Friday, November 25, 2005

Lake Titicaca - - Part 2

Journey Fotos!
Happy Thanksgiving from La Paz, Boliva

Today has been sort of a day to kinda get used to the altitude. La Paz is situated at the bottom in a bowl shaped valley and is surrounded by snow-capped mountains at a staggering 4,000 meters above sea level. The altitude here is for real, walking up the steps can leave you wondering what type of shape you are in. Our group of six has been reduced today with the departure of Clare, an English girl with a great sense of humor.

Trout to the Flame!!!I have been traveling the past coupla days with some jokers that I met at my hostel back in Cusco. We get along well and it is like a weird reality show because we started off with 10 people getting on the overnight bus in Cusco to Copacabana and people keep gettin knocked off. We changed buses in Puno, Bolivia and had to take an immunity challenge. Actually, we prolly had to challenge our immunity systems because trying to figure out what in the hell the menu really meant and what we were gonna get was pretty dicey. For example, what in the heck is "Prepared Give Chicken" or "Trout to the Vapor" or "Sweater Gives Trout."

I decided on coffee and ate some crushed Oreos outta my backpack.

We arrived and passed through Peruvian immigration without any hassles, except for the kid that kept on insisting to shine my sandals. Im like, "what are ya gonna shine, they're plastic" My passport stamped and a pocketful of Bolivianos I walked across the border to Bolivian immigration. No probs and we continued to Copacabana. We exit the bus at Copacabana on Lake Titicaca and the sharks started to swirl. These sharks or wolves hang out near the bus station and pressure you to come to your hotel. It is unbelievable how much these guys surround and pressure you to make a decision right then. Two sharks devoured two of our group members. And then there were eight.

The problem with a large group of gringos is that making a decision is a monumental task. Like eating lunch. We walked around for 20 minutes in this small town with our 20 or 25kg packs and are like "ummmmm...i like this place...what do you think about this place...naw, this place doesn't look good, lets go here...naw, im not hungry for pizza" Getting lunch was kinda just the start of our functional dysfunctional reality family. After boating to the Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca we had to hike uphill from the dock to our hostel. Instead of settling on the first one that looked reasonable "we" decided to hike to the top of the island because the Lonely Planet guide recommended it. Note to self: just cause the guide recommends something doesn't mean hiking 45 minutes with heavy packs over uneven donkey manured covered dirt steps. But we did. We stayed at the Templo del Sol for the cost of a meager 13 Bolivanos. About 1.50USD. The view was well worth the hike and the sunsets are something out of a postcard or poster.

So the next day our functional dysfunctional reality family decided to hike the Isla del Sol. Corrine from Canada wasn't feelin so well so she decided to retire back to the hostel while the seven of us carried on. The quietness and serenity of Lake Titicaca was great. Many times you hear just your footsteps along the dry trail and the wind whipping through your jacket. The weather here is strange. It can be burning hot in the sunlight and quite chilly in the shade. But its all good. The blueness of the lake seemed outta place in the bland brown desert that I have seen throughout Peru and Bolivia. The emerald color was a breath of refreshment. So we walked along the trail and came across two checkpoints where there were guys selling tickets to see some ruins. The first ticket we thought would allow us entry into the Inca Sacrificial Table so we handed over our 10Bs and walked on. Then we came to another checkpoint and there was another joker selling tickets to see the same Inca Ruins. He said that the ticket that we had purchased earlier was for a museum that was in Copacabana and we had to purchase this 5Bs ticket to see the ruins. Some of the guys didn't have as much patience as I did and were saying some smart remarks about getting taken advantage of. But it was like 75 cents so it prolly wasn't worth getting all heated up about. The Inca ruins were pretty cool, we walked through them and then continued on to get some lunch about an hour later.

The lunchtime conversation was pretty interesting. One thing I have noticed in my travels is there are lots of people who talk passionately about things they have no idea about. Even if people don't know very much about something they will continue to talk about it as if they do. And fight for it. Some jokers never really take the time to ask someone who might have some experience in the situation. For example, back on the Inca Trail there was a discussion about the size of Machu Picchu and then what exactly is an acre and a hectare. This conversation continued for about 10 minutes before the guys realized there was a farmer from the States who might know a little bit more then they do and then asked him. He gave the correct answer while rolling his eyes. Well, the same thing happened during our lunch when our functional dysfunctional reality family began to talk about computers, email, the Internet and security on the Internet. No one thought about asking the guy who has a Masters in MIS what he thought about privacy and email. Oh well, at least the asparagus soup was good.

That was the only thing that got on my nerves. The group that toured the island was great. Lots of good conversation, smart remarks from English fellas about English fellas and comments about Americans by Americans and by English fellas. We come from a lot of different backgrounds and seem to always make light of any situation and be able to crack a joke at the drop of a hat.

We departed the Isla del Sol after staying two nights and caught the bus to La Paz. Two more members of our functional dysfunctional reality family were gonna make there way to Cusco. And then there were six. The bus ride was kinda long. We thought we were gonna get the nice semi-cama bus but ended up getting the 4-55 bus. Four windows down and 55 miles per hour bus was the only way to cool off the 40 passengers. We were stuffed in there.

We arrived into La Paz with no problems and had to walk around a little bit to find our hostel. Our functional dysfunctional reality family checked out a few hostels and had a great idea. We all dumped our backpacks at the first hostel when we found it was full and checked out a few hostels on foot without the burden of a pack that screams tourist. The difference in quality from hostel to hostel can be pretty major, it can be anything from the Ritz to the "We Dont Tell Motel." We settled somewhere in between and dumped our packs at Hostel La Blanquito for the low price of 30Bs per night. About 3.50USD. This is a good hostel...well, any hostel that doesn't have someone offering you weed as you walk in is a good hostel in my book.

Things here in Bolivia are a great value for the tourist. Hostels are inexpensive, haircuts are like a dollar and the food you get for the money is incredible. Last night the six of us had a huge Middle-Eastern type meal with wine and dessert for about 5.50USD each. That wont even get you a value meal at McDonald's. I love food...whoever invented food, I love em...

anyways, this blog entry is getting a little too long and Im hungry again.

This weekend looks to be lots of fun....walking tour and professional mountain biking exhibition on Sat, soccer on Sun, and mountain biking on Tuesday...This is gonna be epic.

catch you all on the flip side - - - jp

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Greetings from Lake Titicaca

Greetings from Lake Titicaca...the butt of all prepubescent teenagers jokes

more to come later

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Inca Trail and Other Adventures!

Greetings Friends,

Well, my time here in Cusco, Peru has been very productive. I have seen many different things and met many different people. And of course what would my experiences be without adding a little humor and looking at the lighter side of things.

So here we go. In this blog entry you are going to learn a little bit about the Inca Trail, the porters on the trail, the StairMaster, some people who had no business in the wilderness as well as some other folks that I have met along the way. Oh, you will also learn about a girl named Dorkas, a boy named Linus, as in the Linus from Peanuts. Lots of good times and lots of great stories.

Lets get this thing started. I started the Inca Trail last week with one backpack and everything I needed to complete the four day and three night excursion. I packed everything that the tour company suggested, right. Extra change of clothes, long johns, three or four pairs of socks, sun block, water tablets, snacks, bla bla bla bla bla. I took everything they suggested and used everything. But I didn't get a warm fuzzy when I look at everybody elses pack and realize that mine is huge compared to theirs. I did have the option to hire a porter to carry 6kg of my stuff, but I'm a thrifty guy and decided to save that 25 dollars for a rainy day. People in my group were like "um, you really gonna carry that...good luck." Now im in reasonably good shape for the shape im in and it the pack was around 20 percent of my body weight. Not too bad. In fact I was lookin forward to feelin the burn. And I sure did feel the burn. It wasn't until the last day that I asked the porters to actually weigh my bag. 20kg club, baby!They first picked it up and were wagering between themselves how much it weighed and were right on the mark when they brought the tool in to weigh my pack. My pack came in at a mere 20kg. Awright! The 20kg club, baby. I actually met a guy from California who was doing the trek with a backpack that was larger than mine. Chris from San Fran was carrying 23kg for him and his wife and was walking without the assistance of a walking stick. The walking stick on this trip saved my knees and helped me keep my balance many a time. It was the best 1dollar investment I made that first day of the trek.

The Inca Trial is a 26 mile adventure that travels through the Peruvian countryside. It is a trail of cobblestone rocks and dirt paths that starts at km 82 near the city of Urubamba and leads to the lost city of Machu Picchu. Normally the trail takes four days and three nights to complete. I asked our guide what is the record for running this trail and he said that the porters have a competition for pride and the winner did the trail in about 3 hours and 15 minutes. Pretty amazing since these guys are running on a steep cobblestone path that can go 9km uphill in some parts. One thing that I must mention is the respect I have for the porters. All of us on this trial are kinda like posers. Heavy PackPosers in the sense that we have the high tech backpack, super sturdy shoes, the latest Adidas ultra moisture wicking clothing apparel and the trail is kickin our fanny. The porters on the trail are sometimes carrying fourty percent or more of their of their body weight and they are not hiking the trail. They are running the trail in sandals, a tshirt, and shorts. One of the porters was learning English and I asked him if I could wear his backpack. Barney obliged. I put on the 27kg rucksack and was amazed how a guy who was only 5 feet 5 inches and maybe 70kg could run up the Inca Trail. You gotta hand it to these porters because they are the ones who make the trip possible.

Our group was pretty interesting mix of folk from all over the globe. There was a joker from South Africa, a coupla guys from Ireland, a Dutch couple, some Australians, and this tall gringo from the USA. I was beginning to doubt whether our group had ever seen a tent or had hiked on something other than concrete before. For example...there was one guy in our group that had bought a pair of hiking boots for the trip. He bought them and that is all he did. Im not really sure if it ever occurred to him that you should prolly break them in a few months in advance because hiking in new shoes are a nightmare. That has gotta hurtAfter the first day he removed his boots to find quarter and half-dollar size blisters on both heels. Yaowza, that has gotta hurt! So to make matters worse he began to walk on his tippy toes the next day which was just a short 12 or 13km hike, 9km of which was all uphill. You know how it goes if you injure one part of your body and try to compensate for the injury, you could injure another part. Well, he did. About an hour into the third day, blister boy, could barely walk because his calves, thighs, and knees were killin him. The blister overcompensation was takin its toll and created another problem. He could barely walk. Fortunately there were two Aussie doctors in a nearby group that diagnosed the problem as muscular and applied some athletic tape to his thigh. Blister boy could walk again. You gotta give this guy credit. He went though a heck of a lotta pain and had a great attitude about it. Our group had a great attitude and that made the trail a little more bearable.

The first day of the trail wasn't too bad, just a short 8km. It was more of a training day and a chance for the guides to see if everybody was gonna make it. Dead Woman's Pass was the name of the next little hill we were gonna climb. It was just a 9 or 10km uphill ascent that peaked at 4200 meters elevation. Our guide, Washington, said before the day begain "Oh ah kay, ladiez and gentlesman...we are going toobee doin de StairMaster tooday...level 5 for five hourz. Annie quiestions...Oh ah kay letza go." He was right. Five hours of climbing is what it took to get to this pass. The views from the top were amazing. On one side you could see where we camped the night before and on the other you could see our next campsite. Just a short three hours down some steep rocky steps.

The second night was by far the coldest and temps reached around 45F. We experienced a little bit of rain but not enough to dampen our spirits. "eye roll." Day three was not the hardest day but it was by far the longest. We were late to break camp and hiked about 15km up and down through the tree line and into the jungle. The jungle is actually called the cloud forest because the clouds just hang in the dense jungle air and thick moss dangles from everything while collecting cloud moisture. Along many parts of the trail there were thick walls of moss you could push against it and only feel the soft and squishy resistance of moss.

Lunch everyday consisted of something just incredible. Chicken, lamb, alpaca, trout, rice, garlic bread, veggies, and a little apple pie are just a little bit of what we ate along the route. Ya gotta hand it to the chef on the trail. He creates a heck of a lot of good food for being out in the middle of nowhere. The diet on the trail was very high in carbs. Lots of potatoes, bread, crackers, and rice. You know, all the good stuff to give ya some energy for the trail ahead. I didnt know what to expect with the food at the beginning of the trek, but was very surprised to find sliced avocados topped with a salsa and cheese as well as a veggie soup and trout for our first Inca Trail meal. It was like we were eating at a restaurant in the middle of the on the trail. All this food is makin me a little hungie!

Machu PicchuDay four consisted of getting up at the crack of dawn, maybe even a bit before that. Since we were late to break camp yesterday Washington made it a point to be up at 330am and be the first group to the checkpoint. The checkpoint opened at 530am. Breakfast was ate in an unusual silence. I seemed to be the only one that was actually giddy to be up that early. I mean, cmon...we were on the edge of completing a four day trek and people seemed to be a little ho hum. Our group was the first to arrive at the checkpoint and got to wait until the park ranger made his way down to the station. With our ur trail passes were stamped we jetted for the next hour to the sun gate. What makes the sun gate and the Incas so mysterious is that during the summer solstice the sunlight shines directly through these massive stone structures and directly to the temple Huana Picchuof the sun located three miles away at Machu Picchu. How these guys built all this stuff with just basic tools is very cool. We were gonna see the sun rise but thick fog made viewing impossible. We rested and then continued to Machu Picchu. Fog was still covering up the Lost City when we arrived but we were lucky enough to have it clear up by mid afternoon.

After a two hour tour we had some free time and I scaled Huana Piccu to get a better view of the Machu Picchu. Another thing has been crossed off my list of things I gotta do in this life. Yeeee haaaaa!!!!

The people I have met along the way have been interesting to say the least. For example there was a group a Peruvian students who where studying tourism in Lima and had come to hike the Inca Trail and to see what it is all about. In this group there was this one guy and he kinda just joined our group for about two hours and went from person to person practicing his English. But it really wasn't his English that he was practicing. It was more of his knowledge of Rocky and Sly Stallone. Now, I'm a fan of Rocky. But not so much that I go up to complete strangers and begin discussing the rematch of the century between Clubber Lang and the Italian Stallion. So this guy hung out with our group for about two hours as we explored some Inca ruins and took a break. I later learned that he had talked with nearly all our group members about the plot intricacies Rocky and how there is a chance that Rocky VI might begin filming this spring. Everybody at home , please keep your fingers crossed. It wasn't until after the trek that I learned our adopted friend had earned the nickname Linus. He earned this name after carrying hisPretty Much the Worst Rocky Tattoo I Have Seen half-opened sleeping bag around while he joined our group for the two hours. I also learned from our group members that the tattoo he was so proud to show off was actually Sly Stallone. I had no idea. It just looked like some guy in a fedora. What is going through your head when you decide to get a tattoo of someone. Was this guy like "Gimme Sly Stallone. But with a fedora!" Or perhaps he carried the picture in his pocket for a few days and then went to the tattoo parlour to get the picture permanently printed on his shoulder. "Hold on a sec, this pic is a little wrinkly...lemme flatten it out a bit" "Yea, its a little wrinkly, but do the best you can." I was lucky enough to capture a pic when I saw him at Mama Africas the day we got back.

well, im gettin a little hungry and am gonna get some breakfast before i finish this epic story.

more to come in a bit...laters

ok...back for more.

A girl named Dorkas cant look this good...Another interesting person that I met on the trail was a girl named Dorkas. In Spanish the name doesn't have any real meaning like the shortened version in English. This was kinda of a weird name but to actually live on Dorcas street in Omaha and then meet someone named that is just plain weird! Of all the days to choose to do the Inca Trail and of all the people that I could have met on the trial I meet someone named Dorkas. Now that my friends may be a little more than coincidence. So never being the shy one we talked and even did a little dancing the third night at the bar. We had coffee Saturday afternoon and talked for a coupla hours. Good times. That is what I like about this trip. You never know who you are gonna meet or how things might turn out. I now have a new friend in Lima.

Today or tomorrow I think I am gonna cross the border and head to Boliva. Lake Titicaca will be my next destination. I originally thought about heading to Puno to visit the floating islands but havent really heard anything fantastic about the place. Im looking forward to Boliva. Heard some good things about it and I have a few places that I would like to see and some great adventures I would like to experiences.

catch you all on the flip side....

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Greetings From Cusco...This is a little photo of a soccer match between the selections of Cusco vs Lima. Good times! These guys are pretty darm passionate about their soccer. Posted by Picasa

Tomorrow is a big day. BIG DAY! I start the 26 mile trek to Machu Picchu. Im in pretty good shape for the shape Im in...and that doesnt mean very much. Wish me luck!


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I know where we are going and we are not making good time

Hey there, gang...This really sucks!
well, I made it here after a lengthy 13 hour bus ride through lots of brownish desert terrain and mountainous silhouettes. When I first got on the bus I knew things were gonna be a little bit rough because the internal clock and thermometer displayed 39 degrees Celsius. But that wasn't the bad part. The bad part was the bus was pretty full and the guy ahead of me had not really showered for a while. This was not BO, it was BBO (Beyond Body Odor). But that´s just the start. The air conditioning never really got going until five hours into the trip and that was after we made an unexpected layover on the shoulder of the road for a good hour or so. The guys trying to repair the radiator looked very similar to a bunch of city workers digging a hole and then looking at it. Yup, that´s a hole. Yup, that´s a radiator. They stared at that engine for a good 30 minutes before actually doing anything. I realwasn'tsnt that worried because I really had nowhere else to go that day and we would eventually get back on the road. I took a coupla pictures of the landscape and a few of the bus and was like "Wow, we really are in the middle of nowhere." The one thing you need if you travel in South America is a little patience. Things usually a little while longer than they would in the States. I have got a few months to spend down here so its no big deal if the bus breaks down for a coupla hours. The AC finally started to work towards hour number seven and it made up for lost time. It refrigerated us to a cool 19 degrees Celcius.

Cusco at NightWe made it into Cusco all safe and sound. The hostel I am staying at is pretty cool and has an excellent view of the Plaza de Armas. I met a few Irish folks here at the hostel and they invited me to a pub for a beer or two. I politely declined because I was feeling the effects of travel as well as the one beer that I had already drank on an empty stomach at the high altitude (3400 m). I think ill take my time these next few days and get used to the altitude.

Well, im off to get some rest.

until then....

Monday, November 07, 2005

Around Arequipa

hey there, troops

well I just got back from Areaquipa today on a two day excursion to see Colca Canyon and the condors that hang around these high altitudes. I am feeling much better and my cold is history. Just in time to get back on a bus and head to Cusco. This time I think Ill be a little bit more prepared and bring more than just my rain jacket.

The four hour bus ride started in Arequipa at an altitude of (2,300 m) and peaked at a place called Pata Pampas (5,000 m) which means high flatland. At the Pata Pampas were rows and rows rocks stacked on top of rocks. Our guide told us that if you created a stack of rocks then a deam of yours would come true. Pretty interesting sight to see.

Ajax the LlamaOur tour had many different stops including one with a very friendly llama which I will call Ajax. Ajax was not the least bit shy and ate some Coca leaves right out of my hand. Good boy...

We arrived in Chivay (3,600 m) just in time for lunch and a hike through the mountains before heading to the thermal springs. The sign at the city claimed the hot springs were only 3km but 3k doesnt take over an hour to walk. oh well, it was worth it to soak our muscles in the warm 80 degree water for an hour. After the hot springs our group of 15 went to a restaurant to enjoy the sounds and views of some traditional Peruvian folk dancing. The music sounded very similar to the likes of my buddies band. Andres and Mariano are two guys from Argentina that played in a band called Surcos and performed traditional folk music from South America. The music sounded a little like home, i guess. But the highlight of the night (for me at least) was when one of our group members ordered cuy. Cuy is Spanish for Guinea Pig. The guy was eating my childhood pet. I am scarred for life.

ok...its getting late. im getting tired. ill try to finish this thrilling and adventurous story later.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Greetings from Arequipa, Peru!

Hey There Troops...

The past coupla days have been alright. Im recovering from my cold and have been takin things a little slower than my normal pace.

Arequipa is known as "La Ciudad Blanca" or The White City because nearly all of the buildings here are made from a white volcanic rick sillar. This rock has been used in the construction off all the major churches and colonial houses. The main square as well as the Santa Catalina Monastery are wonderful works of art that have used this stone in its construction.

The first day I was here was more of a day to recuperate from the long bus ride and orient myself. The second day was much more productive. I visited three different places and was very impressed with all three for different reasons.

Santa Catalina Monastery is a work of art. The planning that was necessary to build this splendid example of colonial architecture would have been extraordinary, especially since this city within a city is nearly 450 years old. Think about the project management necessary for a project of this size. Dr. Duffner would have been proud. For nearly 400 years the nuns within the monastery were secluded from the outside world. The nuns spent their entire lives from the age of 16 behind these walls in a 2ha town. They were permitted to speak with their family once a month through dimly lit confessional type rooms and were not allowed to have any type of vanity objects...that included mirrors, bracelets, earrings, or rings. I have always wondered what it would be like to live 200 or 300 years ago. Were the people better or worse off then they are now? Hmmmm....Deep Thoughts. I learned quite a bit from this tour and got to hang out with my tour guide later that evening. Mariela was a pretty cool cat. Another interesting item to note was the extensive painting collection the Monestary had. These paintings were the first record of the blending of mestizo and Spanish style of art. Since none of the natives could speak Spanish with the Spainards came the priests and leaders used art as a form of evangelization.

After spending two hours or so at Santa Catalina I decided to visit the Museo Santuarios Andinos. This was a very impressive museum because it is the only museum in the world that has Inca offerings to the Gods on exhibit. These artifacts, like many important cultural artifacts, were stumbled upon by accident. The main prize of the museum was an exhibition of a frozen 500 year old mummy that the Incas used as a ritual sacrifice to appease the Gods. What makes this so interesting is how well the body is preserved. All the hair on the 12 or 13 year old girl has been preserved. Her sandals, the blanket she used, even the paint on her fingernails survived all this time.

I spent an hour at the Museo Santuarios Andinos before heading about the Plaza de Armas. Plaza de Armas is just another name for the area of town that has the cathedral...its kinda like the main square where there is a fountain, pigeons, and park benches. Near Plaza de Armas was La Compañìa de Jesùs. The church and its coisters have very significant cultural and architectonic value. This picture shows the arches that were developed in the 17th century. The carvings into the sillar stone in the picture you see represent the cycle of life. The bottom of the pillar shows life beginning in the womb and ending at the top of the pillar. Pretty amazing how something created so long ago can still have significance today.

ok...tomorrow is a big day. Im heading to Cola Canyon, which is 3400 meters deep and is surrounded by Andean plains and snow-capped peaks. Im excited at the chance to see South American Condor. More adventures. After that I am heading to Cusco and gonna do the Inca Trail. Ohhhh Boy!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

If I were Superman then buses would be my kryptonite

i am sick today.

Touring the Nasca lines yesterday kinda set me up for sickness that would follow later in the evening. The small plane that we used to tour the lines had just enough room for six people and was pretty agile. So agile in fact that all the steep turns to view the Nasca lines made me sweat bullets and made me sick to my stomach.

To make matters worse I decided to head from Nasca to Arequipa that night in a freezer. Just a quick eight hour bus ride. Make that a 10 hour bus ride through the winding canyons. The extra time was due to the fact that sand dunes were blowing across the highway near the ocean and the sharp switchbacks in the canyons made going very slow.

What made me sick was all the time in the cold bus with nothing but a light rain jacket, two shirts and my pants to keep me warm. Next time im bringing my sleeping bag.

Today to recuperate from the plane ride and the refrigerated bus ride. I slept and slept.

Tomorrow I hope to be a little more adventurous...

catch ya all on the flip side


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Nasca Lines, Islas Ballestas, and a Desert Adventure

The Mysterious Nasca Lines
Today I took a tour of the mysterious Nasca lines. The flight over the lines was at 9am and I am still having a Nasca lines hangover from the very small airplane and very tight turns that we did during the 30 minute flight.

Desert Adventures Desert Adventure
My buddy Pierre introduced my to his buddy named Pepe. Pepe is also an archaeologist and he took me on a 4x4 adventure through the Peruvian desert. The first thing we looked at was a old pre Inca settlement that was buried into the side of a hill. You could see different levels of the pueblo based on their location and the thatch roofs that were sticking out of the soft soil. I have a really funny story...well, its funny after the fact, but you will hafta email me for it cause I dont want my Mom to get worried.

Climbing a sand dune in Huacachina.
Huacachina is a small city outside of Ica, Peru and is surrounded by sand dunes. And Im not talking about a little sandcastle or a pile of sand used by construction workers. This thing is HUGE! The dune was approximately 800 feet tall. Actually, I dont know how tall it really is...All i know is that it was a struggle getting up it. After climbing one of these sand dunes I have come to realize that to me sand dunes are kinda like the ocean: more fun to look at than to actually be in. You have no reference point when climbing up a sand dune and I thought I could climb this thing in ten minutes. Sorry, Charlie...About half an hour later I finally reached the top. What a great view from the top, everything looked incredibly small and the only thing you could hear was the wind whipping over the top of the dune and yourself panting from the hard climb. The climb was a mixture of frustration, exertion and elation. I should of brought some sand shoes to distribute my weight a little bit better. My Keen sandals only collected the sand. Once you step in the soft sand you sink down into it. Sand dunes are kinda like the Paula Abdul song "Two steps forward, one step back" sinking in the sand while climbing up this thing was not my idea of a great time but it was worth it when I finally reached the top. I raised the roof when I got up there, caught my breath, took some pics, and then went back down.

The Ballestas IslandsLas Islas Ballestas
I really have never seen a sea lion, a penguin, or lots of other animals in their natural habitat. Now I had the chance. Very nice. Ill write more on this later

Paracas National ReserveParacas National Reserve
The Paracas National Reserve is a section on the coast of Pisco, Peru. Once I arrived in Paracas I reserved a spot to see this strange land. Paracas in the Pre-Inca language means sandstorm. This place in Jan, Feb, and March has are terrible sandstorms that can last days.