Tag Archives: travel

Lima to Cusco

20140228-090725.jpgAte another breakfast in another airport. Lima this time. Better croissants in Peru than in Argentina. Denise had a yogurt that came with a really good honey—flavorful, rich—that had a bit of a wildflower taste with a hint of molasses. The combination of the sharply tart yogurt with this rich honey was nearly perfect. The waiter said the honey was somewhat local but he didn’t know more.

While eating I tried to spot the Machu Picchu travelers. They seemed to fall into two camps—the retired folks like us and young seekers of enlightenment. The first group had new trekking togs with lots of zippered pockets, earthy-colored backpacks and water bottles from REI. The other group wore tattered tees with profound slogans, worn backpacks, scruffy hair and a searching look. Both will be our fellow travelers for the next week. Fun.

Sea level to 3400 meters in an hour and a half. Hmmmm…

Leaving the airport, we rode (our Pisac hotel sent a car and driver to pick us up) into a two-day general strike. Seems the residents of Cusco are protesting the failure to build a new airport, something about gas service, and a few other demands I didn’t understand. The army and police were out in full force with riot gear, armored cars, mounted police standing around in the area near the airport. We tried driving out directly to Pisac but were turned back since most streets were blocked with rocks and branches. At one barricade, our driver said he wanted to get some tourists out of town, but that did not go over too well with one stout woman. Our driver then turned around, drove back to the airport to try to get out of town in the opposite direction. He got on the main road, but it was the main road going in the opposite direction from Pisac. He knew the town—he’d see a road block and take a few back streets to avoid it. All went well until we got near the edge of town and encountered what seemed like the main barrier in and out. Here protesters were sitting on the rocks and a downed power pole, so getting around was impossible.

He turned around to try going up a narrow gravel road to bypass this barricade, asked us to walk to lighten the load, but could not make it. Backtrack again to return to the barricade to wait out the protest which should end at 4pm, a three-hour wait. But, someone moved the power pole blocking the road. so about a dozen cars sped past before they could move it back. Free.

Sorry, but no pics with this blog. The idea of an old foreigner photographing the locals blocking the road did not seem wise. Nor did trying to make pics of the army troops and the police. I’m taller than almost every Peruvian, but the army guys were far bigger than me.

The landscape, once we cleared the strike, is spectacular. Developed from the same forces that created the Antarctica peninsula, but taller, steeper and green, not white. Tomorrow I’ll start working.

 

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Flying across the Andes

Flying over the western region of Argentina, there seems to be nothing below. The terrain at first glance is a rust brown but is actually colorful due to the variations in color from rust to sienna to ochre brown. I did not see any roads, but I did see what looked like a small town. Buenos Aires to the foothills of the Andes was cloud-covered, so I saw nothing.

Once we passed into Chilean territory, I noticed an occasional absolutely straight line running across the flats and hills. Then more lines, then what I at first took to be iced-over lakes which did not make sense since there was no sign of snow. One of these lakes had what looked like a salt works—a series of blue rectangles like what you’d see in coastal France or the Baja. My guess is that they are in fact evaporation flats for the salts and minerals that wash down from the surrounding hills. We passed over at least a dozen of these flats.

More straight lines, including one set going east and west crossed by another set going north and south. Perfectly straight, evenly spaced, and they continued that way as they moved off the salt flats and up into the foothills. Weird. There was also a slightly snaking, wider black line running to the ocean that I took to be a railroad, carrying out the minerals. All this seemed centered around the Chilean city, Calama, which is a huge mining area that at one time had the world’s largest open-pit copper mine.

As we descended to the Pacific, more green appeared along with more roads, towns and civilization.

No pics. I was on an Airbus this time, and the windows are way too small and badly placed for making pics. Hey! There’s always Google Maps. Check it out.

Given the choice, I’d fly Airbus any day over a Boeing plane. Quieter, smoother, fast-braking, smooth landing, just feels better. But on the leg from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, we boarded a brand new, just-out-of-the-box Boeing 737. Not a mark or blemish anywhere, with a new vinyl smell. I asked one of the cabin crew if we were the first passengers and she said, “well, sort of,” whatever that meant.

 

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