Bolivia: Copacabana and Lake Titicaca

by Val Bromann  :::  09-16-2014  :::  Comment

I hadn’t planned on going to Bolivia. Proof in point that I should never try to make plans. I had thought I’d fall in love with Cusco and want to stay while I got some work done. But, after a couple of weeks, I grew tired and ready to move on. You can’t plan for the places that will capture you. So, I decided to head towards Bolivia and spent my first couple of nights in Copacabana, taking a tour of Lake Titicaca from the Bolivian side. A day tour isn’t much time to see anything. But as I keep pledging to never trek again I may not have seen much more if I had stayed overnight on one of the islands…

Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

Lake Titicaca, Bolivia


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The Floating Islands and Lake Titicaca, Peru.

by Val Bromann  :::  09-05-2014  :::  Comments (1)

It was a two-day, one-night trip to the floating islands of Uros and the islands of Amantani and Taquile on Lake Titicaca in Peru.

First, we visited Uros, the floating islands. It’s a strange little area of home-made islands built on compounds of mud and sticks and with every step you’d feel like you were sinking. It’s become quite a tourist destination and the small island has women selling homemade wares and sending you off by singing, “row row row your boat.”

And then it was off to Amantani, an island three-hours away. There, I had a homestay with a local woman, ate all potatoes you could imagine, hiked up a hill.

That night, I was meant to go to a fiesta, to dress up in traditional garb, dance. It was actually a part of the tour I was looking forward to. But, between a headache and nausea brought on my the altitude, and a rain storm, I ended up falling asleep at 7pm and not wanting to move.

The next morning, feeling slightly better, we hiked around Taquile for a few hours, another island, before returning to Puno.

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru

Lake Titicaca Peru


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Sillustani

by Val Bromann  :::  09-03-2014  :::  Comment

There isn’t much to do in Puno, Peru other than await your trip to Lake Titicaca and run around getting the American dollars and the photocopies you need after deciding to head to Bolivia (because Americans have to pay $135 and provide copies of their passport at the border. No one else, mind you. Just Americans.)

Sillustani is a pre-Inkan burial ground just outside of Puno and everyone offers a quick day trip there for around 30 soles (about $11). With an afternoon free I hopped on the tour with some others from my hostel.

We walked up to the top of the hill to look at the chullpas, graves, wandered the grounds, and stopped at a typical house on the way back to eat some salty local cheese and pet some alpacas.


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Life List #120: See Machu Picchu.

by Val Bromann  :::  09-01-2014  :::  Comments (5)

Machu Picchu, Peru

I had written it there, I swore. “See Machu Picchu,” was on my life list.

I was sure I had added it at some point but, as I scrolled through the list on my phone, as I googled my web address and “Machu Picchu,” it wasn’t showing up.

Had I imagined it?

It took a few times skimming through the list to find it. Not, “See Machu Picchu,” but, “Hike The Inca Trail.”

“Hike the Inka Trail,” I read, sitting an a hostel in Aguas Calientes, otherwise known as Machu Picchu Pueblo.

I hadn’t hiked the Inca Trail to get there. I hadn’t hiked to get there at all. I took the train.

I could have hiked. There were plenty of options from easy treks to adventure trips that included biking and zip lining. I even met a guy in Puno who trekked there on his own. I could have hiked.

I couldn’t have hiked the Inca Trail. Even if I wanted to. Not just because I would spend the entire time panting in misery and pain. Not just because I couldn’t even go up the stairs in Cusco without losing all my energy. Not just because after trekking Colca Canyon I kind of never wanted to trek anything ever again. Ever. Again.

But because it was sold out.

Only 500 people are allowed on the trail a day, and that includes trekking staff, and all the tour companies sold out months in advance. I was there, after all, at the peak of high season.

And with me, being the complete non-planner that I am, who decided only a few days before when she would go to Machu Picchu, booking that far ahead didn’t really work.

That didn’t stop people from telling me that I’d made a mistake. That the Inca Trail was worth it and was the only way to get to Machu Picchu. That it didn’t matter how out of shape I am that I should have done it. Because people liked to say that to me.

And I’m sure every bit of the Inca Trail would have been amazing. Even if I spent the entire time feeling as if I was having a heart attack. Even if I spent the entire time freezing my ass off.

But, as it stood, I arrived in Aguas Calientes by train, I woke up at 4am the next morning, climbed for an hour and ten minutes, being passed by ever so many people, got to the top out of breath, sweaty, ten minutes after Machu Picchu opened for the day.

And that was trek enough for me.

Maybe, someday, I will get used to elevation. Maybe, someday, I will be used to trekking. Maybe, someday, I will be thoughtful enough in my travels to book ahead.

But, for now, I’m content with taking a train, hiking for an hour, and basking in the wonder of Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

“Hike the Inca Trail” “See Machu Picchu” was number 120 on my life list.


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Would you like fries with that? What to eat in Cusco, Peru.

by Val Bromann  :::  08-23-2014  :::  Comments (6)

I love fries. I really do. A good fry is heaven. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, a touch of salt.

But in Peru they are always just greasy and limp.

And they come with everything. Everything.

I never thought I’d get sick of fries. But I also don’t need them twice a day…

Soup at San Pedro Market in Cusco, Peru

Fried fish at San Pedro Market in Cusco, Peru

A two-course lunch of soup and fried fish with rice, salad, and beans for 4 soles (about $1.50) at San Pedro Market. Note: I could have gotten fries instead of beans.

 

Beef with fried rice and fries in Cusco, Peru

Beef with fried rice and fries. They have some weird combinations.

 

Lomo Saltado in Cusco, Peru

Lomo saltado: a Peruvian stir fry of beef, onions, and tomatoes (this version also had mushrooms and peppers) served with rice and, you guessed it, fries.

 

Aji Gallina in Cusco, Peru

Aji Gallina: spicy Peruvian creamed chicken. Mixed with fries.

 

Arroz mixto at San Pedro Market in Cusco, Peru

Arroz mixto at San Pedro Market. Sausage, avocado, runny egg, salad, plantain, rice, and, yup, fries.

 

Chicharrón in Cusco, Peru

Chicharrón, because who doesn’t love crispy, fatty, deep-fried pork? This didn’t come with fries. But there was a potato.

 

Brownie and hot chocolate at the chocolate museum in Cusco, Peru

Brownie and hot chocolate at the Chocolate Museum. Because there was a chocolate museum just down the street from my hostel. Luckily, no chocolate-dipped fries.

 

Trout ceviche in Cusco, Peru

Trout ceviche. Which didn’t come with fries but did come with sweet potato. And giant corn.

 

Cuy - Guinea pig - in Cusco, Peru

And, of course, Cuy. Guinea pig.

 


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