Old love’s lessons, Self love.

This one is about K. One of the most talented and inspiring people I have ever met. A musical belter with the spirit of Audrey Hepburn and the poetic grace of Emily Dickinson. And a fire that lit passion in every direction she turned, in every way she burned.

K was a warrior always looking for a new goal, a new passion, and often a new name. She had some demons as all angels do. She went for her dreams and didn’t let the haters drag her down.

Thanks for the inspiration K, thanks for the memories. Here is a throw way back to the beginning. Just know that I love you, as I ever did and am fiercely proud of what you have achieved. I know you don’t need me or anyone else. But if you ever want to talk again. I have an open heart and open ears for you.

And here is the chain going back 6 years for this one

k-Dear Curly, thanks for leaving the toilet seat up. K

c- I’m sorry

c-I am really sorry. I am just not that much of a gentleman. But I did burn that cd and played tennis with you, so i am not all bad right. no you’re right I am a terrible person, horrible, bad

k-I like how you feel the need to send me 2 messages of response. 5 AM man, do you ever sleep-i-f-y yourself?

c-Is that one of those “I like how you” when you really are incredibly annoyed by said “like?”

I sleepify by waking up 3 hours ago. no tennis i guess, huh? unless you want to play indoor?

k- not incredibly annoyed…amused

dunno…it was rainy, and it is sort of late ish

c-the indoor place is open til 10, if your still interested…ill even pay part of your guest fee if you like…haha theres two messages

k- ha ha

last time they didn’t even make me pay!

Wonder if that will happen again.

If you want to…pick a time out of your magic hat and we’ll go

c- alrite I gotta find my hat though…hmmmm… idk… maybe under the bed? Well i don’t see it…closet! there it is! woo hoo.

Now the time, yes let me just reach in here and… yep thats a good time there. 7:30 i will be at your place we’ll start playing at 8 when we get there. Is that cool?… the hat tipped itself expressing its aqcuiessece, now its just up to you.

k- i guess you are picking me up then?

ok

but its not necessary

non necesse est

also we should start playing at 7:30 when we don’t get there

c- ok, as a matter of fact I am already playing

k- yeah, i’d love to play

you are in my same class so you know my schedule basically

c- so what do you think about friday?

also do you want to play tomorrow after class?

k- hey does anyone want to play? nice metaphor

yeah after class thursdays works well

c-you are right hope imrpov is gagoing well. I want to take voice lessons. you should help me with that since you say your teacher is good.

k- yeah he’s great ok

Tf  (phone number)

but his schedule is tight. you have so many dreams and goals! I’m guessing you took a rain check on the magic carpet ride…

p.s. do we need anything prepared for ___ class?

k- so when s said that about casting her

i just about died.

thanks for the flower and note, ur a sweetie.

b- I know (both statements)

And this is how my heart opens up. And after about a few days and a few thousand thoughts and word in my head, I am completely immersed. The vatta pitta kapha works fast.

Each fall is a soft and gentle rumble with the potential to turn into a force 5 storm or the most beautiful starry night.

That’s why I dive in head first every time. I am a phenomenal swimmer and have weathered many storms. And the rewards when you get to the moment of total connection and grace, even if only for a night, these are worth all the pain.

I could endure 11 months pain and prison all for one sweet month time spent with every single one of my lost loves. (inspired by robert burns)

With each one, I have learned more of myself. And by loving each fully and experiencing their grace…they have taught me how to love myself

So thank you K and M and S for the most abundant lessons. Thank you L and L and J and K and N and L and K and B and J and E and S and Z and A and all of you.

thistle!

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Christmas in La Paz
Christmas in La Paz
MMMMMMMMM...
MMMMMMMMM…

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Great Barber/Peluquero.  He rubbed alcohol on to disinfect after the straight razor shave and then rubbed lotion into my face. Now that is fancy.
Great Barber/Peluquero.
He rubbed alcohol on to disinfect after the straight razor shave and then rubbed lotion into my face. Now that is fancy.

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Sunrise view from the top of the mountain
Sunrise view from the top of the mountain
A View of the pristine Salt Flats
A View of the pristine Salt Flats
View from the Sky Bar at the Adventure Brew Hostal
View from the Sky Bar at the Adventure Brew Hostal
3 hours on a bike and a beer is very refreshing.
3 hours on a bike and a beer is very refreshing.

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A much greener 1,100 meters
A much greener 1,100 meters
Cool Statue
Cool Statue

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Walking down to Aguas Calientes, it is better to take the bus.
Walking down to Aguas Calientes, it is better to take the bus.

Machu Picchu and passport finding party rum!! 11-11-12 213Machu Picchu and passport finding party rum!! 11-11-12 201Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu 11-5-31 907Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu 11-5-31 867Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu 11-5-31 853Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu 11-5-31 825Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu 11-5-31 823Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu 11-5-31 820Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu 11-5-31 822Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu 11-5-31 824

The cost of climbing Huayna Picchu too swiftly and not securely enough :)
The cost of climbing Huayna Picchu too swiftly and not securely enough 🙂

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In the Clouds
In the Clouds

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Mountain Fresh
Mountain Fresh

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Mira! flores!
Mira! flores!
http://www.dailyyonder.com/salsa-merengue-dance-class-beginners/2012/10/15/4562
http://www.dailyyonder.com/salsa-merengue-dance-class-beginners/2012/10/15/4562

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Nooo wait!! The pain is just moving fromo my feet to my face.
Nooo wait!! The pain is just moving fromo my feet to my face.
Ahh the cold water relieves the pain in the feet.
Ahh the cold water relieves the pain in the feet.

Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu 11-5-31 422

In the garden of the South American Explorers Clubhouse. I see this flower every day now.
In the garden of the South American Explorers Clubhouse. I see this flower every day now.
Like the sun
Like the sun
Brilliant white, the market on the Moray tour
Brilliant white, the market on the Moray tour
Alpaca in herb sauce. La Retama. One of the better restaurants on the Plaza de Armas.
Alpaca in herb sauce. La Retama. One of the better restaurants on the Plaza de Armas.

10-29-12 Lake Titicaca, puno 244

Silent moon song, glows so soft and strong
Silent moon song, glows so soft and strong
The sun and the clouds dance together
The sun and the clouds dance together
bah bah baby sheep
bah bah baby sheep
I just wanted to gain a couple more feet in elevation.
I just wanted to gain a couple more feet in elevation.
The terraces at Pisac
The terraces at Pisac
Best thing about Chincherro.
Best thing about Chincherro.

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One good thing about the Jewelry stop
One good thing about the Jewelry stop

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Q'engo in the fading light.
Q’engo in the fading light.

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Special thanks to K for first inspiring my travel bug and providing impressive inspiration. To M for igniting my NY spirit for the first time and showing me wisdom beyond both my and her years. And to S. …for the most abundant and graceful love. For the empathy to understand and the acceptance of my entire spirit. The greatest lesson you have all taught me is how to get of my funk and get out into the world. To love the world, to love myself. I am infinitely grateful for the grace of all of your open spirits. It always and ever has been an honor to know you all.

“But I love your feet
only because they walked
upon the earth and upon
the wind and upon the waters,
until they found me.” Pablo Neruda

From the walk way above the beach.
From the walk way above the beach.

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Crashing waves you have my soul.
Crashing waves you have my soul.
Out of the haze, it appears
Out of the haze, it appears

10-29-12 Lake Titicaca, puno 170

The sun rose to reveal the path
The sun rose to reveal the path

Thank you for revealing the light in my heart.

Curly love,

~C.A.

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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Isla del sol chakra 053

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!

Isla del sol chakra 115

 

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.

LA317C~1

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.

 

When a movie hits home

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

I am not a movie critic. Sometimes there is a movie that really hits home, hits deep and doesn’t whisper, but yells loudly into the depths of my soul. I have been hearing the echo of this movie’s voice for the past 2 days. so now it must be spoken.

Ben Stiller finds an excuse to travel and work. He gets to visit Greenland, Iceland, and the mountains of the Himalayas. What a perfect way to express this theme. It would be awesome to be a filmmaker.

The movie is about a man who lives an ordinary seeming life, but has deep and adventurous visions for what his life could be.

A change occurs at his work and he is finally forced to take some of the chances he always dreamed up. Inspired by the chance of love and adventure he finally sets forth and does something worthy enough to write about in his online dating profile.

I am not going to go into details on Plot points, because spoilers are bastards and I am not trying to ruin anyone’s future movie theater, or more likely, Netflix experience.

I will stick to the meaning that hit me square in the chest.

Dreamers gotta dream. My last blog was on presence and being in the moment. And this movie focuses on making the best of the moments you are given. To make the best Life possible.

Last year I finally went to South America on my own. I had gone to Argentina the previous year, but this time I went to Peru and Bolivia for three months solo. This was one of those moments where I finally stepped out into the world and had the adventure I dreamt about for so long.

It was freaking magical, surreal, enlivening, epic, crazy, frustrating, hard, awesome, tiring, energizing, etc.

The point is that these moments are concentrated brutes of life. They are the real moments. After the trip, my friends and family would say, “Oh that sounds so awesome! I wish I could do that. Those are great memories, but now it is time to get back to the real world. What job are you going to get?”

The point is that the real world is not being stuck trudging through the day, barely making ends meet so that I can get old and finally have a vacation when I am too tired to do anything. The point is to live now. Make the most of the moments you have. Be dedicated to your work if that is what fulfills you, but make sure whatever you do is fulfilling.

Daydreaming is key to creativity, but if you are checking out so often that you are hardly engaged in the world you inhabit, that is a good hint that it is time to change your world. Travel is not everybody’t thing, but the point is to find your thing.

Live with focus and enjoy it however that works for you.

The movie had a more subtle and deeper meaning when it tied itself up. I will not get into that here, because it is good, and I ain’t trynna ruin anyones moment.

It was kind of amazing to see a movie that encapsulated the theme I was trying to incorporate into my life in this new year. The Joyous Presence and the manifesting of the future, not through grand schemes, but by building moment by moment.

It made me rededicate myself to getting back into the real world again. When something speaks deep and the soul hears its echo is astounding.

curl the path,

C.A.

**my 500 words #3 for January 3rd. Minimal editing.

Bolivia – Es Un Paradiso para Aventureros

What can I say about Boliva?

A lot.

It is perhaps the best kept secret, from US citizens, in all of South America. There are many reasons why people, especially United States citizens, choose not to go to Bolivia. There are many other interesting places to see, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia. Bolivia has the touristically unlucky proximity to Peru, one of the most famous destinations in South America and Chile and Argentina are two of the most expansive. This makes it easy for people to skip over Bolivia. A visa for US citizens costs 135 dollars. This is a lot of money when traveling abroad. It is more than the weekly allowance of most travelers and it can make it hard to justify the expense. They also have a rarely enforced requirement of a yellow fever vaccination certificate. This is a rule that I have never heard of enforced. For these, and other reasons, people tend to pass over Bolivia when anointing destinations worthy of travel.

This is madness.

Bolivia is home to some of the most beautiful mountainous regions in all of South America. The gigantic city of La Paz sits in the shadow of Huayna Potosi and the Codillera Real unchallenged by altitude. The city itself stands at 12,500 feet or 3640 meters.

View from the Sky Bar at the Adventure Brew Hostal
View from the Sky Bar at the Adventure Brew Hostal
Another view from the sky bar
Another view from the sky bar

La Paz is a city built for trekking tourists. The food is not as good as Cusco, which isn’t really a fair comparison, since Cusco has some of the best food in the area. It is the trekking that you need to take advantage of. Like Cusco, there are agencies everywhere.

Unlike Cusco, the agencies are actually affordable. And the variety of experiences is vast. You can mountain bike down 3,000+ meters, thats right 9,000+ feet) in about 3 hours ride time on the Death Road just outside La Paz. They even have single track mountain biking available for real mountain bikers.

Part of the death road expanding into the distance
Part of the death road expanding into the distance

You can climb Huayna Potosi about 6,000 meters.on a multiple day trip.

Huayna Potosi with La Paz in the Background
Huayna Potosi with La Paz in the Background
Sunrise view from the top of the mountain
Sunrise view from the top of the mountain

Also just outside of La Paz. The salt flats at Uyuni beckon, with 1-4 day options. You can paraglide, rappel, and bungee jump all in the same day. There are options to add ziplining and visits to animal refuges to a death road package. Jungle treks are available as well. Let’s not forget a visit to the Island of the sun, the most beautiful island on Lake Titicaca.

A View of the pristine Salt Flats
A View of the pristine Salt Flats

Each of these experiences can be done for half or less than the average trek that originates in Cusco. So if you are planning a trip to Peru and you have adventure in mind, visit La Paz. There are many options for Hostals. and your stay will be cheap. You can get by in Bolivia for about half or less of what you would spend for the same things in Cusco. And much less when compared to Chile and Argentina.

I spent the great majority of my 10 week trip in Cusco, but the two weeks I spent in Bolivia were worth it. I spent a week in La Paz. A few of my friends from Cusco came with for the weekend and we had a great time doing the death road trek. We rode mountain bikes from 4,700 meters to about 1,100 meters.

Snowy 4,700 meters at the start
Snowy 4,700 meters at the start

It was incredible. We started in the snow and ended up in the jungle below. The ride was easy and the bikes were pretty decent for the price we paid. With this trek you don’t have to be extravagant, but you can definitely ensure enough safety with a middle of the market priced tour company. The bikes at the bargain places may have issues, so steer clear of those.

Awesome Photographer Guide
Awesome Photographer Guide
Our Lead guide from Luna tour Agency
Our Lead guide from Luna tour Agency

While safety isn’t number one on this trek, they do give you plenty of gear to protect you in case of a fall and the guides take picture while you are riding. Tourists are banned from taking photos, because a few unlucky riders have tumbled off the road in the past. But as long as you aren’t an idiot the trek is very safe.

Wreckage from an old crash
Wreckage from an old crash

The death road got its name when it was the only road out of La Paz and was used by cars, which it is quite narrow for. There is plenty of room for bikes and there are no cars on the lower half, which includes the old road.

A much greener 1,100 meters
A much greener 1,100 meters
Sweatier too, I only drink bottled water if it falls from the sky.
Sweatier too, I only drink bottled water if it falls from the sky. Also nice view of the dual suspension bike. All said, our day long tour was 500 Bolivianos, including lunch, cold showers, a pool, and a visit to an animal refuge. Don’t get fleeced.
3 hours on a bike and a beer is very refreshing.
After 3 hours in the saddle, a descent of more than 3,000 meters, and a beer is very refreshing.

It was nearing the end of my trip, because this was the beginning of December. I was almost out of money. I needed something to help me out a little and I got pretty lucky. As it turns out the hostel I was staying at, The Adventure Brew Hostal in La Paz, trades rooms for bartending service. It makes a lot of sense, because they need people that speak english and a lot of business is done at night in the bar. The hostal is also unique as one of the few places that has a microbrew. The brew, called Saya, is pretty decent when it is not too foamy. It reminds me of simpler NW brews. They have Amber, Negra, Dorada (sort of like a Kolsch), and a lager. When I was there they only had Amber and Dorada. But it was the best beer I had in both Peru and Bolivia. And it actually came from the tap instead of a bottle like the beer in Cusco.

Pint of Amber, Spelled "Ambar" in the bar.
Pint of Amber, Spelled “Ambar” in the bar.

I worked for a week in the bar which made my trip a lot more cost effective. I had 3 night shifts and 2 day shifts, easy. The work was simple, the night shift could be pretty busy, but the day shift was slow. I usually spent most of the day watching movies or UEFA Cup matches. This is a great trade for anyone looking to stay in La Paz for a while longer. You can’t do a lot of trekking because you have to work, but it makes exploration of the city pretty easy. And you meet literally hundreds of people.

After my week in La Paz. I met my food buddy from Cusco, Amy, at the Bus Station and headed to Copacabana with Isla Del Sol in mind. My friend Javier from Argentina was the first person that told me about the island of the sun. After visiting Amantani on the Peruvian side of the lake, I thought that I wouldn’t get the chance to see it. My trip to Bolivia made this small dream a reality. And so I after arriving in Copacabana we ate some food, visited the ATM and boarded the 2 hour boat ride to the island.

More on the Island to come…

Viva Aventura,

C.A.

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu- Part 3 of 4 “Forever Young”

The early morning greeted us with a respite from the rain and we set off early after breakfast. This day while not as difficult, was much longer than the previous two days. The extra four hours (a total of 11) allowed time to pack in many exciting events. We visited 4 Incan sites. We climbed two passes one in dense fog and scattered rain, the other in bright and steamy sun.

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The trail was packed with people, but luckily the pace the Italian and I usually walked got us ahead of most people eventually, so that we didn’t have to trek in a herd. That is one of the most peculiar things about the Inca trail, trekking in a herd of tourists. While it is true that you are in nature, the crowds are the price of hiking one of the most famous trails in the world.

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This day was my favorite before Machu Picchu. We learned about the ancient Incas and the visited some distinct architecture. The first few sites we saw were very simple, but in the middle of the day we visited something greater. It was a site that housed a temple and a monument to the great mountains. Each site we saw was more impressive than the last, leading us eventually to the glory of Machu Picchu the next morning.

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The weather changed all day from clouds and cold sprinkling rain on the first pass, to the steamy sweat at the bottom of the first valley. Then we went straight up into the sun again and it seemed like we were walking in a jungle area for a while. The variation makes you feel like you are travelling much greater distances. The adventure is real when clouds kick up and rain dumps within 2 minutes of bright sun and that same sun clears clouds in a matter of minutes only a little while later.

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I said earlier I was wary of the extra weight I carried, but at times I was quite a happy hiker, since I was able to deal with this variation quickly and easily enough.

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At one of the sites near the top of the second pass, began the hardest part of the day. This was what our guide Percy called the Gringo killer. It is 3,000 giant steps down to camp Winnaywayna “Forever Young.”

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The name of the camp made a lot of sense when compared to the experience of the trail. When you are done and you put your pack down, you feel much more free and easy. Of course you may need emergency double knee surgery, but you are still light on your feet with the knowledge that the trail is behind you and Machu Picchu lies just around the corner. One night and a two hour morning jaunt was all that stood between us and the fabled Incan city.

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This day was also the best, because of the immensity of the ruins. They just kept getting better and better the closer we got to Machu Picchu. Winaywayna and the terraced ruins on the hill above camp were incredible.

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We had dinner late and then held the porter thanking and tipping ceremony after dinner under the stars. These guys were incredible. They carried packs 1.5 to 3 times the size of the hikers pack and ran down the trail breaking camp after we left and setting it up before we arrived. They wore sandals, chewed coca and would sometimes run past us down the trail. They are true warriors and I hope that their lives are made better by the massive amounts of tourism on the trail, instead of being exploited by the companies and the tourists. Sometimes they would clap when people in our group made it to camp, the absurdity of that is hilarious. I always thought, they have got to be making fun of us weaklings. But since I don’t speak quechua, I didn’t worry about it. They would be right anyway, we were weaklings.

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After it was all done and I lay in my very small tent listening to the hypnotic sounds of the rain against my tarp,I reflected. 3 days, 9 meals, 3 tea times, tens of thousands of steps, and hundreds of coca leaves later, I was finally here. On the eve of fulfilling the dream, I felt a calm come over me. And the rain, the cold, the sleeplessness all faded into the background. Getting up at 3:30 am seemed perfect, the weather seemed perfect. It was all as it should be and I waited for the morning with a tranquility I am sure I have rarely felt in life. In a few hours I would be at the sun gate as the sun rose and illuminated the city. What more is there in life than the beauty of that moment and the moment to come? This must be why they call the camp forever young.

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Mountain Fresh
Mountain Fresh
The Italian communing with the trail
The Italian communing with the trail
The Ruins at Winaywayna "Forever Young" Maybe the tea I am drinking will keep me forever young.
The Ruins at Winaywayna “Forever Young” Maybe the tea I am drinking will keep me forever young.
What time is it? Time to hike!!
What time is it? Time to hike!!

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Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu 11-5-31 669

Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu 11-5-31 660

Tips for the porters. Mo Soles mo problems
Tips for the porters. Mo Soles mo problems
Porter thanking ceremony under the stars
Porter thanking ceremony under the stars
Everybody
Everybody
Elio and the cook
Elio and the cook
Mira! flores!
Mira! flores!

Stay tuned for Part 4 MACHU PICCHU!!!!

Viva Aventura!

C.A.

 

Travels insidious companion- How to limit your plastic bottle use abroad.

One of the best ways to expand your experience and widen your perspective on the world is through travel. Fear is an almost infinite source of conflict. But fear can be vanquished by simply getting to know a country, a region and its people. You can’t hate someone you understand. There is no need to let fear stand in the way of travel.

I guess it is a little redundant for me to talk about the importance of travel. Since that is the main thing that I write about online. However this article has a more specific focus.

The benefits of travel on the growth of human experience cannot be overstated. These benefits can manifest themselves in so many different ways. However, there is an exchange.

Travel creates a great deal of waste and stress on the world. From the enormous environmental cost of transportation by plane, train or bus to the waste generated by products consumed. The damage caused by a human presence at sacred and touristic sites is also a factor. This can be seen when you look at the effects of increased amounts of travelers to places like the Camino Inca and Machu Picchu .

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The above is from the “Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch.” I found this photo here

http://rosannefreed.wordpress.com/tag/stop-buying-plastic-water-bottles/

The proliferation of plastic usage in South America, in this case Peru, is a problem. The waste generated by both the Peruvian people and the annual visits of millions of tourists is choking the environment. The refuse in the Urabamba river is shameful. Peru doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to recycle this waste. And the idea of reusing materials is a foreign concept to most of the population.

Obviously as a traveller, you cannot drink the water from the tap in a lot of countries, which forces you to buy bottled water. The daily waste generated by this regrettable but necessary tactic is excessive.

But what choice do you have? Well here are 7.

Option 1-Boiling your water

. This is a simple process if you have the facilities to do so in the hotel, hostal or family homestay, this is a great option. Once it is boiled, let it cool overnight or in the fridge, if you are lucky enough to have one and then put the water in your large water bottle. In this way, you have just reused plastic and generated your own drinking water. Well done.

Taste of boiled water

Some may complain about the taste of the water. But really, get over it, it is water.  Just think of it another travel adventure. If you don’t have facilities for this, ask the place of accommodation to provide Agua phura. IF enough people ask, the owners will start to realize the importance of this.

Option 2-Buy Large Amounts of water at a time

It is likely that you will be forced on some occasions to buy water. You can limit your plastic consumption and your cost by buying the largest bottles of water you can. Especially if you buy them at the larger Supermarkets. Some of the large bottles even have convenient handles that make reuse easier.

Option 3-Ceramic Filters

This is a low cost option. If you are going to be in the same place for an extended period of time, these are a great option. It can be as simple as a porous ceramic pot which sits in a plastic bucket that has a spout on the bottom. The ceramic pot filters the water naturally and leaves little noticeable after taste. They are relatively cheap and could save a lot of money and more importantly a lot of plastic. If you don’t want to lug it around with you, consider the purchase of one a donation to the place you are staying. In this way you are leveraging the impact of your own conservation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceramic_water_filter

Option 4-Water purification pills

With these, there are many options. I used some that are available in shops in Cusco, when I went did the Camino Inca trek. It is a little weird at first, but you can easily get used to the taste. Some have different tastes than others, but you can get used to them all. The benefits are obvious. They are low cost, usually one pill for either one or two liters of water. Some take a few minutes and others a few hours to clean the water. With a little bit of planning, these can be a great resource. Note- These are recommended mainly to be used with tap water. If you plan on using water from streams make sure the pills you get can handle that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portable_water_purification

Option 5 -Water purification devices.

Many camping supply stores have these available. They can be attached to a reusable water bottle and will purify water from many different types of sources. This of course depends on the type you get. They don’t take up much space and can go a long way for many travelers.

http://www.backcountry.com/water-filters

This is just one site. You can find these at many different places. Make sure you look around and find the option that is best for your needs.

Option 6-Lifesaver Water Bottle

The all in one water purifier and reusable water bottle. This device was designed to be used in disaster situations and can utilize water from almost any source. It doesn’t have a whole lot of capacity for storage but since it can use almost any water, you don’t need to carry much. This approximates filling my klean Kanteen from the tap while I am in the U.S.  Very convenient and well worth it. I only met one person who used this option. Great for the rugged camper, hostal hopper and even the luxury hotel user.

The Lifesaver bottle can be found here  http://www.lifesaversystems.com/

There are also many other options on the market, but this is the one that I was focusing on.

Option 7- Reusable water bottles

This is not really an option for purification, but rather a strategy for storage. There is a reason that people buy the smaller plastic water bottles, they are convenient and easy to store and carry. Not everyone drinks 4 liters of water a day and they don’t want to be burdened by lugging around a giant water bottle everywhere. Many people solve this problem by purchasing little bottles along the way.

There are two problems with this. First, they do not last very long. Second, they generate a lot of waste. Some people use the rationale that they will keep using the bottle and therefore limit the waste. While this idea has good intentions, it often fails in practice. A plastic water bottle is not something that one can put a whole lot of value in. It is easy to lose, crush and make flimsy, or accidentally throw out.

To deal with these problems, I advocate the use of reusable water bottles. They are smaller and easier to carry around with you. They are less likely to break and their monetary value will stop them from being thrown out. They are also easier to become attached to. Of course, you have to resist the temptation to fill them from the tap. But that is easily done. They come in all sorts of styles. I recommend the no plastic Kleen Kanteen reflect. It has served me well in Argentina, Peru and Bolivia and at home. There are also many other options. They come in a vast array of colors and sizes. Some are even food grade and can transport wine and beer, a nice perk.

With some awareness and effort, you can limit the waste generated by traveling. Until clean water is made available for the entire world we travelers can use our awareness to limit the impact of our wanderings.

A note on Water…

And if you are interested in helping spread the availability of clean water around the world. This is a great place to do so. It is not only the responsibility of travelers to widen their perspective and help each other out. We also have a responsibility to do something real to help the inhabitants of the countries we visit.

https://www.charitywater.org

~Viva Aventura

C.A.