Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cusco: The Gateway to Machu Picchu

After a 15-hour bus ride on something John Madden would be jealous of, Heidi and I arrived in Cusco. I managed to get a little shut-eye on the journey, while she was terribly ill and competing for the bathroom the entire time. The road was extremely windy, and climbed thousands of feet, leaving her suffering from both altitude and motion sickness. I really felt bad for her, as we weren´t able to sit next to each other and the scenery really was quite stunning. We were even served dinner and breakfast on board and the food was quite tasty, equivalent to something you might find on an international flight.

While Heidi spent the first day in bed I went out and explored the city a bit. I wasn´t 100%, suffering from a little light-headedness, but all in all I adjusted quite well, and have no right complaining, given what Heidi went through. It´s day 3 in Cusco and I think she has finally adjusted, with the assstance of come coca tea and leaves to suck on. We are nearly two miles above sea level and altitude sickness is not uncommon. I guess I was just lucky...

Cusco was the Inca capital and has been inhabited for more than 800 years. It is a beautiful city near the Andes. Many of its inhabitants still wear traditional dress, and some even speak only Quechua, refusing to assimilate to the Spanish language which was forced upon the indigenous peoples by the Conquistadors centuries ago. Today it is mainly visited by travelers as a gateway to Machu Picchu. Most people tend to fly into the cty, rather than go through an experience similar to Heidi´s on our bus. (That beiong said, many people still need to adjust to the altitude upon arrival.)

Yesterday we walked around a bit, checking out the main square and purchasing train tickets from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu. (Machu Picchu is accessible only by rail, and served only by Peru Rail, so the monopoly allows the company to jack fools on prices. Since Ollantaytambo is the closest town to the sacred city serviced by bus, we are traveling there before hopping on the train. This will save us in excess of $100!) The square is the most impressive we´ve visited thus far, despite being constantly hounded by people peddling all kinds of souvenirs and offering to shine our hiking boots. A bunch of folks mill about in traditional clothing too, often with cute animals, offering pictures with tourists. Heidi was dying for one, so I asked how much and they said whatever we feel is fair, so I took the picture. Of course, after the photo, they asked for 10 soles, the equivalent of more than $4! I gave them 4 soles and still felt ripped off...but it is a cute picture.

Did I mention dinner was only 3.5 soles? Less than the picture and just over $1. What a steal. We have been eating at restaurants frequented by locals and the prices are about one-tenth of what they would be in the tourist eateries! Good stuff.

It´s important to mention that we have plenty of down time too. Washing clothes (by hand), blogging, playing cards and watching TV are common past times used to fill up times, often after dark when travel on foot isn´t advised. Last night Heidi even acted as my hair stylist, which may afford my readers a few laughs.

Tomorrow we head to Ollantaytambo by bus, spend a night there and then take the train into Aguas Calientes, the town just outside of Machu Picchu. We will spend the night there and get up before sunrise, in hopes of catching the sun as is crests the sacred site. I´m really psyched about it, as I have heard numerous times that Machu Picchu is one of those places that pictures just don´t do it justice.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sandbarding, Stumping...and Soda

It´s been 10 days since we left the great union which has afforded me & Heidi the opportunity to embark on this adventure...and so far, so good. Although we miss our friends and family dearly, neither of us have suffered any horrible illnesses and we haven´t encountered any major problems.

As I write this, Heidi and I are in an internet cafe in Nazca, awaiting an 8pm departure to Cusco, the gateway to the famed Maschu Picchu (which is the most-visited spot in South America). Since the bus ride to Cusco is 15 hours we sprung for a fancy bus with Cruz Del Sur. The tickets are considerably more expensive than those we purchased for the shorter rides (on less comfortable buses), but this bus has fancy, fully-reclining seats, on-board meals and, most importantly, two bathrooms. I´m not sure we´ll have the opportunity, or budget, to spring for these buses often, but our first long distance ride calls for something special. And, since it´s an overnight bus getting some shut-eye is ever so important.

After Pisco we stopped in Huacachina, a little desert oasis which has been overrun by tourists in search of a little adrenaline rush via the dune buggy tours and sandboarding opportunities which abound in the area. Heidi and I were no different. A short taxi drive from the bustling city of Ica and we were checking into the Casa de Arena hostel, known for its late-night poolside parties. (We chose the joint because I told the taxi driver we needed something cheap and this is what he recommended.) We picked a room with a shared bathroom, which saved us about 7 bucks per night. It was spartan, but served it´s purpose as a place to lay your head for the night.

The first day we just hung out and relaxed, as Heidi wasn´t feeling her best. We grabbed a bite at an inexpensive restaurant along the lakeshore. Only one other table was occupied, and the Backstreet boys were coming from the speakers as a scraggly kitten rubbed our legs, begging for a little taste of our grub. After dinner we retired for the evening. Thankfully, there was no poolside party and we fell asleep pretty early, despite music blaring from a nearby nightclub.

The next day we had arranged to go out and try sandboarding. Basically, it´s something like snowboarding but in the desert. We were herded onto one of three dune buggies, strapped in and were off...but not before stopping to pay a "tourist tax" (above and beyond the fee of the tour) prior to buzzing off into the desert. I was in the front of our buggy, while Heidi was strapped in the back next to a couple of Aussies. Immediately, the driver was taking us up big dunes, down crazy drops and speeding across a span of desert at what seemed like 60+ mph! It was a ton of fun. I placed a bandana around my face after eating a little sand.

After about 15 minutes we stopped and got out to try sandboarding. The boards were waxed with candle wax and we strapped in. Some people chose to go down on their stomachs while I decided to try riding down on my feet. I made it a couple of feet before going down hard enough to elicit an empathic response from the onlookers. A few more tries, all with with the same result. Heidi went down on her tummy and seemed to really enjoy herself. When she took video of me I didn´t fall, but my board wasn´t waxed well enough so I went down the dune at about the speed molasses moves in mid-winter.

After some more zooming through the desert we stopped at some bigger slopes. I went down on my stomach the first time, intimidated by the size of the dune. It was fun, but once I got down near the footprints in the sand )at the bottom of the dune) it really hurt. On the last dune of the day I went down on my feet again, figuring it was the least painful of my options, even if I would be falling the entire way down. Surprisingly, I made it down in one piece, without falling! We hopped back in our buggies and headed back, but not before watching a beautiful sunset.

After leaving the desert oasis we came here to Nazca. Although we knew we weren´t going to spring for a private flight over the famed Nazca Lines it was a little closer to Cusco, and was certainly worth a stop. There are a couple of viewing points of some of the formations, so we opted for a guided tour instead. It was a fraction of the price of a flyover, and far less impressive too. Honestly, I was a little disappointed. It was interesting to learn about the lines, and the ancient peoples who created them, but we were only were able to see a couple of formations, after which we were taken to a homely museum built as an homage to the German woman who devoted her life to the study of, and fought to protect, the centuries-old lines.

And now, a few random bits:

Just because I complain about stuff doesn´t mean I´m not having an amazing experience. I could see how a stranger reading my blogs might think that I am an ungrateful person who does little more than complain about petty things which are, all in all, inconsequential. The fact is, I am loving every bit of this adventure and having an amazing time. All in all, the local people have been extremely friendly...and honest. I really am grateful for this opportunity and know how lucky I am, thanking God for this opportunity each and every day.

It´s definitely campaign season. You know how annoying the campaign ads are on TV back home? Well, rest assured it is far from unique to the US. Elections are this fall in Peru and it seems like every billboard, sign post and shanty home is covered with political advertisements. Entire buildings are painted for specific candidates and I wonder whether people are that devoted to their candidates, or if they´re being paid to decorate their homes and businesses in such a manner.

No Mountain Dew...but plenty of Inca Kola. I love my Mountain Dew and drink it nearly every day, while in the United States. I have only seen it once in Peru (and surprisingly did not buy any) so I have had to find a new vice. That is none other than Inca Kola. Until fairly recently this outsold even Coca-Cola in Peru. It is a yellow soda with a bubble-gum like flavor. I enjoy it thoroughly, as do most of the locals...or so it appears.

I am very excited about Machu Picchu, although it will be nearly a week before we get there. We´re going to spend a few days just getting acclimated to the elevation while in Cusco. (Sickness is not uncommon and typically treated here with a tea made from coca leaves.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Nickled and Dimed in Pisco

At the behest Felipe, our hostel host in Lima, we decided to make a stop in Pisco, in order to visit Paracas National Reserve and Isla Ballestes, also known as the "Poor Man´s Galapagos," as it is much cheaper to visit than the famed Ecuadorian ecosystem. After a four hour bus ride we were dropped off along the Pan American highway, a few kilometers from Pisco. Since we had arranged a hostel in advance someone was waiting for us as we disembarked, and he got us into a reasonably priced taxi and we were on our way. The minute we walked in to the hostel we were accosted by a friendly woman peddling tours to the aforementioned locations. Although we read that tours were cheaper if booked directly at the tour offices we succumbed and bought tours from her. (It was easier that way and she was a representative of the agency we booked through, so the mark up was likely negligible.)

The tours were back to back and we had to be ready to depart our hostel at 7:15am on Monday morning. We were joined by a couple of Brazilian dudes on our tour, while an Austrian delegation from our hostel did the same thing with another agency. The agency car took us along pothole-filled roads and past numerous decimated buildings on the way to our fiberglass speedboat in the bay. (Pisco and the surrounding area was devastated by an earthquake in 2007 and much of the town remains in ruins. In fact, we drove past a protest Monday afternoon where residents were voicing their displeasure with how slowly progress was being made in the rebuilding efforts. In much of the town sidewalks are non-existent, buildings are crumbling and the city´s underground infrastructure lay in ruins.)

Once we arrived at the dock the nickle and diming began. You can´t fault a people for trying to better themselves, but these saavy Peruvians get the tourists right where they want them on these tours and then extract every centimo they can from you. We were sold on an all-inclusive tour, yet each had to pay a 1 sole dock fee in order to get on our boat. Granted, 1 sole is about 40 cents, but Heidi & I are budget travelers and not ballin´out of control like this French couple we saw, geared up to the hilt with new and fancy digs from the French equivelent of REI. But, I digress...

We were 2 of two dozen tourists, of many nationalities, onboard the boat, which was equipped with some pretty serious horsepower (dual outboards of 200 hp each). As we cruised towards our destinations birds could be seen dive-bombing unsuspecting prey below the water´s surface, while we zoomed by rickety boats carrying fisherman and a giant oil platform (which are, incidentally, the two main industries in the area). After about 15 minutes we arrived at our first destination: the Paracas Candelabra. This etching in the sand predates the famous Nazca lines and was carbon dated to sometime around 200 BC (and remains to this day because of the arid climate). The impressive image is some 600 feet long and many hypotheses exist as to its purpose and origin. Of course candelabras did not exist at that time and the site gained that name many centuries later when the Spaniards came across it. It is more likely a representation of a native cactus which may have served an important spiritual function, as the plant contains mescaline.

Another 15 minutes and we were amongst the astounding Ballestas islands, which are known as both the "Poor Man´s Galapagos" and "Guano Islands." (The second name is the result of all of the bird shit that covers the area. It is a protected area, but the poo is harvested every seven years and shipped to three continents, as it is rich in nitrogen.) The islands are a number of rock formations which contain many species of birds, including penguins, not to mention sea lions. Birds flourish all year long, as the result of abundant food sources nearby. Our skilled driver took us within feet of crashing into a number of rock formations, all while 5 foot swells rocked the boat...all in the name of good pictures. The area has been protected for more than 30 years, but traditional fishing practices are still allowed. While we were out there we came across a dude who was diving for something, using an old-school line from the surface for air. It looked pretty scary to me, but the man still waved when he saw a boatload of gringos snapping photos as he surfaced.

We started heading back just as the rocking of the boat started to get to Heidi. Amazingly, she fell asleep on the ride back to shore! The islands are an amazing ecosystem, but I couldn´t help but think how devastating an accident (like that which happened in the Gulf of Mexico not long ago) would be to the wildlife and tourism industry in the area.

As we walked off the dock a couple of dudes were offering fish pieces to feed to the pelicans. I grabbed one and encouraged Heidi to do the same. It was only after we fed the birds and they took off their hats that I realized we were, once again, being nickled and dimed. Nothing in life is free, so we tossed a few soles into their caps for the privilege of feeding some birds fish guts. It continued on-shore as a friendly, yet insistent, woman walked over to us peddling chocolate-covered nuts. I declined a few times, and then she unwrapped a piece and said, "free." In Spanish, I asked why and she, of course, responded with an answer I could not decipher, so Heidi and I split the candy. My gal loved it and I parted with another 5 soles for 5 more pieces. They were quite good, but damn...

Next we headed to the Paracas National Reserve, which is basically a desert that used to be a part of the ocean floor. (A 5 sole entry to the park raised my ire even more, feeling like a dumb tourista!) Little molluscs, millions of years old, litter the ground, as do larger mammal bones farther away. The tour through Paracas consisted of a number of stops, the last of which was the most discouraging. The tour was concluded, our guide explained, but we wouldn´t be heading back to town for another 75 minutes. However, there just happened to be three restaurants right there, in the middle of nowhere, if we wanted to pass the time and fill our empty bellies.

As we got off the bus we were accosted by men and women holding menus and giant fish. They all wanted us to eat at their restaurants. By this point I wasn´t gonna be pressured. Heidi and I examined our options and went to, what seemed like, the best deal: a "budget" menu with two courses and a soda for 15 soles each. As we sat down we were given a completely different menu, with prices 3-4 times higher! WTF! I was getting a little pissed by this time and asked for the menu we were shown before sitting and, begrudingly, they obliged. We both had soup and Heidi got a fried omelette while I had chicken and rice. The meal was oky, but the setting along the seaside was pretty fabulous. We even had a seagull swoop down and grab a chicken bone from my soup bowl, after I had put it aside. Brave little bugger! When the bill came it was 36 soles! I know 15x2=30, so I raised another stink. The waitress had brought more soda than we ordered, but I complained and we split the difference: 33 soles and we were outtie. (Despite the haggling I left a tip because I felt kind of bad. What is wrong with me?)

From there the bus took us back to the centra plaza in Pisco, where we kicked it for a while before finding a cheap, yet tasty, pizza joint on one of the many streets torn up after the earthquake from three years earlier. All in all, we had a nice time on the tours, but I can´t help but feel I am being taken advantage of with the constant nuevo sole here and 70 centimos there. I am really turning into a cheap bastard...but you gotta do that if you are unemployed and trying to travel for 8 more months.

We were gonna head to Nazca next, but Heidi convinced me to check out the village of Huacachina, known for its sand dunes, dune buggy tours and sandboarding opportunities. It took some arm-twisting, but it sounds like fun. Tomorrow we head there, with no reservations, bus tickets or arranged lodging. While this sounds mundane for some, I like to plan my bowel movements, not to mention every other detail of life. Talk about living dangerously...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

No Beans About It: The Food in Lima is Muy Excelente!

We arrived in Lima around 430am on Wednesday morning and, after breezing through customs (not having any checked luggage) headed for our hostel, and a little shut-eye (as neither of us was able to sleep on our red eye from Miami). Upon exiting we were inundated by cabbies, chose one randomly, and agreed to the standard fare of 45 soles without haggling. (They say you can get a better deal outside the terminal but you also run the risk of being taken somewhere and robbed.)

When we arrived at the address of our hostel there was nothing to indicate it was indeed a refuge for international travelers. A couple of shady looking dudes were loitering about in the street and I was a little worried. But our very friendly cabbie used his cell to call the hostel owner, Felipe, who quickly let us in, showed us our room and wished us a good sleep.

Lima is a bustling metropolis of about 9 million people and exhaust fumes fill the air, while cabbies and buses zoom down the road, making the pedestrian feel a bit like Frogger. It can be a bit intimidating navigating the city streets, to say the least. So, on our first day, after a sufficient nap, we merely walked around Barranco, the neighborhood of our hostel. It is known as a bohemian district, with lively nightlife and numerous artists. We are blocks from the ocean, but only a few brave souls were out there surfing, as it is the heart of winter here.

For lunch we looked for a place busy with locals and found just that in a very non-descript restaurant with about 8 tables and one server. Lunch was just over $3 each and consisted of soup, rice, chicken, salad and a cola. It is, by far, the best bargain we've had in Peru. But we've enjoyed lots of other meals. We've feated on traditional anticuchos (skewered meat) at a lovely restaurant suggested by our host, Felipe. While strolling in a park home to a bunch of feral cats, we shared a little dessert known as mazamorra con arroz con leche, which is served warm and consists of rice pudding and a purple corn starch. And, right next door to the hostel is a lovely little bakery with some of the yummiest treats I have ever seen or tasted, and all for a song. There we've enjoyed lemon meringue pie, donuts cut in half and filled with all kinds of goodies and a caramel-filled trumpet looking pastry, not to mention some grubbin' empanadas filled with ham and cheese. We've also tried the national drink of Peru, a Pisco sour, which tastes a lot like a Maragrita and is made with Pisco (a Peruvian liquor), lemon juice, egg whites and simple syrup. This place is a gastronomical delight and, for that reason, I wish we could stay longer.

The people here have been very friendly too, especially towards a couple of tourists who know very little Spanish. And the kids REALLY love seeing a couple of gringos. On two occasions we became the attraction for students, despite being at some very cool places in and of themselves (the changing of the guard at the House of Government and the National Museum). The kids at the changing of the guard even asked for our autographs. I thought it was neat, but after obliging one I had to sign about 30 more!

As for the town itself, we mainly stuck to three districts: Barranco, Miraflores and central Lima. In the center we saw the aforementioned changing of the guard, and also visited the monastery & catacombs of San Francisco, a 17th century church which is the final resting place to some 25,000 Peruvians (and on the tour you get to see a bunch of femurs and skulls) as well as an impressive library of historic significance. In Miraflores we stuck to Kennedy Park, where we caught a guy busking with a unicycle and Heidi drooled over the cats which live in, and roam freely throughout, the park. (Felipe said that a few were placed in the area many years ago to tend to a rat problem, but the felines multiplied so the city just made them the main attraction of the park.) In Barranco we mainly chilled in the square, ate and tried the Pisco Sour mentioned above.

Today we visited the National Museum, which houses a number of fascinating artifacts from indigenous cultures throughout Peruvian history. It is also the home to a sobering photo display recounting the internal conflict in Peru, which is still going today and has cost more than 70,000 people their lives. (The conflict has wound down significantly since 2000, but is still a factor in some areas.) The trouble started when the communist party, known as the Shining Path, sought to replace what it termed as the bourgeois democracy with a "New Democracy". More Peruvians have died in this conflict than in all wars combined in the previous 182 years of independence!

After the museum we hopped on a city bus to Miraflores (this can be quite daunting for the non-native) and visited Huaca Pucllana, an adobe pyramid built around 500 AD right smack dab in the middle of Miraflores. Sadly some of the complex was destroyed by housing construction, before the government stepped in and protected the remainder. And earlier in the day we even came upon an impromptu, but very colorful, parade.

As for navigating the city, it's most easily done by taxi. The city buses are manageable, but you have to be brave and willing to ask other passengers for help. The city also just opened something called the Metropolitano which is a slick rapid bus service with dedicated lanes, so you zip right past the gridlocked traffic. I understand a lot of LimeƱos opposed the Metropolitano, but it is very easy to navigate, clean and modern.

We head to Pisco in the morning, via a four-hour bus ride. Buying the tickets was much easier than anticipated and, hopefully, the ride will go just as smoothly!

One last note: If you are coming to Lima soon, feel free to skip MALI, the local Museum of Art...at least right now. They have an exhibit consisting of videos, some of which are quite disturbing. One was a 2 minute short of a naked woman, shown from the knees to shoulders, standing on a beach hula-hooping with a barbed-wire hoop! It ended by zooming in and slowing down, so one could see the marks left on the woman's naked torso as she hooped it up. I understand art is subjective, but are they serious here?

Monday, August 16, 2010

What to Wear?

First off, I’d like to apologize to my loyal readers for not posting something sooner. Just under a month ago Heidi and I returned to Minneapolis, having completed the U.S. leg of our so-called “gap year.” Unfortunately, the stresses of the road, coupled with the death of a friend’s grandmother, precluded us from making it to the Big Apple. Otherwise, we pretty much made it everywhere we had hoped and I would characterize the journey, thus far, as a success. That’s not to say it hasn’t been hard and we haven’t had our share of struggles, both as individuals and a couple. That being said, we are stronger for those tribulations and fully prepared for the next leg of our journey, which begins in Lima, Peru in a matter of hours (fewer than 72 to be precise).

Since we have been home we have both had the opportunity to mentally recoup and spend invaluable time with friends and family. It truly has been great to see all of you…and if I missed you we’ll have to hook up in April upon our momentous return. (And to all of those concerned with my last, short-lived, blog post, I apologize for any undue concern or stress that may have placed on you.)

Since we are backpacking for the next 8 months, over three continents and more than a dozen countries, we will have to carry our own gear a significant amount of time. As such, what we pack is extremely important. While you might bring a 50 pound suitcase for a weeklong trip to Mazatlan, that just isn’t feasible for a situation such as ours. When taking intra-city buses one will often have to keep their gear on their lap, or pay for an additional seat…and everyone dreads standing around the carousels at the airport wondering when- or if- their bag will arrive. As a result, Heidi and I have jammed the next 8 months of our lives into 46 liter backpacks from the Osprey Porter series. The bags are also the maximum size allowed to be carried on board a commercial airliner. While Heidi’s weighs in at about 25 pounds, fully packed, mine is just a few more pounds. So, what does one take on a round-the-world journey with a variety of destinations and climates? Well, here’s what I am taking along. (Heidi’s list is similar, although we have some variations in our lists. For example, Heidi has a South America guidebook, but no camera, as we decided to share each of these items to save space/weight.)

2 REI long sleeve button shirts (fast-drying, synthetic material)
1 REI short sleeved button shirt (also fast drying)
1 Rocky Mountain Hardware synthetic t-shirt
1 Brooks synthetic A-shirt
2 pair REI convertible travel pants (lightweight, fast-drying and synthetic)
1 pair of Speedo swimming trunks
1 pair lightweight synthetic shorts (for sleeping, sports, etc.)
1 Kangol baseball cap
1 Columbia wide-brimmed hat
1 bandana
1 pair light fleece gloves
1 lightweight fleece hat
1 Merino wool v-neck sweater
1 mid-weight fleece jacket
1 packable water-resistant windbreaker
5 pair synthetic boxer briefs (fast-drying, odor resistant)
5 pair socks (all fast-drying; of varying thicknesses)
1 pair thermal underwear (top & bottom)
1 pair Merrell Sandals
1 pair Vasque hiking boots
1 pair sunglasses
Necklace and bracelet (from Tanzania)

Personal Care:
1 REI fast-drying travel towel
1 REI fast-drying travel washcloth
1 roll Travel toilet paper (ESSENTIAL!)
1 stick Old Spice deodorant
1 toothbrush
1 small tube toothpaste
100 yds. Dental floss
1 bar Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Castille bar soap (for bathing, shaving, clothes, etc…)
Gillette Mach 5 razor and 3 cartridges (may be brought on plane)
Nail clippers
Plastic comb
30 Q-tips
188 malaria pills
Basic First-Aid kit
Sewing kit
Eyeglass repair kit (for Heidi)
Small bottle 100% DEET insect repellant
Small bottle shampoo
Travel clothesline/universal sink stopper
Emergency poncho
Silk sleep sack (for hostels, etc.)
Inflatable travel pillow
Eye mask
Small roll of duct tape
1 Platypus brand collapsible 1L water bottle

Canon S3IS digital camera
4 extra AA lithium batteries (for camera)
1 LED headlamp (Heidi has a mini flashlight)
Seagate Free Agent 250 GB hard drive
Two 4 GB SD memory cards (for camera)
Two 1 GB miniSD memory cards (for mp3 player)
Sansa SanDisk e250 mp3 player (8GB)
Cheap digital watch
Unlocked cell phone (for use with local SIM cards and as alarm clock)
Duracell 4 GB flash drive
2 electric outlet adapters
1 deck playing cards
Book: The Gulag Arhcipelago
Small notepad
Small journal

1 Osprey Porter 46L backpack
1 Eagle Creek clothing organizer
1 Cable and TSA-compliant combination lock (for backpack when on buses, in hostels, etc.)
1 space saver bag (for bulkier clothing items)
2 mesh lingerie bags (for organizing clothes in backpack)
1 medium sized garbage bag (to put backpack in during deluge)
1 Tupperware container (for electronics/small items)
1 Travelon neck wallet (Heidi has a money belt)
1 Vicotorinox Velcro wallet
1 case for sunglasses
1 canvas tote bag (for day trips, shopping, etc.)
Copy of passport and other pertinent documents
16 extra passport photos (for visas along the way)
ATM card(s)

One thing to keep in mind is that most items can be purchased anywhere on the road. If we need more clothes we can buy them. They even sell batteries and socks in the third world! Who knew that people in developing nations still need to eat, drink and have the basic necessities of life?

Stay tuned for life in Lima and points beyond in out next installment.