Three Days in One: Salkantay to Andenes Camp

Back in 2007, my husband and I took our first real adventure to Peru where we visited the Amazon Jungle and hiked to Machu Picchu. This is a series of post I've been writing about since I started this blog.  The first post on this particular day can be found at: The Savage Mountain, Nevado Salkantay.

Getting ready to come down Salkantay!
Tuesday, October 17, 2007
We started heading down Nevado Salkantay and it was cold, rainy, windy and muddy but it was much better than hiking up the mountain!  I was very glad to have some energy back and could hike again.  I learned a very good lesson on my way down the mountain to never buy cheap gear! Half way down the mountain my cheap poncho broke....I tried  to fix it but I just got wet.  Never again will I buy cheap gear.  I also wished I had a Balaclava because I had to hold up my scarf around my face to protect my face against the freezing cold wind the entire trek down.

This was the longest portion of the trek in my memory, my zombie trek.  I was cold, wet, hungry and I felt super disconnected I was just walking because I had no choice.  Sit down and rest in the pouring rain or just keep hiking, I chose the latter.  The energy that I felt early was gone, probably because I had barely eaten anything and I started singing to motivate myself to keep walking.  Once we got off the actual mountain and were hiking on flat ground I just wanted to be in our lunch tent!  I don't remember who else was walking with us except Jesse (my husband) and Edwin (one of our guides) but it was foggy, raining so we couldn't see too far ahead of us.  I kept asking Edwin, "How much longer?" and he would say 15 minutes, an hour or so later we finally saw the red tent in the distances and we made it.

We ate our delicious lunch in the pouring rain in a slowly forming swamp, we all sat there talked, recovered from the mountain we just came down.  The guides told me I looked like the women from Puno because my cheeks and nose were so red but after a few days had gone by we realized my nose was burned from the freezing wind.

Rosy Nose and Cheeks!

Jesse made me a make shift poncho out of a garbage bag which of course I wore for about two hours and it never  A group member later remembered she had an extra poncho that she let me borrow for the rest of the trek.  The rest of the afternoon we walked through a beautiful green valley as the rain slowly let up as the sun came out.

Garbage Girl....
Everyone felt good and was in good spirits when we made camp, except the Australian who became sick at the top of Salkantay, he ended up riding the horse all the way to camp.  I felt really bad for him because he really wanted to hike but he couldn't stop throwing up and just looked awful.  I was in his situation the day before so I knew what he was feeling.

Beautiful valleys

Goodbye Salkantay....

Andenes Camp
This day felt like it was three days in one! First getting to the pass at Salakantay, making it down the mountain to our lunch tent, and then walking through the green valley to our second camp at Andenes.  Even though it was a very tiring day, this was one of my favorite days because of the changing scenery from the rocky pass to the green lush valleys.

Related Posts and Links:

  1. Chasqui Mom: Peru Posts
  2. The Savage Mountain, Nevado Salkantay.

The Savage Mountain, Nevado Salkantay

"Wild, Uncivilized, Savage, Invincible...Savage Mountain"

Tuesday, October 17, 2007: Soray Pampa Base camp, Cerro Soray is in the back ground along with a mini market stand.  My nausea still hadn't subsided by breakfast time so I had only liquids for breakfast, which was not a good way to start a long day of hiking, but I was in good spirits.  The dog in the pictured followed us from Challabamba from the previous day in hopes for scraps.  The dog actually followed us over the pass until lunch on this day! That's a hiking dog!

Our faithful horses and mules grazed as we had our breakfast as well. We were soon to become best friends.

The trekking crew! I remember everyone except for the guy to the left of the guy in the cowboy/brimmed hat.  He wasn't in our group but I think he was talking with the Canadians when we took this picture so he just jumped right in.  To correct my previous post there were two Australian couples.  The only people not pictured here are our guides, Alex, Santiago and Edwin.

C'est Moi
After breakfast and group pictures, we started to hike up to Nevado's Salkantay's pass.  This is my ultimate FAVORITE hiking picture.  I love how insignificant and small I look compared to Salkantay, God's creation is magnificent.

Boulders anyone? 
An hour or so into our hike, I was nearly gone, no drive, no energy, nothing left to hike.  I walked 15 minutes and had to stop and rest.  I have always thought hiking was all mental and I was going to hike up Salkantay but I was hiking so slow and falling way behind.

Back of the line.....nothing left, walking with Edwin.
Edwin and Santiago told me it was probably a good idea to put me on a horse to the pass and I agreed reluctantly.  I needed to rest and get some food in my belly and not hike a couple of thousand feet in the sky. So I layered on some more clothes as my horse got prepared to carry me to the pass.  As I got on the horse I felt liked I failed, I wanted to cry but I did not.  I really wanted to hike and not ride a horse up Nevado Salkantay....especially on my first backpacking trip.  One day I will go back and kick that mountain's butt.

Santiago, myself, and my ride the horse.
I smiled for the picture but I was very sad inside.  To this day my motivation for almost every hike comes from failing to hike Nevado Salkantay, but now I understand hiking is not really about a destination but about the journey.  In retrospect I really enjoyed riding that horse and getting to know Edwin.  At this point +Jesse Avery tried to hike as fast as Edwin and the horse but he couldn't keep up so we were separated for a few hours.  This is Jesse's recounting of his portion of his alone hike up the killer switchbacks:

"The pass was brutal, an ascent of 2,000-3,000 feet, going up to 15,000-16,000 ft.  It was high, the air was thin and I'd spent nearly an hour busting my butt to keep up with Melissa's horse and the caught up with the rest of the group.  Anika and I finished together, walked twenty feet, caught our breath and walked another twenty."

This was my view of the switch backs, riding my horse.  I liked my horse, he was really small compared to all the horses I've seen my entire life.  Edwin explained to me that those are the kinds of horses they use in the mountains.  The horse was somewhat stubborn because he kept stalling on the switchbacks so Edwin had to make horse noises to make it move and I had to kick it with my feet.  I was timid to kick it but it was mostly like "hey get moving!" kick.  The funny thing about the horse was that it farted a lot and it smelled, both Edwin and I laughed a lot!

Edwin was probably a few years younger than me, reminded me of a little brother.  This was his fourth or fifth trek that he had done with +Llama Path.  He was a timid young guy but we had good conversations which put me back into good spirits after being put on the horse.  We saw the porters across the valley taking an even harder shorter trail to get ahead of the group, I took a picture and the porters yelled across the valley, "One dollar!!". We all had a good laugh...

My hiking buddies, Edwin and my horse!
I was a little scared riding the horse because I never really rode horses before and the trail was very steep.  I also really didn't have anything to hold onto, since Edwin was guiding the horse.  We stopped at some point on the trail and I was left alone with the horse while Edwin ran up and down the trail checking on  the status of everyone.  Very impressed with Edwin's hiking skills.  The horse went to the cold mountain stream and quenched its thirst, once again I was reminded of the horse being like a giant dog.  I was able to have some snacks and get some calories in by this point.

Killer Switchbacks
My picture of the switchbacks came out blurry but I wanted to show how steep the mountain was....there was no way I could have hiked up the mountain in the weak condition I was in.  When I arrived at the pass of Salkantay, hot coca tea was waiting for me.  This was the view at the pass...

Cold was an understatement.  I had to wait at the pass for the rest of the trekkers but more importantly wait for my hubby, +Jesse Avery, I missed my forever hiking partner!  I decided that I was going to walk down the trail to see if I could see Jesse and call out to him.  15,000 plus feet in the sky was weird, trying to take breaths and not feeling like I had enough air, getting winded with a few walking 20 feet was strange.

Two other girls had to ride the horses up the mountain and one of the Australian guys made it to the pass, but was obviously sick.  He threw up at the pass and sick for the next two days.  Combination of altitude sickness and stomach bug.  The savage mountain was a truly living up to its name, not only were people struggling to hike it but it was windy, raining a little bit.  Not more than five minutes after Jesse had his coca tea did the skies started hailing on us like crazy.  Alex, our main guide, hurried us along to start hiking down the mountain because he knew the weather was going to get worse.  A few days later, we met a trekker from a different trekking agency who was right behind our group almost every day, said when they passed Salkantay 30 minutes later than us, they had to hike in a foot of snow....I was glad that I could start hiking again with my love!

Day two was so long, I can't even finish it in one post!
Related Posts: Peru

To the Valley of Soray Pampa

Monday, October 16, 2007:  We woke up at 4:30 a.m. to start our adventure five day backpacking trek to Machu Picchu.  We checked out of our hotel and waited for +Llama Path to pick us up.  +Jesse Avery and I were the first ones to be picked up on the giant tour bus but the bus was so big that we actually had to walked down a few blocks because the bus did not fit in the street!

We got a tour of all the different parts of Cuzco as we picked up all the other 13 trekkers.  The bus stopped for gas on the outskirts of Cuzco, our last stop before we started our three hour bus ride down to Mollepata.  Jesse was a little nervous about the bus ride because he's prone to carsickness if he's not driving but thankfully he was able to sleep most of the way to Mollepata.  I was excited nervous but mostly agitated because the altitude sickness pills made my hands and feet tingle and I still had some stomach issues.

Mollepata down below
The bus dropped us off at Mollepata which was a tiny town.  The porters all dressed in matching red uniforms started their trek.  This backpacking trip was a "luxury" trek because we had porters carrying our sleeping bags, tents and whatever we didn't need during our day hikes and would set up camp and three-course meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The porters were amazing ninja backpackers and I have an enormous respect for these men.

We started our hike with having breakfast at a backpackers restaurant and started hiking up the hills.  The view were beautiful and kind of resembled California hiking, well at least in the beginning of the trek. This part of the trek was still inhabited which was weird for +Jesse Avery but since this was my first time backpacking I didn't know any different.

Trekking from Mollepata to Soray Pampa
We didn't have a GPS to track our hike back in 2007 but we started at Cuzco at about 10,000-11,000 ft, drove down to Mollepata which was at approximately 6,000 ft.  Our day hike started at Mollepata at 6,000 ft and ended our first campsite 11 miles away at Soray Pampa at approximately 11,000 ft.  Our entire trip was about a 40-50 mile hike.

Nevado Salkantay, Circa 2007
This was my first view of Nevado Salkantay and the excitement grew even more when I saw my first glimpse.  By this point, I was still feeling a little ill but I just ignored it because the view of the Salkantay was so amazing.  We stopped here and took our "glamour shots" with the Salkantay which means, Savage Mountain.  The mountain lived up to its name!  I ran and we had "training" hikes in the San Francisco Bay Area in preparation for this trek, but no amount of training could have prepared us to hike up to 15,000-16,000 ft at Salkantay's pass.

Glamour Shot
I really don't like this picture of Jesse and myself, but I put it up as reference because we look "fat".  Each day we lost weight and it wasn't because we didn't have enough food because like I mentioned before +Llama Path fed us three course meals three times a day, it was because we hiked 8-10 hours a day, maybe 12 hours.  I calculated my calorie intake and based on only 8 hours of hiking and I could have eaten everything and anything and I would have still lost weight during this trek!

As we ascended it got chillier and chillier, so we layered up.  When we were in Mollepata the guides highly suggested to purchase a hiking stick/pole.  We almost didn't purchase our hiking sticks because we never needed hiking before on our regular hikes, plus we were "tough" enough that we didn't need one.  But we decided it was better to listen to our seasoned guide, Alex.  We had three guides, Alex, Santiago and Edwin.  Alex was the Senior Guide and Santiago and Edwin looked like his trainees though Santiago had been on more treks than Edwin at this point.

This was our lunch view, I believed this location was called Challabamba, it was pretty flat here.  When we arrived here for lunch the red lunch tent was set up along with tea and our three course meal, which always consisted of appetizers, soup, main course and sometimes dessert.  We finally had a chance to get to know the other trekkers who were from Canada, the United States and Australia.

I felt a little better after lunch and we had a little break before we started hiking again.  Jesse and I sat in this field for a while, took pictures and just relaxed.  I remembered seeing a horse act like a dog for the first time in my life.  Our group had horses and mules to carry a lot our group's equipment, so at lunch time the horses also had a break.  A horse laid down and then proceeded to roll on its back to scratch his back on the grass just like my dog back at home.  It looked hilarious to me because he looked like a giant dog.

We started to hike again and about an hour after lunch, I really did not feel well, so much that I threw up.  I think it was a combination of my stomach issues and altitude sickness that caused my vomiting and headache.  Santiago came to me and immediately pulled out a clear bottle and poured some clear liquid over his hands and covered my nose and mouth and told me to take a few deep breaths.  I felt the same and all I smelled was alcohol.  Then Santiago said, "Now you will see the difference between chemical and the natural stuff!"  I was so out of it by then I didn't care what I was going to inhale!

Santiago pulled out a plastic water bottle with plants floating in some black liquid and poured it on his hands to cover my nose and mouth again.  I inhaled four deep breaths and I felt like a brand new person!  It was amazing, my stomach and headache was gone and I had energy to hike immediately....immediately.  I don't know what it was, but everything was brighter and I could hear the birds chirping louder than normal.  The black liquid must intensify senses and numb pain because that is what I felt.  Whatever, it got me to finish the last hours of hiking.

This was the last picture of that I took that day.  I absolutely love this picture, right around the base of the where the snow starts is a thin layer of cloud that looks like smoke.  Just around the bend on the left of the picture was a lodge with a hot tub filled with chubby older white men drinking beer...Santiago turned to me and said they didn't hike, they rode horses.  Whatever floats your boat!  The trail was pretty uninhabited by this point but there are few people that live around the trails to sell beer, coke and trinkets to trekkers like us.  I remember the Australian couple bought beers, they like to drink a lot!

Jesse and I had just purchased our REI Half Dome 2 tent, so we set up our own tent even though +Llama Path provided tents for everyone, we just opted out of their tents.  Our camp was in the valley at the base of Nevado Salkantay, Nevado Tucarhuay and Cerro Soray.  We arrived at Soray Pampa and each minute that passed, the temperature got colder and colder.  Dinner was served and I couldn't eat anything and everything smelled delicious.  My nausea returned so the guides prepared a "special soup" for me, it was celery soup as far as I could taste.  Thankfully one of the trekkers was a pre-med student and gave me an anti-nausea pill which fixed me once for all.

As we got ready for bed, the porters made everyone hot water bottles to put in our sleeping bags because they knew if was going to be a COLD windy night.  I visited the facilities (hole in the ground with a surrounding tent) a few hours after we went to bed and I've never felt so cold in my life, let's just say I didn't leave the tent the rest of the night after that!  I bundled up back in my tent and fell asleep to the sounds of Salkantay's howling winds....

Related Posts and Links: 

  1. The Savage Mountain, Nevado Salkantay
  2. Three Days in One: Salkantay to Andenes Camp
  3. Other Peru Posts
  4. Llama Path - Sustainable Tourism Operator

Guest Post - Book Review "The Last Days of the Incas"

A very good friend of mine and fellow blogger, Nate Rische accompanied us to our trip to Peru in 2009.  During the trip he read, The Last Days of the Incas, by Kim MacQuarrie  and described the "story" of the Incas as we walked through the streets of Cuzco and hiked in the Andes mountains.  I had all the intentions of reading this book but four years later I still haven't, but I still plan too.

In 2009, I was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime; two of my closest friends were taking a trip
to Peru, their second, and they invited me to accompany them. How do you say no to that? Five days,
hiking the “Camino Inca” through the majestic Andes Mountains, stopping only to drink maté de coca
and explore the ruins of the Incan Empire. And Machu Picchu, one of the greatest wonders of the world.

But what did I know? Well, I knew that there was an Incan Empire, and it must’ve been in Peru because
that’s where I was going to see the ruins.

Epic history class fail. I even like history, and paid attention in high school!

How is it that I knew nothing of an empire that spanned over two million square kilometers (almost
775,000 square miles) and ruled a population of over twenty million people? An empire that had
eradicated poverty, and ensured that every single citizen had food to eat. An empire with vast
warehouses full of food, supplies, weapons, all stored away in the event of an emergency or disaster. All
of this done, even more spectacularly, without a written language!

I wanted to know what I was getting in to, hiking through Peru, so I headed over to the local bookstore
to find a book on the Inca. There was only one I could find, sitting on the shelf, The Last Days of the Incas
by Kim MacQuarrie. I was upset; I didn’t want to only learn about the last days of the empire, I wanted
to learn about the whole history! But it was the only option, so I picked it up anyway.
I’m glad I did.

I love to read, but I’m a fiction guy. Non-fiction just isn’t my thing; it usually reminds me of a textbook. I
like to learn, but I don’t like to read textbooks. I love to read, but if a book doesn’t capture my attention
quickly, chances are high I’ll put it back down and never finish it.

I decided I wanted to be reading it while I was in Peru, when it was still fresh in my mind, but I wanted
to be a little bit ahead of the curve. I started reading it a few days before we left. I read it on the plane.
I read it in the airport, and on the next plane. I read it in my hotel room, battling jet lag. I read it in the
bus on sightseeing tours. I would have read it even more often, had there been time. I finished it before
we left Cuzco. It was excellent.

Kim MacQuarrie, the author, lived many years in Peru and became fascinated with the Incans. The book
was born out of his passion and fascination, and reads exactly like an adventure story. Much to my great
joy, MacQuarrie begins with the rise of the Incan Empire and details its relatively short history before he
dives into the real heart of the story, the Spanish Conquest. How was it that an army of only 168 men
was able to conquer this vast empire in such a decisive and quick fashion? And what became of the Inca
after this conquest?

MacQuarrie takes the time to address all of these questions, and more. The narrative never stops, and
you never feel like the story is dragging or boring. The story? Oh yeah, don’t forget, we’re learning
actual history!

While we were in Cuzco, we would walk down the streets and I would put my hand up against a wall
that I read about in the book that morning. I could stand on the hills at Saqsaywaman (yes, that is
pronounced nearly exactly the same as “sexy woman”) and look out over the battlefield and siege that
helped determine the fate of Cuzco. The sights became more real to me, and as I read along I could
place myself into the story and really get a feeling for what it was like.

MacQuarrie is very transparent with the biases of the source material, and despite the very one-sided
written view (most accounts of the events come from the Spanish, as the Incas had no written language
of their own), he works very hard to present as complete and accurate of a view as possible.

The book follows the Inca from the birth of their empire to the Spanish Conquest and through the
following years of rebellion, integration, and oppression by Spanish rule. But it would hardly be
appropriate to end the story there, and The Last Days of the Incas concludes with a detailing of Hiram
Bingham’s excavations and discovery of Machu Picchu.

The Incan people have a majestic and tragic history, and Kim MacQuarrie captures it with great detail,
passion, and vitality in his book The Last Days of the Incas. Even if you’re not a fan of non-fiction, or of
history, you will be a fan of this book. Highly recommended, especially to anyone who has visited or is
planning to go visit Cuzco and Machu Picchu.

Cuzco Artisan Market and Dances

Sunday, October 15, 2007: +Jesse Avery and I woke up with headaches, apparently we were both suffering from altitude sickness.  Jesse thought he drank too much mate and was dehydrated, either way both of us were not feeling well.  We had the hotel's breakfast and headed down to the "Centro Artesanal", the artisan's market.  I wanted to buy presents for everyone back home.  On the way there we walked through San Blas towards the Plaza de Armas again and we stopped at the famous "Stone of 12 Angles" at Hatun Rumiyoc.

I'm no expert on Inca stonework but these stones were carved by hand and were cut precisely without what we would consider rock cutting tools.  It seems unclear of how these rocks were cut with such precision because no one knows how to do it manually with out power tools today.

It was pretty amazing to see how perfectly the stones fit just like a puzzle and to think the was done hundreds, and hundreds of years ago.  When the Spanish came to conquer they destroyed the emperor's palaces and built the churches on top the base of the emperors palace, that is why you see these walls with a "Spanish" type building on top. The Spanish could never replicate the Inca stonework.

All along this street there were Andean dressed women with the babies in a sling and their older daughters carrying baby llama's in their slings.  They were charging money to take pictures with them of course.  I really don't like doing touristy activities like take a picture with an Andean woman but I almost did when I saw that cute baby llama.

At the Plaza de Armas the military and other community organizations were getting prepared to parade around the plaza.  The stage had all the cities government officials like the mayor and other important people, I suppose.  Intrigued, we stayed for a while and watched the parade thinking it was an important day come to find out later that its a weekly occurrence to install patriotism in the people. The Peruvian and Inca flag flies in the Plaza de Armas.  The rainbow Inca flag is not the gay pride flag.

I was never in the military, but being in law enforcement at the time I really liked looking at their rifles.  We left the parade before the mass exodus occurred and headed down Av. El Sol towards the Centro Artesanal, a mile from the Plaza de Armas.  On the way, we came across a Maranatha church that had a service going on, so we went in for the music part of the service and then sneaked out.  They had a Quechua service but much earlier in the morning.  I'm always interested in visiting other churches when I'm traveling.

The artisan's market was a typical artisan market which I loved.  We bought presents for all the families back home and Jesse got his "explorer" hat.  It was the only real shopping I did the whole time we were in Peru.

We walked back up the hill to run some errands and bought some supplies for our hiking adventure that was about to begin.  We had lunch at Andino Cafe in the San Blas neighborhood which was quite comfortable, affordable and most importantly delicious.  We actually returned there on many occasions to eat during our trip in 2009 as well.

We finished our walk up to our hotel and took nap, which we overslept by an hour and a half!  I guess we were more tired than we thought.  A half an hour late, we met up with my co-worker and her friends and headed out to find some pizza.  Dinner conversation consisted of the girls telling us of their adventure to Pisaq and their crazy taxi ride.

+Llama Path suggested we visit "Centro de Qosqo de Arte Nativo" where they held traditional Cuzco Andean dances, so after dinner we headed up the street to the art center.  The ticket seller was very confused why I wanted to buy two international tickets since I was Peruvian and my husband obviously not.  I explained to him that I was Peruvian-American and I was not born in Peru, so I needed two international tickets (more expensive).  The ticket seller thanked me for my honesty and charged me the international price.

We watched an hour and a half of traditional Qoso dancing from each different region of the the Cuzco department.  My favorite dance was the bull/matador fight where the women were the bulls and the men were the matadors.  The name Qosqo, Cuzco, and Cusco mean the same thing but the city's name was originally Qosqo, and slowly after time it became Cuzco or Cusco.  I will tend to write Cuzco but might throw in the other names occasionally.

On our way back to the Casa de Campo, the stores were closing down and the streets were lined with purple everything, candles, ribbons, but mostly purple flowers.  There were altars/shrines in every store and all over the streets to a crucified "black" Jesus.  I asked a lady what the celebration was about and she explained that it was the procession of "El Senor de los Temblores" (The Lord of Earthquakes).  Back at the hotel, I asked the receptionist what was "El Senor de los Temblores" and she explained that a long time ago there was a three day earthquake and people didn't know what to do so they prayed to the forgotten "black" Jesus and the earthquake stopped.  With that we quickly finished packing our gear to start our hike and went to bed.

Off to Cuzco, The Incan Capital

Saturday, October 14, 2007:  We did the whole early airport routine to Lima's airport at 4:30 a.m. but this time we had some coffee and hot chocolate.  The plane ride from Lima to Cuzco was pretty spectacular because we made sure we were seated on the side of the plane were we could look out and see all the snow covered Andean mountains.  I felt like I could reach out the window and touch the mountains. I was so excited that in two days we would be hiking where my ancestors hiked.

The airplane's descent felt strange because we were used to a long descent from the sky to almost sea level, but Cuzco is at almost 11,000 ft (depending where in Cuzco) so it felt like the plane dropped 10 ft and we were on the runway.  Cuzco's weather felt like the San Francisco Bay Area's fall/winter weather, cold in the shade but relatively warm in the sun.  +Jesse Avery and I felt the altitude almost immediately after getting off the plane.  I actually felt dizzy and out of breath walking from the plane to baggage claim.

Our hotel, Casa de Campo had set up a taxi driver to pick us up at the airport and take us to the hotel.  This was the first time I was somewhat nervous because in Iquitos and Lima I had my local family but now it was just me and Jesse, two American tourists roaming around the Incan capital.  After we checked in at the hotel, the hotel personnel immediately told us to leave everything and have some "mate" or coca leave tea on the terrace.  Even the few steps up to the terrace really winded me, Jesse felt fine but we both felt a little weird either from the excitement or the altitude.

We drank our mate's on the terrace for an hour and proceeded to nap in the warm Cuzco sun on the terrace while our room was being prepared.  The hotel was located on a hill so our room was on the third level and by the time we reached our room I was out of breath.  Our room had hot water, a fireplace and a wonderful bed.  It felt like heaven, I loved Iquitos but having hot water and a somewhat soft bed felt so luxurious.

After we had settled in, we walked down to the Plaza de Armas, then +Llama Path our trekking agency that was recommended in our Peru +Lonely Planet book, but their doors hadn't opened for the day yet.

We continued our errands, checking in on my co-worker and her friends who joined us on our adventure at the Hotel Libertador, a super fancy hotel.  We decided to meet up for dinner later after our Llama Path briefing, so we left the fancy hotel and headed to a pizza restaurant in the Plaza de Armas.

The altitude was really getting to us, but after lunch we felt a little better whether it was the food or the mate's  something made us feel better.  We ran more errands, getting cash, trying +Llama Path again but now they were closed for lunch so we headed back up the hill to San Blas area.

After a nap I had full blown altitude sickness, giant headache and nausea, in addition to some "stomach issues" that I had brought from Iquitos or Lima.  A hot shower, some mate, antibiotics and a fireplace made me feel a little better.  Our briefing at the Llama Path was exciting but I wasn't feeling well so I couldn't concentrate as much as I wanted too.  After dinner with my co-worker and friends we headed back up the hill to the San Blas neighborhood.  I just hoped no one would attack up the the dark alley's back to our hotel, no one ever did.

Related Posts: Peru 2007

From the Amazons to Lima

Friday, October 13, 2007: +Jesse Avery and I were up by 5:30 a.m. because of the sweltering heat.  I decided to wake up Jesse by deflating our air mattress, which was quite funny.  The motocarro picked us up from my grandparents house and Janette followed us to the Iquitos airport in her motorcycle.  As I left my grandparents house, I turned around to wave goodbye and saw them standing at their window.  I wasn't sure if I was ever going to see them again but that image of them at the window will always remain in my memories.  We arrived at the airport, checked in, paid the airport tax and said our goodbyes to my wonderful cousin Janette.

Rarely did any of the airport attendants check to see if our identification matched our tickets, but I guess I was just used to the scrutiny of American airports.  The plane ride was wonderful because it was the first time in six days that we had stopped profusely sweating.  The air conditioning was on full blast which made us feel almost instantly cleaner for our 1.5 hour flight to Lima.

My Uncle Rafael picked us up at the Lima airport and we quickly started running errands and touring Lima.  It was breakfast time so we headed out to an local outdoor market to buy some food.  While breakfast was being made Jesse and I arranged our Cuzco equipment.  Since we were going to two completely different environments, Iquitos/Amazon Jungle and Cuzco/Machu Picchu (Andes Mountains) we had to bring both sets of clothes/equipment.

After breakfast, we visited some more extended family, visited and internet "cafe" which was somebody's extra room in a house with four computers and internet connection.  My uncle really wanted to take us to downtown Lima so off we went in a long bus ride.

Busy streets of downtown Lima.

The lovely couple somewhere in Downtown Lima.

Maybe we should have tanks rolling around the front of our Presidential Palace.  I thought that was pretty awesome.

My handsome husband in front of the Peruvian "White House" (Presidential Palace).  I have never be to the White House but have been to Peru's "White House".

I don't remember the name of this bridge but it was near downtown Lima.  It was very colorful but the camera didn't catch all the lights.

My uncle took us all around Lima, the Presidential Palace, two different plaza's, the main drag of shops but I was so tired I did not want to shop.  One of the two plazas we visited was known for mugging so we did not spend too much time in it.  We had to take another long bus ride home to my uncle's neighborhood, Los Olivos.  The "bus" was not really a bus, more like a semi-large van with seats but the bus was so full that we had to stand for a long time.

As I have mentioned before, +Jesse Avery is a little too tall for Peru especially the passenger bus.  Jesse had to bend his neck as he was stood for most of the way home.  There was a cute little girl that sang nursery songs and a couple who would not stop kissing in front of me.  Our crazy bus driver hit another large bus and just kept driving.  I was very glad when we finally made it home.  Dinner consisted of tea and a chicken sandwich and with our belly's full we hit the sack. 

We went to bed excited to start our adventure Machu Picchu!

Related Posts: Peru

Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm (Part 2)

Thursday, October 12, 2007: This is a continuation of my previous post on the butterfly farm.  The Butterfly Farm also was a Animal orphanage/sanctuary for animals that were taken out of there natural habitat and sold as pets or attractions in Iquitos and surrounding area.  Therefore, they had rescued a Jaguar from the Belen neighborhood of Iquitos, which is also known for it floating food markets and floating amazon homes.

It was feeding time when we got to see Pedro, the jaguar.  He was truly a beautiful animal and sad to think he was living in Belen.  They couldn't release the jaguar back into the Amazon because they didn't know if it could survive anymore.  The guide told us they did release live chickens and other small animals so Pedro would not lose his hunting techniques.

The Anteater was so much bigger than I had pictured it in my head, so I was a little bit scared.  It's not pictured but the anteater was drinking milk.

The "Sachavaca" or what we call a Tapir. I was told that Sachavaca means "fake cow", sacha meaning fake and vaca meaning cow.  What my cousin told me was that people tried to eat the Sachavaca but the meat was too tough and its black meat stains human skin.  I don't know if that was true but people do not eat the "fake cow".

Two of the eight rescued monkeys, these are beautiful Howler Monkeys.  The guide told us they sang when they were happy and boy did they sing.  I loved hearing their howls....I recorded them but the video came out blurry.

They were very LOUD! Louder than they sound in the video.

"El Huapo Colorado"  was this monkey's nickname.  It's called the Red Bald Uacari monkey and apparently the locals called white males with bald or shaved heads (like my husband Jesse) "El Huapo Colorado" because their bald heads would turn read from all the sun.

I absolutely loved Pilpintuwasi.  The only "bad" thing about it was that we were in the real jungle so it was even hotter than regular Iquitos.  We never stopped sweating, I was completely drenched in sweat and Jesse looked like he had taken a bath with his clothes on.  Was definitely worth almost getting dehydrated to visit Pilpintuwasi.  If you want more information you can find them on the web at
Related Posts: Peru 2007

Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm (Part 1)

Before we left for Peru we purchase Lonely Planet's travel book on Peru, where we found a small section on a place called Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm.  Other than Quistococha Zoo, about 30 minutes down the road outside Iquitos, this was the only other "touristy" event I wanted to visit in Iquitos.

Thursday, October 12, 2007:  After hiring Merlin as our boat driver we headed up the Amazon River towards a side river going to Padre Cocha, where Pilpintuwasi was located.

It was really amazing to see how low the Amazon River was, at least twenty feet lower than the "normal" riverbank marks.  We went as far as we could in the boat which then amounted to a fifteen minute hike through a surprisingly green dry riverbed.  A few months later, my parents visited the butterfly and were able to boat all the way up to the farm entrance.
Walking along Padre Cocha's dry riverbed.
The farm is a big butterfly house, a hatchery and an animal orphanage.  The one thing I learned that each butterfly larva can only be grown on a specific plant.  They were all so beautiful, so many colors both in larvae status and full grown butterflies.  Pictures are the only way to describe how pretty they were.

The caretaker explained that the more colorful a larvae or caterpillar was the less colorful it was as an adult butterfly and the plain looking caterpillars are the more colorful butterflies.

This owl looking butterfly was one of my favorites.  That was one of it's defense mechanism against prey, since it looked like the an owl's face birds wouldn't attack it.

This butterfly was at least 12 inches across.  This picture really doesn't do justice to how LARGE it was we saw a group of them fly by and they looked like bats.

Almost scary big butterflies!!

More beautiful butterflies!!

This was a board that had different cocoons in different stages.  They were all alive and would wiggle when the caretaker sprinkled them with water.  I loved this butterfly house, or Pilpintuwasi.  I don't think I will ever find a better butterfly house.  This place was so wonderful that it's going to take another blog post to finish writing about the animal orphanage.

Related Posts: Peru

Defeat, Not Something I Like

I'm a very goal oriented person.  If I have a goal, I'm the most motivated person in the world to complete my task.  If I do not achieve my goal I feel like I was defeated by something, someone or myself.  I will not be able to complete my 2012 Trails Challenge by December 1st, which is this Saturday.  My last day available to complete it was today, but due to my children being sick, a hectic weekend, the rain coming in tomorrow, and upcoming travel I will not be able to complete the challenge. Only 3.5 miles short, it drives me crazy.

Only one other time was I "defeated" while hiking, during my 2007 Inca Trail Peru Trip. I caught the travelers bug right before we started on our five day hike to Machu Picchu. I couldn't keep real food down so the guides made me smell some special liquid, drink some special soup, and another hiker gave me some anti-nausea pills. The following day I felt fine but as anyone who knows who has hiked 10 hours before, food = fuel = energy to hike. I had no energy to hike up a 14,000 ft Salkantay Nevada. My brain said "keep on moving" but my feet just dragged. I was so slow that they had to put me on a mule. I wanted to cry, I wanted to hike that mountain and to this day I still do.

I'm smiling but I'm not happy.

It's not the same kind of defeat, and in all reality it's not really a defeat because I will still finish the Trails Challenge just after the deadline of December 1st. It really pushed us to hike consistently like we've been wanting too and it has exposed us to different East Bay Parks.

Next year I will complete the 2013 Trails Challenge with time to spare just like some day I will go back to Peru and kick Salkantay's butt!

Here are some pictures from each hike of the 2012 Trails Challenge that we did complete:

Garin/Dry Creek Regional Park - Hayward/Union City, CA.  My son David....
Mission Peak Regional Park - Fremont, CA
Dublin Hills Regional Park - Dublin, CA
Hayward Regional Shoreline - Hayward, CA

Have you ever felt defeated in a backpacking trip, day hike, race, outdoor competition or goals you have set for yourself? How did you overcome your "defeat"?  Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Related Posts and Links

  1. The Savage Mountain Nevado Salkantay
  2. Three Days in One: Salkantay to Andenes Camp

Animals, Gringolandia and Peanut Soup

Thursday, October 12, 2007:  Apparently the food from the night before did not sit well in my belly.  It had been a terribly hot night, I had stomach pains all night and a annoying cricket chirped all night long.  I never heard the cricket but it annoyed Jesse all night long.  I managed to curl up in a little ball pass out and not vomit....

Princesa woke us up at 5:30 a.m., she jumped onto our bed so I kicked her out of our room.  Princesa was my cousin, Janette's, cute, annoying, toe-nipping puppy.  Awfully cute but she loved to nip our toes.  Jesse wanted to kill the cricket that was no where to be found but at least I had woken up with no migraine.  We called Janette into our room to see if she could hear the cricket, but apparently she was immune to the LOUD chirping.  It was rather hilarious.

It was the dry season, so it hadn't rained in a few days and the temperature started to soar.  After breakfast, we took my grandparents and Hermana Manuela to Ari's Burger (A.K.A Gringolandia) at the Plaza de Armas.  Gringolandia was a peculiar place to see because all the "Gringos" show up to dine there for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Gringos are Caucasian looking people whether they are America, English, Canadian, etc.  Whats "different" about Gringolandia is this is where lots of young local women (single and married) are waiting for these "Gringos" to take care them by buying them clothes, food and sometimes homes for their families.  Sadness.

Other than the peculiarity of Gringolandia, they had yummy ice cream and that is why we went.  My grandparents really liked ice cream.  Each of my grandparents ordered three ice cream scoops each.  My grandfather hardly ate anything the whole time we were in Iquitos except for when we went to eat ice cream.  He ate all his three ice cream scoops plus one scoop off of my grandmothers bowl.  I think this is the only picture I have of my grandparents and I.....

Janette did not go with us to Gringolandia because she had to work that morning so I had to catch a motocarro all by myself.  I faked a Iquitos accent and they didn't overcharge us.  When the motocarros see us (meaning Jesse) they would always overcharge us because he's "big".  Whatever.

After Janette got home we hitched a ride over to my Tia Teresa's house and has some delicious peanut soup, beets and masamorra, a traditional Peruvian juice.  The soup was delicious but it was an awfully hot day so we sweat so much during lunch.  I recognized my aunts home because this was the home my grandparents lived in when I first visited when I was younger, 19 years before this visit.

My aunt showed me my wedding favors my mother sent down to her and some childhood pictures that she saved in a little box.  It made me feel very loved, both by my mother and my aunt...

Lunch was over and we said our goodbyes.  From there we took a motocarro to the docks which was the launching point anywhere down the Amazon rivers.  Jesse was a walking dollar sign because we got swarmed by boat drivers to take us to see the Indian Tribes.  We finally found boat driver who was not annoying, Merlin.  He still tried to take us to see some tribes but all we wanted was to go see the butterfly's.

Down the river we went to one of the coolest places I went to Iquitos, the Butterfly Farm.

Related Posts: Peru

Just Too Hot!

Wednesday, October 11, 2007:  It had not rained in two days, therefore the heat rose.  I slept "in" until 7:30 a.m.  My grandparents caretaker, Hermana Manuela, was cooking breakfast already and Jesse was still sleeping.  We ate fried bananas and fried chicken for breakfast.  Everything is fried in the jungle, safer to eat I suppose.  I don't remember if this is a morning sunrise or sunset in front of my grandparents house, either way I think it's beautiful.

It was too hot to do anything, so we cleaned the living room and then went to the store to get water.  My grandmother told me that she knows we are healthy because we drink lots of water.  I just didn't want to get dehydrated from sweating all the time.

Manuela was my grandparents caretaker but did not live with my grandparents.  She had kids of her own so when her kids went off school in the morning, Manuel would come over and take care of my grandparents.  Manuela's house was just down the street from my grandparents house.  It was a "tropical" house, a roof made of interwoven palm tree branches, dirt floors and thin walls.  It was a tiny house for her family of five....we sat there and talked for a little while, she introduced us to her son.  Manuela told me she was going to send her daughters to talk with us later in the evening.

In the afternoon we went to buy my grandmother's favorite food, rotisserie chicken at the Kikiriki.  We all had dinner together that night, I had been very careful with eating certain foods but I gave up and had some hand package sauces.  I paid for that later....After dinner it was still terribly hot, so my cousin took Jesse for a motorcycle ride around the neighborhood.

When Jesse came back, Manuela's daughters had arrived to talk.  Manuela knew we were youth workers back in the States so she wanted us to counsel her teenage daughters.  At least in the Christian realm in Iquitos, people there have a certain respect towards Americans and their advice.  I talked with the teenaged girls and encouraged them to keep going to church and study at school, but it was so difficult to have rapport with girls I had just met.

After our counseling session, I had the beginnings of a migraine so I took a migraine pill and we went to bed.  It was so hot that day that we hardly wrote in our journal too.

Related Posts: Peru

Amazon Gardening and Culture Differences

Tuesday, October 9, 2007:  It rained most of the night so that keep the temperature down so we could sleep comfortably.  We gardened my grandmother's backyard for most of the morning, moving plants from their random locations to more organized rows of corn, beans, tomatoes, peanuts and other plants.  My grandmother is rather elderly so she just throws the seeds on the ground and hope they'd grow, so being good grandchildren of hers, Jesse and I arranged the sprouted plants better.

After my cousin Janette returned from work, the three of us visited my mom's friend, Luz and her husband again.  On the way to Luz's house we all thought we were being kidnapped again because not even my cousin recognized the motocarro's route, it ended up that he took the long way.  I'm quoting Jesse from our journal, "Being a gringo here is tough, all the motos, when they see me coming, charge an extra 20-50 centavos (7-10 cents) for a ride." Overall, it's really not a big deal to us but the principal of charging us extra because my husband is a white American.

We went swimming and enjoyed some delicious chicken with caramelized onions, rice and giant pieces of avocado.  Afterwards we looked at some pictures, talked and used their home internet.  I took a picture of a picture of my mother when she lived in Iquitos many years ago.  My mother, Milca Bravo (then Garcia) is the girl to the right of the girl with the volleyball.  That's my mother, she's so pretty.

After our visit, we went home for awhile, I had long conversations with my grandmother and got ready to go out to the movies.  It was discount day at the movies, so the theaters were very crowded and we couldn't get tickets for another two hours.  We walked around the Plaza de Armas and then to the Amazon Riverfront.  No one goes indoors until past 11 p.m. because it's just too hot, so there were tons of people out and about.  After a while we stopped for a pitcher of Maracuya juice.

Somewhere on the Riverfront
Two hours had finally gone by and we got into our movie, "Licensed to Wed" per Janette's request.  I was so happy to go to the movies, thinking they had air conditioning.  Alas, 200 people squished in a room with 4 ceiling fans, let's just say I eventually stopped sweating.  The movie was in English with subtitles in Spanish and the moving was really funny and to this day I love watching this movie.

A funny incident happened during the movie, jokes.  Jokes don't translate well from one language to another, well Robin Williams is a priest in this movie and is joking something about "Coveting thy neighbors wife" and jugs of milk, etc.  It was a funny joke so Jesse and I started laughing really loud until we realized we are the only two people laughing in the whole theater because the joke didn't make sense in Spanish, which caused me to start laughing hysterically and I couldn't control myself for 10 minutes. Oh culture differences.  The movie ended and off we went home.

Out on the Town...Iquitos Style

Monday, October 8, 2007: There was an area of stick stilted houses along the river walk which weren't really houses, but cheap tourist shops.  We looked around but didn't find anything.  My cousin Janette wasn't wearing proper walking shoes, so we took a break to find band aides for her blistering feed and to drink some delicious maracuya fruit juice.  Funny thing about Iquitos stores is that no one has change for anything.

A little clip of us riding around town in Iquitos major mode of transportation.  

After drinking refreshing maracuya juice, we bought a relatively nice and reasonably sturdy dinning table and chairs for my grandparents. Janette and I rode in one motocarro and Jesse went alone in another motocarro with the driver, table and six chairs. I do not know how they managed to do that but they did. I wanted to take a picture but it would call even more attention to us, especially with my giant Gringo husband. I was scared that Jesse had been kidnapped, because Jesse didn't show up for about 20 minutes after Janette and I arrived to my grandparents house. Thankfully he wasn't kidnapped, it just took them a while to haul all the furniture, plus a 200 pound gringo on the dirt roads of Iquitos.

We had lunch on the new table and passed the day spending time with my grandma and grandpa. My grandpa could actually hear today and I didn't have to yell in his ear to have a conversation with him. My grandpa was really scared of Jesse, he would always ask, "Who is that big man?" and measured his legs....don't ask why. I think he had Alzheimer's Disease but over there they call it getting old.

Later in the evening, we got all dressed up to go to the nicest restaurant in town the Gran Moloke, but it was closed. Instead we at the second story of the the Casa de Fierro (Eiffel's Iquitos Creation) overlooking the Plaza de Armas. By the way ALL towns in Peru have a Plaza de Armas. Dinner was delicious though it took a really long time for the food to come out, but we enjoyed a nice rain and thunder storm.
The Plaza de Armas in Iquitos, Loreto, Peru.

Joking around in the tourist shops.
A frog in my grandparents backyard.  My cousin thought is was so funny that I found this amusing.

After dinner went to the first floor and did some tourist shopping, came home and took a rainwater shower and relaxed in the backyard before bed time. Just a nice day in the Amazon.

Iquitos Church, Ancestors, Amazon River Boat

Sunday, October 7, 2007: It was hot all night.  Iquitos is hot all the time, but the night rain brought the temperature down a few degrees that allowed us to get some good sleep.  We woke up around 8:00 a.m. to get ready for church.  Jesse wasn't feeling too well....change in food, I suppose.

Here I am with my grandparents riding to church, Abuelito Nestor and Abuelita Leandra.  My grandparents church looked like a converted house but mostly every building in Iquitos had that same structure.  There was singing and preaching, but what I remember the most was that during the middle of the preaching my grandmother leans over to me and says (in Spanish), "It's going to rain soon."  I look outside and see that it's extremely sunny and lean over to my cousin, Janette, and told her what our grandmother said and Janette says, "Just wait." Within two minutes there was full on storm, I guess my grandmother could just "feel it" after living in the Amazon for her entire life.

After church and lunch we visited one of my mother's childhood friend, Luz and her husband.  They had a small pool in the middle of their house so we stayed there for a while.  It was quite refreshing.  Luz also had a small private school at her home so the front of her home looked like a classroom.

In the evening we went to church again, a much more livelier church with a lot more Latin praise.  On our way to church, I decided to catch a ride on Janette's motorcycle.  Jesse, my husband, rode in a motocarro with my Aunt Haydee to church.  At one point, Janette and I were riding around town in some side dark streets and I thought to myself, "I should be scared" but I got over it.  After an hour of very loud worship music we left with our ears hurting.

Entertainment at my grandparent's house was pretty much talking, watching the motocarros go by, watching the nightclub and mortuary down the street or trying to watch TV but even that felt too hot.  We talked a lot, to my grandparents, Janette, my grandparents caretaker, Manuela and to each other.  This evening I talked to my grandmother since I've never really talked to her before.  I asked to to tell me everything she could about our heritage, where we came from, etc.  Apparently, my great-grandfather, Remegio was originally from Cuzco and escaped from being enlisted in the Spanish Army and traveled through the Cuzco jungle to he Amazon Basin (Loreto area) where he met my great-grandmother.  I guess the adventure bug runs deep through my veins.  My grandfather's parents are from deep in the Amazon, from Tierra Blanca near the Ucayali River.

Monday, October 8, 2007: We woke up early in the morning, probably because the temperature started to rise.  After breakfast, we rode the motocarro to the wharf, Amazon River wharf that is.  My aunt Haydee was taking a boat 12 hours down the river to her job, a teaching position in a small town that could only be reached by the river.

That is a typical river boat that local people use, not the luxury boats that are portrayed in the Amazonian Adventure Tourist companies, huh?  The wharf was packed full of craziness, people trying to rob us, people selling all sorts of things including giant bunches of plantains.  The river level was extremely low and the wharf was full of garbage.  Coming from California and a nature lover that really made me sad that the river banks were full of garbage.  My aunts boat was full of people with their hammocks ready to go.  My husband wanted to try one as you can see.

My aunt was traveling to San Ysidro but what I remember the most was the bags and bags of extra clothes she took.  She could barter these clothes for food or other household necessities.  Apparently cash was useless in a small town like San Ysidro because they had no banks.  My aunt explained to me that she had to go out deep in the jungle to get a teaching position because the older someone gets, especially for women, the harder it is to get a job.  I guess there weren't any consequences for ageism and sexism in Amazon.  We said our goodbyes  and left the wharf and walked long the river, stopping and to look out over the gigantic river and surrounding greenery.

When the river is full, all of the greenery is underwater and the water comes right up to the river walk.

My husband Jesse and I near the wharf with the floating houses.

Over the Andes to the Amazon

October 6, 2007: Sleep was a little more than a two hour nap.  We had booked the next day earliest flight to Iquitos, thinking back I should have waited a day or at least a later flight.  We collected our luggage and had to walk a few blocks to the main street to catch a taxi.  My uncle, aunt and two of my other relatives walked with us to get a taxi but the few taxi drivers that saw us wouldn't stop because we had so many people and large luggage.  We finally got a ride to the airport and we were on our way to Iquitos. That is a view from the plane when we were coming over the Andes.

We flew over the Andes, at first we saw snow capped mountains but that gave way to a gigantic sea of green, a forest that never went away before we landed.  We watched the sun come up from the plane and then the Amazon River came into view.

Iquitos at seven in the morning could be best described as a sauna.  It reminded me of the few months I lived in the deep south, in Brunswick Georgia but in Iquitos there's no relief of air conditioned buildings.  We were picked up by my aunt (Tia Hayde), my cousin (Janette) and the pastor of a local church that owned his own moto-carro.  My first observation of Iquitos as we rode from the airport to my grandparents house was that it look almost exactly the same as in 1988 with some small differences such as random Internet cafes and somewhat newer cars.  Iquitos does not have cars in large quantities because up until recently it was the only city left in the world that could only get reached by plane or boat.  I think there is a road that connects Lima to Iquitos now but its very dangerous.  The majority of people still ride a boat or take a plane to Iquitos.

I was very happy to see my grandparents, since I hadn't seen them in 19 years, my grandmother reminded of an older version of my mother.  My grandfather really didn't know what was going on, so I had to keep reminding him that I was his daughter, Milca's daughter.

The houses in Iquitos are either cement or "tropical".  All the floors are cement so the intense rain does not get everything wet.  The City of Iquitos was doing road construction in front of my grandparents house so our running plumbing water only worked for a few hours a day with weak pressure, so we showered by bucket.

We rested for a while as much as we could in all that heat and then Janette took us into town so we could exchange our dollars for sols.  The money changers are finicky, very finicky.  They would not exchange an even remotely distressed bill, which we had plenty of.  We did some grocery shopping and saw some of the city and went home to meet some more people.  The thing about going into a small town like Iquitos is that everyone who knew my mother wanted to meet us but I had no idea who they were.  I gladly met them but I had just traveled over 24 hours on almost no sleep so to this day I still don't know who I met.

Right after meeting a bunch of people, we went north outside of town to a zoo called, Quistococha.  We saw monkeys, paiche, alligators, birds and more monkeys.  I had been here before when I first came in 1988 and it looked exactly the same.

The monkey laying around.....

A lake in the zoo.

An Amazonian alligator.

After the zoo we came home for dinner and met more people.  There was a light thunderstorm but the lightening kept us up all night.  The thing about true Californians compared to the rest of the USA is that we are not used to lightening or thunderstorms so it was just very loud.  We hung out a little more with my cousin and grandparents and finally went to bed almost 48 hours later we slept.

California to Peru...

October 5, 2007: After sleeping only one hour for myself and four hours for my husband, our friend Nate graciously picked us up in the wee hours of the morning and drove us to San Francisco International Airport. We had no issues checking into our flights but with all the hustle and bustle with the counter and security we had no time to eat before we flew four hours to Houston, Texas.  We had a three hour layover in Houston which gave us enough time walk through this giant airport and enjoy a long lunch of delicious hamburgers.

The flight to Lima was seven hours, during which we did crossword puzzles, watched "Surf's Up" and "Kicking and Screaming" along with some "George Lopez" sitcoms.  Traveling days are so tiring, on both legs of our flight we told ourselves that we would sleep but we couldn't sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time, either from the excitement of traveling internationally or not being able to get comfortable.

We landed in Lima in the middle of the night and what seem like forever to get through Peruvian immigration.  Prior to leaving the States, I had arranged with my mother's cousin, Rafael, to pick us up at the airport.  I am really confused about what my mother's cousin is in relation to me so I just called him, Tio (Uncle) Rafael.  I have never met Tio Rafael before and had only spoken to him by phone, so we had agreed that he would be waiting for us with a sign with our names on it.

My Tio Rafael and his wife were waiting for us in the midst of a wall of other people with signs and I said to myself, "I hope that guy is my Tio Rafael".  Of course he recognized me because apparently I am the spitting image of my mother and I had a tall gringo as my husband.  Jesse stood out Peru, especially in Iquitos not so much Cuzco with all the European, Australian and American travelers.  We crammed our four giant luggage in a taxi van my uncle hired for us and headed into Los Olivos, the neighborhood my uncle lived in.  The following is a recounting of Jesse's first observation of Lima and ultimately Peru, an engineer's point of view:
The house's are all in "in progress", most rooms don't have floors and some halls are open to the sky.  Nothing is done, there is always a floor being built up top.
We finally arrived to my uncle's house once again in the wee hours of the morning, had some chicken soup, and rearranged our luggage.  Jesse and I only had about two luggage worth of stuff, one luggage for Iquitos and another luggage for our trek in Cuzco/Machu Picchu.  The other two luggage were from my mother and Tia (Aunt) Elita from the States, FULL of American goods for our extended family in Lima and Iquitos.  We had to arrange what stuff we needed to take to Iquitos and leave our heavy duty hiking jackets in Lima.  Everything was finally set and more than 24 hours later I could finally sleep.....

I always like pictures, so here is my extended family in Lima, my Tio Rafael is in the middle, thank you so much for your hospitality.  This picture was after our big hike to Machu Picchu, I can tell because my nose got burned from the cold wind.

19 Years Before

The first time I went to Peru was in 1988, I was 6 years old, little toothless girl with a bowl-type hair cut.  I don't remember the entire trip but some things you never forget.  I don't remember being in Lima but I'm sure we were there because that is where we flew into.  I know we visited Iquitos, Lima, and I think Trujillo.  What I remember the most was flying into Iquitos on a plane with chickens and people clapping because the plane landed safely.  Even though I was six years old, I still thought there was something strange about the fact that people were so happy that the plane landed.  Seeing and endless forest of green when we flew over the Andes into the Amazon was another memory that is burned into my brain.

It's strange to try to write about something that happen so long ago, something I experienced but all I can remember is bits and pieces of that trip.  I love make lists, so here are the fragments of my memory on my Peru Trip 1988:

  • We couldn't get in contact with our family when we arrived in Iquitos, so no one was waiting for us at the airport. We went to the only place my mother knew, the Baptist Bible Institute of Iquitos.  There was an older missionary woman there who let me play piano and gave us lemonade until someone from my family picked us up from there.

  • We visited an orphanage out in the jungle and I was amazed that the orphans grew their own food.

  • I remember being in a boat that stopped in the middle of an river.  The engine had stopped because it was entangled with vines and sticks.  Then it started pouring rain and the boat was getting full of water and none of us was had life jackets.  I think we were either coming back or going to the orphanage, either way I prayed and at some point the engine started.

  • Shoes, I was was really worried about getting my white shoes dirty with red mud.

  • Moto-Carros, which is a motorcycle pulling cart/taxi.  While riding one of the moto-carros, we ran over a stray dog and the driver didn't even stop.  I felt really bad, but apparently there were so many strays that it was difficult not to hit one. Below is a picture from our 2007 trip but they still look the same from 1988.

  • Quistococha is a zoo outside of Iquitos, I felt like I could almost touch the animals, monkeys followed us around begging us for bread.  There were giant fish called Paiche in large pools, back then they were not on the endangered list of extinction, so we ate some a few days later and it was delicious.

Maybe someday I will write about what else I remember from 1988 but I just wanted to paint a little picture of what I had in mind when Jesse and I decided to travel to Peru 19 years later.  I guess maybe my parents planted the traveling seed in me, many years ago.  We planned to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu but by the time we had set our Peru dates the Inca Trail was fully booked with our travel agency, Llama Path.  We decided to do another hike that ended up in Machu Picchu but before we did our big hike we wanted to visit my grandparents in Iquitos which is in the state of Loreto in the heart of the Amazon Basin.  Our dates were set and on Friday, October 5, 2007, my husband and I started our first Peru Adventure.

Coming Up...Hiking in Peru

I won't be going on any major hikes or backpacking trips for a little while so I'm going to start blogging about my hiking experiences in Machu Picchu.  One of the seven man made wonders of the world and how going there once was not enough.  So over the next few days I will be posting about one of the most memorable trips in 2007 and in my life.  This is one of my favorite pictures of the whole trip, hiking up Mount Salkantay.