I write to you today from the shores of Lake Titicaca in Copacabana, Bolivia. It has been a LONG time since we last wrote so we will split it into two entries. We´re all about time savings as we begin the rest of our South American journey and attempt to make it to Buenos Aries for December 16.
I will finish off where Tyler left off...the bottom of Machu Picchu in a small town called Aguas Calientes which translates into Hot Water...as they have a set of hot springs to visit after long arduous journies on the Inca Trail. We arrived on the 21st and spent the afternoon saying goodbye to friends we had made on our four day trek. We were the only two out of the 16 in our group who decided to stay an extra night in this town. It was a cute town, no cars at all because the only way in or out is by train...no roads to get into the famous mountain and ruins. You have to trek...or train it. It was VERY touristy as many older people and ones who don´t have the time to do the Inca Trail come here as a base for their tour of the ruins. It was very much like Cusco but much more clean and MUCH smaller. We spent the late afternoon soaking away our muscle aches in the hot springs! It was kind of funny, a nice setting on the top of a hill overlooking the village...there were about 5 ´pools´in all. Some were warmer than others but all were equally cloudy and dingy looking. I got over the smell and appearance pretty quickly as I felt my body start to relax in the suprisingly hot/warm waters. They had natural sand bottoms which, combined with the millions of peoples stench and sweat and pee, contributed to the murkiness. They had some cold showers and also some HOT showers to really get some soothing action. We left just before a group of about 40 children with full bladders came rolling in...perfect timing!
We stayed in a rather dingy hostel that was cheap and had hot showers...a must in these higher altitude places where it can get pretty cold at night. We had a nice dinner, about $5 US each to celebrate our 1 year anniversary. My favourite part was probably the freshly deep fried donuts that I got for 50 cents from a little street vendor in a back alley. SO yummy. We fell asleep REALLY quick that night as it was our first night on a real bed after 3 nights on the hard Peruvian ground. The great thing about hotels in Peru is that they all have about 3 or 4 thick wool blankets and fresh sheets on the beds, no matter how cheap your hostel is. We woke up, despite having earplugs in, at about 4 or 5 am to a loud knocking on our door, and about 2 or 3 roosters cawing like mad. I think it was the hostel staff trying to wake people up who wanted to go to Machu Picchu early in the morning. We had our hearts set on sleeping in, so managed to fall back asleep. I woke up with a black tongue?! It was the freakiest thing! Tyler was still sleeping and I went for nice hot shower and brushed my teeth and then I spit into the sink and it was black?? I opened my mouth and stuck out my tongue and no lie, it was black! I was able to brush it all off...it turned my toothbrush black but I was more concerned about getting it out of my body to care. I immediately woke up Tyler and demanded he stick out his tongue. His was normal. I start to panic a bit. I hadn´t eaten anything that he didn´t have...for some funny reason, I always try to get him to eat what I eat, if only a little bite, so that I know I won´t have to be sick alone. Anyway...I finally realize that right before bed, I popped a pepto bismal tablet to soothe my grumbly tummy. It must have reacted with my saliva or something and caused this black mouth syndrome?! If any doctors or dentists have any insight into this, I would LOVE to hear it!! Needless to say, it was a one time thing and I am fine. :)
We started off our anniversary day with no electricity. No hot water, no power to charge our camera battery and no water to flush the toilets. We thought that our hostel was just being irritating but it turned out that the whole town was without electricity and it didn´t end up coming on until 3pm that day! This but a stopper to our plans of emailing and catching up and putting our photos onto a CD to have as a backup. We ended up each getting a massage at a great spa type place that gave us a $5 discount beacause we weren´t able to use the steam shower or sauna and didn´t have the nice soothing Enya music that makes a massage so much nicer. $20 for a one hour massage was a pretty good deal. We were both VERY impressed with our Inca/Swedish/Thai massages that we got. The funny part of it was that we took all of our laundry in to be washed that day so Tyler was going commando. The guy walked in before Tyler had hopped up onto the bed to cover himself so he was just standing there, naked, trying to say one more minute in spanish. I was in the other ¨room¨separated by a sheet and was giggling to myself. They do a lot of wierd stretches and stuff with the leg massages so Tyler could only think about the view that the poor masseuse was getting while his privates lay for all to see as he was contorted into wierd positions...funny. The other funny thing was that Tyler´s feet STINK and he was wearing bare feet in his STINKY shoes the whole day. He thought he got through the massage without the poor guy having to touch his feet...and then he goes and gently picks up one stinky feet and begins to massage...then the other stinky foot. I can´t even imagine what this poor masseuse was thinking. Well, he got his revenge. Right after the foot massage, he gingerly moves over to Tyler´s head where he starts rubbing his freshly stinky hands all over Tyler´s face, mouth, and head. Tyler had to laugh. All in all, they were GREAT massages and we were really relaxed. We took the train back to Cusco after spending the afternoon in darkness, writing postcards and waiting for the power to come on. The guy in the massage place was SO trusting as he told us to come back before we got our train so that we could pay him with VISA. As the good Canadians that we are, we went back before the train and the power had just come back so we were able to pay. We got back to Cusco and ate some amazing carrot cake and chocolate cake at a nice little cafe before conking off to sleep and waking up early for our train ride to Puno.
The train was supposed to be a ¨great¨experience and so much more scenic and relaxing than the bus. First of all, for some reason, I didn´t realize that the ride was a whopping 10 hours!! The bus was only 6 and cost even less, but it was recommended to take the train. We arrive and get going and all is well. We sat accross from an older german couple who were kind and spoke a bit of english so were telling us all about their 4 week journey through S.America with two other couples. A couple of hours into our ride, we get hungry and eat all the food that we had...(including most of our gorp, Raina!!) I kicked Tylers ass at cribbage and then took him to town for three straight games of Texas Holdem. I was on a major role. I started to feel a tiny teensy bit bad cause I had just killed him the day before at a game of chess. I was on a role. We enjoyed the scenery and I finished my book after about 4 hours in. Not a good idea, as I was left with not much to do for the next 6 hours!! We made a 15 minute stop in a tiny little place in the middle of nowhere and there were two little spots to buy some cookies and drinks. I pick one and get a pack of vanilla wafers and a yogurt drink. Yum. We get back onto the train and sit down and look over to see the table of four people beside us mowing down on fresh empenadas and meaty, doughy goodness. TYlers mouth starts salivating and he asks if they just go them at the last stop. Of course, the ONLY other vendor was selling these at her stand which we did not see. They didn´t offer us a single bite despite Tyler´s dripping mouth. If that isn´t bad, the germans accross the table pull out a huge bag of fresh bread, salami, cheese, mayo, butter and begin to make delicious looking sandwich after sandwich. I get out a napkin to dab Tylers mouth.
After about 6 hours, Tyler gets a HUGE pain in his teeth. His wisdom tooth that was giving him some problems in the summer, starts to hurt and he is in INTENSE pain. We make it to Puno where a friend, who took the luxury bus for half the price and got there three hours earlier, was waiting for us. He had a triple room already booked and life was good. We immidiately seek out a pharmacy to get something better than ibuprofin for Tylers aching mouth. We bought some killer peruvian drugs of an unknown variety after sign languaging the problem to the pharmacist. They cost $0.30 each and seem to be doing the trick. I also have anbesol which is helping. Tyler had visions of Tom Hanks bashing out his tooth with a skate and was starting to get nervous. It seems to be doing better today and hopefully, it is just the wisdom tooth moving around and will go away soon.
We spent the night eating delicious, cheap, Peruvian food and ended off with a free rum and coke in a bar. They ALL offer free drinks to get you to come in and then you just have to leave and go to the next bar for another free drink. You can get REALLY drunk, REALLY fast doing just this! We stopped after one drink as we were all pretty tired. We woke up early and made our way to the bus stop...only AFTER we hit about EVERY store in Puno looking for some salami, cheese, mayo and fresh bread to take on our next journey. You only have to experience something once before you learn your lesson. The direct luxury buses were all booked for the day so we headed over to the ¨local¨bus stop and hopped into a little van FILLED with people headed for the Bolivian border. From there we were to catch another small van to Copacabana...
I will fill you in on this journey in the next episode...too much e-travelling at once isn´t good for you. Now...back to work!!!
Lots of love,