A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: AnzelcL

Sick

all seasons in one day 30 °C

We may have spoke a little too soon. While The Sundown Inn is everything I said in the previous post, it is also a little hygienically challenged. This has resulted in a lot of sickness! Its hard to enjoy the sun, surf and Spanish lessons from your bed... which is where I spent a good portion of the last several days. We can't pinpoint the exact cause, but we're pretty sure that the cockroaches running around aren't helping matters much and we're not to sure about the “drinking water” either. Last night, after about five days of feeling terrible, I finally felt good enough to take the seven hour bus to Quito. Just about the time that we bought our tickets, Eric began to feel sick. We tried to change our tickets (with no luck) and checked into a hostel in Canoa (both of us feeling sick just thinking about Sundown Inn. So this is where we are now, Eric feeling awful and still feeling pretty bad myself. We're crossing our fingers Eric will feel good enough to travel before our flight on Thursday, or we might be getting some extra time in Ecuador! After all this, we certainly are missing the comforts of home...

Trust us, you don't want to see pictures of this.

Posted by AnzelcL 14:59 Archived in Ecuador Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Canoa

all seasons in one day 30 °C

So now we're just outside of Canoa, which is one of the less touristy beach towns in Ecuador. That means there are many beach front restaurants to choose from, but we'll likely be the only tourists in them when eating. And that you can get internet access, but you better hope there's a computer open in the internet cafe on the corner of Muddy St. and Muddier Ave. Not to mention, heading to the closest city for groceries is a must! We hadn't really made set plans about how to spend the rest of our trip, but we are certainly set now. We're renting a room on the beach (with a balcony and hammock) for $12 a night – Not going to give that up! The place we're staying at also offers Spanish lessons, so we signed up for 4 hours a day – which wont interfere to much with laying on hammocks, surfing and getting sun. Our Spanish teacher is an old man named Jaime and he is awesome! Sometimes he plays hearts with us at night and he insists we call him 007 (Sounds even better when he says zero zero siete!). Which makes sense, because he usually wins, occasionally shooting the moon. We keep trying to get him to have a beer or glass of wine with us, but he always responds with, “Cuando tomo vino, halbo palabras malas.” But Jaime, we want to learn those words, too! We study with him in the morning from 9-11 and in the afternoon from 3-5. In between, we go grocery shopping in town, lay on the hammocks on the beach, surf, swim, walk on the beach or play cards with some of the other people staying here. There are two couples that will be here most of the time we are here. One couple, Jess and Chris, are from Canada and Australia respectively, and met on this trip. The fell in love and decided to extend their trip and travel together. Next they are heading to Canada for a couple weeks, before flying to Florida to try and get jobs on a private yaught sailing the world! The other couple, Niall and Anna are from Great Brittan and are spending the year traveling the world. They're getting towards the end of the trip, wrapping it up with three months in South America.

Days are starting to run into one another, which neither of us can complain about at all. This truly feels like a vacation and we're very much enjoying it!
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Posted by AnzelcL 08:03 Archived in Ecuador Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Lima

So, now we are dirty. And I mean DIRTY. All of our clothes are damp and mildew smelling, even those that we left back in Puerto Maldanado. What we were most excited about that morning was the promise of laundry. But we had a few more travel hurdles to jump through first. When we finally reached our hostel in Lima that night it was about 6pm (which feels a lot later after a canoe ride, a hike, a boat ride, a plane ride and a taxi). Our hostel is clean and well decorated (rare in the world of hostels). Eric and Stephanie check into a double and I check into a six bed female dorm. The dorm is empty when I check in and, I'm assuming due to my crossed fingers the whole time, it remains that way until I leave! We are particularly excited about being in Lima because Lealah and Ryan live here and we quickly make plans for lunch and sightseeing the following day. We head out for some comfort food (Pizza Hut!), until we realize Pizza Hut here is not really in our budget and end up at the Peruvian equivalent of Denny's.

The next day was Stephanie's last day, so we put her in charge of making all the decisions. One of her first, was ice cream before lunch (which I totally supported). Unfortunately, this resulted in Eric getting sick and hampered our plans to meet up with Lealah and Ryan (not that they answered the door when we came by anyway – thanks guys). We headed back to the hostel to give Eric a chance to recover and when he felt better we met up with L & R for a late lunch and stroll along the beach side cliffs. Lunch was our first attempt at ceviche, which was not what we were expecting. Although it was quite tasty, it was large strips of fish with onions, not the salsa like stuff we were hoping for. We walked for a while after lunch, watching people bath in fountains and practice falconry. We planned to hang out with L & R that night, but by the time “night” in Lima rolled around the three of us were exhausted and decided to call it an early night.
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Stephanie left early the next morning, and the next days were more than a little uninteresting. I was feeling particularly burnt out after all of the quick travel we had been doing over the past couple weeks, and didn't really feel like doing anything (sorry Eric!). We ended up spending most of the next day and a half in our hostel, before jumping on a 27 hour bus to Guayaquil. Guayaquil was a city we had hoped to avoid, or at least only pass through, but since we were taking such a long bus ride, hoping on another right after didn't really seem like an option. Instead, we hailed a taxi and headed to the hostel that we had booked the previous day. Seems like an easy task, right? Not so easy. The taxi driver had little idea where he was going, and a ten minute ride turned into thirty plus as he stopped strangers, made u turns, called the hostel, called the hostel, made u turns... you get the idea. We finally did make it, smack in the center of a cute little neighborhood filled with bars. Bars on windows, bars on storefronts, bars on bars. This, plus advice from Susan (Eric's friend who is living in Ecuador) and warnings in the book, made us feel more than a little unsure about our surroundings. We left as soon as possible to get something to eat, ended up getting some tasty street food and hurried back to our hostel. We did make a quick stop to take a picture of the high security ice cream parlor (a great excuse for a cone).
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We left Guayaquil early the next morning and took a bus to a (water) taxi to a (car) taxi before finally pulling into The Sundown Inn in Canoa. Overgrown bushes and chipping paint led Eric and I to be a little concerned that the hostel we planned to stay at might be abandoned. Luckily it's just a little on the rundown side, but its right on the beach and that sounds good to me!
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Posted by AnzelcL 12:44 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Macch Picchu and the Jungle

April 9 - April 15

sunny 21 °C

Ya ya I know we haven't updated the blog in about 2 weeks, and I am writing this without an internet connection so hopefully I wont have to change that two weeks to three weeks... Here we go!

Friday, April 9th
Laurel left off on our bus ride from Puno to Cusco. The 'tourist' bus stopped at 4 tourist stops the only one worth mentioning was the stop at the Inca ruins, mine and Stephanie's first Inca ruins, we both thought they were very cool. When we arrived in Cusco the bus dropped us off very far from the town center, and we didn't ave enough Soles to catch a taxi so we hoofed it about a half an hour, and it was lightly raining. After reaching the town center and finding our hostel, up some seriously steep stairs and at 12,000 feet climbing them was hard, we eat dinner nearby and settled in for the night.
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Saturday, April 10th
Today we are headed to Aquas Calientes then to Machu Picchu!! We start off with breakfast on the terrace at our hostel (the stairs may have been worth it). We don't need to leave Cusco until 4 so we have some time to kill, which we mostly spend in internet cafes, 3 to be exact... sorry Stephanie! :(. And then we have trouble picking a place for lunch.... we settle on some authentic Peruvian McDonalds, again sorry Stephanie :(. At 4 we catch our cab to Piscacucho, which is where we board our train to Aguas Calientes (at the foot of Machu Piccu). Our Taxi driver is crazy and I'm not sure if he thinks we are rally racing or what! We make it to the train and on to Aguas Calientes in one piece. We check into our hostel and Laurel is beat so she goes to sleep, Stephanie and I head out to have a late dinner, we settle on some pizza, which end up basically being a pizza made on a tortilla, not as bad as it sounds. Bed time.
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Sunday, April 11st
Up at 4:45 to catch the first bus up the hill to Machu Picchu! We are all very excited, and a little nervous because we are planning up hiking Huanui Picchu (the mountain in the background of most Maccu Picchu pictures) which Laurel has made out to be very difficult. Once up the hill to Maccu Picchu really lives up to its name, of being the city in the clouds. It is cloud covered and has mystical feeling, I liked it a lot. We are scheduled in the first group to hike Huanui Picchu (only a certain number are allowed to hike it each day) so we wonder a little bit then begin out hike. The cloud forest scenery and the hike are amazing, I think coming down was harder than getting up, it takes us about 2 hours round trip including the time we send at the top soaking in the scenery. The view from the top is absolutely amazing, and I would recommend the climb to everyone who goes to Maccu Picchu!! Once down we from the mountain we explore Maccu Picchu for several hours. It is absolutely amazing!! Once finished we head down the mountain to check out the thermal baths (hence the name of the town), which are grungy looking pools, with murky water, not what I imagined. We head out to a restaurant and get some dinner and then hit the sac as we are all very tired, from all the activity today.
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Monday, April 12th
Today we catch the train/taxi back to Cusco, our taxi driver today is much more relaxed today. Stephanie and Laurel decide that they want to get massages, manicures and pedicures. While they're doing that I relax. After they're finished we head into town and try some Chifa (Peruvian Chinese food), it was pretty good, and didn't taste nearly as greasy as our Chinese food. That's it for the day and Tomorrow we head to the Jungle.

Tuesday, April 13th
This morning we catch a flight to Puerto Maldanado, board a motorized canoe for a 45 minutes ride down the Rio Tampbopta, hike for 2 miles, then board another canoe for a ride across Lago Sandoval, we then arrive at our jungle lodge. The weather is near 100 degrees and 100 percent humidity. The Jungle scenery is absolutely amazing. Our first excursion into the jungle is a night hike on which we see several species of spiders (including tarantulas), leaf cutter ants, fire ants, a tree that will temporarily paralyze you if you touch it and some amazing jungle fauna. Our lodge is pretty rustic, we only have electricity certain times a day, no windows in the rooms (only mosquito netting), but the service is first class and the food is excellent. The three of us are sharing a room, with a private bath, but the walls don't go all the way to the ceiling so there is not much privacy. Overall the place is very cool, and it is a good mix of comfort and jungle feel.
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Wednesday, April 14th
Up at 5:00 AM for a 2 hour canoe ride around Lago Sandoval looking for monkeys, birds, rier otters, and other animals. The sunrise on the lake is beautiful, we see many different types of birds, howler monkeys, but since the river is full from the rainy season the otters aren't out and we don't get to see them. After the canoe ride its time for breakfast, then a jungle hike. On the jungle hike we learn all about the different plants and trees that can be used for medicinal purposes, see different types of jungle (primary jungle and secondary jungle), some really interesting and big trees, try fresh Brazil nuts and we see more monkeys! After the hike we have lunch and watch a documentary on the family of river otters that live in the lake. Around 4 we head out on the lake for a sunset boat ride looking for monkeys, caymans/crocodiles, and more monkeys. We see two more types of moneys, a lot of caymans and some more birds. The end of the boat ride is in the dark with our guides using flashlights to point out monkeys and caymans. After the boat ride its time to have dinner and relax, tomorrow we leave the jungle. It was a short trip, we would have loved to stay longer, but even as it was the cost really was way over what we could afford for such a short time.
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Thursday, April 15th
Two days until Stephanie leaves :(. We do our boat-ride/hike/boat-ride/bus-ride this morning to get back to the airport, and say goodbye to the jungle. Laurel is going to continue from here. I hope everyone is well and I'm looking forward to skypeing the family tomorrow!

Posted by AnzelcL 11:27 Archived in Ecuador Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

La Paz, Copacabana, Puno and Cusco

The trip seems to have picked up the pace a bit, which has resulted in a lack of blog posts – sorry! On Monday morning we went to immigration in hopes of getting visas and stamps. While Eric and I weren't in an immediate rush (since we were staying a couple days waiting for Stephanie to arrive), Lealah and Ryan were trying to get out of La Paz later that day. We got to the immigration office at about 9am and spent hours attempting to clear everything up – going from one long line to another, making copies of our passports, waiting in more lines, going to the internet cafe to get Lealah's travel itinerary, waiting in longer lines, etc. By the time early afternoon rolled around, Lealah was scheduled to get her passport at 12:30, Eric and Ryan at 5pm the following day and as for me, well there was a slight problem with my passport and I just needed to sit and wait for a while. What?? Later they told us that they were out of visa stickers... wish they had just told me that originally so I could have worried a little less! We went back to the office several times and Lealah missed her flight because hers wasn't ready on time. Eventually things worked out and by 5pm on Tuesday all of us were legally in Bolivia (Stephanie included).
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Seems like Bolivia is always difficult to get in. However, there is a silver lining on this one: My purse was stolen on Monday, while immigration had my passport. I only lost 70 bolivianos (or about $10), my debit and credit cards and drivers license. As soon as I realized my purse was gone, I called to cancel my cards; someone had already tried to pay their cable bill with it. At least I had an excuse to buy a new purse!

Eric and I went to pick up Stephanie early in the morning on Tuesday. She was the very last person off the plane, which I think made Eric a little worried. We walked around the city a little while, went to the coca museum (tried the coca elixir which made me feel a little silly and helped Stephanie with some minor altitude sickness) and had breakfast with Lealah and Ryan. Later that afternoon we went back to our hostel (The Adventure Brew Hostel that I stayed in last time I was in La Paz) and went up to the bar (where there is wifi) to take care of some planning. Planning quickly turned into tasting the beer, tasting the beer quickly turned into drinking the beer, which quickly turned into Stephanie taking a nap. Eric and I continued planning until it was time to get our passports, then we came back to the hostel and had dinner followed by a beer spa for Stephanie and myself.
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The next morning we woke up early, enjoyed our all you can eat pancake breakfast (included in the hostel rates) and then went to explore the city again. We took pretty much the same path (BTW Laurel tried to get us lost on the steepest hills she could find)) we took on Sunday (Easter and election day) when the roads were deserted – quite a different experience. One of the highlights was definitely Stephanie feeding the pigeons (I had one on my arm before I even opened the bag of food... Look Mom I can catch pigeons!) – putting my attempt in Buenos Aires to shame. We enjoyed a variety of street food and then spent the remainder of our day frustrated trying to purchase plane tickets, train tickets and a jungle tour. Even after several hours, we remained unsuccessful at most of this.
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We woke up the next morning and took a bus to Copacabana (which is a city on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca), where we planned to meet up with Thumi and JP for a coffee or quick lunch. We were planning on staying there a couple hours before heading to Puno for the night. When we got there, Thumi told us that the only bus that would get to Puno at a reasonable hour was the one they were on, leaving in about 45 minutes (later we found out this wasn't true, so we can only guess that it was Thumi's attempt to spend more time with us). So we quickly changed our plans, scoped out the town as quickly as we could and hoped on a bus to Puno. (Note: Puno is one of my least favorite cities, right up there with Uyuni. I was not happy about the prospect of going back).
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Crossing the border was surprisingly easy. Stephanie was particularly excited about the fact that we were able to walk across the border from Bolivia to Peru. Eric and I were particularly excited that the let us out of Bolivia.

Puno is just how I remember it (dirty and full of pollution, with limited views of Lake Titicaca from the city center), except maybe a little colder. We stayed in Americano Hotel, which was nice and relatively cheap (about $10 per person in a triple with a private bathroom). The five of us went out for dinner, came home exhausted and went right to sleep.

So now Eric, Stephanie and I are on a bus from Puno to Cusco. We decided to forgo the cheap bus for a tourist bus, which stops several times for sight seeing and museums and includes lunch. We should arrive in Cusco around 5pm, and we'll leave the following day around the same time to start making our way to Machu Picchu. The next week and a half or so are going to be very busy, since we're trying to cram in a lot while Stephanie is here.

Posted by AnzelcL 20:39 Comments (0)

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