In Southern Peru, the focus was on the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. We checked out the alien lines in the desert, were woken up by a police officer at our frigid altiplano camp spot, and battled the switchbacks and trucker traffic to get to Cusco. From there we drove through more gorgeous mountain scenery to the Hydroelectric Plant on the opposite side of Machu Picchu so that we could take Hobie with us on the hike to the town below the sacred ruins. As expected, Machu Picchu was spectacular and we spent most of a day hiking up the nearby mountain, wandering through the amazing stonework, and just sitting to take it all in. On the way back towards Cusco we camped overlooking an intricate mosaic of salt ponds, wandered through a maze of artisan markets, and drove down the Sacred Valley, lined with more ancient Incan ruins. We spent our last two nights in Peru in a valley lined with red sandstone cliffs and then on the shore of the massive Lago Titicaca.
After a shockingly easy border crossing, our first week in Central America was filled with ancient Mayan temples, jungles, exotic wildlife, spelunking and cave tubing, swimming in rivers and lakes, and Guatemalan highway adventures.
Our travels over the past few weeks have provided a rich feast of the senses. Vistas across high mountain roads and through thick jungles, huge ornate flowers, ancient Mayan temples, and native locals with their beautiful colorful wares have filled our eyes, accompanied by the sounds and smells of the jungle – ripe and rotting mangoes, howler monkeys, bird and insect orchestras, thunderstorms, the scent of soil and greenery after the rain. We have tasted fresh mangoes, lychees, several varieties of bananas, fresh local coffee and chocolate, countless numbers of coconut popsicles, and of course copious varieties of tacos and empanadas. Our skin has been variously soothed, assaulted, and subjected to fresh cool rain, intense heat and humidity, scratching and poking by thick jungle foliage, and innumerable insect bites, covering our legs and feet with polka dot patterns. This is Chiapas.