Friday, October 31, 2008

W Circuit Trek in Torres del Paine

"He who finishes a journey is not the same as he who began the journey" ~ Chinese Proverb

Trembling legs, sore knees, cold hands, uphills, downhills, lakes, forests, rivers, rocky beaches, cabins, tents, snow, rain, sunshine.... we literally had it all, a mix of all types of landscape and weather in the span of 4 days on the W Circuit trek. Most of all though, we had the most beautiful views that any of us had ever seen. A group of five young, open-minded, adventurous Gringos set out on the W Circuit on October 20th not knowing the beauty that would be encountered. Our group consisted of my good friends from San Diego Mike Cando and BJ Whittle who now both live in Buenos Aires, my brother Dana, our friend Eric who worked with Dana in Aspen, and myself. We had all seen the pictures and heard stories from other trekkers of the nice views that Torres del Paine provided, however we all approached it with few expectations and a genuine happiness for escaping the city and being in the outdoors. The W circuit is roughly 80km long and provides a mix of rugged and easy terrain, it was very dynamic and always changing.
Glacier Gray

Day 1:

Our first day, we set out from Puerto Natales at 7am and arrived by bus to the Catamaran dock at 10:30am. We had time to spare before catching the noon ferry ride across Lago Pehoe to the western part of the W, Camp Pehoe, our first campsite. So we killed the time waiting for the ferry by going to see Salta Grande, a beautiful waterfall that makes for some good picture opportunities. Our optimism was carrying us high as we kept saying "How does it get better than this?" We had no clue what lied ahead. After the 3o minute ferry ride across Lago Pehoe we quickly dropped off all of our bags and set out on the 11km trek up the left arm of the W to see Glacier Gray, the first glacier most of us had seen in person. We set out on the trek at 1pm with a full tank of energy and curiosity.
the crew at Glacier Gray (left to right: BJ, Eric, Mike, Dana, Me)

It took us nearly 3.5 hours to reach the glacier through the 11km up-down trail. Shedding layers and putting layers back on every 20 to 30 minutes would set the tone for the next couple days as the weather changes so rapidly, remaining comfortable was a task not to be overlooked. Stuffing our mouths with coca leaves also got us through the 22km round trip on the first afternoon, coca leaves are a great source of natural energy and are used whether you're an Andean trekker or a coffee shop fanatic in Peru. After seeing Glacier Gray from a distance we went down by the lake to touch the chunks of glacier that had broken off just for the claim to fame of touching a glacier. Our trek back to camp took us just under 3 hours since it was more downhill. Even so, it was a good sample of what trekking was all about. Arriving back at camp at 7pm that night, I was completely taxed and struggled just walking to the bathroom. BJ was battling his own leg cramps as he made the mistake of lying down before stretching. Twenty two kilometers, roughly 13 miles for you yankees, in 6 hours absolutely wiped us all out. We then shared a small pasta dinner, took a few swigs of whiskey to battle the cold and went for cover in the sleeping bags around 10pm. Day 1 was in the books and we were exhausted, yet satisfied to be camping under the Antarctic air in such a beautiful place.

Day 2:
sunrise at our camp Day 2

We rose at 6:15am on the second day in time to see a beautiful sunrise in our campsite. We each had 3 hard-boiled eggs and some dried fruit to get the engine running for a solid 28km trek that lied ahead of us. It was 7am when we started our slow pace on the trek. It would take a good 30 minutes to get the blood going and overcome the sore legs in order to develop a solid pace. We arrived to Camp Italiano, base of the middle arm of the W, Valle Frances. We left our heavy bags and equipment there at the camp. Valle Frances is known to have crazy weather so we weren't too sure how far we'd go. We ascended the valley and saw our first major wildlife, what we like to call the devil deer, because its' antlers looked like devil horns. We were able to get within 10 meters of it to snap a couple pictures before it disappeared across the river. The weather was very cooperative so we continued. It was a pretty steady uphill and it was putting the legs through more exhaustion. We got high enough to where we could see some of the towers (torres) through the trees, so we continued until we could find an opening to snap some pictures and get a good view. We ended up going all the way to the lookout, mirador.

Bienvenidos a Valle Frances

Two and half hours later, we arrived at the mirador around noon and all we could say was WOW!! This was the most beautiful place I'd ever seen, the prettiest valley any of us had ever been in. We were surrounded by the rock cliffs 270 degrees around us until the opening of the valley where we could see the turquoise lake in the distance. There are no words to describe what we felt at the mirador in Valle Frances. A nice lady from Israel, Tulie, joined us at the mirador and graciously offered us some tea, which hit the spot. We ended up spending two hours at the mirador admiring the beauty around us, consuming some yummy tea, oranges, granola bars and chocolate. I had never experience such a feeling of being surrounded by overwhelming beauty. I left my broken pair of sunglasses there at the mirador to essentially keep an eye on Valle Frances for me. BJ summed it up best by saying leaving Valle Frances was like that dreadful feeling of breaking up with a beautiful girlfriend, so hard to do but we had to carry on.

break time on rocky beach, we earned it

We left the mirador and began our descent back to Camp Italiano at 2pm and arrived in a speedy 90 minutes where we re-collected our luggage and I was one glove short. I think some animal came in and stole my other glove when we were gone, either way I hope it was put to good use wherever it ended up. On our way to Camp Los Cuernos, where we would stay, we found a rocky beach where we would end up laying for a half hour, it felt so good to be lateral after all that trekking. Then we finished off the rest of the 28km with a short 2km trek to the camp where we were reserved to rent tents. The Camp messed up our reservation and ran out of tents so, fortunately for us, we were able to stay in the lodge for the same price. We were looking forward to camping until that night a major storm came through, we then knew everything was working out in our favor.

Day 3
the cleanest water on earth

Our departure was delayed on day 3 due to the crazy storm that was still spitting snow at 7am when we were going to start trekking. Instead we waited for a bit and let nature take its course. We began the day 3 trek at 10am after a very yummy breakfast served by the Camp Los Cuernos kitchen staff. We trekked through snow, rain and sunshine on this day and really took a slower pace to rest our legs a bit, even though most of this day was uphill it was only a 15km trek as opposed to the mid 20k treks on the previous two days. We even found time to play a little hacky sack on a windy point overlooking the beautiful Lago (lake) Nordenskojl which is the most turquoise water. We arrived at our next Camp, Camp Chileno, at 4pm. We were just able to see the front of the towers at sunset from this camp, it provided quite a view for dinnertime. We were due for an early betime yet once again since we had planned to awake our final day at 4:30am to go see the towers for sunrise. Many trekkers of the W Circuit claim they don't have the energy on the 4th day to rise early and make the two hour uphill trek to the end of the trail to see the towers at sunrise. It was our goal full on to see the towers at sunrise, it would cap off the trek perfectly. After a yummy pasta dinner and two pisco sours as a nightcap, we dozed off around 10pm.

Day 4:

4:45am came very quickly and we all contemplated staying in our warm sleeping bags, but we knew full and well that we can sleep when we die and this was our one opportunity to see the towers at sunrise. After a quick tea-time with Tulie, our Israeli friend, in the lodge we mustered the energy to commence our final ascent of the trek to the end of the trail with headlamps and all. The morning was very calm and we felt we were the only people on earth awake. Ninety minutes later we arrived to the end of the trail and had the closest view of the towers. We couldn't quite see the top as they were dipping into the morning clouds but even so, they were impressive and it felt as we reached the end of the world. We all embraced and congratulated each other on completing the 80k in 3.5 days and of course had another cup of tea with Tulie. Something about drinking warm tea on a cold peak, it tastes ten times better than it tastes at the dinner table. The sun peaked over the mountains and clouds to the east for a short 15 minutes before disappearing for the whole day as a storm rolled in for the rest of the day. The luck we had on this trip was unbelievable, everything worked out perfectly. A pair of Brazilian guys were ascending to the end of the trail as we were on our way down, later they informed us that they missed the sun and could barely see the towers, thus waking up at the butt crack of down was worth it afterall.80km, 3.5 days and we made it

We made our way back down the right arm of the W in several hours in time to catch the bus back to Puerto Natales. A great sense of accomplishment filled us all and we all felt somewhat changed in our own right. My 29 year old brother summed it up greatly by saying "I've been around the sun 29 times and nothing compares to 4 days on the W Circuit." I couldn't have summed it up better. We experience a little bit of everything but in the end it all worked out so perfectly which may make this a boring blog post. Exciting blog postings include about how one overcame adversity and what he/she learned from it. This is a blog post of a group of people feeling so much freedom in one of the most beautiful places on earth and overcoming the daily stress on the legs, knees and ankles. All of our physical pain never led to complaining, we were all too consumed into the beauty around us, it was sensory overload to the fullest. I'll always remember the feeling we experienced in Valle Frances, tea time with Tulie, shedding layers only to put the jacket back on 5 minutes later, the taste of coca leaves pumping energy to the legs, breathing in fresh Antarctic air, drinking fresh spring water from the rivers, waking up at 6am to eat cold hard-boiled eggs watching the beginning of a day, rest breaks consuming peanuts and chocolate and the list goes on. It was all about those small details that made up the trek. It's great to be in nature because we kind of revert to animal instincts, all you really think about is how to stay warm and how to keep your energy level up. There were no thoughts of regular societal worries, the economy, jobs, politics, etc. My mind was fully concentrated on the sensory overload and what I needed to do to have more energy or keep warm, it is very liberating. All in all, it was the best 4 days of my life!End of the trail

A special thanks to my brother, Mike, BJ and Eric for experiencing it with me!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Patagonia Express Parte I

This first leg of our Patagonic experience is a tale of animals. It was as if we were in one gigantic zoological viewing area. Our first full day in the province of Chubut, Argentina was full of aquatic wonders. Our rent-a-Fiat got us to Puerto Píramedes right in time to board the boat to go view the Southern Right Whale. Every October, an estimated 1,050 Southern Right Whales fill the bay near Puerto Madryn and Península Valdés. Five minutes into the boat ride we were able to see a small colony of sea lions on the rocks. Then we went a little further out until we were luckily surprised by seeing a school of dark dolphins circling the boat, the captain continued to mention how lucky we were since dolphins don´t usually populate the bay until mid December. Due to the mass amount of seagulls from above, there must have been some good feed taking place, since the dolphins stir the fish to the surface which provides ample opportunity for bird feeding.

Sea lion soakin up the sun

Dark Dolphins showing off

The fascination by our dolphin surprise was enough to make me almost forget about why we were on the boat in the first place, that was until we saw the massive Whale surface in the distance. This was the first time I had ever seen a whale that was not named Shamu at San Diego Sea World and let me tell you, Shamu pales in comparison to viewing a massive Southern Right in its natural habitat. It was as if we were paparazzi on board stalking the whales as they would surface several times before taking a deep dive and allowing us to snap the classic tale picture. Typically, a mother whale would be with the baby whale, which itself was gigantic enough to ingest a person or two. The mother would submerge and go deep to the sea floor to gather food while the baby whale would stay near the surface until the mother would come back to the surface and blow a fountain of water through its nose. We spent roughly an hour with our new whale friends before heading back inland filled with a kid-like excitement. I felt like it was my first trip to the zoo when I was 10 years old.

close up to the Southern Right Whale

The rest of our day one entailed driving around Península Valdés and seeing the many sheep and guanacos (similar to antelope or deer) roam the land until we reached Punta Cantor on the far east side of the Peninsula right on the coast. There we spotted a small colony of Magellanic Penguins and a large colony of Elephant Seals. Since the day two plan was to go see the largest concentration of Magellanic Penguins, we skipped right down to see the Elephant Seals loathe in their blubber on the beach. These animals were comical, all they do is lay their and make every kind of flatulent noise you can dream of and move around about 10 meters every 10 minutes. It appeared as if it was so difficult to move that they can only go so far at once before loathing some more and squeezing out a few more flatulent noises. The elephant seals provided the perfect ending to a perfect day. We then drove our little Fiat back down the coast to Trelew to our hotel, where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kids once stayed as a side note. Something we took note of while driving in Patagonia is how much open space and nothingness there is. The sky is absolutely incredible here and provides some jaw-dropping sunsets and sunrises.

penguin love

As mentioned above, day two was penguin day. Punta Tombo, which lies on the coast about 100 km south of Trelew, is home to the largest concetration of Magellanic Penguins in the world. Magellanic Penguins aren´t the kind you may have seen in the March of the Penguins but they´re close relatives. These penguins were nestled up as far as a half kilometer inland from the shore. They were literally everywhere, so much so that I was afraid to step on a few of them. The penguin walk was on full display and made for many laughs, I am now a huge fan of elephant seal flatulants and the penguin walk after this trip. It was also really cool to see them swim under water, they´re like little torpedos underwater. That explains how they migrate all the way from Brasil down to the Falkland Islands every year. They feed at sea but breed on land.

It was an animal-filled first two days in our Patagonia experience. I now write this posting in Rio Gallegos in a 4 hour bus layover until we head west another 4 hours to El Calafate for the night before crossing into Chile tomorrow to begin the 4 day trek! We took the overnight bus to get here and were able to witness the magestic sunset in the right window last night and woke up in time to cock the head to the left to see the sunrise light the sky once again. Running off little sleep, I now remember what it feels like to be traveling again... by the way what is today anyways?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Marvel that is Machu Picchu

It was 6:15am when we first set our eyes on one of the marvels of this world, Machu Picchu. It was roughly the same time when it was rediscovered by an American explorer, Hiram Bingham, in 1911. Since then it has been flooded more and more each year by tourists from all over the world. When you actually see the old Incan city from first view instead of in a photograph it really makes sense why people come from all corners of the globe to witness the marvel of what was the Incan royalty get-away at the height of their empire in the early 16th century.

For those who don´t know much about the short-lived Incan Empire, here´s the skinny version. They were a very powerful empire that spread from today northern Chile, parts of Bolivia and almost all of Peru. Their engineering feats are still a wonder. Perhaps the most amazing characteristic of this empire was how great of engineers they were. When you are in the presence of any Incan ruin, be it Machu Picchu or another, you can witness how much damned time they must have spent building these perfect walls made of stone. Machu Picchu was jaw dropping to see the engineering feat. Studies show that about 60% of the construction done here was done subterranean to preserve the foundation of this site, largely why all of us tourists are still able to witness it today still standing. The location of this site is on the cusp of the Peruvian Amazon, lying to the east, and the Peruvian Andes, to the southwest. Large rainfalls and lush greenery surround this setting. Machu Picchu was built in between two larger peaks, Machu Picchu mountain to the south and Wayna Picchu to the north. Wayna Picchu provides the incredible backdrop to all of the famous pictures, my brother and I also eventually climbed it to get the true overhead view of Machu Picchu river and the Urubumba river. The Urubumba river wraps around the mountain on three sides and also causes a mysterious mist to pass through during the early mornings.

My mom, brother and I sat in amazement for about the first hour or so looking as the morning mists passed over this spiritual-like venue. It was that feeling where you really aren´t sure what to say, the mind´s constant search for words to label what the eyes are capturing. I feel this view was just too much for a label, it just is what it is... a marvel of this world. We then spent the next hour walking through the city and admiring the detailed stone work and the incredible water management system the Incans had created so they didn´t need to use irrigation, they really were brilliant engineers for their time.

bro and I in front of the main gate

hanging out with the llamas and alpacas, they still call this place home

exhausted from the climb, breathtaking view!

Then my brother and I decided we would hike Wayna Picchu to get the heart pumping and break a good sweat as the sun came burning off the early morning fog. Only 400 people per day are allowed to climb the steep, narrow trail to the peak of Wayna Picchu, fortunately we signed up in time to start the ascent at 10am. My brother´s quick pace up the steep trail led me to quick exhaustion and nearly a break for the quick vomit check, fortunately there were some slower trekkers in front that we caught up to and slowed our pace. Since he lives in Aspen, Colorado and is accustomed to the altitude he kicked my ass up the trail but I stayed closely behind because I hate to lose, especially when it comes to the brother. In less than 45 minutes, we peaked Wayna Picchu and saw the marvel from way above, it was as if we were looking at an architectural model of the Incan city from so high above. We could have stayed up there all afternoon and would have, if it wasn´t for the wicked mosquitos and dragonflies that harrassed us into submission until began our descent.

the sepia version of Machu Picchu from the top of Wayna Picchu

After a 45 minute descent that compressed the knee joints into that rubber-like feeling, we had to quickly rush to the exit in order to catch our mid day bus going down the mountain in order to catch the train back to Cusco. Unfortunately, our train didn´t leave until much later. Therefore we could have stayed up at Machu Picchu much longer. I can´t complain much because I was able to see the wonder but any regret that I do have is that I wish I wasn´t so rushed. It´s a place that I could have spent the full 12 hours. It was very sweet while it lasted but almost too short-lived, much like the Incan Empire itself.

Some notes about Peru in general:

The Incan empire was destroyed by the Spaniards in the 1530´s at the height of the empire, much of the death caused by the Spanish was caused by diseases brought from overseas rather than gunfire.

Peruvian food is outta this world, if you ever go, don´t forget to order: Lomo saltado, ceviche (spicy seafood dish), trucha (trout). In Cusco, they have cuy which is guinea pig. I didn´t try it but I hear it tastes like chicken, I´ll leave you to be the guinea pig... no pun intended.

If you have short time in Peru, definitely go to Cusco and Machu Picchu. Lima, you can do without, just another big city. Cusco is high altitude so treat yourself to lots of water and coca leaf tea upon arrival to battle altitude sickness. I hope you are able to go someday or have already been, its a fascinating country.

Stay tuned for more on our Patagonia trek as we see some Whales and Penguins then head to Torres del Paine for the 4 day trek in the Chilean Andes!!!

Until then, all my love!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Magical Cusco

It was a case of love at first sight between ol´Cusco, Peru and I. The moment we got off the plane I looked around the little valley we are now in and just felt the magic of this place, or maybe it was just the altitude. Cusco, the historic capital of the Incan Empire, is now a city in Southeastern Peru near the Sacred Valley, where we plan to visit tomorrow. It is nestled in the Northern Andes at approximately 11,000 feet (3,300 meters). So it has taken our breath away literally and figuratively. The altitude has taken its immediate effects on us as I haven´t been at this altitude since last year hiking the hills of Colorado. We´ve consumed large amounts of agua and coca leaf tea to combat the altitude sickness. It´s also a custom here to suck or chew on the coca leaves, which I´ve partaken in as if I was a local. Besides the altitude, this city is downright fascinating, as it has still preserved much of the Incan culture. It´s a large tourist attraction but once you´re here you see exactly why people come from all corners of the globe to witness this incredibly spiritual atmosphere.

The one bit of bad news that I have in this post is that I haven´t found a way to upload the mass amount of photos I´ve taken onto these internet cafe computers. It appears I will have to wait until I get back to Buenos Aires to install the CD rom onto my laptop to then down/upload these pics for your viewing. For all I can do now is to tap into every adjective to describe this atmosphere.

Our plan for the week is an all-day trip to Sacred Valley tomorrow where we will take a look at some other Incan ruins, supposedly the next best thing besides Machu Picchu. Then Tuesday we will use to explore the whole of Cusco. Wednesday we begin our journey to Machu Picchu and will stay Wednesday night in Aguas Calientes and most definitely enjoy the hot springs before our early morning ascent to Machu Picchu on Thursday. To put it bluntly, I´m fortunate and overwhelmingly excited to be here right now. Maybe its being back in altitude and the mountains that gives me that comfortable home-like feeling. As my brother said today, high altitude is good for the soul if you notice most spirtual gatherings in the world are located well above sea level, it makes sense to me. Cusco is by far much more impressive than Lima and even the Lima faithful will admit it so it is great to know we only planned two days in on the coast and four days here in the mountains. I do apologize for not having photos on these blog posts but please come back to these posts in the next week and I will have some shots on here just to give you a glimpse of how lucky we are to be here.

Well, its time to spit out the coco leaves and go enjoy a beer or two with my bro, at this altitude it may only take one sip to feel the buzz... I love the high altitude attitude.

Stay tuned for more on the Sacred Valley, Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu near the end of this week, until then... Salud!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Deja vu in Lima, Peru

That feeling has returned. That feeling of strapping on the travel pack and shoes to embark on a new cultural experience each day has crept its way back into my life. Though, this travel experience will include my dear mother who is along for the South American tour, now its no question from whom I inherited the travel gene. This trip has been preceeded by several months of planning yet very little expectations on my part. I have not thought much about this trip that we have now taken upon us for the next six weeks since I have been fully indulged in my ¨porteño lifestyle¨in Buenos Aires. The whole month of September in Buenos Aires was a rare, yet exhilirating combination friendships established here in South America and back in my previous chapter in life, college. Every minute of it was worthwhile to say the least. The daily crew consisted of Mike, BJ, Taelor, Alyssum, Barry and myself. It was like our San Diego crew reunited in Buenos Aires with the much appreciated addition of our good friend Barry from Cuba. We somehow always found each other on the same wavelength, which really is what great friendship is all about. My final night in Buenos Aires as a long-term resident was capped off with perfect vibes, onda, provided by BJ, Cando and Barry. How lucky I am to call these guys friends, they made me realize how great of a trip I was about to embark on since they each called on me to document as much as I could to provide them with the vicarious experience, as I hope to do for all of you who take the time to read my content.

My experience at Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires was a very ideal travel experience as I almost missed my 6am flight due to the fact I had overstayed my 90-day tourist visa by three days. I knew I would be fined, a whopping $50 pesos, which didn´ t bother me so much. I found it to be a better alternative than a $200 peso trip to Uruguay just two days before going to Peru or going to Imigrations in Buenos Aires and paying $100 pesos to renew the visa. I just hadn´t prepared to wait in an hour long line to pay my fine, which nearly cause me to miss my flight. The sprint to the gate was priceless, I always feel like I´m in the Amazing race when I´m in these situations, maybe because it feels more like a competition (fun) rather than such a stressful scenario. Needless to say, I made the flight and arrived in Lima, Peru a mere 5 hours later.

Bienvenidos a Lima, Peru!

I had a day to kill here before my brother and mom were due to arrive. So I walked along the coast in the cloudy afternoon and was strangely reminded of San Diego. For this is the first time I´ve looked out over the Pacific Ocean since last year when I was a San Diegan. Lima is a large city, with over 50 districts. We are staying in the district of Miraflores which has a slight resemblance to La Jolla, though a less developed than the multimillion dollar neighborhood of La Jolla CA. However, its enough to make me feel deja vu as I walk along this boardwalk poached on a steep cliffside. I then went to a little sports bar to watch the Vice-presidential debate, which was a bit humorous to me, I elect Sarah Palin for hockey mom representative of the year, not Vice President. Anyways, my exhaustion got the best of me as I went back to the hospedaje early and fell asleep waiting for the arrival of the rest of the fam. 3:30 am is when my mom and brother arrived as they were both delerious from a long day of travel as well, they were due to arrive at 9pm but the stories of flight delays and other mishaps provided clear explanation to my not-so worried self. It was great to see them though, now begins the family journey...

Friday, we woke up and set out to go see a Pre-Incan art museum in downtown Lima, it was $45 soles to get to downtown just to find out the museum was closed for the rest of the year. Great! What else is in downtown Lima I inquired to our taxi driver. No hay nada. Ok, well that was splendid, we made the most of it by walking every square meter of the park before returning to Miraflores for a nice lunch. Then it happened. That need for adventure that my brother and I carried throughout Europe last year came creeping back in as we saw the paragliders flying over the coast. Yep, lets do it we said without hesitation after we were told the relatively cheap price. We spent a good 20 minutes paragliding over the coast of Lima, Peru which provided the adventure the day had been missing. What an incredible feeling it is indeed to be flying over the ocean and the steep cliff faces. I´ve always wondered what it would be like to fly and even capturing a slight glimpse through paragliding provided fulfillment to that lifelong curiosity. Then, we fed our dinner appetite with a Paella dish over looking the Pacific Ocean. A frequent thought that creeps into my mind is, wow I feel like I´m in a scaled down version of San Diego, this is all too much deja vu!

Saturday, our last full day in Lima, we set out South 30 km from Lima to see the ruins of Pachamac. Pachamac is a great site of ruins and was supposedly the holy place for three different Pre-Incan civilizations leading up to the Incans. Each civilization that conquered the previous built their temple up the hill from the previous civilizations´temple ending with the Incans´Temple of the Sun. Ironically enough, the sun finally came out from hiding behind the clouds as we approached the Temple of the Sun. It´s quite a relief to have some sunshine on this beautiful coastal city of Lima before we venture further inland to Cuzco tomorrow.

Some things I´ve noticed so far about Peru in general is how overwhelmingly nice the people are here. From our taxi driver Fernando, who was my escort from the airport and has become our full-time taxi I was so impressed with him, to the guys who took us paragliding to the people in our hospedaje. They have all been such amazing hosts and would make any traveler consider moving here for their welcoming smiles alone. Another interesting thing about Lima is the over abundance of horn-honking that takes place. As our driver Fernando explains, ¨its just our culture, its what we do.¨ Many of the taxis will honk at you, especially if you look foreign like I do, just to get your attention because they all think that you need a taxi. I´ve heard some interesting beep tones, you could download them as your ringtone. As you walk the streets of Miraflores all you hear is beep beep. The nose is filled with the smell of seafood and the cool breeze from the Pacific is slightly reminiscent to that of where else... San Diego, did I say it was deja vu yet? How could I not touch on the food here? Since I moved to Argentina and tried my first taste of Peruvian cuisine I´ve been a huge fan. Wow, until I arrived in Lima and got the actual fresh ceviche, pescado saltado and other rice and seafood dishes. This is the best seafood I´ve ever consumed without a doubt.

It´s been a pleasurable few days here in Lima, especially being back by the Pacific Ocean. We now head off to our next adventure, Cuzco followed by our trail to the infamous Machu Picchu. Stay tuned for more....