Friday, March 26, 2010

Pats outline of our trip to Ecuador and Peru

This is the best photo I have of the animal figures from our fly over of the Nasca Lines.  This one is called the hands.  These figures are gigantic.  There are many theories of the origins of the lines.  I found this site helpful.

 This map shows   the hands next to the highway that runs through the area.(Pan American Highway)  There are farms in the area too.  More photos on this later in my blog.

Pat's version of our trip

Our trip was good all in all, overlooking the hassle of flying in and out of the U.S. these days. Long line-ups, shoes off, passports examined at every turn. "Inspectors" rifling through carry-on bags frequently.  Terminal paranoia!
  We pulled out all the stops and flew business class where we could, as our 40th was at the end of December.  On the Continental 737's this gives that extra leg-room I covet, and more space to stretch out, with better food and included beverage service, and the first-class lounges where available, if time permits. Lounges are all included for food and beverage service too. The nicer, bigger aircraft like the 757 from Lima to Houston had angled seating with footstool shelves, and I could almost stretch out flat! This was great as we got on at 11:40 pm, to arrive at Houston early am. Actually got some sleep enroute.
  Quito is quite a high altitude, but we were okay there. After a day there and a city tour and  to the equator monument we flew with Celebrity Tours to the Galapagos Islands, were taken by buses to the dock and loaded into Zodiacs for a twenty minute ride to the Xpedition cruise ship, our residence for the week. Staterooms were small, but nicely appointed and comfortable for us who travel in a camper van. The Zodiacs are about 24 ft. long, and will plane with their 100 hp Yamaha outboards. Two trips ashore daily, to see the creatures, one each morning and afternoon, and a choice of a shorter or longer walk with a local naturalist guide to give the talk and answer questions. The guides were all good and spoke English well. Among the wildlife were Frigate birds, blue-footed boobies, flightless Cormorants, and a variety of finches, distinguished by long, short, curved or straight beaks, according to their diets. There were penguins and sea turtles, lots of tracks up the sand banks where the turtles nest, just an overnight egg-dropping, leaving them to hatch from the heat of the sun.
  Giant tortoises stopped along some walking trails so getting really close for pictures was easy. Without predators they are very docile. All are protected, no hunting or fishing happens without local government sanction. Getting rid of a feral goat population has been a priority as they consumed too much plant life for the natural  animals to flourish.
  All was included on the ship, a smaller one with about 100 guests and about half that many staff. We couldn't take full advantage of this as we each had an off-day or two with lost appetites, didn't even enjoy the dinner wines. Maybe just as well...could have been the heat, 90's daily, or the ship's motion, or the food, who knows? It was a common thread among many of us, with nothing too serious after all.
  Peru was another interesting visit. 6 of us went on, several , 8 I think cancelled this part because Machu Picchu was closed due to torrential rains in February which washed out the Orient Express railway that was to take us there from Cusco, in luxurious style! Cusco is interesting anyway, and we got to visit other nearby Inca ruins. Only one rainy day in the whole two weeks, Well-warned, rain jackets got used that once. Shopping was too easy, we got nice alpaca sweaters for $20.00 each! Couldn't try bargaining at that rate, besides they gave us cocoa tea and a spinning and weaving demonstration first.
  Our alternative to Machu Picchu was seeing the Nazca lines, great geographs on the ground that are of unknown origin, perhaps 4,000 years old, and are unrecognizable until you are 1500 feet above them. Von Daniken's popular book"Chariots of the Gods" made us aware of the phenomenon in the 1970's, so this was a treat for us. They flew ur over in a Cessna Caravan, a twelve-passenger plane. An hour and forty minutes were spent flying to the geographs and over them. They cover an area of about 50 kilometers square, and depict a whale, hummingbird, spider and a monkey, to my recollection. They are remarkable! Great elongated triangles are thought to be of astronomical signifigance. Von Daniken conjectured they were to lure back the extraterrestrials, who had visited previously. As they took a very substantial effort to be established, and don't relate to food or fortification from enemies, they can be believed to have some religious intent.
  Our hotels were all 5-star luxury resorts, a complaint being how little time available to enjoy each one. Paracas was on the beach, Cusco had the Monasterio, a converted Monastery where cloisters were glassed in for the dining area, the refectory remained for the breakfast room, and two courtyards were lovely gardens. Sometimes there were faint strains of Gregorian Chants in the background, like at breakfast!
  Our buses were nice, new ones and the drivers excellent too. In every case they split lanes, trucks and buses too. Horns are essential, None of them could get anywhere without them! Or so it seems. Smaller motorbikes abound, mostly Hondas with a mix of Asian scooters with unfamiliar names.
  To get our early start out of Vancouver we had an overnight at the Airport Fairmont Hotel, and our dear travel agent, Maria looked after our dinner! We have the best travel agent! Returning through Houston and Seattle got us into Victoria late afternoon last Friday, 19th March

1 comment:

KenA said...

My compliments to Pat. :-)