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|Updated 19 Sep 2001||
Peru and Ecuador July/Aug 2001
Lonely Planet Peru
CIA World Factbook Peru
US State Dept Peru
Lonely Planet Ecuador
CIA World Factbook Ecuador
US State Dept Ecuador
India/Bangkok Travel Diary: 24 Nov 2000 to 31 Dec 2000
Burma/Laos/Thai Islands : 1 Jan 2001 to 20 Feb 2001
Singapore/Borneo/KL/Bali/Australia : 21 Feb 2001 to 29 Apr 2001
New Zealand : 29 Apr 2001 to 12 Jun 2001
Tahiti : 12 Jun 2001 to 28 Jun 2001
Easter Island/Chile : 28 Jun 2001 to 06 Jul 2001
6 July 2001 to Lima Fly from Santiago to Lima on LanChile, take an airport shuttle for $8 to the Hotel Castellana in the Miraflores area of Lima. City of 7 million people, looks pretty polluted, dusty and poor. Miraflores area is relatively prosperous, cute hotel room on 3rd floor($40) of colonial style courtyard house. walk around, buy Lonely Planet guide to Peru and some books on the Incas. Eat great turkey sandwich for 80 cents. Go by a concert hall, scalp ticket to meringue concert for 20 soles ($6), incredible scene inside concert with 1000 Limenos dancing salsa well and one Gringo (me) dancing salsa less well.
7 July 2001 Lima Have hotel driver Alfonso for tour of Lima ($6/hour) and museums. Start at the Colonial Spanish Plaza Mayor with beautiful wooden balconies, presidential palace, old fountain and cathedral which contain the bones of Francisco Pizarro who founded Lima in 1525. Visit San Francisco church for abbreviated tour of the catacombs and bones of the early residents from junior guide. Museo de la Inquisition - morbid scene of incarceration, torture and disposition of Inquisition cases. Museo Nacional de Antropologia y Arqueologia - fine examples of Paracas weavings and Chavin obelisks and sculptures. ***Museo de Oro del Peru - superb private collection of weaponry and weavings, sculptures and artifacts from Incan and preIncan civilisations-- a must see. Museo Rafael Larco Herrera - large collection of excellent Mochican Era (0 to 700 CE) sculptures in interesting positions. Extremely impressed with Lima's museums and the pre Incan textile and ceramic technological achievement.
Go to touristic "Las Brujas de Cachiche" for a so-so but expensive dinner($20). go to crowded OMurphy's Irish Pub near hotel and am unusually popular with the Limenas. quickly adopted by a rather frighteningly large doctor and her friends; meet an art school teacher; and finally, Leonora, a nice human rights lawyer who was also named after Beethoven's Opera overture and the only person besides my sister that I've met with that name.
8 July 2001 to Cusco Alfonso takes me to airport for early hourlong LanPeru flight ($80) to Cusco, the former Incan capital. Perched in the Andes at 11000ft, Cusco was almost completely destroyed then rebuilt by the conquistadores in the early 16th Century. has lots of narrow cobblestoned streets, with big colonial style buildings-- a charming place. check into the Royal Inka Hotel and have a very cool attic room for $50. I get a horrible headache from the altitude, I drink lots of coca tea and start taking altitude acclimitisation pills from a pharmacy. Go out for excellent dinner overlooking Plaza and then to Cross Keyes Pub, where I drink with a strange Californian college student, Liv.
9 July 2001 Cusco feeling much better, organise 4 day Inca Trail Trip with SAS Travel $225 includes food, tents, guide, fees, and porter to carry most of my stuff. Book 4 day rafting trip in the jungle on the Class V Apurimac River with Eric Adventures for $160. Go to the Incan Museum, dine overlooking the Plaza de Armas
10 July 2001 Inca Trail, Day 1 Click HERE to see well done 'virtual Inca trail.' We meet at 6am at the SAS Offices for breakfast and to meet the other people in our group. Our guide is Ernesto, a Cusqueno, who can speak neither English nor Spanish particularly well. We have seven porters to cook and carry our supplies. The rest of the group: Bryan, from San Francisco, has been travelling around the world for 8 months documenting isolated Jewish communities around the world; Mary, from Ireland, teaches science at an American High School in Rangoon, Burma; Margaret is a hydrogeologist for the Irish EPA; Kevin is an eclectic Irish graphic designer living in London; and Karen and Jules are recent university graduates in law and medicine from Yorkshire.
We take a three hour bus ride to KM82 (2380m) and the start of the Inca Trail. On the way we stop at Ollantaytambo and buy well needed walking sticks ($1.20) and multicolored Inca hats ($1.50). After signing in at the guardpost and showing our tickets, Ernesto makes an offering of Coca leaves to Pachamama, or Mother Earth, asking for a safe journey. we begin a 5 hour walk along the south side of the Rio Urubamba, pass the ruins of Llactapata and camp past Wayllabamba (3000m).
The porters have arrived before us and have set up the sleeping tents and a toilet tent. We have tea and biscuits and an excellent dinner under the dining covering. Kevin and Bryan go out to explore the other campsites for nightlife, but I sleep early after tea and looking at the clear sky and stars.
11 July 2001 Inca Trail, Day 2 This is the notorious difficult steep climbing day of the trail. steep stone steps climb through the jungle along the south bank of the babbling Rio Llucucha trees covered in reindeer moss. We climb and climb for two hours until we reach the jungle end and head into the mountains. It seemed we were reaching the top as we could see people resting on the ridge above but after another hour of climbing we reached the ridge only to see the stairs continue steeper than before off to the left. The steps only got worse until we finally reached the highest point of the trek-- the summit of Warmiwanusca, or Dead Woman's Pass at 4198m (14000ft). There was an incredible sense of relief to have reached the top and we rested up there for 30min. Michelle administered well appreciated shoulder massages. The descent in front of us was inviting at first but the steps were not only uneven but sometimes as high as a foot and a half. Descending soon proved to be at least as painful as the climb. We reached more ruins at Runturacay, a round ruin with superb views. We stopped to rest and marvel at them while recieving another uninformative description from Ernesto. Above Runturacay, we climb to a false summit before continuing past twp small lakes to the top of a second pass at 4000m (13200ft). There the trail decends past another lake to the ruin of Sayamarca, or 'dominant town', which is reached be a long, steep, painful staircase. Finally we reach camp at our highest and coldest campsite of the trip at 12000ft.
The porters are ahead of us again and have hot tea, cocoa and fresh popcorn for us. After dinner, we have a great time huddled in the dining covering and speculating about the construction of the Incan Ruins using sonic engineering. We laugh alot.
12 July 2001 Inca Trail, Day 3 This day is definitely less taxing. We start with a 2 1/2 hour gentle climb through cloudforest to the beautiful ruins of Phuyupatamarca, or 'town above the clouds'. This is well restored and contains a series of ceremonial baths and wonderful views over the Urubumba Valley below. From there, we descend into the cloudforest following a well engineered flight of hundreds of Inca steps, then follow a hill down toward the Rio Urubamba and are shocked to find a crowded bar/hostel in the middle of nowhere that will be our final campsite. Luckily our porters arrived early and got us a prime camping spot literally above the porters latrine. It seemed that all the people we'd seen along the trail were here, as well as people doing the 2 day hike-- almost 200 people. Finally a real toilet (if not extremely clean) after 4 days. The shower was scary as the water came through an electric element attached near the showerhead which looked likely to electrocute; I didn't mind and was grateful to feel cleanish (my clothes were still pretty dirtyish). We did a little sightseeing of the magnificent agricultural terraces at the Huinay Huayna ruins. For dinner, all the different groups were served in a cosy concrete dining hall; there was even a 'deesco' and bar where we danced to salsa and Britney Spears and all of the porters gaped at us. We went to sleep around midnite as we had to rise early as we had another two hours to reach Machu Picchu and wanted to arrive for the sunrise (around 7:40). . The ruins themselves . The city was on a high mountain top with terracing all around and a water stream that was directed through the town and through the terracing for irrigation. The temple was a marvel of polished stone and symmetry. We lounged away and enjoyed the sun
13 July 2001 Inca Trail, Day 4 It was extremely difficult to pull out of the sleeping bags in the cold at 4:30am, but we got up, packed, had breakfast and were off at 5am... along with every single other person. It was a singlefile line 1/4 mile long that snaked along the uneven trail in darkness and cold. Finally we saw another steep set of stairs and arrived the Sun Gate (Inti Punku) for our first glimpse of the famous ruins veiled in mist. The image was awe inspiring. we hustled down the trail, past the other groups who had chosen to rest at the Sun Gate to see the sunrise from a closer vantage point. Exhausted we watched the sun rise and slowly illuminate Machu Picchu below us.
We entered the ruins about 8am, caught up with my missing backpack and porter. Fortunately, Ernesto put us in the hands of a much more experienced guide for our tour of MP itself. For two hours we explored the curious Temple of the Sun, the Ceremonial baths, the Royal Tomb, the Temple of the Three Windows, the Prison area, and my favorite place, the Intihuatana a pillar carved out of quartz high on a hill which was used by the Inca astronomers to divine the solstices and equinoxes. Touching it was energizing. After the tour, I napped under the tree in the Central Plaza for an hour, had a great chicken sandwich, went back in to the ruins and just sat near the Intihuatana for an hour then descended into Aguas Caliente, where I took the train with the others back to Cusco.
14 July 2001 Cusco horseback riding with Margaret, Mary and Kevin for 20 soles ($6) for 4 hrs including lunch around the Sacred Valley Incan Ruins. Shockingly, we receive less than wonderful, fast or healthy horses. Kevin's horse is literally dragged and pulled along the trail by the guide. Manage to gallop my horse for brief stints. Great views of Cusco and impressive stonework at Sacsayhuaman.
have excellent fixed price farewell dinner with Michelle, Jay, Bryan, Karen, Jules, Margaret, Mary, and Kevin at the Inka Grill. Super fun disco with Mary, Margaret, Kevin and Bryan. Cusco has a wild nightlife fueled by all the travellers.
15 July 2001 Rio Apurimac Day 1 The waters of the Apurimac is a four hour mountainous drive from Cusco. Over our four day adventure we would paddle over fifty miles with a drop of over 3,000 vertical feet from our drop in. The waters are the best and wildest in Peru with consistent class IV rapids, tight technical negotiations through large boulders, danger spots where the we must carry the boats and five great Class V rapids. The Apurimac is a huge river and has claimed several lives over the past three years (something that they fail to mention until the end of the trip).
We meet early at Eric Adventures to meet group and guides(photo). We have 2 Argentine university students, Wenchy and Fernando; 3 Israelis, Eitan, Asaf and Moti; a German couple, Andreas and Jeanine; a Peruvian guide, Jean Claude; and a French guide, Ivan, and his new wife, Erica. We drive in a truck for four hours with all of our food and equiptment to get to our drop in point on the river. Since we are in a deep canyon gorge, once we start, there is no place to get out for an evacuation for fifty miles down the river. One raft will be for the cargo with Jean Claude, and the other would be for 6 people and Ivan and Erica. After a quick safety briefing, I get into the cargo raft with Moti, have some good starter rapids for a couple of hours, we make camp along the riverbank, sleep out under the stars, cold at night, great stars, sand flies incredibly annoying
16 July 2001 Rio Apurimac Day 2 three portages at Class VI rapids, nearly drown on a Class IV, pulled underwater for 30 seconds, shot out, grabbed a breath, sucked down again, feeling extremely helpless and just hoping that I don't get stuck under a rock, continues for another quarter mile, very grateful to have survived. Jump off a big rock into the water, still shaken up from near death experience. Camp out on beach, learn how to play Truco from the Argentines, sleep out again under stars.
17 July 2001 Rio Apurimac Day 3 excellent day of big Class Vs and Class IVs, our boat is very good and we have no flips, camp out and play mind riddles, big campfire aJean Claude tells us about all of the accidents and deaths on the river. sand flies a pain, but still sleep under stars.
18 July 2001 Rio Apurimac Day 4 morning rafting, flew out in another Class IV rapid get trapped under boat and rock briefly, better prepared this time. take out the boats in early afternoon, have nice big steak BBQ, 3 hour return trip to Cusco. dinner with the Israelis, go to disco to see the video, run into Kevin from Machu Picchu trip at the rocking disco with a friend.
19 July 2001 Lima fly back to Lima in morning, have tour of Barranco area of Lima, mail parcel home, tired
20 July 2001 Lima join Lima South American Explorers Club in old colonial building in the dodgy Centro area, go to the TAME (Ecuadorian airline) to sort out Quito and Galapagos ticket, meet Leonora for dinner at Il Postino Italian restaurant in Miraflores. Meet her friend Perla and return to OMurphy's Pub. definitely drink too much.
21 July 2001 Ica Go to Central Lima Bus Station, buy ticket ($5) for four hour bus ride, down the Panamerican Highway to Ica, have little backpack stolen on bus from overhead compartment with bathing suit, underwear, toothbrush. go to little dusty police station, drive around with policeman on back of motorcycle taxi "looking" for the lost bag. check into nice Hotel Las Dunas ($80), beautiful grounds with llamas and alpacas, swimming pool with water slide, go sand surfing on huge sand behind hotel, eat lots of sand. Hear great astronomy lecture in the hotel's planetarium on the Nazca lines, Find Scorpio and finally learn how to use the Southern Cross to find South.
22 July 2001 Nazca to Lima Take early morning flight on AeroCondor ($141) for 1hr flight over the mysterious Nazca lines, which are thousand year old figures in the desert that are 1000s of meters long and can only be seen from a plane. The pilot would fly towards one set of lines, point them out in the distance and then circle them so the wing of the plane pointed directly at the them, bank around so they could be observed from both sides of the plane. With all this swooping about in the small plane it became apparent why plastic bags were provided. but with my iron constitution, I did not need to make use of them. buy a cheap bathing suit in local market, go on water slide and pool, take bus back to Lima, Asaf from rafting trip is on bus with two Dutch girls, dinner at Pardo's chicken
23 July 2001 to Quito, Ecuador fly TAME mid morning to Quito, tiny crappy airport, cute and super friendly Casa Sol ($17 for suite with kitchenette, loft, TV and private bathroom) , go to Quito South American Explorers Club, do a bit of research in clubhouse and look for Galapagos trips.
24 July 2001 Quito sort out sailing trip in Galapagos at Sangay Travel on the Mondriaan, a smaller 16 passenger ship, get some toiletries, replace stolen underwear and socks, go to great book stores, Libri Mundi and Confederate Books, to stock up on novels for trip: Kundera, Llosa, Alcazar, and Updike. have great dinner at "Endemic Food" restaurant. Feeling fluey.
25 July 2001 to Galapagos Islands fly Quito to Guayaquil (40min) and another 90min to Isla Baltra in the Galapagos. take bus to ferry to bus on Santa Cruz Island, go to decent hotel Estrella del Mar ($10 for room with view over harbour and private bath), little town with lots of birds, go to Nauti Diving to arrange scuba dives, visit Charles Darwin Research Center to see turtles mating program. meet Lonesome George the 80yr old last surviving member of the Isla Pinta turtle race, who is enclosed with two closely related females from Isla Wolf and seemed to be quite friendly with one of them during my visit. have terrible dinner of Milanesa (batter fried steak), Argentinian style.
26 July 2001 Galapagos meet at Nauti Divers at 6am for bus across island for scuba boat, dive bad cold surgey conditions at Plaza, see curious galapagos shark, white tip reef shark, meet Brett and Naomi from California, travelling around for a year designing websites, second dive at Mosquera isand: swim in mammoth school of silver jackfish when giant 7 foot sea lion swims right at me, starfish, parrotfish, garden eels. Great dive. dinner at overrated Garrapata restaurant with lousy service.
27 July 2001 Galapagos dive with Scuba Iguana which seems a bit more professional, go out at 7 45am, meet Teodoro from Oxford who had been a scuba instructor in Egypt for four years, pick up Adam from Manchester from his boat in Isla Baltra, dive guide Macarron, go out to Gordon Rocks, first dive, cold water, full 7mm wetsuits, booties, hood, 10 foot visibility, strong currents and waves, hammerhead sharks!!! school of 20, mother and baby, white tip reef sharks at 25m in cave, squid with ink, lobster with eggs, afternoon dive: 3 hammerheads close by, one large 3m male hammerhead, more garden eels. Macarron and scuba guides take Teo and I to local bar on ride back. meet Brett and Naomi for pizza dinner
28 July 2001 Galapagos Cruise wake up and organise flights at TAME office, meet Marcello the island representative of the Mondriaan and the larger Rembrandt, advised to take Rembrandt that evening from Puerto Ayora, have lunch, run into Rahima and Teodoro, take launch out to Rembrandt boat at 4pm, meet Tony the purser on boat, given own cabin, shower dinner, meet Dale psychology professor from Chicago, others, Elizabeth from Scotland, lobster dinner, cruise for 6hrs to San Cristobal Island
29 July 2001 Galapagos - San Cristobal arrive in San Cristobal, take launch to the airport to meet the other Rembrandt passengers, take tour of Interpretation Center, the guide and group seem miserable. luckily, told that I had to go back on the Mondriaan, meet Angelika, the German guide, have to go back to Puerto Ayora for passengers, read Vonnegut's Galapagos. pick up the hungry passengers at 730pm: the big German family with little kids,Johannes and Mattais; Richard and Francoise, a French couple living in Cameroon, and the Bejars, a Jewish Mexican family with Jan, Elli and their teenagers, Isaac and Debi. We had 14 passengers and 9 crew on the 149 ft sailboat built in 1910. I was seated with the French couple and the guide, Angelika and had to translate for the French people, stay up playing poker and blackjack with Isaac and Debi.
30 July 2001 Galapagos - Rabida, Santiago 7am bfst, 8am Rabida Island : 5 km sq, have a wet landing on beach, see sealions, red island. Great freezing snorkelling with yellowtail surgeonfish and frisky sealions, lunch, siesta, fire drill. go to Santiago Island, Puerto Egas (James Bay) long, flat, black lava shoreline with eroded shapes housing numerous sea lions, sally lightfoot crabs, and fur seals in grottos. colonies of marine iguanas basking in sun.
31 July 2001 Galapagos - Bartolome, Seymour 7am bfst, 8am Bartolome (1.2 km sq) climb volcano 115m view over pinnacle rock and Santiago lots of black lava and cones, luckily see 7 tiny Galapagos penguins. after incredibly freezing snorkeling on beach near pinnacle rock with Mischa and sealions. Later North Seymour, a small island with fantastic incredible blue footed booby colonies, nests with guano,mating rituals, nesting area of huge frigatebirds, males with expanded red pouches, best island trip so far.
01 Aug 2001 Galapagos - Santa Cruz 7am bfst, 8am Las Bachas, playa aft snorkeling at Santa Cruz Cerro Dragon Island, no flamingos, sails up, singalong with Jan and the crew on deck
02 Aug 2001 Galapagos - South Plaza, Santa Fe South Plaza yellow brown land iguanas, dry landing, sea lions near disembarking site, cliff with swallowtail gulls, masked boobies, frigates, blue footed boobies, siesta, lunch, dolphins swimming with boat, Santa Fe beach landing with dozens of white tip reef sharks, spotted eagle rays, sea lions with big male fighting of younger males, watch "Silence of the Lambs", early night
03 Aug 2001 Galapagos - Floreana morning dry landing go to Post Office Bay, walk around to beach, hear story of Dr Ritter and the early inhabitants of the Island, snorkel at Devils Crown, take truck to interior of island to the early Wittmer Farm, meet the Granddaughter of the Wittmers, very cold woman and get stale cookies from her, read The Galapagos Affair, by John Trehorne, about the strange deaths of the early German settlers on the island
04 Aug 2001 Galapagos - Espanola(Hood) Punta Suarez, land with many sea lions, marine iguanas, blowhole, great birds, waved albatross, masked boobies, another great site!
05 Aug 2001 to Cuenca fly from San Cristobal to Guayaquil TAME 194 with group from Mondriaan, check in for Cuenca Flight. Quick hour tour of Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city, not too exciting, Take TAME 171 30 min to old town of Cuenca, nice Hotel Crespo ($62) on Rio Tomebamba in top floor great view,
06 Aug 2001 Cuenca explore old town, not too interesting, have some photos developed, very bad deserted mirador, good Mexican food
07 Aug 2001 Baņos fly TAME to Quito at 8am , 45 min flight, take taxi to bus terminal in old city, find bus to Baņos, 3.5 hr bus ride, arrive in afternoon, take hour to find Hosteria Monte Selva and have cabana high up on hill, go to the crowded and not very clean hot baths under volcano and plan to go horseback riding and mountain biking next day
08 Aug 2001 Otavalo lousy weather in the morning, decide to take bus back to Quito (3.5hrs), have KFC in Quito Central Bus Station, then bus to Otavalo Market town in the north (2hrs), arrive at Hacienda Pensaqui and have amazing room with fireplace and jacuzzi, dinner, walk around gardens
09 Aug 2001 Otavalo horseback riding to the Tablon Pass. a 4 hr trip with amazing views of mountains and volcanos, go to the leathertown of Cotacachi, after long deliberations get black leather bag, late dinner in the Hacienda
10 Aug 2001 to Quito incredibly sore bum and legs from riding, go to Otavalo Market, find cash station, get some cool presents, take cab back to Quito ($30), stay at charming Casa Cultural, eat Japanese Food at Fuji, chopsticks, see cheerleading movie Bring it On
11 Aug 2001 Quito indigenous market near hotel, visit Mitad Del Mundo center on the ecuator, sleep during planeterium show, great Cuban food at La Bodeguita de Cuba, disco, fireplace room with bad ventilation
12 Aug 2001 Quito market, Park, lunch, market, mall for haircut, Shakira and Manu Chau CDs, books, boats in park, ice skating, see The Mummy Returns, Great Thai Food
13 Aug 2001 to Miami got to get to airport early at 4 45 am, very sleepy, nice flight on American Airlines to Miami, quick through customs and immigration even with my huge bag and immigration form saying that I'd just come through Chile, Peru and Ecuador. good to see dad and his wife, Betty, in Hollywood. Betty makes great Hungarian Goulash
14 Aug 2001 Miami breakfast at the Rascal House, lunch in Hollywood, dinner at Betty's sister and her husband, Gregg's, amazing Italian food (Veal Parmigian)
15 Aug 2001 Miami tour of south beach, art deco district, dinner at La Paloma restaurant in North Miami. good continental dinner with Nicole, my 26yr old half sister, whom I haven't seen or spoken to for 14 years, her boyfriend Richard, Betty's dad and his interesting German/Swiss girlfriend, Ellen, and Betty's sister, Blanche.
16 Aug 2001 Chicago fly American Airlines to Chicago, see mom and Bob!!!
17 Aug 2001 Toronto, Canada Stu Bassin Wedding Wknd fly Air Canada to Toronto, check into Holiday in on King, go out for dinner with Saleem and Christina, from Washington and Jamie Turner, see Stu and Hally and Charles Segerman, and finally get to meet lovely bride Tobi.
18 Aug 2001 Toronto, Canada get Tux pressed, wonder around Toronto, go to pre nuptial party at Al Fatrinas fun Cindy and AZ, Charles and Hally, Bryan Adams
19 Aug 2001 Toronto, Canada brunch with 8.5 month pregnant Rochelle Chester, friend from my junior year at Hebrew University. Fun wedding at synagogue, lots of old ZBT brothers, great speeches, hit the town with Bryan after the wedding.
20 Aug 2001 til... Chicago! see mom and Bob, dinner at Leonora and Genna's, play with my adorable nieces, Natasha and Eliana. Begin my harsh readjustment to life and work in USA
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