24 in 48 Readathon!

by Colleen Morrow in

So on Thursday, I saw a tweet about a 24 in 48 readathon.  I had to investigate.  I used to do the Dewey Readathon with fair regularity but it's just not the right readathon for me.  But this 24 in 48...  Now here was something I could work with!  The aim is to read for 24 hours over a total period of 48 hours.  And that is perfect.  Because it means I can sleep and I can spend some time on SM seeing what other people are doing and it doesn't cut into my reading time.  So I signed myself up.

I picked out an armful of books last night plus two audios and I'm going to get cracking.  I'll be posting mostly to instagram & twitter with the hashtags #24in48 but will update this post periodically.  If you want to find me at either site, I'm @janeycanuck on both.  

Progress updates:

  • Finished Slow Food by Carlo Petrini (total of 2 hours, 37 minutes)
  • Progress on The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (3 hours so far)
  • Finished Eat More Better by Dan Pashman (total of 4 hours, 5 minutes)
  • Finished The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn (total of 4 hours)
  • Finished All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew (total of 2 hours, 55 minutes)

Why we didn't make it to Colca Canyon (Or: When things don't go as planned)

by Colleen Morrow in

So where were we... Right - touring Lake Titicaca.  

Our boat tour took us out to the floating islands of Uros, which are these islands made of reeds. They are a bit spongy, for lack of a better description but really fascinating.  Our tour guide, Franz, gave us a really good overview of the history of how the islands came to be and how they are made. I was surprised at how many islands there are - I thought there would be just a few but there were a lot. It was quite the community, with schools and churches and all sorts of stuff.  

After that, it was on to Taquile. We had quite the hike up to the main plaza but once there, we were rewarded with amazing views of the lake and the mountains in both Peru and Bolivia. There was a wedding taking place while we were there and we got to see the exit of the bride and the groom from the church with the important people of the community. From there, we went to lunch, overlooking the lake where Franz told us about the various woven bags, knitted hats and other things that make up the local customs around single people and married life. Different styles of hats or pompoms tell you whether or not somone is married, how good a knitter someone is tells you how good of a husband he'll be, etc. Then it was back onto the boat for the trip back to Puno and an early bed before catching a bus to Arequipa.

Our bus arrived without a problem and we were soon on our way. We expected a long bus ride - we weren't scheduled to be in Arequipa until at least 12:30 even with a 6:00 start. We were told we'd get into Arequipa a bit later than expected since we would have to take a back road. There were some protests going on in the city around a copper mine being opened and the protestors were at the main road into the city. At one of our stopping points, we parted ways with the folks heading on the Colca Canyon and we transferred to a van for our back way into Arequipa. Well, when they said back way... The road was sandy and often very narrow with lots of rocks and wound all around a mountain. Our van didn't seem to really enjoy it's off-roading adventure and at one point, our driver struggled to get the van up the road. So, we all piled out and walked a bit ahead for him to try without our weight. No dice. In the end, it took all five of the gentlemen on board to push the van up the road. I don't think it's what anyone was expecting for the ride. Luckily, that was pretty much at the highest point we needed to go. Then it was literally all downhill from there. And harrowing. The road was so narrow and bumpy, I was quite convinced there would be news reports of a van full of tourists that went over the side of the mountain. I've never been so happy to see a paved road in my life. From there, we had to make our way to our hotel.

The protests were going on in the main plaza, which our hotel was very near to. Because of all the people - and because the protests were getting a little less than peaceful - we had to walk to our hotel instead of being dropped off right by it. The girl accompanying us from the bus company had us wait for a little bit while some of the people marching moved away from the part of the square we were heading through. Soon we were at the hotel - but much later than expected. With the road blockages, we decided it was best to not try to get out of the city so we canceled our hike and explored the city today instead.

We visited Santa Catalina monestary, which was like a city within the city, sitting on five acres. The streets and cloisters were beautiful with such interesting architectal aspects, like stairs leading nowhere all over the place. After that, we stopped for a hot chocolate before making our way to Plaza San Francisco for a free walking tour of the city. Our guide, Carlos, took us all around, telling us about the history of the city and then taking us for a few food tastings - chocolate, potatoes and Pisco sours. It was a great way to see the city and something we hadn't planned on doing. After the tour, we stopped at Casa de Moray, a mansion that was quite lovely before heading off to dinner at a restaurant owned by a Peruvian celebrity chef. Now, we can't move. It was an amazing meal - one of the best of all our travels (and not just this trip!)

Tomorrow, it's an early flight to Lima to spend one more day there before flying back home tomorrow night. Vacations always seem to go by too quickly.   

What a couple of days...

by Colleen Morrow in

We survived our Inca Trail hike! We were up before the birds to meet our guide, Hector, for our trek and soon were on our way to catch the train to take us to the start of our hike.  It was so cool in the morning, we were all shivering at breakfast and through the wait for our delayed train. Once on the train, we had a very scenic trip before the train stopped in the middle of nowhere and we got going!

After going down a little path and over a bridge, we got to our starting point Where we got our passports stamped, stopped for a bathroom break and headed off.  We came across our first Incan ruins almost right away, which was a nice way to start the hike. Hector pointed out where we'd be having breakfast and off we went.  We seemed to make pretty good time despite stopping frequently to make sure we were hydrated and to capture all the scenery.  We had blazing sun for most of the pre-lunch portion but did get a bit of rain right before lunch.  The trail was both easier and harder than expected.  We were hiking up more than I would have preferred (but to be fair, we were climbing a mountain) but the trail itself wasn't as uneven or rugged as I thought it would be.  We quickly learned the difference between flat and "Inca flat" and let me tell you - there wasn't a lot of flat.  There were a couple of shelters built along the way which made great places for snacks and longer breaks out of the sun. We certainly earned our lunch, climbing from about 2200m to 2600m in just over three hours. Lunch was right after reaching Winay Wayna and man, it was the best lunch ever.

After that, it was fairly flat for another hour or so to reach Sun Gate where we got our first view Machu Picchu. It was pretty spectacular.  Then, we got to start heading downhill into Machu Picchu which was a nice change from climbing but challenging in its own way. Once at Machu Picchu, we hiked down to Aguas Calientes, reaching the town just after the sun went down. Then it was over to our hotel for hot showers, dinner and bedtime. 

It rained through the night which meant our morning was pretty dreary. We went back up to Machu Picchu for our tour and our hike up Huayna Picchu. Hector guided us around and we watched the fog roll in and out of the mountains.  It burned off in time for our hike Huayna Picchu, which we did in just under an hour. It was no Inca Trail - rough, steep steps that would have been near impossible without the cables that had been bolted into the mountain.  It was totally worth it though. The view from 200m above Machu Picchu and over the entire valley from the top of the mountain was in-freaking-credible. 

Then, it was back down the mountain and back to Aguas Calientes to have lunch and catch our train and bus back to Cusco.  Once back, we had time for dinner before heading to the bus station for our overnight bus to Puno where we are now waiting for our tour to start for Lake Titicaca.