Cusco – Inca Trail/Machu Picchu – Puno

It’s been a month since my last post so I’ll try to be concise. I promise to post more regularly in the future. This post has zero work/microfinance information and only includes events up to my arrival in Bolivia (April 3rd). I’ll include information about FSD, Pro Mujer, Cochabamba, my host family and training in a later post.

The quick summary: I had two weeks of language classes where I met some great people and improved my Spanish immensely. On the 21st I went white water rafting for the first time – quite an adventure. Later that week I went horseback riding to four Incan ruins. Between the 27th and 30th I walked/ran/climbed/crawled the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – easily ranks as one of the best experiences of my life! After a couple days in Cusco, I stopped in Puno for a few days as it was on the way to Bolivia.

Details/pictures:

I. Spanish

II. Rafting

III. Horseback riding / Inca Ruins

IV. Inca Trail / Machu Picchu

V. Puno

VI. Random Pics

I. Spanish:  Taking 8 hours of class daily my first week in Cusco and 4 hours daily the second week has done wonders for my language skills. I need tons of additional practice but I’m finally comfortable engaging in conversations beyond my favorite topics of family and food.

II. Rafting:  A group of 6 including me set out white water rafting. I wasn’t happy about the 7am start Saturday morning but it was well worth it. The rapids were classified as level 3 and we were being poured on during the entire adventure. I was lucky to not fall out of the raft yet at one point we all voluntarily jumped out and went through the final section of rapids in the river. At another juncture we jumped off a bridge into the river…

WWR

Praying I don't fall out of the raft

About to jump...

About to jump...

III. Horseback riding / Inca Ruins:  The day was absolutely beautiful as you will see in the pictures below. We jumped on horses and toured the countryside on the way to a few ruins.  The Quechua/Incan ingenuity is most clearly viewed in their architectural abilities.

Shiju + Alpaca

I get along with Alpacas

Ruins

Ruins (Sacsayhuaman, aka "Sexy Woman")

My Horse

Riding

Nice day

Amazing sky

IV. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu easily ranks as one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling experiences of my life. For 4 days we were completely separated from the “connected” world while hiking in the rain and camping out (not to mention unshowered).  The food we ate was heavenly and the sights were nothing short of magnificent. I’ve happily gained a new found respect for the great outdoors and hope to incorporate more outdoor activities into my life.

The Group

The Fun Group

Entire Group (Freddy - the guide - on the left is a badass)

Entire Group (Freddy - the guide - on the far left is a badass)

Freddy shared this beautiful Quechuan saying and greeting with me:

“Ama Sua, Ama Quella, Ama Llulla”

“Don’t steal, Don’t be lazy, Don’t lie”

Satisfaction

Accomplishment

Magnificent

Magnificent

EPIC

Epic

Finally got to Machu Picchu

Finally got to MACHU PICCHU!

MP

MP

MPII

MPII

Contemplative

Contemplative

The guys

The Guys (Ronnie, Me, 2 English lads)

MP from atop Wayna Picchu (Big Mountain)

MP from atop Wayna Picchu ("Big Mountain")

On top of the world

On top of the world

 

V. Puno was a relaxing trip after the Inca Trail. We toured the man-made floating reed islands on Lake Titicaca and afterwards spent some time on the island Tequila.

Floating man-made island on Lake Titicaca

Floating man-made island on Lake Titicaca

Floating Island

Floating Island

Tequila Island

Tequila Island

Not sure about the accuracy of this sign...

Not sure about the accuracy of this sign...

VI.  See below a few random pictures I’m too lazy to categorize from my days in Cusco:

Thank goodness for globalization...

Felt great finding a decent pool table in Peru

Found a restaurant with a teddy bear theme (non-profit)

Found a restaurant with a teddy bear theme (non-profit)

Cusco - Cathedral

Cusco - Cathedral

The Cusco flag is similar to the gay pride flag

The Cusco flag is similar to the gay pride flag

Interesting Painting at the Modern Arts Museum

Interesting painting at Museo de Arte Moderno Cusco

Another thought provoking painting

Another thought provoking painting

Plaza de Armas - Cusco

Plaza de Armas - Cusco

Caipirinhas + Hookah... some things never change

Caipirinhas + Hookah + Cards... some things never change

The last 5 weeks have been fantastic but life gets a bit more serious starting Monday.  I met the Pro Mujer Cochabamba director last Thursday and although he’s seemingly nice, he’s obviously very serious.  Soon I will post an update on my work and host family situation.  I’m most worried about my business spanish skills but hopefully that can improve quickly.  Hope the pictures and stories above were enjoyable.  I would love to hear how everyone is doing via email or telephone.  You can try my Bolivian cell phone (from the US: 011-591-7971-2071) in the mornings or evenings.

Also, thanks for all the birthday wishes last week.  I’m happy that at a quarter century my life is far from boring! Although I was away from home (understatement), I had a great time here in Cochabamba, Bolivia and felt the love from back home.  I really do have the best friends and family anyone could ask for…

Cheers,

Thomas

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5 Responses to “Cusco – Inca Trail/Machu Picchu – Puno”

  1. Sandhya Says:

    The pictures were beautiful! I’m incredibly jealous – sounds like you had an amazing birthday and trip. Good luck at work – I know you’ll kick ass.

    XOXO,
    Sandhya

  2. subin Says:

    good luck today! don’t suck at your spanish. but don’t give up either. haha, if you’ve made it this far, i think you’ll be fine. have fun ttyl

  3. Shanthi Says:

    so glad you’re having an amazing time! i also went rafting in rio urubamba and spent christmas mass at the cathedral in the plaza de armas in cusco. make the most of these next 4 months! cant wait to read more.

  4. ali Says:

    i hope to get a new update soon buddy. take care.

  5. Dorsey Says:

    #1) Wow, very jealous of your adventures. Sounds like your having an amazing time and are getting exactly what you wanted out of this one!

    #2) Please don’t get swine flu

    #3) …. boss walked by had to alt+tab and look busy

    #4) love ya man

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