Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

I went to a few areas in Peru: Lima, Cusco (Machu Picchu) and Arequipa (Colca Canyon). All are lovely as are the people and the food is out of this world. My whole time in Peru was based on hiking/trekking/outdoor-stuff. With that said, I will tell you briefly of Lima and then do a compare/contrast between Colca Canyon and Machu Picchu as far as places to go hiding after Z-day:

Lima is a great city. Here are the things that surprised me the most about it:

1) It looks like Europe. I guess it’s an old Spanish colony, so I shouldn’t have been TOO surprised, but the architecture did surprise me in how beautiful and ornate it (still) was.

2) The economy of selling STUFF is unbelieveable. If you wanted pencil erasers, there was a guy selling those. If you wanted small pink rulers, there was a guy selling those, too. If you wanted a blue ruler, there was a different guy selling those. If you wanted plastic made-in-china-anything, there was a whole mercado dedicated to it with alcoves upon nooks and crannies dedicated to everything and anything you could ever possibly imagine.

TL;DR: If you want to get cheap knock-offs for cheap- go to Lima.

With that said- I did have amazing Cerveche here, and Pisco sours. If you are unaware (as I was), Peru is second to France in the number of “fancy 5-star food” dishes that they have available to the public. I was skeptical, but the only “bad food” I had was while on the treks, which I’ll describe later.

Later:

I flew from Lima to Cusco (mainly because a 1-hour flight was 92$ and the bus was 74$ and took 24+ hours. I may be self-employed, but my time is still valuable!) Once I got to Cusco, I was bound and determined to not get altitude sickness like I did in Quito and went for a 6k run. It took me over an hour– and I was tired, but I felt good. This proved to be a great idea- because I wasn’t nearly as tired as I was in Quito. I think the Coca tea also helped. (Gift from the gawds, I tell you!)

The Inca Trail tour (Cost 450+$usd) was all booked up for months, so I went on the Salkatay tour (cost 230$USD) which is MORE HARD CORE and WAY BETTER, imo. 5 days, 4 nights of trekking on uneven ground which the farmers now use to get live-stock/goods across the Andes to the various villages. We camped, ate simple food, ascended to 4,650meters above sea-level, woke up to roosters, hiked about 20k a day and I made some amazing friends.

Machu Picchu (59/70)  just as amazing as you would imagine. Or maybe you don’t know much about it- so that’s why you’re here… It’s a city where the Incas lived, high in the mountains, far from everyone else. The city was beautifully built out of rocks that were carved BY OTHER ROCKS and then SANDED BY ROCKS until they were smooth. Take the time to read that sentence again. Keep in mind they had no dynamite or sand-paper, no wheel and no iron/metal tools. This was 1100AD. All they had were pissed off Gods that they had to give sacrifices to, coca, chocolate, llamas and rocks. Oh yea, they didn’t even have donkeys at this time… Those were introduced by the Spanish. All the rocks were “harvested” out of the mountain and carried by either men or weak-ass llamas (who can only carry up to 50kilos).


Ok- moving on. Waynapicchu (is another mountain that over-looks Machu Picchu. This is actually the safer of the 2 places because it’s a higher mountain and has SOME structures that are left over. It’s also kinda difficult to get up to because the rocks and trail is strenuous for people with brains, let alone those without. (In the picture below- Wayna Picchu is the mountain peaking up on the right).

 

The location of WaynaPicchu is fantastic. 10/10. It doesn’t get too cold or too hot. Machu PIcchu has all the available means to do agriculture that held a civilization there for 300+ years. (9/10) There is plenty of water that falls during the rainy season, as well as natural springs. (10/10) The lodging is rustic, but could be adapted for common-day use. You need to replace the thatched roofs every 5 years, but your house can withstand the great tests of time, including earth-quakes! (9/10) There is not a lot of civilization. Aqua Caliente (a town named after a nearby hot-spring) is super touristy, but that means goods (like some of the best damn hot-chocolate ever!). It’s down the mountain, but probably has enough “stuff” that would tide anyone over during the apocalypse. (Except guns… I didn’t see any guns. Doesn’t mean that the farmers don’t have them, though….) 7/10. Non-dead dangers would include things the ruthless mosquitos, poisonous spiders and altitude sickness. Not too shabby over-all. (7/10) The locals speak Quechua and Spanish- but most of them speak a little English (enough to communicate with tourists). Quechua is a dying language, sadly, but their customs are not. They are kind and proud people of the Inca who still weave their own cloth, sing their own folk tunes and know how to convince the land to grow crops. (7/10)

 

(picture below shows the view of Machu Picchu FROM Wayna Picchu).

Colca Canyon is also a great place to go during z-day. If you travel south (8 hours by bus) to the big city of Arequipa you can get on another bus (for 3 hours) to the Canyon.

Be careful of local buses, though, because they tend to go off the side of the cliff often.

The canyon is the deepest canyon in the western hemisphere. It’s pretty desert-like, with not a lot of natural springs (but some!) and an impressive river at the bottom. The river is full during the rainy season (Jan-March) but starts to run dry after that.

From the canyon, you can drive up to summits of 4,900 and hike up volcanos (where the Incas held most of their sacrifices to the Gods). There aren’t many permanent structures here, but they do have a great vantage point.

 

(this trek was brought to you by Troy Meat Shop)

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I haven’t really felt inspired to write a Zombie-survival page for every country/place that I’ve been in. Panama was difficult because I was mostly in Panama City or Colon. Portabello was amazing because that’s where a lot of Captain Henry Morgan battles were fought and I got my PADI certification while diving amongst his sunken ships!

I digress.

Colombia was amazing. I spent over a month in Colombia and it wasn’t enough. A place that all the cable news stations warn us about to never venture out to, I loved every single minute. I swore that all the citizens of Colombia had a meeting where they agreed to treat every foreigner as if they were royalty because their reputation is kinda crappy. Everyone agreed and they set off to find any foreigner… Throwing them gifts and tokens of appreciation and love. There is a new tourist slogan about Colombia where they say “the only risk is that you won’t want to leave”. And this is true.  For some reason, though, I think the amazing hospitality and the kindness of people would slowly go away once they all became zombies.

Medellin (58/70) was a city where I cried, constantly, because of the beauty of that city… However, the only safe place to hole up in would be Arvi, a natural park where you have to ride a gondola (Metro-cable-car) up to it. Even then- you’d have to go through the swarms of Medellin-citizen-zombies just to get there and then hope/pray that there is electricity that is powering the metro.

Location: 8/10 (in between a lot of mountains, but lots and lots of people…)

Water: 9/10 (delicious tap water!)

Lodging: 9/10 (brick/concrete houses all over. Plenty to squat in.)

Food: 9/10 PAISA!!!! GO HERE JUST TO EAT BANDEJA PAISA!

Costco equivilent: 4/10 – while there are no super-stores that I could find, there are markets… however, those markets will be managed by Zombies….

Non-dead dangers: It did rain a lot while I was there, which means mosquitos later. But overall, I didn’t meet any weird-looking dogs or snakes or scorpions or anything else that was deadly while I was here. 9/10

Locals: there is still a lot of crime in Medellin, apparently. I didn’t witness any, but everyone told me that there was still some sketchy areas. Which means, of course, that there are guns! and lots of them! So you’ll have a huge arsenal — if you can find them. Also, if you meet locals who are Colombian, they will welcome you into their home and you’ll instantly be family. 🙂 Always a nice feeling. 10/10

Bogota (60/70) is like a Latin NYC but with the weather of Seattle. It’s higher up in altitude so it remains temperate all year around. Walking around a city is one of my favorite things to do of all time- so this was perfect for me. Some hills, a lot of random little shops, lots of posters to gawk at. It was lovely. However, Bogota has well over 7 million people- making it NOT any kind of ideal place for the Zombie Apocalypse.

Location: It’s high up in the mountains. The weather is temperate year around. It rains a lot, but this means great for growing crops. 8/10

Water: delicious tap water– also lots of natural springs! (9/10)

Lodging: Tons of great housing. Very well constructed. Just the problem with very close neighbors. 8/10

Food: The food can vary. The restaurants vary all over the board- but they won’t be around after everyone is zombies (or they will only be serving brains). I did spend a great deal of time just eating the various fruits that were in the supermarket. (one day I picked up 15 different fruits and tried a variety of them). All were different and pleasant. There were no chickens or pigs to be found, though– not sure where the farms are. Also- it should be noted that you can get ANYTHING delivered in Bogota. Anything. We tried this with beer and pharmacy drugs. (#winning) 9/10

Costco equivalent: While there were no huge “super stores” that sell everything (and you certainly can’t just buy guns like you could in the states) there are tons of security guards on every corner “guarding” something and holding semi-automatics. Finding weapons won’t be a problem, but finding enough ammo may be. Finding other stuff isn’t a real big problem- but you just need to go to several stores to find them. (7/10

Non-dead dangers: The only big thing here is dugs. Which raises a great question: What would a coked-up zombie be like? Would he run faster? Would he even bother running after you at all? I should add this to my [good questions] blog page. 9/10

Locals: Again- the most awesome and hospitable people on the face of the earth. Full of life (and would probably even love being zombies). They would definitely be the most fashionable ones that I’ve found. 10/10

Cartagena (49/70) is probably the “most safe” because it has an “old city” that was once used as a fort against the Spanish during the gold-war days. However, it’s hot. I’m not just saying it’s warm…. I mean it’s sweltering. Shade is going to be your best friend (along with the delicious juices- be forewarned- all your generator power will go towards the blender to make juice.)

Location- you have the beach and the old city wall. You could probably hole up in the old city, but there isn’t much going on there except for really old buildings that have withheld the test of time. (9/10)

Water: some potable water– but it may turn sketchy after the apocalypse…. unknown. There is plenty to swim in, though! 7/10

Lodging: Lots and lots and lots of really old (beautiful) buildings! (10/10)

Food: they don’t grow a lot THERE– they ship it in. So getting food may be a problem for later. 6/10

Costco Equivilent: again, no super store. No super-market, either. A lot of little mom/pop stores. 3/10

Non-dead dangers: the currents in the ocean CAN be quite high. Also, the UV rays can hurt you something fierce if you aren’t wearing sunscreen. (Mental note: Add sunscreen to my zombie survival kit!) 7/10

Locals: The locals were lovely here– but I prefer them in other parts of Colombia. It should be noted that this is a tourist destination and I didn’t have a chance to meet “the real locals” who weren’t trying to sell me something. 7/10

Santa Marta (53/70) is lovely- but more lovely was Tayrona, a national park located just east of Santa Marta. It’s glorious to go hiking, rent a hammock, lounge at the post-card-looking beaches. Is there a lot of food? Not really… There is plenty of fish and fruit- but nothing else, really. Are there a lot of people? Just tourists. In my opinion, this is where you would go to vacation during the Zombie Apocalypse. Especially at Tayrona. No zombie wants to go hiking through the jungle and the beach would be isolated enough that would make you relax a little during the terrible times ahead.

Location: secluded and off the beaten path. Beautiful beaches. Especially Tayrona. A lot of places you can only access via boat or long hikes. 10/10

Water: everywhere! You have to buy filtered/bottled water here… so bring some iodine or a steripen! 7/10

Lodging: Plenty of old buildings in the “old city” that you could hole up in. There are also really cute bungalows on the cliffs that you could squat in. No AC (and you would need fans at least) 8/10

Food: Lots and lots of fish! some fruit that is grown locally/a little ways away. But not a lot. Agriculture could probably happen in Tyrona after the apocalypse, though. 8/10

Costco: nope. None. No big stores what-so-ever. 4/10

non-dead-dangers: jelly fish was a scare for a day as were the currents. Our legs were also eaten alive by mosquitos and sand-fleas (note: put baby-oil on your legs to avoid getting bitten by sand fleas!)- but other than that- it’s a beacher’s paradise. 7/10

Locals: the locals were lovely. Kinda and amazing people– even for a touristy destination. 9/10

Barranquilla (61/70) was special in it’s own way. I went there and stayed with a couch-surfer (now a great friend) for 4 days. It was also the very beginning of Carnival, which is the 2nd biggest Carnival in the world after Rio. The first night was my first experience of Colombians and how passionate they are about life. Laughing, singing, dancing, drinking, offering everything and anything they have to total strangers. (Again, the amazing hospitality). Carnival was unique- so I shouldn’t grade an entire city based on it’s crazy/amazing festival. I will note, though, that if you want to have a great time right before Ash Wednesday– go to Barranquilla. Book ahead. Just go, laugh, have a great time. Go to the beach after you close down some bars. Dance your ass off. Be silly. Drink aquadiente (and cringe… because it’s foul) and then drink some more. Enjoy your time in Colombia.

Location: It’s kinda like Dallas/Fort Worth. It’s very concrete and sprally and massive. It’s a sport to drive here. Not a lot of parks, but plenty of places to hole up in and hide out– you’re also close to a beach if you need to get away. 9/10

Water: lots of potable water and you’re close enough to a beach to get away. During the rainy season/months it rains a lot and the streets are flooded. (forwarning) 8/10

Lodging: LOTS of concrete/safe buildings to hole up in. Lots of places to hide. 10/10

Food: The food is decent. I had a lot of standard dishes that I enjoyed. You can get some awesome seafood here as well as some produce. I’m not sure where the produce comes from- so again, it may be imported. 8/10

Costco- *edit*- They have Pricemart! 😀 I haven’t been there- but it exists. I doubt you can buy ammo- but you can probably buy everything else. 7/10

Non-dead dangers: The only “scary” thing about this town is the local’s kidneys and their driving….which leads me to…. 9/10

Locals: Amazing locals. The best, actually. It may have just been the people that I stayed with- but I was constantly and pleasantly surprised by how amazing these people are. Their culture is just oozing out of them and you can’t help but be happy and feel welcome and immersed in their lives. 10/10

So there ya go…. That’s Colombia. I will be back (this time I’ll actually know Spanish). *note: the Colombians speak the best spanish in all of Latin America. So if you want to take lessons- do it here and learn it properly. I did not follow this advice because I’m stupid. So I’ll continue to speak Spanish like a 2-yr-old.