Click here to see all of the pictures from the trip!
All Blog Posts for Bolivia/Peru Trip
Sun 21 Sep
Saturday night we flew from Lima, Peru to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We arrived at 6:45 which was about 30 minutes late so we had to hurry through immigration and customs and then back through security at a different terminal. As we rushed to the gate they were asking if there were any more passengers for the flight. Phew! Good timing. A little too close for comfort but it worked out.
The flight from Fort Lauderdale went to the JFK Airport in New York City. We had a 9-hour layover so we left the airport for the day via the subway.
Our first stop was my favorite bagel shop in Queens. We all got bagels for lunch and Maureen got her favorite crumb cake there. Curtis has been all grins. He is enjoying being back in the United States. He has been craving Doritos and he was able to get some on our first JetBlue flight.
Our second stop in New York was the new 9/11 Museum. It was very worth it. We all loved it. Somber mood there. They've done a great job with the museum and other memorials there.
Before going back to the airport we stopped on Canal Street to experience Chinatown quickly. Crazy busy! We were such newbies trying to hail a taxi but we finally got one. Phew!
Now it's on to SLC!!!!
Sat 20 Sep
The stars are lining up for us today. Early this morning we got on a flight from Cusco to Lima. After we landed I got an email indicating that some arrangements were made so that we could depart Lima Saturday night instead of Sunday night. That gets us home only one day later than our original plan. Great news! We are anxious to get home.
I had a hotel in Lima reserved and although we don't need to spend the night I kept the room so we could nap and shower before heading home. After we dropped off our luggage at the hotel we had lunch at McDonalds. Then we visited some tourist spots.
We toured the old San Francisco cathedral. It was interesting. Under ground are some catacombs where we saw a bunch of human bones. Kind of creepy.
Our hotel was more like an apartment. It seemed a shame to have it for such a short time. We took a nap and then went back to the airport where we had Papa John's Pizza for dinner. We're at that point in the trip where we just want American food that we are used to.
Now begins our journey home. We'll have a red-eye flight from Lima to Fort Luderdale. Then a flight to New York. Then a 9-hour layover and lastly a late night flight to Salt Lake City!
Fri 19 Sep
Today we did some sight seeing and souvenir shopping in Cuscu. It was pretty helpful to have Curtis so he could translate and barter. On the way to the airport we passed two LDS church buildings. When we pointed them out we found out that our taxi driver is attending and being taught by the missionaries.
After 3 hours of sweating bullets to get on a LAN Airways flight from Cusco to Lima we were turned away. That's the risks of flying stand-by I guess. That messes up our other JetBlue flights so now it looks like we're getting home Monday night instead of Saturday night. Ay carumba!
At the airport we met the Mission President for the area here. We met his wife, two Elders that are secretaries, and a sister missionary that is going home for health reasons. She's been on her mission for about a year. The Mission President is from Farmington, Utah.
We were able to get a room at the same hotel here in Cusco. We'll try again tomorrow morning to get to get to Lima and then play tourist there for a couple of days until we can fly out Sunday night. Wish us luck. We love you all.
Thu 18 Sep
This morning we got up early and took the bus up to Machu Picchu. The first thing we did was to hike to the top of Wayna Picchu Mountain. We looked at it and it was so steep I couldn't imagine how we would get to the top. The hike was quite a workout. Lots of stone steps. The view from the top was amazing. We were glad we did it.
At the top I loaned my binoculars to Curtis. A little later, a guy that works for the park was admiring them so we let him look through them. He said they were "very nice". He kind of hung around us. He used our camera to take a picture of the three of us. Then he offered to take us on a short detour to show us a rock that has an Incan face in it. What the heck. We went with him. He was nice. As we were saying goodbye to him, he asked "How much for your binoculars?" They're my new binoculars and I like them but I can get another pair easily and he seemed pretty anxious to have them. I offered him a price that was about half of what I paid and then he bartered me down some. I accepted his offer and he seemed pretty pleased. He showed us one more spot that was good for pictures and then we said goodbye. I looked back and he was looking at things with his spiffy new binoculars. Oh yeah, and Curtis gave him a Mormon.org pass-a-long card. Cute little missionary.
The first part of the hike down was a little tricky because the steps were so narrow and steep. I had to go sideways and be very careful. We spent the next 3 hours walking through the rest of Machu Picchu. It was really fascinating. I've seen pictures before the trip but they're nothing like seeing it in person. In fact, sometimes as I was looking at the views it didn't seem real. It was like I was viewing a painting or some miniature claymation city in the distance.
At the end we had a buffet lunch and then got on the bus and went back down the hill. From there we got on a train and rode most of the way back to Cusco. It was about a four hour train ride. Then a taxi to Cusco and our hotel for one last night of sleep before the journey home. It was a great day. Just amazing and so tiring.
One thing that I noticed all day at Machu Picchu was how friendly everyone was. Places like that are equalizers. It's like before starting a marathon or other sport event. Complete strangers are talkative, friendly and joking around because in that moment you all have a common bond. That's how it was today. We would take pictures with other's cameras for them and then they'd return the favor. Curtis would help translate for people when he could detect that they needed help. We met people from Brazil, Australia, Japan, Germany, and many other places around the world. So far, we are the only Utahns.
Wed 17 Sep
This morning we had breakfast at the hotel and then did a little shopping. Last night Curtis accidentally left one of our bags of souvenirs at a shop. We went there and they still had it. Yay!
We walked to the famous 12-sided stone. When we got there we were swarmed with some teenagers that wanted to get pictures of us with them taking turns being in the picture. It seemed like we were the first white North Americans they had seen. We were a novelty to them. They especially liked Curtis. It was like he was a celebrity. It was so funny and unexpected. They were students from a town in Peru called Trujillo and their leader said it was their first trip.
We took a taxi from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, about an hour and a half ride. From there we got on a train that went for over an hour to get us to Aguas Calientes. The train ride was great. Amazing scenery.
Once we found our hotel they told us that last night they had a pipe burst and cause damage to some of the rooms. They already made arrangements for us at another hotel. I don't how it compares but it has 3 little beds and will be fine.
We walked a street that has a bunch of restaurants and just picked one that we thought looked good. Curtis and I shared a pizza and Maureen had chicken and "stri" fried noodles. The English translations are not always perfect.
Our hotel is right along the river. It really got flowing because of the rain.
In the evening Curtis and I went for a walk around the town. It's a very small town. We walked all of it pretty much. Some girls Curtis' age assumed he knew English so they asked him for some directions. They were from Israel and spoke very good English. They were tired because they just got here after walking along the train tracks for 3 hours to avoid paying the fare of the train. I didn't know that was an option. They said they'll probably be too tired to go back that way tomorrow so they'll probably take the train.
Tue 16 Sep
We were only able to sleep for about two hours last night. We had to get up at about 2am to start getting ready and get to the Viru Viru airport in Santa Cruz. We got on our flight just fine and arrived in Lima. Then we switched to another flight and arrived in Cusco, Peru at about 10:30am. So far we are really liking LAN Airlines.
The elevation in Cusco is about 11,150 feet so it's like going from Phoenix, Arizona to the top of Mount Timpanogas. My legs feel heavy here. Our hotel is nice. We have a nice relaxing day today in Cusco with nothing planned. We can do whatever we want. We will travel towards Machu Picchu tomorrow.
Today was Curtis' turn to have his tummy mad at him. Poor guy. As we were walking around Cusco he just got green. He sat and rested and had a drink to settle his stomach. Now we´re at the hotel to rest before we go out again. The weather here is perfect!!! It´s about 60 degrees.
This evening we had dinner at the hotel. It was good. Then we went walking around the city. Curtis was feeling much better. We all were. You can feel the high elevation here.
We spotted two ladies in traditional clothing and they had an alpaca lamb. I got to hold it for a picture. It was so soft and cute. It was licking my arm with his little sandpaper tongue. I'm going to find one to bring home!
Tomorrow morning we'll take a shuttle to another town and then take a train to Aguas Calientes which is right by Machu Picchu.
Mon 15 Sep
We slept in today after the bus trip. Then we visited a young man that spoke great English. He was telling us his story about he learned about the Mormons. As he told his story he mentioned the pamphlets that he received from Elder Knight. I opened one up and saw a picture of Marcelo Melo in it! What a surprise. I work with Marcelo at JetBlue. What a small world.
Next we had lunch with a nice family. It was very good and it was typical Santa Cruz Bolivian food. Such nice people here.
After lunch we had a little siesta at the hotel. Then we dropped off some of Curtis' old clothes for the other missionaries. We visited a nice member family. The father was a Stake President until about a month ago.
Then a young couple drove us around town to see some interesting sites. After that we ate at a big restaurant with typical Santa Cruz food. My tummy has been mad at me for two days so I just had chicken soup but it was really good.
I'm a little sad to leave Bolivia. We fly to Cusco, Peru tomorrow morning. We didn't go to many tourist attractions in Bolivia but I wouldn't trade these past 4 days for anything. It has been amazing. We had such neat visits with people here.
We'll be tourists now for the next 3 days in Peru. Should be fun.
Sun 14 Sep
We survived the bus ride to Puerto Quijarro. The A/C got turned off, probably to save on fuel so it got pretty hot. I woke up just drenched with sweat. I woke up Curtis to have him ask the bus driver to turn on some air, which he did. Then after a while he turned it off again. Grrr.
We arrived in Puerto Quijarro at about 6:30am. We got a hotel room so we could shower and shave and use it as a base camp for the day. We didn't sleep there. It cost about $35.
We went to church at the branch there and were the center of attention. Everyone there loves Elder Knight. We had people tell us that this was the first time that a missionary came back there with their parents and they all seemed so glad to meet us. The Branch President asked us to bear our testimonies in Sacrament meeting and Curtis translated for us.
We visited families all day. This town is not like Santa Cruz. It is very poor and dirty. The family visits were all so precious though. It was so worth the extra effort to go there. At one home, the mom had one son and three daughters. She is trying to stay strong for her family and she seemed to have a lot of faith. The two younger girls spent the time scrolling through pictures on Maureen's phone. When it was time to leave they hugged her and didn't want her to go.
The bus ride back was better. We all slept fine.
I forgot to mention how hot and humid it was yesterday in Puero Quijarro. Oh man! I was wiping sweat from my face all day. I thought I'd die. Elder Belnap said that it wasn't that hot compared to other days. I don't know how Curtis survived 7 months there.
Sat 13 Sep
What a neat day we had today! Curtis had us visiting members all day. Some were long time Church members and some were brand new converts. Each visit was very special and everyone has been so gracious and friendly. We took taxis to most of the appointments but we also did some walking. I felt like I was on my mission again.
The taxis are basically half of the cars on the streets with a little green lit up TAXI sign in the windshield. You just hold out your hand and one pulls over and gives you a ride.
This evening we met the Mission President and his wife and daughter. We went to dinner with them and had pizza. They were so complimentary of Curtis and so were the members. He is well liked here.
We decided (well, Curtis decided for us) to take the bus trip to Puerto Quijarro. We are on the bus now about to take a 10-hour overnight trip. It's nice. Reclining seats, A/C, and even WiFi!
We will attend church in Puerto Quijarro tomorrow and visit families and maybe cross the border into Brazil.
The Flores family was a visit today that will forever be engrained in my memory. Curtis and his companion were their first missionaries and they were baptized two days after he was transferred. This was Curtis' first area. They had hardly anything in the way of possessions and lived in very humble circumstances and yet they just expressed nothing but gratitude. The mom cried and cried about Curtis leaving. The dad cried too and he stood at his gate watching us walk away. I looked back and could see him wipe his tears. They were so grateful for Curtis, the missionaries, and the gospel. It has changed their lives and they were such a sweet family.