a parade that ran through the town all day long. costumes and music and beer and kids running around and people dancing and noise noise noise. the computer i´m on right now doesn´t have a slot for my camera, so i can´t upload photos, but next time i will…it was pretty neat.

anyways, following puno days we hopped on a bus up to arequipa in an attempt to find other gringos to watch the election with. we checked into our hostel, grabbed a late lunch and headed out in search of the local irish pub (what better place to find whities than in an irish pub?). saddled up at the bar, i enjoyed a few mojitos and chris a few (take the term “few” lightly) beers while we chatted away with our new american, irish and french friends. believe it or not, by the end of the night the frenchies were offering hugs all around (this is another one that we have photos of but will unfortunately have to wait). we´ve taken it as a small research study that has allowed us to come to the conclusion that barack obama is better for foreign relations than john mccain would have been. ha. it was pretty interesting to hear the international perspective though. we haven´t met a single person down here that was rooting for mccain, and the election seems to have been a test of the american perspective vs. the perspective of the rest of the world. the overall emotion right now surrounding the election seems to be relief. it´s kind of neat to see it from the eyes of another nation, but at the same time we both agree that right now would be a pretty great time to be at home.

anyways, we´re hanging around arequipa for a bit longer before we head to the mountain towns around here. we leave peru in less than two weeks, so it feels a bit like we´re in the home stretch of this country.

i should be able to get back on a computer soon and upload some photos of the past few days, but in the meantime hopefully the text works just fine.

bye for now!

Machu Picchu!

well, we made it. we´re back in cusco after four days of hiking, a beautiful day of exploring Machu Picchu, a night in aguas calientes, a delayed train and one final bus ride. the trek was incredible. the hiking itself was tougher than i anticipated (for which i was glad). our group was great: a grand total of ten gringos, 2 guides, and 16 porters (refered to as chaskis, meaning swift footed runners – which they certainly were). here we are in all our glory (if you look closely, you should be able to pick out the cook):

anyways, we began our hike on a sunny friday. the first day was about 12 km total, and most of it was “inca flat” meaning a slight uphill but nothing too bad at all. we stopped for lunch around 2pm and were delighted by our first meal. we started out with some soup, and followed that up with stuffed avocado, river trout, rice, potatoes, juice and tea. it certainly beat the cheese, sausage and crackers that usually comprise a meal for me while camping. after hiking a bit in the afternoon, we settled into our first campsite, where we enjoyed a few beers and awoke the following morning to roosters at 4am and coca tea delivered to our tent at 5. somehow the tea made the early wakeup a bit more bearable. here are some photos of us upon arrival, of the view we saw in the morning, and of chris enjoying his morning cup of coca tea:

day 2 was greeted by sunshine in the morning, which was nice considering this was to be our toughest and highest climb of the trek. we hiked a total of 15 km that day, the majority of which was uphill…and in the rain. we topped off at just over 14,000 ft when all was said and done that day. the hike itself was beautiful – unbelievable views and scenery – despite the 6 straight hours of uphill climb. after our morning tea break, we encountered the rains, and they stuck with us throughout the rest of the day. come sunset, the clouds began to part and we enjoyed a clear evening to relax after a long, chilly day of hiking. here´s a photo of my chaski, quasimoto, on his way up the steepest steps right before we reached dead woman´s pass, along with one of us atop the pass:

following the pass, we made our way down for about 2 hours before reaching the campsite. lucky for us, the fog cleared a bit and we were able to enjoy the valley below. again, the views were just breathtaking (both the night we arrived and the morning after when we were a couple of tired campers)…

day 3 was quite a bit nicer. we hiked 15 km that day as well, but the majority of it was a nice, slight uphill. nothing compared to the day before. the scenery was quite different, as we entered into more humid, wet areas and passed through a cloud forest. the group spread out a bit more on the third day as well, so we were able to enjoy some quiet hiking on the trail (it´s generally quite busy with people!). we passed quite a few ruins along the way, which made for nice rest stops, and ultimately made our ways down 3,000 rocky stairs to reach our final set of ruins for the day, as well as our campsite. our view for most of the afternoon looked a little something like this:

camp the final night was unlike the others in that there was a bar, they sold food, and those who wanted to could take hot showers (we did not want to). dinner the final night even included a cake, prepared by the cook and presented by a chaski. in the photo you can see our guide (david, dressed in yellow), the assistant guide (ricky, on the far left), and one of the chaskis (victor). they baked a cake for us while we were camping?! crazy.

up at 3:40 am the final morning, we readied ourselves for a 4:20 breakfast followed by a 5:00 departure to make our way to the sun gate, where we would catch our first (albeit very foggy) glimpse of machu picchu. we could see very little, but we hung around for a while before the rain really picked up and did manage to see a bit (though the photos suggest otherwise). as we made our way to machu picchu, it cleared a bit, then fogged over even more. patience proved to be a virtue for us though, because as the day progressed we were blessed with more and more blue skies. chris and i chose to climb up waynapicchu, a mountain right next to machu picchu, that we were told would give us spectacular views of the ruins. we hoped what we were told held true, because the climb was a bit ridiculous after waking up before 4 am! here´s a view of machu picchu (the mountain in the background is what we climbed), a view of machu picchu from the top of the climb, and a photo of us and our new friend, the bird right above our heads:

anyways, following the last climb we were entirely beat and opted to head into town for an afternoon of hot springs. sounds delightful, and it might have been had there not been 40 (chris counted) other people in the tub with us. ha! it was semi gross and semi really funny. everybody into the tub.

that about does it for our trek. we´re now over halfway done with our big adventure. today we´re in cusco, and we´ll be here tomorrow as well. there is currently a bus strike that is preventing us from heading down to lake titicaca, but we´re told it should be resolved by friday. our fingers are crossed! in the meantime we relax, enjoy sleeping in a bed, and take some time to explore cusco. hope all is well at home; here´s one final shot of machu picchu for all to enjoy (it really was unbelievably beautiful):

off we go again…

well we leave tomorrow morning for our machu picchu trek, so this is the last you´ll hear of us until at least the middle of next week. we spent all day on tuesday on a bus to lima where we arrived, ate, slept, and boarded our plane to cusco. we got into cusco bright and early on wednesday morning and were into our hostel by 8am, so that was nice. after a breakfast overlooking the plaza de armas, we spent the rest of our day wandering around this quaint little city. nothing too exciting to report, although we have enjoyed a couple nice quiet days of reading, wandering, relaxing, and enjoying. it´s a hard life we lead.

tomorrow morning is certain to bring us some days of excitement as we make our way to machu picchu. our group includes 2 guides, 16 gringos, and 22 porters. evidently gringos necessitate a lot of stuff. the good news for us is that we only carry our sleeping bags, a change of clothes, a book and a camera (and – shhh – maybe a beer or two for the first night)…they handle the rest. not bad for us, not good for them. so it goes.

anyways, off we go on our next adventure. we´ll be back in touch next week, but in the meantime hope all is well at home. bye for now!

back to peru…

hi all,

we made it safe and sound back to peru yesterday morning after a 24 hour bus voyage that carried us from cuenca to machala (both in ecuador still), machala to tumbes (now in peru), and finally tumbes to trujillo (overnight). needless to say, by the time we arrived in huanchaco (a beach town nearby to trujillo), we were sweaty, stinky and in need of a good shower. it was worth it though because our one full day of buses gave us two full days in a nice little beach town, so we’re quite pleased with the choice. some of you might remember huanchaco from earlier in our trip; we were here for a few nights on our way north up the coast right after we left lima. we’re staying at the same hostel even because it has a tv in the room equipped with espn deportes, so i got to watch the red sox last night (at this point i could have done without), and we both get to watch monday night football tonight. suffice to say we already have a bet riding on the winner. go patriots.

anyways, our last bit in ecuador was great. we took the train from riobamba down la nariz del diablo. the train wound its way through the ecuadorian country side for a few hours before we collected a whole bunch more tourists in alausi and headed down la nariz del diablo. while the ride was beautiful (we sat on the roof), by the time we made it to la nariz we were swimming in a sea of tourists and cameras and both feeling a bit claustrophobic. here’s a few photos…one is chris looking thrilled to be on the train, another is the sea of gringos, and another is the view from the train (that was the best part…it was just beautiful).

following riobamba, we began our voyage south. we hopped a bus to cuenca on friday night, ate a delicious dinner of indian food, slept for a bit, and woke up early to begin the next day’s bus journey. one long day and three buses later, we were greeted by a day of sunshine in huanchaco. yesterday was spent relaxing on the sand, and today will more than likely include much of the same. tomorrow morning we’re up and out early once again in order to catch our bus to Lima. wednesday morning we have an early flight to cusco, and machu picchu begins on friday. that marks just about the halfway point in our trip. i keep telling chris it’s crazy how fast it’s going, and he keeps telling me we still have another 7 weeks left. i hope he’s not getting antsy. ha.

anyways, off we go for now. hope all is well at home!

estamos en ecuador y tenemos fotos!

back again… we made it all the way to ecuador yesterday which didn´t seem like a big feat when we began our journey, but as the hours rolled past we had our doubts. first things first though, we have some pictures to share from the past few days…

this first one is of us sporting our new alpaca hats while enjoying a bottle of wine in lima. the house red wine was only 8 bucks and we swear it didn´t taste like vinegar.

this next one is at a park in lima looking out over the pacific. it´s called el parque del amor. though we found it quite nice and peaceful during the day, a walk past the park at sunshine is sure to be greeted by lots of maker-outers. it´s not the called the parque del amor for nothing, i suppose. either way, it´s pretty nonetheless…

the next one is in huanchaco, on the roof of our hotel where we enjoyed a sunset beer. it´s the roof that you all were invited to meet us at but neglected to do so…

Next up is our dumpy hotel room in Mancora, the sweet little beach town. that´s the room we left in favor of a nicer one across the way. from the looks of things, you might understand.

And the final one is the entire coconut we ate. again, YUM.

Anyways, as for the present, were in Machala, Ecuador for the morning. Were headed out of town shortly to work our way west into the hills to a town called Zaruma. We should be there for tonight and perhaps tomorrow night as well, then its time to head up to Cuenca.

As for our adventures in the past couple days, the biggest bit was that the trip yesterday from Mancora to Machala encountered some funniness on the Ecuadorian side of the border when we arrived at immigration. it seems that the electric company had decided to replace a pole and all the wiring in the middle of the day, so we stood there watching for a long time, hoping that the old pole would not crush the meat on a stick/coca cola vendor working beneath as it swayed precariously on its rope. even the peruvians in line behind us found the way they were working to be questionable, so i suppose it wasn´t just our anal american ways at work. regardless, they accomplished everything after a while and we made our way into ecuador. once in ecuador, the bus guy asked for our tickets, and when we showed them to him gave us a perplexed “Machala!” (there´s supposed to be a question mark there too but the key wont work on my keyboard). We were like, yeah, machala, does this bus not go to machala (again, question mark). he responded with a “yes, this bus goes to machala…” and we were off.

anyways, were being booted from our computers, so its time to go.

again, we hope all is well at home, and enjoy the little comments that come our way from time to time.

bye for now!

still working on our tans…

hello again and greetings from the lovely little beach town of mancora. we arrived here yesterday after a night in piura followed by six hours on a bus. not bad.

piura turned out to be a decent sized city – bigger than we expected. we stumbled upon a great place to stay after wandering around for a while, so that was a definite bonus, as was the chinese food the hotel guy told us about. oh and for about 13 bucks, we got a room with our own bathroom, cable tv and internet.

mancora has been a treat for sure. its a very laid back, very surfy, very beachy little town. aside from the panamericana, all the other roads weve come upon are sand. after arriving yesterday, we checked into a dump of a place and headed out for some lunch. lunch meant a restaurant on the beach with tables in the sand and big cheap beers. not a bad way to start a beach getaway, thats for sure. following lunch and a walk around town, we secured a less dumpy room for the following night. the convenient thing was that it was right across the street from the old place and right on the beach. the inconvenient thing was the woman at hostal number 1 watched us this morning as we made our way to hostal number 2. so it goes. the funny part about the whole thing is that a group of german backpackers who we shared buses with from trujillo to piura, then piura to mancora, stayed at the same dump the first night and appeared this afternoon seeking a room (refuge?) at our new hostal. poor suckers went back to dumpy hostal number 1 in an effort to retrieve the money they already paid for night number 2. we havent seen them since. ha.

anyways, were heading out of mancora tomorrow and should make our grand entrance into ecuador before the day is done. in terms of travel, weve got a little bus to tumbes, a peruvian border town, followed by an ecuadorian bus that will carry us over the border and ultimately into manchala, ecuador, before the day is done. language school starts in cuenca on monday, so we have a few days yet before we need to settle ourselves in for some good old educacion.

in the meantime, were headed back out to the beach for a beer and a sunset. spending days on the pacific coast does wonders for one’s sunset viewing, thats for sure!

take care for now; hopefully well be able to share some more photos soon!

p.s. we just ate an entire coconut. yum.

vamos a la playa

well, we´re back. no pictures this time because the camera cord is in the hostel right now. that´s a shame because there are some good ones to share, but alas.

since we last wrote, we wandered around lima for a third and final day. i managed to convince a starved christopher to eat lunch at a vegetarian restaurant (muy rico), and then we spent some time exploring the mercado de los indios. it´s a huge crafts market that was located fairly close to where we were staying. they had some neat stuff, and i can guarantee that by the time you see him next, chris will be the proud owner of a llama sweater. yep.

to make our grand exit out of lima, we hopped on a night bus up to trujillo, 8 hours north on the coast. the bus wasn´t bad aside from the music they blared for the first couple hours and the lack of AC throughout the night…and of course for the fact that we were sleeping on a bus. upon arriving in trujillo, chris befriended a peruvian guy who led us and our new canadian friend (from the bus ride) to a nice little breakfast spot. delicious fresh squeezed pineapple juice made the meal for me, for chris it had to be his manwich that incorporated ham, turkey, chicken, pork, some other meat we did not know, and a fried egg: the breakfast of champions.

after hopping in the tiniest cab in the world, we headed to Huanchaco, a beach town about 10 miles from Trujillo. here our day was spent lounging on the beach, reading and enjoying a cerveza or two on a patio right before sunset. not a bad way to spend a day.

today has been much of the same after sleeping in and disfrutaring a nice breakfast outside on the patio. we made our way into trujillo once again to purchase our bus tickets for tomorrow and explore a bit of the town´s quaintness. now we´re back around huanchaco for the rest of the day with a fresh avocado in tow from the market in trujillo (it cost us about 25 cents). if anyone would care to join us for a rooftop beer and some freshly sliced avocado, that´s where we´ll be in about 2 hours.

anyways, tomorrow we head north once again to a town call Piura. we should have one night there, then a quick bus ride the next morning to Mancora. that´ll be our last stop before we enter ecuador. Mancora is supposed to be a pretty nice little beach town, so we shouldn´t have much trouble entertaining ourselves there for a few days. we´re looking to try some surfing…we`ll see how that goes.

hope you´re all doing well! oh, and please don´t hesitate to post comments and let us know where we´re failing (or excelling) in our travels and travel writing. if you just want to say hello, that´s cool too…we would love to hear from everyone

Piscos, ceviche and damn those are some hot tomatoes

Well, we made it…and here we are:

After gathering our bags at the Lima Airport, we couldn’t help but grin at the taxi stand where a sign reading “CHRISTOFER AAROAL” beckoned us forward. Not too bad for midnight on a Tuesday after traveling all day. We hopped into our cab and sped through the empty streets of Lima until we arrived at…well…nowhere really. It seemed that way at least, but after Frances, the hostal dad (no, not hostile, hostAL), welcomed us to his home, things fell quickly into place. By quickly we mean less quickly and more thoroughly, but they fell into place nonetheless. Frances presented us with a map of Lima and its various sections, and proceeded to offer us a guided tour of said city map for the next hour or so. Helpful? Very. Timely? Not really. We were beat.

The next morning held some promise for us as we navigated our way around the local bus system and ultimately found ourselves in Central Lima. Where in Central Lima, we weren’t quite sure, but we were there nonetheless. So yeah, our morning was spent wandering around Plaza Mayor, Plaza San Martin, and whatever we found in between. We managed to stumble upon the changing of the guard in Plaza Mayor which was pretty interesting, especially given that it was an Olypmic athlete honoring changing of the guard. Lots of music, plenty of guards marching, and a handful of athletes in the middle. I imagine they were thrilled. ha. Anyways, here’s a glimpse at Plaza Mayor…

Well, after an exciting morning it seemed like a good idea to find ourselves some lunch, so following Frances’ map, we wound our way through the streets until we arrived at China Town. Lima has a surprisingly large Chinese population, and we were pleasantly pleased with the ability of this lunch to further prove the theory that Chinese food tastes pretty much the same no matter where you get it…with one exception. It tastes just like home whether it’s from home or from Lima; HOWEVER, it does not taste like home when you fill your wonton soup with “tomatoes” that turn out to be the hottest things your mouth and your sinuses have ever seen. Christopher learned the hard way on that one. He cried like a baby. HA.Anyways, after that excitement we took the bus back to our hostel in hopes of wandering around Miraflores, the district in which we’re staying for the moment. We made our way down to the cliffs lining the ocean and hung out there for a while. Pretty pretty place. Logically, after wandering around such a pretty place, we decided it was time to reward ourselves with a beer, so rewards ourselves we did. Yum. And even more logically, after rewarding ourselves with a beer, we thought, what better time than now to reward ourselves with some dinner? So we did, and along with that dinner came a free pisco sour. Delicious. Chris ordered ceviche, and I, attempting to try something off the menu that I wasn’t quite sure of, wound up with fried cheese wontons. For real. They made a nice appetizer, but I have to admit the ceviche took the cake. It was delicious. Next up was a quick stop at the store to grab some beers and head home to watch the Peru/Argentina soccer match. Lucky for us, Frances shares a similar mentality and was there at the hostal to welcome us with some type of pisco/coke/lime/booze booze booze drink. Again, it was delicious. Peru tied the match and that means they’re still in the running for the World Cup in 2010, so needless to say the horns were honking outside our windows as we went to bed. Fun night.

This morning held more Lima bus adventures for us as we made our way south of the city to visit Pachacamac, the closest set of Incan and pre-Incan ruins to Lima. They were pretty sweet and certainly bode well in terms of our Machu Picchu trip at the end of October. Lesson learned though at lunchtime regarding Peruvian food: salchipapas is french fries covered in sliced up hot dog. Nothing more, nothing less…really.

Interesting note from the ride home: we took a little omnibus (kind of like a 15 passenger van but with less room and a dude hanging out the window hollering where it’s headed as the bus flies down the road). By the time we go to our stop, we were all the way in the back and the van had amassed a total of about 18-20 riders. Needless to say getting out was a bit of a trick. Chris equated it to being born again, and I have to agree. Just put your head down and plug on through until you’re out…breathe…ahh…

Anyways, here I am posing with my new friend from Pachacamac:

Well, tomorrow we’re headed north, though we’re not entirely sure where yet. Possibly a city/town called Trujillo. Otherwise who knows. The goal is to get to a beach town in the next few days…smaller town, fewer people, more hammocks. We’ll see how it goes.

Bye for now; hope all is well with everyone at home.

Welcome Welcome

With about twelve hours to go before we leave, I’m learning to blog and Chris is…well, Chris is watching football instead of packing (somehow this seems a fitting way to begin the trip). So welcome, friends, to our big South American/Mexican adventure. We’ll do our best to post some photos and thoughts here for the next few months; hopefully you’ll find our exploits to be as amusing as we surely will.