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Peru Wrap Up

Grievances Should Not Be the Last Word

We've been home two weeks. Here's a little end of trip wrap up:

1. We booked our trip through our travel agent and through Condor Travel. I don't think we could have been happier with what Condor provided. Our first two attempts at getting to Peru involved group tours. After a chat with a friend (who had traveled to Peru using Condor) and a few travel quotes from South American travel providers, we discovered that we could do a lot more for less without a group. The guides and drivers provided by Condor were always where we expected them to be. They were all professional, helpful and fun companions for the journey. More about them in #2.

2. Outstanding guides and drivers. Our guides and drivers were all outstanding. Travel in Peru, for those not already familiar with the country, really requires a guide, or series of guides, and drivers (Peru is not a good place to just rent a car and explore). Most sites had parking lots filled with vehicles clearly identified as "servicio turistico":
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As we became familiar with the tourist landscape, it was also clear that there are a lot of guide services and they are not all the same. We saw guides who relied on books/pamphlets to give tours. We also witnessed guides who did not follow the guidelines and rules at ancient sites. We talked to our guides about their work and learned that good guide services require their guides to attend annual continuing education gatherings, to learn the latest on discoveries and archaeological work. If you are planning a trip to Peru, get a good guide.

3. Peru is an amazingly beautiful country. So many visitors seem to focus their visit to Peru almost entirely on Machu Picchu. While Machu Picchu is a fabulous destination, there's lots more to explore! Also, Machu Picchu was, by far, the most crowded place we visited. It wasn't horrible, but it was busy and full of tourists. Other fabulous Inca sites were much less crowded and offered lots of interesting perspectives into the lives of those who lived in Peru many, many years ago. At one site, Pumamarca, we were the only ones there.

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Adios!
We are looking forward to the next adventure!

Posted by ORWAT 13:38 Comments (0)

Peru 2024: The Airing of Grievances

A Few of the Things We Will Not Miss, Along with a Few Things that Just Plain Puzzled Us

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Peru-Related Grievances (in no particular order):
1. Public Urination. Not good. I mean, we witnessed several men just peeing into the gutter on streets that had a fair number of pedestrians.
2. Litter. The country has a serious litter problem. One of our guides, Jorge, told us that many Peruvians believe that, because they pay taxes, they can just heave their trash wherever they want and someone else will pick it up. Yet, the level of litter everywhere ought to make it perfectly plain that there is no legion of elves cleaning up after everybody. It was all very sad and unpleasant.
3. No paper in toilets, not even toilet paper. In every part of Peru, this was the case. And we didn't like it.
4. Cash limits at ATMs were much too low and the fees, at many ATMS, much too high.
5. Driving and the rules of the road-- are there any?
6. Infrastructure. The roads are a mess.
7. Speed bumps. Somehow, Peru has decided that the best way to deal with speeding is to install speed bumps EVERYWHERE. Yikes. It was oppressive.
8. Bad cover music-- at a couple of the hotels. There's just nothing like a bad, smooth jazz version of "Beat It." It will haunt my dreams for some time.
9. Ordering dessert with dinner. When we were on the board plan, we were mostly expected to order dessert when we ordered dinner, even if we weren't sure we would want dessert. This is not a huge grievances, but a minor annoyance.
10. The law of the jungle-- severely limited internet connection and three periods each day, including a long stretch from 11:00pm until 5:00am, with no electricity. I really needed the fan, especially on the first night in the jungle.
11. No drinking the tap water-- anywhere. We were advised not to use tap water even to brush our teeth. This was really hard to get used to.

Tourist-related Grievances:
1. Watching videos with the sound up high with no headphones. This must stop!
2. Women who wear clingy tops and no bra. Did a memo go out to encourage this? We were surprised by the number of tourists-- young and not so young-- who engaged in this sort of fashion statement. It's not a good one.
3. Women who wear skimpy outfits on planes. Doesn't it bother them to have their skin directly on airplane seats that have had who knows how many people sitting on them between cleanings???

Posted by ORWAT 12:36 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Peru Day 16: Lima

Great Art and a Time-Consuming Journey to the Airport


View Peru 2024 on ORWAT's travel map.

Hola Amigos!
We spent our last day in Lima mostly in the Historic City Center. We started out visited the San Francisco Basilica, Monastery, and Catacombs. Unfortunately, they had a strict no photos policy. The art was really amazing.
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Then it was time for wandering. Eventually, we landed in Chinatown for lunch.
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After lunch, we walked to the Museo del Arte de Lima. What a great museum! A beautiful building, with some great art, including another crucified Jesus in a skirt. I must find out more about this.
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Around 5:30, we decided that it was time to get ourselves outside and investigate our Uber options for getting back to the airport. Our flight was scheduled for 11:20pm, but we knew that the traffic was going to be horrible. It was even worse than we thought it would be.
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We ended up canceling a couple of Ubers when it was cleared that the time for pick up was not realistic (we could see the vehicles not moving and the time increasing). Finally, we decided to walk a bit to be away from the worst of the traffic. In the end, it took about an hour and a half to get an Uber pick up. The driver, though, was excellent and got us to the airport in about 45 minutes.

We gathered our bags from the hotel and went off to Delta to check in. Then, it was time for the lounge.

Our flight took off on time and now we are in Atlanta, waiting for our flight to Portland!

Adios!

Posted by ORWAT 12:19 Archived in Peru Tagged lima san francisco del monastery museo de arte Comments (0)

Peru Day 15: Madre de Dios to Lima

Escape from the Jungle


View Peru 2024 on ORWAT's travel map.

Hola Amigos,
We are in Lima, thank goodness. We have escaped from the oppressive humidity and heat, to the cool and dry of Lima. Tomorrow night, we fly home.

Let's get caught up, shall we? Now that we are back in the land of electricity and internet access!

On Tuesday, we flew from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado-- the smallest airport we've ever seen, but with the fastest unloading of luggage we've ever experienced. Three minutes! We then met up with the crew from the Inkaterra Amazonika Reserva. We were not the only ones making the journey from the airport to the exotic resort. Once the shuttle was packed up with people and luggage, we made our way to the Madre de Dios river, where we hopped on an Amazonian river launch-- narrow, but long-- to travel to the resort, about an hour away. It felt a bit like we had landed in the heart of darkness.

Once we got to the resort, we were herded into the EcoCenter for a brief orientation, then a late lunch, where we learned about the three periods of each day when the electricity was turned off, as the electricity went off somewhere in the middle of our meal. After lunch, we settled in a bit and rested, learning once again (as we have several times on this trip) that something weird has happened in how the hotels have perceived our little group of three. Even though they know that there is a couple and a single, the single (Deedie) has, on several occasions, been given the bigger room, etc. In this case, Deedie got two sets of flip flops for use in her cabaña (we got one pair to share, I guess) and two souvenier water bottles (we got one).

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Our next task was to rejoin the most recent arrivals for the early evening river cruise, to see wildlife, etc. Except that we saw almost no wildlife. This did not bode well for this little part of our adventure. Alas.

We returned to the resort, had our dinner (food very good and service excellent) and then went to our little cabañas to get ready for bed. At some point in the orientation, we learned that we would be in the group that was scheduled to leave for Lake Sandoval at 6:00am (get up at 5:00; breakfast at 5:30; departure at 6:00). What sort of vacation is this? But, we needed to get organized. We were not only going to be up early, but the electricity was set to be cut at 11:00pm sharp.

In my last blog entry, I indicated that I was a less than "contenta" camper. That night was hot and sticky and when the electricity stopped, so did the fans. And, that made sleeping conditions impossible for me (although just fine for my companions). I think I got about two hours of sleep, in little half hour sections. The only thing that got me up and going in the morning was the knowledge that I could escape the horror of lying awake in that cabin.

Several groups gathered for a boat ride to Lake Sandoval and the national reserve not too far from the resort. Once there, we divided into our groups for a relatively short hike to the Lake and then a paddle. Our little group, with leader Tino, consisted of the three of us, a young shy couple from London, and a Dale Carnegie wannabe, with wife, who enjoyed sharing his wondrous knowledge of how to meet people and remember their names. The photos in the last post were mostly from that walk, when I was barely able to keep my head upright.

We got back mid-morning. I took a long nap. Then it was time for lunch, another siesta and our afternoon adventure-- the tree canopy walk!
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Once we returned, we had a little more rest time. Joseph decided to join the evening "bug walk." Deedie and I went to happy hour and spoke to a few other guests.

We had a lovely dinner and then off to bed! This morning's activity was set to leave at a leisurely 7:00am (up at 6:00; breakfast at 6:30; departure at 7:00). I'm happy to report that I actually managed to get a fairly decent night of sleep.

Our morning activity involved another boat ride and a walk through the jungle to see plants and fruit, along with birds and monkeys:
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Then it was time to pack up our things. Here's a view from the hammock before we left:

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Then it was time to reverse the whole process from a couple of days ago, taking the launch to the place where we would get the shuttle and then taking that to the airport for the flight to Lima.

We were treated to a nice rainbow while on the boat:
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Here's a shot of us walking to the plane, from one of the TWO gates at the airport:
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We are now at the Lima airport hotel. Our flight tomorrow is not until late in the evening, so we will spend the day in Lima.

Adios!

Posted by ORWAT 03:02 Archived in Peru Tagged reserva inkaterra amazonika Comments (0)

Peru Day 13 & 14: Inkaterra Amazonika Reserva

Mini Summer Camp in the Peruvian Jungle, O The Horror

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View Peru 2024 on ORWAT's travel map.

Hola amigos,

This is a super quick update. We are well, more or less, but in a place with severely limited internet access.

We are in the rainforest, in a place that reminds me of Fernwood Camp for Girls, a summer camp in Maine that must have hired an amazing marketing director who found a way not only to extol the virtues of sending one's daughter to a rustic camp with cabins without electricity, but inspiring a giddy enthusiasm among parents who were then willing to pay a premium for such an experience.

My travel companions are contento, but I am much less so. I barely slept last night, mostly owing to the last "electricity out" phase of the day, 11:00pm - 5:00am. What's so hard about no electricity then? No fans! Especially in an environment that is very warm and dripping with humidity. We sleep under a mosquito net, so the lack of fan was even more stifling.

You'll find a few photos below.

Adios.

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Posted by ORWAT 19:04 Archived in Peru Tagged reserva inkaterra amazonika Comments (0)

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