Chincheros, the Sacred Valley, and a very special day in Ollantaytambo.

We woke up a little late and quickly got our packs ready to head out for a full day of traveling and exploring communities in the Sacred Valley starting with Chincheros. After Shirley spent some time organizing our transportation we had a plan and went to meet our driver. The cost for the entire trip 120 soles which is around 40 US. By coincidence or fate our driver was from Chincheros so he had an intimate knowledge of the community and the Alpaca industry. Shirley spoke to him about Chincheros and translated to me as we enjoyed the drive which was approximately and hour.

Chincheros is a small Andean Indian village located high up on the windswept plains of the Andes at 3765m about 30km from Cusco. The construction of the wall and many other ruins and agricultural terraces (which are still in use) are attributed to Inca Tupac Yupanqui who possibly used Chinchero as a kind of country resort.

Upon arriving in Chincheros we saw many Alpaca and a small close knit community centered on raising alpaca and producing goods. Our driver explained he could take us the back way into the nearby ruins on the Urquillos Trek and see from a different perspective, Shirley and I decided to take the hike with our driver being the guide. The ruins where amazing and the way the rocks where carved almost looked cast into form. At the end of the hike we came upon a church built on Inca Ruins in the 1600’s “Iglesia Colonial de Chinchero” kinda disrespectful but I must say the church was incredible and felt like something out of Indiana Jones. No photos are allowed inside and a guard follows you around inside but the floral and religious painting throughout are breathtaking. I went up to the alter said a prayer for mom and grandma with tears in my eyes thanked them for the experience and in that moment feeling so close to my heart. As We left the church with Shirley comforting me as we came upon a plaza filled with women selling every variety of alpaca goods in a wide array of colors using mostly natural dies. It is common with some products like rugs and bags to be mixed with wool and are less expensive but is something you need to be aware of or may pay for full alpaca and get 50% wool. We looked around as our driver/guide. The women of the Andes mountains have been making these goods from alpaca that go back in the same tradition for hundreds of years. After Shirley covered with the women we decided to buy a rug and bag made with natural dyes by hand from 100% alpaca for a reasonable price as samples of things we are looking to have made for our business Alpaca Trueke. We headed toward the car and decided to continue on to the Sacred Valley and Urubamba. The drive is amazing with incredible views of the Andes mountains and valleys. Open arriving in Urubamaba we decided to stop at local place and drink some Chicha and play a game of Sapo. After enjoying the company of the owner of the estalishment and her dog we continued on to Ollantaytambo and the ancient Inca Ruins.

Once we arrived in Ollantaytambo the gateway to the Inca trail, we could see and hear there was a celebration going on and alot of music and dancing. So we decided to to goto the main square to check it out. Festivals in Peru are always alot of fun and the people have a great passion for celebration. After enjoying the festivities we decided to hike up to the Ancient Inca Ruins of Pinkuylluna which is free compared Ollantaytambo Fortress which is $70 but very impressive and is worth it if you never have experienced it. But I had already experienced the fortress on my previous trip to Peru and so had Shirley. So we started our hike through the cobble streets of the ancient city and last stronghold of Marcos Inca as he resisted the conquistadors eventual takeover. Little did Shirley know but this was to be a very special day as i had purchased a engagement ring to propose to her at the summit of the mountain and arrival at the Pinkuylluna Ruins. To find your way to the trail head is not marked but we found after asking a local gentleman. The hike up to the ruins is literally breathtaking at an altitude of over 9,160 ft. The trail is not well maintained and very dangerous in places if not a skilled hiker. We took our time and made sure we kept three point of contact in some places. We saw few people on the trail as opposed to the fortress ruins on the opposing mountain which was crowded. after a few hours we reached the ruins and I kneeled down and proposed to Shirley. I took her completely off guard and she became very emotional as too was I. She accepted, we kissed, and embraced for some time before both turning around and enjoying the amazing viewS and each others company knowing we would be together one way or another. I am a very lucky man to have such an intelligent, kind hearted, and supportive women like Shirley in my life. She never ceases to amaze me how down to earth she is and full of love for life. After exploring the ruins together like little kids on a playground we decided to hike down as it would be getting dark. Hiking down was a challenge, we where both hungry for dinner and a cerveza to celebrate our engagement. Once we returned to the town we found a restaurant and had dinner at the main square watching the celebration together before returning to our driver and traveling back to Cusco through the night along with a few passengers we picked up along the way.

Advertisements

Trip to Cusco: Operation Alpaca Trueke

After spending about three weeks in Puerto Maldonado enjoying the city, jungle, family, and friends it was time for Shirley and I to fly to Cusco to seek out Alpaca sources and communities to work with. I had booked an Airbnb in Cusco near Tupac Square for a week as our base. Shirley had contacted her friend Sumaq who would meet us and show us the inside scoop on the Alpaca Industry. She let us know that most of the dry food where made in Chincheros and Pisaq communities and shipped to Cusco to sell at high markup to tourist. She was extremely knowledgeable and I learned a lot about the history and processes involved as well as the Quechua culture and traditions.

Our goal is to establish “Alpaca Trueke Natural Outdoor Clothing” as a joint effort with the native Quechua communities in the Andes Mountains to provide high quality Peruvian alpaca clothing at a reasonable price and help support the communities by creating relationship and profit sharing. We will also be offering customized adventures and travel packages to Peru in the future.

When I first traveled to Peru from the United States to hike the Inca Trail and visit Machu Picchu I discovered the amazing natural qualities of Alpaca fiber. In the past I have had a hard time wearing wool because of it irritating my skin but I found alpaca fiber to be amazingly comfortable. Alpaca fiber contains no lanolin and is also naturally hypoallergenic. Most people who are sensitive to wool find that they can wear alpaca without the itching or irritation they feel from wool because alpaca fiber is smooth and hollow. Additional performance characteristics include flexibility, water repellent, odor reduction and great insulation compared to other natural wool’s. Also the production of alpaca fiber does not have the harsh effects on the environment like synthetic materials do.We will start by offering a basic line including beanie, socks, sweatshirt, bag, and backpack and will expand our line in the future.

The next day we went and visited the Puma stones in Cusco which includes a twelve angled stone made from diorite with incredible precision. After enjoying a few more days in Cusco, walking around the city and eating some amazing food. We decided to travel to Pisaq and the local communities around that area involved in making handmade alpaca dry goods. Shirley organized the transportation to Pisaq in a small mini van filled to maximum capacity but only cost us around $10 and it was a three hour drive through some beautiful scenery including Saqsaywaman and other ancient Inca ruins. Once we arrived in Pisaq we hiked up into the town through ancient narrow street lined with shops and a wide variety of handmade goods. The first man we met owned and operated and Alpaca store and also a restaurant but his prices seemed high as he purchased from communities. We met amazing women with a mountains of knowledge and experience both in Alpaca and life. Not knowing the language and some of the women only speaking Quechua made it a little difficult for me but thankfully Shirley was able to understand. We purchased a variety of goods and gathered as much information as possible. While in Pisaq we also checked out the local market which was filled with an amazing variety of flowers, fruits and vegetables all grown locally. We decided that we would visit Chincheros, Ollantaytambo, and the Sacred Valley the following day. We headed back to the main street in Pisaq to catch a ride back to Cusco which luckily we only had to wait 10 minutes. We packed back in the mini van and I enjoyed the ride back to Cusco while Shirley slept. That evening was cold in Cusco, so we bundled up and enjoyed walking around the main square which was having a play “Lord of Coyllority” on the Basilica steps in Quechua about a peoples Pilgrimage up a mountain carrying blocks of ice on there backs. After that we decided to go and have pizza at our favorite place Carpe’ Diem which was delicious. After that we walked back to our apartment and called it a night, the next day we would try to leave early for Chincheros and the Sacred Valley.

Baptism Celebration and tour around PTO with Omar and Eza

Thankfully Omar and Eza, Shirley’s Uncle and Aunt from Abancay were visiting Puerto Maldonado for a Baptism which we where also invited to. For the celebration Omar’s family from Lima would be Joining in the celebration and ceremony. We started the day with a trip to the observation tower in Puerto Maldonado which gives a good history and view of PTO after many many flights of steps. Getting to the top is nice because of the refreshing breeze at the top. Omar’s family where very nice and had a zest for life that I appreciate.

After we left the observation tower we headed to eat at Puerto Hermosa and check out the Billinghurts bridge which links Peru to Brazil across the Del Rios River. back to our apartment to prepare for Baptism after a short siesta which is customary. I was so thankful to be included in festivities and felt very alive with spirit. After a mass at a beautifully simplistic catholic church we went to Omar’s uncles house rounds of drinks and many courses of food. The Peruvian people are extremely generous and pride themselves on hospitality and drinking. After many more rounds of drinks and everyone enjoying dancing Omar’s mom asked me to dance which I graciously accepted but warned her that I was a not a great dancer. Everyone had a good laugh as I tried my best to keep up with her with little success. The evening ended with hugs and kisses from everyone and a tuk-tuk ride back to our apartment in Dos De Mayo. Both of us having had one to many drinks where lucky enough to give clear enough directions to the driver. Celebrations in Peru are really something special and being able to experience them from the inside is something I hold near to my heart.

Learning to cast net in the Amazon with Marcos

I had the pleasure of having lunch made by Shirley’s friend Joaquina (pollo al horno) and going fishing with Marcos, her husband. He makes all of his nets by hand and is extremely good at his craft. We caught devil fish, and other species common to this lake along the Madre del Rio’s. Today he will make traditional soup from the fish and Sunday we will be going fishing on the Madre Del Rios. Even though we do not speak the same language and I know only basic Spanish we where able to communicate fine and became good friends. I look forward to spending more time with them and doing some more fishing with Marcos and eating more food prepared by Joaquina.

Celebration of Apurimac Region of Peru in Puerto Maldonado.

Shirley and I as normal started our morning at Tres De Mayo market with empanadas and juice. All day yesterday in the main square La plaza the local people celebrated different schools and regions of Peru in Puerto Maldonado. Maria, Shirley’s mom was involved in the celebration and represented Apurimac culture with traditional dress, food, and drink. It was a great day and I felt blessed to be involve in the festivities. Later that evening we ate at Burgoo’s a local restaurant and had a surprise dinner guest a “sloth”.

Yesterday’s Hike in the Rainforest and the days events.

Yesterday Shirley started the day off with some fresh ceviche’ which is always delicious and them she decided to take me to a local lodge Estancia Bello Horizonte https://www.estanciabellohorizonte.com just a short distance from Puerto Maldonado with an beautiful rainforest hike, natural spring pool, and canopy climb. The price for the day also includes a delicious lunch. the staff was very accommodating and friendly. We had an amazing time and I was very appreciative to have such an great day together. Later that evening we went to the local stadium to see the celebration recognizing the local schools educational programs with volleyball games consisting of teachers from each school playing against each other in tournament. After the introduction ceremony we and to have pizza at our favorite spot El Horinitos http://elhornitopizzeria.com in the main square of Puerto Maldonado.

Choquequirao, Sayhuite, and back to Abancay.

We woke up the next morning to a garden of eden paradise. Because we arrived at night we could not see her property which was full of flowers, birds, and an amazing landscape. We went to main building for breakfast which was served by Patrina and was delicious. After breakfast we met up with our driver and headed up into the mountains to see Choquequirao. we arrived at a small mountain village of Kiuñalla where the locals where having a celebration. We met a couple who where pretty much gypsies and just raining the earth with what was on there back. After talking and meeting local community we combined hiking to the Choquequirao overlook.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choquequirao

Choquequirao is an Incan site in south Peru, similar in structure and architecture to Machu Picchu. The ruins are buildings and terraces at levels above and below Sunch’u Pata, the truncated hill top. The hilltop was anciently leveled and ringed with stones to create a 30 by 50 m platform.

Choquequirao at an elevation of 3,050 metres (10,010 ft) is in the spurs of the Vilcabamba mountain range in the Santa Teresa district,  La Convención Province of the Cusco Region. The site overlooks the Apurimac River canyon which has an elevation of (4,760 ft).

After spending the day enjoying the beautiful views we headed back to Los Loros to hike a small section of trail to Apurimac River. Our host Patrina has graciously packed a lunch for our hike and we headed out. The trail was marked well and we encountered much wildlife and unfortunately a dense group of mosquito’s decided to make me there main course. After hiking longer we came across beautiful waterfalls and after hiking for a few hours decided to turn around and head back to the lodge. On the way back we stopped and had our lunch which included Granadilla one of Shirley’s favorite fruits. I would affectionate call it booger fruit because of the appearance. We hiked awhile long until we reached the river and decided to turn around and head back to Los Loros where Petrina had an amazing dinner prepared for us. That evening we enjoyed the property and conversation with Petrina. The next day our driver picked us up and we drove back to Abancay. On the way back Abancay we stopped at Sayhuite an ancient Inca archeological site .

Sayhuite (Sigh-weetey) is an archaeological site 47 kilometres (29 mi) east of the city Abancay, about 3 hours away from the city of Cusco, in the province Abancay in the region Apurímac in Peru.[1] The site is regarded as a center of religious worship for Inca people, focusing on water.[2] In the Monuments of the Inca by John Hemming, Hemming points to a colonial narrative that describes the interior of the Sayhuite temple. The temple featured larger columns draped in fabrics with gold bands the “thickness of one’s hand.” The temple was also under the care of the priestess Asarpay, who jumped to her death in the nearby 400 meter gorge to avoid capture by Spanish forces.[3]

An important feature on the site is the Sayhuite monolith, an enormous rock containing more than 200 geometric and zoomorphic figures, including reptiles, frogs, and felines. Found at the top of a hill named Concacha, the stone was sculpted as a topographical hydraulic model, complete with terraces, ponds, rivers, tunnels, and irrigation channels.[4] The functions or purposes of the stone are not known, but researcher Dr. Arlan Andrews, Sr. believes the monolith was used as a scale model to design, develop, test, and document the water flow for public water projects, and to teach ancient engineers and technicians the concepts and practices required.[5] The rock was “edited” several times, with new material, either altering the paths of the water or adding routes altogether.[6] About two meters long, and four meters wide, the monolith is the most popular attraction on the archeological site.

after spending about an hour exploring sayhuite we returned to our driver and continued through the twisted mountain of the Apurimac region of Peru. After about another hour we reached Abancay and where dripped of off at Omar and Ezas house. They greeted us with big smiles excited to hear about our adventure and offered us something to eat. After eating and telling them about our adventure we took a nap. That evening we went out with Omar and Iza and The next day Omar had planned to take us to the Apurimac River and the mountains in Abancay for a hike plus visit Espinoza Liquor distillery, and local entertainment.

We woke up the next morning and went to get a car at Shirlys aunts. It was a great day and the drive and views of Abancay from the mountains were breathtaking as where the shear drop offs. We then went to visit Shirley’s family’s Sugar Cane liquor Distillery. Her family were very welcoming and so happy to see us. We celebrated with many drinks and shots of Espinoza liquor which is made from sugar cane. The hospitality and kindness was heart warming and I immediately felt like family. After visiting awhile longer we went out to enjoy some local food and entertainment before returning to Omar and Izas. We had alot of fun that night dancing and enjoying the company of Omar and Izas friends. The next morning we would sadly be leaving.

The next morning we woke up and Omar had arranged our transportation and Iza had made us breakfast. We said our goodbyes with heavy hearts and departed for Cusco but on the way stopped at a natural spring for a refreshing swim in Hunock. It was a hot day and the natural cool mountain spring water was refreshing. It was crowded with mostly locals and was fun seeing the families enjoy the pools. After about an hour we met back up with our driver and continued the scenic drive to Cusco. Upon Arriving in Cusco we decided to try the pizza place Carpe Diem that Petrina from Los Loros had told us about which I must say was delicious. We shared dessert and headed back to hotel for some much needed rest.

Lima to Abancay

We were sad to leave Aruba but excited to explore Peru with Shirley. The flight back to lima was good and we arrived early in the evening. Shirley arranged for Walter our driver in Lima to pick us up at the airport and take us to our hotel. We decided to get something to eat at a restaurant nearby called alfresco. It was an amazing restaurant and we had Corvina (Sea Bass) ceviche which was delicious. The following day we decided to visit the old Square in lima the blank church which is beautiful and contains catacombs underneath holding over 30,000 skeletal remains. I had already had the opportunity to tour the blank church on my first trip to Peru but Shirley had never had the opportunity. We spent the remainder of the day in old lima capital before returning to Miraflores for dinner and decided to go to a local bar to watch Peru play Chile in soccer. South America takes its soccer very seriously and even make Pittsburgh Steelers fans seem tame. The game was very exciting and thankfully Peru won. Shirley and I walked around Kennedy Square for a while longer before heading back to our hotel to get ready for our flight to Cusco the next morning.

Shirley had arranged for Walter to pick us up at our hotel early in the morning so we would arrive at the airport with plenty of time to catch our flight to Cusco. Unfortunately LATAM had different plans because the flight was delayed for two hours and the gates changed multiple times but we eventually made it to Cusco where Shirley had arrange for our driver Victor to pick us up. Victor was the same gentleman that we had as a driver the first time I was in Peru and met Shirley.

Once we got out of the airport Victor was waiting for us and he took us to our hotel that Tara Vista in the outer section of Cusco where the roads are very narrow and all cobblestone. We thanked Victor for the ride and checked into our hotel, unloaded our bags, and headed out to grab something to eat and explore Cusco. It was almost like déjà vu being in Cusco with Shirley again and we were so grateful to have more time to explore the city together. That evening we ate at a nice restaurant called Limbus which sits atop a hill that overlooks the city of Cusco and is quite breathtaking in the evening. We enjoyed our dinner and a few drinks before walking around Cuzco and visiting the main square. We decided to walk back to the hotel to get some much-needed rest.

The next morning we woke up and had a wonderful breakfast at the hotel and Shirley had organized transportation for us to Abancay which is about a 4 Hour Drive and would require changing transportation multiple times. The drive was long and windy thankfully coming from West Virginia I was use to the twists and turns but not the altitude. The varying scenes of the mountains on the drive where breathtaking and thinking about the history of the Inca and pre-Inca people traveling by foot through these regions entered my mind. It is no wonder carbohydrates especially quinoa and potatoes make up a large part of the diet today and far back in history represented by the many Inca ruins that were specifically for food storage which at these altitudes where helpful in preserving. We stopped in Curahuasi to change vehicle because there are not direct rides to Abancay unless on a chartered bus or van which did not make sense for two people. We jumped in our next car and headed out for another few hour drive through the beautiful country side.

After arriving in Abancay we made our way to Shirley’s Aunt Iza and Uncle Omar who where gracious enough to let us stay with them. They had many things planned for us and could not have been more hospitable and genuine in there affection. After settling in we walked to the market to get food for the week. The markets in Peru are full of fresh produce and livestock. Peru markets Always have an amazing selection of locally grown food. We walked around Abancay for awhile before returning to the house to eat and get some rest. Various members of Shirley’s family visited that night and where all so kind and welcoming to me. After socializing late into the night I went to bed for some much needed rest.

I woke up the next morning and walked to the kitchen where Iza was preparing a lovely breakfast for everyone. Today we had a lot planned and I was excited. After Breakfast Shirley and I walked around Abancay and at the town square there where fathers protesting the misappropriation of funds for the schools. It was great to see that the spirit of protest was still alive. We had a great day which included celebrating Shirley’s Uncle Marios birthday. Bebe, Shirley’s cousin made the most delicious soup I have ever had in my life thankfully requested by her uncle. They went out of there way to make me feel comfortable and at home. Although I am not fluent in Spanish nor they English, it did not matter we had no problem understanding each other through smiles and gestures. We celebrated late that night watching Peru vs US in soccer which thankfully ended in a tie, before returning to Omar and Izas.

With the help of Omar we had planned a trip to Villa Los Loros to see Choquequirao. and the Apurimac region. Our driver whom is Omars friend picked us up and we headed out into the mountains. It was about a three hour drive through amazing mountains and crazy roads before reaching Villa Los Loros that evening. Our host was Partina who owned Villa Los Loros but settled in Peru from Italy. She went above and beyond to make us feel welcome and her enthusiasm for life was comforting. She had the chef cook us a late night meal which included trout from her stream and fresh vegetable from her garden. After dinner, conversation, and a bottle of wine we went to our cottage to get some rest. Tomorrow we had plans to visit local community and see Choquequirao.

Back to Peru and trip to Aruba.

After spending about two months back in The United States and corresponding with Shirley. I decided it was time to head back to Peru to spend time with Shirley and take her up on her offer to show me more of Peru. We decided to first meet in Lima and fly to Aruba for a week before coming back to Peru. I packed my bags and booked my flight for Oct. 2 and scheduled with Shirley her flight from Puerto Maldonado so we could meet in Lima.

I was excited to be returning to Peru and also looking forward to seeing Shirley. I arrived at Pittsburgh airport two hours early and unfortunately my flight to Miami was delayed and therefore I would miss my connecting flight to Lima. So I had to take a completely different flight to Dallas Fort Worth with an eight-hour layover and then onto Lima. Eventually I made it to Lima and to my surprise Shirley was waiting for me at the airport with our driver “Walter” and flowers. I was not expecting her to be at the airport especially since my flight was twelve hours late and arrived at 6:00AM but I could hear her voice saying my name aloud as I made my way toward ground transportation. It touched my heart that she would not only come back to the airport to meet me but bring flowers. Lima airport is very busy so I made my way to her we embraced one another and made our way quickly outside, into our taxi, and an hour drive to our hotel in Miraflores. I was releived to be in Peru and happy to see Shirley again.

I was exhausted so I took a nap at the hotel Casa Andina Standard before Shirley showed me around lima and we went to get something to eat. Experiencing Peru with Shirley was an amazing experience compared to being alone or with a group as a tourist. She showed and taught me a lot of things that are customary for locals. I also learned of her great taste for Picarones, which are a donut like dessert with a type of syrup and I must say is very delicious. We explored lima more, including; the coastline, Locomar, Lovers Park, Miraflores marina lighthouse and she explained to me the history and politics of the region before we walked back to our hotel. We got ready and went out that evening for dinner before calling it a night because our flight for Aruba was in the morning.

Our flight to Aruba was a little turbulent but good overall. Shirley had not had much experience flying so it was a lot of new experiences for her but she handled everything with grace. Shirley has an amazing ability to stay positive and be kind yet assertive in stressful situations. Where as I sometimes get frustrated and have a hard time expressing my emotion without getting angry.

When we arrived in Aruba it was raining which was rare on the island. Our driver met us and assured us that the rain would stop shortly in the weather would be great. Since Shirley is fluent in Spanish she was able to communicate with some of the locals who came to Aruba from many Spanish-speaking countries including Peru. After about a 45 minute drive we arrived at our hotel the Marriott in Aruba and the rain had stopped. We checked in and made our way to our room. The partial view of the ocean was beautiful so we quickly unpacked our things, got our bathing suits on, and made our way to the beach. We enjoyed walking the beach looking for sea shells and absorbing the Caribbean breeze and sun. The Marriott is a beautiful and accommodating property. We had the most wonderful server named Odaliz. The Balashi Chill beer, mojito, and food were amazing but there should have been more entertainment, luckily I am pretty entertaining.

Aruba is a small beautiful arid desert island with an amazing beach and ocean. Often called the Dutch Caribbean. The island itself is small enough (20 miles long) to be explored in one day. So after spending a few days enjoying the hotel pool, beach, and ocean we decided to go on a guided Jeep tour of the island which included snorkeling at baby beach. A van picked us up and several other people from various hotels and we went to the starting point of the Jeep adventure. There were two other couples including a couple on their honeymoon from Italy. They did not feel comfortable driving and since I was very excited to get behind the wheel of the Jeep and explore the island they decided to ride with us which was a really cool experience especially since I am Italian but learned that Spanish and Italian are not as similar as I had thought they where.

We met our guide Juan who was a really free-spirited energetic guy. We all jumped in our jeeps and followed him to our first destination which would be the Aruba lighthouse. When we got there we got some fresh coconut juice and enjoyed a great view on that end of the island. Shirley got a picture with local Parrot and we got our picture take. Together as bride and groom on front of Italian restaurant “Faro Blanco” beside the lighthouse which Juan said was really good but excessive. We continued our journey along the very rugged rocky shoreline of Aruba where we would stop occasionally and enjoy the ocean. We also decided to pick up any trash we saw while exploring various locations. We visited the “Alto Vista Chapel” where I said a prayer for my mom and than got a Coco Loco from Dr. Coco Loco which is a rum spiced coconut water. We then continuing on to the “Aruba Ostrich farm” where we had lunch and experienced the life of an ostrich which are very strong aggressive but quite comical bird.

After leaving the ostrich farm we drove for another hour or so until we reached Baby Beach where we enjoyed the remainder of the day snorkeling and having A few drinks before returning to our starting point and then getting in a van to be dropped off at our hotel.

That night we had dinner at Texas de Brazil which was an amazing restaurant and great experience I highly recommend. Our waiter Edgar was without question the best waiter I’ve ever had in my life who made our evening exceptional which included a canister of sangria on the balcony. After dinner we walked along the beach back to our hotel and went to sleep.

The next morning we got up and went to the spa for our scheduled massage. We were truly pampered at the spa and it was exactly what we needed to completely relax. We then headed down to the beach and spent the day enjoying the ocean before going to the pool to catch lizards. That evening we walked the beach until we found a really lively tiki bar playing good music. We danced for a while and talked the night away. We enjoyed a few drinks maybe a few too many before returning to our hotel and passing out.

That evening we relaxed and enjoyed dinner at Giannis Restaurant which has really good pasta especially if you like cheese and I highly recommend. They bring out enormous rounds of parmesan cheese and light a type of alcohol which they pour onto the cheese. When the cheese is melted the pasta is placed onto the round of cheese and toss in it before plating. After dinner we enjoyed the local vendors and explored Irausquin Blvd. We then walked along the beach back to our hotel.

We got up the next day excited for the catamaran and went to have breakfast. Odaliz our waitress explained that the dock we would depart from was close enough that we could walk so we walked along the beach until we arrived at the dock and boarded the Catamaran, which was enormous and extremely well taken care of. They distributed the snorkel gear and gave us a brief orientation. Caesar was our guide who was extremely entertaining, informative, and responsible. The cruise included snorkeling in two locations with lunch and free drinks. Shirley has not much experience snorkeling except what we had done at baby beach but this water was very deep and far out in the ocean. She handled it like a trooper and I assured her she could hold on to me and I would not leave her side in the ocean unless she was comfortable. We saw an abundance of fish and later an amazing shipwreck. We also had time to swim and I enjoyed doing flips off the side of the catamaran. While relaxing and drinking a beer Shirley spotted a sea turtle which was absolutely beautiful and Cesar said is good luck. We spent another few hours enjoying the catamaran before watching the sunset together, appreciating each other, gods creation, and the amazing day we had. We had one more day exploring Aruba before we boarded a plane back to Peru. We where a little sad to say goodbye to Aruba but so excited to be exploring Peru more and visiting Shirley’s family in Abancay.