South America Part 3-Peru

South America Part 3.-Peru

  • This is the third largest country in South America
  • Population nearly 27million.
  • Language-Spanish, Quechua, Aymara and various dialects of the Amazon Jungle
  • Three natural regions :- The coast, the highlands and the jungle.

Another flight and we find ourselves in Guayaquil airport where we are staying close by at the Holiday Inn.  An early flight the next morning took us to Lima, the capital of Peru. Founded by the great conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535. Our hotel was in Miraflores, 30mins drive from the airport. Most of the drive is along the ocean front. A beautiful introduction to one of the more affluent districts that make up the city of Lima. It is a town known for its shopping, restaurants, and nightclubs and popular with the tourists. That afternoon we wandered from our hotel down to the Parque Del Amor, on the water’s edge. Checked out the shopping, the fantastic views over the water, beautiful parklands and watched a picturesque sunset. The next morning, we were up early for a tour of the city of Lima which proved very interesting. The first main attraction was the San Francisco Monastery. A glorious Barrroque building known for its boned-lined catacombs( containing an estimated 70,000 remains). A spectacular cupola or dome over the main staircase was carved in 1625 out of Nicaraguan Cedar.  After visiting the main square Plaza Mayor, Government Palace, and many more major sites of Lima we headed down to the Huaca Pucilano, the adobe pyramid that was ancient Lima’s ceremonial heart. This is a most fascinating place to see and with a very informative guide, we learnt the history of this massive  excavation site. A more detailed account can be found on the website http://huacapucllanamiraflores.pe/huaca-pucllana-hoy/   This site was amazing to walk through and to be able see the massive works being meticulously completed to their original status.

The afternoon was free time, so we tackled the huge local markets, wandered through Spanish style buildings and colourful streets, and then investigated a local art gallery. With tired feet we headed back to our hotel for a fine dining treat after which we fell into bed exhausted.  

The next morning, we are picked up for our flights to Cusco and then driven to our Sacred Valley of the Incas (8500feet elevation) accommodation. The river valley is very fertile with lush green slopes surrounded by mountains in the distance. Our hotel was very pretty  and as rest was recommended at this stage, to allow our body to adjust to the altitude, we had no problem taking it easy and enjoying some much-needed quiet time.

The following morning, we headed out with our guide to visit the people of Chinchero and visit the Inca’s Balcony. We were treated to a tour of the streets,  introduced to occupants in traditional dress and shown the ancestral way in which they process the wool and how they obtain the vivid colours used in their textiles. Chinchero is an ancient town and a wonderful place where you can still feel and see the Inca culture as it was in the past. The streets are tiny, the people are beautiful, and the way of life is simple. I was fascinated by the cute three wheeled vehicles known as Moto Taxi’s  Of course, there were markets to wander through, souvenirs to buy and many stairs to climb. A glorious ancient church to investigate and time to watch the various breeds of Lama’s grazing.

A light lunch and back on board our bus to visit Ollantaytambo, one of the most monumental architectural complexes of ancient Inca Empire. It is well known for the terraces dug into the slopes of the mountains. The terraces were used for agricultural purposes. The terraces are quite large and high. Unfortunately, I did struggle to reach the top as the altitude and the sheer height was a little too much. I ventured maybe 3/4 of the way and promptly sat myself down and waited for Ken to return. I feared, if I was struggling with this, would I make it to the top of Machu Pichu. I would soon find out. For now back to our hotel to pack for our trip to Machu Pichu the next day.

Inca Balcony’s
Inca Balcony”s
Moto Taxi’s
Streets of Chinchero
One of the many variety of Llama
Traditional Dying of Textiles

Ollantaytambo station is where we board the Vistadome train to take us to Aguas Calientas. The trip is about 1.5 hours in a carriage with panoramic windows to view valleys and mountains throughout the whole trip. Morning refreshments and a commentary keep you entertained. When reaching our destination we are shown to our hotel with a couple of hours to investigate our surrounds. At 12.30 we had to board our bus for Machu Pichhu. We lined up with many other travellers to board the bus for the half hour trip to the mountain top. We headed out of town and started up the mountain drive. The road was quite narrow with no guard rails. On one side, in many places it was a sheer drop to the valley floor, and on the other the looming face of the mountain was close. Taking the bends was a skill known only to our driver and passing other buses on their way down the mountain was a huge challenge. My knuckles were white from clenching the top of the seat in front the whole way. Finally reaching the top safely we alighted with the many other people waiting in line to buy tickets etc. On a booked tour we were lucky enough to get entry quickly.

We had seen the pictures, heard of its grandeur from others but until you are there, you cannot really appreciate its beauty. Machu Picchu is a very special place. It was misty when we arrived which added to its mystique. A guided tour helped us to understand the lives of the priests and their servants and craftsmen who inhabited this citadel. The mystery of the destruction of this settlement remains today as there was no written records kept. Some excavation has discovered skeletons, artefacts and some woollen clothing. Machu Picchu is an Inca citadel set high in the Andes Mountains. Above the Urubamba River valley one feels like they are above the world. Even though surrounded by crowds of people the isolation of the settlement could still be experienced. Built in the 15th century it is renowned for its sophisticated dry-stone walls that fuse huge blocks without the use of mortar. The stonework was intricate and precise. The intriguing structure of buildings that play on astronomical alignments and panoramic views. It is not a place you can describe fully. Photo’s do not do it justice. There is a feeling experienced here that is unique.The scenery is stunning even in misty rain. The trip to get to this place is massive and the intrigue of how anyone ever lived here is mind blowing. We wandered the many tiers and walked the many levels. Our bodies were exhausted and our minds full of wonderment. Another hairy drive back down the mountain, a wander through the streets ending with dinner. Collapsed into our bed that night we slept well satisfied with what we had experienced. The next day started with blue sky and sunshine. Our tickets allowed us a further visit the next morning so Ken chose to head back up the mountain for more photographing. I decided to investigate the town a little more so headed out to discover some history, beautiful architecture, massive markets and the school and shops which the locals call home. I must say they are a very hardworking community with the town being built on the side of the mountain. All deliveries of building materials including bricks for housing, food, supplies of all types are delivered up and down the mountain on hand drawn trolleys and carts. I struggled pulling myself up. Their tenacity is remarkable. The next day we headed back to the station for our very entertaining train trip back enjoying a fashion show of authentic alpaca apparel. Most interesting experience. Overall this last few days were an incredible and unforgettable journey.

I hoped you enjoyed this post. The next leg of our trip part 4 is Cusco, Iguassu Falls in Brazil and Argentina. The final chapter – part 5 will cover Atacama Desert and a visit to Easter Island.

Please feel free to comment if you wish. If you have been to these places I hope you enjoyed them as much as we did.

New Adventures in Australia-2023

With covid monopolising the last 2 years we have decided to do what many others have. Discover Australia rather than travel abroad..

As you would have read in my previous travel blogs there is usually an eclipse happening at some time during our travels.Our next big trip will be no different. Exmouth in Western Australia will experience a Hybrid Solar Eclipse on the 20th April 2023. A good excuse for us to discover the beauties of the western coast of Australia.

Our first discussion were how would do this, Car, Boat, Airplane or Train or a combination. All options were available but we knew in 6 months time the options would reduce as places book out. It is expected that thousands will make their way to this tiny peninsular to see the spectacle that is an eclipse. Add to that a picturesque place and the school holidays and you have an accommodation problem.

As we want to see as much of Australia as we can, our decision was to drive ourselves. Now, do we use our car, hire a car or a motorhome. Weighing up the costs for each method the answer became clear to us. We decided to purchase a camper trailer with the idea of being able to sell it when we had enough of driving ourselves around.

We have had one before, ie 30 years ago when we were much younger, fitter and more adventurous. I believe my hesitation was valid. We started to look at what was available which promptly eliminated the possibility of my wish for pure luxury. The caravans and motorhomes were way outside our budget which is why we settled on a camper trailer. These are definitely more comfortable than they were in the 90′”s. We opted for an Australian built Cub Explorer. For one it was towable by our existing car and even though a little more expensive than we expected was doable if we were careful.

As noted previously many people had the same idea so our wait period was just under 6 mths. We picked up the van early December 2022 with much delight. We can only speak for Cub but the handover procedure is intensive. Over 3 hours of instruction and advice. We wondered why on earth it would take that long but it did. There are a multitude of little things one needs to be clear on. You do receive a manual also but the actual instruction is absolutely necessary. After the very exhausting 3.5 hours with a quick lunch break the instructor helped us hook up the trailer and checked the lights which to our dismay were not functioning correctly.

Not a great start and a way to add some apprehension to the whole idea of roaming around the countryside on our own. To the rescue, Cub were straight onto it and immediately sent us across the road to the factory to check it out. Once there the staff jumped into action and told us to go for a coffee and relax while they find the problem.

After a half hour or so we received the call to go back and pick it up. All fixed with much apologies and guarantees that everything would be perfect going forward. A huge sigh of relief and we were on our way home, towing our 2nd home behind us. We are home and are happy as it fits into the garage perfectly, allowing enough room for the car and comfortable movement about the garage.

The following day, the first challenge is to open the camper as per the instructions. Season the canvas and then close the camper as per instruction. Opening it is easy and trouble free, maybe 10 mins maximum. Once inside we were elated and our minds started visioning us set up outside the camper, sitting back in our chairs with a wine in hand while watching a sunset or snuggling in our bed listening to the rain on the roof. That daydream was pushed aside quickly as we attempted to close the camper.

Out come the instructions and away we go. All went well for 5 minutes. There is a detachable deluxe awning with the model we purchased and it is recommended this is left on the camper when closing it up. The instruction sounds easy and we watched the instructor do it all by himself when we were at the factory. We gave it our best shot once, then again and again but to no avail. There appears too much awning to be able to close the trailer down without force. On top of that the canvas walls were looking very crooked and strained in places. After many sighs and murmurs of frustration we decided it needed to be reset. Again instructions are fairly clear so we reset the canvas, but still not sure and still with difficulty we eventually got the trailer closed and decided to try again in a few days. Xmas was looming and celebrations waiting to be to organised.

We waited a few days and tried again with the idea of being prepared to go somewhere for a few days over the xmas new year break. Again it opened without problem but appeared completely out of shape again. We, rewatched the videos regarding the resetting and also the close up procedure. We tried again but unfortunately it was quite a hot day and we were a little short on energy. I was beginning to think we had made the wrong decision and my spirits were a little deflated. We managed to get some things packed into it, getting an idea of the weight and eventually got it closed again. All was not easy sailing. Our next try now would be after Xmas day instead of going away we would work on it again.

Once we were refreshed after the xmas frivolities we started from scratch again, reset the canvas again and in doing so realised our error as we went. Finally we were able to get it right and achieve the process fairly quickly. Practise makes a difference and my thoughts were heading in a more positive direction.

Now for the fun part we need to pack it and weigh it. This was going to be a challenge.We knew we would have to be careful with the tow ball weight. A spreadsheet had been started. Over the previous 6 months we followed a few travellers on YouTube, watched many videos and listened to much advice from existing cub owners. The message was clear although conflicting. You will always pack more than you need and always be prepared for something going wrong. Needless to say the spreadsheet set-up changed several times with bins and crates, food and tools all being tried here and there many times until we came up with something that worked physically. The weighing finally happened only to highlight we were overweight. A couple of quick shopping trips to get things right, divorce close on our heels we repacked, eliminated and we redid it all again until we got it right. Finally we were seeing the light. Patience and tenacity were ruling the way.

It was the eve of the new year and our street party was about to happen so the camper trailer was put to bed until 2023 I am hoping my next blog will be about our first venture out in our new home.

Please like and share and comment if you have experiences similar. Hopefully I will have more to report soo

Ballarat/The Grampians/Mungo National Park

Ballarat to Mungo National Park 30th March to 6th April 2022

In April 2018 Ken was attending the NACAA (National Australian Convention of Amateur Astronomers) held bi-annually over Easter. That particular year it was held at Ballarat, NSW from 30th March to 2nd April. I decided to join him, and we extended our trip to encompass The Grampians in Victoria and Mungo National Park in NSW.

We had not been to Ballarat for quite some time. We arrived at the Mecure Hotel at Ballarat the day before the start of the conference. We first went for a drive to a local area called Lal Lal Falls. This town originated in 1885 as a sheep station. It is only 20 mins out of Ballarat with a tiny population of under 500. The waterfall was not flowing but there were a couple of very easy walks close by. It is a very pretty countryside with an abundance of kangaroos leaping through the trees. The conference is a series of talks on varying astronomical subjects and a visit to the local Ballarat Astronomical Society’s clubhouse to meet up with the local astronomers and view their facilities. We met some friendly, interesting people and enjoyed a  light dinner before wandering back to the hotel with an early start the next morning.

We visited the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, one of Australia’s most significant cool climate gardens. The grounds are beautifully kept with many features such as a conservatorium and a hothouse together with many statues including the avenue of prime ministers. Lunch in their café and then off to walk the six kilometres around Lake Wendouree. The lake is an artificial man-made shallow lake opposite the gardens. It has a paved walking track completely around the perimeter which can be taken at your own speed. It is long but easy with many different views to be taken in. The ducks and swans, birds and artifacts surrounding the water are very pleasing. A very relaxing day overall.

The Great Ocean Road is the next leg of the trip. From Torquay to Allansford. The road is over 100 years old and is 243 km of ocean views. We have been on this road many years prior, in fact, I think there may have been 12 apostles the last time we were there (some had collapsed in the intervening years). This time however a lot less. The road is easy, the views are fantastic and it with now improved facilities, tourists are well catered for. This is a good thing for the country but obviously more people and more traffic frequent the area.  We still loved it and highly recommend it. Whether it is sunny, cloudy, or rainy the beauty of the coastline is not diminished. There are many things besides the ocean to see, lighthouses, artifacts, walking tracks and activities are plentiful. On this trip, we were not stopping off too much as we had more to see.

After visiting the highlights along the road, we turned off and head to The Grampians National Park. This park spans an area of 413 thousand acres. It is a series of low angled sandstone ridges. The area has bushwalking, hiking, rock climbing, fishing, canoeing, camping, animals, pubs, café, lookouts and much more. It is peaceful, spacious, and the animals are friendly and plentiful. We were there for the great walks and lookouts. Hopefully, the photos below give you an idea of its beauty and its accessibility.

We spent a couple of beautiful days here and then headed on our way to Mildura and the start of our short stay in Mungo National Park around 115 km from the town centre.

There is approx. 80 km of dirt road into the park and then a further 80 km out the other side to exit.  We had arranged to stay at the lodge in Mungo for two nights. The worry with this entry is that if the road is not accessible then you are stuck at the lodge. It is a bit of a concern but everything we had read indicated it was worth the effort. Go to mungolodge.com.au for information on accommodation and tours. According to Wikipedia, the park is part of the Unesco World Heritage-listed Willandra lakes region. It covers an area of 274,210 acres. The main feature of the park is Lake Mungo, the second largest of the ancient dry lakes. The Park is noted for the archaeological remains discovered in the park.

We grabbed a takeaway coffee and drove out of Mildura with some trepidation about the quality of the road we were about to endure. The long and wide dusty road stretches in front of you with the typical low lying Australian bush lining the sides of the road. Looking ahead the vast blue skies, green foliage, and deep orange of the road project a stunning view into the wilderness. The road was deserted, we passed the odd vehicle heading back to town. About an hour and a half into the drive we come across the Mungo Lodge. What a pleasant sight. The lodge area and the cabins are laid out in a large circle dotted with shady green trees. The lodge itself is clean, bright, and welcoming. Once registered we headed to our cabin. It was just perfect, large, clean, and very comfortable. A beautiful breeze flows from front to back and a quaint veranda out front and a small porch out the back. All the comforts for a relaxing couple of days. We had booked tours so unpacked and headed over to the lodge for more details. The owners and the staff are super friendly and helpful, and we find ourselves on the Walls of China Sunset Tour.

A small group of people, an excellent guide and a perfect night resulted in a very awe-inspiring evening followed by dinner and drinks. I am hoping the photos say enough as words do little to describe the beauty of the area. The changing colours of the landscape minute by minute were awesome to see. 

The following day after a quiet relaxing evening was very interesting. We did a small drive and a walk to the surrounding area. The landscape is lunar-like, featuring dried up lake beds and sand dunes for miles. Scrub and berries, small trees, and desolate areas where you think nothing could live. Keeping our eyes alert, we found a small kangaroo and her baby, lizards, and other crawling beings. 

After morning tea another organised tour began. The Mungo Woolshed and Visitors centre, the Zanci Station Homestead. Once again, our guide was very knowledgeable, easy to listen to and had many stories to tell. The land is harsh and from the stories told, the people that lived on it were warm, resourceful, and very resilient. We were told The Mungo Lady story, of bones that were discovered in 1968 by a geologist named Jim Bowler. They are said to be about 40,000 years old and show clear signs of intentional cremation and a ritual burial. A further search in 1974 disclosed the bones of a man, buried on his back with hands crossed in his lap and red ochre sprinkled on his body. The details of this ritual showed signs of an advanced culture.

To finish the day a walk around the grounds of the lodge had some interesting moments. Emus, birdlife, lizards, and kangaroos. Dinner and some wine under the stars saw us heading to bed, happy and content with our visit.

An early breakfast before packing and heading the opposite way out of Mungo along another dirt road toward Balranald approx. 2 hrs away.  From here we headed to Orange to meet up with some friends for dinner and an overnight stay. 

That ends our extended trip and we head home to normality once again. I encourage you all to travel around this beautiful country of ours. There is so much to see. I look forward to reading your comments below. Have you been to any of these places and what did you like or dislike about them?

Thank you for reading.

Complacency-Boredom

As a retired person I have more available time, as an older person living during the pandemic I have more idle hours to fill. Following I have written my thoughts on this situation. No expertise, no qualifications just what is in my head. 🤔

I refer back to an early blog “What will I do when I retire?” I wrote that blog with my own actions in mind and focused mainly on activities that I related to at the time. Covid has made me think more earnestly about what we do on a daily basis and how easily boredom can slip into our life and have a detrimental affect on some people. It is easy to become bored, it is easy to become complacent about your daily activities. Dictionary.com’s meaning of complacency is “a feeling of quiet pleasure or security often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition etc.” I think this explains it very clearly but breaking it down a little and putting it into terms of actual life activities helped me to clarify.🤓

The first part is easy for me to identify, particularly during covid restrictions. Doing a jigsaw puzzle, doing my heritage investigations, reading a book or simply going for a walk.These activities were pleasureable and gave me the security of knowing I was safe in my own home.They quickly became my norm and were only broken by the necessity of housework or shopping on line. 🙂

The second part of the dictionary meaning is a little unnerving at first. I questioned what potential danger could these activities evoke. The answer came with endured lengths of time of repetitively doing the same activities every day. The danger lies in the complacency of ones own thoughts and actions. When you are in a pattern without too much change it becomes easy to be habitual. Our life becomes boring. We could easily become disinterested in our surroundings which leads to more debilitating effects to our well being. As you become more bored your life becomes less active and your brain less stimulated. You talk less, you laugh less and more and more creativity and interests die. It becomes easy to not make an effort, to not make plans, to not look forward. If we do not change our routines, explore new avenues, take risks and try new things our brains become less stimulated and more vulnerable to negative thoughts. Of course there is nothing wrong with boredom, it is a normal emotion and it is not harmful unless of course it becomes excessive and interferes with ones normal daily life and this where the danger lives. 😦

I do suspect if you have an interesting hobby you possibly will not have this problem, but if you find yourself increasingly idle try something new. If you do not have any specific interest maybe look back at what you liked doing as a young person and see how that fits into your retired lifestyle. This would not have worked for me as I worked from a very young age and did not really develop any specific hobbies other than being involved in some sports. As I age those particular sports are not appropriate. I do however like long easy walks and on line music exercise classes so I am trying to become more consistent with that. I have listing here some suggestions(not mind boggling) just simple actions to minimise boredom or complacency and things that activate our brains. 😀

  • Cooking-reinvent the way you cook, try new foods. If you have no one at home to cook for bake a cake or make some cookies for your neighbour or elderly friend and invite them over for a cuppa. (covid permitted) Make some fun cookies for the neighbourhood children.
  • Craft-Learn a new skill or two. There are many tutorials on line. knitting, crocheting, origami, macrame, scrapbooking, sculpting, ceramics, painting etc the list is endless.
  • Sorting– photos, memorabilia, kitchen cupboards, clothing, garage, sheds, music collections We all need to declutter and sort. Do it slowly so it is enjoyable not a chore.
  • Photographing– I became bored while taking my daily walk, so I decided to photograph specific things. I chose a colour and with my trusty smart phone I walked and searched for that colour. You would be amazed at what you see. Each day I changed the colour or the theme and my walks became interesting again. I posted my photo’s on facebook which resulted in interaction with friends. Use your smart phone or camera and photograph whatever you like, your home, the streets surrounding you, fungi, trees, flowers, pictures, food, shapes use your imagination.
  • Writing-this is what I chose and the subjects are endless. I chose to put my thoughts on line but you do not have to. Start a journal, each day write down what you are thinking. It is habit forming however not boring as the subject matter changes everyday when you are forced to think of something to put down on paper. Nobody is reading it unless you want them to so write whatever crap comes to mind. Reading it back is often fun and thought provoking.
  • Planning-even though covid has momentarily changed our freedom we can still plan for the future. go online and plan the trip of a lifetime, you may never do it but it does not hurt to dream and its fun to map it out, and at the same time you are finding lots of information about other countries.
  • Games-mind games, computer games, board games, card games or do puzzles. There are many both on line and probably some gathering dust in your cupboards. They keep your mind active and if you have someone to play with all the better. If not challenge yourself to better your skills or beat your own score.
  • Meet new people-Join a book club, a walking group, a community centre or simply say hi to your neighbours or local shopkeepers. Go to a bingo group or a dance class or join a bowls club. A few words to a stranger can make your day. Some of these things are difficult during covid restrictions however if you are reading this you have access to on line so be brave start a social media page and finds some new friends. There are many senior groups filled with people just like yourself. It could be just 5 minutes a day and it could change your life.
  • Pampering-this is something we forget to do, whether male or female we all deserve to spoil ourselves. The obvious is a long luxurious bath, a hot chocolate and a good book, a home facial, a cup of tea while sitting on the verandah listening to your favourite music, relax with a heat-pack on those aching bones, watch a movie or better still watch a comedy routine, paint your nails, watch the footy.
  • Mens/Womens sheds– of course we are talking post covid but definitely something for those who have worked hard all of their lives and not had time to develop a hobby. From what I have heard and read they give people a purpose and are a great way to meet new friends. Research on line as they are popping up in many places.
  • Yoga,Meditation,Pilates,Exercise.- Whether male or female there a on line classes for everyone. No effort as you are in your own home, nobody to see you, no cost just simple movement which is the most important thing our ageing bodies need.
  • Hydo-Water activities– another post coved activity. Local pools have lots of classes for seniors with special classes or simply do some easy stretches and leisurely swimming
  • Language Course-learn a new language on line. I have friends who have done just this and are really enjoying the process.
  • Pets– If you don’t have one and you live alone consider adopting a pet. The reasons are obvious, companionship, responsibility, fun and caring. No negatives here and no time to be bored or complacent. They wont let it happen.

I hope you have fun finding your new or renewed interest. If you have a story to tell of how you fill the hours let me know in the comments. 🌻😃