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South America

20th May
2011
written by Hazel

We had an easy bus trip back from Trindade to Rio and got to spend a couple of days in the city before heading on.  We stayed at a hostel in Le Blon, a nice neighborhood in the far south of the city.  The only problem with this was that it is a little far from the areas with stuff to do, so when we arrived at the bus station we immediately had to deal with a long trip through town and then out the other side.  We made it eventually with the help of a friendly local and got settled into an 8 person dorm.  Everyone at the hostel was really friendly, but it was a pretty noisy place, so not so much with the sleeping there.

Our first day in the city we walked up the incredible beaches and just took a good look around.  Rio is a beautiful city and the beaches were worth spending some time on.  We saw Le Blon beach, Ipanema beach, and Copacabana beach.  It was sunny in the morning, but then we had a pretty strong rain in the afternoon.  They said the weather was going to improve though, so we signed up for a city tour the next day so that we could see some of the big city landmarks.

We had an amazing sunny day and were picked up at the hostel in a big 16 person van.  Our first stop was the famous statue of Christ that looks down over Rio.  It is up on a mountain behind the city and was pretty crowded with tourists.  We had fun looking out at the views and taking a ton of pictures.

Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redeemer

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15th May
2011
written by Hazel

We enjoyed our beach relaxation time in Paraty so much that we decided to head about 40 minutes south to Trindade, a tiny town known for having really incredible beaches.  And they were perfect.

Justin on the beach in Trindade

Justin on the beach in Trindade

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14th May
2011
written by Justin

So Hazel and I have been up to some serious tourism in the most recent months and we decided that we needed some time to relax.  What better place in the world to lounge around than Brazil?

The Beach

The Beach

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8th May
2011
written by Justin

Because Hazel wasn’t feeling well during our hiking around Machu Picchu, I went up the mountain nearby myself. This was a really amazing hike – not only do you get great aerial views of Machu Picchu, but you also see tons of flora just not found elsewhere on the site.  I’ll leave the talking up to the following pictures.  I have tons of others in the Best and Rest albums as well!

Orchids found low on Montaña Machu Picchu

Orchids found low on Montaña Machu Picchu

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7th May
2011
written by Hazel

Perhaps appropriately, it is not as easy as you would think to get to Machu Picchu.  This is good for a couple of reasons – keeps crowds down (a little), brings in money to keep things nice there, and makes it feel like a real adventure when you finally make it.  We did plenty of research about getting to the site.  Turns out, it is not accessible by road alone.  You basically have three choices about how to get there and then within those choices are lots of variations.  The main methods are:  hike, take a long bus ride and a short train ride and a short bus ride, or take a shortish bus or taxi ride, medium length train ride and a short bus ride.  We went for the last option since it is generally considered the easiest and the safest.

We set off the day after we got back from the jungle and headed for a minivan taxi thing.  They leave as they fill up and take you to Ollyantaytambo, a town about half of the way to Machu Picchu where you can get the train the rest of the way.  We met a new friend in the van, a really nice guy from Helsinki, and had lunch together in Ollyantaytambo before catching the train.  As we were walking from lunch to the train I got a horrible churning in my stomach and just knew that I was getting sick.  Not convenient considering we had a 1.5 hour train ride ahead of us and were going somewhere fairly remote and not accessible by road!

Well, I survived the train ride.  The train itself was really nice, leather seats, windows in the roof so you could see the views, snack served.  And the ride was scenic.  Really beautiful in fact.

Peru Rail Train to Machu Picchu

Peru Rail Train to Machu Picchu

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6th May
2011
written by Hazel

Since I’m so incredibly behind on these blog posts this tour may not get quite as much attention as deserved.  However, Justin has already put up our wildlife report and I’ll sketch out a few of the tour details.

Firstly, we went to the Manu National Park Cultural Zone with Amazon Trails Peru and would absolutely recommend this company.  Since we only had a short time in Peru we did the shortest tour that got us close to the wildlife reserve.  We had been a little concerned that if we didn’t make it all the way into the reserve we wouldn’t see very much.  This turned out to not be a problem though and for the short amount of time we had we saw so, so much.

We also need to give a lot of credit to our guide, Carlos.  He was excellent – knew all the birds, found us all kinds of things to look at that we would have missed, and could tell us all about the plants and how they are used by the people who live in the jungle.  He also carried about 80 pounds of wildlife reference books (including one he had put together with his friends) and spent lots of time helping us record what we saw.  Awesome!

The tour was 4 days and 3 nights.  We started in Cusco and had a very long van ride out to the jungle.  On the way we stopped at some pre-Incan burial ruins.

Pre-Incan burial towers

Pre-Incan burial towers

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5th May
2011
written by Hazel

Hey loyal readers.  We are incredibly far behind on these blog posts, but hopefully can get that remedied in the next few days.  We are now in beautiful Paraty, Brasil, at a hostel right across the road from the beach!  And it only took about 52 hours of continuous travel to get here!

So blog to come soon, right now it is time to kayak!

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1st May
2011
written by Hazel

While Justin puts together posts about our recent jungle trip and we try to get some photos from Machu Picchu uploaded I thought I’d give an update on our wedding quilt fabric search.  Unlike Chile and Argentina, Peru produces TONS of beautiful textiles.  The only unfortunate thing is that they are not really materials designed for quilting, but we picked the closest things we could get.  We ended up with an incredible tablecloth and two placemats which we will cut up for the quilt.

This fabric with the white background is the tablecloth.  We took a really quick picture before sending it off, and didn’t get the best part – it has animal designs woven in some of the strips.  It is beautiful and will be hard to cut up, but we loved the colors and the designs.

Peru Fabric Number 1

These two are the placemats.  They are much more characteristic of the colors in Peru.  Very bright and cheerful.  The background fabric of one is green and the other is red.  Should make for an amazing quilt block!!!

Peru Fabric Numbers 2 and 3

1st May
2011
written by Justin

Hazel and I just got back from our trip to the rainforest! We had a blast, and that will be explained in another post, but we also saw and photographed TONS of wildlife! In this post I’ll introduce you to most of the species we saw by name and picture!

We couldn’t have done this without the great help of our guide Carlos, who was working for Amazon Trails Peru our tour operator. He did a really spectacular job!

Even though this post has a TON of pictures, there are many more on SmugMug. Check out our BEST photos, and the REST of them!

Reptiles and Amphibians

I saw each of these on my second night walk in the jungle, except the last two which we found during a daytime walk:

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28th April
2011
written by Hazel

We had a little time before our tour to the jungle, so we decided to check out the Sacred Valley and some more Inca ruins.  This valley is about 45 minutes from Cusco and has a bunch of little towns near to some cool archeological sites.  We settled on going to the town of Pisac since it is on the closer end of the valley and is known for its market.

We thought we’d catch the bus over, but after a lot of confusion and uncertainty about where we were going decided to get a taxi instead.  Finding a cab was easy (and not as expensive as you might think!) and we had an uneventful journey over the mountains to get to the valley.  As soon as we got our first view of the valley I knew we had made the right decision.  I also could tell why it is called the Sacred Valley.  Very steep mountains rise up on both sides and the whole scene is lush, green, and spectacular!

We spent the our afternoon at Pisac’s famous market (another wedding quilt fabric post coming soon!) and had some tasty coffee and dinner.  The next morning we were up bright and early to take a look around the ruins.  We grabbed a cab and headed up the mountain.  Turns out that these ruins are HUGE.  We had no idea how big they were going to be.  After walking for 2 hours we still had not seen everything.  The terracing systems were especially impressive and were absolutely enormous.  There were also fortified areas, running fountains, a tunnel through the rock and spectacular views.  It was right at the top of the hill and some of the paths were winding along the very edge of the cliff.  I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.  You can see why we were glad we had the chance to see this!

Impressive Inca Walls

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