Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Bees´ Knees

Ok, here we go again. to begin, i will use the saying of a good friend when i say that Machupicchu really is the bees´ knees. its the shit. its undescribable. photos dont say enough, video doesnt say enough, you have to go there to know.

My first few days in cusco were fun. i was staying at a party hostel that had a bar called The Horny Llama, so that probably says enough there. but just a tip, no matter who you are, i dont care what you weigh or how tall you are, dont drink 10 rum and cokes in an hour and a half, especially when the rum is cheaper than the coke, and that makes the drinks extra strong.

I left on my 4 day trek with no problems. 2 other americans were in the group as well, along with 2 danish girls, but one had her bag stolen (complete with passport, clothes, name it) at the bus station the morning we were supposed to leave, so they decided to rethink the plan. so,
Day 1:the two americans and i headed on our 4 hour bus ride with the guide through amazing scenery on some wild roads, but they were all paved. we then got off, hopped on our mountain bikes and started the ¨downhill¨ mountain biking portion of the trip. ¨downhill¨ really meant down a bumpy ass road that made my male parts hurt, along with my ass, back, arms, head, and my body in general. this part of the journey got some curses from me, and i was miserable enough after 2 hours of riding i was just about ready to make them take me back to cusco for a refund, but i stuck with it, and the coke i had at the hostel after the biking never tasted so good. *note: i brought 25 soles (peruvian currencey--3 soles=1 dollar) because i would have to buy water and a 10 sole entry to some hot springs. i didnt account for the fact that others would want to drink some beers and have a good time.*
Day 2: the danish girls joined us today, so we were a full group again. we headed off at 6:30am and walked a total of 22km that day. it started with easy road walking, then hard uphill, then the rest was 80% flat (words of the guide). we got to some hot springs an hour from our destination, and they were terrific. the hostel was nice as well, and while we were having dinner our guide gave us our options for the next day: walk 7 hours (19km) or take a bus 30 min and walk 3 hours. my only problem was i had 10 soles left, and the bus was 8, and i needed 5 for a bus back after my train on the fourth day (that was new news to me). we agreed i would borrow money from the americans, and that way i wasnt mooching beer the whole time as well.
Day 3: another early start, nice bus ride, and 3 hours of walking along train tracks, which is quite hard on your ankles. we got to aguas calientes (the town closest to machupicchu, and the most expensive and touristy town in all of peru, according to the guide), and had lunch. then we got some drinks in a bar and watched two movies. that night the guide told us he would not come to machupicchu with us, we would have a guide when we got there. he gave us a breakfast (banana, bread, oreos, juice) and we bought some snacks for lunch. i got 2 bananas and two lemon sweets, which was all i could afford.
Day 4: at 4:30 we left the next morning and climbed steps for an hour and a half. but machupicchu was amazing (once the cloudy mist of the morning cleared). after our guide, the americans and i climbed another mountain called hynapicchu (which means young mountain, machupicchu means old mountain). the view from the top was amazing, you would see 360 degrees and all of machupicchu below. that climb was another hour of steps as well. it was there we had thanksgiving breakfast, juice, oreos and a banana for me. we chilled out till about 1 and had thanksgiving lunch, bread, banana, oreos for me. then they left for their train, and i hung around for another few hours. the americans gave me 10 soles then, the bus from where the train would drop me off cost 5 soles (according to my guide) to get me to cusco. so i was drained when i got to aguas calientes, and got a coke and a water (which i hadnt had for 2 days...of hiking). that left me with 5 soles. when i got off the train at 8:30 the only buses going to cusco cost 10 soles. my genius self thought to jump on with another tour group on their bus, and act like i was with them all along. i got in line with the first one i saw, group lucy. it was 20 asian people, and 2 white people, not including me. great...the bus company asked the tour guide (who was busy and flustered) if i was part of the tour. he gave me a quick glance (i was sitting in the back with my hat pulled low, and asians behind me) and said yes. ok, so i got away with it, now i would have 5 soles for a cab when i got back to cusco. not yet--they did a thorough inspection of who was in what group, and i was found out. i offered to pay 5 soles to stand in the aisle for the 2 hour bus ride back but the ass-hole bus guy said no. so now im facing sleeping in the bushes and getting a bus or hitchhiking back the next day. i am running around the bus lot, asking everybody if i can go for 5 soles. finally one guy said i could sit in the back of his mini-bus (a bit bigger than a dodge caravan). i jumped on. the back means the space between the back of the back seat and the tailgate. it was actually quite nice, there were blankets on the floor and just enough room for me to stretch my legs out. we got back in 40 minutes, passing everybody else on the road, it was crazy. i was dropped off a block from my hostel, where i had my thanksgiving dinner (at 10pm) of a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.

The next day was relaxing, and i left cusco happy. im now on lake titicaca, and i did an island tour today. it was pretty cool, many people live on floating islands that they made. its cool. im off to bolivia tomorrow, and still upset that i have to pay $100 for the visa, but whatever.

good lord, that was long. sorry. time to go eat some alpaca steak.

Friday, November 28, 2008

damn internet cafe computers

i just spent an hour writing an amazing tale of my last week and when i tried to publish it, it deleted the whole thing. sorry guys, i dont have it in me to rewrite it right now, maybe tomorrow.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Be Back in a Bit

Im off to the first real World Wonder today, on a four day trek to machupicchu, so ill have a good post in a few days.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cusco and the desert

alright, for those of you who dont know (and i cant imagine there are many of you who do), south west peru is real worthless. really they just have a lot of desert, and a few worthless towns built where there must be a natural spring or something, because it certainly doesnt rain out here. on our 10 bus ride from nasca to arequipa, i saw lots of sand, and some hills of sand out in the distance--for 10 hours (execpt when i was sleeping). arequipa is a cute little (almost a million people makes it a bit bigger than ¨little¨, but it feels small) colonial town. the new yorker and i found a private room for pretty cheap, but it was very basic, and the south african opted to find somewhere more expensive, mission number one completed! we slept for awhile before getting some food and checking out the markets. they have some fabulous cakes and pastries here, which will be my demise, and i had a good latte too (first one in 6 weeks).

that night we found a local disco with not a gringo in sight. after a pitcher of bad beer a couple locals helped to show us how to dance, which didnt go drastically well, but was a blast either way. we spotted some drug deals in the club and on the way back to the hostel as well, so that was kinda exciting. next day was more wandering and more coffee and more pastries. we bumped into alli and her friends (the crazy aussies) but were lucky enough avoid being stuck walking around with them (alright, maybe im a little harsh, but whatever). at 3 my friend from new york took a bus to puno, by lake titicaca and i got one to the coast. i would have liked to stick around with her longer (shes one of the funniest people i have met here, and we didnt stop laughing for more than a few minutes the whole time we were travelling together) but she was moving way to fast, and had to be in Rio by december 17th.

i missed the stop to the town i planned to go to because the bus was stopped for all of about 15 seconds so one person could get on, and a few minutes later the bus attendant came and told me that was where i wanted to get off, isnt that i got off at the next big town about half hour away and stayed the night and went back the next day. it was real worthless excursion, but i guess it gave me something to do. now im in cusco taking it easy (at 3300 meters). i had a delisious bacon avacado bbq burger for lunch. ummmm.

ill post again before i head up to machupicchu, if theres anything to post about.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


wow, its been a while. this might be long...

took the night bus from huaraz to lima (yes, of course there was a screaming baby for the first half hour of the ride, and yes, i did realize that the sound that makes me want to punch a baby (dane cook fans...) is that of a baby screaming). arrived at 5, got a bus to ica at 6, and was in the hostel in the small oasis town of hacachina by noon, ready to pass out. the hostel was 5 dollars a night and had a pool in middle of the court yard, and plenty of recliners. that night we had an all you can eat, all you can drink (rum and cokes) BBQ. i met some cool aussies, brits, and an irish guy. i soon found out they were all alcoholics, as they managed to go through 16 strong cocktails (like long island ice tea strong) before heading back to the hostel to drink more. i chose to pass on all but sips of the various kinds of cocktails they were drinking, and went to bed early (1 or so) that night. the aussies and irish guy left the next morning, but i hung out with the brits the next day (they both resembled jesus to some extent) and we went sandboarding.

the concept is they take about 6-8 of you up into the desert (amazingly beautiful) in dune buggies that sound like old V-8 fords. i was all ready to ride in the one with the brits and some girls from london, but they moved me into one with 5 isrealis and a brazilian. fun. the drivers are totally insane, making the trip a blast, as you cruise over the dunes and down very steep slopes. then we get out at the top of maybe a 50 foot dune, and stap out waxed pieces of plywood (really they are big skateboards with now trucks) to our feet and cruise down. you pretty much have to go straight and keep your balance to be sucessful at all, but it was totally fun. we did six dunes like that, then went to some 150-200 foot ones, that you couldnt go straight down on or you would die (or break your back, dont laugh it happened to someone, although not while i was there). next day alli and i went to the peruvian galapagos (which isnt really like the galapagos at all, mostly because its not where charles darwin lived and experimented, in fact the islands are uninhabitable for the most part). they are called the peruvian galapagos because they have thousands and thounsands of birds. and hundreds of sea lions and some penguins and other stuff too. all in all, it was fun, but not spectacular.

sandboarding was so great that i did it again the next day. this time i was with a cute 19 year old girl from bellvue, and some cool (and totally totally hilariously un-pc) women from london. it was even better, and i was able to make some turns, and look semi-suave while doing it, although thats not so say i didnt wipe out pretty bad, and am still sore from it. another barbeque that night where i met a cute girl from NYC, so we hung out till quite late playing pool (with the hilarious women from london) and such.

i managed to convice alli and her friend to leave early, so i am now awaiting a 10 hour night bus ride to my next destination with the new yorker and a real annoying south african guy. he thinks he knows everything (doesnt speak a word of spanish) and is right about everything. he also has lots of money (a banker from living in london) so he´s not on the same wave length as us. hopefully we´ll be able to ditch him soon enough.

phew, more as it develops, im off to machupicchu in about 10 days.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

So i have been in Huarez, the mountain town of almost 100,000 people (but you wouldnt guess it if you were just walking around town) for 4 or 5 days now i think. the german i met actually turned abou to be an isreali, although his accent sounded quite german, and he didnt like being told so. to adjust to the altitude he and his friend and alli (the somewhat insane aussie) and i headed up to another ¨must see¨ in the guide books, Laguna 69. we took a 2 hour taxi ride that left at 6am and got to the trail head at 8:30 (a timid taxi driver made the ride take longer) and hit the trail. we walked past a sign that said it was 8 km up to the lake, whoa. and of course the aussie, living in her own little world, says, ¨oh 8 km is nothing,¨ even at more than 3000 meters, with one day to acclimatize. so we begin, and the first bit is flat and easy, and then we have to go over a ridge. that took some time for me and one of the isrealis (who i still think of as german) but the other one and the alli cruised up. then another flat bit and another steeper ridge, which took almost an hour to get over. i finally set eyes on the lake 3.5 hours after we started, and its supposed to be a 2.5 hour hike. it was beautiful though, bright teal blue water surounded by snow capped peaks. (pictures will come when i have a faster computer.) at that point i had a pretty bad headache. alli went swimming in the glacial lake, and when she got out it started to snow for a few minutes, followed by intense sunshine that made me take my jacket off. i found out from a guide that we were at 4600 meters. thats 700 feet higher than mt. rainier, for those of you who didnt know, and twice the hight of the highest mountain on the east coast. we had started the journy at 3800 meters so we had an incline of 800 meters, or 2600 feet. walking down resulted in more headaches and nausea, that only resided with some tylenol that i took at the bottom. that night me and some guys from the hostel made a great pasta marinera meet sauce, which i also had for lunch the next day.

the day after that was a relaxing one, in which i managed to watch 3 movies with 3 sets of different people. dinner that night was a delicious spagettie shrimp alfredo, which i also made, but cost more than going out would have if i had wanted chinses or peruvian food, which i didnt. that day i also met alli´s friend who is half malaysian and half australian, as they were preparing for the 4 day santa cruz trek, which i decided to pass on, since the laguna 69 was pure hell, and they would not have donkeys, and thus would be carrying their 30 pound packs on their backs the whole time. screw that, to this day im still not fully acclimtized, or way out of shape, cause i find myself breathless after 3 flights of stairs.

yesterday i went mountain biking with a british girl, a british woman, and a wierd guy from seattle, who didnt tell us what he did, just that he had been travelling for the last 2 years. we were supposed to get a bus ride to the top of the trail but the bus driver was apparently an ass hole and dropped us off a 40 minute uphill ride from the trail. the ride down was a blast though, but i have to say the best part was being chased by rabbid dogs and having to yell and throw rocks at them to keep from contracting rabbies myself.

today has been very tranquilo, and i booked by trek to machupicchu for november 24, where ill meet the british girl from the bike ride, if all goes to plan. tonight im headed to lima and then to ica, a small town in the sand dunes where you can go sandboarding, which i plan to do a lot. all in all, i have enjoyed hanging out in this town, and i have met some pretty cool people in the hostel here. trekkers going to peru, you´ve got to check this place out.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fuck expensive mexican food

The womens world tour of surfing was very cool. i just sat on the beach for some time and watched these people surf, they are really good. and the aussie girl i have been travelling with for the last week or so went to school with one of the women competing, so that was cool. other than that there hasnt been much to do, except swim and lie in the sun, which i have no problem with.

but his girl, her name is alli, is very very very stingy with her money. which i guess its good, but sometimes its just ridulous. anyway, so we have spent like 25 dollars in 2 days, so we thought we would go to a nicer resturant before we left at 10 pm our last night. we decided on a mexican resturant that looked good. the food was delicious, i had a huge tortilla with veggies and chicken and shrimp, very satisfying. then i got a piece of apple pie at another resturant and we finished up the night with drinks before we got on the bus.

it was all going fine for the first couple hours, i slept, and then i woke up feeling nauseas. i had trouble getting back to sleep because i was focusing entirley on not throwing up. after an hour or so i lost this battle and had to retreat to the bathroom on the bus, and revisited it a few more times throughout the night. sleep didnt come easy. we got to the city for our connecting bus at 6 am to find the bus didnt leave unitl 9 pm, so we dropped off our bags and went to check out some pre-incan ruins. had i not been feeling like shit i think it would have been more fun. then we went to a beach were i passed out in the sand for 2 hours, and that helped a bit. then we headed to a movie, where i came down with a fever. we drag ourselves back to the bus station and i manage to sleep for a few ours on our second 8 hour overnight bus ride in a row. now im at the hostel at more than 10,000 feet up and just waiting to be struck by altitude sickness. i met a german today and i think were going on a four day trek with him and a friend in a few days.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I had plans to stay in a little town near peru for a month, working and volunteering and living for free, but that ended up not working out. i did however meet and aussie in cuenca and again in vilcabamba (where i was going to stay) so we headed for peru. our bus to the border town was held up for 3 hours by a parade in celebration of the virgin, i have no idea why they chose to have 1000 people parade in the middle of the highway 25 km from the city they all lived in, but that had apparently been the plan. played hacky sack with some american girl travelling with their family and then we got moving again. 6 hours later we got off and took a taxi to immigration, although at this point it was 11:30 and we were advised (if we wanted to not be robbed and possibly killed) to stay there and go the next morning. we had dinner with an irish and a chilean doing the same think, and at 8 the next morning walked 4 km from ecuador to the peruvian immigration, and were set to go.

another 2 hour bus ride (i slept for most of it, despite Transformers being played, in spanish with spanish subtitles) got us to mancora, a small surfing town on the north coast of ecuador. tomorrow is the womens world tour of surfing, so that will be fun, and the water is warm and the sun is out. after that we´re headed to a mountain town very very far away to do some trekking with the irish guy we met at the border. more as it develops.