Joined July 2015 Message
  • Day16

    Puno -23 to 24 July 2015

    July 24, 2015 in Peru ⋅ 🌧 17 °C

    So we decide to take a night bus to Puno...we left at around 1030 at night and arrived in Puno at around 5 am. We both took some sleeping pills, but the bus was so cold that neither one of us were able to get much sleep. We had even paid a little more for the first class section....the ticket costing the equivalent of about $20 American.

    So we arrive at 5 am and since Jaime is morally opposed to using the bathroom on the bus...and since we both didn't sleep well...we were fair game for the tour agency that leeched on to us when we got off the bus. Turns out that it worked out really well because there was a day tour of Lake Titicaca that left at 7 am....so we signed up for it and it was a great day, even though we were both exhausted.

    We took a boat out of the harbor and visited one of the floating islands. The natives have used the reeds to build floating islands for centuries and we got to walk around on one and even took a tour in a reed boat. We talked with the 'president' of the island for a bit and he explained that about 20 people lived in the island and usually about 4 or 5 families live there. After our chat, we l left for another island.

    This other island was natural and we got to hike up to the top and have lunch. We got to walk around that island a bit and learn more about the people and the native plants.

    Turns out the lake is the 2nd largest in South America and the 19th largest in the world. It's at a very high altitude so walking up to the top of the island definitely made the lungs burn.

    On the return voyage, Jaime and Keith postulated on the likelihood that the people on the floating islands...didn't actually live on the floating islands. These two naturally cynical humans watched the islands where there was so much activity earlier and found a lone human sitting on the island. Also, while there were two boats (with outboard motors) on the island earlier, only one remained. This could have been a guard left behind or the others could have been in the huts...who really knows....

    Regardless, Jaime and Keith felt obligated to discuss their theory with the other passengers. The other passengers and tourists were taken aback and couldn't understand why the islanders wouldn't actually live there. When the monetary benefits were broken down for them, they too questioned whether or not the islands were truly still inhabited...

    We tried to take naps during the boat ride portions and we're back at the dock around 530 pm. We met a cool Brazilian couple and we talked with them about Brazil and they were the first to mention that there was a strike on the Peru side....it turns out that it wasn't really a strike so much as the smugglers in that part of Peru were tired of the police cracking down on them and they wanted to prove a point. Luckily for us, we were able to buy a bus ticket and left on schedule. We left Puno at around 7 in the morning and headed to La Paz, Bolivia....
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  • Day12

    Cusco and Machu Picchu - 18 to 21 July

    July 20, 2015 in Peru ⋅ 🌙 4 °C

    So picking up where we left off....

    We flew out of Chiclayo at around 11 ish at night and landed in Lima around 1230 in the morning. We immediately tried to find a place to sleep in the airport as our flight to Cusco didn't leave till 630. We found a 'quiet' spot where we could stretch out and immediately Jaime was asleep. For people who have read previous posts, this is not surprising. Unfortunately for Keith, shortly after we laid down, a Peruvian construction worker thought it would be appropriate to start up his rip saw...that lasted a few hours. Shockingly, Jaime slept through the whole thing and had no recollection....

    So we land in Cusco with a couple things on our to-do list. First and foremost, we needed a hostel. Second, we needed a tour/plan/way to get to Machu Picchu. So we get online in a coffee shop in the airport and find a hostel with a room. Unfortunately, once we got there, they told us they didn't have a room...for the uniformed, the elevation in Cusco is ridiculous and you get out of breath just by walking up a flight of stairs....oh, and the whole town has steps. It's crazy....so after the first hostel, Jaime decided that she would wait where she was and allow Keith the privilege of finding a good substitute...which he did...after about 30 minutes....most of that time was spent catching his breath.

    Now that we had our hostel, we then needed to figure out how to get to Machu Picchu....it is as this point in the story that I need to take a detour...

    So...there's no polite way to say this, but due to unanticipated consequences in the past, Keith may or may not have a general idea of when certain hormonal changes take place with an unnamed travel companion. With this in mind, Keith knew that the Cusco/Machu Picchu portion of the trip was fraught with peril....this was why he advocated for paying more for a tour that would take care of all the details...it would cut down on stress and make everything 'much easier' (this is what we call foreshadowing)...

    So we go to the tour agency and get a tour that included transportation, hike, hostel, 3 meals, tix to Machu Picchu and a guide. What could go wrong right???? Well, allow me to tell you....

    Another flawless segue first....
    Hormones, much like the struggle, are real. They exist....and they truly are unexplainable....and as a dude that mainly grew up in a household of dudes, Keith was unequipped in these circumstances...

    Ok, here we go...so we wake up early the morning of the 19th so we can catch a 7 hour bus ride to the Hydroelectric Station, so we can hike the 12 km to Agua Caliente, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. Jaime now refers to this drive as her 'hell/nightmare'. Jaime was already tired because Keith, as perfect as he usually is, set the alarm for an hour too early.....which led to Jaime not getting sufficient rest. It was at this point, Keith should have realized that the day would be a long one (this is what we call an understatement)...

    So I'm just going to hit the high points and move on...mainly because I'm not entirely sure we're allowed to laugh about this yet....

    So according to Jaime, the driver drove too fast for the road and almost killed us, the hike from the hydroelectric station was too long and Keith either walked too fast or too slow, Keith also did not property pay attention to what Jaime was saying because in spite of the fact that we were able to hike along a beautiful river in the beautiful Andes mountains on the way to Machu Picchu, whatever Jaime was talking about way more important than whatever Keith wanted to see. Once we arrived in the town, we were given a room that directly conflicted with what the tour agency told us (and then told we didn't have a choice), the room had no toilet paper, and in a town named 'Hot Water'...there was none. Keith was also negligent in not fixing all of the above complaints in a timely manner. Not only that, but Jaime received some bad news from home and tears joined the mix. All in all, it was what the Army calls 'an opportunity to excel'...Sadly, Keith did not excel on that day....

    But friends and family....20 July was a new day. We woke up, hopped on a bus and 20 minutes later we were at Machu Picchu. It really was a cool day. We explored the ruins and walked out to the Sun Gate. All told, we walked uphill most of the day and saw some great views. We also took hundreds of pics. Some of which we'll try to share.

    We decided to ditch the tour guide pretty early on because he liked to ask rhetorical questions and wait 30 seconds for an answer. We also had a train to catch and didn't have time for such nonsense. Well, that was Keith's reason. By the time that decision was made, Jaime had already wandered off multiple times. She apparently isn't a fan of telling Keith where she is going, but Keith had quickly learned that he can find her gushing over the nearest animal. In this case, they were alpacas...(think llamas)...on one occasion, Keith actually wishes he had taken a pic of Jaime when he found her, it would probably been the best pic of the day. She was so happy that she got to touch the animals...it's weird, we flew thousands of miles to a place thousands of years old and all Jaime wanted was a petting zoo. Keith's nerves didn't understand this at all...especially since he is aware of multiple petting zoos back in the states.

    So after we were done, we hopped on a train back to the Hydroelectric Station where we could get another bus/glorified van back to Cusco. The return trip was not as terrifying for Jaime, but it was equally uncomfortable as she couldn't sleep. She also made sure Keith was aware of her discomfort...these notifications were frequent.

    We spent the next day recovering and in the Internet cafe trying to figure out how we would deal with the real world once we returned to it...we also tweaked our trip plans a little.

    At one point, Keith grew tired of sitting in the Internet cafe and had to visit the bano...he sets off with Jaime on the computer. Apparently, Peruvians treat dudes who are by themselves differently than when they are accompanied. In this case, in a span of 5 minutes, Keith was offered marijuana, cocaine, and a 'happy ending'. Jaime was amused by this information and wanted to embarrass Keith by inquiring about the details....luckily for all parties, this discussion never took place.

    Keith and Jaime made plans to head to Puno and Lake Titicaca the next day...more information on how that goes later....
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  • Day9

    Guayaquil to Chiclayo - 16 July 2015

    July 17, 2015 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Keith had a rough night so I volunteered to write the blog today...really it's because I knew it would be short and I wouldn't have to expend too much effort. So we arrived in Guayaquil around noon and took a short taxi ride over to the bus station to sort out our bus to Chiclayo. After a painful run in with nearly every bus company in Ecuador we finally found a company that would take us to Peru. Once our tickets were figured out we decided we did not have enough time to go exploring so we used our day to catch up on emails and obligations in the bus stations Internet cafe .

    We spent the day bouncing back and forth from the super mercado (grocery store) to the Internet cafe so of course by the time we got on the bus Keith's nerves were shot and he was what I like to call a "grumpy muffin."

    While waiting for our bus to depart I watched a man who appeared to be having a heart attack clean his ears out with a small item and then proceed to clean his teeth with the same small item... I of course was disgusted and was describing play by play actions to Keith who did not seem to share the same fascination I did of this unsanitary/gross individual. We headed out to Chiclayo around 1030pm and with the help of a sleeping pill I was out... Keith on the other hand could not sleep... so naturally I had the privilege of hearing all about it when I woke up two hours outside of Chiclayo. Keith then made the mistake of using the bus restroom where when he flushed, the toilet had the opposite effect and urine (probably of all Chiclayo bus attendees ) sprayed up all over Keith. So Keith at that point was treated as a leper until we arrived in Chiclayo and got a hostel for him to shower.

    We made the most of our day in Chiclayo and walked the city visiting the parks and local markets. We had a lovely dinner at a restaurant we inadvertently stumbled upon. It was probably one of the better meals we have had so far and in total only cost us about 15 usd. We are now at the airport waiting for our flight to Cusco and Keith is actively stressing because he thinks our flight is late and can't understand the messages over the intercom. Looks like it may be another night of "grumpy muffin Keith"....I miss "vacation Keith!!"

    Keith rebuttal: I miss vacation Keith as well. I'm pretty sure he will make another appearance as soon as vacation Jaime allows him the opportunity to get some sleep. Currently, vacation Jaime is fascinated with tickling Keith's ears while he tries to rest.

    It would also be nice if Keith could sleep anywhere or anytime he wants. Unfortunately for him, only Jaime has this ability on this trip. She has fallen asleep in rough seas on a speed boat and she was able to sleep on multiple bus rides. Did the rough seas wake Jaime up?? Nope. One bus ride slung passengers in and out of their seats as it made its way through treacherous turns in the Andes...did it wake Jaime up?? Nope. The last bus ride found every pot hole on the road from Guayaquil to Chiclayo. It also had a screaming baby and a coughing Jaime Parker. It also played a kung fu movie that threatened to blow the speakers and permanently damage Keith's already fragile hearing...(and yes, ear plugs were in and an ambien was taken). Did any of these things wake Jaime up?? Nope. What was Keith doing at this point you ask?? Well, he wasn't tickling Jaime's ear....I can tell you that much. In fact, he was doing everything he could think of to make her slumber more peaceful and restful...but this is mainly because tired Jaime is the western hemispheres nightmare. Keith should be sleeping right now instead of typing this, but he has to wait till Jaime falls asleep first. Good thing that won't take long.

    As an aside, Keith wasn't going to mention that we actually went to the supermarket on 3 separate occasions or that we went to the Internet cafe on 4 separate occasions. Keith also didn't want to talk about how hot and humid it was in each of the locales where Jaime decided to spend her time (that really means Keith's time as Jaime is not a fan of Keith doing anything other than what she needs). Oh look who's sleeping again....shocking. Also, I would respectfully request we keep the explosion-in-the-bus-toilet convos to a minimum. It was a traumatic experience and since I probably already have hepatitis from stepping in the puddle, I have no doubt I have a few other things now as well. Also, she really did treat me like a leper. No exaggeration there.
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