Nicaragua – The Land of Hitchhiking

It’s been sixteen months since we landed in Houston after spending nine and a half months in Latin America.  Our little chihuahua growled at us when we got into my parents’ car still wearing our hats from Nicaragua.  It took him a while to warm up to us.  Our intention was to get this post out right away.  Well, American life happened.  We visited Kate’s family in Northern California for three months then spent time with my family in Nashville and Houston.  We have been back in Central Texas since the fall of 2015, working on projects we had planned while traveling and swimming daily in the cold springs that make this region so special.

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The Best of Cusco and Machu Picchu

Cusco – A Great Place for a Reunion

The best part of Cusco was getting to spend time with friends and family. We stayed in a sweet little hotel with five rooms in the San Blas neighborhood run by a Peruvian family and ate daily at some fantastic vegetarian restaurants. We ran into people we met in Chachapoyas, Yarinacocha and Potosí months before. The Cusco region is a major hub for travelers.

Cuzco was colder than we expected, but the most popular soup place in the market helped us out
Cusco was colder than we expected, but the most popular soup place in the market helped us out
The Flower Market in Cuzco
The Flower Market in Cusco

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Thirty Days in Bolivia

Visiting with Family in La Paz

We left Perú before seeing Machu Picchu so that we could meet Kate’s Aunt Indira while she was visiting La Paz.  Indira has an interesting story.  She’s from Kyrgyzstan.  Kate’s Uncle Toby met her while mountain climbing in Central Asia.  After marrying, they settled in Homer, Alaska to raise their son and daughter.  Indira is an industrious woman.  She bought a well known established business in Homer called A Better Sweater.  It’s a rare store that sells handmade products from around the world.

We went with Indira to visit her various suppliers, our favorite of which was Artesania Sorata, owned by Diane Bellomy.  Diane has been working with indigenous women for over 30 years in producing naturally died and hand woven products made of alpaca wool.  We were also fortunate enough to meet Diane’s life long partner, Ron Davis, who installs water powered electrical generators throughout Bolivia.  Both of these people are inspirational in what they do for others and the environment.

Arriving in La Paz, Stuck in Traffic with a Tractor Behind Us
Arriving in La Paz, Stuck in Traffic with a Tractor Behind Us
At Indira's Hotel in La Paz
At Indira’s Hotel in La Paz
Shopping with Indira in La Paz
Shopping with Indira in La Paz
Plaza in La Paz
Plaza Murillo in La Paz

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Off the Beaten Path in Chachapoyas

How often does one wake up not knowing that they would visit pre-Incan ruins built atop a 9,000 foot mountain?  We opted for a guided tour offered by our hostel, Chachapoyas Backpackers. This was the first time we ventured on this type of guided outing and it did not disapppoint. We made our way to the van, piled in with about 14 other travelers and began the drive to Kuelap. It had been rainy and dreary since we entered Peru just at the beginning of January and this day was no exception. The road curved smoothly along a rushing river for a while and after about an hour we started to climb a dirt road that was extremely muddy.  Outside the left-hand window was a vertical drop, sometimes several thousand feet down. Our guide, Ernando, pointed to the top of a high mountain near some distant trees saying “See, there you can see it.” We had a way to go. Our trip to the top of the mountain was only met with one minor road slide where men hopped out of tour vans in front of us throwing boulders off the side of the road. We made it to Kuelap around 11:30 AM.

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