We left Peru via a 4:30 am cab ride to the airport in a broken down VW bug. The driver had to hold his door shut as he went around corners, which made it easy to get out when he pulled over half way to the airport and pissed behind the car. Combined with blown out speakers playing bad salsa music, the ambiance was fitting for a departure of royalty.
Before leaving Peru, we left Cusco for a 4-day hike on the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu. The 'Inca Trail', is basically a cobblestone sidewalk that the Inca's built from Cusco to Macchu Picchu. We hiked in fine colonial style, traveling with a company that provided a guide and porters to carry and set up our tents and make dinner. Despite the comforts, the hike was still challenging because we rented sleeping bags that seemed to be lead lined and some of the terrain was quite difficult. The 2nd (and most difficult) day, we hired a porter to carry my pack so I could carry Robyn's - we were embarrassed that our porter turned out to be an eighteen-year-old girl who zipped up the mountain in sandals! We hiked with an international group of 21 people, which provided good company along the way. Our guide was also very charming, and told us all about the plethora of sites along the way.
The last day we woke up at 4am and climbed up to the 'sun gate' to have a good view of Macchu Picchu as the sun rose. We spent the day climbing around Macchu Picchu, including climbing for an hour to the top of Huayna Picchu, which is another small site that overlooks Macchu Picchu. From the top, we saw a small trail leading off the back. Despite being short on time, we gambled and took the trail, which led us for an hour straight down the backside of the mountain. We didn't see another person on the trail, so we felt like quite the explorers. Eventually, we came out at the 'Temple of the Moon', where we poked around before heading back up(!) to Macchu Picchu. By the time we left for the day we were thoroughly tired.
The next day (August 9th), we initiated 4 days of flying, taking a flight every day until we finally arrived in China after pausing for a night in Los Angeles. (The cheap tickets aren't always the most direct!) China is a trip. I have never felt so completely useless in simply getting around. Very few people speak English and the script is obviously indecipherable. Compounding the difficulty is the fact that body language seems completely dissimilar. Robyn and I couldn't even get a taxi to stop the other day. I think the cab driver thought we were cheering him on! We live in a housing development that includes our school and apartment. The school is quite impressive; it looks like an east coast private college. We're digging the 2 hour ferry ride to Hong Kong and 30 minute bus ride to Guangzhou (Canton), which we've already used quite a bit. We're also digging the impending week vacation in just a month (Beijing?) and 6 weeks in January (Cambodia/Laos?).
In the mean time, each day brings a small surprise. Yesterday we were greeted at 7am by the maintenance supervisor who wanted to
install curtains. Apparently the Chinese teachers (who live in a dorm the next building over), were a bit traumatized by us walking around in our birthday suits.
That's it for the summer trip, stay in touch.