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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fri 2/25/2011 - Tues 3/8/2011 Days 56 - 68

WOW!

I don't even know where to start or what to write about.  It is funny because up until now I have kept the blogs pretty consistent and dealing with small chunks of time and events, fairly easy to manage.  Now I have a 12 day gap of time, 10,000 miles of travel, oceans, rivers, mountains, deserts, ancient ruins, bartering, the worst hotel experience ever, friendly people, diarrhea, trains, planes, buses, Guinea pigs, alpaca's, hikes, rain, and so much more to tell you about I don't even know where to begin.

I guess I'll start at the beginning and go from there.  I promise I'll try to keep this to a manageable length.

And... now i have writers block... shoot!

It is funny coming back from this trip and writing this first blog back.  In the past I reported on my travels to friends and family; clients at work... whoever I ran into and asked.  Now, this time, coming back and having all my new friends on here, on Facebook and Twitter to report back to, I am not going to lie there is a little added pressure to write something spectacular.

How do I condense an entire trip full of memories, experiences, and adventure into something spectacular?  There is so much I want to share with all of you.  I want to tell you about how the trip started off... arriving to our hotel in Lima about 1am, a hotel which we were at for only about 8 hours and in that time we saw only 4 other people... two business men and two prostitutes accompanying them (this in addition to the hotel staff).

Something spectacular????  How about the 22 hour bus ride we took from Lima to Cusco?  I wanted to see the countryside and have the "travel through country by bus experience."  A bus ride that was highlighted by some spectacular views of the countryside, me being car sick for about 15 of those hours.  Someone doing a "number 2" in a toilet designed for only a "number 1," so you can imagine the smells (we had about 10 hours of this and no it was not me that did not follow directions.  I kept it a strictly liquid bus trip.)  A bus that was on roads so windy (I just tried spelling that word 3 times I still don't know if I got it right) and one that was driven by two different drivers; one who played chicken with every on coming, bus, semi, and civilian on a bicycle.  Another who was far to timid and let every grandma and grandpa going 20 kilometers below the speed limit pass him.

Spectacular... hmmmm????  What about the ancient city of Cusco (Cuzco), a city that is built high in the Andes Mountains and serves as the main portal to access Machu Picchu.  Cusco, a city full of ancient cobble stone streets and buildings made of mud and clay.  A city full of churches and buildings that are hundreds of years old, and a city of people still practicing traditions from 100's of years ago.  Cusco, a city full of delicious food and some stuff I have never had anywhere else in the world... can you say guinea pig and alpaca? A city where we spent hours and hours walking through visiting old buildings, bartering in the large out door markets, and haggling with shop owners who were to eager to pull a fast one on some American tourists.

I guess the above was pretty cool, but Spectacular?  What about the Inca Trail hike?  Four days and three nights that took us through the Andes Mountains.  We saw lows of about 7800 feet ( 2400 meters) to highs of about 13,800 feet (4200 meters). We hiked in sun, in rain, in fog, in clouds... clouds that moved left, right, up and down, clouds that took on a personality of their own and set the backdrop for some amazingly spectacular pictures.  We hiked through rain, lots and lots of rain... so much so in fact that on day 3 it rained so much my sleeping bag got completely soaking wet and I had to sleep in my water resistant clothes just to get inside of it and be "almost" warm.  A hike where we earned the respect of the Porters by caring our own backpacks for the entire trek, back packs that weighed upwards of 45lbs at their heaviest.  The Inca Trail hike... a hike that provided lots of laughs, blood, sweat and tears.  An adventure where people separated by language, race, religion, culture, social class, bonded over the desire to hike the Inca trail and see Machu Picchu,

Machu Picchu = SPECTACULAR

Often times you see pictures of places and here stories about them that builds them up to so much that when you get there it is almost a let down.  Sometimes what we see with our eye can't capture a scene in the way that many great pictures do.  I feel I have been priviliged to see and experience some really cool places and things, I have felt that sometimes the place/experience never measured up to the actual hype behind it.  No first person interaction I had, could measure up the greatest of pictures I had already seen in book.  That is until Machu Picchu.  Machu Picchu is every bit as impressive, as mystical and magical... as spectacular as any photo I have ever seen of it.  What impressed me most was not how advanced this civilization was for their time, or how intricate the architecture is, our their attention to detail and sophistication of molding stones into the buildings and structures they became.  No.  What impressed me most was how well molded into nature it was.  The landscape it covered was breathtaking, the clouds, the river, the green... it was Spectacular and sadly no picture I took will ever be able to do the experience of it justice.  I loved the quiet there, the serenity it offered by being restricted to a limited number of viewers each day only enhanced the overall experience.

When I got to Machu Picchu, I was tired, I smelled - BAD!  I wanted to use a toilet instead of aim at a hole in the ground.  I was hungry and tired of diarrhea.  I was... and then suddenly the moaning and groaning in my head stopped.  I sprinted the last part of the Inca Trail, ignoring a pain in my leg from an injury on the second day, with the goal of being the first one to the sun gate.  And when I got there I was just in awe of what I saw and where I was... suddenly all the ups and downs, aches and pains, diarrhea, the smelling, the being wet and cold, suddenly it was all worth it - simply amazing. 

Machu Picchu = Spectacular! 

After that we headed back to Lima, by plane!  Despite being tired went out and explored the city for a few hours by car then spent another 6 walking along the coast and exploring the outlying area by foot.  I had the worst hotel experience of my life, which I will mention on facebook with an accompanying picture.  A long day of flying landed us in Panama (pun intended hahaha) where we took advantage of a long layover and took off to see the Panama Canal and a quick two hour tour of the country. 

When I finally made it home to Santa Barbara I was tired.  The lack of sleep from the last week had caught up and I had a full day of work that started in two hours, and yet I could not sleep.  Instead I took a one hour nap and woke up excited and motivated for the day ahead.  I kept trying to come up with the words to describe my trip to all of you who are reading this now. 

Sitting in Machu Picchu I reflected a lot.  I thought about people with whom I wished I could be sharing the experience with and how privileged I was to know them.  I thought of the lessons learned from the previous days, about the reward I was given for the work put in on the previous three days.  I thought about the difference between the Porters of Machu Picchu and the Sherpas who I will one day encounter on Mount Everest - what it is about them that makes them push so hard on these treks.  I thought a lot about myself and the year I have had so far and the year that I hope is to come and the experiences that have come and will come with it.  Machu Picchu ... truly spectacular indeed.  I see why it is one of the wonders of the world.

Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,

Jesse

14 comments:

  1. Wonderful photos, fascinating landscapes, what luck yours Jesse.

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  2. beautiful place.
    one of your challenges is to visit Chile or Antarctica?

    take care, bye (:

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  3. Jesse, what an amazing adventure ~ I'm completely envious. I wish I could have the same experiences in life, but it's hard to do with a regular 9-5. At least I have a beautiful view of the ocean every day! Carpe Diem.
    Laura
    Wrightsville Beach, NC

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  4. Wow!!! Amazing pictures!!! I like the ones of you standing in them - I can hardly believe you were there!!!! Thanks for sharing... I like what you said about the structures being one with nature, that really says alot.

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  5. What a great expierience!

    What made you choose these places?

    KB

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  6. Nice story, although for a moment I was at a travel comedy movie, maybe not so funny to you,
    but it made me laugh.The Hotel guests and the e part about the bathroom and the misery in the bad weather as you were traveling the mountains. I would have gone insane, if it were me. Glad it was worth it. Pictures are beautiful. Guess you couldn't write a little each day like a diary that way you wouldn't forget anything. Next time. lol

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  7. So, what you're saying is that all that kicking your own ass, being optimistic, blood, sweat, runny poop and tears ended up being well worth it!?! You got to experience one of the 7-SEVEN Wonders of the World!! That's awesome! I bet no pictures or video could ever do it justice! I admire your vigor! I love your photo's! I don't think I could eat it, but did you try the guinea pig?? Did it taste "just like chicken"? I can't wait to see more and read more about your trip! Glad you're back safe and sound : )
    -Casey

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  8. Love the pics and hope to see more (will check the Facebook page next). I too would like to know did you really (_really_) try guinea pig? You need to post a pic with you eating it! It didn't happen otherwise!

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  9. Jesse, you are a true inspiration. You took the words out of my head as you described how being somewhere is so different from the photos and how you imagined them before you see them. Being raised in the midwest I was not near large bodies of water. The first time I traveled and saw the ocean I felt so at home and amazed that such beauty existed. Keep on and IMAGINE your next amazing adventure. You are so blessed!

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  10. Awesome! What an incredible trip! It's great to see you had such a wonderful time and that you're back, happy and in one piece.
    I have to admit there was something missing over at Facebook without you ;-)

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  11. As a scrapbooker, your photos make me itch to create, I sure hope you are building some books so that your stories will always be with your amazing phtoto's. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. I look forward to reading more.

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  12. Thanks everyone for all your great comments. I am working on getting some video edited together and the pictures organized for Facebook by this weekend. Lesson learned: do not take over 1500 pictures and not write down a journal of all the who, what's, where's, when's, why's and how's. hahaha

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  13. Awesome pics Jes!! Although I was the first to hear all the bits and pieces and stories/ adventures of your trip, your blog and pictures say so much more about your travels. You did a great job writing this blog and I love all the pictures. I hope you get to put up one of the billion pictures you took of the sunset :) Little fact about me is I'm wearing my cool gloves from Lima.
    -your newest follower!!!!!!

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