Archive for the ‘South America 2001’ Category

home sweet home

Sunday, October 14th, 2001

Note: this is taken from emails sent in 2001. Hemi

hi friends!
we are back in israel.
tomorrow – work.
bummer.

hemi and paola

PS – we spent the last 3 days in London, a bit of western culture pn the way home. we expected to do some shopping but the jump from peruvian street market prices to those of portobello rd in notting hill were just too much of a strain on our wallet.
so we walked around alot and people watched…we saw 3 nice shows – starlight express, buddy, and mama mia. had a pint of guiness after 3 months of craving…
BTW – we flew back with British Airways and after flying American Airlines the othre legs of the trip, all we can say is that the Brits have won hands behind their back.

london bridge is falling down, falling down….

Thursday, October 11th, 2001

Note: this is taken from emails sent in 2001. Hemi

hi all
a short hello from a really expensive city, especially after South Americafor a few months.
we are on a timed internet machine and there are only 2 minutes left so this will be a shorty…
we left ecuador early tuesday morning and the security checks were the most severe we have ever encountered. we were practically strip searched !!! we reached miami and had a few hours to visit the downtown are before a
connection to heathrow.
miami is hot and humid and has more non-americans than english speakers. so it was just like downtown lima.
now we are in london, Notting hill in the portabello market looking for the house made famous by hugh grant….

cheers,
P and H (phish and CHips)

All good things must come to an end

Tuesday, October 9th, 2001

Note: this is taken from emails sent in 2001. Hemi

Dear friends,
my how time flies. It seems as if my journey in South America began just yesterday, and now it is already the last night on this wonderful
continent. I will now write briefly of our advebtures in the last 2 weeks.

Peru –
We left off after our flight over the Nasca Lines and the bus to Ica. Ica is a small town (almost 1 million people) and is renowned for being the wine and pisco center of Peru. Have you ever heard of peruvian wine ?
Neither have we, and we did not bother to get acquainted. Pisco is a local brandy, not too tasty, but there is a famous cocktail called pisco sour
involving pisco, lemon juice, and egg whites all shaken into a drinkable (?) froth.
The main reason for us coming to ICa then, was a small oasis 5 minutes outta town by the name of Huacachina. A little lagoon is surrounded by awesome sand dunes , and people SANDBOARD down the slopes. Now all you that are imagining a swiss resort, don´t get excited. there are no chairlifts and walking up 20 minutes in the sand carrying a board is no easy task. also the equipment is terrible and unsafe so we just tried it once for the kick and
the photo-op. it was nice. when renting the board you get a bag with some orange wax in it. by the time you are up the hill it has turned into a liquid which you rub on the bottomside of the board for speed….
Paola took the ride down sitting on the board, which meant she fell 5 times less than me. I fell down 5 times. no harm.
Huacachina was so layed back and relaxed that we stayed there 2 nights resting and frolicking in the backyard of a really nice hostel we were at. the hammocks were really comfortable. The second evening we spent some time in Ica itself, but aside from 2 local music tapes that we bought at the night market there is nothing too memorable to mention. when we wanted the vendor to play a certain song, he rewound the tape using a pencil, the REWIND button on his machine was out of order. So when he got mixed up with the cassette sides we had to wait for another 10 minutes.
The next morning we took an early bus to LIma, and saw 2 second rate movies on the way.
We spent less than 24 hours in LIma, and stayed at the same hotel as we did the first time we were there. The streets of central Lima were quite fascinating for both of us, and with the proper precaution we felt kinda safe. As we were accumulating many souvenirs, we bought a “Chola Bag” – basically its a big plastic bag with a zipper. it is a convenient way for
the locals to carry stuff, so why not us.
In the evening Paola began feeling squeamish, and it got worse the next day. n the flight to Quito she was very weak and troubled by a very bad stomach.

Ecuador
we arrived in Quito the capital last wednesday afternoon and proceeded to a hostel near the tourist area. Paola was getting worse and the next morning when thing were not getting better we called a local doctor who was recommended by both lonely planet and the south american handbook. his name
is dr. john rosenberg and we wondered if he is jewish. the first name is not jewish. incidentally when i called him up at 7 am it was the morning of Yom Kippur (jewish day of atonement). We went to his clinic to give samples and when he got the results from his assistant he decided to come over immediately. It turned out she had a whole cocktail in her stomach amoebas, bacterial infections and lo and behold – dysentry. So that put a lid on our plans for a next day departure to the galapgos islands.
i forgot to mention that thte previous evening and during this day i was touring the agencies for a good deal to the isles.
after getting the prescriptions , the doctor confirmed his jewish and israeli background (his parents are from the holyland). he even has a picture of him with Ezer Weizman in his office.
The next morning Paola was feeling much better and i was hoping we could
get some sightseeing done. Unfortunately someone else was getting sicker by
the minute – me. Another sojourn to Doc Rosenberg confirmed that i too am
suffering from all of the above ailments. So this day is was paolas turn
to pamper me. In the late afternoon (friday for those lost) we finally booked
a tour for the isles on a good boat for sunday.
We even rented a wetsuit for paola because the water in the islands is
cold (18 deg celcius) and the itinerary included snorkeling.

Otavalo
On saturday, both of us feeling better though still haevily drugged (we
each took 4 types of medication – including some strong antibiotics) we took a
bus to the largest outdoor market in south america (or so they say).
Otavalo is the village hosting the market every saturday and it has become a true
tourist attraction as they have many artesian works.
we spent several hours shopping and haggling and filled up our chola bag.
we met by pure chance, a friend of mine from my days in Palmahim in the
airforce (alon) who was traveling with his wife, 2 year old daughter and a
friend who is ecuadorian but now lives in israel and is a nanny.
they had just returned from the galapagos and gave us some tips. We were
quite amazed that they took their baby girl to athird world vountry, but
then they totally shocked us by recounting their trip to india (!!!) with
her 6 monthes earlier.
At the hotel after Otavalo it took us 2 hours just to pack our stuff. we
turned in early as the flight to galapagos was scheduled for early the
next morning.

Galapagos
OK this is the highlight of the trip so if you are tired now, close the
mail and come back tomorrow….
We flew via Guyaquil (a coastal city ) and it took around 3 hours to get
to Baltra the airport in the isles. We were met at the airport by our guide ,
Hansel. Although he has a german name he is 100 percent ecuadorian. He
turned out to be a great guide, a very interesting person and later we
found out some amazing things about him.
We had booked the “Angelito” a 16 person yacht (70ft) with private
compartments and hot showers, so it was really going to be a honeymoon
cruise. the only problem was that the accomodation in each of the rooms
was a bunk bed !!!! luckily the bottom bed was a bit wider 🙂
The first 2 days we were still on a strict diet of pills, toast, rice,
chicken soup and tea. But we were getting better all the time, and our
intestinal problems did not affect the tour of the isles. we did not even
get seasick.
With us on the cruise were only 8 more people –
Barry and Bev – an american couple from the san fransisco area who
actually lived through the sixties in all the revolutionary phases. (it was a real
anthropological treat for me).
Monica and Monika – 2 swedish girls from stockholm that were very nice and the closest to us agewise.
Barbara and Al – a retured couple from british columbia in canada and very proud of it (they wore canada pins on their shirts all thru the voyage).
Janey and Carolyn – 2 Florida intensive care nurses that would not shut up for a minute. they were very interesting and nice but at times quiet was
called for (in the nature). they left the tour after 5 days.
the rest took a full 8 day tour.

So what did we see ?
Everything is like a blur until we will get the pictures developed (11
rolls !!!) but the amazing thing about the animals on the islands is that they
are not scared of humans. in this fashion we were able to sunbathe with sea
lions, inspect iguanas so close that when they spit out their salt residue
from their food you got it in your eye, and more…
We saw a pelican feed its young chicks from 2 meters and that is considered far. We stood next to blue footed boobeys ( a bird) as they were courting, and later humping. we swam with sea lions who really like to play. i saw a
white tip shark as i was snorkeling on the last day.
we saw giant tortoises more than 100 years old, we saw their cousins sea turtles swimming in mangrove (a tree) swamps just 2 meters deep.
We bumped into a penguin couple which did not really take it to hard. and we saw sea lions. we snorkeled and saw different fish (though i still think the red sea in israel and sinai is better).
oh, and did i mention sea lions ?
basically sea lions are the animal you sea most on the isles. they are so cute that statistically 50% of the picturesare of them….
aside from the animals the landscapes were pretty neat too, as these isles are all volcanoes. we walked through a black lava field called hoyhoy
lava, and the guide told us that many sci-fi movies film lunar and martian landscapes there.
There is also an abundance of different plantlife but for us it was less exciting than the animals.
In all , this was a great experience, aside from the animals, the humans we were with during the week were really great, including the guide and the
rest of the crew of the angelito. we were pampered and we felt like a big family for one week.

The equator
we got back to Quito last night and today we went to Mitad del Mundo – a
monument on the equator line which celbrates the fact that ecuador is on the
equator. we went on a nice hike to a crater called pulahula, and later
visited a solar museum which proved scientificly that we are on the equator
– the coreolis force we usually see when water goes down a drain was
non-existant, and also we could stand an egg on a nails head (well the
guide could, i tried and failed).

We still have 3 more days left but not on this continent. We had planned
on 3 days in New York. Due to the situation, we swapped our tickets for
London, so thats where we are heading tomorrow. We have a few hours waiting in Miami on the way.

So this is the last email from South America. A continent that we will
surely return to explore, hopefully as soon as possible….

Hasta la vista Baby,
Paola y Hemi

Hi from the Galapagos Islands

Thursday, October 4th, 2001

Note: this is taken from emails sent in 2001. Hemi

Hi folks,
If it were sunny, we could say “hi from paradise”.
We have been in the islands for 4 days now, cruising from one isle to the other, exploring the variety of wildlife nature has to offer.
we got a 2 hour break on the main civillized island, so we are writing today that all is well and amazing.
a thorough report will follow in the next week, so stay tuned.
Bye for now,
Paola , Hemi and George the lonely tortoise.
PS – George is a 100 yr old giant tortoise weighing 120KG and is the last
of his race. He is really lonesome, and quite good looking, so if you know of
a match, please let the Charles Darwin Research Center in Isla Santa Cruz,Galapagos in on the details.

Bye Peru, Hello Ecuador

Friday, September 28th, 2001

Note: this is taken from emails sent in 2001. Hemi

Hi Friends,
We are now in Quito, trying to arrange a good tour to the Galapagos.
I will now recount our advenutruer in Peru in the last few days.

Arequipa
We returned from Macchu Picchu and arrived in Arequipa on a day that had some sort of strike going on there. It seems that strikes are chasing me in Peru, but fortunately it was something minor that did not affect our traveling. We spent the day relaxing, strolling around the streets around Plaza de Armas (the main plaza of the city).
We went to a nice museum in which “juanita” a 500 year old inca human sacrifice was on display. The incas would have the maidens walk up to a very high mountain (6000m) where thay would have a ceremony, kill the poor thing with a jab to the temple and then bury her in a an embryonic position, fully dressed and prepared for the afterlife. the perfectly preserved body is due to snow and ice that covered juanita for centuries. the grave was encountered when a nearby volcano semi-errupted and its hot ash reached the aforementioned mountain and melted the ice.
We also went to a nice monastary and received interesting explanations from a guide to be (they need to master 4 foreign languages before getting some sort of government certification!).

Colca Canyon
The following morning we left for a 2 day excursion to Colca canyon, twice as deep as the grand canyon in the USA. it was an interesting 5 hour drive to the starating point, a small town called Chivay. On the way our guide stopped to show us various sites and wildlife. we saw wild Vicunyas which are a cross between llamas, alpacas and sheep (well not really, but that is
what they look like).
Arequipa has 2 huge volcanoes towering over it so we basically circumvented them to the north. the highest point we reached was 4800m and in order to feel ok with the altitude some people chewd on coca leaves. others took a pill that is supposed to help. at this high point there are many mounatains on all sides so it is a great vantage point. the locals have some beliefs about the holiness of the place, so you see hundreds of piles of rocks (Rug´em in hebrew) for good luck.
We reached Chivay at noon, had an expensive tourist meal, and then proceeded to a 3 hour hike in the neighboring area. we saw ruins of ancient pre-inca cultures and the great depths of the canyon. the treat was great thermal baths in the early evening. Though it was around 5 deg celsius outside, when immersed in the water, the feeling was great.
Paola, with her world renowned sensitivity to cold, really had a great time. Getting out was a bit more complex, but not as bad as we expected. In the evening we went to yet another tourist trap, where there was a penya show. this is a a traditional music, with hornpipes and mini guitars (they have a name which i cant recall) that are the most significantly different instruments from what we know. there was also a dancing performance by a local man and woman, with traditional costumes. It was all to corny for us, and after eating dinner we departed for bed.
The next morning we drove to the hilight of our tour – The “Mirrador del Condor”. Its a viewpoint on the edge of the canyon where at certain hours, huge condors are seen flying really low, so even a simple non zoom camera can catch the wingspan across an entire picture.
These birds are truly graceful and big!!! after about an hour and a roll of film, we proceeded on another nice little hike. All along the canyon are huge and different types of cactii. By the way, everywhere we stopped along the drive and walks during those 2 days, were locals trying to sell us anything from food, drink to clothes, and other souvenirs. we tried some interesting fruits – one is exactly like the israeli sabra (prickly pear). another is similar but tenfold more sour than a household lemon. they have another fruit called pepino (cucumber) which is shaped like an apple and tastes exactly like… a sweet melon.
there were a few more stops on the way back, but most of us were tired and dosed off. In Chivay we decided to go to lunch in a non tourist place which aside from different food is much cheaper, but we did not enjoy the food. With all the little snacks we bought later, the lesson learned is simple…
Back in Arequipa we prepared for a night journey by luxury bus to Nasca. Its the best bus I hve ever seen, including Europe. The 10 hour drive went by quickly, the reclining seats were practically like beds! there were stewardesses handing out pillows and blankets. sweet dreams.

Nasca
we reached Nasca at around 5am and crossed the street from the bus station to the closest and recommended hostel. after getting in good with the night guy, we got free beds for a few hours and booked a flight over the “Nasca Lines”. The Nascas were an ancient culture many years before the incas. They created huge impressions in the desert teraain, which have withstood the
test of time. there are many shapes, simple geometrical to animals such as monkey, dog, and condor, as well as an astronaut? The drawing are 10s if not 100s of meteres long.!!
The best way to enjoy them is from the air. we wanted to take the morning flight before the turbulent winds of noon, but it was too hazy. so instead we went on a tour of some ancient cemetary that had been graverobbed. we saw some more mummies, these were well preserved due to the desert climate of the Peruvian shoreline.
our guide was very knowledgable and later on we even got into a philosophical discussion on whether religion is the cause of all wars, or simply man has a bad nature. we later went to shops were clay pots are made much like they were 2 thousand years ago, and another place where we received an explanation about goldmines, and how gold is found.
a bit after midday we arrived at the airport. weather conditions were good. Paola and I, another girl and the pilot got into the 4 seat cessna and proceeded to a 40 minute tour of the lines. the view was great and the plane behaved ok. nobody puked. on the way back i got to fly us home (Hata”m – pilot joke).
we felt a bit queasy after the flight but a bottle of coca cola helped us out.

Ica
our next destination was the town of Ica, three hours drive away. we will tell you about it in the next mail.

bye for now…….
H and P

Machu Picchu

Thursday, September 20th, 2001

Note: this is taken from emails sent in 2001. Hemi

hello dear friends,
after a short break in my reports, due to various reasons, i now resume mysotrytelling accompanied by Paola who has recently joined me after traversing the atlantic 2 times too many (but we shall touch upon that a bit later)

i left bolivia some 2 weeks ago and reached Cusco were i planned to rest abit and do some white water rafting, anticipating paola´s arrival.

the rafting
i took a 4 day rafting tour with an agency that is for some reason a magnetfor israelis (eric adventures). out of 12 participants, 11 were sabras andone british fellow that was truly an interesting bloke.
we set off on a friday morning, on a 5 hour drive through the peruvian mountainside, which was incredibly beautiful. the poor dirt road was stillmuch better than what i had been accustomed to in bolivia.
we reached the APURIMAC river at noon, and began to inflate the rafts.
i must say that the safety measures taken by the company were very impressive. aside from the lifejackets, wetsuits and helmets, there was an extra guide manning a small safety kayak to pick up any one who fell off the rafts. we also had another guide manning a cargo boat. each raft had a guide and 6 worthy adventurers. the greatest danger were the mosquitos…
but seriously, the apurimac is considered one of the top white water rivers in the world, and has some great class 4 and 5 rapids (rapids are classified 1-5, with 5 being the hardest to cross – a mix of technical difficulty and water velocity). the level of difficulty increased as the days progressed,and the last day we did rapids which have become famous and even have nicknames – “toothache”, “last laugh” and others.
we would raft for about 5 hours a day, and the rest of the time relax onriverside beaches were we camped at nights. the group was really fun and even though i thought i would get israeli-toxicated, the bunch were realltfine and not noisy.
when we return to israel, you are all invited to see the movie depicting our brave descent down the river (one of the guides filmed us..)

waiting in cusco
we got back to cusco on monday evening and proceeded to celebrate our safe return at a local pub-disco. before that i went to a local peluqueria (barbershop) and had my beard shaved off – paola hates it when i scratch her.
at teh disco, the brit and one of the guides drank more than the entire population of small cities in israel during an entire month !!! we danced and raved and drank and had us a jolly good time, totally unaware that in a few hours the world trade center would be erased from lower manhattan.
i woke up on sept 11, just about the time tower 2 was hit. on my way to the toilet i passed thru the reception were the receptionist was pointing at the tv and saying something that sounded bad but i did not understand. after emptying my bladder, i looked at the tv and immediately understood that paola´s arrival in cusco the following morning was in danger.
unfortunately for me, my hunch was right. paola happened to be somewhere over the atlantic when the “shit hit the fan”. from her account “20 minutes prior to planned touchdown in NYC, the pilot said i am afraid i have some bad news. at this point paola almost fainted, as she espected to hear of a double engine failure or something of the sort. so hearing that trouble was elsewhere, was a bit of a relief.”
but the pilot informed the passengers that the flight was redirected to canada. they landed in newfoundland in st. johns island , on the east coast.
paola spent 14 hours (!) waiting in the plane for further instructions before being let out. 27 planes had landed in the island which had no infrastructure for such an amount.
to the canadians praise, they quickly organized themselves and took great care of their unexpected guests. the passengers were takem to a local highschool or churches. paola was given a gym matress to sleep on and later on some basic hygenic supplies. when it became apparant that she would spend more than just the night, local volunteers took her and other for some sightseeing, which included a shopping spree at the local mall, and a dance-bar in the second evening.
on the 13th, paola received some good news – her plane was one of the first to leave canada, but unfortunately not to the USA but back to brussels. to make a long story short (but not too much) in brussels she got a 5 star hotel for 2 nights, and through great work of family and travel agents, managed to get a flight to lima from brussels via madrid.
meanwhile in cusco i was climbing up the walls. in the first few hours we did not know if international flights had been hijacked as well and i was quite concerned. only after paola called her parents from the satellite phone in the plane, did we know she was ok. then it was just a matter of time, but the uncertainty certainly racked our nerves, in peru in canada and
in israel.
but all is well that ends well. since i could not wait any more, i flew to lima to wait for paola there, and spent 24 hours prior to her arrival exploring the city. contrary to popular belief and stories i had heard, lima is relly great, and in some places very safe. the evening of the 14th i joined a memorial service and procession for the american tragedy (the US ambassador to Peru knows great spanish, but has a horrible accent).

rendevouz with my wife
on saturday the 15th in the afternoon, paola finally made it to peru. it took over 5 days and 40 hours in airplane seats, but the wait was worth it for us both 🙂
we finally began our honeymoon. (paola has notified me that technically it is now going to be less than a month, so we will probably have to take another month off pretty soon!)
after spending the night in lima, we flew out to cusco, which by this time i had intimate knowledge of.

Cusco and the sacred valley
we spent sunday afternoon strolling in the beautiful (paola adds – but smelly) streets of this inca capital turned spanish city. many buildings are built upon old inca stones and the diversity of architectural styles is quite interesting. a famous pedestrian walkway is called “gringo alley” but the israelis have a different name for it “simtat ha-metzikim” (pestering alley) because of all the locals that try to sell you stuff, from a meal in a restraunt to cigarettes, to internet, to cnadies, and even one guy gently offering “ahi – samim?” (brother – drugs?)
the next morning we bought a tourist tour ticket to various attractions in the cusco area, including museums, cathedrals and most importantly archeological ruins. we spent the morning visiting city places and after an interesting lunch went up to the ruins, just outside cusco.
lunch was had at a local nontourist “restaurant”. it cost about one fourth of a tourist lunch (1 dollar pp) and it was really tasty to 50% of us (!) I wonder how the acclaimed restaurant critic Daniel Rogov would decribe the place – “the many flies blended in well with the rancid smells emerging from the restrooms, which were only superceded by even worse odors from the tiny kitchen, where the ample portions are cooked in huge greasy pots…. with a superb bottle of inca cola(2001, with gentle hints of bubble gum) the meal reached a fair price of $2.50, i will certainly visit this establishment again.”
so after puking (just kidding) we went to Sacsayhuman, an archeological sight just overlooking cusco. we call it sexy woman, its much easire to remember. at all the sites , a guide usually waits for gringos and then offers himself for a few bucks. we chanced upon a really good one (compared to the ones we would later encounter), who really made the visit much more interesting by showing us the meanings of many of the findings.
when we finished we still had a few more hours of daylight left so we rented 2 horses and a 13 yr old guide, niko, who took us to 3 more sites. i was really scared at first because i got the wild horse, but paola soothed me, she has many years of experience in horseback riding for the israeli olympic team!!! 🙂

the next morning we took a local bus to Pisac, another archaeology site. the ride was a first for Paola, as she encountered the meaning of “body-odor” when some cholas (local women in traditional clothes) happened to stand next to her for the 1 hour ride. The ruins at Pisac were very interesting, and the 2 hour walk down back to the village was breathtaking. Pisac also has a great artesan market, where we bought some souvenirs.
we proceeded to the next town Ollentaytambo, via a town called urubamba. by the time i managed to pronounce the name correctly, we already got there (about 1 hour by minibus). we explored the ruins here as well, and felt we were now mentally prepared for the jewel of the diamond – machu picchu.
we took a train (expensive, only for tourists) to Aguas Calientes which is at the foot of the the famous inca city mountain. arriving at 11pm we took up a hostel for a few hours, because we woke up at 4am (!) to make it up the mountain for sunrise at 6am.

Machu Picchu
we started walkin at 4:30am down a dark dirt road, with a flashlight to scare away the boogyman and see what we are stepping on. as light started infiltrating the dark we began peeling off layers of warm clothes. after 30m minutes of a straight road we reached the mountain were we proceeded to climb 100s of steps which lead to the ancient city´s entrance. it was very
humid and we were climbing into a cloud. as dawn broke in the beautiful mountain began to appear. paola claims she had a rough time climbing, but i was quite content with her progress. we reached the entrance at 6:15, after sunrise, but since everything was shrouded in clouds, it did not matter. the sun would make its first appearance only 2 hours later. this is no to say that the view was not awesome. shreds of fog and clouds appeared and disappeared covering and uncovering the magnificent city.
history – m.p. is a complete inca city. it had remained intact due to the fact that the spaniard conquistadors never discovered it an thus did not pillage and ruin it. the city was in fact discovered only in 1911 by an american archaeologist-explorer. today it is one of perus moneymaking machines, everything costs alot – entrance fee ($20), the train back to cusco ($30) and other miscellaneous expenses.
after enjoying a relatively quiet hour, more and more tourist began to arrive. at first it was groups that came from another side, having finished a grueling 4 day “inca trail”, and later busses unloading all those too lazy or too weak to walk up.
we hooked up to one of the groups that had come from the inca trail as their guide took us throught the ruins. this lasted about 2.5hrs after which we no longer want to hear about any ruins or sun-gods for the next few days.
we took the bus down back to aguas calientes. a little boy no more than 10years old escorted us by chasing the bus – this he did by running down the trail (which we earlier has ascended) and at each intersection with the road would scream something in indian. at the bottom, the driver allowed him to board the bus and collect small change from the sympathetic tourist. i also gave him our water.
the train back to cusco passed through all the places we had visited but we were too tired to really take in any more scenery.
that was yesterday evening.

today we flew in to Arequipa, and more stories will follow soon. we are going to get some dinner.
bye for now, and gmar hatima tova.

Paola and Hemi

SHANA TOVA!

Monday, September 17th, 2001

Note: this is taken from emails sent in 2001. Hemi

Shana Tova to all our family, friends and well wishers!

We hope Hatashsab will be peaceful, quiet and safe.
We wish you all many joyous occasions in the year to come.
Best of all to you and your loved ones,

Paola and Hemi

PS – the pictures were taken on “Yom Hol”

Shana Tova Shana Tova

at last we meet

Sunday, September 16th, 2001

Note: this is taken from emails sent in 2001. Hemi

hi all!
4 days later than planned, but still in good spirits, paola has
arrived to south america.
we met in lima, and tomorrow we will fly back to cusco.
everything is great now,
take care and shana tova.

hemi and paola.

waiting for paola

Thursday, September 13th, 2001

Note: this is taken from emails sent in 2001. Hemi

hi!
today paola was supposed to join me in cusco,peru.
the unfortunate unfolding of events has diverted our pathes.
her plane was flying across the atlantic when new york and washington turned

into infernos.
as a result paolas flight has been diverted and she is now in st john´s
island in newfoundland, canada.
i havew spoken to her an hour ago and she is in good spirits. the canadians
are taking excellent care of the passengers of 27 airplanes that arrived in
the past day.
paola has even gone shopping in the local mall…
the big question now is when will flights resume, and how fast can paola get

to peru.
we will keep you posted.

hemi

a tale of 2 cities

Thursday, September 6th, 2001

Note: this is taken from emails sent in 2001. Hemi

hola amigos!
i am writing from cusco, THE tourism capital of SA. it is quite different from anything i have seen so far in bolivia. the whole town exists to cater to the huge influx of tourists of all ages sizes and monetary flexibility.
this of course is due mainly to MACCHU PICCHU, the ancient inca city discoverd in 1911, after many years of solitude in the peruvian forests.

a short recap of the last events –
after climbing huayna potosi i took a day  to chill in la paz. i began to like the city more and more, and walked in the non tourist zones. i treated myself to som good and expensive food, at noon a nice tex-mex restaurant ($10), and in the evening i totally splurged; i went to the best hotel in la paz – the radisson plaza, where on the 15th floor they have a restaurant overlooking the city. i had a great meal for about the same price as lunch.
it was weird to be wearing a fleece sweater and t-shirt when around me all were dressed to kill (literally – there was a high officer convention between the generals of bolivia and paraguay).

the next day, tuesday, i left la paz with intentions of reaching cuscu. but this was not going to be a simple task for the following reason:
in peru there was a 2 day genral strike in the Puno department – no busses, cars , stores, nada. the strike was scheduled to end on wednesday, so theoretically i could wait a day in copacabana , a lovely city on the border of bolivia. but, the next day in bolivia there would be nothing open, including the border due to a census they had to take once in 10 years exactly when i had to cross the border.
with a group of other israelis and others, we decided to take our chance and cross the border. when we reached peru, there were no cars or busses, and we took a tricycle to carry our muchilas to the nearest town yunguyo, a 25 minute walk. all along the road were shattered bottles, rocks creating roadblocks and even one burnt up car.
we wanted to reach Puno,  normally 2 hours  drive away. after waiting in a nice plaza in yunguyo for 4 hours, a brave peruvian driver offered us use of his minibus for $3 a head. (this of course is much higher than the official rate). since we wanted to make as much headway as possible, we agreed. the way to puno took 5 hours, every once in a while detouring to pass a blockade, or otherwise the driver paying a small “fine” to the angry campesinos who awaited us at the blockades.
at times it got a bit scarey but the locals on the bus seemed quite relaxed so i tried to fall asleep instead.
we arrived near midnight in puno, and it looked like a palestinean refugee camp after a day of riots and scirmishes with the IDF.
the next morning the streets were miraculously cleaned up and i took a tourist  bus to cusco.
next to me sat a peruvian chemical engineer, and between my  spanish and his english managed to have an interesting conversation.
as i said, cusco is tourist oriented, which means that every step you take you are accosted by little kids, old ladiea and all that is inbetween to buy, give, donate, and generally improve his or hers quality of life.
just when i had thought all the strikes  were over, today the people of cuscu marched up ave de sol (main street) to plaza de armas (main plaza) in protest over the same thing that the people of puno had, but the opposite.
the thing is this – a new highway is going to be built  – the transoceanic connecting the shores of brazil via bolivia and peru to the pacific ocean.
the people of puno want the road to pass through puno, the people of cusco – you guessed right. so it could be interesting here in the next few days.

tommorow i am heading for a 4 day rafting expedition to a nearby river.  it is considered the 3rd best in the world for whitewater, after the colorado and zambese in zimbabwe.

Next week, after a long awaited period of time, my beloved wife Paola shall join me for the remaining month of the SA vacation.

take care,
hemi