Thursday, May 1, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
So I did it finally. I took a bike and did some downhill on the world's most dangerous road in Bolivia. I went with an expensive company but I think it was worth it. We had some of the best bikes and they worked really well. And I went really fast. There is a CD that I could purchase but I don't think that I am going to. I was hard to take pictures because I did not want to get my camera broken and I think that is something that I would do.
The day started off with us just riding down a paved road so that we could get used to the bikes and the brakes. I think that I was nervous at first because I was going fast enough to pass cars and I did not know what to do about the turns. After awhile I figured it out and I did not mind going so fast. The entire ride we had two guides and a support vehicle for our group which had about 12 people. There was one Brit and another Bolivian riding with us. They were both great riders and I learned a lot from the two. They also were really good at letting us know at which points people had died on the road and what mistakes they made before they died.
After the paved road we hit the gravel one lane road. It was a little different but still a lot of fun. The sheer drop cliff at 400 meters we not that intimidating because of the fog. I couldn't see it so it didn't make me scared. We went from 4800 meters above sea level to just under 1900 meters, rode 64 kilometers with 3 kilometers change of altitude. There were a lot of other groups of bikers on the road but no one in our group got hurt. So that was really nice.
The entire trip was so amazing, riding a bike through waterfalls and seeing so much green in a huge valley. I am very happy that I did the ride, I think that it has been one of the most exciting things I have done in South America.
After the ride we ended up in a nature refuge with monkeys, snakes, an ocelot, and cats. I thought that I would like the monkeys but one of them bit me for taking a picture of it. I wasn't this one, because this one was very cute, but a little camera shy. It was one of the squirrel monkeys. Just jumped on me and bit my knuckle. They had all been vacinated, but I am still mad at the little thing. At the reserve we got to eat and then when the bus didn't come back for us (it is Bolivia) we had some beer while we waited and I ended up going over my limit. At least I wasn't driving because we took the road back up. There is a new road, but it was faster to use the older one. It was a nice drive, but I understand why it was so bad.
Today I am going to see wrestling here in La Paz and then I am going back to Peru tomorrow. It should be good because I feel like I am finally making progress again, not just hanging out in a country and spending money. I can't wait to see the wrestiling so I am going to get some really good pictures.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
The ride was a scenic one, but at one point people started getting off the bus and I asked where all of the gringos were going. Then the driver started yelling "apurate". Everyone had to get off of the bus because it had to cross the lake too and there was no bridge. So we took a boat across the water and the bus took a barge.
We were only in La Paz for a couple of hours when we took another bus in the morning trying to get to Uyuni in time to meet Jennica's friend David from high school. The first stop on the way to Uyuni was in Oruro where we were only about an hour late for the bus to Uyuni. But we caught the bus in La Paz at 7:30 so I don't feel too bad for not being on the bus.
Oruro was where I had my serious case of the culture shock. I really felt like the only white person on the street which is the first time in South America it has been like that. Everywhere else there were other gringos or I fit in. Here it was really obvious who I was and no one knew what I was doing there, including me. But I got to talk to Geno and vent and then I went to some really nice hot springs and I feel a lot better. It also helped that the places that I have been since Oruro have been a lot more turistic. But that is not the point; I am doing better with myself down here.
From Oruro we took one of the worst night rides on a bus that I have ever taken in my life. It was bumpy and so cold. Jennica happened to have a sleeping bag and that made it a much better ride, but when we finally got to Uyuni (at 4 in the morning) there was ice covering all of the windows. In Uyuni and some of the other places around the altitude was higher than the highest point in Utah. And it is not even winter here, but it is still really cold.
There is nothing to do in Uyuni, but there are a lot of tour companies that can take a tourist to see some of the sights around the city. The salt flats were so amazing. Jennica, David and I took a four day in a four runner. The first place we went to was a train grave yard. From there we took a ride to the salt flats. It was really impressive, but I don't think I want to go back I was there and now I am done.
The next day we went to a volcano, saw some mummies and then took a long drive to a city called San Juan. They only had electricity for about four hours at night and the rest of the electricity came from solar power. All together there were seven people on the tour and then Pedro the tour operator. I didn't think that I would like the tour with that many people in one four runner for that many days, but it turned out really well.
On the third day we drove for a long time to see some rock formations that happened due to volcanic rock and wind. Then from there we went to see different colored lagoons and I learned that the coloring on the flamingos is helped by the bacteria in one of the lagoons in Bolivia.
It was such a long day and we had to wake up at five the next morning that the seven of us went to bed early.
The next day we got up and went to see some geyser and lava that I could just not enjoy because it was so cold again. I think that it was close to zero degress fahrenheit. After that it was a ten hour drive back to the city.
The next day Jennica and I took a bus to Potosi where I am at now. Today I went to the mine and I realized a major difference between the US and Bolivia. The US would never have let a bunch of tourist into that mine. I was walking around with a rag over my mouth for air protection, there were just drops in the floor, we were walking around giving "gifts" of soda, coca leaves, and dynamite to the workers, then after I got to hold a ball of dynamite while it was lit and then watched as it blew up. I walked around an active mine and I got to talk to some of the workers. It was really depressing and just a completely different experience that I could not have had if I had not made it to Bolivia.This is a picture of a sixteen year old work on digging a hole in the rock so that he can put in a thing of dynamite. The worst part was that he had been working in the mine since he was thirteen.
From here it is back to La Paz for a couple of days and then back to Peru where I will make my way north. I am really excited that I get to spend a couple of more weeks down here because that means that I am going to be able to see colombia. I have only heard good things.
My next set of pictures should be great because La Paz is going to be exciting.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
After the tombs we went to visit a farm house that was on the way to Puno. It was really cool to actually see how the people lived. It was all adobe and they offered us food. There were potatoes, cheese and they actually gave us clay to eat. It did not that much of a taste, but I would suggest trying it if you are ever out that way. They also let us into their house to see how they actually lived. It was just so different how they did not need any of the things that we cannot go without. I was really impressed by the whole experience.
So Kathleen has gone home and I am now on my own again. More or less; I met up with Jennica yesterday and I am sleeping at a house of a family that has Spanish classes. I am not really sure what is going on, but I can sleep and get fed every meal for about the same price that I pay for a hostel in the center of Cusco. And I get to take the bus to the house which is about 70 centimos, which equals 40 cents more or less. And I do not get feed at any hostal in the center of town. I am on my way to Bolivia so I am not sure how the computer situation is going to be, but I doubt that the computers will be that useful. So I don't know when I will post again. But I am going to have great pictures when I get back.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Before we went to Machu Picchu, Kathleen and I spent a day in Lima. Another big city with more ruins and churchs to see. After dark we went to a park that has the worlds largest fountain. Lights and effects with the fountain actually made it fun. We walked around taking pictures, looking like tourists; doing all the things you do when you are on vacation. The next day we took a plane at 6:45 am to Cusco. We had to be there two hours early. That means that I had to wake up at four: I didn't like it at all. They talk about altitude sickness and you do not think that it will happen to you. "I'm from Utah, Salt Lake is pretty high. How much higher can it be?" It's higher. Especially if you have been doing what I have been doing and been at the beach for the last two months. I got sick. Not as bad as others, mine was only a head ache and some nausea. And the coca leaves help as well. Just walking up a flight of stairs hurts a little more than I would like.
The next day we went to Aguas Calientes which is at the base of Machu Picchu. Mom didn't like the city too much, but I thought that it was nice. We slept and then later in the evening we went to a hot spring that was about five minutes up the road from where we were staying.
We made it to Machu Picchu before a lot of the tourists got there and I was able to get this picture. We had to catch the first bus at five thirty in the morning, but it was all worth it. It really does not sink in how amazing this place is until you are actually there and see it. We got to walk around and hear about the site from a man whose first language is Quechua, the language of the Inkas. He was very amazing and had a very different point of view from what I am used to, so it made the tour better.
This is a picture of the sunrise in Machu Picchu. All of the mountains in this area are so amazing. They are not like anything else that I have seen. It really makes me kind of home sick for my own mountains even though I know that they are not anywhere near as tall or as impressive as the ones here. But still they are my mountains. Today we took a tour of the sacred valley outside of Cusco. I again felt like a tourist. I had fun but I think that I may be ruined out. I have seen too many things and now I am trying to process all of it. It may just take a couple of days for me to be excited to get out of a bus and take pictures. But I have to be ready because tomorrow we are going to take a tour all the way up to Puno and I have a feeling that I am going to have that same feeling again tomorrow. The sacred valley was nice. I saw some more ruins and spent some more money things. The coolest thing that I saw was a mass that was said in Quechua. Very cool.
Finally on our way back to Cusco from the sacred valley I took this picture from the moving van. I like this picture because you can make out all of the little plots of potato fams that are all over the sacred valley. All of the col pictures I had to take from the moving van because they would not stop at any of the cool places, but this is still a nice picture.
Finally another sunset; again from a moving van. This is from the sacred valley as well. I think that I amy start to collect these. I have taken enough of them.I am tired because I have been on the move since Kathleen has gotten here so hopefully she is going to let me sleep soon.
P.S. I hope that this turns out on the internet. I couldn't take this picture with flash, so if you can see it great, but it is a little morbid.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
It was a swiss guy who summed it up. "I have been to Chile and Argentina and now I am in South America." Peru is exactly what I think South America should be. It is very conservative and cheap. And I also look like a tourist. In other countries I can pass for a local if I just keep my mouth closed but here everyone knows that I am not from here. So here are a couple of pictures that I have taken so far.
This is a picture of the Cathedral in Arequipa. There is so much history in that city. The only problem is that it keeps on getting destroyed by earthquakes.
There are just so many religious places to see in Arequipa. When I got here I meet a group of Kiwis and ended up going out with them that night. It is strange to go out and be at a bar or club at eleven. I am used to Buenos Aires and not even starting until one in the morning. The next day I spent on my own because the Kiwis left and the hostal was empty and it happened to be a Sunday. There is nothing to do in this country on a Sunday. The only things that were open were the resturantes. But the next day I met a girl from Germany and I spent the rest of the time going around the city with her. The first day we went to the mercado. It was very colorful and lots of interesting foods. I didn't take any pictures though because I never felt like I could take out my camera. We had fruit juice that was freshly made and ceviche and everything came to about eleven soles which is about four dollars.
The next day we went to the Santa Catalina Monastary. It was so amazing there; a city within a city. It took up a couple blocks and has it's own street names and a church amoung other things all in the heart of Arequipa. This is a picture of one of the many cloisters that are in the monastary. This is the orange cloister because there are five orange trees around the courtyard.
This is a picture from one of the kitchens. It still smelled like fire and cooking. These have not been used since the sixties. The original monastary was constructed in the 17th century and it all felt surreal.
After Arequipa I came to huachina which is just a lagoon in the middle of a couple of sand dunes outside of Ica. I got to sand board which is basically riding down huge dunes on a piece of wood that we cover in candle wax to make it go fast. I only hurt myself a little bit. The tour also included buggie rides that we had to sign a wavier saying that they were not responsible for any injury or death incurred. The buggie rides were more of a theme park ride that actual means of transportation. We knew that we were going to be going town a big dune when the driver would slow down and the hit the lip of the dune and we would just drop, bouncing our heads on the roof when we hit the bottom. I don't think that I was actually ever in real danger because we couldn't go too fast because of the size of the buggie.
The sunset at the end of the day was the best part of the whole trip. It made the trip up to the dunes perfect.
So I am still in Ica, and I will probably wait here until mom arrives in Peru. I am only six hours away from Lima so I am going to wait at the pool and eat good food.
Besos to everyone.