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Conquering (ok, surviving) the Andes

I thought I knew pain...until I did the Inca trail. I thought I knew cold...until I went to Uyuni. I was born & raised in tropical islands so this is definitely the roughest trip I have ever done. Every part of my body was just resisting the high altitude & freezing temperature. As soon as I landed in Cusco, I was just gasping for air (& inhaled a lot of diesel fumes in the process). That should have been my clue that the Inca trail was gonna kill me. Anyway, my trip to Bolivia & Peru was amazing! I can say that now because (aside from 2 bruised toes) I'm fully recovered & not hurting anymore. Peru has a rich cultural & natural heritage. Bolivia is wild. There were so many amazing sights. Oh, another good part- I was alternating between eating ice cream & a bag of M&Ms a day & I still lost weight! Gotta love South America.

View Andean Adventure in a larger map  
Highlights: The freakin' Inca trail & the other worldly Salt flats
Cast of Characters: I traveled by myself (as usual) but got to meet a bunch of wonderful folks en route. I'm usually alone unless I join a tour.
For the Inca trail- I did the hike with some fellow Americans, mostly from California. It was awesome! They worked at Pixar or Lucas Arts & did all the effects animated movies like Up, Brave, Toy Story etc. They also did the effects for Transformers & Star Wars. So freakin' cool!
In Bolivia I did the Salt flats tour with the coolest folks from Netherlands & Japan. Senna, Han, Manami, O2 & Kazuo. They were awesome!!! People make the experience so much more enriching & memorable.
Logistics/ Links: I'll put up links to my blog posts on the countries soon.  
When: I traveled around Peru & Bolivia from May 3-25, 2012. The weather was perfection. It was so beautiful. Cold, but beautiful.  
Location: See map for places visited. 
Cost: I think my budget was more mid-range for this trip. I spent an average of $15/ night for my own room with private bathroom, hot showers, wifi, sometimes with a sad little breakfast. Meals are about $5-7 average. I'm afraid to tally up my daily budget. I list my expenses daily & put it in a spreadsheet. I do not want to know how much I overspent on this journey.
Trip Report: I'm beginning to discover my travel personality. I have this whole bucket list of places to visit & things to do. My list is inspired by a dozen other travel must-do lists I've seen online. I'm finding a lot of them are over rated or just not for me. Such as multi-day high altitude mountaineering. No more Annapurna circuit or Everest base camp for me, I think.

I was always wondering why Mexicans can't just start teaching everybody in English (because a lot of Mexicans migrate to US). Then I went to South America. Everybody speaks Spanish. That whole continent (except Brazil) & Central America speak Spanish. All the tourists learn or try to speak in Spanish. Europeans there speak Spanish. Gone are the arrogant American tourists who talk louder when the other person doesn't speak English. All the American tourists there are cultured & multi-lingual. I realized there's a bigger chance of North Americans learning Spanish, than Latinos learning English. Habla Espanol? Un poco.

Peru is incredibly rich. They have deserts, beach side cities, jungles, ancient cities in the clouds, Lake Titicaca, rich history & culture. I only went to the Salt flats & La Paz in Bolivia, but it was totally worth the ridiculously expensive visa & freezing my ass off at Uyuni. It's not the easiest or cheapest trip but definitely an experience I will never forget.

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