Travel South America, Peru to Brazil

Now and then I’d write my family about how my trip was going, so here’s :
My first 7 letters from South America :

1 Lima 26-2-08
We´ve started our travels in Peru. The plane rides were long and the food was nice, Sandra´s luggage took an extra day to get here, and our first hotel was pleasant. We walked around Lima and Miraflores the first day doing banking (easy), eating (expensive) and checking out the plazas and awsome architecture (refreshing). We´ve met quite a few interesting travellers too. One being a nice girl named Regina from Nebraska who is joining us on our travels up to Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Right now we´re 4 hours south of Lima in a town called Pisco and tomorrow we are going on a boat ride to some islands that are like the galapagos (but not as expensive) and a national park reserve. Right now we are in a very beautiful little hotel, and cheap, nice. We had an amazing dinner. A couple of bucks for a delicious fish and rice soup, a plate of tasty spaghetti that barely anyone could finish, and a drink and dessert. So good, we may go back tomorrow for more. We want an early night so we can get up early for the boat. The internet places here are a little harder to find but I´ll write againwhen I can. Talk to you later. Shannon xoxo

2 From Pisco 29-2-08
Yesterday´s sandboarding trip was amazing, we took a dune buggy through the desert and sandboarded down some pretty steep hills. We also watched the sunset over the desert and sand dunes and went to see an oasis. We are staying in an oasis right now with a small town built around it called Huacahina. It is a very nice place and our hotel is quite pretty with a pool and friendly staff. We´ve met lots of other travellers and learned alot about other places to travel in Peru and around the world. Really interesting stories and very nice people. There is a nice little restaurant at the end of the block that we enjoy greatly and eat at everyday. The first night (2nights ago) we took a Pisco tour. Pisco is the native drink here, named after the town we stayed in previously. Pisco tastes like very sweet wine, we also got a history lesson about it, I´ve never felt so touristy before. I also met someone form Victoria who knows my dad and bought oysters from him, small world huh. Our boat trip to the Islas Ballestas the other day was facinating, very informational on the wildlife and we got to see lots of birds and sealions. We saw a mommy sea lion teach her young to swim, it was only a month old. The sea lions were very loud. We saw penguins, boobies, pelicans, seagulls and the islands that they live on are used to harvest their poop as some of the most expensive fertilizer. It smelled like dead starfish. After that we toured the Paracas national park. It was beautiful and we learned alot about the history and conservation of the area. It was really fun. Tonight regina is going to Arequipa to stay and take spanish lessons and us three girls are taking an overnight bus to Cuzco. I´ll write from there next. Shannon xoxo

3 Sacred Valley 3-3-08
We´ve been pretty busy lately. Our overnight bus was kinda scary, luckly it was dark the whole time so I didn´t have to see the steep cliffs we were driving along. We checked into Loki Hostel once we arrived in Cuzco. We walked around town a bit and booked a tour and a train to take us to Machu Picchu. Today we toured ruins in the Sacred Valley all day today (unfortunately got burnt again, but the ruins were amazing) and then will stay in a town at the bottom of Machu Picchu (Augascalientes) overnight so we can get an early start up the mountain. When we get back to Cuzco, it’s off to Puno and Lake Titicaca, then crossing over to Bolivia. We plan to get our Brazilian visas there then visiting the salt flats on our way to Iguacu Falls on the boarder of Argentina and Brazil. Then we will start travelling southern Brazil before heading back to Argentina. Thats what we think our plans are anyway. I´ll update closer to those times. Take care, Love Shannon xoxo

4 Puno and Lake Titicaca 6-3-08
Wow, Machu Picchu was wonderful, and Katie and I hiked Wayana Picchu which is the tall mountian beside Macchu Picchu. I really liked it. I was quite out of breath some of the time since the air in the mountains is so thin but I had a very good time and lots of energy. Went to the very top and enjoyed the breath taking view of all the mountains and land around us. Took tonnes of pictures! People from all over the world come to see Machu Picchu so we met all sorts of people and it was neat to hear all the different accents and languages spoken around us. Saw lots of llamas and i think I saw a condor (a bird sacred to the Incas). After our busy day of hiking and exploring, we went back to Cuzco on the train and spent the night in Loki Hostel again. I like it there, we meet backpackers from all over and learn about other places in south america and the world to visit. The breakfast is also included there and we get lots of tea. The next morning we got up early to catch a bus to Puno and here we are. So… today we had another very productive day, we boated to the Uros Islands on Lake Titicaca and learned about how the natives build the floating islands and how they live and about the environment of the lake. I really like the floating Uros Islands, they´re very soft to walk on. A cute little girl we met on the islands saw Sandra eating a sucker when we were there and started to cry because she wanted one too so Sandra made her super happy and gave her the last one. We were told we´re allowed to give the children candy and things but not money. It was a beautiful sunny day but for some reason, rained a little bit around 6pm and there was some sheet lightning. When we got back to Puno we went out for lunch and had the menu of the day which is often a 2 or 3 course meal of soup, pasta, meat, drink and a dessert and usually cheaper than everything else. Today it was a bit of lasagne, a meat and veggie soup, and chicken spaghetti and a jello, all very yummy and filling. Hmm, whatelse? We´ve been on the go for most of the trip so this evening we relaxed in our hotel which happens to have tv and we watched some shows in english with spanish subtitles. It made us feel at home, haha. Well, that most of whatI can think of for now, feel free to write me anytime, I´ll do my best to write back asap. Lots of Love Shannon xoxo

5 Now in the most expensive place in Chile!! 14-3-08
Our 3 day excursion around the salt flats of Bolivia was fantastic! We drove all over the giant lake of salt and went to a nature reserve island in the middle of it. Beautiful, fun, and had the biggest cactuses I´ve ever seen! Three other girls were also travelling with us (2 from New Zealand and 1 from South Africa) so we all had a blast together. We learned a bit about harvesting the salt and some more about salt lakes. It was crazy white, like snow, so we all had our shades on the whole time. We stayed in a salt hotel that night and had a nice dinner and watched a lightning storm before bed.Up before the sun, we got ready to drive for another few hours and saw some neat caves that used to be under sea and had alge, seaweed and coral fomations in it. Close by there was also an ancient grave site of the Kachwa people of Bolivia. The graves were dug up and there were a few human skulls lying around, they were really small. Our guide told us they were fully grown but the people then were very small and short. I thought they were kids. Another few hours drive over Andean desert, we viewed a red lake, volcanoes and lots of volcanic material, flamingoes and some semi-famous stone formations (stone tree). The hostel we stayed in that night was *ahem* quite unique (cold, scary washroom, no showers, stone beds) but it was safe.Another early morning (about 5am) we left and experienced geysers, pretty darn cool! We even warmed our hands over them since the air was might chilly at about 5000m above sea level. After another colourful lake (green) we reached the boarder of Chile, passed immigration, and are now in the town of San Pedro de Atacama on the Atacama desert. We just went out to dinner, it was very unsatisfactory. Sandy and KT had Chili (yep, in Chile) hoping it would be good, it wasn´t, it sucked and was too spicy, so I gave them some of my icecream to cool their mouths down. Tomorrow we´re getting on a 10 hour bus to Salta (in Argentina), then it´s another day or 2 drive to Iguazu Falls from there. I´m reading a few good books so it´s not going to be that boring. And I hear the Argentinian busses are the best in S.America. They even have bathrooms.

6 Argentina is Beautiful!!! 21-3-08
I really enjoy the busses here in Argentina just like I thought I would. They are everything I thought they were: pretty clean, comfy, airconditioned, expensive, usable bathrooms, satisfactory movies, drinks and food (even though it´s all sugar). I finished the book I was reading (The Life of Pi) on the 24hr bus from Salta to Puerto Iguazu. Tonight we´re about to get on another bus to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil (also 24hrs). Sandra is lending me her novel that she just finished so I plan to not be bored at all. Iguazu Falls are beautiful! We went to the national park in Argentina 2 days in a row. We took a jungle and speed boat tour the first day, drove up the rapids and went under part of the falls and got completely soaked (it was a hot day anyway). The second day we did more walking around and taking pivctures and got totally soaked from the falls again but we wern´t under them. We were standing very close to them on a platform and the wind would blow through the mist from the falls and blow it straight into my face. Felt awsome, especially since it was very hot out. Quite a nice cooling sensation. It dried very quickly! The Falls were quite the sight to see. We also got our Brazillian visas here in Puerto Iguazu. It was quite easy but more expensive than most places. Well I have a lot more to write about but have to go to catch our bus, will write again from Brazil. Shan xoxo

7 Beach in Copacabana, near Rio Brazil! 25-3-08
We finally hit up the beaches here in Brazil and are leaving today to go to a smaller surf town an hour or so north of here. We stayed the first few nights in a part of Rio de Janeiro called Botafogo. The hostel there was pretty bad so we moved into the one we´re in now in Copacabana. Its closer to the beach and good places to eat and we met up with a bunch of Katie´s friends from Nelson. So now there about 10 of us girls traveling together for the next few days, good times.So far we´ve been exploring the Rio markets, doing some shopping, eating lots, theres pretty good food here. Lots of buffets that charge by the kilo. I ate so much last night, plenty of dessert too, then I topped it off with a big mango smoothie.Yesterday we layed on the beach for the first time, it was cloudy but it was still hot out.The night before last, we all went out to a favela party (locals party in the slums). The whole dance floor was a sea of sweaty dancing people. It was intense, so much booty shakin, guys were dancing like Nsync (really good, they must practice), the floor was drenched in beer and mud and cans, our feet and legs were disgusting by the end of the night. Definately a night to remember.Its so hot here, I love it, bikinis and sarongs and short skirts everyday. I usually dont dress like that when I´m traveling but everyody here dresses however they want, ppl of every body type wearing lil bathing suits, men in speedos, you´re out of place if you dont wear small beach clothing. Its really cool, ppl dont seem so afraid of showing their bodies. Its so different from everyelse I´ve traveled. Sort of hard to get used to. Brazil is unbeliavably different from the rest of south america that I´ve been to.Today´s bus ride (am hour or so) will be a nice change from our usual 12 or 24 hour busses (which wern´t bad, I slept almost the whole ride on the way here and watched a few movies). I´m really loking forward to surfing in the next town we go to and am glad about having more beach time. Write ya later, feel free to write back! Love Shannon xoxo

I think i totally skipped writing about Bolivia, Uruguay, and our trip back to Argentina and Peru and the USA.

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