Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Peru Diaries 5 - Cuzco Chilling & Floating Fun

 After our hike and Machu Picchu we needed a day to just chill. We did this in Cuzco with no real agenda in mind. Meandering around town we discovered the local San Pedro market. This market had entire sections designated to just flowers or just meats or cheese or corn. I have never seen so many varieties of things in one place. After the market we moseyed on to an area called San Blas. This is a part of Cuzco that is very quaint with winding streets, art stores and lovely cafe's; we spent 2 hours at Jack's cafe where we had the most amazing coffee and food. I highly recomend you take a day to just relax in Cuzco you won't regret it !
The next stop on our trip was Puno. The town is very shabby but we were visiting the nearby Floating Islands which are a treat. We spent a day on the island of Uros and then visited Tequile Island. The Floating islands are man made; woven together with mud and reeds that grow in the shallow lakes. Walking on these islands feels like your walking on sponge. The local people are friendly and were very gracious. We ate a most scrumptious lunch of fresh trout, potato and rice. We had a spectacular view of blue skies and sea. The Floating islands were our last stop and it was time to head back to New York. One thing I am sure of - we are definitely going back to Peru; feels like we just scratched the surface of this beautiful country.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Peru Diaries 4 - The Old Mountain a.k.a. Machu Picchu

Aguas Caliente is a town that was built to accommodate tourists who visit Machu Picchu. We got there by 7 pm the day before our awaited visit to the "Old Mountain". On arrival, we wandered to a bar for a much needed beer. As we were sitting enjoying our beverage we heard a song by Nazia Hassan being played "Aap Jaise Koi mere zindagi mein aye  - toh baat ban jaye". In the foothills of Machu Pichu we hear music by a Pakistani singer that was popular in the late 70's - how bizarre is that ! Our wake-up call was at 4 am the next morning and an hour later we were put on a bus and off we went to Machu Picchu. We hiked up to the Guardhouse - from this spot you can see all of the city. We were the first ones there; but it started raining heavily and all we could see were clouds. There was much disspointment - but as they say good things come to those who wait; and slowly but surely the clouds cleared and we saw the Magnificence that is Machu Picchu. Ruben (our guide) gave us a great tour - I am not going to go into the details of each spot that we saw but it truly is a wonder of the world and it took our breath away. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Peru Diaries 3 - Hiking in the Andes

If you are visiting Peru you MUST hike the Andes. Yes it is tough and the altitude will get to you but it is all worth it. The food that you devour as you lick the last morsel off your plate, the scenery that you see on your way up the mountains and the locals you will mingle with; will all be worth it. It is a truly unique experience.
We were picked up by Ruben our tour guide at 5:30 am in the morning; along with him were 2 ever eager helpers - the porter and the cook with their horses. We trekked from 6 am till 7 pm that night. In those 13 hours we crossed 10 mountains, saw the most beautiful valley that was covered with purple flowers and tested our limits as far as altitude sickness goes; but it was all worth it.
It was just us, nature and of-course ever eager Ruben prodding us along when we felt we could not go any further. We camped in Huchuy Cuzco which was where the Inca's first settled. We slept like babies that night. The next morning we woke up to see the sun rising over the beautiful mountains - it was magnificent. We continued to a small town called Lamay from where we would make our way to Aguas Caliente - which is the town that rests in the foothills of Machu Pichu.