Lake Titicaca 2, our homestay

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typical robe worn by the married man
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Coca leaves in sack made for this purpose, worn around the waist.

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We’re giddy because we lack oxygen right here! it’s 13,500 ft and we’ve had a long day but the pay off is incredibly beautiful. At the top it is traditional to walk three times around the top ruin (which is enclose and not visible d/t a large wall of rock surrounding it) whilst holding a pebble/small rock and make a wish/intention. after your final lap, you toss it into the middle (the ruin) and your wish comes true, simple as that. So we did.

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mommy needs a haircut!

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Lake Titicaca

 

 

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“sexy llama” we learned is what you say right before you take a photo, like “say cheese!”. It usually does make people smile!

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IMG_4018Puno is a lot cuter and more colorful than I expected. It is >12,500 ft so we were feeling kind of swimmy and fatigued. We went out from our hotel to bring home dinner and left Gus to sleep (with a fever now). IMG_8263IMG_4014

 

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Looking for ‘to-go’ food we came across a marching band carrying this huge icon. It was pretty exhilarating, nice music, very loud, but poor Gus still home in bed.  The next morning we took a boat to the islands lead by guide extraordinaire, Bruno.IMG_4069IMG_4067IMG_4053

 

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IMG_8332IMG_4040BRUNO, above in Uros and below in Tequilla, the last island we visited. Here he explains the differences in the colors and styles of hats and what they each represent; white on top means “single”, red means “married” and the brightly colored one in the next photo, and in the one on Gus, is worn by the town leader.IMG_4217IMG_4215

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The CLUB, pronounced clube, like tube.

Ooh my, this place has been both our savior and our bane. Given that you risk your life to try to jog here and that this place is 2 blocks from our house, AND our host family are members, we decided to “apply” to the CLUB International. Gus was SUPER psyched because they have archery! and some kids playing soccer, etc., so we went in with our passports and money. Oh no, you silly, we need to see your :

  • 1). marriage license
  • 2). notarized document proving you are a family (different last names)
  • 3).letter from our host family
  • 4). letter from our spanish class teacher/business owner and
  • 5). notarized passport to be on permanent record there.                                                       For a 3 month membership! Marriage license? I literally have no idea where it is…do I even have one? I was married by a distinctly not-traditional woman that I think held some license to marry us?

Anywho, after 6-7 attempts and rejections, they accepted us as members and so we try to go most days, just to upset them. Naw, we’ve now become a bit of a fixture around Arequipa, and the CLUB. People don’t stare quite as long and we’ve actually made a couple of friends. But the Club… not sure these are my people, then again, how would I know given my spanish? I do know that I love yoga on T/H  and think of my sweet yoga friends, Theresa, Alessandra, Paté and others. I love the way I feel when PUMP is over and Cliff likes the safety of the track. I love that Gus is taking Archery and Kung Fu and he can walk there safely. But the vibe is a bit too elite for me. I’m really looking forward to a nice bike ride or a jog on Mount Tabor.

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from entry about a 8 min walk classes and yes people have high heeled sneakers.
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This sits among the weight machines, I couldn’t figure this out for weeks, then Cliff told me: for arm wrestling
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poolside restaurants (~6?)
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Beautiful clay courts for tennis, not that we play.
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I put this in there because you can almost see the club from our house, it’s 10 min walk, tops. and check out Mt. Misti!
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View from the track, look at the mountains
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one of many classes…spin. I have NOT taken spin. Oh, and they have SO many dance class options  its crazy and it’s packed and super loud, really fun.

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“Pilates”, (notice the use of quotes)…not like any Pilates I have ever seen. But I like it, I get to count to 15 like everybody else, but I haven’t been allowed to count to 20 yet. (I’m not kidding, she skips me, in spanish, if it’s my turn to count but we are doing something w/ high reps!) The instructor is super warm and accepting of me, though she introduces me as French.

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soccer pitch

 

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This is Body-Pump. I love this class because it kicks my butt and she pushes me plus it’s whole body, so just when you might get screamed at for cheating on your ab reps, you move on to shoulders. The instructor is quite excellent, though tough. She gives me more smiles cuz I’m a “turista”, but she doesn’t know I understand spanish, when she talks about me in class. The group, as we have discovered in most of Peru, are not so friendly. I’d say about 10-15% of the people we’ve encountered are genuinely interested in us and are warm and friendly. I don’t get it some days, and some days I understand it can be exhausting being nice to a stranger from a foreign land…France.

 

Colca Canyon

The Trip Up

 

Taking a bus up to the Colca Canyon. Heading to Chivay and then to Yanque where we will stay 2 nights.

Later that day, nice hike outside of Yanque with a great guide , Fredie , hiking through terraced farmland and old ruins to wind up at a cool bath house along a river.

 

At Condor Cross

“Swoop and Pummel”

Yanque Plaza

At The Killawasi Lodge: Fredy, Awesome guide and Jose, lodge manager practicing their throws with their new disc.

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IMG_6906Day 8 - Cusco-9257

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WARNING: this one is not pretty-
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Movies: This is a favorite treat of Gus’s and early on we were looking for ways to improve his mood, so we’d sit in 2 hour long movies where we literally had NO IDEA what was happening on the screen, but Gus was laughing his butt off! It was worth every penny!

They do it differently and I think we should mimic it in the US. When you arrive and pay you choose your seat on a screen, (if you knew how to, you could’ve done this at home before you left). It’s traditional to get soda and a meal and/or ‘pocor’, Peruvian slang for popcorn, but they only have salt- no butter (what!). You carry it on a large tray which attaches to your seat which is pretty slick once you figure it out. Cliff had a hard time at first… “clean-up on row 8”.

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It’s 100% humidity and a bazillion degrees yet this sign…
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Yummy but looks like its from mars

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I shy away from these now due to the slivers I get for weeks.

 

 

 

GALAPAGOS

Days 5-10: Landing on San Cristobal Island, instantly SO hot! It’s a bit of a ass-pain (airport) to get into the Galapagos as I suppose it should be since it’s a National Park, Marine Reserve home to so many extra-special animals. Once there, you really only have 2 choices on a modest budget: 1). to stay in one spot in a hotel and take a very fast and bumpy speed boat ride every day to an island for your adventure…OR 2).to stay on some sort of a “big” boat/ship where they sail you during the night to the next destination, saving you the time and back pain of the speed boat ride which are over 2 hours each way. I was afraid of the big boat option due to my propensity to get car/sea sick so easily, but after calculating the options, it made more sense to cruise…so Cruise we did! But first, one night in a harbor-side hotel.

After settling in at our hotel, we decided to go on an adventure to a beach that we could see on the map, but could not find a road to. We bushwhacked a little, much to Cliff’s chagrin, and when we arrived at this beach it was truly awe-inspiring. As the path opened up we can see through a clearing that the beach was covered in marine Iguanas, August’s first choice “animal to see in the Galapagos”. They are draped all over (rocks, sand, your towel if you let them!) & SO close to us and because they have no real land predators. They really do not avoid you, it’s our responsibility to stay a respectful distance. Later, just swimming around there, we missed a good view, but others saw several sea turtles swimming around with us, again, so close. Unfortunately, we only brought goggles..they had mask and snorkel- snap!

The cool thing about these Islands is that the culture has shifted to respect the animal, I mean really shifted, in part I imagine because there is enough money made from it, but the local people have a different kind of respect for the animals here. It’s hard to believe that some species first had to be pushed into extinction; or that only a few hundred years ago the Tortoise went from hundreds of thousands to less than 100. The G-Islands are home to the only remaining Giant Pinta tortoise on earth. These giants can easily live up to 150 years and weigh 595 pounds. The last one was named Lonesome George he was considered the ‘rarest creature’ on earth and died in 2012. He was thought to be~ 90 years old and seemingly unable to reproduce when all the mating attempts had resulted in infertile eggs -until Diego came along. Diego, another male seemed to shift (the mood?) something and the results were wildly successful. At rock bottom there were only 30 left! Apparently >100,000 were killed off by the Pirates in the 16th century while they hid out in the Galapagos and used the tortoises as a source for food. Later whalers did the same. Now, thanks to Diego and Lonesome George and a huge conservation effort, there are over 15,000 but still threatened by invasive feral animals eating there eggs. We are grateful to have witnessed these enormous, gentle giants and to see a real symbiotic relationship with the people on the islands. Spanish sailors who discovered the archipelago in 1535 actually named it after the abundant tortoises; the Spanish word for tortoise is garlápago (says National Geographic.com)

Nuestra Neuva Vida

 

In Quito. Gus is a bit ‘off’ with all of the changes and the elevation. Plus early on in the trip and on a few occasions since (like once a week) I really needed his help in Spanish with something important, like things that I would not typically ask of my kids: ‘please explain that I don’t have a PIN number, I would like a cash advance!’, ‘tell her we just want it notarized and yes we are a family even though we have different names.’,’double check ,but I think she said that you are going to the school tomorrow, we will drop you off at 7:20am, but I have no idea what happens next because they have not given you a schedule and they do not let parents come into the building once the school year starts except by appointment’…what?!, it’s true. Growing up fast.