The famous beach town Pipa

When I arrived on friday I checked in at the hostel, Media Veronica Hostel. Then I quickly went out to have some dinner, because I was reeaaally hungry. I got tips about ”Dona Branca”, an all you can eat-buffét for 10 reales. The whole buffet was organic and vegetarian, delicious stuff! Then apart you order your meat och your fish, so it was perfect for me as a vegetarian! And the Mango-juice I had was the best I’ve ever had!!

Later I met up with Iralice and Lazaro, went to an italian restaurant and I tried the carpifrutas (like a carpirinha but of fruit if i understood it right). Mango aswell. :)

The restaurant Dona Branca, where you can eat all you want for 10 reales :) The whole buffet is vegetarian, and then you order meat or fish apart if you want to! Great!

The restaurant Dona Branca, where you can eat all you want for 10 reales :) The whole buffet is vegetarian, and then you order meat or fish apart if you want to! Great!

With Lazaro and Iralice :) Tried the "carpifruta", which is like a carpirinha but made of fruit. I chose mango. Really good!

With Lazaro and Iralice :) Tried the ”carpifruta”, which is like a carpirinha but made of fruit. I chose mango. Really good!

Then we went down to the main street. Wow. So much people everywhere! And the music was SOO loud. There were like 3 bars just besides each other who were competing about who had the highest music. Haha. We went into a place where they had a nice Samba concert, and I ran into the Spanish couple, they are so fun :) I met some of Iralice nand Lazaros friends there too.

Praia de Pipa is one of Brazil’s most famous beach towns. Pipa is located in Rio Grande do Norte, south of Natal. People from all over brazil and the world comes here to visit and then become residents. It’s very cosmopolitan and international. To me it felt a little bit too much touristic this night, like the typical charter-town.. :/ People were so over-produced here, having heels and lot of make up… not really that relaxed.. :/

With Iralice, Paul, Eva and Victor

With Iralice, Paul, Eva and Victor

Out dancing to a Samba concert

Out dancing to a Samba concert

Next day a car picked me up at the hostel and drove me to Praia do Madeiro where I had a surf lesson. I hanged out with an Argentinian couple. The husband and I were the only ones in the class, and it costed 40 reais for an almost private surf lesson PLUS free use of the surf board for the rest of the day! And the pickup too. Great deal compared to the 80 reales I paid in Florianopolis for a surf lesson together with 12 other people only. Big like!

The cool thing about the beaches here in Pipa, specially the Praia do Golfinhos, is that there are wild dolphins here! Swimming and playing around you in the water. :) I was a little unfortunate that during my stay there were quite many waves, then the dolphins don’t go so close to the shore. But the day before, the spanish couple told me they were everywhere around them in the water! Oh… wish I could have lived that! But still, I saw dolphins every day, just that I wasn’t able to touch them..

Surfing a little wave

Surfing a little wave

 

Praia do Madeiro, good for surfing!

Praia do Madeiro, good for surfing!

Haha. So cool little surfer guys.

Haha. So cool little surfer guys.

 

On my way between praia de golfinos and praia madeiro. When there's a low tide you can walk between the beaches. :)

On my way between praia de golfinos and praia madeiro. When there’s a low tide you can walk between the beaches. :)

 

At praia do golfinos. Usually there are like 10 times more dolphins here but since it has been quite weavy here there weren't many around now :(

At Praia do Golfinos. The dolphins beach.. It’s not shark fins but Dolphin fins :)

At night I was invited for dinner to Pousada Cabalho Marino, which is Lazaros Pousada (that he owns). He loves cooking and invites his friends over for dinner a couple of times a week, so sweet! :) To bad I don’t eat fish or meat, but the veggie options were really good too. It was all international haha, the only brazilian there was Iralice, the rest were very well-traveled travelers. Paul from New Zealand had been out of his country since he was 23! And I don’t know how old he is now, but I would guess around 45-50 maybe? He has been living here in Pipa for 7 years.. And Lazaro had been out for 12 years and living in Pipa for 4 years.. A danish girl and a dutch guy also 4-5 years..and so on!

After dinner we went to the principal road again and had some drinks, went to another Samba concert and then a Rock gig. :)

Lazaro invited us over for a great dinner at his Pousada. :)

Lazaro invited us over for a great dinner at his Pousada. :)

Haha, tall guy!!

Haha, tall guy at Agoras bar!!

The streets in Pipa a saturday night.... so crowded!! uhh...

The streets in Pipa a saturday night…. so crowded!! uhh…

Live rock band at the pub

Live rock band at the pub

Next day I walked from Praia do Pipa to Praia do Golfinhos, where I run into the Argentinian couple again. Then we decided to go surfing again and walked to Praia do Madeiro. All and all it was about an hour walk :) When there is a low tide you can walk between the beaches, if not you have to take the road above the beach, but it’s not as fun :) This time we surfed ourselves without a teacher, costed 15 reales to use the board as much as we wanted. Reeeally difficult to read the waves. Also I noticed I didn’t enjoy it as much because it’s a lot of ”rodding” with the arms and not so much surfing. I think I actually prefer windsurf :) 

Praia do Pipa in the morning

Praia do Pipa in the morning

The way between Praia do Pipa and Praia do Golfinos. :)

The way between Praia do Pipa and Praia do Golfinos. :)

Little Bastian out on a walk

Little Bastian out on a walk

Flor was like "Oh! You are just beautiful there! Let me take a picture!!!" haha. :)

Flor was like ”Oh! You are just beautiful there! Let me take a picture!!!” haha. :)

After sunset I walked around and visited some stores and then I had dinner at Donna Brancas again. And I ate so much!!! The whole plate, because if you waste food, you have to pay extra 3 reales. And I was so so so full, but I had to eat my plate. Delicious.. but later my stomach hurt and I could move at all.. haha. Fell asleep in my hostel. I’m glad that I’m alone in my room :) It’s a dorm with 5 beds, and the first day there were two girls there, but they left early morning next day and since then I’ve been alone the whole time, almost like a private room but I only pay 25 reales for it :)

Dinner at Dona Brancas... buffét for 10 reales, eat all you want.. but if you don't eat up what you have on your plate you pay 3 reales extra.. so I ate everything... and I was soooo full I couldn't move...

Dinner at Dona Brancas… buffét for 10 reales, eat all you want.. but if you don’t eat up what you have on your plate you pay 3 reales extra.. so I ate everything… and I was soooo full I couldn’t move…

On monday I tried a new beach that Iralice told me was her favorite, it’s in the south side of Pipa, called Praia do Amor, the love beach. And it was beautiful! I think this is the one I liked the most. It was fewer people there and the hang out is nicer, and the water seems more turquoise then the others :)

At the evening I walked around on the streets, bought a little souvenir from a nice art shop and then I had dinner at a new place, called ”Cook”, which has quite many vegetarian dishes. I had a pie with salad, and it was the greatest pie crust I’ve ever had, integral and perfect texture, really don’t know how they managed that. :)

Visiting Praia do Amor, the beach of love!

Visiting Praia do Amor, the beach of love!

Praia do Amor, to me, the most beautiful one!

Praia do Amor, to me, the most beautiful one!

In the store. The lady in the pink shirt paints all these.

In the store. The lady in the pink shirt paints all these.

Had the greatest integral pie at "Cook", they have great vegetarian food there!! Recommended!!

Had the greatest integral pie at ”Cook”, they have great vegetarian food there!! Recommended!!

I like the streets at night. I just don't like the cars.

I like the streets at night. I just don’t like the cars.

At night I had a 3 hours and 15 minutes long skype-talk with Duilio! Haha. Nice to hang out a little :)

Now I’m sitting here in the hostel the last hour before heading to the bus station…. I’m not so sad about leaving Pipa.. It’s a nice place, it’s cheap here, the beaches are good, the food is good, people are friendly, you can surf and relax here… but to me, it’s not as charming as Floripa or Jeri. 

Time for Recife!

 

 

The last good byes in Santa Fe (and paraná)

So besides everything I wrote in the last post I’ve been with the couchsurfing-girls to Rosario (which I’ve already written about) and last weekend we were also in Paraná and visited Veronica. :)

We ate at this place called “Olivo” – rice and gratinated broccoli – but the best – the famous orange cheesecake – said to be the best in the universe, and it was delicccciiiioooussss. Then we went around the coast for a walk and had some deep conversation about life and how to improve ourselves and live life to the fullest. I love our conversations and our meetings, we are like lost souls connecting :) Meaning that we didn’t know each other before couchsurfing but we connected on a whole new level. Big like!

Having the famous orange cheese cake!

Having the famous orange cheese cake!

Viewpoint. On the other side of the river is Santa Fe!

Viewpoint. On the other side of the river is Santa Fe!

Another thing that happened in Paraná: I met up with my old pen pal from the year 2000! Yeah, who would have thought that? Writing to someone on the other side of the world! Haha. Last year she had found one of my old letters – and looked me up on facebook – we started chatting a little bit. Then she sees that I got tagged on a picture saying that I’m in Santa Fe – which apparently is 30 minutes from her home in Paraná! Amazing how little the world can be sometimes. And so fun to see her! To bad it was the last weekend before leaving though.

Old letters to Lorena!

Old letters to Lorena!

With my old penpal from year 2000, lorena :)

With my old pen pal from year 2000, lorena :)

The parana girls - me and Gisela visiting Veronica, Marcela and Lorena

The parana girls – me and Gisela visiting Veronica, Marcela and Lorena

Oh, and maybe worth to tell – I’ve got a new tattoo :) So glad, I’ve wanted to do one for so long, and I found a great place here, and it was cheap too – only 200 pesos, about 35 USD. Duilio also made one. So we do now both have infinity tattoos : )

Matching tattoos!

Matching tattoos!

I’ve also kept doing dance classes (salsa/merengue/bachata/cumbia/chachacha), foil and drums. Last Friday was my last drum lesson :( I recorded a bit so that I never forget how much I liked it and how great my teacher was – Lucas Negretti – if you want to learn how to play drums in Santa Fe, he is the best!

Lucas showing how to play "Every breath you take"

Lucas showing how to play ”Every breath you take”

On sunday we had dinner with Duilios uncles Gustavo and German, who gets married next week! Congratulations!!! And together with Dana and Lautaro. We had delicious pizzas (you order them really big and all share later, cool) and on our way home we snuck into Cremolatis to have some midnight ice-cream. Mmmmm! :)

Having dinner together with Gustavo, german, Dana and Luciano. Such a great pizza!!!

Having dinner together with Gustavo, german, Dana and Luciano. Such a great pizza!!!

And yesterday was my last fencing class and salsa class. I’m so sad. I’ve got used to the kids now, I will miss them. I kept saying “keep on with fencing and I’ll be back for a visit in a couple of years”. Hehe. They will all be grown up then, since most of them are around 12 years now. And Pedro, my trainer. Last week he told me that I couldn’t have come in a better moment, that he really enjoys my company. He needs “someone older to talk to” and also someone a little bit more experienced to fence with to keep the spirit going. And I’m glad likewise for all the extra-time he has taken to give me private lessons and to fence with me!

With the fencers at Club Banco Provincial! From the upper left; Lourdes, Me,Pedro and Alejandro, and lower right; Juan Ignacio, Lautaro, Juan Pablo and Juan :)

With the fencers at Club Banco Provincial! From the upper left; Lourdes, Me,Pedro and Alejandro, and lower right; Juan Ignacio, Lautaro, Juan Pablo and Juan :)

And the salsa-classes, it has only been a month but so much fun with all the other “students” and our teacher Dany, who also said to me ”I have it in me”. I hear the difference between different music styles now and I really enjoy to dance to different latin-music.

With the salsa group! Together with our teacher Dany

With the salsa group! Together with our teacher Dany

I  felt tinged with sadness on my way back home from Club Banco Provincial, which is where I’ve been training. So sad so sad. But the good thing is that – if everything keeps on going as it should – I will probably be back for a visit in a few years, since my boyfriend is Santa Fesino :)

Today I also said my last good byes to Duilios family. First to Jorge (Duilios dad), who came by before going to work. Then we visited Duilios grandmother Ines. She had made apple cake specially for us to bring home and even eggplant-milanesas for me to eat tomorrow! Oh oh. So sweet. such a sweet lady – reminds me so much of my own grandmother (who sadly died this summer). Then we went to the other side of the street to have dinner at Duilios other grandmother Kika (which is totally the opposite from Ines – not at all that typical grandmother – but modern and loud). We had homemade ravioles – lovely – I’m really getting used to this homemade pasta now… going to be hard later! Haha. After some  delicious apple/pear cake and mandarin cake and some playing on Lautaros phone – it was time to say good-bye there too, to grandparents Kika and Hugo, to mother Claudia, brother Lautaro, the aunt Lorena, her husband Adrian and her kids Brune and Thiago. Some of them even cried, broke my heart.

A very normal argentinian family :)

A very normal Argentinian family :)

Now I don’t have so much left – some packing, cleaning and a goodbye to the love of my life, before heading to Iguacú alone again. I was crying a week ago, but now that it’s just around the corner – I’m trying to hold up. Let’s see how it all turns out – hopefully we’ll meet in a couple of months again!!

Having tea in the pasteleria, such a cozy café! :)

Having tea party in our favorite café – the Pasteleria, such a cozy place! :)

Last months in Santa Fe

I notice that I haven’t uploaded any pictures from Santa Fe during september and october. Even if I haven’t done too much, just had a “normal” life, I can’t not take pictures ;)

We have been to the costanera a couple of times – the coast line of Santa Fe where people go to drink mate and look at other people jogging or show off their brand new cars – and then to the Parque Federal which is just around the corner from our home, much more silent and nicer. The first of September we moved to Giselas old apartment – because she moved to Rosario.

By the costanera, people park the car, take out a chair, and drink mate.

By the costanera, people park the car, take out a chair, and have picnic/drink mate.

Sunset and drunken trees siluettes by the costanera

Sunset and drunken trees silhouettes by the costanera

 

Doing bracelets in the Parque federal

Doing bracelets in the Parque federal

Having dinner at our new place :)

Having dinner at our new place :)

I’ve been to a kids fencing tournament here in Santa Fe, funny to see the kids fence ”for real”, and our guys behaved very well :) They are too young to get any scored though, but they all did well, had fun and got medals :)

Our guys :)

Our CBP-guys :)

The fencing medals :)

The fencing medals :)

We went bowling with the couchsurfing-gang on Fernandas good-bye party (she went back to Brazil). And I won ;) Haha! Duilio was mocking me because I started of really bad so it felt good to win later :)

Well... this went well...

Well… this went well…

We were invited to Nicos house for his birthday, it was potluck sucker – which is very common here on parties, so everybody brings a little bit of food to share (usually food you can eat with your hands), we brought pizza – which Sebastian had made for is earlier since he works at a pizzeria, hehe.  It was a perfect evening, not to hot or to cold, and the kind of “parties” or get-together I like, small and more personal, nice to have a chance to get talk  the guys get to know them a little better.

Hanging at Nicos house :)

Hanging at Nicos house :)

I’ve been to my first Argentinian wedding – Luciana and Gabys. Gaby is Duilios old friend from school. Such a sweet couple, and beautiful wedding, all though I noticed that here in Argentina is much more of a party and disco then a wedding haha. They have this thing called “cotillion” – which are stuff for parties – so they gave out multicolored disco light things (glasses/bracelets/rings/sticks) to everybody. Noooow I understand why there are so many cotillion-stores everywhere here – because Argentinians love cotillion and have it in every party!!

In the church for the wedding

In the church for the wedding

Me and Duilio

Me and Duilio

The bride and the groom

The bride and the groom with some adornments (picture borrowed from wedding photographer)


A couple of weeks ago I went out on a fishing trip along the rivers in Santa Fe together with Duilio and Seba, and yeah, the beginners luck really is!! I fished like 6 fishes that day! Thanks to that they had lunch : ) And yes, I feel horrible because I’m a vegetarian, but I only fished 3 for them to eat and the rest threw in the river again. Still, I really enjoyed fishing, and the day was beaaaaautiful and perfect, we got picked up about 5.30 in the morning and came back after sunset. Didn’t notice the first hours of sun – from about 7 to 10.30 we didn’t wear sun screen – so yeah…… we got buuuuurned!

Sunrise

Sunrise

Duilio wants to take some cred for the fish I fished ;)

Duilio wants to take some cred for the fish I fished ;)

Cow along the river!

Cow along the river!

Duilio me and Seba on the rivers of Santa Fe

Duilio me and Seba on the rivers of Santa Fe

The perfect spot for our camp!

The perfect spot for our camp!

Duilios first fish. He is so happy.

Duilios first fish. He is so happy.

My sixth fish or something. This yellow one is the most common in the rivers!

My sixth fish or something. This yellow one is the most common in the rivers!

The captain! With nice burn marks on his feet!

The captain on our way back home! With nice shoes marks on his feet!

IMG_4077

Such a handsome half red half white couple.

Next entry soon with the last pics from Santa Fe!!

Free Walking Tours and The Vertical Route!

Hello!

So after the most dangerous road we took a calm day in La Paz. We went shopping in the morning (yes, I have bought a christmas gift for everyone in my family now) and then we had some other tucumanas to eat (so good that Ad also is vegetarian, haha).  We also went to different agencies to try to arrange Ad’s uyuni trip and then my vertical route, but apparently you need to be 2 people to do that tour, and there was no one interested for the day after… :/

After that we went to the San Francisco church where the free walking tours start. It’s a great idea, you just need 1 boliviano for the chicken bus to the viewpoint over the city, and then you tip the guide what you want. :) It’s mostly young bolivians who want to show their city, so it’s more like a cultural experience.

Artwork and cars

Artwork and cars

Even if I had been in La Paz for 4 days, I still hadn’t visited many of the places we went to. We visited the main attractions but also some local places, like different markets.  We visited the Sagarnaga street, The witches market, Plaza murillo,  Calle Jaen, San Pedro jail, a few viewpoints over the city and a couple of different markets.. probably a few more places that I don’t remember the name of. It was great. They have free walking tours every day at 11am and 2pm, takes about 3 hours and the meeting point outside San Francisco church, the guide will wear a blue shirt where it says “free walking tour”.

The haunted street - looks quite lovely to me

The haunted street – looks quite lovely to me

In plaza murillo, lots of pidgeons!

In plaza murillo, lots of pidgeons!

Mmm!

Mmm!

Women selling vegetables at the street... on the street...

Women selling vegetables at the street… on the street…

View over La Paz

View over La Paz

Having some great banana and papaya juice in the local market in La Paz

Having some great banana and papaya juice in the local market in La Paz

On the walking tour I also met some nice people, one of them Tristan from Switzerland, which got interested in doing the vertical tour with me tomorrow, greeeeeeeaaaat!!! At night he, me and two german girls went to eat dinner at Swissfondue, the first time I eat swissfondue (in Bolivia), and it was really really nice (and expensive) :)

Having swiss fondue for the first time - in bolivia! With tristan and two german girls who I went on the city tour with

Having swiss fondue for the first time – in bolivia! With tristan and two german girls who I went on the city tour with

Next day we got picked up at our accommodation for the vertical route. It was me, Tristan, and two guides, Didac originally from Barcelona in Spain but who has been living in Bolivia for 10 years now and Freddy who is from a community here close to the vertical route and who has opened up this attraction. This Vertical Tour is the only “Via ferrata” (the only protected climbing route) in Bolivia, and also the highest one in the world : )

We had like one hour trip up to La Cumbre again and we passed by all the groups that were going to do the worlds most dangerous road : ) We started on that road but then took another way to the Yungas Valleys.

Haha..... do you see something funny in this picture?

Haha….. do you see something funny in this picture?

On our way they told me so much interesting stuff about Bolivia, about the upcoming narkotica-traffic problem, about the coca plantations, the pollution, about politics, the good and bad things todays government has done, about the communities and the non-profit organizations etc… so interesting talk, really appreciated.. Since this is the first country which I don’t do couchsurfing in, I haven’t really heard that much about the true Bolivia. 

When we arrived in the Yungas Valleys (so beautiful!) we started with rappelling down like 10-15 meters or something, wow, that’s so scary at first. It’s a controlled descent from a stiff rock with help of a rope.. but you have to lean out from the rock, and that is really scaring in the beginning because you are so used to be standing on your feet with the weight on them, but here you have the weight on your waist instead and the feet are just a support.. and then walking down by letting the rope go of a little bit more rope.. haha.

More rappel :)

Rappel :)

Then we came down to the Tibetan bridge, which basically is three ropes between to mountains, one you stand on and two higher above which you hold on to with your hands. That was really funny! So cool to see the forest below your feet while walking on a thin line. :) But it’s so much easier when you hold on to the ropes, you don’t have that bad balance then as you think you would have, haha.

Me in the tibetan bridge

Me in the tibetan bridge

The tibetan bridge.. love it!

The tibetan bridge.. love it!

When we arrived to the other side, we had to climb up maybe around 30 meters until we reached the base for the zipline to the other side. It’s a cable mounted on between to mountains, and you hang yourself with a freely moving pulley on the cable and then your own gravity makes you go from the top to the bottom of the inclined cable… so much fun! :) When I saw the cable the first time I actually got that lovely adrenaline rush in my body and it was the first time I felt a little bit scared by thinking that I’ll be hanging there soon .. but then once in the air – it was soooo much fun!! :) Then we did rappel down to our starting point.

Climbing .. very focused.. haha

Climbing .. very focused.. haha

Zipline!!

Zipline!!

Rappel down the mountain!

Rappel down the mountain!

Since we only were two on this route, we had time to do it again! So after lunch we did it a second time and it was much easier since we had a little bit more practice, we just started doing rappel without even thinking about . Didac pointed out that he was proud of us, what he loves about his work is to see the progress.

My shadow on the rock

My shadow on the rock

Tristan falling! Oh no! (The second time we felt a little bit more comfy to try this kind of stuff  ;)

Tristan falling! Oh no! (The second time we felt a little bit more comfy to try this kind of stuff ;)

Me and Tristan :)

Me and Tristan :)

Freddy and Didac, so great  guides, funny, friendly, helpful, careful.. everything!

Freddy and Didac, so great guides, funny, friendly, helpful, careful.. everything!

Rappel :(

Rappel :)

After doing everything again, they asked us if we wanted to do and extra rappel about 30 meters down, from where we usually climb up. It’s not in the route but since we had time, why not? :) They had done it a couple of times before, and you end up down below in the middle of the jungle/forest. It was really steep, but it was much easier to do this rappel since it was an even rock and not an uneven muddy mountain under. The hardest part with rappel is to actually have the guts to do it just in the beginning, the leaning out from the normal standing point.

Freddy is doing rappel 30 metres down... and now it's my turn! (this isn't in the regular route but since we only were 2 on the tour we had plenty more of time to do more cool stuff)

Freddy is doing rappel 30 metres down… and now it’s my turn! (this isn’t in the regular route but since we only were 2 on the tour we had plenty more of time to do more cool stuff)

Such a great day, I had a blast, and I felt so safe and comfortable with Freddy and Didac, they were both so much fun. This is really something I recommend – and it’s perfectly safe, they have had engineers there studying the technical viability and supervised the installations. The cables, harnesses, pulleys and helmets have all been certified. The cables and ropes are really strong, you can carry like 700 kilos on one rope (and you have two on you all the time!), and the zipline can carry about 16 tons on the cable.. so there’s nothing to be afraid of.. it’s just an adrenaline kick, some exercise and lot’s of fun!

I went through the agency Altitude which I had booked the world’s most dangerous road with before, so I got a little bit of a discount for 530 bs, but they work with other agencies too. Look at their webpage, http://verticalroutebolivia.com/

Group picture, Tristan, Freddy, Didac and Me in the beautiful surroundings of the Yungas Valley in La Paz, Bolivia

Group picture, Tristan, Freddy, Didac and Me in the beautiful surroundings of the Yungas Valley in La Paz, Bolivia

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The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Day 3 & 4

Day 3.

Lovely pancake in the morning!!!

Lovely pancake in the morning!!! Perfect start of the day :)


Lovely breakfast once again – a sort of moisty pancake filled with apple and chocolate sause… woooooow. Good start of our third day – the longest trekking day!

We all trekked together in a group, starting with 1 hour of uphill trekking where we visited an archaeological site, Pacaymayo, believed to have been an Inca military fortress used to overlook the valley or a place where the running messengers swapped places.

Pacaymayo - maybe an Inca military fortress .. day 3

Pacaymayo – maybe an Inca military fortress .. day 3

On our way to the top..

On our way to the top of this day..

Finally at the highest point of this day..  just have to walk downstairs now.. day 3

Finally at the highest point of this day.. :) A little chilly!

Matilda, Mia and me above the clouds!

Matilda, Mia and me above the clouds!

Walking down the last big hill!

Walking down the last big hill!

Group picture day 3 :)

Group picture day 3 :)

It was a beautiful day where we passed by a few mountain lakes and archeological sites, Sayacmarca and Phuyupatamarca.

We had lunch on the top of a mountain that was surrounded by clouds, so we couldn’t see what was expecting next.. But walking into the other valley we noticed a change in the climate – more humid and also warmer like a jungle.

Phuyupatamarca, meaning "place of the clouds", because most of the year is surround by big and thick clouds (not so much this day though)

Phuyupatamarca, meaning ”place of the clouds”, because most of the year is surround by big and thick clouds (not so much this day though)

Phuyupatamarca on the other side

Phuyupatamarca on the other side

Our guide is telling us about Sayacmarca, meaning "Inaccessible Town", a name that describes the position of the ruins perfectly as they are protected on three sides by a precipice.

Our guide is telling us about Sayacmarca, meaning ”Inaccessible Town”, a name that describes the position of the ruins perfectly as they are protected on three sides by a precipice.

We have reached the urubamba river that passes by Aguas calientes.. Meaning that we are really close to machu picchu now!

We have reached the urubamba river that passes by Aguas calientes.. Meaning that we are really close to machu picchu now!

Having a break, soon reaching our last camping place just a couple of hours from Machu Picchu :)

Having a break, soon reaching our last camping place just a couple of hours from Machu Picchu :)

We reached our last camping place, “Wiñayhuayna High Jungle camp” above a river valley in late noon and had a small nap before dinner. A couple of hours after sunset we heard the last group arrive, it must be hard to trek in the dark! So glad that we are quite fast ;)

We had our last dinner together, and still as good quality as before – and they even baked a CAKE for us for desert!! I really don’t know how they can do that with this portable gas kitchen thing… so impressed. After dinner we had a small celebration with our portiers, the cook and the guide,  they presented themselves with name and age (the youngest was 36 I think and the oldest 58!).. so cute.. one of them even shed a few tears as we said goodbye. We tipped them and said thank you.

All our portiers, the guide and the cook! So sweet!

All our portiers, the guide and the cook! So sweet!

They have really been amazing… I feel so bad that they work so hard for us, they carry so much on their backs, and don’t even have good backpacks. They are not supposed to carry more then 20 kg, but I think some of them carries a lot more! And they are so quick! They always pass us by running on the trek, because we leave before them, they pack up all the camping equipment, then catch us up, reaches the camp long ahead of us to raise the tents and prepare the food for our arrival… And they have so bad shoes too, and bad backpacks. So impressed.

Also I feel bad that we barely talk to them, they are sort of afraid of us and treat us as we were king and queens.. I wonder how much they earn. I don’t think it’s that much.. I hope it’s more then our tipping! In our pre-meeting the woman from Bamba Experience (the agency) told us that the average tipping is 50 soles total per person but it turned out to be around 140 soles.. Every porter got about a total of 80 soles (30USD), the cook a total of160 soles (60 USD) and 50 soles (20 USD) each to the guide..

Then we had an early night – next morning we were going to wake up 2.50!!


Day 4

We woke up and directly packed our bags and left the camp at 3am to get to the checkpoint-gate before the other groups. The gate reach the Sun Gate with a view over Machu Picchu opens at 5.30 and we were there like 3.15 – the first group in line. There are only seats (benches) for the first three groups, the rest have to stand. Our guide is ALWAYS the first there with his group, haha. When the second group arrives he applauses and says “congratulations to the second place!” haha.

Waiting in line (the first ones) for the last check point to reach Machu Picchu

Waiting in line (the first ones) for the last check point to reach Machu Picchu

Morning day 4, walking the last hour in the dark before reaching the sun gate at sunrise..

Morning day 4, walking the last hour in the dark before reaching the sun gate at sunrise..

After a couple of cold waiting hours in the dark, we finally got our passports and passes checked and we started to trek in the dark. About one hour later, after the gringo-killer-steps, we reached Inti-Punku, the sun gate, just when the sun had gotten up, and we gout our first view over the amazing inca city Machu Picchu. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley. Then we had about one more hour before actually reaching Machu Picchu. On our way we passed by a  few other day-trekkers – really fresh with really nice hair and clothes like boots and jeans.. haha.. and all out of breath.. they had only been walking for like 30 minutes, and we have actually been doing it for 4 days… felt quite good actually. Totally worth it.

I mean, the goal was to reach Machu Picchu of course, but I noticed that that itself didn’t matter “that” much anymore– the thing itself was the trek, all the amazing things I’ve experienced along the way.

Our group hiking :) Lucys picture

Our group hiking :) Lucys picture

On the inka trail - reaching Machu Picchu in a couple of minutes!

On the inka trail – reaching Machu Picchu in a couple of minutes!

When we reached Machu Picchu we had to leave our bags in the baggage storage and we also finally had normal bathrooms with a regular toilet instead of a whole in the floor :) Then we entered again and had a guided tour in this enormous and magnificent archeological city. But we were all tired, we had been awake since before 3am and while having the tour we almost fall asleep haha.

Machu Picchu was built around 1450 but abandoned about a century later. Most archeologist belive that it was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti. Also they think that it’s a sacred religious site because it’s built on and around mountains that hold high religious importance in the Inca culture.

What’s important with this site is that it wasn’t found by the Spanish conquistors, so it has remained intact. It was rediscovered at 1911 by an American historian (Hiram Bingham). It is often referred as the “Lost City of the Incas”. It has been reconstructed and restored to give an idea about how it originally looked liked. It was declared an UNESCO world heritage site in 1983 and in 2007 Machu Picchu was voted in a worldwide internet poll to become one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Another classical picture of Machu Picchu

The classical picture of Machu Picchu

Lamas going for a walk in Machu Picchu.

Lamas going for a walk in Machu Picchu.

The house of gards on the top there

The house of gards on the top there


After the guided tour we had a few hours to walk around by ourselves. I picked a big stone with a great view over Machu Picchu and
I sat there meditating for one hour, before it started to get to hot.

I took a few more walks around Machu Picchu. The site is roughly divided into an urban sector and an agricultural sector, as well as the upper town and the lower town. The temples are part of the upper town, the warehouses the lower. There are about 200 buildings on wide pararell terraces.

Meditating with this wonderful view in front of me... breath taking

Meditating with this wonderful view in front of me… breath taking

Sweet lama at Machu Picchu

Sweet lama at Machu Picchu

The residential part of Macchu Picchu

The residential part of Macchu Picchu

Extensive terraces were used for agriculture , and there are stone stairways set in the walls allowed access to the different levels across the site.

Extensive terraces were used for agriculture , and there are stone stairways set in the walls allowed access to the different levels across the site. Also view over the nobel houses.

Let's say I shouted "I'm the queen of the world" when I jumped.

Let’s say I shouted ”I’m the queen of the world” when I jumped.

Around 12.30 I met up with the group at 12 and took the bus down to Aguas Calientes, where we had lunch. While eating it started raining – wow, we have really been lucky with the weather! We waited out the rain and then took the train back to Ollantaytambo, where a bus from the agency where supposed to pick us up, but they didn’t… so we went with another company and weren’t back in Cuzco until around 21.

Great experience!

P.S I used everything in my backpack, so it was worth to bring everything with me!

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Day 1 & 2

So… time to tell you about the Inca Trail!
It’s 4 days of trekking and about 50 kilometres through the andes. Around 70% of the path is hand-built stone about a thousand years ago. It’s the only trek that take you along the original Inca trail, so you litterally walk in the footsteps of the ancient Incas and also enter Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate instead of the regular entrance of the visitors.

To be honest, I thought this was the only way to visit Machu Picchu at first.. but there are plenty of other treks that goes there and you can also do a day-visit to Machu Picchu. This trek is the most expensive of them all, in our group we all paid different fees, something between 500-650 USD. I paid 500, but it didn’t include any portiers that carries my stuff or hiking poles as it did to some of the others in the group.

Ok so..

Day 1
I got picked up 5.30 in the morning, then we picked up the rest of the group in their hostal, and then we went to Ollantaytambo  where we had a 15 soles breakfast haha. After that we were supposed to leave to Piscacucho/Km 82, but we didn’t have enough portiers. We only had 2, and we needed at least 7. Usually there are portiers waiting here in ollantaytambo… but they didn’t this Saturday morning. The guide told us that sometimes they have been out partying and that they don’t show up in the morning… So we stayed there a couple of hours waiting for porters to show up, but they didn’t..
We started to get slightly irritated since we had booked this over 6 months ago, but they couldn’t book porters even a couple of days before?? Then the guide said that we should go to Km 82 and start preparing lunch (the cook was with us : ) and that they had localized some portieres from Cuzco that would go there directly. So… that meant we actually could have slept until 12 instead of 4… but well well.

We had a delicious lunch, we were all really surprised of the quality of the food, we had a soup as first and pasta as a second, with bread and tea and everything.. and we even had our own table and chairs!!! Amazing.

Lunch at Km 82.. look at all the food and pots they are bringing with them! Crazy and heavy!

Preparing the lunch at Km 82.. look at all the food and pots they are bringing! Crazy and heavy! But the food was delicious!

We didn’t start our trek until 14, instead of around 8 in the morning… so we were a little behind. When we got to the first check point, the guards weren’t’ even there, they where having lunch… so we had to wait another 30 minutes before they got there. Haha. But the guide told us we still would reach the camp in time before darkness – and we actually did just in time!  In the info it said it would take around 6 hours to trek this part, but we did it in around 4 hours, but of course we didn’t have  the lunch break or anything.

The first group picture exactly at the starting point of the Inka Trail!

The first group picture exactly at the starting point of the Inka Trail!

We had to cross the river just in the beginning of the Inka Trail.

We had to cross the river just in the beginning of the Inka Trail.

We passed by a few archeological sites along the way and stunning and really beautiful views. Still it was actually really heavy… I started to think like “why the heck am I doing this for?” And this is what they say, ”and easy start”… we had a little uphill and we were all exhausted afterwords… and the second day is supposed to be the hardest day with over a kilometer just uphill.. this was like 200 metres or less.. haha. We asked the guide if it was going to be this stiff too, and he just laughed and said it was going to be a LOT more stiffer.. haha.

I noticed I’m the one that has the biggest and heaviest backpack  (4 girls have their things carried by portiers, but another couple also carries their stuff, still they have really good light equipment plus they share some stuff)… I didn’t know how I was going to be able to make it tomorrow.. the guide even said I was going to have it really hard and asked if I didn’t want to pay a portier to carry my stuff… but nope. :p

First archeological site

First archeological site we passed by

Our glad portiers passed by us :) Behind you see a snowy mountain

Our glad portiers that passed by us :) One is having a backpack but the other only has an aguayo (the blanket)

The whole group first day of the trek!

The whole group first day of the trek!

When we got to the camp (Called Wayllabamba) I was surprised that it was in a village, I thought it was going to be in the middle of nowhere, so did the rest of the group to, but no… it was a camping site with water, toilets and even a small and expensive store… I think 2 L of water was like 9 soles (I had purification tablets with me, best thing!). Once again we had a greaaaat meal, wow, so surprised. Vegetable soup first and then for second we had rice, fried potato, fish and vegetables.. sooo good… I really thought that I was going to eat like powder soups or something.. but not at all – it’s better then in restaurants!

Having our first course at our first camping site :)

Having our first meal at our first camping site :)

After dinner we all went to bed – dead. It was really cold too, I slept with my union suit, fleece jacket and poncho in my sleeping bag.. and we were only at 2980m altitude….

Day 2
We woke up at 5 in the morning to have breakfast at 5.30 (omelett, cereal, porridge, bread, coffe, tea, hot chocolate…mmmm!) and leave the camp at 6 in the morning.

Getting lighter over the campsite

Getting lighter over the campsite


Today is the most challenging day along the trail! There is around 5 hours of vertical hike to reach the Dead Woman’s pass at a altitude of 4,215 meters. In the beginning of the day our guide pointed the Dead Woman’s Pass out for us, and it seemed soooo damn far away. It didn’t feel possible to reach there even in one day… but apparently it is.
And after we had around a 3 km hike down on stone steps before reaching our camp at Pacaymayo at the high of 3660 metres.. This I did with my around 10 kilos backpack…

The guide is showing us what's ahead of us, you see up there in the V of the mountain, there's like a boob and a womans face.. we have to go up there and then down on the other side..

The guide is showing us what’s ahead of us, you see up there in the V of the mountain, a little bit to the right there’s like a boob and a womans face.. that’s where we are going today and then down on the other side..

Some colorful portiers with quite good equipment passed us by

Some colorful portiers with quite good equipment passed us by

Second day on my way up to dead womans pass!

Second day on my way up to dead womans pass!

It was damn hard, but, easier than I thought it was going to be!  Today we didn’t hike together, but in our own pace. And I found a trick: listen to music! When I don’t hear myself being out of breath then I don’t feel tired either. Also, I listened to regueton which has a great rhythm for walking up hill. I felt happy dancing/trekking/singing and I had a really good pace. I really started to enjoy this –the breath taking hills and the breath taking views… to be this sweaty, tired and happy at the same time. . The guide praised me plenty of times for having a good rhythm even if I was having a big backpack too. I felt great! The way back down took around 2-3 hours.. I think it’s heavier to go downstairs that upstairs, not for the lungs bot for the knees..

Found some llamas along the way

Found some llamas along the way

The beautiful Inca Trail

The beautiful Inca Trail

Finally at the top - made it! Really cold up there though

Finally at the top – made it! Really cold up there though



When we arrived we packed up our things in our tents and had yet another great lunch of course. The afternoon was free and we were all so tired that we went to take a nap first… and then it started to rain. So we were kind of stuck in our own tents, I did a few bracelets and then the rain was over and it was time for dinner. Potato-soup, chard-pie, pasta, chicken curry (for me battered colliflowers) and salad… amazing.

Lunch day 2, saffran rice, mush potatoes, some beef thing with carrots and sweet potatoes filled with cheese.. and I had my own vegetable burger things.. loooovely

Lunch day 2, saffran rice, mush potatoes, some beef thing with carrots and sweet potatoes filled with cheese.. and I had my own vegetable burger things.. loooovely

Visiting another family in Coporaque, Colca

So I left Canocota to take the collectivo to Chivay. In Chivay I waited in a cross for 1 hour before a collectivo left for Coporaque, haha.

Two lovely brothers who I shared ride with from Canocota.

Two lovely brothers who I shared ride with from Canocota.

Since I had been there before I could find the house myself from the main plaza, bu talong the way I see a young man running which I recognize, and of course it’s Jorge, the son in the house, he was out looking for me, haha. : ) He had been waiting for me ancious to go out for a walk in the area, so sweet. We went to their house, called Casa Wasi Huerta.

Coporaque was a very important town during the pre inca and inca, it was the capital of Colca. Coporaque district name comes from two words Quechua qhoto (a lot of corn) and rake (place where is dealt), meaning ”place where the corn is handed out”. It’s a quite big town compared to Canocota, I think around 1000 families live here, and they have a store, a restaurant and even a internet café in the center.

Jorge showing the way to San Antonio.

Jorge showing the way to San Antonio.

I took a warm shower at home and then Jorge took me out to the archeological site San Antonio, it’s a 20-30 minutes walk up to the mountains from their house. So funny, his mother Josefina instisted that he should bring a hat with him because of the sun, and he protested ”Nooo.. I look like a grandpa with a hat!” hahaha. He is so funny, 10 years old.

I asked him what he wants to do in the future, and he said that he wants to be an ingeneer in the mines, in Arequipa or in Lima, and bring his family there… to bad, because he could be an excellent guide! Making fun anecdotes and telling stories with a great and interesting voice. Josefina doesn’t want him to though, she wants him to take over the farm. The two sisters are not interested at all and are now living in Arequipa studying. He is the only of the siblings that’s actually interested and love to go to the farm and be with animals.

With Jorge high up in San Antonio

With Jorge high up in the mountains

I'm the king of the world ;) Haha

I’m the king of the world ;) Haha. You see down there to the left, that’s the town of Coporaque

He asked me if I had any animals, or if my siblings had (my brother is the same age as he), and I think they have a bird…. And Jorge has horses, guinea pigs, dogs, cows, sheep etc… totally different way of living haha. He wants even more animals in the future, he really wants a Llama or  Alpaca :)

Anyhow… he took me to the thombs of San Antonio, a pre inka place where there are mommies and skeletons there just open like that in the fot of the cliff. Very interesting!
Then on our way back we got down the other side of the hill and came back another way to the house. He really knows all the places here!

 

Some skeletons in San Antonio

Some skeletons in San Antonio

San Antonio... houses of stone build in the mountain.. that now are thombs..

San Antonio… houses of stone build in the foot of mountain.. where you can find old skeletons

 

Jorge and his dog Body looking out over the valley where they live

Jorge and his dog Body looking out over the valley where they live

In the evening Oswaldo, the father, came home. He had beans with him so we started to peel them (such a process) to do our dinner. I was surprised and impressive that he (and Jorge) actually came up with what we should have for dinner, not Josefina, the women, all though she did cook it, but they helped with the preparing. They are much more modern here, they have a TV and even a DVD-player too! We spent a few hours looking at bull fighting, haha.

The process of peeling beans.

The process of peeling beans. 3 steps.

Dinner with the family Bernal!

Dinner with the family Bernal!

At night I felt quite bad, I don’t know if it was the altitude or something… but I had bad head ache and felt like I was going to throw up if I ate somehting, so I didn’t have anything for dinner, but Josefina prepared me some mate (the) with special herbs that they picked for me. I went to bed early and next day I woke up much better.

I had a really tasty breakfast with Quinoa and then me and Jorge went out on a small excursion through the valley down to the river where there are Umaru thermal baths. Since it was Saturday he didn’t have school and Josefina was happy that I could take care of him : ) I had to say ”be careful!” sometimes, because he loves to run everywhere and have broken a couple of bones in his pasts, haha. But he really does know this valley, we walked through fields, mountains, bushes and came to the river.

Breakfast!

Breakfast!

On our way to the thermal baths

On our way to the thermal baths

Found a few sheep on our way.

Found a few sheep on our way.

In the thermal baths. It was hotter in the water then outside!

In the thermal baths. It was hotter in the water then outside!

View over the lake down there. Totally normal to pass by the neighbours who are out with their donkeys.

View over the river with the thermal baths down there. Totally normal to pass by the neighbours who are out on their way to their farms with their donkeys.

The baths were really nice, warm, natural and of course free ;)  We were there quite early in the morning, like 8-9 or something, so it was empty when we got there. Usually on weekends a lot of people goes there to take a bath so that they are clean on mondays for school.

On our way back we passed by one of their farms where they have all the cows. Josefina was there milking them,  she showed me how to do it – not easy! But fun. It feels really weird. We milked around 20 litres from 3 different cows, took a couple of hours! I wasn’t was fast as Josefina either haha.

The cows were so sweet, and loving haha, one of them kept licking me – I was surprised he had such a rough tongue and so much saliva! Got all wet haha.

Josefina and her cows in their farm

Josefina and some of her cows drinking water

Josefina milking the cow

Josefina milking the cow

Still think it's charming when you see a finger ;)

Haha such a funny picture. :) Still think it’s charming when you see a finger.. haha

Walking with 20L of milk on her back in the aguayo.

Walking with 20L of milk on her back in the aguayo.

On our way back Josefina took the full 20 L dunk on her back in the aguayo (the I blanket I told you about before).  It’s amazing. Yeah, I’ve thought about it, that we Europeans/modern people are damn LAZY! We would never carry something that heavy for such distances, and they do it everyday.

I carried it the half way, and I’m actually surprised how “easy” it was, it really would have been 100000 times harder if I would have carried it in my hand all the way. In the main plaza a bus came to pick the milk up, they pay 90 cents per L, bring it to Lima and packages it for selling in the stores, for like 3-4 soles.

In the center of the town waiting for the milk bus

In the center of the town waiting for the milk bus

Back home I took a quick shower and packed my things, then helped Josefina preparing the lunch. She told me about her family, she is the oldest of 13 siblings!  Her parents are also divorced, which is quite unusual. Her father had a lover – and everybody knew about it and it was shameful for the family, so Josefina put her foot down and said that he either goes and lives with that women or he stays with them, but nothing in between. Good done!
I was in a little bit of a hurry because my bus to Arequipa was leaving at 16, I went to town to take the collectivo from Coporaque around 15 (it only takes 20 minutes to town), but I got slightly stressed because it was almost empty, and it doesn’t leave town until it’s full… haha. But another woman was also in a hurry, so we convinced the driver to leave half empty, and good that, because we picked up like 5 people along the way who had been waiting for the collective for one hour, haha.

Anyhow…. I was sad to leave Coporaque too. I know they have  a lot of different projects and volunteerthings going on there, and I’m really interested in coming back to help the community somehow. Hopefully!

So… If you want to have a  great experience like me – don’t hesitate on contacting Josefina Bernal – let me know and I’ll give you her contacts!

Oh, and this from the first day when I visited them, when I tried out their traditional clothing:

With Josefina and Jorge :) I look tall! Haha

With Josefina and Jorge :) I look tall! Haha

Me in the typical dress from Corporaque - beatiful!

Me in the typical dress from Corporaque – beatiful!