Deb and Gordon at the iconic peaks of Machu Picchu in Peru, after their four day trek on the Inca trail.
Hello all. True to the opening message in our last update, it has taken us quite some time to write this next update.
The India highlight for the past few months has been the monsoons. They start in early May and finish in September, with June and July being the wettest months. It surprises us how a place can have rains almost daily for three to four months and then basically no rain at all for the rest of the year – and this keeps happening year after year. We had heard a lot of horror stories as to how bad the rains are, but other than a few very wet days, they were quite refreshing.
One day we decided to take a walk and while walking up Mount Mary hill, the skies did open up and the volume of rain was phenomenal. The runoff down the steep hill was about four inches deep and in one place water went rushing into an open manhole and then a hundred feet down the hill the water comes gushing out of another open manhole. The lesson learned is to stay clear of manholes when it rains. The one part that does take some getting used to is the humidity.
Some of the house hold services available are daily delivery of fruits and vegetables, fish, bread and milk, eggs, groceries and Gordon’s all time favourite – beer delivery.
We have quite limited English television and the only sport (if you can call it that) on the television is cricket (lots of reruns).
Spain and France
In May we met up with our sons in Madrid. This is a great tourist city and easy to feel comfortable in. The subway system makes it very easy to get around. Gordon, Darren and Kyle went to a bull fight. One of our sons said they no longer hurt the bulls – wrong. It was a bit disturbing so that one is ticked off on the list and will not be revisited in the future.
We then went to Valencia for one week, saw a soccer game (or is it football?), cycled a lot, etc. Gordon and Kyle then headed home whilst Darren and Deb went to Barcelona. Darren then went to Portugal for surfing and Deb rented a car and toured the Pyrenees mountains in France and made her way up to Paris where she met up with Darren again and our Canadian resident friend who operates a barge in France during the summer months.
On a whim, in early July we decided to take a six day trip to Phuket Thailand. The flight time is not much longer than going from Edmonton to Phoenix and at this time of the year there are unbelievable bargains. We were pleasantly surprised at the cleanliness and quietness of this island off the coast of the mainland. We spent our time bargaining for clothes in markets, riding elephants, touring scenic islands by boat, canoeing through sea caves into secluded ponds, etc. This is a place we expect to return to before the secondment is over.
In early August we returned to Canada for a “stopover” on our way to South America. Deb then went back there until mid September to continue meeting with friends and family.
Gordon was only in Alberta for five days and while travelling there he contracted a viral infection which caused fainting, extreme tiredness and a bronchial infection. Perhaps the most disturbing side effect was the loss of taste buds for red wine.
In August we went to Peru with eight friends. The first few days were in Lima. We then flew into a mountain city, Cuzco – about 10,000 feet altitude – where we spent a few days getting conditioned for a four day 45 kilometre hike on an ancient Inca trail to the lost city of Machu Picchu.
The trail is mainly stone steps, there is no such thing as flat land there – you are either climbing up or climbing down. The summit is at about 14,000 feet so the climb up is quite demanding, but most of us thought that the climb down the following day was more difficult – it takes about four to five hours of climbing down steep steps to get to the next camp site. Overall our group did very well on the hike.
Our guide later confided in us that when he first saw our ages (50 to 67) he was quite worried as the average age of the hikers is about 30 years old. The real incentive to do well is that is you give up, you have to ride a donkey back to the start point where you go past all of the other hikers!
On the fourth day we woke up at 3:30 a.m. and then started the hike to a mountain top where we sat and waited for the sun to come up and the fog to lift. Then magically the lost city appeared before us – one of the most spectacular sights we’ve experienced in all of our travels.
We then flew, bussed and boated into the Amazon where we stayed in a hotel room that has three walls. The back “wall” was open to the jungle where we could watch monkeys and other wild life move about. At night the bed had a mosquito screen to protect us from the elements (Gordon made sure he put on shoes when getting up at night time as there are spiders, snakes and other crawlies in the jungle). Over this four day period we saw alligators, parrots, macaws, tarantula spiders, possums, big rat like – pig like things, bats, sloths, etc.
The trip home then began. From start to end it took Gordon 40 hours of travel to get to Mumbai (no more complaining about those seven or eight hours trips). The others returned to North America.
Take care, Namaste Deb and Gordon