Monday, July 31, 2006

To the Amazon I go!

Our group, headed by our fearless leader Simon (more on him later) left Lima bright and early on Saturday morning. Turned out the 9th member of our group bailed out at the last minute so there were 8 of us in the group: the Stelzer family from Scottsdale, Arizona - Greg and Susie (dad and mom) and Kyle, Riley, and Carson (3 brothers); Andrea from Huntington Beach, California; Kim from NYC, NY and me.

Friday, July 28, 2006

A day in Lima.

The best part about travelling is mingling with the locals....something I had a chance to do today as I did not have a conducted tour to go on. My day began with long walk down one of the city´s major avenues (Avenida Jose Lorca), heading towards the Pacific Ocean.

Okay, just a few more observations about Lima which I picked up on my walk today:
  • Chinese restaurants are known as chifas here. I read a few menus that had pictures of the dishes, and didn´t recognize a single dish. I also came upon a small stall selling Chinese dim sum and again, didn´t recognize a thing. I think Chinese food has been re-interpreted by the Peruvians to match their own tastes!
  • The street vendors sell everything from potato chips to fresh fruit to newspapers to Peruvian pastries. There doesn´t seem to be any rule about where they can/cannot set up shop so you see them in the most unexpected of places.
  • There are casinos everywhere. None were open today. Had they been, I might have been tempted to just go in and check out the slots!
  • Lima is a very polluted city despite its location next to the ocean. After a few hours of walking in the smog filled air, I found myself having to constantly clear my throat and my eyes were beginning to get very irritated. Sad to say it but refuge means going indoors. I can´t wait to leave the city if for no reason other than to escape the smog :-(
  • People will exchange currency on the street. I can´t tell you the number of people who approached me asking me if I wanted to buy Peruvian Nuevo Soles with US dollars. Of course, I would never do this so I just kept turning every request down. In all my trips outside the US, this the first time I´ve ever been approached by someone on the street offering to sell local currency!

Greetings from Lima!

....I know I said I wouldn´t be updating the blog on my trip but I have free web access from the hotel so I can´t resist! The only struggle has been to figure out how to type in English on a Spanish keyboard and translating brower commands from Spanish. Where´s Kathy when you need her :-)

I finally arrived in Lima after a very long but uneventful travel day. By the time I cleared immigration, got my bags and went through customs, it was barely 6am. I had arranged for pickup through the tour company and the driver was there to greet me as I exited customs and immediately headed for the hotel. With the exception of the drive out of Reagan National Airport, I have never been on drive to/from any airport that was scenic and the drive out of Jorge Chavez Int'l airport was no exception.

Monday, July 24, 2006

.....and the winner is.

...Kiat who was the first person to e-mail me the correct answers to all 5 clues.

Congratulations Kiat!! You'll have to wait to see what your prize is!

I had several people send me correct answers so kudos to each of you. I hope you had a bit of fun trying to figure out the answers and at the same time, learn a few interesting facts about Peru.

For the record, the correct answers are:

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

So where am I going? Here's the fifth and final clue.

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Clue #5

It's been said that a picture is worth a thousand words so here are your two pictorial clues. If you've figured out clues 1-4, this should be a no brainer for you!


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

So where am I going? Here's the fourth of five clues.

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Clue #4

Note: This is a clue that will require you to provide two answers - you'll see why when you get to the end of the text.

A conquistador reported in his account of the great Spanish invasion of South America in the 1500s, that while the masses of Andes Indians were small and dark, the members of the ruling Inca family were tall, had red hair, fair skin and thin noses.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Gone vacationin' for a few more days.

Up until last weekend, I had pretty much been planning my trip by surfing the web but I finally broke down and bought a travel guide. Seemed like a good idea at the time but considering it was a picture on the cover of a travel magazine that got me going on this trip in the first place, I should have thought twice, no 10 times, before buying the book. But I couldn't help myself. Not only does the guide have lots and lots of "pretty" pictures to whet the imagination but there's something about the act of thumbing through the pages of a book that surfing on the web will never replace.

The Education of Julee: Lesson 2. Protection from mozzies and "no see-ums".

I thought that since it was going to be cold on some of the days during this trip, that I wouldn't have to worry about fending off the mosquitoes and "no see-ums" but it seems they will be out in force despite the temperatures and humidity. Apparently, the "no see-ums" are particularly nasty at the higher elevations. Oh joy!

For whatever reason, biting insects just LOVE me and so I NEED PROTECTION from these annoying creatures - especially the mosquitoes as these are the carriers of West Nile, malaria and dengue fever and ticks which carry Lyme disease. I'm hoping that the "no see-ums" will be more annoying than biting.....ever so hopeful, I am :-)

Thursday, July 6, 2006

So where am I going? Here's the third of five clues.

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Clue #3

On days 5 and 6, I will be in this city whose name, when translated from Quechua, means "Navel" which seems appropriate since this city was once the capital of an ancient civilization. Driven by a greed for gold, the same conqueror that founded the city in Clue #1 led his army into this city in 1533 and conquered it for his motherland. In the years that followed, the invaders undertook the construction of a new city, atop the old, replacing temples with churches and palaces with mansions for the conquerors. During this time period, the city prospered as a result to agriculture, cattle raising, mining and trade with other nations. Today, the city thrives primarily on tourism and was inscribed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1983.

So where am I going? Here's the second of five clues.

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Clue #2.

On days 3 and 4, I will be in a region that encompasses 1.2 billion acres with parts located within nine nations. It is considered by many people to be one is one of the world's greatest natural resources. Because its vegetation continuously recycles carbon dioxide into oxygen, it has been described as the "Lungs of our Planet".

Monday, July 3, 2006

So where am I going? Here's the first of five clues.

As I'm sure you've figured out by now, I have not revealed where I am going on my trip though a handful of you do know. Usually when asked the question "Where are you going?", I would just blurt out the answer but this time around, I thought I would have some fun (and hopefully, you will too) by turning this into a guessing game.

This game will be a test of your knowledge of world geography, biology and ancient history or perhaps, more accurately,

The education of Julee: Lesson 1. Energy bars.

The last time I did any serious hiking/camping, we carried out plastic bags filled with dried fruits and nuts (otherwise simply known as "GORP") for munching on while we were on the trail - a quick way to fend off hunger pangs until we could get a "real" meal into our stomachs.

Now, there are energy bars that effectively cure the need for a quick snack. However, they have the advantage of delivering the same number of calories as dried nuts and fruit but in a much more compact and lightweight form - important in keeping the weight of a backpack down.

Sunday, July 2, 2006

Ouch.

Vaccinations. Ugh. I knew I had to have shots to go on my trip....didn't know exactly which ones as it had been more years than I could remember since I had been anywhere that required vaccinations of any sort. Probably on my last trip to Malaysia when I spent time in Borneo.