Machu Picchu

 Superted V

Blog & Photos - October 2011

Caught a local bus from La Paz to Copacabana - wasn't supposed to be local but only one available (long story!) - very funny experience with our bags being stuck on the roof of the bus underneath beds and wardrobes etc. and local women complaining about the amount of time the driver was taking to load the stuff 'Vamos, vamos....' In contrast a couple of days later, we spent a very pleasant day traveling by luxury coach from Puno to Cusco - stopping to visit various sights along the way - including a very nice buffet lunch.  Got to Cusco at dusk and took one look at the hotel we had booked online (very nice photos) and asked the taxi driver if he knew any good hotels!  We ended up staying away from the main tourist area in a great local area which was full of character (and characters!).  Cusco is so different from the other towns we had visited - very rustic but very pleasant - lots of winding alleyways with lots of steps and inca stones!   Decided to test out Matt's foot and my lungs by taking a hike up to one of the Inca sites (Sascaywaman) - great view over Cusco and both survived to tell the tale.  Got back down to the town to see the Plaza de Armes being transformed - there was a national car rally which was going to stop there for the night so we hung around a bit and watched some of the cars come in.  Met our guide and companion for the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu - our 'grande finale' - worth every precious breath along the way - see flotsam.  Had to do a separate flotsam about Machu Picchu.  

4th October - our 31st wedding anniversary - celebrated with an Indian meal at the 'Korma Sutra' which specialises in Tandoori guinea pig! 

6th October - flight back to Lima - last minute shopping before flight back to Panama on 8th.  Picked up orders in Panama for boat before heading back to Panamarina.  Pleased to report all well at boat - it looked good inside and out - all our cleaning had paid off! Didn't stay like that for long though!  Lots of bits to do and sort out so stayed in Panamarina and Portobelo. 

21st October - Portobelo - where we witnessed the most bizarre celebration ever.  Religious fervour about Jesus of Nazareth - the Black Christ of Portobelo.  How Portobelo has a Black Christ is a matter of speculation but it is well known throughout the area and every 21st October there is the 'Festival de Christo Negro'.  The whole week people were descending on the town - camping, sleeping in and outside the church, on the pavements etc.  Hundreds of stalls selling everything from shoes to rosary beads, beer, food, balloons, lucky dips.   Food and candles everywhere - all decorated in purple and people doing some sort of penance by crawling on their knees around the town to the church (with someone in front encouraging them on by holding a picture/statue of Christ Negro and sweeping the path in front.)   Friday was the culmination - from 8pm to midnight the statue of Christo Negro is decorated with candles and flowers and taken out of the church and paraded around the town - takes dozens of men to lift it and they take one step forward then about 2 back.   The crowd is in a total frenzy - everyone chanting and signing, cheering on the penitents (who are now having hot candle wax dripped on their bodies as they crawl along) - all being kept under control by the Red Cross workers and the army!  A brass band following the whole parade.  We just saw the first few paces then watched firework displays from the safety of the boat! 

29th/30th October - we finally made our transit through the Panama Canal  after 2 years and 9 months in the Caribbean (see flotsam  - but not this month as I've had enough of writing flotsam just now and I'm sure you've had enough of reading!)  Despite all the hype about the transit, it was just like going through a Dutch lock but a bit bigger!

                     Lat and Long October 31st      The Pacific Ocean!!

                                                08.55.23N    79.31.78W