Island Hopping: Efate and Guadalcanal

After Fiji, we headed over for a stop at Vanuatu and then on to the Solomon Islands. This is another post of ports, bays, and tropical skies. Both Vanuatu and Solomon are known for beaches and diving. Since I need to abstain from running into the surf and swimming against currents, both those activities are now off limits. Instead we hiked all over the place, occasionally picking up supplies for our meals in the Central Markets.  Sometimes we even rousted ourselves up by dawn to take advantage of the cooler temps. Other days, I had to have my parasol out against the unrelenting tropical sun.

Port Vila on Efate Island of the country of Vanuatu is the major hub for international airlines. It lies on a peninsula between an ocean bay and a lagoon. As two cyclones in the last 40 years have resulted in massive damage to buildings, there is not really a historic architecture. Local transportation was accomplished by share taxis. There is a fixed price and we just identified a landmark close to our destination.

 

Here are photos from our flight between the islands.

Honiara is the Federal District of the Solomon Islands on Guadalcanal Island. During World War II, Guadalcanal was the scene of a major campaign over six months. Modern Honiara has grown up around the original Henderson Field airbase that was the center of the Guadalcanal fighting. The International Airport now resides where the airbase was. With not much in the way of architecture, we hiked around the city, checked out the central market and took a couple of buses down the coast.

 

 

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Warming up in Fiji

Family traveled to Fiji after Invercargill to grab a little summer after the harsh Southland Spring. The tropical weather with a few highs of 30 C (86 F) and nothing lower than 20 C (68 F) certainly was a change. We stayed in Namaka, a bustling little city halfway between the Airport and the main city of Nadi. Note on pronunciation: “D” is pronounced nasally so Nadi sound like Nan-Dee. With a bus card, we could scoot all around Nadi, Denarau Island, and up along the coast to Lautoka. Historically, there were major immigrations from India in the late 1800s.  We saw this in the curries served in local restaurants and main temples in the city centers. We also sampled lots of local fruits and stews with coconut base.

Here are the required images from the many photos I took.

It seems that we have turned around again and heading back west. Our journey to the East began in Tunisia in September 2018 and included Sri Lanka, Australia/New Zealand, South America, Southeast US and some stopovers in Kuala Lumpur, Scandinavia, and Doha, Qatar. After two months hanging out with Daughter, it was a little emotional when we hugged goodbye in the airport as she left heading back to New Zealand. She’s off to “new” adventures in NEW Zealand. We will look for some “new’ countries with NEW in their names.

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Before heading North

We have left New Zealand for tropical islands nearer the equator. Before I post about them, there are few things I want to add about Invercargill and Southland.

First, local hero Burt Munro comes from Invercargill. His modified 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle still holds land speed records for engines under 1000cc. You can find this and many other classic vehicles at E Hayes and Sons Hardware store on Dee Street.

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The Southland Region was enjoyable driving. My best photos are ocean panoramas.  Here some notes:

The Waihopai river wanders through the city. We followed the walking paths from the mouth for about 10 km on different days. The city of Bluff straight south from Invercargill is the port to Stewart Island. Highway Route 1 begins in Bluff and heads north all through the country.  It has a nice lookout that connects to the southern cove. Towards the Fjordland Region we found several interesting towns (Riverton, Orepuki etc) and picturesque countryside. To the east, Slope point is reached through pastureland that a kindly farmer has allowed for visitors to walk to the farthest southern point on the island.

Our House, Art Deco and all with a lovely garden in the back.

 

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Spring in Invercargill

After a month in Auckland, we headed to Invercargill. Its the city farthest south in New Zealand.  Outside of a few cities in southern South America, it is the closest city to Antarctica. Spring here can be harsh as we found out. New Zealand Airlines warned us in Auckland after check in that landing might not be possible due to an expected gale. We made it, but that night it was cold, whipping winds, and sheets of rain shaking the house. Then, a bright sunny morning was filled with spring flowers bursting with color. We found the flowers here are mighty hardy. In Japan, cherry blossoms fly with the first gusts.  Here, it took four gales before they started to fly. Spring in Invercargill is not your typical tourist destination but we never got soaked nor blown over. As always, its about planning with alternatives.

In the city, there is a nice bus service that gets around to most of the areas. We stayed two blocks from Queens Park so hardly used the bus.  We rented a car to explore outside of Invercargill.  This included Bluff, a port and village with ferry service to Stewart Island. We stopped in Riverton and Tuatapere on a drive west to Fjordland. To the east we visited the most southern point of the South Island at Slope Point, along with walking among petrified forest in Curio Bay.

I’m limiting the photos in this post to Queens Park and residential streets.

The first group of photos come from our daily walks in Queens Park.  We always found something new there. Mostly self explanatory.

 

 

The second group has street views from the Invercargill Chorus Cabinet Trail. Chorus is the local Wideband Internet provider. These are 22 outdoor communications cabinets that artists have decorated.  I tried to capture the local residential streets around each work.

 

Our Tuatara Story (the proud papa)

When Daughter was in 3rd or 4th grade, we went to a demonstration on reptiles at the local library.  The presenter started with the question, “What are the five orders of reptiles expecting: lizard, snake, turtle?” Daughter answered first: Tuatara. The presenter about fell off his chair. He explained in 30 years he had only received that answer three times. I suspect he didn’t expect it from that little girl in the second row. As you will see in the wikipedia entry, these reptiles are unique to their order and only found in New Zealand. So it was fitting that we could see several tuataras when we were in New Zealand together.

 

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Aspects of Auckland

We spent five weeks in Auckland this time catching up with our daughter. Instead of rushing around to see a few things, we relaxed and wandered around every little park, alley, and lane.

 

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Not that Zealand, This Zealand

I can’t believe the travel we completed the last week of August.

Here is a selection of photos. (WordPress mostly puts them in order.)

And some more:

 

Our route from Georgia:

Atlanta – Istanbul – Copenhagen/Norrebro – Torshavn, Faroe Islands – Copenhagen/Malmo Sweden – Doha, Qatar – Auckland, New Zealand

Normally, we would not take such long flights but there are not many options when going to New Zealand. Another factor was that both Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airlines had offers that made the price almost as low as flying the direct route through Los Angeles. Additionally, we got a chance to visit the Faroe Islands, ticking off another autonomous region in Europe. Qatar Airways offered a nice discount on a stopover stay at the Souk Waqif Boutique Hotels in the old market. Our stays around Copenhagen gave us the chance to discover the dynamic neighborhood of Norrebro of Copenhagen and Malmo, Sweden connected by train directly to the Copenhagen Airport.

The 16 hour flight from Doha to Auckland was simply long. Compression socks were life savers. Malmo really needs another visit for a week or more.

New Zealand was originally named after the Netherlands province of Zeeland. The derivation of Zealand, the most populous island of Denmark is not clear.

It was worth it, we had an appointment with Daughter in Auckland. Having coffee at the Remedy just off Queen Street.

 

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Calming Down in the Smokey Mountains

After Santo Domingo, we flew non-stop straight up to Atlanta, Georgia to visit my brother, Peter, and his wife Elizabeth. Then, we spent a couple of weeks driving up to Richmond, Kentucky to see my friend David from college, then south to recharge in the mountains of Appalachia. We found a place near Waynesville, North Carolina in the Pisgah National Forest. This was near to Canton and Asheville.

Way too many photos of green, blue, and smokey mountains.

Impressions:

We rented a car.  There really is no other way to get around the United States.  Even though the steering wheel was on the left side and gear shift on the right, it turned out to be really easy to take care of all the stuff we needed to do.

We broke up the long trips into two days with lots of breaks.  In one section we stopped in Franklin, North Carolina and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Franklin was a quaint small town with local arts and a specialty bakery. Pigeon Forge was bustling with bright and loud American entertainment venues including Dolly Parton’s Dollywood, restaurant chains, and theme parks.  So many contrasts between these two, yet we found both very interesting with stuff we needed.

It has been about six years since seeing Peter and Elizabeth. I think, the last time Dave and I met up was in 1993. He wrote a song for my parents 50th wedding anniversary.  He’s still the character he was when we hitchhiked up and down North Dakota and Minnesota over 50 years ago.

Trivia: Canton, NC was probably named after steel manufacturing city of Canton, Ohio. Canton, Ohio likely was named after Canton, China now Guangzhou near Hong Kong.

 

 

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A zig and a zag to the Dominican Republic

The first time I remember looking up the Dominican Republic was when my friend from Duluth, Minnesota traveled from Uruguay to Santo Domingo. Later, I discovered a high school friend went there in the Peace Corps and stayed on.

Having bounced around the Caribbean in several other trips, this time we had to find a way to get to Santo Domingo.  In the end, we flew with a special upgrade on Copa Airlines from Port of Spain via Panama City, Panama. It was a long day but the connections went smoothly.

Here is a variety of photos I snapped mostly around the Zona Colonial (old city).

Impressions.

Hot, Caliente, Fiery, Combustible, Fuego, Sweltering, Infierno, Hellish, Thunderstorm

On the other hand, it was great to meet up with my high school classmate and share impressions of the the world and of Windom, Minnesota. Thanks, Mike. And thanks to our wives who had to put up with the old guys reminiscing into the night.

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Transiting in Trinidad

After the South America, our destination was the Dominican Republic.  Getting there from any of the Guyanas is complicated.  Most routes run through Miami, Newark, or Fort Lauderdale.  In the end, we decided on a stopover in Port of Spain, the main city of the island country of Trinidad and Tobago.  After the difficult traveling of the previous weeks in the Guyanas, Trinidad was a major contrast.  There is clear information, lots of advice on the internet, and things could be done efficiently.  There is a ferry over to Tobago that looks interesting and highlands to view.  We did not have time to organize these but set it aside for another adventure.

Even in the hot weather, we ventured out walking. We visited the Queens Park for the renovated houses, walked along traditional streets full of activity, tried local food much of it influenced from the India influence.

Here are a few views.

 

Impressions

The one thing we really liked was the street food called “doubles.” These are vegetarian based India style wraps consisting of two round flatbreads filled fresh with garbanzos and lentil stew, spices, and sauce. They are made up fresh in the street and you always have to wait in line. They are messy to eat but that makes it a social event.

Unfortunately, V.S. Naipaul’s house administration is in litigation so we could just imagine from the sidewalk.

 

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Wild Coasts, The northern edge of South America

We spent over three weeks traveling through the Guyanas (in colonial days called French Guyana, Dutch Guyana, British Guyana).  Today, they are Guyane, a department of France, Suriname, and Guyana. This is the unique linguistic enclave of South America where one hears French, Dutch (Netherlands), English, and Creole. I also heard Sranan Tongo, which I came across in a Sociology course long ago at the University of Minnesota.  In those days it was described as Taki-Taki, a derivation of English Talky Talky unless it was more formal, then Dipi-Taki (Deep Talk) was used.

Travel was a little tricky.  There is only one flight a week from Belem, Brazil to Cayenne the capital of French Guyana. There are no flights from Cayenne to Parimaribo capital of Suriname.  We booked a share taxi for 4:00 AM to Saint Laurent de Moroni, the river port across from Suriname.  A share motorized long boat called a Pirogue took us over the river.  There another share taxi took us to the door of our host’s apartment. Three others made the trip with us all the way from Cayenne. Along with getting in and out and watching our bags, we went to French immigration to get our exit stamp at the ferryboat port in Saint Laurent and stopped in Albina, Suriname to show our visitor card and passport.  The visitor card we obtained for 35 Euros from the Suriname consulate in Cayenne.  This gave us one of the few chances to show our Yellow Fever certificates. We flew from Paramaribo to Georgetown in Guyana.  The Suriname airport was built many years ago 40 km from the city on solid land away from the marshy savannas.  Similarly, the International airport in Georgetown is an hour drive to the city.

This sampling of photos shows coasts and colonial houses typical of the region.

Cayenne, Guyane Française (French Guyana)

Side trip to Kourou, Guyane Française

We rented a car for one day to drive down and tour the Space Port. It is a huge complex.

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Launch pad in preparation for the Ariane Rocket Launch that occurred two days later

Paramaribo, Suriname

Georgetown, Guyana

Impressions

There are many national forests and parks that we could have visited that are still quite natural and rustic.  Mostly, they must be visited on tours or using a personal vehicle.  These are not popular enough to have regular bus service that allow independent travelers to visit.  There were a lot of flashbacks to my early days traveling around southern South America in the 1970s. This trip was a mixture of unique experiences that keep alive the memories of the so-called “colonial backwaters.”

 

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Parasol Days

The 21st of June came, and we were still below the equator. In Belo Horizonte the nights were chilly and cool days marked the beginning of winter.  When we left for the airport, it was just 13C, 55F. When we arrived a few hours later in Belem (state of Pará, Brazil), it was 29C, 85F. The low temperature at night was warmer than the day temperatures in Belo. Still, we had not crossed the equator into summer. Belem sits just south of Latitude 0 and the mouth of the Amazon River. The first week of April in Iquitos, Peru was the last time we had weather this hot.

With rain predicted every day, we carried our trusty umbrellas. Often at noon, there would not be a cloud in the sky. With few awnings, the shadows disappeared from the streets.  I opened by umbrella and Voila, it was a parasol. Some of my photos capture these hot days and some of the old mansions from the 1890s. Note on naming, Belem is named after the city where Jesus Christ was born, in English, Bethlehem.

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Beautiful Horizons

The story of the name of Belo Horizonte Brazil proclaims that the founders, looking for a more central location to establish a central capital in the state of Minas Gerais, came to an area that was lined with a beautiful landscape of mountains and valleys. Thus a beautiful horizon. In truth, it was a modern planned city inaugurated as City of Minas (Mines) in 1897.  Only in 1906 was Minas was renamed Belo Horizonte.

The are many museums in Belo or as locals say BH, (Beh-Ah-Gah in Portuguese. Many of them are free for seniors, even foreign seniors). One we really enjoyed was the Museum of Arts and Crafts, Museu de Artes e Oficios. In this case the crafts are the traditional pre-industrial revolution farm and village crafts such as weaving, milling, furniture making, and cachaça brewing. I took lots of pictures of looms, but forgot to get one of a hardwood gear wheel, where the cogs were separate pieces of wood. This allowed replacement of a broken gear instead of labor ing on a whole new replacemnt wheel. The working examples of the Brazil wood machines shows the durability of that wood once shaped.   

 

This post is a little awkward as I post from a tablet, not from the PC.  Some of the sharing options are missing.   

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How to be a Carioca (step one)

In 1992, Priscilla Ann Goslin published the book How to be a Carioca. We found a discount copy (the cover was printed upside down) when we lived in Brazil during 1994.  Oddly, her biography states she was born near Sand Lake, Minnesota. I’m not sure what that means. Maybe it is a personal joke in her family, or maybe it is a means of keeping anonymity as there are a lot of Sand Lakes. To me, born near Lake Winnibigoshish sounds better.

What one learns from this book is that the Carioca (resident of Rio de Janeiro Brazil) is the original “happy-go-lucky” spirit, where “no” is not an option, “on time” is a concept of Einstein physics, and the letter “s” is pronounced with inflexion.

So the first step to being a Carioca is to go to Rio de Janeiro.  We were there for ten days hitting lots of iconic tourist venues around the Copacabana Beach, Sugar Loaf (Pão de Açucar) and the Corcovado (Christ the Redeemer).  We also met up with our friend Jose Antonio who we had not seen for 25 years.  He took us around to some really interesting spots like the National Library, coffee at the Colombo, unique restaurants. It is his knowledge of so many fascinating stories that made our trip unique and let his Carioca character shine.

Here are a few photos we snapped along the way.

We spent one morning looking at street art in the renovated port area.  Some are just amazing.

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One of the largest murals in the world for the Brazil Olympics

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French Patronage Exhibition

In one typical Carioca outing, JA spontaneously encouraged three others we met in a parking lot to continue up to Pedra Bonita. This twenty minute hike turned out to be a pretty arduous hour climb for me.  We walked down in the night and were trying to figure out how to get back to civilization when a car pulled up and asked us where we wanted to go.  We were six, so five in the back, and one in front (wife crammed on my lap). The driver knew all the best spots to see Rio at night.  It all worked out, even listening to traditional samba, and nothing was planned. In his way, JA knew it would all work out.  Amazing. And the hike? I would do it twice more. New friends, old friends, hang gliders, hidden views, thanks to everyone who made this possible.

Step 2. Go find a Carioca and go with the flow.

 

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Sao Paulo: Highrises and Street Art

We stayed one week in Sao Paulo, Brazil having a base near the Anhangabau, a central point which allowed us to walk to many familiar places like Liberdade, Se, Luz, Republica. This was the first time staying right in the heart of Sao Paulo.

We were able to meet up with an ex colleague from my time in International Support.  It had been almost 25 years.

We enjoyed searching out interesting vistas.  Here are some examples. One note on Beco do Batman, a couple of small streets dedicated to street art.  Around the football world cup, the residents / artists got fed up with the noise, vandalism from too many tourists that they repainted the walls grey.

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Santa Cruz de la Sierra

We are in Brazil now but here are three shots from Santa Cruz, Bolivia to tidy up our last stop.  We were happy to relax in Santa Cruz with warmer weather.  The city square is nice with lots of locals sitting around chatting, playing chess, eating salteñas. It is a commercial / industrial city which does not boast many unique tourist venues, but holds the title of fastest growing city in the world.  For us, it was a time to relax and catch up on reading and planning.

The Cultural Center just off the main square exhibited three artists using distinctly different medias.  I liked this one by the Bolivian artist, Magenta Murillo. It is nice that they used a violet (not quite magenta) background for her paintings.

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A bit north east of the main square there is the Museo Historico Militar Heroes Del Chaco (A military museum about the Heroes of the Chaco).  This documents the Bolivian view of the Chaco War of 1932-1935. We listened to a Corporal giving a tour to a high school class. In 1973, I spent two weeks with my friend Alexander and his family in Mariscal  Estigarribia, Paraguay. Ever since seeing the actual territory (a green hell of desert cactus and bramble) I have been interested this history. The honest assessments by this Corporal added a lot to my understanding.  His dramatic descriptions of the soldier’s experience provided entertaining and realistic perspectives. The sad part is that like all wars, mankind has not learned any lessons.

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Finally, the Cruceños consider their city the center of South America.  We found the park but it is under construction . Here is the photo taken over the barriers showing the distances to the other South American capitals.

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Downhill to Cochabamba Bolivia

Putting our bus days on hold, we flew from La Paz to Cochabamba.  We were there for May 27 when Bolivia celebrates Mother’s Day.  This honors the heroines of Cochabamba who died on this date in 1812 in a battle of colonial liberation. We climbed the hill south of the city which has a monument to these brave women, who fought the Spanish alone. The banner photo was taken from the hill looking north.

Here are two individual commemorations

Manuela Gandarillas – A nearly blind grandmother who raised the call to arms.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manuela_Gandarillas

Juana Azurduy de Padilla. A commander of the Bolivian Liberation. For her service, Simon Bolivar is quoted as saying the country of Bolivia should really be named Azurduyia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juana_Azurduy_de_Padilla

Pasaje San Rafael with mosaics paying homage to a wide range Latin American women.

View along the main square with its neatly maintained facades.

We enjoyed visiting the market and the plazas, along with general exploring of local streets. The leisurely pace, the warmer weather, and moderate environment contrast with our experiences in La Paz.

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One, two, three: La Paz, Bolivia

Traveling a week in high altitude exhausted me.  At the end of our bus trip, we spent five days in La Paz, Bolivia.  Apartments have little heat so the inside temperature never surpassed the outside highs of 16 deg centigrade (60-61 deg F).  Even so, we enjoyed our time finding some unique attractions.  Here are three:

Cable Car network took us all around the city.

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Bird’s Eye view of El Alto Market

Clean streets

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Public Toilets are easily spotted.  Although this one might not be wheelchair friendly

Zebras in the Zebra crossings

A few things to note:

  • La Paz and the suburb El Alto have altitudes of around 4000 meters (12000 feet).  La Paz airport has the highest commercial runway in the world.
  • Even after a week of acclimatization, I was still huffing and puffing as we walked up and down the streets and stairs.
  • In the autumn and winter (April – September), La Paz is dry with low humidity.  We saw few clouds and felt the strong rays of the sun. I should have used more sunblock.
  • No matter how you arrive or encounter La Paz, it will be an amazing experience.
  • It seems everywhere we turned, there was an interesting view.  Here is one looking down a street in our neighborhood.

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Hopping between Peru and Bolivia

With retirement, our travel is pretty casual.  Mostly, we spend a month in one place, then a few short trips or maybe a week in each place along our itinerary.  We learned about the long distance hop on / hop off experience in South Africa.  The reviews for PeruHop were positive and provided useful details.  The suggested itineraries allow for a thorough Peruvian experience in seven or eight days.  We ended up spending 14 days by stopping at every city for two or three days.  What an incredible two weeks.

Our trip consisted of eight different buses from Lima, Peru to La Paz, Bolivia.  For me it was the trip of a life time. Forty years ago, I was in Santos, Brazil planning a trip by train from Sao Paulo to Bolivia.  This had to be cancelled when my stomach aches required an immediate operation for appendicitis (sometime, I need to blog about our adventures getting sick on the road).   I was never able to schedule a journey to Bolivia until this trip.

There is so much variety and so much to see in Peru and later Bolivia that we ended up with a million photos.  All of them are fascinating.  I post one or two from each place attempting to show a variety of experience, not necessarily the most perfect photos.  A couple of notes: Links are provided to the Wikipedia explanations.  Second: I will use the word “Quechua” as opposed to “Inca” to refer to the Andean empire and culture of the 1400s to 1600s.

Tambo Colorado

Ruins of a 15th century city using Quechua and Chicha building techniques.

 

Paracas

The city is famous for its bay and beaches.  PeruHop includes a tour of the National Reserve highlighting the desert dunes and the natural cliffs along the coast. The natural reserve of the Ballestas Islands features sea lions, penguins and other natural diversity similar to the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador.

 

Huacachina

A historically, natural oasis famous for its sand dunes.  We hiked up to get a perspective of the city and watch the sunset.

 

Ica

Wine country in the middle of the desert.  The grape juice is distilled to make Pisco brandy.  There is a small natural history museum which has a few amazing artifacts from the early cultures discovered here.  There were quite a few visitors as it was free Sunday for Peruvians.  Nice to see the excitement of the children.  Sorry, no photographs allowed.

 

Nazca

Historically spelled Nazca, now officially Nasca is famous for the lines etched into the desert depicting animals and astrological markings. In 1996, the city was devastated by a 7.5 earthquake. Wife experienced her first earth tremor when a 5.5-6.0 earthquake occurred about 80 km away.

 

There are many interpretations of the Nasca Lines.  My theory is the that the straight ones were created to identify seasons when rain is likely.  The pictures are pranks made by teenagers tired of redrawing the straight lines in the desert one more time.

Arequipa

Our bus left Nazca at 7 PM arriving at 5 AM the next morning.  This was the only overnight we took. It was comfortable enough but it might have been interesting to see the curving roads from the coast.  This begins the real mountainous region with Arequipa at 2335 meters (7661 feet) above sea level.  Still desert climate, this marked the farthest south we went. There is a strong influence of Spain in the architecture. During the colonial period, Arequipa was one of the most loyal cities to Spain. Extinct (for now) volcanoes dominate the Northern skyline.

 

Puno

We left Arequipa at 6 AM heading toward Puno on the banks of Lake Titicaca. The air was thinner as we crossed the divide near Lagunillas at 4400 meters (14400 feet) and it began to getting colder. The Puno side of Lake Titicaca is famous for its floating islands made of stacked reeds in a crisscross method. The sensation is like walking across a marsh.

 

 

Copacabana

On the eastern shore of lake Titicaca, the village of Copacabana is dominated by the Basilica of our Lady of Copacabana.  The name may come from Quechu, “Kotakawana” the God of fertility who ruled in Lake Titicaca. The basilica is located on the site of the original temple. We arrived by BoliviaHop after getting our visas at the border.  For US citizens it’s complicated with copies of passport, itinerary, hotel reservations along with U$S 160. Since Wife and I have different last names, they weren’t sure about the hotel reservations that only mentioned a double room with only my name.

La Paz

We arrived to this amazing city at 10:30 at night.  Our adventure here will be covered in the next post.

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Our first day out

 

 

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Lima: Walks and Ruins

Waiting for my passport pickup day (even though it was ready quickly, I had to wait for the day the Consulate assigned), we spent Catholic Holy Week and the week after in Lima. We watched our neighborhood processional. On other days we hiked over to Pre-Incan ruins, around parks, and down along the beaches on the Pacific.

 

The windsocks in the banner photo are used by Paragliders and Hang gliders at the Parapuerto (Paraglider Airport) of Miraflores.

 

 

 

 

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Hot and cold, High and Low

From Lima we made an isosceles triangle trip, North to Iquitos, South to Cusco, with a side trip to Machu Picchu, then back to Lima. Peru is clearly a country of colors and contrasts.  The photos show some that we discovered.

Iquitos

At the junction of the Itaya, Nanay, and Amazon rivers, it is only reachable by boat or by air.

Cusco

The capitol of the Inca empire.  Its altitude of 3400 m (11200 ft) makes Cusco one of the top ten highest major cities in the world.  On my first visit many years ago, it was written Cuzco. Quechua versions of Qusqu are still used. Discoveries in the last ten years about the Killke culture made our walk to Saksaywaman ruins a worthwhile effort.

Machu Picchu and Aguas Calientes

The restored ruins exhibit the skill of the artisans 600 hears ago. It’s called a Citadel but really functioned more as an Inca Lord’s estate. Machu Picchu was promoted as the lost city of the Incas.  Academics now believe Vilcabamba was the last sanctuary of the Inca emperors.  Aguas Calientes, the city at the base of Machu Picchu, was our base for exploring for three days.

 

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