Tag Archives: south america

My Surreal Peruvian Adventure: Conquering Hypothermia and 40 Miles of Strike Blockades

We thought we had it figured out.  We would tour Lake Titicaca and get back to Puno at 3:30PM, catch a bus from Puno to Cuzco at 4PM, arrive in Cuzco late that night and get a room at Loki, a backpacker hot spot.  Keep dreaming boy, that only works in Germany.  This is 3rd world territory, shit-happens-country, and you better come prepared to deal with derailed plans.  It was the summer of strikes in Peru; we really should have known better.

Our bus is finally ready for us around 10PM.  With the old buses and out of date roads, a 6 hour delay is not unusual for Peru.  At this point, however, our journey is no longer a straight shot.  The staff makes us aware of the ongoing strikes and blocked roads.  The new plan is to ride to the town of Sicuani, get out and walk a blocked section to the next town (a 30 minute walk, we were told), and catch a cab from there that would take us the remaining 6 hours to Cuzco.  Still optimistic, we roll with the punches  and get ready for a 12 hour overnight journey.  Of course as soon as we leave the bus turns into a refrigerator because the heat doesn’t work.  Typical.  I’m cold and I can’t fall asleep, so I sit and nurse a Cusqueńa, the local brew.

The roads are blocked off by the people of local towns who are taking issue with recent Peruvian legislation.  In April, the government agreed to sell mines, parts of the rain forest, and local water supplies to foreign companies.  In exchange, the government profits, while locals see their resources and their livelihood pillaged.  All in all, 2 out of 3 major roadways to Cuzco are at least partially blockaded.

We get to Sicuani around 2AM and start walking, all the while looking for a cab or a bus.  The scene is surreal:  miles of semi trucks full of cargo line the road, waiting for the Continue reading


Filed under Outdoor Adventure - Travel

The Lake of Boobs and Butts?

Sitting in Spanish class in ninth grade, I would have never imagined I would one day find myself in one of the premier geographic Meccas of juvenile jokes.  Yet here I am on Lake Titicaca, taken aback by its size and beauty, smiling down at the jokes of a distant past.  At an altitude of 3.8 km (2.36 miles) above sea level, Lake Titicaca covers a vast 8372 square km (3100 sq. mi.), roughly the area of Delaware, with its longest diameter of 168 km (104 miles) from shore to shore.

I’m on a very slow moving, motor powered boat, transgressing the deep, dark blue water between a ‘floating’ and a ‘geological’ island.  The people of the area have been living on floating islands for centuries.  A floating island is composed of reef that naturally grows in the lake, and every 3 months a new layer of reef is laid down to replace the decomposing reef submerged in the water.  As you walk around your feet literally sink half a foot into the ground.

I feel as if I’m in the middle of the ocean, so dark is the water.  Yet there are no great whites or sandtiger sharks, no killer whales or bottlenose dolphins to speak of.   The low levels of oxygen at this altitude prevent this ecosystem from supporting significant life.  The lovely people on the floating islands rely on fish smaller than the size of the pen I’m writing with for food.  It’s quite extraordinary, since isolated tradition like this does not exist in many parts of the world.  I’m glad to have witnessed it.

As we keep moving, the sun slowly chars away at my skin.  A sure call for a sunscreen break.  This high up, the sun really torches you.  Meanwhile, you would think I was Continue reading

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Filed under Outdoor Adventure - Travel