Sunday, December 7, 2008

The march in the jungle....

The boat arrived on the opposite side of the river at a dock with a long steep staircase that led to the top of the bank. I was very glad I wasn't the one carrying the huge sack that contained all our little duffle bags!! Once at the top we started our hour long march through the jungle. We stopped at the park station where we wrote our names and passport numbers to register our arrival and departure dates. Then on through the steamy green canopy... There were so many things to see!! Hundreds of butterflies would be swarming around mud puddles to get the minerals left by the drying earth. The most fantastic butterfly was the giant electric blue one--they were gorgeous!!--I will have to see if Tami got a picture of one of them--my camera was too slow to snap it before they flew away. When they landed, they would close up their wings and just look like a black leaf. At one point--there was a bridge we crossed (picture above) but mostly the trail was muddy dirt and a lot of uneven ground. The "rickshaw" passed us at one point--it was just a metal board between two large wheels with metal poles sticking out for handles--this is how they transfer "goods" to the lodge from the mainland.

On our way to the AMAZON!!

After a wonderful farewell dinner in Cusco with most of our tour group, we woke early and headed to the airport to embark for Puerto Maldanado. We arrived with the captain announcing that it was 99 degrees outside with a relative humidity of 96 per

cent! We felt the steamy air the minute we disembarked the plane!! Our group, which now consisted of Phil, Denise, a couple from the tour (Glenn and Deanna) and our family-Duane, me, Tami and Alora--gathered our luggage and got on a small bus. We were driven to the tour company's office where we were given small green duffle bags to re-pack from our large suitcases three days worth of belongings into the small bags. The tour group tagged and locked up our suitcases for our return. We then got back on the bus, and were taken to the bank of the Amazon River. We went down to the dock where the boat--(pictured above) awaited our arrival. We ferried down the river, which is very muddy and dirty for about 25 minutes. They served us lunch that was a wonderful mix of rice, vegetables and soy meat wrapped in a leaf and steamed!! It was REALLY yummy!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The last humanitarian aid to Mismanay

As we got back from the farm land area we had a packed lunch from the tour company waiting for us. We sat on the bus because there was no place in the village to sit and eat, and it had started to rain a bit--anyway--the lunch was GI-normous!! Two meat sandwiches an apple, banana chips, pasta salad and a cake. The tour guide found out that some of the people in the front (we were in the back) wanted to give the children some of this huge lunch--we heard them donating and the whole bus gave most of their lunch away to the people--it was awesome!! The top picture is all the kids eating the packed lunches and writing on the post-it notes that our tour group gave the little kids. (All the older children of the village were still in school).

A real "Farm Girl"

So all the men decided to try their hand at plowing. Naturally, my little Tami isn't going to be outdone by anyone--so she waits until last and then tells them she wants to give it a hand. These beasts are like, 20 times her size and she grabs the plow and the whip and outshines all the guys--her rows were straight, the oxen obeyed her at every turn!! She ended up plowing way more rows than any of the men. The unfortunate part was that when she was almost done, she stepped in the muddy water that they had started to flood the field with and got her shoe soaked. No problem-- there is a stream up the bank where she decided to rinse off her shoe. She started hobbling toward it with just her toe in the muddy shoe to keep her sock out of the goo and lost her balance just as she got there and reached out with her hand so she wouldn't fall over and shoved it right into a nasty cactus!! She had so many spines sticking out of her hand!!--some were really deep too. One of the village ladies came running over immediately and took her to her home whipped out a needle and started digging the spines out. She didn't get all of them and we ended up working and working back at the hotel to get the rest--some finally ended up coming out after the trip was all over back at home!

Humanitarian aid rendered!

We had quite a trudge up a hill holding our little pine trees--(they felt like they weighed a hundred pounds in 12,000 foot elevation). As you can see by the pictures, the women in the village are not exactly small in girth, but they had no problem marching up the hill!! I was sucking air like no other!! We got to the place where the village has a plot of land to farm. We were instructed to plant the little trees in the holes that the men dug in the side of a bank above the plot of farm land. I thought I did a pretty good job, but after Alora and Tami were done planting their trees, the men came by to water them and when he got to mine, he shoved some more dirt on it--Oh well, I never said I was a farmer!!!
This is my little tree--
I thought he looked
pretty good!!
Hope he grows.......

The Village of Mismanay

This is the village of Mismanay. It is a small (very small) village about 2 hours from Cusco. We rode a bus to get there (of course!). We got there in the late morning and we were introduced to the people--they had lots of handmade items to sell, and demonstrated how they weave cloth. Some of the group tried it--its a lot harder than you think. Later, I found out that one of the village women has a son that owns a hand loom. He produces most of the things that were for sale--the demonstration was for us. It is a very poor village and the tour agency (Condor Tours) has adopted them. They have started a program of hygiene and industry--by bringing tour groups for purchasing souveniers and also providing some humanitarian aid.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The disappearance of Duane and the purchase of three stone totem poles...

This is another ruin close to the city of Cusco. It was the site of the final battle between the Incan warriors and the Spaniards. It is the Temple of Lightning, and is built in a zigzag pattern to simulate lightning. Tami and Alora and I went with our very annoying tour guide "Jose" to learn about this place while Duane went back to the bus, or so we thought. Turns out he went to the bathroom and while he was in there, the bus left to move to the opposite end of the ruins to pick us all up. Duane comes out of the bathroom, no bus, just tons of vendors--so while he sits there waiting for the bus that isn't going to return, he gets accosted and ends up falling for a very convincing young lady who sells him three stone carved totem poles she insists her husband made himself. (good thing she took the made in china stickers off the bottom before she sold them to him!)

the train ride back to Cusco

Scary as he seems, he was the entertainment on the train ride back to Ollyantambo--along with a full scale fashion show of Alpaca sweaters, shawls and ponchos. He was the "god of alpacas" or something, but when I looked at a picture of a llama all decked out with costuming, it looked just like this guy!--go figure.

Getting sick of these pics yet?

This might be the very spot where the treasure lies buried!!??
Well, if nothing else, I found Denise among the ruins!!

More of Machu Piccu

I got a picture of Alora amidst the ruins!! She is so cute!!
The most amazing part of these ruins are the stones that mesh so perfectly with one another they look like a master architect designed them. They had fountains that ran the whole length of the ruins--holes drillled in rocks an channels carved out to guide the water into pools. There is no mortar, they had no signifigant tools to work with, no written language, and yet there buildings have lasted for hundreds of years, in spite of earthquakes that have toppled even the most sturdy cathedrals. After huffing and puffing (because of the lack of oxygen) over the hundreds of stairs at this site, I can't even begin to imagine how the Incas ever managed to complete places like this one!
Our tour guide, Garland Dennett told us that they flew over this site at one point when he was working for the US Government looking for possible drug growning operations. On the opposite mountain they could see with infrared photography that there are terraced imprints on the side of the mountain. They are pretty sure that there are ruins just like Machu Piccu on this opposite site. No money for excavation at this point, but who knows? That might be the very spot where they kept the Inca treasure that has never been found!.......

Finally the update!!

We arrived in Cusco, and got to our hotel in time to go to bed and get up the next morning at 3:00am!! We had to catch the bus to go to Ollyantambo where we caught the train to Machu Piccu. We arrived in the town very early in the morning and even the vendors weren't set up yet! A miracle--I didn't think they ever slept....Anyway....We got on the bus that took us WAY up the mountain to the top where the ruins are. As you look at these photos above of the mountains look at how high up we are--the bus took us to the top and the road was very narrow and you pass trucks and other busses all the time--very scary! The ruins were so much bigger and the square footage of the area was amazing. In the first two photos you can see a mountain in the background that is typically in the photos of Machu Piccu. It is the "younger" mountain, not Machu (older) mountain. There is a stairway that goes to the top of this mountain and it is very trecherous and steep. They only allow 450 people on it at a time, and the stairs at the top are about 4 inches wide and 12 or more inches deep. You can't put your whole foot on it. When you get to the top, there are three boulders to sit on and that's all. You get your picture taken and come back down. Four members of our tour group made the climb, but since it was almost one in the afternoon and we hadn't eaten since 3:00am, we decided not to try it (that would be Tami and I)--Alora and Duane had no interest in it at all. Tami sincerely regrets that decision, but after hearing about it, I think I made the right choice--not so great on heights, or falls for that matter!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

No pictures right now....

Just to give everyone an update....the keyboards here are weird, so not much punctuation...bear with me. This is the first time we have had internet since the beginning of the trip. We arrived in Puno and I started getting sick on the plane. By the time we landed it was sheer misery and much embarrassment until we finally made it to the hotel. Duane decided to have a relapse and I was way too sick myself to take care of him...we were quite a pair. I spent the whole night up hugging my new best friend the porcelien god. We both were still too sick to go to Lake Tititicaca and the floating islands the next day. Although the girls took lots and lots of pictures, I was so sad to miss that part.
We were nursed on and off by Tami, and we pulled through enough to get on the plane the next day to leave for Cusco. Back up and at it for the ruins and lots of pictures. will try to get back to the computer with photos as soon as possible, just wanted to check in. Remember to VOTE today!!! I think Elizabeth Taylor died.....not question to all!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Our first tour....

This is the President's Palace and it takes up a whole city block. The President of Argentina came for a visit yesterday, but we weren't invited....awwww....

This is the cathedral that Francisco Pizzarro built. It is massive and very ornate.

I had to take a picture out of the window of the bus--this was a lady making pork sandwiches--note the carcass in the bottom of the picture--lunch to go!!

Arriving at the airport in Lima, boarding a bus to the hotel. Very tired, long long day it's now 12:00am! Went to the grocery store to get food--we were hungry got to bed around 1:00am.

This is the view from our hotel room on the eleventh floor bright and early the next morning. Welcome to Lima!

And now for a long fllight...

We started the long journey with a flight from Salt Lake to Dallas then to Miami. This is all of us getting ready to leave Miami for Lima. The flights were all very full, but thankfully uneventful. Poor Duane spent most of the first flights in the lavatory, but by the time we got to Lima, he was feeling a lot better!

We leave at last!!

Leaving from Denise and Phil's house in South Jordan--very very early in the morning--3:00am on Monday--the big trip is about to begin--(Duane is still very sick...)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cameron and Shawnte's new visitor!

This little guy was in their backyard--he has a squinty eye, and doesn't fly very well, so Fish and Game is supposed to make him all better!! The funniest part was when Alora texted me to tell me he was trying to fly while they were transporting him in the car!!! Picture that one!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fall is Here!

I am always so delighted to see the leaves change colors!!! I love fall!! We are getting ready to take off for our Peru trip and I wonder if the snow will be covering all the pretty leaves by the time we get back? It will be so surreal. The girls got all their immunizations and watching Alora get hers was a sight to behold--I really wish I had the camera for that! The good thing is, by the time she got the fifth and last shot, she was a pro! Now just for the malaria medication.....I keep telling myself, this will all be worth it!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Am I crazy???

So I have decided to start training for my first half-marathon. It takes place May 15, 2009 in Spokane, Washington. I don't know if I am crazy or not, but if anyone out there would like to join me in my madness, let me know so we can start training together. If not, I could use some tips, or just friendly words of encouragement to get me going. Thanks.

The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom came to the spokane opera house this season for the first time in several years, so naturally we were the first to buy tickets! After some rearranging of seats and tickets, Tami went with Natalie and Jayson on Thursday and Dad gave up his seat for Saturday so that Alora could go with me. Alora has never seen the show live before and agreed that it was better than seeing the movie. As for me... I will be serenading the family with phantom songs out loud for the next few weeks. Needless to say, it was definately worth it and I am looking forward to seeing again next time it comes to Spokane!

Saturday, July 5, 2008