A Travellerspoint blog

February 23

Free Day in Arequipa

Here's a couple of photos from yesterday.Wild vicuna

Wild vicuna

Stone Fencing on High Plateau

Stone Fencing on High Plateau

We wanted to see if we could change our plane ticket to Lima. We had originally booked for noon on Sunday, then they changed it to 7:30 a.m., then 6:30 p.m. We wanted to go back to the morning flight. So we found out where the TACA airline office was and got bus directions as well. Then we set out to walk to the mall it was in. It was only a couple of km and not a bad walk at all. After a bit of a wait (because there was only one clerk in this their head office) we explained and the clerk changed our flight for us without any charge at all! It seems we were affected by their consolidation of flights or something. So that was worth it. Then we were in the area of the Yanahuara neighbourhood, which Don had read was a very traditional area. It has a park on the top of a hill, so the view over the city is amazing. We found the narrow stone walled streets very charming and we even found a nice restaurant to have a very relaxed lunch. Yanahuara street

Yanahuara street

We actually had chicha (a traditional fermented corn drink) to drink for the first time. Then we walked back downtown and visited the Convent of Santa Catalina, the place to visit in Arequipa. This 450 year old convent still has 20 nuns living in part of it. The rest of the huge (a whole city block) place has been turned into a museum to show how they have lived there, in order to produce enough money to modernize. They were living in plastered stone rooms with no electricity or running water and only wood fired clay ovens until 1970!Kitchen and clay oven at Convent of Santa Catalina

Kitchen and clay oven at Convent of Santa Catalina

After the museum, we went down to the city square to take pictures, because we hadn't taken any yesterday. Then home to rest for awhile before going out for supper.

Posted by katdill 00:25 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

February 22

Travel to Arequipa

We had some confusion about when we were to take the bus to Arequipa. Our transfer agent thought we had our tickets. We said No, you are to buy the ticket. Our itinerary said we were to catch the morning bus to Arequipa. They said the 2:00 bus! Anyway, we got them to change it so we went on the 9:30 bus which was not a "tourist" bus but a local one. OK for us, except no bathroom on the bus and the only rest stop was an field where most of the people on the bus got out and peed in the field!! Great for Don, but I decided to wait! The Peruvian women with their long skirts sure have an advantage!
We traveled over the high plateau again and then down from the mountains to Arequipa. Herds of llamas and alpacas everywhere on the plateau, but then we went even higher (4444 meters) and got into desolate country. Even there a few people live, although I don't know how! Then desert - sand with a few scrub plants like sagebrush. The desert was green, because it had just rained, and we could see the mud in the water beds but no water running. We passed through a nature reserve and saw wild vicuna(?). I have to say that my identification of vicuna, llama, alpaca, and guanaco is not to be trusted, but at one point other people on the bus were saying "vicuna, vicuna" so I assume they knew what they were talking about.
Finally arrived at Arequipa, after descending, descending, descending, (with only one near miss with a semi-trailer!!) and arrived at the bus station. We were met by another transfer agent and brought to our nice hotel which is a converted monastery. See link to get an idea about this hotel. (http://www.hotelessanagustin.com.pe/hotel_arequipa_posada_del_monasterio.htm)
After unpacking and doing some laundry, we did a little walk around the main square and found a restaurant for supper. Early to bed!
It looks like the website is having trouble uploading any photos this morning so I'll try to give you more photos later.

Posted by katdill 03:23 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

February 21

Uros and Taquille Islands

We were picked up early (again!) and taken by van down to the harbour. There we were loaded onto a very nice boat (with bus seating) and the harbour is full of these kinds of boats - designed specifically for tourists, I think. Lots of windows, bathroom, etc. Don even went up on the roof after we got underway and he spent most of the travel time up there. First stop was the Uros Islands. These are islands made out of reeds that grow in the lake. The people cut root blocks and fasten them together with rope to create these islands. They also build their houses, boats, etc from the reed and there is even part they eat! Talk about a multi-purpose plant! They live a very simple life, they do have a solar panel which they use to charge car batteries to run their TVs and stereos. Very strange to walk into a reed house 8' x 10' that 2 adults and 2 kids live in, just a platform bed, some shelving and a TV and stereo up on the wall. I think they mostly live outside. Of course, now the tourist industry helps keep their lifestyle going, but they have been living like this for 100s of years.Uros Island house

Uros Island house

We also had a ride to another island in their catamaran style boat. They sang a song in their language to us as we all climbed on the boat. Don even got to paddle part of the way!Uros Island boat

Uros Island boat

After getting back on the power boat (although a very slow power boat!) we went to Taquille Island. We had to climb up a stone walkway around 2 1/2 km to close to the top of the mountain. The first part was very steep, but then it got more gradual although we were climbing all the time. Once we made it up to the community, we were fed lunch on the patio of a house, with a beautiful view over the lake. There were a couple of groups of musicians and dancers who came by while we were eating. It is Festival time here and apparently they are having a competition tomorrow and so were practicing. Very colorful outfits but I can't say it sounded very musical too me!

Then we had the long walk back down by a different route, shorter but steeper. I'm sure glad we didn't have to come up that way, but on our way down we met many of the islanders carrying big loads on their backs up the path from the dock.

Posted by katdill 17:29 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

February 20

Trip to Puno

This morning we caught a tour bus from Cusco to Puno. A very nice bus, with tea, coffee, and soft drinks service after each stop on the trip. We left at about 7:30 a.m. and arrived in Puno at around 5:00 p.m. It's a long trip and the bus can't go faster than 85 kph. The tour guide was informative, but because he had to say everything in English and Spanish, it sometimes got a little tiring waiting for the next installment we could understand. We stopped at a Catholic church in a little town that is called the Sistine Chapel of the Americas, because it has so many paintings and gold leaf, etc. Then at another town, we visited some different style Inca ruins, which was interesting. We stopped at a restaurant for a buffet lunch and then on to the highest point on the road, La Raya, at 4313 meters above sea level. Then there was one more tiny museum to stop at, primarily to give us a break, I think. And we finally arrived in Puno. I found travelling across the high plateau amazing. It is up so high and is so flat!!High Plateau

High Plateau

Even southern Saskatchewan may not be so flat. Of course, having the mountains as a back drop to the flatness, seems to emphasize it. People live up so high with their herds of sheep, cattle, lamas, and alpacas. It seems they go out with their herd in the morning, spend the day out with them, and then take them home again later. Over and over, I saw a couple sitting in the field watching their herd or else moving them from one spot to another. I even saw a woman with her herd of sheep spinning with a drop spindle as she stood there. Unfortunately, that went by too fast for me to get a picture, but I will never forget it! These women carry a child or else supplies on their backs, walk for miles with their animals, and spin or knit as they do it. Incredible!Woman herding cattle

Woman herding cattle

Posted by katdill 17:41 Archived in Peru Comments (1)

February 19

Machu Picchu finally!

Well, we finally made it to Machu Picchu. We got the bus and made the train connection in Ollantaytambo. Very nice train and beautiful scenery to travel thru. The train follows the river valley into the mountains (hence the worry about the rising river) and the river is wild. The water is rushing in every direction at once it seems - very big rocks and lots of water. When we finally arrived at MP and linked up with Darwin, our guide, we were very impressed. It truly is a wonder, the engineering would be a marvel today, let alone 5 or 600 years ago! It is definitely the most amazing ruins we have ever seen. The photos just can't do justice to it, it is so large you cannot capture it all. Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Don's so happy to have made it.

Don's so happy to have made it.

The Spanish never knew it was there so they didn't have a chance to try to destroy it and build a Catholic church on the site the way they did with so many other sites. It is 80% the way it was when the Incas lived there. After our tour, Don had to climb to the highest point of the ruins (if it is there to be climbed, climb it!), but I sat on a rock and waited for him. Unfortunately, for most of our time there it rained off and on, so by the time we left we were quite damp, umbrella and raincoats not withstanding. We got some food and took it on the train for supper and did the whole trip back in reverse. I think we slept most of the bus trip and came home to pack up to leave tomorrow. We have so many photos, it is really hard to pick ones to show you.Kathy waiting for Don to climb the mountain

Kathy waiting for Don to climb the mountain

Posted by katdill 17:07 Archived in Peru Comments (1)

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