Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ecuador To Peru

Well, it´s been a while since my last post, and so much has happened that I don´t know quite where to  start, but I´ll try my best to give a quick synopsis.  After visiting Quito, and then  the volcano town of Quilatoa, Matt and I went to Banos, where  we rented some five dollar bikes that we used to spend the day motorpacing off of tour busses on our way to a series of waterfalls.  We then booked a two day tour into the Amazon.  The first day was a nightmare of a crowded tour bus where we were herded around to various tourist points at local villages.  Fortunately, everyone went home after the first day, and the second day was just Matt, an awesome (albeit crazy) guy  from Spain, and our guide.  He decided to screw the planned tour itineray and just spend the day hanging out with his friends at the Indi Churis tribe.  After a day spent in a blow dart shooting competition and rope swinging into the river, we were invited to a tribal party that night, where we danced like complete fools and drank way too much of the horrible fermented yucca and corn drink called ¨Chincha¨.

After that, we continued travelling south to an organic farm that we had heard about from some other travellers.  We worked there for a week, which included helping to slaughter a bull, waiting and bartending at a local wedding, helping to build an mini hydroelectric plant, and usual farm chores of taking care of the animals.  We also got to know the locals of the tiny town of Tumianuma, where Matt helped to repair a community center building and I helped take a paralyzed girl to the city to see a doctor.

After this much needed break from the constant travelling of the previous two months, we crossed into Peru and arrived at a relaxed beach town near the city of Trujio.  After trying my hand at surfing for a day, Matt and I visited the pre Inca ruins of the Temple of the Sun and Moon.  These massive pyramids were built up over about five hundred years starting in 100 AD, and every one hundred years, the old temple was covered up with an entirely new, and bigger, one, creating a huge pyramid.  Then, mysteriously, they were abandoned in 600 AD.

After this, we returned to the high mountains of the Cordillera Blanca, near Huaraz.  There we spent a week trekking through awe inspiring backdrops of glacier capped mountains and incredibly thin air.  Despite being in the midst of the rainy season, we lucked out and had a great week camping in the mountains.  We were also treated to a sighting of the Andean Condor, a massive bird with a wingspan of about 8 feet.  After our return to civilization, we did our best to replicate Thanksgiving dinner despite being forbidden to use the oven by our extremely strict hostel owner.  With only frying pans and a swiss army knife to work with, we pulled off a respectable Thanksgiving dinner, mostly thanks to frantic skype calls to our mothers. (Thanks Mom!)

After the weather in Huaraz took a turn for the worse, we continued south to the 9 million strong Peruvian capital, Lima.  Rather than take the 24 hour bus ride over death roads, Matt found some cheap flights from Lima to Cuzco.  Just before boarding, Matt googled our budget airline, and discovered it had just come back from a forced grounding due to safety concerns.  Oops.  After surviving this dubious flight, we arrived in Cusco, once the capital of the massive Inca empire.  From there, we managed to find our way out to Machu Pichu, an amazing but incredibly trying ordeal, that took three days to pull off and involved returning at 4 am last night.  More pictures and descriptions of that to follow!
Now I´m off to the stadium in a couple minutes to watch Lima battle Cusco in the Peru Soccer championships.  Then, Matt and I will have one week of adventuring left, before heading back to the real world.  I´m certainly ready to go home, mostly thanks to the ordeal that is South American public transportation (think nauseating, death defying rides over mountain passes crammed in between chickens and snoring locals, that end up dropping you off only half way to your destination).  But I know that as soon as this is over, I will miss all the adventures and experiences. I just have to make sure to enjoy this last week to the maximum.
Thanks for reading and I´ll do my best to get another update up before heading home.  As always, check Matt´s blog for more and better photos!


Bar tending at the wedding

Ecuador waterfalls

About to take the plunge

Sunset through the clouds on a night bus to Banos, Ecuador

Apparently the Peruvian north coast looks like Baghdad

Bridge to the trail that leads to the farm

Just avoided this flash flood

Not a bad view from the farm

The closest town to the farm was a one road affair where the locals spend their afternoons playing cards at the store or working on the new community center (to the right of the church).  This picture was taken during morning rush hour 

Matt and I rented $5 bikes and spent the day motorpacing off of tour busses to the waterfalls

We gave Thanksgiving dinner our best shot, despite being limited to a stove top and a swiss army knife.  Pan fried turkey aside, it was a huge success!

The Pacific coast in Peru, where I took some surfing lessons

Backpacking around 5000 meters meant enough snow to make my first snow man of the year!

Reed boats used by fishermen in Peru

2,000 year old ruins of Chan Chan

Campsite showers.  Cold!!!

2,000 year old Temple of the Sun

Big mountains while trekking through Northern Peru

After getting to the trail head, Matt and I managed to hitch a ride into town on the top of a dump truck.  We had lunch with the friendly driver and his son

The Peruvian hairless dog lives in the desert regions of Peru.  In addition to being possibly the ugliest dog on earth, it´s extremely high body temperature makes it a favorite pet of arthritic patients, who use it as a hot water bottle to soothe aching joints.  I know, sounds rediculous to me too, but I wasn´t going to argue with arthritic locals over the point.

Guineau pig, or ¨Cuy¨, is a favorite in the area.

Pre-Colombian ruins, where human sacrifices were routinely carried out

Matt gets friendly with a llama on the trail

Inca street in Cusco

The Inca cross

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