2019 Adventure – Arctic Ocean or Bust

Well this is a little late! Found out I didn’t “publish” this back in 2019!

Now that we are planning, and about to embark on yet another adventure I thought I would post it before it gets totally lost out there in Cyber space!

Heading for a great Canadian trip to the Arctic Ocean with our good friends and travel companions, the Wilsons! We actually bought the citation camper from them, and anxious to see how their new digs work! First part of the journey will take us from Chetwynd to Terrace to visit with friends and relatives. Then from Terrace to Prince Rupert where we will catch the Alaska ferry to Haines Alaska, head north and go across the Top of the World Highway to Dawson City, and then up the Dempster to Tuktoyuktuck. Couldn’t have asked for better weather or better companions for the trip! Once in a lifetime, as was the swim at midnight in the arctic Ocean!

This trip was approximately 5000 km, which includes the return trip to Dawson City from the Dempster Junction as we were not able to get fuel there! It was approximately 620 km on the ferry, which was such a relaxing way to travel, and see so much of the coast, even in the clouds and rain it was spectacular.

I hope you enjoy the photo gallery I put together of the trip. It really was a trip of a lifetime, and I don’t think there are too many other places in the world where the views are as spectacular as these were.

Stay Tuned |For our next adventure beginning February 16th, 2022………

Leaving Galapogas for Quito, and then home.

Our last dinner on the boat was Turkey, with all the fixings!  Then clear skies called us up for another  night of star gazing!  We didn’t linger too long, as we all had a date with a dingy at 5:30 a.m. to go for a walk on  Lobos island.  Once we got the sea lions off the steps, we were able to go ashore, and were welcomed by hundreds more sea lions, blue footed boobies, marine iguanas and finally, the long sought after male frigates, with their pouches puffed up to attract the females to their nests! (Did you see the photos in the previous blog?)  Then on to our last island and port,  San Cristobel, which is where we would all go our separate ways.


Some a little quicker than others. In fact the couple from Idaho left first as they had to catch another boat which was leaving right away for another island…down to 9.  The rest of us went to  the pier on the dingy, and then onto the interpretive centre, which explains the natural processes that have made the Galápagos such a unique place.  We had time for a walk on the beach and of course a cold one before jumping on a bus, one last time to head to the airport. Mama Paparazzi and her daughter Michelle boarded a different aircraft, as they were heading to Lima. Now down to 7 for the flight to Guayaquil and Quito.  Jason, Chloe, and Susan all departed in Guayaquil for connecting flights on to London, and Turks Caicos!  Down to four.  We said our goodbyes to Brian and Janet at the Quito airport, with the hopes to have dinner the next night with them.  Danny met us at the airport in the rain which again, I thought was pretty refreshing. Danny and the driver dropped us at La Ronda Boutique hotel  in Old Quito. La Ronda Street It is a beautiful street in the Historic Center of the city and is said to be one of the oldest streets in Quito which has been beautifully restored.  It sits close to the base of the famous “Panecillo” hill which is crowned with a winged virgin statue.

Danny was not going to be our tour guide the next day, but told us “someone” would be there at 9 a.m. to get us.  Wow a sleep in morning!   Andreas was there at 9 a.m. sharp, and we started out on our 1/2 day city tour.   The elevation of Quito is 9350 feet above sea level. The city has been built on a long plateau lying on the east side of the Pichincha volcano. In fact, the city is surrounded by volcanos! The latest eruption was recorded on October 5, 1999, with a few puffs of smoke and a large amount of ash were deposited on the city, nothing too serious.  They expect “something” to happen again soon!   One had to get up in the morning to see the tops of most of the mountains, we chose to sleep in, so clouds shrouded the mountains tops most mornings we left the hotel. We went into several churches and cathedrals, which photos were not allowed, but I have to say, I have NEVER seen anything so beautiful as these buildings!  There are photos on the internet, maybe taken by people a little more gutsy than I, but I have to say, we were in absolute awe in every  church and cathedral we went into. Worth looking up on the internet….so beautiful

Church of Santo Domingo – Church of La Compañía ( began construction in 1605; it took 160 years to be built). – The Metropolitan Cathedral (began its construction in 1562,  The church building was completed in 1806 – Church of San Francisco – Church of El Sagrario.  All worthy of “goggling” but of course, standing in them is the way to go!

Our tour with Andreas ended around 2 pm, and he left us to explore on our own. We wondered around the busy streets of the old town.  Although most “doors” are closed during the day, and you can only imagine about the  wonders behind them. La Ronda Street  comes alive in the evening, and all the doors open.  Mostly restaurants and bars!  Pretty awesome atmosphere.

We had heard how they “move” large items up and down these streets, as trucks, forklifts etc. just are not manageable on the narrow twisting pedestrian streets.  We didn’t think we were going to see ourselves, but then…….

img_3605He continued into the store, and down a flight of stairs!

Our friends from the “boat”  Brian and Janet came down that night for dinner.  They spent some time trying to get into our hotel, as there appears there is no public access, however, they did get the attention of a waiter in the restaurant, who then opened the big old doors for them!  The doors are ALWAYS closed, so you must ring a buzzer to get access!

Through the doors, you are greeted by a beautiful court yard and furnishings from what appears to be from the days it was built! (it was a mansion in its day).Just spectacular.

The café that was suggested to us was full, and so getting thirsty, dove into a place for a beer and to think about our options.  We went into several other places before settling in at an upstairs restaurant. Around 10pm we were all falling asleep, still lagging from our days on the boat!  So we parted once again, and hope to keep in touch through modern technology!

We headed out to the Octavia Market with Andreas the next morning.  It is a 2 hr drive, and I was not feeling good winding in and out, and up and down.  At one point along the way we stopped, and I just stayed in the car while Gary and Andreas went out to look at the green houses in the valley.  There is over 10 thousand acres of greenhouses in which they grown roses, our next stop was at the equator.

There are several different areas in and around Quito that they have displays, and interpretation centres for the Equator, however, we were assured this is (according to GPS) the real deal!  We continued on to the Market, which is a Market.  We wondered around on our own, and then were left to wonder on the “leather” street as well.  We elected to have lunch for our remaining time there as we are not really shoppers anyways.  Afterwards we were taken up more winding roads to crater lake.  Pretty spectacular lake, with islands in the middle.  Obviously, a volcano!  On the trip back to Quito Andreas decides to make a quick pit stop at a large building along the road!  He explains that it is a storage area for “roses”.  Which was kind of  obvious with the truck load of them outside the building!

I got a long stem rose, and when I say long stem, it was about 3 feet!

Once back into the city, we got ourselves organized for the next day, setting out some cloths to be washed.  Went for dinner, and conversation  with other guests in the lobby, a couple “deserts”  and made for another early night.  We had the next day at our leisure, and made a plan to ride the Quito Teleferico, which   takes you up the side of Pichincha Volcano.   This is the second highest aerial lifts in the world, and it has the best views of Quito.  The clouds were rolling in very quickly as we ascended the mountain, and we were afraid that we wouldn’t see anything.  It takes about 10 minutes to go from the base, 2,900 meters to 4,100 meters at the top.  By the time we got to the top, clouds were still moving quickly, and we were treated to a spectacular view of not only city, but of mountains (volcanoes) that surround it!

After going back down, we got the bus to drop us near the Basilica. The Basilica del Voto Nacional is the most important neo-Gothic architecture in Ecuador and one of the most representative of the American continent. It was once the largest in the New World.

We climbed to the top, above the clocks, and then stopped on our way down, just below the clock, for lunch!

On July 10, 1892, the first stone was placed, and as of May 2013, it remains technically “unfinished.” Local legend says that when the Basílica is completed, the end of the world will come.  Lot of work yet to do, I don’t think I’ll worry about the legend!


This “wing” is finished for the most part, but the rest is still very much under construction.

Once again, we made it an early night, as we had a 3:00 a.m. wake up call to get to the airport.  For some reason our driver was a little late, explaining he had been stopped by the police, lots of drunk drivers out that time of the morning, and as we travelled though the streets, we saw many still partying from the night before. He wasn’t so late that he couldn’t take us on a bit of a tour through more winding, rough cobblestone streets pointing out different land marks. Of course it was still dark, so we didn’t really see a lot, and just wanted to get to the airport.  I think he was working his way up to being a tour guide, but so far, only acquired status for transporting tourists to and from their destinations!   Once at the airport, checked through and ready to go we had a bite to eat and waited for our departure.


Mariscal Sucre Internatinal Airport; finally the volcanoes made an appearance.

And off we go to Canada….through Miami, through Dallas, and on to Vancouver where Claudia and Fisher met us at the airport. Oh, and imagine this, it was raining!   I think it was a 22 hour day, with a few cat naps on the planes!  Had a wonderful visit with Fisher and Claudia the next day, and Gary took us out for lunch, as it was Mothers day! We went for a walk on the boardwalk, and then Claudia and Fisher went for a ride on the sky train, and Gary and I sat in a pub, and watched hockey (well he watched hockey, I watched people).  When they got back, we all walked back to the Condo, and again, had a relatively early night, as school, work, and another day of travel for us. Back to the airport in the morning, to catch yet another plane to Grande Prairie, via Calgary and Edmonton!  We definitely had our share of flights, I believe 17 in all, and am happy to say, our luggage arrived everywhere it was supposed, when it was supposed to.  Pretty amazing I think! Kendal met us at the airport, and after a Costco run and a few other errands we were off to the Farm to see Ashley and Steve, and pick up my Emma!  She wasn’t too sure when we pulled in, but soon was whining and pretty happy to see us, although I think she would have been just as happy to stay on the farm with all the animals, and other dogs to keep her company.

And so ends the Adventures of Peru and Ecuador.  Both spectacular countries and so much more than what I had initially thought they would be.  There were very few bumps along the way, like crashing off the bus in Paracus, to my first nose bleed on the flight to Lima.  I would highly recommend this type of tour when travelling to foreign countries, It was first class all the way, from tour guides to hotels, to transportation. We were so lucky with the weather everywhere, we couldn’t have asked for anything more!  There is so much more to see in both Ecuador and Peru, but for now we have some pretty great memories with pretty great friends

Will leave you with some random photos of Quito and surrounding area:


Until our next “adventure” begins….Keep you and yours Happy and Healthy!


Galapagos Islands, Ecuador



Arriving in Quito was the first sign of clouds, and a little rain since we left Canada!Danny, met us at the Quito airport and whisked us outdoors into the rain, and the waiting van.  The trip into town was the same as in as in Lima – weaving in and out jostling for position, and ALWAYS  the need of horns.  I swear they must have to change vehicle horns like we change our oil, every 5000 km!  He dropped us at the Dann Carlton hotel with the promise to be back at  5:50a.m. As promised we headed for the airport at 10 to 6 in the morning.  Traffic was much less congested at that hour, and only a few horns were heard throughout the 40 minute ride.  Once at the airport, a little Ecuadorian came and drug me through the crowds with our suit cases, while Gary stayed with Danny to pay the park (Galapagos) fees. This little guy had us weaving in and out of people, and right up to the VIP section for boarding passes, with only two other people ahead of me, I went through very quickly, beating the line up of at least 100 people.  I waited for Gary on the other side, and soon Gary came through “security” where they didn’t even check his carry on.   Then with a “SafeTrip” said, The little guy was running again to find more people to herd through the airport!  The flight to Galápagos Islands was just over 2.5 hrs. with a quick stop in  Guayaquil, Ecuador.  Next landing was Baltra Island, Galapagos!   Once off the plane, we met Hanzel, who was our guide for the duration on the Islands.  We first traveled by bus for about 15 minutes, and after crossing a channel in a small boat we boarded another bus on Santa Cruz which took us to the other side of the island where our “Boat”,  Galapagos Grand Odyssey, was waiting at Puerto Ayora. Before boarding, , we had a tour of the Charles Darwin Research Centre. Scientific research and monitoring projects are conducted at the centre in conjunction and cooperation with the Galapagos National Park Service . We spent some time with the guide, and then were left on our own to explore the centre ourselves.  It was a nice walk around the centre, and the tortoise nursery was pretty interesting, a lot of work has gone in to preserving the tortoise population on the islands (we never did see any tortoises in the wild).  Then off for a cerveza in a cute little restaurant next to the pier, watching sea lions as they sun themselves on the piers in the sun.  What a beautiful boat. We were on the top floor, with a king bed, which after speaking to those that went before us, was a pleasant surprise! The boat has 8 cabins, but there were only 11 passengers, so a smaller number, and a very nice mix of age, and nationalities.  Mama “paparazzi” (so named as she ALWAYS had a camera, video and still, in her hand)  was from Switzerland, and her daughter Michelle from Germany. Susan was by herself, from London, and an Australian couple which have been in living in Moscow for some time now, and England for 13 years before that. The youngest couple on the boat, Jason and Chloe were from Hong Kong, and on their honeymoon. (Jason was our underwater photographer, and shared his spectacular photos with us  all)  And one couple from Idaho, USA.  Every day was the same yet so different, and we all lost track of days.  So not sure of the order of all the events, but I know we did it all!

Meals on the boat were fabulous,  always with a choice of two lunch entrees, Fish was always on the menu. We left the port that night, having dinner at 7:00 pm  which was followed by an orientation for the next day.  We had an orientation at 6:30 PM every night to go over the next day itinerary, and dinner followed.  The first night was a little rough, but I made it through without having any gravol!  Was all fine and dandy when we docked at Isabella Island the next morning for a walk on the volcanic rock, and views of White tip Sharks swimming around in a canal. As they are night eaters, they do a lot of laying around at the bottom of the ocean during the day, however, it was shallow, and VERY clear waters, it was pretty impressive, and glad I was on the ground.

We were not allowed to go snorkeling that morning as the Navy had denied it,  something about sea cucumbers, so instead we went in to another “farm” where they raise tortoises.  They showed different stages of the tortoise growth by bringing out an egg, and different developmental stages of the tortoises in bottles, then brought a live “baby” for us all to see.  We of course saw some “Tortoise Love”  as well, so do not feel left out from the views our Travel Partners had!  🙂

In the afternoon we were back on the boat, and heading to the area of the Sierra Negra Volcano,  located at the South eastern end of Isabela Island with an altitude of 1124 m.   It is one of the most active of the Galapagos volcanoes with the last eruption in October 2005. We did visit  Punta Moreno as well. We walked over jagged black lava rock which had created craters and crystal blue tide pools.  We saw flamingos and different species of ducks in the pools, and never were far away from the sound of the ocean waves, and the sea lion barks!   Another spot we visited was  Elizabeth Bay which is located on the east coast of Isabela Island. Penguins and blue-footed boobies were everywhere.  There were literally thousands of different types of shore birds, of which we have pictures of most!  However, the Oyster Catchers had to be one of my favorites with their bright red eyes and beaks.

We did some snorkeling here too  and I have to admit, I knew it wasn’t the warm water season, but it did take my breath away to start!  The Incredibly clear waters were perfect for watching fish, and although we were told we “may” see turtles, I really didn’t expect to see them so close!  At one point, having my head up, and adjusting my mask, I was totally shocked to put my face back in the water to have not one, but TWO Giant sea turtles swimming under me!  I panicked, took in a mouth full of water, coughed and sputtered as I tried to swim away and not hit them with my arms, or legs!!! Incredible!  But then I saw the sharks.  Yes, they were white tips, and there are no reports that they actually attack people, but the way I look at it, someone was going to be the first, it wasn’t going to be me. I had enough of snorkeling that day, and climbed aboard the dingy!

The next snorkel day, I was not feeling up to it, and stayed on the boat and washed some cloths, and hung out on the deck.  Unfortunately, I missed the “sea Lions”.  Although, I was still shaking over the tortoises, probably just as well I didn’t have a bunch of seals swimming in close proximity to me!  Gary really enjoyed it, and everyone told me what a wonderful experience I missed out on.  Of course every stop to shore we had to shoe the Sea Lions so we could get to shore, so its not like I didn’t experience them at all!  Amazing to watch them as waddle their way up rocks, and “jump” into boats and off cliffs!
I did go snorkeling with the crew the next day, and it was a great experience as well.  There was flashes of colorful fish everywhere!  There were some appearances from Sea Turtles, but this time the water was deep enough, I could keep MY distance, although they do not really seem to care we were there.  When we swam around a large rock that day, Gary started pointing wildly, and there on the bottom were four White tip sharks, sleeping, and one swimming around lazily.  Again, they could care less that we were there, and we watched them for several minutes before moving on to explore.
One night after our briefing and dinner we ALL went up onto the deck and did some star gazing!  Incredible.  I know its “illegal” and not safe to operate a vessel with no lights, but the only light we had was the glow from the stars!  I didn’t realize how spectacular the milky ways is, three times brighter than I’ve ever seen in my life! And as this was our last night on the boat, and I had not been able to view it yet, it was the last chance I would get to see the Southern Cross! Just so happen our Australian friend Brian was there to point  it out to me!  Not only that, but he and Jason had apps for their phones, and when pointed at the sky would show you the star, constellation, planet, or satellite names!  Pretty cool.
Did I mention the marine iguanas?
This is Jason Posing with some iguanas
Oh My God, what peculiar creatures they are!  But so incredible how they have evolved to live here.  There camouflage is so good, you sometimes do not see them until there is movement. Although you can generally smell them long before you arrive at a large colony of them.   They eat kelp, and dive to the depths of 40 feet to retrieve it.  They have adapted to the ocean by having sacks inside  that collect the salt water, and then once they are on land again, they spend the afternoon spitting the salt water out.   They let crabs, which there is an over abundance of, and lizards crawl on them to eat dead skin (they shed like a snake does) and any flies, tics, etc.
Nature does work in mysterious, and beautiful ways!
We did many hikes on the islands, and  lava flows, all very recent in the scheme of things, took on such wonderful shapes and styles as it solidified. Was so interesting seeing the vegetation that grows on such hard, black rock and sands, which you don’t see anywhere else.  We did a hike up to Dawin Lake one afternoon, spectacular views from the top, and photographs of several species of finches were easy to get.

Frigates were everywhere, but one particular island, Lobos the males were clearly in the mating mood, displaying their beautiful red sacks to attract a female.

We truly feel lucky to have had this experience, and would someday like to go back, as there is so much more to see, and experience. Six days was just not enough to see all the islands, and everything these islands offer.  A few more random photos to share…

Next stop, Quito Ecuador.  Last stop before returning to Canada.

Adventures in Lima Peru

Once settled in our hotel in Mira floras we made plans to meet with Agustin in our lobby the next morning at 9 a.m. The four of us headed down to the cliffs of Mira floras and were rewarded with a beautiful, yet foggy sunset!  We ended the evening with some snacks at a sidewalk cafe, with a few cervasas each. Yet  another early night, in anticipation of the next day being a busy one!Agustin. Did not disappoint. He was there when we came down stairs and we set off to meet Silvia and Freisa at  San Antonio.  Not sure what we ate, but was very good, Gary and I shared  to each get a taste of  traditional Peruvian food.

As our travel partners, Derek and Maureen opted for a relaxing day and did not join us, we took one car back to Agustin & Silvia’s and continued down to the main square.  Did I mention that Peruvians are “loco”drivers?  What a wonderful experience to have such a personal tour!
Nothing was left out.   Lima,  was founded by Francisco Pizarro – January 18 1535  and given the name “City of the Kings”.   My bucket list was to see the  Monastery of San Francisco,  and the catacombs. More than a little disappointed photos were not aloud, but able to purchase post cards.
The church and monastery were consecrated in 1673 and completed in 1774.
 Lima’s first cemetery were the catacombs which lie under the monastery. There are some secret passageways that are rumoured to connect the cathedral and the Tribunal of the Inquisition. They used the catacombs until 1808, then began using a cemetery  out side of Lima. The catacombs were not discovered until 1943, and approximately 70,000 burials are said to lie there. All the hallways have very low ceilings, and narrow walkways along the  rectangular and circular holes where bones are piled on top of one another in symmetrical designs. Oh to have a few hours to explore by myself – well maybe SOMEONE  with me, cause it was a little creepy!  What amazing history!
The Government Palace is the Residence of the President of Peru. The initial structure was built by Francisco Pizarro as the Governor. The location of the plaza previously was home to the San Juan de Dios hospital which was torn down in 1850 and replaced by a railway station, which in turn was torn down between 1911 and 1918. Lots of security, but really friendly!
 The Plaza San Martín was inaugurated on July 27, 1921 in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the independence of Peru.  The streets  were made from granite while benches and hand rails were made of marble.  There were four water fountains, bronze streetlamps, and beautiful gardens. The design for the monument was chosen in an contest in which the design shows San Martin during his trek across the Andes.
. Next on the agenda was lunch!  We traveled to   José Antonio Restaurant where we were treated to a fabulous Peruvian meal.  We left the ordering up to Agustin, and as I suspected, he did order ceviche, which surprisingly was pretty good! My main course was aji  de Gallina, a chicken dish that was spectacular!  Gus had  Lomo Saltado which was just as tasty!  Of course, we would never have ordered ourselves as we had no idea what we would have gotten!   Tour guide extraordinaire came through for us yet again. 🙂
After lunch we were off to Freisa’s house.  What a wonderful home and yard.  She gave us a tour, and showed us some art work that she had been working on. She gave me some Peruvian music CD’s that will work wonderful for a slide show that is sure to follow this tour!   Then off we went to pick up Agustin and Inez from school, and then back to Silvia & Augustin’s for a short break in the action.  Or so I thought!  Actually, we had two different “shots” of Pisco, straight up, then he explained how to tell if the Pisco you purchase is good or bad!  I believe I will pick some up at duty free!   Soon we were off again to Mirafloras to go paragliding I guess it wasn’t  WE as I was the only  one that was going to “fly. We got to the point where age, and weight was asked, and then was advised the wind was in the wrong direction, so they were not taking any more passengers! Huge disappointment, but of course you dont push the issue with safety.   So we stroll along the  park and watched as the last sails flew lower into the sunset, and Agustin and Inez playing and running ahead, as they had so much more energy than we had.
THEN in the traditional Peruvian way, Agustin thinks we should eat yet again.  Although it was dinner time both Gary and decide they should go and eat, and we will go back to the hotel…..but not before a walk about the beautiful mall that is built into the cliffs of Mirafloras!
They took us back to our hotel, with the promise to pick is up the next morning . Derek and Maureen, had just returned to the hotel as well so we shared our daily stories over a few cervazas.  (Remember, don’t drink the water!)

The next morning our Tour guide extraordinaire was there right in time,  but brought care packages for the Canadian touristos!  Two vehicles, so girls in one, guys in the other and off we go  into the country – with a brief stop to have a huge nail pulled from a tire, and the spare put on. We are headed out to   San Bartolome where Agustin’s parents reside.  As the huge wooden doors opened, we drive  through into their beautiful landscaped court yard. So welcoming, and so nice to share with us.

We sit for only a minute, and have a very FRIO  cervaza before Agustin, itching to get ” moving” again. He loads the four of us into the car and off we go for yet another adventure.  (Silvia stays behind to have a sleep as she was up very late – I believe she knew what was ahead!)   We drove a little ways south to a village  where the president gave us a warm welcome Then off to buy some fruit and water, and our hike began!  I apologize to Gary, Maureen & Derek for teasing Agustin for all the photos he has posted on FB of him sitting and resting during his hikes, because it was a steep, in very hot weather, and he proved he did not have to rest at all!  We only did a short hike, compared to where this trail goes, but glad we did not continue as Agustin explains when he did the longer hike previously they set up camp in the pouring  rain and dark, and woke in the morning to discover they had camped in a cemetery!   On reaching the top, once again, we were rewarded with a spectacular view!  Which made one temporarily forget the difficult  ascent.  The hillsides were covered in cactus, which the locals use for their main income. The cactus are covered in a white powdery substance which the locals scape off, and it is used in cosmetics, such as lipsticks!  so very impressive the altitude, the slopes, and heat at which these people work. Once again what goes up, must come down! We descend about a quarter of the way on the same trail, and then changed the route to follow a gully down to the creek bed. Glad for clear skies, and no flash floods!


Once back in the village we thanked the President for sharing their beautiful landscape and head back to “town” where we met up with Silvia and Agustin’s parents at  the Country Club El Bosque, of which his parents are members. What a wonderful place’ pools, duck/fish ponds, playgrounds, bocce courts wonderful little restaurants which make the best chicken lunches in all of Peru I’m sure!

After our lunch we dropped Agustin’s parents at home, girls in one car, boys in the other, and back to the city we went!  Did I say that Lima drivers are ” loco”?

It was such a wonderful experience for us all, and one I don’t imagine I’ll forget. But NEXT TIME parasailing will be 1st on the list!   To bed early, as another early morning departure to the airport, and we are off to Quito Ecuador for a night, and then on to the Galapogas Islands!
A departure gift from Agustin… So Great! 🙂

Paracus, Nasca lines and Ballesteros Islands.

As usual Marcelo was prompt with our transfer from hotel to bus depot.  It was an easy transfer as we were told we only needed to take essential items, and leave the rest at the hotel, which we would be returning to after our one night stay in Paracus.  Of course, sometimes one does not always think so clearly early in the morning, some essential items were left behind, but hey….only one night.
So we board our “regular” bus for Paracus, and after everyone’s, pictures are taken, we set off in our upper level seats, which once the fog cleared gave us wonderful views of the ocean as we travel south of Lima on the Pan American  Highway.  Arriving at the bus depot in Paracus which was a quaint little place with steps where there should Not be steps.  Guess who misses the last step and almost bowls over the camera which is video taping the passenger exit?  Ha….just a scaped up knee….nothing too serious, however arriving at the Doubletree Paracus hotel  the door men continued to remind me “steps” coming every time we entered and exited the hotel. News travels quickly here too!
After we check in we  have a short time to get orientated before the bus arrives to take us to the airport for our flight over the Nazca Lines.  Was a great way to view the lines, and we all got window seats!  With all the turning, and diving, I can not believe I didn’t have to use the little white bags provided! Got wonderful photos of all the lines.  Still so many unanswered questions, will be doing research after arriving home, so incredible.  Back  to our hotel where we were able to view the fantastic sport of kite surfing. With the beautiful setting sun as a background the kites looked spectacular!

The next morning we had our breakfast, and was transferred to the pier to board a boat to Ballesteros Islands.  I was a little disappointed when, after an hour wait on the pier we were told it was too foggy, and the  Navy tour cancelled the tour.  We elected to not go on the replacement tour, a drive through the desert, but to just wait the 5 hrs at the fabulous hotel until we would catch our bus back to Lima.
Of course, we didn’t consider down time when we packed our overnight bag, so didn’t bring swim suits, so we had our complimentary pisco sour by the pool, and headed up to the room.  We no sooner got there and the phone rang, and the tour was back on!  I would have been so sorry to have missed the tour!  The fog was still pretty bad, but we were able to get a good look at the CANDELABRA.   Once again, no concrete explanation for the etching in the sand, but the middle prong does point in the direction of the Nasca lines.  Possibly some sort of a directional beacon used by sailers in finding the lines.
Traveling a short distance further we were greeted by millions of birds, and i am Not exaggerating! We were all warned to wear hats, and rain coats as these birds are not very polite when it comes to tourists.  As far as I know our boat was spared any bombings from above.  I think the fog made the islands even that much more spectacular, with the sun making brief appearances throughout the trip. We went through several caves, seeing the birds that prefer to nest underneath the rocks, as well as seal ions, and a few penguins sitting on rocks and swimming!  Really a bird lovers paradise.

Once back at the pier,we head back to our hotel, and another transfer to the bus back to Lima, for two nights at the Doubletree Mira Floras, and finally a chance to visit with “family” in Lima

Puno and Lake Titicaca




Arriving in Puno at in the dark  was a little disappointing but it doesn’t mean it’s late, it just means it gets dark earlier!   We were picked up at the train station and whisked off to our beautiful Libetator hotel, which sits on an island across the bay from Puno, with floor to ceiling windows, and beautiful views of Lake Titicaca, and Puno.

The next morning, bright and early again, we awoke to one of the most spectacular sun rise. We think it was spectacular, but you be the judge!
Soon after, we were heading down stairs to catch our transportation to the Pier for our adventure on Lake Titicaca!   First stop, the floating islands of Uros.   We stop on one families island and are given a brief history of the people, and how they came to live on the islands.  The  inhabitants are not scared of modern technology: some boats have motors, and several years ago the government “donated”solar panels for lights, to help prevent “house”  fires from candles,  fires etc.   Of course, being invited to fire some of the houses, it was not hard to miss the occasional TV propped up on a reed bundle!  Yes, a few satellite dishes were also found.   Before leaving that family’s island, the mother, Lucy, was able to convinced me to make a purchase.  I am not as good At bartering as our travel  mate Maureen, but still think I got  a great  deal!
Early schooling is done on several islands,  but high school students, and higher travel to Puno each day.  Back on our boat, and continue on down this huge lake, which we all kept referring to as an ocean, with the  length of 190 km (118 mi) And the Max. width 80 km (50 mi).  Also, pretty deep in spots, depth 281 m (922 ft) so you can well Imagine “cold”.
Arriving at Tequile island had us climbing at altitude once again. The highest point of the island is 4050 masl   with the main village at  3950 masl . You  just can not be In a rush at this altitude, it was so hard to go slow as you know there was always something special just around the next corner, but soon your lungs reminded you that you were climbing at altitude!
About 2,200 people live on the island.  The inhabitants, known as Taquileños, are southern Quechua speakers,  which is such a beautiful language, although some understand basic Spanish    ( like me…very basic).    Once again the weather was spectacular!  So hot, so clear, we were happy for any breeze we came across.  Reaching the top we had spectacular views of the lake, and a fabulous view of the  snow capped mountains of Bolivia!
It was explained this view is generally obscured with clouds, but Not today! I can not believe our luck with weather, and clear skies!
Once we got to the village we sat down at a long picnic table and given our choice of trout, or an omelette for lunch.  All four of us opted for the trout, with a quinoa soup for a starter.

This grain was originated in the Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru.  We were not disappointed!  while we waited for our food to be prepared, some history was explained to us of the traditional dress, and crafts that are made on the island.  the residence of the island are known for their fine hand-woven textiles and clothing, which are regarded among the highest-quality handicrafts in Peru. Knitting is exclusively performed by males, starting at age eight.
The women exclusively make yarn and weave.  I thought it was interesting that you could tell if a man was married just by looking at the hat he wears, and how many years he has been married by the number of pouches (used to carry cocoa leaves) he wears during celebrations, as his wife will generally make him one each year.  The teachers come from Puno to teach at the schools on Monday and then go home on Fridays. The children,  like everywhere else we’ve been,  wear school uniforms and learn both Spanish and English.  With the island tour closing we climb to the top of the hill where the markets are, and then make a our way to our boat, which has now moved to a different dock, which provides us with another route down, with as you could guess, more spectacular views.  Unfortunately there was some cause for concern as our boats was listing quite badly to starboard side, and the bilge pump didn’t quit all the way back.  At one point, people sitting on the starboard side of the boat were asked to move to the port side so the boat would travel better. With  daylight fading quickly on our return to the hotel, Gus  and I head out for a stroll  along the shore line of the hotel.  What a beautiful evening, with song birds,crickets, frogs, and water fowl being extremely audible, and no traffic sounds heard throughout the walk.  The moon was NOT outdone by the sun as it made its appearance over the horizon!
The next morning the driver and escort were once again prompt, and extremely attentive and we made the one hour drive to the airport in the city of Juliaca and off we go to Lima for a one night stay. Marcelo, our driver in Lima, was at the airport once again to transfer us to our hotel in Mirafloras.  We arrived relatively early, so hiked down to the cliffs, where as usual we were awarded with a spectacular sunset.  On the way back  we stopped at a sidewalk cafe for some food, and of course, a few cervezas!  We were told NOT to drink the water anywhere in Peru, so cervaza was a great alternative.
 The adventure continues in Paracus and the Nasca lines

Our second day at Machu Picchu was better

Our second day at Machu Picchu was better than the first day, if that is possible.  We even had a bit of a sleep in! We headed up the mountain on the narrow one way, not radio controlled road.  Drivers seem to know  what they are doing, Although sometimes We got to the top to discover how lucky we were to have two days of blue sky!   This morning there were no clouds, anywhere and we were able to see the tops of all the mountains.  The plan for the day was to climb Wayna   Picchu (alt. 2693 M)    We were at the gate early for our 10a.m. departure, and started our trek at ten to ten.  I was going regardless of what my travel partners decided, but so happy the three of them joined me, it was awesome to share such a view with Gary and such good friends, yet one more site that really words can not describe.  Not recommended for anyone out of shape, and the cave we navigated thru to get to the very top was a pretty tight squeeze, with a wood ladder to get on top of the boulder, which is the highest point.  Of course going up is one thing, but what goes up, must come down – and coming down you realize just how steep the stairs and trails are.  Not great for those scared of heights,  however worth working on that phobia to see the views.

With our successful trek up and down the mountain under our belts we got on the bus and headed back down to the town, arriving in time for a few cerveza before boarding the train  to Cusco.  We had a leisurely walk to the train,  and got on board for what we thought was the train to Cusco, however discovered an hour later that we would transfer to a bus at Maras for the 2.75 hr. trip into Cusco.  Of course we were not really prepared, as we were not advised of this little itinerary change, however, after much pushing  and shoving and finding Maureen on a different bus, we all got settled in for the last leg into Cusco.  On arriving in Cusco we were then transferred to our hotel, Novotel Custco, only a few short blocks from the main square. Our tour the next day consisted of several temples and churches in and close to the main square. You could not take photos, in the Basilica Cathedral Located in the main square, but there is no way to capture the beauty of this spectacular peice of art anyways!This is a Catholic temple built upon Inca Viracocha’s palace. Built in 1560 by the Spanish architect Juan Veramendi and finalised by master Juan Correa. There is also a painting collection with more than 400 canvases. We also drove approx. 50 km to the Tambomachay , which is known as the Inca baths. It  dates from the year 1500. It had a religious function honoring water as a vital part of agriculture and regeneration of the earth. Of course there are “sales people” at most of these sites, and because I was wearing shorts, they figured I should be cold, and an easy target for a sale. I wasn’t cold, but one ol’ guy was quite persistent throwing a beautiful 100 percent baby llama poncho over my head!  The price started at 150  and by the time we reached the bottom of the hill It was at less than half half price, and well worth the cost, regardless what it was made of. But did not purchase.  Once back on the bus, realized that when the poncho was thrown over my head, my sun glasses must have gone flying.  Sylvia’s group, always in a hurry, so didn’t try to go find them, or get caught up with the “salesman” again!

Another interesting stop with Sylvia’s group; Sacsayhuamán which  is high on the hilltops over looking Cusco.  This huge construction was planned and built by Andean Man. The Incas called it the House of the Sun and the Spaniards called it a fortress because of its zig-zag shape and the 1536 revolution. It was one of the most important religious complexes of its time.
Once Sylvia’s group was rounded up, we were off to see the Statue of White Christ (Cristo Blanco).  The statue is located on top of a hill near Sacsayhuamán.  It was built by a group of Christian Palestinians that were seeking refuge in Cusco in 1945. It was a symbol of their gratitude toward the city, and was their parting gift when they finally returned to their home country.
After some photos, even some from behind, Sylvia’s group was off to Just beyond Sacsayhuamán lies Kenko. The name means “labyrinth”, and it is believed that it is a place where sacrifices took place. We have had contradicting stories throughout the trip, whether or not the Inca performed human sacrifices. The cave, and tunnels were a little spooky, and a flashlight was used to illuminate the actual alter.

We were found running through traffic, suit cases in tow, the next morning to catch the Andean Express train to Puno the next morning.   Our pick up time changed from 7  to 7:30.  Only if you have travelled in cities in Peru could you come close to understanding the “dangers” of getting out of a vehicle along a street, run across that street, and a block to the train station.  We were stuck in traffic, it was going no where and we had maybe 10 minutes before the train pulled out of the station.  (Of course here I would like to show you a photo of the “crazy” traffic  which i took just prior to being told we would have to get out of the bus and run for it, but ALL photos taken in Cusco were deleted!)   We made it, without too many dirty looks, and off we headed to Puno.  What a wonderful   10 hr. train ride! The train was spectacular, complete with fashion show, live entertainment, an of course a wonderful meal, and as usual, a welcome pisco sour!
Stay tuned for our adventures in Puno, Uros, and Tequile Islands

PS: Did Gus tell you about his hummingbird picture Maureen?





Such a busy start, early mornings long flights for several days, starting with our LATEST morning being grande prairie to Edmonton. 5a.m. Checked in at Vancouver international at 4 a.m for the flight to Lima, via Los Angels, 5 hr lay over and off to Lima, Peru. Arrive Lima at 1:30 am. Taken to our hotel, where friends had Peruvian caesars waiting! Off to bed for 2.5 hours, then downstairs where we had breakfast with our travel partners, Maureen and Derick, and back to the airport for our short flight to Cusco! On arrival in Cusco we were picked up by our guide Raul, And off we went on our first tour to the Sacred Valley. Pisac was the first stop, where we toured the ruins. We stopped then for lunch, with different kinds of food, and my first for alpaca stew, which I have to admit was pretty tasty! Outside patio (on grass) listening to the birds and enjoying the beautiful flora! After lunch and a few cervaza, off to the town of Ollantaytambo, where we toured a religious, astronomical, and Military complex. Ancient Peruvians moved boulders from one mountain to the next, boulders weighing nearly 60 metric tons.
We stayed in a fabulous hotel in Ollantaytambo that night, which made the FAIRMONT airport in Vancouver seem like a motel 6. Unreal service everywhere! Next morning, 7a.m. Transfer to the train station, and a 1.5 hour train ride to Caliente. Someone did fail to mention that our luggage could not go on the train with us, so after being assisted by another tourist, we left our baggage at the train station in hopes that it would arrive at our hotel when we did! Of course this negotiating took some time, so had us running the last couple blocks to catch the train! What a beautiful trip “down hill” (2800 to 1500 meters) to Caliente! We follow the Ollantaytambo River, which is white water from start to finish. Our new guide, Mr.Wellingtin met us, and after a brief orientation, we boarded a bus to continue up the hill to MACHU PICHU!
We were so lucky, we had such a beautiful day, hardly any clouds, and way too warm for the jeans thar I elected to wear that morning! I cannot describe just how spectacular this city is. Pictures do not do it any justice either, although we did take several hundred!



After our 3hr tour with our friend Mr.Wellington, we wandered the city ourselves, and made the decision to walk up to the Sun Gate! Tough climbing around the mountain, but we were not disappointed after arriving at the top, and having yet another spectacular view of the city. It just doesn’t end!

The Sun Gate   This is where trekers get their first view of Machu Pichu

We headed back down the mountain, caught a bus and found our hotel relatively easy… And what a hotel it was, miraculously all our luggage was there waiting for us! Beautiful old chalet type of hotel complete with fire place and HOT WATER bottles, that we didn’t use, but apparently our travel partners had a complete turn down service, including hot water bottles in their bed!
Stay tuned for our second day on Machu Pichu, and our crazy unexpected ride back to Cusco!

Although we do not leave Canada until the 19th, we head out tomorrow. Visit with the girls, flight to Vancouver for a Visit with Claudia, and some last minute tips! Then off on our adventure, and meet up with our “Amigos” in Lima. I think I’ve got this figured out, and hope I will be able to post throughout the trip. We shall see.