Photographic Memory Mondays #4

As I go through my abundance of Photos throughout the years, there is a pattern that develops. There are a tuuuuuuun (elongated pronunciation of ton) of photos, which is a favorite word of mine lately. So instead of focusing on a photopourri (photographic potpourri) like usual, instead there will be focus on a single location.

Today I would like to focus on Isla del Sol. It is an island on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca. It is the largest island on Lake Titicaca home to around 800 families. The island is rocky and has no paved roads, it is home to an abundance of Eucalyptus trees, the leaves are very fragrant. I believe the top of the island is above tree line in altitude, because there were no trees on the highest part of the island. The elevation of the lake is 3,800 meters, while the top of the island is 4,100 meters. Tree line is not an exact figure and varies greatly depending on the terrain, but 4,100 meters seems plenty of elevation for this. Life on the island is quiet and peaceful. Especially when you go to the far side of the island. Tour boats go out to the island all the time, so there is a constant trickle of tourists, but you can still find a great deal of tranquility there. The views of the Mountains are incredible, it is like being on the Mediterranean and in the middle of the Andes. Though it is much colder than the Mediterranean.

The island was first recommended to me by an Argentine travel pal named Javier from B.A. I met him on a Cusco city tour and he could not stop gushing about his visit to the Island. I had already been to the Peruvian side of the Lake and was not sure I could justify going there again, but I kept that in the back of my mind until the opportunity arose later in the trip.

It was after my trip to Machu Picchu when I heard from another friend about the adventure she had on the Death Road in Bolivia. The Death Road is a Mountain Biking expedition down a notoriously murderous road through the mountains and into La Paz. It had been closed off long before and turned into a tourist attraction for daring gringos like us. Anyways, her enthusiasm convinced a few of the other friends in Cusco and we decided to go.

It was a hard decision for me as an American, because they charge US citizens 150 dollars to get in. This is totally justifiable to me, because the US is notorious for dicking people around when they try to visit or move to the country. Still, I was not sure if I could afford 150 dollars, that is about a months worth of money in Cusco, the way that I was living. However, the tales of the Island of the sun and the rumored festival on the island that I could attend clinched the deal. I also ended up saving a weeks worth of lodging by bar tending at the hostel and the rooms on Isla del Sol saved me some money as well. The point is it all worked out and looking back, it was one of the most incredible and unique travel experiences I have ever experienced.

 

Isla Del Sol Special

When we arrived on the island, we eventually found out that the festival wasn’t really going to happen, so I just ended up staying on the island for 7 days. Hanging out with the other “volunteers” walking the trails on the top of the island to the market for food. Walking to the Ruins and the wifi on the other side of the island, which was a day long errand. It was pretty mind-blowing to live such a calm life.

We also spent many of the days with participating in Incan rituals with some of three Elders. The Island is the setting of an origin myth for the civilization. It is said that Manco Capac the first Inca emerged from the Titikala (sacred rock) on the north side of the island. He is the son of Inti, aka the sun, and so this specific rock is sacred in a very sacred island. In another telling, the people on the island were without sun for many days and became frightened, then the sun emerged from the sacred rock and gave them light again. In still another version, it is said that the sun hid under the rock when during a great flood and when the waters receded, the sun emerged form this location. A temple was built at this location and ruins of the expansion by the tenth Inca Tupac Inca Yupanqui, can still be seen today. (source: wikipedia “isla del sol”)

Subsistence framing and agriculture are practiced on the island, but as with many historical incan sites, most of the income is from tourism.

And now for the photos.

IS853E~1

This is the view from the High Trail on the island. It connects the various villages and intersects with the other trails leading people to the ruin sites and the locations for lodging and camping.

 

 

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The welcome sign and someones coat covered arm. You do need your coat quite a bit since the lake is 3800 meters, Mediterranean views with High Alpine weather.

 

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The Sheep were everywhere and their calls sounded very much like humans at times.

 

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Views of the Mountains surrounding the lake. The grander mountains are on the Bolivian side. Bolivia is such an amazing place to visit. All the countries in South America that I have visited have varied terrain, but Bolivia was the most spectacular juxtaposition.

 

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The lambs were heart melting every time I saw or heard one of them.

 

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And the piglets were about as cute as piglet on winnie the pooh. Except the were real.

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The view of the village from the trail to the other side of the island and the internet.

 

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View of pretty yellow flowers and the internet. Both of which were very scarce on the island. The rockier climate is not as easy for most flowers to grow into. And I found I didn’t need the internet all that much after all.

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A view from the trail partway to the other side. About 45 minutes walking to this point.

 

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A view of the blue, with a little bit of the island mixed in. The colors get very vivid when you get above 3500 meters and at the point we are way above that point. I am more of a mountain type of a person, but this island started to convince me that island life might be a way to go.

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Sharing food among friends is one of the best experiences while traveling. It is something that is often lost in my day to day life at home. Where I eat many meals alone in between jobs and school breaks or whatever it is I am doing. Traveling gives you a chance to enjoy those times in a comprehensive way. This was especially true on the island since most activities consisted of walking to get food, returning with food and then preparing and eating food. With some swimming and Incan rituals mixed in.

 

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People, the greatest boon of a traveler. It is the people you meet that are the most important. Life is expressed more fully while on these adventures and so are human relationships. You get to know people better in a few days or weeks than some people you know for years at home. It allows you to open your heart, find common ground and exalt in the similarities and differences between you.

 

“Through the years a man peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, tools, stars, horses and people. Shortly after his death he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the image of his own face.” Jorge Luis Borges.

 

keep it curly,

~C.A.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembory Mondays 8-4-14

Remembory Monday Manifesto

This is my first post of what will be known as “Remembory Mondays.” I was going through my old photos during a bout of nostalgia and a bit of a delayed Reverse Culture Shock Relapse, when I had a simple thought. A good way to process the experience resurgent travel urge would be to share some of the memories of my experiences.

As I started to compose a photoblog post on my adventure on the Inca Trail, I was distracted with memories from my two separate trips to Lake Titicaca and the islands I visited on both the Peruvian and Bolivian side. Then I was further distracted by some of the photos of daily life in Cusco and then after that Argentina and then a road trip I went on last year etc…

The point being that there are a ton of memories that emerge out of the ether of past experience. They are particularly plentiful with each bout of Adventuritis, an inflammation of the adventure gland located just inferior to the pineal gland, j/k.

With each emerging vista on the memorial plane, it is easier and easier to become lost in it all and do nothing. Instead of doing nothing, either by continuously going through my old photos or being unable to decide what to post, a simple writer decides as so often he does, by not deciding at all.

Remembory Monday, a weekly platform, perhaps evolving, always dynamic, like any good trip, never static. Like any good traveller always a fanatic, rarely pragmatic. Please also ignore the fact that it might be Tuesday wherever you are in the world. Monday, like the pirate code, is more of a guideline meaning sometime after noon on monday and before 6 am on Tuesday, give or take a few hours. Since peak creativity of this writer of yours is usually past sunset and well into moonshine and star-time, you can count on it being a late night post.

Five to Ten to Twenty or Thirty photos with a small Remembory’ed note just below (inferior to) the Photo.

And so it begins…

The View from the high trail on Isla Del Sol. We kept trying to get a picture that showed off the mountains in the background. It was really hard to do that view justice with a person in the frame. Real experience note, the water wasn’t clean, the ceramic filter and bucket didn’t work as well for me as it did for others. Had the travelers sickness all week aka diarrhea. The key is, that is now what I remember!

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The actual view of the mountains without people is way better, I spent 7 days in December of 2012 on Isla Del Sol on the Bolivian side of the Lake. It was incredible and all of the views from mountain to meadow to water to wood and temple to tableau were epic. I had the chance to experience Incan Rituals and exist in serenity in one of the most peaceful places I have ever been. Thank you Javier for telling me I had to go there.

My friend Enrico’s boot could not withstand the rigors of the Inca Trail. The worst part is it came apart after lunch on the third day at Phuyupatamarca “City Above the Clouds.” The Good news, we only had half a day and the morning left. The bad news, 2,000 plus stair descent to the last camp near Winaywana. The boots made it through though and we all got to the sun gate the next morning where we were both winded and in awe at the picturesque tableau unfolding under the first rays of the sun. That Picture will be for another monday.

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Day one of the Inca Trail, something like hour 4. It rained almost the entire first day. It got to the point where we could not even stop to see the first set of ruins, because it was so bad. The Poncho I had did not fit well at all. Hint- Make sure your poncho fits over your backpack. I was okay though, with waterproof shoes, a waterproof back cover and my showers pass jacket I used for pedi-cabbing in the rain it was all right. It cleared up for the most part for the next few days. I admit it would have put a damper on my enjoyment of the trail.

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Yoga on the Inca Trail. Showing one of the Germans in our group Eagle Pose. Thanks to Enrico for catching this little gem. Yoga on the trail helped easy the rigors of the hills and valleys. Also pack light, I packed way too much on this trip. I had gotten heavily into Yoga earlier that summer, after I had a muscle spasm that saw me unable to do any physical activity for three weeks, I received a Chiropractic adjustment and then was shown some stretches. All of the stretches were yoga poses, so I found a groupon and jumped in headfirst. After practicing three-four times a week for 3 months. I went back to the Chiropractor for a follow up and they said I was stronger than I was before the injury. It was a game changer. I continue to practice 2-5 days/week. I have now tried many styles, Bikram was how I started but I have moved onto more meditative types since then.

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The Flamingo lake ruins about an hour outside of Puno, after my first trip to the Lake. That isn’t the real name, but that is how the trip organizer sold it to us. Yeah lake full of flamingos and ruins on the hill. When we got there, it turned out that the Flamingos are only there in the morning, but it was still interesting to see the ruins. We did see a little cuy though. Guinea pig is a delicacy in Peru.  After we got back the car wasn’t there, so this was my first experience of Panic in Peru. But we figured out by calling the organizer, it just ended up being another one of those experiences in the difference in time. Most arrangements in Peru run a few hours later than they schedule.

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While in Bolivia I had the experience of realizing I was almost out of money. This unfortunate scenario led to the discovery of bartending in exchange for my stay at the Adventure Brew Hostal, just a few blocks from the bus station in La Paz. The work was pretty simple, the beer was the best I had in South America , though the tap was overly foamy, it was a welcome change from the Cusquena and Pilsen I usually had in Cusco. Hands down best part, other than the people of course, was the Drunk food Sandwiches. While Pouring the two kinds of overly foamy beers, I got to know the other bartenders and a few of the patrons. Three of them could not stop talking about these amazing sandwiches, I think they were called Inguitos or Honguitos. Check out the picture of the sandwich next to me. My face looks like I am regretting biting into it, but that is just my habitual wide mouth teeth bite that avoids getting the mess all over my face, chin, beard, mustache or whatever. Sooooooo goood!

Best Drunk food I have ever had. 4 am in La Paz
Best Drunk food I have ever had. 4 am in La Paz

The moon over Amantani on Lake Titicaca. This is where my group stayed on the boat trip on the lake. You cannot imagine how peaceful it was. It was even quieter than isla del sol. This kind of peace is so rejuvenating, I found myself refreshed on only about 6 hours of sleep. And that was after the all night bus ride from Cusco to Puno and then all day on the boat. And the moon was so bright it lit the path when we walked back from the high point on the island. Cold, Quiet, and beautiful.

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I meant to use this method to keep the post short, but alas as soon as I start typing the levee breaks.

Comment below to hear more about your favorite memory, I will choose one photo to expand upon for a post of it’s own in the coming weeks. And If you liked any of these memories, check my Peru, Bolivia and Argentina categories for more posts of this nature.

As always Curl on,
~C.A.

 

Flowers of the Andes

This is another late entry into, a word in your ear’s, word of the week challenge. When she posted this challenge, I couldn’t believe the simple serendipity of it all. The challenge can be found here.
http://suellewellyn2011.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/a-word-a-week-photograph-challenge-flower/

I am currently traveling in Peru and just a few weeks ago, I visited Machu Picchu. I am prone to excessive photo taking, whether it be of food, friends, or in this case flowers.

So this is my experience of the beautiful flowers of the Andes. From Cusco to Aguas Calientes. A large range of elevation change.
There are many different varieties. The higher elevations tend to produce more compact specimens in the mountain landscape, making their beauty all the more significant.

From the Island of Amantani on Lake Titicaca
In the garden of the South American Explorers Clubhouse. I see this flower every day now.
Like the sun
more from my courtyard
From the Plaze De Armas
More from the Plaza

Brilliant white, the market on the Moray tour

puuuurple

Yellow hue and a great view
Flower used for ritual hallucinations
Little flowers big leaves

From Aguas Calientes
tiny and vibrant
From “Winaywayna” which means forever young

zoomed in

And now a few word from William Blake’s “The Wild Flower’s Song.”

“As I wandered the forest,
The green leaves among,
I heard a Wild Flower
Singing a song.

‘I slept in the earth
In the silent night,
I murmured my fears
And I felt delight.”

Viva Bonitas Cosas
Viva Aventura

~C.A.

Peruvian Food Part 1, Is it really worth writing home about?

Ensalada de Fruta with Coconut milkshake at La Bondiet.

“Food, glorious food, hot sausage and mustard, while we’re in the mood, cold jelly and custard, peas, pudding and saveloys, what next is the question. Rich Gentleman, have it boys, indigestion.” Oliver.

*This post is part of the word a week challenge. To find more about this visit http://suellewellyn2011.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/a-word-a-week-photography-challenge-food

The Traditional at Los Perros. Garlic mashed potatos and steak cooked to tender perfection.

I love food. It could be said and indeed has been said by more than one person, that I experience life through food. This is an astute observation. It is not the only way that I experience life, but it is certainly a major lens through which I view, absorb, consume(?) experiences. I am always eating and always yearning for a new culinary experience. When I am at home, most of my adventures involve discovery of new places to eat, unique, exotic, interesting places.

Talk about interesting. Fish Head Soup on the “Urros” Floating Islands on Lake Titicaca. Adventurous, but I’d rather eat a nice bowl of lentil soup.

The most recent Portland Restaurant month was incredible. I was able to visit ten new places. Each restaurant was as good as the next and offered a new discovery of its own (more on this when I have time use my backlog.) The menu was limited, but it didn’t matter, because the place was new, so the food was new.

The inside of this flower, ancestor of the pineapple is food for Andean bears. This one overlooks the glory of Machu Picchu.

What’s more? I was able to collect these culinary experiences in good company. Which is important, because though food makes me happy, and “happiness is real when shared.” Into the Wild.

Los Perros, the essence of sharing food and happiness.

These days, in Peru I mean, I do not have to go far to find culinary adventure. It is everywhere. Cusco is a great place to eat with healthy variety. Aside from the traditional Peruvian Cuisine, which is unique, in more ways than its obsession for potatoes.

Potato wedges at Aguaymanto, an amazing and under appreciated restaurant in Cusco.

There are multitudes of restaurants catering to the entire array of international tastebuds. It is rather annoying to be on a trip, where I am trying to focus on Spanish immersion, and being surrounded instead by tourists speaking English. I can’t be too disappointed by this, because I am one of them.

Andean Pizza with Alpaca. Pizza Andina in Puno

The high number of tourists makes the culinary experience diverse and adventurous. I have tried so many different types of food here already and am on a path to try many more. I was going to list them, but instead I will post pictures of as many as possible.

Mango Strawberry Pancakes at Jack’s cafe. Another favorite and sufficiently appreciated place.
Glorious Sauteed garlic mushrooms a good friends key to happiness. Jack’s Cafe
Alpaca in herb sauce. La Retama. One of the better restaurants on the Plaza de Armas.
Cusquena Negra or Malta in a wine glass at La Retama. While the food here is an adventure, the beer is a bore. This is one of the few passable options.
With only bread, jam and tea offered for breakfast. An egg sandwich is often in order. This is from a small sandwich shop on the way to the Language school.
Half of Juanito’s, Lomo Saltado, with the best french fries in Cusco. So good that my mouth ate half of it before I could get my camera out.
Another amazing breakfast at Jack’s
Alpaca Cheeseburger at Aguaymanto. Magnifico!
Inside View. Seriously if you are in Cusco you need to go to Aguaymanto. They make their own pasta in house! And they know their Pisco.
Nachos at Agauymanto…
The take on Bangers and mash at Los Perros. Sweet potatoes and maple.
Los Perros giant burger. Up close and further down on the table.
Los Perros, inside view
Alpaca steak and mashed potatoes at The Muse
Rigatoni with meat sauce and cheese at The Muse. Needs more salsa. Also they have live Salsa Music almost every night at 12:30.
Jaunitos pork sandwich with an egg wrapped around it. Best to share this one.

More adventures in Peruvian cuisine to come.

Viva Aventura

~C.A.

The Lake of the Stone Puma – Lake Titicaca

Island hopping on the highest navigable lake in the world

The trip started out on a Friday night at the door of a McDonald’s in Cusco’s Plaza De Armas. This is a common meeting place for excursions. I believe they think its easier for us Gringos to remember, and it is, even though I hate McDonalds. From there we took a taxi to the Bus Terminal, where the trip contact, aka Gringo Smuggler, arranged our tickets for the 10:30pm bus to Puno.

The 7 hour night bus was nothing like Harry’s ride to the Leaky Cauldron, save a bit of creepiness and dangerous driving. We were forced to watch Prometheus, a movie which my temporary travel companion and I thought might be saved by the presence of Charlize Theron. Even her grace could not save this disaster of this movie.

We Arrived in Puno, at 5:30 am, disoriented and tired, but happy to be off the bus and meet our contact at the other end. Silvario or Silverado, took us to a hostal in Puno to wait two hours for the bus. The breakfast in the hostal was 6 soles for bread jam and tea. So we went and had eggs and Juice at a place down the street. This meal was one of very few good things in that 10 hour stretch. Then we settled back onto the couches and waited for the taxi.

The taxi arrived and picked us up as well as the other members of our group and took us to the boat launch. The boats were small houseboats that reminded me of a Lake Powell vacation in my youth. Then we settled down for a 3-4 hour boat ride with a brief visit to the floating islands, essentially a theme park for tourists.
Amantani

The magnificent waters, where the Incan sun was pulled out of the water at the beginning of time.

Our destination Island was Amantani, where we would stay with a family and share lunch, dinner, and breakfast. Amantani was beautiful, much better than the visit to the floating islands. It is a tranquil place where the only noise pollution is the game of Marco Polo the sheep play, with their loud and varied bahs. The lambs are cute and the variety of noises they made was astounding.

bah bah baby sheep

After a lunch of potato soup, potatoes and rice. We climbed up to the top of the Island to visit the archeological site on the island.

It was about a 40 minute walk uphill, but the increased elevation made it seem a lot harder than it was. The surface elevation of the lake is 3,812 meters, that is 12,507 ft.

I just wanted to gain a couple more feet in elevation.

We searched for the sunset, but were unable to find it, because of the obscuring clouds. Even with the lack of visible sunset, the peak called pachamama (mother earth) offered a magnificent vista

The sun and the clouds dance together

As soon as the sun moved behind the clouds on the horizon, it began to get cold. The wind picked up and what was a 40 minute ascent, became a 20 minute descent as people struggled to get down and out of the cold. The weather changes fast at such a high elevation. And at the bottom of the hill there was a store with hot chocolate waiting to warm our frozen bones.

mmmmmmmm

I felt that warm feeling I get after a long day of skiing, amazed by the day, exhausted and warmed by the mug and the hot chocolate. It was a good, familiar feeling. When we walked back from the shop, the moon was out and it was two nights from full. The effect of the darkened lake and island at 7pm allowed the moon to shine the brightest I have ever seen. It lit up the entire sky and cast a glow on the lake that extended for miles. The powerful and beautiful figure cast serenity over the quiet island.

Quiet moonlit night, felt just right

After dinner, at 7:30pm, I was happy to fall into bed and have the best sleep I have had since coming to Peru. No Police whistles or car horns, for there are no cars on the island and all of the agriculture is done by hand. It was the kind of peace you can only get on an island and the faraway sound of the small waves caressing the shore. It’s easy to rise early when you have sleep accompanied by the power of the moon and the quiet of the island.

Silent moon song, glows so soft and strong

I arose too long after 5 to find the sunrise and went down to the beach to enjoy the days tranquil beginning.

Tranquility a littler after sunrise

Then I returned to the house and ate a breakfast of thin pancakes and thicker potato cakes with the group. Next, we gathered our things and set off for the dock to meet the boat and the other members of our party. We set off early, at about 7:30 am for Taquile Island.

Arrival at Taquile

We took a 40 minute walk to the plaza of the island. Every walk in Peru is 40 minutes, except the Inca trail. We spent some time in the main plaza, taking pictures by the sign of cities and the other buildings.

Then we walked down to the other side, capturing more views. The archways were beautiful and had cool figure heads on them. And the sights were amazing I felt like I was in the middle of the ocean. It was a quick tour of the island.

The greeting party
View of the Lake from Taquile

Down at the bottom, I changed quickly into my shorts and jumped off the dock made of rock for a quick one minute swim in the freezing cold waters of the lake of the stone puma. If this is where the world was created, I wanted to immerse myself in the magical waters.
Then a 3 hour ride back to the floating islands basking in the sun of the cloud scattered sky. 3,812 meters makes the sun feel a lot closer.

At the Uros, floating islands, we ate fried trout, omelet, or cheese. Not grilled cheese, just fried cheese. That was hilarious and so was the fish head soup.

Back in Puno

We met up with Silverado and went in a taxi to see an Incan site with flamingos on a lake. Trouble was there were no flamingos there. They only go in the morning.

Live Cuy!

The burial site was interesting, but it was concluded that the money we spent on the taxi would have been better spent on Cerveza or Pisco and a dinner. Though the site was cool and we spent some good time with Alpacas.

We had dinner at Pizza Andina in Puno, 27 soles each. Alpaca pizza plus a three course meal, it was great food and we were both starving.

Bus Station

Ignoring the persistent shouts of Arequipa Arequipa Arequipa, we waited for our bus. I called my teacher to change my classes the next morning to later in the day. We finally boarded the night bus. No movie instead, disappointment, because we saved pizza to eat during the movie. We settled in for a long bus of alternately nodding off and listening to music. We arrived in Cuzco at 4:30 am.
Took the first taxi home, for which we paid too much, and passed out. Then later I woke up and went to class.

What did I learn from this trip?

Do not take the night bus. I enjoyed the trip, but I was overly tired and could have enjoyed it a lot more if I had gotten real sleep. Also when you take the bus during the day it stops at several interesting places that could be worth seeing.

If you do take the night bus, do not try to go to classes when you get back. Avoid the extra treks, they can be overpriced and not really worth it, especially when it is nearing the end of the day. Sometimes a little bit of down time is all you need to refresh your spirits. Also make sure to get change from Gringo Smugglers, they will more often than not forget to give it to you later.

A good option is to research this stuff yourself. That way you can get first class seats, which on a long bus ride are well worth it, and don’t cost very much extra. You can also customize your trip better when arranging it yourself. Sometimes you are at the mercy of the agency. If you do book through an Agency, make sure to be clear about what you want. Most of them are good as long as you are clear with your needs.

Still despite lack of sleep, the lake was magical. It was impressive and magnificent.The solitude of the islands was a nice change from the tourist quickened pace of Cusco

Viva Aventura

~C.A.