Tuesday, October 13, 2009

When Reality Bends - Prologue

Watch this overview for my whole trip before you watch the episodes. Or watch it anytime!

When Reality Bends 7: Rt. 26 Part III

I become light headed from the altitude of the Andes mountains.

When Reality Bends 6: Rt. 26 Part II

The adventure into the heart of Peru begins. I leave the South Coast behind and head East.

Monday, September 21, 2009

When Reality Bends 5

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

When Reality Bends 4

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

When Reality Bends 3


The conclusion of Day 4- a bike ride through Lima visiting historical sites.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

When Reality Bends 2

When Reality Bends 1

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Stolen pix from FB






Here are some photos I took from others on our Facebook group "Carlos Inca Trail Singing Choir"

Monday, May 4, 2009

Right Where It Belongs

The music video mix of my trip is done! Now you get a better look at all the stuff I was writing about.

Right+click download or just click on it. It's a big file so give it time to download. Or download for your iPhone.

Enjoy:

Right Where It Belongs
.mov 148mb

Right Where It Belongs
iPhone / iTouch 36mb

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Good times.





Re-entry

Today, March 26th. It´s all coming to a close.

I´ve been sorting through my stuff. Got a new suitcase for all the crap I aquired during this journey. Then it was catching up on all these blogs, which is acting as my journal.

I catch a plane in a few hours.

I´ve made some great friends, saw fantastic things and my eyes were opened to a whole new level of awesomeness I couldn´t previously comprehend. Thanks to all of you who helped me make it happen and took care of my assets back home. I appreciate those who reponded to these posts and wrote to me. It was super to hear from you while in this bizzare and beautiful place.

This blog is far from over. There will be posts as the exclusive video portions of this account are produced. Stay tuned - the best is yet to come!!

Golden Treasures.

Wednesday the 25th.

This post deleted right after I wrote it. Grr.

the Gold Museum was closed or didn´t exist so i went to the Museo De La Nation. Great stuff from Kuelap. Gold masks, jewelry, Wari pottery, a life size replica of the stone I saw near Cusco with the mini city carved into it, and an exhibit with photos and a video of the terrorism in Peru from 1980-2000. The Shining Path was wreaking havoc in an attempt to overthrow the government. Good thing I didn´t take this trip earlier. Thank you, fate!

Later went to see Gran Tourino with my favorite Nords. Good little flick! Old people should watch it.

What Happens In Peru.....

GOES IN THIS BLOG!

I got an email from Anna saying that, back in Ayacucho, she had gone out for a drink with people she met at the internet cafe. Her story is that when she came back to the hotel, the door was locked. So she stayed at the house of some dude. Why didn´t she leave a note on the door? Why didn´t she come back in the morning to talk to me? Hmmmm. As usual, the truth is somewhere in between.

Tuesday, March 24th.

Got up later at 10:45. Missed the 11a meeting time with the Norwegians. So I met Kelly and John and we went to the ZOO! Heard a lion roar - loud! Great parrot exhibit. We rode a cheesy roller coaster simulator of The Beast. There were huacas all over the zoo, with little explaination. This was an ancient city of some sort.

We came back to Miraflores and I moved back to the Flying Dog Hostal, to the same room I was in when I first arrived in Lima. Balcony overlooking the park. I got an email from Bobby, the grip dude who I met on the Inca Trail travelling with his 57yr old mother. He told a story about how he got jumped on a beach in
Barranco (south Lima). He got pistol whipped and camera/passport/etc stolen. Bastards. He left the next day I think, as scheduled.

That night I met Lucia, a Peru native from couchsurfing. She worked at an ad agency and was something new: a rich Peruvian. She had a beach house in the South and wanted to stop a some vanity stores to see if there were some products in. We went down to Lacomar because she loves it down there?! She spoke good English. We talked about popular culture things and advertising. She even got my sense of humor!

After our meeting I went back to home base. Okay, with my big plans of hitting all the big Inca fortresses thwarted I was on the home stretch, just passing time till I left for NYC. I met the Norwegian duo at Flying Dog. They had eaten cebiche AND guinea pig at the same time?! Sandra was a bit queasy after the experience. Selja and I watched a group of prostitutes work the park from my balcony. It actually got cool enouph that night for a long sleeve shirt!

Into The Crypt

Monday the 23rd.

I assumed my role as backpacker planner and went with Selja and Sandra to Central Lima. After breakfast in a cafe we hit the Monosterio De San Franscisco (built before 1687). A Franciscan monastery with baroque syle. Awesome old library with withering books and catacombs home to over 10,000 skeletons. Bones arranged in pits of femurs and skulls, and a cicular pit with an arrangement of femurs and skulls 20ft in diameter?! Exclusive forbidden video coming in a few weeks. Some cielings had intricate wood carvings held together by gravity.

After some chicha we looked around the Plaza De Armas. Administrative buildings. Whup-de-doo. Saw a political demonstration and riot police. Then we drove 20min to Fuerte Real Felipe. That´s a Spanish fort circa 1740 and still has cannons in place and other wartime stuff. Odd cavernous tunnels in the Kings tower (See photo of Sandra and I on top with Lima in BG).

Then we drove down by the Lima beaches and saw the surfers attempting to surf. We dropped in the Lacomar (mall built into the cliff (nighclubs, shops, KFC, cosmic bowling, etc)) for a couple drinks and pizza. Pina coladas overlooking the ocean with great company. Nice!

It was back to Miraflores to move to Loki hostal, 30min nap in a room with 4 beds. Then I met a couch surfer named Xuxa in front of McDonalds. Sandra/Selja joined us thankfully. We went for a drink down a touristy restaurant/club street. Then to Rustica for some BBQ wings, fried cheeses and other tapas foodies. Cervesa. We put Xuxa on a bus and I went to Loki for a nightcap. There I met 2 Americans from CO, Kelly and John. Kelly had been travelling SA for a while and John was just beginning his hippy style adventure (¨I´m thinking of going North, finding a surf town to hang out at for a few weeks...I need to get a cheap tent¨).

My Life on the Panamericana

March 22.

After sleeping for 10hrs I wandered the beach in the AM. A dog carcass, crab shells, lots of sea debris. Ocean beaches are yucky. Breakfast: roll, yogurt, coffee, snickers bar. Thought about what to do that day. If you see one crumbling mud brick wall, you´ve seen em all. The only cool thing North in Chiclayo was a museum. I wasn´t going to drive 6hrs for that cause it felt like too much and this coastal desert is the worst. So I decided what the heck this is a beat scene and headed back down to Lima. I was supposed to be headed to Chachapoyas and Kuelap ruins, but I would need a couple more weeks for that. NEXT TIME. *sniff*

Light brown mountains, ghetto towns. Keep the ocean on the right this time.

got my hotel Solis Dies again and met 2 Norgegian chicas, Selja and Sandra. I hooked them up with the same hotel and we went to have drinks at Loki. I saw Ben, the Aussie I went to Pisac with in Cusco. I also ran into 2 Nords who I met on the Inca trail. The Lima-Cusco connection.

¿Beheadings: better than praying?

Saturday the 21st.

After bad chicken sandwich (too much mayo) I met my guide Henry (En-RR-IE) at 9am. Nice short guy, descendent of the Moche culture which we were going to investigate this day. It was cheap to have him as a guide, and he rode with me explaining the history of the region and the lore of the peoples. Good thing I had him or I never would have found the Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna (temples of the sun and the moon). No sign and dirt road to get to them. A huaca is a place of archeological significance; a structure or pyramid.

Huaca del Sol is a giant structure looted by the Spanish and inaccessible. Huaca de la Luna is where it´s at. 1500 years ago the Moche culture built a fortress here. Everytime there was a new king, a new fortress was built around the old one (every 80-100 years). There are 4 layers of fortresses here, the oldest being the best preserved! They were into repeating patterns across all the walls. Faces of differing emotional expressions, dancing people, sea creatures, stars, etc. See the photo of the wall with lots of icons in my post: The Moche Valley. The paint is still on these things making them scary. Red, black, yellow.

There was a black rock here that was sacred. Below it was a courtyard where people were ritually beheaded so there would be great harvests. Henry told it like this: The Moche civilization came to an end and the Chimu culture started up 100 years later. They were the same people but what separated them was some sort of natural disaster. Uh, yeah.

So we went over to Huaca Esmeralda, a Chimu temple with neat carvings of a rainbow monster biting a guys head off (see the photo of me scratching my head in The Moche Valley post). It was a symbol that in order to serve the harvest rains (rainbow)....PEOPLE GOTTA DIE! The adobe friezes had fish, seabirds and waves in the carvings. How I understood how human sacrifices were chosen was they go fight in the desert and the guy who gets his hat knocked off gets a rope around his neck, is stripped naked and let through a procession of cheering and dancing people then beheaded by a high priest.

We dropped in the Chan Chan museum which had life sized figures of Chimu kings in full garb.

On to center of the Chimu culture: Chan Chan. Built in 1300AD and spanning 28sq kilometers with 9 royal compounds (everytime a king died, his wife and servants were all killed, buried around him and the whole palace abandoned. A new palace was built for the new king). This place was conquered by the Incas but later looted by the damn Spanish and all but washed away by El Nino floods. What´s left is a Big Whup on my part, but I´m okay with the restorations that were done so we have some idea of what was up. Some government officails pocketed the $ that was supposed to go to restoring other areas of the Chan Chan complex but are now just off limits to touristicos. The ceremonial courtyard is the most iconic, although surrounded with a drole repeating pattern of a sea otter (or squirrel says Henry).

Then onto the beach town of Huanchaco. Henry scored me a good hotel near the beach. Then we went to have cebiche (raw fish dish in lemon) at a tourist bus restaurant. There was a famous soccer star there and Henry had his photo taken with him. I paid for the lunch as a tip.

Then back to Trujillo where I did net stuff, picked up laundry then drove out to Huanchaco. Walked around a bit on the beach, bought suiveniers, and laid down at 8:30p for a nap before going out for a drink later. I woke up at 7:30am. OOPS!

PART V: The North Coast.

Friday, March 20th.
Friday, March 20th.

I got up early as always in the nicest hotel I stayed at so far and headed North out of town. A little trafficky heading out of Lima but driving here is a cakewalk compared to the agressiveness of NYC.

The drive was sand dunes and brown mountains. Admittedly, I don´t care much for the desert. The aesthetic of it is so displeasing. But it IS Peruvian desert, so there´s awesome formations and neat perspectives. Time and again the cerulean blue ocean would come into view on my left. Miles of pristine natural sand. If this was the USA there would be hotels and fat people blocking this view. Heheh. There were all sorts of ancient structures in these mountains. Made of mud brick so what where once villages and ceremonial centers are now nondescript lumps of peculiar dirt. There´s over 2,500 acheological sites in the area, and surely more to be found...by ME? Nope.

I passed by a sign for the pyramidal ruins of Caral, one of the oldest city-states in the world some 5,000 years old. I didn´t have time to drive 25km inland. On the way back?

8 hours of passing through humid, impoverished towns I arrived in lovely Trujillo. A rich feel with sophistication. Got a great hotel and hired a personal guide for the next day.

The Lorna Dune

And so the scenery changed from snow covered peaks to rolling green mountains to brown desert mountains. Then sand and crumby villages filled with motorbike taxis and scruffy dogs. The desert coast. Yuck. On the way up to Lima I did pass the a sand dune that had a giant painted heart on it. In the heart was written ¨Lorna¨. This is how George Alisons dog got her name, Lorna Dune. A friend told him about this particular dune. Did I make that whole thing up? George back me up!

Got to the sanctuary of the big city. I´ll take this time to explain why I came here again. My plans had changed now that I realized the truth of the situation. It takes longer than I anticipated to traverse the winding roads, and I dared not willingly get onto the rocky dirt paths that connect remote areas. Well, if I had a few more weeks time I would have. So I had to slice out a lot of what I wanted to accomplish in the Central Highlands due to overambitiousness.

I got a hotel, dropped off laundry and later that night went in search of Gringos at the Loki Hostel bar. The staff was serving jell-o shots and had strawberry drinks that night, ever proving that Loki is the coolest place in the country for the kids to stay at. I met a couple Norgegian dudes who are travelling the world for almost a year?! A lot of the groups and duos of young travellers are doing several countries for months at a time. What was I waiting for? Well, I´m out doing things everday when lots of these kids just sit around the hostal watching movies all day. Different kinds of travellers. Respect.

Another thing I want to point out is wherever I found myself, travellers from everywhere congratulated me on my new president. The world followed our election closely and were elated to have the Bush Administration be overwith and have a new Hope for world politics arrive. I remember dealing with hissing Europeans back in 05´whilst travelling. Even my own Belgian relatives were about to throw tomatoes at us for putting that oaf back in office!

No one was available to travel with me to Trujillo the next day. Went back to Flying Dog to see what was up and if there were any good people. There wasn´t. I went to my hotel for ZZZ.

Lima Photoset

Here I am at the Lima Zoo.
The Beast roller coaster simulator at the zoo with Kelly and John (from CO).
Having a pina colada at Locomar (mall on the cliff). See the ocean in the BG?
With Sandra the Norwegian on top of the Spanish military fort.
Me at the plaza de armas in Lima, near the Monasterio De San Franscisco (catacombs).





THE MEANING OF LIFE.

Pure and unabridged. Often searched for but rarely found. Yes, dear reader, I found The Meaning of Life on route 24 in the Andes of Peru. And it was much simpler than previously thought.

It´s this: surviving. Every moment we survive through, conscious or not, holds meaning. Whether we die now or later, kill ourselves or are killed, are in intense pain or in a coma we have meaning during all those times alive. The meaning of life is also in part the reality our brains construct during it´s time alive.

This also holds true because:
-Life means something even if there is a lack of meaning (the inverse).
-What we do morally has no bearing. Whatever we do has meaning.
-Meaning exists whether we are aware or unaware of it.
-No matter what we do or don´t do, meaning exists and is inescapable.

There you have it, Lizzy! As for Every Girl´s Secret, perhaps there´s a way to decipher the binary code?

Aliens and Tïme Travel.

Thursday the 19th, cont´d.

I recorded a confession of myself while driving just to get the Central Highlands Test of my chest. After the contemplation of the events I went through, I´d give myself a score of 82%. I dwelled too long on negative situations, and worse than that, I let a negative person get me down. So much more happened than I wrote about. The past few days were chock full of moments and insights that will have to live on in brain memory, as many of the best things do.

I stopped for some video of a field of alpacas grazing in a field between the mountains. The same mountains said to attract extraterrestrial activity. Continuing on, I began seeing things in the distance. Brown disks slowly moving in between the mountaintops and swirling clouds. My head was clear, the elevation no longer playing tricks on me. But the intense barrage of stresses and challenges of the past few days could be having an interesting effect on my reality.

Flashback to a flashforward.

Suddenly I was up in the snowcaps. Snow drifts whisped over the road and turned to steam when it contacted the road. The grandiose scenery added to this acid-like trip. I was listening to musics from all parts of my life and in a way started to shape shift into a previous version of myself. I was younger, the sense memory taking over my body like I went back to a time where I would imagine myself 10 years older as if my future self was contacting me. This was me going back to plant that feeling. It was fun to examine the similarities and differences between the two people who were now coexisting at the same ¨time.

Dropping out of the Apus where I faced myself, an epiphany jumped to the forefront of my mind: The Meaning of Life.

The Shining Path Fadeth.

Wednesday the 18th Con´t.

It was overcast and cooler when we stopped on the top of the mountain. A guy digging a hole for some reason 100ft from the road. Anna went to talk to him about which path to choose- left or right. After 10min, I began getting impatient because we were on 2 blips of gas and time was precious. Then I realized this was all a test set forth by a higher being. A drew a deep breath and some energy from the mountain, just like I learned from Dead Woman´s Pass. I respected Anna´s trip mission to talk to the locals. But asking some farmer how his afternoon was going?! I got out of the car and walked up to them. They were small talking about the price of a sack of potatoes. The farmer had his fly down and was covered in mud. He pulled a filthy water bottle out of his truck filled with liquor of some sort. I goaded Anna into drinking it and she actually took a swig. Blah!

10min later we were on our way on the high road. She was a sweetheart some of the time but most of the time she would just rip into whatever I said. She felt that because I wasn´t fluent in Spanish that my whole trip was pointless and vain. Anyone who knows me more than a week knows I won´t stand such negative nonsense. So I began again with my savage jokes, ¨The best chefs in Peru would fight for a chance to be a street vendor in New York.¨ I can out do any rediculousness. I even told her I was kidding, but this chica was so bizaar. Ï desagree¨¨she said. When we crossed a bridge made of thin logs I said Ï should get a T-shirt that says Í survived the Savage Bridge´¨ Anna didn´t laugh?! If you can´t make light of the situation we were in, sheesh. She never asked me any questions about me. We are both from Upstate NY yet she hated the fact we were Americans and wouldn´t talk about it. But her biggest mistake was that she told me I shouldn´t even be in Peru, and that walking down any street is just as fullfilling as the Inca Trail?!

Physically I felt good. The thought of reaching the safety of a city was enthralling. But it was this journey that held much substance. The things we saw amongst the cactuses and livestock was other worldly. Hopefully I can pry a link to some of Annas photos if she posted some online. Peru is a bicultural society of 2 parts: those who are indigenous and those who are not. 45% of the population is pure idigenous descent! That is what you see off of the gringo trail. We were in the thick of the peaceful peasantry. We listened to Tom Petty and other good stuff on my iPod. Passing a bus or truck was a chore. Drive out till I was inches from falling off the cliff and let it bass on the mountain side. YIPES.

The GPS showed we were heading for Ayacucho. If the car bottomed out one more time on some pile of rocks I thought we would explode. I chewed harder on my coca leaves as the gas guage started to blink on the last notch. Stomach rumbling, running on empty. There set into a distant valley was the city of Ayacucho. We were going to make it, if we didn´t turn into some dudes coca field and get shot.

The city suffered horrific terrorism in the 1980´s. The guerrilla organization called The Shining Path was started here, and in the 80´s it murdered rural mayors and police on it´s way to attempting to overthrow the government. The country has been cleaned up a lot since then. There wasn´t a paved road to the place till 1999 (and boy was I looking forward to getting on it). The 1st signs of human habitation in Peru were found in a cave nearby and the Wari culture had it´s capitol here 500 years before the Inca Empire.

In the plaza de armas we hit the bank (AAAH), then got sandwiches with ice cream in the shape of pinochio (AAAAAAAAAAAH). We found a hotel and as we were checking in Anna was making fun of me to the receptionist that I´ve been in Peru a couple weeks and still wasn´t fluent in Spanish. This bitch had to go.

Some street vendors sold me bracelets and told me Cusco sucks- too touristy. This town was nice, but it had little of the splendor of the ancient Inca Empire. I did some walking round (see the photo of the bone-plane) then took Anna out to our last supper. We got lots of food (burger a and fries and she had potato soup) and watched some dancers rehearse some traditional dances. Anna wouldn´t quit with the painful remarks and rebuttals to everything I said. There´s a lot of nasuating things about American consumer/waste culture, but I am no means a poster child for such nonesense. I own/consume/waste far less than the average American household. But still Anna called me judgemental, negative and reitereated that I shouldn´t be in Peru. I felt like I was talking to Jim Keller- she was acting out and speaking attributes of herself.

And it gets much wierder.

After dinner I went back to the hotel to write in my journal while Anna went to find and internet spot. Fell asleep. I awoke at 4:30a and noticed Anna was not in the room. Getting up I walked into the hall and saw her sleeping on the couch in the lobby?! Her long dirty blond hair falling over the edge of the couch and her arms above her head. I went back into the room and didn´t sleep the rest of the night, pissed off that she wouldn´t come talk to me so that I wouldn´t be freaked out she didn´t come back.


Thursday, March 19th.

I got out of bed at 6a and Anna was gone. Not on the couch. FML. I brought my stuff to the car lot, took her stuff out of the car and brought it to the room. Still no Anna. Grr. Why didn´t she talk to me before bolting again? She thought I was an ignorant monster who hated the Peruvian culture and therefore I´m worthy of being mocked and disrespected. Still, I wanted to help her get out of this godforsaken place.

I got in my car and quickly round rt 24. NICELY PAVED! It was a huge relief to be heading West to the coast floating along this road with no bumps, dirt or dropoffs. Sadly, I spent lots of time obsessing about Anna and how ticked she got me. It was awesome to be alone again in the car and I focused on that. That´s when the aliens contacted me.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

La Hoja De Coca...No Es Droga

Tuesday the 17th, cont´d.

INT. FILTHY CHINCHEROS HOTEL - DUSK

JAN SITS ON THE SIDE OF THE BED, BREATHING HARD FROM THE MOLD SMELL. RED BLOTCHES COVER HIS FACE. HE´S ITCHING HIS ARMS AND LEGS. HE HASN´T SHOWERED BECAUSE THE SHOWER LOOKS AS IF IT HASN´T TURNED ON IN A FEW DECADES. ANNA IS AT THE TABLE USING A POCKET KNIFE TO CUT BREAD BOUGHT THAT MORNING IN ANDAHUAYLAS. SHE PUTS IN BROWNING AVACADO AND SOME CHEESE AND HADS IT TO JAN, WHO SCARFS IT DOWN RAVENOUSLY. AFTER THE SANDWICH, ANNA PULLS OUT SOME WEED SHE GOT FROM AREQUIPA. IT LOOKS LIKE BEEF JERKEY THAT´S BEEN SPIT BACK UP BY BABY BIGFOOT. SHE PRODUCES A PIPE MADE OF BONE WITH A NUT SHELL ON THE END. AND PACKS THE BROWNED GOOP INTO IT.


Wednesday the 18th.

I didn´t think I would actually wake up. Anna said I was breathing really hard. The mildew smell was horrid and there were blood clots in my nose. Crap. We were still in some small town lost in the Andes with no food, water, gas or money. There was no bank at the town up the hill so we had to just press on. No showers. Only hunger. And the iPhone never made it out of that town either. Must have dropped somewhere? I could only imagine the people there holding it...then turning it on. Like the apes jumping around the giant rectangular stone. HAWHAWHAW.

We had no choice but to press on with fresh directions on how to get outta there towards Ayacucho. We were to go to a bridge, but waited for 1/2hr as there was road work being done every now and then. We follwed the river till we found the bridge and crossed it after waiting from some cows to make a path for us. Then we drove backa and forth through the dust and heat.

We had instruction that when we were given a choice, go left. That never came into play. We just headed up to the top of a mountain. It was great to be up there because the road straightened out more or less. There was a small town where we put 10soles of gas in the tank and prayed it would take us all the way. We rationed what bread and water we had. Real survival stuff. Chewed the coca leaves...no es droga!

There was a split in the road on top of the mountain. We stopped when we saw a mountain man digging a hole for some reason.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Moche Valley




A famous soccer player and my personal tour guide, Huaca Esmiralda, Huaca de la Luna, Chan Chan, my lunch of raw fish, the ocean!




Friday, March 20, 2009

Part IV: The Central Highlands Test.

The night of Sunday the 15th I got some dinner with the German chick. WE had some pizza and hot drinks. I saw a cockroach in on a piece of furniture. She told stories about Animals in her closet (bugs). Then went on to diss Peru squalor (water turns off, so brakes on her bike tour and she went off the road, cleanliness issues, etc.). Then We met a Polish dude and Brazilian chick and went to get a drink. I had a Mojito and a ¨Machu Picchu¨ which has 3 layers of color and you drink it with a straw, pulling the straw up as you drink each layer. Gross.

MONDAY THE 16.

Anna met me at 8am on the street. She stayed with a couch surfer. We walked to the car and got in. The 4 hr drive to Abancay was nice. I took it on the way to Cusco. Anna had a nice camera and took lots of photos. When we got to Abancay, we knew we were going off the beaten Gringo Trail. We got sandwiches and found the turnoff for the dirt road West and laughingly took it.

And so it began.

I noticed we weren´t getting far quickly, which I expected. The road burned up on the mountain, getting roupher but remaining scenic as could be. Anna enjoyed the trip, as she wanted to get right in there with the impoverished people and talk to them. She has a fair trade store in Buffalo. She´s a self righteous, broke hippie. From the start she had problems with what I was doing on my trip, because I had money and she wouldn´t eat food. She even said ¨We´re travelling, we´re not supposed to have money.¨ This is the level of naiveté I was dealing with. Everything I said she would snap at me, saying the complete opposite. I tested my theory and it came up positive. She wouldn´t laugh at my jokes, but at my serious conversations.

We stopped off a the ruins of Sahuite, which had a big rock with a miniature city carved into it. So cool. There was a bigger one at Qéngo north of Cusco, but that one was destroyed by the Spanish. My God can kill your God type of stuff.

A guy bumrushed the car to hop a ride and I didn´t pick him up. Anna called me rude. This wouldn´t be the first or last time she insulted me out of the blue.

So much more happened this day, dear reader. It was pretty epic and eye opening. And hard. If the details come back to me perhaps I will revisit this section to put it down because this blog is actually the official journey to go hand in hand with the movie.

Round dusk we followed a blue sign to another set of ruins by a lake. It was of a culture that was considered enemies of the Incas. It got dark, and there was no sound up there. It was like Winter...and we heard a creepy weeping in the hills. Chills.

Night fell over us. I was hungry. Anna didn´t like spending money on food and would get break and jelly to call a meal. Yikes. Adding to the eeriness of being on a forlorn road few Peruvians ever traversed, we were listening to the soundtrack to Charlie and the Chocolate factory. We got a hotel in Andahuaylas, dinner and rest. The trunk of the car was full of fine dust from the road, as was the interior and us. For some reason my hands were itching like crazy like my feet and legs. There was a couple seconds of relief after scratching but then the maddening itch returned 10 times worse. Being still helped. Actual agua calientes in the shower?!

TUESDAY THE 17TH.

There was a food market near the hotel that looked like someone set up a dusty wooden cart full of fruit and flies in someone´s garage. A smile crept over Anna´s face as she saw this must be ¨cheap¨. I bought disgusting plate of rice, fish and lentils from a guy who never washed his hands in his life. We needed $ but couldn´t find an ATM. I felt we were wasting precious time and we took off West without getting dough.

The road was atrocious and dust was everywhere. We hugged the site of cliffs and rockslides threatened to disjoint us from our halfway safety. The itch returned and I chewed cocoa leaves to attempt to alleviate the pain. Was it the sun?

The GPS didn´t register a road. It just had a blue path where we had already gone, and we could see our destinationñ- Ayacucho- so far away. The road would split suddenly with no signs. Guessing became our past time on the most epic day of my trip. We yanked down horrific paths, through gaggles of sheep, donkeys, barking dogs, horses, chickens and llamas. Indiginous peoples stopping to stare at the Gringos they only heard about. Children pointing and yelling ¨Grinko!¨

We gave a ride to a woman and her 2 children to the next town. I stopped so Anna could get some directions. She was here to talk Spanish to the locals. I with she respected my reason to be there. Her reality saw me as being a demon. She was always a breath away from saying ¨how do you live with yourself?¨. We got some ¨directions¨from a couple locals which involved going up a hill and finding some town called Chincheros. We went up the hill then descended into a logging village and further away from our destination. I freaked out and yelled ¨We have no food, no money and we´re running out of gas and lost in the middle of the Andes!¨ Anna replied, ¨what do we need money for? And we have food.¨ This was comforting, but a bannana and 2 crackers was not lunch for me. White knuckled, we turned around and asked a guy working on something on the side of the road for directions. Everytime Anna got out of the car I would cross my fingers- and bite harder on the cocoa leaves in my cheek.

Now we had a hand drawn map from the Peruvian equivalent of Brother´s Keeper. We drove up and over the top of a mountain. The biggest 4hr snafu of all time. I knew there was no way we were making it to Ayacucho that night. But we followed a bus and it led us to a town. Further down the valley was the town of Chincheros, where we arrived at 4:40p and got a hotel with a garage.

This day left me feeling defeated. I was starving, but we had no food. Anna made some bread with avacado. Went into the town square and Anna was talking with the locals as she liked to do. They were having a town meeting where everyone was in the meeting house talking about building in Chincheros. Okay. The ATM wouldn´t accept our cards. So it was no dinner and no birthday drinks for Anna (yup, she was turning 25). We climbed to the top of a hill that had a gazebo and watched the sun set over the mountain.

The hotel smelled like mildew. And we were high in elevation so breathing was rough to start with. I called my parents and Tracy because of the thing I wrote in this blog about me being dead if you didn´t hear from me. The itching was making me shake with madness. I was at my wits end and fell into a mold filled sleep.....

How will it all turn out?! Will we survive? Stay tuned!

Oh, the places you´ll go!






Here are some nice shots from the Central Highlands test Anna and I took. The drug runner plane is in a gift shop in Ayacucho. The bridge is from Cusco- a reenactment of some Inca meets guy in a construction helmet scene.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Guiness.

I only got to go in to Museo de Arte Popular, a small museum which I enjoyed. Religeous statues all made to look like Peruvian people?! They didn´t realize Jesus was black I guess. While getting a Big Mac I saw Matt from the Inca Trail. I joined him for a soccer match in Paddy´s, and Irish Pub off the Plaza de Armas where I had a Guiness! This is major because Peruvian beer is sadly piss. He is going to make me moderator of the FB group for Inca Trail. So hopefully this week there will be photos of the trek popping up there to go along with my anti-visual account. Then I came to write more about the Inca Trail. I´m meeting with a German chick soon, then a Polish and Brazilian dude this evening near the fountain. Tomorrow....I ride.

Another Sunday Another Parade.

Saturday I woke up at 7am, barely knowing where I was. I was aching from the Intense days on the Inca Trail. I unpacked all my stuff onto one of the 4 beds in the room, handed in laundry, ate breakfast @ McDonalds and picked up my car. The old woman at the garage (open air, unleveled dirt ground mess) was happy for my Machu Picchu experience. The cute little girl there had fun playing with my binoculars. Then she started to cough horribly and tears rolled down her face. Sad.
I drove up to the ruins of Saqsaywaman, about 2km up the hill overlooking Cusco. Only 20 % of these immense ruins remains, as it was torn down by the Spaniards to build stuff in Cusco. It had religious and military significance, and the iconic Inca walls here are HUGE. The walls made by them zigzag in and out, as this fortress was the teeth of the jaguar (9th Inca Pachacutec invisioned Cusco in the shape of a Puma). There was a square structure with stone sections inside that held water. One could look in the pool and see the reflections of the stars. No Mom, I haven´t seen the Southern Cross yet, but I ask about it. It would have been amazing to see this structure in all it´s glory. But the Spanish destroyed too much of this town. *sigh*.
I left and came back to Cusco feeling really beat up. So I got lunch of good bisteak and the best mate (tea) I´ve had all trip then got an hour long massage! That helped a bit and I did the interweb thing. I was real tired but I went to Loki hostal bar to meet a couple people. One guy didn´t show, the other Polish dude said he was there for 10min and left. I did however see Dustin there (from the Lima bike ride to ruins). He said he stayed up all night on some Peruvian ya-yo and was going to get more. Oh, to be young and dumb again.
This morning, Sunday the 15th, Anna from Buffalo knocked on the door of my room at 8am. She had taken a night bus from Puno (Lake Titicaca area). She had a memory stick with her photos stolen. Bummer. But had pix from Colca Canyon where she trekked to the bottom of the 2nd deepest canyon in the world.
We walked into the Plaza De Armas and had breakfast on a 2nd story cafe, overlooking a big municipal ceremony and parade going on. I can hear a marching band as I type this. Well, my time is up now and I am going to a couple museums to get the most from my Boleto Touristico.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Found: Crystal Skulls





Sorry to cop you guys out on photos. Here´s more from Cusco. Also, I´ve gotten further on another one of my missions. Hope told me to find Every Girl´s Secret. I was up in the ruins of Saqsaywaman (sexy woman?!) today and saw a pattern of 2 symbols on part of a standing wall of Inca stones. I assigned a 1 and 0 to each of the symbols and it read:
01101000011110010110011101101001011001010110111001100101

Hmmmm. Getting closer to the truth. Okay PPL, reply to this post with the answer and you´ll get a phat suevenir from PERU!

Friday, March 13, 2009

The 4-Day Inca Trail.

DAY 1: The Easy Day

Tueaday the 10th I awoke at 5am. Didn´t sleep well the night before, as the ginea pig I ate near Pisac ruins gave me nightmares. I left my hotel and walked to the SAS hotel where I stored some of my stuff. at 5:50 all 16 people in my tour group boarded a bus and drove to Ollantaytambo (1.5hr). We stopped for breakfast on the way and I bought an additional wooden walking stick.

At Ollantaytambo we got our stuff together and and took our group photo at the trailhead. We crossed a bridge and were on our way. It was too hot but as we acended it got cooler. After 45min we stopped for a half. After an hour we stopped for 45min. There were houses with children running around and locals trying to sell us red flavored water which we were not brave enouph to try. As we hiked the dirt path I floated around the group, trading stories with the people that would become my family: 5 americans, 4 canadians, 2 aussies, a kiwi, Singaporian, a German and 2 Norwigians.

The path turned to stone pieces and we acended to a plateau in a valley. Here our guide, Carlos, had us sit down and listen to a story about the ruins below (Patallaqta). From this point it was a 6hr walk along the Urabamba river to Machu Picchu. HOWEVER, there was a longer, 4 day route around the long way. This was intended to clear your conscience, connect with Pachamama (Mother Earth) and go through a form of repentence. Why didn´t I just kneel and say 10 Our Fathers and 50 Hail Mary´s? I was about to find out.

The next hour or so till lunch was a dream. The path led along a green valley with a river roaring far below. Crumbling houses and curious rock formations, silent evidence of ancient rituals and magical vortices. The Andes surrounded us, delectable views from all directions as usual.

We came to our lunch spot. Our team of 22 porters had 2 tents set up and bowls of hot water for us to wash up with. In the dining tent was a long table with plastic benches. We sat and talked till the soup came. Great! Then 4 identacle plates of food for each side of the table. All pretty good. There were female cows with horns watching us dine from 20ft away. My group was a very positive and fun one.
We continued along this awesome valley then began ascending quicker. This path was a like paradice actually. If this, the Sacred Valley, was where everything was created from then surely it must be the actual garden of Eden? Animals grazing on the hillsides, overgrown terracing from centuries ago, floral scents from pathside bouquets, crude wooden bridges ready to last another 600. The video will illustrate this a little better.

We reached our campsite at 6p, dinner at 7p. Tents were set up and my tent buddy was an energetic Aussie named Matt. Night fell and the moon shone brightly over our place between the mountains, heat lighting taking the natural beauty too far. Bed by 9p for me! Phew. Carlos kept telling us this was the easy day and we were wiped (except for the triathelete and the bodybuilder).

DAY 2: Dead Woman´s Pass.

After 2.5hrs sleep (food adjustment time), a 5:45 wake up call. 6:30 breakfast. 7a walking. Tea and hot water always await us every morn with a pile of cocoa leaves in the middle. Yogurt and granola, pancakes, flat bagels, marmelade.

We hit the path which was rock pieces (much of which constructed in the 80´s for tourism). After 2hrs we stopped and this was the last outpost for overpriced gatorade, candy bars, and water. Stupid me, I didn´t read the fine print that this was the last we´d see the rest of the day. Now, the terrain turned steep. Big stone steps with a sharp drop on the right. We were ascending the highest peak of the Trail: Dead Woman´s Pass (named after the mountain formation that´s supposed to look like a woman lying down?!).

Now it´s time for a lesson, dear readers. This trail is supposed to be hard to teach us some things. We have to feel the interconnection between us and the sacred mountain. The more we respect Pachamama, the less fear we have. I had to stop and understand my breathing as we strained into the clouds. The altitude sending me splitting headaches. I had to stop and gather myself, shed my fear by knowing that I am loved by the mountain (Apus). I pressed upward in restitution. Porters with giant packs full of camping equipment would run by every now and then. Thankfully, a Quechua man with a wooden flute was playing an old song and it was very soothing as it echoed around the thin air. It was time to be the condor and take flight over my problems and turbulances. The Diamox could only do so much.

I reached the 12,600ft clouded peak. This was the highest I´d ever been on a mountain. It was misty and cold up there and you couldn´t see any distance. So I happily began my descent alone. Following the group single file didn´t suit me well. It feels like we´re part of a chain gang. So I would catch up to people when I felt like talking to someone or fell back when I wanted some Jan time.

The descent was eased by my two poles absorbing the impact of the huge stone steps. There were a couple Norwigian dudes without poles that I would talk to every now and then. The nausea in my head began to subside as I felt some relief for reaching the summit and heading down. An hour later I was at a camping spot and we stopped for lunch. Whenever someone from our group showed up we would cheer for them, even though there were looks of dismay on the faces of all at first. One Canadian girl was nauseus and had to have our medic whip out the oxygen tank he was hauling as he followed us. It was drizzling and miserable then. I felt horrible from the altitude. After lunch I was so tiffed I took off by myself to continue the trail. I burned off some anger over the morning on the ascent to the next peak. Lots of groups were camping where we had lunch but there are only so many spots.

We all gathered at the ruins of Runkuraqay 3780meters. Now let me break down these ruins for you. They are all only accessable by this trail. There are no guards, fences, garbage cans, etc. You´ll just be wandering around the bend and come upon stone structures of houses without roofs in symmetrical patterns, all overseeing some inspiring view. This is by design. When the Inca culture began with Manco Capac (1st Inca) in Qosqo, Father Sun said "Where you see natural formations in your path, I will be there. This is where you will construct your temples. God ordained these places for us and here we must improve these formations." So wherever the energy was the strongest (most awesome), there would be something built there. I´ve found that when I was framing shots I always move to the most pleasing, scenic point. Either when I am in that point, or what is in my frame, there is some rock Waka or building. I get it completely. Even in the temples framing things through windows was important. They grasped perspective very well. This made every inch of the Inca Trail path an utter joy to traverse.

Carlos told us about more folklore and history of the Incas and we were on our way up past some black lagoons. The sky began clearing up (clouds roll over the mountains quickly). And we had a pleasant, slow descent towards our campground. I rounded a bend with Denise the American and we both just stopped and fell silent. Jess the American saw us and was trying to talk to us but we couldn´t speak. She kept asking what´s wrong. About 1km away on top of a mountain was the sprawling archeological site of Sayaqmarka. We took our time getting there and it was after 5 when we climbed the dangerous steps to the fortress. The view was one of the best on the trail. The clouds surrounding distant peaks was just perfect and the lighting was transcendental. I did a video walkthrough like I did for other sites. Some other folks from our group showed up. Bobby (who does grip / camera op work in USA) and his 57 yr old mother Kim were there. That´s right. Kim put others in the group to shame with her lust for life and positive attitude. She took the extreme steps easily, always finding orchids and other unique plant life along the way. We were a lucky group to have her for inspiration. I had at this point totally lost my crankiness from Dead Woman´s Pass.

It was getting dark and we needed to get to camp. We descended the steps and passed another site called Qonchamarcha. We were in the high jungle! Moss covered stone steps leading "nowhere" straight out of the Tomb Raider games (or the other way around). Trees looking like beef jerkey covered with green fur accompanied my rock jumping walk to the camp spot. PHEW what a day!

After dinner Carlos brought out some rum and mixed it with some hot juice of some kind. We drank it and Matt led us in some songs. Everyone sang their national anthem - loudly. Then Celine and Christina sang a couple songs in native Norwegian tougue. Being out there camping in the Andes was probably the furthest I´ve ever been from an automobile or plane.


DAY 3

I actually slept about 7hrs that night! Felt the aches from the trail so far but good about getting some shut eye. I was ready to go and excited at what would be next. Everything was so awesome. I had started drinking the porter water, which is boiled for us each morning. It has a funny taste which is followed by rotgut. We trudged on. Here we were allowed to take our time because once we arrived at lunch, that would be our campsite for the night. So it was like a half day.

After some really steep steps we got to Phuyupatamarka, a high archeological site that had some amazing water channels dropping through 4 small stone baths. It´s genius how these water channels still flow peacefully and even after 600 years. Water fills a bin from the mountain and flows out a small slit at the bottom. this 4inch by 1.5inch channel flowes through carefully carved rock till the next drop, where it collects and continues in the same fashion. This site was at 10,860ft. So my head was yucky as we sat in a circle to listen to another Carlos speech. He told us about the ice mummies. If there was an earthquake, volcano or landslide, it meant the mountain was angry. So Quechua priests would climb to the summit and make an offering: killing a child and burying it up there. These offerings have been found in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina.

When I came across the site of Intipata, I took my time exploring. It was just me and this huge structure with classic terracing below. I climbed steps to the very top, shooting all the way I think ; ). Then I just sat up there. It had a magnificent view of the Urubamba river. Water is life, mind you. To see the river is a great place to built something neato. After much contemplation there I continued to the campsite. We ate lunch in what looked like a derelict ski lodge, a hostal outpost. But it was nice to be in there with other groups.
Then we had a choice to go to a site minutes from the camp; and from there to a waterfall where we could swim! Most of us went on this outing and we saw a steep site with ceremonial rooms on top: Winaywayna! There is no denying this place was built to worship the sacred water fall it faced. We wandered around this mountainside place then descended VERY steep steps to a jungle trail. Wooden bridges and dirt paths led to the bottom of the falls where we got down to the swimwear and waded in. Cold but refreshing in an energizing way. Yes, there´s video! After that we just about ran up to Winaywayna again because we were filled with a new energy from ?!? Bathing in the ancient sacred waters could do that to ya I guess. Then it was dinner time and then I laid down for a nap after buying a Pachamama T-shirt.

DAY 4

Pitter-patter of rain woke me round 3am. 4a our head porter made the wakeup call rounds. I was up, feeling queasy in the stomach. We ponchoed up as it was raining lightly. All the groups were up in fact. In the clubhouse eating breakfast, but we forwent ours, opting for chocolate bars and crackers instead of a real breakfast in order to get a better place in line?!
So a third of us walked to the gate (to the Inca Trail), which doesn´t open until 5:30a. So Why the heck were we waiting in the dark for 45min in the rain with a few candy bars?

Finally the they began letting groups through and people silently and quickly filed onto the trail. The vibe was bad- everyone was rushing for an unknown reason. Well, we were told that if we hurry we might have a chance at getting a ticket to climb Wayna Picchu (the tallest mountain in the trilogy (Machu Picchu is the 2nd)). So we marched on. One girl hit her head bad on something in the dark and had to stop. Good thing I had my head flashlight! After a while I realized the rediculousness of the situation and stopped to take off my jacket and slow the pace. I was peeved, because we had to wait as a group at certain points- so WHY was I waiting for 45min at the start?! Grr.

It was still raining lightly as the sky lightened. My mood did also as I kept a distance from other trekkers. The foggy views where surreal. The stone path beneath my feet was glowing. I felt very alive as I breathed in the clouds.

I was whipping out my camera again as we passed the Intipunku ruins with their steep stone steps. Then we collected as a group and 7 of us ran ahead to get try for the tickets (there are only 400 per day). I walked past neat stuff like Inca hangout posts; like stone rooms built into the mountain.

We passed some grazing Llamas and then...our first view of Machu Picchu! I didn´t recognize it at first. So I got the shot I´ve been dreaming about. As soon as I stopped recording, my camera broke. DEW DETECT. That´s what I get for shooting in the rain!

So the 7 of us followed Washi (our medic\guide), rushing through the whole site of Machu Picchu to the ticket booth for Waynapicchu. I was bewildered at this site. It looked absolutely nothing like any photos or video I´ve seen of the place. We only were able to score 2 tickets for the 10am slot. We would have to sort it out later.

We joined our group and began our 2hr tour led by Carlos. We wound up through the Temple of the sun, the underworld area with mummy niches, the priest and Inca houses (not as nice at the sun temple, because the sun is more important than anything). The priest room had a small stone ¨table¨that held water so he could see reflection of stars...or place offerings to God...or put on makeup. All theories are only allowed to be made by what little evidence was left after all the damn looting. Then we saw the busted sundial the Incas built (kaput now- sun moved 3 degrees since the rock was carved). Awesome temples that were still under construction when it was abandoned. The courtyard has interesting acoustics and a few of us played around shouting into echoes.

At the end of the tour, my camera had dried out (I was airing it out as we walked around). So I went with a few peeps to get some pickup shots. Hope they came out well! This was the most magnificent location I´ve seen in Peru. The smallest mountain is in full view top to bottom and the Urubamba river encircles it. Breathtaking and inspirational.

We took a bus down to Aguas Caliente for lunch in a hostal. Then a couple hours later (I screwed up and went on the internet while others went to the hot spring) those of us going back to Cusco walked to get on the train. 1.5hrs later, still awake, we got onto a bus. 1 hr later arrived in Cusco and I got a room at a hotel that Denise and Jess were staying at.

The next day was Saqsaywaman, which is written about above.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Water Cults and other WAKA WAKA WAKAS

Today.....was awesome! Got my usual breakfast for $1.50. Got the car and picked up Ben, a young aussie I met the night before at Loki hostel. He got his Boleto Touristico and lost his credit card. After stopping at an internet cafe so he could cancel his card we drove 10min north of Cusco to Qéngo ruins. Neat caves and Inka semicircle structure with niches for golden idols. Channels for chincha or BLOOD!
Then we drove another 10min north and visited the Pukapukara ruins which overlooked the Sacred Valley. I´ll have great walkthrough video of this stuff!
Across the street was the entrance to Tambomachay, ruins of a ceremonial stone bath with water channels flowing around Inka doorways. There was water flowing in the channels!!
Another 40min drive Northward and we were at the destination of Pisac. Better-than-postcard perfect scenery, adding to the surreal feeling of these places. I wish I brought my trekking stick! many steps connecting a few fortresses with unbelievable views of the valley below and other parts of the complex. Gigantic agricultural terracing connecting the stone "neighborhoods".
After that tiring hike we stopped at a restaurant where I ordered guinea pig! It was like really dry turkey. Whateva. The drive back to Cusco was to die for. Animals grazing on the side of the weaving street and views of snow capped mountains over the gorgeous green hills. This natural beauty can be viewed from anywhere at any time.
I have a lot to do in preparation for the 4 day Inka trail trek I begin manana. There´s a meeting at my travel agency. So, you will not be hearing from me during this time. I will let you know how it went on Saturday! Bye bye!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

PART III: The Sacred Valley

Saturday March 7th. Awoke at 7:30, got some bisteak, rice and potatoes for breakfast and got the hell out of that S-hole. The drive to Cusco was an absolute dream. Warmth, sun, villages and people going about thier ways as they have been for centuries. It had a beauty that which I´ve never seen. In peace I floated along winding roads through this augmented reality.
I descended into Cusco 4hrs later. Flying Dog cancelled my reservation because I didn´t show up the night before. Loki was jammed full, so I got a hotel with a family across from Loki. My head was swimming from the altitude. I went to the park for dinner. It was good but an hour later (after paying SAS travel for the inca trail) I had sharp stomach pains which turned into a evening and night of hell. Food poisoning! There was a huge celebration in the Plaza De Armas for some feast day of San Franscisco. Fireworks, traditional dancing with costumes, music, the works. And I was shivering under my covers, wearing my thermals.

SUNDAY MARCH 8

I awoke during the night feeling terrible but took altitude pill and went back to sleep. Awoke feeling much better. Took clothes to laundry. Shopped for gifts. There was lots of dancing and a long parade going on. Reenactments of Incas and processions. Went to Regional History Museum (house of historian Inca Garcilaso de la Vega built over Inca ruins). More shopping and people watching. Inca walls are like, so cool. McDonalds! Fortress of Qorikancha. This was the center of the Inca world, where the church of Santo Domingo was built over it. There were 41 SEQES lines leading out from it over the mountains in different directions leading out from the fortress. Along these seqes were 328 WAKAS, or sacred points of interest. One for every day of the year?
Lots of photos because I forgot my video camera. Walked around a huge marked and came up to rest and write this. Gotta get my clothes and make some friends. Tuesday I start the Inca Trail for 4 days.

Photos from Pisco to Abancay

Here are some images from my trip 2 days ago. Except the sandwich one was from Lima the day we left. And the one where I´m standing on a dusty mountain top is the temple del sol at Pachacamac. The other stuff is what I saw on my incredible journey to Abancay. I recommend you click on the photos to view the details in the backdrops. Yes, that´s a cow¡ Videos for that may or may not be published because of internet speed. I wrote a bunch about that journey last night while I was ill (today the food poisoning has passed but head still woozy from altitude). I hope to write about it later because I have some catching up to do but I have my Bolleto Touristico (tourist ticket to get you into many sites and museums) so I will prolly be sightseeing. Duh. Enjoy.







Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mythical Misty Mountain Journey

I´ve made it to Cusco, so you don´t have to contact the US embassy! The past two days have been really extreme, dangerous and exactly what I was looking for. Until I get more time I am going to withhold the awesome photos I took (and videos).

Some jerks at the Restaurant Touristico gave me food poisoning and I´m in the chills phase of it.

MARCH 6
Katie and I parted ways at 7am after breakfast of coffee and bread in Pisco. I miss my translator! I carried on to Nasca winding through desert dunes, crushing every vehicle I came across. Driving: it´s in how you pass. The light kept changing and I felt as if I was on another planet. Stopping at the pitiful Nazca lines, I saw they are much smaller than I imagined. Didn´t stop me from picking up some sueveniers! In Nazca I got 2 tiny sandwiches and got onto highway 26.

If it wasn´t for GPS technology, none of this would be possible. At first the bumpy road wound through desert mountains and landscapes. I stopped a lot to get pix and videos. The videos will really do the describing of this, because my words won´t do it justice.
A couple hours later I was in the thick of it. As I wound up up up the air got cooler as I weaved back and forth through rolling hills as far as the eye could see. My head was in the clouds! haw haw. The mist was heavy. I picked up a hitch hiker - a Quechua woman. An awkward 20min later I dropped her at at destination. Later I learned that only buses, trucks and taxis drive this road. The way people were looking and waving to me, I felt as if I was the first gringo to do this. Nobody has cars so these white station wagon taxis traverse the mountains picking people up and dropping them off.
I drove through a small rainstorm which was really scary. My head was beginning to hurt from the elevation. Lunchtime came and went. Then...I began seeing mountain people. Was I in a drive through safari? Traditional Peruvian people wandered about their mountain towns. Children herding livestock along the roads. Crumbling structures from ages ago. Dogs sleeping in the road. THIS is PERU! I would wave to the short, round faced, brightly dressed people as they stared at me. What an experience!!
When I coughed I felt like I would pass out so I took some Dromamine and headache pills. Worked well.
The terrain was getting creepier and the sky shifting from rainbows to rain to sun to dark clouds. I got a quick lightning storm and accepted my fate: this is where I am going to die. I literally didn´t know what was coming around the next bend. A stunning view of green mountains? A herd of cows blocking the potholed road? Water flowing over the road?
I went through the largest llama preserve. The would appear along the hills in packs, meandering around ancient stone walls in the shapes of squares.
Perhaps I was hallucinating late in the afternoon, but I saw something from a dream I has a couple months ago. A triangular shaped mountain with a stone square in front of it (the mountain had a significance to ancient peoples). I remember telling someone this dream- I´ll have to check my reference.
Rolling in and out of crumbling towns I grabbed up more water and a few bannanas which saved my life. I was determined to reach Abancay. Night fell round 7p. Those dark hours of driving were freaking scary. Everything falls into chaos at night. Dogs chasing cars, livestock in the road, roads built through streams?! People hitch-hiking eerily in pitch black. Rockslides leaving big rocks in the road. Flanked by mountains, I followed the river till I rolled into Abancay! Found a hotel, coachera, got junk food, and passed out round 11p.

Katie´s blog has me in it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Oracle on the Mount and the Destroyed City.

After 5 hours of setback Katie and I were driving out of Lima at 1:45p, led by the brittish voice of the Garmin GPS. 20km later we were at a desert fortress on the ocean: Pachacamac. This sprawling Inca (previously Wari) complex over 1000 years old is perched on a hill with breathtaking views up and down the coast and the mountains to the east, over some boxy towns. Pachacamac housed the Oracle that tells the future, and has the meaning ¨He who created Land and Time.¨ I had a vision while an old breeze enveloped me. The future I did see. A sensation of success. Well, Chris Hughlett told me to enjoy myself!

Lots of video to come.

We left there at 3:46p and made it to Pisco by nightfall (6:45). The drive was an awesome experience. Desert hills with maniacal bus passings, traditional Peruvian women working in fields, donkeys pulling carts, motorized taxi carts buzzing everywhere.
Pisco: dusty! The whole town was leveled a year ago by an earthquake. Lots of buildings have the first story built and pipes jutting out the top awaiting more construction. We went out for some food. Thanks be to God that Katie speaks Spanish - she deals with everthing!! There will be no record of Pisco at night, sorry. A chaotic little town that´s a bit pummeled. We are in a hotel for $12 a piece. Deal!
The car is hopefully safe in a car park (coachina). We´re getting an early start tomorrow - a pivotal day for me that I dare not write about until it has been performed. Katie will however stay here and take a boat tour around the coast and Reserva National de Paracas.

PART II: The South Coast.

Last night I tried to tan the rest of me on the roof of the hotel. Turns out I didn´t stand up that guy at the bar the night before - he never showed. And didn´t show last night either! So I just sat planning my day for today and talking with some travellers at the hotel bar. Katie is going to travel with me today down to Ica. There´s a little setback as I wait for an automatic car but then we´ll begin.
I´ve only been here a couple days and so much has happened and is happening, it seems. Meeting handfuls of people is great. Peruvians take thier time with everything except the driving. Out of time. Will write later if I make it!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bike Tour Video

Here is a lame video of part of my bike tour I took yesterday. You can see Hussa in it. We are above the tourist mall built into the cliff by the ocean. I got on the roof of my hotel with my shirt off to try and balance out this horrible sunburn but I don´t think it worked.

Ruinas of Lima

I organized a DIY bike tour with a couple people I met the night before, Katie (CA) and Dustin (midwest). We went to my bike rental spot and rode up to Huaca Pucllana, a 1,500 yr old pyramid made of mud bricks by the Limas. We got a tour there and saw the mummy below. There´s a pic with me and the pyramid also. Then we rode through an immaculate, affluent neighborhood to a park that had a bunch of olive trees in it. Then to less impressive set of ruinas, Huaca Huyallamarca. Then down the coast for a lovely ride.

A Miracle has happened to me.

Okay I´m back. Got a quicker internet connection. Yesturday, March 3rd, I got an incredible PERSONAL 3.5hr historical bike tour of Lima by my guide, Hussa. Lunch included! Learned about the war of 1881 with Chile, the Love Park, hoods of Miraflores, Barranco and Chorrillos. Remarkably, the rowboats used for fishing were the only boats in the ocean, anscestors of the ancients who have been fishing there. Saw the hill where a giant light up cross was built to welcome John Paul II when he visited in 1985. Then Hussa told me the legend of a half destroyed church he showed me (I got a video of the story). Some sailors saw a brilliant light of Christ in the sky and built a church on that very spot. It was twice destroyed by the war then by earthquake. While he spoke to me, I felt a prickling sensation all over my body and felt filled with light. Then...I got an instant sunburn WHEN THE SKY WAS FULL OF CLOUDS. A miracle - can somebody phone the vatican?
After that journey at 3p I came back to my hotel to completely crash out. I didn´t get much sleep the night before and I was exhausted. But I did get up to meet a guy at a bar - and told him the wrong time so we missed each other. Wups! Drank a pisco sour with a few local chikitas then came back to the hotel bar when I met some travellers to set up the next day over more beers.

Photos from Lima, Peru in South America




Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Miracle has already happened.


After I wrote earlier i stopped in a bike tour agency. They called thier guy Hussa, who came over to give me a private bike tour of Lima! Low season (even though its summer to me). We took a historical tour through Miraflores, Barranco and Chorrillos. Up the coast. Saw the love park and old fishing boats in the bay. Saw the big light up cross on a hill (not lit at day) that was placed for when John Paul II visited in 85. We stopped at an old church that was destroyed during the was with Chile and only partially rebuilt. Hussa told me the legend of the church (on video). Some sailors saw a burning light in the sky from the water and it was a vision to build a church on that very spot. Then, i was surrounded by a strange sensation. Later, it turns out.

PART I - Lima

I´ve arrived in Peru. It´s summer here.
Yesturday i awoke to a pile of snow in BK. That didn´t stop my flight! It left on time and when i got to sunny FL I turned right around and got on my connecting flight. Cake!
Got to Lima and the airport was spotless. The air tastes a little swampy, more pea-green than FL, hints of seafood and melon. Delicious though. 72 degrees at night. There was no guy from my hotel with a sign so i got in another car. The driving can put NYC cabbies to shame! We pull up to a streetlight and a boy of about 8 years walks in front of the cars and stands on his head! Then begs. Got to my hotel round midnight. Cute balcony overlooking the Parque Kennedy.
This internet cafe has a webcam. I wonder how to hook up my camera to download photos on these public things.
Just had breakfast (comes with hotel). Stopping here then bank then ?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

T minus 1 day


Tomorrow I begin the journey to Peru. Getting there is half the battle. A winter storm is rolling through the East Coast. My flight better leave on time! Last night was a going away party of sorts for me with a handful of friends. It was fun hanging out in Williamsburg. My pal Lizzie gave me a card. It has the word PERU on it along with a mysterious illustration. And another mission for me: bring back the meaning of life. So be it. It must be found.

Friday, February 27, 2009

World Economic Crisis Got You Down? Travel!

An interesting article about how January was a record setting month for travel.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mission Statement

I've created this blog to keep my adoring fans in the loop of some of the adventures I'm partaking in, planned and accidental, during my journey through the Inca's land: Peru. I've been inspired by the blog of Dani Rotenstein, who is still in Peru right now.

The theme of the trip will be versions of reality and how our brains construct it from information we gather. It's been hatched from my work in advertising, which uses the power of suggestion to convince us to believe in the "reality" it presents (buy our toilet paper - it will make your kids healthier!). Through value attribution we construct, or are told to construct, an idea of how the world works dynamically. Everyone's trying to convince someone else to assign value to a thing, idea or way of life. What have YOU been trying to sway someone to believe in lately?

Being an American and going to a land where indigenous peoples still romp around the jungle as they have been doing for centuries is going to be amazing. We, without a doubt, see reality as being two wildly different things. They don't have a TV to tell them what they should be wearing, buying or believing in. Lame!

This idea of reality came to me the more I researched Peru and the mystery and awe that surrounds it. I hope to arrive at a view of the country through new viewpoints, waypoints and angles. Yes, in the form of a "travel video" that shows much that a promo video might not. The purpose is not to have a philosophical argument but to have a look behind things to get a better understanding of ourselves through images and discussions. There will be lots of "man, this is cool" moments but hopefully I stop myself from narrating it like that. I'm going to keep my ecological footprint small, my lungs open and my mind free. I've been wanting to do this trip for over a decade. So I've had an idea of what it might be for a long time. I'm excited to see how all those preconceived notions come crashing down!

What will the air taste like?

I use the words "trip", "trek" or "adventure" and not "vacation" to describe this journey. "Vacation" conjures up a vision of lounging on a tropical beach with crystal clear ocean at your feet, sipping a pina colada with a beach resort soaring into the sky behind you. That is not what this trip is about. My mission is difficult, I don't know Spanish, the terrain is rough and the languages and customs are foreign. You can't even throw toilet paper in the toilets. I'll be out of my elements, removed from my comfort zone and alone.

This is my trip through Peru, When Reality Bends.
Experience it with me here.

Enjoy,
Jan.