Tag Archives: peru
February 22, 2011

Thoughts on Peru

Before I started off on my first real trip out of the country – a college trip to Mexico in 1997 – our Spanish instructor gave us a little mental exercise in preparation for one of the essays we’d eventually be required to write.  He asked us to take a few minutes to examine our preconceptions about the country we were about to visit so that we could see how well they matched up with reality.

Of course, we can’t help but do that when we travel, but turning it into a conscious effort allows us to see things that we wouldn’t otherwise.

Our recent trip through Peru last month was my fourth time in the country.  With the exception of trekking in Colca Canyon, all the places Oksana and I visited were the same old places I’d been before.  Trying to remember my original preconceptions of the country was futile; for the most part, I knew exactly what to expect.

Still, traveling with Oksana (on her first trip to Peru) allowed me to see the country through her eyes.  I jotted down some notes, as I often do, about how Peru can be different from what you may expect.

January 16, 2011

PVX: Hostal Casablanca, Arequipa Peru (Camera Obscura)

We arrived in Arequipa early in the morning after an all-night bus ride from Nazca.  The bus wasn’t so bad, but we were led to believe we would have fully reclining beds, like we did coming down from Máncora.  Instead, we found ourselves with semi-reclining seats, not that far off what you’d get flying couch.  All that is to say that we arrived tired.

The first hostel we looked into was the Casablanca, right next to the Plaza de Armas.  They had a room, but it was a whopping $35 a night, twice what we were expecting to pay.  On the plus side, they had a room available and were willing to let us check in at 7am so we wouldn’t have to kill time until the noon-hour changeover. After a quick sidewalk consultation, we decided to take it for at least one night.

Our room was nice.  A little on the small side, but with a balcony looking out on the street, a private bathroom (with both hot water and pressure), a desk, and a relatively fast wi-fi network.  After that bus ride, though, all we cared about was the comfortable bed with the fluffy pillows.

Oksana crashed right away, while I ran out to the store to get us some drinks and some semblance of breakfast.  A little while later, I closed the balcony doors to darken the room and climbed into bed beside her.  I laid on my back for a few minutes and, eventually, my eyes because accustomed to the dark.

Above me, projected on the ceiling, was the street scene outside!

January 11, 2011

PVX: McDonald’s in Peru

I mentioned briefly in the last post that I went to McDonald’s in Ecuador.  I wanted to make a video about eating there, but when I left Quito, I didn’t realize that would be my last shot at a Mickey-D’s in the country.  (There’s no McDonald’s in Cuenca, just a KFC and a Burger King.)  Anyway, I wasn’t about to risk that happening again in Peru.  Before we left the capital city, I made sure to have cameras rolling for my order.

It was fun putting this video together; I may try to do it again with the other countries we visit, too.

May 21, 2009

Peru Roughcuts

Crouching Arlo, hidden Inca

As you may know, I took a little trip down to Peru last winter with a group of college students. I carried along my camcorder, shot 14 tapes worth of footage, and brought it all home for editing. Back in Alaska, I sat down with a few of the students and asked them to tell me some stories about their trip. I currently have 17 interview tapes, and I’m holding out hope for more.

Editing this together is a massive project. I started with a 500GB drive, then upgraded to 1TB. With all the videos, photos, audio, and preview files I’m currently working with, it’s already 93% full.

There’s just no easy way to edit the memories and experiences of 20 people on a month-long trip across Peru. I didn’t want to start any editing at all until I’d collected all the interviews, because as tough as it is to puzzle together eight stories about hiking the Inca Trail, it’d be even harder to try to shoehorn in a ninth after the fact. But then I realized I had everything I needed to start editing a certain part of the trip — a five-day jungle expedition – because it involved only Megan, Alison, and me, and I’ve already shot both of their interviews…

So, I dove in. And right now, I’m taking it just one little story at a time.

I shared some of these vignettes with Alison and Megan and seeing their reactions inspired me to keep going. For now, those two work well as my muses, but with a project this daunting, I can use all the motivation I can get. I thought creating a little podcast and sharing the stories with a wider audience as they’re completed would be fun. (With the students’ permission, of course — These video clips are eventually destined for a DVD that will only go out to those that went on the trip.)

It’ll be a bit before I get to the rest of the students. Later, we’ll visit Cusco, the Inca Trail, Lake Titicaca, Machu Picchu, Lima, etc., but for now, these two girls have a lot to say about the Amazon Basin. It’ll probably seem like the “Megan and Alison Show” for a while, but that’s okay; they’re quite entertaining.

So, here you are. A quick little blog – nothing fancy – where I can post the rough edits of my grandisimo Peru DVD. They’ll be quarter-screen video, in an iPod-ready format, and posted once or twice a week. All you need is the free Quicktime player. Definitely subscribe to the podcast (or at least to the email updates) if you want to catch every episode.

Like what you see? Want to give me some feedback on the editing (Not too much criticism on the audio, please — acoustic sweetening will come much later in the process!) or leave a note for the students? Comment away!

And I do hope you enjoy watching these little clips half as much as I enjoyed creating them!

The first video is right this way…

April 4, 2009

Peru: Crossing the Andes

Typical view of our road to the jungle

New Years Eve in Cusco. Fireworks, drunken revelry, pouring rain. Alison, Megan, and I had a 5:30am van picking us up for our five-day jungle trek and there wasn’t much sleep to be had in our hostel that night. For example, when Alison stepped out in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, she came back to find someone sleeping in her bed. And that was just the first time a stranger tried to crash in our room.

Somehow we were awake to meet our driver, and after a few stops to pick up equipment and food, we were on our way out of town. Perhaps only getting three hours of sleep was a blessing in disguise. With a whole mountain range separating us from the Amazon basin, it was going to take upwards of 12 hours to reach the Manu Reserve. We’d have ample time to catch up on our sleep.

After crossing a rickety iron, single-lane bridge over the churning Vilcanota (Urubama) river, we said goodbye to smooth pavement. Our drive was now punctuated by streams coming out of the mountains, eroding small, rocky creeks into the hard-packed dirt.

January 28, 2009

UAS Peru Trip

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

You might think that traveling to Peru and bearing witness to the wonders of Machu Picchu is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  I would have thought so, too, except that I just got back from my third trip there.

I’m always the one advocating some new and exotic locale whenever Oksana and I plan our travels (with the whole world to see, why keep going back to the same places?), but somehow Peru just keeps falling into my lap.

The first time I went was in 1998, when my roommate and I stayed in South America for a couple months after a university trip to Ecuador.  The second time, in 2002, was when I was invited by the university to help lead a class through the country.  Last month, six years later, opportunity came a’knockin’ once again.  Peru had treated me well twice before; how could I say “no?”

Even with my desire to see something new, these recurring trips never disappoint.  The first time there, we flew to Machu Picchu on a helicopter because the train tracks leading to the ruins had washed out in a storm.  The second time, we hiked the Inca Trail and visited many more of the ruins around Cusco.  This time, I was a part of a group that headed down into the Amazon basin for a few days in the jungle.

This was also the first university trip upon which I lugged my video camera around.  The students gave me permission to point my lens in their direction after I promised to make them a great DVD of their adventures.  I shot 14 miniDV tapes worth of footage while we were down there and I plan to add a few more hours of interview footage in the coming weeks.  Before I started editing a project of this magnitude, however, I needed to familiarize myself with what I already had.  It seemed like putting together a short music video would accomplish that goal nicely.

While many of these snippets of video will only mean something to those of us that were in Peru, I trust that the imagery will convey not only the amazing sites we saw, but also how fun, adventurous, diverse, and just downright awesome the people in our group turned out to be.

June 4, 2004

After the Wedding

Oksana's ParentsWarning: This one is long. I wrote this… wow… about a year ago now. I’ve been meaning to post it on my wedding page, but I still have some writing to do that chronicles what happened before this stuff. I had been waiting (in vain?) to complete that first. I’m posting this on my ‘blog, today, because it has some background information that not every knows about. Unfortunately, it’s background information for some bad news that I need to post tomorrow.

The day after our wedding, Oksana and I awoke in our opulent room at Pearson’s Pond. The room was expensive, but it was also comfortable a quiet. Lying there in the late morning, enjoying the distinct lack of stress, I decided that it was worth every penny. My only regret was that we were not able to stay there much longer – our checkout time was rapidly approaching.

The day before, Oksana had dropped off an overnight bag in our room. I was glad that I’d married a smart woman – it meant that I wouldn’t have to wear my tuxedo again. In fact, because I was back in casuals, we dropped it off on the way home.

Our arrival back at our apartment was a rather rude awakening. It seemed as though every item from the wedding and the reception was piled in up our living room and kitchen. Flowers, clothes, decorations, leftover cake, and computer gear was everywhere. For some inexplicable reason, there was a pair of men’s dress shows on the kitchen counter.