Sunday, August 27, 2006

"Oh...but why go to the Middle East....now?", my aunt asked.

...and the answer was simple. Because I have always wanted to go to see the Sphynx, the Pyramids and Petra and to put my feet in the Dead Sea. Those of you who followed my travels to Peru will know that I have a fascination for ancient civilizations and as far as I'm concerned, Egypt and its ancient past is at the top of my list of places to visit.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

So where am I going? Here are your clues.

Today's posting is specifically written for my colleagues at work. 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 will be a test of your knowledge of world geography, biology and ancient history or perhaps, more accurately,

...... your ability to surf the web using Google

...... or your skills at bribing the very smart kids you have at home in to giving you the answers :-)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Acknowledgements.

I've been home for two days now and my trip to Peru is still fresh in mind. As I finish posting my travelogue to the blog, I fondly recall each moment that now lives as a digital image on my pc.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it took a small army to make a vacation happen for me and I would like to thank the people that made it all possible.

6 hours on a bus back to Lima.

My last morning in Nazca began as all the other ones - with breakfast and then meeting up with the guide.

Fredy showed up on his bicycle at 7:30am to escort me to the bus station. We stood on the curb outside the hotel's front door and literally, just crossed the street. In the photo below, you can see the hotel on the right and the bus station on the left. That's right, the bus station is just across the street from the hotel!



Nazca - Mummies, Lines, aqueducts and more.

I awoke to the sound of a rooster crowing and a pack of dogs barking. It was a crisp, cool, sunny morning in Nazca.



Onto Nazca...and oh, what a journey it was.

My flight from Cuzco to Lima arrived in the late afternoon. By the time I got to the hotel, it was just getting dark. I decided to make a quick trip to the Metro supermarket to pick up some water and munchies for my trip to Nazca. The trip description said that it was going to be a 6 hour bus ride from Lima to Nazca so I wanted to be prepared.....little did I know then that food was going to be the least of my concerns!

Goodbye to Cuzco and back to Lima.

My last day in Cuzco started out as many of my other days had....bright and early with what had become my "traditional" breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Just as I was finishing breakfast, Susie came down and we agreed to meet back at the hotel at noon to do a last bit of souvenir shopping.

The weather was beautiful - sunny, mid 70'sF and no humidity - perfect day for one last walk through the city. I started by going to San Blas - a barrio (neighborhood) that is known as an "artsy" community. There's a pretty little square where the Chapel of San Blas (shown in the photo below) is located. It was early morning and vendors were just beginning to set up their display tables. I didn't stay around long enough to see if what they were going to be selling was the same as what I had seen in the local handicrafts market but I suspect it is.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Aguas Calientes to Cuzco.

The bus from Machu Picchu deposited me back near the original pickup point in Aguas Calientes. It was a beautiful day and a bit too early for lunch so I thought I would do a quick walk around town - to catch some final views before leaving. The picture on the top is a view of the town taken from a bridge that crosses over the Urubamba River which runs through the town - I'm looking up river. The picture on the bottom is taken from the same bridge and is of the tented roofs of the stalls that make up the handicrafts market.

The magnificent Machu Picchu.

This was the day for Machu Picchu and I couldn't wait! This day was also all about timing as you'll see.

The day began with a 4:15am wake up call from the hotel front desk. Simon's plan was for us to have breakfast at 4:30am. Then at 5am, we would walk up the street to the bus stop where we would catch the first bus which left at 5:15am for a 30 minute ride up the to the control point (entry gate) at Machu Picchu. We would wait at the control point til it opened and then be among the first to entry the site grounds. Kim and Andrea were going to be ending their Inca Trail hike at Machu Picchu so Simon, the Stelzers and I we were going to meet up with them at around 7:15am. The re-formed group would then tour Machu Picchu.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

My journey through the Sacred Valley: Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes.

Aguas Calientes is the town that is the launching point to Machu Picchu and it was to be my destination after Ollantaytambo.

My morning in Ollantaytambo began with a wake up call from a rooster and wait......could it be? Why yes, it was.....the sound of a cow mooing in the distance. You know you're in the country when the call of barnyard animals takes the place of an alarm clock!

Sunday, August 6, 2006

My journey through the Sacred Valley: Cuzco to Pisac to Ollantaytambo.

....that´s pronounced "Oy yan tay tahm bo" and it was to be my final destination on this day of travel. Along the way, I would get to see the Incan ruins at Pisac.

The game plan was to leave the hotel, in Cuzco, at 8am so I awoke early and had my "traditional" breakfast of eggs, roll, ham, cheese and coffee. With time to spare, I got on the internet (free on the hotel pc) and updated the blog. Simon showed up at 7:45am (on the dot) as he said he would. As we had discussed the previous day, all I would be taking with me would be my daypack so I handed him my backpack for safe keeping.

My day in Cuzco.

...began bright and early. By the time I woke up, the side effects of the Diamox had worn off and I was ready to face the day. I armed myself with my travel guide and headed down to the hotel restaurant to grab breakfast. Like other elements of my days in Peru, what I ate for breakfast had become a ritual - two scrambled eggs (dos huevos revueltos), a roll, some ham, some cheese and two cups of the Peruvian coffee that I had become addicted to. The travel guide told me that the local tourist information office, located on Calle Mantas - just about a block off the Plaza des Armas, would open at 8am so that´s where I planned to start my day.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Cuzco.....at long last!

I started my last morning in the Amazon with a very light breakfast and a Diamox pill. At 7am, I met up with Simon and we walked back to the boat. The sun was just coming up over the horizon. Figures that it would be a sunny day on the day I was leaving. Though it was cold cloudy during my entire stay in the jungle, I was in way glad that it was because it kept the mosquitoes away and I didn´t need to use the sunblock.

It was nice to see the river in sunlight and the water was calm. Along the way, we passed a few families boating in their wooden skiffs which is the main form of transport for people living along the river. We retraced our "steps" back to Puerto Maldonado airport, Simon got me checked in and then left to meet up with the rest of the group who would be arriving in Puerto Maldonado about two hours later.



Tuesday, August 1, 2006

A day in the life of a city girl in the Amazon.

Well, our first full day in the Amazon started with a wake up knock on the wall from William at 4am!! Breakfast was at 4:30a so I stayed in bed as long as I could, stumbled out from under the mosquito netting that surrounded the bed, fumbled for my flashlight and headed to the bathroom to clean up, dress and get ready for the day ahead.

Despite the kerosene lamps that lit the walkway outside my room, I still needed the flashlight to help guide me along certain portions. Thank God I had a flashlight - can´t tell you how much it got used in my two days in the jungle!!