Saturday, December 12, 2009

Not my usual trip or experience- The Bahamas


Here we are in the Bahamas, and staying on Paradise Island, which is right across the bridge from Nassau. Our resort is literally right beside the famous Atlantis Resort.
We are staying at the Riu Paradise Resort, another trip we got free with Air Miles.

Lucky the trip is only 4 days, as we both get very antsy staying at a resort, however when it's complimentary due to points, you really can't go wrong.

We did go over to the casino and Atlantis each day to hang out. It's this giant resort, spread over hundreds if acres. I mean, it's a country on it's own.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A break from hardcore travelling!


Just in case people haven't noticed, but we took a break from our backpacking trips lately, and just recently returned from Jamaica, which was a much more relaxing trip. We still did some cool off-= the beaten trail stuff, but on the most part kept it low key.

After 3 consecutive years of major backpacking trips, March/April 2007 to Thailand, October 2008 to Egypt & Jordan and May 2009 to Peru, we decided to take it a little easy for now. We still were able to sneak in a trip to the Dominican Republic in Jan. 2008 and Jamaica in Oct. 2009.

So we are heading off for 4 days to The Bahamas, in search of some R&R!

This is sort of a milestone, as it is country #25 for Aneta. It may sound low for some, but hey, we think it's pretty good ;)

It's also country #20 for me...so yahhhh!!!


Friday, October 9, 2009

Does Jamaica have the highest amount of pharmacists per capita!?!

It seems like everyone in Jamaica went to pharmacy school, since so many introduce themselves as pharmacists!! Although most of these self proclaimed pharmacists have a much wider range of narcotics than the usual store. ;) I also don't think they ask about your insurance policy that much. lol


As one Jamaican man told us, "ya know mon, dat Jamaica has de highest amount of churches and da highest amount of bars per capita... so 'n Jamaica, ya r eit'er a religious man or an alcoholic, but eit'er way, ya get de spirit!!!


And so ends our trip to Jamaica...until our next adventure!!!





Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Rum, Reggae, Rum!!


It's now half way through our Jamaican adventure, and I probably drank a little too much Appleton's Rum and Red Stripe Beer :)


It's all good...just relaxing and letting it flow!! ;)


Monday, October 5, 2009

Jumping off waterfalls into neon blue waters!!

After arriving late on Saturday, we basically ate some dinner and relaxed to the sound of the ocean and the warmth of a typical Caribbean night. The next day we woke up to hot and humid 40 plus degrees, and headed to the beach at Mammee Bay. I was really looking forward to what would come the next day, as we would head out really early in the morning, visiting Dunn's River Falls near Ocho Rios and then off to White River, to the Blue Hole near the small town of Exchange, Jamaica.


The next morning we left early, and went directly to Dunn's River Falls, where we arrived at around 8:15 am, about 15 mins before the park actually opens. We waited patiently, and finally got in. We were the only tourists there. We had the whole falls to ourselves. Our plan had worked, by getting there early, we avoided all the tour buses. We also went on a day we knew there would be no cruise ships at port at Ocho Rios. This also eliminated other potential tourists. We felt as if the falls were our own personal playground. We also spotted a Jamaican Hummingbird (also called the Doctor Bird, because of it's long needle type nose), flying and hovering just over our heads.



We parked the van, and hiked about 15-20 minutes to the larger 30 foot waterfall. We were the only people there, as this spot is not very popular with tourists, and usually only has a few locals around. It's an awesome feeling, to leave a tourist filled town like Ocho Rios, and drive about 30 minutes and be in complete solitude, with some of the most dramatic river scenery in the country.



This is a video of me jumping off a 30 ft. waterfall into the neon blue waters of the White River. I think I almost missed the actual jump, barely clearing the waterfall!!



video


There is also a really cool cave, which you access by putting your head right through the waterfall on the side. You feel the water hitting your head, then your shoulders, it feels like small water knives as it hits your skin. The hole itself is not larger than your actual body, so once you try and push in, you feel claustrophobic instantly. You have to spin your body around, so you are no longer heading into the hole head first, and you need to then climb down with your feet first. Our local guide, PJ or Repeat as his friend's call him, went in first, and guided and helped me into the cave. It took me a good 5 minutes to spin around in the tiny enclosure. I finally was able to spin around, and proceed feet first down the small cave. I quickly slipped into the water, and was now behind the waterfall, in another small enclosure. You could see the light coming through the falls, it was such an odd experience, being behind such natural power, and yet, being so calm and in your own world. We finally, dove under the water, and swam right under the falls, popping up in the main whirlpool.


From this spot we headed to another smaller waterfall, about a 10 minute hike downstream. This spot is called the Blue Hole, since the water here is even more brilliant, and neon blue can't even describe the colour of the water. The falls here are in a horseshoe type shape, but much smaller, around 15-20 feet high. The jump here was easy but much more fun, as you don't worry about smashing your body into the rocks!! lol There is also a cave which you can swim to, by going under some rocks beneath one of the falls. Temperature in there was at least 10 degrees cooler.












After we drove back into Ocho Rios, and passed by the bauxite factory, which was the filming location for Dr. No's evil hideout in the James Bond movie. It's the one that blows up at the end of the movie. From here, we went to the Ocho Rios Market, to look for some crafts, art and Blue Mountain Coffee.

All in all, a pretty busy day.

PS. Thanks to PJ and Jermaine for bringing us out to some of these hidden spots...peace!!

Check out our pics at http://www.flickr.com/photos/anetamark/sets/



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jamaica-The land of sun and sea


As our trip to Jamaica approaches, I keep thinking of how such a small country has influenced much of the world's popular culture. From Jamaica's track sprinters, like Bolt, Powell, .....to reggae music and Marley, Tosh, Bantan, Yellowman, Beenie Man....

A country which is home and has inspired 2 of my favorite things in life, Bob Marley and reggae music and Ian Fleming and James Bond!


Bob Marley, born in a small town about 1 hour south of Ocho Rios, called Nine Mile and
the creator of James Bond, Ian Fleming, who had a summer residence called 'Goldeneye' about 20 minutes east of Ocho Rios. Here he wrote many of his Bond books, and incorporated Jamaica in many of them, especially the first movie, Dr. No, which entirely takes place and is filmed in Jamaica. The famous beach where Ursula Andress gets out of the water, is literally 5-10 drive from Ocho Rios, and about a 20 minute walk.

About 2 days to go until we leave...let's hope for no hurricane!!

Evert'ing cool, mon, evert'ing irie!! Soon come, de' oly' erb, sensie and tampie! ;)

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Here we are once again, preparing for another trip, this time to Jamaica. We will be departing early October.

This will be a more relaxing trip, chillin' out and taking in some R&R!

We are going to Ocho Rios on the north coast, and will most likely visit Dunn's River Falls and maybe take a trip inland, to the Blue Mountains and the interior of the island.

Peace out, and one love!!

Check out our pics at

http://www.flickr.com/photos/anetamark/

Friday, May 29, 2009

Farewell to Peru!!

We are leaving tomorrow morning at 7 am, for our flight back to Canada. Sad, here comes reality again. Sucks...!!!!!

See all u guys when we get back...

We will post our pics once we return, so check out Flickr page and Blogger page for updates...

Check out our pics at http://www.flickr.com/photos/anetamark/

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Surfing the Pacific Coast of Peru!!


Got here a little late yesterday and it took about 1 hour from the Lima airport to get to San Bartolo which lies on the Pacific Ocean, right in front of some really nice surf, called Penascal.

Didn't surf at all yesterday, as it was already 4:30 when we got there, and we still had to eat.
Decided to wake up early today and try to get a session after breakfast.

I was a little sick the whole trip, actually, got sick about the second day since we landed in Cusco. I had a cold, plus the combination of the altitude and lack of oxygen, and I having some difficulty in breathing. So this morning, I went out to give it a go, and lasted about 30 minutes before having to come back in. The water is a little cold, had to wear a full wetsuit with booties, and that combined with my past cold the difficulties of the altitude have caught up to me. Got an asthma attack, and before it got serious, I forced myself to come back into shore.

I am sooo fricking pissed, as the waves are really nice, good clean sets. Also, they are about 100 metres from place we are staying. Caught one wave only, stayed about 30 minutes, and had to come back in to get my puffer. Couldn't go back out for the rest of the day. Now just relaxing, writing this crap, since I can't frickin surf....

There are some other surfers here as well. A group from Brazil, a couple from Australia and a guy from Spain. They are all really good and were hitting the waves hard.

I will try again tomorrow, but as this keeps up, there is no way I can go out in the water again. Well, there goes my 3 days of surfing!!!!

Guess I have to go again in the fall somewhere to just surf, and this time, make sure I am not sick, so my asthma doesn't act up.

adios!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Piranhas, Giant Otters, Caimans and giant snakes!!!


We woke up today, Tuesday around 4 am, got ready went for some breakfast and heading out on our next big day. Today, we went back to the river, and took the boat upstream about 30 minutes to this area of the jungle which has a lake. We hiked for another 30 minutes to get to the lake called Tres Chimbadas Oxbow Lake. Here we took a catamaran, or really, a large piece of wood floating on the lake. There were about 10 people in total on the boat with guides. We quickly saw a caiman, which is an alligator in the Amazon. We saw tons of birds from Macaws, Parrots, etc. We were in search of giant lake otters, which are over 6 feet long. We spotted them from far away, and brought the boat close to shore. Everyone had to remain super quiet and still, since it looked like the otters were working their way down the shore to where we were. After about 20 minutes the otter family were right near our boat, about 10 meters away. I was able to film them for a good 5 minutes, while they were feeding and making these really cool noises, which kind of sound like a sea lion.

After this, we went fishing, with a simple branch or stick, line and small hook tipped with a piece a raw meat. Aneta first tried and within 1 minute hooked a really nice sized piranha. After taking some pics, our guide showed us how sharp their teeth are. He got a leaf, and put it near its mouth, and the piranha took a bit, taking a clean piece of leaf off. I was next, and got one as well, which was much smaller than Aneta´s. Damn her!! Anyway, Aneta did catch another one...they are so aggressive, that once you put something in the water, they go mental on it.

After fishing for awhile, and wishing I had brought a small packable fishing road, since the tree branch rod wasn't the best option, we heading around the lake, with one of the natives of the area, paddling the boat from behind. At this point we spotted much more wildlife including many more birds. Our guide actually saw a large eagle come down and snatch a monkey from the jungle. He also spotted a 3 toed sloth monkey hanging over a branch on the shore. We were able to get really close to it, and it was barely moving. They aren't the most aggressive monkey, hence the name sloth. Coming around the lake, we also spotted a large caiman, and I mean large. The head was probably the same size of my upper torso.


We headed back to the trail, to hike back to the boat, and again, spotted a lot of different wildlife in the area. We took the boat back to the lodge, for about a 10 minute break, before heading out to a blind which overlooks a bird claylick. Claylicks are areas where the clay has a lot of minerals and vitamins, and the birds come down to feed on these things. The blind was this really cool hut with a bunch of viewing holes. We didn't have the luck of seeing any birds, but we did spot a large 3-4 metre snake about 5 metres in front of us. Again, we got some good pics and also got a good video of it. Aneta was freaking out about it....pretty funny.


We heading back for some lunch. The food at the lodge was really amazing, all fresh local things. It was awesome and tasted so natural.


In the afternoon we went to a shaman in the area. He showed us some natural Amazon medicines, everything from ayahuasca which is a powerful hallucinogenic plant to para para, which is a natural Viagra drug. We were able to try some of the medicines, and the shaman showed us around the entire garden. They also painted my face with this natural paint, which is what some of the indigenous people do for ceremonies.

After this we went back to the lodge for some dinner and to relax. About an hour after dinner, we went on a night walk on some trails in the area. We spotted everything from caimans, spiders, snakes, to giant ants. We also heard many night monkeys, but were unable to spot them with the flashlights. Our guide made us turn off all our headlamps and flashlights, and let me tell you, I have never seen darkness so dark. I mean, the canopy is so thick, that you can´t see the sky from the bottom of the jungle, so once the lights went off, the lights were off. Blackness, darkness like no other. This with all the sounds of the jungle is really a scary thing. Imagine getting lost or having your flashlight batteries run out...

We went back to the lodge, and hung out a bit before going back to the room. While Aneta was lying down in the hammock in the room, facing the open wall, we saw a monkey climbing the tree right in front of her...pretty cool.

We went to sleep, with the sounds of the jungle all around us. Except tonight, things got out of control. It must have been a group of monkeys, screwing around with us all night. They were making so much noise, and I mean, noise right beside the open wall. Kind of freaky!!! Combine that with the sound of bats flying around every 2 minutes really made it feel like we were in the middle of nowhere.

At about midnight, we were woke up to thunder and a rain storm like no other. It must have rain hard for like 2 hours straight. We found out later when we woke up in the morning, that the heavy rain brought down the thatched roof where the guides and researchers sleep.

I was going to go early in the morning, to the blind, to see if I could see any parrots or macaws, but the heavy rain and showers in the morning cancelled this hike.

We relaxed a little in the morning, before heading back on the boat, down stream on the Rio Tambopata, back to Puerto Maldonado. Picked up our backpacks for the airport, and took a flight back to Lima.

Tomorrow, we are heading south of Lima for some surfing...

Surf´s up amigo!!!

The Amazon Rainforest!!!!!



Let me first say, that the past few days in the Amazon have really been a life experience. We took the plane on Monday from Cusco, and after a 40 minute flight got into the Amazon basin at Puerto Maldonado. We got off the plane at around 10 am into 40 degree, humid weather. It was so humid, that our cameras were screwed up for around 1 hour after landing.
We meet our nature and jungle guide at the airport, Rodolfo, who would be with us the entire trip. We first stopped at Rainforest Expeditions office in Puerto Maldonado to drop off our main backpacks, and only took 2 day packs with us, with only vital clothes and cameras, flashlights, headlights, repellent, etc. We then took a car down mud roads to the boat, which was about 30 minute drive. The roads are just basic mud, and the car barely made it over some bridges which were just 2 planks of wood over a creek.

We finally got to the river, where the boat would bring us the rest of the way, which was about another 1 and half hour to the spot on the river where we would get off and walk the rest of the way to the lodge, called Posada Amazonas.

At first, the river passes through some secondary forest, where there are some people living on farms. So the forest isn't as tall, but within 20 minutes we got to the protected area, and primary rainforest. We took Rio Tambopata, and went into the buffer zone of the Tambopata National Reserve, which protects the southern Amazon area in Peru.

Our guide was already showing us and spotting birds and other wildlife. We took out our binoculars and tried to find other wildlife. About half way to the lodge we were passing very thick primary or ancient forest when I spotted a Jaguar. After yelling to our guide about the Jaguar, he saw it as well, and we got the boat to turn around and position the boat near the cat, which at this point was relaxing under a tree right on the river bank. There were another 2 tourist on the boat with us, plus our guide, their guide, and the boat driver. We were about 15 metres from the bank, looking straight at the Jaguar, which was the size of a large dog. I took about 15 really nice photos, while Aneta was viewing the cat with the Binoculars, which showed every little detail and colour that it had. Anyway, we stayed another 5-10 minutes before the cat just walked back into the jungle, looking back at us one last time. It was one of those moments where you forget everything about life, and just want to take the moment and enjoy it. It is very rare to see Jaguar in the wild, as they are very elusive, and let me say, that we became the envy of the lodge when we got there, as everyone, tourists and other guides wanted to see one the photos we took.

Back to the boat, after viewing the Jaguar, we continued along the river and finally reached the small area where we would get off the boat, and hike in to the lodge, which took about another 15 minutes.

After getting to the lodge, we were told everything about it, including where our room was, and when breakfast, lunch and dinner were served. We got to our room to see the long hut we were staying in. It had mosquito nets around the beds, and the whole room was open, and one wall, facing the jungle in the back had no wall.

We dropped our things off, went to grab a juice and some water, and we were off to our first hike with our guide Rodolfo. He brought us to this canopy tower, about 30 minute hike through the rainforest. The tower is over 40 metres tall, which takes you just above the tree line in this area. The Amazon is so thick, no matter what direction you look, all you see is thick jungle, and the Rio Tambopata snaking its way into the jungle. On top of the canopy, we could hear so many birds and monkeys. We were able to see so many Macaws, Parrots, Vultures, etc. We could also hear the big Howler monkeys yelling and screaming in the background. Their sound is so weird and somewhat scary. After staying on the canopy for about 2 hours, we heading back to the lodge to relax a little and eat some dinner. On the way back, about 5 minutes from the lodge, we encountered about 30-50 squirrel monkeys, swinging in the trees. What they were doing, is grabbing these small fruits and nuts from the trees, and throwing them down 20-30 metres to the ground. Once they do that for a while, they come down, and eat all the small fruit they threw down. The noise and commotion they were creating was so funny, and I got hit like 3 times from these nuts and fruits. I was able to get some good videos of them, which we will post in the future.

The rest of the night we relaxed and talked to some of the other guests. The lodge is great, it has no electricity (well only for like 3 hours a day for guest to charge the batteries), so there are lanterns and candles on during the night. The showers only have cold water, since there is no electricity. The drinking water is from under ground springs and the food is all fresh from the jungle. We ended up going to sleep at around 9 pm since the next day we had to get up at 4 am, to go with a boat down the river, then hike to this oxbow lake.

Falling asleep was a little harder then I thought. First, the humidity and heat really don´t get better during the night. But the main thing is the jungle sounds. Since there is no wall on one side, no doors, it´s kind of creepy at first, to know that anything can come in at anytime. Once you turn off your candles, it is dark, I mean dark. Trying to fall asleep when you hear monkeys all around you is hard. Plus, you hear other noises like birds, bats, larger mammals, etc. It is like one of those CD´s you can buy, which have rainforest sounds to put you to sleep, except in this case, you are actually there with no wall. lol

We did end up going to sleep, and so far the first day was one of the best experiences of our life...

Until tomorrow, Indiana Jones out!!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Broken Train, Jehovah's Witnesses and some pain!!!

We have to write this blog entry quickly, as we took the last train out of Machu Picchu today, and the train broke down 3 times...they had to come get us with another train...sucks, since we lost about 2-3 hours of time, and got back to Cusco around 10.

We did go again to Machu Picchu today, really early, got there around 7 am, just in time to see the sunrise over the mountains, and shine right on the Inca Lost City. Again, today was another all day hike fest!! Man, our legs are hurting bad!!! We did get another stamp in our passport from Machu Picchu...pretty cool and unique stamp.

Guess what we saw today at the small town which is in the middle of no where, no roads to get there, can only get there by train or trekking...
anyway, we saw some Jehovah's Witnesses!! That's right...how far will you go to get someone to convert to your religion...funny thing is, they were dressed up in a tie...again, let me state, this town, which is the gateway to Machu Picchu, is literally, in the middle of no where, with tons of backpackers, and yet, they were there!! too funny!!

Like we said the train was horrible, breaking down 3 times in the middle of now where high in the mountains, with pure darkness surrounding us. Kind of cool...

We have to call it a night now, since we got here late, we still have to pack our bags for the Amazon tomorrow. We leave really early on a flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado, which will be our launching pad for our trek and dugout canoe ride to our jungle lodge. It will be around a 3 hour trip once we touch down to get into the Amazon basin and our lodge.

We won't be able to post for the next few days, since there is no electricity where we are heading. Actually, there are no walls either in our room...well, no wall facing the jungle. We will be sleeping in mosquito nets, and we started taking our malaria pills today. We already got our Yellow Fever vaccination about 1 month ago. It is about 5 degrees Celsius right now at 11:25 PM in Cusco....but it will be around 40 degrees when we land in the Amazon tomorrow...nice...good way to get really sick, with that type of climate change..lol

BTW, we saw another horrific car accident today...by the glass we see on the roads, it seems to be a common occurrence.

Anyway, talk to you guys hopefully on Wednesday, when we will blog again...by that time, we will be at the Penascal Surf Hotel to end our trip, with 3 full days of surfing...

Surf's up Inca dudes!!!

Adios...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The main reason we came to Peru!!


Today, we woke up really early around 4 am to catch the early train to Machu Picchu. The train ride was about 3.5 hours, and passed through some of the nicest scenery, with the Andean Mountains on both sides.

We reached the town of Aquas Calientes around 10, and quickly went to the hostal to drop off our bags. We headed straight for the bus for a 20 minute ride to Machu Picchu itself. Again, this was one of those places that you think before hand, will it be over rated?, will it live up to its reputation? Well it did and more...

Once in, we headed for the first left, as the guidebook says, to climb about 10 minutes to the most popular viewpoint. Here you have a complete view of the whole lost city, and both our cameras worked over time, as we took about 1 gig of pics!!! lolol

There is also this really cool hike to the Inca Bridge, which was actually closed a few years back, when a tourist fell to their death. The hike was about 1 hour in total, and really worth it, as you hike right on the cliff side, with approx. 1000 ft drop down to the valley and river below.

When we first reached Machu Picchu, it was mainly sunny, but towards the afternoon, you could hear and see thunderstorms past the mountains in the background. Really cool stuff!!

We also explored the ruins walking around the many small alleyways and climbing the Inca steps. There were some llamas there, and we tried to get some in our pics with Machu Picchu in the background, but they weren't as cooperative as we liked.

As we were leaving, we stopped at the park office, to get this really cool and unique Machu Picchu stamp in our passports.

Right now we are relaxing back in the town of Aquas Calientes. We will probably walk around a bit before calling it a night, since we have to wake up really early tomorrow, for another visit to Machu Picchu. We will post pics once we return.

Adios from Machu Picchu the Lost Inca City!!! until tomorrow...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Shopping, walking and shopping!!


Today was more of our down day, as we didn't have anything important planned. We did pick-up our train tickets to Machu Picchu for tomorrow, and also picked up our bus tickets and entrance tickets. We leave really early tomorrow, as around 5 am for the train to Aquas Calientes, which is the little town close to Machu Picchu. We are pretty excited!!

We ended up walking around the town all day today, and bought some art. With the many hills, steps in Cusco, we are getting giant calves! lol That combined with the altitude, it seems like we are training for the Olympics...The gringo walking and shopping event...it's a new event...no medal though!!!

We also passed by this little bakery near our hotel, and like always, bakeries never disappoint in foreign countries. They had some awesome local food and at local prices.

Depending on the internet connection in Aquas Calientes, we may not post tomorrow at all. Hopefully we still can...

We will have 2 full days for Machu Picchu, which was one of the main reasons we came to Peru.

Hasta mañana mis amigos, tenga algunas hojas de coca!! :)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Perfect stone work, a dead woman and alpaca meat!!


Saying that today was a action packed and long day would be an under-statement. We woke up at 5 am and went for breakfast, and then left for our trip to the Sacred Valley which is nestled in between the Andean Mountains, following the Urubamba River.

We first stopped at Sacsayhuamán which is about a 20 minute drive from Cusco. It lies at an altitude of 3,701 metres. The stonework here is truly the best example of Inca stone construction. The perfect blocks and stones, some weighing over 200 tonnes, with perfect round corners, make this style of Inca Temple, almost indestructible to any major earth quake. This is the place where they still have the famous festival June 24, called the Inti Raymi and it celebrates the Winter Solstice. The Spanish of coarse, took many of these giant stones to build some of the churches in Cusco.

Off to the Sacred Valley...but getting there was tough, as there have been major protests and strikes by the farmers in this area. The government wants to privatize the small creeks and streams, and charge huge taxes on these poor farmers. They blocked many of the roads with large boulders and rocks. We were lucky since the protests ended yesterday, but all the debris is still on the roads, which already aren`t the safest or widest roads, which hug the cliffs of the mountains, with over 1000 ft drop. There is also a lot of broken glass, since if you tired to pass the protesters this past week, they would throw rocks at the cars and trucks passing by. The amount of glass, would suggest that Peruvians can be good baseball players.

The first place we visited was Pisac, which is the location of some amazing Inca agricultural terraces, hugging the Andean cliffs. It is right on the Urubamba River, and on the top of the mountain are 4 separate ruins. By this time in the day, which is late morning, the sun was already incredibly strong, and it took us about 1 hour to hike up the mountain. It sure wasn`t easy, as the high altitude was literally stealing every breathe we tried to take. In the end, the journey up was really worth it. We will post pics as soon as we return.

We also went to the famous market in Pisac, back down the mountain in the village. The market takes place on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. We ended up walking the many stalls both in the art & craft section and the food section. We did buy some really cool Inca, Andean and Peruvian souvenirs. Let`s hope we have room for them in our house. I think we already bought 4 masks!! lolol

After the market we took off to explore Ollantaytambo, which is dominated by the massive Inca fortress above the small village. There are huge steep terraces the guard the fortress, along with the beautiful Andean Mountains in the background. Another hard hike to the top, but again well worth the trip and lack of oxygen. There is also a small market at the bottom of the ruins. We opted to walk around the market for about 30 minutes, which ended up being even a better idea, since right after we left, about 5 minutes from the town, there was a huge accident, and we saw one car with a broken windshield. We thought it was hit by a falling boulder or rock. We were pretty shocked to see what really happened about 10 metres past that. The car had hit a woman, who was obviously dead on the side of the road...pretty gruesome sight, kind of one of those things that makes you think of life in general, and how much longer we all have!

We finally got back to the hotel in Cusco about 7 PM. We decided to go out for dinner, to this nice little restaurant about a 10 minute walk from our hotel. It is called Inca Fe...get it, Cafe, Inca Fe...hahahaha.... :) I had the Alpaca meat, which is an Andean Specialty, while Aneta got the chicken. The Alpaca meat was really good, so far my favourite dish in Peru.

Anyway, it is around 10 pm here, and we need to go to sleep...

So maybe tomorrow, I'll want to settle down. Until tomorrow, I'll just keep movin' on....

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Guinea Pig and Elongated Skulls

Buenas tardes amigos!!

We had a long and exciting day, with visits to a couple of museums including Inca Museum and the Pre-Columbian Museum. Both were about a 15-20 minute walk up and down the many narrow white washed streets of Cusco. Both these museums were really good and each had a small shop that sold replicas of some of the Peruvian artifacts.

The Inca Museum had some elongated human skulls on display. The skulls are elongated because at an early age they would wrap ropes around the head to give them that form. It is like in the movie Indian Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls, except no crystal or Harrison Ford....so I guess not really like the movie at all!! lol

We also went to the biggest Inca site within the city of Cusco, which is called Qorikancha or the Temple of the Sun. It was first an Inca ruin, then when the Spaniards came, they built a church around it, called Igelsia del Santo Domingo. The Inca walls in the temple are amazing, they had no modern tools, but were still able to construct these walls and foundations... that have survived major earthquakes and many years of abuse. They fit perfectly, with no cement or anything holding them together, yet you can't even fit a piece of paper between each stone, they are that prefect. They also built them with larger bottoms and they get narrower as the height increases. This was to make them stronger and support each other.

We then hung out in the main square, Plaza de Armas, and we went to an early dinner, and yes I did have some guinea pig. Aneta stuck to more "normal" food. It was pretty good, kind of like game meat, with a lot of fat. The best is how they bring it to your table, it still has the full body, with the little feet with nails, and the head. The restaurant has wicked views over the plaza and the 2 main cathedrals and mountains.

Until tomorrow my friends, stay thirsty!!

P.S. Is there anything such as the guinea pig flu?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Inca Kola tastes like Banana poison!!!!


We are back from a full day of walking and checking out Cusco. We primarily went to the main 3 cathedrals, including the 2 at Plaza de Armas and the one at San Blas. We are now officially churched out!!! We also walked around the many small alleys and mazed streets, which have artist shops, jewelery shops and the trinket tourist shops.

The amount of tourists is increadible. Since the seasons are reversed, this is their fall, going to winter, which is high season, since it is the dry season. There are about 10 flights a day going from Lima to Cusco, and this time of the year, they are all booked up. We barely were able to get our tickets about 2 months ago.

It is really nice during the day, around 20-25 degrees, but it drops right away when it gets dark. It must be around 5 degrees right now.

Just got back from dinner, really good. Might try the cuy or guinea pig tomorrow....ummmm...

btw, in Peru they have this famous cola called Inca Kola, and let me tell you, that stuff is toxic. will stick to the coca tea!

Coca Tea and me!!



After a really long journey we finally arrived in Cusco. First thing we did is make ourselves some coca tea. As we sit here enjoying our coca, of course made from the leaves of the coca plant, I hope there are no drug tests when we come back to Canada... lolol

We are at Rumi Punku Hostel, which is built on original Inca walls, and has an original Inca door way, one of the only complete doors left in Cusco. This hostel is really cool and authentic. We are in a area called the neighnourhood of artists. Surrounding us are old homes with reddish clay roofs and white walls, with the Andean Mountains in the background.

One of our first impressions of Peru, are how friendly the people are, and very proud of their Inca roots. We are just relaxing now, and waiting for our altitude sickness to kick in, hopefully it doesn't happen. Either way we are on our second cup of coca tea and we feel greeaaaatttt!!!!

Adios Amigos!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Waiting for departure!!

It's Sunday, and we have just finished packing all our stuff into our ridiculously heavy backpacks!!
Nah, they're not that heavy, just heavy enough! ;)

We leave tomorrow May 18, in the afternoon, and when all is said and done, we will be at our first real destination Tuesday around noon. That will be Cusco, the heart of the Inca Empire.

We will post as much as we can while away, and it also will depend on access to internet, and in some case, access to electricity.

Let's get ready for some cuy or guinea pig, Inca Kola and some Pisco Sour!!!

As you say in Quechua and Spanish, Yusulipayki and Adios.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Countdown to Peru!!!

Hey everyone...it is around a month before we leave for Peru, and in anticipation we are writing the first of many entries into our travel blog. This will be our second time blogging while travelling. We also did this back in October 2008 when we backpacked Jordan and Egypt.


Our itinerary is action packed...we arrive in Lima on May 19, and take an internal flight to Cuzco, the heart of the mighty Inca empire. It is the undisputed archaeological capital of the Americas. It is also the continents oldest continuously inhabited city. It lies on the Andes at an altitude of 11,600 feet, which is one reason why we are staying in the town for 5 days. Try to acclimatize and avoid altitude sickness. The other reason is for the amount of stuff one can see and do in the Cuzco area, from day trips to the Sacred Valley, horseback riding on the high ledges of the Andes, checking out the many artist shops, river rafting the ice cold rivers of the mountains, exploring the many Inca ruins and of coarse drinking some coca tea or chewing some coca leaves, you know to help you with the altitude sickness. ;) Don't worry, the possession of coca leaves is legal in Peru!!


We are staying at the Hostal Rumi Punku, which has a monumental Inca stone doorway.


After 4 nights we will be taking an early train through the Andes Mountains to the town of Aquas Calientes, which is the starting point for the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu. We are giving ourselves 2 full days at Machu Picchu, just in case one day there are many clouds and/or fog. We are staying at Wiracocha Inn, right beside the mountain river.


After 1 night and 2 full days at Machu Picchu, we return to Cuzco for one night before taking another flight to Puerto Maldonado to head into the Amazon, where we will be staying for 3 days. We take a 2 hour boat ride up the Rio Tambopata to Posada Amazonas, which is a jungle lodge. We won't be able to blog from here, since there is no electricity, never mind computers. In the Amazon, we will mainly be hiking, boating and searching for animals. We are also visiting a Shaman. The land we will be staying on is part of the Ese'eje native community.


After the Amazon, we take another flight back to Lima, where we travel about 1 hour south of Lima to the town of San Bartolo for 3 full days of surfing on the Pacific Ocean. We will be staying at Penascal Surf Hotel.


Then we will call it a trip, and head back to Lima, for our flight back to Toronto...

So stay tuned, as we may blog a couple more time before we leave...

Follow our blog and follow our adventures through Peru!!


Check out our pics at

http://www.flickr.com/photos/anetamark/