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Earlier this month, we realized a dream a year in the making when we walked Peru’s Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. It was one of the more physically challenging things we’ve ever done, and also one of the most rewarding. There’s so much to tell that we’ve decided to split this post into two. Here, we’ll talk about the Inca Trail experience. In a subsequent post, we describe our encounter with Machu Picchu, the fabled city that so many have tried to understand but to this day remains shrouded in mystery. We’ll also throw in a few tips for folks that are considering a trek of their own. It’s worth mentioning that “Inca Trail” is a bit of a misnomer. The stretch we walked, almost 28 miles, is actually just a tiny fragment of a huge network of trails that criss-cross the Andes and link important Inca and pre-Inca sites. At…

It’s August, and that means the countdown to our big Peru trip has begun! On Sept. 29 we’ll fly to Lima and then spend 23 days exploring that magical country. One of the big highlights – and our current obsession – will be a four-day, three-night trek on the historic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. On the advice of friends, we booked the trek with Alpaca Expeditions – a highly rated tour company that will provide guides, porters, camping gear, and sumptuous and tasty meals. To say that we’re excited is an understatement. But we keep having to remind ourselves that the Inca Trail is but one of many fantastic things we’ll see and do on our month-long adventure to Peru. John the travel planner has been hard at work on an itinerary that will give us time to explore Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo, Puno and Lake…

There’s a cool legend about how Alicante, Spain got its name. Once upon a Moorish time, there was a pair of star-crossed lovers named Ali and Cántara. They were madly in love, but Ali was poor – and Cántara’s father, the wealthy caliph who ruled the city, refused to give her hand in marriage. Rather than live without each other, they threw themselves off the castle atop Mount Benacantil. The caliph died of grief over the loss of his beautiful daughter, and to this day you can see his somber profile etched into the cliff – La Cara del Moro. There’s “moro” to the story, but you get the Shakespearean gist. The truth is a little less glamorous, but still totally descriptive of this luminous city: Alicante is derived from an Arabic word that means “city of light.” From Valencia, Alicante was the second stop on our month-long journey down Spain’s…

The Basilica of Our Lady of Monguí and adjacent convent, which now houses a museum. On our way to the heritage town of Monguí, we found ourselves once again on an unpaved road. It turns out Waze really doesn’t know the back roads of Colombia very well. Who knew?? We headed out early from the small town of Guadalupe on a paved rural route through the rolling landscape of Boyaca, with field after field of potatoes, peas, beans, and onions (lots of onions!) against a distant Andes backdrop. Upon reaching the highway, we had a choice: keep going south, or take a shortcut recommended by Waze. Of course we took the shortcut, even though we lost the pavement pretty soon after leaving the highway. The road added two hours to our trip, but the day was far easier than our journey to Barichara more than a week earlier. And the scenery…

A couple of weeks ago, we spent a few days in one of our favorite sections of Colombia’s Caribbean coast: an area in Magdalena Department east of the port city of Santa Marta and anchored by Tayrona National Natural Park. After so much COVID confinement, we were looking for a beachy location at which to celebrate a big milestone for Susan: her early retirement. (Susan note: “Retirement” is such a strange word. I think of it as moving on to new vistas!) We had visited Tayrona almost three years ago and had really loved the area, so a trip back was just the ticket. We also wanted to explore two towns we had missed before: Palomino and Minca. (NOTE: As usual, most of our photos are in galleries. Just click on the first one to view larger versions one by one.) The lay of the land Colombia’s Caribbean coast spans over…

This time two years ago, we were in the final days of our month-long journey through Peru.  Since international travel isn’t on our radar for a few more months (hopefully), we’re continuing our “Best of” series —  reflecting on the past journeys and the experiences that have really shaped us as travelers so far. This installment: our Best of Peru. We started in Lima, then headed to Cusco to prepare for a four-day trek on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. After that, we spent a few days in the storied Sacred Valley and then took a fantastic train ride south to Lake Titicaca. From there, we boarded a bus to the shining city of Arequipa before heading back to Lima and home. We did a LOT of blogging about this trip, with much more detail about where we stayed and how we approached each location. Here’s our full Peru directory.…

As we look forward to another adventurous year, it’s fun to look back and see which of our posts resonated the most with our readers over the past 12 months. In no particular order, here’s the top-10 list of our most-viewed posts of 2019. (Note that these were most-viewed posts this year, although some of them have pre-2019 publication dates.) On behalf of the Latitude Adjustment team, we want to say THANK YOU for visiting, reading, and leaving comments. Here’s wishing you all a a healthy, prosperous, and adventure-filled 2020! Reflections on an Expat Year  With this post, we got reminded that our readers really like information about the expat experience. What’s it like to pull up roots and leave all that’s familiar. How to cover the basics: getting legal residency, securing a rental, getting healthcare. Tackling language and finding a comfort zone. https://latitudeadjustmentblog.com/2019/12/14/reflections-on-one-year-in-medellin-colombia/ Best of Madrid Boy, did we love…

We’re feeling a little nostalgic today. Thanks to the magic of Facebook memories, we got reminded that exactly one year ago today, we struck out on one of the biggest adventures of our lives: a four-day trek to Machu Picchu on the fabled Inca Trail. It was a high point in our ongoing quest to visit as many South American countries as possible while we’re living here in Colombia. The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu were so memorial that we covered them in two separate posts, here and here. In fact, that experience was only one slice of our fantastic three-week journey through Peru. Here’s the library of all our Peru posts.  We’re plotting our next South American adventures now, and one area we’re focusing on is the northern coast bordering the Caribbean. A big stretch of that coast is in Colombia, and we have a trip planned there in November.…

All over the Sacred Valley, we saw these “Pucara Bull” ornaments on the tops of homes and businesses. They’re said to bring good fortune to the residents. So many places, so little time. It’s the big conundrum of travel: if you spend too much time in one place, what will you miss that’s just around the bend? As John likes to say, the sand is slipping through the hourglass. Even so, we didn’t get to spend nearly enough time in the Peru’s Sacred Valley. We were in Cusco for four days to acclimate to the altitude before our Inca Trail/Machu Picchu adventure, and then stayed in Ollantaytambo for three days afterward. Now, the Sacred Valley has joined the long list of places to which we hope to return. Maybe . . .So what’s so sacred about the Sacred Valley? For starters, it’s the cradle of civilization for the fabled and long-disappeared…

As part of our 23-day Peru adventure, we wanted to experience a part of Peru by rail and enjoy the beautiful scenery that Peruvian Andes country has to offer. The PeruRail Titicaca Train from Cusco to Puno exceeded our expectations by far.  Since we’re usually budget-to-midlevel travelers, this luxury train ride was a bit of a splurge. But we wanted to give ourselves a little reward and a bit of pampering after completing our trek on the Inca Trail. We took an early-morning taxi from Ollantaytambo, where we had spent three nights after the trek, to the Cusco Wanchaq PeruRail station for the 7:50 departure to Puno. The pampering begins at check-in, when the friendly porters take your luggage and escort you to your assigned train car and table. Nice touch! The train features an open-air observatory car with a full bar, and the train cars are decorated in the 1920s Pullman style…

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