Thursday, June 30, 2011

La jornada de la mochila roja y negra comienza...

La mochila roja y negra

The packing begins today....ahhh!  So much to think about!  This morning I made a list, read through some emails from friends and my travel planner for suggestions, and made the final decision about the hiker's pack.  A couple of days ago, my wonderful teacher-friend, Ms. Morgan Flagg, aka la Srta. Bandera :), gave me her hiker's pack to borrow for my trip.  This pack has seen its way through all kinds of hiking trips and even made it through Italy with her.  She's one of my go-to people for all things outdoorsy and she's a trooper just like I hope to be. 

Ms. Morgan Flagg
La Srta. Bandera

I am so grateful for all her help!  (She also gave me a book to read-and, boy, it's a long set of flights there and back!)  When taking a look this morning at her hiker's pack and the one that that my mother picked up for me...there definitely was a standout.

Las dos mochilas en frente del mapa en mi comedor.

La mochila roja y negra grande gana...The cool thing about it is that it's actually two-in-one.  The top separates and I'm still undecided about whether or not I'm going to check my bag.  There are also straps that will hold my sleeping bag and pillow.  Also, I have a feeling that this trip is going to spark an interest in more outdoorsy, hiking adventures and la Srta. Bandera and I both better have our own packs!

This is it for 11 to EMS and to pair down the load. 

Still accepting advice if any of you have any!  I could especially use some more advice for those 4 days without modern facilities:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Buscando la ciudad perdida-"El Dorado"

Bear isn't the only one getting to have great adventures on the Discovery Channel's dime...

Nice to meet you, Olly Steeds!

This is pretty cool and the second clip gives you a little more information about altitude sickness.

La enfermedad de altitud

A real concern of many people traveling to places of high elevation is altitude sickness.  You never really know who it will affect and I'm sure that it makes for an incredibly unpleasant experience if you should be one to suffer from it.  Best to be prepared...

One of the great things about being a teacher is that you have unlimited access to people who know about stuff  when you need to find something out.  :) 

So, I consulted science teacher extraordinaire Ms. Picard to find out what this is all about. 

Ms. Picard

According to her, "Altitude sickness is a combination of reduced air pressure and lower oxygen concentration that can affect the nervous system, lungs, muscles, and heart.  The entire breathing mechanism relies on a difference in pressure between the atmosphere, your alveoli, and your bloodstream.  When the diaphragm contracts, it moves downward and your ribcage moves outward.  This creates negative pressure and draws air into the lungs."  Yikes!  That sounds a little scary...

Luckily, there's always Bear ( to help provide a little more drama and put things into perspective:

Whoops!  :O  I'm not sure that made me feel any better...

The truth is, however, that I doubt I will have the problems that other people have with altitude for a couple of reasons. 
1.  I'm not Bear climbing Mt. Everest.
2. Many people who have issues when they go to Machu Picchu have trouble because they don't give their bodies enough time to acclimate to the change in altitude by making the trip too quickly, either by train or by bus.  I am hiking to the top over 4 days.
3. I plan on drinking tons of water, eating light meals that are easily digestible, and listening to my body.
4. I also plan on chewing cocoa leaves and drinking the tea as the people of the area have done for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.  When in Rome...

Mate.  Yummy!

For a little more information (let's see how you do in Spanish!!!):

Saturday, June 18, 2011

¿Cómo debo preparar para el viaje?

So, I would be lying if I didn’t admit to being just a little bit nervous after having written up my last blog entry in which I really took a closer look at the itinerary of my trip and the implications of a 4-day trek without modern facilities.  Yikes!  I’m a highly adaptable girl, but, without getting into too many details, it does look like I’m going to have to do more prep work than previously anticipated.  Luckily, I did choose the route of having somebody else plan my trip and am going to count on her holding my hand through much of the process.  Additionally, I have some friends that might be able to help me.  If any of you guys who have done a lot of camping or hiking with your families or as Boy Scouts have any advice for me that you think would be beneficial, please leave a comment and let me know!
Here are the things that I’ve got so far…
1)   I’m only taking what I can fit in and attached to a large hiker’s backpack.  Considering that it will be all that I have for the entire trip and that I will be carrying it everywhere (up to 7 hours a day on hikes up in the mountains), it had better be as light as possible, but with everything I might need.

2)  I’d better be in the best shape possible.  Having just run a 10-mile race a month and a half ago, I know that I’m probably better off than most, but I do have a close to 15-year-old knee injury that plagues me from time to time.  I’ve already gone to the doctor to get some preventative medicine, but I’m thinking that now I need to change my workouts from running and yoga to taking very long hikes in the mid-day heat with my backpack filled with heavy items.  (Note to self: be prepared for two weeks of hiking fully-loaded with people staring and wondering what that crazy girl is doing...)

3)  Start getting used to drinking as much water as possible.  At the suggestion of one of my students who spends a lot of time in Park City, UT skiing at a higher elevation, I should start drinking lots of water at least a week at head of time to help with the potential altitude sickness.

4)  Start watching the Spanish channels and movies in Spanish.  Even though I love Spanish, from time to time it’s easy to get a little rusty.  The good thing is, that it usually all comes back pretty quickly if you just start upping the input-some music in the car, the TV as background noise, reading the news in Spanish as opposed to the English version…

5)  Start preparing my lists of clothes and other items (especially first aid) to bring with me.  I’ve travelled a lot in my life, but I’ve never been solely dependent upon exclusively what I can fit in a hiker’s pack.  I’m sure I’ll be able to stock up when in Lima, Cuzco, or even Puno if it’s an emergency, but I’d rather not if I don’t have to.
¿Qué debo empacar?  What should I pack?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

¿Qué voy a hacer durante mi aventura?

Itinerary as planned by my wonderful agent, Staci, at

3 de julio: Travel to Lima, Peru
Plaza de armas

4 de julio: Free day in Lima to tour the city with my friend, Pilar.
Lima coastline

5 de julio: Fly from Lima to Cuzco. Meet my guide in the afternoon for a tour of the ancient and colonial Cuzco sights, including the Cathedral and the temple Koricancha.  Continue to the hilltop fortress of Sacsayhuaman and the Incan sites Q'enko, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay.


6 de julio: After breakfast in Cuzco, my guide will pick me up for a mountain drive, passing throught the village of Mollepata and to Soraypampa.  Here I will have lunch and some time to prepare before starting my first day of trekking.  My 3-hour hike will take me through Salkantaypampa where I will get my first glimpses of the majestic Salkantay Mountain.  I will then continue on a steep hike up to 14,715 feet toward Soyroqocha where I will enjoy a tasty dinner prepared by the trek chef and camp for the night.

Salkantay Trek

Salkantay Mountain

7 de julio: I will be able to sleep in to avoid the early morning cold.  After a filling breakfast, I will begin my 7-hour hike.  I will start by climbing up to the Salkantay pass.  When I reach the summit, I will have some time to rest and build an apacheta, a small stone tower build by Incas as a sign of respect to the sacred Apus (gods).  I will then continue by descending toward Humantay Valley until I reach Collpapampa, my campsite for the night.  I will rest and enjoy dinner prepared by my trek chef.

8 de julio: The 3rd day of my trek is slightly easier than the others.  After breakfast, I will start my hike alongside the pleasant banks of the Santa Teresa River, which winds through forests of native trees, waterfalls, and coffee and fruit plantations.  After a 7-hour hike, I will reach my campsite, La Playa, where I will be able to take advantage of the bathroom facilities.  I will enjoy dinner and a quiet evening by the river's refreshing waters.

9 de julio:  Today I will leave the valley and start climbing the trail up through gorgeous forestland until you reach the beautiful Llactapata archaeological site, which was recently uncovered.  From there, I will enjoy stunning views of both Machu Picchu and the grandiose Salkantay Mountain.  I will continue my hike descending toward the Aobamba River until I reach the hydroelectric plant, where I will catch the train to Aguas Calientes, the town nearest to Machu Picchu.  I will stay in a hotel in Aguas Calientes and enjoy the rest of my day there.

Llactapata Archaeological Site

10 de julio: Today I will visit the beautiful Machu Picchu citadel, pride of Peru.  I will rise early and head to the bus station for the drive up to the citadel itself, which is hidden on a mountain amid cloud forests.  I will have a guided tour of the site, followed by free time to explore the ruins on my own.  Then I will head to the bus station for the drive back to Aguas Calientes and the train ride back to Cuzco.


11 de julio: After breakfast in my Cuzco hotel, I will take a tourist bus to Puno-including numerous stop offs for tours, photo opportunities and lunch.  Stay overnight in Puno.

Cathedral, Puno

12 de julio:  After breakfast in Puno, I will be escorted to several floating islands.  The islands are made of bundles of reeds woven together by the Uros people.  I'll continue on my tour to Amantani Island.  After learning about the local culture, I'll meet my host family and go to my temporary new home for a simple lunch.  I'll have a brief rest and then visit the local Inca and pre-Inca ruins.  I'll join my host family for dinner and participate in an evening of music and dancing.  I will stay overnight on the Island of Amantani on Lake Titicaca.

Los Uros, Lake Titicaca

Floating Islands

13 de julio:  I'll wake up early and enjoy a local breakfast.  A 2-hour boat ride will take me to the natural Taquile Island where I'll visit the main town for lunch and learn about local customs.  I'll hike across the island and meet my Puno-bound boat on the far side.  I'll return to Puno in the late afternoon and will immediately be transferred to the airport for my evening flight to Lima and then late evening/early morning flight back to the United States.

Lake Titicaca

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

¿Por qué voy a visitar Perú en 2011?

For years I have wanted to visit Peru.  I don’t even remember the first time I saw a photo of Machu Picchu, but it has been ingrained in my mind as one of the places to go for as long as I can remember.  It’s a rather rugged trip, not for everyone, especially the way that I have chosen to take it.  I have lived with a fear that this trek was actually time sensitive having heard rumors of the Peruvian government limiting the site’s visitors because of the sheer volume of traffic it experiences.  As it stands, the Inca Trail, the most popular of the paths to the site of Machu Picchu has limited its number to a mere 500 hikers per day and is booked until well into October of this year. 
Start of the Inca Trail

But, you can’t visit Peru without visiting Machu Picchu…especially this year, the 100th anniversary of its “discovery.” (*Thank you to Mr. Beothy for letting me know!)
It’s amazing what even a teacher can learn when doing a little research and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being thrilled at the story I uncovered when investigating the history behind the man who is credited with making Machu Picchu public in 1911 and later publishing his discovery in National Geographic Magazine.  So, here it is in a nutshell…
Stories like that of Manchu Picchu, the most famous icon of the Inca world, are romantic to say the least.  Its name in Quechua, the native language of the area, means “old peak” and the site dates back to the 15th century.  Located in the Andes about 50 miles northwest of the major Peruvian city of Cuzco at close to 8,000 feet above sea level, it is most widely thought to have been an ancient estate for the Incan emperor Pachacuti.  Machu Picchu was abandoned a mere 100 years after reaching its height, potentially due to a smallpox epidemic when the Spanish arrived.  Locals knew of its existence for hundreds of years, but it wasn’t until an American archaeologist named Hiram Bingham arrived in the early 1900’s that Machu Picchu was revealed to the rest of the world as the “Lost City of the Incas”.  So important was this discovery that National Geographic Magazine devoted its entire April 1913 issue to it.
April 1913 Edition

Hiram Bingham III

Machu Picchu prior to its excavation.


Here's where it gets really good, at least for me…Supposedly, Hiram Bingham III was the inspiration behind…

Clearly, we have a theme here...

Wow!!!!  Further investigation is definitely needed.  J
If intrigued by the history of Machu Picchu, Hiram Bingham III, and/or Indiana Jones, you might enjoy the following:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mi aventura a Peru...(My adventure to Peru)

In another life, I would've been a photographer/writer for National Geographic.

As a little girl, I used to read the magazine religiously, collected its free maps, and developed a keen sense of adventure. I have seen every installment of Indiana Jones, most episodes of House Hunters International, and count my blessings for my wonderful friends from around the world. When I was in college, I studied abroad in Costa Rica and Mexico, acquired a love of Spanish (which I'm sure shocks my high school teachers to this day), and returned to live in the Yucatan Peninsula upon graduation to teach English. Later on, I travelled to Spain, Greece, the United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, throughout the Caribbean and the United States.

Those of you who spend your school days with me know that I have a collection of maps covering the walls of my room, am more excited to watch the DVDs about Mayas, Aztecs, and Incas from the History Channel than even you are, and are very familiar with my vast array of books on the Wonders of the World. You know that I believe in learning through doing as evidenced in our numerous skits, celebrations, projects, and trips. For students who have taken my 6th grade history class, you also know that Doc in The Power of One is the kind of teacher I aspire to be and I don't believe in can't. (Despite this, we're not going on a field trip to Africa unless you plan it. Lo siento.)
And for those of you who really pay attention to the many quotes to which I subject you, it's no surprise that the driving force behind this trip is the following:

                                "Do something every day that scares you."     
                                                                                           -Eleanor Roosevelt

I believe it and am usually pretty good about doing it, but taking this myself...probably takes this to the next level even for me, don't you think?  I do.

In preparation for this adventure,  I have come up with the following goals:
1. To visit a new country, continent, and hemisphere.
2. To practice my Spanish.
3. To climb Machu Picchu (a key player in the famous 100 Wonders of the World, #14 on my bucket list, a site visited in Spanish 3's favorite Diario de motocicleta, and the photo on the cover of our video about the Incas).

4. To make the very physical trek, camp in the Andes, and survive the elements (which would surely make Bear Grylls proud if he only knew about it...).
5. To visit Lake Titicaca on the border of Peru and Bolivia.
6. To meet people from all over the world.
7. To have fun.
8. To have a great adventure.

I would normally take a ton of photos and keep a journal as I do on all of my trips, but I've decided to share this via a blog with all my friends, family, and students in the hope that you will all root me on and share in my adventure.  The following blog will be a combination of English and Spanish to be updated before, during (July 3-14), and after my trip.  I do hope that all of you enjoy it and welcome comments!  (And, yes, there will be a quiz…)

Gracias por compartir en mi aventura... Thank you for sharing my adventure.

Srta./Ms. Bosma or...Genevieve