Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

तो Cuzco and Mancora

From Puno, we took a tour bus to Cuzco. We had heard that this route had been blocked by protesters recently. We later met a guy who was on a roadblocked bus and he ended up walking the last 20 miles into Cuzco. We didn't have any problems though. People get mad at the government in Peru and routinely block the highways. Then traffic just has to wait I guess. Sometimes this lasts for weeks. I don't think this would work in the U.S.

Our bus made a few stops on the 7 hour drive from Puno to Cuzco.

One was at the little town of Pukara. There are some of the oldest pre-Inca ruins around there.

Also, all over Peru, people put Pukara bulls on their roof for good luck.

We stopped by a glacier.

Stopped to check out some llamas.

and at what they told us were the oldest Inca ruins. There was this wall of a big temple/meeting hall:

and also a ton of grain silos:


The Incas used to collect grain from all over as a tax and stockpile it in these depositories for times when there was drought or they otherwise ran out of food.
There were also some intact fountains from back in the day as well:


Once you get over the pass from Puno and towards Cuzco, it is pretty nice.

We also stopped at an old church.

I almost got left behind there because I was buying some weird corn pop at a store and the bus started to pull away. The corn pop is pretty bad. Um I mean it is really good, you should try it.

We made it to Cuzco

but only stayed for one night. We were tired of being cold. When we were in Aeraquipa, we had found a cheap flight from Cuzco to Tumbes, on the border with Ecuador, so we booked it.

We got into Tumbes after dark and there were a ton of cab drivers trying to get us to go with them to our destination. We told them where we were going, they gave us a price and I picked one. The dude kept trying to get us to go somewhere else, which irritated me. Then he said it would be an extra $10 once we were most of the way there because it was farther then he thought. We said ok, but no more. So he said ok and kept driving. Then he took us to the wrong place. Finally we got to the right place and he told us we owed $40. I told him to eat shit. He threatened to call the police, and then when we walked away, he left.

This place was out in the middle of nowhere, but it was nice and on the beach.


There was pretty much nobody else there.




Naomi really liked this bathroom sign:


We just stayed there the one night and the next day flagged down a crammed bus to take us to Mancora. After a couple hours and several security checkpoints we were there. The hostel we booked was pretty sweet.

We had our own 2 story hut on the beach. Ours is the one on the far left:

pretty nice really

nice beach with relatively warm water:

Nice balcony too:

And super cheap.

Our friend Michael Marsik happened to be in Peru at the same time. Him and some of his friends had gone to Macchu Picchu and he had another week in Peru. So, he came and met us in Mancora.


We had a really nice most of a week. There are lots of cheap seafood restaurants on the beach and all through town. There's a nice beach and decent bodyboarding right out in front of the hostel.

The hostel had cheap and good food, cheap beer, and activities for everyone to do like volleyball:

Also, there were party themes, such as pirate night (Meg). For pirate night, you pay $10 and get all the rum drinks you can drink for 2 hours.

We really just hung out and were beach bums most of the time. We spent a couple hours each day searching for and applying for jobs on the internet. Due to the horrendous economy that had fully kicked in by now, this turned out to be a total waste of time that should have been spent on more bodyboarding and beer drinking.

I wouldn't say the actual town of Mancora is all that nice.

Really is is just a couple loud and sometimes muddy streets. But, aside from internet use, you really can just walk up the beach to restaurants when you get tired of your excellent hostel food and drinks.

Movie Reviews:

Invention of Lying: 3
This movie had some potential and started out pretty funny. But it just dragged on and on and got pretty boring and tired by the end.

Up in the Air: 5.5: It is a well made movie, but it just isn't all that exciting or interesting. Just a little above average.

Zombieland: 7 You're not getting high drama with a zombie movie, but this one is pretty good as far as they go. It doesn't try to be scary. Tries to be kind of funny, and succeeds mostly. Good acting (for a zombie movie). I liked it and hope they make a Zombieland 2.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lake Titicaca!



Downtown Aeraquipa is pretty nice. The whole center is an old colonial city and the neighborhoods around it are nice too.

The outskirts, not so much:

We took a bus towards Lake Titicaca.

The biggest city in that area is Juliaca. It is about 30 minutes from the lake. It might be the most depressing place I've ever seen. Pinotepa National in Mexico is pretty depressing, but Juliaca is in another league.



In comparison Puna is like Vancouver...in a still sort of crappy sense.


But, it is really not too bad and it is on the lake.

We walked around town and went to a nice place for a drink.






And looked for a place to have dinner, but the high $7 menus around were too expensive, so we found a place that had a $2 dinner special. Here's Naomi enjoying a stuffed avocado.

I don't remember what I had. But, I remember what I had did to my insides. It did bad, bad stuff.


The next day we headed out on the lake. Our first stop were the floating reed islands.

The people that live there moved out there to get away from the other tribes. They make islands out of reeds and live out there. They still fish and raise reeds to keep their islands intact but now they make most of their income from fees paid by tourist groups to check out their islands.



So they mostly hang out there, give tours and sell stuff to tourists.

Exploitation?


I suppose, but would you rather eat reeds or get money for hanging out on your reed islands, weaving mini-reed boats, and running little shops and restaurants? I think I'd go with option B.


The aliens in my body hadn't quite hatched yet at this point, but they were working on it.

As part of their program the reed island ladies serenade you as you pull away on your reed boat.

We got back on our big boat for another 4 hours or so to Amantani Island in the middle of the lake.


I was hurting pretty bad by then. I was smiling on the outside.

and I bought a llama hat woven by the lady whose house we were staying in.

But, not feeling to good AT ALL.

After a little bit to hang out, we were supposed to meet in the town square and then take a hike up to the top of the little mountain on the island.

But, I decided after waiting in the square for a while that what with the apparent lack of any trees to duck behind and the scratchy looking nature of the crops in the area that I should make my way shuffle very urgently back to our house.

Naomi made it up there.

Here's our fearless leader pointing out quinoa. He was a nice guy. Not so much with the English part of the English tour though.


It looked pretty cool up there though.



The lady at the house was worried about me and brought me some special tea that was to make me feel better. She was really nice.
Later on that night, the host families dressed all the tourists up in traditional gear and took them to a dance in the town. I was felling horrendous, so I just stayed in bed. Well, I was checking things out. The bathroom there was an outhouse with very limited tp next to a sheep pen. I checked that out many, many, many times. You flush this sort of toilet by pouring a bucket of water into the bowl. No bucket was provided this night. Sorry family. Sorry sheep.

Another guy was staying at the same house. He was a really cool pharmacist from Salta, Argentina. Naomi and him went to the dance with the little kids from our house.




The next day we took the boat to Taquile Island.


We walked around the island and our guide tried to point out different things to us. He pointed out different herbs that you can make tea out of and the significance of different types of dress people wear that designate their marital status.


Then he told us the same things over and over and over again. It was pretty funny. At one point, I got Naomi to ask him if there were any donkeys on this island.

"No, no donkeys this island. On the Amantani Island, some burros...many horse. On the Taquile Island, I don't horse."




While we were walking around a bunch of guys were repaving the path. They were taking huge boulders and splitting them into huge blocks with sledgehammers. Then they were hauling them to the paving place. That was pretty impressive- really hard work.

We had a nice lunch there and then after hanging out for a while, we headed back towards the port. There are a dearth of bathrooms and especially bathrooms with tp on the islands. At the port, a stand sold tp. I had a long 4 boat ride back to Puna. At least the weather was nice, so the boat wasn't rocking furiously like it was on the way out the day before.