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Published: August 18th 2007
from the boat
I am alive and well. As many of you probably heard, a very large earthquake hit Southern Peru and many hundreds of people were killed. Luckily, I left that area about 5 days before it hit and I never felt the earth shake. On a better note, I have been busy and having fun.
I spent about 6 days in Arequipa because I ended up getting sick for a few days. It turned out to be okay though because on August 14/15 Arequipa has its biggest party of the year to celebrate its founding. The entire town parties quite hard and I did my best to contribute. A friend of Jeffs (and now a friend of mine) Maria Rosa took me to a concert where we danced the night away to Peruvian bands. Its a good thing beer was involved because these Peruvians have shown me that I really do not know how to dance. As long as I have a little booze in me I do not care how bad I am at shaking my ass. In the days leading up to the party, I spent a lot of time in bed in pain, but on two of the
days I was able to do some reading. I finished the Slaughter House 5 and went on to read the final Harry Potter book. It was a tough read, but I was able to finish it in one day. The day after the party, I had a wonderful home cooked meal from Maria Rosa´s mom. Stuffed peppers and a cheese and potato casseroul. Then I was off to Puno and Lake Titikaka.
I got into Puno late and found myself a hostal to put my stuff down before going out to eat. As I have many times so far, I ate rotissary chicken and french fries while I listened to the news about the earthquake. The next morning I woke up early to book a boat ride to the various islands on the massive lake. It was 30 soles for a round trip ticket (about $10). Our first stop was at the Uros islands also known as the floating reed islands. They were super cool and it is amazing how the people actually live on them, but not my idea of paradise. Next we boated across the lake for 3 more hours to Amantani island where all of us
would pair up with a family to house with for the night. Although it was only supposed to be 10 soles for the night, they charged me 25 and none of the travelers were too happy considering the accomodations. No electricity, poor beds, bathrooms without water to flush the toilets, and bland food. We did have a local fiesta going on at the time of our arrival which most of us attended after hiking to the top of the island to get a view of the lake. The hike up was tough because of the high alititude, but the view was worth it and so were the little girls selling bracelets. They are masters at selling. That night we had the best view of stars many of us have ever seen. It was unreal. Thousands and thousands of bright stars. The Milky Way was clearer than any other night in my memory and it gave me an inclination as to what the Northern Lights might look like. I hope to get some more nights like that one. The next morning we left the island, but not after my family asked me for a present (they wanted my flashlight) Instead I bought them a flashlight and kept my own. We all then headed to Taquile island for about 2 hours to hike around. It was not that great except for the beautiful views. Everyone seemed ready to get back to Puno by late morning. When we got back no one wanted to stay in Puno for another night so we headed to the bus terminal where each of us would head in our own directions. As for myself, I was going to Cusco.
I didn´t like the idea of arriving in Cusco after midnight, so I waited in the bus terminal for 5 hours until my bus departed. My bus ride was just over 7 hours and it allowed me to arrive in Cusco at 4 am. When I arrived I was supposed to meet up with a fellow traveler, but we never connected and I went my own way to find a cheap hostal. As usual, I found the cheapest place in town. The first priority I had was buying my train ticket to the town next to Machu Picchu, then I had to go exploring. Camera in hand I set off for the Plaza de Armas which is at the center of town. I didnt find it for about 4 hours. I wandered until I met some random English guys on a very steep set of stairs and then we spent the rest of the day together. We were all heading in the same direction....we were looking for Jesus. It turns out he lives on top of the hill above the town. We set off in that direction and first came to a set of ruins. It was quite amazing too see and was only a tiny taste of what Machu Picchu will reveal in a few days. The best part was a tunnel dug into a set of rocks by the Incas. We went through the pitch black abyss with only the flash on my camera to lead the way. We made it out the other side and felt a sense of accomplishment. Next we headed over to Jesus. He seems like a nice guy, but for some reason his area is surrounded with barb wire fence. To keep Jesus in or keep people out? Anway, from above we had a great view of the city and I was finally able to locate the Plaza de Armas. We went down to the plaza for some photos and then finished off the afternoon at an Irish pub. So far Cusco seems like a kick ass town. Tonight....its time to party.
Check out some photos.
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