Peru Day 14 – Atlanta, Cleveland, Aftermath…

We landed in Atlanta and cleared customs without any troubles.

The only trouble we did have is that after we boarded he plane to Cleveland they kept us on the ground for 1.5 hours trying to fix it before we took off.

Finally we made it home.  My wife met us at the airport and all the luggage made it – none of the presents broke!

We dropped Tim off and then headed to Costco.

Finally tally 83 rolls of regular film, 2 rolls of 3D film, and about 500 digital shots.

They called Monday night to let me know that the film is ready and I’m heading to Costco this am to pick up all 2600 prints!

Thanks for reading – hope you enjoyed.


Peru Trip Closed!

[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]

Peru Day 13 – Lima

So its 7am and we made it back to Lima.  The problem is – our flight doesn’t leave until 12:30 am.  So how do you kill 17 hours in Lima.

Well first you find a hotel.  We figured that the best thing to do was get a room just to shower and pack from so we could be decent on the flight back home.

We also found an amazing museum – The Rafael Larco Herrera Museum in Lima which  houses the largest private collection of pre-Colombian art: 45,000 pieces!  So we had the taxi take us to a hotel near it and we took a nap before venturing out.

The museum was gorgeous.  Very well organized and very educational.  The storage is open so you can see literally all 45,000 works just stacked on shelves – it was just crazy!

They also had a very fancy restaurant which we ate at and a really good gift shop so Tim finally got the reproductions he needed for teaching purposes.  Lastly, the erotic pottery was very well… explicit.

After spending the day there we headed back to the hotel.  Along the way we stopped to get money since we were told we would need $30us as an exit tax to leave the county.

The taxi to the airport was very scary.  He took a lot of side roads and Tim and I both thought we were being kidnapped!  But eventually we made it.

The airport experience was great.  Peru officials hand checked my film (that’s right 4 airports – 0h X-rays!) and they separated me and Tim to give us more room.  They showed “The Bucket List” on the flight again but I just slept into Atlanta.

[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]

Peru Day 12 – Arequipa

On Friday we woke up knowing two things – we had to be at the bus station at 4:30pm for Lima and that we couldn’t leave our bags for the day at the hostel.

We got up and took a taxi (with our bags) to the town square – where I recalled from the night before there being a 4 star hotel.  They let us keep our bags there for the day (very nice thank you).

As Tim and I wandered around the square with a few hours to kill we decided to split up and meet back at 4pm.  Arequipa, is a big city and it was nice to get a feel for it.  The Spanish architecture is everywhere and seeing a colonial town made for a nice comparison.

I went to a music store, a couple of churches, a craft market, it was a slow but nice day.  I met a match salesman – he just sold books of matches on the street corner.

I went back to the square and loved seeing the snow capped mountains in the distance.  As I tried to take a photo of the mountain and a church a policeman stopped me and told me not to photograph the church.  I thought this was weird as its not a government building or anything and then he explained himself.  He told me not to photograph the church from the square but told me a building that would let me up and give me an even better vantage point!

Very nice guy.

Tim showed up on time at 4pm and we headed for the bus station.
At the station we were amazed as ever at the  myriad of little convenience store like stands that all sell the exact same thing!

We boarded the bus (first class) and found that it was just me and Tim on the 14 hour ride back to Lima (at least in first class).

They played some music and some Spanish Karaoke and then the dog of a movie “The sound of thunder” which you shouldn’t see and I’ve seen like 4 times (thank you HBO).

At about 1am first class filled up but it was a nice ride that actually arrived in Lima early!  So there we are last day in Lima at the bus station at its 6:45am….

[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]

Peru Day 11 – Puno

[So technically its Monday and I’m back in Cleveland, but I figured some of you wanted to hear how the story turned out.]

So on Thursday Tim and I got up and found that our bus tickets to Ariquipa were still not there yet but the hotel guy promised they would be there by the afternoon.

They were still trying to sell us on a ‘tour’ of Titicaca and we almost went for it – instead we took the taxi to the dock and charted a boat for the day.  They told us to take pencils or candy with us for the children so I got a pack of pencils.  If I would have known I would have brought more.  So there we are me, Tim, and 3 Peruvians on a 5 hour boat ride on the highest lake on the planet.

Instead of heading to the tourist island they took us deep into the lake and to a very small island that only 5 families lived on.  After about 1.5 hours we found ourselves in water so murky with seaweed that they had to pole the boat.  A small rowboat full of children came out to our boat and then rowed us back to this little floating island.  The island which is really floating reeds was very flimsy and we found ourselves getting wet just walking on it.  I gave out my pencils quickly and Tim and I saw a living hut and a cooking hut.  We gave money to their parents and then after about 15 minutes left the island for the boat.  It was devastatingly poor there and Tim felt really bad that the little kids were rowing us and tried to take over.  He wished he had food to give and not just money.

We went back to our slow boat across the lake and Tim asked them to go a little faster when the boat stalled out for like 15 minutes (which I thought was funny).  We finally came back to the more touristy islands that were selling crafts and had restaurants and even a place to ‘stay’ and have the experience.  To be honest everything was overpriced and nothing they were selling were they actually making.  We did have a nice fish lunch and then headed back.

All and all it was about a 5.5 hour cruise and very nice.

We then headed back to the hotel to find that the travel agent sent us really cheap bus tickets at a later bus and then was nowhere to be contacted.

I was angry (still am) so instead of accepting the late bus we just headed to the bus station and tried to find something sooner.  I found something an hour earlier (that was supposed to get in at midnight) and Tim pawned off our old tickers for 3/4 their value.

The bus was a local and very slow and cramped (and cold) and got in at 1am instead of midnight.

We got a taxi and Tim found a cheap hotel (in fact a hostel) and pretty much passed out at 2am in Arequipa.

[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]

Peru Day 10 – Cusco to Puno

Well I got up before Tim and went to a travel agent to find out what to do next.  See its Wed am and we are in Cusco and on Sat pm we have to be in Lima.  Tim wants to fly but I don´t want to get caught in that mess and also want to lower the risk on my film.  I am up to 74 rolls (72 regular and 2 3d).

At the travel agent I arranged a bus from 11:30 from Cusco to Puno (but not a luxury bus – a bus that the locals take) and also a bus on Thursday night from Puno to Arequipa.  The lady told me that buses from Arequpia to Lima run regularly. She also got us a hotel in Puno – The Camino Real where I am writing from right now.

I woke up Tim, we at and headed out.  The bus was a real trip.  No AC and very filled with locals.  Every few minutes they would sell food.  The trip took longer than expected. I slept most of the way (thank you Dramamine and sore muscles) though at one point we stopped at people through their garbage out the window at some waiting dogs who scooped it all up.

We got into Puno and it is cold – I mean VERY cold. Winter cold.

I got up to write this and brief you all on the rest of the trip. On Friday the University is shutting down the blog server for the weekend so this might be my last entry till I return.

Its Thursday – we are in Puno and we visit Lake Titicaca and the floating islands – we bus tonight to Arequipa.

On Friday we visit the colonial town of Arequipa and maybe hit a museum of two.  Friday at 5pm we have first class seats on a luxury bus to Lima (its 14 hours).

Sat am we hit Lima where we will get a hotel room near the airport so we can shower and repack and leave our bags there while we hit a few more spots and then catch out 12:30 am (yeah that late flight)

We arrive back in Cleveland around noon on Sunday!

Thanks for reading will post more if I can.


[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]

Peru Day 9 – Machu Picchu

I got up on Tuesday and reflected a little on the night before.  After the long crazy day I had a fun evening.  I ate Alpaca, bumped into people I saw up the mountain and was feeling very good about how Tuesday would go.

I felt so good I decided to bring the Stereo Realist and see if I could get some 3D pictures at Machu Picchu.  Tim and I slept in, ate a nice big breakfast, loaded ourselves with supplies and headed out around 9:15.

Tim and I took it slow around MP.  The place is an entire city and the weather was fabulous, sunny, and clear.  We ended up splitting off after about an hour and I just photographed and enjoyed nice and slow.  I love the fact that Llamas just walk around the place.

At about 1:25 I found myself in this little room that seemed perfect to try and capture for Pocket Virtual Worlds.  I had shlepped my gear but still didn’t know if I could do it ‘in the field’.  The little room was nice as it has a room off of it (like a closet or a cave) where I could stash my bag.  I unpacked and started to try to grid out the room.  I figured it would take about 18 panoramas to get it right.  The sun wasn’t helping but I ended up working up a rhythm and did the entire room in about an hour.  I would have probably try to shoot it again but my private hour was all I was going to get and people started to move through.  I learned a lot and even if it doesn’t come out right I know what we do next.

I kept wandering and climbing (very slowly with the bound knee and my cane instead of a walking stick) and I bumped into Tim who had gone the other way.  After 3pm the place starts to empty and you can really get some great shots.  Tim and I met up again about 4:40 and walked to the exit together.

At the exit I met a girl who had a dog sleeping at her feet.  She told me it wasn’t hers it just walked up to her and plopped down and went to sleep.  She told us that there was a public bus that went from Ollantaytambo to Cusco after the train fro only 5 sol or that people took cabs.  This sounded good to us so we headed back to the hotel for dinner and the guys at the hotel made us a reservation back at our old hotel in Cusco and told us not to spend more than 50 sol if we got a cab.

The guys at the hotel were great and we showed the my Africa book and Tim played harmonica.  I took pictures with them and then Tim and I grabbed a burger to go and they took our bags to the train station.

This time even though we were on a backpacker train it was more luxurious.  And we left at 9:30 and go to Olly around 11pm.

There were two cab drivers hustling for our business and Tim got one down to 50 and we were off.  The best part of the whole trip was that the night was clear.  I mean really clear and you could see stars but not just a few I mean lots of em the entire galaxy was there and it was heart stopping to see the stars with the mountains all around you.

Very fun.

We got to Cusco at around 12:30 and yup it was locked up!  They did let us in but they put us in this tiny tiny room on the third floor!
We left our bags downstairs and just went to sleep.

[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]

Peru Day 8 – Machu Picchu (and a nightmare!) Continuation…

OK sorry about the few days break its hard to get internet here sometimes.  So where was I, that´s right I was hiking up to the summit of Waynapichu the steep 70 degree sloping mountain that overlooks Machu Picchu.  I climbed slowly, drank often, got passed a lot and took 9 rolls of film on the way up.  About 2/3 up I came across some Incan ruins (The Temple of the Moon) and kept going, to get to the very summit you have to crawl through this cave that is so small you have to get your pack off.  But I kept going until I came to a pile of boulders that made the summit.  You go under the boulders and reach a small ladder.  It was at the base of this ladder I twisted my knee, it hurt but since I was there this guy with a walkie-talkie helped me up the ladder and voila I was at the summit of the mountain and it was 1pm.  I rested there for about 20 minutes.  Several of us joked around, the guy with the walkie-talkie took my picture on the rock (with Machu Pichu in the background) and I even tried to get a spherical panorama (since I had lugged the rig all the way up on my backpack).  Oh yeah in addition to my vest and my freshly sown pants I purchased a Peruvian backpack to bring my camera gear.

Well since it took me almost 3 hours to get up I figured I better head down at at 1:20 started to head down when I realized just how bad I messed up my knee!  Pain with every step.  I started slowly down.  Always one step at a time,sometimes on my butt, sometimes on my hands and knees.  Now I’m starting to get muddy and I see I’m covered in bug bites that are actually bleeding. You can imagine the mess I look.  People start to come down and pass me one at a time asking if they can help and if I am ok.  I tell them not to worry I made it up and will make it down.

After about 20 minutes I figure out what´s wrong with me knee.  It hurts when I bend it – not when I put pressure on it.  So I start down sideways one step at a time.  Then to my shock at about 1:45 I run out of water – that right I drank the entire 2 liters!

I haven´t eaten anything yet all day cause I thought I would meet up with Tim for lunch so I grab a hard candy and keep slowly going down when the man with with walkie-talkie asks if I need help.  Then I realize.  He works here and I’m the last one on the mountain.  He offers to get a stretcher and have them carry me off the mountain but I refuse.  I can do it I tell him just slowly.  He takes off my pack, and my empty water, and my vest, puts them in the pack and hands me a walking stick and we go down together.  He keeps insisting I go slow, and continues to offer the stretcher (which I think would be worse!).

Finally at 2:55 I arrive at the base and sign out where I signed in (this is a security thing so they get everyone off the mountain).  Several of the people who passed me where waiting to see how I was and gave me water and power bars.  I tried to give the guy who carried my bag down some money and he only took it when I explained it was because he saved me not because he carried my bag.

I realized I would never find Tim so I headed for the exit.  It took me till 4:30 to find me way out and I bussed back to the hotel.  On the way I get a bandage to put pressure on the knee and some Gatorade (which they sell a lot of).  At the hotel I left Tim a note and got some food and drink.

Tim showed up about 7pm.  He waited for me at the last bus and then came back and ate himself.  It turns out he didn’t see Mach Pichu either and went the other direction towards the Incan train and hike up to the entrance gate that way.  I went and had a massage (they did a great job on my knee) and we agree to go back to Machu Picchu on Tuesday to see it and photograph it nice and slow.

[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]

Peru Day 8 – Machu Picchu (and a nightmare!)

So I wake up at 6am because I´m so excited to go to Machu Picchu and its pouring, I mean rain rain, the whole city is in a fog.  So I grab my stuff and head out anyways.  I buy a rain poncho and head to the bus station and find out you have to buy a ticket to Machu Picchu somewhere else.  I figure I should look into getting out of town and go to the train station and purchase tickets to Olyantatambo on the only train I can Tuesday at 9:15 PM (backpackers again). I also buy the tickets to Machu Picchu cause I don´t want Tim to get up and find that they are sold out (only a certain number of people per day).

I come back to the hotel about 8am wake up Tim, hand him his tickets and brief him on the situation and head out.  The situation is: no food, no drink, no bottles, no walking sticks unless elderly.  I emptied most of my bag but did take but 2 liter water backpack.  Tim was going to bring food in his bag later for the two of us.

The moment I get to the bus it stops raining (I’m told it rains every morning) and I head off.  Its way up through the mist and mountains and I´m very excited.  I get off and head into Machu Picchu and follow throngs of tourists (its already busy!) and I walked to the complete other end and I find that the big mountain over Machu Picchu is open still (they only allow 400 people a day) and I figure what they hell and at 10:15 signed in the log book and started my ascent.   It was a crazy trek up and up and up and I didn’t reach the summit till 1pm!

But they are closing this Internet cafe so you all have to wait to hear what happened tomorrow!

Boo hoo


[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]

Peru Day 7 – Cusco to Aquas Calient

So there I am packing up for an early morning when I hear the hotel buzzer buzz.  Its about 12:30 and its Tim coming back.  Problem is they all fell asleep, so he buzzes and bangs and calls up to me but I can´t let him in cause we are locked into the hotel.  He just buzzes for 20 minutes till they finally let him in.

And of course we have a 9:30 taxi.

I get up around 8:30 to run some errands, I wanted to get some food and take some last minute pictures of the Incan ruined walls that make up most of the city when I open the door and its Mario, the guy who arranged our driver and our hotel (who we accidentally stood up the other night).  I tell him that we have a taxi and we are going to get train tickets when we get to Olantaltyambo, he says this won´t work and while Tim is getting dressed Mario, the driver and me go to the train station and I get the backpacker train that night from Olantalytambo to Aquas Calienti.

Mario is a licensed travel agent and would be happy to arrange everything until we leave but we like a little more flexibility.  We did have him get us a hotel for two night in Aquas Calient for a good price.

So we finally leave the hotel with train tickets and all our baggage and will drive about 80 miles to the train station.  Our first stop )10:15) is the Incan Temple of the Sun which turns out to be the same as the Church we saw last night (but in daylight) I also was able to stop into a store and get needle and thread for my split pants.

We spent about 15 minutes there and then headed off to Chinchero where we passed a parade of children coming through the town.  Since it was Sunday Chinchero was having a big Sunday market.  Beyond the trinkets I really enjoyed seeing people selling alpaca yarn by the kilo and powdered pigments.  The ruin in the town was right in front of a small church, the ruin itself was outstanding and just want on and on.

Around 1pm we hit the small town of Moras and I got to see donkeys up close I mean so close the flies came in the car!  We then headed down this dirt road to Moray which has these Incan circular terraces.  Very nice but a long hike down to the bottom and it started to rain.  Tim and I just hung out for a few and walked partway down and headed out.

Our next stop was the pre-Incan salt mines.  It was a very scary dirt road into a valley where a saltwater stream was diverted into a bunch of pools that dried to become salt.  Very nice to see.

We got to Olantatambo at 4:15 which was just in time to get in, it was massive, Tim and I hiked up and down it till 5:30 when they through us out.  It really was this entire Incan city.

When Tim realized it was 6pm and our train was at 8:30 he was a little distraught so we went into the train station and had a nice SLOW dinner, salad, soup, cheese, burger, really good food.

We met a nice couple she was Irish he was Peruvian and they met and live in India!  They had a 4.5 month old with them.

Tim and I were nervous about the 2 hour train ride since technically we were not on a train that allowed luggage but nobody cared and they stored it where we could see it from our seat.  (they even carried it for us).

When we got if is Aquas Caliente it was amazing.  There are no roads so there are no cars!  Just huge steep walkways.  They had people from the local hotels with signs –  It was funny my name is ´Joset Bendit´.  The hotel was straight up and they helped drag our very heavy bags to the hotel.  The hotel is only two months old and gorgeous (but no internet) and really the entire town is about Machu Pichu and the local hot springs.

Sunday night I packed for Machu Pichu since you can only take one small bag with you.  Tim and I agreed that I could go whenever he could go whenever and we would meet up and just come back together.  I set my alarm for 7am and went to bed.

[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]

Peru Day 6 – Cusco (ish)

First I have to tell you as I went to use the computer in the hotel I needed to log on.  The administrator password is 123456.  Nice…

When we got up today we had breakfast and the first person we see is Mario the agent who got us this hotel trying to manage the rest of our trip.  Before we left the room Tim and I made a list of exactly where we wanted to go and showed it to a taxi – he made us an offer but didn’t speak any English. Mario called a driver for us for the same price who spoke English.  He was a fabulous driver and we had him from 11am till after 6pm.

To start we wanted to hit the furthest ruin first in Pisac about 20 miles away but up and down mountains.  He first took us in town to the church of St. Christopher which was build on the ruins of the palace of the first Inca king Manco Cappa.

Then he drove us past the ruins we saw the night before and got some nice long daylight shots.

The trip through the mountains and valleys weer wonderful – the Andes are so green and brown and some snow capped.  We passed Puca Pucara  from the road and took some photos but we went back to it later in the afternoon.

We saw so much of the countryside and finally some animals, cows, sheep, bulls, donkeys, horses.  We also saw large ceramic and cooking ovens.  We passed a textile school and an open air market but we had to manage our time wisely.

Pisac is enormous.  It takes hours and hours to walk up and down the various sites and the Incan terraces.  We drove to the top and walked around and then drove to the bottom and walked around.  We were there over an hour and got some fun souvenirs and pictures.

Our next stop was at Tambomachay to see the Incan aqueducts, I only found out later it was the water of eternal youth but since I didn’t know I avoided it like all other non bottled sources. The market there was horrible and the prices were outrageous!

Next we went to Puca Pucarra which we saw earlier and was pretty small but nice and easy to photograph.  By this time I was getting nervous because it was getting near 4 and the sun sets at 5:30 and is useless after 5.

The next place Salapunco was this large rocky outcrop with an Incan wall but was filled with natural caves.  Tim and I climbed up to the top and then started climbing down and up and through the caves.  It was wild and not at all easy.  He would go and then I would with him showing me where to grab and where to put my feet.  I made him take some video since no one would believe what we were doing.  Alas I think it was here I split my pants and my black jeans are being retired until I find needle and thread.

The last stop (yes there is more) was to Qenko which is a giant sundial to predict the rainy season and an alter and caves to sacrifice lamas (with grooves to drain off the blood).  They have also unearthed some mummies there.

With the sun going down we arranged for our driver to come back for use tomorrow morning for another grand adventure.

Since our tourist ticket had a lot of activities we were going to see the native dancing but Tim saw that the church was open for mass (meaning we didn’t have to pay) but more importantly that he could go to mass.  We went and the place was packed because it was a wedding!  We stayed but we left before they came running back down the being pelted with rice.

We then walked down past the Church of Santo Domingo which is very important and I may have successfully shot at night using the digital camera. Then off to the Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo to see the 1.5 hour native dance show which was fabulous.  At one point they asked us to all clap along but nobody could find the rhythm and a guy had to stand up and show it to us.  During the intermission they gave out coca tea which I didn’t have but I went and got some great corn cake and saw this perfect museum (which Tim missed).

After the show the reopened the museum just for me and Tim and then we watched some of the dance students rehearsing.  Next door we went shopping at a souvenir market.  I finally found myself a sweater that fit! A baby alpaca sweater for $22 isn’t bad right?

Last we had to do he essentials.  I needed Chapstick, Q-tips, water (I have been drinking my 2 liters per day and then some) and snacks. I bought a finger puppet from a little girl on the way back to the hotel.  Everyone is selling them. Some teenager was pestering me why I didn’t want hers and I said I didn’t need any and she said it was to warm my fingertips!

So Tim and I have an 8:30 am wake-up call and the next adventure begins. It looks a little like this:

At 9:30 our driver comes to pick us up with our luggage.
He takes us to the ruins of the temple of the sun (in town).
Then we head out of town to Chinchero, then to Moray, then to the salt mines, then to Ollantaytambo (which has a huge ruin).  In Ollantaytambo we will catch a train to Aqua Caliente and then spend the night there so that on Monday and Tuesday we can do Machu Piccu.

Tim keeps saying that two days there is too long but I´ve been firm about my intentions and insist on two full days.  He gets these sudden bursts of energy in fact its 11:45 and he came downstairs telling me he heard live music and we should go find it (he of course has his harmonicas) – he also locked the key in the room.  I told him to have fun so I can finish up here and get ready for the am.

Having fun!


38 rolls of film.

[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]