Adventures in Peru

Well, let’s see, I haven’t blogged in basically forever, Christmas is around the corner, and we are still awaiting snow in Reno. Happy December to everyone, by the way. I’m trying to get my life back together, cut me some slack :P

I recently fled the States for Thanksgiving to a much warmer destination – Peru to be more specific. It was warm, sunny, exotic, and full of delicious food and great hiking. And then I returned home only to find that reality awaited with teeth bared, and an iron jaw like a vice. But that’s a tragedy for another time…

Travel is one of the things I’m most passionate about. Well, passion that lies behind triathlon, eating, movies, my dog and photography. But yes, travel is one of my favorite past-times. I love going off on my own, seeking new and wondrous adventures, strange lands, tasty food, spontaneity and an unplanned life that I normally do not lead at home.

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So in a nutshell, South America is great! I only have two continents left to get to, and frankly Antarctica may not be happening for a while, so I was very excited to jet down to Peru. For those who are geographically challenged, the west coast of Peru (in the Pacific ocean) is below Florida, so it is much further east than one might think.

I flew into Lima and wandered around for a day, but the core of my trip involved exploring the glories of Machu Picchu and the surrounding area. I don’t really know how else to emphasize this, but seriously, go see Machu Picchu! It’s easily one of the greatest and most impressive things I’ve ever seen, second only to the Coliseum in Rome (in my humble, world-traveling opinion).  The Coliseum only gets the one-up because it starts the carnal rampages associated with gladiators, animal performances, outdoor combatants, the Roman empire, weaponry, and other masculine things. But I digress… I spent seven hours hiking, exploring, poking, prodding, and wandering around Machu Picchu and only barely had my fill. I went in the off-season of touristy things, and still by lunchtime it was swamped with annoying amounts of human beings crowding the walkways and heavenly spaces so high up in the foggy mountains.

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“They” estimate that Machu Picchu would cost a cool $1B in modern USD. That’s no amount to sneeze at. It’s truly inspiring to see a city, literally carved out of stone, 10,500 feet up in the air, surrounded by the grand, sweeping mountains that could inspire a thousand novels with their beauty and majesty. It was one of my favorite experiences of the year and I’m so glad I went! My pictures don’t do it justice, but they do stir up very fond memories.

The other highlight from my South American adventure was Islas de Ballestas, otherwise known as the poor man’s Galapagos. I leaped out of bed at 3:00 am to catch a four hour bus to the town of Paracas, which was the launching point for the day’s adventures. A two hour boat ride took us past pelicans, exotic birds, sea lions bathing in sunlight, and a whole host of marine life such as bright crabs, radiant starfish, and a monstrous glyph engraved in the mountainside. It was Sea World but in the wild, and a truly wondrous experience. What a joy to see so many cool creatures in their normal habitat!

IMG_0142_1Peruvians are wonderfully happy people. They seem to appreciate life for what it is – a grand adventure, not something to be wasted restricted to a desk only seeing the world in 40 hour a week chunks. They have a true appreciation for good food, family and friends, natural wonders found nowhere else in the world, and they grasp those opportunities as often as possible. Also, their planes are in tip-top shape, and their buses are a luxury that makes Greyhound look like a transportation company operating in the 3rd world. Their cars, however, are in poor, decrepit condition, although that is irrelevant because traffic rules simply don’t apply. Ever. I have never seen police authority ignored so blatantly. No one seems to care that their blinkers or sirens are on, and it’s hilarious :-) Also, the rules are out the window after 1 AM. They’re just irrelevant. What isn’t hilarious, is the many moments of terror that are experiences as a pedestrian. At best, you can count on everyone running red lights. At the worst, there may be cars coming up and over the curb in your general direction. It was an experience, however terrifying, but it was all part of the fun of experiencing foreign culture.

It’s true, I missed being home for Thanksgiving. I didn’t get turkey or stuffing or delicious pumpkin pie, but my adventure gave me a fun sense of exploration, and needed alone time. Much to my disappointment, my dog wasn’t all that excited to see me … can’t say I blame her. She was living like a queen as I was off gallivanting on my own. That’s all for now!

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