Hurricanes can be destructive, obtrusive, and tremendously intimidating. But for us there used to be no stopping us from exploring the lovely united states of america of Peru in early October 2009. Not even in the wake of a hurricane.
We packed up our entire luggage and survival gear and our buddy Mike drove us from our domestic base of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario to the Hilton in Buffalo, New York the night time earlier than our flight. Expecting a very early morning and an extremely long 2 weeks, we hit the sack proper away. In the morning we ventured throughout the avenue to the Buffalo International Airport and waited for our plane. Eventually we received on the jet before daybreak and commenced our flight. We had a short stopover in Atlanta. Now, for these of you who haven’t been to the Atlanta airport, you’ve got most sincerely received to test it out. It’s huge! Not solely is it a big airport however all of the terminals are connected the use of a subway system. I guess if you are from a large metropolis where this is common, it is now not such a large deal, but for us it was absolutely cool. It used to be stormy outside so we simply travelled on the subway between terminals taking a seem at all of the cool displays whilst ready for our subsequent flight.
We arrived late that nighttime in Lima, Peru and our first order of business after getting thru all of the protection and baggage checks was to go choose up our vehicle. We rented a small guide Suzuki SUV. Technically it may want to seat 5 people. But realistically, after we packed it up with our gear, it may want to only seat about 2 persons. Luckily, there were solely two of us. How perfect. At this point it was once 2am.
The airport parking lot funneled us into a very eerie part of town. The roads have been all gravel and the there used to be no distinction, apart from random accelerated dust piles and grass, between the road, the boulevard, the sidewalk and the adjoining buildings. Speaking of the adjoining buildings, most of them had been closed and boarded up. Those that have been open were extremely nicely accented with neon lights and surround purchase loitering hoodlums. It was once truly a vicinity that we wished to get out of. As Pat sped through all of the red lights, I guided him out of the metropolis using the GPS on my Blackberry. Eventually we made it onto the predominant highway. After driving for about an hour, and passing via some now not so welcoming towns (at least that is what they seemed like at night), we hit our first toll booth. We paid the toll with anything soles our pal from Canada surpassed on, and were on our way. When we arrived at the 2d toll booth, well, we didn’t have sufficient money. We provided to pay in American dollars, as that was once usually k in South American countries, however the clerk would not accept. We backed up the automobile to the place we saw a police officer directing traffic and asked him for help. He stated that there was no way that they had been going to receive American dollars and that this “wasn’t Columbia”. Awesome! Just what we desired to hear. So what did we do? We couldn’t drive backwards due to the fact we had been too low on fuel to seem for a location that was once open late. Those that were shut sufficient have been closed. So we just pulled over and slept till sunrise.
We woke up the next morning at the crack of sunrise with a local couple knocking on our window making an attempt to sell us potatoes. Peru has almost 3,000 types of potatoes! I wager mashed, baked and French fried, simply wasn’t reducing it for them. We with courtesy refused and became round and drove to an open gas station where we took some money from a financial institution desktop and headed onwards. As we drove north alongside the coast in the sunshine all we could think about we just getting to our destination. The quick sleep in the car was once painful. To our sudden surprise, a police officer jumped out of the bushes and pulled us over. Perfect! Just what we wanted! He began giving us the enterprise about rushing even though we honestly weren’t rushing ample to justify this. I’ve been in this situation earlier than and I knew what to do. Just fake like I do not comprehend what he is saying. Pat was not as fluent in Spanish as I so he was once absolutely misplaced to what the officer was once ranting about. I knew that he desired us to pay him $50 on the spot. After about 40 minutes of bartering I gave him $7 dollars and a affordable two dollar pen. He seemed happy. And we, well, we have been returned on the road.
Still our first day in Peru, we have been getting into the mountain vary which until now, we had solely seen from a distance. The mountains were empty and desolate with no vegetation and even much less life. Once in a whilst we drove through a small shack and a stray pig however there was once no one around. “Creepy” used to be an understatement.
Our vacation spot was once Huarez, a small (or so we thought) town in the Andes. The directions to our hostel we easy and very straight forward. All we had to do was locate the essential town rectangular and go 2 blocks north. Easy! Right? No way! This location has a populace of over 200,000 and they do not construct their structures up. They construct out. So now we were lost. Huarez was buzzing with people and undertaking and all of the roads had been under construction. We referred to as the man imparting us the hostel, which used to be also going to be our biking guide, Julio, for the afternoon, and requested for help. We tried to describe the place we were, but no longer even he knew. So what did we do… nicely we sort of just sat there in silence and simply tried to take a breather. We were tired. We drove into city and tried to locate a fundamental intersection the place Julio may want to locate us. Pat pulled over the car. While every person honked and yelled at him, I ran out and referred to as Julio again. He was once coincidentally just passing by. We jumped into the automobile and observed him to our hostel. When all used to be stated and done, it was once no longer previous 7pm and we had missed our mountain biking tour. We unpacked, showered, and went out for a rapid bite to eat. Our first chew to devour actually. Then we hit the sack. Hard!
The next morning we woke with some discontent in our coronary heart but nonetheless keen to take this us of a on. We packed up our bikes and Julio took us out to the pinnacle of the Cordillera Blanca just beneath the snow line. There, we met up with a pal of ours that we made the night time before, Matt from Philadelphia, and began our descent. The mountain biking in this component of Peru was surely beautiful. The vegetation was sparse and the trails had been every now and then hard to see however the views had been breathtaking. Steep ridges lined each sides of the trail as we descended into the valley. Once at the bottom we biked along an old authentic Inca path that lead us proper thru a town, where stray puppies and pigs chased us, and again onto the mountains. The trails had been pretty handy and downward slopping cross-country single tracks. Speed was what we got here for and that is what we got.
Upon returning to our hostel, we clearly showered, packed up, grabbed a banana from the the front desk and went on our way. We drove all night time through the wilderness closer to the town of Nazca. We did end to refuel and munch on some crackers we bought from the gasoline station. They washed down properly with some nearby Inka Cola! But we had to get returned on the road. We had plans in the morning.
When we arrived in Nazca it was once about 2:30am. The town was, again, a ghost city and our hostel used to be closed. What to do? Well we simply stood outdoor our hostel and referred to as and called and called till any person answered. Finally our host came down and welcomed us with open arms. We drove to any other property and woke that owner so he could let use into his storage to park our car. Once the car was parked, we went lower back to our hostel and fell asleep immediately, solely to be woken up forty five minutes later for our huge hike.
A 20 minute force thru the darkish at 4am to our beginning factor was once painful. The car stopped and we received out and commenced to hike. Up and over some boulders and rocks we went. Eventually the sun broke over the horizon and the warmth hit us. four hours and 7 kilometers later we made it to the pinnacle of the world’s tallest sand dune. Cerro Blanco was once the beast we had just conquered. It simply dwarfed the other surrounding mountains. This is the place we have been capable to revel in or reward for this climb. We waxed our boards and sand boarded down the dune. Contrary to famous trust it used to be in reality pretty difficult. Because of the coarse nature of the sand, the boards had to be waxed each hundred meters or so. This was once true due to the fact carving used to be impossible, so it gave us an probability to realign ourselves. It used to be fun, however hot and tiresome. Eventually after a few hours, we received to the backside and had to hike for every other hour to the road. With little extra than one nights sleep and two full meals due to the fact that we left Buffalo, the biking and sand boarding used to be about to do us in. Pat had warmness stroke and was once parched. I was once exhausted. We had been each burnt from the sun and we were out of water. Our trip was an hour late. We found refuge from the blazing solar in about one foot of coloration solid via the remaining basis of an historical wasteland shack. Death felt immanent as tumbleweeds rolled with the aid of and the theme to “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” repeated thru our heads. We had our neighborhood information flag down a police officer and we convinced him to setup a avenue check. These are very common in Peru so he had little hassle with this. Then the officer pulled over a pickup truck and instructed them that the regulation required them to drive us back to our hostel! Amazing!
We got again to our hostel and packed up our equipment and had a quick piece of toast with our hosts and hit the avenue again. This was once getting tough. Our vacation spot was once Arequipa and our graph was to be there for 11pm so that we should climb to the top of El Misti volcano, almost 6,000 meters above sea level, via the night. As we drove south alongside the coast, we went through some fabulous fishing villages and managed to get some incredible pix next to the Pacific. As the sun started to set Pat made the choice that he used to be in no situation to climb the volcano. This was once comprehensible giving his physical breakdown in the desert. I wanted to do it though. I exceeded the steerage wheel over to Pat and began to pack up my gear for the rock climbing expedition. We have been jogging late however we called and satisfied the guide to wait until 12am for me.
As we entered Arequipa, the one-way roads obtained exceptionally complicated and we had to pull a few u-turns. This is the place the police caught Pat again. No u-turns in Peru. This time they asked Pat to get out of the automobile and certainly gave him the business. Eventually after a long time we had paid off the officers once more for barely greater than the first time and went on our way. Unfortunately it used to be too late. Our guide had left and we ignored our El Misti climb. It was once a sad second however on the plus side, we had been able to in the end sleep!
In the morning we woke up rested and rejuvenated. First issue on our minds was meals and beer. We rushed off to a nearby restaurant in Arequipa where we ate alpaca meat and guzzled beer. Boy was once it even fantastic. We took a walk round the city, which used to be beautiful, some neighborhood cathedrals, and even a convent, and then jumped right again into the next restaurant. We ordered the largest and most high priced connoisseur meal they had on their menu. It was solely $8 USD! We feasted on seafood all day and then went lower back to our hostel and hung out with some different travelers from Australia and Europe, while sharing bottles and bottles of wine!
In the morning we commenced our pressure to Puno. We stopped off in Juliaca really by way of accident. This town was a mess. There used to be visitors and pedestrians and trains and the entirety else you can think about all over the place. It used to be in reality no longer a location for motorists so we used our Blackberry GPS, bought out, and kept going. We arrived in Puno late that evening and as soon as again, couldn’t find the traditional “two blocks north of the major square” hostel. But in the end we located it and moved our stuff in. We had a quick chunk to devour and walked thru the downtown and then went to sleep. The subsequent upcoming few days had been going to be tough!
We have been picked up early in the morning by means of a bus that took us to the facet of Lake Titicaca. We boarded a speed boat with some fellow Canadians and zipped off to the Uros. These are floating islands made definitely of reeds. Each island homes a few aboriginal families and there are over forty of these islands. We hung out at the islands and learned about their way of life and how they survive. These Peruvian humans were extremely darkish skinned. The cause being is that Lake Titicaca is the tallest lake in the world at over 12,000 toes above sea level. The sun sincerely burns you to a crisp. In fact, my nostril got burnt so badly that day that I had a big scab on my face for the rest of the trip. But it really is okay; I without a doubt wanted to seem to be like Rudolph in all my photos. Don’t let this fool you though, due to the fact it used to be nevertheless genuinely cold at that height regardless of the excessive sun. When we had been finished at the Uros, our boat peeled off to Taquile Island where the rest of the group went for a hike. Pat and I, of course, did it high octane style and rented some sea kayaks and kayaked around this mother of an island. It was once a blast however it used to be also difficult work. There was a small hut on a bluff overlooking the lake. We pulled our kayaks up and had a clean fish meal with the locals before meeting up with the relaxation of the crew to head back to Puno.
As quickly as we made it again to Puno, you guessed it; we showered, packed and obtained on the street again! This time our destination was once to skip safely thru Juliaca again and arrive in Cusco. It was nighttime, and our friends lower back home had been celebrating Canada’s biggest Bavarian festival, Oktoberfest. We never pass over it. But this yr we have been on our way to Machu Picchu.
Upon arriving in Cusco, it was now typical to expect that we would not be able to locate our hostel as predicted. Ding Ding Ding! We had been correct. As quickly as we pulled into the downtown we simply pulled up subsequent to a neighborhood and asked him if we ought to comply with him to our hostel. We arrived safely, parked the car, woke the attendant to test us in and have been in mattress via 2am.
That morning at 4am, Jimmy, our information picked us up for the 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. We picked up four different hikers and then drove to the base city where we had breakfast, loaded up on coca leaves and began our hike. As the regulation requires, we had to go with a licensed tour provider. We selected a corporation called United Mice. They were fantastic. The information was extremely good and the porters were very beneficial and polite. They carried all of our food and napping arrangements. All we carried on our very own was once our clothing, which there was very little of, and water.
We commenced our hike superb early so that we should get a head begin on the other tour groups. This was once a exceptional idea because that way our trek was once staggered from the other trail site visitors and we have been capable to take care of half of the 2nd day’s challenging hike on the first day.
Our first day of trekking was fairly straight forward. It was once cold and wet and we basically just walked. We socialized with the others in our trekking team and then did a bit of uphill tough trekking closer to the end. We camped out and woke early to continue. The 2nd day used to be tons more grueling. I was all straight uphill. So steep that it even acquired to the point of having steps rather of simply a slope. We reached the very best factor of our trek at “Dead Woman’s Pass”. It was cold and windy at this pinnacle so we put on some warmer equipment and loved some rum while watching all of the different trekkers go through thru what we had simply done.
Onward and upward, we descended and then ascended once more to our first full Inca ruin. It used to be a definitely cool component to stroll thru this historical building and see how and the place the humans of long in the past used to live. We heard some ghost tales that would soon hold us wakeful all night, and then we moved ahead to our 2nd campsite. This campsite was once really fantastic. It used to be perched proper on a cliff aspect with the entire mountain vary outdoor of our door for us to see in the morning.
On the 0.33 day we solely trekked for half of a day. The first part of the day was pretty popular trekking downhill over greater than 7,000 historic Inca steps. This portion of the path used to be now at a lower altitude and so the desolate mountains grew to be a lush jungle that was crammed with babbling brooks and littered with shiny wildlife. For the latter 1/2 of the trek we stopped at a rest camp that had been constructed for the tourist. There were showers, and even a bar to have a few beers. This ended early for us due to the fact day after today used to be going to be the large day!
We woke early in the morning to beat the rush and started out our climb to the Sun Gate. This used to be a challenging climb and it was almost directly vertical. When we bought to the Sun Gate, which is a wreck in the mountains, we waited patiently for the sunrise. As the rest of the agencies arrived, the sun cracked thru the clouds, over the Sun Gate and onto what would be Machu Picchu. However, the morning fog made it not possible for us to see this historic Inca city. Most of the groups gave up and endured to stroll down toward Machu Picchu, however we knew persistence used to be a virtue. We waited and waited and ultimately the sun cracked down and over the mountains and lighted up the holy grail of Peru.
With awestricken eyes we watched and then descended into the town snapping images everywhere. When we bought into the city, just like any different tourist, our guide gave us a very informative tour and bid his farewells leaving us with 9 hours to explore on our own. The history and the structure of this city used to be benevolent beyond words.
We caught a bus down from Machu Picchu to Gringo City and had some dinner with our fellow trekkers and perused the net for a bit before catching a train returned to Cusco. The educate truely stopped in the center of nowhere and we had to locate cabs back to town, which would have generally been fairly difficult, however we managed to get thru with some fluent Spanish speakme pals we had made.
The next morning we loved the day with some sightseeing in Cusco. But, we ran into some problems. We had some big issues with our rental vehicle and had to get rid of it. So by the time we had known as the condominium agency and worked things out and had the car picked and had our flights from Cusco to Lima purchased, it used to be dinner time. We had an incredible adventure for dinner. Generally we observed a neighborhood that took us into a restaurant off the overwhelmed route where we loved some Cuy and Chicha. We shared the rest of the nighttime with some tremendous British friends we made on the Inca trail and then grew to become in for the night.
For most human beings this is the place the time out would have ended. Not for us. The next morning we started our trek into the Amazon. This was a long one. We bought into a cargo van with some other tourists (none of which spoke a common language so communication was once difficult) and began an eight hour force into the Manu Amazon rainforest. Along the way into the Amazon we stopped at a neighborhood village to pick out up some freshly baked jungle bread. We also stopped at the coca plantation and a pineapple plantation where our information informed us about the value of these assets to the nearby jungle people.
Our next two days in the jungle remain incredibly of a blur to me as I used to be getting extraordinarily tied by way of this point of the trip. I recall doing some whitewater rafting on the jungle rivers. We started rafting down a very easy river which in the end merged with a very muddy river. The rapids with roughly classification 2 rapids so it was once rarely adrenaline pumping, but it used to be a accurate chance for us to see the jungle for the water. We spent a night at a jungle resort that was once totally open concept. This means that our beds were included in worm nets and in the morning we awakened to the sound of our neighbors snoring to such an extent that I idea Pat was once getting mauled by way of a puma. Don’t ask why. There we continually some fascinating bugs on our nets in the morning as well.
We took a velocity boat deeper into the Amazon to every other resort the place we have been primarily based out of. Here we did some extraordinary jungle hikes at night to see some venomous spiders and bats and different night crawlers as properly as did some pretty cool zip lining and rappelling. We completed the day with a suitable jug of freshly squeezed big name fruit juice. What a treat from the humidity and warmth in the jungle. In the morning we took a boat out to a macaw clay lick to see the lovely feathered fury licking away earlier than heading back eight hours to Cusco.
Upon our arrival again at Cusco, we went out on the town to toast away a first-rate trip. In the morning we headed to the airport to catch a home flight from Cusco to Lima. Our flight, as well as the subsequent three flights used to be in no way called to board. Eventually we got onto a airplane 1 hour before the airport closed. However, as the taxi was once pulling the airplane out onto the runway, it ripped off the front wheel. Great! Maybe we would have been better off with the automobile we had returned. Nevertheless, they kept the airport open for us while they despatched some other aircraft from Lima to pick out us up and fly us again to Lima.
We landed in Lima late in the evening and simply sat and waited for our flight lower back to Canada. To our dismay, we saw the information and realized we would be flying returned to Canada via but every other Hurricane! I love this stuff!