3/01/01: Inca Trail: Fired up for our journey on the Inca Trail, we boarded our minibus with our hiking partners from Hong Kong, England and Holland. There was a short stop at Ollantaytambo to buy a bunch of worthless coca leaves and see our first ruins... ruins... and then we packed our gear and started our pleasant stroll through the Andes to Machu Picchu at kilometer 82. Setting the trail on fire, we set a blistering pace only to be slowed to a snails crawl on our first ascent to our first campsite. Enjoying a very fine dinner (honestly) we all pondered what was ahead for us since this was the "easy" day according to the trail description and the "challenging" day was tomorrow. We collapsed into bed at 8pm with Inca Ruins dancing in our heads.
3/02/01: Inca Trail: Breakfast... rain... stairs... stairs... stairs... more stairs... rain ... mist... pain... pain... pain like we have never fealt before... pain beyond that... thin air... rain... dead woman´s pass at 4,200m, a 3,200ft climb... serious pain... cold... extreme cold... momentary elation... pure delusion... stairs down... more pain than going up... rain... the trail is a river... pain... lunch in the rain... get there... move on because it hurts to stop... stairs... more stairs... ruins... cold ruins... stairs... pain... second pass 4,000m... mist... down again... ruins... beautiful mystical ruins... campsite in the mud... utter complete exhaustion... dinner... coma.
3/03/01: Inca Trail: "Get there" The longest day in the history of Man. Though we avoided having to build a close competitor to Noah´s Arc last night due to the torrential downpour, our 5am awakening was no treat. We ventured out through the mud puddles for our 6 hour hike to Machu Picchu, attempting to ignore the pain and fatigue built up during the last couple of days. Accompanying us on our journey away from the rest of the group was one porter, Valerio. Through sarcasm and a high threashold for pain, the 4 of us (plus porter) managed our way to a hostal, where we savored the best cold Coke ever. Feeling reassured, we ventured out again for the final 2 hours to Machu Picchu. The relatively lazy beginning, of course, quickly transformed into very steep, quad burning steps. Despite numerous discussions about hurling ourselves off the path to end the torture once and for all, we pressed on and FINALLY attained a view of our wonderous goal. Get there. The final downhill hour, though tortuous on the knees, was beautiful. We entered Machu Picchu, were described to the very lazy train riding tourists as "hikers", and unloaded our packs for a quick tour. We enjoyed some hot mineral baths in Aguas Calientes amidst the downpour before boarding the train - not to Cuzco, but to somewhere along the way as the train tracks had "broken". Get there. After a brief 3 hour train ride, our guide Valerio, helped us onto a small minivan containing 16 people for the rida back to Cuzco. Falling in and out of sleep and narrowly avoiding numerous head on collisions, we actually made it back to Cuzco at 10pm, into a taxi, and back to Hotel Arqueologo. The brief 50ft "Inca Walk" from the street to our hotel consisted of 4 fit young men who could not actually use any muscles in their legs. Bed. Sleep. Pain.
3/04/01: Cuzco - Puno: Dragging our tired bones and sore muscles out of bed, we set off to Puno on Lake Titicaca. Having to weed our way through packed streets with traditional dancers and musicians everywhere, we learned that Carnival never ends. We set ourselves down with a few pitchers and attempted to describe our Inca Trail oddyssey for the journal with DJ and Shawn serving as guest writers.
3/05/01: Puno: Laundry day, a well needed one after the Inca Trail. After that we set out for lunch and after our ever present rain subsided, off to the Port to go visit the floating islands of the Uros people. Truly unique, these people live on Lake Titicaca in islands made of reeds. Those reeds, from the lake itself, are placed upon eachother until they actually float the island, the buildings (huts) and people. The ground is springy, and as DJ found out, your foot can go through the island into the lake itself. After a couple of hours out in the lake we went back to Puno for dinner and then to update the website.
3/06/01: Puno - La Paz: After 10 days of leisurely travel with the Wanderboys, we bid farewell to Shawn and boarded our bus to La Paz. An easy border crossing into Bolivia was a welcome relief, but the presence of life preservers on the second bus gave reason for concern. What exactly did we need life jackets on a bus for? Everything became clear when we were told to don our life jackets and board a small boat while our bus was ferried across a channel in Lake Titicaca on a small barge. We arrived in La Paz, checked into a 3 star bus package hotel (a great deal) and sampled a bit of the night life.
3/07/01: La Paz: Most of today was spent walking in circles around La Paz, and running administrative errands such as our Brazilian Visa and DJ´s ticket back to Lima. On one of our many circles around town, we happened upon the witches market. It took all our powers of persuasion to convince DJ that the problems he would encounter smuggling a dried up llama fetus back to Palo Alto were not worth it, reluctantly he gave in. We managed to overcome the urge to shop our hearts out at the witches market, probably due to the foul smell, and moved on. We caught the afternoon matinee of "Scary Movie" and found we were the only one´s laughing, it does not translate well. We had dinner with two USC chicks we met at our hotel and then off for more lost circles around town as we tasted some more of that world famous La Paz night life, toasting DJ´s last night.
3/08/01: La Paz - Potosi: With a solid hour of sleep under his belt, DJ bid us farewell early in the morning to a few grumbled "goodbye´s" from under the covers. We pulled ourselves out of bed briefly in order to drop off our Brazilian Visa applications and promptly returned to sleep for a few more hours. The rest of the day was consumed with picking up our Visa´s later in the day, buying our bus ticket to Potosi, some internet time, and getting on our night bus.
3/09/01: Potosi: Chalking one up for our bus driver we arrived in Potosi at 9am. At least 3 other buses were not as lucky as we left them in our wake stuck in various river beds along the way. Upon arrival we decided not to stay at some hotel with a dank filthy dirty bathroom. After we informed Martha Stewart of our reason for not staying, our lovely hostess was gracious enough to inform us, with a scowl, that she took offense to both our wasting her time and our state of cleanliness. For the next few minutes we amused ourselves with witty comebacks which cannot be repeated here. Suffice to say they all went to the heart of the issue which is that all we needed was a shower while she could do nothing about her permanent condition. The rest of the day was spent walking around town and visiting the Mint Museum ($ not candy) where the silver from Potosi bankrolled Spain for a few centuries. The highlight of the day was a fantastic dinner of llama with a botttle of wine, at Restaurant San Marcos, a converted silver smelter, courtesy of the Fonseca family, Thanks.
3/10/01: Potosi - Sucre: The morning was spent tackling necessary errands like buying batteries and shampoo. The real exiting stuff we are sure you are thrilled to read about. Seriously though, it took us quite an effort to track down the only shack in town that sold shampoo, with entertaining segments where Carlos would run his hands through his hair and ask shack tenders "Shampoo?". Anyway, back to the travel stuff. Our 3 hour bus ride turned into 4 hours when we blew out both left rear tires in a splendidly beautifull valley somewhere between Potosi and Sucre. Amidst some ominous thunder bolts on the horizon and whailing donkeys we took some time to pray to the bus gods as we watched the 2 flats get replaced with 2 balding spares. We arrived in Sucre safely to find a pleasant town that we liked instantly. Checking into the aptly named Grand Hotel, which was cheaper than "the less than Grand Hotel" we slept in the night before, even further widened our smiles. Some decent Chinese food lead to an evening of dancing where we felt like we were 18 again.
3/11/01: Sucre: Breakfast at the Grand Hotel was followed by a ride to the bus station with Mario Andretti. Once there we began the monumentla task of how to get to Asuncion, Paraguay from Sucre, by land. As far as we could figure, best case scenario was 46 hours by bus, weather permitting (we heard of someone actually taking 5 days to do the trip due to rain washing out roads). After lunch we walked up hill to the Recoleta Church for a slpendid view of the city and its surroundings. An intense game of hacky ensued as we once agin amused and bewildered the local kids. We had tortellini at the same place we had lunch and called it a night.
3/12/01: Sucre - Santa Cruz: Not thrilled with our bus options to Parauguay, we headed to a travel agency where we we were pleased to discover we could fly to Asuncion for a reasonable price. Having avoided a possible nightmare of spending days crossing washed out rivers left us downright giddy. Our new travel plans left us on an afternoon flight to Santa Cruz where we would fly the following day to Asuncion. Once in Santa Cruz, we enjoyed our dinner and a few drinks with giant smiles on our faces as we watched a one hour torrential downpour that we surely would have despised had we taken the bus. We finished the night off developing our first international law proposal: no establishment may call itself an "Irish Pub" if it does not serve Guiness.
3/13/01: Santa Cruz - Asuncion - Foz do Iguazu: After our first trip to McDonald´s in 2 1/2 months we headed to the airport to fly to Asuncion. We did not spend too much time in Paraguay, only long enough to go from the airport to the bus terminal where we were hassled by the Gestapo. After 5 hours on the bus to Ciudad de Este we cabbed it over the border to Foz do Iguazu in Brazil. Two border crossings in one day make a traveler thirsty and lucky for us Brazilians pride themselves on serving a very cold draft "un Choppe".
3/14/01: Foz do Iguazu: After buying our plane tickets to Rio, we headed off to see the Brazilian side of the falls. A few hours were spent taking in the impressive views from the catwalks and then to Hotel das Cataratas to fill our empty bellies. Having already been soaked walking through the heavy mist produced by the falls, we decided to cap off the day with a thorough drenching on the boat safari tour. A unique experience where you take a powerboat ride up the rapids and literally into the waterfalls. We ate a nice psuedo Mexican meal where the burritos were actually tacquitos and the quesdillas were actually tacos making us wonder what the tacos were. Some dancing at a nearby nightclub left us feeding our late night hunger at "The Trough".
3/15/01: Foz do Iguazu - Rio de Janeiro: Having coined what could become one of our mottos "The early bird just gets up early", we woke up late and rushed to see the Argentinian side of the falls. Setting a blistering pace we toured the whole area which we had seen the day before from the Brazilian side and the boat. Then off to make our flight to Rio. In Rio we stayed in Ipanema Beach and promptly had a great dinner of "Picanha a Brazileira" at the famous Garota de Ipanema. For nightlife we ended up at Meli Melo, a very impressive nightclub with an internet bar inside which prompted a few early morning "sober mailings" to our friends.
3/16/01: Rio de Janeiro: Having put on some serios miles for awhile, we were ready for a day on the beach. First though was our breakfast of "eggs" or what we thought was the Portugese translation for eggs. Instead we enjoyed our bowls of hot chicken soup, just what we wanted before a day in the sun. We walked over to Copacabana in the late afternoon for some people watching and then a fine dinner at Bar Lagoa. The club of choice for the night was Studio 54, a hefty cab ride from our neighborhood but the sights within were well worth the ride.
3/17/01: Rio de Janeiro: Today was tourist Rio. We headed from Ipanema on the bus to the train up to Corcovado to visit the Christ overlooking the city "What the hell is going on down there". From there we headed over to Sugar Loaf to ride the gandola to the top. Up top we enjoyed a game of hacky and a couple of beers as we watched the sun set over Corcovado where we had been earlier that day. For dinner we went back to our favorite restaurant Garota de Ipanema. Trying to catch Stanford´s game we ran all over Rio and had to settle for the company of Carioca locals who took us under their wing for the evening.
3/18/01: Rio de Janeiro: After 3 very late nights, it was time for another beach day. Somewhat exhausted from big city life we took in an easy night of a fast food Italian dinner and some Forro dancing with the Cariocas. Then sweet bed.
3/19/01: Rio de Janeiro - Barra da Lagoa: We woke up and bought our bus tickets to Florianopolis. Since our bus did not leave until 4:30 PM we had time to kill and did so at an internet cafe. A quick lunch and our token Ipanema picture followed. About 45 minutes into what turned out to be a 20 hour bus ride a kid threw a rock and shattered one of the windows further delaying us.
3/20/01: Barra da Lagoa: Arriving in Florianopolis and supplied with worthless information about the Santa Catarina Island from our South American Lonely Planet, we asked the smiling young tourist info girl where on the island was some good surf. With map in hand, we headed off for Barra da Lagoa. At this point, both of us were well aware that something we ate the night before was not agreeing with us. You all want travel details, you got them. We showered off the bus scum that acompanies any all nighter on a bus and headed for the beach. Were were not to thrilled with the towering 6 inch break but upon further inspection, the beach was quite beautiful and peaceful. We headed into the main part of town only to be met by the opening of the sky in a very impressive downpour. We attempted to wait it out under a bus stopp, but were finally forced into the dreanching to our dinner and then home.
3/21/01: Barra da Lagoa: Long overdue, we dropped off our laundry and headed over to tackle updating the website in Portuguese. Breakfast was quite the experience for the ladies behind the counter. Two crazy gringos walked in and ordered 2 fried eggs each, ham and OJ. After meticulous instruction and preparation they attempted to figure out what to charge us for such an outrageous morning request and watched as we ate it. It was quite good. We spent the rest of the day sitting on the beach and enjoying the tranquility. Unfortunately our evening was quite hectic figuring out how to make it to Buenos Aires. Unsuccessful at figuring it out we had dinner at a German restaurant and then off to sleep.
3/22/01: Barra da Lagoa - Buenos Aires: Still unsure about our transportation to Buenos Aires we returned to the bus station in Florianopolis early to figure things out. With a stroke of luck we found a bus later that day for a reasonable price. With just about a day to kill before catching our bus, we ended up spending our time in a mall. With food, internet, book stores, theatres, and possibly the greatest selection of beautifull women in the world, where else would be better to kill a day. The day ended with us boarding a bus for 26 short hours.
3/23/01: Buenos Aires: 26 hours on Flecha Bus and presto, Buenos Aires. Aurelia was at the bus station waiting for us and Scott watched in horror as she allowed Carlos to drive the mean streets of Buenos Aires to her apartment. A quick fumigation and shower to wash away layers of scum and off to dinner. After dinner we had some drinks at the Shamrock and then called it a night.
3/24/01: Buenos Aires: At 7am we got our wake up call from the construction crew next door. Walking around the Recloleta, we spent most of our time trying to find a place that televised the Stanford tournament game. Exhausting every last possibility, we settled for listening on the internet at Aurelia's aunt's house. Being the dedicated Stanford fans that we are, we must have tried at least 30 bars and restaurants throughout our travels with Dominical Costa Rica being the only success story. Like our team, we tried hard all season. Congrats to the 3peat PAC10 Champions. The evening was spent with Aurelia's friends, Paula, Mariano and Mariel at a Pizza Place and a Bar in Palermo Viejo.
3/25/01: Buenos Aires: Tom, our 8th Wandervisitor showed up today. Actually, we drove out to the airport to pick him up. After some luggage confusion courtesy of American Airlines we drove out to Aurelia's family's house in the suburbs of Buenos Aires for an Asado. Asado is Argentinian for barbequing and eating every single organ and piece of a cow. We were treated to a great Asado where Tom decided wisely to eat first and ask questions later. After spending the afternoon in Ranaleign we headed back to Buenos Aires for our nap and had a late dinner of empanadas at Cumana.
3/26/01: Buenos Aires: Time for tourist Buenos Aires. Starting in the Recoleta we began our walking tour with stops at the cementary (where we saw nicer gravesites than most hotels that we've stayed at), the Law School, Plaza San Martin, calle Florida, lunch at Puerto Madero, Casa Rosada, and the Congreso. Having treated Tom to a healthy dose of Wandering, we returned home to prepare for dinner. This night's meat fest was held at the Estancia where we ate another cow. The night was concluded at Kilkenny and some live music at the Newport for Tom and Scott.
3/27/01: Buenos Aires: Continuing our tour of Buenos Aires we went to La Boca, a colorful tourist trap at the edge of a cesspool port. After some pasta for lunch we headed back to our neighborhood on the local bus. After our daily nap, Paula and Aurelia joined us for dinner at Melo, in Recoleta. For dessert we walked to Recoleta park for some panqueques de dulce de leche and chocolate mouse.
3/28/01: Buenos Aires: After booking our flight to the glaciers for the following Tuesday, we picked up Tom and took a Bus to San Telmo with Carlos once again thwarting a pickpocket attempt. At this point Scott decided to remove the sign on Carlos' back that says rob me. San Telmo was a nice little area with cobblestone streets, lots of antique shops to satisfy our shopping desires, and a nice plaza for hacky. Pizza dinner back home and a few rounds at the Shamrock brought the night to a close. For some.
3/29/01: Buenos Aires: Carlos spent the morning visiting his old "workmates" at Estudio Garcia Cuerva while Scott and Tom relaxed. We all met up at the Museum of Fine Art where we saw some damn fine art. For dinner we met up with Carlos' friend Marcela, her fiancee and Aurelia's friend Diego for some empanadas before our taste of serious Buenos Aires night life at Buenos Aires News. We all danced the night away and partied like mad, some more than others. We all survived the evening to Wander another day, one less than others.
3/30/01: Buenos Aires: A mysterious black hole created by Buenos Aires News swallowed the whole morning and afternoon but the evening would not go uneventful. Wanting to experience Argentinian life to the fullest, a soccer game was in order. Carlos' friend, Emiliano, was gracious enough to treat us to a Racing Club 2-0 victory. Having been prepped to fear for our lives, we were thrilled to watch an exiting game with some very enthusiastic and well drilled fans.
3/31/01: Buenos Aires: Tom showed up at Aurelia's apartment after checking out of his hotel and we began the process of accusing the hotel of lifting his credit card and travelers checks and calling the US to cancell them. As soon as this was done we found everything and had to place an apology call. From there Tom treated us to a lunch at parrilla Mirasol down in Puerto Madero where we knocked off another cow and a goat. Freddo ice cream was our dessert of choice and we drove Tom to the airport. After our farewells, we returned for a mellow night cooking pasta at Aurelia's and watching TV.