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No more 20+ hour bus rides!

13 Nov

WOW. It was one interesting and very LONG journey, but we are finally back in Lima, Peru. The 2500 Km journey up the Pacific coast was painful, but we managed. We took a 4 hour flight that had 2 stops all the way up to Arica, in Northern Chile. I’ve never been on a plane that landed and took off three times before – let alone in just 4 hours, so that was an experience.

Once we got into Arica, we took a shuttle to our hostel and slept for 8 hours, ate breakfast and caught another taxi to the international bus station. When we got out of the taxi, there were a bunch of men asking us if we wanted to go to Tacna. It’s really common to take a shared taxi with strangers across the border, so we got the best price and Stef and I squeezed into a car with 3 other people plus the driver. Not particularly comfortable, but it only took 1.5 hours to drive to Tacna and the border crossing went smoother than if we were in a bus. Continue reading

Ciao Argentina, Hello again Chile!

10 Nov

Mendoza, Argentina Vineyard

I haven’t realized how long it’s been since posting. In the last week, Stefanie and I have taken one 18 hour bus ride, drank too much red wine, took another 7 hour bus ride, crossed the border into Chile, explored Santiago, met up with some friends from Peru and booked a flight to Northern Chile. I’ll start from the beginning… Continue reading

Photo Update – Cusco!

10 Sep

Our seat, table, bed for 21 hours from Lima to Cusco, Peru

My first time trying coca tea. They have bagged varieties as well as loose leaves.

Our first glimpse of Cusco, Peru. It was pretty dusty.

Continue reading

Cusco at 3400 metres!

7 Sep

We arrived in Cuzco early Saturday morning after a grueling 21 hour bus ride from Lima. The ‘puke bus’ was true to its name and a few people were quite sick throughout the journey. Thankfully with the help of two doses of anti-nausea and a lot of water, Stefanie and I managed to avoid vomiting – although there were a few close calls. To pass the time, I watched 4 movies, played Bingo and slept and then FINALLY we reached our destination.

Our first day in Cuzco was spent napping, reading, and drinking coca tea. Coca tea is nature’s remedy for altitude sickness, headaches, temperature sensitivity (it’s cold here!) and pretty much anything else. Coca tea is brewed from the same plant they make cocaine from – so, apparently if we need to take a drug test anytime soon… we’ll fail! You don’t experience any sort of ‘high’ though. We’re also drinking plenty of water.

By nightfall, I was feeling much better and had a great night’s rest. Stef, on the other hand, was vomiting all night. Poor girl. It took her an extra day to adjust, but she is feeling much better now. I feel pretty weak and tired, but the fresh air is quite nice. Walking around Cuzco will take your breath away – literally! Continue reading

Landing in Lima, Peru

3 Sep

ruins near Miraflores (Lima), Peru

I made it safe and sound. Stefanie and I arrived in Lima’s airport at around 10pm. It was late so we decided to order a taxi from our hostel to pick us up. They had a sign with my name on it and everything. I felt special! So, we met up with our driver and hit the streets of Lima. It was pretty flashy – there was even a fire dancer in the middle of the street. I was actually surprised about how cosmopolitan it felt.

I am staying in Miraflores, which is a safer, more upscale neighbourhood of Lima. It’s near the beach and has a cute park in the middle where vendors sell popcorn and children play. I really enjoy the area. It’s very friendly and familial- although someone did ask me if I wanted ‘blow’ which I politely declined and continued on my merry way with a little more speed than usual.

Stefanie standing next to the life-size replicas at the ruins

I didn’t have any major plans for our stay here. The reception recommended some ruins within walking distance – so I decided to checked it out. The site was very interesting and I definitely recommend it. Basically, an ancient civilization (before the Incas and Mayans) built temples where they would perform rituals and human sacrifices and worship the moon and ocean. Every 20 years, they would cover the temples and build a new one over it. The temples are solid throughout – no rooms or passage ways. They are very common in Lima, but this particular Waccah (I think that’s the correct spelling) began being excavated in the 1980s. Before that, it was simply a hill in the middle of the city. These people were very small compared to modern day humans. They were so tiny, I felt like a giant standing next to the life-size replica.

On the way back, I walked by a house with makeshift barbed wire (i.e. cement layer on top of a concrete fence with shards of glass bottles sticking out from it) If that won’t deter a robber, I don’t know what will!

Today, I tried tampales for lunch. We bought them at the grocery store because Stefanie said she had tried one back in Costa Rica. They are made of meat, corn and other ingredients and then wrapped in banana leaves. You are suppose to boil them, but our reception recommended we just microwave them – so we did and they were terrible. Never again! The chicken was actually decent, but the orange mush was NOT. I threw the rest in the garbage and ate a chocolate bar to last me until dinner, but that was also a disaster so we decided to just give up and eat out. We went to this diner-style sandwich shop with fresh fruit smoothies. YUM! It was a wise choice.

Lima ruins (old meets new)

Now, I’m  just taking it easy at the hostel. I think I’m going to try some Pisco Sours tonight – Peru’s signature drink. Tomorrow, I am leaving for Cusco – a 21 hour bus ride through the Andes and up, up, up! I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

13 days before South America

19 Aug

I am one day past the two week mark. I am becoming more excited, but nervousness keeps creeping in. It’s not like I am completely new to this whole travel thing (as I’m sure you can tell), but every destination is different – every situation is novel. So, I guess I’ll have to embrace this feeling with an open heart and get a move on things.

I am trying to upload my Europe photos to Flickr, but for some reason, it doesn’t want to play nice and keeps shutting down my iPhoto. If there is anyone who can help out, it would be MUCH appreciated!

Stefanie has been in Toronto all week and we’ve been going over possible itineraries for our backpacking stint in South America. It took some blood, sweat and tears – well, maybe not tears but DEFINITELY sweat (from no A/C) and blood (due to a bike accident) to get a super duper awesome destination list going. I’m sure you’re all excited to read it! This isn’t in order, but is listed by country to make things a little bit easier. I linked some fun photos as well.

Lima / Miraflores,
Cuzco & Sacred Valley
Puno & Lake Titicaca
La Huacachina
La Paz
Rurrenabaque (Amazon Basin)
Potosi (Highest city in the world)
Uyuni (salt flats)
San Pedro de Atacama (driest desert in the world)
Puerto Iguazu
Buenos Aires

I’m also thinking about traveling through Patagonia in Argentina to see some marine life, but I’m not entirely sure where to go between Buenos Aires and Santiago. I have about two weeks to get from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Lima, Peru, so there is room to take some interesting side trips and wander. I’ll be updating a few more times before leaving – so stay tuned!!!

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