here's our flight schedule...

going to the marketand some ruinstoday thenweareoff! this keyboardis crazy.


i forgot to mention that i was going to the amazon for 4 days. (that´s why there have been no blogs) we took a tour, meaning we had transport from the airport to a boat to a research station on the jungle. there we had our own guide (because this is the low season) and big meals provided. our guide took us for walks and told us about the plants and animals- did you know that chocolate comes in a fruit that looks like a spotty mango and the seeds are coverd by gelatinous goo that tastes like lychee?

here are the highlights for me:
night boat ride up river looking for caymans (didn´t see caymans because the river was too high)

saw a capybara family (they are rodents of unusual size- the largest in the world) http://mbgnet.mobot.org/sets/rforest/animals/capybara.htm they are extremely cute, considering the ones we saw were larger than a big dog. there were also three babies who didn´t notice when their parents walked away for us. we got within about 5 feet and i noticed that they are smelly. funny thing is that they have webbed feet!

saw many (about 40) parrots at the clay lick. apparently the berries the parrots eat are toxic, so they got to eat clay which neutralizes the toxins and keeps them healthy.

the pet macaw, willy. he came to our door and said ¨knock knock¨twice. so, i let hime in. he waddled into out little hut and looked very agitated. he tried to peck rachels bare feet so she jumped on the bed. he bacame more agitated and attacked my shoes and pants on the floor. i sat on another bed and tried to look relaxed. he came over, got on the bed, walked up to me and said, ¨SQUACK!!!¨ extremely loudly. this made me squack and spill my beer. he kept following me around, very agitated-like so i finally led him outside (me barefoot in my underwear with a squacking parrot on my heals. i´m stealthy so i snuck past and we closed ourselves in the room again.

red howler monkey: at about 4 am you begin to hear their erie call. it sounds like nothing you´ve ever heard- like a cross between the loudest windstorm you can imagine and a low growl. and they howl and howl and howl. I highly recommend----->click on howler monkey bellow: http://www.naturesongs.com/costa.html
here´s some info: The Howler Monkey is the loudest monkey and the loudest land animal. The only animal that is louder than the Howler Monkey is the Blue Whale. The Howler's call can be heard up to three miles (4.8 km) away.
The Howler is the largest New World monkey (monkeys from South, North, and Central America). These social primates live high in the trees (the canopy) of the rain forests of southern Brazil, northern Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia. Howlers have a life span of about 20 years. These monkeys are in decline due to a loss of habitat.
see this very beautiful picture: http://www.yptenc.org.uk/docs/factsheets/animal_facts/red_howler.html

watched a group of tiny saddleback tamarin monkeys:http://www.projectamazonas.com/Images/Flora&Fauna/FloraFaunaGalleries/mammals%20primates/Saguinus%20fuscicollis%2001.jpg

heard a giant pekaree snorting nearby. we were on a little afternoon walk, saw tracks and then heard snorting. earlier in the day our guide said if you see one, you probably want to climb a tree. so we hurried home.

heading home tomorrow and i will be back the 20th!


click for a virtual mummy expedition
click for a virtual autopsy

Ok, this is from 1996, but its what we saw today in ariquipa....

"Incan girl's mummy goes on display:
Killed 500 years ago in apparent ritual sacrifice
May 22, 1996Web posted at: 12:30 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The hiker who stumbled upon a frozen body atop a Peruvian mountain in September says he didn't immediately sense the full importance of his discovery.
"When we turned it over and saw the face, I thought, 'Uh-oh, she's dried out,'" Dr. Johan Reinhard recalled. "But when we lifted her up ... that was the moment the electricity ran through the body, because we knew that we had something absolutely unique. It's the first frozen body from pre-Columbian times in the Andes."
Reinhard, an anthropologist, carried the body on a bus to a Catholic University in Arequipa, Peru, where scientific analysis began.
On Tuesday, Reinhard looked on as the mummy was unveiled to the American public for the first time, at the National Geographic Society building in Washington. Until June 19, visitors can inspect the Incan girl, who has been dead for half a millennium. (1.1M QuickTime movie)
The teen-age mummy has inspired awe, curiosity and affection. She is known as the "Ice Maiden" or "Ampato Maiden," or simply "Juanita."
Volcano-top ritual bludgeoning
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore examined the mummy using a CT scan. The computer-driven X-ray revealed a crack in the skull, just above the right eye, and a brain that was pushed aside -- probably by internal bleeding. The research team concluded that the healthy girl 12 to 14 years old was killed by a powerful blow to the head.
Archaeologists believe she was taken to a religious complex on the Nevado Ampato volcano for a ritual sacrifice to appease Inca gods. Before the killing, she may have fasted and taken drugs or an intoxicating drink.
After finding the Ice Maiden, Reinhard returned to the volcano and found two more ancient bodies. One was probably an 8-year-old girl; the other may have been a young boy. Both had been damaged by lightning after burial."


my day today....
woke up at 6:30am, showered, ate, grabbed a bicycle-taxi to the bus station for our 8:00am bus.
bus was late, got on at 9:00
drove 20 minutes to a gas station
bus was stopped for 1 hour while being fixed
drove 20 minutes to a dirt road.
drove down dirt road for 10 minutes.
a guy announces in spanish that the bus will be turning around.
i corss my fingers that we are not going back to puno.
but, luckily, we seem to have taken a wrong turn and continue out of town on a paved road.
paved road is covered in large rocks everywhere. (from yesterday's riots)
we drive on the shoulder as much as possible until we come to a stop.
i peek out a window and a guy on a bike asks me (in spanish) where we re going.
"arequipa!" i say
"no pasar!" "no pasar!" "no es possible!"
our bus turns around
i cross my fingers we are not going back to puno. we can't get away!!!
we go back to the first dirt road and take that again. apparently that was the other option that the driver had thought better of and we were now stuck with.
so we took the short cut.
my friend used to say, "short cuts make long delays"
its true.
we were on the dirt road until about 2 or 3:00
then connected with a paved one (saw a sign that we were now 60km away from where we started....)
finally got into arequipa at 5pm!!! (this was supposed to take 5 hours!!!!)
its pretty here... old colonial buildings, everything made of white stone. that's all i have seen so far. we are going to hear some music now!!!


Rachel is writing: Stuck in Puno due to a 19 percent increase on the meat tax. apparently buses can´t go anywhere due to strikes, roadblocks, fires and throwing stones. we hear a rumor the strike may end at noon. seems very civilized. although it´s not civilized to start a strike at 5 am. back to bed! we´re trying to go to bolivia but may satisfy ourselves with stone phalluses, a strange archeological site near Puno.

We had a delightful trip around Lake Titicaca. Spent the evening with a Quechua family on an island with no electricity or water, but plenty of sheep. The women dress traditionally with long black head shawls, colorful skirts, and white blouses with rainbow colored embroidery. The women are constantly working. If they´re not knitting then they´re spinning wool. Or cooking over the fire in ceramic pots. The men seem to be doing a lot of resting. My favorite thing was watching them cook in the adobe kitchen surrounded by guinea pigs underfoot. We met the whole family, from a little 7 year old to an ancient grandmother who talks to the water and commands it to boil.

There was an amazing array of stars in the evening, and an impressive display of lightning all around Lake Titicaca.

We also visited a floating island made of stacked reeds where the people build their houses out of reeds, paddle around in reed boats, and eat reeds. We ate reeds. They tasted spongey.


Rachel was feeling better today so we headed off to Puno, a city that is the gateway to lake titicaca. The bus ride was enjoyable, especially the contrast of the scenery and the on-bus movies: a 70's (american) Kung Fu movie and "Dawn of the Dead" zombies. As we were driving, climbing to higher and higher elevations, the grassy, green mountains gradually changed to rugged mountain dessert. Peoples houses were built out of the local boulders and rocks instead of the adobe of the sacred valley. They have also built miles and miles of rock fences- i can't imagine how much work must be involved. The corn agriculture also changed to fields of sheep, alpaca (llamas) and cows. Llamas are now my favorite animal (besides chickens) and hopefully I can have one or two one day on my little farm. I want to hug and kiss them when I see them. They also look like birdy (rachel's chihuahua).

Puno was at first rather disappointing- a very dusty place where its hard to find a good hotel. Ours was so bad that we vowed not to go back to go back until we had to. Puno redeemed itself after we accidentially stumbled apon the beginings of the festival de virgen candeleria:

"In Peru, Puno is known as the Folkloric Capital of Peru and lives up to this reputation in grand manor during this fiesta which lasts for days, as this schedule shows. The rites are centered around the observance of February second, and then a week later with the famed dances. Peruvian celebrants are not hesitant to take their statue of the Virgen around the streets of Puno in a staged procession.
The mixing of Christian and pagan is very evident here. Mamacha Candelaria, Mamita Canticha, and MamáCandi, are all names for the Virgen of Candelaria, the patron saint of Puno. She is also associated with Lake Titicaca as the birth of the Inca empire, with the cult of the earth, Pachamama. Men, women and children dance in her honor, to show their devotion and their thanks for her blessings. The celebration continues as a prelude to Carnival, as described in Máximo Esplendor Festivo.
The festival has two main phases. The first is described in El Día Principal Y Sus Ritos in which a procession carries the statue of the Virgen around the city, and dancers in lavish costumes from all walks of life join the parade. The dancers, by group, pause in front of the cathedral to be blessed with holy water, after which they are cooled with water thrown from nearby houses.
The second phase occurs on the Sunday after February second, called the Octava. On this day, El Segundo Gran Día : La Octava, costumed groups from the neighborhoods of Puno dance day and night in religious fervor and competitive spirit. "


In Cusco for another day, taking care of a sick Rachel... looks like the flu.

Let me know if the picture link doesn´t work.

This is where we are headed tomorrow:
The city of Puno is located in the south east corner of Peru, on the shores of the magnificent Lake Titicaca and only 126km from the frontier with Bolivia.

At 3,827m in altitude, Puno is a rather cold and bleak town surrounded by the desolate altiplano (or high plateau). It is not so much a destination in itself but a necessary stop on the way to visit the islands on Lake Titicaca, or when crossing the border to Bolivia.

Puno is, however, a melting pot of Indian cultures including the Aymara from the south and the Quechua from the north. This has earned Puno the title of 'Folkloric Capital of Peru' which it lives up to well with its huge number and variety of traditional fiestas, dances and music.

The city, whose full name is San Carlos de Puno, was founded in 1668 following the discovery of nearby silver mines. Prior to this, Puno had been a small stopping off place between the much larger silver mines at Potosi in Bolivia and Lima.
Today, Puno is a predominately agricultural region. Its main economic activities are cultivating potatoes, barley and quinoa, as well as raising cattle, sheep, llamas and alpaca.
Lake Titicaca, is however, the main attraction that draws people to this part of Peru. This amazing deep blue lake, 195 km in length with an average width of 50 km, is the largest lake in South America and the largest in the world above 2,000m.
Lake Titicaca was, according to Andean legend, the birthplace of civilization. Wiracocha, the creator god, brought light into a dark world by directing the Sun, Moon and stars to rise up out of the lake and take their place in the sky. With time the Sun and Moon had children who also rose from the depths of the lake. These new people were sent out from Titicaca to the four corners of the earth, with Manco Capac and his sister-wife Mama Ocllo and their family clan being sent off to inhabit the Cusco region. Inca legend believed that Manco was the first Inca and a direct descendent from the Sun.
The supposed location in Titicaca of the birthplace of the Sun, Moon and Manco Capac is actually on the Bolivian side of the lake on the islands not surprisingly named the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) and Isla de la Luna (Island of the Moon).


Left crazy town for Cuzco.

Fun fact of the day: The main Cathedral here has a mural of the last supper where they are all eating guinea pig.




Arrived in this crazy place late last night. The town is a cross between a Peruvian disney world and Vegas, complete with neon lights on every hotel. Exiting the train with 100´s of other tourists, we were hearded towarded the town square where more people were waiting to try to get us to follow them to their hotel. What a change from yesterday! We followed someone and ended up going up stairs, crossing a few bridges, through a market than to a very moist, dark hotel which cost 3$/night. We decided to walk next door to a slightly less moist and dark hotel where we ended up sleeping. In order to avoid crowds, we got up at the crack of dawn for the ride up the mountain to the ruins. Although we were milked for money every step of the way, the site is of course as picturesque as it looks in books. crowds were low and the sun was shining so it ended up to be very beautiful. Rachel got sick from the altitude and threw up on our tour (on her hat which she had to keep wearing because of the afore-mentioned sunshine). We stumbled around for a few hours and headed back to town. Luckily we were able to switch rooms to one with a window and a view and things are looking up.

This town is full of:
drink specials
cheap hotels
expensive hotels
tourist shops
one river
green mountains
many hard working people