Friday, November 21, 2008

Blogging at warp speed....

OK... so where did I leave off? I was in Areiquipa, Peru, and then went to Cuzco to see Macchu Picchu. Did it. It was awesome. You´ll have to wait to see the pictures. Tried to go to Bolivia. But there was a strike. Jumped on a plane for the short ride to La Paz. Got into La Paz, and headed straight to Copacabana. Went to the beautiful Isla del Sol, spent the night there, and then returned to La Paz. Biked the ¨World´s most dangerous road¨. Took a ridiculous 16 hour bus ride down into the jungle. Saw more alligators and capybaras than I could count. Took a puddle jumper back to La Paz. Stayed in a brewery hostel. Saw lots of llama fetuses. (Joyously) watched a black man become POTUS. Brewed beer. Went to Potosí to see the silver mines (crazy place). Blew stuff up. Went through the desert on a horse with no name (just kidding, it was actually a 4D/3N 4WD tour from Uyuni to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile). Saw geysers, flamingos, and sat on top of my guitar in the salt flats. Climbed a 19,500 ft volcano. Took a 24 hour bus ride to Santiago. Picked up Katie at the airport. Stayed at a party hostel with lots of Americans. Drank some good wine. Biked around the city. Met James´ friend Carolina (now my friend!). Got on a bus to Pucon. Rented a car. Drove for the fist time in 3 months. Went to hot springs. Climbed an active volcano. Skied it. Now going to Isla Chiloé. Then on a boat for 4 days. Then towers. Or Torres, as they are called here. Then to the city of good air.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Truckin': Trujillo->Mancora->Lima->Arequipa

After two weeks in Trujillo, I headed up the North coast of Peru to the lovely (and warm!) beach of Mancora, which is close to the Ecuadorian border. I spent a couple of days there hanging out on the beach, swimming, surfing, and gorging myself on seafood! Mancora is the place for Peruvians to go for a beach holiday, and it's not surprising -- Mancora is one of very few beaches in Peru that has water that's warm enough that you'd actually want to swim in. Even though the country is close to the equator, the water is cold (see, current, Humboldt). Anyways, I really enjoyed a few days there, especially knowing that it would pretty much be the last warm weather I would see until next June or so (the rest of my trip is basically in cold places, and I get to return to CO winter in December).

I only took a few pictures there, but here they are:

After Mancora, I took the ~18 hour bus ride to Lima, and spent a couple of days there in the very fancy neighborhood of Miraflores. The highlight here was paragliding above the coastal cliffs of Lima. Really amazing!

OK, so after Lima I headed to Arequipa, where I stayed for a few days and did a trek down into the massive Colca Canon (which is almost 3 times as deep as the grand canyon in parts). The pics really don't do any of this justice, but I'll put em up here just to give a flavor of what it was like.

There once was a man from Peru...

After spending a month in Huaraz, in the mountains of Peru, I headed down to Trujillo, which is on the coast, for a couple of weeks of Spanish lessons. In addition to learning Spanish, I also taught some English classes (both basic and conversational), and took some surfing lessons in the nearby beach at Huanchaco. It was great fun, and a really good learning experience (including learning how to teach English! -- I found that limericks were a real hit with the conversation class!).

Right now I´m in La Paz, Bolivia, anxiously waiting to watch the election coverage tonight. I´m in a sweet hostel called The Adventure Brew Hostel, which is a brewery hostel. A dream come true! Oh yeah, and they also have CNN English, which is perfect for the election watch!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A College Try on Huascarán

I´m in Arequipa, Peru right now, after having spent a couple of weeks on the Peruvian coast in and North of Lima. I´m WAY behind in posting pics, but am trying to catch up.

Anyways, as my grand mountain finale in Huaraz, I attempted to climb Huascarán Sur, which at 6746 m (22132 ft), is Peru´s highest peak. Joining me on the climb were two very experienced and strong mountaineers I met in Huaraz (Andrew Stokes-Rees from Canada/Scotland and Assaf Gal from Israel). I have to give them huge credit for taking turns leading while on the glacier, and feel incredibly lucky to have been able to climb with people who were quite a few rungs higher than me on the climbing experience ladder.

The Huascarán climb was a pretty serious multi-day undertaking, requiring 3 different camps on the way to our high camp at 5900 m. As I have only been to 5950 m twice in my life (and not on this trip), even sleeping at 5900 m was a bit daunting. Also daunting was the weather in and around the Huascaráns, which had started to look pretty bad in the week before we attempted the climb. Well, nevertheless we decided to give it the old college try.

The long story short is that we didn´t quite make it to the summit, although we did make it to 6000 m. The climb was really beautiful, even though the weather was fairly crappy, with it snowing on and off while we were on the glacier. And for a mountain this popular during other times of the year, it was really spectacular to spend 4 days climbing and not see a single other climbing group! (okay, okay, so maybe thats testament to the fact that we shouldn´t have been attempting it in the first place...)

Hope you enjoy the pics!

PS. All of the albums I post here can be seen on my picasa webpage, or by clicking on the lower left corner of the screen before the slideshow starts.