Thanks for the comment uncle Mark! In response here’s some cherry-picked photos from the last few days. Made the trip north to Zipaquira, colombia, about 40km (75km=50miles +/-) north of Bogota to see the Zipaquira Salt Cathedral. They converted an old salt mine into a giant cathderal, pretty neat. I spent the next day getting some laundry done and resting before Peru. To answer Uncle Don’s question, yes, I think Bogota is very safe, more so than Dallas. I had no problem walking around after 11pm (it’s dark there by 6pm) and taking public transit till 11. Taxis, buses and private buses are all extremely safe — however the countryside in colombia is not as safe, as many locals pointed out to me. I’d reccomend the city itself to anyone however. I’ve got a longer rant about how safe bogota is when I have more time it’s definitely safer than Lima or Dallas though. I’d probably say it’s as safe as the riverwalk area in San Antonio, with about the same amount of crime (I witnessed none).
Yesterday I flew into Lima, Peru (the capital, about 9 million people in the city proper) its on the south pacific coast and is south of the equator by a couple hundred miles. Lima, as everyone else has said, is not really worth visiting. I think I’m the first to say this, but I think Lima is the Houston of South America – huge, cosmopolitan, important, but dirty, poorly planned, overly busy and not a very good tourist destination for it’s size. But they reccomend at least one day between international flights, so I had from noon-5am the next day (today) in Lima, and decided to take advantage of it. My hostel was in the Miraflores neighborhood (the second “downtown” of lima, sort of how NYC has 42nd street and broadway (where the empire state building, chrysler building, etc, and also wallstreet (where the world trade center was) further south as the two centers of the city)… anyways took the bus north to “la plaza mayor” per my guidebook, got horribly horribly lost, turns out its called “plaza la arma” (what the locals call it) and an hour later (in rush hour) i found a bus to take me most of the way there, and walked the rest of the way. got some cool pics with the police spoke with a local for a while and got to try Inca Cola, which is so popular in Peru it even outsells Coca Cola. Coca Cola finally bought Inca Cola so they could capture that market. Inca Cola is yellow like pineapple juice, but tastes exactly, i mean EXACTLY like big red. I am a very happy camper :D
got up before dawn to catch my cusco flight, flew in to a valley (See pics), bought an indiana jones hat – i think it looks cool, and . considering renting a dirt bike tomorrow to see the countryside, and then Machu Picchu (once i’m properly climatized I’ll do that hike and the Wannu Pichu (the big mountain in the background of all the machu picchu pictures).
ok so pics (click for larger)
inside the Zipaquira salt cathedral (it’s dark, click for larger) – this room is about 80ft wide, 400 ft long and 120ft tall. the cross is about 40′ behind me and stands about 60′ — i’m standing on top of a 4′ “Stage” carved out of the floor/rock. the altar and podium are carved out of the floor and are seamless. neat! the whole thing looks like walls of black granite, with mineral veins of salt, calcite, and pyrite.
random, gothic style cathedral on carerra (avenue) 7, near calle (street) 45. the church is a clever illusion, it’s actually giant concrete blocks, with smooth sides that have been painted to stand out on the street.
heres my only picture from lima (For today), hanging out with the police. there were two groups (one on each of the two major corners of the plaza) just hanging out. this sort of thing is pretty common in popular commercial areas. usually you only see a pair of police officers on a section of a major avenue (who cover 1-2 blocks) and 1 officer on minor streets (where there’s less noise) who cover 2-3 blocks. This is true in lima and bogota, and you’re never out of shouting distance of an officer. This works really well and also helps if you get lost, or need someone to take your picture! the police aren’t in the “bad areas” to protect against bad guys/gangs etc (there were no gangs that i could tell), they’re just everywhere and and shows the government being proactive against crime in such a huge city. overall they’re quite friendly and are not at all the “corrupt police” you hear about in mexico.
here’s me. note the “indiana jones” hat. I have no regrets, i don’t care that I look like a total tourist! how can you pass up a 100% felt hat for $7.15 USD? its no stetson, but it’ll do for travel use. Click for bigger. this is in plaza la arma (where the spanish army used to drill in the square back in the 15th century) in cusco. even at 12,500 ft (2.5 miles above sea level) it’s about 73 degrees and partly (50%) sunny. the only rain ive had so far was for about 20 min in the afternoon on my last full day in colombia (1/2″ or so). good weather so far, knock on wood!
ok i would post more but uploads are getting slow and i want to go exploring some more before it gets dark. hope everyone is doing well in texas! email me your addresses and i’ll send everyone post cards from cusco.