Peru Day 5 – Cusco

Woo boy, catching up is fun.

So while sleeping the bus to Cusco you find yourself slowly ascending through the mountains.  Its only 600km but it takes 14 hours!  Anyways at 2am I woke up feeling sick and realized it had been 6 hours since my Dramamine and it was wearing off – I took another 2 and went to bed.

When we finally arrived at Cusco around 11am we were now at an altitude of 10,500 feet. FYI the other movies on the bus was Toy Story and We Are Marshall (both in Spanish).  I’m assuming you could never see We Are Marshall on a plane and someone on this bus line likes Mathew McConnehey.

While I got the luggage Tim negotiated a ride to a hotel 5 blocks from the main square for $30/night and they brought us Coca tea to help with any elevation sickness.  We didn’t drink the tea.

We went to the Plaza de Arnas and saw some wonderful architecture – La Cathedral and Compania de Jesus and I can understand why Tim get upset when they want admission to visit a church he is always inquiring about going to mass but he hasn’t made one yet. The room is nice but alas no pool like in Nazca.

We went to the Museo de Inca which was a former palace of the Spanish Governor and it was really well done some very advanced ways of showing pots and lighting etc.  I think we are getting museum-ed out though by now we know what we are looking at.

There were weavers in the courtyard and I am reminded of a weaver I met a few days earlier who showed me his wares.  I didn’t like what he had but I asked if he had anything like he was working on and he told me to come back tomorrow.  Some lady with a Alpaca sweater that almost fit said if I saw her tomorrow she would have one bigger.  The sweaters are like $15-$20 each.

Everyone is walking up and down the street trying to sell you crap.  The finger puppets are my favorite.  People in traditional grab want to pose for you for money.  I tried giving for little girls .20 soles each but they held out for 1 soles coins (about 30 cents).  I also took a photo of two ladies and an alpaca.

We wanted to find a decent lunch and some barker was moving us from place to place until she showed us some little hole in the wall that had soup, meal, and soda for 15 soles (it is 2.75 soles per dollar).
I can corn soup and steak and it came with fried and rice and bread.  We were stuffed.

We heard that there was a tourist ticket that you could buy and Tim found the place it was 70 soles, it was half for students but she checked my passport and said I was too old!  The ticket is good at some museums and a lot of archeological sites.

Our next stop was the small but nice Museo de Arte Popular and we walked around the square some more.  You couldn’t tell that yesterday the place was fully decorated for Corpus Christi (we missed it).

All of the sudden Tim gets the energy to visit another ruin even though its near sunset. He hails a taxi who wants 10 but the next guy says he will take 3 (until we got there and then insisted on 10 even called the police – I gave him another 3 and he shut up and left).

The ruin of Sacsayhauman is an amazing Incan fortress of perfectly aligned stones.  We walked around it until the sun was down and it was completely dark – a valley surrounded by the stars and the city lights.  I told Tim we have to get to these places earlier so I can shoot – he likes the night ambiance which is fine but we need another 30 min or so.

We went back to the square and I left Tim at the church to drop off my stuff at the hotel but got lost.  When I finally got back Tim headed back to the hotel.  There is a massotherapy place across from the hotel and I just had a very nice 1 hour massage for $20.

So the place for tomorrow is to get up and visit Pisac which is a huge ruin about 20 miles away and then hit the Tambomachay trail which is 4 other ruins. (these are all on our tourist ticket)

Depending on when we get back we may see some other museums.  We will spend the night here and then head to Olloysomething or another which has another ruin in town and one we want to see out of it.

From there we must train to Aqua Caliete – the nearest town to Machu Pichu where we should spend another 2 days.  Tim made it clear that if I wanted to see sunrise of the valley then I would be on my own that morning 🙂

All is well missing everyone

PS The University is probably shutting down this blog server as they are having a power outage next weekend –  I will try and host elsewhere and post in the entry.

PS I’m up to 26 rolls of film.

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

Peru Day 4 – Nazca

So we head to the airport because we don’t want to get scammed by all these middle men and buy our tickets to flyover the Nazca lines.  The taxi driver tries to hustle us but eventually drops us off at the airport.  Tim and I find a airline, look at the plane, and negotiate a price of $85 each to fly over all 12 Nazca Lines and all 10 Palpa lines in a 3 passenger plane.  This is the deluxe package.

We took our Dramamine and then they took us to the gates where we found out it was another plan (and later found out another airline) and away we went, me and Tim and this guy from Turkey.  It was amazing! Such a wonderful flight and a clear day.

But after seeing all of the 12 Nazca and 2 of the Palpa lines he said that was the end of the tour and took us back.  When we went to complain we were shuffled all the way back to the other counter.  After an hour of being jerked around by the owner of the airline who claimed we only purchased the 40 minute tour and that the guy who sold it to us was a middle man Tim got really frustrated and said he was going back to complain at the terminal.

But instead of taking a Taxi he just walked out onto the tarmac! That got everyone’s attention and they send a van for us.  After talking to everyone on the planet it turns out that the kid who sold us the tickets was a subcontractor for the airline. The airline didn’t have any planes going up and handed us off to another airline and they took us on a lovely but wrong flight.

After having lunch at the airport I went back to the hotel to pack up while Tim handled the rest.  In the end he met with local police, airport police, the airport commissioner, and every airline involved and the forced some guy from the ground crew to fork over $30 for each of us and free tickers the next time we come to Nazca (ironically though for the 40minute not the 1 hour tour).

I picked Tim up luggage in hand and talked the Taxi driver into taking us to the adobe ruin I mentioned yesterday – Cahuachi. I told him I wanted to be there before the sunset and he said it would be hard since it was all gravel, dirt, and sand in the desert.  He drove those 20 miles like a bat out of hell it was like driving in the open desert we could barely see a road.  Then this caretaker came out and showed us around and we stayed till the sunset and it was dark dark.

Then a little slower he drove us to the bus station for our bus to Cusco.  The ride through the desert reminded me of something that happened on a previous ride through the desert on the day before at the cemetery as we drove two wild dogs chased the car.  Wild dogs are everywhere and just kinda wander around.

At the bus station Tim and I balanced the first 4 days of the trip and I watched as Tim talked a moth land on his tongue. It was gross!

We had the front two seats on the bus.  I took my Dramamine and faded out to a subtitled Deja Vu – unlike the last trip the movie was in Spanish with English subtitles.

We left Nazca at 8:30 at an elevation of 1800 feet.

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

Peru Day 3 – Lima to Nazca

Wow 5:15 sucks.

We got up and go out of the hotel, our cab was waiting and so was Gino from the other day so we shook hands and said goodbye.  The bus station was nice and they checked our bags with more care and security than they do at the airport! When we left Lima we were at 413 feet.  Instantly both Tim and I got bus-sick.  The second floor sways really bad and I ended up taking my anti altitude pills which worked like Dramamine and I was fine (but a little loopy).

The showed to films on the plane – a Kim Bassinger, Tom Corbitt vehicle called “Elvis… has left the building” that probably defines what a B-movie really is.  The cast is all star in the worst way.  Then they showed “Failure to Launch” which Tim and I had already seen but is still quite funny.

Hour into the trip we stopped t a resort hotel to let some people off and Tim decided to sneak off and use the bathroom.  He took longer than expected and we left without him – we noticed right as we were pulling out and I finally got to see Tim running after a bus going “wait wait”.

About 5 minutes later we stopped at the bus-stop that wasn’t the resort hotel and they told us we would have only 5 minutes to get out and stretch our legs, I decided to stay on the bus.  They then said it would be 10 minutes and I should get off the bus.  At which point I see 10 guys standing around the back of the bus with tools and belts and it took over an hour before we left again.  Since the bus was almost empty Tim and I moved downstairs to first class with the huge sleeping bed chairs (Tim even asked first!) and the rest of the trip was just a dream as we drove across the desert and mountains.

Nazca is about 1968 feet so not too high yet.

The moment we got off he bus they wouldn’t give me my bags until I verified my baggage claim tags and then we left the station.

At the station 2 guys offered us a ride to a luxury hotel – they had pictures of this wonderful place with a swimming pool etc an it was $30US.  I have to stay if you are every in Nazca the Don Agucho Hotel is fabulous!  They really took care of us and the bags and its very secure here.

They then arranged a driver for us to take us to the Cementario Prehispanico de Chauchilla which is a huge excavated grave-site (with mummies) out in the desert.  It was amazing walking around the desert with the mountains all around.  There was a cool wind like when we were in Hawaii.  Tim met an Italian couple who just got married a week ago and they were really pleased that he took their picture for them.  Tim said that we knew how nice it was to be married because we were both married – to which I interjected “not to each other!”  they thought it was very funny and later he went up to me later and said: your “husband” is very slow in walking (he even used the finger quotes).

On the way out from the desert site we stopped and watched the sunset over the desert (well through our cameras at least) and he said he wanted to take us to two more places a gold craftsman and a ceramic workshop.

The ceramic workshop guy did a nice 5 minute demo and then tried to sell us very very expensive reproductions (that he didn’t make).  The gold guy next store was just some crazy old miner who showed us some jewelry and had a rock collection out.  Tim picked up a light blue stone and asked what it was and the man told him sulfur.  Later when he was turned to Tim and handed him a blue stone and asks “do you know what this is?” Tim said “sulfur” and he was very impressed.

He then played us New York New York with his own lyrics on and out of tune guitar and started calling us back that we should give him a tip as we walked away.

Both of the add-on excursions were within a block of the hotel, it was funny.

We walked into town to find the restaurant “El Porton” that was good.  I had some steak with cheese and ham and some leaves on it.  Tim had a seafood combo of some sort (he has this dream of finding the perfect seafood platter here). The sprite tasted funny, and then the coke did, and then the pineapple soda did so I think its the sweetener or the water in the local bottling plants.  I will stick to my bottled water till we head out.

At dinner we heard some live music and went upstairs to see some drummers and a boy and a girl dancing for tips.  It was nice and this and the markets we visited afterward were very much like our trip to Africa.

In the market I purchased some real Dramamine (well generic actually) and it was nice to see what and how people shopped, olives, chickens, fruits and vegetables.

Today we fly over Nazca, Tim wants to take the bigger economy plane because it is more stable while I figure Dramamine is Dramamine we should go for the private 4 seater and get the better views and longer ride.  It will be between 25 and 45 minutes.  Afterwards we re going back to the hotel in case we have to shower and then we will try and see the Cahuachi ruins which has a large adobe (formerly Macromedia) pyramid.  Hit a museum or two and then bus out at 8pm for Cusco.

So was there WiFi on the bus? yes – in the station!

Oh and I woke up this morning and the temple broke off my glasses.  Its at a point that I could wedge and tape so I am ok but the panic and the first aid surgery on them was nerve wracking.

Wow and its only Thursday morning (and yes I found out who won American Idol)


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

Peru Day 2 – PS

I’m up to 11 rolls of film….

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

Peru Day 2 – More of Lima

This probably won´t be too long as I´m on a funky keyboard, its late, and we have to be up at 5am to catch a bus.

First some updates. I forgot to mention yesterday that when we stopped for water I didn’t check and bought WITH bubbles and had to go back and purchase ‘sin gas´.  Ooops

Second, in my delight in telling you about the big mall area where we had dinner Tim reminded me I forgot to mention how lost we got in getting there.  We walked to where they told us and the entire place looked empty and as we were about to give up we noticed an entrance to this vast underground cliff-side complex and realized we were idiots.

Today we booked our bus to Nazca (though we have to sit on the second floor in the regular instead of the luxury first floor seats) and headed into central Lima.

We started off by going to the San Fransisco cathedral.  It was very nice though Tim didn’t take off his hat (he said he did it on purpose) and the monks chased him down to take it off.  Later they chased me out cause they were closing and ended up locking Tim in (I waited at least 10 minutes for him to come out of the other exit after everyone was gone).  They had great pigeons in the square there and I’ve gotten some great pigeons shots all over.

We then went to the catacombs and got student discounts… the first guide only spoke Spanish so we ditched them and joined an English group but it was private so we ditched them and just walked around until we got busted cause I was taking photos and they heard me.  Eventually they got us with an English guide and we stayed with them for a while but ditched two more groups before we left.  It was funny but we had a good time and didn’t get kicked out.

We then went shopping and didn’t buy anything. The t-shirts are the clinging cotton though they do have 2xl and the alpaca stuff is very cheap which I find funny cause we have the same stuff at home (but not cheap).  We then went to the mayoral square and I photo´d the presidential palace, the fountain, and another cathedral.

We went in but they wanted money for the full tour and we were short on time.  Tim went to look at the postcards rack and we kept peeking into the cathedral.  I went to take a picture (which was allowed) and the person next to me used a flash and everyone started to yell at me – but it wasn’t me!

We took a taxi (these guys are crazy!) to the Museo Nacional de Arqueologia, Antropologia e Historia del Peru. It was amazing (and free today) it was outside and inside with big courtyards and wonderful art.  Tim went though so slowly he only got to see the precolonial stuff (which is what he cares about).  Now I have seen two last suppers where they are eating Guinea Pigs!

We stayed at the museum till they kicked us out. Tim and I both got some books and I got a refrigerator magnet.

We headed back to Mirflores to have dinner at this restaurant that Tim saw yesterday.  It was a nightmare. While I enjoyed my Beef stroganoff which was beef with mushroom soup and 1 slice of bread, his fish dinner was still frozen and he sent it back while I finished mine.

This led us on the quest to get Tim fed to a level of satisfaction that took us to a cafe and a Chinese place. The Chinese place was funny cause they sold gelato and they gave me a little spoon sample of a flavor and when I asked about a different flavor he prompted me to return the spoon from my mouth so that he could scoop the second flavor.  Think about it.

We ended up in the town square where we first found a wonderful art gallery with an exhibition on merging modern and ancient art forms and then went outside and saw a fabulous photo exhibition that just really made us think.

On the way back we stopped in city hall to use the restroom – I just found it funny that at 11pm they were open just for that.  And then got some munchies before heading back to the hotel.

We have a 5:15 wake up call and I have to pack.

Having fun… heading to Nazca


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

Peru Day 1 – What a day!!

So much to tell!

Tim didn’t like the lack of hot water at the hotel and when he complained they moved us to a bigger room – a much bigger room (4 beds and a huge bathroom) with tons of hot water.  Tim is very happy with the new room and we are going to spend 2 more nights here (more on that later).

After breakfast Tim and I had planned on doing the local museums but we ran across an entry on a local Incan ruin right near where we are staying called Huaca Pucclana.  We got a taxi and he said he would wait for us while we visited and then take us downtown to Central Lima for the museums.

The ruin is a place of games, by which they mean human sacrifices, arts and banquets.  The pyramid is built from little rooms made of mud bricks and concrete that get built and sealed over the centuries.  They are still going through it now.  They had some amazing pottery that was also ‘sacrificed’ where they would built a pot and then break it and bury it.  Tim liked the idea a lot and I expect a round of Raku students will be destroying pots next year.

We also met a very strange looking Peruvian hairless dog also known as a hot dog.  Gino (our driver) kept saw that I was trying to photograph it so he went and held it for me so all my photos are of Gino holding the dog.  Its an Incan dog and all Incan sites are required to have one on site.  The guide was very informative and told us about the old fish gods and then pointed to the new gods – McDonald’s and Starbucks (which are plentiful).

There was no charge for the site because of some cultural days thing going on all week – though they almost wouldn’t let me in because my camera looked to professional – which I talked my way out of – ‘this old thing?’

Speaking of cameras – I decided that I’m probably not going to shoot much video this trip.  Video is really a solo activity for me to shoot and talk to the camera and the rhythm isn’t right with everything else I want to shoot.

We met this English guy named John and he told us about another ruin that was free this week but outside of town.  He told us about the bus but we ended up negotiating with our taxi driver (who took the taxi light off his car) and he agreed to drive us the rest of the day.  Our next stop was the gas station – which at $16 US a gallon has finally convinced Tim that we will not be renting – where we got some munchies sandwiches, water, candy, and for me some Gatorade.

We then drove about 30km south of Lima to Pachacamac.  The site was huge (and again free) and really had 5 distinct ancient complexes, a museum, a snack bar, a bookstore, some local artisans, and several Incan dogs.

I loved watching the decorative weavers mixing colored yarns by hand and painting scenes with yarn on the loom.  It was pretty cheap to get one but we didn’t want to pick much up this early in the trip.  I got a real kick out of the Chess set that has the Incans face off against the Spanish.  One craftsman Sixto Seguil Dorregaray was doing some amazing carved gourds and jewelry and I picked up a couple of small items for Jenny (but don’t tell her).

The site was vast and really a barren wasteland of sand and stone.  If you tried to go where you shouldn’t a guard would whistle from out of nowhere and tell you to get back on the path.  We drove from site to site and were really glad to have the car and driver.

The largest of the sites was the Temple of the Sun that you could climb all the way to the top of.  When you got here you found yourself overlooking the pacific – it was wonderful.

I at this point was a little ahead of Tim who I saw talking to four ladies who looked like American hippies.  He later told me that they were smoking pot and blowing on their ocarinas.  Our driver who didn’t speak English asked if they were Bruja – which he explained were like women on Halloween ie witches and we all had a big laugh.

Tim loved seeing some of the original polychromed wall (though its hard sometimes cause he touches everything!)

The sun sets here around 6pm so by 5 we started to head back.  I noticed some ads and it appears both Whitesnake and Megadeath are visiting Lima soon.  Tim saw an ad that had Brad Pitt selling something and I found a poster for Indiana Jones openings on Thursday!

On the way back to Lima we passed this big white mansion that we recognized from the tour-book as we stopped and with 30 min left visited the Museo Pedro de Osma this huge Mansion with Cusco school paintings and a museum of religious silver (that was really well done – all glass and lights and just a sleek display).

Our last stop with the driver was to a Pharmacy where Tim purchased a new diabetic testing kit and supplies since it fell out of his bag at customs (don’t worry Michelle his blood is perfect!).  At the hotel the driver tried to get some more money from us and we gave in since he was such a great guy all day.

We then walked to the local tourist area where they had a Marriott and a mall, a movie theater, bowling alley, Starbucks, food court etc.. it was really nice over the ocean and Tim and I reflected on why our downtown wasn’t as nice.

We found a restaurant – La Dama Juana that had a buffet of Peruvian dishes (and desserts).  They was a show during dinner and for an extra $20 they put you next to the stage – we didn’t and so instead they sat us 10 feet away from it – a perfect view.

The buffet was great – stews of every meat – and I ate so much flan.  They asked where we were from and then put an American flag on the table – when you looked around the room you could see where everyone was from.  The floor show was amazing – one traditional dance after the other – the scissor dance looked like modern hip hop acrobatics and during once dance they kept lighting their backsides on fire!  At one point Tim turned to me and said that the show was going on longer than his capacity to eat!

Afterwards we went back to the hotel to plan Tuesday (it was an amazing first day).  Today we will do the local museums and then catch a luxury bus fist thing Wed morning to Nazca and then perhaps another luxury bus Wed night to Cusco.  We will see how long we stay in Nazca.  We still want to be in Cusco on Thursday for the Corpus Christi celebration.

I got up and showered and stuff and came down to write this entry.  I think I didn’t pack enough Q-tips!  Funnily enough its very cold here and we haven’t seen any bugs.

Thats it for day one.  2 Incan ruins, 1 museum, 1 floor show (and 7 rolls of film).

See you all soon – the luxury bus is supposed to have WiFi! so that would be from my iPhone.


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

Peru Day 1 – On lost wedding rings and violations of customs rules!

Monday – May 19

Whoo boy what a trip it has been so far.

So the flight was ok – I slept most of the time until Tim spilled his water glass (on my lap).

So late into the flight I’m getting ready to get off the plane and I can’t find my wedding ring.  I had it after I ate, I had it after the bathroom, but when my hands swell I put it on my pinky and I think it fell off while I was sleeping.  When we landed we looked everywhere for it and the flight attendant was actually rude to me for not telling her earlier that I had lost something – which I would have if I had known I had lost it.

Getting though the passport area was fine but it took forever to get out luggage and the whole time I am looking for a Delta agent to tell them about my ring to at least alert the lost and found.  When the luggage arrived we went to clear customs and were randomly selected for ‘searches’.

While they did not x-ray my bag (which is something I try to avoid because of the film) it turns out I was required to declare the extra cameras as a tourist is only allowed to carry 1 still and 1 video camera and I have something like 4 and way too many accessories for his comfort.

He let me off with a warning.

I didn’t see them tearing apart Tim’s bag but at least one toiletry item didn’t make it back and we have to head to a store this morning.


So we head out of the airport and its 1am, the Delta offices are closed, the Delta counter is closed and nobody wants to help me.

Finally I find the locked Delta office and bang on the door until someone comes out and laughingly hands me my wedding ring! Yeah!

Back home I found the name of a nice hostel in Lima and we asked a cab driver to take us there.  It was going to cost 45S.  An S is like 2.7S per Dollar so we are rounding to 3.  He told us that the hostel would be full but handed us a bunch of brochures and took us up the pacific coast highway to the Miraflores area.  We visited several full hostels and pricey hotels till we found a decent one for $45 US which included a free continental breakfast and Internet!! Woo hoo.

We will stay here another night so we can leave our bags and visit some museums even though most of them are closed cause… its Monday and all museums are close on Monday.  Still we have enough to do and the hotel has HBO. There is a huge church the San Fransisco with catacombs and a library and a ruins to explore around the corner.

Tim got eggs and I got ham.  His eggs look good my ham was well – lunchmeat, but very tasty.

So heading up to get loaded up with camera and have a slow get our bearings kinda day.

For those keeping track when we landed in Lima we were at 75 feet – here in Miraflores at the El Ejecutivo its 175 feet.

I should be able to write again tonight or in the AM as we are staying here so until then….

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

Peru Day 0 – Cleveland to Atlanta

I am writing from my iphone so this will be brief (and have typos).

1 – made it through security without any troubles, they hand checked all 110 rolls of film

2 – they made me gate check my camera bag, but it all looks ok

3 – the plane was tiny and bumpy but we made it and are waiting for the plane

See you next in the southern hemisphere


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

Peru Day 0 – Before the trip….

Ok, so here it goes.  Blogging for the trip to Peru.  Its 3:30am, we leave at about 12:30 and I am still catching up on my last minute to do list.

Tim and I have a very open agenda, we know roughly where we want to go and roughly how one gets there.

We fly into Lima tomorrow via Atlanta.  We expect to spend a few days in Lima seeing some museums and soaking up the culture and then taking a bus to Cusco.  Tim wanted to fly but the risk of altitude sickness and bedrest once you get there is high and the long bus ride would be eventful and gradual.

Assuming my info is correct we can bus from Lima to Nasca and see some stuff about the lines (but not the lines themselves without getting a charter flight).  From Nasca we take a treacherous but fun journey to Cusco.  Spend a few days in Cusco.

Then we head to Machu Picchu for a few days and take a bus down to Puno and visit Lake Titicaca.  We then head to Juliaca and fly back to Lima to fly back home.

That’s the rough plan.

Now what am I bringing?  Lots of camera, no pda, no computers, and one iPhone.

My Pentax film camera with a 17-35mm, 50mm, and 70-300mm lens.
My StereoRealist 3D film camera.
My new Nikon 12 Megapixel spherical panoramic rig.
My Sony HD camcorder with a wide angle lens and microphone (set to SD)

15 miniDV tapes, 110 rolls of film, 8GB flash card for the digital camera, 3 rechargeable lithium camera batteries for the digital camera, and 2 rechargeable camera batteries for the video camera.

And assorted gadgets.

Hopefully I will get to an Internet Cafe every 2 to 3 days to post more.

For your amusement a picture of the technology pre-packing….

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