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  1. #1
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    I'm going to Peru!!

    i just booked my tickets which were FREE due to my frequent flier miles. i'm going to peru for three weeks at the end of august. i'll fly into lima, go south to arequipa, then up to cusco, to the maccu picchu and the inca trail, and then probably to huancayo for weaving and spinning classes. i'm so excited! has anyone here been there before? any comments on safe travel (mostly) alone? my oldest brother might come with me for half the time - the hiking part.

    share your favorite travel stories with me!

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  3. #2
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    nothing helpful to add, but I'm so excited for you! This will be such a neato experience.

  4. #3
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    That's so exciting! My sister is going to Peru in September, I think - it sounds lovely.

  5. #4
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    thanks mizmosa!

    and when will your sister be there? i'll be there till sept 7th, and i think i'll be at a weaving school from aug 29-sept 4.

  6. #5
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    Wow! Have fun!

    My almost-husband went to South America for three months a couple years ago. He loved Peru the best. I think it was because on the long bus ride through Chile he met a Peruvian lawyer who was about his age, and the guy took him out with his friends several times for soccer, drinking, etc.

    You can eat fried guinea pigs in Peru if you want. It's called "cuy."

  7. #6
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    oooh soccer! i don't know how i forgot about that. i like soccer a lot and my brother is a *huge* soccer fan and player, he would LOVE to go to a game down there. i'll have to look into it!

  8. #7
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    dude, i am so jealous! you will have a most awesome time.

  9. #8
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    Oh, I'm jealous! I so want to go to Peru. There's a really cool article about ruins in southern Peru in the New York Times today. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/13/in...zco.html?8hpib

    (You have to log in if you don't have an account already, but it's free.)

    Gah! My jealousy is taking over. You'll have such an amazing time!

  10. #9
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    peru

    Hi, my girlfriend saw this and told me. I went to Peru in July '02. Awesome experience. My cousin and I basically winged it, without any real plan. Here is a story I wrote about my trip.

    My trip to Peru


    My cousin Mary and I flew to Peru for the month of July, during the summer of 2002. I flew down to Virginia to my cousins’ house the night before we left for Lima. This was my first international adventure, whereas my cousin had spent a few months in Guatemala the previous summer. Mary and I flew to GBA in Texas and then to Lima, Peru. Lima is at sea level on the west coast of South America. The city of Lima is hidden in constant smog, so there is very low visibility. From Lima we flew to Cusco. Cusco is high in the Andes mountain range, and is the ancient Inca capitol. It is said to have been founded around 1100 AD. (According to the central Inca creation myth, the Sun sent his son, Manco Capac and the moon her daughter, Mama Ocllo, to spread culture and enlightenment throughout the dark, barbaric lands. The Sun pitied the people of this savage region because they could not cultivate the land, make houses, nor had they any religion. Manco and Mama Ocllo emerged from the icy depths of Lake Titicaca and began their journey in search of the place where they would found their kingdom. They were ordered to travel north from the Lake until a golden staff they carried could be plunged into the ground for its entire length. They traveled as far as the valley of Cusco where, the staff fully disappeared and the soil was found to be suitably fertile. They named this place Cusco – meaning the navel of the earth.)
    My Uncle Paul and my Aunt Kate were already there for there friends wedding the night before and he arranged us a cab from the airport in Cusco to their hotel in a small village named Urambamba. We arrived the morning after the wedding, and everyone was waking up with a hangover, which was fine because we needed time to rest and get acclimated. After a brief rest, we (my cousin and I, and my aunt and uncle and four of his friends) headed off to Aguas Calientes, the town below the famous Macchu Pichu. We arrived at night in the rain, by train. We looked at a few extremely cheep rooms, and finally decided to crash in a shitty 1 roach hotel (toilet seats are rare down there). The next morning 7 of us (Kate was sick and skipped) hiked up from the village to the Macchu Pichu ruins. The trail cut across the zigzagging and cross-cutting the bus road. I felt like dying about three-quarters of the way up. We made in about 45 minutes without too many rests. We had to buy amusement park-like tickets to get into the national park for about $35. It was awesome. The ruins were made on a peak of a mountain in the middle of nowhere. You could see for miles down each of the valleys, and the stonework was so perfect that they didn’t need to use any mortar, the stones just fit so perfectly together that they have lasted 500 years of earthquakes and weather. There were plenty of alpacas (cousins of lamas), lamas and tourists roaming around. We looked around for a little while and then climbed up to Wayna Picchu, to look down on the ruins from above; and it was worth it. We chilled there for a while; it felt as if “I were on top of the world with my legs hanging free”-DJM. We climbed back down to the main ruins and took the bus (coaster) down to Aguas Calientes (which means hot water as in hot springs -which have a very pungent odor- but for everyone we were with it meant dirty water, because everybody was getting sick). All eight of us got it; I got the least of it. Paul’s friends went back to Cusco while Paul, Mary and I stayed an extra day so Kate could recover. My aunt Kate had a Peruvian med student give her an I-V drip with my cousin Mary as an interpreter. She did a good job reassuring the “Dr.” that Kate was not pregnant. The extra day was cool because we got to go up to the ruins again (Kate even made it to the park for an hour or so) and Mary and I hiked to the Gateway to the Sun. We didn’t want to pay again because the trail we wanted to hike went out and away form the main park. We got denied, but a nice gentleman heard us complaining about paying again as he was leaving, and gave us his tickets, so we got in for free anyway. It was misting out that day and we wore ponchos. Mary wasn’t feeling so well, so she didn’t make it all the way up to the crest, but I went up for myself to see the gateway. It was the lowest point between two peaks where the sun rose and would shine onto the main area. The gateway was used as a guard tower and was not very big; (it kind of reminded me of a patio) but it was made out of the same stonework as the ruins. I had to go over the crest and down the other side just to check it out, without leaving Mary too far behind. The jungle was a lot denser on the other side of the trail (because it faced the sun); it reminded me of the beginning of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. I turned around when I got to what looked like a big power plant or something in the valley below. Then I went back to where I left Mary and we took the bus back down to the village. There was a young Cuscanian boy wearing the traditional dress running down the same trail that we had climbed on our first time up and he was waving at the bus every time we crossed back. The boy beat the bus to the bottom where he got on and everyone cheered and gave him some change. We went shopping in the village at a “shakedown street”-like strip of collapsible vendors and I got a cool Indiana Jones-like hat. Mary, Paul and I ducked into a little bar to get out of the rain and had a couple of Cuscinas. I was playing with a kitten and Mary got my camera out and took my picture. We left the camera behind in the bar and went back for it 10 minutes later and the bartender said he didn’t see it. We were the only ones in there. Luckily, this was the worst luck we had the whole trip. We stayed one more night in Aguas Calientes, and we took a train and bus back to Cusco in the morning.
    It was Mary’s turn to puke now, on the train. We got a decent room in the San Blas neighborhood of Cusco, just blocks from the square, for another recovery day. Paul was getting sick now, so he stayed with Kate and Mary while I took an overnight bus to Lake Titicaca with four of Paul’s friends. Franco and Denise were really cool Argentineans; they could speak fluent Spanish for us (I spoke zero Spanish and Pam and Sandra spoke some). We only had 14 hours at the lake and we took an all day boat tour, visiting Los Urus-the floating reed islands (we got to walk on them, they were kind of squishy and we also got to ride in a reed boat) and another larger island (a traditional earth island) in the middle of the lake for a hike and some lunch. That island was like going back in time a hundred years. Everyone who lived there lived traditionally like their grandparents had (there were a couple of solar panels for minimal electric use even on the reed islands). That was nice but the wind picked up and the boat ride back was through 6 foot waves and half the other tourists (13 total and 3 tour boat guides) got soaked. I almost made it back to the town we docked in before it hit me. Peeing fire out of my ass (or Montazuma’s Revenge- our stomachs aren’t used to the bacteria in the water). It was the same thing everyone got; I was the last one and the only one out of all eight of us that didn’t puke from it. I managed to hold it for the 8 hour night bus ride back to Cusco. Another recovery day, this time it was for me, and everyone else went shopping. The next day my aunt and uncle and their friends went home and left Mary and myself in Cusco.
    Cusco is a tourist town, so there are lots of restaurants and tours available. When the Spanish concurred South America 500 years ago they destroyed the towns, stole their gold and built catholic churches, and raped and murdered the local Incas. Most of the surrounding ruins are ruins because they were destroyed by the Spaniards, not just from age. What still remains in the city after all of this destruction, is most of the foundations that they rebuilt on, and some of the roads and stairs that were made so well hundreds of years ago that they are still in good condition today.
    For the most part, Peru was very beautiful and clean, but the locals are used to littering because until recently (the last 20 years or so) everything they used would decompose. They still litter, but now with all of the plastics that don’t breakdown for decades the trash stays around longer. And the large tourist population also contributes to this. They use a lot more disposable products just like at home, but here they don’t have landfills or dumps, they just throw their garbage over a cliff or into the river.
    Mary and I used many internet cafes to surf around and to phone home (it cost about a tenth as much). I saw most of Spiderman on a bootleg tape in subtitles just a few days after it was released in the theaters back home. We got a horseback ride tour to four other ruins and got to check out each one for as long as we liked. The huge carved stones at Saqsayhuaman (pronounced saxywomen) fit together like a giant’s puzzle. We hiked down from Saqasayhuaman back to our room in San Blas. We also toured many of the highly decorated Roman Catholic Churches in our neighborhood, and saw a festival that looked like a cheerleading or dancing competition where maybe 30 or so teams of 10-20 people in traditional costume paraded then stopped in front of a judging panel for about 5 minutes to let each group to do their thing. One Sunday we ate breakfast in a café with a patio overlooking the square. We watched a large military procession for a couple of hours. They said the parade was a weekly event, after everyone gets out of church they watch the soldiers march in the square. We also frequented an Irish pub, where when you entered it felt like you stepped into Ireland. One night there we were drinking Guinness and Cusqina (Malta) with some friends and I heard an Ani DiFranco song on the jukebox.
    We signed up for a week long study at a non-profit Spanish school which provided a room in a Peruvian family’s house. Mary’s Spanish was excellent and got us through everything. I learned a lot that week how to understand and speak a few words which I have since forgotten most of. Jesus was the friendly owner of The Amigo’s school. I enjoyed learning from the other teachers as well. I got to play “lie in our graves” on guitar while Amy, another of the teachers, improvised on violin for the local kids who attended the school.
    Maria was a wonderful host. Her house was large and nice; she had 3 extra rooms which she would rent out to travelers and also cook food for them. Maria was separated and liberated from her husband and lived with her children Cesar, Coco and little Maria, and their housekeeper Alicia. They cooked us local meals (lots of rice and soup for lunch, and usually a hard boiled egg, some toast and tea, and some avocado slices for breakfast) and took us out for coy (guinea pig) and fried pig parts. It was unusually cold and raining that week, but we didn’t mind because we were busy studying Spanish. . . Maria graciously let us stay a few extra days after our week of school was over. We also tried alpaca steaks and kabobs (very succulent, moist, mouth-watering steaks).
    Cesar, Maria’s oldest son organized a mountain bike rental escapade for us. Geeta (an Indian from Berkeley) and Sabine (German) and the two of us (Americans) followed Cesar and his friend. They took us on a bus almost to the top of an old dirt road that wound down through the countryside. It was impossible to pedal up hill-the altitude was too great and the air was too thin. We coasted down the old dirt road back through Yucay and Urumbamba and right past the hotel we stayed in the first night we had begun this adventure. The views were superb, and we only got 16 flat tires.
    The next day Mary and I took a bus to Pisac and climbed to the ruins that shadowed over the village. Pisac had fantastic views and nice ruins. On the way down, we heard cannons and bells ringing-time for another parade. We saw a bunch of town’s people riding horses around the town square trying to grab live chickens off ropes tied over the street.
    The last night at Maria’s, I was tired and went to bed early. Cesar took Mary and Geeta and Sabine out to the discotech. They made it home an hour before Mary and I needed to be at the airport. Mary didn’t get any sleep that night so she slept on the plane back to Lima. We bought new tickets to fly into Lima a few days earlier so we could spend a solid week in Huraz. . We found a nice cab driver who took us to the bus station in Lima. He drove us around to 5 different bus stations until we found a safe one that had a bus that was leaving within a few hours. We took another 8 hour bus ride (this time during the day and the AC was broke) to the village in the Cordella Blanca mountain range, Huaraz. On the bus there, we got stuck in a couple of different towns for the Virgin de la Carmen parades. We watched American Pie 2 in Spanish with English subtitles
    When we reached Huaraz that night, we easily found a hostel and settled in for some more acclimation. We had to work our way up, acclimating a little higher each day. The first hike we went on, we walked right out of the town through the countryside to the Monterey rock wall. It was a pretty cool hike through some fields, over and around a mountain. For the next hike we rented a guide, Marco, from Montrek and went up to Lago Churup (=lake of many colors), it was a good hike, longer than the last, and we took a bus to the trail and hiked up for 4 and a half hours to a lake on top of a mountain. I saw a huge bird (Condor?) on our way up. Our third hike was the best. We rented Marco again, but this time we also got a porter, Chaparito, tents, climbing and cold weather gear for a three day hike to Urus Mountain. We got mules and an arrayo (mule driver) and hiked for six hours all the way to the end of a valley where we pitched our tents. There were about 20 other tents of other climbers around us. We turned in early and woke up earlier. It was still dark out when we got up around 4 am, and we ate breakfast and proceeded to climb up the mountain. Chapirito left us at the edge of the glacier when we strapped our crampons and harnesses on. Marco led Mary and me to the peak. About 90% of the way up Mary and I felt like hell, we had to stop and catch our breath many times. The air was so thin we couldn’t breathe. I almost had to drag Mary to the top; she didn’t think she could make it. It was a great achievement to reach that peak and it felt good. That is until I got a headache from the altitude and had to run down to camp with the biggest pounding hangover I had ever felt. Mary and Marco got down a short while later while I was re-hydrating and trying to rest my head. Mary had some aspirin, which helped a little. We saw the most stars I had ever seen that night, including the Southern Cross. On the third day we had to hike out and back to Huaraz. We stayed another day in Huaraz, resting before our overnight bus ride back to Lima, for our flight back to the U.S.
    We saw Matt and Anna at the airport (our friends from Maria’s’) who were on their way to Huaraz. We had a 8 hour layover until our flight so we locked our bags in lockers in the Lima airport and hopped a cab to Mira Flores (the nice, costal part of Lima). We had a couple of good meals including a seafood sampler that was excellent. The same cab driver who drove us there came back and returned us to the airport in time to fly back to New Jersey where we had another 5 hour layover. On the way down to Peru I had to go through security checks take my shoes off at least four times at various U.S. airports, on the way home they didn’t even open our bags. Mary had never seen NYC so we hoped on a train and cruised Broadway for a while. We had a good American lunch. Then we went back to the Jersey airport and flew back to D.C. where Adam, Mary’s brother picked us up.


    Things to remember:
    -everyone gets sick in Aguas Calientes
    -drink lots of bottled water to help with the altitude

    e-mail me if you have any questions or would like to see pics.
    klugr27@ecc.edu

  11. #10
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    wow, thanks for the info!

    lyssal- i did read that article - super interesting.

    and orangeum - thanks for posting! i'm considering going to the amigos school for weaving lessons, it's good to hear you liked it. i am a little worried about getting sick. i am starting to read through my guide books and i'm sure i'll have other questions.


 

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