Saturday, June 5, 1999

Greetings from Cusco Peru!

When I last wrote y'all We were headed up Colca Canyon to see the Condors. They were spectacular! Dozens of them all soaring above the canyon. Wingspans of 9 feet! Huge birds of prey, but not as big as the California Condor.
The guide wanted to know why we came all the way to Peru to see these monsters when we have bigger ones at home; so I had to explain to her that while we have bigger Condors in CA, we only have 7 of them, so there is no chance of seeing them.
After Colca Canyon, we boarded the night train to Juliaca where you change trains to Cusco. There was a Frenchman on the train who refused to drink alone, so I had to help him finish off a couple bottles of Rum. The next day was not pretty. Ever have a hangover at 13000 feet? It hurts!!!
To compound it, I had to be on another train for 6 more hours!!!! And Peruvian trains give anything but a smooth ride.
Cusco is a beautiful city (if somewhat of a traveler's Ghetto) and the oldest continually inhabited city in South America - It was founded in the 12th Century! It is also the starting point for the infamous Inca Trail to Machu Pichu.
Last night we returned from Machu Pichu - After a grueling 4 day hike to the site over a 1000 year old trail with about 30,000 feet of vertical change (up and down and up and down and up and down, with the highest point at 14,000 ft above sea level - VERY skinny air). While grueling, the hike was one of the most spectacular things that I have ever done.
You could not ask for better scenery. The ruins themselves were also nothing to shake a stick at - probably the most impressive ones that I have ever seen! You certainly missed out Chris for not coming!
Well, we are off for Lake Titicaca and Copacabana in Bolivia!
Cheers! MRA

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