Our Slog (Ships Log) with a Satelite View
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Eric & Sherrell
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Posted on Friday Aug 15, 2008
Since I last wrote, we've ridden a lot of buses, seen a lot of sites and lost a fair bit of sleep. We did the whirl-wind tour of Arequipa which had some spectacular views around the city and an huge Monastery.
At Lake Titicaca I got to fulfill my biggest wish -- riding in a reed boat that had a large puma head fashioned on the bow. Now who wouldn't be obsessed and travel 80+ hours on a bus to do something like that? The world that these people have built out of reeds is something that cannot be described. And the computer I'm typing on doesn't have a USB port so I can't upload any photos yet...sorry.
In Cusco we found the only Indian restaurant in Peru and we've eaten there twice already. We also toured a lot of places that were outside of the overpriced multi-site tourist ticket. This tourist ticket is like Disneyland, buy the pricey ticket and go on any ride you want, even if you just want to ride the rollercoaster. So needless to say we don't have the time to make this tourist ticket worthwhile and I don't think it would be anything like riding a rollercoaster. We made the most of what we could see and avoided the sites requiring the tourist ticket.
But let's get to the reason we came this far: Puma Shaped Reed Boats. Oops no, I mean Machu Picchu. What makes Machu Picchu special is not so much the stone work (you can't spit without hitting a stone ruin in Peru), but the location of the ruins. Deep inside a cloud forest canyon, hidden among 1000+ foot vertical peaks is Machu Picchu. Just taking a photo here is overwhelming because you are submersed 360 degrees in extreme beauty. I wish I was making this up and could tell you that the $120 we spent per person on the train, bus and ticket to get in wasn't worth it. But it was. To top it off the ruins are impressive. Compared to Kuelap (see the earlier post) Machu Picchu is bigger and more finely constructed but much newer. The Inkas (not usually spelled with a "c" down here) took extreme care in building all the structures at Machu Picchu http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machu_Picchu.
We took the standard Machu Picchu photos from the guardhouse and we'll post photos soon. We were also among the day's select 400 people allowed to climb Wayna Picchu a spire that towers 1100 feet over Machu Piccu http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayna_Picchu. Getting permission meant boarding a bus at 5:30 am and racing through Machu Picchu to be among the first 400. We were there at 6:40 am and were about number 340...phew!
Today we travel to Nasca to see the spooky lines http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazca_lines mentioned in the latest Indiana Jones movie, for those of you whose knowledge of pop culture exceeds that of archeology.
Then on to Lima and back to Ecuador and our poor lonely kitties!
Posted on Tuesday Aug 5, 2008
After about 31 hours of bus travel from Ecuador we reached Chachapoyas. This town is deep in the Northern Peruvian Andes and is the center of a relatively unknown set of ruins. There are about 18 sites around the area and the 3rd highest waterfalls in the world.
So you'd think we'd be in heaven, hiking and seeing these sites, but no. The diseases bred on the buses overcame us and we spent about 3 days sleeping and trying to get well. We did pry ourselves out of the room enough to see some bits of the town and to visit Kuelap.
Kuelap is one of the biggest and oldest lost cities anywhere. After seeing it and the work that went into building it, I'm surprised it is not as popular as Machu Picchu. It must be the hard bus rides that stop the tourists, or just the lack of education. Check out some basics and photos of Kuelap for yourself http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuelap Here's a photo of one of the three entrance passages into the city.
Now we are in Lima and Sherrell's mom arrived late last night. We are still a little sick, but feeling better. The additional 27 hours of buses to get here didn't help. There are a lot more tourists in this part of the country, often dubbed the Gringo Trail. Not a lot of Americans though. I assume they are still suffering from disillusions of a falling economy. The international crowd is filled with Dutch, French, English and of course German. We've met a few Mexicans which is always fun and several other people from around S. America.
Because of all the tourists, it has been challenging finding places to stay so we've had to actually start planning ahead and booking things -- something that is difficult for us to do. Not the planning, but booking ahead. We prefer to stay in places that are super cheap but not nasty. When you book ahead you can get cheap rooms, but sometimes it is hard to avoid nasty. We'll just roll the dice and see how things work out.
First on the list is Arequipa http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arequipa where we will hang out and do a couple of tours before moving on to Puno http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puno where we will tour lake titicaca. After that its on to Cusco http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cusco which is a high city up in the sky -- and oh so cold! We'll probably try to book a tour package from Cusco through the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machu_picchu.
Keep your fingers crossed that all goes well and we return to Lima in time for Sherrell's mom's flight!
Posted on Sunday Jul 27, 2008
The last post was interupted by our bus arriving early and Sherrell frantically running in and telling me we had to go -- right now!
In my rush I forgot to mention that we were deathly ill for about a week as well when Ecuador decided to make life tougher for tourists. Now we are super-paranoid about getting sick from the hordes hacking and coughing on the buses.
Anyway, another 6 hour bus ride brought us to Chachalayo where there are some cool pre-inca sites. Then tomorrow we take another 10 hour overnight bus up to Chachapoyas where this pre-inca village was built with 3 times more stones than the great pyramids of Egypt, yes 3 times more. Not many people know about this place, but it`s bigger than Machapichu.
Posted on Sunday Jul 27, 2008
We got back from the Andes in Ecuador and scrambled for two weeks. Sherrell got her annual cancer checkup at a cancer clinic (2 hours by bus). The price was good considering the quality of equipment and medical care, but the paperwork was tiresome. It also took 3 trips and we still need to do 2 more when we get back. The good news is all is well and she`s almost done with the doctors for another year.
The bummer part of all this, is Ecuador recently decided not to renew 90 visas for the standard $15. They decided $100 was better, and then they decided not to renew them at all! Since our visas expired a week before we were due to go to Peru, we had planned on renewing them for the 8 days or so before we left for Peru. However $100 per person for 8 days wasn`t going to work, and then when they closed the door on renewals, we were forced to leave the country early.
So we took a 6 hour bus to Guayaquil, Ecuador, toured the town for 7 hours, then took a 11:30pm bus to Mancora, Peru which took another 10 hours or so. Mancora is a surf town and is a lot like Canoa back near Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador just bigger and the wave is better. Today we hop on another 8 hour bus to get a little further south in Peru.
Posted on Monday Jul 7, 2008
We got back from our first non-medical related trip since the 3 day Costa Rica road trip and found our boat was in a new location. Apparently the yahoos building the rediculous bridge project snagged our anchor chain and drug our boat up to their barge. Of course this happened 3 days after we left. So the crews of Batwing, Nakia and Che Bella pitched in and reanchored Sarana safetly away from the bridge monkeys.
Unfortunately the anchorage here is really crowded and I could go off about all the things bothering me, but I won't bore you. Needless to say, this is the 4th time someone has snagged or moved our anchor and IT'S GETTING OLD. (Here's a story and a photo sequence another cruiser captured the 3rd time our anchor was snagged by a large power boat http://svnakia.blogspot.com/2008/06/snagging-sarana.html.)
Anyway, as promised here are some cool photos from our trip. This animation sequence is the "Flowers of the Andes" and takes a little bandwidth to view.
Here's a city-scape of Quito the capital of Ecuador.
Here's the second tallest mountain in Ecuador (Cotopaxi at 19,388 feet) and has erupted over 50 times.
One of the coolest spots was Quilotoa at 12,705 feet. Swimming anyone?
Posted on Monday Jun 23, 2008
The Ecuadorian Andes are unimaginably beautiful. Most of the people living here are subsistence farmers and while thatÃ?Â¢Ã¢â??Â¬Ã¢â??Â¢s tough on the forest and the animals, it makes for very little pollution or material excess that usually clutters up the land, like shopping malls. I never thought I would like the Andes as much as I do. Perhaps it is because I havenÃ?Â¢Ã¢â??Â¬Ã¢â??Â¢t been in any serious mountains in many years, or perhaps it is because it is amazing here.
We have been adjusting to the thin air here at about 11,000 to 12,000 feet. Today we went on a trip to a second growth forest that was about 12,000 feet high. There were many plants and mosses that we often saw in the rain forests near Seattle.
The village we are staying in has only one store that carries staples and no restaurants. Luckily the Cloud Forest Hostel has been extremely accomodating and two meals are included in the price of our room.
It gets very cold at night and we usually wear three layers of clothes. There are no heaters in the rooms, but occasionally we have hot water. This is really a world away from our boat and our little kitties, whom we hope are behaving themselves.
This picture shows one of the hundreds of valleys and farming tracts mixed in with the clouds.
Posted on Wednesday Jun 18, 2008
I know we are lazy about updating our slog. Here are the basics.
We bought two mountain bikes and have been riding them around looking for good trails. It`s nice to not have to walk everwhere too.
We also dumped $700 into a new stainless water tank. Our old tank was coughing up whitish
oxidization at an alarming rate. We had to stop using it all together which cut our water supply in half sometime back in Costa Rica. Well, our nice new tank is now installed and it is really beautiful, but no one will ever see it. The real pain was installing it. We had to empty the fuel tank and pull it out first and the fuel tank sat in the middle of our cockpit while we delt with the water tank. After a heavy amount of work we finally got the new tank in and the fuel tank back in place. Of course after everything was back together the water tank leaked. Fortunately it turned out to be a loose gasket and was easily fixed.
We switched out our new anchor chain for some 1/2 inch chain and some 1inch rope in hopes of saving our chain for more than just a mooring.
We still haven`t been able to move to Saiananada where we would muchperfer to be. There seems to be a dark force at works in the politics here. So the only time I have been able to write is 4am to 8am, turning me into an angry zombie. The rest of the time, the bar is too noisy to focus on anything.
We helped batwing move to the tidal grid so they could replace their shaft.
We`ve cleaned the bottom of our dinghy about 3 times now, and the mechanic has our outboard while we are out of town in hopes of fixing the small oil leak and replacing all the rusted out bolts.
For the first time in a long long while we have left our boat and our kitties to travel for 2 weeks in Ecuador. Batwing is watching /feeding them while we tour. It is weird. The longest we`ve left Jordan is 3 days. Hopefully they won`t go too feral.
Right now we are at 9,000 feet in a town called Quito, the capital of Ecuador. We scored Indian food our first night here and today we are going out to see some sights. Photos will follow.
Posted on Saturday May 17, 2008
We had quite the party. About 30 people and two small cakes! Do I look any older?
Here's a crowd shot from the party. I suffed myself with veggie food.
Ryan from Sonrisa was in town for only about 7 days, but he somehow he magically managed to show up just in time for the party.
Posted on Saturday May 17, 2008
At this cool place called Saiananda they have two sloths which roam the property and are used to being around people. They would rather hide in a kitchen cupboard than up in the tall trees. It's fun to watch them creep around and feed them snacks. This is the male sloth wallowing in a tasty pile of lettuce.
Here's Hopper, Desidarata's dog, facinated by the sloth's creepy crawling movements.
Posted on Sunday May 11, 2008
Yesterday we had a great party for my Birthday and I managed to milk it for what it was worth. Everyone brought a vegetarian or vegan dish and we tried to stretch 2 cakes to feed 30 people!
Caraquez is an interesting place with places to hike and great people. Some friends let us borrow their bicycles and weÃ?Â¢Ã¢â??Â¬Ã¢â??Â¢ve finally been getting some regular exercise. The veggie market here is pretty amazing. They have really good quality stuff and itÃ?Â¢Ã¢â??Â¬Ã¢â??Â¢s hard to shop for a week and break $10.
Here's a shot of our friend Ryan and his crew on Sonrisa coming into the narrow entrance channel that is close to the breaking surf. We took this photo from the beach.