Monday, March 21, 2011

Traveling Maniac - Peru The Rest of the Story

I am such a poor blogger. I abandoned my blog in the cloud forest of Peru last December and haven't returned. My apologies to any of you who actually read my blog. I thought that I would have so much time to blog over the winter and nothing to blog about. Well the second part is mostly true, but I had NO time. I don't exactly know where it went, but it is now gone and there you have it. I did plan some really, really great vacations for 2011 though :-)

With the arrival of spring comes the beginning of triathlon training season. I sent out my first of many weekly training emails today and already I can feel the energy of the season coursing through my veins. And so here I am - ready to leave Peru and get back to my tri-girl training blog.

When last I left my blog we were headed into the rain forest. We camped in these little huts the first night. I played jungle soccer with the locals, watched amazing bats as they hunted for their evening meal, and viewed the most beautiful starlit night searching in earnest for the Southern Cross to no avail.

We awoke early the next morning to head deeper into the rain forest until we reached the reserve zone where we signed in at the ranger station. We proceed down (or up?) river stopping only for "bathroom" breaks and to spot birds, caymen, and monkeys along the way. I was far more enthralled by the flora than the fauna, and there was so much flora to take in that it all started to run together. We had little books to keep a checklist of what we saw, but really - could I identify it for you today? Nope. But it was truly amazing.

We spent two nights in the reserve zone hiking through the rain forest, touring the local lakes, smelling the pungent odor of the wild boar - but never quite getting to see them, and watching the giant otters at play. One of my fondest memories here was climbing to the top of the tower in the middle of the rain forest with no civilization anywhere for miles in every direction and looking out over God's amazing creation. It is no wonder that He said - "It is good".

While in the reserve zone, we were finally able to spot the Southern Cross. What an amazing treat and definitely one of the top 10 things I saw on this trip. We went on a night hike to see the nighttime wildlife and then later went on a tarantula "hunt".

Perhaps the most amazing part of any trip is the thing you don't plan for. My sister and I were supposed to fly out of the reserve zone a few days ahead of the rest of our group because we had plans to see Machu Picchu. The bush plane that was scheduled to fetch us was broken and could not be repaired in time to retrieve us. We had options for getting out so that we would not lose out on our plans for MP.

After weighing all options, we opted to stay with our group one more day and th
en leave by river canoe (2 hours), at which point we would be met by an English speaking guide who would escort us the rest of the way back to Cusco via taxi (45 minutes), river canoe (30 minutes), and another taxi (10 hours through the Andes Mountains). I think we were both kind of dreading the long taxi ride. In the end - it too was one of the highlights of the trip for both of us. We got to see some amazingly beautiful sites along the way and we got to eat in a local Andes "restaurant" - interesting for two vegetarians!

We did finally make it back to see Machu Picchu - a place that defies description. I am at a loss to find the words to describe the beauty, the enormity, and yes even the sadness of the place. I took hundreds of photos, but even they do not do justice to this wonder. I hope some day to return to this amazing and beautiful country. We left so many stones unturned there and I feel compelled to go back and see more.

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