Friday, July 1, 2011

The next leg

After Baños, I went to Quito. In Perú, I took almost all night buses because the scenery between towns is normally just sand and more sand, however this is not the case in Ecuador where I feel like I would miss on seeing the beauty if I took a night bus.

I stayed at a really nice hostel in "Old Town" Quito. However, after hearing a few horror stories, I decided not to leave the hostel by myself or on foot, ever. I did take a tour of a nearby area. The market of Otavalo is said to be the largest outdoor market in South America, which if true is sad. I like the market but becauses I have been travelling around here for five weeks, I am getting tired of seeing the same things.

The tour also included a stop at the equator line, to overlook a lake (yes, odd, but I finally got pictures with me and a llama and an alpaca), the market, lunch in another town, then a waterfall. The group I was with was really nice, and strangely all English speaking. I have gone to a lot of places where only the people from that country have been on the tour, thus they speak only Spanish.

We didn´t go to the big monument site, but another place on the line. The guy there represents an organization that apparently wants to redraw all world maps so that the equator runs up and down, not left and right. ALso, he calls his spot on the equator line the center of the earth for no good reason. He tried explaining it, but I can see through smoke screens to see the loss of reasoning rather well.

The waterfall was really pretty (pictures will go up later). There was a small walk to get there, the guide made it sound hard but it was delightful and easy. On the way back we had to wait a few minutes while a cow with sharp looking horns moved out of our path.

Then I left Quito and went to the coast. Now, the 8 hour ride was asful. It reminded me too much of Honduran buses, which is never a good thing. I get to one town, but the guide is a little off on how to get to where I want to go. It says I have to take a ferry across the bay and then a bus. Well, apparently the guide is a little old because there is a nice bridge just made for getting people across the bay.

My plan for those days was to enjoy the sun and beach, but there were always clouds blocking the sun. I am smart enough that I still wore sunscreen though.

The next stop was to Puerto Lopez, where I currently am. The guide barely mentions this town and only for whale watching. I wish I had more time here but i have something else booked and need to leave this afternoon. This town does have a lot of whale watching, but also scuba diving, kayak rentals, fishing expeditions and more.

I did a whale watching trip combined with a trip to an island. The island is home to thousands of birds including blue footed ones and the ones withh red bags under their beaks. I think I have explained my lack of interest in biology before, so remembering their names (in Spanish no less) just doesn´t get me. After the tour we went snorkeling which was fun.

I did get to see a bunch of whales. They are not the sperm whales which are on all the posters, but more like killer whale shape, only a lot bigger. At two points, I got to go on top of the boat, where all my energy went to trying to stay on my feet. There were massive waves and the boat rocked a lot. I did get to see one whale jump all the way out of the water. Unfortunately, there are no whale pictures because that would require knowing when the whales are going to surface as well as where, and then a really fast shutter speed which my camera doesn´t do so well.

And that´s all for now.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pictures are below

I am happily tired today, but I will get to that later.

I finished my tour of Cuenca, deciding it was better just to know the city well than take day trips. I also spent a lot of money of gifts. However, I am now free of gift buying obligation because everyone has a gift. Not everyone in the world, but everyone I was buying for. Now, if I want to buy something, I don´t have to, and shopping has become fun again. I can´t spend too much because I want enough leftover money to go to MN. I do have budgetted plenty of money to live off for the next few months, but having a little more when I get back to the states will be good.

I met up with Couchsurfer Lorena and her roomate. I don´t have a working cell phone in Ecuador, so we made plans to meet up at night. I was looking at her as I passed thinking , is that her? I passed because if it wasn´t her, the person would have been really confused. They came up to me a few minutes later and we laughed over the matter. We went to dinner and talked for a bit. They are studying environmental engineering, so that was a common topic. Then I asked what kinds of typical foods I needed to try while in Ecuador.

Speaking of food, if people want to worry about me, they should worry about my very risky eating habits. I love street food. It´s good and it´s cheap. However, more people get sick off street food than restaurant food. My stomach is pretty solid though after surviving two years in Honduras.

So, after Cuenca, I headed to Baños. In the guide it said it was really touristy but it reminds me of a sleepy little town. The first day I just walked around a bit. I didn´t do too much.

Today, I rented a bike. Now, when I first got on the bike it was really scary because I hadn´t been on a bike in 9 years. The trip to Puyo is 60km and almost all downhill. However, if you don´t trust speed on a bike, you break constantly. Not helping the fact was that it was lightly raining on and off. I was amazed though how fast I did get to the different points.

The area I biked in is a river valley and has a lot of waterfalls, which means a lot of stops. The best falls is 10km from town and the whole river drops about 100 feet or more. I am really bad at judging distances, so it might have been a bigger drop. You get there and it´s amazing the power of the water and how wet it is because it is spraying up from the bottom. Then you can go into a little cavelike passage and actually get behind the water fall. You get really wet doing it but it is worth it.

Now, at this point I realized I forgot my bike helmet on my bike and anywhere else in the world it would have been robbed. Luckily, it was still there. Now, most people on bikes went back at this point, but I went on. It was a good and bad decision because the weather didn´t improve and I was tired. I did manage another 8 km, making a total of 15 miles riding. Like I said, it was almost all downhill which made it easier.

I got back and got dry. And now I am trying to upload a ton of pictures, so I hope you appreciate them.


Too many photos to load after 19 days

Markings on a round house found within the ruins of Kuelap.
Bases of round houses in Kuelap.
Me in the cave.
Pretty picture.
Sarcophagi Karajia. This is a very zoomed in picture.
Me on the bridge on the way to the waterfall.
Turn your head sideways. This is me at the base of the third largest waterfall in the world.
These two waterfalls total 771m of drop and count as the third largest in the world.
Men dancing during the parade.
Women carrying traditional foods from their village.
A look down the parade route.
A woman who is showing off that her village does a lot of weaving.
Parade in Chachapoyas. These women are showing typical foods plus how grains used to be crushed with the giant rock and flat rock.
My friend and I with a group of really old dancers. The youngest was 69 years old.
I just like how they combined old giving food offering ways with catholicism, it is a cross.
Beach at Mancora.
Surfer at sunset.
Trip up to Ecuador.
Colonial arquitecture in Cuenca.
More pretty buildings.
Church. I like the two colors of walls.
Plate of food I got on the street. It was only $1.50 nd had some kind of grain on the bottom, meat, fried potato creation, and a salad all piled on top of each other.
View from the bus on the way to Baños.
Beautiful countryside on my bikdride.
The road and bike path are but into the mountain side.
Just joking, that is not me.
Twin waterfalls.
This is the big falls where the river falls down.

Ok, there are a lot more to load, but it is being really slow. I will try to upload the rest later.

Monday, June 20, 2011

End of Peru

Ok, so last time I left off, I was in the Amazonas.

Saturday was the big day for the week. All morning and well into the afternoon there was a parade. Not too much like parades in the States though. Here, people from nearby villages walked the route. Some had bands with them and performed traditional dances, others had traditional foods, and others had religious displays. The whole parade was from 9am to 3pm. Some groups had 20 minute performances, so it wasn´t moving very fast.

I met up with my new friends and we hung/balanced very precariously from a school{s fence to overlook the parade. My new French friend had a shell/husk cup made for the week and every time that people with traditional foods/drinks went by he hung out over the crowd and got a sample for all of us in his cup. I later got one. The food I tried was very good, and let me just say that Peruvians know how to make alcohol out of everything!

After watching the parade, we all watched a movie together and then made plans to meet up for the night.

That night we met up with more friends and watched the fireworks. Now, before the traditional fireworks that we have in the states, there is a tower that has small fireworks that spin and have a lot of colors all connected on a bamboo tower. One layer would go, then the next higher up until the end. According to the locals, it wasn´t a very good one, but we foreigners who had never seen a "castillo" or castle, were impressed. Then came the real fireworks. My friend Karina and I wanted to watch the real fireworks but everyone else was itching to go so we kind of walking backwards while taking a lot of breaks to watch as much as we could. It was an impressive fireworks show.

At this point we made a new friend, someone that Karina had met in Mancora named James. He is an American, so I finally had another american although we were still well outnumbered by the French. We had a beer then went to the party. At a park there was a stage set up and vendors and just a festive atmosphere. We fought our way to the middle and started dancing. At one point we were dancing next to a crowd of 6 young to middle aged women and they just grabbed James and started dancing with him, he was quite the hit! I danced with few people. I love to dance and latin music is made to be danced to. We called it a night when I had to go to the bathroom and since there were no public bathrooms, I RAN to the hotel. To be a guy and be able to go in any sort of private place.

The next day I made arrangments to leave on Monday. Again, I met up with the crew at night . We hung out in the park then eventually made our way to a local viewpoint where some people played guitar. It was a rather relaxing night.

When I left monday night my friends went to the bus terminal to see me off which I thought was really sweet.

Now, there have been a lot of comments about my safety. During this week I was with a local woman about my age, so she knew what was and was not ok to do. I was out a lot but had local guides and was generally in a group. I really can´t do anything more to guarantee my safety besides end up the old crazy cat lady in South Gardiner, Maine who never leaves her house.

THe bus ride was anything but sweet. I was so sick, the ride was windy, I couldn´t sleep, and my knees were killing me. THe worst bus ride yet.

I went back to Chiclayo, and this time the museum in Lambeyeque was open. The museum basically has everything from the 1987 excavation of the ruins of Sipan. This was an archeologist´s dream. The tumbs they found were just jam packed with bodies and rather well preserved things. Each tumb had a minimum of 100 ceramic bottles, lots of jewlery, and other things. Look up the museum Señor de Sipan for more information. It was really impressive.

Then I went back to town, caught a bus north, followed by another bus north and ended in teh seaside town of Mancora. Now, I was staying at a hostel, and when I got there none of my roomates were in the room and everyone was huddled into groups at the bar which makes for an interesting time. I decided to delay that uncomfortable scene and ran out to some of the last vendors open to buy flip flops. Before this point I had been almost exclusively to cold places and didn´t need them. THis time when I got back all my roomates were in the room and I went with them to the bar.

THere was a giant beer pong tournament which made for a crazy time. More than that everyone was walking around and supporting strangers, so it was easy to introduce myself to strangers without it being awkward. The party died though when it was over.

I then spent three days in the sun. With plenty of sunscreen. I had a good time, didn´t do too much. My last night there the guys had left and were replaced with women from Argentina, so I hung out with them for a while. Thank goodness I speak Spanish. THey were really nice and I think we are really similar. The big event that night was crab racing. Nope, not with humans doing the crab run, but real crabs. I will have to post pictures, because it was just the weirdest thing. A lot of fun though.

The next day I got my last few hours in the sun then left for Ecuador. I do not recommend the company I went with. I got into Cuenca around 9pm, had to call a hotel to see where I could stay for the night, then got dropped off at the wrong hotel (the have the same name). Luckily the right hotel was two blocks away. Oops.

Since then I have been exploring the city, it is gorgeous! I have also spent way too much money because gifts are a lot more expensive here! Stupid me for not buying everything at the beginning.

Still having fun, meeting up with people tonight them heading out to another place.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

still having fun

Ok, so the adventure left off when Jill was in Cajamarca, land of cheese here in Peru.

I spent several nights there, and had to spend an extra one because I couldn{t get a bus out of town the day I wanted to. June 5th was the Presidential election and everyone was going home to the places they were registered to vote. Hence, the buses were packed.

I finally leave Cajamarca and roll into Chiclayo at 5am. I had to wait a few hours until the next bus company opened it{s doors to customers where I bought another overnight ticket out of town leaving at 8pm. To review, got in at 5m, left 8pm. That is a lot of time to kill.

So, even after waiting until 8am to buy my ticket, I had 12 hours and nothing to do. The next town over has a very famous museum here in Peru, but didn{t open for a few hours. I went to a park and wrote in my journal for a while and contemplated the church.

Here is one thing about Peruvian women: they don{t walk. I get to the bus station and ask where can I go, like a park or something to sit and kill some time. Answer: Take a cab. Here is my thing, I hate cabs. I would rather walk for an hour versus get in a cab. They cheat you on prices here.

After a few hours, I get directions on the buses that go to that neighboring town and get on the bus to go. I am in typical developing world transportation here, so that means little van full of people. Safety on that is not so high. Side note: This is how you get there, and how thousands of Peruvians get there every day, so while it might be below standards US safety, people do it here without thinking about it. Next time you drive on the highway think about how much damage one drunk driver could do to you, and you realize that you driving isn{t that safe either.

Anyways, I get to the town, and it is packed. I finally make my way the few blocks to the museum and it is closed. Closed for the elections. Argh!

I walked around because I still had over 9 hours to go

Now, I made a small error getting off the bus back in Chiclayo, meaning I didn{t wait until we got the terminal, so I got myself a little lost. I walked around for about a half hour before I was like, maybe I should get a taxi to get me back to that park. But, as I have already mentioned, I don{t like taxis, so on the thought that maybe I was really close and would be wasting that money. So, with a giant hope, I rounded a corner and started walking again. Then finally I found the park. The city is just wall to wall three story building on flat ground so it is impossible to look up for landmarks.

Anyways, I sat around talking to random people who sat down next to me. Creepy people got the cold shoulder and others I talked to. I met a man who went to the states to work and actually worked in maine for a while. We talked about different areas in the state. He apparently was an itinerant farm worker in maine, I didn{t realize we had them there. He worked the blueberry fields and potato fields. You learn new things everyday.

Well, that is enough detail on a day when I essentially did nothing. I eventually made it to the bus and we went to Chachapoyas.

I get in at 5am again. My worry whenever I do this is that they are going to charge me for going into the room right away, so normally i just ask if I can leave my bag and then they show me to my room. My first plan was to kind of wait until sunrise then go exploring and book a tour for that day. Then the bed called to me. I eventually woke up again and then just walked around the town.

The next day was the same, just catching up on sleep and the town is really cute, so I walked around. It was their anual tourism week, so there were a lot of activities. I went to the opening on a photo exhibit and felt really under-dressed. Everyone else was some kind of representative of the local government or a university professional (the exhibit was at a college), and then there was me. I was wearing my new pants, so I was clean at least. They also had a bunch of local food there, so I got a free lunch. It was good to try the traditional food, I had the goal of eating a lot of that but hadn{t been doing it so well.

THe next day was Wednesday and I did my first tour. We went to Kuelap, a ruin site two hours out of town. It is amazing. It is built on the top of a cliff basically and is so beautiful. The site is not cleaned up like Machu Picchu is, so you see the jungle inside the walled complex. I can{t say enough good things about the site. The houses inside were all round and had big cone roofs. They had little troughs to raise guinea pigs in right outside the houses (remember: guinea pig = food), and big stones inside to ground corn into flour. Also, each house had a small hole in the ground which they placed their ancestors in. That{s right, grave in the middle of the living room.

The people I did the tour with were nice. I talked to them a bit. Knowing spanish is fantastic because I wouldn{t do half the things if I didn{t speak it. My camera battery died halfway through the tour which was awful, but one of the guys from Lima said he would go to the internet cafe with me and pass me a bunch of his pictures.

FOr these day tours there is normally a stop for lunch, although lunch is around 3pm or something like that. This lunch was really good, it came with soup, plate of food, and drink for under four dollars. It had fried plantains which reminded me of Honduras!

That night I called a couchsurfer and we met up. She introduced me to a lot of people. The activity for that night was actually a boxing demonstration. We all just sat there and chatted in the plaza for a few hours. It was a really nice group of people.

The next day I did the cave quiocta, and an archeological site Karajia. The cave was pretty cool. The thing is so big that the whole group can walk side by side and not touch the walls. I had my flashlight on me which is pretty strong for its size so I could shine it around and see everything, while most people had these little tiny pen lights that barely lit up their shoes. I rented a pair of black rubber boots for the cave for which i was really grateful because it is solid mud. or not so solid as mud is normaly muddy in texture.

After another lunch, not quite so good, we went to the site of sarcophogi, that{s the plural of sarcophogus, which i learned on this trip. The pictures of this place look great, but that is because they used a camera with a good zoom. My camera is not so good in that sense. TO get there you walk about a kilometer (.7ish miles) and it{s all downhill. That means on the way back up it is uphill. I walked really slowly for me, but because I didn{t take any breaks I got there well ahead of anyone else. I got to the top then played volleyball with a bunch of local girls. I had a lot of fun, but everyone in the tour was amazed that I could walk up that hill that fast and then have the energy to play volleyball.

The next day{s activity was going to a waterfall. My plan was to leave the next day, so I rented the black rubber boots again to not get my shoes nasty for the ride out. We walked really slowly there, a walk of 2 hours. It rained almost the whole time though so everyone was getting wet. I had the presence of mind to grab my umbrella, so I was comfortable. The waterfall, Gocta, is the third largest in the world. You walk down to the base of the second fall. Once we got there everyone in the group took off their ponchos and were posing in almost model like poses. Then there is me. I am in my raincoat (i wasn{t about to take that off) and rubber boots posing like, yep, I am here. The walk up I just took off and didn{t wait for the group. I knew several of them were going to take a lot of breaks and I wanted to walk and really stretch my legs. I did the 2.5 hour hike in an hour and a half. I was really happy to finally be able to walk comfortably and get some decent exercise in.

That night I met back up with the couchsurfer and we made new friends with other couchsurfers in the town. We just kind of hung out for a while and talked. Two were from peru and then a french guy and me.

Ok, I have been here a while typing and I want to do other things. Saturday was the big day for activites so stay tuned for when I get that written.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Ok, so it says here that i last updated 10 days ago. Now, I promise to update at some point but I am rather busy living. And considering i just booked into the roudiest hostel ever, I probably wont have time later. I promise i am having tons of fun and have met some really great people.


Saturday, June 4, 2011


Chicken feet!

Me at the glacier


Me at the laguna

Spot where the town got smooshed. What you see in green, used to be the town.

Two layers of the temple that have been excavated. That scary dude in the middle is the main god.

The outside of the temple had layers that people think represented the hierarchy. See last blog post for why my bag is so big.

Best self'photography.

View from the "Seat of the Inca"

Cumbemayo, look closely at the little space ub the middle. Zoom in, what do you see?

Woman selling crafts. For once I wasn´t cheap and paid too much for something. But look at her, you feel sad.


"windows" or tumbs.

Really rocky suspension bridge. Why was a modern pedestrain bridge? who knows.