Friday, August 31, 2012

Copacabana to La Paz, Bolivia

Hello friends and faithful readers, from La Paz, Bolivia, the highest (de facto) capital city in the world! Let me bring you up to date on our adventures since we last wrote.

Back in Copacabana, we woke up early (actually early) to catch the 8:30 AM boat to the north end of Isla de Sol. The ride is about 2 hours across the lake and around the island, and on the way, it hailed! It was sunny in Copacabana and beautiful and sunny on the Isla del Sol, but there was a giant storm cloud only over lake that let out its fury on our poor uncovered boat operator, who stood in the hail with a blanket over him during the hailstorm! On the island, we hiked about an hour up to the peak to see some Incan ruins, said to have stolen their style from the Tiwanaku culture. The views of the lake were beautiful from here, too.

Afterwards, we went to the small museum that held a collection of items from the ruins and also items that had been collected from the lake via submarine that may have been put there as offerings by the natives. The boat ride back was uneventful, but the two long boat rides and the hiking left us quite tired, so we took it easy that night and the next day, relaxing in the hotels hammocks, reading, and enjoying the warm sun during the daytime and the warm heater provided by our ¨splurge¨ hotel at night.

Wednesday, we woke up leisurely but still made it onto an 11 AM bus to La Paz. The ride is about 3 hours and includes a lake crossing. ¨How did the bus cross the lake?¨, you might ask, and I will tell you! All of us passengers got off the bus and crossed on a little motor boat. The bus drove onto a floating crate only slightly larger than the bus itself, propelled by a small engine and a man with a long wooden stick across the lake! This was definitely a new experience for us! On the other side, we all got back on the bus and continued on our merry way. As we were driving, we seemed to go through an area of brick and cement buildings, usually representative of a poorer community that one finds either on the outskirts of a large city or in a small rural village. Only, this area seemed to stretch out into the altiplano as far as the eye could see - surely, the biggest slum-area we had seen to date. We soon realized that this was part of La Paz, an area called El Alto, which indeed is a poor suburb of La Paz and also home to South America´s largest feria/market. Suddenly, we came over the ridge and had our first view of the valley that is filled by La Paz. This city also is huge and just stretches through the valley with no end in sight, and then just beyond, we could see the snow-capped mountains of the cordillera. The sight was incredible. The bus stopped at the cemetary, where we were obliged to find a microbus to the center. A plethora of micros passed by on the street and it was overwhelming as we didn´t know which to take! Luckily, a very friendly man heading in the same direction helped us find a good micro and we were off. The whole bus ride there, we conversed with the gentleman, who was impressed with the magnitude of our journey as well as our spanish skills! We made it to the city center and followed directions given to us by our friend, Elliot, (remember?) to his hotel. He was staying in a place a bit too swanky for us, as it was his second to last night of vacation, so after catching up a bit with him, we went in search of a more affordable accomodation. We found ourselves at a hostel recommended by some Australians in Mancora, the Adventure Brew Hostel. While not the cheapest place to stay in La Paz at 160 Bolivianos a night (approx. 23$), this price gets us a private room and bathroom, all you can eat pancake breakfast, and a FREE BEER EVERY NIGHT! The hostel is home to a microbrewery and the beer has been quite enjoyable so far.

Thursday, we met with Elliot and headed to the market in El Alto, which as I mentioned before, is the largest feria in South America. We took a combi up and were amazed by the seemingly endless market sprawl. We wandered around, looked at some interesting things, (including an old calculator watch like my brother used to have!) and other items. The market is really for locals, so there wasn´t much for us to buy, but we did enjoy walking around for a few hours and having a snack here and there. We came back to town and went to the Witch´s market, where we same llama fetuses and other things used by the Aymaras in religious ceremonies, and the Black Market, where we saw some legitimate, not stolen or fake technology (wink). We rested in the afternoon, then met up with Elliot one last time for some Chori-pan (chorizo in pan, pretty straight forward). It turns out our friendly Chori-pan lady, Doña Elvira, had been mentioned that day in the Prensa, a local newspaper!

Early this morning, our friends were off, returning to the states, and we wish them a pleasant journey home! We slept in and after our pancakes, heading to the Museo de Instrumentos Musicales. This museum showcased pre-colombian native Bolivian instruments, european instruments and their variants now used in Bolivan music, such as various accordians and many guitar variants, as well as instruments from all over the world. There were some really incredible things to see, such as pan-pipes made from condor feathers, flutes made from bones, guitars and harps made with an armadillo-like animal shell, beautiful painted instruments, and very unique instruments, such as a 5-necked guitar, shaped like a star.

Obviously, I had a lot of fun looking through the museum and especially enjoyed that we could play certain instruments! Fun!

I almost wish they had a little store where I might have bought a ¨manquita¨, a small guitar about the size of a hand! We had a delicious lunch of tucumanas, which are like fried salteñas. It`s supposed to snow this weekend, so Matt will probably do the Peru by the numbers post then.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Hello again from Bolivia! Yesterday we got on the 7:30 AM bus from Puno in Peru and headed for the border. As Americans we had to pay $135 for a five year visa to enter Bolivia. Bolivia has a reciprocity policy, so citizens of countries that charge entry for Bolivian nationals must pay a similar entry fee. After shelling out $270 in freshly printed bills, we got our visas and got stamped into Bolivia. Copacabana is just a few minutes away from the border, and we decided to head for a hotel we heard about online, La Cupula. The major attraction being that this hotel has heat!! Luckily they had a room available in our price range, and they give a 10% discount for a five day stay. After wandering around the grounds for a bit and making sure the bed was comfortable, we decided to book it for five days. Yesterday, we read a little bit in the hammocks at our hotel. We also ate some fresh trout on the beachfront. We wandered around town a bit to acquaint ourselves with our surroundings, and found the local mercado. After purchasing some comestibles for breakfast, we headed back to the hotel to relax a bit. For dinner we were walking around looking for a delicious meal and ended up bumping into four of our friends from our Inca Jungle Trek, so we ended up having a few beers and dinner with them.

This morning we got up very early (haha) and had a breakfast of fresh eggs and veggies. We went up to the church where there was a massive vehicular blessing going on. The priest was out in full priestly clothing blessing cars, vans, taxis, minibuses and the occasional SUV. The cars were "dressed up" with hats, colorful streamers and flowers. Also, various beverages were spilt upon the cars for good luck and safe driving.

Here in Bolivia, the cars and passengers need all the help they can get! We briefly went inside the church, however a service appeared to be taking place, so we quietly exited out the back. We then headed up to some local Inca ruins, the Horca del Inca, or Intiwatana astronomical observatory. Here is a picture of us from the top!

These ruins are much smaller than other Incan ruins we have seen, and don´t seem to have the typical squared off masonry, however there was a small stonehenge-like arch which must be lined up with some sort of astronomical phenomena. Parts of the mountain were very reminiscent of Sacsayhuaman with the way the stones were quarried. Although a fairly short hike, being at about 4000 meters above sea level, it was quite challenging. Also, there was a sign stating that there is a 10 Boliviano entrance fee, however there was nobody there to collect it, and no gate either. So, here we are, uploading a few pictures and updating our loyal followers. We are still waiting on a few ATM transactions to post, so expect a Peru by the numbers post within a few days. We will probably be here until Wednesday, and then onwards to La Paz!

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Good afternoon from Puno! We have been spending some quality time relaxing here in Puno, and after two days of basically recovering from our trek, we started to wander around the city. Yesterday we first went to the Naval Musuem here in Puno. However, on our way we discovered that a festival of typical foods was going on. Luckily for us it was still fairly early in the morning and they were setting up the festival. After confirming with a police officer that the festival would be going on for quite a while, we continued to the musuem. In the musuem we learned a lot about Peruvian naval history. It showed various battles and wars, how Bolivia was cut off from the sea, and now a large part of Chilean territory used to be Peruvian. Additionally it explains how the naval boats on Lake Titicaca got there. Mainly of British origin, they were brought over in parts, and then using a combination of train power, human power, and animal power, all the parts were transported to the lake where they were reassembled, sometimes through a multi-year process. The naval musuem is essentially a room next to the naval office in Puno, so it isn´t terribly large, but for a free musuem, it is definitely worth checking out.

After the naval musuem we went back to the food festival where we tasted chicharrones de alpaca which were little bits of alpaca meat served with two types of potato.

The alpaca was pretty tasty, and one of the potatoes was actually a dehydrated potato which was very rich and starchy. We also tried two different types of bread, quinoa and trigo, neither of which was particularly tasty. In addition we had a glass of chicha to wash it all down. It was nice to see that the community would sponsor such an event, and there were quite a few locals out and about eating as some of the stalls sold entire meals. Since we were more interested in trying a few different things we didn´t get a "completo," but we did have a good time asking about all the different foods.

After the food festival we decided to visit a decommissioned naval ship, the Yavari. We flag a cab and tell him where we want to go, he seems to nod as if he understands what we want and says it will cost 4 soles. He proceeds to drive us two blocks and tells us that we have arrived, obviously nowhere near a naval vessel. We then pull out our map and explain in more detail that it is close to such and such hotel, etc. and he tries to charge us more. I gave him two soles and said no thanks. We flagged a mototaxi who knew what we wanted to do and took us there. Basically the boat is moored behind the Sonesta Posada Hotel, and when we got off the mototaxi, the driver told us to walk down a questionable looking path and the boat would be there. We followed the path, and at first were somewhat dissapointed as the path leads to a very rickety looking "pier" and then there is an old boat. We were pleasantly surprised that after braving the "pier" and making some noise by practically falling off the boat, a lady emerged and gave us a tour. We got to see the 375 horsepower diesel engine which replaced the original engine that was powered by llama dung (apparently a plentiful resource).

Also, the ship operates as a bed and breakfast and you can spend the night for $45. The ship was also enlarged at one point, and now is being restored as a tourist attraction. Getting home from the Yavari was very simple, it is about 5 KM outside of town, and there is a collectivo that costs 60 centimos that goes from the center of Puno to the Sonesta Posada Hotel and back. In fact, it even says Sonesta Posada Hotel on the front of the collectivo, although not officially affiliated with the hotel. Basically, we could have avoided our transportation headache in arriving at the Yavari simply by taking this collectivo, which we took to get home. Apparently the Yavari is not a terribly well known tourist attraction, so many locals don´t know how to get there.

After visiting the Yavari we went to the Coca musuem, which turned out to be a Coca and traditions musuem. We watched a video about different dances the indigenous people do, many of which make fun of the Spaniards, as well as saw some exhibits about the uses of the coca leaf from pre-Incan times to the present. The video was a little boring as Sarah almost fell asleep, but the exhibits were fairly interesting, it looks like the Incans and pre-Incans knew of the medicinal properties of the coca leaf. Coca also was used as a sign of friendship when given as a gift.

This morning we took a trip to some of the floating islands in Lake Titicaca. We took a motorboat to one of the floating islands to meet the island´s president. Seven families live on this island and the president gave us a demonstration of how they build the islands. There are reeds that are about 10 meters long that grow in beds of a cork-like material in the lake and these people tie the cork together and then cover it with beds of reeds. They also build their homes and other structures out of reeds, as well as using the reeds as fuel for cooking.

Additionally they make boats out of reeds and historically fished and hunted ducks to trade for other goods on the mainland. Now, aside from about 15 islands which don´t allow tourism, most of the islanders make a living selling trinkets and artisania to tourists. The children go to school on the mainland, and it seems that fewer and fewer stay in this way of life. We did get to take a ride on a reed boat to a different island, where we explored some more and I got another passport stamp. Supposedly the post office on this island is the only floating post office in the world. With that, it would appear our time in Peru is done, and tomorrow we will be heading for Copacabana, on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca. We will keep in touch!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Inca Jungle Trek to Machu Picchu

Hello from Puno and Lake Titicaca!! Let us regale you with a tale of Incans, pumas, condors, snakes, coca leaves, dirt, sweat, blood and tears. Since we last wrote, our friend Vivian arrived from America and joined us. The day before we began our trek we took her to some of the highlights of Cuzco, including Cevicheria El Pulpo, and the mercado. That night we had a meeting with our Jungle Trek guide, Edwin, to go over particulars. At 7:00 AM on Thursday morning we met up with him and the other trekkers - in total nine, two German girls travelling together, a Dutch guy, a French-Canadian girl, and a Dutch girl, all travelling individually, and us four Americans - and started driving up to the top of the Abra Malaga mountain pass. There, at an altitude of 4350 meters we suited up for some downhill biking.
This was by far the coldest part of the trek, at that altitude it was quite chilly and we were almost at the snow level. We rode downhill through the Vilcanota mountain range for a several hours taking pictures and enjoying the Andean landscape, saying hello to some friendly mountain goats on the way. After about four hours on the bike we arrived in Santa Maria at a mere 1250 meters. All of a sudden we were really hot with all our gear on, and ready to have lunch. We relaxed that afternoon in our luxurious accomodations, had dinner, and got to bed early for a big hike the next day.

Friday we woke up at 6:00, ate breakfast and hit the trail. About half an hour in we literally were face to face with the death as we hugged a mountain side with barely any footholds and nothing but a rocky drop to our deaths below.
Luckily this only lasted about 45 minutes, but it seemed like a lifetime. Our guide assured us that the rest of the trek would be much less death-defying. We hiked on until we came across a coca plantation where we relaxed a bit and had a cold drink. We also had our faces painted with Achiote, a traditional red plant that is also used for many natural cosmetics. Around lunchtime we stopped in a small village to eat, and then continued onwards. After hiking about 22 kilometers, the village of Santa Teresa was upon us, but first we had to cross a river in a very, very sturdy looking cable car. Then we had to hike up the river and were rewarded with a glorious hot spring. We all went for a dip in the hot springs for about an hour, and then caught a collectivo to our accomodations for the evening. We had a very special dinner since it was Sarah's birthday. We had brought a small bottle of champagne, enough for two glasses, and a chocolat bar, but our tour operator was kind enough to organize a cake and a round of "Inca Tekila," as well as a resounding chorus of Happy Birthday. Our fellow trekkers were also kind, even though they had known Sarah for just two days, the German girls bought her a small birthday muffin with candels (not knowing the tour operator had organized the cake) and the other two girl gave her a "good luck banana" to take to Waynapichu. Afterwards, we decided to skip going to the club and went to sleep early.
We woke up on Saturday with Machu Picchu in our minds and desire in our hearts. We could practically feel the Incan "buenas vibras" all around us as we hiked up into the IntiHuatana ceremonial site. Along the way we learned about the ancient Incan messengers called Chuskis. These messengers would run through the mountains going 25 kilometers at a time transferring information from the extremeties of the Incan empire to the king at Machu Picchu. Edwin, our guide, also told us how at one point there was a race up the Inca Trail a few years ago in which competitors came from all over the world. Keep in mind that tourists normally do this trail in 4-5 days, the winner of the race, a Peruvian trail porter, did it in four and a half hours. Edwin also told us that once he ran the Inca trail just for fun with a friend and did it in seven and a half. Anyways, we arrived at the IntiHuatana reserve, got more stamps on our passports and eventually joined up with the train tracks that we would eventually take back home. We walked up the train tracks until we got to Aguas Calientes, where we had dinner and tried to get to sleep as early as possible.

Sunday, the great mountain is upon us. We rose at 3:30 in the morning, with the intention of climbing the mountain slowly but still arriving at a reasonable hour, but disaster struck!!! As I was tying my shoe, my shoelace broke apart into two pieces! I was able to tie it with one of the pieces, and soldier on. Our plans to enter early and climb slowly were thwarted by the gate at the base of the mountain which does not open until 5:00 AM. At about 4:50 the guards finally opened the gate, checked our passports and tickets, and let us in. The ascent began! Sarah was counting off the steps (her final count was 1691), and as we approached the upper entrance, streaks of light were beginning to filter through the Andean haze. We reached the entrance of Machu Picchu around 5:45 with plenty of time to spare and lined up to get into the main gate just as the first buses were arriving. We met up with our guide and began our tour. We walked through the various rooms, temples and terraces, and were sitting on what must have been an agricultural terrace hundreds of years ago when the sun rose over the mountain tops. With cameras in tow we basked in the glory of the Incan sunrise, and continued our tour of the complex. Our group of four had tickets to Huayna Picchu as well, and around 8:20 the guided tour was over and we went to Huayna Picchu to begin another several hundred meter climb. We had been warned by some people (mostly our parents) that this was another death-defying climb with nothing but 9000 feet of sheer cliff between you and your bloody death below, but compared to what we did on our first day of hiking, it was "pan comido." They were even kind enough to install some guard rails/cables to hold onto on the way up. We made it to the top of Huayna Picchu in about 45 mins and took in Machu Picchu from above.
After hanging out at the top of Huayna Picchu for a bit, we climbed back down, and wandered around some of the other parts of the Machu Picchu area. Considering we had been up since 3:30 in the morning, and it was now getting to be noon, we were quite tired, and decided to be lazy tourists and take the bus down to Aguas Calientes. There we actually went into the hot springs to soothe our sore and aching muscles. We caught the train back to Ollantaytambo where our tour operator had arranged for a car to take us back to Cuzco. In Cuzco we caught the night bus to Puno. For anyone planning to take the night bus from Cuzco to Puno, bring very warm clothes and blankets, ice formed on the inside of the window last night. We saw the sunrise through the icy window over Lake Titicaca, and here we are relaxing in Puno! Puno is at 3800 meters above sea level, even higher than Cuzco, so we will definitely be taking it easy for the next few days.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Sacred Valley of the Incas

Hello friends and loyal readers!

I will take up the story of our travels where Matt last left off...

Tuesday evening we went to see a dance show that featured several traditional Incan dances as well as a Marinero, the national dance of Peru. There was a live orchestra with violins, wooden flutes, guitars of all sizes and some drums. We saw dances for different festivals and from different regions and the costumes the dancers wore were very beautiful. The Marinero was saved for last, and with good reason. The dancers were spectacular and the audience went wild!

Wednesday, we went to two of the museums included on the Boleto Turistico, the Natural History and the Popular Art Museum. The art museum was small, but had some interesting work done by local artists. The History museum was larger and had some interesting English Translations of the exhibits. Later, we went down to Calle Infancia, where we were told there are many good cevicherias. We ate Cevicheria el Pulpo, and it was in fact, delicious. After our bout with giant portions in Lima, we decided to split two orders between the three of us and it was lucky that we did. We ordered one ceviche and one fish apanado, meaning breaded. Each meal came with fried choclo, which is similar in taste and texture to Corn Nuts back home, a shot of leche de tigre, which is the juice leftover from making ceviche, a bowl of fish broth soup, a glass of chicha morada, a purple corn drink, and the main dish itself. The food was very reasonably priced and quite tasty. We also went down to the bus terminal to check out departures to Puno, on Lake Titicaca.

Thursday morning, we packed our bags and headed on a small bus to Pisaq, about an hours drive away from Cusco. Our hostelier recommended a good place to stay and so we found the hostal and dropped our bags. We spent the afternoon wandering around the market, taking photos with some local children who hoist around baby sheep and llamas for pictures and tips, and eating some delicious chicken from a cart. For dinner, we got some fresh empanadas from a bakery. Peruvian empanadas are baked in a bready dough with various fillings.

On Friday, we tried to get up and out a little early to spend the day at the Pisaq ruins. We took a cab to the top of the ruins and walked around all day. Unfortunately, there wasn't a good map and we had to back track several times to see the entire complex, which is huge. We then walked down the path to the town, which involved several switchbacks, large stairs, a very secure bridge, and a walk through the market. We were exhausted by the time we got back into town and went straight to lunch. Elliot had never tried cuy, so we had to go have some of the typical cuy al horno, or baked cuy, baked in a traditional wood-burning oven. Though Matt and I agree that the grilled cuy in Baños was better, this cuy was also interesting. The baking method made the skin a little more leathery and harder to chew, but they stuffed the cuy with some greens and herbs which were quite tasty.

And now, a short digression...
Matt and Elliot know each other from university, where they were in a fraternity together. Elliot is Matt's "little bro", meaning he was a sort of mentor or guide to him within the fraternity. Elliot's little bro and Matt's "grand" little bro, Daniel, is from Peru originally (though he grew up in LA and coincidentally went to my high school, though is younger than me, so I didn't know him there.) As it turns out, Daniels REAL younger brother, Jonathon, was in Peru for the summer with an internship and the same weekend that we were touring the Sacred Valley, he was, too, with his aunt Lilly and a new friend from his internship, Sarah from Egypt.

After our return from the ruins, we called Jon and he told us to meet them at a hotel in Urubamba for drinks and then invited us to stay with them in a house they rented just outside of town, which actually belongs to Lilly's niece. The hotel was the Tambo del Inka, which is more of a resort, and was stunning. We had some chilcanos and maracuya sours, two drinks made with Peru's national drink, Pisco, then headed to the house for dinner. The house was also amazing, an 8 bedroom mansion that was impeccably decorated. After all the drinks and a big meal, it was easy to fall asleep in my soft, warm bed!

The next day, we were up early for a breakfast of Quinoa pancakes before heading off to do some mountain biking in the hills about Urubamba. On the bike ride, we passed through the town of Maras which has some salt mines. Though Lilly had asked for the easiest ride possible, the route was quite strenuous, and what we were told would be a 2 hours ride turned into three and a half hours! By the time we got back home, it was 2:30 in the afternoon and we were sweaty, dirty, and tired. We had a large lunch and then we piled back into the car to see some more sites, though unfortunately, Lilly stayed behind as she was feeling very tired. We went first to Chinchera, a town known for its beautiful weaving and saw also the chuch which was built upon Incan ruins. The ceiling of the church was hand painted and so beautiful, that at one point, the church ordered it painted over since it was distracting people from the mass! Luckily, the work has since been restored. Lastly, we drove to the ruins of Moray, a circular amphitheater that allegedly has energy-giving powers that was used for ceremonies as well as introducing crops to high altitudes. We arrived at Moray just as the sun was setting, so we didn't get all the way down and it got very cold and windy, so we hurried back to the safety of our car.

Sunday morning, Jon and Sarah headed out very early to go see Machu Pichu and Matt, Elliot, and I headed to Ollantaytambo to see the ruins there. We were very tired from all the activity the day before, but somehow managed to see the whole site. I can only imagine how Jon and Sarah fared at MP! We hoped to meet up with them back in Cusco in the evening, but they did not return from the train until well past ten o'clock and we three were exhausted and couldn't manage to keep our eyes open. We took a combi from Ollanta to Urubamba and then a van to Cusco in the mid-afternoon, found a hostal to stay at, and had dinner at a small restaurant nearby.

This morning, we all slept in and enjoyed breakfast of the terrace of our hostal which has a lovely view of the Plaza de Armas. We went to the last two museums on our boleto turistico, both of which were rather small and not worth seeing. But since we had the boleto paid for already, we had wanted to check them out. It's been a very active couple of days, so I plan on resting up for the next two days in preparation for our Jungle Trek. We leave on the 16th, which will be another day of bicycling. On the 17th (my birthday!) and 18th, we'll be hiking an alternative to the Inka Trail to Aguas Calientes, and on the 19th we'll see Machu Pichu and Huayna Pichu and take the train back to Cusco. We are thinking about trying to hop on a bus to Puno that night, if we make it in time, and resting up from what is sure to be an exhausting adventure by the lake - but we will see if we make it in time and have the energy to do it!

That's all for now, dear readers, so look forward to our post-MP post, which is sure to be exciting!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lima to Cuzco - A Story of Ceviche, Alpaca, Anticuchos, and an Important Macchu Pichu Warning!!!

Let us begin with our last evening in Huanchaco. Our Japanese friend Tom, who we met in Quetzaltenango happened to be passing through Trujillo and we caught up for a light dinner before heading to Lima. Turns out he is planning to head to Europe soon and work for as a dogsled guide! We took a cab to the bus station and took what was probably the most comfortable bus of our voyage to Lima. It was a double decker, dinner and drinks were served, and we had our own headphone jack to listen to the movies or other music stations. We arrived in Lima around 7 AM and caught a cab to the Miraflores area. We did our usual wandering around and found a hostel we liked, Pariwana, which actually had been recomended to us by an Australian in Huanchaco. That first night the hostel had arranged a trip to the largest fountain and light show in the world, the Magic Water Circuit. We learned that the water show and park was funded partially by ten million US tax dollars. It was a very interesting show, and it seems like Disney may have stolen some of it for their show! Afterwards we had some beef hearts outside of the park and caught a taxi home.

At about 2 AM the next morning our friend Elliot finally arrived after passing through immigration. That day we did a walking tour of Miraflores on our own, and we had ceviche at Punto Azul, known for having the best ceviche in the world. The next day we went to the national musuem of archaeology, anthropology, and history. This walked us through the history of Peru for the past few thousand years. There is a blue line painted on the sidewalk outside of the musuem that leads the walker to the Larco Musuem. We checked it out but decided not to spend 30 soles to enter since this musuem is known principally for its odd collection of pottery depicting human and animal sexual activity. This type of pottery is available in tons of stores anyway. The next day we booked our ticket for Cuzco and said goodbye to Lima around 3 PM.

We arrived in Cuzco around noon the next day, got settled here in our hotel on Calle Resbalosa(means "slippery street" in Spanish) and started wandering around town. First we headed to the company that we had booked our Inca Jungle Trek through, Lorenzo Expeditions. Despite being recommended by Lonely Planet, they had no record of our reservation. We had sent various emails back and forth, and now were being quoted different prices, so we just decided to walk away. We found another tour company that so far has been much more helpful, we will let you know the quality after our trek.


Our new tour company alerted us to a glitch in the system for purchasing tickets in advance, which we thought we had done. The system allows you to reserve tickets for MP and Huayna Pichu online, however it doesn't accept foreign credit cards. Essentially, holders of foreign credit cards have to present themselves to a bank here in Cuzco to pay. What the website doesn't say is that if you don't pay within five hours, your reservation is cancelled. This meant that our reservations for HP had already been cancelled.


We all wanted to go to both MP and HP, and our new tour company was kind enough to purchase the admission tickets and since he has a local credit card, it was no trouble booking it, however now it delays us by about five days. Anyway, with that taken care of, we rested a bit, and had some beef hearts, lamb kidney, and regular steak for dinner. Yesterday we took a longer walking tour of Cuzco. We took a tour of the San Francisco church and saw the biggest canvas painting in South America. We also went through a few of the markets in town and saw a twelve sided stone.

The Incas really did some amazing stonework, making all the pieces fit together in alignment and not using mortar. We had dinner at a restaurant next to our hotel which served alpaca! It was quite delicious, and the dinner even came with sopa de zapallo which we had also been looking for.

This morning we headed out to Tambomachay, Pukapukara, Qénqo, and Sacsayhuamán. Again we admired the magnificent stonework and interlocking boulders. Especially at Sacsayhuamán the stones are really huge and yet are all interlocked forming very straight walls with no mortar. We saw what is thought to be old forts as well as watch towers. Tomorrow we will probably head up to Pisac and explore more Incan ruins. We will keep you posted!