05 Feb 2017

Machu Picchu, Peru


 Machu Picchu sits high on the bucket list of most serious world travelers. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in 2007 was voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll. Well, it is one of the world’s most important archeological sites.




The Incas had no written language, but it seems that it was built as a ceremonial site, or a retreat for ruling elites and scholars.





It was built in the mid 1400s and abandoned just about 100 years later. Some speculate the inhabitants died of smallpox thanks to that gift from the Spanish who were conquering the area although they were not at Machu Picchu.




Landscape and engineering skills are quite apparent here. The stones are put together with no mortar yet a knife blade cannot penetrate the space between rocks.


Machu Picchu only housed 700 – 1200 people depending on assumptions of room occupancy. They had no iron, steel or wheels making it quite an accomplishment.




Yale professor Hiram Bingham was the first Westerner to lay eyes on Machu Picchu, yet that was just in 1911.


Peru’s Spanish conquerors never did discover it, which most certainly helped its preservation.






It’s a chore just getting there. However, even that part was filled with amazing scenery along the way. The 8,000-foot altitude alone is enough to debilitate many visitors. Even though Cuzco is the accepted and closest departure point, we had to leave the hotel at 6 AM to take a bus to a train to a bus to get us there at lunch time.





Coming home we finished the tour at 5 to arrive back at the hotel at 10. To add a bit of excitement a giant bolder decided to fall down and block the road for about 45 minutes.






75,000 hikers a year go on the official historical 26-mile Inca trail to get there. Just walking around the site is amazing enough for me. It is quite strenuous. That doesn’t even address the vertigo that comes with the territory. Allyn would like to go back and do the hike. You can assume I won’t be joining her for that.





04 Feb 2017

Cuzco, Peru




We were blown away today by Cuzco. Along with six others, we are off the ship for two nights. We only came to Cuzco because we are visiting Machu Picchu tomorrow. It is a great surprise.








It turns out it is a beautiful city. It is higher than 11,000 feet. Altitude sickness is a real risk and we are taking it very easy and doing some prevention. We will descend 3,000 feet to Machu Picchu tomorrow. Cuzco is the prettiest city we have visited this trip.





I mean they even have wild Alpaca.




Our hotel is a beautiful converted monastery.

Almost 500,000 people live here. Copper mining is big along with tourism. People started living here 3000 years ago, before the Incas. 500 years ago it was conquered by Spain.

31 Jan 2017

Manta, Ecuador




We started the day with a tour of a button factory (what can I say?). Here they still make them strictly by hand from very hard nuts. These deluxe types are shipped to Italy for fancy designers to use who don’t like plastic.

After we drove a bit to Monticristi, home of the Panama hat. Regarding the name, executives working on the Panama Canal wore them and Teddy Roosevelt made them famous when he was down there.



Each one takes at least three weeks and it is brutal back-breaking work.



The best ($1,000+) can be wound so tight you can pull them through a wedding ring and put it right back on your head and they will look like new.



Allyn bought me one that was a bit small.





Then it was off to a museum to give Allyn a chance to be her silly self with her new Panama hat.

29 Jan 2017

Colombia and Panama Canal



We spent a couple days in Colombia looking for drug dealers. We didn’t see any; ergo no photos.

Next we traveled from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific via the Panama Canal.

Although it is spectacular, we have done it three times. That gave Allyn a beauty shop opportunity.

I saw no reason to rewrite a blog when here is a link to a previous blog showing the interesting transit.

24 Jan 2017

Bonaire, Netherland Antilles



Bonaire is a small Island very far south in the Caribbean, just off the north coast of South America.

Allyn got her exercise with a 12-mile plus bike ride.




It’s population of less than 20,000 hosts 250,000 tourists a year who are either visiting by cruise ship, coming to dive or both.



I, on the other hand, took a Tuk Tuk around today with a guide who filled me full of interesting facts.



For example they grow flip-flops here.

History – Spanish conquered the island in 1499 looking for gold. They found none and lost significant interest.

However, they still fought an 80 year war with the Dutch (called the 80 years war) and finally lost control to them. The Dutch mined salt big time, as they do today.

In 2010 they legally became fully part of Netherlands in all respects.

Prisons – Other than the most outrageous crimes, prisoners are incarcerated locally. Interestingly enough, they are virtually given life sentences because when they are released, they are ostracized from the community so much that they have to steal to eat and get thrown right back into jail. Not very enlightened.



The cemetery is above ground because the surface is lava.



The beach is coral (illegal to take even a small piece.). The only sand is from the poop of the parrotfish that feeds off the coral.