Young retailer

Thursday, September 13th, 2012 :: 10:34 pm

In Peru, you can almost bargain your way to a lower price at any retail store. In fact it is almost a given – otherwise expect to pay more than double the price you would’ve needed to.
In Ollantaytambo when we got into a store selling Alpaca sweaters and scarfs, we had half expected to work out a deal with the head of the household, or at least an adult. Wrong. The girl that was pulling out all the clothing and had the final say in price was a girl no more than 12 years old, and her parent was nowhere to be seen. They definitely start them young around here.

When we were in Cusco, we saw small children selling touques and hats and small merchandise on the streets and around the square. The local guides explained that tourists shouldn’t buy or bargain with these kids because it encourages the parents from getting more and more kids to start working at a younger age (generally, kids are cuter, so they might have more success). Agreeably so.

Cocoa beans from Peru is famous. Below, it’s sold in multiple forms at the Mercado Central de San Pedro in Cusco.

Cocoa Bean stand Cusco

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Inca Quarry trail crew

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012 :: 10:13 pm

I must admit that even though I thought I was quite active and fit for the trail, the combination of the elevation and the environments that we weren’t quite used to (ie. daytime highs and evening lows were about 25 degrees Celsius apart) really made parts of the Inca Quarry hike quite tough. There were times when we were just a few steps away from a peak but my heart was racing at more than 120 beats/min, forcing me to take a short break before continuing. Under normal circumstances it would take me more than 30 minutes of constant exercise to get to this level!

In terms of gear – of course we didn’t carry all of it while hiking. We had 5 horseman leading the horses (allowed on the Inca Quarry trail) carry duffle bags for us, while we only carried the essentials in our daypack. These guys would start behind us on every segment and somehow manage to pass us after a couple hours in sandals. Yes, that’s right, sandals. Running with the horses carrying all our camping and kitchen gear. All the tents would be set up well in advance of our arrival and cooking would begin.

Once we got to a campsite, I felt like we were totally pampered, starting with a refreshing cup of chicha morada when we arrived, followed by a tub of warm water for everyone to wash their face, hands, and feet in. Mornings would begin with a wakeup call at 6am with hot coca tea delivered right into your tent. Service was better than a 5 star hotel here. We would have 3 nutritionally balanced buffet meals prepared for us by the 2 chefs, as well as afternoon tea just before dinner. Meals and camp life to be posted later.

I owe a ton of gratitude to these guys for making the trek actually quite enjoyable and putting our “hiking” skills to shame :-P

Horseman reaching the 2nd peak shortly after us, as we took a short break and enjoyed the views (click for larger)

Inca Quarry trail 2nd peak

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Our faithful emergency horse + horseman

Inca Quarry trail horseman

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Inca Quarry trail crew

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Campsite under the starlight

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 :: 10:42 pm

Just got back from my trip to Peru – it was simply amazing! For some reason, I’ve always wanted to visit Machu Picchu and hike the Inca trail. I loved the fact that we were pretty much the only group hiking the Inca Quarry trail, adding to the serenity and peacefulness of this hike.

As we stepped out of our dinner tent and looked up, we could see the stars & milky way ever so clearly, with the moonlight shining brightly above. Here’s a shot on the first night at our campsite, 3700m above sea level, pointing towards the south.

More to come.

Inca Quarry trail campsite stars

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Fresh produce, everday

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012 :: 10:54 pm


Mercat de La Boqueria

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Look up in the sky

Monday, March 26th, 2012 :: 1:11 am

Look waaaay up :-)

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona Buildings

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