Escape • Explore • Enjoy

While the bodies still can and we still have our marbles!

Category: Dream Design Do (page 1 of 13)

Seek the treasure you value most dearly.

Onuku, Banks Peninsula, Aotearoa (New Zealand)

It’s been a just over a week since the transition back into our New Zealand life.

Spring is at full speed; New Zealand wine is the best; daylight saving has arrived and, there is something too be said about sleeping in your own bed.

But one shouldn’t get too comfortable.

We have a back yard to escape onto, explore more of, so as we too get to enjoy our own slice of paradise.

Just like all those who cross our borders to visit or come to live.

“Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei.”

Translated, “Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain.”

This whakatauki is about aiming high for what is truly valuable, but it’s real message is to be persistent and don’t let obstacles stop you from reaching your goal.

Just include some escaping to explore to enjoy people.

No matter where on the planet.

It’s Better To See Something Once Than To Hear About It A Thousand Times

On our fridge back in New Zealand, we usually have a picture of our next adventure affixed to the door.

Like a visualization thingy.

It inspires our dream it – design it – do it, philosophy of life.  And motivates us to ensure we focus on magnetizing towards making the picture of the adventure, a reality.

An image of Machu Picchu is currently affixed to the fridge door.

Another philosophy of ours is to always have the next adventure on the radar before we step off the plane and therefore, Machu Picchu will come off and another image will go up, when we arrive back home in the next few days.

We also have another image that has graced our fridge for a number of years with the quote: “It’s better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.”  The quote just resonates.

More so today when we saw it came out on the plate like butterfly chicken – a term used when you cut the chicken in half and split it open to resemble a butterfly.

Except, it wasn’t chicken but a local delicacy Cuy.  We knew it as Guinea Pig and you knew it was, the head and feet were still attached!

It was a crispy brown colour from having been deep fried.  A tomato and red onion salad with a hint of dressing and, two deep fried potatoes accompanied the menu meal.  Not sure about the teeth showing and thank goodness that you couldn’t see any eyes, they were battered over.
But once you got over the paws and head, it was quite delicious.  A bit like chicken, perhaps.

The traditional Peruvian dish Cuy … or Guinea Pig

It was our last full day in Arequipa and we knew we had to try the traditional Peruvian dish that we had heard about, a thousand times.

It was something different to end this adventure on.

We have taken heaps of photos as a return ticket to the moments experienced, that will otherwise be gone.  The blog scripted adds value to remind us of the emotional feelings we sensed.  To propel us to keep going … to escape, explore and, enjoy.

This is the last blog post from Peru.

A special thanks to all those who have followed, liked or made comments. It’s been a blast.

Until the next adventure … keep well and live purposefully.

The Rurus

 

The Mighty Inca of Machu Picchu

The Incas hid Machu Picchu so high in the clouds that it escaped destruction by the empire-building Spaniards, who never found it.  It was rediscovered in 1911 by Yale archaeologist and historian Hiram Bingham with the aid of a local farmer who knew of it’s existence.

Our excitement escalated as we joined the stream of others about to board a bus to be driven the winding switch-back road to it’s entrance.  The drivers must have done a heap of kilometres in both up and down directions because they drove the coach like being on a race track, throwing the rectangle box around the corners, adding to the adrenalin.  Sometimes there were guard rails on the outer road edge.  Sometimes not.  Up towards the last remnants of morning mist we went.

Joining the stream of people in the que started the excitement feeling.

Looking towards the valley peaks from Machu.

Waiting for the toilet because once inside the ruins, you have to squeeze your cheeks together until you exit.

Once through the entrance formalities, there it was … the mighty Incas Machu Picchu.

It’s unequaled aura of mystery, magic and wonder was right there before our eyes.  It left us way more awe struck than anything else we have ever experienced.

The throngs of people that were there also, didn’t phase us.  Everyone was respectful to give way when photos were being taken.  The place is tightly monitored with control wardens so as to minimise deviating off the path to follow and, it was only one way traffic.

Frank our tour leader, found our group a spot to just sit and find fulfillment overlooking the rows of granite stone ruins.  As the ball of yellow rose higher, it methodically illuminated aspects of what remained of a remarkable civilization landmark.

Overlooking Machu Picchu.

Looking back at Machu from the another angle.

After taking a short walk to an Inca bridge that was hugging the side of a cliff face, we left the group to explore Machu Picchu on our own.  Words are hard to find to describe the feeling.  Perhaps best summed up that we have adventured to some spectacular places on this planet … journey and destinations.  Sometimes it was the journey that was the memory.  Other times, it was the destination.

Walking the to Inca Bridge.

The Inca Bridge.

Today, we can say that the Machu Picchu journey and destination went hand in hand.  Or one step in-front of the other.  An emotional place on the planet that will make you cry.  And that, is what it should do.

We did.

We re-grouped with the intrepid’s to board the coach for the drive down.  Sometimes silence was stronger than the combined chit chat of what was just experienced.  It allowed for folk to be at peace and perhaps pay homage to the lost ghosts from the mountain top.

Exploring Machu Picchu.

Looking back up the mountainside to our initial viewing spot overlooking Machu.

How the grass stays trimmed.

We re-traced our travel back to Cusco by train and coach, arriving into the city under the cover of darkness.  A splash of water, some fresh clothes and a little lippy before going out for a departing meal with people who were total strangers only a few days before.  It was like we had known each other for a life time.

Who knows if we will cross paths again in the future.

What matters more was that we got to share the Quarry Trail Trek, a snippet of the Incas and Machu, with fellow beings.  Perhaps they too have rediscovered a new liking for wanting more of what they experienced for the first time.

Escaping, exploring and enjoying.

The jungle now beckons, where the monsters live!  And a different kind of emotion … eeeeeeeeeeek!

Just taking it in … with a tear.

Choquetacarpo to Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes

Early morning sun on the top.

Taking a stroll before breakfast, looking towards Waqay Wilki.

It was the same routine as the day before with the wake up call, pack up and breakfast.  There was more dampness on the inside of the tent from condensation.  It makes the getting clothed even more faster so as no moisture touches skin so as to send a silver down the spine.  Nor make a whimpish noise!

We said our ‘gracias’ to the horsemen and cooks as we bid them farewell.  Their roles had come to an end. As we started our way down, one of the newer younger horsemen was sent running down the hillside in the same direction, trying to round up and corral the said horses back to the camp base.  They roam free after they do their job and one couldn’t but smile at how they were taking the mickey out of the runner by teasing him at going in all sorts of scattered directions!  How he manages to do it is share skill, technique, expertise or the fact, that’s what he gets paid to do it.  Poor bastard.

We have never seen horse meat on any menu neither!

The Quarry Trail is named for the quarry that was used to source the rocks to construct Ollayantambo Inca back in the 15th century.  They were just clever people who used stone age tools to manufacture the block sizes they did, and then methodologies to haul the chunks down the mountainside, across the river and then position them into the structures of the ruins we are just spell bound by, today.

Quarry Trail quarry where the rocks originated for the Ollantaytambo Inca contruction.

And those who perished on the quarry terrain were sent off into the after-life with respect as we deviated off the trail to enter a tomb and see skeletal remains.  We acknowledge the sacred place by blowing three times on some cocoa leaves and placing them beside the bones.  There was some spiritual being at peace with sharing in the ritual and made the trek very grounding.

Even if we had to get the altitude part out of the way first, we wouldn’t change the trekking route.

A Quarry Trail tomb.

As the valley floor patchwork became larger, so too did the heat of the temperature increase.  Insect repellent was added to sweat and trail grime to layer up protection from the beasties that like the blood vino.  It worked.  There was also more varieties of cacti too.  We often stopped at old buildings abandoned to ponder it’s history.  There was no rush.

More tombs.

The varieties of cacti got more.

The valley floor patchwork gets larger.

Back in Ollantaytambo, we raised our glasses with a celebratory beer as we ate our boxed lunch, prepared by the cooks way back up the mountain.  We also met up with Marty the Irish trekker who started out with our party and separated to do the true Inca Trail.  A bout of food poisoning meant returning back to Ollantaytambo to wait out the condition.  The Inca Trail would have to wait for another time and he had recovered enough to join us for the last part of the trek where it was meander down to catch our train to the last stop Aguas Calientes and, the base of Machu Picchu.

The hour and a half of clickety-click snaking alongside the Urubamba river wasn’t without fascination.  The terraced landscape held us again in awe.  How did they do it?  Eucalyptus trees were introduced here from Australia during the 1900’s and have now taken to the parched lands like a weed.  Except, they were welcomed shade spots during the trek up and down.  Now they too shouldered the banks of the river.

Urubamba River towards Machu Picchu.

Terraces along the Urubamba River.

Condensed and surrounded by sheer walls of vegetation cliffs, the town was alive with life.  Half a soccer field being used for football; the other half with dances practicing to beating drums.  The thud’s echoed.  But not enough to drown out the buzz of the people.

And, it was just buzzing.

The train station at Aguas Calientes.

In the middle of Aguas Calientes is a soccer field.

How is this for scaffolding to repaira bridge?

27/8/18 Intrepid Day 1 – Meet Up

The Awkis Dream Hotel is where we met up with fellow Machu Picchu adventurists.

Seven from the States, one from Australia and the two of us from New Zealand made up the United Nations.  There is an Irish fella co-sharing part of the journey however, will separate to go trek the actual Inca Trail where as we are doing the Quarry Trail.  Our one is a little off the beaten track and still climbs to over 4450 metres in altitude, just less traffic congestion.

Even more unbelievable is that the lass from Australia is from Melbourne and named Bronte.  The friend of Naya’s who we met and spent some time with was also a Bronte from Melbourne, Australia!

Our local tour leader Frank took us on a Cusco walkabout, giving some historical narrative at different parts of the route trodden.  Mostly around the San Blas area – a smaller market similar to San Pedro; San Cristobal Cathedral; ending up at the Choco Museum.

Arrr, a chocolate museum where we learnt about Cocoa, the finest ingredient that you can include when making the finest chocolate.  Better than anything you purchase in a local supermarket.

The aroma’s were thirst quenching and part of the tour allowed for a complimentary drink.  Claire had the floatiest marshmallows that wouldn’t sink under the surface; and I tried chili flavoured chocolate. It bought water to my eyes that no matter the water consumption, I had to wipe the tears away for a tissue or two.

There are 10 cacao varieties that exist in the world and 6 can be found on the Peruvian territory.  Mainly in areas known as “eyebrow of jungle” lying in-between the mountains of the Andes and the lowlands of the Amazon.

We learnt that both the flower and the fruit grow directly from the trunk of the plant and that the best chocolate for your health is the darkest, with the most cocoa percentage.

As our tour came to an end at the Choco Museum, I happened upon Cocoa Chocolate flavoured condoms.  Now, how can one not be confused to determine when you actually tasted the cocoa part of the rubber?

Even more funnier was Bronte the Australian, owning up to having purchased 3 packs that contained 10 cocoa condoms in each!  Then quickly added that she had purchased them for friends back home in Australia!!

It was enough to have everyone adding their two cents worth of banter and jib, it kind of brought the group together in rapport.  As if we had known each other for longer than the couple of hours we actually had.

And set the scene for what was likely going to be a fun couple of days hiking towards Machu Picchu.

We know that a friend of ours tried to innocently enter New Zealand after visiting Peru, with packaged Cocoa tea bags.  Only to be stopped at border control and given a thorough detention and questioning.

Although she was let off with a warning, she is now flagged on the Whanganui Computer as a drug trafficker because you are not allowed to bring Cocoa into NZ in any shape or form.

We can only imagine what is going to happen to Bronte as she tries to enter Australia.  They have a more stringent border security.

If they were in-fact really gifts for her mates, ahem!

 

 

Up the Opposite Hillside

The White Jesus looked so tiny from the viewing point we had ascended to.

We could also make out the giant Condor monument close to where we were staying in the distance. Squinting of course.  The eyes aren’t as good as what they used to be!

The White Jesus

Can you find the Condor monument?

We were up the opposite hillside and the monument that towered above us was Mirador Cusco.

It was an impromptu decision to climb up to it after we had ventured down back streets to the bus terminal, to book an overnight bus to Puerto Maldonado.

Flash overnight buses

Mirador Cusco Monument – zoomed in

Up to Mirador Cusco monument we go

Road blocked off for a wedding

Mirador Cusco

The eyeballs were darting and scanning in all directions, it was just as a spectacular view from this side as it was the other.

There was more shanty living on these slopes as well.

Shanty Community

The bus terminal from Mirador

The flip side was the stuff you see when you throw away the map and go off the beaten track.  Getting lost too can be fun.  We did trying to find the damn bus terminal and instead, turned up at the freighting part of the business.  We had to trust the pigeon-English directions from the guard.  Google maps was hopeless to try and cheat as we had no connection.

We got there.

Wedding Car

Fresh fruit can come to you

A childrens playground

Inca sun water fountain

Jamming it

Shifting house!

The Inca Leader Pachacuteq monument

As we did when we arrived at a roundabout back on the flat to stand beneath another towering bronze monument of the Inca Leader Pachacuteq.  It’s 11.5 metres tall, weighs 22 tonnes and one of his outstretched arms points towards the heart of the old imperial Cusco.  He was ‘the man’ during the time of the Inca, an important Peruvian identity.  He looked authoritative yet graceful.  And someone who you could be attracted too.

Inca Leader Pachacuteq – 11.5 metres tall, weighs 22 tonnes

As was the man who was using crutches because he had one leg.  We shadowed him crossing the roundabout for safety.  People slowed for him.  They weren’t for us before he arrived!

Sometimes there is greater enjoyment in the journey versus the destination.

Most times!

Ground Shake

The shaking lasted for about two minutes.

It was just after 4am and we both came too simultaneously.  Naya came down from her upper level. We were already five floors up.

And we were spooked not having a damn clue whether it was a pre-cursor to a larger one or whether it was the major one and that there would be following after shocks.  It would be fair to write that we panicked and got dressed, stuffed stuff into backpacks and were happy to vacate the building.

A simple message on face back about it being a bit of a ground shake and we were able to learn from friends back in NZ that the quake epi-center was near the northeastern border between Peru and Brazil – 248 kms to the north of Puerto Maldonado.  Thank goodness the 7.1 magnitude was deep.

Shallower and it would have been a different blog narrative, if any at all!

The building codes here are – well, there aren’t any.  And by the many types of exposed construction sites on the go, it isn’t hard to imagine the consequences if the later had occurred.

The building we are staying at – on level 5

We wondered how the overhang was costructed!

Fear and anxiety don’t just abate because the sun comes up.  It stayed with us for the remainder of the day.  Getting out for a walk helped somewhat.  So too did cooking tea for Naya, Bronte and the two new airbnb arrivals Ejler and his mate Juan.  As did the bottle of red (Brent) and Russian Vodkas (everyone else) and, the karaoke and dancing around the apartment until they (Naya, Bronte, Ejler and Juan) decided to go out.

The San Sebastian Condor monument

The San Sebastian Condor monument is massive

Dinner with Claire, Bronte, Juan, Ejler and Naya

Not us oldies.  We had a cup of tea, watched some YouTube music to settle the nerves before hitting the fart sack.  But do the nerves ever settle?  Over time perhaps.  Perhaps not.  Holding a tarantula was enough to give the heart extra palpitations!  Add the fact that we are going to Puerto Maldonado to do it after Machu Picchu skips one or two now we have had the ground shake.

Life has to go on.

Notwithstanding, cheers to all those who sent “stay safe” and thinking of us messages.

They were comforting and, certainly helped.

Jesus Re-visted

Just a day of wandering, wondering.

The hump up to the Jesus Statue seemed more easier than the other day.

A hearty 15kms or so of preparation with Machu Picchu on the radar.

Amen.

Tickled Senses

You will always remember a place that tickles all the senses at one location, be it smell, taste, touch, sight or, sound.

A place where you can witness the day to day life of the people and, be entertained for hours.

Venturing into the Central Market of San Pedro was the place.  It’s purpose, to provide the freshest products for the locals.  Hidden among the aisles, a large number of stalls host entire sections dedicated exclusively to fruit, vegetables, meat, spices, maze, natural remedies, exotic products, and the like.

You knew the spice that overpowered all the rest but kept you guessing which one.  Each one combed into a cone shape inside an old coal sized sack or smaller portions sized out into cellophane packaging.

Likewise the different types of maze corn cobs – again, some were whole and some were kernelled into piles.

Every part of whole beasts having been butchered were on display.  Right down to the front teeth and mouth.  Featherless chickens lay stacked in a pile just along from the two lifeless pig carcasses waiting to be dissected into eatable portions.  Minced meat and sausages shared the same counter.  There was no coverage nor refrigeration for any of the meat.  The swirl of flies glistening in the suns rays must have been in paradise confused at what to feed on first.

The smell of food being prepared by the ladies with the secrets that only they know teased the nostrils and we sat down to eat a bowl of chicken soup with noodles and pickled vegetables.  It was delicious.  It also allowed us some conversation time with a young American girl who shared her tales of traveling solo for three weeks.  She worked in the Chinese relations area and isn’t certain about her future given the repercussions from tweets from a person not worth mentioning.  Being off the grid had some consolation moments, giving us a tip to definitely take and wear layers where we were heading.

I gave her one – drink a can coke every three days to flush out your system and you won’t get sick.  Immediately leaving the market, we headed to the supermarket directly across the road and did just that ourselves.  It was day three for us!

We had consumed a pineapple, orange and prickly pear fruit drink made fresh on our arrival to the market.  Should be okay.  Even if the lady behind the counter washing the vessel in the bucket using water straight from the tap. It didn’t deter us neither.

Time will tell.

Claire bartered for a small change purse, something locally iconic, not too big.  A reminder that we had visited that left a grin on the dial long after we lost the tickled senses.

We wandered some more back streets before again walking the distance home.

Tomatoes and avocado for tomorrow’s breakfast. Directly from the San Pedro Market.

Yum!

Sexy Woman

Naya’s relations turning up was the alarm clock we needed to rise and shine after hitting the sack at some ungodly hour of the morning.

Surprisingly, we awoke with no hangover considering all the abuse we had given our bodies over the past 60 hours – jet lag, altitude, coca tea, forgetting undies, pisco sour, Alpaca and dancing like no one was watching!

It was Naya’s actual birthday and they had turned up with a Pineapple cake to share and, cooked us another local dish of chicken, stuffed chilli,  and yuka (a potatoe root from the jungle).

A couple of young Canadians rocked up for the airbnb hospitality in-time and “happy birthday” was sung again.

The remainder of the day was spent recovering, napping and, mapping out the next days activity – exploring Cusco.

The next day, Bronty escorted us to her favourite eating place for our second breakfast.  We didn’t give it a second thought as the day of exploration involved a bit of ground under the boot soles.

Sidewalks and roads are cobbled and rubbed smooth from the centuries of wear.  We happened upon the spot where thousands of pics have been snapped, the Inca stone with twelve sides.  The craft of yesteryear at how the Inca people mastered the art of construction is mind boggling considering how old the architecture is.

Care was taken as we navigated the narrow sidewalks.  Size of midriff does matter as to who gives way.  Being mindful of the traffic is also important as a wing mirror can easily bruise a butt cheek or groin.  Depending on the direction of the vehicle.  Smaller steps were taken so as to ascend the step upward direction we were stepping.  Breathing became rapid.

Cusco is just an unbelievable crisscross maze of streets and alleys.  As is the wiring to electricity and the many different establishments standing shoulder to shoulder.  Signage dangled from above.  Hawkers peddling their wares for a sol or two were temperamental compared to Thailand – they weren’t in your face.

We wandered through the old quarter of Cusco, San Blas with colonial houses built with walls of Incan stone.  Up up up we went.  The orange half round shaped roof tiles became more prominent and widespread, as far as the eye could see.  Bronty’s escort transitioned into accompanying us as it wasn’t her intent to have joined us on our little meander.  She was quickly becoming familiar with what a ‘Ruru’ meander was, inspiring her with “one more set of steps”.  We reached a point where she said “stuff it, we might as well go to the Sexy Woman” … it was always our intent, we just hadn’t communicated such.

They refer to the site near the big Jesus statue with arms extended overlooking Cusco (a smaller version of the one in Brazil) as the Sexy Woman.   It’s real title is Sacsaywaman.  And, the view standing under the big J of Cusco was just spectacular.  Just a sea of orange.

Returning back down, we descended down steps with a larger gradient than on the way up.  Some of the residences certainly were shanty type abodes.  Walls made of mud; roofs held down with blocks; washing hanging from anything as long as the sun’s rays could be absorbed.  Being grateful for what we have at home wasn’t hard to swallow.

We were soon back in the Cuzco city centre, the Plaza de Armas of Cusco.  It used to be the Inca Empire capital before the Spanish conquest.  They basically decimated any remnant of the empire to re-construct the circumference with temples, churches and mansions.

Today, tourist restaurants, jewelry shops and travel agencies occupy the lower buildings. Cafés and bar the upper.

We rested the legs rehydrating above the multi-cultural crowds.  Children in school uniform dotted the plaza and we made the decision to walk home.  Bronty continued to accompany us, versus taking a taxi.  Still holding confidence in my ability even after my map reading had us back track a couple of streets a couple of times!

We arrived home having explored.

But it didn’t stop there.  We ended up going out for a cheap and cheerful dinner with Naya, Bronty and the Canadian lads Adam and Nick.  Then Naya drove us up to the Big Jesus again to view the city at night.  The colour of orange glowed from the city light noise.  And it was just as spectacular as the day light view.

Cusco is a city to be placed on your list of destinations to visit if thinking about pointing your nose towards South America.

Whether to holiday or … to live!

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