Wednesday, June 28, 2006

La Paz, Bolivia

This is a crazy city !!!!!

Imagine you take a bowl, cut it in 2, draw a highway between the 2 pieces where the river used to be. There you go, you have a 2 millions people city in Bolivia called La Paz. Forgot to mention that the bottom of the bowl is at 3600 and the top probably at 4K +.

The tourist bus arrived from the top, and the view was just stupendous. Every tourist in the bus (2 + me) did their "waoaaaaoww", and so do I. That way a great opening to La Paz.

The only thing that is flat in La Paz, is probably the bank account of the Bolivian.
ALL the rest is not straight, roads, buses, houses, beds, peoples, food, hotel, discussion, life, add-what-ever-you-want.....

I climbed (walked) around the city and find some amazing spots that kept on taking my alreday breath away. I spend quite sometime in the witches market, and the local mercado (half downtown). You can find EVERYTING you want on the street of La Paz, Bolivia. You have the classic bed and breakfast places at each corner, followed by orange juicers, and batteries testers, but you can find way much more in the street, here is the crema de caracoles to help you smothe your skin (big fat sea-snail alive in a plastic box) , here the street restaurant that give you your soup portion in a plastic bag, here is the cellphone renter, there is the hooded kid shoeshiner, and finally here is the dry baby Llamas foetus used for the Inka Coca Kintu ritual (to thank Pacha Mama).

This city just never sleeps. But I do sometime.
This city just never stops breathing. But I do sometime.
This city just never stops moving. But I do sometime.

Oh, guess what !
This is election time. I was stuck this afternoon in the middle a massive protestation in favort of the SI. I did not catch too much the question, but the valourous icone of the past were in front line. El Che was reborn, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez were just after and some new guys that I dont know the name were also on the go. The D-Dia is the first of July, but it start to be a bit complicated already to do something around, and the first few days of July will be of course, chaotic. We are in South Amercia afterall, country of the Grinta, Y todo es possible.

Travel detour.
I am really sad because France pass the 1/8. And now I have to go sooner to Brazil to see THE game there. I fly to Sao Paolo tomorrow, and try to move along the coast to catch my breath or hold it depending on the place and the time.

I am really glad to take off hopefully tomorrow with everything going on in the city. Right now there is a massive firework near where I am staying and this is a sort of a civil war, people running around screaming and yelling, seems to be Ok anyway. I saw some Euro and US observatores human right sort of, watching if the election is valid or not. Read the news after the 1st of July and you will know who won.

You never know what could happen, but I got my ticket this afternoon, and I do a 3 stop over kind of trip:
1) La Paz (Bol) -- Santa Cruz (Bol)
2) Santa Cruz (Bol) -- Asuncion (Par)
3) Asuncion (Par) -- Sao Paolo (Bra)

I will start early in the morning, and then will arrive late in the evening in SanPa.
It should be fun, just have to decide where I am going to stay for the 3 nights there.

Is it a sign?
Yesterday I had the blue French Coca-Cola bottle at my Israel place.
Tonight I had the yellow Brazilian one at the same place.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Copacabana, Bolivia :)

My first stop in Bolivia was at Copacabana, and it was freezing cold.

I know it seems very romantic, and I can see in some people eyes already some spakling lights and arousing cliché. But no this is not the same Copacabana, this is the one close to the Lake Titicaca, the one at 4000 meters high, where days are around 10ºC, and night below 0ºC.

But the most important thing is not how cold the place was, but how great the place was. It is a small town squized between 2 hills and a nice rounded sand beach on the lake. The sun starts usually to warm the maté de coca around 6 AM and go to bed at 6PM eveyday. I stayed there for a night and did at the same time a quick jump to "Isla del Sol". This is the place where all began for the Inka religion. I have to say, that if I did not checked the weather forcast before going there, I would have stayed at least a night or so; but the stormy icone that I saw on my screen make me feel dizzy and reluctant to fight again, against mother nature (Pacha Mama in Inka).

Anyway I walked around the island for a couple of hour, just enough to appreciate the light and some insular laid-back attitude. I stayed in Copacabana, in the nicest hotel for US$ 5 the night. The view in the morning was probably the best morning view I had in a long time, I could see the sun shining behind the hill and spotting the first few boats in the bay, while in the back the biggest storm ever was grounding and sounding like the end of the world. And all of this at 4000 meters on the lake Titicaca.

I lost my cap in the island (maybe I gave it back to the Inka as an gift), time for shopping then :)

Here is the picture of the Lake and Copa.
The beach and the scenery sounds idylic, but I have to say that it is 5 degres Celcius outside and no bikini is allowed unless you still wear your winter jacket

Monday, June 26, 2006

Adios Peru

I passed the frontier by foot on the Lake Titicaca the 25th of June, 2006.

It was a strange feeling, by myself, on foot, stamped twice, and in the middle of nowhere, I crossed the border to go to the other side, yet alike. People talk with the same slooooooooooow motion and try to ask some money, no matter what. They are dress up with zillion layer of clothes, and try to compete to the one who can have the most colour in the samll amount of space.

The road from Puno (Peru) to the Copacabana (Bolivia) is an amazing timeless journey, offering you some wonderfull colour and always surprising light, something between the yellow and the red pale. I will love to do it again, unfortunatly you have to spend probably 78 hours of bus before doing so :)

I know, you are going to ask me what are the things that you will remember of Peru (what you are not asking me this question, anyway , I will answer it, because it is my blog, and I kind do what I want on this blog, only in this blog, so please bare with me, just pretend you asked me this question, and I will be happy)


The fisrt thing that come to my mind when thinking of Peru is the Machu Picchu of course. What a site ! There is nothing on earth that I have seen that can come close to this place. It is very difficult to describe in some words, and I think you have to see it by yourself to put your own words on it. I have been thinking about how to describe the best way, and the only thing that come to my mind is this song that everybody is singing all the time in tjhis country, Latin Amercia es un enigma. Could not find something better than that, maybe I am speachless in front such a spectacle and I just have to mute myself.

Peru is sometime called the Little Tibet. And this is true, there is no other place in the world that could offer such a spectacular scenery. And in the middle of the mountain you have something large and flat that goes on for kilometers and hours. The Altiplano is usually a flat piece of land at 4000 meters above sea level that join the different 6000+ mountains. On this land you can sometime spot there a Llama, there a Campesino, or there a house. People live there and use it as way to move from one valley to another. I now quite understand what Borges said about the Patagonia, The Horizontal Vertigo.

The thing about Peru is, it is a hash country to live in. Desert on the shore coast, the second highest mountains in the world after Tibet, Cordilliere de los Andes, and the ever growing Amazonia. But no matter where you are going, you will find someone living near by. I was always amazed by the fact that even on the Altiplano, in the middle of a 4K meters above sea level flat space, the bus stopped after a rock and there you go, you can see 3 people carrying their gigantics bags. The Peruvian impressed me by how they are fighting all the time in their land yet like it and wont move away from it. Worse they respect it so much that they offer thing to it (to her, I should say). They have a nickname, that resume probably everything I am saying. They call her PachaMama. The other picture I have from the Peruvian people and their strenght, is the time when I was almost dying climbing this vertical Inka Trail at 3 AM in Colca de Canon (Arequipa), and this old lady carrying bag on her back bigger than her, doubled me with a smile. I was vey upset during 1.2 second and they I just stopped and looked at her and was happy to see what strengh means.


  • Dead man walking. You can only walk on one foot, because the other one is already in your tomb. Cars have NO respect for anything outside their box. If you don´t watch you can really end up in a bad situation, like blocked between 2 buses and a taxi.

  • Before I left I read quickly the climatic condition of Peru, and put on top my winter jacket. Well what I did not envision at the time was the fact that I spent almost a month between 3500 m. and 4500 m. high. At this altitude you breath fast, on one lung, with 5 layers of clothes. Everything you doing take you twice the amount of strenght to do it at sea level. Breathing is an effort, moving is an effort, and even eating sometime is an effort. One thing, bring your extra lung, and some warm clothes, because at 4.5 K is freking cold. In the last 2 weeks I ask every morning when I woke up in my freezing room (yes, my bottle of water were frozen in the morning) , what I was doing here! Probably why I will change my plans soon :)

  • I have not heard the silent once in the last month. I don´t know what it is to be in a quiet place. Silence is probably the luxury of the western societies. It starts at 6 AM when in stade of the glamourous and typical wake up cock, you have alike TNT fireworks instead. The first time I was ready to pack my stuff and stopped by the earthquake safety sign that you see everywhere. Then I got use to, and juust move an eyelush. But then after it is the music all the time, and bad suave music. Then the bus, then taxi, then people start their day to day activities, and then you day is gone. I thing the best way to see the difference is when you take a local chicken bus and a tourist bus. I will probably describe it later, but this is the best exemple of the Silence.

Words of the day

From an Argentinian: If you look for a wife, and you find a girl that knows how to cook, and love fooball, marry her on the spot !

Hotel in Peru / Bolivia

Here is the list of all the hostel that I remember I have been



  • Lima
Loki Hotel (US$11 with breakfast)
Good dorm, and central place in Lima.
Friebndly staff as well, very helpfull, a good place to go
if you want to be in Miraflores.

  • Pisco
Posada Hispana (US$ 10 with Breakfast)
Bolognesi 236
Good room, quiet and safe place, bit expensive

  • Nazca
Hotel Estralla del Sur (20 Soles).
Small room for a small town and a small budget

  • Arequipa
Posada del Cacique (20 soles)
Nice colour and close to the main city attraction, but not too close.
Luis is a good guy very helpfull and full of information.

  • Cusco
Pirwa Hotel (40 soles) . Expensive but in Rua Suecia, 20 meters away from THE action.
Pirwa Backpaker (10 soles) . Much better place, close to San Glas, and quieter too.

  • Agua Calientes
Hostal de Turistas Machupicchu Pueblo (25 Soles)
Barrio Loos Orquideas 23 cote 12
Humid,expensive and noisy. Don´t go,
but where else do you go in this strange pueblo?

  • Puno

Hotel Pukara, Libertad 328 (US$25)
Expensive, BUT this is the only place I found in my budget that had a working heating system.
I would have paid much more in this place to not freeze my butt off.

  • Mancora

Hospedaje El Amanecer, End of the road
(US$10) Expensive, BUT this is the only place I found in the busy weekend.
I would recommend rather the Hostel Mar Y Sol down the main road instead with swimming pool, and hot shower.

  • Trujillo

Hotel Colonial, Jr. Indeència ·618 (S./ 50)
Nice hotel, close to the plaza de Armas. Nice room with TV and private bathroom.
Ask for a room in the back otherwise you will hear the bell in the morning and the horns from cab driver.

  • Huaraz




  • Copacabana

Hotel Mirador (Bol$ 30)
This is the biggest and the most expensive of the area.
What a view, ask for the the last storey.

  • La Paz

Hotel Majestic (Bol$ 85)
Calle Santa Cruz Esquina, Illampu 359
This is a 2 stars Hotel, with a breakfast included.
You should be able to have somethintg better somewhere else, but was not in a good shape to do anything.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Puno, Perú

New friend on board : CLOFAR.
I never met so many friends in such a small amount of time. Hope that this on will be better companion that the others.

SO ........... I decided to move after the Raymi.
This was a not really pleseant experience. Beeing sick in the middle of 3 billions Peruvians to watch some dressed-up Inka talking during 3 hours in Quetchou´an was not my cup of Coca Tea. It was like watching a video gam but in the real world.

SO ........... I decided to move anyway from this city, and heads up to Bolivia where it will be colder and higher. I want to see few places there and then going down to some warm place, after all I am in vacation and not in detention.

I am staying at a nice hotel in Puno (-thing to do), the last big city on the Lake Titicaca before Bolivia. Urus people are living in some strange flottant islands, but I pass on that. I had a great trout tonight from the Lake Titicaca near by at the rstaurant close to the hotel (Coca Kintu). The town is so strange that there is only one street that people stuck to, and dont try to go anywhere else.

Tomorrow I cross the Bolivian Border.
I am quite excited that the journey is strating again.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Tranquilo in Qos´co, Perú

I have 3 news friends. I met APRONAX during a late night and did not pursue with this sleepy companion. But I met 2 new good friends, DOLOGINA who helps me to talk better, and DIBAROL who makes me sleep like a baby. They have been introduced to me by 2 pharmacist whose only differences were that one had glove and the other did not. Anyway, I feel a bit better but plan to not move around till I can walk straight and be able to stay in a bus night ride if necessary.

So,I am enjoying the long week Cusqueñan ¨Festival of the Sun¨ under the rain. This festival called Inti Raymi is celebrated to wish a Happy New Quechouan Year. Everyday, plaza del Armas is full of dance from all different schools, college, university, professional and other part of the society that I can not quite picture yet. During the entire day you can watch Peruvian folkloric dances followed by their associated Bandas (portable orchestre). Yesterday was the blessing of the different Maria virgen from the local pueblos. The statue carried by as many men as possible (between 20 and 30) is rushed inside the main Cusqueñan church followed by the Bandas to wake up probably the priest who is certainly not aware of the major situation. The funny thing was the song they were playing: Starwars! At least the statue will be warshiped.

Stopping over a trip helped me to look around in a different way, and make me think about how people pursue tourist. I am in between my full time job (traveller) and the local people. Most of the people in the street I am living now knows my name, and its feel like a home place somehow, by not having to unpacked and packed my bag. I kind look at travelling activity as a new way. I knew travellers before when I was a kid and saw them as noisy fellow, but here it is much more as understanding both sides. I am an no-action-peace-keeper-in-between without borders.

My new routine is pretty much set up already by ¨all¨ the activities I am doing in town. I usually wake up at 6:00 AM by the fireworks they allways do, but rapidly fall back to sleep and stretch my night till 11ish, time to watch the summary of the fisrt soccer game while drinking my coffee. I usually go back to a more smokey room with a big screen to watch one or sometime two games back toback. After this main activity, I push myself to the end of the plaza central where I fight between local kid who try to sell me their local stuff and some adventurous tourists who wants to do the samething as me: sit on the bench to watch the sunset. I sometime fight with my El Aleph, Borges book bought 5 soles at a coner street. When the light is not good enough for my glasses, I reach my room or do some websurfing, choose a restaurant nearby and follow it by some drinks. From all the different beer that Peru offers you (Cusqueña, Arequipeña, Pilsen, Cristal), Cusqueña Malta is my favourit. Then, when night starts to talk softly I usually manage to climb the stairs of Ukuku in where I shake my bottom with a lot of local and a few tourist. 3 Soles is the Taxi bargain price to go home. All along the day, my game is to try to found out from witch country the tourist is from. Most of time I am wrong.

As you can see my day are really busy and full of encuentros with tourists, expat, local and aliens. But I will tell you later about that. Now it is time to watch France to be humilated again. So that I can focus on something more interesting like travelling again.

Thought of the day
La mentirosa tiene patas cortas, y la verdad tiene patas largas.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Qos´co, Perú

What I do in the best so far in Qos´co
(Cusco in Quechouan)

Real Joke of the month

I always heard about it but never had a chance to watch it live, now it is done, and it fells really good. Here it is

An english guy wait in line to buy something. It is now his turn and start in this broken spanish his wonderfull public speech, load enought to impress everyone and especially his girlfriend waiting next to him.
- Him ¨Perdon, I am embararassado, pero, quiero, .....¨ (never had a chance to finish is sentence)

The audience was under the table just after the pero

What he wanted to say was: ¨Sorry, I am embarassed to ask you, but, I want ......¨
What he said in reality: ¨Sorry, I am pregnant, but, I want ....¨

Sometime it is hard to travel in a foreign country.

New rule in the Inka-Tation bibble book, rule #3:
¨When you don´t know how to say it, make sure nobody can heard you¨

Monday, June 19, 2006

Machu Picchu, Perú, Photos

The terrasas where they used to cultive the corn and other plants the Inkas needed

Machu Picchu at 8:00 AM

The Llamas

Machu Picchu at 10:00 AM

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Machu Picchu, Perú

With the help of my new friend (the AMOXICILINA pill), I woke up at 5 AM to catch the first bus at 5:30 and see the sunrise at Machu Picchu at 6:20. BUT it was raining dogs and cats. I went back to the hotel my tail between my leg (awoiding dogs and cats falling), and starting to swear at my dark star and planned to stay in the most horrible town on the planet till -1- I was ready to climb and -2- the sky was with me.

I push my extra nap untill 7:30 AM, time for the next bus from Aguas Caliente till the entrance of the Machu Picchu site. Paid my fee (US$25 entrance fee + US$12 for the bus) I ran to the top of the Cabaña, and spend the next 2.5 hour, sitting on my rock, looking at the magic happening. The Cabaña is the spot where all the picture you have seen of the Machu Picchu are taken. When I sat, the sun was out along time ago, but still the entire site was in almost dark due to the cloudy sky and the landscape.

I was lucky enought to see the show begining.

Machu Picchu (MP) is a pic surrounded by other pics higher cooling the site and preventing the place from cold wind. The Urubamba river that goes around MP forming a U, protecting that way from any attack. The abrupt side of the site will not help anybody to go on the fast road either, and hide the site even from the bottom. Anyway the surrounding is by itselfmagic. Then the site was kind of surreal where everything was though and design in such a way that the nature was a replica of what was going on. One of the major stone had the same shape of the behing scenery, there you could see a stone polish to have the shape of a condor starting it flight, or there the temple of the sun facing the equinox and reflecting the first light embracing the main place. In orther words, the pleople who were there knew the nature around them, how to domesticate it and how to respect it. Something we kind of miss somehow nowadays. The most amazing thing is probably the fact that the city was built 5000 years ago by roughtly 1000 people in 100 years,and never touched since then :)

I spent, like I say, 2.5 hours warming my rock and smiling my a$$ off at the spectacular magic in fromt of me. The cloudy Huayna Picchu (the pic you see behind in the picture) started to awake itself and lay off its blanket to let the entire site breath. Then the dance between the clouds and the sun began and I was a witness of some amazing choregraphy where the entire site was in dark while the temple of the sun was shinning like a ball of fire. Around 10AM, the entire site was awake and ready to receive its daily 3 millions of tourist or so. I was gald that during my life, I almost had for a while, the entire Machu Picchu for myself, or I concider do so.

This few hours under the sun were pure blessing, and I urge anyone who wants to see magic to come and spend a morning at Machu Picchu.

I promise to upload some shoots I took, not all of them but some :)

Went back to my hotel in Aguas Caliente, then to the train, then to Cuzco, then to my Hotel in Cuzco and finally to bed with a big smile on my face. The magic happen, I close my eyes unlighted by a firework.

Taste of the month
Guinea Pig (Cuy al Horno), easy to do, in less than 30 minutes, and I am sure you will entertain all your friend with this amazing and tasty receipe.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Machu Picchoune, Perú

My first day at Machu Pichu I spent it in bed!

In my half awakeness the day before I booked 2 night in this really strange place that is named Agua Calientes. And I spend the first one day just going to the local pharmacie to ask some medecine to cure instantanetly my sore muy caliente throught. The funny thing is that you don´t need to see a doctor to have some antibiotic. You just show up at the local pharmarcie, mime what could be the problem and the lady picked-up one of the 20 medicament box she has on the shelf and give it to you with an big smile and an Ojala that could make you sick if you are not already. Went back to my humid room, and slept through the afternoon. I woke up at 4 PM just on time to go to the local Hot Spring. I start conversation with 2 amercans and finished it at a 3x1 happy hour Pisco Sour and the way back home.I left them there, and avoid the poisoinned pizza they had later on. I went with a secure Chiken Sopita, and went to bed at 8 PM ready formy next adventure.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Ollantaytambo, Perú

I decide to kill 2 condors with one stone and go to the Sacred Valley and Machi Puchu (MP) at the same time. Most of the puriste would not recommend doing so, but I concider myself grey, mixed and borderline enought to do it that way.

I booked my trip from Cuzco, and spend the morning at the PeruRail train station to arrange my trip. I paid US$ 30 for the first leg of my trip from Ollantaytambo-MP and US$ 52 for the second leg of my trip, MP-Cuzco.

Around 1:00 PM on Miercoles Junio 14, I took the first bus from Cuzco to Urubamba and riched the traditionally called the Yucay Valley and most recently Sacred Valley. My 3 hours bus trip was long but nonethless rich in colour and local activities. The 25 places bus was by far exceding by 100 millions people, and my backpack was nothing in term of size compare to their own travelling outfits. After the first bump (4000 meters above sea level) most of the passengers manage to escape from the bus, and I could secure a place close to a window. Like a 5 years old kid looking at an ice cream shop, I spend the remaining part of the journey staring at the magical scenery in front of me. The light was so amazing that I was almost tempted to ask the bus driver to stop and let me do the rest of the 75 kilometers by myself. I never so a light that rich and yet pale. Some sort of retouched photo from the past. Here you could see some local campesinos working on their harvest surrounded by moutains reaching 6000 meters high, there a local bandas march stopping the bus to celebrate a wedding, or even there you could see a National Geographic poster of the entire Sacred Valley. I tried to take some picture through the window, but it was impossible to size the immensity of the thing in front of me. It was around 3PM when we finally dive from the altiplano to the Urumbamba town and I discovered I small town blocked in the middle of a well hand made drawn valley. You know the one you usually draw at school, well the one I usually draw at school then.

Passed the local market, local bull-fight arena (Plaza deToros), and dicover that we were only 3 left in the bus. I did not pay attention to what happen to my motion tank. Strangelly enought, the 3 of us took the next bus to Ollantaytambo, my final destination. We start chatting, and it appears that the girl A. is Canadian from Victoria, and she is in Ollan (this is how cool people called it) volunteering to save some knitting tradition at the local museum. More over, she knows the 2 guys that I met a couple of days before who invited me to their place to save some $ on the MP trip. We gringo-chatted for a while and her novio was prompt enought to time us out on our home sickness. We arrive at sunset and I reach the yellow house after the bridge just on time for a soup and some chit-chat.

The next day (Jueves, 15 de Junio), after a big late breakfast in their backyard (an entire mountain!) I planned to visit the famous ruins of Ollantaytambo (just tolet you know that it is 75 km away from Cuzco and at 2800 meters). I only manage to reach the bottom of the pyramid, and start to fell really sick. I was wondering when it was going to arrive in my trip, and yes I got it just the day before going to MACHU PICHU !!!!! That´s my luck. Must have be a combination of tireness, greacy food and dusty matress. Anyway my throught was on fire and my sinunes started to speak back to me in some wrong terms.


Waht would be a backpaker trip with sickness and stomachache afterall. With some difficulty I manage to climb the terrace of the nearest bar, and drug myself with some Maté de Coca. Do not really remember what happen between my 4th cup mixed 2 Advil and the train but I was stamped and ready to spare the last 1.5 hours with some foreigners who decided to do the same thing as me: going to Machu Pichu. On the train, I was the wagon translator between 4 Irish girls doing a world tour and 2 Spanaird who planned to do it. It is amazing sometime how some people are consumerist even on their approach of travelling, and did not want to learn a least some words of the local, or global language. I was dizzy by the list of places that people went or had to go, and was happy to crash in a not so well bargain bed at Aguas Calientes.

I wish I had some more time in my hands to visit somemore places in this valley, but this is certainly not a place to miss, even if you have to do so on the back of a condor like I did.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Cañon del Colca, Perù, Photos

The literaly highter point of my life: 4880 meters above sea level.
As you can see you still have some more mountain higher around, like the Misti you see behind the Peruvian on the photo.

The church that survive the last earthquake 50 years ago in Chivay.

Inka Cola is the famous drink around here, and the coco-loco are the taxi-muppet

Beware, crossing llama at 4000 meters and above

The light point in the middle of the canon is the Condor.
But the even tighner point on the flat rock in the middle of the photo is our guide :)

Here is the famous Canon del Colcal.
Of course it is better in real life since you can not really put a 1200 meters depth into a 12 millimeters high pictures.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Cuzco, Perú

I am spending some time off watching soccer, and healing my feet, arms, legs and all my muscle at Cuzco.

Cuzco is a town at 3300 meters above sea level, and is surronded (again !) by mountains at above 4500 meters. This city is the most touristic city, so far, I had spend some time in. You cannot walk 3 seconds without having someone asking you for something. I was on a remote place of the town taking a picture of a llama when suddently 2 kids came from nowhere asking me a propina. The entire country is on propination addiction. What ever you ask, you´ve been in return ask back some money without any question (or answer in my case). Yesterday I was asking some direction to a young kid (maybe 7 years old) and he ask me some money before answering. It is more obvious here in Cuzco that everyone is trying to make money out of the tourist´s wallet. You have to be aware of it, and deal with it. This is so different from all the other places I have been so far in Perù. I hope this is the only place.

The city of Cuzco is the nearest big city close to Machu Pichu, and is the starting point of the major big treeks that could be done in this amazing area.

The Inka-Trail is the most used and famous road in South America, and consit of a 4 days and 3 nights along the major Inka places in the neighborhood. What I did not know is that you need to book in advance your passage to the trail. The Peruvian gouvernement only allow less than 100 visitors a day, and it´s booked until the end of September. I won´t be able to do the famous INKA-TRAIL, but I will certainly see the Machu-Pichu. Many options exist there for me to see the big mountain:
  • I can hide in a German Backpack going to the trail (they are bigger than any other backpack I have seen on the road, they even have a name for it: rucksack)
  • I can dress-up like a llama and pretend that I was eaten alive
  • I can walk on my kneens and talk with my fake german accent and say that I am a local quechuan guide
  • I can do the 5 days-4 nights more difficult alternative road of Salkantay (rule 1 ?)
  • I can take the train and stay overnight at the bottom of the mountain in Aguas Caliente and take a bus ealy in the morning to see the sunrise on the Machu Pitchu

All will depend on how I recover from my adventure in Colca, and some feedback I will receive from J. a guy that I meet before.

In the mean time I am taking it easy and watch some more soccer in some strange places full or ex-military-futur-student Israelis people.

Allez la France

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Cañon del Colca, Perù

32 km walk + 2400 meters difference + 13 hours walk in 20 hours = new rule

I decided when I was in Arequipa to booked to 3 days trip to the famous Cañon del Colca. I hoped for a combination of touristic tour and an adventure one. I decided to spend 3 days in the canon, where I was the first day in a tourist bus and the next 2 in a mini- trekking.

Day Uno
At 7:30 in the morning the first day, the tour operator (Alberto) picked me up at my hostel and we ran around Arequipa finalizing the white mini-van with some random nationalities. We filled up the white min-van with 2 Spanish-German-Swiss (I don´t know how many of these exist on the planet, but we had 2 in the min-bus), one check republic girl, 2 dutch in honeymoon, 2 Israli, one Ausie-Canadian, and myself. We all drove to Chivay in the middle of the canon to spend the first night. Along the way we got around the Chachani mountain at more than 6000 meters, stopped to see llamas in the national reserve of salinas and aguada blanca, spend some time in the altiplano, count one by one the 11 different volcanos in the area, see some Inkas-terrace culture and finally relaxed our muscle in the Baños Termales La Calera in Chivay. It was really funny to watch a classic tourist group behaving together, where you can see predators eating up alive prey. I wont go deeper in my description, just to let you know that A. and B. wanted to do some business with C. but C. wanted to spend some time with D., and finally E. and F. where butterflying from one group to another. I was watching the fabulous spectacle through the window of the white mini-van, and spoke altogether 3.5 words. After our relaxing time at the spa in La Calera, we all went back to our hostel to go to dinner. My 1.2457 square meter room was the coldest in the all Cañon, and if not I ask anyone to prove me otherwise. I asked 2 extra blanket in case I was turning into one of these giant mummies, and I finally used both of them while I was still dressed up all night long.
The dinner was absolutly horrible for me, I was dealing with the famous soroche, and we had a wonderfull live band sitting close to my seat. The drummer kept smilling at me and I kept ginving my most horrible black eyes. Maybe this is the way in the Cañon, people give back a good felling to the music. I was torned by my headache, and I decided to leave the place just after the world famous chou-chou folkloric dance from the Colca Cañon. Their outfit is as colourfull as their land and they were changing for each and every dance, even inviting some tourist to humiliate themselves. But I could not see it. I was fitting my soroche headache with 2 Advil and 2 extra blankets.
Cañon del Colca is probably one of the last place where you can see 800 or so Quechouan inhabitant in their traditional coustumes and habits. They are still do the same thing as they use to do 8000 years ago, except speaking broken english to some random tourist in a white mini-van.

Day Dos
At 5:00 AM (yes 5 AM), we have been waken up by the local igloo concierge to have a quick breakfast to go on our journey. Too bad, I was finally feeling asleep, and get use to the sound of my teeth rubbing one another. We experience during this trip the first 5 minutes of pure silent. It was broken by C. who asked some more bread to the fridge owner. We all got into the white mini-van and went directly to the Cruz del Condor. The second deepest spot of the Cañon is situated at 3287 meter of altitude overlooking a small river 1300 meters down. We arrived at 9ish in the morning and was amazed by the number of ...... tourist already in the area. Some were coming from Arequipa (6 hours away) and began their trip at 1:00 AM. I was happy to know that I was not the only one who mistaken the term vacaciones in spanish with vaca actiones. It crazy how come sometime a small mispelling can ruin your time off.
Anyway I spent 15 minutes overlooking shoulders´s overlooking shoulders´s overlooking shoulders´s some birds flying in the mountain. I gave up and decide to return to the white mini-van when I felt a shadow on me, and guess what, the famous Condor from Perou was over my head, 10 feet away. It is the larger bird on the planet and I can say for sure it is. Of course at the crucial moment you have it right at your finger tip, you don´t have your camera ready. It did not pay attention to the caracteristic of my digital camera but when it says less than 15 seconds to startup your camera, don´t buy it, you could miss a condor overlooking your shoulder. The next time I´ll tell this story I will probably add that the condor was looking at me in the eyes and was laughing with his coldest laught that you only hear in the 50´s Hollywood movie.

Then the second part on my combination trip started right at this place around 8:00 AM.

A. my local guide, was waiting for me with 2 others partner in crime for the tricky-trekking. R. an english girl, and L, We all moved quickly in the same white mini-van to go to the bieggining of the trip: Cabanaconde. We started our trip down into the Cañon and walked like crazy till we riched the Oasis, and had the redemtion of the R. We walked more than 10 hours that day, and were amazed by all the differemt colours, plants, and others funny thing you can imagine. I will hope to upload some pictures one of these days, but nothing can explain the immensitude of the Scenery. Everyting was too bigfor my camera, and for my eyes as well. I felt ridiculously small and it flet good to be nothing. Along the way, we cross some local guys who were picking some plants on some cactus for colouring their masks for the next week festival. They scared me with their small sandals and their contortionist position to grab from the wall (yes a wall) what they need for thier dance. After grabbing what they needed, thet went down and use the direct line. I looked at how they handled their balance, and Rudolf Noureyev if it was not russian was certainly from Cabaconde. We eat at 6:30 and went to bed at 6:31. My cabin was close to the cascade that give the name of the Oasis at the bottom of the Cañon del Colca in the country of Peru on the planet earth. And I could not sleep until 9:00 PM local time even if I was tired and be able to handle my Soroche at 2000 meters :)

Day Tres
I was dreaming of a nice breakfast when my guide A. woke me up at 2:00 AM to start the trip back to the top of the Cañon. My feet were not responsive anymore and I had a long chat with them to convinced them to go back to my shoes. At that point we lost the english girl in this early battle and put her on a mula for her trek back. That was the last one available and I contemplated my flight back to the civilisation with a bitter envy over (once again) an fellow from the other side of the channel.
Anyway the trek back started with some delay due to my unability to wake up, and fight to fing my lamp. How could you start walking in the dark withour a lamp ! I took my batteries from my camera (no point of taking picture in the drak), and plug them in my only friend for the next 3 hours. But I did not knew that at teh time otehrwise I would have said something nice to them to help them help me.
At that point I need to tell you some characteristic of my guide A. He was during the entire life (17 years) a porter in this special valley. His job was to port fruits from the bottom of the Cañon to the top of the mountain. He used to do this basic camino every week at least 3 times. Saying that he knew that treek like his poncho is an euphemism. He was flying over the mountian and start a race with the other group we meet at the Oasis. That was for me the end of the fun.
I was marching, sorry running, on an Inka Trail at 3 in the morning swearing like a pig and sweeting like a dog (maybe it´s the opposite). We reach the top of the Cañon with one hour in advance on the schedule and waited for one hour in the freezing cold for the restaurant to open. Tell me somtime I don´t like too much testoterone in a macho country. that could be damaging for my extra ponds that I try to take care of for the last 5 years. We took in this order, a breakfast, a bus to Chivay, a bath at La Calinas again, a bus to Arequipa and a taxi to the hotel. I don´t really remember how I got tto the shower in the hostel but it felt very nice.

I fall asleep at 6:00 PM on that day, and had a new rulle to my Inka-Bible.
Rule 2: Never accept to do a night treeking!

My next trip was by plane to Cuzco the next day. I fall asleep thinking to myself if I should have asked the owner of the hotel in Arequipa to port me to the taxi the next day.

Joke of the day

Un hombre al otro:
Esta noche se va a hacer mucho frio, aquien dice que se va a hacer abaro zero.
El otro:
No para mi, se va a hacer abaro una !

Friday, June 09, 2006

Where were you during the opening game?

I was in Chivay (3700 meters above the sea level) watching the first half of the game. I was waiting for the bus on my way back to Arequipa from the Colca Trek. I watched up to 3-1 for Germany, and missed the next goals while in the bus at the highter point ever in my life: Mirador de los Andes at 4800 meters.

And you where were you?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Arequipa, Peru, Photos

Arequipa is a town full of colour and full of surprise.
This is the interior of a colonial mansion turned into a toursits trap.

The main activity on the Plaza de Armas.
I kind like this type of job somewhow

The lately open monastery. This is paradise for photographer, but you had to pay the equivalent of one week of living expensive. Wont really know what is inside, certainly it is full of none.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Arequipa, Perù

And the winner of the Pèruvian Election is ..... the corrupted.

It seems that Alan Garcia is the new president of Perù. I saw him on TV, and I have to say that he knows how to speak. He is a brilliant public speaker, and did probably skip the initial course at Toastmaster. I heard the news on my way to the bus station Sunday night, when the entire town of Nazca was silent to the point to heard a Condor flying. Then, suddenly, his name poped-up on all the Peruvian TV and it was .... nothing more than just a big silent. Actually the answer came later when I ask a guy at the bus station. Peruvian don´t care anymore about politics. For him both were assasin and corrupted. So what´s the point of voting then, except avoiding to pay a multa.

But the funny thing was hearing the Peruvian anthem hymn in the street at the end of the winner annoncement. It´s the French onw but in Spanish. THEY STOLE IT. They stole everything, uncluding a national anthem !!!

Anyway, I took my overnight ¨business¨bus to Arequipa, and spend 10 hours in a chiken bus full of Peruvian, no Tourist at all, stopping every other hour refuelling the ones who manage to escape from the bus when the bus slowed down. I finally reached my destination, totally broken, sleepless and I have a real reason, now, to hate buses. I am strating to publish officially my fisrt rule of the pre-Inkas trip: When transit, if it´s more than 7 hours of bus, take a plane or cut the bus trip. We will see how long I can stick to it. The sad thing was even if I managed hardly to secure a windwon seat, because it was an overnight bus, I could not see a thing outside, just felling a lot of turns and seeing the stars. At sunrise I discovered what I missed. A spectacular desrt like view and some amazing panoramic shots.

My bus trip was worth the pain when I dicovered the town I arrived. Arequipa is a university town in the middle of the Andes. The city has a colonial speen and due to the volcanique region it´s been developped in, the city is all white. Not only it has everything a tourist like to see around (bar, food, restaurant, shops, ...), but also its has the most amazing treeking trails you can think of. An American couple that I talk to, just came back from a 2 days trip to the Misti near by at 5822 meters. I won´t do it just by looking at their face, but if you want to have a good torture you can find something that will suit you.

I just spend the last 2 days in town recovering from my night bus trip, and get use to the altitude (2.300 meter above sea level - 7500 ft). I feel now the soroche, and drink a lot of water and Coca-Mate tea. It has a light green tea savor, and help you to heal the symptom.

I also booked a 3 days and 2 nights trip to ¨El Canon del Colca¨. I hope to tell you more about my trip when I am back. I booked as well my flight to Cuzco (55 minutes as opposed to 15 hours bus), and just follow my fisrt rule of the pre-inkas bible (see above).

Arequipa is so far the best city of Perù I had the chance to be in. Hope I have the time to post some pictures soon.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Nazca, Perú, Photos

NAzca Line are incredible to see and therefore talk about, but I´ll try anyway.

Amoung the millions of lines you can see from the sky, from time to time you can see very well the shape of a Inka animal.
Why is that here? I have no clue ... but if you have any idea, drop a comment ....

You can see a spider at the bottom of the picture

This is the spider

This is something for sure

The spider again

I have some more, but due to the pucking environemnet, the low light, and the bad photographer you wont be able to see much than grey lines on a grey soild ... better move here and see it by yourself

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Nazca, Perú

The famous lines of Nazca are unbelievable.

Noones knows what the lines are coming from but they are in the middle of the Peruvian desert, stuck between the magic mountains (Los Andes) and the (not so) Pacific Ocean. The Lines are drawn on many desertic plateau. Some lines are some sort of animals and some are whatever graphic design. Some says it`s a religious procession thing to invoke rain, some says it`s was to collect water, and some says it`s the proof that aliens came down on earth along time ago. Whatever you choose, you have to accept that this is facinating to see from a Cessna plane a monkey there or a dog here. My favourites was the giant Frigate Bird (around 300m). We were 5 plus the pilot and during 35 minutes we flew over some 15 plus drawings in the early hours of the day. I negociated with the tour operator the day before to be the co-pilot. Unfortunatly the weather was not as nice as I hoped but some pictures were taken, and hopefully soon been uploaded when time and technic permit.

Nazca is a small pueblo, and is full of people for at least 2 reasons: the market full of colour and the election full of anger. I will be very happy to see this election finished so that they could open the bars again. Although I found a hidden bar a through stone from the market, I might have to spend some time therem since I chec out from my hotel, and my bus is at 9 pm. So selfish for myself to think that way, but I promise you I compensae by telling you everything about my Peruvian Live South American Revolution.

My next destination is Arequipa by bus over the night. Hope I can make this trip. I never like buses and spending the night in one of them crossing the souh part of the Andes makes me thing that I am a bit of a rock and roll roader now. If I don`t like, I treat myself with a hot spring in Arequipa, and if I like the trip, I go for it anyway.

¡ Hasta la victoria (del Pisco) siempre !

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Pisco, Peru, Photos

This is the type of speed boat we used to get to the reserva

Later on we saw the Sign from the Piratas to find back their road whne full of ...... fish

Lomos del Mar waiting to turn brown under the sun

Friday, June 02, 2006

Pisco, Perú

Having a Pisco Sour at Pisco, it´s like having a Manhattan at Manhattan or a Cuba Libre at Miami. That was my destination for a couple of days, but before that let me tell you my last day in Lima.

On my way back to the Hotel, I decided to play it rock and roll, and take a collectivo en Limà. I asked 3 millions times Miraflores where I stayed, to the people who are dealing with the client, and end up in one of the most dangerous suburb of Lima: Flores. The lady who told me to get in the bus did not understood what I said !!! What a fool I made of myself. I took luckily a taxi back to the city center at sunset. Safe and happy :)

After my trip to the suburb of Lima, I decided to treat myself an watch in engles, The Da Vinci Code. What a bad story, but the movie theater was empty, big screen and large seat. I know why now, because the most important business in Peru is the DVD copy. EVERY street has the latest copy of EVERYTHING, including all the bollywood movies. All the kids are dancing and singing, even if they don´t understand it.

Finally, I finished after a day of transport, to Pisco. This is a small city close to the sea and the desert of Paracas. Not much to see except few shops and a Plaza del Arma. Funny like each city has its own Plaza de Arma. The next day I took a boat tour to watch some interesting animals (I am not talking about the tourist here). I watched some Sea Lions, Pelicanos, Flamingos, Cormorans and Pinguins, Yes Pinguins, Special ones in their summer clothes. It´s quite impressive to watch thousands and thousands of Cormorans fishing. They all strat in wave in dive in the ocean at almost the same time attacking the same anchoi. I call that a war !

The next thing was a sort of a trek (700 meters) to the cliff named La Catedral. Was cool to see what the coast is like till the end of Chile: desert diving in the ocean. I was very tiny in this ocean of colours. Went back to the hotel after a filet de pescado in the local fisherman village.

Spakling moments
  • Watching kids for the black community show their putting together later on the week. Beats and Pieces of music with some dance around. Stopped by few minutes untill they find out and asked me politly to leave the place.
  • Election is comming, next sunday. I spend the return of the boat trip having a crash course on the history of the Peruvian election with the guide. The question that Peruvian are facing is the following: Or the most corrup man of the last 30 years, worse than Fuyimori. Or a crazy military person supported by Hugo Chavez (one of his familiy member shoot 4 persons few month ago, and it was filmed).