Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Adventures in Peru

Hi Mom and Dad,
Thanks for the happy birthday! Eric and I have had a good time today. We are back in Arequipa at another nice hotel called "La Casa De Mi Abuela"('grandma's house').
I really like the blog that dad made... i'm amazed at how you were able to select the right pictures!
I think Iknow where the picture of Machu Picchu was taken from. The picture of Tequile Island is pretty accurate,although there's less snow now than that. I can't wait to send you all of the pictures when we get back to Amanda's house.
For the past few days we've been in a pretty remote part of peru, hiking in colca canyon. We took a 6 hr taxi ride to Cobanaconde over really rough roads. The road wound through the mountains all the way up to 15,900ft!! That's got to be one of the highest roads in the world. That's higher than any mtn in thelower 48. There are even a few houses at that elevation, people mostly just herd llamas and alpacas at that elevation.Then we hiked down into Colca canyon. It's pretty amazing, there are a few remote villages on the other side of the canyon that are only accessible by trail... you can't drive a car in there. most people take donkeys ("mulas"). we hiked down through the canyon and made it to the Oasis of San Galle. it was amazing. everything else was really dry and barren. no trees, all cactus (we ate some wild cactus fruit by the way), and no water. But then all of a sudden you see all of these palm trees, lush vegetation, and waterfalls coming down from the canyon walls. There were a few spring-fed swimming pools that we camped next to.

At the campgroud there were a few Peruvian amigos that invited us to play soccer. What a workout at 8000ft!

While Amanda and her mom were relaxing, Eric and I wanted to check out one ofthe waterfalls, and let me tell you it was quite an expedition to get there! We had to hike down a really steep slope though sharp bamboo to get down to theriver. We realized that we couldn't just walk along the river bank to get to the waterfall because the banks disappeared into sheer cliffs. So the only way to get upstream was to swim. Eric and I put some essentials in a garbage bag,then paddled upstream against a strong current. The entire river goes from maybe 60ft wide, 3ft deep down to a 10ft-wide opening of who knows how deep.Once we swam up the current we did a little scrambling over rocks and arrived at the base of the waterfall. The water was actually warm, since it flowed downfrom the hot slopes. I stood under it, and it was about 5 anglin falls all at once. It was the most intense shower i've ever taken. All around the base of the waterfall were lush plants, like a rainforest. There were elephant-ear leaves about 2ft across and all kinds of moss.

The way back from the waterfall was nice because we could just float on our backs downstream a little ways (just a minute or so). unfortunately my camera got alittle wet. it's having some problems now, but i'll wait another couple of days for it to fully dry out. i hope i don't have to buy a new one.
The next day we hiked 3000ft up and made it back to Cabanaconde and stayed in a nice hotel called Kuntur Wassi.,0,0,1,0,0
We played soccer with some more amigos in the square of the tiny little town. They were happy to have a couple of 'gringos' to play with. it was hard to get used to because they played in the cobblestone street,so i had to be sure not to slide. Eric and i did pretty well, i doubt too many other tourists last more than 10 minutes at this town at 11,000ft! today we took a bus back to arequipa and then ate at a really nice italian restaurant. we were kind of tired of trying to find good peruvian food, we're kind of limited because we don't want to get sick.we're all in good health now. tomorrow we'll take a plane to Lima, then on the 3rd we'll leave Lima at 6am for Bogata, Colombia, then eventually to DC on the afternoon of the 3rd. We'll try to give you a call as soon as we get back.
buenos noches!Love,Matthew and Eric

Saturday, June 28, 2008

An Email from Peru

Hola madre y padre
I'm at a hotel in Arequipa now and found a free computer to check email. We're doing fine and
have seen a lot of cool stuff in the past week. We started in Cuzco and took a taxi, train, and bus to eventually get to Machu Picchu. It was amazing that there could be an entire village made out of intricately carved rocks put together like puzzle pieces way up on the top of a mountain. When we got there in the morning we made a beeline to the big mountain behind the ruins,

Waynapicchu, because there was a 400-person quota for the day to climb it and we had to be sure to be in that group. Me, Matthew and Amanda wanted to climb while Mrs. Morris stayed around the ruins. We ended up getting in the first 400 people and climbed up about a thousand feet of really steep trail. The ruins up there were made right on the edge of an awesome view and it was amazing to climb around on top of them. We made it down in time to look all around the ruins for the rest of the day and then spent the night down in the jungle in Aguas Calientes.
The next day we took the train back to Cusco and stayed in a nice hotel. Unfortunately Amanda had a combination of altitude sickness/dehydration and had to see a doctor for a little bit. We are all in good health now though. We've had quite a few travel difficulties getting from place to place, sometimes taxidrivers don;'t show up when they're supposed to, and some people can't be trusted. but we've done well so far.

Wetook a train to Puno, next to Lake Titicaca, at 12,400ft is the highest lake of its size in the world. it's about 80 miles long. I aske
d and they said there aren't too many fish in there though, the biggest is only 8 inches long. we took a boat ride out to one of the islands (Tequile island), there are about 3000 people that live there. then I (matthew) went for a quick dip in the water. it was about 52 degrees! but it was definitely worth it, i don't think too many people can say they swam in a lake that high.then today we took another long bus trip to Arequipa, and passed by some awesome mountains along the way. We reached our highest elevation ever on the road today, 14,800ft! We saw plenty of llamas, sheep, and vicunas.

Mom, you would be impressed with the clothes they wear around here. everything is very intricately woven out of alpaca (or llama) fur. Some places it definitely seems like a 3rd world country around here, but we're pretty careful.

Tomorrow we're taking a taxi ride to the town of Cobanacande, then we'll camp tomorrow night in Colca Canyon. I'm really looking forward to not being around so many people, and having some time to breathe out in the woods/desert. we'll camp for a few nights, then back to Arequipa.we've taken a lot of pictures so far, but we'll have to wait till we get back to the states to email you them because I forgot my connector cable.

We could stay here all night telling you about it, and how different things are around here,but we better get some sleep.good night
!Love,Matthew & Eric