Friday, November 21, 2008

Cuzco and Machu Picchu

Jamie was in Ecuador for a hang gliding meet when she met Gry, a woman from Bergen, Norway. A quick friendship ensued and when Jamie learned Gry intended to head for Cuzco and Machu Picchu in Peru next, Jamie admitted it was something she'd always wanted to do. "I know someone who would love to join us," Jamie added.

"On such short notice?" Gry asked.
"Watch this," Jamie answered and pulled out her iphone.

Six thousand miles away, as GW and I were sailing south, I got her text message: "What are you doing the next two weeks? Wanna join me and a new friend in Peru?"

I'd already planned to be in Lake Tahoe the next week with Carrie so Jamie and Gry trekked without me in the Cordilla Blanca, Peru's stunning 6000m mountain range.

We met the following week in the ancient city of Cuzco, the step-off point for most journeys to Machu Picchu.

For years I'd dreamed of being in Cuzco. I read John Hemming's Conquest of the Inca's with fascination while spending the winter of '05 in Ecuador. My enthusiam for the idea of walking the streets of Cuzco myself, imagining the history I'd read so much about while passing between 1000 year old Inca stonework, might equate to a Christian pilgrim's feeling about walking the streets of Jerusalem.

Gry, besides her native Norwegian and English, was fluent in Spanish as well, having spent the previous six months working in an Bolivian orphanage. This made her an exceptional travel companion. Jamie and I got to ride on the coattails of her organization and knowledge, giving us the option many times over to be spontaneous and alter our plans and route towards the ultimate goal of our visit: the ancient city of Machu Picchu. Discovered underneath dense jungle vegetation in 1911, it has been painstakingly cleared to as close to it's majestic glory as modern archeologists can surmise.

Farmland outside the city of Cusco

Jamie and I have vague plans to return next fall to extend the four day trek she and Gry undertook in the Cordilla Blanca into a nine day trek.

My photos:

Jamie's collection of photos:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Where to Live?

One of the first priorities this fall, now that I'm back in the States, was to visit Carrie in her new, post Clipper Ventures home: Lake Tahoe.

I had never been there before but, after only an extended weekend, this entire region ranks up there (right next to Spain's Bizkaia) as my kind of place to live. Florida is just a place to have a base for now, but not really the place I want to make my home.

Having Yosemite National Park just around the corner doesn't hurt, either.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Bit of Serenity

G.W. had contacted me while I was still in Russia to see if I would be free in early November to help him reposition his boat, "Serenity" from his home near Daytona to Key Largo. He's done the route many times alone but it's always good to have a second hand aboard. It's always good to spend time on a boat with good friends, too.

Unlike me, Gdub is a life-long sailor and yet he holds my sailing skills in high regard because of my circumnavigation in the Clipper Ventures race. That's kind and flattering but it's like me being part of a team that built a steel skyscraper but if you want a kitchen cabinet built, Gdub's your man. Personally, I think it's a bit more useful to be able to build a kitchen cabinet than a steel skyscraper.

Much of the voyage was spent inside the Inter Coastal Waterway, a most natural inland waterway that's lined with both humble homes and palatial spreads.

Our time scheduled allowed us to anchor each night except the last of our five day journey. To me, this is a luxury after spending up to 26 days at sea on a continuous four hours on/four hours off schedule.

Best of all, it was a great chance to spend long hours with one of the better human beings I know. Gdub is the one who told me that most of the best people he's met in life are the one's he's met in hang gliding. I'd have to agree.