Thursday, July 31, 2008

Machu Pichu, July 2008

Karen and I headed to Peru from Galapagos. We spent one night in Lima and then flew to Cuzco, which is the little touristy city near Machu Pichu. We spent a night there before we headed out on the trail. We didn't hike the Inca Trail because when we made our reservations it was already full. They limit the number of people that can hike that trail. So we did a different hike on the Lares Trek. We hiked for 3 days and 2 nights through the Sacred Valley. We spent the nights in tents and did a lot of hiking through Inca villages and mountains during the day. It was so amazingly beautiful and, by far, the most difficult thing I have ever done. We were hiking (uphill all the time, or at least it felt that way) at 14,000 feet elevation. WOW! That hurt! We had a guide and horses to carry our stuff. There was 10 of us in our group. Everyone got sick at some point. I will spare you the gory details, but let me just say that altitude sickness is no fun! It was truly a trek and an adventure. The mountains and countryside were so peaceful and gorgeous. The people were amazing. I thought I was going to die at times, but now that it is over, it was all worth it. So if anyone wants to do the Inca Trail, let me know and I will meet you there!
On our last day we went to Machu Pichu. We watched the sunrise over the peaks and spent several hours exploring this city that is 600 years old and surrounded by so much mystery. How did they build it? Why was it deserted? So many theories, very interesting. Read more here:

Lima, Peru

Cuzco, Peru

The Lares Trek

Machu Pichu

Galapagos Islands

I flew back to Medellin on July 8th and met my friend, Karen from Santa Rosa, at the airport. I had just enough time to do some laundry, get some sleep and re-pack for my next journey. We left the next day and flew to Quito, Ecuador. We spent one night there, then flew to the Galapagos Islands vis Guayaquil. We were originally scheduled to do a boat cruise, but the boat that we were supposed to be on crashed a week before our arrival. There were no more boats available, so we did a land tour instead. This was probably a good thing because I got horribly sick on the three hour boat ride from one island to the next! We spent 3 nights on Isabella Island and one night on the main island, Santa Cruz. We saw amazing wildlife, walked along some beautiful beaches and went snorkeling with sea turtles. It was a great trip!

Our hotel and view in Isabella


This turtle is a few hundred years old

This is called the Wall of Tears...built by prisoners during some war a long time ago

Lave tube, or cave, formed by lava...very cool!

Our hotel on Santa Cruz Island

Monday, July 7, 2008

Montevideo June 22-July 6

So after saying good-bye to Maya and Terra in Colonia I took a two hour bus ride top the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo. I took classes at a language school for two weeks. The school was in a big, old (and very cold) house. The classrooms were downstairs and I stayed in a room upstairs. The classes were excellent and I feel like I learned a lot.
I also did some sight-seeing, went to museums and shopped in the old town. Montevideo is a very old city, lots of cool old buildings and also felt a little run down. I liked Montevideo, but I didn't love it. It had a lot of trees, was very quiet and very safe. It was just a little to quiet for me. There just isn't a whole lot going on. I think I might have had a better experience if I was there in the summer. (I know it's June, but that is winter in some places).
I did enjoy learning about the country. It is doing a lot of things very well- high literacy, extremely low crime and poverty, not very crowded, not polluted etc. There isn't the extreme differences between the richest and the poorest that I have seen in many other countries. I think the size of the country helps. The country itself is small, very flat, lots of farm land and not much else. They are well known for some very beautiful beaches, but I didn't make it there because again it is winter...
overall, a good experience, just not very exciting...

more information about Montevideo

On my last weekend, I visited a ranch in a small town called Florida, about an hour and half from Montevideo. It was very simple, relaxing and peaceful. The hosts were very kind. I rode horses, relaxed and enjoyed the home cooked meals...lots of meat! which is very typical in Uruguay.