D6. Back to South America, land trips to Bolivia and Peru

Cindy and I enjoyed summer 2019 in Seattle. After a summer and fall in Patagonia, we felt we deserved a proper summer. Pazzo waited patiently for us on the hard at Club Reloncavi, tucked behind a tall stand of fir trees to break the wind and drying out with the help of a constantly running dehumidifier. 

I returned to Puerto Montt on October 12, 2019, a week ahead of Cindy, in order to take care of a few messy projects that would require dismantling the boat. We had been warned, but were not really prepared for the political unrest we found in Chile. A 20-cent fare increase in Chile’s public transit systems sparked a massive country-wide protest of Chile’s economic inequality. We felt safe and Pazzo was secure in the Reloncavi compound, but in Puerto Montt’s central district, banks, government offices and stores were assailed with broken windows and aggressive graffiti. Multi-national operations like McDonalds and banks were heavily targeted and forced to close. A curfew was in effect at night. Protests were mainly confined to the evening hours so we were able to take care of our preparations during mid-day. 

Bolivia and Peru 

Pazzo would wait on the hard while we explored Bolivia and Peru. So, on October 23, we hopped a flight to La Paz, Bolivia. With only ourselves to blame, we were caught off-guard at the La Paz airport where the immigration officer demanded our Visas. Americans need visas to visit Bolivia? Really? Apparently so; no doubt a tit-for-tat policy as Bolivians need a visa for America. $162 dollars each bought us 10-year multiple entry visas… never mind that we don’t intend to return. 

Unbeknownst to us, 2019 was turning in to a tour of unrest. Our Bolivian adventure coincided with the political death of President Evo Morales following allegations of election fraud. Once again we found ourselves in a world of protests and political upheaval. Fortunately, our visit to Bolivia was during the early stages of unrest so we were able to freely tour La Paz along with Uyuni and the famous Bolivian Salt Flats. We understand that the country became quite unstable after we had moved on to Peru. 

Son Zach met us in Cuzco, Peru for sightseeing and a 5-day hike along the Inca Trail, concluding at Machu Pichu, the country club of the Ancient Inca rulers. The hike at altitude was strenuous but we travelled in luxury with 9 porters and and superb guide (Jimmy) supporting our 3-client party. Cindy and I appreciated our acclimatization time at altitude in Bolivia before tackling the trail. Zach, with the advantage of youth and good conditioning had no difficulty at all. Why, you may wonder, would we need 9 porters? Apparently, there are quite a number of rules governing the Inca trail expedition services. One of these rules requires the services to pack in and pack back out everything they require for themselves and their clients. The one exception is sewage which can be deposited in proper bathroom facilities to be found every couple 

of days along the trail. This means that sewage must be collected in portable toilets and carried (by porter) to the next bathroom. There are no pack animals allowed on most of the trail. The weight a porter may carry is also limited. The porter chief dutifully weighs each porter’s pack at the start of each day. The porter team, therefore must carry tents, cooking gear, cooking gas, food for 3 clients plus guide plus 9 porters for 5 days, water for the entire team for one or two days, a portable toilet, 50% of the client’s personal gear, and their own personal gear. All up, it’s quite a load. In our opinion, we could have shed a couple of porters if we’d have carried all our own personal gear and eaten a bit less extravagantly. After all, who needs fresh-made soup with every lunch and dinner? 

Emerging thru the Sun Gate with the majesty of Machu Pichu perched on the hillside across the valley was a powerfully moving sight. Our arrival late in the afternoon offered fabulous lighting for Cindy’s pictures. Similarly, the morning light for our next-day return and detailed tour of the ruins was equally rewarding. 

Following Machu Pichu, we flew to Puno on the Peruvian shore of Lake Titicaca where we called in at Uros, the floating reed islands and Taquile, an untouched traditional Island in the Lake T. We over-nighted with a kind family and spent a day learning of their traditional life style. Fascinating! 

Our visit to Peru concluded in the sprawling city of Lima. We came away with wonderful photos and memories of a special country and incredible cuisine. Food is an art in Peru, as beautiful to look at as it is delicious. Unfortunately, each of us suffered intestinal problems at one point or another, putting a damper on our post-machu-pichu experience.

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