This trip makes Continent number 6. One left, and that would be Antarctica. We'll try and make it around Christmas.
My family tries to make one big trip a year. Dad wanted to see the Amazon. I convinced him that Machu Picchu would make for a much better trip. They plan on closing it in a few years anyway.
The trip began with a few flights that went through Dallas and Miami, with us landing in Lima at 6am. Now, I can't sleep on a plane, so that meant it was a really long night. To make matters worse, our rooms weren't ready till 8am. To pass the time, we got to sample a Peruvian breakfast. Very European. One thing that continually surprised me was how the nicest hotels were in the worst parts of town. If you weren't looking for them, you would walk right past them.
View from Lima Hotel
This fact also meant that some of the views were less than spectacular. But that didn't matter. I just wanted to sleep. After a good nap, we walked downtown and samples a Peruvian dessert that can only be described as sweet potato doughnuts. Very enjoyable.
The next day, we went back to the Lima airport to catch a plane to Juliaca via Cuzco. Flying over the mountains was amazing. Juliaca was...interesting to say the least. Lets just say that I can use the city for inspiration for post apocalyptic images. It was in horrible shape. Thankfully, we met up with our tour guide who drove us an hour south to Puno, the town on lake Titicaca.
Puno and the lake
We spent the night at yet another hidden hotel, then ventured downtown to grab some food. The tour to the Lake the next day began with a short bus ride to the harbor. There had to be at least 20 small boats in the area, all ready to carry passengers. After crusing for about 20 min, our first stop was the floating islands of Uros, created entirely out of reeds. They only last so long (I want to say 20 years? might be wrong), before they have to be reharvested and stuck back together. It was really fun to walk on the surfaces of the islands. Much like being on a water bed.
The guide said that there are a large amount of islands on the lake, the number escapes me at the moment. Might be around 800 to 1000. They also use the reeds to construct their boats, huts and random animals shapes. Also in the lake, was an island called Tequile. It took an hours to sail there, then another 30 min to walk up the steps to get to the town. Being at such a high altitude, around 12,500 feet above sea level, it was really hard to climb those steps. We were greeted by an amazing lunch and lots of information regarding the culture of the island's people. The boat ride back took three hours. Seems we had boarded the slowest boat. Lucky us. I'm not very good with boat rides. Motion sickness is a problem of mine. And I was still dealing with altitude sickness. When I had first arrived in Peru, I drank some of the Coca tea. It's supposed to help you with altitude sickness. I should have drank more. That night was the worst headache of my life. I could feel my heart beat in my back. It didn't help that our hotel room didn't have any windows and was more like a tomb than anything else.
The next day, we boarded a large tour bus for a nine hour bus ride back to Cuzco. I was asleep for a good portion of the beginning. As stated before, I had a really bad night. To add to everything else, seems I had eatten something that wasn't agreeing with me. I awoke breifly to view the highest point in the Scared Valley before passing out again. Halfway through, we stopped at a large gathering of ruins. The picture shows what is thought to be a temple. The Inca trail passes right by it. The trail is a long path that transveresed the entire Inca empire. They had runners that went along it, taking censes. Unfortunitly, we only got to spend 40 min there before reboarding the bus. There were several more stops that day, including lunch, before we arrived at Cuzco.
Let me say something about driving in Peru. They don't seem to have any laws when it comes to driving. Each driver has his hands the horn at all times. There are no lane lines to really speak off. And pedestrains have no rights. None. I saw so many people almost get ran over. You couldn't pay me enough to drive in the courtry. Now you can imagine what is would be like sitting on a bus as it makes it way downtown Cuzco.
The next day was a city tour of Cuzco which ended with me riding on my back upon the laps of my family in a taxi, in Cuzco.... Not fun.
That little adventure actually happened right after we had seen a dinner show. It was a buffet style setting. And they had Guinea Pig. Myself and several others tried to try it. Tried....
It was really chewy. Not very enjoyable. I Like Alpaca better.
Back to the show: every couple min, dancers dressed in amazing costumes came out and performed. One routine that was really amusing involved the dancers trying to light a scrap of paper a flame that hung from each other's belts. At the end, they invited people from the crowd to participate. As always, a loud, drunk American man got pulled up and made an ass of his self. It was horrible.
The last and most important portion of our trip began with a four hour train ride north. There is no other way to get to Machu Picchu. There are no roads really. The view was amazing. Just amazing. Snow capped mountians and rushing water on each side.
I was very surprised by the new town. Sure, Aqua Caliente is a tourist town. But it was the most beautiful part of the country. And the warmest. I was unprepared for the increase in temperature. It was actually jungle. While there I got a few bug bites. Here's hopping I don't have malaria, or even worse, a bot-fly. I've started a two week period of pills just in case.
This city stretched along the river. Halfway through town, the remnants of the recent flood were visible. Mud still coated portions. Our hotel was the second to the last in the town. The sound of river was a welcome distraction in the night.
No. This is not the Nat Geo picture. I took it myself. We got up early that morning and boarded a bus for the 20 min ride up the mountain. In a zip zag pattern. Remember how they drive? Yeah....
It was worth it. So worth it. We had an English speaking guide for the five of us. He took us all over the city, lasting for two hours. We didn't get to go to the tip of the mountain pictured in the photo. Only 400 people are allowed a day and we missed the deadline.
Path up Machu Picchu
To make up for that, my brother and I decided to climb the actual mountain Machu Picchu. The city is just called that becuase no one knows it's real name. The hike up began okay. After about 40 min, Carl had left me behind to race some other guys up the mountain top. He had our water too....
It got pretty hard. I run and swim and work out a lot. But this was one of the most physically exhausting things I've ever done. I had to stop for breath every 100 meters. Carl made it to the top in 56 min. It might have been an hour and 20 min for me. I lost count.
Chill'n on Machu Picchu
But I made it. There was a flag at the top, of which I got a picture. However, the most interesting sight was this guy, just chilling on the edge of the drop off. After snapping what I hope wasn't his last picture, I made my way back down. It was so much easier. I didn't run out of breath once. My legs are still sore though. We had to ride the train back to Cuzco right after that, spend another night in the same hotel, then get up early to catch a plane back to Lima. Where we had to wait 8 hours for our next flight. But we made it home. I have never been so happy to see the US. I really liked Peru, but it made me thankful to live in Texas. I have to say I missed milk the most.