We flew from Portland to Lima and saw some spectacular thunder storms over Central America. We finally land in Lima at 11am and have 5 hours till we need to check in for our flight to Cusco, so the tour company* takes us to our hotel in the middle of the casino district. We decide to stay up drinking instead of sleeping, and watch all the middle aged white men come in with young Peruvian women, and then see the women walk out alone 30-45 minutes later.
*"Tour Company": We got our trip through Southwind Adventures who subcontracted to Trek Peru to take care of us in Lima and Cusco and Caiman Manu to take care of us in the Manu Forest.
We arrived to mostly sunny weather in Cusco iand took up residence in the Libertador Hotel. This is where I stayed last time I was in Cusco and it is still one of the best hotels I've ever stayed at. And Cusco, as before, is amazing. I hate Lima, but I love Cusco. I exchanged some dollars for sol, and wandered around town. I also found out that contrary to what Southwind originally told us (three long sleeved shirts for our six days in the jungle) we would actually need t-shirts for everyday. So I ran around and found 7 touristy t-shirts, only able to see the graphics on the front because of the plastic bags they were in. Half the shirts had patterns printed around the collar and sleeves. My sister, a long upstanding member of the gay community, informed me that with those shirt make me look like a "flamingly fashionably incorrect homosexual that the gay community does not like to admit exists." So... Anyone want a couple slightly used t-shirts from Peru? Anyone?
About half our party are experiencing altitude sickness. Drink the Coca Tea!!!! We also went on a guided tour of town. This time around, as compared to the 2001 trip, our guide was rather lacking. Trek Peru, rather than using one of their own guides subcontracted out to an independent guide. They should have stuck with their own. Those of us who had been to Peru before had to fill in a lot of stuff she did not cover.
The public transport people (bus, train, and taxi drivers) were planning a strike for the weekend. Their strikes include blocking all the roads in and out of town. We were suposed to leave Cusco on the 5thday, but the strike would have made that impossible. Instead we drive to Pisac today and visited the ruins at Pisac and and stayed at the Royal Inca Lodge in Pisac. Pisac is unique for having the largest precolumbian cemetary in southamerica. Over 6,000 graves in niches on the cliffs. All of which where plundered by the Spanish. It is hard to image how a person could reach these graves on the cliff walls, let alone having to carry a body with you to put it in the grave.
It was a LLLLLOOOOONNNNGGGGG windy road to Paradise Lodge. Up and over the Andes and down into the cloud forest, which ironicly was not cloudy. We also saw man birds, including two polar opposites; the Oros Pendulum and the Cock Of The Rock.
The Oros Pedulum gets it name from the yellow feathers on it's tail (oro is spanish for gold, which is yellow) and it's nest. The nest, which is constructed and tended by the female, is a hangin basket that looks like a giant tear drop made of grass. There is commonly a dozen of these nests in a tree, so a dozen females, and one male. They mate once a year or so.
The Cock Of The Cock is known for is bright red males and the dances they do. The males all gather and dance for one female. Each day the female picks a male of her fancy and they mate. She vary rarely picks the same male two days in a row and some males never get picked. They mate daily, year around. Suposedly the males spend 70% of their life trying (often in vain) to get laid.
I will let you apply this animal knowledge to your views on society as you see fit.
The Paradise Lodge is a beautiful set of building on a slope over looking a raging river. We could see wooly monkeys across the valley and fireflies at night. This was our first night with Caiman Manu and their amazing chef Louis. Some of us were brought to tears when we left him and his food behind at the end end of our time in the Manu.
Anyway, that's enough for today. I have all the images loaded, though some still need to be rotated. The image archive is here: