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Fun With Public Transportation

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This entry isn´t about the taxi the other day with a flat tire. And it´s not about the bus breaking down on the way from the Colca Canyon to the hot springs. This is about my long bus trip today.

I got up at 6am to get ready and head to the bus station to catch my 7:30am bus to Puno - a 6 hr ride. My taxi was a few minutes late, but no problem, made it to the bus station at 7:15. The problem was, my bus wasn´t there.

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An hour later it finally showed up, and I got on. Lucky me, in the very last seat in the back of the bus! After the bus folks videotaped everyone on the bus (for security reasons, I guess), at 8:30 we finally hit the road.

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Not 15 minutes later the bus came to a halt on the side of the road. All around us were other cars and busses stopped on the roadside or turning around. Apparently there was some kind of protest and the protesters had littered all of the roads out of Arequipa with basketball-sized rocks.

After 40 minutes sitting on the side of the road, a police truck drove up and after assessing the situation, led a small caravan of cars, trucks and busses (the few, us included, who hadn,t already turned back). We slowly drove along small, dirt roads that were clearly never meant for vehicles anywhere near the size of our bus. But we inched along.

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At one point we all had to get off the bus to lighten its weight so that the driver could try to navigate around a really tight bend. He made it after about 30 minutes of back-and-forth driving, and us putting rocks under the tires in order to raise the front of the bus to keep it from burrowing into the dirt! I met a nice group of masters swimmers who were on their way to a swim meet, while we waited for the bus to make it through that stretch of dirt road. Finally we made it back to the highway beyond the area where the protesters had put all the rocks.

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All told, this plus the late start caused us to be running about 3 hours late. Ugh. But at least the bus was pretty comfortable, and at about 5pm we finally pulled into the bus station in Puno.

Tomorrow I head out to Lake Titicaca for a 2 day/1 night tour of a couple of the islands there - Uros, the reed island, and Taquile, where I,ll be staying with a local family overnight. They don{t have any running water or electricity...should be interesting!

Posted by jtlande 17:30 Archived in Peru Tagged bus Comments (0)

Arequipa

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We spent a few days back in Lima, then we had to say our sad goodbyes as Joanna flew back to San Francisco on the 9th. I flew out the next day to Arequipa, called the "Ciudad Blanca" or "white city" because most of the buildings are made out of a soft, white stone called sillar. Arequipa is in southern Peru and is at 2,335 meters, or 7,660 feet.

It´s really beautiful here - in fact it´s one of my favorite cities on this trip. There are three ginormous volcanoes nearby, and the town has a lovely colonial feeling about it. It´s actually a really big city (the second largest in Peru!), but doesn´t feel like it at all.

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The Plaza de Armas in Arequipa is, as they say, probably one of the nicest in all of Peru. It is however packed day and night with locals and tourists alike.

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The hotel I stayed in, Casa de Avila, was a gorgeous place. If I could have I would have stayed here longer!

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I visited several museums (and was all museum´ed out by the end of the first day), including the Museo "Santuarios Andinos" where they have on display Juanita, the "ice-princess" whose frozen body of a 15-year old Inca maiden was sacrificed on the summit of Ampato - at 6310m (20,700ft) high - over 500 years ago and which was discovered in 1995.

I also visited the Santa Catalina Convent, which was enormous, almost a city in and of itself! It´s still in use and there are today about 27 nuns who live there, though they are in a separate part of the complex from the tourist area. The buildings and courtyards were very vibrant; they used three colors to decorate the buildings - blue, red and white.

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One night I ate at Ary Quepay, which specializes in traditional Peruvian cuisine. There was a live performance by a local Andean music group.

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Posted by jtlande 19:36 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Doing Lines

Nazca

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Before Joanna flew home, we spent a day in Ica and Nazca, where we went to see the famous Nazca Lines.

The Nazca Lines are a series of geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert, which stretches 53 miles between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana in Peru. They were created by the Nazca culture between 200 BC and AD 700. There are hundreds of individual figures, ranging in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fishes, sharks, llamas and lizards.

No one knows why the Nazcans created the lines...it´s still a mystery today.

We flew from Lima to Ica, where we got on a really small plane to fly over the lines.
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It´s amazing how clearly you can see some of the lines, and it´s only when you´re in the air that you realize just how huge these geoglyphs are. Here are the spaceman, the monkey, and the hummingbird:

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After the 30 minute flight, we hopped on a bus and visited a museum, a real desert oasis, and then had lunch at a fancy schmancy resort where we relaxed by the pool.

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Finally, at around 4pm, we flew back to Lima.

Posted by jtlande 16:23 Archived in Peru Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

The Colca Canyon

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In Arequipa I booked a 3-day trek to the Colca Canyon, with Land Adventures. Colca Canyon is about 100 miles northwest of Arequipa and is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. The Colca Valley is a colorful Andean valley with towns founded in Spanish Colonial times and formerly inhabited by the Collaguas and the Cabanas. The local people still maintain ancestral traditions and continue to cultivate the pre-Inca stepped terraces.

The canyon is home to the Andean Condor, which can be seen at fairly close range as they fly through the canyon walls and are an increasingly popular attraction. 'Cruz del Condor' is a popular tourist stop to view the condors, the pass where condors soar gracefully on the rising thermals occurring as the air warms. The condors are best seen in the early morning and late afternoon when they are hunting. At this point the canyon floor is 3,960 ft (1,200 m) below the rim of the canyon.

Day 1 - Arequipa to Cabanaconde, down into the canyon floor, up to a small village for the night

The trek started with me being picked up at 6am from my hotel, and we hopped on a public bus to the town of Cabanaconde. We hiked down to the bottom of the canyon and back up to a little town in the hills where we spent the night in some very basic accomodations.

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Day 2 - Down to the Oasis, then Back Up to the Canyon Rim and Cabanaconde

On the second day, we hiked back down to an "oasis" resort at the bottom of the canyon. We relaxed in the swimming pools for a few hours, then we had to hike 3 1/2 hours straight up the canyon wall to the top of the canyon and back to Cabanaconde. That was EXHAUSTING.

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Even in a remote place like this you can find misguided Cowboys fans.
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Day 3 - Cruz del Condor, Hot Springs, Back to Arequipa

On the third day, we rose early and took a bus to the Cruz del Condor. Unfortunately the condors must´ve slept in that morning, but we were able to see a few swooping below and above us. They were pretty amazing birds.

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Unfortunately our bus broke down on the way to the hot springs. We walked into the next town and caught a collectivo to the nearby hot springs. Ah, sweet relief! Then we got back on the bus and made it back in Arequipa at around 5pm.

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Posted by jtlande 19:24 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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