Thursday, September 7, 2006

Trip home; then on to Lima and Cusco

Friday, Sept 1, 2006

Up at 4:00 a.m. for 8:00 flight from Port of Spain to Houston. Trey and Zachary picked us up at the airport. After all the hassle to get the proper paperwork to allow us to leave our boat in Trinidad and to return to that country after this trip, we actually forgot all the Trinidad customs papers on the boat. These papers are required for us to re-enter Trinidad. We emailed Chuck Ursey on S/V Helen Louise, and he will FedEx the papers to Houston so we can have them in time for our return to Trinidad on Sept 16.

We enjoyed a Mexican dinner with Trey, Kristina and Zachary. Learned that Kristina is training to run in the Houston Marathon this winter. Good for her.

Saturday, Sept 2, 2006

Judy got a much needed haircut, first one since moving aboard the boat last spring. Bill had his eyeglasses adjusted so hopefully they will stop falling off his face. We did a bit of shopping and had hamburgers at Prince´s (a Houston tradition since 1946), then to John´s to pick-up his Pathfinder and some of our cold-weather clothes for Peru. John allowed us to store things in his attic and he had also kindly offered the use of his vehicle while we are home this weekend. Then we drove out to The Woodlands to stay the night with friends, Donna and Bruce Rill. They treated us to a great dinner at Brio. We have now had all the food fixes that we had craved while away from home.

Sunday, Sept 3, 2006

Great omelette breakfast prepared by Bruce, and then we had to rush off. We have a busy schedule for the few days that we have here in Houston. We enjoyed seeing Donna and Bruce and wish we could have stayed a bit longer.

We stopped at Gander Mountain and purchased some diving equipment for Bill. It is expensive to get geared up for diving. We also bought some 4-inch lightweight PVC pipe and had it cut into two 41-inch lengths with end caps. Bill ordered new membranes for our water maker. These will be delivered to Aaron´s house while we are in Peru. The PVC tubes will prevent damage in our duffle bags on the flight back to Trinidad. We don´t think that the membranes need replacing yet, but we wanted to have replacement membranes on hand just in case. It would be darned inconvenient if we could not desalinate the sea water into fresh water.

The afternoon was spent at Aaron and Lynn´s house visiting with everyone. It was really nice to see just about the entire family again. John and Helene were there, as well as Theo, Teresa and Lauren, plus Trey, Kristina and Zachary. Elisabeth (BeBe) was happy to see us again. She is very proud to be 5 years old now.

We all enjoyed a lot of great food prepared by Lynn and Aaron. Stayed the night with them.

Monday, Sept 4, 2006 Labor Day

This morning Elisabeth beat the entire family at a game of Monopoly --- Miss Money Bags at the age of 5!

We separated and packed luggage -- 2 roll-ons and backpacks for Peru and 3 heavy suitcases and one largeduffle to bring back to the boat on our return trip. Aaron will bring these to us at the airport when we have a 7-hour layover in Houston on our return trip to Trinidad. Good son that he is.

Out to John´s house for the night. He grilled some of his fantastic steaks and we enjoyed champagne. Even slept on our own custom-made mattress again.

Tuesday, Sept 5, 2006

Had another Mexican food fix for an early lunch. That is the one type food that we have really missed since moving aboard. And we are Tex-Mex fanatics. Can´t even find the right ingredients to make our own where we have been sailing thus far.

John brought us to the airport in plenty of time for our 4:05 pm. flight to Lima, Peru. We arrived early in Lima at 10:10 p.m., cleared in and waited until 11:20 but no one from the tour company arrived to transport us to the hotel. So we grabbed a taxi to the Hotel Delphines in the San Isidro (financial) District of Lima. The hotel was nicer than we had expected. They gave us a Piso Sour welcome drink in the hotel bar with a side view of the dolphin tank. Piso is a Peruvian brandy made from a local sour grape. Pretty good drink, very refreshing.

Wednesday, Sept 6, 2006 Our 37th wedding anniversary

Breakfast at the hotel, short walk around the area, and we forgot our card in an ATM machine. Unbelievably, a very nice man tracked us down as we walked down the street and returned our debit card. Now, that was a nice surprise after reading about how bad the theft is in Lima. Lima is a city of over 7 million people and crime is typical for a city that size. Turns out there are honest people even in bad places.

We called Lima Tours about not having a taxi meet us at the airport last night. They will credit the 55 soles to the travel agent we purchased the trip through in Trinidad. Juan, our tour guide for today, arrived at the hotel and accompanied us to the airport. Juan acted as our nursemaid through the airport procedures. Our flight to Cusco was at 1:15 p.m. on Lan airlines.

There were so many men in dark suits working as secuirty at both the hotel and the airport that it looked like the Latin Secret Service. Even the road entrance to the airport is guarded and blocked. You are not allowed to drive to the airport unless you can show that you have a reason to be going there. We are very glad that we booked this trip with a tour company.

Another representative from Lima Tours met us at the airport in Cusco and accompanied us to our hotel -- the Casa Andina Private Collection in Cusco. We were served coca tea upon our arrival at the hotel. Coca tea is supposed to help with the altitude sickness that almost everyone experiences for the first few days in Cusco. It is illegal in the US.

Judy was still dizzy from the altitude. Bill was fine. We walked around the city for a few hours. There are Inca period stone walls everywhere, narrow stone streets and very narrow stone sidewalks and alley walkways. Many steps are built into the stone walkways as Cusco is a city of many hills.

It was a very tiring walk up to Carmen Alto #146, La Bodega Restaurant. This is a tiny, tiny restaurant which was recommended by another cruiser who was here 2 years ago. Great food and we shared a bottle of wine (after all, it is our anniversary). Much easier walk down the hills back to the hotel.

Thursday, Sept 7, 2006

It was a noisy night because the hotel is made entirely of stone, even the walls; so the sounds reverberate loudly. Again a nice breakfast at the hotel and another long walk around the city. We visited La Merced Convent. There is a small underground area that was painted brightly by the nuns. Bill called it a solidary confinement area for nuns. (photos to follow when we reach a place where we can get them uploaded)

We sat at the San Francisco Plaza and people-watched for an hour or so and then had a simple soup lunch. The colorful costumes are so interesting. The orgainzed tour started at 1:45 p.m.

First stop of the tour was La Cathedral on the Plaza des Armas. As is traditional with cathedrals in the region, the cathedral is located in the center with 2 smaller churches on either side. These actually seem to be like chapels on either side because it appears to be one huge building. The smaller churches on either side have altars of gold---extremely huge and elaborate. The main cathedral has an enormous altar, silver plated over cedar. Behind it is the original wooden elaborately carved altar.

The Cathedral has a huge art collection, many pieces from Cuscan artists. One painting of the Last Supper is at least 20-feet by 20-feet in size. This is the Last Supper, Peruvian style ---depicting a platter in the center of the table on which is lying a guinea pig.

Forgot to mention earlier: THEY EAT GUINEA PIGS HERE!!!! They apparently love them. Several restaurants advertised crispy fried guinea pig at the special of the day. Neither of us is willing to try that particular delicacy.

Second stop of our tour was the Temple of Gold. We are not trying to mention here the Indian names for these sites; too hard to pronounce or to spell. It was interesting architecture but the Spaniards had looted all the gold. The Inca used trapezoidal windows and doors, which are very resistant to damage from earthquakes. The stones in the walls are interlocking, again very resistant to damage from earthquakes.

Then our tour proceded out of the city to 4 archealogical sites, but we only remember going to 3 of them. Maybe the tour guide skipped one.
1. Temple of the Sun (at 12,000 ft)
2. Temple of the Water (at 12,500 ft)
3. Temple of the Underground or Mother Earth (at 12,000 ft)
4th stop was shopping at a finer goods store for items make from alpaca fibers.
Then back to the hotel.

Walked again to dinner at Ama Lua at Plateras #327. Judy ordered alpaca steak. It tastes good but smells awfull.

Tomorrow we are off to the Sacred Valley.

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