It’s time to announce the next adventure!
Y’all know that I love traveling, and I love to perform. It’s long been a bucket list item of mine to get paid to perform internationally. Crossing that off my list will soon occur!
Be the Groove has been selected to perform at the International Rhythm Festival at the Royal Opera House in Muscat , Oman. In just under two weeks, we’ll be performing in two shows on Tuesday, May 19 and Thursday, May 21 along with groups from Spain, Austria, Africa, India, Oman, and Japan.
This will be my first time in the Middle East. I expect many great experiences, and hopefully I will do better at keeping this blog up to date in my travels. Look forward to pictures and stories soon!
I’m still slowly catching up on my blog posts over the past couple years. Here’s another from my South American adventure from two years ago…
Shortly before I departed on my trek to Machu Picchu I received a Facebook message from a friend asking how long I would be in Cuzco since they would be there soon as well. This is yet another serendipitous moments where Facebook has brought us all closer together. My friends Ryan and Abbie were living in Ecuador and were coming down to Cuzco for a few days. Due to the fortuitous viewing of my of my posts, I now had friends to explore the Sacred Valley with, and later a place to stay in my final stop in Quito.
With them I visited several amazing locations surrounding Cuzco including Salinas featuring beautiful salt ponds, and Maras with ancient concentric rings built by the Incas.
After a day with them, I went for a short excursion to one of my favorite locations in the Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo. Nestled within a scenic valley, Ollantaytambo boasts great hiking and beautiful Inca ruins set into the side of the mountain. This is where I took one of my favorite photos of the entire trip (with my iPhone, no less):
If any of you lovely readers find yourselves in Ollantaytambo, stay at Casa de Wow!!! (exclamation points are an integral part of the name) to stay. It’s a quaint hostel run by American expat Winn featuring private rooms full of hand-built furniture and displaying the fine sartorial craftsmanship of Wow.
Here’s the a full album of my trip to the Sacred Valley:
Yet another short post, the most import piece being the photos…
Cuzco and the surrounding environs is where I spent the longest portion of my trip. I arrived in Cuzco from La Paz on 4 March and did venture beyond until 18 March. My final excursion was a four day trip to Manú Jungle. While not a deep venture into the Amazon, it provided a good introduction to the flora and fauna to what you might find deeper into the jungle.
I can no longer recall my guide’s name, but he had a deep knowledge of the area, especially the native birds. He could hear a chirp or a call from an out-of-sight bird and immediately tell me exactly what species of birds it was and recall exactly what page of his aviary reference book it was on. At first I was skeptical, but after several instances of the bird then flying into view I could see that the shape, sizing, and plumage matched exactly what he had portended. My only real issue with the guide was that every time he referred to the “Cloud Forest”, his Quechua pronunciation always came out as “Clown Forest”.
As I’ve described previously, this is part of my series of getting caught up on my South American adventures, and as such will be much shorter than my usual posts.
As I had a very undefined itinerary for the second half of my trip, I did not know when I would arrive in Cuzco and when I would be able to do my Machu Picchu trek. The famous route is the Inca Trail, but due to environmental concerns with erosion and overuse it is extremely regulated. Because of this you must acquire a permit several months ahead of time specifying exact dates. Instead, I opted to do the arguably more strenuous Salkantay Trek. It’s a four-day trek reaching a maximum elevation of about 4,600 meters (15,000 feet) eventually leading to the town of Aguas Calientes.
We arrived in Aguas Calientes moderately early on the last day and took some time in the eponymous hot springs relaxing. After dinner we all retired to bed for a short nap. We departed around four in the morning to climb the nearly 2000 stairs to reach the entrance to Machu Picchu at sunrise.
Before the trek, I was concerned that the beauty and splendor of Machu Picchu had been overhyped. I can now definitively tell you: it is that awesome. And I mean that in original sense of the word “inspiring awe”. The ancient stonework and the surrounding mountains make for a glorious sight in the early morning.
If any of you choose to visit Machu Picchu, I highly recommend doing the hike up the stairs. While arduous, you are able to enter the park as soon as it opens and explore with only a moderate number of other people. By the time 11:00am arrives with the loads of bus-riding tourists you will have largely gotten your fill and not feel bad relaxing in a secluded section until it is time to depart.
I also recommend the optional Huayna Picchu hike taking you to an extra peak far above the main structure. From there you are able to look down and bask in the grandiosity of the Incas. It also provides additional solace from the hoards of people arriving on busses.
My pictures cannot do justice to the experience of being there yourself: