Friday, June 15, 2007

Peru Highlights

All of us... 3 flights and 24 hours after leaving San Diego!

So, we still haven't seen all of our pictures and the thought of whittling them down to an album that won't make you all run and cower seems too daunting at the moment. So, for now we will just give you guys a run down of what we did while we were far far way in the deepest darkest parts of South America...

After 14+ hours spent in cars, airports, shuttles and airplanes (in seats without working video players!) we arrived in Lima at about 1:00AM and Tonita received her very first passport stamp! After a quick bite to eat at Mc Donald’s, we tried to find a quiet place to sleep before our 6:00AM flight to Juliaca/ Lake Titicaca.

On our way into Puno, the city located on the banks of Lake Titicaca, we stopped for a quick tour of the Sillustani Ruins. We saw Inca and pre-Inca burial tombs and some Incan mummies. From there we headed into Puno and to our lovely $12 a night Hostel los Uros. We loved this place. Most of the hotels and hostels in the area only have warm water a few times a day, but our place had HOT water 24 hours. It was great! That night we ordered Alpaca for dinner… YUM!

The next day we hopped on a boat and headed out to the Floating Islands. The islands are made out of reeds and literally float on the lake. Over 2,000 people live on these islands… it was crazy! After that, we headed back to the boat and spent the next 2 hours getting to the islands of Amantani where we spent the night with a local family. They cooked us lunch, dinner and breakfast the next morning… all meals were made up of lots and lots of soup and potatoes!

That night they dressed us up in traditional clothing (Jen had to wear a girdle-like-belt, which made it oh-so-fun to breathe) and took us to a local “fiesta” where we were forced to dance the night away… actually, it was a lot of fun, but being that we were up at nearly 14,000 feet, it was hard to dance and breathe at the same time. Not to mention that each song lasted about 10 minutes and we are not good dancers!

The next morning we left for the island of Taquile where we had lunch and then headed back to Puno. Bright and early the next morning we headed back to Juliaca and caught a flight to Cusco. We spent the rest of the day sleeping in our hotel and then checking out the Plaza de Armas. For dinner, as you already know, we ordered Guinea Pig! The little guy came to the table with a cute hat made out of a tomato and garnish… which didn’t do much to disguise the fact that he was smiling at us!

The next day we headed to a small village about an hour away from Cusco. This village was where most of our porters for the Inca Trail lived. We spent the afternoon “helping” them harvest potatoes and then headed to one of their houses where they fed us dinner… Potato Soup... and we spent the night dancing once again! That night we slept in our tents in the backyard of one of the families… along with the chickens, donkeys and pig!

The next 4 days were spent hiking the Inca Trail. It was the hardest hike we have ever done… not to mention that we were between 8,000 and 14,000 feet for the entire hike! Kenny did just fine, but on day 2 Jen swore off hiking forever! Thankfully, our porters carried the majority of our things. They were amazing. At one point, we saw one of the porters carrying all 4 of our backpacks! The porters not only carry a zillion pounds, they also do it while basically running the trail! Amazing. The porters also set up our tents before we even arrived at camp and cooked us breakfast, lunch and dinner… all with 4 or 5 courses each!

Even with all the luxury, it was a lot of work. The last day of the Inca Trail, we woke up at 3:45AM to try to get to the Sun Gate before sunrise. We basically ran over 2 miles to get there in time to get the amazing sunrise over Machu Picchu picture… and… it was overcast! LOL! Once it cleared up, Machu Picchu was amazing!

After spending some time in Machu Picchu, we headed back to Cusco on the tourist train… it was the weirdest train we have ever been on. The train was straight out of a Disneyland ride… it included a dancing masked man holing a dead baby llama and a fashion show! Craziness I tell you!

I wish you could see the baby llama in the video!

The next day, we flew to Iquitos, a city smack dab in the middle of the Amazon. Iquitos is only accessible by air or boat. After a week in the Andes, it was a major change to be in a city with 85 degree temperatures and 90% humidity! That night we hailed two motorcycle taxis and went out to explore the city and get a few geocaches. One geocache was located at a restaurant called The Yellow Rose of Texas. The food was so good and the ambiance a lot of fun.

The next morning we boarded a speed boat and headed up the Amazon River. Again, we felt like we were at Disneyland on the Jungle Cruise as we passed by jungle huts and small villages on the river. We were expecting a headhunter to jump out any minute! Our lodge was located right on the river and we had our own private rooms with private baths! At night the place was lit by kerosene lanterns… it was like something out of a movie.

While in the Amazon, we saw tons of birds, monkeys, bats, tarantulas, caiman, pink dolphins, piranhas and a sloth holding her baby! One morning we woke up early to go fishing for piranhas. Just a note... piranhas are mean! They would be trying to eat the rest of the meat even after they were caught on the hook. Luckily, none of us lost any body parts and we were able to take the fish back and eat them for lunch. Piranha is so yummy!

We also visited a small village while in the Amazon. We purchased some of their home made crafts and visited the local school. While at the school we listened to the children sing and then taught them the Hokey Pokey... I think they think that all Americans are crazy!

After 4 days in the Amazon, it was time to leave and fly home.

We had such an amazing adventure and there are so many more stories to tell…

We bought matching hats... are we cool or what?!?

Kenny made friends...

The rain forest is called that for a reason :)

Back in San Diego... for now!


Joy said...

Wow, you guys are so amazing! What a great trip!

The Cutter Family said...

Looks like you guys had a great time! I'm glad you had so much fun and that you all got home safely! Can't wait to hear about your next big adventure!

Doug and Terry said...

Your Peru photos and stories are great. Did you really eat alpaka and guinea pigs? Hope you guys can come up soon.

Danny and Tonita said...

We are SO way cool! ;) Thanks for the fun trip!!