A Travellerspoint blog

I’m Home!

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Today I flew home from Lima.

In all of my past travel experiences, I have fought against and loathed the moment when a trip ends. In all of my past travel experiences, I have had to return to work soon after getting back. Today I didn’t feel any of that. I am happy about my 3 and a half month adventure and happy to be home to reconnect. I also do not have the stress of immediately going to work. I plan on giving myself time to figure out what’s next.

My first flight was from Lima to Bogota and I ended up striking up a conversation that lasted the full 2 and a half hours with a cargo ship captain from Montenegro. It was interesting to hear about his life. He works 4 months at sea and then gets 4 months off and has been doing so for 15 years. It is a lifestyle of great sacrifice and rewards. He also was fascinated by my story and thought it was amazing that I left traditional society to try something new. He thought that it was rare in real life, and that it is something you see more in the movies. Other people have also chimed in with similar thoughts about my adventure being special. It is really refreshing to hear that from others. Often, I tend not to give myself credit for things. I also frequently think of things I do as ordinary. After all, I met a lot of travellers on my trip far more adventurous than I. However, I still did it my way and there aren't many people that do it at all. The long term travel circuit is really small and I forget that.

After the flight to Bogota, my overnight flight from Bogota to JFK was a bit late but I still got in at 6AM. From there, it was onto Grand Central Station, then Metro North to New Haven where my parents picked me up.

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Trip Summary

I travelled in South America for 3 and a half months and saw just a sliver of the continent. However, loving mountains and extremes I chose wisely seeing desert, forest, jungle, volcanoes, and spectacular mountains. I set new personal records, longest trip, first time south of the equator, highest elevation I have ever been to, highest elevation I have hiked at, and I am sure many more.

I was stunned looking at a map that east-west I travelled only as far west as Rochester, New York and as far east as Augusta, Maine! On the other hand north-south I covered over a quarter of the distance between the poles or the equivalent in the northern hemisphere of going from Bogota, Columbia to Edmonton, Alberta.

Initial reflections on the trip

I decided to travel solo and meet people and find lodging as I went. At times this was great and at other times not so much. I found out that I am a very social person and without some connection to people around me I can quickly begin to feel very alone especially in a strange place. Fortunately, usually there were people around and to do things with. Likewise I found at times I was very excited by being in a new culture and at other times it felt extremely frustrating because things were not as friendly or simple as I am used to. It was also a lesson in patience and I got about a C-! It was hard for me to deal with uncertainty and unpredictability. Usually I did best when I had a more flexible schedule and wasn’t worried about missing some connection, tour, or had rigid expectations. Travelling from place to place on the cheap can be hard and at times I missed my bed and shower. I met many interesting people on this trip and I continue to want to meet people from all over the world. However, I do enjoy having a community to come back to. Overall, I think this trip has made me appreciate the community I have at home more.

This entry bring this blog to an end. It has been a lot of fun documenting my experience and for those who chose to follow it I hope you enjoyed it.

Posted by solorooster 05.09.2013 10:10 Archived in USA Comments (4)

Back to Lima take 3

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This time I am back in Lima (actually Miraflores the best neighborhood in the city) for my last 2 days of this trip. After 2 overnight busrides in 4 nights I thought I’d give myself a few nights of comfort before an overnight flight. So, I came back to Lima today and got picked up at the bus station, went running by the ocean, had some more Chinese Food. We went to a market where my host family ordered chicken. It was sliced up similar to the fish in my Iquitos Belen Market video. Apparently the chicken is pretty fresh (killed within the last day). I thought it was kind of unsanitary that the butcher was then bagging the chicken and handling the money without washing her hands!

I forgot my camera most of my time back in Lima (it is tired). However, I did take it with me on my run along the malecon and subsequent walk back through the city. The Malecon is beautiful and long 3 miles plus with many parks, recreational fields and the occasional pull-up bar and sit-up bench along the way. The views of the ocean are stunning.
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The city itself (Miraflores) is modern and grand.
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There are many casinos in Lima in general and one particularly nice one 2 minutes from where I am staying.
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I figured like most casinos in South America they do not have Texas Hold’em tables but when I got back to my place I found online that they had daily tournaments. I was tempted to play poker here depending on if there was anything else to do in the evening but it turned out when my host family got back we had another home cooked meal together and then I did some prep for my flight home.

Posted by solorooster 05.08.2013 10:52 Archived in Peru Comments (1)

Chavín de Huántar

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Today I was able to sleep as the start of my tour was not until 9. I will say the start of the tour was awkward as many groups got consolidated. Then, the bus actually stopped for gas before leaving town. At least the price was cheap. We first drove an hour south of Huaraz before ascending to cross the Cordillera Blanca.
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There were snowcapped mountains mixing with the clouds in the distance.
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We stopped quickly at Laguna Quesococha at 13,200 feet.
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Then we went through a short tunnel at the pass 14,800 feet.
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The road condition severely deteriorated the next hour and a half to Chavin.
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On the way down there was scenic farmland on the green hills.
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In Chavin we visited the museum and ruins of the ancient Callejon de Conchucos civilization. It is impressive that this civilization flourished 1200 to 1500 BC. There were many sculpted heads and this site has ties with religious ceremonies that used the hallucinagen San Pedro.
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There were also a variety of other artifacts and carvings as well.
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Then it was time to visit the ruins itself.
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Another impressive feature was that we were able to go inside the ruins. This was the main ceremonial chamber.
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Here were hallways to sleeping areas.
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The outside grounds and stonework were impressive as well.
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The columns in the center had carvings on them. The guide said that the wall to the right of the colums was black stone representing the Cordillera Negra and man while the wall to the left was white stone representing the Cordillera Blanca and woman.
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Then it was 3 hours back to Huaraz followed by 2 hours of rest and then a night bus to Lima. Although I would have enjoyed hiking more in the spectacular Cordillera Blanca and spending more time here. I leave the Huaraz area, after the bad initial impression, with amazement for the mountains and happy to have visited it.

Posted by solorooster 05.08.2013 06:11 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Cordillera Blanca

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Today I got up at 5:30 to go on a day hike to Laguna 69. The bus left about 6:15 and started down a deep valley on a paved road.
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Then, it started ascending on a poorly maintained dirt road. As we ascended the snowcapped Cordillera Blanca came into view.
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The Glacier covered Huarascán
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At 8 we stopped at a restaurant but we couldn't leave right away because the bus had a flat.
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Clouds were starting to form but views were still good. Often in the mountains this is not a good sign.

We left at 9 and got to Huarascán National Park soonafter. We entered into a steep gorge and went up many switchbacks.
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Eventually Huarascán itself at 6768 meters (22,300 feet) came into view covered in white above the steep cliffs. It is the fourth highest mountain in South America and the highest in the tropical zone in the world.
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Then a laguna came into view, Llanganuco Chinancocha. This might be the most impressive mountain I've seen as it towers over everything!
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The laguna itself was located at 3800 meters (12,500 feet) and seemed to hang in the sky with the clouds.
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Behind the first lake was a second, Llanganuco Orcancocha with reflections of Huarascán in it!large_DSC05109.jpg

Not too long after the second lake was our hike trailhead also at 3800 meters (12,500 feet). The hike began with a stream.
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Then it opened up to a field of cows with increadible mountains in the background.
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Clouds thickened, however, but the scenery was still amazing. Huarascán went into the clouds but not before I got this photo looking back from the trail.
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Ascending a bit, we reached an amazing waterfall.
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And also a small pond/lake.
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Above this clouds obscured mountains in 3 directions and I was unsure what would be visible at the laguna. The weather cooperated though revealing one of the most spectacular sites I've seen! The brilliant blue lagoon had a waterfall flowing into it and mountains of 19,000 to 20,000 feet closely surrounding the 15,200 ft lagoon.
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I spent an hour and a half up there and then headed back. The bus left at about 4:30. It began to rain almost immediately.

The rain turned into a downpour and hail. Heading down the steep wet dirt road in the dark at about 6 PM a car tried to get by going the other direction and scraped the bus. There was no major damage but we had to wait 30 minutes as both sides negotiated.
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Once we got going again it was uneventful but we got back after 8, a 14 hour day.
I had no time and was to tired to attempt, find, or prep for a hike the following day but today was great in itself as it gave me a taste of the best in the area.

Posted by solorooster 05.06.2013 20:44 Archived in Peru Comments (2)

Huaraz

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When in Cusco I was a bit worn out so I booked the last 8 days of my trip in the comfortable Lima suburb of Miraflores in the family style hostel. By the time I got to Lima I was feeling more energized to do something with the last week of my trip. I missed the mountains the last 2 weeks and knew I was only 7 hours by bus to some of the spectacular mountains anywhere. A disproportionate number of friends and people I met were either going or buzzing about this city, called Huaraz, in the heart of the Cordillera Blanca surrounded by 23 peaks over 6000 meters (19,800 feet) high. I decided on a 3 day 2 night trip bookended by overnight busrides.

Over half the time that I travel to a new place I find it hard, even unpleasant, to deal with the details of arriving and getting to the point of being settled, safe, and finding the fun. I spent the day before going there researching and contacting hotels and tours to try to hit the ground running. Despite the effort, day 1 in Huaraz epitomized the arrival blues. Upon getting in I was tired and found the city one of the ugliest and travel unfriendly places I've seen. The surrounding mountains were incredible albeit through ugly buildings.
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The weather was beautiful and knowing fickle mountain weather I wanted to get out a little out of the urban area to view the spectacular mountains immediately. Due to the tour company opening late I missed everything and there was no one at the hostel who wanted to do anything. So, I took a 2 hour nap, found food, hung out a bit with a woman from Lima who was scaling a 5400 meter (17,800 feet) peak the next few days. I also verified a hike for tomorrow.

Huaraz was totally destroyed by earthquake in 1970 and the cathedral is not yet rebuilt but is pretty neat in its current state.
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From the plaza the highest point in Peru is visible Huascaran at 6768 meters (22,300 feet).
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My hostel has a terrace to view the city and mountains.
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I saw some interesting things from here. Cool morning shots:
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Dusk after a storm:
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On street selling of Guinea Pig and Chickens:
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Treatment of the animals is poor. Another thing that is exceptionally out of control is street dogs. This was a whole pack:
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This dog used the ATM space as a home overnight:
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Posted by solorooster 05.06.2013 13:02 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

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