Farewell

Feb 26th

I am writing to you from a computer in the Lima airport. The last few days in Lima with Stephen were great and this afternoon Ale and Ishmael got back from the coast which happily completed the bon voyage. Today Stephen and I got up and went for a walk, followed it up with a hearty breakfast of omelettes, pastries, and fruit. Then we rested before a late lunch with the happy couple.

We ate at a lovely restaraunt in Barranco and after Ish, Ale, and I drove around the Peninsula to Wendy’s beautiful waterfront studio. We just hung out and caught up on our time apart having a gay old time.

Then we headed back to the apartment for a quick pack and a shower and then it was off to the airport.

It has been a great trip from my point of view and a great life experience for me in every way. Thank you to everyone who made this possible and thanks also to our avid blog readers. Hope you have been able to enjoy the trip at least a little because I have thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Much Love and cannot wait to see you folks back in the 206!

On my way home,

Mitchell

Posted 2 years ago

Seconds from Home

Feb 21

Hard to think about anything but Seattle with my flight only five days away but I am doing my best to enjoy these last couple of moments in Peru. Currently in Arequipa, the second largest city in Peru after Lima and home to one of the deepest canyons in the world. 

Going to take today to tour the city itself and get a hold on another South American city. I will try to let you know how it goes later.

Hope all is well,

Mitchell

Posted 2 years ago

A couple of pictures in case you really do not have any access to facebook! 

Feels Like Home

Feb 19th

Currently at el Albergue uploading photos to Facebook because it is a much faster process than Tumbling. I am only posting roughly 50 of the 400 photos I took those 4 days so if you really like one picture but something about it is just off, never fret, I probably have at least 3 more just like it. Also I apologize in advance or a little late depending on when you look at the photos for the fact that about half of them are goofy pictures of me. That´s just who I am. 

If you are not friends with me and so cannot see the pictures then I guess it is about time we became friends. Any follower of the Ollanta Explorers is a friend of mine, just hit me up with a request.

Enjoy, because I most certainly did,

Mitchell

Posted 2 years ago

Audible

Feb 19th

A huge change in plans since last we spoke. I am writing to you from Cusco as I decided it would be nice to visit my cousin Joaquin one last time to thank him for all he has done for us and this seemed like an appropriate time to do so as well as probably my only option. Another reason for this indirect route to Arequipa was that Oruro at Carnival time happens to be the worlds biggest cluster and it was impossible to either book a room or get a bus out to anywhere but La Paz and so I went straight through La Paz and woke up this morning in Cusco!  I plan to take a bus to Arequipa tomorrow after visiting el Albergue one last time tonight. 

The last couple of days were not the best but I tried to make the most of them. I arrived as scheduled in Oruro at 3 am after first looking at every possible website to try and book a room but they all had to be bought with special 3 day packages that cost hundreds of US dollars. So I arrived in Oruro in a sketchy neighborhood in the middle of the night with all my stuff and nowhere to stay. Luckily the area is full of hostels and hotels but after being turned down from 8 of them I was starting to think sleeping in the bus station might not be so bad.

One hotel said it had rooms available but when I talked to the front desk it was a 3 day 150 dollar package only and by then it was 4 in the morning and I was thinking that staying in Oruro one minute longer than I had to sounded like no fun at all. So instead I asked him if I could sleep on his couch until morning and then leave which I had to pay about 8 bucks for and he kicked me out at 6 am. And then after a lot of terrible bus station struggles and booking issues of which I will spare you the details I have arrived in Cusco, sadly without a Chilean stamp on my passport. 

But the future is looking bright and the last few days really were not as bad as they sounded… kind of.

Mitchell

P.S. I forgot to mention in my last post that on the Salar de Uyuni I taught my group how to ghost ride. But something was lost in the translation to the driver and so without warning he just jumped out of the car! It turned into quite the frenzy but it was really, really fun.

Posted 2 years ago

Salar de Uyuni

Feb 17th

Just arrived in Uyuni after my amazing 3 night trip from Tupiza to get here. Today was the most wonderful day of the trip by far and that is definitely saying something. I left Tupiza on Valentine´s day in a big Jeep with a Driver, our guide, and a couple from Amsterdam rounding out the group. The first day we went from desert, to plains, back to desert, and then into the mountains finally resting in a village at just over 4000 meters elevation. There we played a little basketball, had a nice dinner, and then went to bed at 7.30 in preperation for the 4.45 wake up call the next morning… yikes.

Fortunately we all made it out of bed in time and took off to our first destination of the mountainside town of San Pedro (just made this name up but I think it was named after a saint anyway) snuggled against an absolutely gorgeous mountain it is a breathetaking (literally… we were at almost 5000 meters) abandoned town, nearly rivaling the beauty even if not the wonder of Machu Picchu. After a brief time there we drove the rest of the day through amazing mountains and lagoons until we reached the National Park where we eventually came to rest in a small tourist town comprised of two hostels and one house.

The third day started off with a bang but by then we were all a little tired of the endless driving and so the rest of the day, though unquestionably gorgeous, was a little less fun. We woke up early again and went to the red lagoon famous for being home to thousands of flamingos! With mountains on all sides of the massive lagoon and flamingos every couple of feet the views were awesome and we spent over an hour taking a picture of every individual flamingo (slight exageration). After that we drove for a while to the famous rock formations and those were what we saw for most of the rest of the day. Rocks, mountains, and lagoons. In honesty this probably would have been the best of the first 3 days if it wasn´t for the general tiredness of the group along with the knowledge that the next day was to be by far the most memorable and aweing.

Today was another early wake up call but incredibly worth it. We got to the Salar de Uyuni in time to watch the vivid red sun rise over the mountains and reflect all across both sky and ground. For those that don´t know it is currently rainy season in Bolivia, and although we were lucky on our trip to not see much rain the salt flats are currently covered with 2 to 4 inches of water which acts as a mirror and reflects everything the eye can see. The salt flats are massive so in most cases what the eye can see is clouds, jeeps, and an occasional faraway mountain.

We spent hours taking serious pictures, goofy pictures, and beautiful landscape pictures before finally getting so wet and covered in salt that we decided to climb onto the roof of the jeep as to not get the inside too dirty, and head back to the hostel. It was a day full of laughter and tons of fun and I believe over 1000 pictures between the two cameras. The internet here is far to slow to upload any pictures but know that some are coming at the next possible oppurtunity. Overall it was an absolutely spectacular 4 day trip and I recommend it to anyone who can make it down to Bolivia. Trully amazing sights.

Tonight at 8 I take an unfortunately timed bus that arrives in Oruro at 3 am. But hopefully it will be worth it as tomorrow marks the biggest day of Carnaval in Bolivia with Oruro being the Carnaval capitol. Carnaval in Bolivia is not much more than the biggest water and shaving cream fight known to man… so it should be quite the event. After tomorrow I hope to head to the coast of Chile just to squeeze one more country into my trip but we shall see.

Hope you all had a great V-Day and told that special someone that you cared.

Personally I love you all,

Keep doing your thing,

Mitchell

Posted 2 years ago

Feb 13th

Today was and is a day of relaxation. Tomorrow I set off on a 3 night 4 day trip to the salt flats (salar de uyuni if you want to look it up) and so instead of being super adventurous and horseback-riding today, after exploring the town a bit I decided to hang out by the pool for a couple of hours with some new friends from Germany which is what I´m doing currently. 

The last few days were pretty uneventful although I have experienced quite the rollercoaster of accomodations; from Loki (albeit a private room), to an 18 hour bus ride with no bathroom where I practically shared a seat, to my current accomodations of a hotel with a pool, and my own private room with a bathroom and tv for a tremendous splurge on my part of 15 dollars tonight. 

The one interesting thing that happened was that in my first night in Tupiza (last night) the power went out while I was at dinner and I had to find my way back to the hotel through town during a black out in a pretty sketchy neighborhood… so that was fun. But all´s well that ends well and I made it home safe and sound.

Excited and ready to take off for the salar tomorrow which I hear is otherworldly. May or may not have internet in the next four days I´m not really sure so don´t count on entries but if you get one I´ll try for some cool pictures.

Mitchell

Posted 2 years ago

Day 4: La Paz

Feb 10th

Yesterday was a long, long travel day from Puno, Peru to La Paz, Bolivia. I elected to go the cheap route which meant collectivos (by definition overcrowded rickety van) all the way. I left my hostel in Puno at 10 and arrived in La Paz at 6 with an unfortunate delay at the border. The man stamping me out of Peru claimed that on my last entrance I had only asked for 30 days instead of the customary 90 which  meant I had to pay a 9 day overtime fee plus an extra fee just because the man said so. I was already pretty mad at this point so when the Bolivian guards on the other side asked if they could check my bag I kindly said, ¨NO.¨ They pulled me into a small room with two guards and then called a third guy in and at this point the noises coming out of my mouth were approaching a growl. So that man asked where I had learned Spanish and I said Cusco, and he said, ¨that´s great! we were going to check you for drugs but since you were in Cusco I´m sure you´re clean.¨ I stood there stunned for a couple seconds because as far as I could tell based on the offers I had received Cusco has more drugs than anywhere else in all of Peru. But I decided not to argue the point and instead left without a word a little confused. 

There were some more problems on the other side with attaining my visa but I´ll shorten the story to say that I am now in La Paz and I believe the government is fully aware of this fact and accepts my presence here.

Tonight will be my second night in my third Loki of this trip and after a wild one yesterday I hope tonight will be a little more relaxed. Due to a scheduling error on their part I am in my own private two bed room and so I think I will probably be able to get to sleep before the customary bed time of 4 am they seem to live by here. 

Today I walked around La Paz going to the witch market and a couple of other interesting places but other than a tasty sandwich for lunch it has been a fairly uneventful day. La Paz really isn´t my style and so tomorrow I plan to take a bus down south to Tupiza (the wild west of Bolivia) where I may do a day of  horse back riding and biking or just head straight to the salt flats. I´m hoping this will be possible but do to some commotion on the roads the buses aren´t even running today so we´ll see how tomorrow goes. 

Mitchell

Posted 2 years ago

Photos from TITICACA