I got to Lima, Peru and stayed in the district called Miraflores. Miraflores is a really nice/safe area of Lima and I used this as a basecamp for my exploring different areas of Peru. I was able to meet up with a friend's friend that lived in Lima. (Thanks Javier for getting me in touch!) His name is Beto and he took me to a really nice area south of Lima called Naplo. We hung out on a boat for a few hours before Beto showed me some surf spots and hooked me up with some lodging in Punta Hermosa. We finished the night eating some delicious Anticucho (beef heart skewers) and some Pisco Sours. The next day, armed only with a small translation book, I took a cab to a local bus station and took a small local bus to Punta Hermosa. The ride was an hour and a half and cost me $1. It was definitely a good day of traveling where I wasn't sure if I was going to make it to my intended destination or not. I made it to Beto's suggested hostel, Pico Alto Surf Lodge. I got my own room, bathroom and 3 meals a day for a great price. I spent the next week and a half surfing all the near-by breaks with my new found surfing friends. I arrived just after a big swell hit, but I still scored some really fun sessions. I was also lucky enough to be in Punta Hermosa during one of their biggest fiestas of the year. In the main square there was live music, local food stands, and a fireworks stand that put on a great show. I was able to meet up with Beto again and we had a ton of fun. I never new Waldo could dance so well to Peruvian music.
After saying adios to my new surf friends, I headed back north to Miraflores and up to Huanchaco, another surf town that is about 8 hours north of Lima. In Huanchaco, I continued to live the hard life of surfing a few times a day and trying out all the local food that only cost a couple of bucks. The surf wasn't very big, which was unusual for Peru in May. I still had fun surfing the waist to head high waves at the left hand point of Huanchaco, but because the surf didn't really start pumping, I never got to see some of the world famous waves of the area working. You never know what you're going to get when you plan a surf trip. I wasn't disappointed because I still had fun on the smaller waves and it was nice chilling out in the beach town. I took an afternoon off of surfing and was able to go site seeing with Waldo and some fellow travelers. We went to the Chan Chan ruins (pre-Inca) and out to the Temple of the Moon, where an ancient town and the Temple of the Sun were currently being excavated.
I took a night bus back to Miraflores where I left my surfboard, packed my hiking gear, and then took a 22 hour bus out to Cuzco. Suggestion: try to never take a 22 hour bus ride... I was lucky enough to have my friends meet me in Cuzco: Gavin, Tommy, Megan and Jalena. We spent some time walking around the narrow streets of Cuzco to acclimate to the high altitude and prepare for our 5 day trek to Machu Picchu. Tommy, Gavin and I were able to take a day tour of the sacred valley while the girls stayed in town trying to take care of luggage issues. (Jalena's baggage never showed up the entire 2 weeks she was in Peru... she was forced to improvise). The next day we began the amazing trek. For a great price, we had a private trek with two guides, a chef, and a caravan of horses to carry our heavy bags and camping gear. The weather was perfect every day (just really cold the first night camping). If there were any clouds in the sky, they only added to the mystery of the mountains around us. We hiked over a pass that reached an elevation of 4,600 meters (around 15,100 ft), through various jungles, along some massive rivers and in the shadow of Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu. We woke up the morning of Machu Picchu at 3AM so that we could be one of the 400 people allowed to climb the mountain that towers over Machu Picchu, Wayna Picchu. We were not allowed to go up the road like we thought; we had to wait at the gait until 4:45 with all the other people wanting to be in the top 400. Once they opened the gate, we rushed up the steep hill to the ticket booth.
We all booked it up the hill and our entire group were some of the first people that made it to the top. We spent the morning with our guide and a tour of Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu was misty in the morning when we first arrived and cleared throughout the day until we had clear skies. Later in the day, we climbed Wayna Picchu. The steps up could almost be described as a ladder in some sections with large, vertical cliffs as punishment for any slip off. I thought Waldo was acting quite dangerous while he was running along the cliff side. The view from the top was gorgeous. After waking up at 3am, doing a substantial amount of hiking, and then the train/bus rides back to Cuzco, we made it back for some well deserved sleep. The 5 days were pure magic. (Wish you could have made it Clint & Kristi!)
The next day we chilled out and stretched the legs before getting on a night bus south to Puno, a gateway to Lake Titicaka. Our bus arrived an hour and a half early, putting us in the bus station at 4:30 in the morning... very annoying. We got in a cab to get to our hostel. Little did we know the town was beginning some serious strikes. Our driver would keep the lights off, and if he encountered any crowds, he would kill the engine and try to hide the car behind buildings. It was a SUPER sketchy ride and caught us by surprise, especially after a bus ride of no sleep. Once in the hostel, we were informed about the locals striking due to some mining industry issues. We made a split decision to leave Puno the same morning we showed up! We joined a 2 day tour of Lake Titicaka where we would spend one night on the lake. So after 10 minutes of being in the hostel, we did a quick re-pack and walked to our boat. Waldo was really tired, so I carried him while he slept. Our boat took us first to the floating man-made islands of Uros. After being shown the way of life on Uros, we went to the island of Amantani. Our group was split up to different home-stays where we were assigned to a local “Mama.” Gavin, Waldo and I went with our new Mama and hung out in her house while she cooked an amazing dinner for us. (Soups in Peru are ridiculously good.) Afterward, we hiked to the top of the island to watch the sunset. Hiking was tough because the lake is 12,500 feet in elevation. The lake is massive and we had an epic sunset. That night we dressed up in some local clothes, watched a local flute band and danced with our Mamas. After a home cooked breakfast, we said bye to our Mamas and head out to the island of Taquile for some more hiking, ruins and lake views.
We went back to Puno where we found out the strike actually had escalated! We weren't even allowed to dock our boat... with our captiain kind of freaking out, we docked on a private hotel's dock and we were escorted through town back to the hostel. The town was shut down. Glass and rocks in the streets as part of the strike prevented any cars/buses from driving around. Back in the hostel we met some fellow travelers that had been stuck in Puno for 4 days. We decided to get out of there ASAP so we payed a private driver to get us out of town to nearby Juliaca at 3:30AM before the strikes began. Our idiot driver forgot to put gas in the car, so halfway there, he turned around back to Puno where we saw trucks of fully armed guards headed. After some anxious moments waiting for our car to fill up, we made it around the rocks and glass and out of town. We took the next bus back to our familiar hostel in Cuzco. We later saw that the strike turned violent shortly after we left and some buildings were being set on fire... crazy, but a great experience. We were glad to get out of there when we did.
The following day was Tommy's birthday! Tommy, Gavin and I went white water rafting. It was the dry season, so the biggest rapids were only class 3, but it was still a blast. We came back and went out for dinner where Gavin was courageous enough to eat the local cuisine of guinea pig (see picture)! Waldo was totally grossed out and had to leave dinner early. The next day, we said our goodbyes to Gavin and Jalena, and the rest of went back to my old basecamp hostel in Miraflores. There, we had an easy night and an amazing dinner. I gave them a little info on my previous surf spots because Tommy and Megan are going to be traveling Peru for 2 more weeks and will probably get some surfing in. I re-packed my bag, and headed to the airport for the warm waves of Central America!!
On my way from New Zealand to Peru, I had a layover in Santiago, Chile. I decided to extend the layover to around a week so that I could see the city. I flew out of New Zealand at 4:30pm, and after a 10 hour flight, I landed in Chile at 1pm the same day.... yes, I traveled back in time. Waldo went off to find the Doc and tell him about the designs of the flux capacitor. I did a walking tour of Santiago and walked around the city and hit up a couple of museums. I was really lazy my week in Santiago and had a hard time justifying spending the time and money to leave the city for just a couple days. A week was too short to really go anywhere (cost effectively) and too long to spend in just the city. There was an incident where one of the girls I was traveling with had her camera swiped in the subway. Another girl in our group saw the guy do it and grabbed the camera from him. Within seconds there were a dozen cops arresting the guy (who was resisting..haha). We spent the next 2 hours filing a police report. Props to the cops for being so quick to respond.