Thursday, July 28, 2011


After a pleasant stay in the Sacred Valley, we headed back to the jungle. This time we visited the city of Tarapoto in Peru's Amazon. There is only one word to describe this city--hot! In three words, I would describe it as hot, hot, hot!

Going to Tarapoto feels a bit like stepping into the 1950s. Burgers are cheap, turquoise and aqua are the colors of choice, and young people only come out at night to show off their motorcycles. Literally everyone here has a motorcycle (or mototaxi) and there is no limit to the number of people who will pile on a single bike. Grandma, baby, and even the family dog--everyone can be seen enjoying the closest thing to air conditioning this city knows.

Below are a few pictures from the area.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Machu Picchu

Loads of people travel from all over the world to see what has been named one of the new ¨Wonders of the World¨--Machu Picchu. After traveling a bit in the Sacred Valley and seeing quite a few Inca ruins, I wasn`t sure how impressed I would be with Machu Picchu. The ruins at Ollanta and Pisac were, after all, rather impressive.

But Machu Picchu did not disappoint. It was just as spectacular as everyone said it would be. The ruins themselves are extensive and completely open for the exploring, but the seemingly tropical mountains in which they are situated are possibly even more impressive. The two together are--to be cliche but honest--a once in a lifetime experience. Although the prices in the area are exorbitant--Aguas Calientes, recently re-named Machu Picchu Pueblo, feels more like Times Square than a Third World country--they are indeed worth the spectacular views of this mysterious architectural wonder.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Ryan and I have spent the past few days in Ollantaytambo--an area surrounded by Inca ruins. Below are a few pictures from the area. Tomorrow we go to Machu Picchu!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Písac and Inca Písac

The Incas built a surprising number of enormous stone structures into the mountains of the Sacred Valley, and we were able to quite a few of these today outside of Pisac. Here are a few pictures from our hike:

Impressive terracing

Ryan outside the Incan citadel that used to protect the southern entrance to the Sacred Valley

Lake Titicaca and La Isla del Sol

Given a few days travelling around the world´s highest navigable lake, I cannot recommend Lake Titicaca more for those seeking some stunning views and heart-pounding hikes. Below are a few photos from our trip to the Bolivian side of the lake, including photos of our hike across the Isla del Sol.

We spent our first night in Copacabana, a pleasant town on the shore where you can get a nice set meal for about $5.  Here we hiked up the town´s Stations of the Cross to catch a tranquil sunset and some nice views of Copacabana from above.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Rurrenabaque, San Miguel del Bala, and a lot of wild pigs!

Over the past few days, Ryan and I have seen a slew of wild pigs, the world´s largest rodent, angry monkeys, happy monkeys, parrots, toucans, cayman, and more insects than I care to remember. We`ve been taking in Bolivia`s Amazon in Rurrenabaque and its surrounding environs.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

San Juan in Sucre: "The Coldest Night of the Year"

Last week, we celebrated San Juan with some friends here in Sucre. San Juan marks what is supposed to be the coldest night of the year, although there have been a number of other nights that have challenged that title.  Bolivians celebrate San Juan much like Americans celebrate the Fourth of July--bonfires, fireworks, and hot dogs.  Here a few pictures from the evening:

Traveling in Sucre - The White City

After spending about five weeks in Sucre, Ryan and I have come to feel that we know the place. The White City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the early 90`s thanks to its all-white downtown colonial architecture.  Plaza 25 de Mayo is certainly one of the most pleasant places to stroll in Sucre, and it was also the site of the initial South American declarations of independence. It was at La Casa de Libertad that Simon de Bolivar met with a delegate of lawyers and statesmen to draft the first Bolivian constitution.  Although he was asked to be Bolivia`s first president, he refused, envisioning instead one large country that would have united most of the countries of present-day South America.  Instead, Antonio Jose de Sucre was named Bolivia`s first president, and the city still carries his namesake today.

A statue of Simon de Bolivar in La Casa de Libertad

Sucre is a wealthier city in comparison to La Paz, known for its lawyers, pleasant views, and relaxing cafes.  Many of the people here identify either with their Quechua heritage or have largely adopted Western culture, while most of the residents of La Paz identify strongly as Aymaran. Predictably, these factions have produced political tensions, and many of the people of Sucre seem wary of the current Aymaran president, Evo Morales. Indeed, the people of Sucre insist that Sucre is the capital of Bolivia while those in La Paz insist that it is La Paz. Although we`re still not sure who to believe, we know that Sucre houses the judicial branch of the national government, while the legistlative and executive branches are located in La Paz.

A government building on the plaza.
Among the Sucre highlights is Parque Bolivar--named (like many many other places) after Simon de Bolivar.  Cotton candy at Parque Bolivar costs ten cents, and you can climb a miniature version of the Eiffel Tower in the center of the park.

Inside the mini-Eiffel Tower at Parque Bolivar

Outside the mini-Eiffel Tower
We also visited the city`s cemetery, where bodies are stacked one atop another in individual coffins. It was a bit of a morbid trip but recommended by many other tourists.

Sucre´s main cemetery

There is also no shortage of parades in Sucre, as we´ve stumbled upon them accidentally more times than we can count.  Just about every school and police station has a marching band.

One of many parades outside our window at Biblioworks
There are two large markets in Sucre--El Mercado Central, located just off the main plaza, and the Campesino Market, a bit farther off. You can buy almost anything you need at the Campesino Market at a good price, but it may take you hours to find it!  We spent a few days trying to track down a lamp, which we eventually located in a toy store.  You can buy entire slabs of meat here, but it`s best to think about how long that slab has been hanging among dogs and flies before investing. We tend to stick to vegetables (one kilo of tomatoes costs about twenty-five cents!).

Ryan looks at mantas at the Campesino Market
You have no choice but to buy spices in bulk.
Vegetables in the Campesino Market
 Lastly, Sucre is known (or has tried to become known) for its dinosaur tracks. There is a park here where you can see some original dinosaur tracks as well as a number of statues, but it´s really an attraction for children.  Nonetheless, the city has benefited from some of the world´s most unique phone booths.
In Sucre, you can call your friends from the belly of a dinosaur!
With its temperate climate, colonial architecture, numerous plazas, and relaxing cafes, Sucre has been an excellent place for an extended stay, and we could easily live in such a city.  Nonetheless, we´ll be heading out before we know it!
Streetview, Sucre, near the city center.
One of many white churches in Sucre.
View from our roof over Sucre

Sunset over Sucre, from La Recoleta.